The tumor suppressor rpl36 restrains KRAS(G12V)-induced pancreatic cancer.
ABSTRACT: Ribosomal proteins are known to be required for proper assembly of mature ribosomes. Recent studies indicate an additional role for ribosomal proteins as candidate tumor suppressor genes. Pancreatic acinar cells, recently identified as effective cells of origin for pancreatic adenocarcinoma, display especially high-level expression of multiple ribosomal proteins. We, therefore, functionally interrogated the ability of two ribosomal proteins, rpl36 and rpl23a, to alter the response to oncogenic Kras in pancreatic acinar cells using a newly established model of zebrafish pancreatic cancer. These studies reveal that rpl36, but not rpl23a, acts as a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor, as manifested by more rapid tumor progression and decreased survival in rpl36(hi1807/+);ptf1a:gal4VP16(Tg);UAS:GFP-KRAS(G12V) fish compared with their rpl36(+/+);ptf1a:gal4VP16;UAS:GFP-KRAS(G12V) siblings. These results suggest that rpl36 may function as an effective tumor suppressor during pancreatic tumorigenesis.
Project description:Somatic activation of the KRAS proto-oncogene is evident in almost all pancreatic cancers, and appears to represent an initiating event. These mutations occur primarily at codon 12 and less frequently at codons 13 and 61. Although some studies have suggested that different KRAS mutations may have variable oncogenic properties, to date there has been no comprehensive functional comparison of multiple KRAS mutations in an in vivo vertebrate tumorigenesis system. We generated a Gal4/UAS-based zebrafish model of pancreatic tumorigenesis in which the pancreatic expression of UAS-regulated oncogenes is driven by a ptf1a:Gal4-VP16 driver line. This system allowed us to rapidly compare the ability of 12 different KRAS mutations (G12A, G12C, G12D, G12F, G12R, G12S, G12V, G13C, G13D, Q61L, Q61R and A146T) to drive pancreatic tumorigenesis in vivo. Among fish injected with one of five KRAS mutations reported in other tumor types but not in human pancreatic cancer, 2/79 (2.5%) developed pancreatic tumors, with both tumors arising in fish injected with A146T. In contrast, among fish injected with one of seven KRAS mutations known to occur in human pancreatic cancer, 22/106 (20.8%) developed pancreatic cancer. All eight tumorigenic KRAS mutations were associated with downstream MAPK/ERK pathway activation in preneoplastic pancreatic epithelium, whereas nontumorigenic mutations were not. These results suggest that the spectrum of KRAS mutations observed in human pancreatic cancer reflects selection based on variable tumorigenic capacities, including the ability to activate MAPK/ERK signaling.
Project description:Activating mutations in Kras are nearly ubiquitous in human pancreatic cancer and initiate precancerous pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) when induced in mouse acinar cells. PanINs normally take months to form but are accelerated by deletion of acinar cell differentiation factors such as Ptf1a, suggesting that loss of cell identity is rate limiting for pancreatic tumor initiation. Using a genetic mouse model that allows for independent control of oncogenic Kras and Ptf1a expression, we demonstrate that sustained Ptf1a is sufficient to prevent Kras-driven tumorigenesis, even in the presence of tumor-promoting inflammation. Furthermore, reintroducing Ptf1a into established PanINs reverts them to quiescent acinar cells in vivo. Similarly, Ptf1a re-expression in human pancreatic cancer cells inhibits their growth and colony-forming ability. Our results suggest that reactivation of an endogenous differentiation program can prevent and reverse oncogene-driven transformation in cells harboring tumor-driving mutations, introducing a potential paradigm for solid tumor prevention and treatment.
Project description:Understanding the initiation and progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) may provide therapeutic strategies for this deadly disease. Recently, we and others made the surprising finding that PDAC and its preinvasive precursors, pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), arise via reprogramming of mature acinar cells. We therefore hypothesized that the master regulator of acinar differentiation, PTF1A, could play a central role in suppressing PDAC initiation. In this study, we demonstrate that PTF1A expression is lost in both mouse and human PanINs, and that this downregulation is functionally imperative in mice for acinar reprogramming by oncogenic KRAS. Loss of Ptf1a alone is sufficient to induce acinar-to-ductal metaplasia, potentiate inflammation, and induce a KRAS-permissive, PDAC-like gene expression profile. As a result, Ptf1a-deficient acinar cells are dramatically sensitized to KRAS transformation, and reduced Ptf1a greatly accelerates development of invasive PDAC. Together, these data indicate that cell differentiation regulators constitute a new tumor suppressive mechanism in the pancreas.
Project description:New drug targets are urgently needed for the treatment of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Nearly all PDAs contain oncogenic mutations in the KRAS gene. Pharmacological inhibition of KRAS has been unsuccessful, leading to a focus on downstream effectors that are more easily targeted with small molecule inhibitors. We investigated the contributions of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) to KRAS-initiated tumorigenesis.Tumorigenesis was measured in the Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mouse model of PDA; these mice were crossed with mice with pancreas-specific disruption of genes encoding PI3K p110? (Pik3ca), p110? (Pik3cb), or RAC1 (Rac1). Pancreatitis was induced with 5 daily intraperitoneal injections of cerulein. Pancreata and primary acinar cells were isolated; acinar cells were incubated with an inhibitor of p110? (PIK75) followed by a broad-spectrum PI3K inhibitor (GDC0941). PDA cell lines (NB490 and MiaPaCa2) were incubated with PIK75 followed by GDC0941. Tissues and cells were analyzed by histology, immunohistochemistry, quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, and immunofluorescence analyses for factors involved in the PI3K signaling pathway. We also examined human pancreas tissue microarrays for levels of p110? and other PI3K pathway components.Pancreas-specific disruption of Pik3ca or Rac1, but not Pik3cb, prevented the development of pancreatic tumors in Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mice. Loss of transformation was independent of AKT regulation. Preneoplastic ductal metaplasia developed in mice lacking pancreatic p110? but regressed. Levels of activated and total RAC1 were higher in pancreatic tissues from Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mice compared with controls. Loss of p110? reduced RAC1 activity and expression in these tissues. p110? was required for the up-regulation and activity of RAC guanine exchange factors during tumorigenesis. Levels of p110? and RAC1 were increased in human pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias and PDAs compared with healthy pancreata.KRAS signaling, via p110? to activate RAC1, is required for transformation in Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mice.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Activating mutations in KRAS are detected in most pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs). Expression of an activated form of KRAS (KrasG12D) in pancreata of mice is sufficient to induce formation of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs)-a precursor of PDAC. Pancreatitis increases formation of PanINs in mice that express KrasG12D by promoting acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM). We investigated the role of the transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) in ADM and KRAS-mediated formation of PanINs. METHODS:We performed studies in adult mice with conditional disruption of Klf5 (Klf5fl/fl) and/or expression of KrasG12D (LSL-KrasG12D) via CreERTM recombinase regulated by an acinar cell-specific promoter (Ptf1a). Activation of KrasG12D and loss of KLF5 was achieved by administration of tamoxifen. Pancreatitis was induced in mice by administration of cerulein; pancreatic tissues were collected, analyzed by histology and immunohistochemistry, and transcriptomes were compared between mice that did or did not express KLF5. We performed immunohistochemical analyses of human tissue microarrays, comparing levels of KLF5 among 96 human samples of PDAC. UN-KC-6141 cells (pancreatic cancer cells derived from Pdx1-Cre;LSL-KrasG12D mice) were incubated with inhibitors of different kinases and analyzed in proliferation assays and by immunoblots. Expression of KLF5 was knocked down with small hairpin RNAs or CRISPR/Cas9 strategies; cells were analyzed in proliferation and gene expression assays, and compared with cells expressing control vectors. Cells were subcutaneously injected into flanks of syngeneic mice and tumor growth was assessed. RESULTS:Of the 96 PDAC samples analyzed, 73% were positive for KLF5 (defined as nuclear staining in more than 5% of tumor cells). Pancreata from Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice contained ADM and PanIN lesions, which contained high levels of nuclear KLF5 within these structures. In contrast, Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice formed fewer PanINs. After cerulein administration, Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice formed more extensive ADM than Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice. Pancreata from Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice had increased expression of the tumor suppressor NDRG2 and reduced phosphorylation (activation) of STAT3, compared with Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice. In UN-KC-6141 cells, PI3K and MEK signaling increased expression of KLF5; a high level of KLF5 increased proliferation. Cells with knockdown of Klf5 had reduced proliferation, compared with control cells, had reduced expression of ductal markers, and formed smaller tumors (71.61 ± 30.79 mm3 vs 121.44 ± 34.90 mm3 from control cells) in flanks of mice. CONCLUSION:Levels of KLF5 are increased in human PDAC samples and in PanINs of Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice, compared with controls. KLF5 disruption increases expression of NDRG2 and reduces activation of STAT3 and reduces ADM and PanINs formation in mice. Strategies to reduce KLF5 activity might reduce progression of acinar cells from ADM to PanIN and pancreatic tumorigenesis.
Project description:miRNAs have crucial functions in many biological processes and are candidate biomarkers of disease. Here, we show that miR-216a is a conserved, pancreas-specific miRNA with important roles in pancreatic islet and acinar cells. Deletion of miR-216a in mice leads to a reduction in islet size, β-cell mass, and insulin levels. Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals a subpopulation of β-cells with upregulated acinar cell markers under a high-fat diet. miR-216a is induced by TGF-β signaling, and inhibition of miR-216a increases apoptosis and decreases cell proliferation in pancreatic cells. Deletion of miR-216a in the pancreatic cancer-prone mouse line <i>Kras</i> <sup><i>G12D</i></sup> <i>;Ptf1a</i> <sup><i>CreER</i></sup> reduces the propensity of pancreatic cancer precursor lesions. Notably, circulating miR-216a levels are elevated in both mice and humans with pancreatic cancer. Collectively, our study gives insights into how β-cell mass and acinar cell growth are modulated by a pancreas-specific miRNA and also suggests miR-216a as a potential biomarker for diagnosis of pancreatic diseases.
Project description:Pancreatic acinar cells synthesize, package, and secrete digestive enzymes into the duodenum to aid in nutrient absorption and meet metabolic demands. When exposed to cellular stresses and insults, acinar cells undergo a dedifferentiation process termed acinar-ductal metaplasia (ADM). ADM lesions with oncogenic mutations eventually give rise to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In healthy pancreata, the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) factors MIST1 and PTF1a coordinate an acinar-specific transcription network that maintains the highly developed differentiation status of the cells, protecting the pancreas from undergoing a transformative process. However, when MIST1 and PTF1a gene expression is silenced, cells are more prone to progress to PDAC. In this study, we tested whether induced MIST1 or PTF1a expression in PDAC cells could (i) re-establish the transcriptional program of differentiated acinar cells and (ii) simultaneously reduce tumor cell properties. As predicted, PTF1a induced gene expression of digestive enzymes and acinar-specific transcription factors, while MIST1 induced gene expression of vesicle trafficking molecules as well as activation of unfolded protein response components, all of which are essential to handle the high protein production load that is characteristic of acinar cells. Importantly, induction of PTF1a in PDAC also influenced cancer-associated properties, leading to a decrease in cell proliferation, cancer stem cell numbers, and repression of key ATP-binding cassette efflux transporters resulting in heightened sensitivity to gemcitabine. Thus, activation of pancreatic bHLH transcription factors rescues the acinar gene program and decreases tumorigenic properties in pancreatic cancer cells, offering unique opportunities to develop novel therapeutic intervention strategies for this deadly disease.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is believed to arise through a multistep model comprised of putative precursor lesions known as pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). Recent genetically engineered mouse models of PDAC demonstrate a comparable morphologic spectrum of murine PanIN (mPanIN) lesions. The histogenesis of PanIN and PDAC in both mice and men remains controversial. The most faithful genetic models activate an oncogenic Kras(G12D) knockin allele within the pdx1- or ptf1a/p48-expression domain of the entire pancreatic anlage during development, thus obscuring the putative cell(s)-of-origin from which subsequent mPanIN lesions arise. In our study, activation of this knockin Kras(G12D) allele in the Elastase- and Mist1-expressing mature acinar compartment of adult mice resulted in the spontaneous induction of mPanIN lesions of all histological grades, although invasive carcinomas per se were not seen. We observed no requirement for concomitant chronic exocrine injury in the induction of mPanIN lesions from the mature acinar cell compartment. The acinar cell derivation of the mPanINs was established through lineage tracing in reporter mice, and by microdissection of lesional tissue demonstrating Cre-mediated recombination events. In contrast to the uniformly penetrant mPanIN phenotype observed following developmental activation of Kras(G12D) in the Pdx1-expressing progenitor cells, the Pdx1-expressing population in the mature pancreas (predominantly islet beta cells) appears to be relatively resistant to the effects of oncogenic Kras. We conclude that in the appropriate genetic context, the differentiated acinar cell compartment in adult mice retains its susceptibility for spontaneous transformation into mPanIN lesions, a finding with potential relevance vis-à-vis the origins of PDAC.
Project description:Pancreatic mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN), a cystic tumor of the pancreas that develops most frequently in women, is a potential precursor to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. MCNs develop primarily in the body and tail of the pancreas and are characterized by the presence of a mucinous epithelium and ovarian-like subepithelial stroma. We investigated the involvement of Wnt signaling in KRAS-mediated pancreatic tumorigenesis and development of MCN in mice, and Wnt activation in human MCN samples.LSL-Kras(G12D), Ptf1a-cre mice were crossed with elastase-tva mice to allow for introduction of genes encoded by the replication-competent avian sarcoma-leukosis virus long-terminal repeat with splice acceptor viruses to pancreatic acinar cells and acinar cell progenitors, postnatally and sporadically. Repeat with splice acceptor viruses that expressed Wnt1 were delivered to the pancreatic epithelium of these mice; pancreatic lesions were analyzed by histopathology and immunohistochemical analyses. We analyzed levels of factors in Wnt signaling pathways in 19 MCN samples from patients.Expression of Wnt1 in the pancreatic acinar cells and acinar cell progenitors of female mice led to development of unilocular or multilocular epithelial cysts in the pancreas body and tail, similar to MCN. The cystic lesions resembled the estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive ovarian-like stroma of MCN, but lacked the typical mucinous epithelium. Activated Wnt signaling, based on nuclear localization of ?-catenin, was detected in the stroma but not cyst epithelium. Wnt signaling to ?-catenin was found to be activated in MCN samples from patients, within the ovarian-like stroma, consistent with the findings in mice.Based on studies of mice and pancreatic MCN samples from patients, the canonical Wnt signaling pathway becomes activated and promotes development of the ovarian-like stroma to contribute to formation of MCNs.
Project description:The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor PTF1a is critical to the development of the embryonic pancreas. It is required early for the formation of the undifferentiated tubular epithelium of the nascent pancreatic rudiment and then becomes restricted to the differentiating acinar cells, where it directs the transcriptional activation of the secretory digestive enzyme genes. Here we report that the complex temporal and spatial expression of Ptf1a is controlled by at least three separable gene-flanking regions. A 14.8-kb control domain immediately downstream of the last Ptf1a exon is highly conserved among mammals and directs expression in the dorsal part of the spinal cord but has very little activity in the embryonic or neonatal pancreas. A 13.4-kb proximal promoter domain initiates limited expression in cells that begin the acinar differentiation program. The activity of the proximal promoter domain is complemented by an adjacent 2.3-kb autoregulatory enhancer that is able to activate a heterologous minimal promoter with high-level penetrance in the pancreases of transgenic mice. During embryonic development, the enhancer initiates expression in the early precursor epithelium and then superinduces expression in acinar cells at the onset of their development. The enhancer contains two evolutionarily conserved binding sites for the active form of PTF1a, a trimeric complex composed of PTF1a, one of the common bHLH E proteins, and either RBPJ or RBPJL. The two sites are essential for acinar cell-specific transcription in transfected cell lines and mice. In mature acinar cells, the enhancer and PTF1a establish an autoregulatory loop that reinforces and maintains Ptf1a expression. Indeed, the trimeric PTF1 complex forms dual autoregulatory loops with the Ptf1a and Rbpjl genes that may maintain the stable phenotype of pancreatic acinar cells.