Complete response of Ctnnb1-mutated tumours to ?-catenin suppression by locked nucleic acid antisense in a mouse hepatocarcinogenesis model.
ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) remains a disease of poor prognosis, highlighting the relevance of elucidating key molecular aberrations that may be targeted for novel therapies. Wnt signalling activation, chiefly due to mutations in CTNNB1, have been identified in a major subset of HCC patients. While several in vitro proof of concept studies show the relevance of suppressing Wnt/?-catenin signalling in HCC cells or tumour xenograft models, no study has addressed the impact of ?-catenin inhibition in a relevant murine HCC model driven by Ctnnb1 mutations.We studied the in vivo impact of ?-catenin suppression by locked nucleic acid (LNA) antisense treatment, after establishing Ctnnb1 mutation-driven HCC by diethylnitrosamine and phenobarbital (DEN/PB) administration.The efficacy of LNA directed against ?-catenin vs. scrambled on Wnt signalling was demonstrated in vitro in HCC cells and in vivo in normal mice. The DEN/PB model leads to HCC with Ctnnb1 mutations. A complete therapeutic response in the form of abrogation of HCC was observed after ten treatments of tumour-bearing mice with ?-catenin LNA every 48h as compared to the scrambled control. A decrease in ?-catenin activity, cell proliferation and increased cell death was evident after ?-catenin suppression. No effect of ?-catenin suppression was evident in non-Ctnnb1 mutated HCC, observed after DEN-only administration.Thus, we provide the in vivo proof of concept that ?-catenin suppression in HCC will be of significant therapeutic benefit, provided the tumours display Wnt activation via mechanisms like CTNNB1 mutations.
Project description:Several cellular signaling pathways, including insulin/IGF signaling, are known to be activated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we investigated the roles of insulin receptor substrate (Irs) 1 and Irs2, both of which are the major molecules to be responsible for transducing insulin/IGF signaling in the liver, in the development of HCC by inducing chemical carcinogenesis using diethylnitrosamine (DEN) in mice. The Irs1 mRNA and protein expressions were upregulated in the tumors, along with enhanced insulin signaling. Liver-specific Irs1-knockout (LIrs1KO) mice exhibited suppression of DEN-induced HCC development, accompanied by reduced cancer cell proliferative activity and reduced activation of Akt. Gene expression analyses revealed that the tumors in the DEN-treated LIrs1KO mice showed modest metabolic alterations during hepatocarcinogenesis as well as decreased inflammation and invasion potentials. On the other hand, liver-specific Irs2-knockout (LIrs2KO) mice showed a similar pattern of HCC development to the DEN-treated control wild-type mice. Based on the knowledge that Wnt/?-catenin signaling is activated in HCC, we focused on Wnt/?-catenin signaling and demonstrated that Irs1 expression was induced by Wnt3a stimulation in the primary hepatocytes, associated with insulin-stimulated Akt activation. These data suggest that upregulated Irs1 by Wnt/?-catenin signaling plays a crucial role in the progression of HCC.
Project description:Up to 41% of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) result from activating mutations in the CTNNB1 gene encoding ?-catenin. HCC-associated CTNNB1 mutations stabilize the ?-catenin protein, leading to nuclear and/or cytoplasmic localization of ?-catenin and downstream activation of Wnt target genes. In patient HCC samples, ?-catenin nuclear and cytoplasmic localization are typically patchy, even among HCC with highly active CTNNB1 mutations. The functional and clinical relevance of this heterogeneity in ?-catenin activation are not well understood. To define mechanisms of ?-catenin-driven HCC initiation, we generated a Cre-lox system that enabled switching on activated ?-catenin in (1) a small number of hepatocytes in early development; or (2) the majority of hepatocytes in later development or adulthood. We discovered that switching on activated ?-catenin in a subset of larval hepatocytes was sufficient to drive HCC initiation. To determine the role of Wnt/?-catenin signaling heterogeneity later in hepatocarcinogenesis, we performed RNA-seq analysis of zebrafish ?-catenin-driven HCC. At the single-cell level, 2.9% to 15.2% of hepatocytes from zebrafish ?-catenin-driven HCC expressed two or more of the Wnt target genes axin2, mtor, glula, myca and wif1, indicating focal activation of Wnt signaling in established tumors. Thus, heterogeneous ?-catenin activation drives HCC initiation and persists throughout hepatocarcinogenesis.
Project description:Recently, we have shown that coexpression of hMet and mutant-?-catenin using sleeping beauty transposon/transposase leads to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in mice that corresponds to around 10% of human HCC. In the current study, we investigate whether Ras activation, which can occur downstream of Met signaling, is sufficient to cause HCC in association with mutant-?-catenin. We also tested therapeutic efficacy of targeting ?-catenin in an HCC model. We show that mutant-K-Ras (G12D), which leads to Ras activation, cooperates with ?-catenin mutants (S33Y, S45Y) to yield HCC in mice. Affymetrix microarray showed?>?90% similarity in gene expression in mutant-K-Ras-?-catenin and Met-?-catenin HCC. K-Ras-?-catenin tumors showed up-regulation of ?-catenin targets like glutamine synthetase (GS), leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2, Regucalcin, and Cyclin-D1 and of K-Ras effectors, including phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase, phosphorylated protein kinase B, phosphorylated mammalian target of rapamycin, phosphorylated eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E, phosphorylated 4E-binding protein 1, and p-S6 ribosomal protein. Inclusion of dominant-negative transcription factor 4 at the time of K-Ras-?-catenin injection prevented HCC and downstream ?-catenin and Ras signaling. To address whether targeting ?-catenin has any benefit postestablishment of HCC, we administered K-Ras-?-catenin mice with EnCore lipid nanoparticles (LNP) loaded with a Dicer substrate small interfering RNA targeting catenin beta 1 (CTNNB1; CTNNB1-LNP), scrambled sequence (Scr-LNP), or phosphate-buffered saline for multiple cycles. A significant decrease in tumor burden was evident in the CTNNB1-LNP group versus all controls, which was associated with dramatic decreases in ?-catenin targets and some K-Ras effectors, leading to reduced tumor cell proliferation and viability. Intriguingly, in relatively few mice, non-GS-positive tumors, which were evident as a small subset of overall tumor burden, were not affected by ?-catenin suppression.Ras activation downstream of c-Met is sufficient to induce clinically relevant HCC in cooperation with mutant ?-catenin. ?-catenin suppression by a clinically relevant modality is effective in treatment of ?-catenin-positive, GS-positive HCCs. (Hepatology 2017;65:1581-1599).
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a heterogeneous cancer with active Wnt signaling. Underlying biologic mechanisms remain unclear and no drug targeting this pathway has been approved to date. We aimed to characterize Wnt-pathway aberrations in HCC patients, and to investigate sorafenib as a potential Wnt modulator in experimental models of liver cancer.The Wnt-pathway was assessed using mRNA (642 HCCs and 21 liver cancer cell lines) and miRNA expression data (89 HCCs), immunohistochemistry (108 HCCs), and CTNNB1-mutation data (91 HCCs). Effects of sorafenib on Wnt signaling were evaluated in four liver cancer cell lines with active Wnt signaling and a tumor xenograft model.Evidence for Wnt activation was observed for 315 (49.1%) cases, and was further classified as CTNNB1 class (138 cases [21.5%]) or Wnt-TGF? class (177 cases [27.6%]). CTNNB1 class was characterized by upregulation of liver-specific Wnt-targets, nuclear ?-catenin and glutamine-synthetase immunostaining, and enrichment of CTNNB1-mutation-signature, whereas Wnt-TGF? class was characterized by dysregulation of classical Wnt-targets and the absence of nuclear ?-catenin. Sorafenib decreased Wnt signaling and ?-catenin protein in HepG2 (CTNNB1 class), SNU387 (Wnt-TGF? class), SNU398 (CTNNB1-mutation), and Huh7 (lithium-chloride-pathway activation) cell lines. In addition, sorafenib attenuated expression of liver-related Wnt-targets GLUL, LGR5, and TBX3. The suppressive effect on CTNNB1 class-specific Wnt-pathway activation was validated in vivo using HepG2 xenografts in nude mice, accompanied by decreased tumor volume and increased survival of treated animals.Distinct dysregulation of Wnt-pathway constituents characterize two different Wnt-related molecular classes (CTNNB1 and Wnt-TGF?), accounting for half of all HCC patients. Sorafenib modulates ?-catenin/Wnt signaling in experimental models that harbor the CTNNB1 class signature.
Project description:Emerging evidence has demonstrated the critical roles for both androgen and Wnt pathways in prostate tumorigenesis. A recent integrative genomic analysis of human prostate cancers (PCas) has revealed a unique enrichment of androgen and Wnt signaling in early-onset PCas, implying their clinical significance in the disease. Additionally, interaction between the androgen receptor (AR) and ?-catenin has long been detected in PCa cells. However, the consequence of this interaction in prostate tumorigenesis is still unknown. Because mutations in adenomatous polyposis coli, ?-catenin and other components of the destruction complex are generally rare in PCas, other mechanisms of aberrant Wnt signaling activation have been speculated. To address these critical questions, we developed Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+)/R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 mice, in which transgenic AR and stabilized ?-catenin are co-expressed in prostatic epithelial cells. We observed accelerated tumor development, aggressive tumor invasion and a decreased survival rate in Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+)/R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 compound mice compared with age-matched Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+):PB-Cre4 littermate controls, which only have stabilized ?-catenin expression in the prostate. Castration of the above transgenic mice resulted in significant tumor regression, implying an essential role of androgen signaling in tumor growth and maintenance. Implantation of the prostatic epithelial cells isolated from the transgenic mice regenerated prostate intraepithelial neoplasias and prostatic adenocarcinoma lesions. Microarray analyses of transcriptional profiles showed more robust enrichment of known tumor- and metastasis-promoting genes: Spp1, Egr1, c-Myc, Sp5, and Sp6 genes, in samples isolated from Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+)/R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 compound mice than those from Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+):PB-Cre4 and R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 littermate controls. Together, these data demonstrate a confounding role of androgen signaling in ?-catenin-initiated oncogenic transformation in prostate tumorigenesis.
Project description:Activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling is reported in large subsets of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Upregulation of Wnt genes is one contributing mechanism. In the current study, we sought to address the role of hepatocyte-derived Wnts in a model of hepatic injury, fibrosis, and carcinogenesis. We subjected hepatocyte-specific Wntless knockout mice (HP-KO), unable to secrete Wnts from hepatocytes, and littermate controls (HP-CON) to diethylnitrosamine and carbon tetrachloride (DEN/CCl4) and harvested at 3, 5, and 6 months for histological and molecular analysis. Analysis at 5 months displayed increased hepatic expression of several Wnts and upregulation of some, but not all, β-catenin targets, without mutations in Ctnnb1. At 5 months, HP-CON and HP-KO had comparable tumor burden and injury; however, HP-KO uniquely showed small CK19+ foci within tumors. At 6 months, both groups were moribund with comparable tumor burden and CK19 positivity. While HCC histology was indistinguishable between the groups, HP-KO exhibited increased active β-catenin and decreased c-Myc, Brd4, E-cadherin, and others. Hepatic injury, inflammation, and fibrosis were also indistinguishable at 3 months between both groups. Thus, lack of Wnt secretion from hepatocytes did not affect overall injury, fibrosis, or HCC burden, although there were protein expression differences in the tumors occurring in the two groups.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV), along with Hepatitis C virus chronic infection, represents a major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. However, molecular mechanisms involved in the development of HCC are not yet completely understood. Recent studies have indicated that mutations in CTNNB1 gene encoding for ?-catenin protein lead to aberrant activation of the Wnt/ ?-catenin pathway. The mutations in turn activate several downstream genes, including c-Myc, promoting the neoplastic process. The present study evaluated the mutational profile of the CTNNB1 gene and expression levels of CTNNB1 and c-Myc genes in HBV-related HCC, as well as in cirrhotic and control tissues. Mutational analysis of the ?-catenin gene and HBV genotyping were conducted by direct sequencing. Expression of ?-catenin and c-Myc genes was assessed using real-time PCR. Among the HCC cases, 18.1% showed missense point mutation in exon 3 of CTNNB1, more frequently in codons 32, 33, 38 and 45. The frequency of mutation in the hotspots of exon 3 was significantly higher in non-viral HCCs (29.4%) rather than HBV-related cases (12.7%, P?=?0.021). The expression of ?-catenin and c-Myc genes was found upregulated in cirrhotic tissues in association with HBV infection. Mutations at both phosphorylation and neighboring sites were associated with increased activity of the Wnt pathway. The results demonstrated that mutated ?-catenin caused activation of the Wnt pathway, but the rate of CTNNB1 gene mutations was not related to HBV infection. HBV factors may deregulate the Wnt pathway by causing epigenetic alterations in the HBV-related HCC.
Project description:The Wnt/?-catenin pathway plays a vital role in initiating and sustaining hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, few studies have investigated polymorphisms in the Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway genes in the Chinese Han population. The aim of the present retrospective study was to investigate the correlations between polymorphisms of the Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway genes (CTNNB1 and WNT2) and HCC susceptibility, development, and progression.Twenty tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms were chosen from HapMap data and genotyped in 320 patients with HCC, 320 chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients without HCC (N-HCC, including 95 liver cirrhosis, 164 chronic hepatitis B, and 61 asymptomatic HBV carriers), and 320 healthy controls. Associations between polymorphisms in the 2 Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway genes (CTNNB1 and WNT2) and HCC susceptibility, development, and progression were investigated.Genotype AA (P?=?0.002, odds ratio [OR]?=?2.524) and allele A (P?=?0.0003, OR?=?1.613) of the WNT2 rs4730775 polymorphism were associated with HCC susceptibility compared with healthy controls. Genotype GA (P?=?0.001, OR?=?0.567) and allele A (P?=?0.002, OR?=?0.652) of rs3864004, and genotype AG (P?=?0.0004, OR?=?0.495) and allele G (P?=?0.001, OR?=?0.596) of rs11564475 in the CTNNB1 gene were correlated with HCC compared with N-HCC patients. These findings were consistent in dominant and recessive models. Multidimensionality reduction analysis revealed that interactions among rs3864004, rs11564475, and rs4730775 were significantly associated with HCC compared with N-HCC patients. The polymorphism rs4135385 of CTNNB1 genotype GA was associated with a higher risk for Stage III + IV HCC (modified Union for International Cancer Control) (P?=?0.001, OR?=?2.238).Genetic polymorphisms in the WNT2 and CTNNB1 genes were closely associated with HCC risk and progression in a Chinese Han population.
Project description:Upregulated fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) specimens is associated with tumor progression and poor prognosis. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) patients are at high risk for malignant transformation into HCC.A steatohepatitis-HCC model was established in male C57L/J mice treated with N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN) and high-fat diet (HFD). A mouse HCC cell line (Hepa1-6) and a mouse hepatocyte line (FL83B) were used to elucidate the mechanism by free fatty acids (FFA) treatment. FGF15, the mouse orthologue of FGF19, and it receptor fibroblast growth factor receptor4 (FGFR4) as well as co-receptor ?-klotho were studied. FGF19 signaling was also studied in human samples of HCC with steatohepatitis.HCC incidence and tumor volume were significantly increased in the DEN+HFD group compared to that in the DEN+control diet (CD) group. Increased levels of FGF15/FGFR4/?-klotho, aberrant epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and Wnt/?-catenin signaling were detected in DEN+HFD mice. Blockage of the FGF15 signal can attenuate cell migration ability and aberrant EMT and Wnt/?-catenin signaling.Up-regulated FGF15/FGFR4 signaling promoted the development of HCC by activation of EMT and Wnt/?-catenin signaling in the lipid metabolic disorder microenvironment. Further investigation of FGF19/FGFR4 signaling is important for potential early diagnosis and therapeutic targeting in HCC patients.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is leading cause of cancer-related mortality and is categorized among the most common malignancies around the world. It is a heterogeneous tumor, which shows significant degree of histopathological heterogeneity. Despite the apparent histopathological diversity there has been very little distinct correlation between histopathological features and molecular aberrations particularly when it comes to the expression level of Wnt and Hh pathway molecules. The role of Wnt and Hh pathways in relation to HCC behavior viz. histopathological heterogeneity and aggressiveness is not known. Determining the sequential molecular changes and associated histopathological characteristic during HCC initiation, promotion, and progression would probably lead to a better treatment and prognosis. METHODS:N-Nitrosodiethylamine (DEN) induced HCC model in male Wistar rats were established to study the expression level of Wnt and Hh pathway molecules during different stages of hepatocarcinogenesis. Their expression levels were checked at mRNA and protein levels at initiation, promotion, and progression stages of HCC. The expression levels of Wnt and Hh pathway molecules were correlated with biospecimens of HCC patients of different stages. RESULTS:In the present study we identified the comprehensive change in the expression pattern of Wnt and Hh pathway molecules in DEN induced rodent hepatocarcinogenesis model. Our results demonstrate that ?-catenin /CTNNB1 plays important role in tumor initiation and promotion by stimulating tumor cell proliferation. The activated Wnt signaling in early stage of HCC is associated with well-differentiated histological pattern. The Hh activity although activated during the initiation stage but is significantly increased during the early promotion stage of hepatocarcinogenesis. The increased activity of both Wnt & Hh pathways during promotion stage is associated with moderately-differentiated histological pattern and was simultaneously linked with an increased expression of MMP9. Furthermore, our data demonstrated that during the progression stage Wnt pathway is modestly down-regulated but the Hh pathway activity sustained which in turn is associated with aggressive and invasive phenotype and poorly-differentiated histopathology. CONCLUSION:Our data uncovers the grade related expression of Wnt and Hh pathway molecules and the potential utility of these molecular signatures in daily clinical practice is to decide best therapy according to patients characteristic. Additionally, our data offer insight into the interaction between Wnt and Hh pathways which triggers HCC development and progression.