Functional interplay between MYCN, NCYM, and OCT4 promotes aggressiveness of human neuroblastomas.
ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma is a pediatric solid tumor that originates from embryonic neural crest cells. The MYCN gene locus is frequently amplified in unfavorable neuroblastomas, and the gene product promotes the progression of neuroblastomas. However, the molecular mechanisms by which MYCN amplification contributes to stem cell-like states of neuroblastoma remain elusive. In this study, we show that MYCN and its cis-antisense gene, NCYM, form a positive feedback loop with OCT4, a core regulatory gene maintaining a multipotent state of neural stem cells. We previously reported that NCYM is co-amplified with the MYCN gene in primary human neuroblastomas and that the gene product promotes aggressiveness of neuroblastoma by stabilization of MYCN. In 36 MYCN-amplified primary human neuroblastomas, OCT4 mRNA expression was associated with unfavorable prognosis and was correlated with that of NCYM. The OCT4 protein induced both NCYM and MYCN in human neuroblastoma cells, whereas NCYM stabilized MYCN to induce OCT4 and stem cell-related genes, including NANOG, SOX2, and LIN28. In sharp contrast to MYCN, enforced expression of c-MYC did not enhance OCT4 expression in human neuroblastoma cells. All-trans retinoic acid treatment reduced MYCN, NCYM, and OCT4 expression, accompanied by the decreased amount of OCT4 recruited onto the intron 1 region of MYCN. Knockdown of NCYM or OCT4 inhibited formation of spheres of neuroblastoma cells and promoted asymmetric cell division in MYCN-amplified human neuroblastoma cells. These results suggest that the functional interplay between MYCN, NCYM, and OCT4 contributes to aggressiveness of MYCN-amplified human neuroblastomas.
Project description:In human neuroblastoma, amplification of the MYCN gene predicts poor prognosis and resistance to therapy. Because hypoxia contributes to aggressive tumor phenotypes, predominantly via two structurally related hypoxia inducible factors, HIF-1? and HIF-2?, we examined hypoxia responses in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells. We demonstrate here that HIF-1?, but not HIF-2?, is preferentially expressed in both MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells and primary tumors in comparison to samples without MYCN amplification. Our results showed that interplay between N-Myc and HIF-1? plays critical roles in neuroblastoma. For example, high levels of N-Myc override HIF-1? inhibition of cell cycle progression, enabling continued proliferation under hypoxia. Furthermore, both HIF-1? and N-Myc are essential for the Warburg effect (aerobic glycolysis) in neuroblastomas by activating the transcription of multiple glycolytic genes. Of note, expressions of Phosphoglycerate Kinase 1 (PGK1), Hexokinase 2 (HK2), and Lactate Dehydrogenase A (LDHA) were each significantly higher in MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas than in tumors without MYCN amplification. Interestingly, MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells are "addicted" to LDHA enzymatic activity, as its depletion completely inhibits tumorigenesis in vivo. Thus, our results provide mechanistic insights explaining how MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells contend with hypoxic stress and paradoxically how hypoxia contributes to neuroblastoma aggressiveness through combinatorial effects of N-Myc and HIF-1?. These results also suggest that LDHA represents a novel, pharmacologically tractable target for neuroblastoma therapeutics.
Project description:MYCN amplification occurs in about 20-25% of human neuroblastomas and characterizes the majority of the high-risk cases, which display less than 50% prolonged survival rate despite intense multimodal treatment. Somehow paradoxically, MYCN also sensitizes neuroblastoma cells to apoptosis, understanding the molecular mechanisms of which might be relevant for the therapy of MYCN amplified neuroblastoma. We recently reported that the apoptosis-sensitive phenotype induced by MYCN is linked to stabilization of p53 and its proapoptotic kinase HIPK2. In MYCN primed neuroblastoma cells, further activation of both HIPK2 and p53 by Nutlin-3 leads to massive apoptosis in vitro and to tumor shrinkage and impairment of metastasis in xenograft models. Here we report that Galectin-3 impairs MYCN-primed and HIPK2-p53-dependent apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells. Galectin-3 is broadly expressed in human neuroblastoma cell lines and tumors and is repressed by MYCN to induce the apoptosis-sensitive phenotype. Despite its reduced levels, Galectin-3 can still exert residual antiapoptotic effects in MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cells, possibly due to its specific subcellular localization. Importantly, Nutlin-3 represses Galectin-3 expression, and this is required for its potent cell killing effect on MYCN amplified cell lines. Our data further characterize the apoptosis-sensitive phenotype induced by MYCN, expand our understanding of the activity of MDM2-p53 antagonists and highlight Galectin-3 as a potential biomarker for the tailored p53 reactivation therapy in patients with high-risk neuroblastomas.
Project description:MYCN is amplified in small cell lung cancers and several pediatric tumors, including alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas and neuroblastomas. MYCN protein is known to play a key oncogenic role in both alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas and neuroblastomas. MYCN opposite strand (MYCNOS) is a gene located on the antisense strand to MYCN that encodes alternatively spliced transcripts, two of which (MYCNOS-01 and MYCNOS-02) are known to be expressed in neuroblastoma and small cell lung cancer with reciprocal regulation between MYCNOS-02 and MYCN reported for neuroblastomas. We sought to determine a functional role for MYCNOS-01 in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma cells and identify any associated regulatory effects between MYCN and MYCNOS-01.MYCNOS-01, MYCNOS-02 and MYCN expression levels were assessed in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma cell lines and tumor samples from patients using Affymetrix microarray data and quantitative RT-PCR. Following MYCNOS-01 or MYCN siRNA knockdown and MYCNOS-01 overexpression, transcript levels were assayed by quantitative RT-PCR and MYCN protein expression assessed by Western blot and immunofluorescence. Additionally, effects on cell growth, apoptosis and cell cycle profiles were determined by a metabolic assay, caspase activity and flow cytometry, respectively.MYCNOS-01 transcript levels were generally higher in NB and RMS tumor samples and cell lines with MYCN genomic amplification. RNA interference of MYCNOS-01 expression did not alter MYCN transcript levels but decreased MYCN protein levels. Conversely, MYCN reduction increased MYCNOS-01 transcript levels, creating a negative feedback loop on MYCN protein levels. Reduction of MYCNOS-01 or MYCN expression decreased cell growth in MYCN-amplified alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma cell lines. This is consistent with MYCNOS-01-mediated regulation of MYCN contributing to the phenotype observed.An alternative transcript of MYCNOS, MYCNOS-01, post-transcriptionally regulates MYCN levels and affects growth in MYCN-amplified rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma cells.
Project description:BACKGROUND:MYCN amplification is a prognostic biomarker associated with poor prognosis of neuroblastoma in children. The overall survival of children with MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma has only marginally improved within the last 20 years. The Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal motif (BET) inhibitor, JQ1, has been shown to downregulate MYCN in neuroblastoma cells. OBJECTIVE:To determine if JQ1 downregulation of MYCN in neuroblastomas can offer a target- specific therapy for this, difficult to treat, pediatric cancer. METHODS:Since MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma accounts for as much as 40 to 50 percent of all high-risk cases, we compared the effect of JQ1 on both MYCN-amplified and non-MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines and investigated its mechanism of action. RESULTS:In this study, we show that JQ1 can specifically target MYCN for downregulation, though this effect is not specific to only MYCN-amplified cells. And although we can confirm that the loss of MYCN alone can induce apoptosis, the exogenous rescue of MYCN expression can abrogate much of this cytotoxicity. More fascinating, however, was the discovery that the JQ1-induced knockdown of MYCN, which led to the loss of the human double minute 2 homolog (HDM2) protein, also led to the accumulation of tumor protein 53 (also known as TP53 or p53), which ultimately induced apoptosis. Likewise, the knockdown of p53 also blunted the cytotoxic effects of JQ1. CONCLUSION:These data suggest a mechanism of action for JQ1 cytotoxicity in neuroblastomas and offer a possible prognostic target for determining its efficacy as a therapeutic.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is a pediatric cancer arising from sympathetic nervous system. Remarkable heterogeneity in outcomes is one of its widely known features. One of the traits strongly associated with the unfavorable subtype is the amplification of oncogene MYCN. Here, we performed cross-platform biomarker detection by comparing gene expression and pathway activation patterns from the two literature reports and from our experimental dataset, combining profiles for the 761 neuroblastoma patients with known MYCN amplification status. We identified 109 / 25 gene expression / pathway activation biomarkers strongly linked with the MYCN amplification. The marker genes/pathways are involved in the processes of purine nucleotide biosynthesis, ATP-binding, tetrahydrofolate metabolism, building mitochondrial matrix, biosynthesis of amino acids, tRNA aminoacylation and NADP-linked oxidation-reduction processes, as well as in the tyrosine phosphatase activity, p53 signaling, cell cycle progression and the G1/S and G2/M checkpoints. To connect molecular functions of the genes involved in MYCN-amplified phenotype, we built a new molecular pathway using known intracellular protein interaction networks. The activation of this pathway was highly selective in discriminating MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas in all three datasets. Our data also suggest that the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors may provide new opportunities for the treatment of the MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma subtype.
Project description:Neuroblastoma serves as a paradigm for applying tumor genomic data for determining patient prognosis and thus for treatment allocation. MYCN status, i.e., amplified vs. non-amplified, was one of the very first biomarkers in oncology to discriminate aggressive from less aggressive or even favorable clinical courses of neuroblastoma. However, MYCN amplification is by far not the only genetic change associated with unfavorable clinical courses. So called "segmental chromosomal aberrations," (SCAs) i.e., gains or losses of chromosomal fragments, can also indicate tumor aggressiveness. The clinical use of these genomic aberrations has, however, been hampered for many years by methodical and interpretational problems. Only after reaching worldwide consensus on markers, methodology, and data interpretation, information on SCAs has recently been implemented in clinical studies. Now, a number of collaborative studies within COG, GPOH, and SIOPEN use genomic information to stratify therapy for patients with localized and metastatic disease. Recently, new types of DNA based aberrations influencing the clinical behavior of neuroblastomas have been described. Deletions or mutations of genes like ATRX and a phenomenon referred to as "chromothripsis" are all assumed to correlate with an unfavorable clinical behavior. However, these genomic aberrations need to be scrutinized in larger studies applying the most appropriate techniques. Single nucleotide polymorphism arrays have proven successful in deciphering genomic aberrations of cancer cells; these techniques, however, are usually not applied in the daily routine. Here, we present an ultra-high density (UHD) SNParray technique which is, because of its high specificity and sensitivity and the combined copy number and allele information, highly appropriate for the genomic diagnosis of neuroblastoma and other malignancies.
Project description:Neuroblastomas with a high mitosis-karyorrhexis index (High-MKI) are often associated with MYCN amplification, MYCN protein overexpression and adverse clinical outcome. However, the prognostic effect of MYC-family protein expression on these neuroblastomas is less understood, especially when MYCN is not amplified. To address this, MYCN and MYC protein expression in High-MKI cases (120 MYCN amplified and 121 non-MYCN amplified) was examined by immunohistochemistry. The majority (101) of MYCN-amplified High-MKI tumors were MYCN(+), leaving one MYC(+), 2 both(+), and 16 both(-)/(+/-), whereas non-MYCN-amplified cases appeared heterogeneous, including 7 MYCN(+), 36 MYC(+), 3 both(+), and 75 both(-)/(+/-) tumors. These MYC-family proteins(+), or MYC-family driven tumors, were most likely to have prominent nucleolar (PN) formation (indicative of augmented rRNA synthesis). High-MKI neuroblastoma patients showed a poor survival irrespective of MYCN amplification. However, patients with MYC-family driven High-MKI neuroblastomas had significantly lower survival than those with non-MYC-family driven tumors. MYCN(+), MYC-family protein(+), PN(+), and clinical stage independently predicted poor survival. Specific inhibition of hyperactive rRNA synthesis and protein translation was shown to be an effective way to suppress MYC/MYCN protein expression and neuroblastoma growth. Together, MYC-family protein overexpression and PN formation should be included in new neuroblastoma risk stratification and considered for potential therapeutic targets.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is a pediatric malignant tumor arising from the sympathetic nervous system. The patients with high-risk neuroblastomas frequently exhibit amplification and high expression of the MYCN gene, resulting in worse clinical outcomes. Vitamin K3 (VK3) is a synthetic VK-like compound that has been known to have antitumor activity against various types of cancers. In the present study, we have asked whether VK3 and its derivative, VK3-OH, could have the antitumor activity against neuroblastoma-derived cells. Based on our results, VK3-OH strongly inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptotic cell death compared to VK3. Treatment of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma cells with VK3-OH potentiated tumor suppressor p53 accompanied by downregulation of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and Mcl-1. Interestingly, VK3-OH also suppressed the MYCN at mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, we found downregulation of LIN28B following VK3-OH treatment in MYCN-amplified and overexpressed neuroblastoma cells. Collectively, our current findings strongly suggest that VK3-OH provides a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with MYCN-driven neuroblastomas.
Project description:Pharmacologically difficult targets, such as MYC transcription factors, represent a major challenge in cancer therapy. For the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, amplification of the oncogene MYCN is associated with high-risk disease and poor prognosis. Here, we deployed genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 screening of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma and found a preferential dependency on genes encoding the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) components EZH2, EED, and SUZ12. Genetic and pharmacological suppression of EZH2 inhibited neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, compared with neuroblastomas without MYCN amplification, MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas expressed higher levels of EZH2. ChIP analysis showed that MYCN binds at the EZH2 promoter, thereby directly driving expression. Transcriptomic and epigenetic analysis, as well as genetic rescue experiments, revealed that EZH2 represses neuronal differentiation in neuroblastoma in a PRC2-dependent manner. Moreover, MYCN-amplified and high-risk primary tumors from patients with neuroblastoma exhibited strong repression of EZH2-regulated genes. Additionally, overexpression of IGFBP3, a direct EZH2 target, suppressed neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. We further observed strong synergy between histone deacetylase inhibitors and EZH2 inhibitors. Together, these observations demonstrate that MYCN upregulates EZH2, leading to inactivation of a tumor suppressor program in neuroblastoma, and support testing EZH2 inhibitors in patients with MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma.
Project description:Childhood high-risk neuroblastomas with MYCN gene amplification are difficult to treat effectively1. This has focused attention on tumor-specific gene dependencies that underlie tumorigenesis and thus provide valuable targets for the development of novel therapeutics. Using unbiased genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 approaches to detect genes involved in tumor cell growth and survival2-6, we identified 147 candidate gene dependencies selective for MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines, compared to over 300 other human cancer cell lines. We then used genome-wide chromatin-immunoprecipitation coupled to high-throughput sequencing analysis to demonstrate that a small number of essential transcription factors-MYCN, HAND2, ISL1, PHOX2B, GATA3, and TBX2-are members of the transcriptional core regulatory circuitry (CRC) that maintains cell state in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. To disable the CRC, we tested a combination of BRD4 and CDK7 inhibitors, which act synergistically, in vitro and in vivo, with rapid downregulation of CRC transcription factor gene expression. This study defines a set of critical dependency genes in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma that are essential for cell state and survival in this tumor.