Paired-like Homeodomain Transcription factor 2 expression by breast cancer bone marrow disseminated tumor cells is associated with early recurrent disease development.
ABSTRACT: The presence of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow (BM) of breast cancer patients is prognostic for early relapse. In the present study, we analyzed the gene expression profiles from BM cells of breast cancer patients to identify molecular signatures associated with DTCs and their relevance to metastatic outcome. We analyzed BM from 30 patients with stage II/III breast cancer by gene expression profiling and correlated expression with metastatic disease development. A candidate gene, PITX2, was analyzed for expression and phenotype in breast cancer cell lines. PITX2 was knocked down in the MDAMB231 cell lines for gene expression analysis and cell invasiveness. Expression of various signaling pathway molecules was confirmed by RT-PCR. We found that the expression of Paired-like Homeobox Transcription factor-2 (PITX2) is absent in the BM of normal healthy volunteers and, when detected in the BM of breast cancer patients, is significantly correlated with early metastatic disease development (p = 0.0062). Suppression of PITX2 expression significantly reduced invasiveness in MDAMB231 cells. Three genes-NKD1, LEF1, and DKK4-were significantly downregulated in response to PITX2 suppression. Expression of PITX2 in BM of early-stage breast cancer patients is associated with risk for early disease recurrence. Furthermore, PITX2 likely plays a role in the metastatic process through its effect on the expression of genes associated with the Wnt/beta-Catenin signaling pathway.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) found in the bone marrow (BM) of patients with breast cancer portend a poor prognosis and are thought to be intermediaries in the metastatic process. To assess the clinical relevance of a mouse model for identifying possible prognostic and predictive biomarkers of these cells, we have employed patient-derived xenografts (PDX) for propagating and molecularly profiling human DTCs. METHODS:Previously developed mouse xenografts from five breast cancer patients were further passaged by implantation into NOD/SCID mouse mammary fat pads. BM was collected from long bones at early, serial passages and analyzed for human-specific gene expression by qRT-PCR as a surrogate biomarker for the detection of DTCs. Microarray-based gene expression analyses were performed to compare expression profiles between primary xenografts, solid metastasis, and populations of BM DTCs. Differential patterns of gene expression were then compared to previously generated microarray data from primary human BM aspirates from patients with breast cancer and healthy volunteers. RESULTS:Human-specific gene expression of SNAI1, GSC, FOXC2, KRT19, and STAM2, presumably originating from DTCs, was detected in the BM of all xenograft mice that also developed metastatic tumors. Human-specific gene expression was undetectable in the BM of those xenograft lines with no evidence of distant metastases and in non-transplanted control mice. Comparative gene expression analysis of BM DTCs versus the primary tumor of one mouse line identified multiple gene transcripts associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition, aggressive clinical phenotype, and metastatic disease development. Sixteen of the PDX BM associated genes also demonstrated a statistically significant difference in expression in the BM of healthy volunteers versus the BM of breast cancer patients with distant metastatic disease. CONCLUSION:Unique and reproducible patterns of differential gene expression can be identified that presumably originate from BM DTCs in mouse PDX lines. Several of these identified genes are also detected in the BM of patients with breast cancer who develop early metastases, which suggests that they may be clinically relevant biomarkers. The PDX model may also provide a clinically relevant system for analyzing and targeting these intermediaries of metastases.
Project description:Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) detected in the bone marrow (BM) of breast cancer patients identify women at high risk of recurrence. DTCs are traditionally detected by immunocytochemical staining for cytokeratins or single gene expression measurements, which limit both specificity and sensitivity. We evaluated the Nanostring nCounter™ platform for multi-marker, gene expression-based detection and classification of DTCs in the BM of breast cancer patients. Candidate genes exhibiting tumor cell-specific expression were identified from microarray datasets and validated by qRT-PCR analysis in non-malignant human BM and identical samples spiked with predefined numbers of molecularly diverse breast tumor cell lines. Thirty-eight validated transcripts were designed for the nCounter™ platform and a subset of these transcripts was technically validated against qRT-PCR measurements using identical spiked BM controls. Bilateral iliac crest BM aspirates were collected and analyzed from twenty breast cancer patients, prior to neoadjuvant therapy, using the full 38-gene nCounter™ code set. Tumor cell-specific gene expression by nCounter™ was detected with a sensitivity of one cancer cell per 1 × 10(6) nucleated BM cells after optimization. Measurements were quantitative, log linear over a 20-fold range, and correlated with qRT-PCR measurements. Using the nCounter™ 38-gene panel, 6 of 8 patients (75 %) who developed metastatic disease had detectable expression of at least one transcript. Notably, three of these patients had detectable expression of ERBB2 in their BM, despite the fact that their corresponding primary tumors were HER2/ERBB2 negative and therefore did not receive trastuzumab therapy. Four of these patients also expressed the PTCH1 receptor, a newly recognized therapeutic target based on hedgehog signaling pathway inhibition. The presumptive detection and classification of DTCs in the BM of breast cancer patients, based on sensitive and quantitative multi-marker detection of gene expression using the nCounter™ platform, provide an opportunity to both predict early distant recurrence and, more importantly, identify opportunities for preventing the spread of disease based on the expression of unique, therapeutically actionable gene targets. This study demonstrates the application of a new technology for multiplexed gene expression-based detection of DTCs in the BM of breast cancer patients and identifies at least two therapeutically targetable genes that are frequently expressed in the BM of patients who develop metastatic disease.
Project description:Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) have potential to predict the effect of adjuvant treatment. The purpose of this study was to compare two methods, reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and immunocytochemisty (ICC), for detecting breast cancer DTCs in bone marrow (BM) from early breast cancer patients.We investigated a subset (n = 313) of BM samples obtained from 271 early breast cancer patients in the "Secondary Adjuvant Taxotere Treatment" (SATT)-trial. All patients in this study had node positive or intermediate/high-risk node negative non-metastatic disease. The DTCs were detected by ICC using AE1-AE3 anti-cytokeratin monoclonal antibodies. Patients with DTCs detected in their BM by ICC after standard adjuvant fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide, epirubicin (FEC) chemotherapy were offered docetaxel treatment. For comparison, 5 × 106 mononuclear cells from the aliquoted BM samples were also analyzed by RT-qPCR using a multimarker (MM) assay based on the tumor cell mRNA markers keratin 19 (KRT19), mammaglobin A (hMAM), and TWIST1. In the MM-assay, a sample was defined as positive for DTCs if at least one of the mRNA markers was positive.The MM RT-qPCR assay identified DTCs in 124 (40%) of the 313 BM samples compared with 23/313 (7%) of the samples analyzed by ICC. The concordance between the MM RT-qPCR and ICC was 61% (Kappa value = 0.04) and twelve of the BM samples were positive by both methods. By RT-qPCR, 46/313 (15%) samples were positive for KRT19, 97/313 (31%) for TWIST1, and 3/313 (1%) for hMAM mRNA. There were no statistically significant associations between the individual mRNA markers.The RT-qPCR based method demonstrated more DTC-positive samples than ICC. The relatively low concordance of positive DTC-status between the two different assessment methods suggests that they may be complementary. The clinical relevance of the methods will be evaluated based on future clinical outcome data.ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00248703.
Project description:Real-time monitoring of biologic changes in tumors may be possible by investigating the transitional cells such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and disseminated tumor cells in bone marrow (BM-DTCs). However, the small numbers of CTCs and the limited access to bone marrow aspirates in cancer patients pose major hurdles. The goal of this study was to determine whether breast cancer (BC) patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mice could provide a constant and renewable source of CTCs and BM-DTCs, thereby representing a unique system for the study of metastatic processes.CTCs and BM-DTCs, isolated from BC PDX-bearing mice, were identified by immunostaining for human pan-cytokeratin and nuclear counterstaining of red blood cell-lysed blood and bone marrow fractions, respectively. The rate of lung metastases (LM) was previously reported in these lines. Associations between the presence of CTCs, BM-DTCs, and LM were assessed by the Fisher's Exact and Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel tests. Two separate genetic signatures associated with the presence of CTC clusters and with lung metastatic potential were computed by using the expression arrays of primary tumors from different PDX lines and subsequently overlapped to identify common genes.In total, 18 BC PDX lines were evaluated. CTCs and BM-DTCs, present as either single cells or clusters, were detected in 83% (15 of 18) and 62.5% (10 to16) of the lines, respectively. A positive association was noted between the presence of CTCs and BM-DTCs within the same mice. LM was previously found in 9 of 18 (50%) lines, of which all nine had detectable CTCs. The presence of LM was strongly associated with the detection of CTC clusters but not with individual cells or detection of BM-DTCs. Overlapping of the two genetic signatures of the primary PDX tumors associated with the presence of CTC clusters and with lung metastatic potential identified four genes (HLA-DP1A, GJA1, PEG3, and XIST). This four-gene profile predicted distant metastases-free survival in publicly available datasets of early BC patients.This study suggests that CTCs and BM-DTCs detected in BC PDX-bearing mice may represent a valuable and unique preclinical model for investigating the role of these rare cells in tumor metastases.
Project description:PURPOSE:Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the BM of breast cancer patients predict early disease relapse, but the molecular heterogeneity of these cells is less well characterized. Expression of a 46-gene panel was used to detect DTCs and classify patient BM samples to determine whether a composite set of biomarkers could better predict metastatic relapse. METHODS:Using a high-throughput qRT-PCR assay platform, BM specimens collected from 70 breast cancer patients prior to neoadjuvant therapy were analyzed for the expression of 46 gene transcripts. Gene expression was scored positive (detectable) relative to a reference pool of 16 healthy female control BM specimens. To validate findings from a subset of 28 triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients in the initial 70 patient cohort, an independent set of pre-therapeutic BM specimens from 16 TNBC patients was analyzed. RESULTS:Expression of each of the 46 gene transcripts was highly variable between patients. Individual gene expression was detected in 0-84% of BM specimens analyzed and all but two patient BM specimens expressed at least one transcript. Among a subset of 28 patients with TNBC, positivity of one or more of eight transcripts correlated with time to distant relapse (p?=?0.03). In an independent set of 16 triple-negative patient BM samples, detection of five of these same eight gene transcripts also correlated with time to distant relapse (p?=?0.03) with a positive predictive value of 89%. CONCLUSIONS:We identified a set of gene transcripts whose detection in the BM of TNBC patients, prior to any treatment intervention, predicts time to first distant relapse, thus identifying a TNBC patient population which requires additional treatment intervention. Because these genes are presumably expressed in populations of DTCs and many encode proteins that are known therapeutic targets (e.g., ERBB2), these results also suggest a potential approach for targeted DTC therapy to mitigate distant metastases in TNBC.
Project description:Besides circulating tumor cells, disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in bone marrow (BM) might be used as a 'liquid biopsy' to obtain information helpful to steer therapies in individual patients. Moreover, the molecular characterization of DTCs may provide important insight into the biology of cancer metastasis. BM is a frequent site of metastasis in breast, prostate and lung cancer, and it might represent a sanctuary site for DTCs derived from various additional types of epithelial tumors. Highly sensitive and specific immunocytological and molecular methods enable the detection of DTCs in BM of cancer patients at the single-cell level years before the occurrence of metastases. This information might be useful to assess individual prognosis and stratify patients at risk to systemic adjuvant anti-cancer therapies. Although most data on the prognostic value of DTCs are available for breast cancer, several single institution studies including patients with colon, lung, prostate, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, ovarian and head and neck carcinomas have also documented an association between the presence of DTCs at primary surgery and subsequent metastatic relapse. Most DTCs are in a dormant (that is, non-proliferative) stage, frequently express HER2 and display a cancer stem cell and immune escape phenotype. Here, we summarize the current knowledge about specific biological properties of DTCs in BM, and discuss the clinical relevance of DTC detection in cancer patients with regard to an improved individualized therapeutic management. This will stimulate further technical developments that may make BM sampling more acceptable for the clinical management of patients with solid tumors.
Project description:Background:The chemokine receptor CXCR4 and the transcription factor JUNB, expressed on a variety of tumor cells, seem to play an important role in the metastatic process. Since disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow (BM) have been associated with worse outcomes, we evaluated the expression of CXCR4 and JUNB in DTCs of primary, nonmetastatic breast cancer (BC) patients before the onset of any systemic treatment. Methods:Bilateral BM (10?ml) aspirations of 39 hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative BC patients were assessed for the presence of DTCs using the following combination of antibodies: pan-cytokeratin (A45-B/B3)/CXCR4/JUNB. An expression pattern of the examined proteins was created using confocal laser scanning microscopy, Image J software and BC cell lines. Results:CXCR4 was overexpressed in cancer cells and DTCs, with the following hierarchy of expression: SKBR3?>?MCF7?>?DTCs?>?MDA-MB231. Accordingly, the expression pattern of JUNB was: DTCs?>?MDA-MB231?>?SKBR3?>?MCF7. The mean intensity of CXCR4 (6411?±?334) and JUNB (27725.64?±?470) in DTCs was statistically higher compared with BM hematopoietic cells (2009?±?456, p?=?0.001; and 11112.89?±?545, p?=?0.001, respectively). The (CXCR4+JUNB+CK+) phenotype was the most frequently detected [90% (35/39)], followed by the (CXCR4-JUNB+CK+) phenotype [36% (14/39)]. However, (CXCR4+JUNB-CK+) tumor cells were found in only 5% (3/39) of patients. Those patients harboring DTCs with the (CXCR4+JUNB+CK+) phenotype revealed lower overall survival (Cox regression: p?=?0.023). Conclusions:(CXCR4+JUNB+CK+)-expressing DTCs, detected frequently in the BM of BC patients, seem to identify a subgroup of patients at higher risk for relapse that may be considered for close follow up.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The presence of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in bone marrow (BM) is an independent prognostic factor in early breast cancer but does not uniformly predict outcome. Tumor cells can persist in a quiescent state over time, but clinical studies of markers predicting the awakening potential of DTCs are lacking. Recently, experiments have shown that NR2F1 (COUP-TF1) plays a key role in dormancy signaling. METHODS:We analyzed the NR2F1 expression in DTCs by double immunofluorescence (DIF) staining of extra cytospins prepared from 114 BM samples from 86 selected DTC-positive breast cancer patients. Samples collected at two or more time points were available for 24 patients. Fifteen samples were also analyzed for the proliferation marker Ki67. RESULTS:Of the patients with detectable DTCs by DIF, 27% had ≥ 50% NR2F1high DTCs, chosen a priori as the cut-off for "dormant profile" classification. All patients with systemic relapse within 12 months after BM aspiration carried ≤ 1% NR2F1high DTCs, including patients who transitioned from having NR2F1high-expressing DTCs in previous BM samples. Of the patients with serial samples, half of those with no relapse at follow-up had ≥ 50% NR2F1high DTCs in the last BM aspiration analyzed. Among the 18 relapse-free patients at the time of the last DTC-positive BM aspiration with no subsequent BM analysis performed, distant disease-free intervals were favorable for patients carrying ≥ 50% NR2F1high DTCs compared with those with predominantly NR2F1low DTCs (p = 0.007, log-rank). No survival difference was observed by classification according to Ki67-expressing DTCs (p = 0.520). CONCLUSIONS:Our study translates findings from basic biological analysis of DTC dormancy to the clinical situation and supports further clinical studies of NR2F1 as a marker of dormancy.
Project description:To achieve a cure for metastatic breast cancer, further understanding of molecular drivers of the metastatic cascade is essential. Currently, chemotherapy regimens include doxorubicin and paclitaxel which act in part by inducing the unfolded protein response (UPR). The master regulator of the UPR, glucose regulated protein 78 (GRP78), localizes on the surface of tumor cells and is associated with metastatic disease. Cyclic AMP responsive element binding protein 3-like 1 (CREB3L1), a member of the UPR, is a breast cancer metastasis suppressor that acts on cyclic AMP to promote the expression of target genes including GRP78. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of chemotherapy on CREB3L1 and cell-surface GRP78 expression and its association with the development of breast cancer metastasis. For this purpose, we use breast cancer cells migration in vitro assays and an in vivo metastatic mouse model. The results showed that chemotherapy activated CREB3L1 and enhanced cell-surface GRP78 expression specifically in triple-negative breast cancer cells (TNBC), reducing their migration and metastatic potential. CREB3L1 knockout (KO) in the triple negative MDAMB231 cell line using CRISPR/Cas9 technology led to inhibition of GRP78 expression and abrogation of the CREB3L1 metastatic suppression function. Inoculation of CREB3L1-KO MDAMB231 cells into a mouse metastatic model induced a massive metastatic profile which chemotherapy failed to prevent. These findings elucidate a potential pathway to the development of a novel treatment strategy for metastatic TNBC based on modulating CREB3L1 and cell-surface GRP78 expression by chemotherapy and GRP78-targeted drugs.
Project description:Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) can be detected using ultrasensitive immunocytochemical assays and their presence in the bone marrow can predict the subsequent occurrence of overt metastasis formation and metastatic relapse. Using expression profiling on early stage primary breast tumors, low IRX2 expression was previously shown to be associated with the presence of DTCs in the bone marrow, suggesting a possible role of IRX2 in the early steps of metastasis formation. The purpose of this study is to gain insights into the significance of IRX2 protein function in the progression of breast cancer.To assess the physiological relevance of IRX2 in breast cancer, we evaluated IRX2 expression in a large breast cancer cohort (n = 1992). Additionally, constitutive IRX2 over expression was established in BT-549 and Hs578T breast cancer cell lines. Subsequently we analyzed whether IRX2 overexpression effects chemokine secretion and cellular motility of these cells.Low IRX2 mRNA expression was found to correlate with high tumor grade, positive lymph node status, negative hormone receptor status, and basal type of primary breast tumors. Also in cell lines low IRX2 expression was associated with mainly basal breast cancer cell lines. The functional studies show that overexpression of the IRX2 transcription factor in basal cell lines suppressed secretion of the pro-metastatic chemokines and inhibited cellular motility but did not influence cell proliferation.Our results imply that the IRX2 transcription factor might represent a novel metastasis associated protein that acts as a negative regulator of cellular motility and as a repressor of chemokine expression. Loss of IRX2 expression could therefore contribute to early hematogenous dissemination of breast cancer by sustaining chemokine secretion and enabling mobilization of tumor cells.