Project description:Radiotherapy plays an integral role in the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Although proteins involved in DNA repair may predict HNSCC response to radiotherapy, none has been validated in this context. We examined whether differential expression of double-strand DNA break (DSB) repair proteins in HNSCC, the chief mediators of DNA repair following irradiation, predict for treatment outcomes.Archival HNSCC tumor specimens (n = 89) were assembled onto a tissue microarray and stained with antibodies raised against 38 biomarkers. The biomarker set was enriched for proteins involved in DSB repair, in addition to established mechanistic markers of radioresistance. Staining was correlated with treatment response and survival alongside established clinical and pathologic covariates. Results were validated in an independent intramural cohort (n = 34).Ku80, a key mediator of DSB repair, correlated most closely with clinical outcomes. Ku80 was overexpressed in half of all tumors, and its expression was independent of all other covariates examined. Ku80 overexpression was an independent predictor for both locoregional failure and mortality following radiotherapy (P < 0.01). The predictive power of Ku80 overexpression was confined largely to HPV-negative HNSCC, where it conferred a nine-fold greater risk of death at two years.Ku80 overexpression is a common feature of HNSCC, and is a candidate DNA repair-related biomarker for radiation treatment failure and death, particularly in patients with high-risk HPV-negative disease. It is a promising, mechanistically rational biomarker to select individual HPV-negative HNSCC patients for strategies to intensify treatment.
Project description:PURPOSE:The genetic differences between human papilloma virus (HPV)-positive and -negative head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) remain largely unknown. To identify differential biology and novel therapeutic targets for both entities, we determined mutations and copy-number aberrations in a large cohort of locoregionally advanced HNSCC. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:We performed massively parallel sequencing of 617 cancer-associated genes in 120 matched tumor/normal samples (42.5% HPV-positive). Mutations and copy-number aberrations were determined and results validated with a secondary method. RESULTS:The overall mutational burden in HPV-negative and HPV-positive HNSCC was similar with an average of 15.2 versus 14.4 somatic exonic mutations in the targeted cancer-associated genes. HPV-negative tumors showed a mutational spectrum concordant with published lung squamous cell carcinoma analyses with enrichment for mutations in TP53, CDKN2A, MLL2, CUL3, NSD1, PIK3CA, and NOTCH genes. HPV-positive tumors showed unique mutations in DDX3X, FGFR2/3 and aberrations in PIK3CA, KRAS, MLL2/3, and NOTCH1 were enriched in HPV-positive tumors. Currently targetable genomic alterations were identified in FGFR1, DDR2, EGFR, FGFR2/3, EPHA2, and PIK3CA. EGFR, CCND1, and FGFR1 amplifications occurred in HPV-negative tumors, whereas 17.6% of HPV-positive tumors harbored mutations in fibroblast growth factor receptor genes (FGFR2/3), including six recurrent FGFR3 S249C mutations. HPV-positive tumors showed a 5.8% incidence of KRAS mutations, and DNA-repair gene aberrations, including 7.8% BRCA1/2 mutations, were identified. CONCLUSIONS:The mutational makeup of HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCC differs significantly, including targetable genes. HNSCC harbors multiple therapeutically important genetic aberrations, including frequent aberrations in the FGFR and PI3K pathway genes. See related commentary by Krigsfeld and Chung, p. 495.
Project description:PURPOSE:The probability of recurrence of cancer after adjuvant or definitive radiotherapy in patients with human papillomavirus-negative (HPV(-)) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) varies for each patient. This study aimed to identify and validate radiation sensitivity signature (RSS) of patients with HPV(-) HNSCC to predict the recurrence of cancer after radiotherapy. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Clonogenic survival assays were performed to assess radiosensitivity in 14 HNSCC cell lines. We identified genes closely correlated with radiosensitivity and validated them in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohort. The validated RSS were analyzed by ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) to identify canonical pathways, upstream regulators, diseases and functions, and gene networks related to radiosensitive genes in HPV(-) HNSCC. RESULTS:The survival fraction of 14 HNSCC cell lines after exposure to 2 Gy of radiation ranged from 48% to 72%. Six genes were positively correlated and 35 genes were negatively correlated with radioresistance, respectively. RSS was validated in the HPV(-) TCGA HNSCC cohort (n = 203), and recurrence-free survival (RFS) rate was found to be significantly lower in the radioresistant group than in the radiosensitive group (p = 0.035). Cell death and survival, cell-to-cell signaling, and cellular movement were significantly enriched in RSS, and RSSs were highly correlated with each other. CONCLUSION:We derived a HPV(-) HNSCC-specific RSS and validated it in an independent cohort. The outcome of adjuvant or definitive radiotherapy in HPV(-) patients with HNSCC can be predicted by analyzing their RSS, which might help in establishing a personalized therapeutic plan.
Project description:BACKGROUND: We previously observed that a radiotherapy-induced biochemical response in plasma was associated with favourable outcome in head and neck squamous carcinoma cancer (HNSCC) patients. The aim of the present study was to compare stress associated blood cell gene expression between two sub-groups of HNSCC patients with different biochemical responses to radiotherapy. METHODS: Out of 87 patients (histologically verified), 10 biochemical 'responders' having a high relative increase in plasma oxidative damage and a concomitant decrease in plasma antioxidants during radiotherapy and 10 'poor-responders' were selected for gene-expression analysis and compared using gene set enrichment analysis. RESULTS: There was a significant induction of stress-relevant gene-sets in the responders following radiotherapy compared to the poor-responders. The relevance of the involvement of similar stress associated gene expression for HNSCC cancer and radioresistance was verified using two publicly available data sets of 42 HNSCC cases and 14 controls (GEO GSE6791), and radiation resistant and radiation sensitive HNSCC xenografts (E-GEOD-9716). CONCLUSIONS: Radiotherapy induces a systemic stress response, as revealed by induction of stress relevant gene expression in blood cells, which is associated to favourable outcome in a cohort of 87 HNSCC patients. Whether these changes in gene expression reflects a systemic effect or are biomarkers of the tumour micro-environmental status needs further study. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Raw data are available at ArrayExpress under accession number E-MEXP-2460.
Project description:Evofosfamide (TH-302) is a clinical-stage hypoxia-activated prodrug of a DNA-crosslinking nitrogen mustard that has potential utility for human papillomavirus (HPV) negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), in which tumor hypoxia limits treatment outcome. We report the preclinical efficacy, target engagement, preliminary predictive biomarkers and initial clinical activity of evofosfamide for HPV-negative HNSCC. Evofosfamide was assessed in 22 genomically characterized cell lines and 7 cell line-derived xenograft (CDX), patient-derived xenograft (PDX), orthotopic, and syngeneic tumor models. Biomarker analysis used RNA sequencing, whole-exome sequencing, and whole-genome CRISPR knockout screens. Five advanced/metastatic HNSCC patients received evofosfamide monotherapy (480 mg/m2 qw × 3 each month) in a phase 2 study. Evofosfamide was potent and highly selective for hypoxic HNSCC cells. Proliferative rate was a predominant evofosfamide sensitivity determinant and a proliferation metagene correlated with activity in CDX models. Evofosfamide showed efficacy as monotherapy and with radiotherapy in PDX models, augmented CTLA-4 blockade in syngeneic tumors, and reduced hypoxia in nodes disseminated from an orthotopic model. Of 5 advanced HNSCC patients treated with evofosfamide, 2 showed partial responses while 3 had stable disease. In conclusion, evofosfamide shows promising efficacy in aggressive HPV-negative HNSCC, with predictive biomarkers in development to support further clinical evaluation in this indication.
Project description:Radiotherapy is one of the most used treatment approaches for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Targeted inhibition of DNA repair machinery has the potential to improve treatment response by tailoring treatment to cancer cells lacking specific DNA repair pathways. Human papillomavirus (HPV)-negative and HPV-positive HNSCCs respond differently to radiotherapy treatment, suggesting that different approaches of DNA repair inhibition should be employed for these HNSCC groups. Here, we searched for optimal radiosensitization approaches for HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCCs by performing a targeted CRISPR-Cas9 screen. We found that inhibition of base excision repair resulted in a better radiotherapy response in HPV-positive HNSCC, which is correlated with upregulation of genes involved in base excision repair. In contrast, inhibition of nonhomologous end-joining and mismatch repair showed strong effects in both HNSCC groups. We validated the screen results by combining radiotherapy with targeted inhibition of DNA repair in several preclinical models including primary and recurrent patient-derived HNSCC xenografts. These findings underline the importance of stratifying HNSCC patients for combination treatments.
Project description:Targeting inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP) with second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase (SMAC) mimetics may promote cancer cell death. We tested whether cIAP1 predicts poor prognosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and whether a novel Smac-mimetic, LCL161, could radiosensitize human papillomavirus-positive (HPV+) and -negative (HPV-) HNSCC. The association of BIRC2 (encoding cIAP1) mRNA level with HPV status in HNSCC was analyzed using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. cIAP1 was assessed by IHC on an HNSCC tissue microarray (TMA, n = 84) followed by correlation analysis with HPV status and patient outcomes. Human cell culture and animal models of HNSCC were used to analyze the outcome and molecular characteristics following radiotherapy in combination with LCL161. cIAP1 expression is increased in HPV- compared with HPV+HNSCC tumors in the TCGA database. In our TMA, cIAP1 was overexpressed in HNSCC compared with normal tissues (P = 0.0003) and associated with a poor overall survival (P = 0.0402). cIAP1 levels were higher in HPV- than that in HPV+HNSCC tumors (P = 0.004) and patients with cIAP1+/HPV- HNSCC had the worst survival. LCL161 effectively radiosensitized HPV- HNSCC cells, which was accompanied with enhanced apoptosis, but not HPV+ HNSCC cells. Importantly, LCL161 in combination with radiotherapy led to dramatic tumor regression of HPV- HNSCC tumor xenografts, accompanied by cIAP1 degradation and apoptosis activation. These results reveal that cIAP1 is a prognostic and a potential therapeutic biomarker for HNSCC, and targeting cIAP1 with LCL161 preferentially radiosensitizes HPV- HNSCC, providing justification for clinical testing of LCL161 in combination with radiation for patients with HPV- HNSCC.
Project description:Numerous studies have shown that human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the important risk factors for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) progression and affects the expression of multiple genes, which might serve as new biomarkers. This study examines the effects of HPV infection on long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) expression and the immune system, particularly PRINS (Psoriasis susceptibility-related RNA Gene Induced by Stress). The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) expression data for lncRNA genes and clinical data were analyzed by GraphPad Prism 5/7. The expressions of PRINS, CDKN2B-AS1, TTTY14, TTTY15, MEG3, and H19 were significantly different in HPV-positive and HPV-negative patients. HPV-positive patients with high PRINS expression demonstrated significantly better overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). HPV-positive patients with high PRINS expression showed changes in gene expression associated with immune and antiviral responses. A majority of HPV-positive patients with high PRINS expression demonstrated a high number of immune cells within tumors. PRINS expression was significantly associated with HPV-infection HNSCC tumors. Validation of these results using data set from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) indicated that PRINS is upregulated in HPV active infections and in "atypical 1 (IR)" HNSCC clusters, negatively influencing patients' overall survival. Patients with high PRINS expression display different immunological profiles than those with low expression levels. For instance, they have active HPV infection status or are clustered in the "atypical 1 (IR)" subtype of HNSCC which influences both viral infection and patients' survival. It is likely that PRINS could be used as a potential biomarker for HNSCC patients, but its role is dual. On the one hand, it stimulates patients' immune response, while on the other it can be favorable in virus replication.