Genetic dissection of colorectal cancer progression by orthotopic transplantation of engineered cancer organoids.
ABSTRACT: In the adenoma-carcinoma sequence, it is proposed that intestinal polyps evolve through a set of defined mutations toward metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). Here, we dissect this adenoma-carcinoma sequence in vivo by using an orthotopic organoid transplantation model of human colon organoids engineered to harbor different CRC mutation combinations. We demonstrate that sequential accumulation of oncogenic mutations in Wnt, EGFR, P53, and TGF-? signaling pathways facilitates efficient tumor growth, migration, and metastatic colonization. We show that reconstitution of specific niche signals can restore metastatic growth potential of tumor cells lacking one of the oncogenic mutations. Our findings imply that the ability to metastasize-i.e., to colonize distant sites-is the direct consequence of the loss of dependency on specific niche signals.
Project description:Human colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major cause of cancer mortality and frequently harbors activating mutations in the KRAS gene. To understand the role of oncogenic KRAS in CRC, we engineered a mouse model of metastatic CRC that harbors an inducible oncogenic Kras allele (Krasmut ) and conditional null alleles of Apc and Trp53 (iKAP). The iKAP model recapitulates tumor progression from adenoma through metastases. Whole-exome sequencing revealed that the Krasmut allele was heterogenous in primary tumors yet homogenous in metastases, a pattern consistent with activated Krasmut signaling being a driver of progression to metastasis. System-level and functional analyses revealed the TGF-? pathway as a key mediator of Krasmut -driven invasiveness. Genetic extinction of Krasmut resulted in specific elimination of the Krasmut subpopulation in primary and metastatic tumors, leading to apoptotic elimination of advanced invasive and metastatic disease. This faithful CRC model provides genetic evidence that Krasmut drives CRC invasion and maintenance of metastases.
Project description:Metastasis is the primary cause of cancer mortality. The primary tumors of colorectal cancer (CRC) often metastasize to the liver. In this study, we have collected 122 samples from 45 CRC patients. Among them, 32 patients have primary tumors, adjacent normal tissues, and matched liver metastases. Thirteen patients have primary tumors without distant metastasis and matched normal tissues. Characterization of these samples was conducted by whole-exome and RNA sequencing and SNP6.0 analysis. Our results revealed no significant difference in genetic alterations including common oncogenic mutations, whole genome mutations and copy number variations between primary and metastatic tumors. We then assembled gene co-expression networks and identified metastasis-correlated gene networks of immune-suppression, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and angiogenesis as the key events and potentially synergistic drivers associated with CRC metastasis. Further independent cohort validation using published datasets has verified that these specific gene networks are up regulated throughout the tumor progression. The gene networks of EMT, angiogenesis, immune-suppression and T cell exhaustion are closely correlated with the poor patient outcome and intrinsic anti-PD-1 resistance. These results offer insights of combinational strategy for the treatment of metastatic CRC.
Project description:A concept of polyclonal metastasis has recently been proposed, wherein tumor cell clusters break off from the primary site and are disseminated. However, the involvement of driver mutations in such polyclonal mechanism is not fully understood. Here, we show that non-metastatic AP cells metastasize to the liver with metastatic AKTP cells after co-transplantation to the spleen. Furthermore, AKTP cell depletion after the development of metastases results in the continuous proliferation of the remaining AP cells, indicating a role of AKTP cells in the early step of polyclonal metastasis. Importantly, AKTP cells, but not AP cells, induce fibrotic niche generation when arrested in the sinusoid, and such fibrotic microenvironment promotes the colonization of AP cells. These results indicate that non-metastatic cells can metastasize via the polyclonal metastasis mechanism using the fibrotic niche induced by malignant cells. Thus, targeting the fibrotic niche is an effective strategy for halting polyclonal metastasis.
Project description:A Darwinian evolutionary shift occurs early in the neutral evolution of advanced colorectal carcinoma (CRC), and copy number aberrations (CNA) are essential in the transition from adenoma to carcinoma. In light of this primary evolution, we investigated the evolutionary principles of the genome that foster postoperative recurrence of CRC. CNA and neoantigens (NAG) were compared between early primary tumors with recurrence (CRCR) and early primary tumors without recurrence (precancerous and early; PCRC). We compared CNA, single nucleotide variance (SNV), RNA sequences, and T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire between 9 primary and 10 metastatic sites from 10 CRCR cases. We found that NAG in primary sites were fewer in CRCR than in PCRC, while the arm level CNA were significantly higher in primary sites in CRCR than in PCRC. Further, a comparison of genomic aberrations of primary and metastatic conditions revealed no significant differences in CNA. The driver mutations in recurrence were the trunk of the evolutionary phylogenic tree from primary sites to recurrence sites. Notably, PD-1 and TIM3, T cell exhaustion-related molecules of the tumor immune response, were abundantly expressed in metastatic sites compared to primary sites along with the increased number of CD8 expressing cells. The postoperative recurrence-free survival period was only significantly associated with the NAG levels and TCR repertoire diversity in metastatic sites. Therefore, CNA with diminished NAG and diverse TCR repertoire in pre-metastatic sites may determine postoperative recurrence of CRC.
Project description:Approximately 85% colorectal cancers (CRCs) are thought to evolve through the adenoma-to-carcinoma sequence associated with specific molecular alterations, including the 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) signature in circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA). To explore colorectal disease progression and evaluate the use of cfDNA as a potential diagnostic factor for CRC screening, here, we performed genome-wide 5hmC profiling in plasma cfDNA and tissue genomic DNA (gDNA) acquired from 101 samples (63 plasma and 38 tissues), collected from 21 early-stage CRC patients, 21 AD patients, and 21 healthy controls (HC). The gDNA and cfDNA 5hmC signatures identified in gene bodies and promoter regions in CRC and AD groups were compared with those in HC group. All the differential 5hmC-modified regions (DhMRs) were gathered into four clusters: Disease-enriched, AD-enriched, Disease-lost, and AD-lost, with no overlap. AD-related clusters, AD-enriched and AD-lost, displayed the unique 5hmC signals in AD patients. Disease-enriched and Disease-lost clusters indicated the general 5hmC changes when colorectal lesions occurred. Cancer patients with a confirmable adenoma history segmentally gathered in AD-enriched clusters. KEGG functional enrichment and GO analyses determined distinct differential 5hmC-modified profiles in cfDNA of HC individuals, AD, and CRC patients. All patients had comprehensive 5hmC signatures where Disease-enriched and Disease-lost DhMR clusters demonstrated similar epigenetic modifications, while AD-enriched and AD-lost DhMR clusters indicated complicated subpopulations in adenoma. Analysis of CRC patients with adenoma history showed exclusive 5hmC-gain characteristics, consistent with the 'parallel' evolution hypothesis in adenoma, either developed through the adenoma-to-carcinoma sequence or not. These findings deepen our understanding of colorectal disease and suggest that the 5hmC modifications of different pathological subtypes (cancer patients with or without adenoma history) could be used to screen early-stage CRC and assess adenoma malignancy with large-scale follow-up studies in the future.
Project description:The colon adenoma-carcinoma sequence is a multistep genomic-altering process that occurs during colorectal cancer (CRC) carcinogenesis. Organoids are now commonly used to model both non-cancerous and cancerous tissue. This study aims to investigate how well organoids mimic tissues in the adenoma-carcinoma sequence by comparing their transcriptomes. A total of 234 tissue samples (48 adenomas and 186 CRC) and 60 organoid samples (15 adenomas and 45 CRC) were analyzed. We found that cell-proliferation-related gene sets were consistently enriched in both CRC tissues and organoids compared to adenoma tissues and organoids by gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA). None of the known pathways in the colon adenoma-carcinoma sequence were consistently enriched in CRC organoids. There was no enrichment of the tumor microenvironment-related gene sets in CRC organoids. CRC tissues enriched immune-response-related gene sets, whereas CRC organoids did not. The proportions of infiltrating immune cells were different between tissues and organoids, whereas there was no difference between cancer and adenoma organoids. The amounts of cancer stem cells and progenitor cells were not different between CRC and adenoma organoids, whereas a difference was noted between CRC and adenoma tissues. In conclusion, we demonstrated that organoids model only part of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence and should be used with caution after considering their limitations.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>LGR5 serves as a co-receptor for Wnt/?-catenin signalling and marks normal intestinal stem cells; however, its role in colorectal cancer (CRC) remains controversial. LGR5<sup>+</sup> cells are known to exist outside the stem cell niche during CRC progression, and the requirement for epidermal growth factor (EGF) signalling within early adenomas remains to be fully elucidated.<h4>Methods</h4>Epidermal growth factor and gefitinib treatments were performed in EGF-responsive LGR5<sup>+</sup> early adenoma RG/C2 cells. 2D growth assays were measured using an IncuCyte. LGR5 or MEK1/2 silencing studies were executed using siRNA and LGR5 expression was assessed by qRT-PCR and immunoblotting. Ki67 level and cell cycle status were analysed by flow cytometry.<h4>Results</h4>Epidermal growth factor suppresses expression of LGR5 at both the transcript and protein level in colorectal adenoma and carcinoma cells. Suppression of LGR5 reduces the survival of EGF-treated adenoma cells by increasing detached cell yield but also inducing a proliferative state, as evidenced by elevated Ki67 level and enhanced cell cycle progression. Repression of LGR5 further increases the sensitivity of adenoma cells to EGFR inhibition.<h4>Conclusions</h4>LGR5 has an important role in the EGF-mediated survival and proliferation of early adenoma cells and could have clinical utility in predicting response of CRC patients to EGFR therapy.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) develops from accumulated mutations. However, which gene determines the malignant transformation from adenoma to carcinoma is still uncertain. Fifty-three formalin fixed paraffin-embedded polyps that had pathological findings from patients with hyperplasia, adenomatous, and tubular adenoma < 1 cm (non-neoplasia polyps, NNP, n = 27) or tubular adenoma ? 1 cm, tubulovillous and villous adenoma (neoplastic polyps, NP, n = 26) were recruited. Six paired synchronous polyps and cancer tissues and 50 independent fresh CRC tumors were also collected. All tissues were analyzed for their mutation genomes using next generation sequencing with a 50-gene panel. There were 40 types of somatic variants found in 7 genes, APC (43%), KRAS (28%), TP53 (11%), FBXW7 (8%), GNAS (4%), SMAD4 (2%), and BRAF (2%), and they were detected in 32 (60%) polyps. If combined with the mutation spectrum found in CRC tissues, a significant increase in the mutation rate in TP53 and PIK3CA from NNP, NP, early and late stage carcinoma (7%, 15%, 33.3% and 65% for TP53, p < 0.001; 0%, 0%, 23.3% and 25% for PIK3CA, p = 0.002) were noticed. Furthermore, distinct molecular features can be found in five pairs of synchronous polyps and tumors. However, TP53 or PIK3CA mutations can be found in tumor tissues but not in polyps. By systematically investigating the genome from polyps to tumor tissues, we demonstrated that acquired TP53 or PIK3CA somatic mutations are potential predictors for malignancy development. These results may aid in the identification of high risk individuals with tissues harboring mutations in these two genes.
Project description:Background:Metastasis is a major cause of failed colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment. While lung metastasis (LM) is observed in 10-15% of patients with CRC, the genetic mechanisms that cause CRC to metastasize to the lung remain unclear. Methods:In this study, we employed whole exome sequencing (WES) of primary CRC tumors and matched isolated LM lesions to compare their genomic profiles. Comprehensive genomic analyses of five freshly frozen primary tumor lesions, five paired LM lesions, and matched non-cancerous tissues was achieved by WES. Results:An integrated analysis of somatic mutations, somatic copy number alterations, and clonal structures revealed that genomic alterations were present in primary and metastatic CRCs with various levels of discordance, indicating substantial levels of intertumor heterogeneity. Moreover, our results suggest that the founder clone of the primary tumor was responsible for the formation of the metastatic lesion. Additionally, only a few metastasis-specific mutations were identified, suggesting that LM-promoting mutations might be pre-existing in primary tumors. Conclusions:Primary and metastatic CRC show intertumor heterogeneity; however, both lesions were founded by the same clone. These results indicate that malignant clones contributing to disease progression should be identified during the genetic prognosis of cancer metastasis.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4> Colorectal cancer (CRC) can develop via a hypermutagenic pathway characterized by frequent somatic DNA base-pair mutations. Alternatively, the immunogenicity of tumor cells themselves may influence the anticancer activity of the immune effector cells. Impaired DNA repair mechanisms drive mutagenicity, which then increase the neoantigen load and immunogenicity. However, no studies have analyzed immune checkpoint protein expression, particularly programmed death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), in adenoma–carcinoma progression and its relationship with the emergence of other DNA repair gene mutation. <h4>Materials and Methods</h4> We investigated mutations of 10 genes involved in DNA repair function: XRCC1, TP53, MLH1, MSH, KRAS, GSTP, UMP, MTHF, DPYD, and ABCC2. We performed sequencing to determine mutations and immunohistochemistry of immune checkpoints in clinical samples and determined changes in XRCC1 expression during progression through the adenoma–carcinoma pathway. We further investigated the prognostic associations of gene XRCC1 according to the expression, mutational profile, and immune profile using The Cancer Genome Atlas-colon adenocarcinoma (TCGA-COAD) dataset. <h4>Results</h4> From clinical samples, XRCC1 mutation demonstrated the strongest association with adenomas with a mutation frequency of 56.2% in adenomas and 34% in CRCs (p =0.016). XRCC1 was abnormally expressed and altered by mutations contributing to adenoma carcinogenesis. High expression of XRCC1, CD4, FOXP3, and PD-1/PD-L1 showed an overall upward trend with increased lesion severity (all p < 0.01). PD-1/PD-L1 expression and CD4+ intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) correlated with cytological dysplasia progression, specifically in patients with wild-type XRCC1 (all p < 0.01), whereas FOXP3 expression was independently associated with adenoma–carcinoma progression. From TCGA-COAD analysis, XRCC1 expression was associated with patients survival, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and immune marker expression. <h4>Conclusion</h4> Increased IEL density and PD-1/PD-L1 expression correlate with cytological dysplasia progression and specifically with the XRCC1 mutation status in CRC. Our findings support a stepwise dysplasia-carcinoma sequence of adenoma carcinogenesis and an XRCC1 hypermutated phenotypic mechanism of lesions.