Three-dimensional culture system identifies a new mode of cetuximab resistance and disease-relevant genes in colorectal cancer.
ABSTRACT: We previously reported that single cells from a human colorectal cancer (CRC) cell line (HCA-7) formed either hollow single-layered polarized cysts or solid spiky masses when plated in 3D in type-I collagen. To begin in-depth analyses into whether clonal cysts and spiky masses possessed divergent properties, individual colonies of each morphology were isolated and expanded. The lines thus derived faithfully retained their parental cystic and spiky morphologies and were termed CC (cystic) and SC (spiky), respectively. Although both CC and SC expressed EGF receptor (EGFR), the EGFR-neutralizing monoclonal antibody, cetuximab, strongly inhibited growth of CC, whereas SC was resistant to growth inhibition, and this was coupled to increased tyrosine phosphorylation of MET and RON. Addition of the dual MET/RON tyrosine kinase inhibitor, crizotinib, restored cetuximab sensitivity in SC. To further characterize these two lines, we performed comprehensive genomic and transcriptomic analysis of CC and SC in 3D. One of the most up-regulated genes in CC was the tumor suppressor 15-PGDH/HPGD, and the most up-regulated gene in SC was versican (VCAN) in 3D and xenografts. Analysis of a CRC tissue microarray showed that epithelial, but not stromal, VCAN staining strongly correlated with reduced survival, and combined epithelial VCAN and absent HPGD staining portended a poorer prognosis. Thus, with this 3D system, we have identified a mode of cetuximab resistance and a potential prognostic marker in CRC. As such, this represents a potentially powerful system to identify additional therapeutic strategies and disease-relevant genes in CRC and possibly other solid tumors.
Project description:It is increasingly appreciated that 3D cultures are more predictive of in vivo therapeutic efficacy than 2D cultures. Using in vitro 3D type I collagen cultures of human colorectal cancer (CRC) cell line HCA-7 derivatives CC, SC, and CC-CR, we previously identified that activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) MET and RON contributed to resistance to the EGF receptor (EGFR)-directed therapeutic antibody cetuximab. The de novo mode of cetuximab resistance in SC cells could be overcome by crizotinib, a multi-RTK inhibitor that also targets MET and RON. We now show that crizotinib also overcomes acquired cetuximab resistance in CC-CR cells. Phospho-RTK array analysis showed increased phosphorylation of several RTKs, including MET and RON, in SC and CC-CR cells compared to cetuximab-sensitive CC counterparts. Furthermore, other multi-RTK inhibitors cabozantinib and BMS-777607 helped overcome cetuximab resistance, as measured by 3D colony growth and activation state of key signaling molecules. Conversely, addition of RTK ligands HGF and NRG1 induced cetuximab resistance in CC cells, which could be blocked by addition of crizotinib. We further determined the mechanism of the cooperative effect of cetuximab and crizotinib by FACS analysis and observed increased cell cycle arrest in G1 phase in cetuximab-resistant CRC 3D cultures. Finally, we show that crizotinib overcomes cetuximab resistance in vivo in SC nude mice xenografts. Thus, our work shows that multi-RTK inhibition strategy is a potent, broadly applicable strategy to overcome resistance to EGFR-targeted therapeutics in CRC and highlights the relevance of 3D cultures in these studies. Statement of implication: Using in vitro 3D CRC cultures and in vivo CRC xenografts, we show that parallel inhibition of multiple RTKs with small molecule inhibitors overcomes de novo and acquired resistance to EGFR-directed therapies in CRC.
Project description:It is increasingly appreciated that properties of cultured epithelial cells differ dramatically in 2D compared to 3D, and the latter more faithfully recapitulates in vivo behavior. By studying a battery of human colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines in type-1 collagen, we have found that HCA-7 cells form colonies with two distinctive and persistent morphological and functional properties. We observed predominantly single-layered polarized cysts (cystic colonies, CC) and a smaller fraction displaying disorganized solid masses (spiky colonies, SC) that were highly invasive in vivo. Despite overall genomic similarity, CC and SC exhibited distinct and dynamic patterns of gene expression in 3D. Overall design: In type-1 collagen culture, a human colorectal cancer cell line, HCA-7, forms colonies with two distinct morphologies, cystic colonies (CC) and spiky colonies (SC). CC and SC were isolated and grown in 3D collagen in 12-well dishes using 50,000 cells/ml. On day 5, 10, or 15, total RNA was extracted from the middle and microarray analysis was performed in Affymatrix 133 Plus 2.0 array. So there were total of six samples performed (SC1 Day 5, 10, 15 and CC3 day 5, 10, 15)
Project description:We report the results of RNA-Seq and small RNA-Seq from a pair of HCA7-derived, KRAS wildtype CC and CC-CR cultured in 3D. A total of 361 genes showed more than a two-fold change in expression (false-discovery rate [FDR] - adjusted p<0.01) between CC-CR and CC; there were 141 transcripts upregulated and 220 transcripts downregulated in CC-CR compared to CC. Small RNA-Seq detected 7 miRNAs upregulated and 24 miRNAs downregulated in CC-CR cells compared to CC cells (fold change>2, FDR<0.01). Differential expression analysis revealed several novel candidates that may contribute to cetuximab resistance. The whole-transcriptome profilings using cetuximab resistance model from 3D culture provide novel candidates for cetuximab resistance and further functional studies might open the door to a novel understanding of how non-mutational mechanisms mediate cetuximab resistance. Overall design: mRNA and small-RNA profiles of cetuximab sensitive CC and resistant CC-CR from 3D culture were generated by deep sequencing, in triplicate, using Illumina NextSeq 500 sequencer.
Project description:The Hippo pathway is involved in colorectal cancer (CRC) development and progression. The Hippo regulator Rassf1a is also involved in the Ras signaling cascade. In this work, we tested single nucleotide polymorphisms within Hippo components and their association with outcome in CRC patients treated with cetuximab. Two cohorts treated with cetuximab plus chemotherapy were evaluated (198 RAS wild-type (WT) patients treated with first-line FOLFIRI plus Cetuximab within the FIRE-3 trial and 67 Ras WT patients treated either with first-line mFOLFOX6 or SOX plus Cetuximab). In these two populations, Rassf1a rs2236947 was associated with overall survival (OS), as patients with a CC genotype had significantly longer OS compared with those with CA or AA genotypes. This association was stronger in patients with left-side CRC (hazard ratio (HR): 1.79 (1.01-3.14); P=0.044 and HR: 2.83 (1.14-7.03); P=0.025, for Fire 3 and JACCRO cohorts, respectively). Rassf1a rs2236947 is a promising biomarker for patients treated with cetuximab plus chemotherapy.
Project description:Cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) can increase survival of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients with peritoneal metastases (PM). This treatment is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Therefore, improvement of patient selection is necessary. Assuming that the clinical phenotype is dictated by biological mechanisms, biomarkers could play a crucial role in this process. Since it is unknown whether and to what extent angiogenesis influences the course of disease in patients with PM, we investigated the expression of two angiogenesis-related markers and their relation to overall survival (OS) in CRC patients after CRS and HIPEC. Clinicopathological data and tissue samples were collected from 65 CRC patients with isolated metastases to the peritoneum that underwent CRS and HIPEC. Whole tissue specimens from PM were evaluated for versican (VCAN) expression, VEGF expression and microvessel density (MVD) by immunohistochemistry. The relation between these markers and OS was assessed using univariate and multivariate analysis. Associations between VEGF expression, VCAN expression, MVD and clinicopathological data were tested. High stromal VCAN expression was associated with high MVD (p = 0.001), better resection outcome (p = 0.003) and high T-stage (p = 0.027). High epithelial VCAN expression was associated with MVD (p = 0.007) and a more complete resection (p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, simplified peritoneal cancer index (p = 0.001), VEGF expression levels (p = 0.012), age (p = 0.030), epithelial VCAN expression levels (p = 0.042) and lymph node status (p = 0.053) were associated with OS. Concluding, VCAN and VEGF were associated with survival in CRC patients with PM after CRS and HIPEC. Independent validation in a well-defined patient cohort is required to confirm the putative prognostic role of these candidate biomarkers.
Project description:Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in microRNA genes have been associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, survival and response to treatment. Conflicting results are available on the association between rs4919510, a SNP in mature miR-608 and clinical outcome in CRC. Here, we analyzed the association between rs4919510 and benefit from perioperative treatment in a randomised phase II trial of neoadjuvant Capecitabine and Oxaliplatin (CAPOX) followed by chemo-radiotherapy, surgery and adjuvant CAPOX ± Cetuximab in high-risk locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). A total of 155/164 (94.5%) patients were assessable. 95 (61.3%) were homozygous for CC, 55 (35.5%) heterozygous (CG) and 5 (3.2%) homozygous for GG. Median follow-up was 64.9 months. In the CAPOX arm the 5-year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 54.6% and 60.7% for CC and 82.0% and 82.1% for CG/GG, respectively (HR PFS 0.13, 95% CI: 0.12-0.83, P = 0.02; HR OS 0.38, 95% CI: 0.14-1.01, P = 0.05). In the CAPOX-C arm PFS and OS were 73.2 and 82.2%, respectively for CC carriers and 64.6 and 73.1% for CG/GG carriers (HR PFS 1.38, 95% CI: 0.61-3.13, P = 0.44; HR OS 1.34, 95% CI: 0.52-3.48, P = 0.55). An interaction was found between study treatment and rs4919510 genotype for both PFS (P = 0.02) and OS (P = 0.07). This is the first study investigating rs4919510 in LARC. The CC genotype appeared to be associated with worse prognosis compared to the CG/GG genotype in patients treated with chemotherapy and chemo-radiotherapy alone. Addition of Cetuximab to chemotherapy and chemo-radiotherapy in CC carriers appeared to improve clinical outcome.
Project description:The most efficient method to expand limbal stem cells (LSCs) in vitro for clinical transplantation is to culture single LSCs directly on growth-arrested mouse fibroblast 3T3 cells. To reduce possible xenobiotic contamination from 3T3s, primary human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) were examined as feeder cells to support the expansion of LSCs in vitro. To optimize the ASC-supported culture, freshly isolated limbal epithelial cells in the form of single cells (SC-ASC) or cell clusters (CC-ASC) were cultured using three different methods: LSCs seeded directly on feeder cells, a 3-dimensional (3D) culture system and a 3D culture system with fibrin (fibrin 3D). The expanded LSCs were examined at the end of a 2-week culture. The standard 3T3 culture served as control. Expansion of SC-ASC showed limited proliferation and exhibited differentiated morphology. CC-ASC generated epithelial cells with undifferentiated morphology in all culture methods, among which CC-ASC in 3D culture supported the highest cell doubling (cells doubled 9.0 times compared to cells doubled 4.9 times in control) while maintained the percentage of putative limbal stem/progenitor cells compared to the control. There were few cell-cell contacts between cultured LSCs and ASCs in 3D CC-ASC. In conclusion, ASCs support the growth of LSCs in the form of cell clusters but not in single cells. 3D CC-ASC could serve as a substitute for the standard 3T3 culture to expand LSCs.
Project description:TRAIL is a death receptor ligand that induces cell death preferentially in tumor cells. Recombinant soluble TRAIL, however, performs poorly as an anti-cancer therapeutic because oligomerization is required for potent biological activity. We previously generated a diabody format of tumor-targeted TRAIL termed Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL, comprising single-stranded TRAIL molecules (scTRAIL) and the variable domains of a humanized variant of the EGFR blocking antibody Cetuximab. Here we define the bioactivity of Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL with regard to both EGFR inhibition and TRAIL receptor activation in 3D cultures of Caco-2 colorectal cancer cells, which express wild-type K-Ras. Compared with conventional 2D cultures, Caco-2 cells displayed strongly enhanced sensitivity toward Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL in these 3D cultures. We show that the antibody moiety of Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL not only efficiently competed with ligand-induced EGFR function, but also determined the apoptotic response by specifically directing Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL to EGFR-positive cells. To address how aberrantly activated K-Ras, which leads to Cetuximab resistance, affects Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL sensitivity, we generated stable Caco-2tet cells inducibly expressing oncogenic K-Ras(G12V). In the presence of doxycycline, these cells showed increased resistance to Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL, associated with the elevated expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins cIAP2, Bcl-xL and FlipS. Co-treatment of cells with the Smac mimetic SM83 restored the Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL-induced apoptotic response. Importantly, this synergy between Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL and SM83 also translated to 3D cultures of oncogenic K-Ras expressing HCT-116 and LoVo colorectal cancer cells. Our findings thus support the notion that Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL therapy in combination with apoptosis-sensitizing agents may be promising for the treatment of EGFR-positive colorectal cancers, independently of their KRAS status.
Project description:Cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody against EGFR used for the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC), is ineffective in many patients. The aim of this study was to identify the signalling pathways activated by cetuximab in CRC cells and define new biomarker of response.We used in vitro, in vivo models and clinical CRC samples to assess the role of p38 and FOXO3a in cetuximab mechanism of action.We show that cetuximab activates the MAPK p38. Specifically, p38 inhibition reduced cetuximab efficacy on cell growth and cell death. At the molecular level, cetuximab activates the transcription factor FOXO3a and promotes its nuclear translocation via p38-mediated phosphorylation, leading to the upregulation of its target genes p27 and BIM and the subsequent induction of apoptosis and inhibition of cell proliferation. Finally, we found that high FOXO3a and p38 expression levels are associated with better response rate and improved outcome in cetuximab-treated patients with CRC harbouring WT KRAS.We identify FOXO3a as a key mediator of cetuximab mechanism of action in CRC cells and define p38 as its activator in this context. Moreover, high FOXO3a and p38 expression could predict the response to cetuximab in patients with CRC harbouring WT KRAS.
Project description:Importance:Biologic therapy (BT) (eg, bevacizumab or cetuximab) is increasingly used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Recent investigations have suggested that right- or left-sided primary tumor origin affects survival and response to BT. Objective:To evaluate the association of tumor origin with mortality in a diverse population-based data set of patients receiving systemic chemotherapy (SC) and bevacizumab or cetuximab for mCRC. Design, Setting, and Participants:This population-based nonconcurrent cohort study of statewide California Cancer Registry data included all patients aged 40 to 85 years diagnosed with mCRC and treated with SC only or SC plus bevacizumab or cetuximab from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2014. Patients were stratified by tumor origin in the left vs right sides. Interventions:Treatment with SC or SC plus bevacizumab or cetuximab. Main Outcomes and Measures:Mortality hazards by tumor origin (right vs left sides) were assessed for patients receiving SC alone or SC plus bevacizumab or cetuximab. Subgroup analysis for patients with wild-type KRAS tumors was also performed. Results:A total of 11?905 patients with mCRC (6713 men [56.4%] and 5192 women [43.6%]; mean [SD] age, 60.0 [10.9] years) were eligible for the study. Among these, 4632 patients received SC and BT. Compared with SC alone, SC plus bevacizumab reduced mortality among patients with right- and left-sided mCRC, whereas SC plus cetuximab reduced mortality only among patients with left-sided tumors and was associated with significantly higher mortality for right-sided tumors (hazard ratio [HR], 1.31; 95% CI, 1.14-1.51; P?<?.001). Among patients treated with SC plus BT, right-sided tumor origin was associated with higher mortality among patients receiving bevacizumab (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.25-1.36; P?<?.001) and cetuximab (HR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.68-2.12; P?<?.001) BT, compared with left-sided tumor origin. In patients with wild-type KRAS tumors (n?=?668), cetuximab was associated with reduced mortality among only patients with left-sided mCRC compared with bevacizumab (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.63-0.90; P?=?.002), whereas patients with right-sided mCRC had more than double the mortality compared with those with left-sided mCRC (HR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.83-3.25, P?<?.001). Conclusions and Relevance:Primary tumor site is associated with response to BT in mCRC. Right-sided primary tumor location is associated with higher mortality regardless of BT type. In patients with wild-type KRAS tumors, treatment with cetuximab benefited only those with left-sided mCRC and was associated with significantly poorer survival among those with right-sided mCRC. Our results underscore the importance of stratification by tumor site for current treatment guidelines and future clinical trials.