Cancer stem cell-related gene expression as a potential biomarker of response for first-in-class imipridone ONC201 in solid tumors.
ABSTRACT: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) correlate with recurrence, metastasis and poor survival in clinical studies. Encouraging results from clinical trials of CSC inhibitors have further validated CSCs as therapeutic targets. ONC201 is a first-in-class small molecule imipridone in Phase I/II clinical trials for advanced cancer. We have previously shown that ONC201 targets self-renewing, chemotherapy-resistant colorectal CSCs via Akt/ERK inhibition and DR5/TRAIL induction. In this study, we demonstrate that the anti-CSC effects of ONC201 involve early changes in stem cell-related gene expression prior to tumor cell death induction. A targeted network analysis of gene expression profiles in colorectal cancer cells revealed that ONC201 downregulates stem cell pathways such as Wnt signaling and modulates genes (ID1, ID2, ID3 and ALDH7A1) known to regulate self-renewal in colorectal, prostate cancer and glioblastoma. ONC201-mediated changes in CSC-related gene expression were validated at the RNA and protein level for each tumor type. Accordingly, we observed inhibition of self-renewal and CSC markers in prostate cancer cell lines and patient-derived glioblastoma cells upon ONC201 treatment. Interestingly, ONC201-mediated CSC depletion does not occur in colorectal cancer cells with acquired resistance to ONC201. Finally, we observed that basal expression of CSC-related genes (ID1, CD44, HES7 and TCF3) significantly correlate with ONC201 efficacy in >1000 cancer cell lines and combining the expression of multiple genes leads to a stronger overall prediction. These proof-of-concept studies provide a rationale for testing CSC expression at the RNA and protein level as a predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarker of ONC201 response in ongoing clinical studies.
Project description:Self-renewing colorectal cancer stem/progenitor cells (CSC) contribute to tumor maintenance and resistance to therapy. Therapeutic targeting of CSCs could improve treatment response and prolong patient survival. ONC201/TIC10 is a first-in-class antitumor agent that induces TRAIL pathway-mediated cell death in cancer cells without observed toxicity. We have previously described that ONC201/TIC10 exposure leads to transcriptional induction of the TRAIL gene via transcription factor Foxo3a, which is activated by dual inactivation of Akt and ERK. The Akt and ERK pathways serve as important targets in CSCs. Foxo3a is a key mediator of Akt and ERK-mediated CSC regulation. We hypothesized that the potent antitumor effect of ONC201/TIC10 in colorectal cancer involves targeting CSCs and bulk tumor cells. ONC201/TIC10 depletes CD133(+), CD44(+), and Aldefluor(+) cells in vitro and in vivo. TIC10 significantly inhibits colonosphere formation of unsorted and sorted 5-fluorouracil-resistant CSCs. ONC201/TIC10 significantly reduces CSC-initiated xenograft tumor growth in mice and prevents the passage of these tumors. ONC201/TIC10 treatment also decreased xenograft tumor initiation and was superior to 5-fluorouracil treatment. Thus, ONC201/TIC10 inhibits CSC self-renewal in vitro and in vivo. ONC201/TIC10 inhibits Akt and ERK, consequently activating Foxo3a and significantly induces cell surface TRAIL and DR5 expression in both CSCs and non-CSCs. ONC201/TIC10-mediated anti-CSC effect is significantly blocked by the TRAIL sequestering antibody RIK-2. Overexpression of Akt, DR5 knockdown, and Foxo3a knockdown rescues ONC201/TIC10-mediated depletion of CD44(+) cells and colonosphere inhibition. In conclusion, ONC201/TIC10 is a promising agent for colorectal cancer therapy that targets both non-CSCs and CSCs in an Akt-Foxo3a-TRAIL-dependent manner.
Project description:Hypoxia, a feature common to most solid tumors, is known to regulate many aspects of tumorigenesis. Recently, it was suggested that hypoxia increased the size of the cancer stem-cell (CSC) subpopulations and promoted the acquisition of a CSC-like phenotype. However, candidate hypoxia-regulated mediators specifically relevant to the stemness-related functions of colorectal CSCs have not been examined in detail. In the present study, we showed that hypoxia specifically promoted the self-renewal potential of CSCs. Through various in vitro studies, we found that hypoxia-induced Wnt/?-catenin signaling increased the occurrence of CSC-like phenotypes and the level of Id2 expression in colorectal-cancer cells. Importantly, the levels of hypoxia-induced CSC-sphere formation and Id2 expression were successfully attenuated by treatment with a Wnt/?-catenin-signaling inhibitor. We further demonstrated, for the first time, that the degree of hypoxia-induced CSC-sphere formation (CD44(+) subpopulation) in vitro and of tumor metastasis/dissemination in vivo were markedly suppressed by knocking down Id2 expression. Taken together, these data suggested that Wnt/?-catenin signaling mediated the hypoxia-induced self-renewal potential of colorectal-cancer CSCs through reactivating Id2 expression.
Project description:Colorectal cancer lethality usually results from post-treatment relapse in the majority of stage II-IV patients, due to the enhanced resistance of Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs). Here, we show that the nuclear receptor Pregnane X Receptor (PXR, NR1I2), behaves as a key driver of CSC-mediated tumor recurrence. First, PXR is specifically expressed in CSCs, where it drives the expression of genes involved in self-renewal and chemoresistance. Clinically, high levels of PXR correlate with poor recurrence-free survival in a cohort of >200 stage II/III colorectal cancer patients treated with chemotherapy, for whom finding biomarkers of treatment outcome is an urgent clinical need. shRNA silencing of PXR increased the chemo-sensitivity of human colon CSCs, reduced their self-renewal and tumor-initiating potential, and drastically delayed tumor recurrence in mice following chemotherapy. This study uncovers PXR as a key factor for CSC self-renewal and chemoresistance and targeting PXR thus represents a promising strategy to minimize colorectal cancer relapse by selectively sensitizing CSCs to chemotherapy.
Project description:Recurrence of gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas after surgery and chemotherapy may be attributed, in part, to the presence of a small population of tumor-initiating cancer stem cells (CSC). The expression of galectin-3 (Gal3), a multifunctional oncolectin, has been associated with biological behaviors associated with CSC. We examined the ability of Gal3 to characterize the CSC phenotype, and to identify a clinically important gastrointestinal cancer CSC population. Human colorectal and pancreatic cancer cell lines were sorted to identify subpopulations expressing commonly used CSC markers, and Gal3-positive CSC subpopulations. The association of Gal3 with the stem cell properties and alterations of these phenotypes by manipulation of Gal3 expression was examined. Gastrointestinal cancer cell lines contain both Gal3-positive and Gal3-negative subpopulations. Gal3-positive CSCs are characterized by high ALDH activity, enhanced self-renewal ability in vitro (sphere formation) and tumor forming ability in vivo, and resistance to chemotherapeutic agents and death-receptor-mediated apoptosis compared to Gal3-negative CSCs. Silencing Gal3 modifies this behavior. Cell surface Gal3 expression identifies a subset of CSCs in gastrointestinal cancers with high levels of stem cell characteristics, including chemoresistance. This may provide a platform for developing treatment strategies that target CSC.
Project description:The transcription factor nuclear factor-?B (NF-?B) has important roles for tumorigenesis, but how it regulates cancer stem cells (CSCs) remains largely unclear. We identified insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) is a key target of NF-?B activated by HER2/HER3 signaling to form tumor spheres in breast cancer cells. The IGF2 receptor, IGF1?R, was expressed at high levels in CSC-enriched populations in primary breast cancer cells. Moreover, IGF2-PI3K (IGF2-phosphatidyl inositol 3 kinase) signaling induced expression of a stemness transcription factor, inhibitor of DNA-binding 1 (ID1), and IGF2 itself. ID1 knockdown greatly reduced IGF2 expression, and tumor sphere formation. Finally, treatment with anti-IGF1/2 antibodies blocked tumorigenesis derived from the IGF1Rhigh CSC-enriched population in a patient-derived xenograft model. Thus, NF-?B may trigger IGF2-ID1-IGF2-positive feedback circuits that allow cancer stem-like cells to appear. Then, they may become addicted to the circuits. As the circuits are the Achilles' heels of CSCs, it will be critical to break them for eradication of CSCs.
Project description:Although several epigenetic modulating drugs are suggested to target cancer stem cells (CSCs), additional identification of anti-CSC drugs is still necessary. Here we showed that JIB-04, a pan-selective inhibitor of histone demethylase(s), was identified as a small molecule that selectively target colorectal CSCs. Our data showed that JIB-04 is capable of reducing self-renewal and stemness of colorectal CSCs in three different colorectal cancer cell lines. JIB-04 significantly attenuated CSC tumorsphere formation, growth/relapse, invasion, and migration in vitro. Furthermore, JIB-04-treated colorectal cancer cells showed reduced tumorigenic activity in vivo. RNA sequencing analysis revealed that JIB-04 affected various cancer-related signaling pathways, especially Wnt/?-catenin signaling, which is crucial for the proliferation and maintenance of colorectal cancer cells. qRT-PCR and TOP/FOP flash luciferase assays showed that JIB-04 down-regulated the expression of Wnt/?-catenin-regulated target genes associated with colorectal CSC function. Overall, the effects of JIB-04 were equal to or greater than those of salinomycin, a known anti-colorectal CSC drug, despite the lower concentration of JIB-04 compared with that of salinomycin. Our results strongly suggest that JIB-04 is a promising drug candidate for colorectal cancer therapy.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the most difficult subtype of esophageal cancer to treat due to the paucity of effective targeted therapy. ESCC is believed to arise from cancer stem cells (CSCs) that contribute to metastasis and chemoresistance. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis of ESCC patients remains poor. METHODS:In this study, we applied western blot, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), immunohistochemistry, RNA-Seq analysis, luciferase reporter assay, Chip-qPCR, bioinformatics analysis, and a series of functional assays to show the potential role of LEF1 in regulating esophageal CSCs. RESULTS:We found that the overexpression of LEF1 was associated with aberrant clinicopathological characteristics and the poor prognosis of ESCC patients. In addition, the elevated expression of LEF1 and OV6 was significantly associated with aberrant clinicopathological features, and poor patient prognosis. Moreover, the overexpression of LEF1 was observed in esophageal CSCs purified by the magnetic sorting of adherent and spheroidal ESCC cells. The increased level of LEF1 in CSCs facilitated the expression of CSC markers, stem cell-like properties, resistance to chemotherapy, and tumorigenicity and increased the percentage of CSCs in ESCC samples. Conversely, the knockdown of LEF1 significantly diminished the self-renewal properties of ESCC. We showed that LEF1 played an important mechanical role in activating the TGF-β signaling pathway by directly binding to the ID1 gene promoter. A positive association between LEF1 and ID1 expression was also observed in clinical ESCC samples. CONCLUSION:Our results indicate that the overexpression of LEF1 promotes a CSC-like phenotype in and the tumorigenicity of ESCC by activating the TGF-β signaling pathway. The inhibition of LEF1 might therefore be a novel therapeutic target to inactivate CSCs and inhibit tumor progression.
Project description:Heparan sulfate (HS) plays a role in the majority of essential hallmarks of cancer, yet its ability to modulate self-renewal, especially of cancer stem cells (CSCs), remains unknown. We have discovered that a non-anticoagulant HS hexasaccharide (HS06) sequence, but not other shorter or longer sequences, selectively inhibited CSC self-renewal and induced apoptosis in colorectal, pancreatic, and breast CSCs suggesting a very general phenomenon. HS06 inhibition of CSCs relied upon early and sustained activation of p38?/? mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) but not other MAPKs family members i.e. ERK and JNK. In contrast, polymeric HS induced exactly opposite changes in MAPK activation and failed to inhibit CSCs. In fact, TCF4 signaling, a critical regulator of CSC self-renewal, was inhibited by HS06 in a p38 activation dependent fashion. In conclusion, HS06 selectively inhibits CSCs self-renewal by causing isoform specific activation of p38MAPK to inhibit TCF4 signaling. These observations on chain length-induced specificity carry major mechanistic implications with regard to HS in cancer biology, while also presenting a novel paradigm for developing novel anti-CSC hexasaccharides that prevent cancer relapse.Heparan sulfate (HS) of specific length, i.e., hexasaccharide (HS06), but not longer or shorter sequences, selectively inhibit cancer stem cells (CSCs) through isoform specific activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. These findings will have major implication for developing chemical probes to decipher complex signaling events that govern cancer stem cells. Additionally, there are direct implications for designing glycosaminoglycan based cancer therapies to selectively target CSCs that escape killing by traditional chemotherapy threatening cancer relapse.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are the main cause of tumor generation, recurrence, metastasis, and therapy failure in various malignancies including colorectal cancer (CRC). Accumulating evidence suggests that tumor cells can acquire CSC characteristics through the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process. However, the molecular mechanism of CSCs remains unclear. OCT4B1 is a transcript of OCT4, which is initially expressed in embryonic stem and carcinoma cells, and is involved in the regulation and maintenance of an undifferentiated state of stem cells. In this study, three-dimensional (3D) microspheres were confirmed as CRC stem cells. Compared with that of parental cells, their self-renewal ability was significantly increased, and OCT4B1 expression was increased and promoted the EMT process. The knockdown of OCT4B1 decreased the self-renewal of CSCs and reversed EMT. Moreover, OCT4B1 induced the expression of Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), which is a key regulator of EMT in tumor cells. Further examination showed that OCT4B1 regulated the miR-8064/PLK1 balance to exert its function. Taken together, our data suggest that OCT4B1 may be involved in regulating the self-renewal of colorectal CSCs through EMT, which is at least partially due to the miR-8064/PLK1 balance. This study indicates that OCT4B1 is a potential therapeutic target for CRC by targeting CSCs.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) contribute towards disease aggressiveness and drug resistance. Specific identification of CSC maintenance genes and targeting can improve the efficiency of currently available treatment modalities. Pancreatic differentiation 2 (PD2) has a major role in the self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells. In the present study, we investigated the role of PD2 in pancreatic CSCs.Characterisation of CSCs and non-CSCs from mouse models, pancreatic cancer cells and human tissues by CSC and self-renewal marker analysis using confocal assay. Effect of PD2 knockdown in CSCs (after gemcitabine treatment) was studied by immunoblot and apoptosis assays.A subpopulation of cells displayed PD2 overexpression in mouse (Kras(G12D); Pdx1-Cre and Kras(G12D); Trp53(R172H/+); Pdx1-Cre) and human pancreatic tumours, which co-express CSC markers. Cancer stem cells exhibited elevated expression of PD2 and self-renewal markers, such as Oct3/4, Shh and ?-catenin. Gemcitabine treatment maintained the CSC population with simultaneous maintenance of PD2 and CSC marker expression. Knockdown of PD2 in CSCs resulted in reduced viability of cells and enhanced apoptosis along with abrogated expression of CD133 and MDR2.Our results suggest that PD2 is a novel CSC maintenance protein, loss of which renders the CSCs more susceptible to drug-induced cell death.