Tumour heterogeneity promotes collective invasion and cancer metastatic dissemination.
ABSTRACT: Heterogeneity within tumour cell populations is commonly observed in most cancers. However, its impact on metastatic dissemination, one of the primary determinants of the disease prognosis, remains poorly understood. Working with a simplified numerical model of tumour spheroids, we investigated the impact of mechanical heterogeneity on the onset of tumour invasion into surrounding tissues. Our work establishes a positive link between tumour heterogeneity and metastatic dissemination, and recapitulates a number of invasion patterns identified in vivo, such as multicellular finger-like protrusions. Two complementary mechanisms are at play in heterogeneous tumours. A small proportion of stronger cells are able to initiate and lead the escape of cells, while collective effects in the bulk of the tumour provide the coordination required to sustain the invasive process through multicellular streaming. This suggests that the multicellular dynamics observed during metastasis is a generic feature of mechanically heterogeneous cell populations and might rely on a limited and generic set of attributes.
Project description:Ovarian cancer is the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst women and has the highest mortality rate of all gynaecological malignancies. It is a heterogeneous disease attributed to one of three cell types found within the reproductive milieu: epithelial, stromal, and germ cell. Each histotype differs in etiology, pathogenesis, molecular biology, risk factors, and prognosis. Furthermore, the origin of ovarian cancer remains unclear, with ovarian involvement secondary to the contribution of other gynaecological tissues. Despite these complexities, the disease is often treated as a single entity, resulting in minimal improvement to survival rates since the introduction of platinum-based chemotherapy over 30 years ago. Despite concerted research efforts, ovarian cancer remains one of the most difficult cancers to detect and treat, which is in part due to the unique mode of its dissemination. Ovarian cancers tend to invade locally to neighbouring tissues by direct extension from the primary tumour, and passively to pelvic and distal organs within the peritoneal fluid or ascites as multicellular spheroids. Once at their target tissue, ovarian cancers, like most epithelial cancers including colorectal, melanoma, and breast, tend to invade as a cohesive unit in a process termed collective invasion, driven by specialized cells termed "leader cells". Emerging evidence implicates leader cells as essential drivers of collective invasion and metastasis, identifying collective invasion and leader cells as a viable target for the management of metastatic disease. However, the development of targeted therapies specifically against this process and this subset of cells is lacking. Here, we review our understanding of metastasis, collective invasion, and the role of leader cells in ovarian cancer. We will discuss emerging research into the development of novel therapies targeting collective invasion and the leader cell population.
Project description:During cancer progression, malignant cells in the tumour invade surrounding tissues. This transformation of adherent cells to a motile phenotype has been associated with the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we show that EMT-activated cells migrate through micropillar arrays as a collectively advancing front that scatters individual cells. Individual cells with few neighbours dispersed with fast, straight trajectories, whereas cells that encountered many neighbours migrated collectively with epithelial biomarkers. We modelled these emergent dynamics using a physical analogy to phase transitions during binary-mixture solidification, and validated it using drug perturbations, which revealed that individually migrating cells exhibit diminished chemosensitivity. Our measurements also indicate a degree of phenotypic plasticity as cells interconvert between individual and collective migration. The study of multicellular behaviours with single-cell resolution should enable further quantitative insights into heterogeneous tumour invasion.
Project description:Solid tumors consist of genetically and phenotypically diverse subpopulations of cancer cells with unique capacities for growth, differentiation, and invasion. While the molecular and microenvironmental bases for heterogeneity are increasingly appreciated, the outcomes of such intratumor heterogeneity, particularly in the context of tumor invasion and metastasis, remain poorly understood. To study heterotypic cell-cell interactions and elucidate the biological consequences of intratumor heterogeneity, we developed a tissue-engineered multicellular spheroid (MCS) co-culture model that recapitulates the cellular diversity and fully three-dimensional cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions that characterize human carcinomas. We found that "invasion-competent" malignant cells induced the collective invasion of otherwise "invasion-incompetent" epithelial cells, and that these two cell types consistently exhibited distinct leader and follower roles during invasion. Analysis of extracellular matrix (ECM) microarchitecture revealed that malignant cell invasion was accompanied by extensive ECM remodeling including matrix alignment and proteolytic track-making. Inhibition of cell contractility- and proteolysis-mediated matrix reorganization prevented leader-follower behavior and malignant cell-induced epithelial cell invasion. These results indicate that heterogeneous subpopulations within a tumor may possess specialized roles during tumor progression and suggest that complex interactions among the various subpopulations of cancer cells within a tumor may regulate critical aspects of tumor biology and affect clinical outcome.
Project description:Cancer cell migration and invasion underlie metastatic dissemination, one of the major problems in cancer. Tumour cells exhibit a striking variety of invasion strategies. Importantly, cancer cells can switch between invasion modes in order to cope with challenging environments. This ability to switch migratory modes or plasticity highlights the challenges behind antimetastasis therapy design. In this Review, we present current knowledge on different tumour invasion strategies, the determinants controlling plasticity and arising therapeutic opportunities. We propose that targeting master regulators controlling plasticity is needed to hinder tumour dissemination and metastasis.
Project description:We have shown previously that distinct Mena isoforms are expressed in invasive and migratory tumor cells in vivo and that the invasion isoform (Mena(INV)) potentiates carcinoma cell metastasis in murine models of breast cancer. However, the specific step of metastatic progression affected by this isoform and the effects on metastasis of the Mena11a isoform, expressed in primary tumor cells, are largely unknown. Here, we provide evidence that elevated Mena(INV) increases coordinated streaming motility, and enhances transendothelial migration and intravasation of tumor cells. We demonstrate that promotion of these early stages of metastasis by Mena(INV) is dependent on a macrophage-tumor cell paracrine loop. Our studies also show that increased Mena11a expression correlates with decreased expression of colony-stimulating factor 1 and a dramatically decreased ability to participate in paracrine-mediated invasion and intravasation. Our results illustrate the importance of paracrine-mediated cell streaming and intravasation on tumor cell dissemination, and demonstrate that the relative abundance of Mena(INV) and Mena11a helps to regulate these key stages of metastatic progression in breast cancer cells.
Project description:Multicellular pattern formation plays an important role in developmental biology, cancer metastasis and wound healing. While many physical factors have been shown to regulate these multicellular processes, the role of ECM micro-to-meso scale geometry has been poorly understood in 3D collective cancer invasion.We have developed a mechanical-based strategy, Diskoid In Geometrically Micropatterned ECM (DIGME). DIGME allows easy engineering of the shape of 3D tissue organoid, the mesoscale ECM heterogeneity, and the fiber alignment of collagen-based ECM all at the same time. We have employed DIGME to study the 3D invasion of MDA-MB-231 diskoids in engineered collagen matrix. We find that the collective cancer invasion is closely regulated by the micro-to-meso scale geometry of the ECM.We conclude that DIGME provides a simple yet powerful tool to probe 3D dynamics of tissue organoids in physically patterned microenvironments.
Project description:Cellular senescence has been perceived as a barrier against carcinogenesis. However, the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) of senescent cells can promote tumorigenesis. Here, we show senescent tumour cells are frequently present in the front region of collective invasion of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), as well as lymphatic channels and metastatic foci of lymph nodes. In in vitro invasion analysis, senescent tumour cells exhibit high invasion ability as compared with non-senescent tumour cells through SASP expression. Collective invasion in PTC is led by senescent tumour cells characterized by generation of a C-X-C-motif ligand (CXCL)12 chemokine gradient in the front region. Furthermore, senescent cells increase the survival of cancer cells via CXCL12/CXCR4 signalling. An orthotopic xenograft in vivo model also shows higher lymphatic vessels involvement in the group co-transplanted with senescent cells and cancer cells. These findings suggest that senescent cells are actively involved in the collective invasion and metastasis of PTC.
Project description:Mouse colorectal cancer (CRC) models generated by orthotopic microinjection of human CRC cell lines reproduce the pattern of lymphatic, haematological and transcoelomic spread but generate low metastatic efficiency. Our aim was to develop a new strategy that could increase the metastatic efficiency of these models. We used subcutaneous implantation of the human CRC cell lines HCT116 or SW48 prior to their orthotopic microinjection in the cecum of nude mice (SC+ORT). This subcutaneous preconditioning significantly enhanced metastatic dissemination. In the HCT116 model it increased the number and size of metastatic foci in lymph nodes, lung, liver and peritoneum, whereas, in the SW48 model, it induced a shift from non-metastatic to metastatic. In both models the number of apoptotic bodies in the primary tumour in the SC+ORT group was significantly reduced compared with that in the direct orthotopic injection (ORT) group. Moreover, in HCT116 tumours the number of keratin-positive tumour buddings and single epithelial cells increased at the invasion front in SC+ORT mice. In the SW48 tumour model, we observed a trend towards a higher number of tumour buds and single cells in the SC+ORT group but this did not reach statistical significance. At a molecular level, the enhanced metastatic efficiency observed in the HCT116 SC+ORT model was associated with an increase in AKT activation, VEGF-A overexpression and downregulation of ?1 integrin in primary tumour tissue, whereas, in SW48 SC+ORT mice, the level of expression of these proteins remained unchanged. In summary, subcutaneous preconditioning increased the metastatic dissemination of both orthotopic CRC models by increasing tumour cell survival and invasion at the tumour invasion front. This approach could be useful to simultaneously study the mechanisms of metastases and to evaluate anti-metastatic drugs against CRC.
Project description:Breast cancer undergoes collective tissue invasion and, in experimental models, can collectively metastasize. The prevalence of collective invasion and its contribution to distant metastasis in clinical disease, however, remains poorly defined. We here scored the adipose tissue invasion of primary invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), expressing E-cadherin, and E-cadherin negative invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) and identified predominantly collective invasion patterns (86/86 samples) in both carcinoma types. Whereas collective invasion in IDC lesions retained adherens junctions, multicellular clusters and "Indian files" in ILC, despite the absence of adherens junctions (AJ) proteins E-cadherin and ?-catenin, retained CD44 at cell-cell contacts. By histomorphological scoring and semi-automated image analysis, we show that the extent of collective invasion into the adipose tissue correlated with decreased distant metastasis-free survival (5-year follow-up; hazard ratio: 2.32 and 2.29, respectively). Thus, collective invasion represents the predominant invasion mode in breast cancer, develops distinct junctional subtypes in IDC and ILC, and associates with distant metastasis, suggesting a critical role in systemic dissemination.
Project description:Cancer cell invasion, dissemination, and metastasis have been linked to an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of individual tumour cells. During EMT, adhesion molecules like E-cadherin are downregulated and the decrease of cell-cell adhesion allows tumour cells to dissociate from the primary tumour mass. This complex process depends on intracellular cues that are subject to genetic and epigenetic variability, as well as extrinsic cues from the local environment resulting in a spatial heterogeneity in the adhesive phenotype of individual tumour cells. Here, we use a novel mathematical model to study how adhesion heterogeneity, influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors, affects the dissemination of tumour cells from an epithelial cell population. The model is a multiscale cellular automaton that couples intracellular adhesion receptor regulation with cell-cell adhesion.Simulations of our mathematical model indicate profound effects of adhesion heterogeneity on tumour cell dissemination. In particular, we show that a large variation of intracellular adhesion receptor concentrations in a cell population reinforces cell dissemination, regardless of extrinsic cues mediated through the local cell density. However, additional control of adhesion receptor concentration through the local cell density, which can be assumed in healthy cells, weakens the effect. Furthermore, we provide evidence that adhesion heterogeneity can explain the remarkable differences in adhesion receptor concentrations of epithelial and mesenchymal phenotypes observed during EMT and might drive early dissemination of tumour cells.Our results suggest that adhesion heterogeneity may be a universal trigger to reinforce cell dissemination in epithelial cell populations. This effect can be at least partially compensated by a control of adhesion receptor regulation through neighbouring cells. Accordingly, our findings explain how both an increase in intra-tumour adhesion heterogeneity and the loss of control through the local environment can promote tumour cell dissemination.This article was reviewed by Hanspeter Herzel, Thomas Dandekar and Marek Kimmel.