Identifying tumor promoting genomic alterations in tumor-associated fibroblasts via retrovirus-insertional mutagenesis.
ABSTRACT: Tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) are often essential for solid tumor growth. However, few genetic or epigenetic alterations have been found in TAFs during the progression of solid tumors. Employing a tumor-stromal cell co-injection model, we adapted here retroviral-insertional mutagenesis to stromal cells to identify novel tumor-associated genes in TAFs. We successfully identified 20 gene candidates that might modulate tumor growth if altered in TAFs at genomic level. To validate our finding, the function of one of the candidate genes, tubulin tyrosine ligase (Ttl), was further studied in TAFs from fibrosarcoma, colon, breast and hepatocarcinoma. We demonstrated that down-regulated TTL expression in TAFs indeed promoted tumor growth in mice. Interestingly, decreased expression of TTL in tumor stromal cells also correlated with poor outcome in human colon carcinoma. Thus, the co-injection model of tumor cells with retrovirus-modified fibroblasts proved a valid method to identify tumor-modulating genes in TAFs, allowing for a deeper insight into the role of the stroma for tumor development.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is projected to rise to the second leading cause of U.S. cancer-related deaths by 2020. Novel therapeutic targets are desperately needed. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small noncoding RNAs that function by suppressing gene expression and are dysregulated in cancer. miR-21 is overexpressed in PDAC tumor cells (TC) and is associated with decreased survival, chemoresistance and invasion. Dysregulation of miR regulatory networks in PDAC tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) have not been previously described. In this study, we show that miR-21 expression in TAFs promotes TC invasion. METHODS: In-situ hybridization for miR-21 was performed on the 153 PDAC patient UCLA tissue microarray and 23 patient-matched lymph node metastases. Stromal and TC histoscores were correlated with clinicopathologic parameters by univariate and multivariate Cox regression. miR-21 positive cells were further characterized by immunofluorescence for mesenchymal/epithelial markers. For in vitro studies, TAFs were isolated from freshly resected human PDAC tumors by the outgrowth method. miR-21 was overexpressed/inhibited in fibroblasts and then co-cultured with GFP-MiaPaCa TCs to assess TC invasion in modified Boyden chambers. RESULTS: miR-21 was upregulated in TAFs of 78% of tumors, and high miR-21 significantly correlated with decreased overall survival (P = 0.04). Stromal miR-21 expression was also significantly associated with lymph node invasion (P = 0.004), suggesting that it is driving TC spread. Co-immunofluorescence revealed that miR-21 colocalized with peritumoral fibroblasts expressing ?-smooth muscle actin. Moreover, expression of miR-21 in primary TAFs correlated with miR-21 in TAFs from patient-matched LN metastases; evidence that PDAC tumor cells induce TAFs to express miR-21. miR-21 expression in TAFs and TCs promotes invasion of TCs and is inhibited with anti-miR-21. CONCLUSIONS: miR-21 expression in PDAC TAFs is associated with decreased overall survival and promotes TC invasion. Anti-miR-21 may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for dual targeting of both tumor and stroma in PDAC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has had little improvement in mortality rates in decades. A clearer understanding of the HNSCC tumor microenvironment will aid in finding more effective targeted therapies for this disease. Tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) are the largest stromal cellular components of the tumor microenvironment in HNSCC. METHODS:We isolated TAFs from clinical HNSCC cases and propagated in vitro. The effects of TAF-secreted paracrine factors on in vitro HNSCC migration, invasion, and proliferation was assessed. The effect of TAFs on HNSCC growth and metastases was determined in an orthotopic floor-of-the-mouth tumor model. RESULTS:TAF-conditioned media increased HNSCC cell migration, invasion, and proliferation. TAFs increased HNSCC tumor growth and metastases in vivo. CONCLUSION:TAFs play a major role in increasing tumor growth and metastasis in HNSCC. Targeting the tumor stroma may be important to reduce the rate of HNSCC metastasis.
Project description:The tumor microenvironment (TME) serves as a multidrug resistant center for tumors under the assault of chemotherapy and a physiological barrier against the penetration of therapeutic nanoparticles (NPs). Previous studies have indicated the ability for therapeutic NP to distribute into, and deplete tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) for improved therapeutic outcomes. However, a drug resistant phenotype gradually arises after repeated doses of chemotherapeutic NP. Herein, the acquisition of drug resistant phenotypes in the TME after repeated cisplatin NP treatment was examined. Particularly, this study was aimed at investigating the effects of NP damaged TAFs on neighboring cells and alteration of stromal structure after cisplatin treatment. Findings suggested that while off-targeted NP damaged TAFs and inhibited tumor growth after an initial dose, chronic exposure to cisplatin NP led to elevated secretion of Wnt16 in a paracrine manner in TAFs. Wnt16 upregulation was then attributed to heightened tumor cell resistance and stroma reconstruction. Results attest to the efficacy of Wnt16 knockdown in damaged TAFs as a promising combinatory strategy to improve efficacy of cisplatin NP in a stroma-rich bladder cancer model.
Project description:To meet the requirements for rapid tumor growth, a complex array of non-neoplastic cells are recruited to the tumor microenvironment. These cells facilitate tumor development by providing matrices, cytokines, growth factors, as well as vascular networks for nutrient and waste exchange, however their precise origins remain unclear. Through multicolored tissue transplant procedures; we have quantitatively determined the contribution of bone marrow-derived and adipose-derived cells to stromal populations within syngeneic ovarian and breast murine tumors. Our results indicate that subpopulations of tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) are recruited from two distinct sources. The majority of fibroblast specific protein (FSP) positive and fibroblast activation protein (FAP) positive TAFs originate from mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) located in bone marrow sources, whereas most vascular and fibrovascular stroma (pericytes, ?-SMA(+) myofibroblasts, and endothelial cells) originates from neighboring adipose tissue. These results highlight the capacity for tumors to utilize multiple sources of structural cells in a systematic and discriminative manner.
Project description:We previously demonstrated that non-toxic doses of Celecoxib induced the immediate phosphorylation of Erk1-2 in colon tumor associated fibroblasts (TAFs), increasing their responsiveness to epidermal growth factor (EGF). We have now identified two concomitant mechanisms explaining the EGF-Celecoxib cooperation. We found that a 24-48h Celecoxib priming increased EGF receptor (EGFR) mRNA and protein levels in colon TAFs, promoting EGF binding and internalization. Celecoxib-primed TAFs showed a reduced EGFR degradation after EGF challenge. This delay corresponded to a deferred dissociation of EEA1 from EGFR positive endosomes and the accumulation of Rab7, pro Cathepsin-D and SQSTM1/p62, suggesting a shared bottleneck in the pathways of late-endosomes/autophagosomes maturation. Celecoxib modulated the levels of target proteins similarly to the inhibitors of endosome/lysosome acidification Bafilomycin-A1 and NH(4)Cl. Cytoplasmic vesicles fractionation showed a reduced maturation of Cathepsin-D in late endosomes and an increased content of EGFR and Rab7 in lysosomes of Celecoxib-treated TAFs.Our data indicate a double mechanism mediating the increased response to EGF of colon TAFs treated with Celecoxib. While EGFR overexpression could be targeted using anti EGFR drugs, the effects on endosome trafficking and protein turnover represents a more elusive target and should be taken into account for any long-term therapy with Celecoxib.
Project description:Senescence in cancer cells acts as a tumor suppressor, whereas in fibroblasts enhances tumor growth. Senescence has been reported in tumor associated fibroblasts (TAFs) from a growing list of cancer subtypes. However, the presence of senescent TAFs in lung cancer remains undefined. We examined senescence in TAFs from primary lung cancer and paired control fibroblasts from unaffected tissue in three major histologic subtypes: adenocarcinoma (ADC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and large cell carcinoma (LCC). Three independent senescence markers (senescence-associated beta-galactosidase, permanent growth arrest and spreading) were consistently observed in cultured LCC-TAFs only, revealing a selective premature senescence. Intriguingly, SCC-TAFs exhibited a poor growth response in the absence of senescence markers, indicating a dysfunctional phenotype rather than senescence. Co-culturing normal fibroblasts with LCC (but not ADC or SCC) cancer cells was sufficient to render fibroblasts senescent through oxidative stress, indicating that senescence in LCC-TAFs is driven by heterotypic signaling. In addition, senescent fibroblasts provided selective growth and invasive advantages to LCC cells in culture compared to normal fibroblasts. Likewise, senescent fibroblasts enhanced tumor growth and lung dissemination of tumor cells when co-injected with LCC cells in nude mice beyond the effects induced by control fibroblasts. These results define the subtype-specific aberrant phenotypes of lung TAFs, thereby challenging the common assumption that lung TAFs are a heterogeneous myofibroblast-like cell population regardless of their subtype. Importantly, because LCC often distinguishes itself in the clinic by its aggressive nature, we argue that senescent TAFs may contribute to the selective aggressive behavior of LCC tumors.
Project description:Epigenetic changes through altered DNA methylation have been implicated in critical aspects of tumor progression, and have been extensively studied in a variety of cancer types. In contrast, our current knowledge of the aberrant genomic DNA methylation in tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) or other stromal cells that act as critical coconspirators of tumor progression is very scarce. To address this gap of knowledge, we conducted genome-wide DNA methylation profiling on lung TAFs and paired control fibroblasts (CFs) from non-small cell lung cancer patients using the HumanMethylation450 microarray. We found widespread DNA hypomethylation concomitant with focal gain of DNA methylation in TAFs compared to CFs. The aberrant DNA methylation landscape of TAFs had a global impact on gene expression and a selective impact on the TGF-? pathway. The latter included promoter hypermethylation-associated SMAD3 silencing, which was associated with hyperresponsiveness to exogenous TGF-?1 in terms of contractility and extracellular matrix deposition. In turn, activation of CFs with exogenous TGF-?1 partially mimicked the epigenetic alterations observed in TAFs, suggesting that TGF-?1 may be necessary but not sufficient to elicit such alterations. Moreover, integrated pathway-enrichment analyses of the DNA methylation alterations revealed that a fraction of TAFs may be bone marrow-derived fibrocytes. Finally, survival analyses using DNA methylation and gene expression datasets identified aberrant DNA methylation on the EDARADD promoter sequence as a prognostic factor in non-small cell lung cancer patients. Our findings shed light on the unique origin and molecular alterations underlying the aberrant phenotype of lung TAFs, and identify a stromal biomarker with potential clinical relevance.
Project description:The breast cancer microenvironment promotes tumor vascularization through the complex interactions involving tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs). Emerging data indicate that TAFs increase production and signaling by TGF-? cytokines, while the role of TGF-? signaling in the regulation of tumor blood vessels is not fully understood. The current study presents evidence that TAFs enhance the organization of tumor blood capillaries, and TGF-? signaling plays an important role in this response.Tumor vascularization was studied in xenograft models of breast carcinoma cells, alone and in combination with fibroblasts. TGF-? signaling in breast cancer cells was modulated by expression of kinase-inactive TGFBR1-K232R (dnTGFBR1) or constitutive-active TGFBR1-T204D (caTGFBR1) receptor mutants. The architecture of tumor blood capillaries was assessed by immune-histochemical analysis of endothelium and pericytes. The role of TGF-?-Smad signaling in fibronectin expression was examined using adenoviral transduction of signaling components.Our studies revealed that TAFs significantly increase the lumen size of blood microvessels. Inactivation of TGF-? signaling in tumor cells by dnTGFBR1 reduced the microvessel density and lumen sizes, decreasing tumor growth. In contrast, caTGFBR1-tumors exhibited greater vessel density and lumen sizes. Tumors with inactive dnTGFBR1 showed lower amounts of TAFs, while caTGFBR1 increased amounts of TAFs compared to the control. Inspection of pericytes and endothelial cells in tumor vasculature revealed that TAFs enhanced vessel coverage by pericytes, vascular cells supporting capillaries. This effect was impaired in dnTGFBR1-tumors, whereas active caTGFBR1 enhanced the association of pericytes with endothelium. Accordingly, dnTGFBR1-tumors exhibited the presence of hemorrhages, a sign of fragile blood vessels. Biochemical analysis showed that TGFBR1-SMAD signaling up-regulates fibronectin, a prominent regulator of endothelium-pericyte interactions.The current study indicates that tumor-fibroblast crosstalk enhances tumor vascularization by increasing the pericyte-endothelium association via a mechanism involving the TGF?-fibronectin axis. The tumor-fibroblast model represents a useful system for dissecting the complex interactions governing tumor angiogenesis and developing new approaches to therapeutic targeting tumor vasculature.
Project description:Membrane-bound proteases have recently emerged as critical mediators of tumorigenesis, angiogenesis, and metastasis. However, the mechanisms by which they regulate these processes remain unknown. As the cell surface serine protease fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is selectively expressed on tumor-associated fibroblasts and pericytes in epithelial tumors, we set out to investigate the role of FAP in mouse models of epithelial-derived solid tumors. In this study, we demonstrate that genetic deletion and pharmacologic inhibition of FAP inhibited tumor growth in both an endogenous mouse model of lung cancer driven by the K-rasG12D mutant and a mouse model of colon cancer, in which CT26 mouse colon cancer cells were transplanted into immune competent syngeneic mice. Interestingly, growth of only the K-rasG12D-driven lung tumors was also attenuated by inhibition of the closely related protease dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV). Our results indicate that FAP depletion inhibits tumor cell proliferation indirectly, increases accumulation of collagen, decreases myofibroblast content, and decreases blood vessel density in tumors. These data provide proof of principle that targeting stromal cell-mediated modifications of the tumor microenvironment may be an effective approach to treating epithelial-derived solid tumors.