Athymic mice reveal a requirement for T-cell-microglia interactions in establishing a microenvironment supportive of Nf1 low-grade glioma growth.
ABSTRACT: Pediatric low-grade gliomas (LGGs) frequently do not engraft in immunocompromised mice, limiting their use as an experimental platform. In contrast, murine Neurofibromatosis-1 (Nf1) optic LGG stem cells (o-GSCs) form glioma-like lesions in wild-type, but not athymic, mice following transplantation. Here, we show that the inability of athymic mice to support o-GSC engraftment results from impaired microglia/macrophage function, including reduced expression of Ccr2 and Ccl5, both of which are required for o-GSC engraftment and Nf1 optic glioma growth. Impaired Ccr2 and Ccl5 expression in athymic microglia/macrophages was restored by T-cell exposure, establishing T-cell-microglia/macrophage interactions as critical stromal determinants that support NF1 LGG growth.
Project description:BACKGROUND:One of the clinical hallmarks of low-grade gliomas (LGGs) arising in children with the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) cancer predisposition syndrome is significant clinical variability with respect to tumor growth, associated neurologic deficits, and response to therapy. Numerous factors could contribute to this clinical heterogeneity, including the tumor cell of origin, the specific germline NF1 gene mutation, and the coexistence of additional genomic alterations. Since human specimens are rarely acquired, and have proven difficult to maintain in vitro or as xenografts in vivo, we have developed a series of Nf1 mutant optic glioma mouse strains representing each of these contributing factors. METHODS:Optic glioma stem cells (o-GSCs) were generated from this collection of Nf1 genetically engineered mice, and analyzed for their intrinsic growth properties, as well as the production of chemokines that could differentially attract T cells and microglia. RESULTS:The observed differences in Nf1 optic glioma growth are not the result of cell autonomous growth properties of o-GSCs, but rather the unique patterns of o-GSC chemokine expression, which differentially attract T cells and microglia. This immune profile collectively dictates the levels of chemokine C-C ligand 5 (Ccl5) expression, the key stromal factor that drives murine Nf1 optic glioma growth. CONCLUSIONS:These findings reveal that genetic and genomic alterations create murine LGG biological heterogeneity through the differential recruitment of T cells and microglia by o-GSC-produced chemokines, which ultimately determine the expression of stromal factors that drive tumor growth.
Project description:Brain tumors (gliomas) are heterogeneous cellular ecosystems, where non-neoplastic monocytic cells have emerged as key regulators of tumor maintenance and progression. However, relative to macrophages/microglia, comparatively less is known about the roles of neurons and T cells in glioma pathobiology. Herein, we leverage genetically engineered mouse models and human biospecimens to define the axis in which neurons, T cells, and microglia interact to govern Neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) low-grade glioma (LGG) growth. NF1-mutant human and mouse brain neurons elaborate midkine to activate naïve CD8+ T cells to produce Ccl4, which induces microglia to produce a key LGG growth factor (Ccl5) critical for LGG stem cell survival. Importantly, increased CCL5 expression is associated with reduced survival in patients with LGG. The elucidation of the critical intercellular dependencies that constitute the LGG neuroimmune axis provides insights into the role of neurons and immune cells in controlling glioma growth, relevant to future therapeutic targeting.
Project description:Solid cancers develop within a supportive microenvironment that promotes tumor formation and growth through the elaboration of mitogens and chemokines. Within these tumors, monocytes (macrophages and microglia) represent rich sources of these stromal factors. Leveraging a genetically engineered mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) low-grade brain tumor (optic glioma), we have previously demonstrated that microglia are essential for glioma formation and maintenance. To identify potential tumor-associated microglial factors that support glioma growth (gliomagens), we initiated a comprehensive large-scale discovery effort using optimized RNA-sequencing methods focused specifically on glioma-associated microglia. Candidate microglial gliomagens were prioritized to identify potential secreted or membrane-bound proteins, which were next validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction as well as by RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization following minocycline-mediated microglial inactivation in vivo. Using these selection criteria, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 5 (Ccl5) was identified as a chemokine highly expressed in genetically engineered Nf1 mouse optic gliomas relative to nonneoplastic optic nerves. As a candidate gliomagen, recombinant Ccl5 increased Nf1-deficient optic nerve astrocyte growth in vitro. Importantly, consistent with its critical role in maintaining tumor growth, treatment with Ccl5 neutralizing antibodies reduced Nf1 mouse optic glioma growth and improved retinal dysfunction in vivo. Collectively, these findings establish Ccl5 as an important microglial growth factor for low-grade glioma maintenance relevant to the development of future stroma-targeted brain tumor therapies.
Project description:Solid cancers develop within a supportive microenvironment that promotes tumor formation and continued growth through the elaboration of mitogens and chemokines. Within these tumors, monocytes (macrophages and microglia) represent rich sources of these stromal factors. Leveraging a genetically-engineered mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) low-grade brain tumor (optic glioma), previous studies have demonstrated that microglia are important for glioma formation and maintenance. To identify the tumor-associated microglial factors that support glioma growth (gliomagens), we employed a comprehensive large scale discovery effort using optimized advanced RNA-sequencing methods. Candidate gliomagens were prioritized to identify potential secreted or membrane-bound proteins, which were next validated by quantitative RT-PCR and RNA FISH following minocycline-mediated microglial inactivation in vivo. Using these selection criteria, Ccl5 was identified as a highly expressed chemokine in both genetically engineered Nf1 mouse and human optic gliomas. As a candidate gliomagen, recombinant Ccl5 increased Nf1-deficient optic nerve astrocyte growth in vitro. Importantly, consistent with its critical role in maintaining tumor growth, Ccl5 inhibition with neutralizing antibodies reduced Nf1 mouse optic glioma growth in vivo. Collectively, these findings establish Ccl5 as critical stromal growth factor in low-grade glioma maintenance relevant to future microglia-targeted therapies for brain tumors. Overall design: Nf1 optic glioma associated microglia from mice were flow sorted. Upregulated genes of glioma associated microglia were verified and further examined.
Project description:Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common neurogenetic condition characterized by significant clinical heterogeneity. A major barrier to developing precision medicine approaches for NF1 is an incomplete understanding of the factors that underlie its inherent variability. To determine the impact of the germline NF1 gene mutation on the optic gliomas frequently encountered in children with NF1, we developed genetically engineered mice harboring two representative NF1-patient-derived Nf1 gene mutations (c.2542G>C;p.G848R and c.2041C>T;p.R681X). We found that each germline Nf1 gene mutation resulted in different levels of neurofibromin expression. Importantly, only R681X(CKO) but not G848R(CKO), mice develop optic gliomas with increased optic nerve volumes, glial fibrillary acid protein immunoreactivity, proliferation and retinal ganglion cell death, similar to Nf1 conditional knockout mice harboring a neomycin insertion (neo) as the germline Nf1 gene mutation. These differences in optic glioma phenotypes reflect both cell-autonomous and stromal effects of the germline Nf1 gene mutation. In this regard, primary astrocytes harboring the R681X germline Nf1 gene mutation exhibit increased basal astrocyte proliferation (BrdU incorporation) indistinguishable from neo(CKO) astrocytes, whereas astrocytes with the G848R mutation have lower levels of proliferation. Evidence for paracrine effects from the tumor microenvironment were revealed when R681X(CKO) mice were compared with conventional neo(CKO) mice. Relative to neo(CKO) mice, the optic gliomas from R681X(CKO) mice had more microglia infiltration and JNK(Thr183/Tyr185) activation, microglia-produced Ccl5, and glial AKT(Thr308) activation. Collectively, these studies establish that the germline Nf1 gene mutation is a major determinant of optic glioma development and growth through by both tumor cell-intrinsic and stromal effects.
Project description:Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common malignant brain tumor in adults, with a median survival of 15 months. These poor clinical outcomes have prompted the development of drugs that block neoplastic cancer cell growth; however, non-neoplastic cell-derived signals (chemokines and cytokines) in the tumor microenvironment may also represent viable treatment targets. One such chemokine, Ccl5, produced by low-grade tumor-associated microglia, is responsible for maintaining neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) mouse optic glioma growth in vivo. Since malignant gliomas may achieve partial independence from growth regulatory factors produced by non-neoplastic cells in the tumor microenvironment by producing the same cytokines secreted by the stromal cells in their low-grade counterparts, we tested the hypothesis that CCL5/CCL5-receptor signaling in glioblastoma creates an autocrine circuit important for high-grade glioma growth. Herein, we demonstrate that increased CCL5 expression was restricted to both human and mouse mesenchymal GBM (M-GBM), a molecular subtype characterized by NF1 loss. We further show that the NF1 protein, neurofibromin, negatively regulates Ccl5 expression through suppression of AKT/mTOR signaling. Consistent with its role as a glioblastoma growth regulator, Ccl5 knockdown in M-GBM cells reduces M-GBM cell survival in vitro, and increases mouse glioblastoma survival in vivo. Finally, we demonstrate that Ccl5 operates through an unconventional CCL5 receptor, CD44, to inhibit M-GBM apoptosis. Collectively, these findings reveal an NF1-dependent CCL5-mediated pathway that regulates M-GBM cell survival, and support the concept that paracrine factors important for low-grade glioma growth can be usurped by high-grade tumors to create autocrine regulatory circuits that maintain malignant glioma survival.
Project description:Whereas carcinogenesis requires the acquisition of driver mutations in progenitor cells, tumor growth and progression are heavily influenced by the local microenvironment. Previous studies from our laboratory have used Neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) genetically engineered mice to characterize the role of stromal cells and signals to optic glioma formation and growth. Previously, we have shown that Nf1+/- microglia in the tumor microenvironment are critical cellular determinants of optic glioma proliferation. To define the role of microglia in tumor formation and maintenance further, we used CD11b-TK mice, in which resident brain microglia (CD11b+, CD68+, Iba1+, CD45low cells) can be ablated at specific times after ganciclovir administration. Ganciclovir-mediated microglia reduction reduced Nf1 optic glioma proliferation during both tumor maintenance and tumor development. We identified the developmental window during which microglia are increased in the Nf1+/- optic nerve and demonstrated that this accumulation reflected delayed microglia dispersion. The increase in microglia in the Nf1+/- optic nerve was associated with reduced expression of the chemokine receptor, CX3CR1, such that reduced Cx3cr1 expression in Cx3cr1-GFP heterozygous knockout mice led to a similar increase in optic nerve microglia. These results establish a critical role for microglia in the development and maintenance of Nf1 optic glioma.
Project description:Although traditional models of carcinogenesis have largely focused on neoplastic cells, converging data have revealed the importance of non-neoplastic stromal cells in influencing tumor growth and progression. Leveraging a genetically engineered mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1)-associated optic glioma, we now demonstrate that stromal microglia express the CX3CR1 chemokine receptor, such that reduced CX3CR1 expression decreases optic nerve microglia. Moreover, genetic reduction of Cx3cr1 expression in Nf1 optic glioma mice delays optic glioma formation. Coupled with previous findings demonstrating that microglia maintain optic glioma growth, these new findings provide a strong preclinical rationale for the development of future stroma-directed glioma therapies in children.
Project description:The purpose of this study was to investigate the progression of changes in retinal ganglion cells and optic nerve glia in neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) genetically-engineered mice with optic glioma. Optic glioma tumors were generated in Nf1+/- mice lacking Nf1 expression in GFAP+ cells (astrocytes). Standard immunohistochemistry methods were employed to identify astrocytes (GFAP, S100beta), proliferating progenitor cells (sox2, nestin), microglia (Iba1), endothelial cells (CD31) and retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons (Neurofilament 68k) in Nf1+/-, Nf1(GFAP)CKO (wild-type mice with Nf1 loss in glial cells), and Nf1+/-(GFAP)CKO (Nf1+/- mice with Nf1 loss in glial cells) mice. Ultrastructural changes in the optic chiasm and nerve were assessed by electron microscopy (EM). RGC were counted in whole retina preparations using high-resolution, mosaic confocal microscopy following their delineation by retrograde FluoroGold labeling. We found that only Nf1+/-(GFAP)CKO mice exhibited gross pre-chiasmatic optic nerve and chiasm enlargements containing aggregated GFAP+/nestin+ and S100beta+/sox2+ cells (neoplastic glia) as well as increased numbers of blood vessels and microglia. Optic gliomas in Nf1+/-(GFAP)CKO mice contained axon fiber irregularities and multilamellar bodies of degenerated myelin. EM and EM tomographic analyses showed increased glial disorganization, disoriented axonal projections, profiles of degenerating myelin and structural alterations at nodes of Ranvier. Lastly, we found reduced RGC numbers in Nf1+/-(GFAP)CKO mice, supporting a model in which the combination of optic nerve Nf1 heterozygosity and glial cell Nf1 loss results in disrupted axonal-glial relationships, subsequently culminating in the degeneration of optic nerve axons and loss of their parent RGC neurons.
Project description:The availability of adult malignant glioma stem cells (GSCs) has provided unprecedented opportunities to identify the mechanisms underlying treatment resistance. Unfortunately, there is a lack of comparable reagents for the study of pediatric low-grade glioma (LGG). Leveraging a neurofibromatosis 1 (Nf1) genetically engineered mouse LGG model, we report the isolation of CD133(+) multi-potent low-grade glioma stem cells (LG-GSCs), which generate glioma-like lesions histologically similar to the parent tumor following injection into immunocompetent hosts. In addition, we demonstrate that these LG-GSCs harbor selective resistance to currently employed conventional and biologically targeted anti-cancer agents, which reflect the acquisition of new targetable signaling pathway abnormalities. Using transcriptomic analysis to identify additional molecular properties, we discovered that mouse and human LG-GSCs harbor high levels of Abcg1 expression critical for protecting against ER-stress-induced mouse LG-GSC apoptosis. Collectively, these findings establish that LGG cancer stem cells have unique molecular and functional properties relevant to brain cancer treatment.