Mutational landscape of a chemically-induced mouse model of liver cancer.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND & AIMS:Carcinogen-induced mouse models of liver cancer are used extensively to study the pathogenesis of the disease and are critical for validating candidate therapeutics. These models can recapitulate molecular and histological features of human disease. However, it is not known if the genomic alterations driving these mouse tumour genomes are comparable to those found in human tumours. Herein, we provide a detailed genomic characterisation of tumours from a commonly used mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). METHODS:We analysed whole exome sequences of liver tumours arising in mice exposed to diethylnitrosamine (DEN). Mutational signatures were compared between liver tumours from DEN-treated and untreated mice, and human HCCs. RESULTS:DEN-initiated tumours had a high, uniform number of somatic single nucleotide variants (SNVs), with few insertions, deletions or copy number alterations, consistent with the known genotoxic action of DEN. Exposure of hepatocytes to DEN left a reproducible mutational imprint in resulting tumour exomes which we could computationally reconstruct using six known COSMIC mutational signatures. The tumours carried a high diversity of low-incidence, non-synonymous point mutations in many oncogenes and tumour suppressors, reflecting the stochastic introduction of SNVs into the hepatocyte genome by the carcinogen. We identified four recurrently mutated genes that were putative oncogenic drivers of HCC in this model. Every neoplasm carried activating hotspot mutations either in codon 61 of Hras, in codon 584 of Braf or in codon 254 of Egfr. Truncating mutations of Apc occurred in 21% of neoplasms, which were exclusively carcinomas supporting a role for deregulation of Wnt/?-catenin signalling in cancer progression. CONCLUSIONS:Our study provides detailed insight into the mutational landscape of tumours arising in a commonly used carcinogen model of HCC, facilitating the future use of this model to better understand the human disease. LAY SUMMARY:Mouse models are widely used to study the biology of cancer and to test potential therapies. Herein, we have described the mutational landscape of tumours arising in a carcinogen-induced mouse model of liver cancer. Since cancer is a disease caused by genomic alterations, information about the patterns and types of mutations in the tumours in this mouse model should facilitate its use to study human liver cancer.
Project description:Cancer genomics has enabled the exhaustive molecular characterization of tumors and exposed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as among the most complex cancers. This complexity is paralleled by dozens of mouse models that generate histologically similar tumors but have not been systematically validated at the molecular level. Accurate models of the molecular pathogenesis of HCC are essential for biomedical progress; therefore we compared genomic and transcriptomic profiles of four separate mouse models [MUP transgenic, TAK1-knockout, carcinogen-driven diethylnitrosamine (DEN), and Stelic Animal Model (STAM)] with those of 987 HCC patients with distinct etiologies. These four models differed substantially in their mutational load, mutational signatures, affected genes and pathways, and transcriptomes. STAM tumors were most molecularly similar to human HCC, with frequent mutations in Ctnnb1, similar pathway alterations, and high transcriptomic similarity to high-grade, proliferative human tumors with poor prognosis. In contrast, TAK1 tumors better reflected the mutational signature of human HCC and were transcriptionally similar to low-grade human tumors. DEN tumors were least similar to human disease and almost universally carried the Braf V637E mutation, which is rarely found in human HCC. Immune analysis revealed that strain-specific MHC-I genotype can influence the molecular makeup of murine tumors. Thus, different mouse models of HCC recapitulate distinct aspects of HCC biology, and their use should be adapted to specific questions based on the molecular features provided here.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a typical inflammation-associated cancer, but may also provoke antitumour immune responses whose significance and underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood.To characterise immune responses in the diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-liver cancer mouse model.Tumour development and immune cell functions upon DEN treatment were compared between C57BL/6 wild-type (WT), chemokine scavenging receptor D6-deficient, B cell- (Igh6), CD4 T cell- (MHC-II) and T-/B cell-deficient (Rag1) mice. Relevance for human HCC was tested by comparing gene array results from 139 HCC tissues.The induction of premalignant lesions after 24 weeks and of HCC-like tumours after 42 weeks by DEN in mice was accompanied by significant leucocyte infiltration in the liver and upregulation of distinct intrahepatic chemokines (CCL2, CCL5, CXCL9). Macrophages and CD8 (cytotoxic) T cells were most prominently enriched in tumour-bearing livers, similar to samples from human HCC. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) increased in extrahepatic compartments of DEN-treated mice (bone marrow, spleen). The contribution of immune cell subsets for DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis was functionally dissected. In D6(-/-) mice, which lack the chemokine scavenging receptor D6, hepatic macrophage infiltration was significantly increased, but tumour formation and progression did not differ from that of WT mice. In contrast, progression of hepatic tumours (numbers, diameters, tumour load) was strikingly enhanced in T-/B cell-deficient Rag1(-/-) mice upon DEN treatment. When mice deficient for B cells (Igh6(-/-), ?MT) or major histocompatibility complex II were used, the data indicated that T cells prevent initial tumour formation, while B cells critically limit growth of established tumours. Accordingly, in tumour-bearing mice antibody production against liver-related model antigen was enhanced, indicating tumour-associated B cell activation. In agreement, T and B cell pathways were differentially regulated in gene array analyses from 139 human HCC tissues and significantly associated with patients' survival.Distinct axes of the adaptive immune system, which are also prognostic in human HCC, actively suppress DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis by controlling tumour formation and progression.
Project description:The urgent unmet need for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) therapies is addressed here by characterising a novel mouse model of HCC in the context of ongoing liver damage and overnutrition. Male C57Bl/6J mice were treated with diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and thioacetamide (TAA), and some were provided with an atherogenic high fat diet (HFD). Inflammation, steatosis, fibrosis, 87 genes, liver lesions and intratumoural leukocyte subsets were quantified up to 24 weeks of age. Adding HFD to DEN/TAA increased fibrosis, steatosis and inflammation, and the incidence of both HCC and non-HCC dysplastic lesions. All lesions contained ?-SMA positive fibroblasts. Macrophage marker F4/80 was not significantly different between treatment groups, but the macrophage-associated genes Arg-1 and Cd47 were differentially expressed. Fibrosis, cancer and cell death associated genes were upregulated in DEN/TAA/HFD livers. Fewer Kupffer cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells were in tumours compared to control liver. In conclusion, combining a hepatotoxin with an atherogenic diet produced more intrahepatic tumours, dysplastic lesions and fibrosis compared to hepatotoxin alone. This new HCC model provides a relatively rapid means of examining primary HCC and potential therapies in the context of multiple hepatotoxins including those derived from overnutrition.
Project description:Obesity can result in insulin resistance, hepatosteatosis, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and increases liver cancer risk. Obesity-induced insulin resistance depends, in part, on chronic activation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which also occurs in human and mouse hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a frequently fatal liver cancer. Correspondingly, mTORC1 inhibitors have been considered as potential NASH and HCC treatments. Using a mouse model in which high-fat diet enhances HCC induction by the hepatic carcinogen DEN, we examined whether mTORC1 inhibition attenuates liver inflammation and tumorigenesis. Notably, rapamycin treatment or hepatocyte-specific ablation of the specific mTORC1 subunit Raptor resulted in elevated interleukin-6 (IL-6) production, activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), and enhanced HCC development, despite a transient reduction in hepatosteatosis. These results suggest that long-term rapamycin treatment, which also increases IL-6 production in humans, is unsuitable for prevention or treatment of obesity-promoted liver cancer.
Project description:Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4?), the master regulator of hepatocyte differentiation, has been recently shown to inhibit hepatocyte proliferation by way of unknown mechanisms. We investigated the mechanisms of HNF4?-induced inhibition of hepatocyte proliferation using a novel tamoxifen (TAM)-inducible, hepatocyte-specific HNF4? knockdown mouse model. Hepatocyte-specific deletion of HNF4? in adult mice resulted in increased hepatocyte proliferation, with a significant increase in liver-to-body-weight ratio. We determined global gene expression changes using Illumina HiSeq-based RNA sequencing, which revealed that a significant number of up-regulated genes following deletion of HNF4? were associated with cancer pathogenesis, cell cycle control, and cell proliferation. The pathway analysis further revealed that c-Myc-regulated gene expression network was highly activated following HNF4? deletion. To determine whether deletion of HNF4? affects cancer pathogenesis, HNF4? knockdown was induced in mice treated with the known hepatic carcinogen diethylnitrosamine (DEN). Deletion of HNF4? significantly increased the number and size of DEN-induced hepatic tumors. Pathological analysis revealed that tumors in HNF4?-deleted mice were well-differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and mixed HCC-cholangiocarcinoma. Analysis of tumors and surrounding normal liver tissue in DEN-treated HNF4? knockout mice showed significant induction in c-Myc expression. Taken together, deletion of HNF4? in adult hepatocytes results in increased hepatocyte proliferation and promotion of DEN-induced hepatic tumors secondary to aberrant c-Myc activation.
Project description:Through the analysis of mouse liver tumours promoted by distinct routes (DEN exposure alone, DEN exposure plus non-genotoxic insult with phenobarbital and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease); we report that the cancer associated hyper-methylated CGI events in mice are also predicated by silent promoters that are enriched for both the DNA modification 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and the histone modification H3K27me3 in normal liver. During cancer progression these CGIs undergo hypo-hydroxymethylation, prior to subsequent hyper-methylation; whilst retaining H3K27me3. A similar loss of promoter-core 5hmC is observed in Tet1 deficient mouse livers indicating that reduced Tet1 binding at CGIs may be responsible for the epigenetic dysregulation observed during hepatocarcinogenesis. Consistent with this reduced Tet1 protein levels are observed in mouse liver tumour lesions. As in human, DNA methylation changes at CGIs do not appear to be direct drivers of hepatocellular carcinoma progression in mice. Instead dynamic changes in H3K27me3 promoter deposition are strongly associated with tumour-specific activation and repression of transcription. Our data suggests that loss of promoter associated 5hmC in diverse liver tumours licences DNA methylation reprogramming at silent CGIs during cancer progression. 5-hmC is a novel epigenetic mark derived from oxidation of methylcytosine. Phenobarbital (PB) is a well studied non-genotoxic carcinogen with roles in epigenetic perturbation. We profile 5hmC in both control mouse livers as well as in the livers of 12 week PB treated mice. We also profile 5hmC in liver tumours arising in the presence of long term PB exposure (35 week: resulting in Ctnnb1 mutated tumours) to a Ha-Ras liver tumour which arose without PB. Samples: 5hmC profiles in 2 control and 2 PB exposed mouse livers, 3 liver tumours resulting from long term PB exposrue and 1 liver tumour arising without PB
Project description:Through the analysis of mouse liver tumours promoted by distinct routes (DEN exposure alone, DEN exposure plus non-genotoxic insult with phenobarbital and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease); we report that the cancer associated hyper-methylated CGI events in mice are also predicated by silent promoters that are enriched for both the DNA modification 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and the histone modification H3K27me3 in normal liver. During cancer progression these CGIs undergo hypo-hydroxymethylation, prior to subsequent hyper-methylation; whilst retaining H3K27me3. A similar loss of promoter-core 5hmC is observed in Tet1 deficient mouse livers indicating that reduced Tet1 binding at CGIs may be responsible for the epigenetic dysregulation observed during hepatocarcinogenesis. Consistent with this reduced Tet1 protein levels are observed in mouse liver tumour lesions. As in human, DNA methylation changes at CGIs do not appear to be direct drivers of hepatocellular carcinoma progression in mice. Instead dynamic changes in H3K27me3 promoter deposition are strongly associated with tumour-specific activation and repression of transcription. Our data suggests that loss of promoter associated 5hmC in diverse liver tumours licences DNA methylation reprogramming at silent CGIs during cancer progression. 5-mc is a well establisehd epigenetic mark typically related to gene silencing events. Phenobarbital (PB) is a well studied non-genotoxic carcinogen with roles in epigenetic perturbation. We profile 5mC in both control mouse livers as well as in the livers of 12 week PB treated mice. We also profile 5mC in liver tumours arising in the presence of long term PB exposure (35 week: resulting in Ctnnb1 mutated tumours) to a Ha-Ras liver tumour which arose without PB. Samples: 2 control and 2 PB exposed mouse livers, 3 liver tumours resulting from long term PB exposrue and 1 liver tumour arising without PB
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers and is rising in incidence worldwide. The molecular mechanisms leading to the development of HCC are complex and include both genetic and epigenetic events. To determine the relative contribution of these alterations in liver tumorigenesis, we evaluated epigenetic modifications at both global and gene specific levels, as well as the mutational profile of genes commonly altered in liver tumors. A mouse model of fibrosis-associated liver cancer that was designed to emulate cirrhotic liver, a prevailing disease state observed in most humans with HCC, was used. Tumor and nontumor liver samples from B6C3F1 mice treated with N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN; a single ip injection of 1 mg/kg at 14 days of age) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4; 0.2 ml/kg, 2 times/week ip starting at 8 weeks of age for 14 weeks), as well as corresponding vehicle control animals, were analyzed for genetic and epigenetic alterations. H-ras, Ctnnb1 and Hnf1? genes were not mutated in tumors in mice treated with DEN+CCl4 . In contrast, the increased tumor incidence in mice treated with DEN+CCl4 was associated with marked epigenetic changes in liver tumors and nontumor liver tissue, including demethylation of genomic DNA and repetitive elements, a decrease in histone 3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) and promoter hypermethylation and functional downregulation of Riz1, a histone lysine methyltransferase tumor suppressor gene. Additionally, the reduction in H3K9me3 was accompanied by increased expression of long interspersed nucleotide elements 1 and short interspersed nucleotide elements B2, which is an indication of genomic instability. In summary, our results suggest that epigenetic events, rather than mutations in known cancer-related genes, play a prominent role in increased incidence of liver tumors in this mouse model of fibrosis-associated liver cancer.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a deadly human cancer associated with chronic inflammation. The cytosolic pathogen sensor NLRP12 has emerged as a negative regulator of inflammation, but its role in HCC is unknown. Here we investigated the role of NLRP12 in HCC using mouse models of HCC induced by carcinogen diethylnitrosamine (DEN). Nlrp12-/- mice were highly susceptible to DEN-induced HCC with increased inflammation, hepatocyte proliferation, and tumor burden. Consistently, Nlrp12-/- tumors showed higher expression of proto-oncogenes cJun and cMyc and downregulation of tumor suppressor p21. Interestingly, antibiotics treatment dramatically diminished tumorigenesis in Nlrp12-/- mouse livers. Signaling analyses demonstrated higher JNK activation in Nlrp12-/- HCC and cultured hepatocytes during stimulation with microbial pattern molecules. JNK inhibition or NLRP12 overexpression reduced proliferative and inflammatory responses of Nlrp12-/- hepatocytes. In summary, NLRP12 negatively regulates HCC pathogenesis via downregulation of JNK-dependent inflammation and proliferation of hepatocytes.
Project description:Obesity-related inflammation promotes cancer development. Tissue resident macrophages affect tumor progression and the tumor micro-environment favors polarization into alternatively activated macrophages (M2) that facilitate tumor invasiveness. Here, we dissected the role of western diet-induced NASH in inducing macrophage polarization in a carcinogen initiated model of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Adult C57BL/6 male mice received diethyl nitrosamine (DEN) followed by 24 weeks of high fat-high cholesterol-high sugar diet (HF-HC-HSD). We assessed liver MRI and histology, serum ALT, AFP, liver triglycerides, and cytokines. Macrophage polarization was determined by IL-12/TNF? (M1) and CD163/CD206 (M2) expression using flow cytometry. Role of hif-1?-induced IL-10 was dissected in hepatocyte specific hif-1?KO and hif-1?dPA (over-expression) mice. The western diet-induced features of NASH and accelerated HCC development after carcinogen exposure. Liver fibrosis and serum AFP were significantly increased in DEN + HF-HC-HSD mice compared to controls. Western diet resulted in macrophage (F4/80<sup>+</sup>CD11b<sup>+</sup>) infiltration to liver and DEN + HF-HC-HSD mice showed preferential increase in M2 macrophages. Isolated hepatocytes from western diet fed mice showed significant upregulation of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor, hif-1?, and livers from hif-1? over-expressing mice had increased proportion of M2 macrophages. Primary hepatocytes from wild-type mice treated with DEN and palmitic acid <i>in vitro</i> showed activation of hif-1? and induction of IL-10, a M2 polarizing cytokine. IL-10 neutralization in hepatocyte-derived culture supernatant prevented M2 macrophage polarization and silencing hif-1? in macrophages blocked their M2 polarization. Therefore, our data demonstrate that NASH accelerates HCC progression via upregulation of hif-1? mediated IL-10 polarizing M2 macrophages.