Cancer-associated fibroblasts suppress SOX2-induced dysplasia in a lung squamous cancer coculture.
ABSTRACT: Tumorigenesis depends on intricate interactions between genetically altered tumor cells and their surrounding microenvironment. While oncogenic drivers in lung squamous carcinoma (LUSC) have been described, the role of stroma in modulating tissue architecture, particularly cell polarity, remains unclear. Here, we report the establishment of a 3D coculture system of LUSC epithelial cells with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and extracellular matrix that together capture key components of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Single LUSC epithelial cells develop into acinar-like structures with 0.02% efficiency, and addition of CAFs provides proper tumor-stromal interactions within an appropriate 3D architectural context. Using this model, we recapitulate key pathological changes during tumorigenesis, from hyperplasia to dysplasia and eventually invasion, in malignant LUSC spheroids that undergo phenotypic switching in response to cell intrinsic and extrinsic changes. Overexpression of SOX2 is sufficient to mediate the transition from hyperplasia to dysplasia in LUSC spheroids, while the presence of CAFs makes them invasive. Unexpectedly, CAFs suppress the activity of high SOX2 levels, restore hyperplasia, and enhance the formation of acinar-like structures. Taken together, these observations suggest that stromal factors can override cell intrinsic oncogenic changes in determining the disease phenotype, thus providing fundamental evidence for the existence of dynamic reciprocity between the nucleus and the TME of LUSC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) form the major stromal component of the tumour microenvironment (TME). The present study aimed to examine the proteomic profiles of CAFs vs. normal fibroblasts (NOFs) from patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma to gain insight into their pro-oncogenic phenotype. METHODS:CAFs/NOFs from four patients were sub-cultured and analysed using quantitative proteomics. Differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) were subjected to bioinformatics and compared with published proteomics and transcriptomics datasets. RESULTS:Principal component analysis of all profiled proteins showed that CAFs had high heterogeneity and clustered separately from NOFs. Bioinformatics interrogation of the DEPs demonstrated inhibition of adhesion of epithelial cells, adhesion of connective tissue cells and cell death of fibroblast cell lines in CAFs vs. NOFs (p?<?0.0001). KEGG pathway analysis showed a significant enrichment of the insulin-signalling pathway (p?=?0.03). Gene ontology terms related with myofibroblast phenotype, metabolism, cell adhesion/migration, hypoxia/oxidative stress, angiogenesis, immune/inflammatory response were enriched in CAFs vs. NOFs. Nestin, a stem-cell marker up-regulated in CAFs vs. NOFs, was confirmed to be expressed in the TME with immunohistochemistry. CONCLUSIONS:The identified pathways and participating proteins may provide novel insight on the tumour-promoting properties of CAFs and unravel novel adjuvant therapeutic targets in the TME.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4> Lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC) is a prevalent and lethal malignancy with a poor clinical prognosis. Major constituents of the tumor microenvironment (TME) include infiltrating immune cells and stromal cells, which play a pivotal role in the progression and growth of the disease. To improve the understanding of the prognostic influence of immune and stromal cell-related genes for patients with the disease, we performed a comprehensive bioinformatics analysis to identify TME-relevant biomarkers, and investigated the potential role of these candidate signatures in LUSC. <h4>Methods</h4> Estimation of STromal and Immune cells in MAlignant Tumor tissues using Expression data (ESTIMATE) assessed the samples of LUSC obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). The samples were grouped according to their immune/stromal scores (high or low). Multivariate cox regression and receiver operating characteristic curves (ROC) were implemented to construct the risk assessment model for prognosis prediction. The co-upregulated differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the immune and stromal groups were used for further analyses. Overall survival (OS) curves were used to determine the prognostic value of the DEGs, and the TME-related DEGs were verified with Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) datasets. The functional assessments were performed include Gene Ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), and protein–protein interaction (PPI) analyses. <h4>Results</h4> The immune/stromal scores calculated by ESTIMATE showed significant associations with OS (log-rank P<0.05). In addition, the prognostic risk score model based on immune and stromal scores also showed significant correlations with OS. A total of 94 TME-related genes were obviously related to poor OS. Among them, BHMT2, FES, HSPB7, NOVA2, LPAP2, and SEMA3B (BFHNLS) were confirmed using GSE4573 and GSE17710 datasets. The functional assessments exhibited those TME-related genes mostly participate in immune response, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, and metabolic pathways, which elucidated the probable correlation of TME with tumorigenesis in LUSC. <h4>Conclusions</h4> In this study, 6 potential biomarkers named BFHNLS were identified as TME-related genes with prognostic value based on immune and stromal scores of LUSC patients of TCGA, and were verified using GEO datasets, which might serve as therapeutic targets.
Project description:Patients diagnosed with lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC) have limited targeted therapies. We report here the identification and characterisation of BCL11A, as a LUSC oncogene. Analysis of cancer genomics datasets revealed BCL11A to be upregulated in LUSC but not in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). Experimentally we demonstrate that non-physiological levels of BCL11A in vitro and in vivo promote squamous-like phenotypes, while its knockdown abolishes xenograft tumour formation. At the molecular level we found that BCL11A is transcriptionally regulated by SOX2 and is required for its oncogenic functions. Furthermore, we show that BCL11A and SOX2 regulate the expression of several transcription factors, including SETD8. We demonstrate that shRNA-mediated or pharmacological inhibition of SETD8 selectively inhibits LUSC growth. Collectively, our study indicates that BCL11A is integral to LUSC pathology and highlights the disruption of the BCL11A-SOX2 transcriptional programme as a novel candidate for drug development.
Project description:Cancer development is highly associated to the physiological state of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Despite the existing heterogeneity of tumors from the same or from different anatomical locations, common features can be found in the TME maturation of epithelial-derived tumors. Genetic alterations in tumor cells result in hyperplasia, uncontrolled growth, resistance to apoptosis, and metabolic shift towards anaerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect). These events create hypoxia, oxidative stress and acidosis within the TME triggering an adjustment of the extracellular matrix (ECM), a response from neighbor stromal cells (e.g., fibroblasts) and immune cells (lymphocytes and macrophages), inducing angiogenesis and, ultimately, resulting in metastasis. Exosomes secreted by TME cells are central players in all these events. The TME profile is preponderant on prognosis and impacts efficacy of anti-cancer therapies. Hence, a big effort has been made to develop new therapeutic strategies towards a more efficient targeting of TME. These efforts focus on: (i) therapeutic strategies targeting TME components, extending from conventional therapeutics, to combined therapies and nanomedicines; and (ii) the development of models that accurately resemble the TME for bench investigations, including tumor-tissue explants, "tumor on a chip" or multicellular tumor-spheroids.
Project description:The tumour microenvironment (TME) is the complex environment in which various non-cancerous stromal cell populations co-exist, co-evolve and interact with tumour cells, having a profound impact on the progression of solid tumours. The TME is comprised of various extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in addition to a variety of immune and stromal cells. These include tumour-associated macrophages, regulatory T cells (Tregs), myeloid-derived suppressor cells, as well as endothelial cells, pericytes and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). CAFs are the most abundant stromal cell population in many tumours and support cancer progression, metastasis and resistance to therapies through bidirectional signalling with both tumour cells and other cells within the TME. More recently, CAFs have been shown to also affect the anti-tumour immune response through direct and indirect interactions with immune cells. In this review, we specifically focus on the interactions between CAFs and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells, and on how these interactions affect T cell recruitment, infiltration and function in the tumour. We additionally provide insight into the therapeutic implications of targeting these interactions, particularly in the context of cancer immunotherapy.
Project description:Tumor-infiltrated lymphocytes are exposed to many toxic metabolites and molecules in the tumor microenvironment (TME) that suppress their anti-tumor activity. Toxic metabolites, such as lactate and ketone bodies, are produced mainly by catabolic cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) to feed anabolic cancer cells. These catabolic and anabolic cells make a metabolic compartment through which high-energy metabolites like lactate can be transferred via the monocarboxylate transporter channel 4. Moreover, a decrease in molecules, including caveolin-1, has been reported to cause deep metabolic changes in normal fibroblasts toward myofibroblast differentiation. In this context, metformin is a promising drug in cancer therapy due to its effect on oncogenic signal transduction pathways, leading to the inhibition of tumor proliferation and downregulation of key oncometabolites like lactate and succinate. The cross-feeding and metabolic coupling of CAFs and tumor cells are also affected by metformin. Therefore, the importance of metabolic reprogramming of stromal cells and also the pivotal effects of metformin on TME and oncometabolites signaling pathways have been reviewed in this study.
Project description:The tumor microenvironment (TME) is composed of a heterogenous population of cells that exist alongside the extracellular matrix and soluble components. These components can shape an environment that is conducive to tumor growth and metastatic spread. It is well-established that stromal cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in the TME play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining a growth-permissive environment for tumor cells. A growing body of work has uncovered that tumor cells recruit and educate CAFs to remodel the TME, however, the mechanisms by which this occurs remain incompletely understood. Recent studies suggest that the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a key transcription factor that regulates the function of CAFs, and their crosstalk with tumor and immune cells within the TME. CAF-intrinsic STAT3 activity within the TME correlates with tumor progression, immune suppression and eventually the establishment of metastases. In this review, we will focus on the roles of STAT3 in regulating CAF function and their crosstalk with other cells constituting the TME and discuss the utility of targeting STAT3 within the TME for therapeutic benefit.
Project description:Androgen receptor (AR) targeting remains the gold standard treatment for advanced prostate cancer (PCa); however, treatment resistance remains a major clinical problem. To study the therapeutic effects of clinically used anti-androgens we characterized herein a tissue-mimetic three-dimensional (3D) in vitro model whereby PCa cells were cultured alone or with PCa-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Notably, the ratio of PCa cells to CAFs significantly increased in time in favor of the tumor cells within the spheroids strongly mimicking PCa in vivo. Despite this loss of CAFs, the stromal cells, which were not sensitive to androgen and even stimulated by the anti-androgens, significantly influenced the sensitivity of PCa cells to androgen and to the anti-androgens bicalutamide and enzalutamide. In particular, DuCaP cells lost sensitivity to enzalutamide when co-cultured with CAFs. In LAPC4/CAF and LNCaP/CAF co-culture spheroids the impact of the CAFs was less pronounced. In addition, 3D spheroids exhibited a significant increase in E-cadherin and substantial expression of vimentin in co-culture spheroids, whereas AR levels remained unchanged or even decreased. In LNCaP/CAF spheroids we further found increased Akt signaling that could be inhibited by the phosphatidyl-inositol 3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002, thereby overcoming the anti-androgen resistance of the spheroids. Our data show that CAFs influence drug response of PCa cells with varying impact and further suggest this spheroid model is a valuable in vitro drug testing tool.
Project description:Cancer?associated fibroblasts (CAFs) exhibit tumor?stimulating properties and are associated with poor survival in several types of cancer, making them potential therapeutic targets. The present study aimed to determine whether CAFs were associated with cell migration and invasion in lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC), as well as their association with microRNA?369 (miR?369) in these processes. Firstly, the changes of the malignant biological behavior were observed by treating the LUSC cells with the CAFs?derived extracellular vesicles (CAFs?EVs). Subsequently, the differentially expressed miRNAs in the cells treated with CAFs?EVs were analyzed by microarray analysis. Following inhibition of miR?369 expression in CAFs?EVs, LUSC cells were co?cultured, and the malignant biological behavior of the cells was re?examined. Then, through bioinformatics analysis and verification, the mRNA targets of miR?369 and the corresponding downstream signaling pathway were screened out. Finally, the effects of CAFs?EVs on the growth and metastasis of LUSC were demonstrated by in vivo tumor formation and metastasis experiments. It was identified that miR?369 was expressed at a relatively high level in the CAFs?EVs. Neurofibromin?1 (NF1) was hypothesized as a direct target of miR?369 in LUSC. Also, the overexpression of miR?369 activated the mitogen?activated protein kinase signaling pathway by interacting with NF1, consequently potentiating LUSC cell growth. The present study provided novel insights into the action of miR?369 in CAFs?EVs in controlling LUSC cell migration, invasion and tumorigenesis, and identified miR?369 in CAFs?EVs as an important prognostic marker and therapeutic target.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The tumor-promoting role of tumor microenvironment (TME) in colorectal cancer has been widely investigated in cancer biology. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), as the main stromal component in TME, play an important role in promoting tumor progression and metastasis. Hence, we explored the crosstalk between CAFs and microenvironment in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer in order to provide basis for precision therapy.<h4>Methods</h4>We integrated spatial transcriptomics (ST) and bulk-RNA sequencing datasets to explore the functions of CAFs in the microenvironment of CRC. In detail, single sample gene set enrichment analysis (ssGSEA), gene set variation analysis (GSVA), pseudotime analysis and cell proportion analysis were utilized to identify the cell types and functions of each cell cluster. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry were applied to confirm the results based on bioinformatics analysis.<h4>Results</h4>We profiled the tumor heterogeneity landscape and identified two distinct types of CAFs, which myo-cancer-associated fibroblasts (mCAFs) is associated with myofibroblast-like cells and inflammatory-cancer-associated fibroblasts (iCAFs) is related to immune inflammation. When we carried out functional analysis of two types of CAFs, we uncovered an extensive crosstalk between iCAFs and stromal components in TME to promote tumor progression and metastasis. Noticeable, some anti-tumor immune cells such as NK cells, monocytes were significantly reduced in iCAFs-enriched cluster. Then, ssGSEA analysis results showed that iCAFs were related to EMT, lipid metabolism and bile acid metabolism etc. Besides, when we explored the relationship of chemotherapy and microenvironment, we detected that iCAFs influenced immunosuppressive cells and lipid metabolism reprogramming in patient who underwent chemotherapy. Additionally, we identified the clinical role of iCAFs through a public database and confirmed it were related to poor prognosis.<h4>Conclusions</h4>In summary, we identified two types of CAFs using integrated data and explored their functional significance in TME. This in-depth understanding of CAFs in microenvironment may help us to elucidate its cancer-promoting functions and offer hints for therapeutic studies.