Ezrin Promotes Stem Cell Properties in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.
ABSTRACT: Self-renewal maintains the long-term clonogenic growth that is required for cancer relapse and progression, but the cellular processes regulating this property are not fully understood. In many diseases, self-renewal is enhanced in cancer stem cells (CSC), and in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), CSCs are characterized by the surface expression of CD44. In addition to cell adhesion, CD44 impacts cell shape and morphology by modulating the actin cytoskeleton via Ezrin, a member of the Ezrin/Radixin/Moesin (ERM) family of linker proteins. We examined the expression of Ezrin in PDAC cells and found higher levels of both total and activated Ezrin in CSCs compared with bulk tumor cells. We also found that the knockdown of Ezrin in PDAC cells decreased clonogenic growth, self-renewal, cell migration, and CSC frequency in vitro as well as tumor initiation in vivo. These effects were associated with cytoskeletal changes that are similar to those occurring during the differentiation of normal stem cells, and the inhibition of actin remodeling reversed the impact of Ezrin loss. Finally, targeting Ezrin using a small-molecule inhibitor limited the self-renewal of clinically derived low-passage PDAC xenografts. Our findings demonstrate that Ezrin modulates CSCs properties and may represent a novel target for the treatment of PDAC. IMPLICATIONS: Our findings demonstrate that Ezrin modulates CSCs' properties and may represent a novel target for the treatment of PDAC.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play an important role in the progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) by promoting tumor cell migration and drug resistance. We determined the impact of CAFs on PDAC cancer stem cells (CSCs). METHODS:Fibroblast cell lines from patients' tumors were cocultured with PDAC cells and examined for clonogenic growth and self-renewal using colony-forming assays and migration in vitro. Changes in the frequency of CSCs was determined by flow cytometry. The effect of integrin-focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling on CAF-mediated clonogenic growth was evaluated using short hairpin RNAs against ?1 integrin and FAK as well as a small-molecule FAK inhibitor. RESULTS:Cancer-associated fibroblasts enhanced PDAC clonogenic growth, self-renewal, and migration that was associated with an increase in the frequency of CSCs. These fibroblast cells were activated by PDAC cells and increased collagen synthesis resulting in FAK activation in PDAC cells. Knockdown of ?1-integrin and FAK or the inhibition of FAK kinase activity in PDAC cells abrogated the impact of CAFs on clonogenic growth. CONCLUSION:Therefore, CAFs enhance PDAC clonogenic growth, self-renewal, and the frequency of CSCs through type I collagen production that enhances integrin-FAK signaling in PDAC cells.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been shown to be the drivers of pancreatic tumor growth, metastasis, and chemoresistance, but our understanding of these cells is still limited by our inability to efficiently identify and isolate them. While a number of markers capable of identifying pancreatic CSCs (PaCSCs) have been discovered since 2007, there is no doubt that more markers are still needed. The anthrax toxin receptor 1 (ANTXR1) was identified as a functional biomarker of triple-negative breast CSCs, and PDAC patients stratified based on ANTXR1 expression levels showed increased mortality and enrichment of pathways known to be necessary for CSC biology, including TGF-?, NOTCH, Wnt/?-catenin, and IL-6/JAK/STAT3 signaling and epithelial to mesenchymal transition, suggesting that ANTXR1 may represent a putative PaCSC marker. In this study, we show that ANTXR1+ cells are not only detectable across a panel of 7 PDAC patient-derived xenograft primary cultures but ANTXR1 expression significantly increased in CSC-enriched 3D sphere cultures. Importantly, ANTXR1+ cells also coexpressed other known PaCSC markers such as CD44, CD133, and autofluorescence, and ANTXR1+ cells displayed enhanced CSC functional and molecular properties, including increased self-renewal and expression of pluripotency-associated genes, compared to ANTXR1- cells. Thus, this study validates ANTXR1 as a new PaCSC marker and we propose its use in identifying CSCs in this tumor type and its exploitation in the development of CSC-targeted therapies for PDAC.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) play an important role in the clonogenic growth and metastasis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). A hallmark of PDAC is the desmoplastic reaction, but the impact of the tumor microenvironment (TME) on CSCs is unknown. In order to better understand the mechanisms, we examined the impact of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins on PDAC CSCs. We quantified the effect of ECM proteins, ?1-integrin, and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) on clonogenic PDAC growth and migration in vitro and tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis in vivo in nude mice using shRNA and overexpression constructs as well as small molecule FAK inhibitors. Type I collagen increased PDAC tumor initiating potential, self-renewal, and the frequency of CSCs through the activation of FAK. FAK overexpression increased tumor initiation, whereas a dominant negative FAK mutant or FAK kinase inhibitors reduced clonogenic PDAC growth in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the FAK inhibitor VS-4718 extended the anti-tumor response to gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel in patient-derived PDAC xenografts, and the loss of FAK expression limited metastatic dissemination of orthotopic xenografts. Type I collagen enhances PDAC CSCs, and both kinase-dependent and independent activities of FAK impact PDAC tumor initiation, self-renewal, and metastasis. The anti-tumor impact of FAK inhibitors in combination with standard chemotherapy support the clinical testing of this combination.
Project description:Breast cancer stem cells (CSCs) are highly tumorigenic and possess the capacity to self-renew. Recent studies indicated that pluripotent gene NANOG involves in regulating self-renewal of breast CSCs, and expression of NANOG is correlated with aggressiveness of poorly differentiated breast cancer. We initially confirmed that breast cancer MCF-7 cells expressed NANOG, and overexpression of NANOG enhanced the tumorigenicity of MCF-7 cells and promoted the self-renewal expansion of CD24(-/low)CD44(+) CSC subpopulation. In contrast, knockdown of NANOG significantly affected the growth of breast CSCs. Utilizing flow cytometry, we identified five cyclohexylmethyl flavonoids that can inhibit propagation of NANOG-positive cells in both breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 cells. Among these flavonoids, ugonins J and K were found to be able to induce apoptosis in non-CSC populations and to reduce self-renewal growth of CD24(-/low)CD44(+) CSC population. Treatment with ugonin J significantly reduced the tumorigenicity of MCF-7 cells and efficiently suppressed formation of mammospheres. This suppression was possibly due to p53 activation and NANOG reduction as either addition of p53 inhibitor or overexpression of NANOG can counteract the suppressive effect of ugonin J. We therefore conclude that cyclohexylmethyl flavonoids can possibly be utilized to suppress the propagation of breast CSCs via reduction of NANOG.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) correlate with recurrence, metastasis and poor survival in clinical studies. Encouraging results from clinical trials of CSC inhibitors have further validated CSCs as therapeutic targets. ONC201 is a first-in-class small molecule imipridone in Phase I/II clinical trials for advanced cancer. We have previously shown that ONC201 targets self-renewing, chemotherapy-resistant colorectal CSCs via Akt/ERK inhibition and DR5/TRAIL induction. In this study, we demonstrate that the anti-CSC effects of ONC201 involve early changes in stem cell-related gene expression prior to tumor cell death induction. A targeted network analysis of gene expression profiles in colorectal cancer cells revealed that ONC201 downregulates stem cell pathways such as Wnt signaling and modulates genes (ID1, ID2, ID3 and ALDH7A1) known to regulate self-renewal in colorectal, prostate cancer and glioblastoma. ONC201-mediated changes in CSC-related gene expression were validated at the RNA and protein level for each tumor type. Accordingly, we observed inhibition of self-renewal and CSC markers in prostate cancer cell lines and patient-derived glioblastoma cells upon ONC201 treatment. Interestingly, ONC201-mediated CSC depletion does not occur in colorectal cancer cells with acquired resistance to ONC201. Finally, we observed that basal expression of CSC-related genes (ID1, CD44, HES7 and TCF3) significantly correlate with ONC201 efficacy in >1000 cancer cell lines and combining the expression of multiple genes leads to a stronger overall prediction. These proof-of-concept studies provide a rationale for testing CSC expression at the RNA and protein level as a predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarker of ONC201 response in ongoing clinical studies.
Project description:The Wnt1 protein, a secreted ligand that activates Wnt signaling pathways, contributes to the self-renewal of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and thus may be a major determinant of tumor progression and chemoresistance. In a series of gastric cancer specimens, we found strong correlations among Wnt1 expression, CD44 expression, and the grade of gastric cancer. Stable overexpression of Wnt1 increased AGS gastric cancer cells' proliferation rate and spheroids formation, which expressed CSC surface markers Oct4 and CD44. Subcutaneous injection of nude mice with Wnt1-overexpressing AGS cells resulted in larger tumors than injection of control AGS cells. Salinomycin, an antitumor agent, significantly reduced the volume of tumor caused by Wnt1-overexpressing AGS cells in vivo. This is achieved by inhibiting the proliferation of CD44+Oct4+ CSC subpopulation, at least partly through the suppression of Wnt1 and ?-catenin expression. Taken together, activation of Wnt1 signaling accelerates the proliferation of gastric CSCs, whereas salinomycin acts to inhibit gastric tumor growth by suppressing Wnt signaling in CSCs. These results suggest that Wnt signaling might have a critical role in the self-renewal of gastric CSCs, and salinomycin targeting Wnt signaling may have important clinical applications in gastric cancer therapy.
Project description:Advanced cancers display cellular heterogeneity driven by self-renewing, tumorigenic cancer stem cells (CSCs). The use of cell lines to model CSCs is challenging due to the difficulty of identifying and isolating cell populations that possess differences in self-renewal and tumor initiation. To overcome these barriers in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), we developed a CSC system using a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter for the promoter of the well-established pluripotency gene NANOG. NANOG-GFP+ cells gave rise to both GFP+ and GFP(-) cells, and GFP+ cells possessed increased levels of the embryonic stem cell transcription factors NANOG, SOX2, and OCT4 and elevated self-renewal and tumor initiation capacities. GFP+ cells also expressed mesenchymal markers and demonstrated increased invasion. Compared with the well-established CSC markers CD24(-) /CD44(+) , CD49f, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity, our NANOG-GFP reporter system demonstrated increased enrichment for CSCs. To explore the utility of this system as a screening platform, we performed a flow cytometry screen that confirmed increased CSC marker expression in the GFP+ population and identified new cell surface markers elevated in TNBC CSCs, including junctional adhesion molecule-A (JAM-A). JAM-A was highly expressed in GFP+ cells and patient-derived xenograft ALDH+ CSCs compared with the GFP(-) and ALDH(-) cells, respectively. Depletion of JAM-A compromised self-renewal, whereas JAM-A overexpression induced self-renewal in GFP(-) cells. Our data indicate that we have defined and developed a robust system to monitor differences between CSCs and non-CSCs in TNBC that can be used to identify CSC-specific targets for the development of future therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Chondrosarcoma is a malignant bone neoplasm that is refractory to chemotherapy and radiation. With no current biological treatments, mutilating surgical resection is the only effective treatment. Proline rich polypeptide 1 (PRP?1), which is a 15?amino acid inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin complex?1 (mTORC1), has been indicated to exert cytostatic and immunomodulatory properties in human chondrosarcoma cells in a monolayer. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of PRP?1 on an in vitro 3D chondrosarcoma tumor model, known as spheroids, and on the cancer stem cells (CSCs) which form spheroids. JJ012 cells were cultured and treated with PRP?1. An ALDEFLUOR™ assay was conducted (with N,N?diethylaminobenzaldehyde as the negative control) to assess aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity (a recognized CSC marker), and bulk JJ012, ALDHhigh and PRP?1 treated ALDHlow cells were sorted using flow cytometry. Colony formation and spheroid formation assays of cell fractions, including CSCs, were used to compare the PRP?1?treated groups with the control. CSCs were assessed for early apoptosis and cell death with a modified Annexin V/propidium iodide assay. Western blotting was used to identify mesenchymal stem cell markers (STRO1, CD44 and STAT3), and spheroid self?renewal assays were also conducted. A clonogenic dose?response assay demonstrated that 20 µg/ml PRP?1 was the most effective dose for reducing colony formation capacity. Furthermore, CSC spheroid growth was significantly reduced with increasing doses of PRP?1. Annexin V analysis demonstrated that PRP?1 induced CSC cell death, and that this was not attributed to apoptosis or necrosis. Western blot analysis confirmed the expression of mesenchymal markers, and the spheroid self?renewal assay confirmed the presence of self?renewing CSCs. The results of the present study demonstrate that PRP?1 eliminates anchorage independent CSC growth and spheroid formation, indicating that PRP?1 likely inhibits tumor formation in a murine model. Additionally, a decrease in non?CSC bulk tumor cells indicates an advantageous decline in tumor stromal cells. These findings confirm that PRP?1 inhibits CSC proliferation in a 3D tumor model which mimics the behavior of chondrosarcoma in vivo.
Project description:Self-renewing colorectal cancer stem/progenitor cells (CSC) contribute to tumor maintenance and resistance to therapy. Therapeutic targeting of CSCs could improve treatment response and prolong patient survival. ONC201/TIC10 is a first-in-class antitumor agent that induces TRAIL pathway-mediated cell death in cancer cells without observed toxicity. We have previously described that ONC201/TIC10 exposure leads to transcriptional induction of the TRAIL gene via transcription factor Foxo3a, which is activated by dual inactivation of Akt and ERK. The Akt and ERK pathways serve as important targets in CSCs. Foxo3a is a key mediator of Akt and ERK-mediated CSC regulation. We hypothesized that the potent antitumor effect of ONC201/TIC10 in colorectal cancer involves targeting CSCs and bulk tumor cells. ONC201/TIC10 depletes CD133(+), CD44(+), and Aldefluor(+) cells in vitro and in vivo. TIC10 significantly inhibits colonosphere formation of unsorted and sorted 5-fluorouracil-resistant CSCs. ONC201/TIC10 significantly reduces CSC-initiated xenograft tumor growth in mice and prevents the passage of these tumors. ONC201/TIC10 treatment also decreased xenograft tumor initiation and was superior to 5-fluorouracil treatment. Thus, ONC201/TIC10 inhibits CSC self-renewal in vitro and in vivo. ONC201/TIC10 inhibits Akt and ERK, consequently activating Foxo3a and significantly induces cell surface TRAIL and DR5 expression in both CSCs and non-CSCs. ONC201/TIC10-mediated anti-CSC effect is significantly blocked by the TRAIL sequestering antibody RIK-2. Overexpression of Akt, DR5 knockdown, and Foxo3a knockdown rescues ONC201/TIC10-mediated depletion of CD44(+) cells and colonosphere inhibition. In conclusion, ONC201/TIC10 is a promising agent for colorectal cancer therapy that targets both non-CSCs and CSCs in an Akt-Foxo3a-TRAIL-dependent manner.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been identified in oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC). CSCs possess the ability for perpetual self-renewal and proliferation, producing downstream progenitor cells and cancer cells that drive tumor growth. Studies of many cancer types including OCSCC have identified CSCs using specific markers, but it is still unclear as to where in the stem cell hierarchy these markers fall. This is compounded further by the presence of multiple CSC subtypes within OCSCC, making investigation reliant on the use of multiple markers. This review examines the current knowledge in CSC markers OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, ALDH1, phosphorylated STAT3, CD44, CD24, CD133, and Musashi-1, specifically focusing on their use and validity in OCSCC CSC research and how they may be organized into the CSC hierarchy. OCSCC CSCs also express components of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which suggests CSCs may be novel therapeutic targets by modulation of the RAS using existing medications.