Mesenchymal Cells Support the Oncogenicity and Therapeutic Response of the Hedgehog Pathway in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.
ABSTRACT: The paracrine interaction between tumor cells and adjacent stroma has been associated with the oncogenic activity of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway in triple-negative breast tumors. The present study developed a model of paracrine Hh signaling and examined the impact of mesenchymal cell sources and culture modalities in the oncogenicity of the Hh pathway in breast tumor cells. Studies consisted of tumor cell monocultures and co-cultures with cancer-associated and normal fibroblasts, tumor cells that undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), or adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADMSCs). Hh ligand and pathway inhibitors, GANT61 and NVP-LDE225 (NVP), were evaluated in both cell cultures and a mouse xenograft model. Results in monocultures show that tumor cell viability and Hh transcriptional activity were not affected by Hh inhibitors. In co-cultures, down-regulation of GLI1, SMO, and PTCH1 in the stroma correlated with reduced tumor growth rates in xenografted tumors and cell cultures, confirming a paracrine interaction. Fibroblasts and EMT cells supported Hh transcriptional activity and enhanced tumor cell growth. Mixed and adjacent culture modalities indicate that tumor growth is supported via fibroblast-secreted soluble factors, whereas enriched tumor stemness requires close proximity between tumor and fibroblasts. Overall this study provides a tumor-mesenchymal model of Hh signaling and highlights the therapeutic value of mesenchymal cells in the oncogenic activity of the Hh pathway.
Project description:We previously identified a matrisome gene expression signature with prognostic significance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) and twelve other human solid cancers. Here, our aim was to understand regulation of six matrisome molecules of this prognostic signature, COL11A1, COMP, FN1, VCAN, CTSB and COL1A1, that were significantly upregulated with disease progression. We used HGSOC biopsies and transcriptional databases to identify the cells and signalling pathways involved, validating these in monocultures and novel 3D tri-cultures. Using in silico analyses, we identified TGFβ and Hh signalling as key regulators. Monocultures confirmed matrisome molecule production by activated omental fibroblasts, directed by TGFβR and Hh signalling crosstalk. Malignant cell production of the six molecules was less and variable. We built novel 3D tri-cultures of HGSOC cells with human primary omental adipocytes and fibroblasts. The tri-cultures replicated tissue remodelling and matrisome production observed in biopsies. RNAseq analysis showed that tri-cultures reproduced the prognostic matrisome signature. TGFβR and Hh inhibitors attenuated fibroblast activation, gel remodelling and matrisome production in tri-cultures. We conclude that fibroblast activation and matrisome deposition occurs following activation of the Hh pathway by TGFβ secreted from malignant cells and that our tri-culture model can replicate important features of the tumor microenvironment. We report RNA sequencing results of novel 3D COL1-gel tri-cultures of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) malignant cells with human primary omental adipocytes and fibroblasts in the presence or absence of TGFβR and Hh inhibitors combination. We also provide the transcriptional profiles of three HGSOC malignant cell lines grown in monolayer and as spheroids. Overall design: RNA sequencing on 1) 3D-tricultures of HGSOC malignant cells, omental fibroblasts and adipocytes with (n = 2) or without (n = 2) TGFβRI + GLI1/2 inhibitors, or on adipocyte-only gels (n = 1) ; and 2) on three HGSOC malignant cell lines grown in monolayer (n = 2-3) and as spheroids (n = 2-3). Each RNA sample replicate(s) for adipocyte gels and tri-cultures was made up of two pooled samples
Project description:The Hedgehog (Hh) pathway has emerged as an important pathway in multiple tumor types and is thought to be dependent on a paracrine signaling mechanism. The purpose of this study was to determine the role of pancreatic cancer-associated fibroblasts (human pancreatic stellate cells, HPSCs) in Hh signaling. In addition, we evaluated the efficacy of a novel Hh antagonist, AZD8542, on tumor progression with an emphasis on the role of the stroma compartment.Expression of Hh pathway members and activation of the Hh pathway were analyzed in both HPSCs and pancreatic cancer cells. We tested the effects of Smoothened (SMO) inhibition with AZD8542 on tumor growth in vivo using an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer containing varying amounts of stroma.HPSCs expressed high levels of SMO receptor and low levels of Hh ligands, whereas cancer cells showed the converse expression pattern. HPSC proliferation was stimulated by Sonic Hedgehog with upregulation of downstream GLI1 mRNA. These effects were abrogated by AZD8542 treatment. In an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer, AZD8542 inhibited tumor growth only when HPSCs were present, implicating a paracrine signaling mechanism dependent on stroma. Further evidence of paracrine signaling of the Hh pathway in prostate and colon cancer models is provided, demonstrating the broader applicability of our findings.Based on the use of our novel human-derived pancreatic cancer stellate cells, our results suggest that Hh-targeted therapies primarily affect the tumor-associated stroma, rather than the epithelial compartment.
Project description:Several evidences suggest a marked angiogenic dependency in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumorigenesis and a potential sensitivity to anti-angiogenic agents. Herein, the putative role of Hedgehog (Hh) pathway in regulating TNBC-dependent angiogenesis was investigated.Expression and regulation of the Hh pathway transcription factor glioma-associated oncogene homolog1 protein (GLI1) were studied on the endothelial compartment and on TNBC-initiated angiogenesis. To evaluate the translational relevance of our findings, the combination of paclitaxel with the Smo inhibitor NVP-LDE225 was tested in TNBC xenografted mice.Tissue microarray analysis on 200 TNBC patients showed GLI1 overexpression paired with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) expression. In vitro, Hh pathway promotes TNBC progression in an autocrine manner, regulating the VEGF/VEGFR2 loop on cancer cell surface, and in a paracrine manner, orchestrating tumour vascularisation. These effects were counteracted by Smo pharmacological inhibition. In TNBC xenografted mice, scheduling NVP-LDE225 rather than bevacizumab provided a better sustained inhibition of TNBC cells proliferation and endothelial cells organisation.This study identifies the Hh pathway as one of the main regulators of tumour angiogenesis in TNBC, thus suggesting Hh inhibition as a potential new anti-angiogenic therapeutic option to be clinically investigated in GLI1 overexpressing TNBC patients.
Project description:Stromal-epithelial interactions play a fundamental role in tissue homeostasis, controlling cell proliferation and differentiation. Not surprisingly, aberrant stromal-epithelial interactions contribute to malignancies. Studies of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying these interactions require ex vivo experimental model systems that recapitulate the complexity of human tissue without compromising the differentiation and proliferation potentials of human primary cells.We isolated and characterized human breast epithelial and mesenchymal precursors from reduction mammoplasty tissue and tagged them with lentiviral vectors. We assembled heterotypic co-cultures and compared mesenchymal and epithelial cells to cells in corresponding monocultures by analyzing growth, differentiation potentials, and gene expression profiles.We show that heterotypic culture of non-immortalized human primary breast epithelial and mesenchymal precursors maintains their proliferation and differentiation potentials and constrains their growth. We further describe the gene expression profiles of stromal and epithelial cells in co-cultures and monocultures and show increased expression of the tumor growth factor beta (TGF?) family member inhibin beta A (INHBA) in mesenchymal cells grown as co-cultures compared with monocultures. Notably, overexpression of INHBA in mesenchymal cells increases colony formation potential of epithelial cells, suggesting that it contributes to the dynamic reciprocity between breast mesenchymal and epithelial cells.The described heterotypic co-culture system will prove useful for further characterization of the molecular mechanisms mediating interactions between human normal or neoplastic breast epithelial cells and the stroma, and will provide a framework to test the relevance of the ever-increasing number of oncogenomic alterations identified in human breast cancer.
Project description:Tumor growth is governed by the coordinated action of various types of cells that are present in the tumor environment. Fibroblasts, which constitute a major fraction of the stroma, participate actively in various signaling events and regulate tumor development and metastasis. The Hedgehog (Hh) pathway plays an important role in promoting tumor malignancy via fibroblasts; however, the role of hedgehog interacting protein (hhip; inhibitor of Hh pathway) in tumor growth is poorly understood. Here we implanted B16F10 tumors in hhip+/- mice to study the tumor growth characteristics and the vascular phenotype. Furthermore, the mechanism involved in the observed phenomena was explored to reveal the role of hhip in tumor growth. The tumors that were implanted in hhip+/- mice exhibited accelerated growth and increased tumor angiogenesis. Although we observed a decrease in hypoxia, blood vessels still had abnormal phenotype. We found that increased Hh signaling in tumor fibroblasts induced a high expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which subsequently resulted in an increased proliferation of endothelial cells. Thus, the heterozygous knockdown of hhip in mice could affect Hh signaling in tumor fibroblasts, which could cause the increased production of the growth factor VEGF. This signaling, via a paracrine effect on endothelial cells, increased tumor vascular density.
Project description:Breast cancer-induced activated fibroblasts support tumor progression. However, the role of normal fibroblasts in tumor progression remains controversial. In this study, we used modified patient-derived organoid cultures and demonstrate that constitutively secreted cytokines from normal breast fibroblasts initiate a paracrine signaling mechanism with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer cells, which results in the creation of an interleukin (IL)-1β-enriched microenvironment. We found that this paracrine signaling mechanism is shared between normal and activated fibroblasts. Interestingly, we observed that in reconstructed tumor microenvironment containing autologous ER+ breast cancer cells, activated fibroblasts, and immune cells, tamoxifen is more effective in reducing tumor cell proliferation when this paracrine signaling is blocked. Our findings then suggest that ER+ tumor cells could create a growth-promoting environment without activating stromal fibroblasts and that in breast-conserving surgeries, normal fibroblasts could be a significant modulator of tumor recurrence by enhancing the proliferation of residual breast cancer cells in the tumor-adjacent breast tissue.
Project description:Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is critical to the patterning and development of a variety of organ systems, and both ligand-dependent and ligand-independent Hh pathway activation are known to promote tumorigenesis. Recent studies have shown that in tumors promoted by Hh ligands, activation occurs within the stromal microenvironment. Testing whether ligand-driven Hh signaling promotes tumor angiogenesis, we found that Hh antagonism reduced the vascular density of Hh-producing LS180 and SW480 xenografts. In addition, ectopic expression of sonic hedgehog in low-Hh-expressing DLD-1 xenografts increased tumor vascular density, augmented angiogenesis, and was associated with canonical Hh signaling within perivascular tumor stromal cells. To better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying Hh-mediated tumor angiogenesis, we established an Hh-sensitive angiogenesis coculture assay and found that fibroblast cell lines derived from a variety of human tissues were Hh responsive and promoted angiogenesis in vitro through a secreted paracrine signal(s). Affymetrix array analyses of cultured fibroblasts identified VEGF-A, hepatocyte growth factor, and PDGF-C as candidate secreted proangiogenic factors induced by Hh stimulation. Expression studies of xenografts and angiogenesis assays using combinations of Hh and VEGF-A inhibitors showed that it is primarily Hh-induced VEGF-A that promotes angiogenesis in vitro and augments tumor-derived VEGF to promote angiogenesis in vivo.
Project description:In breast cancer (BC), tissue stiffening via fibronectin (FN) and collagen accumulation is associated with advanced disease progression at both the primary tumor and metastatic sites. Here, we evaluate FN production in 15 BC cell lines, representing a variety of subtypes, phenotypes, metastatic potentials, and chemotherapeutic sensitivities. We demonstrate that intracellular and soluble FN is initially lost during tumorigenic transformation but is rescued in all lines with epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity (EMP). Importantly, we establish that no BC cell line was able to independently organize a robust FN matrix. Non-transformed mammary epithelial cells were also unable to deposit FN matrices unless transglutaminase 2, a FN crosslinking enzyme, was overexpressed. Instead, BC cells manipulated the FN matrix production of fibroblasts in a phenotypic-dependent manner. In addition, varied accumulation levels were seen depending if the fibroblasts were conditioned to model paracrine signaling or endocrine signaling of the metastatic niche. In the former, fibroblasts conditioned by BC cultures with high EMP resulted in the largest FN matrix accumulation. In contrast, mesenchymal BC cells produced extracellular vesicles (EV) that resulted in the highest levels of matrix formation by conditioned fibroblasts. Overall, we demonstrate a dynamic relationship between tumor and stromal cells within the tumor microenvironment, in which the levels and fibrillarization of FN in the extracellular matrix are modulated during the particular stages of disease progression.
Project description:The contribution of the tumor microenvironment to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) development is currently unclear. We therefore examined the consequences of disrupting paracrine Hedgehog (HH) signaling in PDAC stroma. Herein, we show that ablation of the key HH signaling gene <i>Smoothened</i> (<i>Smo</i>) in stromal fibroblasts led to increased proliferation of pancreatic tumor cells. Furthermore, <i>Smo</i> deletion resulted in proteasomal degradation of the tumor suppressor PTEN and activation of oncogenic protein kinase B (AKT) in fibroblasts. An unbiased proteomic screen identified RNF5 as a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase responsible for degradation of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) in <i>Smo</i>-null fibroblasts. <i>Ring Finger Protein 5</i> (<i>Rnf5</i>) knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3? (GSK?), the kinase that marks PTEN for ubiquitination, rescued PTEN levels and reversed the oncogenic phenotype, identifying a new node of PTEN regulation. In PDAC patients, low stromal PTEN correlated with reduced overall survival. Mechanistically, PTEN loss decreased hydraulic permeability of the extracellular matrix, which was reversed by hyaluronidase treatment. These results define non-cell autonomous tumor-promoting mechanisms activated by disruption of the HH/PTEN axis and identifies new targets for restoring stromal tumor-suppressive functions.
Project description:Fibroblasts play a central role in tumor invasion, recurrence, and metastasis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of tumor cell self-produced factors and paracrine fibroblast-secreted factors in comparison to indirect co-culture on cancer cell survival, growth, migration, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition using the cell lines SCC-25 and human gingival fibroblasts. Thereby, we particularly focused on the participation of the fibroblast-secreted transforming growth factor beta-1.Tumor cell self-produced factors were sufficient to ensure tumor cell survival and basic cell growth, but fibroblast-secreted paracrine factors significantly increased cell proliferation, migration, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition-related phenotype changes in tumor cells. Transforming growth factor beta-1 generated individually migrating disseminating tumor cell groups or single cells separated from the tumor cell nest, which were characterized by reduced E-cadherin expression. At the same time, transforming growth factor beta-1 inhibited tumor cell proliferation under serum-starved conditions. Neutralizing transforming growth factor beta antibody reduced the cell migration support of fibroblast-conditioned medium. Transforming growth factor beta-1 as a single factor was sufficient for generation of disseminating tumor cells from epithelial tumor cell nests, while other fibroblast paracrine factors supported tumor nest outgrowth. Different fibroblast-released factors might support tumor cell proliferation and invasion, as two separate effects.