KLF9-dependent ROS regulate melanoma progression in stage-specific manner.
ABSTRACT: Although antioxidants promote melanoma metastasis, the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in other stages of melanoma progression is controversial. Moreover, genes regulating ROS have not been functionally characterized throughout the entire tumor progression in mouse models of cancer. To address this question, we crossed mice-bearing knock-out of Klf9, an ubiquitous transcriptional regulator of oxidative stress, with two conditional melanocytic mouse models: BrafCA mice, where BrafV600E causes premalignant melanocytic hyperplasia, and BrafCA/Pten-/- mice, where BrafV600E and loss of Pten induce primary melanomas and metastases. Klf9 deficiency inhibited premalignant melanocytic hyperplasia in BrafCA mice but did not affect formation and growth of BrafCA/Pten-/- primary melanomas. It also, as expected, promoted BrafCA/Pten-/- metastasis. Treatment with antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine phenocopied loss of Klf9 including suppression of melanocytic hyperplasia. We were interested in a different role of Klf9 in regulation of cell proliferation in BrafCA and BrafCA/Pten-/- melanocytic cells. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that BRAFV600E signaling transcriptionally upregulated KLF9 and that KLF9-dependent ROS were required for full-scale activation of ERK1/2 and induction of cell proliferation by BRAFV600E. PTEN depletion in BRAFV600E-melanocytes did not further activate ERK1/2 and cell proliferation, but rendered these phenotypes insensitive to KLF9 and ROS. Our data identified an essential role of KLF9-dependent ROS in BRAFV600E signaling in premalignant melanocytes, offered an explanation to variable role of ROS in premalignant and transformed melanocytic cells and suggested a novel mechanism for suppression of premalignant growth by topical antioxidants.
Project description:Current genetically-engineered mouse melanoma models are often based on Tyr::CreERT2-controlled MAPK pathway activation by the BRAFV600E mutation and PI3K pathway activation by loss of PTEN. The major drawback of these models is the occurrence of spontaneous tumors caused by leakiness of the Tyr::CreERT2 system, hampering long-term experiments. To address this problem, we investigated several approaches to optimally provide local delivery of Cre recombinase, including injection of lentiviral particles, DNA tattoo administration and particle-mediated gene transfer, to induce melanomas in PtenLoxP/LoxP;BrafCA/+ mice lacking the Tyr::CreERT2 allele. We found that dermal delivery of the Cre recombinase gene under the control of a non-specific CAG promoter induced the formation of melanomas, but also keratoacanthoma and squamous cell carcinomas. Delivery of Cre recombinase DNA under the control of melanocyte-specific promoters in PtenLoxP/LoxP;BrafCA/+ mice resulted in sole melanoma induction. The growth rate and histological features of the induced tumors were similar to 4-hydroxytamoxifen-induced tumors in Tyr::CreERT2;PtenLoxP/LoxP;BrafCA/+ mice, while the onset of spontaneous tumors was prevented completely. These novel induction methods will allow long-term experiments in mouse models of skin malignancies.
Project description:BRAF, a cellular oncogene and effector of RAS-mediated signaling, is activated by mutation in approximately 60% of melanomas. Most of these mutations consist of a V600E substitution resulting in constitutive kinase activation. Mutant BRAF thus represents an important therapeutic target in melanoma. In an effort to produce a pre-clinical model of mutant BRAF function in melanoma, we have generated a mouse expressing BRAF V600E targeted to melanocytes. We show that in these transgenic mice, widespread benign melanocytic hyperplasia with histological features of nevi occurs, with biochemical evidence of senescence. Melanocytic hyperplasia progresses to overt melanoma with an incidence dependent on BRAF expression levels. Melanomas show CDKN2A loss, and genetic disruption of the CDKN2A locus greatly enhances melanoma formation, consistent with collaboration between BRAF activation and CDKN2A loss suggested from studies of human melanoma. The development of melanoma also involves activation of the Mapk and Akt signaling pathways and loss of senescence, findings that faithfully recapitulate those seen in human melanomas. This murine model of mutant BRAF-induced melanoma formation thus provides an important tool for identifying further genetic alterations that cooperates with BRAF and that may be useful in enhancing susceptibility to BRAF-targeted therapeutics in melanoma.
Project description:Human melanocytic nevi (moles) are benign lesions harboring activated oncogenes, including BRAF. Although this oncogene initially acts mitogenically, eventually, oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) ensues. Nevi can infrequently progress to melanomas, but the mechanistic relationship with OIS is unclear. We show here that PTEN depletion abrogates BRAF(V600E)-induced senescence in human fibroblasts and melanocytes. Correspondingly, in established murine BRAF(V600E)-driven nevi, acute shRNA-mediated depletion of PTEN prompted tumor progression. Furthermore, genetic analysis of laser-guided microdissected human contiguous nevus-melanoma specimens recurrently revealed identical mutations in BRAF or NRAS in adjacent benign and malignant melanocytes. The PI3K pathway was often activated through either decreased PTEN or increased AKT3 expression in melanomas relative to their adjacent nevi. Pharmacologic PI3K inhibition in melanoma cells suppressed proliferation and induced the senescence-associated tumor suppressor p15(INK4B). This treatment also eliminated subpopulations resistant to targeted BRAF(V600E) inhibition. Our findings suggest that a significant proportion of melanomas arise from nevi. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that PI3K pathway activation serves as a rate-limiting event in this setting, acting at least in part by abrogating OIS. The reactivation of senescence features and elimination of cells refractory to BRAF(V600E) inhibition by PI3K inhibition warrants further investigation into the therapeutic potential of simultaneously targeting these pathways in melanoma.
Project description:Cutaneous malignant melanoma is among the deadliest human cancers, broadly resistant to most clinical therapies. A majority of patients with BRAFV600E melanomas respond well to inhibitors such as vemurafenib, but all ultimately relapse. Moreover, there are no viable treatment options available for other non-BRAF melanoma subtypes in the clinic. A key to improving treatment options lies in a better understanding of mechanisms underlying melanoma progression, which are complex and heterogeneous.In this study we integrated gene and microRNA (miRNA) expression data from genetically engineered mouse models of highly and poorly malignant melanocytic tumors, as well as available human melanoma databases, and discovered an important role for a pathway centered on a tumor suppressor miRNA, miR-32.Malignant tumors frequently exhibited poor expression of miR-32, whose targets include NRAS, PI3K and notably, MCL-1. Accordingly, MCL-1 was often highly expressed in melanomas, and when knocked down diminished oncogenic potential. Forced MCL-1 overexpression transformed immortalized primary mouse melanocytes, but only when also expressing activating mutations in BRAF, CRAF or PI3K. Importantly, both miR-32 replacement therapy and the MCL-1-specific antagonist sabutoclax demonstrated single-agent efficacy, and acted synergistically in combination with vemurafenib in preclinical melanoma models.We here identify miR-32/MCL-1 pathway members as key early genetic events driving melanoma progression, and suggest that their inhibition may be an effective anti-melanoma strategy irrespective of NRAS, BRAF, and PTEN status.
Project description:Malignant melanoma is frequently driven by mutational activation of v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) accompanied by silencing of the phosphatase and tensin homology (PTEN) tumor suppressor. Despite the implied importance of PI3K signaling in PTENNull melanomas, mutational activation of the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of PI3K? (PIK3CA), is rarely detected. Since PTEN has both PI3-lipid phosphatase-dependent and -independent tumor suppressor activities, we investigated the contribution of PI3K signaling to BRAFV600E-induced melanomagenesis using mouse models, cultured melanoma cells, and PI3K pathway-targeted inhibitors. These experiments revealed that mutationally activated PIK3CAH1047R cooperates with BRAFV600E for melanomagenesis in mice. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of PI3Ks prevented growth of BRAFV600E/PTENNull melanomas in vivo and in tissue culture. Combined inhibition of BRAFV600E and PI3K had more potent effects on the regression of established BRAFV600E/PTENNull melanomas and cultured melanoma cells than individual blockade of either pathway. Surprisingly, growth of BRAFV600E/PIK3CAH1047R melanomas was dependent on the protein kinase AKT; however, AKT inhibition had no effect on growth of BRAFV600E/PTENNull melanomas. These data indicate that PTEN silencing contributes a PI3K-dependent, but AKT-independent, function in melanomagenesis. Our findings enhance our knowledge of how BRAFV600E and PI3K signaling cooperate in melanomagenesis and provide preclinical validation for combined pathway-targeted inhibition of PI3K and BRAFV600E in the therapeutic management of BRAFV600E/PTENNull melanomas.
Project description:The melanoma incidence continues to increase, and the disease remains incurable for many due to its metastatic nature and high rate of therapeutic resistance. In particular, melanomas harboring BRAFV600E and PTEN mutations often are resistant to current therapies, including BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Abl kinases (Abl/Arg) are activated in melanomas and drive progression; however, their mechanism of activation has not been established. Here we elucidate a novel link between BRAFV600E/ERK signaling and Abl kinases. We demonstrate that BRAFV600E/ERK play a critical role in binding, phosphorylating and regulating Abl localization and Abl/Arg activation by Src family kinases. Importantly, Abl/Arg activation downstream of BRAFV600E has functional and biological significance, driving proliferation, invasion, as well as switch in epithelial-mesenchymal-transition transcription factor expression, which is known to be critical for melanoma cells to shift between differentiated and invasive states. Finally, we describe findings of high translational significance by demonstrating that Abl/Arg cooperate with PI3K/Akt/PTEN, a parallel pathway that is associated with intrinsic resistance to BRAFi and immunotherapy, as Abl/Arg and Akt inhibitors cooperate to prevent viability, cell cycle progression and in vivo growth of melanomas harboring mutant BRAF/PTEN. Thus, these data not only provide mechanistic insight into Abl/Arg regulation during melanoma development, but also pave the way for the development of new strategies for treating patients with melanomas harboring mutant BRAF/PTEN, which often are refractory to current therapies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Hyaluronan is an extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan involved in invasion, proliferation and metastasis of various types of carcinomas. In many cancers, aberrant hyaluronan expression implicates disease progression and metastatic potential. Melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer. The role of hyaluronan in melanoma progression including benign nevi and lymph node metastases has not been investigated earlier, nor the details of its synthesis and degradation. METHODS: The melanocytic and dysplastic nevi, in situ melanomas, superficially and deeply invasive melanomas and their lymph node metastases were analysed immunohistochemically for the amount of hyaluronan, its cell surface receptor CD44, hyaluronan synthases 1-3 and hyaluronidases 1-2. RESULTS: Hyaluronan content of tumoral cells in deeply invasive melanomas and metastatic lesions was clearly reduced compared to superficial melanomas or benign lesions. Furthermore, hyaluronan content in the stromal cells of benign nevi was higher than in the premalignant or malignant tumors. The immunopositivity of hyaluronidase 2 was significantly increased in the premalignant and malignant lesions indicating its specific role in the degradation of hyaluronan during tumor progression. Similarly, the expression of hyaluronan synthases 1-2 and CD44 receptor was decreased in the metastases compared to the primary melanomas. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the reciprocal relationship between the degrading and synthesizing enzymes account for the alterations in hyaluronan content during the growth of melanoma. These results provide new information about hyaluronan metabolism in benign, premalignant and malignant melanocytic tumors of the skin.
Project description:Cutaneous melanocytic neoplasms are known to acquire variable characteristics of neural crest differentiation. Melanocytic nevus cells in the dermis and desmoplastic melanomas often display characteristics of nerve sheath differentiation. The extent and nature of neuronal differentiation characteristics displayed by primary and metastatic melanoma cells are not well understood. Here, we describe induction of a juvenile isoform of microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP-2c) in cultured metastatic melanoma cells by the differentiation inducer hexamethylene bisacetamide. Up-regulation of this MAP-2 isoform, a marker for immature neurons, is accompanied by extended dendritic morphology and down-regulation of tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP1/gp75), a melanocyte differentiation marker. In a panel of cell lines that represent melanoma tumor progression, MAP-2c mRNA and the corresponding approximately 70-kd protein could be detected predominantly in primary melanomas. Immunohistochemical analysis of 61 benign and malignant melanocytic lesions showed abundant expression of MAP-2 protein in melanocytic nevi and in the in situ and invasive components of primary melanoma, but only focal heterogeneous expression in a few metastatic melanomas. In contrast, MAP-2-positive dermal nevus cells and the invasive cells of primary melanomas were TYRP1-negative. This reciprocal staining pattern in vivo is similar to the in vitro observation that induction of the neuronal marker MAP-2 in metastatic melanoma cells is accompanied by selective extinction of the melanocytic marker TYRP1. Our data show that neoplastic melanocytes, particularly at early stages, retain the plasticity to express the neuron-specific marker MAP-2. These observations are consistent with the premise that both benign and malignant melanocytes in the dermis can express markers of neuronal differentiation.
Project description:Deltex-3-like (DTX3L), an E3 ligase, is a member of the Deltex (DTX) family and is also called B-lymphoma and BAL-associated protein (BBAP). Previously, we established RFP/RET-transgenic mice, in which systemic hyperpigmented skin, benign melanocytic tumor(s) and melanoma(s) develop stepwise. Here we showed that levels of Dtx3l/DTX3L in spontaneous melanoma in RFP/RET-transgenic mice and human melanoma cell lines were significantly higher than those in benign melanocytic cells and primarily cultured normal human epithelial melanocytes, respectively. Immunohistochemical analysis of human tissues showed that more than 80% of the melanomas highly expressed DTX3L. Activity of FAK/PI3K/AKT signaling, but not that of MEK/ERK signaling, was decreased in Dtx3l/DTX3L-depleted murine and human melanoma cells. In summary, we demonstrated not only increased DTX3L level in melanoma cells but also DTX3L-mediated regulation of invasion and metastasis in melanoma through FAK/PI3K/AKT but not MEK/ERK signaling. Our analysis in human BRAFV600E inhibitor-resistant melanoma cells showed about 80% decreased invasion in the DTX3L-depleted cells compared to that in the DTX3L-intact cells. Thus, DTX3L is clinically a potential therapeutic target as well as a potential biomarker for melanoma.
Project description:Human melanomas frequently harbor amplifications of EZH2. However, the oncogenic contribution of this methyltransferase to melanoma formation has remained elusive. Taking advantage of murine melanoma models, we now show that EZH2 drives tumorigenesis from benign BrafV600E or NrasQ61K-expressing melanocytes. EZH2 oncogenicity results from silencing of genes relevant for the integrity of the primary cilium, a signaling organelle projecting from the surface of vertebrate cells. Consequently, gain of EZH2 function promotes loss of primary cilia in benign melanocytic lesions. In contrast, blockade of EZH2 activity evokes ciliogenesis and cilia-dependent growth inhibition in malignant melanoma. Finally, we demonstrate that loss of cilia enhances pro-tumorigenic WNT/β-catenin signaling and is itself sufficient to drive metastatic melanoma in benign cells. Thus, primary cilia deconstruction is a key process in EZH2-driven melanomagenesis. Overall design: RNA-seq of NrasQ61K versus NrasQ61K Ezh2Y646N dermal hyperplasia cells.