Targeting Stromal Glutamine Synthetase in Tumors Disrupts Tumor Microenvironment-Regulated Cancer Cell Growth.
ABSTRACT: Reactive stromal cells are an integral part of tumor microenvironment (TME) and interact with cancer cells to regulate their growth. Although targeting stromal cells could be a viable therapy to regulate the communication between TME and cancer cells, identification of stromal targets that make cancer cells vulnerable has remained challenging and elusive. Here, we identify a previously unrecognized mechanism whereby metabolism of reactive stromal cells is reprogrammed through an upregulated glutamine anabolic pathway. This dysfunctional stromal metabolism confers atypical metabolic flexibility and adaptive mechanisms in stromal cells, allowing them to harness carbon and nitrogen from noncanonical sources to synthesize glutamine in nutrient-deprived conditions existing in TME. Using an orthotopic mouse model for ovarian carcinoma, we find that co-targeting glutamine synthetase in stroma and glutaminase in cancer cells reduces tumor weight, nodules, and metastasis. We present a synthetic lethal approach to target tumor stroma and cancer cells simultaneously for desirable therapeutic outcomes.
Project description:The tumor microenvironment (TME) plays an essential role in supporting and promoting tumor growth and progression. An inflammatory stroma is a widespread hallmark of the prostate TME, and prostate tumors are known to co-evolve with their reactive stroma. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) within the reactive stroma play a salient role in secreting cytokines that contribute to this inflammatory TME. Although a number of inflammatory mediators have been identified, a clear understanding of key factors initiating the formation of reactive stroma is lacking.We explored whether tumor secreted extracellular Hsp90 alpha (eHsp90?) may initiate a reactive stroma. Prostate stromal fibroblasts (PrSFs) were exposed to exogenous Hsp90? protein, or to conditioned medium (CM) from eHsp90?-expressing prostate cancer cells, and evaluated for signaling, motility, and expression of prototypic reactive markers. In tandem, ELISA assays were utilized to characterize Hsp90?-mediated secreted factors.We report that exposure of PrSFs to eHsp90 upregulates the transcription and protein secretion of IL-6 and IL-8, key inflammatory cytokines known to play a causative role in prostate cancer progression. Cytokine secretion was regulated in part via a MEK/ERK and NF-?B dependent pathway. Secreted eHsp90? also promoted the rapid and durable activation of the oncogenic inflammatory mediator signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT3). Finally, eHsp90 induced the expression of MMP-3, a well-known mediator of fibrosis and the myofibroblast phenotype.Our results provide compelling support for eHsp90? as a transducer of signaling events culminating in an inflammatory and reactive stroma, thereby conferring properties associated with prostate cancer progression.
Project description:The tumor-microenvironment (TME) is an amalgamation of various factors derived from malignant cells and infiltrating host cells, including cells of the immune system. One of the important factors of the TME is microRNAs (miRs) that regulate target gene expression at a post transcriptional level. MiRs have been found to be dysregulated in tumor as well as in stromal cells and they emerged as important regulators of tumorigenesis. In fact, miRs regulate almost all hallmarks of cancer, thus making them attractive tools and targets for novel anti-tumoral treatment strategies. Tumor to stroma cell cross-propagation of miRs to regulate protumoral functions has been a salient feature of the TME. MiRs can either act as tumor suppressors or oncogenes (oncomiRs) and both miR mimics as well as miR inhibitors (antimiRs) have been used in preclinical trials to alter cancer and stromal cell phenotypes. Owing to their cascading ability to regulate upstream target genes and their chemical nature, which allows specific pharmacological targeting, miRs are attractive targets for anti-tumor therapy. In this review, we cover a recent update on our understanding of dysregulated miRs in the TME and provide an overview of how these miRs are involved in current cancer-therapeutic approaches from bench to bedside.
Project description:The tumor microenvironment (TME) is composed of a heterogeneous biological ecosystem of cellular and non-cellular elements including transformed tumor cells, endothelial cells, immune cells, activated fibroblasts or myofibroblasts, stem and progenitor cells, as well as the cytokines and matrix that they produce. The constituents of the TME stroma are multiple and varied, however cancer associated fibroblasts (CAF) and their contribution to the TME are important in tumor progression. CAF are hypothesized to arise from multiple progenitor cell types, including mesenchymal stem cells. Currently, isolation of TME stroma from patients is complicated by issues such as limited availability of biopsy material and cell stress incurred during lengthy adaptation to atmospheric oxygen (20% O2) in cell culture, limiting pre-clinical studies of patient tumor stromal interactions. Here we describe a microenvironment mimetic in vitro cell culturing system that incorporates elements of the in vivo lung environment, including lung fibroblast derived extracellular matrix and physiological hypoxia (5% O2). Using this system, we easily isolated and rapidly expanded stromal progenitors from patient lung tumor resections without complex sorting methods or growth supplements. These progenitor populations retained expression of pluripotency markers, secreted factors associated with cancer progression, and enhanced tumor cell growth and metastasis. An understanding of the biology of these progenitor cell populations in a TME-like environment may advance our ability to target these cells and limit their effects on promoting cancer metastasis.
Project description:Altered glucose metabolism in cancer cells is termed the Warburg effect, which describes the propensity of most cancer cells to take up glucose avidly and convert it primarily to lactate, despite available oxygen. Notwithstanding the renewed interest in the Warburg effect, cancer cells also depend on continued mitochondrial function for metabolism, specifically glutaminolysis that catabolizes glutamine to generate ATP and lactate. Glutamine, which is highly transported into proliferating cells, is a major source of energy and nitrogen for biosynthesis, and a carbon substrate for anabolic processes in cancer cells, but the regulation of glutamine metabolism is not well understood. Here we report that the c-Myc (hereafter referred to as Myc) oncogenic transcription factor, which is known to regulate microRNAs and stimulate cell proliferation, transcriptionally represses miR-23a and miR-23b, resulting in greater expression of their target protein, mitochondrial glutaminase, in human P-493 B lymphoma cells and PC3 prostate cancer cells. This leads to upregulation of glutamine catabolism. Glutaminase converts glutamine to glutamate, which is further catabolized through the tricarboxylic acid cycle for the production of ATP or serves as substrate for glutathione synthesis. The unique means by which Myc regulates glutaminase uncovers a previously unsuspected link between Myc regulation of miRNAs, glutamine metabolism, and energy and reactive oxygen species homeostasis.
Project description:The dependency of cancer cells on glutamine may be exploited therapeutically as a new strategy for treating cancers that lack druggable driver genes. Here we found that human liver cancer was dependent on extracellular glutamine. However, targeting glutamine addiction using the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 as monotherapy had a very limited anticancer effect, even against the most glutamine addicted human liver cancer cells. Using a chemical library, we identified V-9302, a novel inhibitor of glutamine transporter ASCT2, as sensitizing glutamine dependent (GD) cells to CB-839 treatment. Mechanically, a combination of CB-839 and V-9302 depleted glutathione and induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in apoptosis of GD cells. Moreover, this combination also showed tumor inhibition in HCC xenograft mouse models in vivo. Our findings indicate that dual inhibition of glutamine metabolism by targeting both glutaminase and glutamine transporter ASCT2 represents a potential novel treatment strategy for glutamine addicted liver cancers.
Project description:Cancer-associated fibrosis is a critical component of the tumor microenvironment (TME) which significantly impacts cancer behavior. However, there is significant controversy regarding fibrosis as a predominantly tumor promoting or tumor suppressing factor. Cells essential to the generation of tissue fibrosis such as fibroblasts and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have dual phenotypes dependent upon their independence or association with cancer cells. Cancer-associated fibroblasts and cancer-associated MSCs have unique molecular profiles which facilitate cancer cell cross talk, influence extracellular matrix deposition, and direct the immune system to generate a protumorigenic environment. In contrast, normal tissue fibroblasts and MSCs are important in restraining cancer initiation, influencing epithelial cell differentiation, and limiting cancer cell invasion. We propose this apparent dichotomy of function is due to (1) cancer mediated stromal reprogramming; (2) tissue stromal source; (3) unique subtypes of fibrosis; and (4) the impact of fibrosis on other TME elements. First, as cancer progresses, tumor cells influence their surrounding stroma to move from a cancer restraining phenotype into a cancer supportive role. Second, cancer has specific organ tropism, thus stroma derived from preferred metastatic organs support growth while less preferred metastatic tissues do not. Third, there are subtypes of fibrosis which have unique function to support or inhibit cancer growth. Fourth, depleting fibrosis influences other TME components which drive the cancer response. Collectively, this review highlights the complexity of cancer-associated fibrosis and supports a dual function of fibrosis which evolves during the continuum of cancer growth.
Project description:The tumor microenvironment (TME) contains a rich source of nutrients that sustain cell growth and ultimately facilitate tumor progression. The availability of glucose and glutamine in the TME are essential for the development and activation of effector T cells that exert anti-tumor function. Recently, inhibition of glutaminase, the enzyme that hydrolyzes glutamine to glutamate, has garnered interest as an approach to both decrease tumor metabolism and growth, while increasing available glutamine in the TME for effector T cells. Checkpoint blockade immunotherapy unleashes anti-tumor effector capabilities of T cells, and although there are good responses in many solid tumors, a significant proportion of patients respond poorly. In lung adenocarcinoma, response to immunotherapy is reported to be impaired in KRAS-mutant patients harboring concurrent KEAP1 and STK11/Lkb1 mutations. To investigate the metabolism and immune microenvironment of KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinoma, we generated a series of murine models that reflect the KEAP1 and STK11/Lkb1 mutational landscape seen in patients. Here we show increased glutamate abundance in the Lkb1-deficient TME associated with CD8 T cell activation in response to anti-PD1 checkpoint immunotherapy. Combination treatment with the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 inhibited clonal expansion and cytotoxic activation of tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cells. Thus, CD8 T cells exposed to checkpoint immunotherapy have a dependence on glutamine and reliance on glutaminase activity and are negatively impacted by the glutaminase inhibitor in this highly activated state. Therefore, we discern that the combination of immunotherapy and glutaminase inhibition is not efficacious for CD8 T cell activation in the tumor microenvironment. Overall design: Mice of defined genotypes (n=5 mice per genotype) were administered intranasal Ad5-CMV-Cre to recombine genetic alleles. When moribund with breathing difficulties, tumor nodules were removed (2 independent nodules per mouse) and flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. Uninfected littermate control lungs were used as the "normal lung tissue". Lungs and tumor nodules were crushed in liquid nitrogen and RNA extracted using a combination of the QIAshredder and RNeasy kit.
Project description:BACKGROUND:B7-H3 and B7-H4 are highly expressed by many human malignancies making them attractive immunotherapeutic targets. However, their expression patterns and immune contexts in epithelial ovarian cancer have not been well characterized. METHODS:We used flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and genomic analyses to determine the patterns of B7-H3, B7-H4, and PD-L1 expression by tumor, stromal, and immune cells in the ovarian tumor microenvironment (TME). We analyzed immune cell frequency and expression of PD-1, TIM3, LAG3, ICOS, TIA-1, granzyme B, 2B4, CD107a, and GITR on T cells; CD20, CD22, IgD, BTLA, and CD27 on B cells; CD16 on monocytes; and B7-H3, B7-H4, PD-L1, PD-L2, ICOSL, CD40, CD86, and CLEC9a on antigen-presenting cells by flow cytometry. We determined intratumoral cellular location of immune cells using immunohistochemistry. We compared differences in immune infiltration in tumors with low or high tumor-to-stroma ratio and in tumors from the same or unrelated patients. RESULTS:On non-immune cells, B7-H4 expression was restricted to tumor cells whereas B7-H3 was expressed by both tumor and stromal cells. Stromal cells of the ovarian TME expressed high levels of B7-H3 compared to tumor cells. We used this differential expression to assess the tumor-to-stroma ratio of ovarian tumors and found that high tumor-to-stroma ratio was associated with increased expression of CD16 by monocytes, increased frequencies of PD-1high CD8+ T cells, increased PD-L1 expression by APCs, and decreased CLEC9a expression by APCs. We found that expression of PD-L1 or CD86 on APCs and the proportion of PD-1high CD4+ T cells were strongly correlated on immune cells from tumors within the same patient, whereas expression of CD40 and ICOSL on APCs and the proportion of PD-1high CD8+ T cells were not. CONCLUSIONS:This study provides insight into the expression patterns of B7-H3 and B7-H4 in the ovarian TME. Further, we demonstrate an association between the tumor-to-stroma ratio and the phenotype of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. We also find that some but not all immune parameters show consistency between peritoneal metastatic sites. These data have implications for the design of immunotherapies targeting these B7 molecules in epithelial ovarian cancer.
Project description:Breast cancer progression and metastasis are driven by complex and reciprocal interactions, between epithelial cancer cells and their surrounding stromal microenvironment. We have previously shown that a loss of stromal Cav-1 expression is associated with an increased risk of early tumor recurrence, metastasis and decreased overall survival. To identify and characterize the signaling pathways that are activated in Cav-1 negative tumor stroma, we performed gene expression profiling using laser microdissected breast cancer-associated stroma. Tumor stroma was laser capture microdissected from 4 cases showing high stromal Cav-1 expression and 7 cases with loss of stromal Cav-1. Briefly, we identified 238 gene transcripts that were upregulated and 232 gene transcripts that were downregulated in the stroma of tumors showing a loss of Cav-1 expression (p ? 0.01 and fold-change ? 1.5). Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) revealed "stemness," inflammation, DNA damage, aging, oxidative stress, hypoxia, autophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction in the tumor stroma of patients lacking stromal Cav-1. Our findings are consistent with the recently proposed "Reverse Warburg Effect" and the "Autophagic Tumor Stroma Model of Cancer Metabolism." In these two complementary models, cancer cells induce oxidative stress in adjacent stromal cells, which then forces these stromal fibroblasts to undergo autophagy/mitophagy and aerobic glycolysis. This, in turn, produces recycled nutrients (lactate, ketones and glutamine) to feed anabolic cancer cells, which are undergoing oxidative mitochondrial metabolism. Our results are also consistent with previous biomarker studies showing that the increased expression of known autophagy markers (such as ATG16L and the cathepsins) in the tumor stroma is specifically associated with metastatic tumor progression and/or poor clinical outcome.