Commitment and oncogene-induced plasticity of human stem cell-derived pancreatic acinar and ductal organoids.
ABSTRACT: The exocrine pancreas, consisting of ducts and acini, is the site of origin of pancreatitis and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Our understanding of the genesis and progression of human pancreatic diseases, including PDAC, is limited because of challenges in maintaining human acinar and ductal cells in culture. Here we report induction of human pluripotent stem cells toward pancreatic ductal and acinar organoids that recapitulate properties of the neonatal exocrine pancreas. Expression of the PDAC-associated oncogene GNASR201C induces cystic growth more effectively in ductal than acinar organoids, whereas KRASG12D is more effective in modeling cancer in vivo when expressed in acinar compared with ductal organoids. KRASG12D, but not GNASR201C, induces acinar-to-ductal metaplasia-like changes in culture and in vivo. We develop a renewable source of ductal and acinar organoids for modeling exocrine development and diseases and demonstrate lineage tropism and plasticity for oncogene action in the human pancreas.
Project description:Defects in transcriptional regulators of pancreatic exocrine differentiation have been implicated in pancreatic tumorigenesis, but the molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. The locus encoding the transcription factor HNF1A harbors susceptibility variants for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), while KDM6A, encoding Lysine-specific demethylase 6A, carries somatic mutations in PDAC. Here, we show that pancreas-specific Hnf1a null mutant transcriptomes phenocopy those of Kdm6a mutations, and both defects synergize with Kras<sup>G12D</sup> to cause PDAC with sarcomatoid features. We combine genetic, epigenomic, and biochemical studies to show that HNF1A recruits KDM6A to genomic binding sites in pancreatic acinar cells. This remodels the acinar enhancer landscape, activates differentiated acinar cell programs, and indirectly suppresses oncogenic and epithelial-mesenchymal transition genes. We also identify a subset of non-classical PDAC samples that exhibit the HNF1A/KDM6A-deficient molecular phenotype. These findings provide direct genetic evidence that HNF1A deficiency promotes PDAC. They also connect the tumor-suppressive role of KDM6A deficiency with a cell-specific molecular mechanism that underlies PDAC subtype definition.
Project description:There are few in vitro models of exocrine pancreas development and primary human pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We establish three-dimensional culture conditions to induce the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into exocrine progenitor organoids that form ductal and acinar structures in culture and in vivo. Expression of mutant KRAS or TP53 in progenitor organoids induces mutation-specific phenotypes in culture and in vivo. Expression of TP53(R175H) induces cytosolic SOX9 localization. In patient tumors bearing TP53 mutations, SOX9 was cytoplasmic and associated with mortality. We also define culture conditions for clonal generation of tumor organoids from freshly resected PDAC. Tumor organoids maintain the differentiation status, histoarchitecture and phenotypic heterogeneity of the primary tumor and retain patient-specific physiological changes, including hypoxia, oxygen consumption, epigenetic marks and differences in sensitivity to inhibition of the histone methyltransferase EZH2. Thus, pancreatic progenitor organoids and tumor organoids can be used to model PDAC and for drug screening to identify precision therapy strategies.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is believed to arise through a multistep model comprised of putative precursor lesions known as pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). Recent genetically engineered mouse models of PDAC demonstrate a comparable morphologic spectrum of murine PanIN (mPanIN) lesions. The histogenesis of PanIN and PDAC in both mice and men remains controversial. The most faithful genetic models activate an oncogenic Kras(G12D) knockin allele within the pdx1- or ptf1a/p48-expression domain of the entire pancreatic anlage during development, thus obscuring the putative cell(s)-of-origin from which subsequent mPanIN lesions arise. In our study, activation of this knockin Kras(G12D) allele in the Elastase- and Mist1-expressing mature acinar compartment of adult mice resulted in the spontaneous induction of mPanIN lesions of all histological grades, although invasive carcinomas per se were not seen. We observed no requirement for concomitant chronic exocrine injury in the induction of mPanIN lesions from the mature acinar cell compartment. The acinar cell derivation of the mPanINs was established through lineage tracing in reporter mice, and by microdissection of lesional tissue demonstrating Cre-mediated recombination events. In contrast to the uniformly penetrant mPanIN phenotype observed following developmental activation of Kras(G12D) in the Pdx1-expressing progenitor cells, the Pdx1-expressing population in the mature pancreas (predominantly islet beta cells) appears to be relatively resistant to the effects of oncogenic Kras. We conclude that in the appropriate genetic context, the differentiated acinar cell compartment in adult mice retains its susceptibility for spontaneous transformation into mPanIN lesions, a finding with potential relevance vis-à-vis the origins of PDAC.
Project description:Several studies have shown that over 70 different microRNAs are aberrantly expressed in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), affecting proliferation, apoptosis, metabolism, EMT and metastasis. The most important genetic alterations driving PDAC are a constitutive active mutation of the oncogene Kras and loss of function of the tumour suppressor Tp53 gene. Since the MicroRNA 34a (Mir34a) is a direct target of Tp53 it may critically contribute to the suppression of PDAC. Mir34a is epigenetically silenced in numerous cancers, including PDAC, where Mir34a down-regulation has been associated with poor patient prognosis. To determine whether Mir34a represents a suppressor of PDAC formation we generated an in vivo PDAC-mouse model harbouring pancreas-specific loss of Mir34a (Kras<sup>G12D</sup>; Mir34a<sup>?/?</sup>). Histological analysis of Kras<sup>G12D</sup>; Mir34a<sup>?/?</sup> mice revealed an accelerated formation of pre-neoplastic lesions and a faster PDAC development, compared to Kras<sup>G12D</sup> controls. Here we show that the accelerated phenotype is driven by an early up-regulation of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFA and IL6 in normal acinar cells and accompanied by the recruitment of immune cells. Our results imply that Mir34a restrains PDAC development by modulating the immune microenvironment of PDAC, thus defining Mir34a restauration as a potential therapeutic strategy for inhibition of PDAC development.
Project description:Pancreatic acinar cells have high plasticity and can transdifferentiate into ductal-like cells. This acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) contributes to tissue maintenance but may also contribute to the premalignant transformation that can eventually progress to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Macrophages are key players in ADM, and macrophage-secreted matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 induces ADM through yet unknown mechanisms. As we previously identified MMP9 as a novel agonist of protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1), a receptor that is known to orchestrate the cross-talk between macrophages and tumor cells in PDAC, we here assessed the contribution of PAR1 to pancreatic cell fates. We found that genetic deficiency for PAR1 increases acinar gene expression programs in the healthy pancreas and that PAR1 deficiency limits ductal transdifferentiation in experimental systems for ADM. Moreover, PAR1 silencing in PDAC cells increases acinar marker expression. Changes in PDAC cell lines were associated with a downregulation of known Myc-target genes, and Myc inhibition mimics PAR1 deficiency in enhancing acinar programs in healthy organoids and PDAC cells. Overall, we identify the PAR1-Myc axis as a driver of ductal cell fates in premalignant pancreas and PDAC. Moreover, we show that cellular plasticity is not unique to acinar cells and that ductal regeneration into acinar-like cells is possible even in the context of oncogenic KRAS activation.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive cancer with poor survival rates and frequently carries oncogenic KRAS mutation. However, KRAS has thus far not been a viable therapeutic target. We found that the abundance of YAP mRNA, which encodes Yes-associated protein (YAP), a protein regulated by the Hippo pathway during tissue development and homeostasis, was increased in human PDAC tissue compared with that in normal pancreatic epithelia. In genetically engineered Kras(G12D) and Kras(G12D):Trp53(R172H) mouse models, pancreas-specific deletion of Yap halted the progression of early neoplastic lesions to PDAC without affecting normal pancreatic development and endocrine function. Although Yap was dispensable for acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM), an initial step in the progression to PDAC, Yap was critically required for the proliferation of mutant Kras or Kras:Trp53 neoplastic pancreatic ductal cells in culture and for their growth and progression to invasive PDAC in mice. Yap functioned as a critical transcriptional switch downstream of the oncogenic KRAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, promoting the expression of genes encoding secretory factors that cumulatively sustained neoplastic proliferation, a tumorigenic stromal response in the tumor microenvironment, and PDAC progression in Kras and Kras:Trp53 mutant pancreas tissue. Together, our findings identified Yap as a critical oncogenic KRAS effector and a promising therapeutic target for PDAC and possibly other types of KRAS-mutant cancers.
Project description:Endothelin-1 (ET-1) and its two receptors, endothelin receptor A (ET<sub>A</sub>R) and endothelin receptor B (ET<sub>B</sub>R) exhibit deregulated overexprerssion in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and pancreatitis. We examined the expression pattern of endothelin (ET) axis components in the murine models of chronic and acute inflammation in the presence or absence of oncogenic K-ras. While the expression of endothelin converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1), ET-1, ET<sub>A</sub>R and ET<sub>B</sub>R in the normal pancreas is restricted predominantly to the islet cells, progressive increase of ET receptors in ductal cells and stromal compartment is observed in the KC model (Pdx-1 Cre; K-ras<sup>G12D</sup>) of PDAC. In the murine pancreas harboring K-ras<sup>G12D</sup> mutation (KC mice), following acute inflammation induced by cerulein, increased ET<sub>A</sub>R and ET<sub>B</sub>R expression is observed in the amylase and CK19 double positive cells that represent cells undergoing pancreatic acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM). As compared to the wild type (WT) mice, cerulein treatment in KC mice resulted in significantly higher levels of ECE-1, ET-1, ET<sub>A</sub>R and ET<sub>B</sub>R, transcripts in the pancreas. Similarly, in response to cigarette smoke-induced chronic inflammation, the expression of ET axis components is significantly upregulated in the pancreas of KC mice as compared to the WT mice. In addition to the expression in the precursor pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasm (PanIN lesions) in cigarette smoke-exposure model and metaplastic ducts in cerulein-treatment model, ET<sub>A</sub>R and ET<sub>B</sub>R expression is also observed in infiltrating F4/80 positive macrophages and ?-SMA positive fibroblasts and high co-localization was seen in the presence of oncogenic K-ras. In conclusion, both chronic and acute pancreatic inflammation in the presence of oncogenic K-ras contribute to sustained upregulation of ET axis components in the ductal and stromal cells suggesting a potential role of ET axis in the initiation and progression of PDAC.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is still the Achilles heel in modern oncology, with an increasing incidence accompanied by a persisting high mortality. The developmental process of PDAC is thought to be stepwise via precursor lesions and sequential accumulation of mutations. Thereby, current sequencing studies recapitulate this genetic heterogeneity in PDAC and show besides a handful of driver mutations (KRAS, TP53) a plethora of passenger mutations that allow to define subtypes. However, modeling the mutations of interest and their effects is still challenging. Interestingly, organoids have the potential to recapitulate <i>in vitro</i>, the <i>in vivo</i> characteristics of the tissue they originate from. Here, we could establish and develop tools allowing us to isolate, culture, and genetically modify ductal mouse organoids. Transferred to known effectors in the IPMN-PDAC sequence, we could reveal significantly increased proliferative and self-renewal capacities for PTEN and RNF43 deficiency in the context of oncogenic KRAS<sup>G12D</sup> in mouse pancreatic organoids. Overall, we were able to obtain promising data centering ductal organoids in the focus of future PDAC research.
Project description:Pancreatic adenocarcinoma, one of the worst malignancies of the exocrine pancreas, is a solid tumor with increasing incidence and mortality in industrialized countries. This condition is usually driven by oncogenic KRAS point mutations and evolves into a highly aggressive metastatic carcinoma due to secondary gene mutations and unbalanced expression of genes involved in the specific signaling pathways. To examine in vivo the effects of KRAS(G12D) during pancreatic cancer progression and time correlation with cancer signaling pathway activities, we have generated a zebrafish model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma in which eGFP-KRAS(G12D) expression was specifically driven to the pancreatic tissue by using the GAL4/UAS conditional expression system. Outcrossing the inducible oncogenic KRAS(G12D) line with transgenic zebrafish reporters, harboring specific signaling responsive elements of transcriptional effectors, we were able to follow TGF?, Notch, Bmp and Shh activities during tumor development. Zebrafish transgenic lines expressing eGFP-KRAS(G12D) showed normal exocrine pancreas development until 3 weeks post fertilization (wpf). From 4 to 24 wpf we observed several degrees of acinar lesions, characterized by an increase in mesenchymal cells and mixed acinar/ductal features, followed by progressive bowel and liver infiltrations and, finally, highly aggressive carcinoma. Moreover, live imaging analysis of the exocrine pancreatic tissue revealed an increasing number of KRAS-positive cells and progressive activation of TGF? and Notch pathways. Increase in TGF?, following KRAS(G12D) activation, was confirmed in a concomitant model of medulloblastoma (MDB). Notch and Shh signaling activities during tumor onset were different between MDB and pancreatic adenocarcinoma, indicating a tissue-specific regulation of cell signaling pathways. Moreover, our results show that a living model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma joined with cell signaling reporters is a suitable tool for describing in vivo the signaling cascades and molecular mechanisms involved in tumor development and a potential platform to screen for novel oncostatic drugs.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is associated with metaplastic changes in the pancreas but the transcriptional program underlying these changes is incompletely understood. The zinc finger transcription factor, PRDM3, is lowly expressed in normal pancreatic acini and its expression increases during tumorigenesis. Although PRDM3 promotes proliferation and migration of PDAC cell lines, the role of PRDM3 during tumor initiation from pancreatic acinar cells in vivo is unclear. In this study, we showed that high levels of PRDM3 expression in human pancreas was associated with pancreatitis, and well-differentiated but not poorly differentiated carcinoma. We examined PRDM3 function in pancreatic acinar cells during tumor formation and pancreatitis by inactivating Prdm3 using a conditional allele (Ptf1aCreER;Prdm3flox/flox mice) in the context of oncogenic Kras expression and supraphysiological cerulein injections, respectively. In Prdm3-deficient mice, KrasG12D-driven preneoplastic lesions were more abundant and progressed to high-grade precancerous lesions more rapidly. This is consistent with our observations that low levels of PRDM3 in human PDAC was correlated significantly with poorer survival in patient. Moreover, loss of Prdm3 in acinar cells elevated exocrine injury, enhanced immune cell activation and infiltration, and greatly increased acinar-to-ductal cell reprogramming upon cerulein-induced pancreatitis. Whole transcriptome analyses of Prdm3 knockout acini revealed that pathways involved in inflammatory response and Hif-1 signaling were significantly upregulated in Prdm3-depleted acinar cells. Taken together, our results suggest that Prdm3 favors the maintenance of acinar cell homeostasis through modulation of their response to inflammation and oncogenic Kras activation, and thus plays a previously unexpected suppressive role during PDAC initiation.