Stromal Galectin-1 Promotes Colorectal Cancer Cancer-Initiating Cell Features and Disease Dissemination Through SOX9 and β-Catenin: Development of Niche-Based Biomarkers.
ABSTRACT: Over 90% of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients have mutations in the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, making the development of biomarkers difficult based on this critical oncogenic pathway. Recent studies demonstrate that CRC tumor niche-stromal cells can activate β-catenin in cancer-initiating cells (CICs), leading to disease progression. We therefore sought to elucidate the molecular interactions between stromal and CRC cells for the development of prognostically relevant biomarkers. Assessment of CIC induction and β-catenin activation in CRC cells with two human fibroblast cell-conditioned medium (CM) was performed with subsequent mass spectrometry (MS) analysis to identify the potential paracrine factors. In vitro assessment with the identified factor and in vivo validation using two mouse models of disease dissemination and metastasis was performed. Prediction of additional molecular players with Ingenuity pathway analysis was performed, with subsequent in vitro and translational validation using human CRC tissue microarray and multiple transcriptome databases for analysis. We found that fibroblast-CM significantly enhanced multiple CIC properties including sphere formation, β-catenin activation, and drug resistance in CRC cells. MS identified galectin-1 (Gal-1) to be the secreted factor and Gal-1 alone was sufficient to induce multiple CIC properties in vitro and disease progression in both mouse models. IPA predicted SOX9 to be involved in the Gal-1/β-catenin interactions, which was validated in vitro, with Gal-1 and/or SOX9-particularly Gal-1high/SOX9high samples-significantly correlating with multiple aspects of clinical disease progression. Stromal-secreted Gal-1 promotes CIC-features and disease dissemination in CRC through SOX9 and β-catenin, with Gal-1 and SOX9 having a strong clinical prognostic value.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents the third most common malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Although immunotherapy has taken center stage in mainstream oncology, it has shown limited clinical efficacy in CRC, generating an urgent need for discovery of new biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets. Galectin-1 (Gal-1), an endogenous glycan-binding protein, induces tolerogenic programs and contributes to tumor cell evasion of immune responses. Here, we investigated the relevance of Gal-1 in CRC and explored its modulatory activity within the CD8<sup>+</sup> regulatory T cell (Treg) compartment. Mice lacking Gal-1 (<i>Lgals1</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> ) developed a lower number of tumors and showed a decreased frequency of a particular population of CD8<sup>+</sup>CD122<sup>+</sup>PD-1<sup>+</sup> Tregs in the azoxymethane-dextran sodium sulfate model of colitis-associated CRC. Moreover, silencing of tumor-derived Gal-1 in the syngeneic CT26 CRC model resulted in reduced number and attenuated immunosuppressive capacity of CD8<sup>+</sup>CD122<sup>+</sup>PD-1<sup>+</sup> Tregs, leading to slower tumor growth. Moreover, stromal Gal-1 also influenced the fitness of CD8<sup>+</sup> Tregs, highlighting the contribution of both tumor and stromal-derived Gal-1 to this immunoregulatory effect. Finally, bioinformatic analysis of a colorectal adenocarcinoma from The Cancer Genome Atlas dataset revealed a particular signature characterized by high CD8<sup>+</sup> Treg score and elevated Gal-1 expression, which delineates poor prognosis in human CRC. Our findings identify CD8<sup>+</sup>CD122<sup>+</sup>PD-1<sup>+</sup> Tregs as a target of the immunoregulatory activity of Gal-1, suggesting a potential immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of CRC.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Cancer stem cell (CSC)-related chemoresistance leads to poor outcome of the patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). In this study, we identified the chemoresistance-relevant molecules and decipher the involved mechanisms to provide potential therapeutic target for CRC. We focused on Sec62, a novel target with significantly increased expression in chemoresistant CRC tissues, and further investigated its role in the progression of CRC.<h4>Methods</h4>Through analyzing the differentially-expressed genes between chemoresistant and chemosensitive CRCs, we selected Sec62 as a novel chemoresistance-related target in CRC. The expression and clinical significance of Sec62 were determined by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry in tissues and cell lines of CRC. The roles of Sec62 in drug resistance, stemness and tumorigenesis were evaluated in vitro and in vivo using functional experiments. GST pull-down, western blot, coimmunoprecipitation and Me-RIP assays were performed to further explore the downstream molecular mechanisms.<h4>Results</h4>Sec62 upregulation was associated with the chemoresistance of CRC and poor outcome of CRC patients. Depletion of Sec62 sensitized CRC cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. Sec62 promoted the stemness of CRC cells through activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Mechanistically, Sec62 bound to β-catenin and inhibited the degradation of β-catenin. Sec62 competitively disrupted the interaction between β-catenin and APC to inhibit the β-catenin destruction complex assembly. Moreover, Sec62 expression was upregulated by the m<sup>6</sup>A-mediated stabilization of Sec62 mRNA.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Sec62 upregulated by the METTL3-mediated m<sup>6</sup>A modification promotes the stemness and chemoresistance of CRC by binding to β-catenin and enhancing Wnt signalling. Thus, m<sup>6</sup>A modification-Sec62-β-catenin molecular axis might act as therapeutic targets in improving treatment of CRC.
Project description:Elevated Wnt/β-catenin signaling has been commonly associated with tumorigenesis especially colorectal cancer (CRC). Here, an MST4-pβ-catenin<sup>Thr40</sup> signaling axis essential for intestinal stem cell (ISC) homeostasis and CRC development is uncovered. In response to Wnt3a stimulation, the kinase MST4 directly phosphorylates β-catenin at Thr40 to block its Ser33 phosphorylation by GSK3β. Thus, MST4 mediates an active process that prevents β-catenin from binding to and being degraded by β-TrCP, leading to accumulation and full activation of β-catenin. Depletion of MST4 causes loss of ISCs and inhibits CRC growth. Mice bearing either MST4<sup>T178E</sup> mutation with constitutive kinase activity or β-catenin<sup>T40D</sup> mutation mimicking MST4-mediated phosphorylation show overly increased ISCs/CSCs and exacerbates CRC. Furthermore, the MST4-pβ-catenin<sup>Thr40</sup> axis is upregulated and correlated with poor prognosis of human CRC. Collectively, this work establishes a previously undefined machinery for β-catenin activation, and further reveals its function in stem cell and tumor biology, opening new opportunities for targeted therapy of CRC.
Project description:Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) differentiation into different lineages is precisely controlled by signaling pathways. Given that protein kinases play a crucial role in signal transduction, here we show that Microtubule Associated Serine/Threonine Kinase Family Member 4 (Mast4) serves as an important mediator of TGF-β and Wnt signal transduction in regulating chondro-osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. Suppression of Mast4 by TGF-β1 led to increased Sox9 stability by blocking Mast4-induced Sox9 serine 494 phosphorylation and subsequent proteasomal degradation, ultimately enhancing chondrogenesis of MSCs. On the other hand, Mast4 protein, which stability was enhanced by Wnt-mediated inhibition of GSK-3β and subsequent Smurf1 recruitment, promoted β-catenin nuclear localization and Runx2 activity, increasing osteogenesis of MSCs. Consistently, Mast4<sup>-/-</sup> mice demonstrated excessive cartilage synthesis, while exhibiting osteoporotic phenotype. Interestingly, Mast4 depletion in MSCs facilitated cartilage formation and regeneration in vivo. Altogether, our findings uncover essential roles of Mast4 in determining the fate of MSC development into cartilage or bone.
Project description:SOX9 inactivation is frequent in colorectal cancer (CRC) due to SOX9 gene mutations and/or to ectopic expression of MiniSOX9, a dominant negative inhibitor of SOX9. In the present study, we report a heterozygous L142P inactivating mutation of SOX9 in the DLD-1 CRC cell line and we demonstrate that the conditional expression of a wild type SOX9 in this cell line inhibits cell growth, clonal capacity and colonosphere formation while decreasing both the activity of the oncogenic Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway and the expression of the c-myc oncogene. This activity does not require SOX9 transcriptional function but, rather, involves an interaction of SOX9 with nuclear ß-catenin. Furthermore, we report that SOX9 inhibits tumor development when conditionally expressed in CRC cells injected either subcutaneous or intraperitoneous in BALB/c mice as an abdominal metastasis model. These observations argue in favor of a tumor suppressor activity for SOX9. As an siRNA targeting SOX9 paradoxically also inhibits DLD-1 and HCT116 CRC cell growth, we conclude that there is a critical level of endogenous active SOX9 needed to maintain CRC cell growth.
Project description:APC mutation activation of Wnt/β-catenin drives initiation of colorectal carcinogenesis (CRC). Additional factors potentiate β-catenin activation to promote CRC. Western diets are enriched in linoleic acid (LA); LA-enriched diets promote chemically induced CRC in rodents. 15-Lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1), the main LA-metabolizing enzyme, is transcriptionally silenced during CRC. Whether LA and 15-LOX-1 affect Wnt/β-catenin signaling is unclear. We report that high dietary LA promotes CRC in mice treated with azoxymethane or with an intestinally targeted Apc mutation (Apc<sup>Δ580</sup>) by upregulating Wnt receptor LRP5 protein expression and β-catenin activation. 15-LOX-1 transgenic expression in mouse intestinal epithelial cells suppresses LRP5 protein expression, β-catenin activation, and CRC. 15-LOX-1 peroxidation of LA in phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphates (PI3P_LA) leads to PI3P_13-HODE formation, which decreases PI3P binding to SNX17 and LRP5 and inhibits LRP5 recycling from endosomes to the plasma membrane, thereby increasing LRP5 lysosomal degradation. This regulatory mechanism of LRP5/Wnt/β-catenin signaling could be therapeutically targeted to suppress CRC.
Project description:Chondrocyte fate determination and maintenance requires Sox9, an intrinsic transcription factor, but is inhibited by Wnt/beta-catenin signaling activated by extrinsic Wnt ligands. Here we explored the underlying molecular mechanism by which Sox9 antagonizes the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in chondrocyte differentiation. We found that Sox9 employed two distinct mechanisms to inhibit Wnt/beta-catenin signaling: the Sox9 N terminus is necessary and sufficient to promote beta-catenin degradation, whereas the C terminus is required to inhibit beta-catenin transcriptional activity without affecting its stability. Sox9 binds to beta-catenin and components of the beta-catenin "destruction complex," glycogen synthase kinase 3 and beta-transducin repeat containing protein, to promote their nuclear localization. Independent of its DNA binding ability, nuclear localization of Sox9 is both necessary and sufficient to enhance beta-catenin phosphorylation and its subsequent degradation. Thus, one mechanism whereby Sox9 regulates chondrogenesis is to promote efficient beta-catenin phosphorylation in the nucleus. This mechanism may be broadly employed by other intrinsic cell fate determining transcription factors to promptly turn off extrinsic inhibitory Wnt signaling mediated by beta-catenin.
Project description:AIM: Galectin-3 (Gal-3) is a member of the carbohydrate-binding protein family that contributes to neoplastic transformation, tumor survival, angiogenesis, and metastasis. The aim of this study is to investigate the role of Gal-3 in human tongue cancer progression. METHODS: Human tongue cancer cell lines (SCC-4 and CAL27) were transfected with a small-interfering RNA against Gal-3 (Gal-3-siRNA). The migration and invasion of the cells were examined using a scratch assay and BD BioCoat Matrigel Invasion Chamber, respectively. The mRNA and protein levels of β-catenin, Akt/pAkt, GSK-3β/pGSK-3β, MMP-9 in the cells were measured using RT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively. RESULTS: Transient silencing of Gal-3 gene for 48 h significantly suppressed the migration and invasion of both SCC-4 and CAL27 cells. Silencing of Gal-3 gene significantly decreased the protein level of β-catenin, leaving the mRNA level of β-catenin unaffected. Furthermore, silencing Gal-3 gene significantly decreased the levels of phosphorylated Akt and GSK-3β, and suppressed the mRNA and protein levels of MMP-9 in the cells. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that Gal-3 mediates the migration and invasion of tongue cancer cells in vitro via regulating the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and Akt phosphorylation.
Project description:Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor (LGR5 or GPR49) potentiates canonical Wnt/β-catenin signalling and is a marker of normal stem cells in several tissues, including the intestine. Consistent with stem cell potential, single isolated LGR5<sup>+</sup> cells from the gut generate self-organising crypt/villus structures in vitro termed organoids or 'mini-guts', which accurately model the parent tissue. The well characterised deregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signalling that occurs during the adenoma-carcinoma sequence in colorectal cancer (CRC) renders LGR5 an interesting therapeutic target. Furthermore, recent studies demonstrating that CRC tumours contain LGR5<sup>+</sup> subsets and retain a degree of normal tissue architecture has heightened translational interest. Such reports fuel hope that specific subpopulations or molecules within a tumour may be therapeutically targeted to prevent relapse and induce long-term remissions. Despite these observations, many studies within this field have produced conflicting and confusing results with no clear consensus on the therapeutic value of LGR5. This review will recap the various oncogenic and tumour suppressive roles that have been described for the LGR5 molecule in CRC. It will further highlight recent studies indicating the plasticity or redundancy of LGR5<sup>+</sup> cells in intestinal cancer progression and assess the overall merit of therapeutically targeting LGR5 in CRC.
Project description:Differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into insulin-producing stem cell-derived beta cells harbors great potential for research and therapy of diabetes. SOX9 plays a crucial role during development of the pancreas and particularly in the development of insulin-producing cells as SOX9<sup>+</sup> cells form the source for NEUROG3<sup>+</sup> endocrine progenitor cells. For the purpose of easy monitoring of differentiation efficiencies into pancreatic progenitors and insulin-producing cells, we generated new reporter lines by knocking in a P2A-H-2K<sup>k</sup>-F2A-GFP2 reporter gene into the SOX9-locus and a P2A-mCherry reporter gene into the INS-locus mediated by CRISPR/CAS9-technology. The knock-ins enabled co-expression of the endogenous and reporter genes and report on the endogenous gene expression. Furthermore, FACS and MACS enabled the purification of pancreatic progenitors and insulin-producing cells. Using these cell lines, we established a new differentiation protocol geared towards SOX9<sup>+</sup> cells to efficiently drive human pluripotent stem cells into glucose-responsive beta cells. Our new protocol offers an alternative route towards stem cell-derived beta cells, pointing out the importance of Wnt/beta-catenin inhibition and the efficacy of EGF for the development of pancreatic progenitors, as well as the significance of 3D culture for the functionality of the generated beta cells.