Cancer-initiating cells from colorectal cancer patients escape from T cell-mediated immunosurveillance in vitro through membrane-bound IL-4.
ABSTRACT: Cancer-initiating cells (CICs) that are responsible for tumor initiation, propagation, and resistance to standard therapies have been isolated from human solid tumors, including colorectal cancer (CRC). The aim of this study was to obtain an immunological profile of CRC-derived CICs and to identify CIC-associated target molecules for T cell immunotherapy. We have isolated cells with CIC properties along with their putative non-CIC autologous counterparts from human primary CRC tissues. These CICs have been shown to display "tumor-initiating/stemness" properties, including the expression of CIC-associated markers (e.g., CD44, CD24, ALDH-1, EpCAM, Lgr5), multipotency, and tumorigenicity following injection in immunodeficient mice. The immune profile of these cells was assessed by phenotype analysis and by in vitro stimulation of PBMCs with CICs as a source of Ags. CICs, compared with non-CIC counterparts, showed weak immunogenicity. This feature correlated with the expression of high levels of immunomodulatory molecules, such as IL-4, and with CIC-mediated inhibitory activity for anti-tumor T cell responses. CIC-associated IL-4 was found to be responsible for this negative function, which requires cell-to-cell contact with T lymphocytes and which is impaired by blocking IL-4 signaling. In addition, the CRC-associated Ag COA-1 was found to be expressed by CICs and to represent, in an autologous setting, a target molecule for anti-tumor T cells. Our study provides relevant information that may contribute to designing new immunotherapy protocols to target CICs in CRC patients.
Project description:Many solid cancers display cellular hierarchies with self-renewing, tumorigenic stemlike cells, or cancer-initiating cells (CICs) at the apex. Whereas CICs often exhibit relative resistance to conventional cancer therapies, they also receive critical maintenance cues from supportive stromal elements that also respond to cytotoxic therapies. To interrogate the interplay between chemotherapy and CICs, we investigated cellular heterogeneity in human colorectal cancers. Colorectal CICs were resistant to conventional chemotherapy in cell-autonomous assays, but CIC chemoresistance was also increased by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Comparative analysis of matched colorectal cancer specimens from patients before and after cytotoxic treatment revealed a significant increase in CAFs. Chemotherapy-treated human CAFs promoted CIC self-renewal and in vivo tumor growth associated with increased secretion of specific cytokines and chemokines, including interleukin-17A (IL-17A). Exogenous IL-17A increased CIC self-renewal and invasion, and targeting IL-17A signaling impaired CIC growth. Notably, IL-17A was overexpressed by colorectal CAFs in response to chemotherapy with expression validated directly in patient-derived specimens without culture. These data suggest that chemotherapy induces remodeling of the tumor microenvironment to support the tumor cellular hierarchy through secreted factors. Incorporating simultaneous disruption of CIC mechanisms and interplay with the tumor microenvironment could optimize therapeutic targeting of cancer.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>It has been proposed that cancer establishment, maintenance, and recurrence may be attributed to a unique population of tumor cells termed cancer-initiating cells (CICs) that may include characteristics of putative cancer stem cell-like cells. Studies in lung cancer have shown that such cells can be enriched and propagated in vitro by culturing tumor cells in serum-free suspension as tumorspheres. CICs have been characterized for their phenotype, stem cell-like qualities, and their role in establishing tumor and maintaining tumor growth. Less is known about the interaction of CICs with the immune system.<h4>Methods</h4>We established CIC-enriched tumorspheres from murine TC-1 lung cancer cells, expressing human papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16) E6/E7 antigens, and evaluated their susceptibility to antitumor immune responses both in vitro and in vivo.<h4>Results</h4>TC-1 CICs demonstrated reduced expression of surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-I molecules compared to non-CICs. We similarly determined decreased MHC-I expression in five of six human lung cancer cell lines cultured under conditions enriching for CICs. In vivo, TC-1 cells enriched for CICs were resistant to human papillomavirus 16 E6/E7 peptide vaccine-mediated killing. We found that vaccinated mice challenged with CIC enriched tumorspheres demonstrated shorter survivals and showed significantly fewer CD8<sup>+</sup> tumor infiltrating lymphocytes compared to CIC non-enriched challenged mice. Furthermore, cultured cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) from vaccinated mice demonstrated reduced capacity to lyse TC-1 cells enriched for CICs compared to non-enriched TC-1 cells. Following treatment with IFN-γ, both CIC enriched and non-enriched TC-1 cells expressed similar levels of MHC-I, and the increased MHC-I expression on CICs resulted in greater CTL-mediated tumor lysis and improved tumor-free survival in mice.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These results suggest that the attenuated expression of MHC-I molecules by CICs represents a potential strategy of CICs to escape immune recognition, and that the development of successful immunotherapy strategies targeting CICs may decrease their resistance to T cell-mediated immune detection by enhancing CIC MHC-I expression.
Project description:Cancer initiating cells (CICs) have been the focus of recent anti-cancer therapies, exhibiting strong invasion capability via potentially enhanced ability to remodel extracellular matrices (ECM). We have identified CICs in a human breast cancer cell line, MX-1, and developed a xenograft model in SCID mice. We investigated the CICs' matrix-remodeling effects using Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) microscopy to identify potential phenotypic signatures of the CIC-rich tumors. The isolated CICs exhibit higher proliferation, drug efflux and drug resistant properties in vitro; were more tumorigenic than non-CICs, resulting in more and larger tumors in the xenograft model. The CIC-rich tumors have less collagen in the tumor interior than in the CIC-poor tumors supporting the idea that the CICs can remodel the collagen more effectively. The collagen fibers were preferentially aligned perpendicular to the CIC-rich tumor boundary while parallel to the CIC-poor tumor boundary suggesting more invasive behavior of the CIC-rich tumors. These findings would provide potential translational values in quantifying and monitoring CIC-rich tumors in future anti-cancer therapies. CIC-rich tumors remodel the collagen matrix more than CIC-poor tumors.
Project description:Cervical cancer is a major cause of cancer death in females worldwide. Cervical cancer stem-like cells (CSCs)/cancer-initiating cells (CICs) are resistant to conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and CSCs/CICs are thought to be responsible for recurrence. Eradication of CSCs/CICs is thus essential to cure cervical cancer. In this study, we isolated cervical CSCs/CICs by sphere culture, and we identified a cancer testis (CT) antigen, CTCFL/BORIS, that is expressed in cervical CSCs/CICs. BORIS has 23 mRNA isoform variants classified by 6 subfamilies (sfs), and they encode 17 different BORIS peptides. BORIS sf1 and sf4 are expressed in both CSCs/CICs and non-CSCs/CICs, whereas BORIS sf6 is expressed only in CSCs/CICs. Overexpression of BORIS sf6 in cervical cancer cells increased sphere formation and tumor-initiating ability compared with those in control cells, whereas overexpression of BORIS sf1 and BORIS sf4 resulted in only slight increases. Thus, BORIS sf6 is a cervical CSC/CIC-specific subfamily and has a role in the maintenance of cervical CSCs/CICs. BORIS sf6 contains a specific c-terminal domain (C34), and we identified a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2-restricted antigenic peptide, BORIS C34_24(9) encoded by BORIS sf6. A BORIS C34_24(9)-specific cytotoxic T cell (CTL) clone showed cytotoxicity for BORIS sf6-overexpressing cervical cancer cells. Furthermore, the CTL clone significantly suppressed sphere formation of CaSki cells. Taken together, the results indicate that the CT antigen BORIS sf6 is specifically expressed in cervical CSCs/CICs, that BORIS sf6 has a role in the maintenance of CSCs/CICs, and that BORIS C34_24(9) peptide is a promising candidate for cervical CSC/CIC-targeting immunotherapy.
Project description:Colon cancer comprises a small population of cancer initiating stem cells (CIC) that is responsible for tumor maintenance and resistance to anti-cancer therapies, possibly allowing for tumor recapitulation once treatment stops. Combinations of immune-based therapies with chemotherapy and other anti-tumor agents may be of significant clinical benefit in the treatment of colon cancer. However, cellular immune-based therapies have not been experimented yet in the population of colon CICs. Here, we demonstrate that treatment with low concentrations of commonly used chemotherapeutic agents, 5-fluorouracyl and doxorubicin, sensitize colon CICs to V?9V?2 T cell cytotoxicity. V?9V?2 T cell cytotoxicity was largely mediated by TRAIL interaction with DR5, following NKG2D-dependent recognition of colon CIC targets. We conclude that in vivo activation of V?9V?2 T cells or adoptive administration of ex-vivo expanded V?9V?2 T cells at suitable intervals after chemotherapy may substantially increase anti-tumor activities and represent a novel strategy for colon cancer immunotherapy.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a mortal disease due to treatment resistance, recurrence and distant metastasis. Emerging evidence has revealed that a small sub-population of cancer cells termed cancer stem cells (CSCs)/ cancer-initiating cells (CICs) is endowed with high levels of tumor-initiating ability, self-renewal ability and differentiation ability and is responsible for treatment resistance, recurrence and distant metastasis. Eradication of CSCs/CICs is essential to improve current treatments. However, the molecular mechanisms by which CSCs/CICs are maintained are still elusive. In this study, we aimed to determine the molecular mechanisms by which colorectal (CR)-CSCs/CICs in are maintained human primary CRC cells. CR-CSCs/CICs were isolated by sphere-culture and the ALDEFLUOR assay, and transcriptome analysis revealed that the gene ST6 N-Acetylgalactosaminide Alpha-2,6-Sialyltransferase 1 (ST6GALNAC1) was expressed at high levels in CR-CSCs/CICs. Overexpression of ST6GALNAC1 enhanced the expression of sialyl-Tn (STn) antigen, which is carried by the CSC marker CD44, and increased the sphere-forming ability and resistance to a chemotherapeutic reagent. The opposite phenomena were observed by gene knockdown using siRNA. Furthermore, the Akt pathway was activated in ST6GANAC1-overexpressed cells, and activation of the pathway was cancelled by gene knockdown of galectin-3. The results indicate that ST6GALNAC1 has a role in the maintenance of CR-CSCs/CICs by activating the Akt pathway in cooperation with galectin-3 and that ST6GalNAC1 (or STn antigen) might be a reasonable molecule for CSC/CIC-targeting therapy.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Recent data indicate a hierarchical organization of many solid cancers, including breast cancer, with a small number of cancer initiating cells (CICs) that have the ability to self-renew and exhibit multi-lineage potency. We, and others, have demonstrated that CICs in breast cancer and glioma are relatively resistant to ionizing radiation if compared to their non-tumorigenic counterparts. However, the extent of the remaining self-renewing capacity of CICs after fractions of radiation is currently unknown. We hypothesized that CICs, in contrast to their non-tumorigenic counterparts, not only survive fractions of ionizing radiation but also retain the CIC phenotype as defined by operational means.<h4>Methods</h4>We used two marker systems to identify breast CICs (CD24-/low/CD44high, or lack of proteasome activity) and performed sphere-forming assays after multiple clinical fractions of radiation. Lineage tracking was performed by membrane staining. Cell cycle distribution and RNA content were assessed by flow cytometry and senescence was assessed via beta-galactosidase staining.<h4>Results</h4>We demonstrated that irradiated CICs survived and retained their self-renewal capacity for at least four generations. We show that fractionated radiation not only spared CICs but also mobilized them from a quiescent/G0 phase of the cell cycle into actively cycling cells, while the surviving non-tumorigenic cells were driven into senescence.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The breast CIC population retains increased self-renewal capacity over several generations and therefore, we conclude that increases in the number of CICs after sublethal doses of radiation have potential clinical importance. Prevention of this process may lead to improved clinical outcome.
Project description:Cancer stem-like cells (CSCs)/cancer-initiating cells (CICs) are defined as a small population of cancer cells that have self-renewal ability, differentiation ability and high tumor-initiating ability. CSCs/CICs are resistant to cancer therapies including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Therefore, CSCs/CICs are thought to be responsible for cancer recurrence and distant metastasis after treatment. However, the molecular mechanisms of CSCs/CICs are still elusive. In this study, we isolated CSCs/CICs as side population (SP) cells from lung carcinoma, colon carcinoma and breast carcinoma cells and analyzed the molecular mechanisms of CSCs/CICs. cDNA micro-array screening and RT-PCR analysis revealed that sperm mitochondria-associated cysteine-rich protein (SMCP) is ectopically expressed in SP cells. 5'-Rapid amplification of cDNA end (RACE) analysis revealed that the SMCP transcript in SP cells was a variant form (termed vt2) which is composed from only one exon. SMCP vt2 was detected in only cancer cells, whereas the wild-type (vt1) form of SMCP was expressed in the testis. SMCP was shown to have a role in tumor initiation by SMCP overexpression and SMCP knockdown using siRNAs in lung cancer cells. Taken together, the initiation results indicate that an ectopically expressed variant form of SMCP has a role in tumor initiation of CSCs/CICs and that the variant form of SMCP might be a novel CSC/CIC marker and a potential and promising target of CSC/CIC-targeting therapy.
Project description: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. <i>In vitro</i> assessment with the identified factor and <i>in vivo</i> 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 <i>in vitro</i> 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 <i>in vitro</i> and disease progression in both mouse models. IPA predicted SOX9 to be involved in the Gal-1/β-catenin interactions, which was validated <i>in vitro</i>, with Gal-1 and/or SOX9-particularly Gal-1<sup>high</sup>/SOX9<sup>high</sup> 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:Tumor stem cells or cancer initiating cells (CICs) are single tumor cells that can regenerate a tumor or a metastasis. The identification and isolation of CICs remain challenging, and a variety of putative CIC markers have been described. We hypothesized that cell lines of the NCI60 panel contain CICs and express putative CIC markers. We investigated expression of putative CIC surface markers (CD15, CD24, CD44, CD133, CD166, CD326, PgP) and the activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase in the NCI60 panel singly and in combination by six-color fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis. All investigated markers were expressed in cell lines of the NCI60 panel. Expression levels of individual markers varied widely across the 60 cell lines, and neither single marker expression nor simple combinations nor co-expression patterns correlated with the colony-formation capacity of cell lines. Rather, marker expression patterns correlated with tumor types in multidimensional analysis. Whereas some expression patterns correlated with tumor entities such as basal breast cancer, other expression patterns occurred across different tumor types and largely related to expression of a more mesenchymal phenotype in individual breast, lung, renal, and melanoma cell lines. Our data for the first time demonstrate that tumor cell lines display CIC markers in a complex pattern that relates to the tumor type. The complexity and tumor type specificity of marker display creates challenges for the application of cell sorting and other approaches to isolation of putative tumor stem cell populations and suggests that therapeutic targeting strategies will need to take this into account.