Project description:Cancer cells frequently boost nucleotide metabolism (NM) to support their increased proliferation, but the consequences of elevated NM on tumor de-differentiation are mostly unexplored. Here, we identified a role for thymidylate synthase (TS), a NM enzyme and established drug target, in cancer cell de-differentiation and investigated its clinical significance in breast cancer (BC). In vitro, TS knockdown increased the population of CD24+ differentiated cells, and attenuated migration and sphere-formation. RNA-seq profiling indicated repression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) signature genes upon TS knockdown, and TS-deficient cells showed an increased ability to invade and metastasize in vivo, consistent with the occurrence of a partial EMT phenotype. Mechanistically, TS enzymatic activity was found essential for maintenance of the EMT/stem-like state by fueling a dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase-dependent pyrimidine catabolism. In patient tissues, TS levels were found significantly higher in poorly differentiated and in triple negative BC, and strongly correlated with worse prognosis. The present study provides the rationale to study in-depth the role of NM at the crossroads of proliferation and differentiation, and depicts new avenues for the design of novel drug combinations for the treatment of BC.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is insensitive to the most effective therapies for other breast cancers, including endocrine and Her2-directed therapies, thus the lack of specific treatments prompted us to search for new TNBC-associated molecules to be used as targets for cancer therapy. As patients with TNBC usually experience a quicker relapse and metastatic progression compared to other breast cancer subtypes, we hypothesized that cancer stem cells (CSC) could play a central role in TNBC. We thus directed our focus on genes differentially expressed between CSC and differentiated cancer cells of TNBC cell lines. RESULTS: We established tumorsphere cultures from mouse and human mammary cancer cell lines to enrich the CSC population. RNA-Seq was used to identify differences in gene expression between tumorspheres and their monolayer counterparts. Seventy-four transcripts were found up-regulated in the tumorspheres, while forty-two genes were down-regulated. Enrichment analysis of biological processes showed an up-regulation in genes involved in regulation of apoptosis in tumorspheres, and a down-regulation in genes involved in lipid metabolism and cell cycle regulation. By focusing on up-regulated genes coding for cell membrane-associated proteins, we selected Teneurin-4 (TENM4) as a candidate for further studies. Meta-analysis of publicly available datasets revealed that TENM4 mRNA is up-regulated in both lobular and ductal invasive carcinoma specimens compared to normal breast, and that high expression of TENM4 in TNBC patients shows a trend of correlation with a shorter relapse-free survival. 4T1 tumorspheres treated with a siRNA specific to TENM4 showed a decrease in TENM4 mRNA and protein levels, which was reflected by a significant impairment of tumorsphere-forming ability. TENM4 silencing also led to a decrease in Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) phosphorylation, which has been previously linked to CSC biology, thus strengthening the possible link between TENM4 and a CSC-like phenotype. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our results indicate that the stem-like status of TNBC cells is accompanied by altered regulation of apoptosis, cell cycle and lipid metabolism pathways. Furthermore, we identified TENM4 as a potential novel player in CSC biology, and its potential role as a novel target to improve the outcome of TNBC patients in the future. Overall design: 4T1 and HCC1806 cell lines as model for TNBC in mouse and human, respectively. Based on culture conditions previously established for these and other breast cancer cell lines, we successfully generated tumorspheres from the parental cells. For both cell lines three replicates were done for the cell grown in RPMI-1640 supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS, Sigma-Aldrich) and Penicillin/Streptomycin solution at 1x dilution (Sigma-Aldrich) (bulk), and those grown in DMEM/Nutrient Mixture F-12 Ham (Sigma-Aldrich) supplemented with 0.4% bovine serum albumin (BSA, Sigma-Aldrich), 20 ng/mL bFGF (PeproTech EC Ltd., London, UK), 20 ng/mL EGF (Sigma-Aldrich) and 5 µg/mL insulin (Sigma-Aldrich). (spheroids)
Project description:Surgery followed by a chemotherapy agent is the first-line treatment for breast cancer patients. Nevertheless, new targets are required for women with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in order to improve the treatment of this aggressive cancer subtype. Multiple pro-inflammatory molecules including lipid-based substances such as sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) promote cancer progression. In this preclinical study, we aim to investigate the efficacy of Fingolimod, an inhibitor of S1P / S1P receptors axis, already approved as an immunomodulator in multiple sclerosis. The impact of Fingolimod was analyzed using in vitro 2D and 3D cell survival analysis and in vivo orthotopic graft models, using mouse and human TNBC cells implanted in immunocompetent or immunodeficient mice, respectively. Resection of the tumor primary mass was also performed to mimic the clinical standard of care. We demonstrated that Fingolimod repressed tumor cell survival in vitro. We also showed in preclinical mouse TNBC models that Fingolimod repressed tumor progression and liver and spleen metastases without apparent adverse effects on the animals. Our data indicate that Fingolimod induces tumor cells apoptosis and thereby represses tumor progression. Globally, our data suggest that Fingolimod merits further evaluation as a potential therapeutic opportunity for TNBC.
Project description:Triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) account for 15% of all breast cancers, and represent one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, exhibiting short relapse-free survival. In contrast to other breast cancer subtypes, the absence of knowledge about the etiopathogenic alterations that cause TNBCs force the use of chemotherapeutics to treat these tumors. Because of this, efforts have been devoted with the aim of incorporating novel therapies into the clinical setting. Kinases play important roles in the pathophysiology of several tumors, including TNBC. Since expression of the MAP kinase ERK5 has been linked to patient outcome in breast cancer, we analyzed the potential value of its targeting in TNBC. ERK5 was frequently overexpressed and active in samples from patients with TNBC, as well as in explants from mice carrying genetically-defined TNBC tumors. Moreover, expression of ERK5 was linked to a worse prognosis in TNBC patients. Knockdown experiments demonstrated that ERK5 supported proliferation of TNBC cells. Pharmacological inhibition of ERK5 with TG02, a clinical stage inhibitor which targets ERK5 and other kinases, inhibited cell proliferation by blocking passage of cells through G1 and G2, and also triggered apoptosis in certain TNBC cell lines. TG02 had significant antitumor activity in a TNBC xenograft model in vivo, and also augmented the activity of chemotherapeutic agents commonly used to treat TNBC. Together, these data indicate that ERK5 targeting may represent a valid strategy against TNBC, and support the development of trials aimed at evaluating the clinical effectiveness of drugs that block this kinase.
Project description:Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) is a transcriptional regulator involved in embryonic development and cancer progression. ZEB1 induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Triple-negative human breast cancers express high ZEB1 mRNA levels and exhibit features of EMT. In the human triple-negative breast cancer cell model Hs578T, ZEB1 associates with almost 2,000 genes, representing many cellular functions, including cell polarity regulation (DLG2 and FAT3). By introducing a CRISPR-Cas9-mediated 30?bp deletion into the ZEB1 second exon, we observed reduced migratory and anchorage-independent growth capacity of these tumor cells. Transcriptomic analysis of control and ZEB1 knockout cells, revealed 1,372 differentially expressed genes. The TIMP metallopeptidase inhibitor 3 and the teneurin transmembrane protein 2 genes showed increased expression upon loss of ZEB1, possibly mediating pro-tumorigenic actions of ZEB1. This work provides a resource for regulators of cancer progression that function under the transcriptional control of ZEB1. The data confirm that removing a single EMT transcription factor, such as ZEB1, is not sufficient for reverting the triple-negative mesenchymal breast cancer cells into more differentiated, epithelial-like clones, but can reduce tumorigenic potential, suggesting that not all pro-tumorigenic actions of ZEB1 are linked to the EMT.
Project description:Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) lack ER, PR and her2 receptors that are targets of common breast cancer therapies with poor prognosis due to their high rates of metastasis and chemoresistance. Based on our previous studies that epigenetic silencing of a potential metastasis suppressor, arrestin domain-containing 3 (ARRDC3), is linked to the aggressive nature of TNBCs, we identified a sub-group of tumor suppressing miRNAs whose expressions were significantly up-regulated by ARRDC3 over-expression in TNBC cells. Among these tumor suppressing miRs, we found that miR-489 is most anti-proliferative in TNBC cells. miR-489 also blocked DNA damaging responses (DDRs) in TNBC cells. To define the mechanism by which miR-489 inhibits TNBC cell functions, we screened the potential target genes of miR-489 and identified MDC-1 and SUZ-12 as novel target genes of miR-489 in TNBC cells. To further exploit the therapeutic potentials of miR-489 in TNBC models, we chemically modified the guide strand of miR-489 (CMM489) by replacing Uracil with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) so that tumor suppressor (miR-489) and DNA damaging (5-FU) components are combined into a single agent as a novel drug candidate for TNBCs. Our studies demonstrated that CMM489 shows superior effects over miR-489 or 5-FU in inhibition of TNBC cell proliferation and tumor progression, suggesting its therapeutic efficacy in TNBC models.
Project description:Protein Kinase D1 (PKD1) is a serine/threonine kinase encoded by the PRKD1 gene. PKD1 has been previously shown to be a prognostic factor in ER?+ tamoxifen-resistant breast tumors and PKD1 overexpression confers estrogen independence to ER?+ MCF7 cells. In the present study, our goal was to determine whether PKD1 is a prognostic factor and/or a relevant therapeutic target in breast cancer. We analyzed PRKD1 mRNA levels in 527 primary breast tumors. We found that high PRKD1 mRNA levels were significantly and independently associated with a low metastasis-free survival in the whole breast cancer population and in the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype specifically. High PRKD1 mRNA levels were also associated with a low overall survival in TNBC. We identified novel PKD1 inhibitors and assessed their antitumor activity in vitro in TNBC cell lines and in vivo in a TNBC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model. Pharmacological inhibition and siRNA-mediated depletion of PKD1 reduced colony formation in MDA-MB-436 TNBC cells. PKD1 inhibition also reduced tumor growth in vivo in a TNBC PDX model. Together, these results establish PKD1 as a poor prognostic factor and a potential therapeutic target in TNBC.
Project description:Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most difficult subtype of breast cancer to treat due to a paucity of effective targeted therapies. Many studies have reported that breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) are enriched in TNBC and are responsible for chemoresistance and metastasis. In this study, we identify LRP8 as a novel positive regulator of BCSCs in TNBC. LRP8 is highly expressed in TNBC compared to other breast cancer subtypes and its genomic locus is amplified in 24% of TNBC tumors. Knockdown of LRP8 in TNBC cell lines inhibits Wnt/?-catenin signaling, decreases BCSCs, and suppresses tumorigenic potential in xenograft models. LRP8 knockdown also induces a more differentiated, luminal-epithelial phenotype and thus sensitizes the TNBC cells to chemotherapy. Together, our study highlights LRP8 as a novel therapeutic target for TNBC as inhibition of LRP8 can attenuate Wnt/?-catenin signaling to suppress BCSCs.
Project description:Cancer cells frequently boost nucleotide metabolism (NM) to support their increased proliferation, but the consequences of elevated NM on tumor de-differentiation are mostly unexplored. Here, we identified a role for thymidylate synthase (TS), a NM enzyme and established drug target, in cancer cell de-differentiation and investigated its clinical significance in breast cancer (BC). In vitro, TS knockdown increased the population of CD24+ differentiated cells, and attenuated migration and sphere-formation. RNA-seq profiling indicated a repression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) signature genes upon TS knockdown, and TS-deficient cells showed an increased ability to invade and metastasize in vivo, consistent with the occurrence of a partial EMT phenotype. Mechanistically, TS enzymatic activity was found essential for the maintenance of the EMT/stem-like state by fueling a dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase – dependent pyrimidine catabolism. In patient tissues, TS levels were found significantly higher in poorly differentiated and in triple negative BC, and strongly correlated with worse prognosis. The present study provides the rationale to study in-depth the role of NM at the crossroads of proliferation and differentiation, and depicts new avenues for the design of novel drug combinations for the treatment of BC Overall design: Gene expression analysis by RNAseq in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cell Line MDA-MB-231 with knock down of Thymidylate Synthase and scrambled pLKO control.
Project description:Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is typically lack of expression of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), represents the most aggressive and mortal subtype of breast cancer. Currently, only a few treatment options are available for TNBC due to the absence of molecular targets, which underscores the need for developing novel therapeutic and preventive approaches for this disease. Recent evidence from clinical trials and preclinical studies has demonstrated a pivotal role of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in the initiation, progression, metastasis, and immune evasion of TNBC. STAT3 is overexpressed and constitutively activated in TNBC cells and contributes to cell survival, proliferation, cell cycle progression, anti-apoptosis, migration, invasion, angiogenesis, chemoresistance, immunosuppression, and stem cells self-renewal and differentiation by regulating the expression of its downstream target genes. STAT3 small molecule inhibitors have been developed and shown excellent anticancer activities in in vitro and in vivo models of TNBC. This review discusses the recent advances in the understanding of STAT3, with a focus on STAT3's oncogenic role in TNBC. The current targeting strategies and representative small molecule inhibitors of STAT3 are highlighted. We also propose potential strategies that can be further examined for developing more specific and effective inhibitors for TNBC prevention and therapy.