Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a vascular sarcoma that metastasizes early in its clinical course and lacks an effective medical therapy. The TAZ-CAMTA1 and YAP-TFE3 fusion proteins are chimeric transcription factors and initiating oncogenic drivers of EHE. A combined proteomic/genetic screen in human cell lines identified YEATS2 and ZZZ3, components of the Ada2a-containing histone acetyltransferase (ATAC) complex, as key interactors of both fusion proteins despite the dissimilarity of ...[more]
Project description:Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a vascular sarcoma that metastasizes early in its clinical course and lacks an effective medical therapy. The TAZ-CAMTA1 and YAP-TFE3 fusion proteins are chimeric transcription factors and initiating oncogenic drivers of EHE. A combined proteomic/genetic screen in human cell lines identified YEATS2 and ZZZ3, components of the <u>A</u>da<u>2a-c</u>ontaining histone acetyltransferase (ATAC) complex, as key interactors of both fusion proteins despite the dissimilarity of the C terminal fusion partners CAMTA1 and TFE3. Integrative next-generation sequencing approaches in human and murine cell lines showed that the fusion proteins drive a unique transcriptome by simultaneously hyperactivating a TEAD-based transcriptional program and modulating the chromatin environment via interaction with the ATAC complex. Interaction of the ATAC complex with both fusion proteins indicates that it is a key oncogenic driver and unifying enzymatic therapeutic target for this sarcoma. This study presents an approach to mechanistically dissect how chimeric transcription factors drive the formation of human cancers.
Project description:Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a genetically homogenous vascular sarcoma that is a paradigm for TAZ dysregulation in cancer. EHE harbors a <i>WWTR1</i>(TAZ)-<i>CAMTA1</i> gene fusion in >90% of cases, 45% of which have no other genetic alterations. In this study, we used a first of its kind approach to target the <i>Wwtr1-Camta1</i> gene fusion to the <i>Wwtr1</i> locus, to develop a conditional EHE mouse model whereby <i>Wwtr1-Camta1</i> is controlled by the endogenous transcriptional regulators upon Cre activation. These mice develop EHE tumors that are indistinguishable from human EHE clinically, histologically, immunohistochemically, and genetically. Overall, these results demonstrate unequivocally that TAZ-CAMTA1 is sufficient to drive EHE formation with exquisite specificity, as no other tumor types were observed. Furthermore, we fully credential this unique EHE mouse model as a valid preclinical model for understanding the role of TAZ dysregulation in cancer formation and for testing therapies directed at TAZ-CAMTA1, TAZ, and YAP/TAZ signaling.
Project description:Epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas (EHEs) are vascular tumors of intermediate malignancy that can undergo high-grade malignant transformations. EHEs have been characterized by tumor-specific WW domain-containing transcription regulator 1(WWTR1)-calmodulin-binding transcription activator 1 (CAMTA1) translocations, and recently, a novel Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP1)-transcription factor E3 (TFE3) gene fusion was identified in EHEs. In this study, we examined the expression levels of TFE3 and CAMTA1 via immunohistochemical staining and identified chromosomal alterations using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assays and RT-PCR tests. Although all of the EHEs were CAMTA1-positive in immunohistochemical staining, only five out of 18 EHEs (27.78%) positively expressed nuclear TFE3. The five TFE3-positive EHEs exhibited TFE3 gene break-apart in FISH assays. YAP1-TFE3 gene fusions were confirmed by RT-PCR. Interestingly, we observed CAMTA1 gene break-apart in all of the five TFE3-positive EHEs via FISH assays, and four out of the five TFE3-positive EHEs exhibited WWTR1-CAMTA1 gene fusions via RT-PCR. These results indicate that these two chromosomal alterations are not mutually exclusive but compossible in EHEs. Finally, primary tumor sites in TFE3-positive EHEs consistently contained single masses (P = 0.0359) with larger sizes (P = 0.0550) compared to TFE3-negative EHEs. Similar to previous reports, we observed well-formed vessels more frequently in TFE3-positive EHEs than in TFE3-negative EHEs (P = 0.0441). In addition, TFE3-positive EHEs tended to more frequently demonstrate high-grade nuclear atypia (P = 0.0654) and hypercellularity (P=0.0987) than TFE3-negative EHEs. Thus, we have now established two clinically distinct subgroups of EHEs: TFE3-positive and TFE3-negative EHEs.
Project description:Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a poorly understood and devastating vascular cancer. Sequencing of EHE has revealed a unique gene fusion between the Hippo pathway nuclear effector TAZ (WWTR1) and the brain-enriched transcription factor CAMTA1 in ∼90% of cases. However, it remains unclear whether the TAZ-CAMTA1 gene fusion is a driver of EHE, and potential targeted therapies are unknown. Here, we show that TAZ-CAMTA1 expression in endothelial cells is sufficient to drive the formation of vascular tumors with the distinctive features of EHE, and inhibition of TAZ-CAMTA1 results in the regression of these vascular tumors. We further show that activated TAZ resembles TAZ-CAMTA1 in driving the formation of EHE-like vascular tumors, suggesting that constitutive activation of TAZ underlies the pathological features of EHE. We show that TAZ-CAMTA1 initiates an angiogenic and regenerative-like transcriptional program in endothelial cells, and disruption of the TAZ-CAMTA1-TEAD interaction or ectopic expression of a dominant negative TEAD in vivo inhibits TAZ-CAMTA1-mediated transformation. Our study provides the first genetic model of a TAZ fusion oncoprotein driving its associated human cancer, pinpointing TAZ-CAMTA1 as the key driver and a valid therapeutic target of EHE.