BACKGROUND: The progression and metastasis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is highly dependent on the tumour microenvironment. Most tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs) are M2 phenotype macrophages, which normally show anti-inflammatory functions in numerous disorders. Previously, we found that alternatively activated macrophages showed pro-inflammatory characteristics upon stimulation with hepatoma cell-derived debris; however, the molecular mechanism was unclear. METHODS: In vitro and in vivo experiments were employed to investigate the molecular mechanism. Using pancreatic cancer cell lines, mouse models and human tissues, we obtained a general picture of tumour cell-derived debris promoting metastasis of pancreatic cancer by inducing inflammation via TAMs. RESULTS: We showed that M2 macrophage-derived inflammation also exists in PDAC. Debris from PDAC cells induced potent IL-1 beta release by M2 macrophages via TLR4/TRIF/NF-kappa B signalling, and this effect was further boosted by IgG that was also derived from PDAC cells. Increased IL-1 beta promoted epithelial-mesenchymal transition and consequent metastasis of PDAC cells. A selective COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib, enhanced the anti-tumoural efficacy of gemcitabine. CONCLUSIONS: These data revealed a pro-inflammatory mechanism in PDAC, which indicated that IL-1 beta and COX-2 could be therapeutic targets of an anti-inflammatory strategy to treat PDAC.
BACKGROUND: The extracellular matrix (ECM) is essential for malignant tumour progression, as it is a physical barrier to various kinds of anticancer therapies. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) can degrade almost all ECM components, and macrophages are an important source of MMPs. Studies using macrophages to treat tumours have shown that macrophages can enter tumour tissue to play a regulatory role. METHODS: We modified macrophages with a designed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), which could be activated after recognition of the tumour antigen HER2 to trigger the internal signalling of CD147 and increase the expression of MMPs. RESULTS: Although CAR-147 macrophage treatment did not affect tumour cell growth in vitro compared with control treatment. However, we found that the infusion of CAR-147 macrophages significantly inhibited HER2-4T1 tumour growth in BALB/c mice. Further investigation showed that CAR-147 macrophages could reduce tumour collagen deposition and promote T-cell infiltration into tumours, which were consistent with expectations. Interestingly, the levels of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-6, which are key factors in cytokine release syndrome, were significantly decreased in the peripheral blood in CAR-147 macrophage-transfused mice. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that targeting the ECM by engineered macrophages would be an effective treatment strategy for solid tumours.
BACKGROUND: V-domain Ig suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) is a novel inhibitory immune-checkpoint protein. VISTA expression on tumour cells and the associated regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. We investigated VISTA expression and function in tumour cells, and evaluated its mechanism and activity. METHODS: VISTA in tumour cells was assessed by tissue microarray analysis, immunohistochemical staining and western blot. A series of in vitro assays were used to determine the function of tumour-expressed VISTA. In vivo efficacy was evaluated in syngeneic models. RESULTS: VISTA was highly expressed in human ovarian and endometrial cancers. Upregulation of VISTA in endometrial cancer was related to the methylation status of the VISTA promoter. VISTA in tumour cells suppressed T cell proliferation and cytokine production in vitro, and decreased the tumour-infiltrating CD8+ T cells in vivo. Anti-VISTA antibody prolonged the survival of tumour-bearing mice. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first demonstration that VISTA is highly expressed in human ovarian and endometrial cancer cells, and that anti-VISTA antibody treatment significantly prolongs the survival of mice bearing tumours expressing high levels of VISTA. The data suggest that VISTA is a novel immunosuppressive factor within the tumour microenvironment, as well as a new target for cancer immunotherapy.
BACKGROUND: Although constitutive activating mutations in the Wnt/beta-catenin signalling pathway are important for colorectal cancer development, canonical signalling through Wnt ligands is essential for beta-catenin activation. Here, we investigated the role of (pro) renin receptor ((P)RR), a component of the Wnt receptor complex, in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer. METHODS: (P)RR silencing was performed in human colorectal cancer cells containing constitutive activating mutations in the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. (P)RR overexpression was induced in normal colon epithelial cells. Protein and mRNA levels of pathway components were detected, and Wnt signalling activity was measured using a beta-catenin reporter. Cell proliferative activity and apoptosis were evaluated using WST-1 assay and flow cytometry. Xenografts were induced in nude mice. RESULTS: (P)RR expression was greater in colorectal cancer tissues and cells than in normal colorectal samples. Patients with strong (P)RR expression took more proportion in groups with poorly-differentiated, advanced and rapidly-progressing cancers. (P)RR silencing attenuated the pathway in colorectal cancer cells, impaired their proliferation in vitro and vivo. (P)RR overexpression enhanced the pathway and proliferation of normal colon epithelial cells. CONCLUSIONS: Aberrant (P)RR expression promotes colorectal cancer through the Wnt/beta-catenin signalling pathway despite constitutive pathway-activating mutations. (P)RR is a potential diagnostic and therapeutic target for colorectal cancer.
BACKGROUND: The extracellular matrix has been critically associated with the tumorigenesis and progression of Ewing sarcoma (ES). However, the regulatory and prognostic roles of tenascin-C (TNC) in ES remain unclear. METHODS: TNC expression was examined in specimens by immunohistochemistry, and the association of TNC expression with ES patient survival was also analysed. TNC-knockout cell lines were constructed using CRISPR/Cas9 methods. In vitro experiments and in vivo bioluminescent imaging using BALB/c nude mice were conducted to evaluate the effect of TNC on ES tumour progression. RNA sequencing was performed, and the underlying mechanism of TNC was further explored. RESULTS: TNC was overexpressed in ES tissue and cell lines, and TNC overexpression was associated with poor survival in ES patients. TNC enhanced cell proliferation, migration and angiogenesis in vitro and promoted ES metastasis in vivo. The oncoprotein EWS-FLI1 profoundly increased TNC expression by directly binding to the TNC promoter region. Metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 (MALAT1) upregulation induced by Yes-associated protein (YAP) activation was responsible for TNC-regulated ES tumour progression. Activated integrin alpha 5 beta 1 signalling might be correlated with YAP dephosphorylation and nuclear translocation. CONCLUSIONS: TNC may promote ES tumour progression by targeting MALAT1 through integrin alpha 5 beta 1-mediated YAP activation.
BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer (PDAC) is a highly invasive cancer with poor prognosis. Recent research has found that the transcription factor Yin Yang 1 (YY1) plays an inhibitory role in the development of pancreatic cancer. It has been reported that tubulin polymerisation-promoting protein (TPPP) plays an indispensable role in a variety of tumours, but its expression and role in pancreatic cancer have not yet been elucidated. METHODS: In this study, we performed ChIP-sequencing and found that YY1 directly binds to the promoter region of TPPP. The expression of TPPP in pancreatic cancer was detected by western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Four-week-old male BALB/c-nude mice were used to assess the effect of TPPP on pancreatic cancer. RESULTS: Immunohistochemistry revealed that TPPP was expressed at low levels in pancreatic cancer tissues, and was associated with blood vessel invasion. The results from vivo experiments have showed that TPPP could enhance the migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer. Further experiments showed that YY1 could inhibit the migration, invasion and angiogenesis of pancreatic cancer cells by downregulating TPPP via p38/MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathways. CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that TPPP may act as a promoter and may serve as a novel target for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
BACKGROUND: Ezrin, which is known as a cytoskeleton linker protein, is closely linked with the metastatic progression of cancer and is frequently abnormally expressed in aggressive cancer types. However, the possible involvement of Ezrin in metastasis and angiogenesis in breast cancer remains unclear. METHODS: Immunohistochemical analysis of Ezrin was performed on both BC samples (n = 117) and normal epithelium samples (n = 47). In vivo and in vitro assays were performed to validate the effect of Ezrin on AKT pathway-mediated BC progression. RESULTS: In this study, Ezrin was found to be upregulated in BC tissues, which was linked with aggressive tumour characteristics and poor prognosis. Moreover, we showed that Ezrin promotes BC proliferation, migration, invasion, and angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistic analysis showed that Ezrin interacted with AKT, and promoted its kinase activity, thereby regulating the AKT pathway in BC. CONCLUSIONS: In all, we propose a model for an Ezrin/AKT oncoprotein axis, which provides novel insight into how Ezrin contributes to BC progression.
BACKGROUND: We attempted to elucidate whether p53 expression or TP53 mutation status was associated with cancer-specific survival in adjuvant FOLFOX-treated patients with stage Ill or high-risk stage II colorectal cancer (CRC). METHODS: We analysed CRCs (N = 621) for the presence of TP53 alterations and for p53 expression, using targeted resequencing and immunohistochemistry. CRCs were grouped into four subsets according to the p53 expression status, which included p53-no, mild, moderate and strong expression. RESULTS: The distributions of CRCs were 19.85, 11.05, 17.7% and 51.5% in the p53-no, mild, moderate and strong expression groups, respectively. Cases in the p53-mild to moderate expression group were associated with a more frequent proximal location, undifferentiated histology, lower N category, extraglandular mucin production, microsatellite instability, CIMP-P1, CK7 expression and decreased CDX2 expression compared with those of cases of the p53-no expression and p53-strong expression groups. According to survival analysis, the p53-mild expression group showed a poor 5-year relapse-free survival (hazard ratio (HR): 2.71, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.60-4.60, P < 0.001) and poor 5-year cancer-specific survival (HR: 2.90, 95% CI = 1.28-6.57, P = 0.011). CONCLUSIONS: p53-mild expression status was found to be an independent prognostic marker in adjuvant FOLFOX-treated patients with stage III and high-risk stage II CRC.
BACKGROUND: Vimentin (VIM) is considered a prognostic marker in colorectal cancer (CRC). Our aim is to identify genes that fulfil a "X-low implies VIM-high" Boolean relationship and to evaluate their prognostic value and potential mechanism. METHODS: Potential biomarkers related to VIM expression were searched using a bioinformatics approach across gene-expression arrays. Based on subgroup analysis of 2 CRC cohorts, the selected gene was tested for its association with patient's survival outcomes. The regulatory link between the selected gene and VIM was further examined with in vitro models. RESULTS: PPM1H was identified as the top candidate in our search. Patients with PPM1H-low tumours have a lower 5-year disease-free survival rate than patients with PPM1H-high tumours in 2 independent cohorts. In multivariate Cox analysis, patients with PPM1H-low tumours were independently associated with relapse in both the discovery cohort (hazard ratio [HR], 1.362; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.015-1.826; P = 0.039) and the validation cohort (HR for DFS, 4.052; 95% CI, 2.634-6.234; P < 0.001). PPM1H knockdown in CRC cells and growth in the corresponding conditional medium increased VIM expression and colon fibroblast proliferation, indicating a transformation of cancer-association fibroblasts (CAFs). Conversely, educated CAFs also facilitated the growth of CRC cells with low PPM1H expression. CONCLUSIONS: Lack of tumour PPM1H expression identifies a patient subgroup with a high relapse risk, and CRC cells with low expression of PPM1H activate CAFs and inversely get promoted by CAFs.
The RARG gene is a member of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily and shares high homology with RARA and RARB. RARA is involved in translocation with PML in acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL). Little is known about RARB or RARG rearrangement. RARG fusions were reported in only five APL patients and the partner genes were NUP98, PML and CPSF6. Here, we report NPM1 as a new partner gene of RARG and identify a unique NPM1-RARG-NPM1 chimeric fusion for the first time in an old male with morphological and immunophenotypical features of hypergranular APL but lacking response to all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (As2O3) therapy. The structural features of the fusion transcript may account for the clinical resistance of the patient. RARG fusion is rare but recurrent in APL, further investigation in larger cohorts is expected to assess frequency, clinical characteristics and outcomes of RARG-translocation in APL.
BACKGROUND: Sorafenib is the only approved first line systemic therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the last decade. Tumour resistance to sorafenib has been of major obstacles to improve HCC patient survival. METHODS: We polarised THP-1 cells to M1 and M2 macrophages, performed various in vitro assays and developed sorafenib-resistant xenograft models to investigate the role of tumour-associated macrophages (TAM)-secreted molecules in HCC resistance to the targeted therapy. RESULTS: We demonstrated M2, but not M1, macrophages not only promote proliferation, colony formation and migration of hepatoma cells but also significantly confer tumour resistance to sorafenib via sustaining tumour growth and metastasis by secreting hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). HGF activates HGF/c-Met, ERK1/2/MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathways in tumour cells. Tumour-associated M2 macrophages were accumulated in sorafenib-resistance tumours more than in sorafenib-sensitive tumours in vivo and produced abundant HGF. HGF chemoattracts more macrophages migrated from surrounding area, regulates the distribution of M2 macrophages and increases hepatoma resistance to sorafenib in a feed-forward manner. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide new insights into the mechanisms of sorafenib resistance in HCC and rationale for developing new trials by combining sorafenib with a potent HGF inhibitor such as cabozantinib to improve the first line systemic therapeutic efficacy.
Dose-dense early postoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy (DD-EPIC) significantly increased non-progression rate in advanced ovarian cancer (OC) patients. We report final overall survival (OS) results to further strengthen the efficacy of DD-EPIC in the fron-time therapy. In this phase 2 trial, 218 patients with FIGO IIIC-IV OC were randomly allocated to receive DD-EPIC followed by intravenous (IV) chemotherapy (DD-EPIC group), or IV chemotherapy alone (IV group). The study was prespecified to detect differences in progression-free survival (PFS) and OS. At a median follow-up period of 69.1 months, the median OS was 67.5 and 46.3 months in the DD-EPIC and IV group, respectively. The probability rate of OS at 5 years was 61.0% with DD-EPIC, and 38.2% with IV (hazard ratio [FIR] for death from OC, 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49-1.00). DD-EPIC was associated with a prolonged PFS compared with the IV group (the estimated rate of PFS at 5 years, 26.0% vs. 8.5%; HR for disease progression, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.47-0.86). DD-EPIC was associated with a longer OS than IV chemotherapy alone. It may be considered as a valuable option of the front-line therapy for advanced ovarian cancer.
BACKGROUND: The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the feasibility of predicting GC metastasis using CDH1, GFRA1, P16 and ZNF382 DNA methylation as biomarkers. METHODS: 198 GC patients without metastasis at the time of surgery resection were recruited into the double-blind cohort (NCT02159339). Gene methylation was analysed using MethyLight assays. GC metastasis and survival data were obtained from 178 patients with 94.7% compliance during follow-up. RESULTS: Twenty six cases of metastasis and 5 cases of recurrence were observed in 178 cases (17.4%) during the follow-up (median, 62.7 months). The GC metastasis rate for GFRA1 methylation-positive patients was significantly reduced compared with GFRA1 methylation-negative patients (odds ratio [OR]: 0.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.08-0.66). Similar results were also observed using ZNF382 methylation as a predictor (OR: 0.17, 95% CI 0.06-0.47). A risk score including methylation of GFRA1 and ZNF382 was generated. The metastasis rate was significantly increased in high-risk GC patients (OR: 4.71, 95% CI: 1.85-12.00). GC patients with high risk had a shorter overall survival, especially for patients with stage I GC (P = 0.024). CONCLUSIONS: The combination of GFRA1 and ZNF382 methylation is a biomarker panel for the prediction of GC metastasis.