Radiation therapy remains the standard of care for many cancers, including the malignant pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. Radiation leads to long-term side effects, while radio-resistance contributes to tumor recurrence. Radio-resistant medulloblastoma cells occupy the peri-vascular niche. They express Yes-associated protein (YAP), a Sonic hedgehog (Shh) target markedly elevated in Shh-driven medulloblastomas. Here we report that YAP accelerates tumor growth and confers radio-resistance, promoting ongoing proliferation after radiation. YAP activity enables cells to enter mitosis with un-repaired DNA through driving IGF2 expression and Akt activation, resulting in ATM/Chk2 inactivation and abrogation of cell cycle checkpoints. Our results establish a central role for YAP in counteracting radiation-based therapies and driving genomic instability, and indicate the YAP/IGF2/Akt axis as a therapeutic target in medulloblastoma.
Platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGF-B) is a growth factor promoting and regulating cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation, involved in both developmental processes and in maintaining tissue homeostasis under strict regulation. What are the implications of prolonged or uncontrolled growth factor signaling in vivo, and when does a growth factor such as PDGF-B become an oncogene? Under experimental conditions, PDGF-B induces proliferation and causes tumor induction. It is not known whether these tumors are strictly a PDGF-B-driven proliferation of cells or associated with secondary genetic events such as acquired mutations or methylation-mediated gene silencing promoting neoplasia. If PDGF-B-driven tumorigenesis was only cellular proliferation, associated changes in gene expression would thus be correlated with proliferation and not associated with secondary events involved in tumorigenesis and neoplastic transformation such as cycle delay, DNA damage response, and cell death. Changes in gene expression might be expected to be reversible, as is PDGF-B-driven proliferation under normal circumstances. Since PDGF signaling is involved in oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation and maintenance, it is likely that PDGF-B stimulates proliferation of a pool of cells with that phenotype, and inhibition of PDGF-B signaling would result in reduced expression of oligodendrocyte-associated genes. More importantly, inhibition of PDGF signaling would be expected to result in reversion of genes induced by PDGF-B accompanied by a decrease in proliferation. However, if PDGF-B-driven tumorigenesis is more than simply a proliferation of cells, inhibition of PDGF signaling may not reverse gene expression or halt proliferation. These fundamental questions concerning PDGF-B as a potential oncogene have not been resolved.
Glioma; growth factor; oncogene; oncogenic stress; PDGF-B
Dasatinib, a new-generation Src and platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) inhibitor, is currently under evaluation in high-grade glioma clinical trials. To achieve optimum physicochemical and/or biologic properties, alternative drug delivery vehicles may be needed. We used a novel fluorinated dasatinib derivative (F-SKI249380), in combination with nanocarrier vehicles and metabolic imaging tools (microPET) to evaluate drug delivery and uptake in a platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGFB)-driven genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM) of high-grade glioma. We assessed dasatinib survival benefit on the basis of measured tumor volumes. Using brain tumor cells derived from PDGFB-driven gliomas, dose-dependent uptake and time-dependent inhibitory effects of F-SKI249380 on biologic activity were investigated and compared with the parent drug. PDGFR receptor status and tumor-specific targeting were non-invasively evaluated in vivo using 18F-SKI249380 and 18F-SKI249380-containing micellar and liposomal nanoformulations. A statistically significant survival benefit was found using dasatinib (95 mg/kg) versus saline vehicle (P < .001) in tumor volume-matched GEMM pairs. Competitive binding and treatment assays revealed comparable biologic properties for F-SKI249380 and the parent drug. In vivo, Significantly higher tumor uptake was observed for 18F-SKI249380-containing micelle formulations [4.9 percentage of the injected dose per gram tissue (%ID/g); P = .002] compared to control values (1.6%ID/g). Saturation studies using excess cold dasatinib showed marked reduction of tumor uptake values to levels in normal brain (1.5%ID/g), consistent with in vivo binding specificity. Using 18F-SKI249380-containing micelles as radiotracers to estimate therapeutic dosing requirements, we calculated intratumoral drug concentrations (24–60 nM) that were comparable to in vitro 50% inhibitory concentration values. 18F-SKI249380 is a PDGFR-selective tracer, which demonstrates improved delivery to PDGFB-driven high-grade gliomas and facilitates treatment planning when coupled with nanoformulations and quantitative PET imaging approaches.
The objective of this study was to evaluate whether longitudinal levels of serum YKL-40 correlate with disease status or survival in adults with gliomas. Patients with histologically confirmed gliomas were eligible for this longitudinal study. Serum samples were collected prospectively and concurrently with MRI scans at multiple time points during the course of the disease. YKL-40 levels determined by ELISA were correlated with radiographic disease status and survival. We performed a multivariate survival analysis including well-known prognostic factors such as age, performance status, and extent of surgical resection. Three hundred and forty-three patients with gliomas (41 low-grade, 105 anaplastic, and 197 glioblastoma) were accrued. Two-year survival from registration was 29% for glioblastomas, 62% for anaplastic gliomas, and 83% for low-grade gliomas. A total of 1740 serum samples were collected, and 95.6% of samples had matching MRI scans. Serum YKL-40 level was significantly lower in patients with no radiographic disease compared with patients with radiographic disease in both the anaplastic glioma (P= .0008) and the glioblastoma (P= .0006) cohorts. Serum levels of YKL-40 in patients with low-grade gliomas were not associated with radiographic disease status. Increases in YKL-40 were independently associated with worse survival in anaplastic gliomas (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.4, P= .01) and glioblastomas (HR = 1.4, P< .0001). Longitudinal increases in serum YKL-40 are associated with increased risk of death in patients with glioblastomas and anaplastic gliomas. YKL-40 is also a putative indicator of disease status in these patients.
glioblastoma; glioma; serum marker; YKL-40
The vexing difficulty in delineating brain tumor margins represents a major obstacle toward better outcome of brain tumor patients. Current imaging methods are often limited by inadequate sensitivity, specificity, and spatial resolution. Here we show that a unique triple-modality Magnetic resonance imaging - Photoacoustic imaging – surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) nanoparticle (MPR) can accurately help delineate the margins of brain tumors in living mice both pre- and intra-operatively. The MPRs were detected by all three modalities with at least picomolar sensitivity both in vitro and in living mice. Intravenous injection of MPRs into glioblastoma-bearing mice led to specific MPR accumulation and retention by the tumors, allowing for non-invasive tumor delineation by all three modalities through the intact skull. Raman imaging allowed guidance of intra-operative tumor resection, and histological correlation validated that Raman imaging is accurately delineating brain tumor margins. This novel triple-modality nanoparticle approach holds promise to enable more accurate brain tumor imaging and resection.
MRI; Photoacoustic; Raman; SERS; multimodality; nanoparticle; molecular imaging; brain tumor; tumor margin; in vivo; contrast agent; cancer; surgery; gold; silica
Glioblastoma, the most frequent and aggressive malignant brain tumor, has a very poor prognosis of approximately 1-year. The associated aggressive phenotype and therapeutic resistance of glioblastoma is postulated to be due to putative brain tumor stem-like cells (BTSC). The best hope for improved therapy lies in the ability to understand the molecular biology that controls BTSC behavior. The tumor vascular microenvironment of brain tumors has emerged as important regulators of BTSC behavior. Emerging data have identified the vascular microenvironment as home to a multitude of cell types engaged in various signaling that work collectively to foster a supportive environment for BTSCs. Characterization of the signaling pathways and intercellular communication between resident cell types in the microvascular niche of brain tumors is critical to the identification of potential BTSC-specific targets for therapy.
glioblastoma; perivascular niche; brain tumor; cancer stem-like cells; microenvironment
Post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression contributes to the protein output of a cell, however, methods for measuring translational regulation in complex in vivo systems are lacking. Here, we describe a sensitive method for measuring translational regulation in defined cell populations from heterogeneous tissue in vivo. We adapted the translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) methodology to measure the relative occupancy of individual mRNA transcripts in translating ribosomes in the Olig2-positive tumor cell population in a genetically engineered mouse model (GEM) of glioma. Global measurement of paired ribosome-bound and total cellular mRNA populations from tumor cells in vivo identified a broad distribution of relative ribosome occupancies amongst mRNA species that was highly reproducible across biological samples. Comparison of the translation state of glioma cells to non-transformed oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in normal brain identified global alteration of translation in tumor, and specifically of genes involved in cell division and synthetic metabolism. Furthermore, investigation of alteration in steady state translational efficiencies upon loss of PTEN, one of the most frequently mutated and deleted tumor suppressors in glioma, identified differential translation of proteins involved in cellular respiration, canonically regulated by PI3K/Akt signaling, and cellular glycosylation profiles, deregulation of which is known to be associated with tumor progression. Application of the translation efficiency profiling method described here to other biological contexts and conditions would extend our knowledge of the scope and impact of this important mode of gene regulation in complex in vivo systems.
Although the molecular changes that characterize gliomas have been studied, the pathogenesis of tumor development remains unclear. p21 contributes to gliomagenesis by stabilizing cyclin D1-cdk4 kinase complexes, suggesting that cyclin D1 and cdk4 may also be required for glial tumor development. In this study, we used a mouse model to attempt to confirm this hypothesis, finding that cyclin D1 and cdk4 played active roles in not only the tumor but also the tumor microenvironment. Loss of cdk4 blocked tumor development, but loss of cyclin D1 did not prevent gliomas from developing. Instead, loss of cyclin D1 impeded progression to higher stages of malignancy. Enforcing expression of cyclin D1 was insufficient to correct the progression defect observed in cyclin D1 deficient animals. In contrast, restoration of cdk4 in the cdk4 deficient animals restored cell proliferation and tumor formation, although at lower tumor grades. Notably, the failure of tumors in the cyclin D1 and cdk4 deficient animals to progress to higher grades was correlated with a failure to fully activate microglia in the tumor microenvironment. Moreover, when PDGF-transformed glial cells were engrafted orthotopically into the mice, the tumors that formed progressed to high grades in wild type mice but not cyclin D1 deficient animals. Together, our findings establish that the cyclinD1-cdk4 axis is not only critical in glial tumor cells, but also in stromal-derived cells in the surrounding tumor microenvironment that are vital to sustain tumor outgrowth.
glioma; cyclin; cdk; tumor-associated microglia
Integration of expression, copy number, methylation, and regulatory sequence information identifies miRNAs and transcription factors that drive the global expression changes associated with different glioblastoma subtypes.
The proneural and mesenchymal transcriptomic subtypes of glioblastoma are associated with distinct regulatory programs.REST, miR-124 and miR-132 are potential drivers of expression changes in proneural glioblastoma, and the inferred extent of dysregulation of miR-132 correlates with survival in the proneural subtype.The expression changes in proneural glioblastoma associated with key regulators in the regression model are consistent with in vivo expression changes in mouse PDGF-driven tumors.Transfection of miR-124 and miR-132 in proneural neurospheres induces expression changes that are concordant with proneural tumor-versus-normal expression changes.
Large-scale cancer genomics projects are profiling hundreds of tumors at multiple molecular layers, including copy number, mRNA and miRNA expression, but the mechanistic relationships between these layers are often excluded from computational models. We developed a supervised learning framework for integrating molecular profiles with regulatory sequence information to reveal regulatory programs in cancer, including miRNA-mediated regulation. We applied our approach to 320 glioblastoma profiles and identified key miRNAs and transcription factors as common or subtype-specific drivers of expression changes. We confirmed that predicted gene expression signatures for proneural subtype regulators were consistent with in vivo expression changes in a PDGF-driven mouse model. We tested two predicted proneural drivers, miR-124 and miR-132, both underexpressed in proneural tumors, by overexpression in neurospheres and observed a partial reversal of corresponding tumor expression changes. Computationally dissecting the role of miRNAs in cancer may ultimately lead to small RNA therapeutics tailored to subtype or individual.
gene regulatory programs; integrative cancer genomics; microRNA regulation; microRNAs in glioblastoma
Automated microscopy was introduced two decades ago and has become an integral part of the discovery process as a high-content screening platform with noticeable challenges in executing cell-based assays. It would be of interest to use it to screen for reversers of a transformed cell phenotype. In this report, we present data obtained from an optimized assay that identifies compounds that reverse a transformed phenotype induced in NIH-3T3 cells by expressing a novel oncogene, KP, resulting from fusion between platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα) and kinase insert domain receptor (KDR), that was identified in human glioblastoma. Initial image acquisitions using multiple tiles per well were found to be insufficient as to accurately image and quantify the clusters; whole-well imaging, performed on the IN Cell Analyzer 2000, while still two-dimensional imaging, was found to accurately image and quantify clusters, due largely to the inherent variability of their size and well location. The resulting assay exhibited a Z′ value of 0.79 and a signal-to-noise ratio of 15, and it was validated against known effectors and shown to identify only PDGFRα inhibitors, and then tested in a pilot screen against a library of 58 known inhibitors identifying mostly PDGFRα inhibitors as reversers of the KP induced transformed phenotype. In conclusion, our optimized and validated assay using whole-well imaging is robust and sensitive in identifying compounds that reverse the transformed phenotype induced by KP with a broader applicability to other cell-based assays that are challenging in HTS against chemical and RNAi libraries.
Recent improvements in the understanding of brain tumor biology have opened the door to a number of rational therapeutic strategies targeting distinct oncogenic pathways. The successful translation of such “designer drugs” to clinical application depends heavily on effective and expeditious screening methods in relevant disease models. By recapitulating both the underlying genetics and the characteristic tumor-stroma microenvironment of brain cancer, genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) may offer distinct advantages over cell culture and xenograft systems in the preclinical testing of promising therapies. This review focuses on recently developed GEMMs for both glioma and medulloblastoma, and discusses their potential use in preclinical trials. Examples showcasing the use of GEMMs in the testing of molecularly targeted therapeutics are given, and relevant topics, such as stem cell biology, in vivo imaging technology and radiotherapy, are also addressed.
glioma; medulloblastoma; clinical trials; targeted therapy; murine model
Glioblastoma (GBM) and other malignant gliomas are aggressive primary neoplasms of the brain that exhibit notable refractivity to standard treatment regimens. Recent large-scale molecular profiling has revealed distinct disease subclasses within malignant gliomas whose defining genomic features highlight dysregulated molecular networks as potential targets for therapeutic development. The “proneural” designation represents the largest and most heterogeneous of these subclasses, and includes both a large fraction of GBMs along with most of their lower-grade astrocytic and oligodendroglial counterparts. The pathogenesis of proneural gliomas has been repeatedly associated with dysregulated PDGF signaling. Nevertheless, genomic amplification or activating mutations involving the PDGF receptor (PDGFRA) characterize only a subset of proneural GBMs, while the mechanisms driving dysregulated PDGF signaling and downstream oncogenic networks in remaining tumors are unclear. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding loosely complimentary sequences in target mRNAs. The role of miRNA biology in numerous cancer variants is well established. In an analysis of miRNA involvement in the phenotypic expression and regulation of oncogenic PDGF signaling, we found that miR-34a is downregulated by PDGF pathway activation in vitro. Similarly, analysis of data from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed that miR-34a expression is significantly lower in proneural gliomas compared to other tumor subtypes. Using primary GBM cells maintained under neurosphere conditions, we then demonstrated that miR-34a specifically affects growth of proneural glioma cells in vitro and in vivo. Further bioinformatic analysis identified PDGFRA as a direct target of miR-34a and this interaction was experimentally validated. Finally, we found that PDGF-driven miR-34a repression is unlikely to operate solely through a p53-dependent mechanism. Taken together, our data support the existence of reciprocal negative feedback regulation involving miR-34 and PDGFRA expression in proneural gliomas and, as such, identify a subtype specific therapeutic potential for miR-34a.
The tumor microenvironment contains normal, non-neoplastic cells that may contribute to tumor growth and maintenance. Within PDGF-driven murine gliomas, tumor-associated astrocytes (TAAs) are a large component of the tumor microenvironment. The function of non-neoplastic astrocytes in the glioma microenvironment has not been fully elucidated; moreover, the differences between these astrocytes and normal astrocytes are unknown. We therefore sought to identify genes and pathways that are increased in TAAs relative to normal astrocytes and also to determine whether expression of these genes correlates with glioma behavior.
We compared the gene expression profiles of TAAs to normal astrocytes and found the Antigen Presentation Pathway to be significantly increased in TAAs. We then identified a gene signature for glioblastoma (GBM) TAAs and validated the expression of some of those genes within the tumor. We also show that TAAs are derived from the non-tumor, stromal environment, in contrast to the Olig2+ tumor cells that constitute the neoplastic elements in our model. Finally, we validate this GBM TAA signature in patients and show that a TAA-derived gene signature predicts survival specifically in the human proneural subtype of glioma.
Our data identifies unique gene expression patterns between populations of TAAs and suggests potential roles for stromal astrocytes within the glioma microenvironment. We show that certain stromal astrocytes in the tumor microenvironment express a GBM-specific gene signature and that the majority of these stromal astrocyte genes can predict survival in the human disease.
The hypoxic microenvironment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is thought to increase resistance to cancer therapies. Recent evidence suggests that hypoxia induces protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), a regulator of cell cycle and cell death. The effects of PP2A on GBM tumor cell proliferation and survival during hypoxic conditions have not been studied.
Expression of PP2A subunits and HIF-α proteins was measured in 65 high-grade astrocytoma and 18 non-neoplastic surgical brain specimens by western blotting. PP2A activity was measured by an immunoprecipitation assay. For in vitro experiments, GBM-derived tumor stem cell-like cells (TSCs) were exposed to severe hypoxia produced by either CoCl2 or 1% O2. PP2A activity was inhibited either by okadaic acid or by shRNA depletion of the PP2A C subunit. Effects of PP2A activity on cell cycle progression and cell survival during hypoxic conditions were assessed using flow cytometry.
In our patient cohort, PP2A activity was positively correlated with HIF-1∝ protein expression (P = 0.002). Patients with PP2A activity levels above 160 pMP had significantly worse survival compared to patients with levels below this threshold (P = 0.002). PP2A activity was an independent predictor of survival on multivariable analysis (P = 0.009). In our in vitro experiments, we confirmed that severe hypoxia induces PP2A activity in TSCs 6 hours after onset of exposure. PP2A activity mediated G1/S phase growth inhibition and reduced cellular ATP consumption in hypoxic TSCs. Conversely, inhibition of PP2A activity led to increased cell proliferation, exhaustion of intracellular ATP, and accelerated P53-independent cell death of hypoxic TSCs.
Our results suggest that PP2A activity predicts poor survival in GBM. PP2A appears to reduce the metabolic demand of hypoxic TSCs and enhances tumor cell survival. Modulation of PP2A may be a potential target for cancer therapy.
Human cancer is caused by the accumulation of genetic alterations in cells. Of special importance are changes that occur early during malignant transformation because they may result in oncogene addiction and thus represent promising targets for therapeutic intervention. We have previously described a computational approach, called Retracing the Evolutionary Steps in Cancer (RESIC), to determine the temporal sequence of genetic alterations during tumorigenesis from cross-sectional genomic data of tumors at their fully transformed stage. Since alterations within a set of genes belonging to a particular signaling pathway may have similar or equivalent effects, we applied a pathway-based systems biology approach to the RESIC methodology. This method was used to determine whether alterations of specific pathways develop early or late during malignant transformation. When applied to primary glioblastoma (GBM) copy number data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, RESIC identified a temporal order of pathway alterations consistent with the order of events in secondary GBMs. We then further subdivided the samples into the four main GBM subtypes and determined the relative contributions of each subtype to the overall results: we found that the overall ordering applied for the proneural subtype but differed for mesenchymal samples. The temporal sequence of events could not be identified for neural and classical subtypes, possibly due to a limited number of samples. Moreover, for samples of the proneural subtype, we detected two distinct temporal sequences of events: (i) RAS pathway activation was followed by TP53 inactivation and finally PI3K2 activation, and (ii) RAS activation preceded only AKT activation. This extension of the RESIC methodology provides an evolutionary mathematical approach to identify the temporal sequence of pathway changes driving tumorigenesis and may be useful in guiding the understanding of signaling rearrangements in cancer development.
Cancer is a deadly disease that develops through the accumulation of genetic changes over time. Many biological models do not incorporate this temporal aspect of tumor formation and progression, in part due to the difficulty of determining the sequence of events through biological experimentation for most cancer types. We previously developed a computational algorithm with which we can quickly and cost-effectively determine the order in which mutations arise in the tumor even when large numbers of mutations are considered. In this paper, we extended our method to incorporate biological knowledge of the common pathways by which cancer progresses. We applied these techniques to primary glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer. We found that when all samples are taken into account, a temporal sequence of pathway events emerges; however, different subtypes of glioblastoma vary in their temporal sequence of events. This algorithm can also be easily applied to other cancer types as clinical data becomes available, showing the benefit of computational and mathematical tools in cancer research. Using temporal information, cancer biologists will be able to develop more accurate animal models of tumor formation and learn more about how mutations interact in time, thus leading to better treatments for cancer.
Recent findings suggest that Notch signaling is active in brain tumors and stem cells and that stem cells or cells with progenitor characteristics contribute to brain tumor formation. These stem cells are marked by expression of several markers including nestin, an intermediate filament protein. We have studied how the Notch signaling pathway affects nestin expression in brain tumors. We find that Notch receptors and ligands are expressed in vitro and in human samples of glioblastomas, the highest grade of malignant gliomas. In culture, Notch activity activates the nestin promoter. Activation of the Notch pathway also occurs in a glioblastoma multiforme mouse model induced by Kras, with translational regulation playing a role in Notch expression. Combined activation of Notch and Kras in wild-type nestin-expressing cells leads to their expansion within the subventricular zone and retention of proliferation and nestin expression. However, activation of Notch alone is unable to induce this cellular expansion. These data suggest that Notch may have a contributing role in the stem-like character of glioma cells.
Glioma; nestin; mouse model; Notch; stem cell
Chronic platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling in glial progenitors leads to the formation of oligodendrogliomas in mice, whereas chronic combined Ras and Akt signaling leads to astrocytomas. Different histologies of these tumors imply that the pathways activated by these two oncogenic stimulations are different, and that the apparent lineage of the tumor cells may result from specific signaling activity. Therefore, we have investigated the signaling effects of PDGF in culture and in gliomas in vivo. In culture, PDGF transiently activates ERK1/2 and Akt, and subsequently elevates p21 and PCNA expression similar to chronic PDGF autocrine signaling in cultured astrocytes and PDGF-induced oligodendrogliomas in vivo. Culture experiments show that autocrine PDGF stimulation, and combined active Ras and Akt generate signaling patterns that are in some ways mutually exclusive. Furthermore, forced Akt activity in the context of chronic PDGF stimulation results in cells with an astrocytic differentiation pattern both in culture and in vivo. These data imply that these two interconvertible signaling motifs are distinct in mice and lead to gliomas resembling the two major glioma histologies found in humans. The ability of signaling activity to convert tumor cells from one lineage to another presents a mechanism for the development of tumors apparently comprised of cells from multiple lineages.
Glioma histology; PDGF; Ras; Akt; mouse model
Splicing factor hnRNPH drives an oncogenic splicing switch in gliomas
This study reveals two alternative splicing events that contribute to the development of glioma. HnRNPH is shown to control production of a pro-survival splice variant of the death-domain adaptor protein IG20-MADD and the motility-enhancing isoform of the RON receptor tyrosine kinase.
In tumours, aberrant splicing generates variants that contribute to multiple aspects of tumour establishment, progression and maintenance. We show that in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) specimens, death-domain adaptor protein Insuloma-Glucagonoma protein 20 (IG20) is consistently aberrantly spliced to generate an antagonist, anti-apoptotic isoform (MAP-kinase activating death domain protein, MADD), which effectively redirects TNF-α/TRAIL-induced death signalling to promote survival and proliferation instead of triggering apoptosis. Splicing factor hnRNPH, which is upregulated in gliomas, controls this splicing event and similarly mediates switching to a ligand-independent, constitutively active Recepteur d′Origine Nantais (RON) tyrosine kinase receptor variant that promotes migration and invasion. The increased cell death and the reduced invasiveness caused by hnRNPH ablation can be rescued by the targeted downregulation of IG20/MADD exon 16- or RON exon 11-containing variants, respectively, using isoform-specific knockdown or splicing redirection approaches. Thus, hnRNPH activity appears to be involved in the pathogenesis and progression of malignant gliomas as the centre of a splicing oncogenic switch, which might reflect reactivation of stem cell patterns and mediates multiple key aspects of aggressive tumour behaviour, including evasion from apoptosis and invasiveness.
antisense; cancer; FSD-NMD; hnRNPH; MADD; RON; splicing
Primary glioblastomas are subdivided into several molecular subtypes. There is an ongoing debate over the cell of origin for these tumor types where some suggest a progenitor while others argue for a stem cell origin. Even within the same molecular subgroup, and using lineage tracing in mouse models, different groups have reached different conclusions. We addressed this problem from a combined mathematical modeling and experimental standpoint. We designed a novel mathematical framework to identify the most likely cells of origin of two glioma subtypes. Our mathematical model of the unperturbed in vivo system predicts that if a genetic event contributing to tumor initiation imparts symmetric self-renewing cell division (such as PDGF overexpression), then the cell of origin is a transit amplifier. Otherwise, the initiating mutations arise in stem cells. The mathematical framework was validated with the RCAS/tv-a system of somatic gene transfer in mice. We demonstrated that PDGF-induced gliomas can be derived from GFAP-expressing cells of the subventricular zone or the cortex (reactive astrocytes), thus validating the predictions of our mathematical model. This interdisciplinary approach allowed us to determine the likelihood that individual cell types serve as the cells of origin of gliomas in an unperturbed system.
Gliomas are thought to form by clonal expansion from a single cell-of-origin, and progression-associated mutations to occur in its progeny cells. Glioma progression is associated with elevated growth factor signaling and loss of function of tumor suppressors Ink4a, Arf and Pten. Yet, gliomas are cellularly heterogeneous; they recruit and trap normal cells during infiltration.
We performed lineage tracing in a retrovirally mediated, molecularly and histologically accurate mouse model of hPDGFb-driven gliomagenesis. We were able to distinguish cells in the tumor that were derived from the cell-of-origin from those that were not. Phenotypic, tumorigenic and expression analyses were performed on both populations of these cells. Here we show that during progression of hPDGFb-induced murine gliomas, tumor suppressor loss can expand the recruited cell population not derived from the cell-of-origin within glioma microenvironment to dominate regions of the tumor, with essentially no contribution from the progeny of glioma cell-of-origin. Moreover, the recruited cells can give rise to gliomas upon transplantation and passaging, acquire polysomal expression profiles and genetic aberrations typically present in glioma cells rather than normal progenitors, aid progeny cells in glioma initiation upon transplantation, and become independent of PDGFR signaling.
These results indicate that non-cell-of-origin derived cells within glioma environment in the mouse can be corrupted to become bona fide tumor, and deviate from the generally established view of gliomagenesis.
Pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) is the most common type of primary brain tumor in children and the second most frequent cancer in childhood. Children with incompletely resected PA represent a clinically challenging patient cohort for whom conventional adjuvant therapies are only moderately effective. This has produced high clinical demand for testing of new molecularly targeted treatments. However, the development of new therapeutics for PA has been hampered by the lack of an adequate in vivo tumor model. Recent studies have identified activation of MAPK signaling, mainly by oncogenic BRAF activation, as a hallmark genetic event in the pathogenesis of human PA. Using in vivo retroviral somatic gene transfer into mouse neural progenitor cells, we have shown here that ectopic expression of the activated BRAF kinase domain is sufficient to induce PA in mice. Further in vitro analyses demonstrated that overexpression of activated BRAF led to increased proliferation of primary mouse astrocytes that could be inhibited by treatment with the kinase inhibitor sorafenib. Our in vivo model for PA shows that the activated BRAF kinase domain is sufficient to induce PA and highlights its role as a potential therapeutic target.
The cancer stem cell hypothesis suggests that tumors contain a small population of cancer cells that have the ability to undergo symmetric self-renewing cell division. In tumors that follow this model, cancer stem cells produce various kinds of specified precursors that divide a limited number of times before terminally differentiating or undergoing apoptosis. As cells within the tumor mature, they become progressively more restricted in the cell types to which they can give rise. However, in some tumor types, the presence of certain extra- or intracellular signals can induce committed cancer progenitors to revert to a multipotential cancer stem cell state. In this paper, we design a novel mathematical model to investigate the dynamics of tumor progression in such situations, and study the implications of a reversible cancer stem cell phenotype for therapeutic interventions. We find that higher levels of dedifferentiation substantially reduce the effectiveness of therapy directed at cancer stem cells by leading to higher rates of resistance. We conclude that plasticity of the cancer stem cell phenotype is an important determinant of the prognosis of tumors. This model represents the first mathematical investigation of this tumor trait and contributes to a quantitative understanding of cancer.
During development, proliferation of cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs), candidate cells-of-origin for the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma, requires signaling by Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), whose pathways are also implicated in medulloblastoma. One of the consequences of IGF signaling is inactivation of the mTOR-suppressing Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), comprised of TSC1 and TSC2, leading to increased mRNA translation. We show that mice in which TSC function is impaired display increased mTOR pathway activation, enhanced CGNP proliferation, GSK-3α/β inactivation, and cytoplasmic localization of the cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) inhibitor p27Kip1, which has been proposed to cause its inactivation or gain of oncogenic functions. We observed the same characteristics in wild-type primary cultures of CGNPs in which TSC1 and/or TSC2 were knocked down, and in mouse medulloblastomas induced by ectopic Shh pathway activation. Moreover, Shh-induced mouse medulloblastomas manifested Akt-mediated TSC2 inactivation, and the mutant TSC2 allele synergized with aberrant Shh signaling to increase medulloblastoma incidence in mice. Driving exogenous TSC2 expression in Shh-induced medulloblastoma cells corrected p27Kip1 localization and reduced proliferation. GSK-3α/β inactivation in the tumors in vivo and in primary CGNP cultures was mTOR-dependent, whereas p27Kip1 cytoplasmic localization was regulated upstream of mTOR, by TSC2. These results indicate that a balance between Shh mitogenic signaling and TSC function regulating new protein synthesis and cdk inhibition is essential for normal development and prevention of tumor formation or expansion.
TSC; Sonic hedgehog, cerebellum; medulloblastoma; p27Kip1; mTOR
3′-Deoxy-3′-18F-fluorothymidine (18F-FLT), a partially metabolized thymidine analog, has been used in preclinical and clinical settings for the diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic monitoring of tumor proliferation status. We investigated the use of 18F-FLT for detecting and characterizing genetically engineered mouse (GEM) high-grade gliomas and evaluating the pharmacokinetics in GEM gliomas and normal brain tissue. Our goal was to develop a robust and reproducible method of kinetic analysis for the quantitative evaluation of tumor proliferation.
Dynamic 18F-FLT PET imaging was performed for 60 min in glioma-bearing mice (n = 10) and in non–tumor-bearing control mice (n = 4) by use of a dedicated small-animal PET scanner. A 3-compartment, 4-parameter model was used to characterize 18F-FLT kinetics in vivo. For compartmental analysis, the arterial input was measured by placing a region of interest over the left ventricular blood pool and was corrected for partial-volume averaging. The 18F-FLT “trapping” and tissue flux model parameters were correlated with measured uptake (percentage injected dose per gram [%ID/g]) values at 60 min.
18F-FLT uptake values (%ID/g) at 1 h in brain tumors were significantly greater than those in control brains (mean ± SD: 4.33 ± 0.58 and 0.86 ± 0.22, respectively; P < 0.0004). Kinetic analyses of the measured time–activity curves yielded independent, robust estimates of tracer transport and metabolism, with compartmental model–derived time–activity data closely fitting the measured data. Except for tracer transport, statistically significant differences were found between the applicable model parameters for tumors and normal brains. The tracer retention rate constant strongly correlated with measured 18F-FLT uptake values (r = 0.85, P < 0.0025), whereas a more moderate correlation was found between net 18F-FLT flux and 18F-FLT uptake values (r = 0.61, P < 0.02).
A clinically relevant mouse glioma model was characterized by both static and dynamic small-animal PET imaging of 18F-FLT uptake. Time–activity curves were kinetically modeled to distinguish early transport from a subsequent tracer retention phase. Estimated 18F-FLT rate constants correlated positively with %ID/g measurements. Dynamic evaluation of 18F-FLT uptake offers a promising approach for noninvasively assessing cellular proliferation in vivo and for quantitatively monitoring new antiproliferation therapies.
18F-FLT; proliferation; brain tumors