Metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells provides energy and multiple intermediates critical for cell growth. Hypoxia in tumors represents a hostile environment that can encourage these transformations. We report that glycogen metabolism is upregulated in tumors in vivo and in cancer cells in vitro in response to hypoxia. In vitro, hypoxia induced an early accumulation of glycogen, followed by a gradual decline. Concordantly, glycogen synthase (GYS1) showed a rapid induction, followed by a later increase of glycogen phosphorylase (PYGL). PYGL depletion and the consequent glycogen accumulation led to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels that contributed to a p53-dependent induction of senescence and markedly impaired tumorigenesis in vivo. Metabolic analyses indicated that glycogen degradation by PYGL is important for the optimal function of the pentose phosphate pathway. Thus, glycogen metabolism is a key pathway induced by hypoxia, necessary for optimal glucose utilization, which represents a targetable mechanism of metabolic adaptation.
Purpose Bevacizumab, an anti-VEGFA antibody, inhibits the developing vasculature of tumours, but resistance is common. Antiangiogenic therapy induces hypoxia and we observed increased expression of hypoxia-regulated genes, including carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), in response to Bevacizumab treatment in xenografts. CAIX expression correlates with poor prognosis in most tumour types and with worse outcome in Bevacizumab-treated metastatic colorectal cancer patients, malignant astrocytoma and recurrent malignant glioma. Experimental Design We knocked-down CAIX expression by shRNA in a colon cancer (HT29) and a glioblastoma (U87) cell line which have high hypoxic-induction of CAIX, and over-expressed CAIX in HCT116 cells which has low CAIX. We investigated the effect on growth rate in 3D culture and in vivo, and examined the effect of CAIX knockdown in combination with Bevacizumab. Results CAIX expression was associated with increased growth rate in spheroids and in vivo. Surprisingly, CAIX expression was associated with increased necrosis and apoptosis in vivo and in vitro. We found that acidity inhibits CAIX activity over the pH range found in tumours (pK=6.84), and this may be the mechanism whereby excess acid self-limits the build-up of extracellular acid. Expression of another hypoxia inducible CA isoform, CAXII, was upregulated in 3D but not 2D culture in response to CAIX knockdown. CAIX knockdown enhanced the effect of Bevacizumab treatment, reducing tumour growth rate in vivo. Conclusion This work provides evidence that inhibition of the hypoxic adaptation to anti-angiogenic therapy enhances Bevacizumab treatment and highlights the value of developing small molecules or antibodies which inhibit CAIX for combination therapy.
Spermatocytic seminomas are solid tumors found solely in the testis of predominantly elderly individuals. We investigated these tumors using a genome-wide analysis for structural and numerical chromosomal changes through conventional karyotyping, spectral karyotyping, and array comparative genomic hybridization using a 32 K genomic tiling-path resolution BAC platform (confirmed by in situ hybridization). Our panel of five spermatocytic seminomas showed a specific pattern of chromosomal imbalances, mainly numerical in nature (range, 3-24 per tumor). Gain of chromosome 9 was the only consistent anomaly, which in one case also involved amplification of the 9p21.3-pter region. Parallel chromosome level expression profiling as well as microarray expression analyses (Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0) was also done. Unsupervised cluster analysis showed that a profile containing transcriptional data on 373 genes (difference of z3.0-fold) is suitable for distinguishing these tumors from seminomas/ dysgerminomas. The diagnostic markers SSX2-4 and POU5F1 (OCT3/OCT4), previously identified by us, were among the top discriminatory genes, thereby validating the experimental set-up. In addition, novel discriminatory markers suitable for diagnostic purposes were identified, including Deleted in Azospermia (DAZ). Although the seminomas/dysgerminomas were characterized by expression of stem cell-specific genes (e.g., POU5F1, PROM1/CD133, and ZFP42), spermatocytic seminomas expressed multiple cancer testis antigens, including TSP50 and CTCFL (BORIS), as well as genes known to be expressed specifically during prophase meiosis I (TCFL5, CLGN, and LDHc). This is consistent with different cells of origin, the primordial germ cell and primary spermatocyte, respectively. Based on the region of amplification defined on 9p and the associated expression plus confirmatory immunohistochemistry, DMRT1 (a male-specific transcriptional regulator) was identified as a likely candidate gene for involvement in the development of spermatocytic seminomas.
Specific inhibition of CAIX activity enhanced the effect of tumor irradiation and might, therefore, be an attractive strategy to improve overall cancer treatment.
Anti-angiogenic therapy has increased the progression-free survival of many cancer patients but has had little effect on overall survival, even in colon cancer (average 6–8 weeks) due to resistance. The current licensed targeted therapies all inhibit VEGF signalling (Table1). Many mechanisms of resistance to anti-VEGF therapy have been identified that enable cancers to bypass the angiogenic blockade. In addition, over the last decade, there has been increasing evidence for the role that the hypoxic and metabolic responses play in tumour adaptation to anti-angiogenic therapy. The hypoxic tumour response, through the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), induces major gene expression, metabolic and phenotypic changes, including increased invasion and metastasis. Pre-clinical studies combining anti-angiogenics with inhibitors of tumour hypoxic and metabolic adaptation have shown great promise, and combination clinical trials have been instigated. Understanding individual patient response and the response timing, given the opposing effects of vascular normalisation versus reduced perfusion seen with anti-angiogenics, provides a further hurdle in the paradigm of personalised therapeutic intervention. Additional approaches for targeting the hypoxic tumour microenvironment are being investigated in pre-clinical and clinical studies that have potential for producing synthetic lethality in combination with anti-angiogenic therapy as a future therapeutic strategy.
The availability of Bromodomain and extra-terminal inhibitors (BETi) has enabled translational epigenetic studies in cancer. BET proteins regulate transcription by selectively recognizing acetylated lysine residues on chromatin. BETi compete with this process leading to both downregulation and upregulation of gene expression. Hypoxia enables progression of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), the most aggressive form of breast cancer, partly by driving metabolic adaptation, angiogenesis and metastasis through upregulation of hypoxia regulated genes (e.g. carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). Responses to hypoxia can be mediated epigenetically, thus we investigated whether BETi JQ1 could impair the TNBC response induced by hypoxia and exert anti-tumour effects. JQ1 significantly modulated 44% of hypoxia-induced genes, of which 2/3 were downregulated including CA9 and VEGF-A. JQ1 prevented HIF binding to the HRE in CA9 promoter, but did not alter HIF expression or activity, suggesting some HIF targets are BET-dependent. JQ1 reduced TNBC growth in vitro and in vivo and inhibited xenograft vascularisation. These findings identify that BETi dually targets angiogenesis and the hypoxic response, an effective combination at reducing tumour growth in preclinical studies.
We have previously identified amplification at 4q12 in testicular germ cell tumors of adolescents and adults centered around the KIT gene encoding a tyrosine kinase transmembrane receptor. Analysis of primary testicular germ cell tumors totaling 190 cases revealed 21% of the seminoma subtype with an increased copy number of KIT whereas this change was rarely found in the nonseminomas. In most cases, gain of KIT did not include the immediately flanking noncoding DNA or the flanking genes KDR and PDGFRA. Increased copy number of KIT was not found in the putative precursor lesion, carcinoma in situ (CIS), adjacent to tumor with this change. KIT overexpression was found independent of gain and KIT immunostaining was stronger in selected cases with gain of KIT compared to those without. Taken together with activating mutations of KIT in exon 17 identified in 13% of seminomas, this suggests that the KIT gene product plays a role in the progression of CIS towards seminoma, the further understanding of which may lead to novel less toxic therapeutic approaches. (Cancer Res 2005; 65(18): 8085-89)
Carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the testis is the pre-invasive stage of type II testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) of adolescents and adults. These tumours are the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Caucasian adolescents and young adults. In dysgenetic gonads, the precursor of type II GCTs can be either CIS or a lesion known as gonadoblastoma (GB). CIS/GB originates from a primordial germ cell (PGC)/gonocyte, ie an embryonic cell. CIS can be cured by local low-dose irradiation, with limited side effects on hormonal function. Therefore, strategies for early diagnosis of CIS are essential. Various markers are informative to diagnose CIS in adult testis by immunohistochemistry, including c-KIT, PLAP, AP-2gamma, NANOG, and POU5F1 (OCT3/4). OCT3/4 is the most informative and consistent in presence and expression level, resulting in intense nuclear staining. In the case of maturational delay of germ cells, frequently present in gonads of individuals at risk for type II (T)GCTs, use of these markers can result in overdiagnosis of malignant germ cells. This demonstrates the need for a more specific diagnostic marker to distinguish malignant germ cells from germ cells showing maturation delay. Here we report the novel finding that immunohistochemical detection of stem cell factor (SCF), the c-KIT ligand, is informative in this context. This was demonstrated in over 400 cases of normal (fetal, neonatal, infantile, and adult) and pathological gonads, as well as TGCT-derived cell lines, specifically in cases of CIS and GB. Both membrane-bound and soluble SCF were expressed, suggestive of an autocrine loop. SCF immunohistochemistry can be a valuable diagnostic tool, in addition to OCT3/4, to screen for precursor lesions of TGCTs, especially in patients with germ cell maturation delay.
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