One approach to enhancing the T cell response to tumors is vaccination with mimotopes, mimics of tumor epitopes. While mimotopes can stimulate proliferation of T cells that recognize tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), this expansion does not always correlate with control of tumor growth. We hypothesized that vaccination with mimotopes of optimal affinity in this interaction will improve antitumor immunity. Using a combinatorial peptide library and a cytotoxic T lymphocyte clone that recognizes a TAA, we identified a panel of mimotopes that, when complexed with MHC, bound the TAA-specific TCR with a range of affinities. As expected, in vitro assays showed that the affinity of the TCR-peptide-MHC (TCR-pMHC) interaction correlated with activity of the T cell clone. However, only vaccination with mimotopes in the intermediate-affinity range elicited functional T cells and provided protection against tumor growth in vivo. Vaccination with mimotopes with the highest-affinity TCR-pMHC interactions elicited TAA-specific T cells to the tumor, but did not control tumor growth at any of the peptide concentrations tested. Further analysis of these T cells showed functional defects in response to the TAA. Thus, stimulation of an antitumor response by mimotopes may be optimal with peptides that increase but do not maximize the affinity of the TCR-pMHC interaction.
Rachel H. McMahan, Jennifer A. McWilliams, Kimberly R. Jordan, Steven W. Dow, Darcy B. Wilson, Jill E. Slansky
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are associated with tumor progression and metastasis. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that legumain, a member of the asparaginyl endopeptidase family functioning as a stress protein, overexpressed by TAMs, provides an ideal target molecule. In fact, a legumain-based DNA vaccine served as a tool to prove this point, as it induced a robust CD8+ T cell response against TAMs, which dramatically reduced their density in tumor tissues and resulted in a marked decrease in proangiogenic factors released by TAMs such as TGF-β, TNF-α, MMP-9, and VEGF. This, in turn, led to a suppression of both tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth and metastasis. Importantly, the success of this strategy was demonstrated in murine models of metastatic breast, colon, and non–small cell lung cancers, where 75% of vaccinated mice survived lethal tumor cell challenges and 62% were completely free of metastases. In conclusion, decreasing the number of TAMs in the tumor stroma effectively altered the tumor microenvironment involved in tumor angiogenesis and progression to markedly suppress tumor growth and metastasis. Gaining better insights into the mechanisms required for an effective intervention in tumor growth and metastasis may ultimately lead to new therapeutic targets and better anticancer strategies.
Yunping Luo, He Zhou, Jörg Krueger, Charles Kaplan, Sung-Hyung Lee, Carrie Dolman, Dorothy Markowitz, Wenyuan Wu, Cheng Liu, Ralph A. Reisfeld, Rong Xiang
Recent studies have shown that nicotine, a component of cigarette smoke, can stimulate the proliferation of non-neuronal cells. While nicotine is not carcinogenic by itself, it has been shown to induce cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Here we find that mitogenic effects of nicotine in non–small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) are analogous to those of growth factors and involve activation of Src, induction of Rb–Raf-1 interaction, and phosphorylation of Rb. Analysis of human NSCLC tumors show enhanced levels of Rb–Raf-1 complexes compared with adjacent normal tissue. The mitogenic effects of nicotine were mediated via the α7-nAChR subunit and resulted in enhanced recruitment of E2F1 and Raf-1 on proliferative promoters in NSCLC cell lines and human lung tumors. Nicotine stimulation of NSCLC cells caused dissociation of Rb from these promoters. Proliferative signaling via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) required the scaffolding protein β-arrestin; ablation of β-arrestin or disruption of the Rb–Raf-1 interaction blocked nicotine-induced proliferation of NSCLCs. Additionally, suppression of β-arrestin also blocked activation of Src, suppressed levels of phosphorylated ERK, and abrogated Rb–Raf-1 binding in response to nicotine. It appears that nicotine induces cell proliferation by β-arrestin–mediated activation of the Src and Rb–Raf-1 pathways.
Piyali Dasgupta, Shipra Rastogi, Smitha Pillai, Dalia Ordonez-Ercan, Mark Morris, Eric Haura, Srikumar Chellappan
Tumor-associated fibroblasts are key regulators of tumorigenesis. In contrast to tumor cells, which are genetically unstable and mutate frequently, the presence of genetically more stable fibroblasts in the tumor-stromal compartment makes them an optimal target for cancer immunotherapy. These cells are also the primary source of collagen type I, which contributes to decreased chemotherapeutic drug uptake in tumors and plays a significant role in regulating tumor sensitivity to a variety of chemotherapies. To specifically kill tumor-associated fibroblasts, we constructed an oral DNA vaccine targeting fibroblast activation protein (FAP), which is specifically overexpressed by fibroblasts in the tumor stroma. Through CD8+ T cell–mediated killing of tumor-associated fibroblasts, our vaccine successfully suppressed primary tumor cell growth and metastasis of multidrug-resistant murine colon and breast carcinoma. Furthermore, tumor tissue of FAP-vaccinated mice revealed markedly decreased collagen type I expression and up to 70% greater uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs. Most importantly, pFap-vaccinated mice treated with chemotherapy showed a 3-fold prolongation in lifespan and marked suppression of tumor growth, with 50% of the animals completely rejecting a tumor cell challenge. This strategy opens a new venue for the combination of immuno- and chemotherapies.
Markus Loeffler, Jörg A. Krüger, Andreas G. Niethammer, Ralph A. Reisfeld
Cholangiocellular carcinoma (CC), the second most common primary liver cancer, is associated with a poor prognosis. It has been shown that CCs harbor alterations of a number of tumor-suppressor genes and oncogenes, yet key regulators for tumorigenesis remain unknown. Here we have generated a mouse model that develops CC with high penetrance using liver-specific targeted disruption of tumor suppressors SMAD4 and PTEN. In the absence of SMAD4 and PTEN, hyperplastic foci emerge exclusively from bile ducts of mutant mice at 2 months of age and continue to grow, leading to tumor formation in all animals at 4–7 months of age. We show that CC formation follows a multistep progression of histopathological changes that are associated with significant alterations, including increased levels of phosphorylated AKT, FOXO1, GSK-3β, mTOR, and ERK and increased nuclear levels of cyclin D1. We further demonstrate that SMAD4 and PTEN regulate each other through a novel feedback mechanism to maintain an expression balance and synergistically repress CC formation. Finally, our analysis of human CC detected PTEN inactivation in a majority of p-AKT–positive CCs, while about half also lost SMAD4 expression. These findings elucidate the relationship between SMAD4 and PTEN and extend our understanding of CC formation.
Xiaoling Xu, Shogo Kobayashi, Wenhui Qiao, Cuiling Li, Cuiying Xiao, Svetlana Radaeva, Bangyan Stiles, Rui-Hong Wang, Nobuya Ohara, Tadashi Yoshino, Derek LeRoith, Michael S. Torbenson, Gregory J. Gores, Hong Wu, Bin Gao, Chu-Xia Deng
Resistance to chemotherapy presents a serious challenge in the successful treatment of various cancers and is mainly responsible for mortality associated with disseminated cancers. Here we show that expression of HtrA1, which is frequently downregulated in ovarian cancer, influences tumor response to chemotherapy by modulating chemotherapy-induced cytotoxicity. Downregulation of HtrA1 attenuated cisplatin- and paclitaxel-induced cytotoxicity, while forced expression of HtrA1 enhanced cisplatin- and paclitaxel-induced cytotoxicity. HtrA1 expression was upregulated by both cisplatin and paclitaxel treatment. This upregulation resulted in limited autoproteolysis and activation of HtrA1. Active HtrA1 induces cell death in a serine protease–dependent manner. The potential role of HtrA1 as a predictive factor of clinical response to chemotherapy was assessed in both ovarian and gastric cancer patients receiving cisplatin-based regimens. Patients with ovarian or gastric tumors expressing higher levels of HtrA1 showed a higher response rate compared with those with lower levels of HtrA1 expression. These findings uncover what we believe to be a novel pathway by which serine protease HtrA1 mediates paclitaxel- and cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity and suggest that loss of HtrA1 in ovarian and gastric cancers may contribute to in vivo chemoresistance.
Jeremy Chien, Giovanni Aletti, Alfonso Baldi, Vincenzo Catalano, Pietro Muretto, Gary L. Keeney, Kimberly R. Kalli, Julie Staub, Michael Ehrmann, William A. Cliby, Yean Kit Lee, Keith C. Bible, Lynn C. Hartmann, Scott H. Kaufmann, Viji Shridhar
CTL-associated antigen 4 (CTLA4) blockade releases inhibitory controls on T cell activation and proliferation, inducing antitumor immunity in both preclinical and early clinical trials. We examined the mechanisms of action of anti-CTLA4 and a GM-CSF–transduced tumor cell vaccine (Gvax) and their impact on the balance of effector T cells (Teffs) and Tregs in an in vivo model of B16/BL6 melanoma. Tumor challenge increased the frequency of Tregs in lymph nodes, and untreated tumors became infiltrated by CD4+Foxp3– and CD4+Foxp3+ T cells but few CD8+ T cells. Anti-CTLA4 did not deplete Tregs or permanently impair their function but acted in a cell-intrinsic manner on both Tregs and Teffs, allowing them to expand, most likely in response to self antigen. While Gvax primed the tumor-reactive Teff compartment, inducing activation, tumor infiltration, and a delay in tumor growth, the combination with CTLA4 blockade induced greater infiltration and a striking change in the intratumor balance of Tregs and Teffs that directly correlated with tumor rejection. The data suggest that Tregs control both CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activity within the tumor, highlight the importance of the intratumor ratio of effectors to regulators, and demonstrate inversion of the ratio and correlation with tumor rejection during Gvax/anti-CTLA4 immunotherapy.
Sergio A. Quezada, Karl S. Peggs, Michael A. Curran, James P. Allison
Metastasis is the major cause of cancer morbidity, but strategies for direct interference with invasion processes are lacking. Dedifferentiated, late-stage tumor cells secrete multiple factors that represent attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. Here we show that metastatic potential of oncogenic mammary epithelial cells requires an autocrine PDGF/PDGFR loop, which is established as a consequence of TGF-β–induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a faithful in vitro correlate of metastasis. The cooperation of autocrine PDGFR signaling with oncogenic Ras hyperactivates PI3K and is required for survival during EMT. Autocrine PDGFR signaling also contributes to maintenance of EMT, possibly through activation of STAT1 and other distinct pathways. Inhibition of PDGFR signaling interfered with EMT and caused apoptosis in murine and human mammary carcinoma cell lines. Consequently, overexpression of a dominant-negative PDGFR or application of the established cancer drug STI571 interfered with experimental metastasis in mice. Similarly, in mouse mammary tumor virus–Neu (MMTV-Neu) transgenic mice, TGF-β enhanced metastasis of mammary tumors, induced EMT, and elevated PDGFR signaling. Finally, expression of PDGFRα and -β correlated with invasive behavior in human mammary carcinomas. Thus, autocrine PDGFR signaling plays an essential role during cancer progression, suggesting a novel application of STI571 to therapeutically interfere with metastasis.
Martin Jechlinger, Andreas Sommer, Richard Moriggl, Peter Seither, Norbert Kraut, Paola Capodiecci, Michael Donovan, Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Hartmut Beug, Stefan Grünert
Identification of specific gene expression signatures characteristic of oncogenic pathways is an important step toward molecular classification of human malignancies. Aberrant activation of the Met signaling pathway is frequently associated with tumor progression and metastasis. In this study, we defined the Met-dependent gene expression signature using global gene expression profiling of WT and Met-deficient primary mouse hepatocytes. Newly identified transcriptional targets of the Met pathway included genes involved in the regulation of oxidative stress responses as well as cell motility, cytoskeletal organization, and angiogenesis. To assess the importance of a Met-regulated gene expression signature, a comparative functional genomic approach was applied to 242 human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and 7 metastatic liver lesions. Cluster analysis revealed that a subset of human HCCs and all liver metastases shared the Met-induced expression signature. Furthermore, the presence of the Met signature showed significant correlation with increased vascular invasion rate and microvessel density as well as with decreased mean survival time of HCC patients. We conclude that the genetically defined gene expression signatures in combination with comparative functional genomics constitute an attractive paradigm for defining both the function of oncogenic pathways and the clinically relevant subgroups of human cancers.
Pal Kaposi-Novak, Ju-Seog Lee, Luis Gòmez-Quiroz, Cédric Coulouarn, Valentina M. Factor, Snorri S. Thorgeirsson
T cells recognizing self antigens expressed by cancer cells are prevalent in the immune repertoire. However, activation of these autoreactive T cells is limited by weak signals that are incapable of fully priming naive T cells, creating a state of tolerance or ignorance. Even if T cell activation occurs, immunity can be further restricted by a dominant response directed at only a single epitope. Enhanced antigen presentation of multiple epitopes was investigated as a strategy to overcome these barriers. Specific point mutations that create altered peptide ligands were introduced into the gene encoding a nonimmunogenic tissue self antigen expressed by melanoma, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (Tyrp1). Deficient asparagine-linked glycosylation, which was caused by additional mutations, produced altered protein trafficking and fate that increased antigen processing. Immunization of mice with mutated Tyrp1 DNA elicited cross-reactive CD8+ T cell responses against multiple nonmutated epitopes of syngeneic Tyrp1 and against melanoma cells. These multispecific anti-Tyrp1 CD8+ T cell responses led to rejection of poorly immunogenic melanoma and prolonged survival when immunization was started after tumor challenge. These studies demonstrate how rationally designed DNA vaccines directed against self antigens for enhanced antigen processing and presentation reveal novel self epitopes and elicit multispecific T cell responses to nonimmunogenic, nonmutated self antigens, enhancing immunity against cancer self antigens.
José A. Guevara-Patiño, Manuel E. Engelhorn, Mary Jo Turk, Cailian Liu, Fei Duan, Gabrielle Rizzuto, Adam D. Cohen, Taha Merghoub, Jedd D. Wolchok, Alan N. Houghton