Posts Tagged ‘research’

Early Diagnosis

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

This post contains a curation of all Early Diagnosis posts on this site as well as a curation of the Early Detection Research Network.

Early Research Detection Network (EDRN)

Welcome to EDRN

The Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), an initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), brings together dozens of institutions to help accelerate the translation of biomarker information into clinical applications and to evaluate new ways of testing cancer in its earliest stages and for cancer risk.

Getting Started…

Check out the EDRN Highlights — a listing of our accomplishments and milestones.


► Scientific Components ► For Public, Patients, Advocates
► Collaborative Opportunities (how to join EDRN) ► For Researchers


Highlights of the accomplishments of the Early Detection Research Network.

A brief list of major EDRN-developed assays that have been adapted for clinical use is described in the table below:

Detection/Biomarker Assay Discovery Refine/Adapt for Clin Use Clinical Validation Clinical Translation
Blood proPSA FDA approved
Urine PCA3 FDA approved
OVA1™ for Ovarian Cancer FDA approved
ROMA Algorithm for CA125 and HE4 Tests for Pelvic Mass Malignancies FDA approved
Blood/DCP and AFP-L3 for Hepatocellular Carcinoma FDA approved
Blood GP73 Together with AFP-L3 used  for monitoring cirrhotic patients for HCC in China
MiPS (Mi Prostate Score Urine test), Multiplex analysis of T2-ERG gene fusion, PCA3 and serum PSA In CLIA Lab
FISH to detect T2S:Erg fusion for Prostate Cancer In CLIA Lab
GSTP1 methylation for repeat biopsies in prostate cancer In CLIA Lab
Mitochondrial deletion for detection of prostate cancer In CLIA Lab
Somalogic 12-marker panel for Lung Cancer In CLIA Lab
80-gene panel for Lung Cancer In CLIA Lab
Vimentin Methylation Marker for Colon Cancer In CLIA Lab
Galectin-3 ligand for detection of adenomas and colon cancer In CLIA Lab
8-gene panel for Barrett’s Esophagus In CLIA Lab
SOPs for Blood (Serum, Plasma), Urine, Stool Frequently used by biomarker research community
EDRN Pre/Validation Specimen Reference Sets (specimens from well characterized and matched cases and controls from specific disease spectra) Frequently used by biomarker research community

Since its inception in 1999 EDRN has achieved several key milestones, summarized below:

1998 through 2000: Inception and Inauguration of EDRN

2001 to 2003: Meeting the Challenges to Harness and Share Emerging Scientific Knowledge

  • EDRN Second Report, Translational Research to Identify Early Cancer and Cancer Risk, October 2002, published.
  • EDRN joined the Gordon Research Conferences to co-host the New Frontiers in Cancer detection and Diagnosis in 2002.


  • Guidelines Set for Studies Measuring Biomarker Predictive Power Journal of National Cancer Institute (Vol. 93, No. 14, July 18, 2001).
  • EDRN Associate Membership Program Initiated: This novel approach to make EDRN inclusive has been extremely successful. EDRN has now more than 120 Associate Members who are significantly contributing to EDRN efforts in biomarker discovery, development and validation.

2003 to 2004: Network Surges Ahead in Real-time

  • Collaborative Discovery and Validation Projects:  More than 100 collaborative projects spanned the various organ sites. These projects are monitored through the EDRN’s electronic System Information System (eSIS).
  • EDRN Virtual Specimen Bank and Validation Management System Launched: The EDRN Virtual Specimen Bank, also known as ERNE knowledge system, was deployed to 10 institutions in early 2003, allowing a common web-based query to search for available specimens across the EDRN Clinical Epidemiology and Validation Centers VSIMS was created to allow multiple studies to be administered efficiently by minimizing development time with standardization of information and data management across multiple activities and research sites. This system encompasses all the security features of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-required auditing systems.
  • Partnership on the Plasma Proteome Project (PPP) Initiative of the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO): PPP project was initiated to evaluate multiple technology platforms, develop bioinformatic tools and standards for protein identification, and create a database of the plasma proteome. The entire study was published in the August issue of the journal Proteomics August 2005, Volume 4 (4), pp 1045-1450.

2005 to 2008: An Investment in Prevention

  • In late 2006, EDRN’s Program for Rapid, Independent Diagnostic Evaluation (PRIDE), was established ( ) as an administrative means to assist extramural investigators in successfully conducting cross-laboratory validation of biomarkers. Ten applications have been reviewed and five are being supported.
  • EDRN underwent external reviews in 2007 and 2008.
  • The Canary Foundation, Palo Alto, CA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EDRN, NCI on supporting prostate cancer surveillance network of investigators from seven institutions. The tissue and serum will be collected during a three-year period and will be made available to extramural scientists for discovery and validation research.
  • The Lustgarten Foundation, N.Y., funded 6 institutions to generate monoclonal antibodies and associated hybridoma cell lines for pancreatic cancer antigens (biomarkers) identified by EDRN and non-EDRN investigators. These resources will be stored at the NCI-Frederick Facility for distribution to extramural investigators.

2009 to 2011: Realizing Investment for Clinical Use

  • Two biomarker tests approved by FDA and two IVDs pending FDA review.
  • Six biomarker tests offered by CLIA labs.
  • One biomarker test approved for clinical use outside the USA

A Curation of Posts on Early Detection of Cancer and Other Early Detection Networks is Included Below


BRCA 1 and 2 and Early Detection of Cancer

Early Detection of Prostate Cancer: American Urological Association (AUA) Guideline

Mechanism involved in Breast Cancer Cell Growth: Function in Early Detection & Treatment

Warning signs may lead to better early detection of ovarian cancer

Cancer Detection

Biomarker tool development for Early Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer: Van Andel Institute and Emory University

China, India, and Russia account for 46% of all new cancer cases globally, as well as 52% of cancer-related mortality per 4/2014 Lancet Oncology article



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New Generation of Platinated Compounds to Circumvent Resistance

Curator/Writer: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs continues to be a major hurdle in the treatment of neoplastic disorders, irregardless if the drug is a member of the cytotoxic “older” drugs or the cytostatic “newer” personalized therapies like the tyrosine kinase inhibitors.  For the platinatum compounds such as cisplatin and carboplatin, which are mainstays in therapeutic regimens for ovarian and certain head and neck cancers, development of resistance is often regarded as the final blow, as new options for these diseases have been limited.

Although there are many mechanisms by which resistance to platinated compounds may develop the purpose of this posting is not to do an in-depth review of this area except to refer the reader to the book   Ovarian Cancer and just to summarize the well accepted mechanisms of cisplatin resistance including:

  • Decreased cellular cisplatin influx
  • Increased cellular cisplatin efflux
  • Increased cellular glutathione and subsequent conjugation, inactivation
  • Increased glutathione-S-transferase activity (GST) and subsequent inactivation, conjugation
  • Increased γ-GGT
  • Increased metallothionenes with subsequent conjugation, inactivation
  • Increased DNA repair: increased excision repair
  • DNA damage tolerance: loss of mismatch repair (MMR)
  • altered cell signaling activities and cell cycle protein expression

Williams, S.J., and Hamilton, T.C. Chemotherapeutic resistance in ovarian cancer. In: S.C. Rubin, and G.P. Sutton (eds.), Ovarian Cancer, pp.34-44. Lippincott, Wilkins, and Williams, New York, 2000.

Also for a great review on clinical platinum resistance by Drs. Maritn, Hamilton and Schilder please see the following Clinical Cancer Research link here.

This curation represents the scientific rationale for the development of a new class of platinated compounds which are meant to circumvent mechanisms of resistance, in this case the loss of mismatch repair (MMR) and increased tolerance to DNA damage.

An early step in the production of cytotoxicity by the important anticancer drug cisplatin and its analog carboplatin is the formation of intra- and inter-strand adducts with tumor cell DNA 1-3. This damage triggers a cascade of events, best characterized by activation of damage-sensing kinases (reviewed in 4), p53 stabilization, and induction of p53-related genes involved in apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, such as bax and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21waf1/cip1/sdi1 (p21), respectively 5,6. DNA damage significantly induces p21 in various p53 wild-type tumor cell lines, including ovarian carcinoma cells, and this induction is responsible for the cell cycle arrest at G1/S and G2/M borders, allowing time for repair 7,8.  DNA lesions have the ability of  to result in an opening of chromatin structure, allowing for transcription factors to enter 56-58.  Therefore the anti-tumoral ability of cisplatin and other DNA damaging agents is correlated to their ability to bind to DNA and elicit responses, such as DNA breaks or DNA damage responses which ultimately lead to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.  Therefore either repair of such lesions, the lack of recognition of such lesions, or the cellular tolerance of such lesions can lead to resistance of these agents.


Mechanisms of Cisplatin Sensitivity and Resistance. Red arrows show how a DNA lesion results in chemo-sensitivity while the beige arrow show common mechanisms of resistance including increased repair of the lesion, effects on expression patterns, and increased inactivation of the DNA damaging agent by conjugation reactions


















Increased DNA Repair Mechanisms of Platinated Lesion Lead to ChemoResistance



Description of Different Types of Cellular DNA Repair Pathways. Nucleotide Excision Repair is commonly up-regulated in highly cisplatin resistant cells












Loss of Mismatch Repair Can Lead to DNA Damage Tolerance

dnadamage tolerance









In the following Cancer Research paper Dr. Vaisman in the lab of Dr. Steve Chaney at North Carolina (and in collaboration with Dr. Tom Hamilton) describe how cisplatin resistance may arise from loss of mismatch repair and how oxaliplatin lesions are not recognized by the mismatch repair system.
Cancer Res. 1998 Aug 15;58(16):3579-85.

The role of hMLH1, hMSH3, and hMSH6 defects in cisplatin and oxaliplatin resistance: correlation with replicative bypass of platinum-DNA adducts.


Defects in mismatch repair are associated with cisplatin resistance, and several mechanisms have been proposed to explain this correlation. It is hypothesized that futile cycles of translesion synthesis past cisplatin-DNA adducts followed by removal of the newly synthesized DNA by an active mismatch repair system may lead to cell death. Thus, resistance to platinum-DNA adducts could arise through loss of the mismatch repair pathway. However, no direct link between mismatch repair status and replicative bypass ability has been reported. In this study, cytotoxicity and steady-state chain elongation assays indicate that hMLH1 or hMSH6 defects result in 1.5-4.8-fold increased cisplatin resistance and 2.5-6-fold increased replicative bypass of cisplatin adducts. Oxaliplatin adducts are not recognized by the mismatch repair complex, and no significant differences in bypass of oxaliplatin adducts in mismatch repair-proficient and -defective cells were found. Defects in hMSH3 did not alter sensitivity to, or replicative bypass of, either cisplatin or oxaliplatin adducts. These observations support the hypothesis that mismatch repair defects in hMutL alpha and hMutS alpha, but not in hMutS beta, contribute to increased net replicative bypass of cisplatin adducts and therefore to drug resistance by preventing futile cycles of translesion synthesis and mismatch correction.



The following are slides I had co-prepared with my mentor Dr. Thomas C. Hamilton, Ph.D. of Fox Chase Cancer Center on DNA Mismatch Repair, Oxaliplatin and Ovarina Cancer.








Multiple Platinum Analogs of Cisplatin (like Oxaliplatin )Had Been Designed to be Sensitive in MMR Deficient Tumors












































Please see below video on 2015 Nobel Laureates and their work to elucidate the celluar DNA repair mechanisms.

Clinical genetics expert Kenneth Offit gives an overview of Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause colon (HNPCC) and other cancers by defects in the MSH2 DNA mismatch repair gene. (View Video)




  1. Johnson, S. W. et al. Relationship between platinum-DNA adduct formation, removal, and cytotoxicity in cisplatin sensitive and resistant human ovarian cancer cells. Cancer Res 54, 5911-5916 (1994).
  2. Eastman, A. The formation, isolation and characterization of DNA adducts produced by anticancer platinum complexes. Pharmacology and Therapeutics 34, 155-166 (1987).
  3. Zhen, W. et al. Increased gene-specific repair of cisplatin interstrand cross-links in cisplatin-resistant human ovarian cancer cell lines. Molecular and Cellular Biology 12, 3689-3698 (1992).
  4. Durocher, D. & Jackson, S. P. DNA-PK, ATM and ATR as sensors of DNA damage: variations on a theme? Curr Opin Cell Biol 13, 225-231 (2001).
  5. el-Deiry, W. S. p21/p53, cellular growth control and genomic integrity. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 227, 121-37 (1998).
  6. Ewen, M. E. & Miller, S. J. p53 and translational control. Biochim Biophys Acta 1242, 181-4 (1996).
  7. Gartel, A. L., Serfas, M. S. & Tyner, A. L. p21–negative regulator of the cell cycle. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 213, 138-49 (1996).
  8. Chang, B. D. et al. p21Waf1/Cip1/Sdi1-induced growth arrest is associated with depletion of mitosis-control proteins and leads to abnormal mitosis and endoreduplication in recovering cells. Oncogene 19, 2165-70 (2000).
  9. Davies, N. P., Hardman, L. C. & Murray, V. The effect of chromatin structure on cisplatin damage in intact human cells. Nucleic Acids Res 28, 2954-2958 (2000).
  10. Vichi, P. et al. Cisplatin- and UV-damaged DNA lure the basal transcription factor TFIID/TBP. Embo J 16, 7444-7456 (1997).
  11. Xiao, G. et al. A DNA damage signal is required for p53 to activate gadd45. Cancer Res 60, 1711-9 (2000).

Other articles in this Open Access Journal on ChemoResistance Include:

Cancer Stem Cells as a Mechanism of Resistance

An alternative approach to overcoming the apoptotic resistance of pancreatic cancer

Mutation D538G – a novel mechanism conferring acquired Endocrine Resistance causes a change in the Estrogen Receptor and Treatment of Breast Cancer with Tamoxifen

Can IntraTumoral Heterogeneity Be Thought of as a Mechanism of Resistance?

Nitric Oxide Mitigates Sensitivity of Melanoma Cells to Cisplatin

Heroes in Medical Research: Barnett Rosenberg and the Discovery of Cisplatin

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Cancer Stem Cells as a Mechanism of Resistance


Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

The cancer stem-cell hypothesis proposes the existence of a subset of cells within a heterogeneous tumor cell population that have stem-cell like properties [1], and may be essential for the progression and metastases of epithelial malignancies, by providing a reservoir of cells that self-renew and differentiate into the bulk of the tumor [2]. The stem-cell hypothesis implies that similar genetic regulatory pathways might define critical stem-cell like functions, such as self-renewal and pluripotency, in both normal and cancer stem-cells. Indeed, cancer stem-cells have been identified in many tumor types, such as breast [3], pancreas [4] and ovarian [5], based on screening with cellular markers typically found in normal stem-cells such as CD44, ALDH1, and CD133 (reviewed in [2]). A number of studies have suggested that the expression of these stem-cell markers is correlated with poor prognosis [6-9]. The ability to identify and isolate these populations may have a significant impact on design of individualized therapies.

Great general posts and good review on this site about Cancer Stem Cells, their markers, and ability to target them with chemotherapy can be seen here.

In Focus: Identity of Cancer Stem Cells

In Focus: Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells

Stem Cells and Cancer


However, there has been growing acknowledgement of the ability of cancer stem cell populations to resist the cytotoxic effects of most chemotherapeutic agents, including cisplatin, topoisomerase inhibitors, DNA damaging agents, and even tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). Indeed, some feel that intrinsic resistance to cytotoxic drugs may be a biological feature of cancer stem cells.


Acquired resistance: a resistance to a particular drug which results following continued exposure to said drug. Can take days (in cases of some TKIs) or months to develop. Acquired resistant cells lines are developed by exposure to increasing drug concentration over a time period (either intermittent exposure or continuous exposure)

Intrinsic resistance: a pre-existing resistance usually termed refractory where cancer cells THAT HAVE NOT BEEN EXPOSED to drug, do not respond to initial drug exposure. Can be seen experimentally in panels of unrelated cancer cells lines isolated from untreated patients which show no cytotoxicity to drug exposure in vitro.

Below is one of the first reports which described the drug resistant phenotype of cancer stem cells in an in vivo (mouse) model of breast cancer with videos.

Cancer Res. 2008 May 1;68(9):3243-50. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-5480.

Cancer stem cells contribute to cisplatin resistance in Brca1/p53-mediated mouse mammary tumors.

Shafee N1, Smith CR, Wei S, Kim Y, Mills GB, Hortobagyi GN, Stanbridge EJ, Lee EY.

Author information


The majority of BRCA1-associated breast cancers are basal cell-like, which is associated with a poor outcome. Using a spontaneous mouse mammary tumor model, we show that platinum compounds, which generate DNA breaks during the repair process, are more effective than doxorubicin in Brca1/p53-mutated tumors. At 0.5 mg/kg of daily cisplatin treatment, 80% primary tumors (n = 8) show complete pathologic response. At greater dosages, 100% show complete response (n = 19). However, after 2 to 3 months of complete remission following platinum treatment, tumors relapse and become refractory to successive rounds of treatment. Approximately 3.8% to 8.0% (mean, 5.9%) of tumor cells express the normal mammary stem cell markers, CD29(hi)24(med), and these cells are tumorigenic, whereas CD29(med)24(-/lo) and CD29(med)24(hi) cells have diminished tumorigenicity or are nontumorigenic, respectively. In partially platinum-responsive primary transplants, 6.6% to 11.0% (mean, 8.8%) tumor cells are CD29(hi)24(med); these populations significantly increase to 16.5% to 29.2% (mean, 22.8%; P < 0.05) in platinum-refractory secondary tumor transplants. Further, refractory tumor cells have greater colony-forming ability than the primary transplant-derived cells in the presence of cisplatin. Expression of a normal stem cell marker, Nanog, is decreased in the CD29(hi)24(med) populations in the secondary transplants. Top2A expression is also down-regulated in secondary drug-resistant tumor populations and, in one case, was accompanied by genomic deletion of Top2A. These studies identify distinct cancer cell populations for therapeutic targeting in breast cancer and implicate clonal evolution and expansion of cancer stem-like cells as a potential cause of chemoresistance.

Please Watch Videos


Below is a curation of talks and abstracts from the 2015 Annual AACR Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

The Talk by Dr. Cheresh is an example of this school of thought; that inducing cancer cell stemness can result in development of drug resistance, in this case to a TKI. (For a press release on this finding see here.)

SY27-04: Induction of cancer stemness and drug resistance by EGFR blockade
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 12:00 PM -12:15 PM
David A. Cheresh. UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA

Presentation Title: Induction of cancer stemness and drug resistance by EGFR blockade
Presentation Time: Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 12:00 PM -12:15 PM
Abstract Body: Tumor drug resistance is often accompanied by genetic and biological changes in the tumor cell population reflecting the acquisition of a stem-like state. However, it is not clear whether cancer therapies select for the growth of drug resistance cancer stem cells and/or directly induce the reprograming of tumor cells to a cancer stem-like, drug resistance state. We provide evidence that breast, pancreas and lung carcinomas in the presence of prolonged exposure to EGFR inhibitors undergo an epigenetic reprogramming resulting in a drug resistant stem-like tumor population expressing the cell surface marker CD61 (b3 integrin). In fact, CD61 in the context of KRAS, is necessary and sufficient to account for drug resistance, tumor initiation, self-renewal and expression of the pluripotent genes Oct 4 and Nanog. Once expressed, CD61 in the unligated state recruits KRAS to the plasma membrane leading to the activation of RalB, TBK1 and c-Rel driving both stemness and EGFR inhibitor resistance. Pharmacological targeting this pathway with drugs such as bortezomib or revlimid not only reverses stemness but resensitizes these epithelial tumors to EGFR inhibition. This epigenetic pathway can also be initiated by range of cellular stresses found within the tumor microenvironment such as hypoxia, nutrient deprivation, low pH, and oxidative stress. In normal tissues CD61 is induced during tissue remodeling and repair. For example, CD61 was found to be critical for mammary gland remodeling during pregnancy and as a mediator of pathological neovascularization. Together these findings reveal a stress-induced epigenetic pathway characterized by the upregulation of CD61 that promotes the remodeling of normal tissues but in tumors contributes to EGFR inhibitor resistance and tumor progression.

Selected Abstracts

  1. Abstract 1
  2. Molecular and Cellular Biology – Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts – Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms: Abstract 4: ABT-263 is effective in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer cell lines
    • Aoi Kuroda,
    • Keiko Ohgino,
    • Hiroyuki Yasuda,
    • Junko Hamamoto,
    • Daisuke Arai,
    • Kota Ishioka,
    • Tetsuo Tani,
    • Shigenari Nukaga,
    • Ichiro Kawada,
    • Katsuhiko Naoki,
    • Kenzo Soejima,
    • and Tomoko Betsuyaku

Cancer Res August 1, 2015 75:4; doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-4

  1. Abstract 2
  2. Molecular and Cellular Biology – Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts – Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms: Abstract 6: Quantitative assessment of BCL-2:BIM complexes as a pharmacodynamic marker for venetoclax (ABT-199)
    • Sha Jin,
    • Paul Tapang,
    • Donald J. Osterling,
    • Wenqing Gao,
    • Daniel H. Albert,
    • Andrew J. Souers,
    • Joel D. Leverson,
    • Darren C. Phillips,
    • and Jun Chen

Cancer Res August 1, 2015 75:6; doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-6

  1. Molecular and Cellular Biology – Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts – Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms: Abstract 24: The phosphorylation of p53 at serine 46 is essential to induce cell death through palmdelphin in response to DNA damage
    • Nurmaa Khund Dashzeveg and
    • Kiyotsugu Yoshida

Cancer Res August 1, 2015 75:24; doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-24

  1. Abstract 5
  2. Molecular and Cellular Biology – Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts – Poster Presentations – Cell Signaling in Cancer 1: Abstract 48: Identification of a novel binding protein playing a critical role in HER2 activation in lung cancer cells
    • Tomoaki Ohtsuka,
    • Masakiyo Sakaguchi,
    • Katsuyoshi Takata,
    • Shinsuke Hashida,
    • Mototsugu Watanabe,
    • Ken Suzawa,
    • Yuho Maki,
    • Hiromasa Yamamoto,
    • Junichi Soh,
    • Hiroaki Asano,
    • Kazunori Tsukuda,
    • Shinichiro Miyoshi,
    • and Shinichi Toyooka

Cancer Res August 1, 2015 75:48; doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-48

  1. Abstract 1 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms

Abstract 4: ABT-263 is effective in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer cell lines

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA


ABT-263 (Navitoclax) is one of the BH3 mimetics targeting anti-apoptotic B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) family proteins such as Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, and Bcl-w, thereby inducing apoptosis. It has been reported that the response to ABT-263 is associated with expressions of myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1), an anti-apoptotic protein. Given its effectiveness as a single agent in preclinical studies, ABT-263 is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and leukemia. However, the efficacy of ABT-263 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has not been fully evaluated. We examined the effect of ABT-263 on cell proliferation of NSCLC cell lines and investigated the underlying mechanisms.


The following 9 NSCLC cell lines were examined: SK-LU-1, A549, H358, Calu3, H3122, H1975, H460, H441, and BID007. The effects of ABT-263 in NSCLC cell lines were evaluated by MTS assay. Apoptosis was examined by flowcytometry using staining for annexin V and propidium iodide (PI), and also western blotting for cleaved PARP. Quantitative RT-PCR was carried out to assess the mRNA expression levels of anti-apoptotic genes and pro-apoptotic genes. Immunoprecipitation and western blotting were performed to compare the levels of anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic proteins between the sensitive and resistant cell lines. In addition, knockdown of Mcl-1 was performed by siRNA.


By screening 9 NSCLC cell lines using MTS assay, we found Calu3 and BID007were sensitive to ABT-263. We also confirmed that apoptosis was induced only in the ABT-263 sensitive lines but not in the ABT-263 resistant cell lines after ABT-263 treatment. However, the expression levels of Bcl-2 family proteins, including Mcl-1, did not differ significantly among the ABT-263 sensitive and resistant cell lines. Unlike the results in previous reports regarding SCLC, Mcl-1 was not decreased in the sensitive cell lines. The ABT-263 resistant cell lines became sensitive to ABT-263 after knockdown of Mcl-1 by siRNA, while the ABT-263 sensitive cell lines maintained the same sensitivity.


We found that Calu3 and BID007 were sensitive to ABT-263. In the sensitive NSCLC cell lines, ABT-263 induces apoptosis irrespective of Mcl-1 expression levels.

Citation Format: Aoi Kuroda, Keiko Ohgino, Hiroyuki Yasuda, Junko Hamamoto, Daisuke Arai, Kota Ishioka, Tetsuo Tani, Shigenari Nukaga, Ichiro Kawada, Katsuhiko Naoki, Kenzo Soejima, Tomoko Betsuyaku. ABT-263 is effective in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 4. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-4

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 2 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms

Abstract 6: Quantitative assessment of BCL-2:BIM complexes as a pharmacodynamic marker for venetoclax (ABT-199)

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

The BCL-2-selective inhibitor venetoclax (ABT-199) binds with high affinity to the BH3-binding groove of BCL-2, thereby competing for binding with the BH3-only protein BIM (Souers et al., 2013). Venetoclax is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for CLL, AML, multiple myeloma and NHL. To facilitate these studies, we developed and validated a 384-well electrochemiluminescent ELISA (MSD, Gaithersburg, MD,USA) that quantifies expression of BCL-2, BCL-XL, and MCL-1protein alone or in complex with BIM. We subsequently quantified expression of BCL-2 and BCL-2:BIM complexes in 16 hematologic tumor cell lines. We found the EC50 of venetoclax in these tumor cell lines to correlate strongly with baseline BCL-2:BIM complex levels. This correlation was superior to the correlation between venetoclax EC50 and absolute BCL-2 expression. We also applied the assay to measure disruption of BCL-2:BIM complexes in vivo. Treatment of the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) xenograft model SU-DHL-4 with a BCL-2-selective inhibitor resulted in disruption of tumor BCL-2:BIM complexes that aligned with serum and tumor concentrations of inhibitor. Collectively, these data demonstrate that quantifying BCL-2:BIM complexes offers an accurate means of assessing target engagement by venetoclax and, potentially, predicting its efficacy. The utility of this assay is currently being assessed in clinical trials.

Citation Format: Sha Jin, Paul Tapang, Donald J. Osterling, Wenqing Gao, Daniel H. Albert, Andrew J. Souers, Joel D. Leverson, Darren C. Phillips, Jun Chen. Quantitative assessment of BCL-2:BIM complexes as a pharmacodynamic marker for venetoclax (ABT-199). [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 6. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-6

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 3 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms

Abstract 19: Antitumor activity of selective inhibitors of XPO1/CRM1-mediated nuclear export in diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: the role of survivin

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

Survivin, which is highly expressed and promotes cell survival in diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (DMPM), exclusively relies on the nuclear exportin 1 (XPO1/CRM1) to be released in the cytoplasm and perform its anti-apoptotic function. Here, we explored the efficacy of selective inhibitors of nuclear export (SINEs) in patient-derived DMPM preclinical models. Exposure to individual SINE (KPT-251, KPT-276, KPT-330) was able to induce a time- and dose-dependent inhibition of the growth of two DMPM cell lines without affecting normal cell proliferation. Such a cell growth inhibition was preceded by a decline in the nuclear XPO1/CRM1 levels and an increase in the nuclear accumulation of its cargo proteins p53 and p21, which led to a cell cycle arrest at G1-phase. Our results also indicated that survivin is an essential component of the downstream signaling pathway of XPO1/CRM1 inhibition in DMPM cells. In fact, in both cell lines, exposure to SINEs led to a time-dependent reduction of cytoplasmic survivin levels and, after an initial survivin nuclear accumulation, also to a progressive decrease in the nuclear protein abundance, through the ubiquitin-proteasomal degradation pathway, leading to the complete depletion of total survivin levels. In both DMPM cell models, according to survivin anti-apoptotic activity, drug-induced reduction of cytoplasmic survivin levels correlated with the onset of caspase-dependent apoptosis. We further observed that SINEs can be combined with other survivin inhibitors, such as the survivin suppressant YM155 to achieve enhanced growth inhibition in DMPM cells. Initial in vivo experiments with orally administered KPT-251, KPT-276 and the orally available, clinical stage KPT-330 (selinexor) indicated that each compound was able to significantly reduce the growth of early-stage subcutaneous DMPM xenografts. Interestingly, additional experiments carry out with selinexor demonstrated that the compound was also able to inhibit the growth of late-stage subcutaneous DMPM xenografts in nude mice. Most importantly, oral administration of selinexor to SCID mice reduced the growth of orthotopic DMPM xenografts, which properly recapitulate the dissemination pattern in the peritoneal cavity of human DMPM and, for this reason, represent a valuable model for investigating novel therapeutic approaches for the disease. Consistent with an important role of survivin as a determinant of anti-cancer activity of SINE compounds, a reduction of the protein expression was observed in tumor specimens obtained from selinexor treated mice. Overall, our results (i) demonstrate a marked efficacy of SINEs in DMPM preclinical models, which is, at least in part, dependent on the interference with survivin intracellular distribution and function, and (ii) suggest SINE-mediated XPO1/CRM1 inhibition as a novel therapeutic option for the disease.

Citation Format: Nadia Zaffaroni, Michelandrea De Cesare, Denis Cominetti, Valentina Doldi, Alessia Lopergolo, Marcello Deraco, Paolo Gandellini, Yosef Landesman, Sharon Friedlander, Michael G. Kauffman, Sharon Shacham, Marzia Pennati. Antitumor activity of selective inhibitors of XPO1/CRM1-mediated nuclear export in diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: the role of survivin. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 19. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-19

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 4 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Death Mechanisms

Abstract 24: The phosphorylation of p53 at serine 46 is essential to induce cell death through palmdelphin in response to DNA damage

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

Tumor suppressor p53 plays a pivotal role in cell cycle arrest, DNA repair, and apoptosis in response to DNA damage. Promoter selectivity of p53 depends mainly on post-translational modification. Notably, the apoptotic function of p53 is related to its phosphorylation at serine-46 (ser46) to promote pro-apoptotic genes. However, little is known about the pro-apoptotic genes induced by Ser46 phosphorylation. Our research achieved to investigate the pro-apoptotic genes induced by p53 in a phospho-ser46-specific manner using microarray and ChIP sequencing in human cancer cell lines. As a result, palmdelphin (PALMD), an isoform of paralemmin protein, was strongly elicited from the phosphorylation of ser46. The mRNA and protein expression of PALMD increased only in wild type p53 transfected cells, but not in ser46-mutated cells. Importantly, PALMD moved to the nucleus in response to DNA damage and the apoptotic function of PALMD was tightly exerted with localization into nucleus. Interestingly, down-regulation of PALMD by siRNA resulted in necroptosis-like cell death through ATP depletion. Moreover, we found vimentin as a PALMD interacting protein and the depletion of vimentin increased PALMD level to accelerate apoptosis. These results demonstrate that p53 regulates cell death fate (apoptosis or necroptosis-like cell death) through promoting PALMD expression in a phospho-ser46-specific manner in response to DNA damage.

Citation Format: Nurmaa Khund Dashzeveg, Kiyotsugu Yoshida. The phosphorylation of p53 at serine 46 is essential to induce cell death through palmdelphin in response to DNA damage. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 24. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-24

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 5 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Signaling in Cancer 1

Abstract 48: Identification of a novel binding protein playing a critical role in HER2 activation in lung cancer cells

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is a member of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family. Previous studies have revealed that many kinds of malignant tumors have genetic mutations or amplification of HER2, indicating that HER2 alterations are oncogenic. Many kinds of HER2 targeted therapies are effective to HER2 positive tumors, but those treated tumors often get resistance to drugs. Thus, to elucidate HER2 related pathway in cancer biology is important to develop new therapeutic strategy for cancers.

Recently, we newly identified a protein X (a temporary name) as a novel binding protein to HER2 with immunoprecipitation and following LC-Ms/Ms analysis. The protein generally expressed in lung and breast cancers at remarkable level.

We constructed plasmid vectors carrying wild type HER2 and gene X. These vectors were simultaneously introduced to HEK293T cells to examine the binding ability of protein X and HER2 as well as the effect of gene X on HER2-mediated signal-transduction pathway. The approach clearly showed that the expression of gene X, resulted in phosphorylation of HER2 and subsequent activation of oncogenic effector molecules.

We next constructed several kinds of gene X-truncated variants and subjected to the binding assay to look for the binding domain of gene X to HER2. The analysis showed that N-terminal head domain of gene X was essential for the HER2 binding. This domain has an ability to induce HER2 phosphorylation and subsequent activation of the effector kinase, ERK.

In conclusion, we found that gene X is a novel binding protein to HER2 and has a role in HER2 activation.

Citation Format: Tomoaki Ohtsuka, Masakiyo Sakaguchi, Katsuyoshi Takata, Shinsuke Hashida, Mototsugu Watanabe, Ken Suzawa, Yuho Maki, Hiromasa Yamamoto, Junichi Soh, Hiroaki Asano, Kazunori Tsukuda, Shinichiro Miyoshi, Shinichi Toyooka. Identification of a novel binding protein playing a critical role in HER2 activation in lung cancer cells. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 48. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-48

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 6 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Signaling in Cancer 1

Abstract 54: Ezrin enhances signaling and nuclear translocation of the epidermal growth factor receptor in non-small cell lung cancer cells

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

The cytoskeletal cross linker protein ezrin is a member of the ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM) family and plays important roles not only in cell motility, cell adhesion, and apoptosis, but also in various cell-signaling pathways. Ezrin interacts with EGFR in the cell membrane and involves in cell motility events, but little is known about the effects of this interaction on the EGFR signaling pathway. We investigated the role of Ezrin in EGFR signaling and nuclear trafficking in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines. The ligand induced interaction between Ezrin and EGFR was evaluated by immunoprecipitation (IP) and immunofluorescence (IF) in H292 and A549 cells. Ezrin levels were reduced using siRNA in these two cell lines. Downstream signaling protein phosphorylation and nuclear localization of EGFR were detected after EGF treatment. Expressions of nuclear EGFR target genes were evaluated by qPCR. Endogenous Ezrin was found in a complex with EGFR in IP and IF. When Ezrin protein expression was inhibited, phosphorylation levels of EGFR at Y1068, Y1101 and Y845 were reduced as well as phosphorylation levels of downstream signaling pathway proteins ERK and STAT3. Cell fractionation revealed that EGFR nuclear translocation after EGF treatment significantly reduced in Ezrin-knockdown cells. Further, mRNA levels of EGFR target genes AuroraK-A, COX2, Cyclin D1 and iNOS were decreased in Ezrin-knockdown A549 cells. Small molecule ezrin inhibitors showed strong synergy with EGFR inhibitors in cytotoxicity assays. These results suggest that Ezrin has a role as an enhancer in the EGFR pathway and targeting ezrin may potentiate anti-EGFR based therapies in NSCLC.

Citation Format: Yasemin Saygideger Kont, Haydar Celik, Hayriye V. Erkizan, Tsion Minas, Jenny Han, Jeffrey Toretsky, Aykut Uren. Ezrin enhances signaling and nuclear translocation of the epidermal growth factor receptor in non-small cell lung cancer cells. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 54. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-54

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 7 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Cell Signaling in Cancer 1

Abstract 57: Substrates of protein kinase C drive cell rac1-dependent motility

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

This laboratory has identified and/or characterized substrates of PKC that upon phosphorylation give rise to motility, an aspect of metastasis. By use of the traceable kinase method, we discovered that alpha-tubulin and Cdc42 effector protein-4 (CEP4) are PKC substrates. Phosphorylation of alpha-tubulin stimulates its incorporation into microtubules (MTs), consequently increasing the stability and prolonged growth of MTs and leading to the activation of the small GTPase Rac1. CEP4 undergoes phosphorylation by PKC that results in its release from Cdc42, whereupon CEP4 binds a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that in turn activates Rac1 GTPase. These results imply that Rac1 acts as a node in pathways driven by phosphorylated PKC substrates. Since translocation of IQGAP to the membrane is known to be promoted by Rac1, a role is explored in non-transformed human MCF-10A cells that express a specific phospho-mimetic mutant substrate. In addition, the phospho-mimetic mutant for each substrate expressed in human metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells produces different morphologies in 3-D growth assays. This research is being supported by NIH CA125632.

Citation Format: Susan A. Rotenberg, Xin Zhao, Shatarupa De. Substrates of protein kinase C drive cell rac1-dependent motility. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 57. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-57

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 8 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Deregulation of Gene Expression in Prostate Cancer and Sarcoma

Abstract 88: The Nkx3.1 homeobox gene maintains prostatic identity while its loss leads to prostate cancer initiation

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA


Maintenance of epithelial cell identity is tightly coordinated by tissue-specific gene expression programs, which are often deregulated during tumorigenesis. The homeodomain-containing transcription factor, Nkx3.1, is a key regulator of normal prostatic development and is frequently lost at early stages of prostate cancer initiation. In this study, we aim to elucidate detailed mechanisms governing Nkx3.1-driven maintenance of prostate identity and how deregulation of such can lead to prostate tumorigenesis.

Models and Methods

We evaluated the consequences of Nkx3.1 loss or gain of function in vivo using genetically-engineered mouse models and cell-recombination assays. RNA sequencing was performed to generate gene expression profiles, which were analyzed using Gene Set Enrichment analysis (GSEA), and validated by quantitative real-time PCR. In parallel, protein expression was assessed by immunofluorescence and western blot. Immunoprecipitation (IP) and chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays were performed using RWPE1 prostate epithelial cells.


Here, we show that loss of function of Nkx3.1 leads to the progressive down-regulation of a prostate-specific gene expression program and to aberrant expression of genes that are not typically expressed in the prostate epithelium. Conversely, gain of function of Nkx3.1 in non-prostatic epithelium leads to the acquisition of a prostate-like morphology and expression of prostate-related genes. Our findings indicate that the underlying mechanism by which Nkx3.1 promotes prostatic identity is via epigenetic regulation of gene expression. In particular, we show that Nkx3.1 interacts with the histone methyl-transferase complex G9a/Glp. Finally, we demonstrate that this interaction is necessary for maintenance of prostate identity in vivo and that Nkx3.1 and G9a cooperate to control expression of genes that coordinate prostatic epithelial integrity.


Our results suggest that Nkx3.1 promotes prostatic identity by interacting with histone modifying enzymes to coordinate the expression of prostate-specific genes and that the loss of this function results in a failure to maintain prostate identity associated with early stages of prostate tumorigenesis.

Citation Format: Clémentine Le Magnen, Aditya Dutta, Cory Abate-Shen. The Nkx3.1 homeobox gene maintains prostatic identity while its loss leads to prostate cancer initiation. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 88. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-88

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 9 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Deregulation of Gene Expression in Prostate Cancer and Sarcoma

Abstract 90: K63-linked JARID1B ubiquitination by TRAF6 contributes to aberrant elevation of JARID1B in prostate cancer

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

Aberrant elevation of JARID1B and histone H3 Lys4 trimethylations (H3K4me3) is frequently observed in many diseases including prostate cancer (PCa), yet the mechanisms on the regulations of JARID1B and H3K4me3 through epigenetic modifications still remain poorly understood. In this study we performed immunohistochemistry staining, immunofluorescence imaging, immunoprecipitation, shRNA and Western blotting analysis in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), mouse models, and cultured human prostate cancer cells. As a result, we discovered that SKP2 modulates JARID1B and H3K4me3 levels in vitro in PTEN null prostate cancer cells and in vivo in Pten/Trp53 mouse models. We demonstrated that levels of SKP2, JARID1B and H3K4me3 are strikingly elevated in vitro and in vivo when both PTEN and P53 are inactivated. Importantly, SKP2 inactivation resulted in a reduction of cell growth, cell migration and malignant transformation of Pten/Trp53 double null MEFs, and further restrained prostate tumorigenesis of Pten/Trp53 mutant mice. Mechanistically, JARID1B is ubiquitinated by E3 ligase TRAF6 through the K63-linkage in prostate cancer cells. Interestingly, SKP2 contributes to JARID1B ubiquitination machinery as a non-E3 ligase regulator by decreasing TRAF6-mediated ubiquitination of JARID1B. SKP2 deficiency resulted in an increase of JARID1B ubiquitination and in turn a reduction of H3K4me3, and induced senescence through JARID1B accumulation in nucleoli of PCa cells and prostate tumors of mice. Furthermore, we showed that the aberrant levels of SKP2, JARID1B, and H3K4me3 are associated with malignant features of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) in mice. Overall, our findings reveal a novel network of SKP2- JARID1B, and targeting SKP2 and JARID1B may be a potential strategy for PCa control.

Citation Format: Wenfu Lu, Shenji Liu, Bo Li, Yingqiu Xie, Christine Adhiambo, Qing Yang, Billy R. Ballard, Keiichi I. Nakayama, Robert J. Matusik, Zhenbang Chen. K63-linked JARID1B ubiquitination by TRAF6 contributes to aberrant elevation of JARID1B in prostate cancer. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 90. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-90

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
  1. Abstract 10 of 10Molecular and Cellular Biology / Poster Presentations – Proffered Abstracts / Poster Presentations – Histone Methylation and Acetylation

Abstract 97: CARM1 preferentially methylates H3R17 over H3R26 through a random kinetic mechanism

Proceedings: AACR 106th Annual Meeting 2015; April 18-22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA

CARM1 (PRMT4) is a type I arginine methyltransferase involved in the regulation of transcription, pre-mRNA splicing, cell cycle progression and the DNA damage response. Overexpression of CARM1 has been implicated in breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. Since CARM1 appears to be a good target for the development of therapies against these cancers, we studied the substrate specificity and kinetic mechanism of the full-length human enzyme. CARM1 has been shown to methylate both residues R17 and R26 of histone H3. Substrate specificity was examined by testing CARM1 activity with several H3-based peptide substrates using a radiometric assay. Comparison of kcat/KM values reveal that methylation of H3R17 is preferred over H3R26. An R17/R26K peptide produced 8-fold greater kcat/KM value compared to the corresponding R17K/R26 peptide. These effects are KM-driven as kcat values remain relatively constant for the peptides tested. Shortening the peptide at the C-terminus by 5 amino acid residues greatly reduced the specificity (16-24-fold), demonstrating the contribution of distal residues to substrate binding. In contrast, adding residues to the N-terminus of the shortened peptide had a negative effect on activity. CARM1 displays little preference for monomethylated over unmethylated H3R17 (2-5-fold by kcat/KM) suggesting that it operates through a distributive mechanism. Previous crystallographic studies with mouse CARM1 showed that part of the substrate binding groove was formed by cofactor binding, thereby suggesting an ordered kinetic mechanism (Yue et al., EMBO J., 2007). Our results from dead-end and product inhibition studies performed with human CARM1, however, are consistent with a random kinetic mechanism. SAH and sinefungin demonstrate competitive inhibition with respect to SAM and produced noncompetitive inhibition patterns with respect to peptide. Both dimethylated R17 product peptide and dead-end R17K peptide exhibited noncompetitive inhibition patterns with respect to SAM. Furthermore, binding of SAM and peptide substrates were shown to be independent of each other in initial velocity experiments where both substrates were varied. Together, these results elucidate the kinetic mechanism of CARM1 and highlight elements important for binding affinity.

Citation Format: Suzanne L. Jacques, Katrina P. Aquino, Jodi Gureasko, P Ann Boriack-Sjodin, Robert A. Copeland, Thomas V. Riera. CARM1 preferentially methylates H3R17 over H3R26 through a random kinetic mechanism. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 97. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-97

    • ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.



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Additional Articles on this Open Access Journal on Cancer Stem Cells Include

Nonhematologic Cancer Stem Cells [11.2.3]

In Focus: Identity of Cancer Stem Cells

In Focus: Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells

Stem Cells and Cancer

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Near-Infrared Fluorescence Imaging: Noninvasive Imaging of Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) monitoring of AC133+ glioblastoma in subcutaneous and intracerebral xenograft tumors

“To Die or Not To Die” – Time and Order of Combination drugs for Triple Negative Breast Cancer cells: A Systems Level Analysis

Can IntraTumoral Heterogeneity Be Thought of as a Mechanism of Resistance?



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New Topoisomerase Inhibitors in Clinical Trials

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Below is a great review of topoisomerase in cancer, approved inhibitors as well as some in clinical trials.

Biomolecules 2015, 5, 1652-1670; doi:10.3390/biom5031652



ISSN 2218-273X


Inhibition of Topoisomerase (DNA) I (TOP1): DNA Damage Repair and Anticancer Therapy

Yang Xu and Chengtao Her *

School of Molecular Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Mail Drop 64-7520, Pullman, WA 99164, USA; E-Mail:

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail:; Tel.: +1-509-335-7537; Fax: +1-509-335-4159.

Academic Editors: Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, Thomas Helleday and Fumio Hanaoka Received: 22 May 2015 / Accepted: 14 July 2015 / Published: 22 July 2015

Abstract: Most chemotherapy regimens contain at least one DNA-damaging agent that preferentially affects the growth of cancer cells. This strategy takes advantage of the differences in cell proliferation between normal and cancer cells. Chemotherapeutic drugs are usually designed to target rapid-dividing cells because sustained proliferation is a common feature of cancer [1,2]. Rapid DNA replication is essential for highly proliferative cells, thus blocking of DNA replication will create numerous mutations and/or chromosome rearrangements—ultimately triggering cell death [3]. Along these lines, DNA topoisomerase inhibitors are of great interest because they help to maintain strand breaks generated by topoisomerases during replication. In this article, we discuss the characteristics of topoisomerase (DNA) I (TOP1) and its inhibitors, as well as the underlying DNA repair pathways and the use of TOP1 inhibitors in cancer therapy.

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  1. Type IB Topoisomerases and Inhibitors
    1.1. TOP1

DNA topoisomerases resolve topological constraints that may arise from DNA strand separation and are therefore important for transcription and replication [4]. There are six topoisomerases in humans, classified as Type IA, IB and IIA. Type IA topoisomerases TOP3a and TOP3b cleave one DNA strand to relax only negative supercoiling. In addition, TOP3a forms the BTR complex with BLM and RMI1/2, which plays a role in the dissolution of double-Holliday junctions [5]. Type IIA topoisomerases TOP2a and TOP2b generate double-strand breaks on one DNA molecule to allow the passing of other DNA strands [6]. Topoisomerases are attractive drug targets in cancer therapy. For example, the commonly used anticancer agents doxorubicin and etoposide (VP-16) are TOP2 inhibitors [7]. Type IB topoisomerases include the nuclear TOP1 and mitochondrial TOP1mt [4]. TOP1 initiates the DNA relaxation by nicking one DNA strand. It then forms a TOP1-DNA cleavage complex (TOP1cc) by covalently linked to the 3′-phosphate end via its tyrosine residue Y723 (3′-P-Y). Following the resolution of topological entanglements and the removal of TOP1, the 5′-hydroxyl end is realigned with the 3′-end for religation. Each nicking-closing cycle enables the relaxation of one DNA supercoiling (Figure 1).

Figure 1. A schematic representation of strand passages catalyzed by three types of topoisomerases (adapted from ref. [8]).


TOP1 is essential for embryonic development in mammals [9]. Although TOP1 plays an important role in the deconvolution of supercoils arising amid DNA replication, the precise steps involved with

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                         1654

the recruitment of TOP1 to topological constraints remains to be revealed. It appears that in yeast TOP1 travels at a distance of 600 bp ahead of the replication fork [10] and remains associated with the GINS-MCM complex [11]. However, the yeast TOP1 is distinct from its human counterpart in that it has little effect on fork progression or the firing of replication origin [12]. In humans, TOP1 binds to the regions of the pre-replicative complex in cells during the M, early G1, and G1/S phases of the cell cycle to control the firing of replication origins [12]. This difference may explain why yeast cells are viable in the absence of TOP1. In addition, TOP1 also has functions in transcription that are independent of its role in resolving DNA topological entanglements. First, TOP1 is known to repress transcription by binding to TFIID [13]. Second, inhibition of TOP1 can cause the induction of c-Jun in leukemia cells, suggesting its additional role in the control of transcription [14]. Furthermore, TOP1 interacts with the splicing factor ASF/SF2 by which it promotes the maturation of RNA—through suppressing the formation of R-loops (RNA-DNA hybrids)—and prevents collision between transcription bubble and replication fork [15,16]. It appears that the levels of TOP1 have to be dynamically regulated. In B cells, TOP1 is reduced by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) to facilitate class-switch recombination (CSR) and somatic hypermutation (SHM) [17,18]. Although TOP1mt is important for mitochondrial integrity and metabolism, mice lacking mitochondrial TOP1mt are viable and fertile but they are associated with increased negative supercoiling of mtDNA [19,20].

1.2. TOP1 Inhibitors

Stabilization of TOP1cc by topoisomerase poison is detrimental to cells due to the disruption of DNA uncoiling, increased strand breaks, and unstable RNA transcripts as well as incomplete DNA replication [21]. The TOP1 inhibitor camptothecin (CPT), first isolated from the Chinese tree Camptotheca acuminate, was clinically used for cancer treatment long before it was identified as a TOP1 inhibitor [22]. Due to side effects, CPT is no longer used clinically and it has been replaced by more effective and safer TOP1 inhibitors [23]. Currently, CPT derivatives topotecan (trade name: Hycamtin) and irinotecan (CPT-11, trade name: Camptosar) are routinely used to treat colorectal, ovarian and lung cancers, while a few other TOP1 inhibitors are being tested in clinical trials.

CPT is a 5-ring alkaloid that is active in its closed E-ring (lactone) form but it is inactive with an open E-ring (carboxylate) at physiological and alkaline pH [24]. Therefore, CPT is not effective for inhibiting TOP1mt due to a higher pH mitochondrial environment. The inactive form of CPT tends to bind to serum albumin, which might be a reason for its side effects. CPT is highly specific for TOP1 and the binding is of relatively low affinity and can be reversed after drug removal. These features make the action of CPT controllable [24], and in fact CPT is widely used in studies of replication-associated DNA damage response. There are a few CPT derivatives and non-CPT TOP1 inhibitors [4,8,24]. For example, CPT derivatives Diflomotecan and S39625 were designed to stabilize the E-ring. Irinotecan has the bis-piperidine side chain to increase its water solubility, but it also contributes to some side effects. Non-CPTs—such as indolocarbazoles, phenanthrolines (e.g., ARC-111) and indenoisoquinolines—refer to drugs that have no typical CPT E-ring structures but they can still specifically target TOP1 and bind irreversibly to TOP1cc. Some of the CPT derivatives (i.e., Gimatecan and Belotecan) and non-CPTs (i.e., NSC 725776 and NSC 724998) are presently tested in clinical trials [23].

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                           1655

How does CPT trap TOP1cc? Analysis of the crystal structure and modeling suggest that CPT-TOP1-DNA forms a ternary complex to prevent the two DNA ends from religation [25–27]. Although it is still controversial on how CPT is intercalated into DNA, it seems that CPT traps TOP1cc with a thymine (T) at the -1 position and a guanine (G) at the +1 position on the scissile strand, and it is therefore sequence-specific [28]. Three amino acid residues of the TOP1 enzyme, R364, D533 and N722, combined with DNA bases, contribute to the stabilization of the ternary complex by forming hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions. It is of note that several point mutations, including N722S, in Camptotheca acuminata TOP1 confer resistance to CPT [29]. Interestingly, the same amino acids also contribute to the inhibition of TOP1 by non-CPT drugs [24].

  1. Repair of TOP1 Poison-Induced DNA Lesions

As aforementioned, CPT-induced trapping of TOP1cc creates a single strand break with a free 5′-hydroxyl group, whereas the 3′-phosphate is connected to Y723 of TOP1 (3′-P-Y). At least two pathways contribute to the repair of DNA lesions created by TOP1 poison [30]. The tyrosyl-DNA-phosphodiesterase (TDP1) pathway starts with the ubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation of TOP1 in the CPT-TOP1-DNA complex to generate a 3′-P end linked to a short peptide [31]. TDP1 then cleaves the P-Y bond to release the 3′-P end; however, the 3′-P end cannot be directly ligated to the 5′-OH end because of the requirements of DNA ligases. The human polynucleotide kinase (PNKP) can process the DNA ends by functioning as both a 3′-phosphatase and a kinase to generate the required 3′-OH and 5′-P termini for direct ligation. The rest of the repair events can be best described by the single-strand break (SSB) repair pathway, which will be discussed below. Indeed, TDP1 and PNKP are tightly associated with the SSB repair machinery [32,33].

The endonuclease pathway requires multiple endonucleases to excise the DNA—usually at a few nucleotides away from the 3′-P-TOP1 end – on the scissile strand to release the DNA-TOP1 complex [30]. Initial studies were carried out to identify genes that functioned in CPT repair in the absence of TDP1 in yeast [34,35]. These studies led to the identification of RAD1-RAD10, SLX1-SLX4, MUS81-MMS4, MRE11-SAE2 as well as genes involved in recombination. The RAD1-RAD10 (human XPF/ERCC4-ERCC1) complex is a DNA structure-specific endonuclease that can act on 5′ overhang structures [36]. Interestingly, the cleavage site of XPF-ERCC1 is in the non-protruding DNA strand, about 3–4 nucleotides away from the 3′ end [36]. Therefore, trapped TOP1ccs can be removed by this endonuclease activity. Likewise, MUS81-MMS4 (human MUS81-EME1) can also cleave nicked duplex at the 5′ of the nick [37]. The SLX1-SLX4 endonuclease, although not tested on nicked duplexes, is able to process 3′ flap and other DNA structures [38,39]. In human cells, SLX4 also associates with XPF-ERCC1 and MUS81-EME1 endonucleases to process specific DNA intermediates [39,40]. Moreover, MRE11-RAD50 cleaves the 3′-P-Y bond and resects DNA to produce a 3′-OH end [41]. A direct role of SAE2 (human CtIP) in processing 3′-P-TOP1 is unknown, and its endonuclease activity appears to be limited to the 5′ flap or DNA “hairpin” structures [42,43]. Nonetheless, the endonuclease activity of CtIP is essential for processing CPT adducts [42]. In addition, like CtIP, the 5′ flap endonuclease RAD27 (human FEN1) seems to be unable to directly process 3′-P-TOP1 ends [44]. However, the gap endonuclease activity of FEN1 is important for processing stalled replication forks and CPT-induced adducts [45]. The role of FEN1 in SSB repair will be discussed further in the next section.

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                           1656

During DNA replication, SSBs created by CPT are most likely converted to double-strand breaks (DSBs) by replication fork runoff. This conversion appears to be dependent on the proteolysis of TOP1 [46]. The repair of one-ended DSBs, as will be discussed in the next section, is largely dependent on homologous recombination (HR). However, low doses of CPT may also induce PARP1 and/or RAD51 dependent replication fork regression—generating no or few DSBs [47,48]. The regressed fork leads to the formation of a “chicken foot” DNA structure by newly synthesized strands [3,49,50]. The formation of regressed fork can be largely suppressed by ATR, EXO1, and DNA2 [51–53]. However, fork reversal can also be beneficial as it provides time for the repair of TOP1-induced DNA lesions by TDP1, thereby preventing DSB formation and the activation of error-prone non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) [30].

  1. Pathways Involved in the Repair of CPT-Induced DNA Lesions

Normal cells use DNA damage response (DDR) pathways to maintain genomic stability [54]. As aforementioned, SSB and DSB repair mechanisms are the two major DDR pathways that repair TOP1-induced DNA lesions. Paradoxically, cancer cells exploit DDR pathways to accumulate necessary genomic alterations for promoting proliferation. Furthermore, altered DDR and apoptotic responses in cancer cells are the major obstacles to successful chemotherapy. Thus, the delineation of TOP1-related SSB and DSB repair mechanisms is of great importance for identifying drug targets that can selectively affect cancer cell survival.

3.1. Single-Strand Break (SSB) Repair

Trapping of TOP1cc results in a 3′-P-TOP1 end and a 5′-OH terminus. Because the two ends cannot be directly religated, the persisting SSB is likely to be detected by PARP1 in which activated PARP1 catalyzes the synthesis of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) chains for recruiting repair proteins [55]. This reaction can be rapidly reversed by PARG, which hydrolyzes the PAR chains. The PAR chains at the SSB sites are important for the recruitment of XRCC1 that functions as a loading dock for other SSB repair proteins including TDP1 and PNKP. TDP1 generates 3′-P and PNKP converts 3′-P to 3′-OH, and PNKP also converts 5′-OH to 5′-P, making ends compatible for religation with no base loss. The rejoining of the 3′-OH and 5′-P ends is mainly mediated by LIG3, in which XRCC1 mediates the recruitment of LIG3.

If the trapped TOP1cc intermediates are processed by endonucleases, the initial SSBs will be converted to 3′-OH and 5′-OH ends with a gap over a few nucleotides (in the case of XPF-ERCC1, the loss is in the range of 3–4 nt), leading to the activation of PARP1 and XRCC1 recruitment. Consequentially, Pol3 recruited by XRCC1 can catalyze the gap filling, and PCNA-Polö/E also plays a role in this process [55]. If the 5′-OH is not processed by PNKP, the 5′-flap resulted from gap filling is likely to be removed by FEN1, which explains why FEN1 deficiency also leads to an increased CPT sensitivity. The final ligation is catalyzed by LIG1 because of the presence of PCNA.

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                           1657

3.2. Double-Strand Break (DSB) Repair

Successful DSB repair requires concerted actions of proteins involved in DNA damage signaling and repair [54]. To repair TOP1 poison-induced DNA lesions, ATR signaling is required due to the runoff of replication fork and the presence of long single-strand DNA (ssDNA) [56]. The full activation of ATR follows a “two-man” rule—the ssDNA-ATRIP-dependent recruitment of ATR kinase and the RAD17 clamp loader/9-1-1/TOPBP1 mediator loading at the ssDNA-dsDNA junction. ATR phosphorylates CHEK1 to harness cell cycle arrest. If one-ended DSB is formed, ATM will be activated through the action of the MRE11-RAD50-NBS1 (MRN) complex. ATM mainly phosphorylates CHEK2 to mediate cell cycle arrest. Both ATM and ATR are able to phosphorylate hundreds of proteins in response to DSB formation [57]. One remarkable substrate is the histone H2AX, which can be phosphorylated by both kinases to yield g-H2AX. It is conceived that the propagation of g-H2AX signaling along the chromatin facilitates MDC1 recruitment and BRCA1 signaling via the MDC1-RNF8-RNF168-RAP80 ubiquitin cascade—events that are essential for HR [58].

The repair of TOP1 poison-induced DNA lesions is in essence the repair of one-ended DSBs, which facilitates the restoration of replication forks to restart DNA replication. It is important to note that one-ended DSB repair occurs in the S phase and relies on HR rather than NHEJ [59]. The first step in HR is end resection to generate a 3′-overhang for homology searching. A TOP1 cleavage in the leading strand may require end resection by the MRN-CtIP-BRCA1 and BLM-EXO1-DNA2 complexes [60], whereas a cleavage in the lagging strand automatically forms a 3′-overhang. Rad51 then associates with the 3′-ssDNA to form a nucleofilament for strand invasion, which leads to the formation of a D-loop structure [61]. This process continues with DNA synthesis, branch migration and the resolution of Holliday junction structures to reconstitute a functional replication fork [62]. TOP1 poisons can also lead to the formation of two-ended DSB if two replication forks collide into each other at the site of SSB. The repair of this type of DSBs is not aimed for fork restoration and can be accomplished by the classical DSB repair mechanisms [61].

3.3. Genes Involved in CPT-Induced Damage Repair

A long list of genes, in which mutations confer sensitivity to CPT in yeast, chicken or mammalian cells, has been compiled [24,30,63]. With no surprise, many genes involved in SSB and DSB repair are on the list, such as PARP1, XRCC1, PNKP, TDP1 for SSB repair; MRN, ATM-CHK2, ATR-CHK1 for DSB signaling; BRCA1/2, XRCC2, XRCC3 for HR. Most recently, the hMSH5-FANCJ complex has also been implicated to play a role in CPT-induced DNA damage response and repair [64]. Mutations in the binding partners of these repair factors are also likely to sensitize cells to CPT treatment. For example, depletion of the MRN-binding partner hnRNPUL increases the sensitivity to CPT [65]; and deficiencies in ZRANB3 and SPIDR, binding partners of PCNA and RAD51, cause CPT hypersensitivity in cancer cells [66–68]. In addition, the two DNA helicases BLM and WRN have also been implicated in the repair of CPT-induced DNA lesions [69,70]. Early studies revealed that chicken BLM knockout cells and human BLM-deficient fibroblasts showed increased sensitivity to CPT [71,72]. On the contrary, mouse BLM knockout embryonic stem cells showed mild resistance to

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                           1658

CPT [73]. This discrepancy is likely attributable to the complexity of CPT-induced DNA lesion repair as well as different treatment conditions and experimental systems.

Interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) resemble CPT-induced lesions in that they block both replication and transcription [74]. They may induce replication fork reversal and fork collapse, which require DNA incision for lesion processing and HR for repair. ICL repair is accomplished by the coordinated actions of 17 Fanconi anemia (FA) genes whose mutations contribute to FA in patients [75]. Depletion of FANCP/SLX4 or FANCQ/XPF causes cellular sensitivity to CPT because they form an endonuclease complex involved in the repair of trapped TOP1cc [38]. Likewise, depletion of FANCS/BRCA1, FANCD1/BRCA2, FANCN/PALB2 or FANCO/RAD51C sensitizes cells to CPT because of their involvement in HR [76]. Accordingly, depletion of the FA core complex except FANCM—involved in fork reversal—is not expected to increase CPT sensitivity because they are unable to recognize the trapped TOP1cc [76]. However, the roles of FANCI, D2, J and FAN1 in the process are elusive due to conflicting reports presumably reflecting different experimental systems [76–78]. For example, in a multicolor competition assay, loss of FANCI or FAN1 rendered cells sensitive to CPT treatment [77]. However, this observation could not be recapitulated in studies performed with FANCI-deficient lymphoblasts and FAN1-depleted HEK293 cells [76,79], indicating that the involvement of these two genes in CTP sensitivity might be cell type specific.

It is interesting to note that the MMS22L-TONSL complex plays a prominent role in mediating CPT sensitivity [80–83]. Depletion of this complex impairs RAD51 foci formation and triggers G2/M arrest, indicating that the MMS22L-TONSL complex participates in HR repair. Furthermore, this complex associates with MCM, FACT, ASF1 and histones. FACT and ASF1 are histone chaperones that function in H2A/H2B and H3/H4 chromatin assembly and disassembly, respectively [84]. They recycle parental histones from old DNA strands unwound by MCM and incorporate them into newly synthesized DNA strands. FACT and ASF1 also function in checkpoint signaling; therefore the involvement of MMS22L-TONSL in CPT response implies the existence of a close association between HR, DNA damage signaling and replication restart.

  1. TOP1 Inhibition in Cancer Treatment

The understanding of the function of TOP1 and the cellular effects of TOP1 inhibition has been a stepping-stone for the development of effective CPT derivatives in cancer therapy. Since TOP1 functions in normal and cancer cells, the use of low doses of TOP1 inhibitors are actively sought to treat cancers that heavily rely on the function of TOP1 for survival (e.g., highly malignant, rapid-dividing tumor cells). In fact, the FDA-approved CPT derivatives topotecan and irinotecan are currently used to treat ovarian and colorectal cancers, respectively [24].

Furthermore, the promising results from a Phase I trial have warranted further evaluation of the CPT derivative Diflomotecan in Phase II trials [85]. Other derivatives like Gimatecan, Lurtotecan and Exatecan are also being tested in clinical trials (Table 1). The non-CPT indolocarbazole BMS-250749 showed great anti-tumor activity against preclinical xenograft models [86], but no further evaluation beyond Phase I trials is presently available (Table 2). Another indolocarbazole compound Edotecarin has shown promising anti-tumor activity in xenograft models and it is now advanced to Phase II studies of patients with advanced solid tumors [87]. By contrast, Phenanthroline ARC-111 (topovale)

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                             1659

was potently against human tumor xenografts and displayed anti-cancer activity in colon and Wilms’ tumors [88]; however, no result from Phase I clinical trials is available owing to profound bone marrow toxicity [89]. To date, indenoisoquinolines are the most promising non-CPT inhibitors in clinical trials. LMP400 (NSC 743400, indotecan) and LMP776 (NSC 725776, indimitecan) show significant anti-tumor activities in animal models and both are being evaluated in Phase I clinical trials for relapsed solid tumors and lymphomas [8,90].

Table 1. CPT derivatives in clinical trials [91].

Name                            Structure                     Clinical Trial            Malignancy        Reference

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                           1660

Given the observation that CPT-mediated TOP1 inhibition provokes DNA repair activities, a synergistic effect is then anticipated on cancer cells by inhibition of TOP1 and downregulation of DNA repair activities. The rationale for this approach is to accelerate the accumulation of DNA breaks and trigger cellular apoptosis, probably through mitotic catastrophe [92]. Which DNA repair pathways can we exploit? Currently, the major interests are in SSB and DSB repair mechanisms. Indeed, PARP inhibitors can enhance the cytotoxicity of TOP1 inhibitors in cancer cell lines as well as in mouse models [93–96]. Phase I studies of combination therapy using PARP inhibitors veliparib or olaparib (FDA-approved) together with topotecan were carried out in patients with advanced solid tumors but showed some dose-dependent side effects [97,98]. TDP1 can be another potential target because it functions directly downstream of PARP1 in the repair of TOP1 poison-induced DNA lesions [99]. TDP1 inhibitors sensitize cells to CPT treatment in vitro [100,101], however in vivo evaluation is presently unavailable due to unsuitable properties of the compounds [102].

Table 2. Non-CPT derivatives in preclinical and clinical trials [91].

Name                       Structure               Clinical Trial            Malignancy             Reference

Phase II

(Edotecarin, Pfizer)

Stomach, breast
Anti-tumor activity
in preclinical
xenograft models
Anti-tumor activity

Preclinical                    in preclinical            [88,89,103]
xenograft models

(LMP400, LMP776)
Phase I                              Lymphomas             [8,90,103]

DSB repair can be targeted by either inhibition of DSB signaling or inhibition of HR. ATM and ATR inhibitors can largely increase the sensitivity to CPT in cancer cells [104,105]. This can be explained by the fact that abrogation of the cell cycle arrest will allow cells with unreplicated or unrepaired chromosomes to enter mitosis thereby triggering mitotic catastrophe and cell death. Similarly, CHEK1 and CHEK2 inhibitors are tested in Phase I studies in combination with irinotecan [106,107]. Inhibitors that can directly block HR proteins are very limited [108]. This is partially attributed to the fact that HR genes are often mutated in cancer cells, thus diminishing the enthusiasm for developing HR inhibitors. One diterpenoid compound, however, was found to be able to inhibit the function of BRCA1 and render cytotoxicity in human prostate cancer cells [109]. Several RAD51 inhibitors have also been

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                           1661

identified but have not been tested in cell lines [110]. Inhibition of BRCA1 and RAD51 can be also achieved indirectly by harnessing corresponding kinases [106]. Clearly, defective hMRE11 sensitizes colon cancer cells to CPT treatment [111]. Although MRE11-deficeint tumor xenografts failed to display significant growth inhibition by irinotecan alone, combining thymidine with irinotecan caused a dramatic growth delay [112].

TOP1 inhibitors might be also useful for treating cancers with BRCA1/2 mutations. The successful use of PARP inhibitors in treating BRCA1/2-deficient tumors has ignited a broad interest in searching for synthetic lethality among DNA damage response and repair genes [113,114]. In the PARP-BRCA1/2 example, the accumulation of SSBs by PARP inhibition would lead to the formation of DSBs during replication. In HR-deficient cells, DSBs can only be repaired by illegitimate (toxic) NHEJ—joining one-ended DSBs from different locations—leading to cell death [115,116]. However, resistance to PARP inhibitors can arise in BRCA1-deficient tumors during treatment from either genetic reversion of BRCA1 mutations or the loss of NHEJ [117–122]. Therefore, it would be beneficial to explore the possibility of developing a similar synthetic lethal strategy to use TOP1 inhibitors in the treatment of BRCA1/2-deficient tumors.

Figure 2. An overview of the effects of TOP1 inhibition is provided. Inhibitors and key DNA repair factors are highlighted.

Biomolecules 2015, 5                                                                                                                         1662

  1. Conclusions

Trapping of TOP1 by inhibitors generates SSBs and DSBs that are repaired by their corresponding repair pathways (Figure 2). Therefore, developing effective TOP1 inhibitors not only provides powerful tools to study DNA replication and repair but also establishes a foundation to devise new synthetic lethal strategies for efficient cancer treatments. The accumulation of DNA strand breaks (SSBs and DSBs) by TOP1 inhibition in HR-deficient tumor cells is expected to enhance cytotoxicity. However, increased DNA repair activities in cancer cells can make TOP1 inhibitors less effective, so silencing of repair pathways in conjunction with the use of TOP1 inhibitors offers an attractive new means for cancer control. Since each tumor is unique, it would be advantageous to identify the individualities of DNA repair pathways or biomarkers reflecting the changes of DNA repair activities in tumor cells [92,123]. This will make it possible to achieve better and predictable prognosis through tailored therapeutic regimens. Given that TOP1 is essential for transcription and DNA replication, future design of novel TOP1 inhibitors and combinational therapy strategies should aim to increase therapeutic efficacy of the inhibitors, thus reducing side effects.


The work in the Her laboratory is supported by the NIH grant GM084353.

Author Contributions

Yang Xu and Chengtao Her wrote and revised the article.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest with the contents of this article.

Please see the following file for the referencesReferences for top paper

From a 2015 Clinical Cancer Research paper:

Phase 1 clinical pharmacology study of F14512, a new polyamine-vectorized anti-cancer drug, in naturally occurring canine lymphoma

Dominique Tierny1, Francois Serres1, Zacharie Segaoula1, Ingrid Bemelmans1, Emmanuel Bouchaert1,

Aurelie Petain2, Viviane Brel3, Stephane Couffin4, Thierry Marchal5, Laurent Nguyen6, Xavier Thuru7,

Pierre Ferre2, Nicolas Guilbaud8, and Bruno Gomes9,*


Purpose: F14512 is a new topoisomerase II inhibitor containing a spermine moiety that facilitates selective uptake by tumor cells and increases topoisomerase II poisoning. F14512 is currently in Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with acute myeloid leukemia. The aim of this study was to investigate F14512 potential in a new clinical indication. Because of the many similarities between human and dog lymphomas, we sought to determine the tolerance, efficacy, PK/PD relationship of F14512 in this indication, and potential biomarkers that could be translated into human trials. Experimental design: Twenty-three dogs with stage III-IV naturally occurring lymphomas were enrolled in the Phase 1 dose-escalation trial which consisted of three cycles of F14512 intravenous injections. Endpoints included safety and therapeutic efficacy. Serial blood samples and tumor biopsies were obtained for PK/PD and biomarker studies. Results: Five dose levels were evaluated in order to determine the recommended dose. F14512 was well tolerated, with the expected dose-dependent hematological toxicity. F14512 induced an early decrease of tumoral lymph node cells, and a high response rate of 91% (21/23) with 10 complete responses, 11 partial responses, 1 stable disease and 1 progressive disease. Phosphorylation of histone H2AX was studied as a potential pharmacodynamic biomarker of F14512. Conclusions: This trial demonstrated that F14512 can be safely administered to dogs with lymphoma resulting in strong therapeutic efficacy. Additional evaluation of F14512 is needed to compare its efficacy with standards of care in dogs, and to translate biomarker and efficacy findings into clinical trials in humans.

AND From ASCO 2015 Annual Meeting

Survival impact of switching to different topoisomerase I or II inhibitors-based regimens (topo-I or topo-II) in extensive-disease small cell lung cancer (ED-SCLC): supplemental analysis from JCOG0509.


Background: The J0509 (phase III study for chemotherapy-naive ED-SCLC) demonstrated amrubicin plus cisplatin (AP) was inferior to irinotecan plus cisplatin (IP). However, median overall survival (OS) of both AP and IP (15 and 17 mo) was more favorable than those of previous trials (9-12 mo), probably because switching to different topo-I or topo-II in the second-line therapy, especially the use of topo-II in IP arm, was frequent. This analysis aimed to investigate whether observed survival benefit of IP arm can be explained by the treatment switching, and how post-protocol chemotherapy affected the result of J0509. Methods: Two analysis sets from J0509 were used: all randomized 283 pts and 250 pts who received post-protocol chemotherapy. One pt without initiation date of second-line therapy was excluded. A rank-preserving structural failure time (RPSFT) model was used to estimate “causal survival benefit” that would have been observed if all pts had been followed with the same type of regimen as randomized throughout the follow-up period. Additionally, to assess the survival impact of second-line use of topo-II, OS after initiating second-line therapy (OS2) was analyzed by multivariate Cox models. Results: %treatment switching in IP arm and AP arm was 65.2% (92/141) and 43.7% (62/142). By RPSFT model, estimated OS excluding the effect of the treatment switching was 2.7-fold longer in IP (topo-I) arm than AP (topo-II) arm. This causal survival benefit was stronger than the original report of J0509 (nearly 1.4-fold extension by Cox model), indicating that re-challenging topo-I in IP arm appeared beneficial. The multivariate Cox analysis for OS2 (n = 250) revealed second-line use of topo-II was detrimental (hazard ratio, 1.5; 95%CI, 1.1-2.1). Among sensitive relapsed pts in IP arm, OS2 was favorable in the following order: irinotecan-based regimen > the other topo-I > topo-II. Conclusions: IP remains the standard therapy. Re-challenging topo-I, especially irinotecan-based topo-I, seemed beneficial for IP-sensitive pts. This result should be confirmed in further investigations with large sample size. Clinical trial information: 000000720.





Below is actively recruiting clinical trials evaluating topoisomerase inhibitors. Shown are only a few trials for a complete list from please see this link:

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897 studies found for:    topoisomerase inhibitor | Open Studies

Include only open studies Exclude studies with Unknown status

Status Study
Recruiting A Study of Standard Treatment +/- Enoxaparin in Small Cell Lung Cancer

Condition: Small Cell Lung Cancer
Interventions: Drug: cisplatinum or carboplatin and e.g.etoposide.;   Drug: cisplatinum or carboplatin and e.g.etoposide+enoxaparin
Recruiting A Phase I Study of Indenoisoquinolines LMP400 and LMP776 in Adults With Relapsed Solid Tumors and Lymphomas

Conditions: Neoplasms;   Lymphoma
Interventions: Drug: LMP 400;   Drug: LMP 776
Recruiting A Dose-Ranging Study Evaluating the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of GSK2140944 in the Treatment of Uncomplicated Urogenital Gonorrhea Caused by Neisseria Gonorrhoeae

Condition: Gonorrhea
Intervention: Drug: GSK2140944
Recruiting Selinexor in Combination With Irinotecan in Adenocarcinoma of Stomach and Distal Esophagus

Conditions: Esophageal Cancer;   Gastric Cancer
Interventions: Drug: Selinexor;   Drug: Irinotecan
Recruiting Multimodal Molecular Targeted Therapy to Treat Relapsed or Refractory High-risk Neuroblastoma

Condition: Neuroblastoma Recurrent
Interventions: Drug: Dasatinib;   Drug: Rapamycin;   Drug: Irinotecan;   Drug: Temozolomide
Unknown  Study of the Farnesyl Transferase Inhibitor, R115777, in Combination With Topotecan (NYU 99-32)

Condition: Cancer
Interventions: Drug: R115777 (farnesyl transferase inhibitor);   Drug: Topotecan
Recruiting Pegylated Irinotecan NKTR 102 in Treating Patients With Relapsed Small Cell Lung Cancer

Condition: Recurrent Small Cell Lung Carcinoma
Interventions: Other: Laboratory Biomarker Analysis;   Drug: Pegylated Irinotecan;   Other: Pharmacological Study
Recruiting Selinexor and Chemotherapy in Treating Patients With Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Conditions: Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia With 11q23 (MLL) Abnormalities;   Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia With Del(5q);   Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia With Inv(16)(p13;q22);   Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia With t(15;17)(q22;q12);   Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia With t(16;16)(p13;q22);   Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia With t(8;21)(q22;q22);   Recurrent Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia;   Secondary Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Interventions: Drug: mitoxantrone hydrochloride;   Drug: etoposide;   Drug: cytarabine;   Drug: selinexor;   Other: laboratory biomarker analysis;   Other: pharmacological study
Recruiting WEE1 Inhibitor MK-1775 and Irinotecan Hydrochloride in Treating Younger Patients With Relapsed or Refractory Solid Tumors

Conditions: Childhood Solid Neoplasm;   Recurrent Childhood Medulloblastoma;   Recurrent Childhood Supratentorial Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor;   Recurrent Neuroblastoma
Interventions: Drug: Irinotecan Hydrochloride;   Other: Laboratory Biomarker Analysis;   Other: Pharmacological Study;   Drug: WEE1 Inhibitor AZD1775
Recruiting PARP Inhibitor BMN-673 and Temozolomide or Irinotecan Hydrochloride in Treating Patients With Locally Advanced or Metastatic Solid Tumors

Conditions: Metastatic Cancer;   Unspecified Adult Solid Tumor
Interventions: Drug: PARP inhibitor BMN-673;   Drug: temozolomide;   Drug: irinotecan hydrochloride;   Other: pharmacological study;   Other: laboratory biomarker analysis
Recruiting A Phase II Multicenter, Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Double Blinded Clinical Study of KD018 as a Modulator of Irinotecan Chemotherapy in Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Condition: Colorectal Neoplasms
Interventions: Drug: KD018;   Drug: Irinotecan;   Drug: Placebo
Recruiting The Efficacy of the 7 Days Tailored Therapy as 2nd Rescue Therapy for Eradication of H. Pylori Infection

Condition: Helicobacter Infection
Interventions: Procedure: H. pylori culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing;   Drug: 14 days empirical bismuth quadruple therapy (Proton pump inhibitor);   Drug: Metronidazole;   Drug: Tetracycline;   Drug: tripotassium dicitrate bismuthate;   Drug: 7 days tailored therapy Proton Pump Inhibitor;   Drug: Moxifloxacin;   Drug: Amoxicillin
Recruiting G1T28 (CDK 4/6 Inhibitor) in Combination With Etoposide and Carboplatin in Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Condition: Small Cell Lung Cancer
Interventions: Drug: G1T28 + carboplatin/ etoposide;   Drug: Placebo + carboplatin/ etoposide
Recruiting Trial of Topotecan With VX-970, an ATR Kinase Inhibitor, in Small Cell Lung Cancer

Conditions: Carcinoma, Non-Small -Cell Lung;   Ovarian Neoplasms;   Small Cell Lung Carcinoma;   Uterine Cervical Neoplasms;   Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine
Interventions: Drug: Topotecan;   Drug: VX-970
Recruiting Prospective Analysis of UGT1A1 Promoter Polymorphism for Irinotecan Dose Escalation in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Patients Treated With Bevacizumab Combined With FOLFIRI as the First-line Setting

Condition: Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Interventions: Genetic: UGT1A1 genotyping (6,6);   Genetic: UGTIA1 genotyping (6,7);   Genetic: UGTIA1 genotyping (7,7);   Genetic: UGT1A1 non-genotyping;   Drug: bevacizumab (Avastin);   Drug: irinotecan;   Drug: Leucovorin;   Drug: 5-FU
Recruiting A Study of the Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor, PCI-32765 (Ibrutinib), in Combination With Rituximab, Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine, and Prednisone in Patients With Newly Diagnosed Non-Germinal Center B-Cell Subtype of Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

Condition: Lymphoma
Interventions: Drug: Ibrutinib;   Drug: Placebo;   Drug: Rituximab;   Drug: Cyclophosphamide;   Drug: Doxorubicin;   Drug: Vincristine;   Drug: Prednisone (or equivalent)
Recruiting Irinotecan Combination Chemotherapy for Refractory or Relapsed Brain Tumor in Children and Adolescents

Condition: Brain Tumor
Intervention: Drug: Irinotecan combination chemotherapy
Recruiting A Study To Evaluate PF-04449913 With Chemotherapy In Patients With Acute Myeloid Leukemia or Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Condition: Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Interventions: Drug: PF-04449913;   Drug: Low dose ARA-C (LDAC);   Drug: Decitabine;   Drug: Daunorubicin;   Drug: Cytarabine
Recruiting Veliparib and Pegylated Liposomal Doxorubicin Hydrochloride in Treating Patients With Recurrent Ovarian Cancer, Fallopian Tube Cancer, or Primary Peritoneal Cancer or Metastatic Breast Cancer

Conditions: Estrogen Receptor Negative;   HER2/Neu Negative;   Male Breast Carcinoma;   Progesterone Receptor Negative;   Recurrent Breast Carcinoma;   Recurrent Fallopian Tube Carcinoma;   Recurrent Ovarian Carcinoma;   Recurrent Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma;   Stage IV Breast Cancer;   Triple-Negative Breast Carcinoma
Interventions: Other: Laboratory Biomarker Analysis;   Drug: Pegylated Liposomal Doxorubicin Hydrochloride;   Other: Pharmacological Study;   Drug: Veliparib
Recruiting A Study To Evaluate Ara-C and Idarubicin in Combination With the Selective Inhibitor Of Nuclear Export (SINE) Selinexor (KPT-330) in Patients With Relapsed Or Refractory AML

Condition: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (Relapsed/Refractory)
Interventions: Drug: Selinexor;   Drug: Idarubcin;   Drug: Cytarabine

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Are Cyclin D and cdk Inhibitors A Good Target for Chemotherapy?


Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted accelerated approval to Ibrance (palbociclib) to treat advanced (metastatic) breast cancer inr postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative metastatic breast cancer who have not yet received an endocrine-based therapy. It is to be used in combination with letrozole, another FDA-approved product used to treat certain kinds of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

See Dr. Melvin Crasto’s blog posts on the announcement of approval of Ibrance (palbociclib) at

and about the structure and mechanism of action of palbociclib


From the CancerNetwork at

CDK Inhibitors Show Impressive Activity in Advanced Breast Cancer

News | April 08, 2014 | AACR 2014, Breast Cancer

By Anna Azvolinsky, PhD

Ibrance structure


Chemical structure of palbociclib



Palbociclib and LY2835219 are both cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6 inhibitors. CDK4 and CDK6 are kinases that, together with cyclin D1, facilitate the transition of dividing cells from the G1 to the S (synthesis) phase of the cell cycle. Preclinical studies have shown that breast cancer cells rely on CDK4 and CDK6 for division and growth, and that selective CDK4/6 inhibitors can arrest the cells at this G1/S phase checkpoint.

The results of the phase II trial of palbociclib and phase I trial of LY2835219 both indicated that hormone receptor (HR)-positive disease appears to be the best marker to predict patient response.

LY2835219 Phase I Trial Demonstrates Early Activity

The CDK4/6 inhibitor LY2835219 has demonstrated early activity in heavily pretreated women with metastatic breast cancer. Nineteen percent of these women (9 out of 47) had a partial response and 51% (24 out of 47) had stable disease following monotherapy with the oral CDK4/6 inhibitor. Patients had received a median of seven prior therapies, and 75% had metastatic disease in the lung, liver, or brain. The median age of patients was 55 years.

All of the partial responses were in patients with HR-positive disease. The overall response rate for this patient subset was 25% (9 of 36 patients). Twenty of the patients with stable disease had HR-positive disease, with 13 patients having stable disease lasting 24 weeks or more.

Despite treatment, disease progression occurred in 23% of the patients.

These results were presented at a press briefing by Amita Patnaik, MD, associate director of clinical research at South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics in San Antonio, Texas, at the 2014 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, held April 5–9, in San Diego.

The phase I trial of LY2835219 enrolled 132 patients with five different tumor types, including metastatic breast cancer. Patients received 150-mg to 200-mg doses of the oral drug every 12 hours.

The overall disease control rate was 70% for all patients and 81% among the 36 HR-positive patients.

The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 5.8 months for all patients and 9.1 months for HR-positive patients. Patnaik noted that the median PFS is still a moving target, as 18 patients, all with HR-positive disease, remain on therapy.

“The data are rather encouraging for a very heavily pretreated patient population,” said Patnaik during the press briefing.

Even though the trial was not designed to compare efficacy based on breast cancer subpopulations, the results in HR-positive tumors are particularly encouraging, according to Patnaik.

Common adverse events thought to be treatment-related were diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and neutropenia. These adverse events occurred in 5% or less of patients at grade 3 or 4 toxicity, except neutropenia, which occurred as a grade 3 or 4 toxicity in 11% of patients. Patnaik noted during the press briefing that the neutropenia was uncomplicated and did not result in discontinuation of therapy by any of the patients.

Palbociclib Phase II Data “Impressive”

The addition of the oral CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib resulted in an almost doubling of PFS in first-line treatment of postmenopausal metastatic breast cancer patients with HR-positive disease compared with a control population. The patients in this trial were not previously treated for their metastatic breast cancer, unlike the patient population in the phase I LY2835219 trial.

Patients receiving the combination of palbociclib at 125 mg once daily plus letrozole at 2.5 mg once daily had a median PFS of 20.2 months compared with a median of 10.2 months for patients treated with letrozole alone (hazard ratio = 0.488; P = .0004).

Richard S. Finn, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, presented the data from the phase II PALOMA-1 trial at a press briefing at the AACR Annual Meeting.

A total of 165 patients were randomized 1:1 to either the experimental arm or control arm.

Forty-three percent of patients in the combination arm had an objective response compared with 33% of patients in the control arm.

Overall survival (OS), a secondary endpoint in this trial, was encouraging but the results are still preliminary, said Finn during the press briefing. The median OS was 37.5 months in the palbociclib arm compared with 33.3 months in the letrozole alone arm (P = .21). Finn noted that long-term follow-up is necessary to establish the median OS. “This first look of the survival data is encouraging. This is a front-line study, and it is encouraging that there is early [separation] of the curves,” he said.

No new toxicities were reported since the interim trial results. Common adverse events included leukopenia, neutropenia, and fatigue. The neutropenia could be quickly resolved and was uncomplicated and not accompanied by fever, said Finn.

Palbociclib is currently being tested in two phase III clinical trials: The PALOMA-3 trial is testing the combination of palbociclib with letrozole and fulvestrant in late-stage metastatic breast cancer patients who have failed endocrine therapy. The PENELOPE-B trial is testing palbociclib in combination with standard endocrine therapy in HR-positive breast cancer patients with residual disease after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surgery.


  1. Patnaik A, Rosen LS, Tolaney SM, et al. Clinical activity of LY2835219, a novel cell cycle inhibitor selective for CDK4 and CDK6, in patients with metastatic breast cancer. American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2014; April 5–9, 2014; San Diego. Abstr CT232.
  2. Finn RS, Crown JP, Lang I, et al. Final results of a randomized phase II study of PD 0332991, a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)-4/6 inhibitor, in combination with letrozole vs letrozole alone for first-line treatment of ER+/HER2-advanced breast cancer (PALOMA-1; TRIO-18). American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2014; April 5–9, 2014; San Diego. Abstr CT101.

– See more at:


The Cell Cycle and Anti-Cancer Targets




From Cell Cycle in Cancer: Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals™ (note dotted arrows show inhibition of steps e.g. p21, p53)

For a nice video slideshow explaining a bit more on cyclins and the cell cycle please see video below:


Cell Cycle. 2012 Nov 1; 11(21): 3913.

doi:  10.4161/cc.22390

PMCID: PMC3507481

Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibition in cancer therapy

Neil Johnson and Geoffrey I. Shapiro*

See the article “Therapeutic response to CDK4/6 inhibition in breast cancer defined by ex vivo analyses of human tumors” in volume 11 on page 2756.

See the article “CDK4/6 inhibition antagonizes the cytotoxic response to anthracycline therapy” in volume 11 on page 2747.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) drive cell cycle progression and control transcriptional processes. The dysregulation of multiple CDK family members occurs commonly in human cancer; in particular, the cyclin D-CDK4/6-retinoblastoma protein (RB)-INK4 axis is universally disrupted, facilitating cancer cell proliferation and prompting long-standing interest in targeting CDK4/6 as an anticancer strategy. Most agents that have been tested inhibit multiple cell cycle and transcriptional CDKs and have carried toxicity. However, several selective and potent inhibitors of CDK4/6 have recently entered clinical trial. PD0332991, the first to be developed, resulted from the introduction of a 2-aminopyridyl substituent at the C2-position of a pyrido(2,3-d)pyrimidin-7-one backbone, affording exquisite selectivity toward CDK4/6.1 PD0332991 arrests cells in G1 phase by blocking RB phosphorylation at CDK4/6-specfic sites and does not inhibit the growth of RB-deficient cells.2 Phase I studies conducted in patients with advanced RB-expressing cancers demonstrated mild side effects and dose-limiting toxicities of neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, with prolonged stable disease in 25% of patients.3,4 In cyclin D1-translocated mantle cell lymphoma, PD0332991 extinguished CDK4/6 activity in patients’ tumors, resulting in markedly reduced proliferation, and translating to more than 1 year of stability or response in 5 of 17 cases.5

Two recent papers from the Knudsen laboratory make several important observations that will help guide the continued clinical development of CDK4/6 inhibitors. In the study by Dean et al., surgically resected patient breast tumors were grown on a tissue culture matrix in the presence or absence of PD0332991. Crucially, these cultures retained associated stromal components known to play important roles in cancer pathogenesis and therapeutic sensitivities, as well as key histological and molecular features of the primary tumor, including expression of ER, HER2 and Ki-67. Similar to results in breast cancer cell lines,6 the authors demonstrate that only RB-positive tumors have growth inhibition in response to PD0332991, irrespective of ER or HER2 status, while tumors lacking RB were completely resistant. This result underscores RB as the predominant target of CDK4/6 in breast cancer cells and the primary marker of drug response in primary patient-derived tumors. As expected, RB-negative tumors routinely demonstrated robust expression of p16INK4A; however, p16INK4A expression was not always a surrogate marker for RB loss, supporting the importance of direct screening of tumors for RB expression to select patients appropriate for CDK4/6 inhibitor clinical trials.

In the second study, McClendon et al. investigated the efficacy of PD0332991 in combination with doxorubicin in triple-negative breast cancer cell lines. Again, RB functionality was paramount in determining response to either PD0332991 monotherapy or combination treatment. In RB-deficient cancer cells, CDK4/6 inhibition had no effect in either instance. However, in RB-expressing cancer cells, CDK4/6 inhibition and doxorubicin provided a cooperative cytostatic effect, although doxorubicin-induced cytotoxicity was substantially reduced, assessed by markers for mitotic catastrophe and apoptosis. Additionally, despite cytostatic cooperativity, CDK4/6 inhibition maintained the viability of RB-proficient cells in the presence of doxorubicin, which repopulated the culture after removal of drug. These results reflect previous data demonstrating that ectopic expression of p16INK4A can protect cells from the lethal effects of DNA damaging and anti-mitotic chemotherapies.7 Similar results have been reported in MMTV-c-neu mice bearing RB-proficient HER2-driven tumors, where PD0332991 compromised carboplatin-induced regressions,8 suggesting that DNA-damaging treatments should not be combined concomitantly with CDK4/6 inhibition in RB-proficient tumors.

To combine CDK4/6 inhibition with cytotoxics, sequential treatment may be considered, in which CDK4/6 inhibition is followed by DNA damaging chemotherapy; cells relieved of G1 arrest may synchronously enter S phase, where they may be most susceptible to agents disrupting DNA synthesis. Release of myeloma cells from a prolonged PD0332991-mediated G1 block leads to S phase synchronization; interestingly, all scheduled gene expression is not completely restored (including factors critical to myeloma survival such as IRF4), further favoring apoptotic responses to cytotoxic agents.9 Furthermore, in RB-deficient tumors, CDK4/6 inhibitors may be used to maximize the therapeutic window between transformed and non-transformed cells treated with chemotherapy. In contrast to RB-deficient cancer cells, RB-proficient non-transformed cells arrested in G1 in response to PD0332991 are afforded protection from DNA damaging agents, thereby reducing associated toxicities, including bone marrow suppression.8

In summary, the current work provides evidence for RB expression as a determinant of response to CDK4/6 inhibition in primary tumors and highlights the complexity of combining agents targeting the cell cycle machinery with DNA damaging treatments.

Go to:


Dean JL, McClendon AK, Hickey TE, Butler LM, Tilley WD, Witkiewicz AK, Knudsen ES. Therapeutic response to CDK4/6 inhibition in breast cancer defined by ex vivo analyses of human tumors Cell Cycle 2012 11 2756 61 doi: 10.4161/cc.21195.

McClendon AK, Dean JL, Rivadeneira DB, Yu JE, Reed CA, Gao E, Farber JL, Force T, Koch WJ, Knudsen ES. CDK4/6 inhibition antagonizes the cytotoxic response to anthracycline therapy Cell Cycle 2012 11 2747 55 doi: 10.4161/cc.21127.

Go to:


Previously published online:

Go to:


  1. Toogood PL, et al. J Med Chem. 2005;48:2388–406. doi: 10.1021/jm049354h. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
  2. Fry DW, et al. Mol Cancer Ther. 2004;3:1427–38. [PubMed]
  3. Flaherty KT, et al. Clin Cancer Res. 2012;18:568–76. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0509. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
  4. Schwartz GK, et al. Br J Cancer. 2011;104:1862–8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.177. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
  5. Leonard JP, et al. Blood. 2012;119:4597–607. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-10-388298. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
  6. Dean JL, et al. Oncogene. 2010;29:4018–32. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.154. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
  7. Stone S, et al. Cancer Res. 1996;56:3199–202. [PubMed]
  8. Roberts PJ, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012;104:476–87. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs002. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
  9. Huang X, et al. Blood. 2012;120:1095–106. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-03-415984. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Cell Cycle. 2012 Jul 15; 11(14): 2756–2761.

doi:  10.4161/cc.21195

PMCID: PMC3409015

Therapeutic response to CDK4/6 inhibition in breast cancer defined by ex vivo analyses of human tumors

Jeffry L. Dean, 1 , 2 A. Kathleen McClendon, 1 , 2 Theresa E. Hickey, 3 Lisa M. Butler, 3 Wayne D. Tilley, 3 Agnieszka K. Witkiewicz, 4 , 2 ,* and Erik S. Knudsen 1 , 2 ,*

Author information ► Copyright and License information ►

See commentary “Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibition in cancer therapy” in volume 11 on page 3913.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

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To model the heterogeneity of breast cancer as observed in the clinic, we employed an ex vivo model of breast tumor tissue. This methodology maintained the histological integrity of the tumor tissue in unselected breast cancers, and importantly, the explants retained key molecular markers that are currently used to guide breast cancer treatment (e.g., ER and Her2 status). The primary tumors displayed the expected wide range of positivity for the proliferation marker Ki67, and a strong positive correlation between the Ki67 indices of the primary and corresponding explanted tumor tissues was observed. Collectively, these findings indicate that multiple facets of tumor pathophysiology are recapitulated in this ex vivo model. To interrogate the potential of this preclinical model to inform determinants of therapeutic response, we investigated the cytostatic response to the CDK4/6 inhibitor, PD-0332991. This inhibitor was highly effective at suppressing proliferation in approximately 85% of cases, irrespective of ER or HER2 status. However, 15% of cases were completely resistant to PD-0332991. Marker analyses in both the primary tumor tissue and the corresponding explant revealed that cases resistant to CDK4/6 inhibition lacked the RB-tumor suppressor. These studies provide important insights into the spectrum of breast tumors that could be treated with CDK4/6 inhibitors, and defines functional determinants of response analogous to those identified through neoadjuvant studies.

Keywords: ER, PD0332991, breast cancer, cell cycle, ex vivo

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Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease.14 Such heterogeneity is known to influence patient response to both standard of care and experimental therapeutics. In regards to biomarker-driven treatment of breast cancers, it was initially recognized that the presence of the estrogen receptor α (ER) in a fraction of breast cancer cells was associated with the response to tamoxifen and similar anti-estrogenic therapies.5,6 Since this discovery, subsequent marker analyses and gene expression profiling studies have further divided breast cancer into a series of distinct subtypes that harbor differing and often divergent therapeutic sensitivities.13 While clearly important in considering the use of several current standard of care therapies, these markers, or molecular sub-types, do not necessarily predict the response to new therapeutic approaches that are currently undergoing clinical development. Thus, there is the continued need for functional analyses of drug response and the definition of new markers that can be used to direct treatment strategies.

Currently, all preclinical cancer models are associated with specific limitations. It is well known that cell culture models lack the tumor microenvironment known to have a significant impact on tumor biology and therapeutic response.79 Xenograft models are dependent on the host response for the engraftment of tumor cells in non-native tissues, which do not necessarily recapitulate the nuances of complex tumor milieu.10 In addition, genetically engineered mouse models, while enabling the tumor to develop in the context of the host, can develop tumors that do not mirror aspects of human disease.10 Furthermore, it remains unclear whether any preclinical model truly represents the panoply of breast cancer subtypes that are observed in the clinic. Herein, we utilized a primary human tumor explant culture approach to interrogate drug response, as well as specific determinants of therapeutic response, in an unselected series of breast cancer cases.

Cell Cycle. 2012 Jul 15; 11(14): 2747–2755.

doi:  10.4161/cc.21127

PMCID: PMC3409014

CDK4/6 inhibition antagonizes the cytotoxic response to anthracycline therapy

  1. Kathleen McClendon, 1 , † Jeffry L. Dean, 1 , † Dayana B. Rivadeneira, 1 Justine E. Yu, 1 Christopher A. Reed, 1 Erhe Gao, 2 John L. Farber, 3 Thomas Force, 2 Walter J. Koch, 2 and Erik S. Knudsen 1 ,*

Author information ► Copyright and License information ►

See commentary “Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibition in cancer therapy” in volume 11 on page 3913.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Go to:


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease that lacks established markers to direct therapeutic intervention. Thus, these tumors are routinely treated with cytotoxic chemotherapies (e.g., anthracyclines), which can cause severe side effects that impact quality of life. Recent studies indicate that the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (RB) pathway is an important determinant in TNBC disease progression and therapeutic outcome. Furthermore, new therapeutic agents have been developed that specifically target the RB pathway, potentially positioning RB as a novel molecular marker for directing treatment. The current study evaluates the efficacy of pharmacological CDK4/6 inhibition in combination with the widely used genotoxic agent doxorubicin in the treatment of TNBC. Results demonstrate that in RB-proficient TNBC models, pharmacological CDK4/6 inhibition yields a cooperative cytostatic effect with doxorubicin but ultimately protects RB-proficient cells from doxorubicin-mediated cytotoxicity. In contrast, CDK4/6 inhibition does not alter the therapeutic response of RB-deficient TNBC cells to doxorubicin-mediated cytotoxicity, indicating that the effects of doxorubicin are indeed dependent on RB-mediated cell cycle control. Finally, the ability of CDK4/6 inhibition to protect TNBC cells from doxorubicin-mediated cytotoxicity resulted in recurrent populations of cells specifically in RB-proficient cell models, indicating that CDK4/6 inhibition can preserve cell viability in the presence of genotoxic agents. Combined, these studies suggest that while targeting the RB pathway represents a novel means of treatment in aggressive diseases such as TNBC, there should be a certain degree of caution when considering combination regimens of CDK4/6 inhibitors with genotoxic compounds that rely heavily on cell proliferation for their cytotoxic effects.



Click on Video Link for Dr. Tolaney slidepresentation of recent data with CDK4/6 inhibitor trial results

Audio and slides for this presentation are available on YouTube:

Sara Tolaney, MD, MPH, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, gives an overview of phase I clinical trials and some of the new drugs being tested to treat breast cancer. This talk was originally given at the Metastatic Breast Cancer Forum at Dana-Farber on Oct. 5, 2013.

A great article on current clinical trials and explanation of cdk inhibitors by Sneha Phadke, DO; Alexandra Thomas, MD at the site OncoLive


cdk4/6 inhibitor Ibrance Has Favorable Toxicity and Adverse Event Profile


As discussed in earlier posts and the Introduction to this chapter on Cytotoxic Chemotherapeutics, most anti-cancer drugs developed either to target DNA, DNA replication, or the cell cycle usually have similar toxicity profile which can limit their therapeutic use. These toxicities and adverse events usually involve cell types which normally exhibit turnover in the body, such as myeloid and lymphoid and granulocytic series of blood cells, epithelial cells lining the mucosa of the GI tract, as well as follicular cells found at hair follicles. This understandably manifests itself as common toxicities seen with these types of agents such as the various cytopenias in the blood, nausea vomiting diarrhea (although there are effects on the chemoreceptor trigger zone), and alopecia.

It was felt that the cdk4/6 inhibitors would show serious side effects similar to other cytotoxic agents and this definitely may be the case as outlined below:

(Side effects of palbociclib) From

Palbociclib may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • decreased appetite
  • tiredness
  • numbness or tingling in your arms, hands, legs, and feet
  • sore mouth or throat
  • unusual hair thinning or hair loss

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

  • fever, chills, or signs of infection
  • shortness of breath
  • sudden, sharp chest pain that may become worse with deep breathing
  • fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • rapid breathing
  • weakness
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • nosebleeds

The following is from FDA Drug Trials Snapshot of Ibrance™:


See PDF on original submission and CDER review

original FDA Ibrance submission

original FDA Ibrance submission

CDER Review Ibrance

CDER Review Ibrance


4.3 Preclinical Pharmacology/Toxicology


For full details, please see Pharmacology/Toxicology review by Dr. Wei Chen The nonclinical studies adequately support the safety of oral administration of palbociclib for the proposed indication and the recommendation from the team is for approval. Non-clinical studies of palbociclib included safety pharmacology studies, genotoxicity

studies, reproductive toxicity studies, pharmacokinetic studies, toxicokinetic studies and repeat-dose general toxicity studies which were conducted in rats and dogs. The pivotal toxicology studies were conducted in compliance with Good Laboratory Practice regulation.



As described above, palbociclib is an inhibitor of CDK4 and CDK6. Palbociclib modulates downstream targets of CDK4 and CDK6 in vitro and induces G1 phase cell cycle arrest and therefore acts to inhibit DNA synthesis and cell proliferation. Combination of palbociclib with anti-estrogen agents demonstrated synergistic inhibition

of cell proliferation in ER+ breast cancer cells. Palbociclib showed anti-tumor efficacy in animal tumor model studies. Safety pharmacology studies with palbociclib demonstrated adverse effects on both the respiratory and cardiovascular function of dogs at a dose of 125mg/day (four times and 50-times the human clinical exposure

respectively) based on mean unbound Cmax.


General toxicology:

Palbociclib was studied in single dose toxicity studies and repeated dose studies in rats and dogs. Adverse effects in the bone marrow, lymphoid tissues, and male reproductive organs were observed at clinically relevant exposures. Partial to complete reversibility of toxicities to the hematolymphopoietic and male reproductive systems was demonstrated following a recovery period (4-12 weeks), with the exception of the male reproductive organ findings in dogs. Gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, endocrine/metabolic (altered glucose metabolism), respiratory, ocular, and adrenal effects were also seen.


Genetic toxicology:

Palbociclib was evaluated for potential genetic toxicity in in vitro and in vivo studies. The Ames bacterial mutagenicity assay in the presence or absence of metabolic activation demonstrated non-mutagenicity. In addition, palbociclib did not induce chromosomal aberrations in cultured human peripheral blood lymphocytes in the presence or absence of metabolic activation. Palbociclib was identified as aneugenic based on kinetochore analysis of micronuclei formation in an In vitro assay in CHO-WBL cells. In addition, palbociclib was shown to induce micronucleus formation in male rats at doses 100

mg/kg/day (10x human exposure at the therapeutic dose) in an in vivo rat micronucleus assay.


Reproductive toxicology: No effects on estrous cycle and no reproductive toxicities were noticed in standard assays.


Pharmacovigilance (note please see PDF for more information)

Deaths Associated With Trials: Although a few deaths occurred during some trials no deaths were attributed to the drug.

Non-Serious Adverse Events:

(note a reviewers comment below concerning incidence of pulmonary embolism is a combination trial with letrazole)


fda ibrance reviewers SAE comment


Other article in this Open Access Journal on Cell Cycle and Cancer Include:


Tumor Suppressor Pathway, Hippo pathway, is responsible for Sensing Abnormal Chromosome Numbers in Cells and Triggering Cell Cycle Arrest, thus preventing Progression into Cancer

Nonhematologic Cancer Stem Cells [11.2.3]

New methods for Study of Cellular Replication, Growth, and Regulation

Multiple Lung Cancer Genomic Projects Suggest New Targets, Research Directions for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Proteomics, Metabolomics, Signaling Pathways, and Cell Regulation: a Compilation of Articles in the Journal

In Focus: Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells









Read Full Post »

Can IntraTumoral Heterogeneity Be Thought of as a Mechanism of Resistance?

Curator/Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Therapeutic resistance remains one of the most challenging problems for the oncologist, despite the increase of new therapeutics in the oncologist’s toolkit. As new targeted therapies are developed, and new novel targets are investigated as potential therapies, especially cytostatic therapies which it has become evident our understanding of chemoresistance is expanding beyond mechanisms to circumvent a drug’s pharmacologic mechanism of action (i.e. increased DNA repair and cisplatin) or pharmacokinetic changes (i.e. increased efflux by acquisition of a MDR phenotype).

In a talk at the 2015 AACR National Meeting, Dr. Charles Swanton discusses the development of tumor heterogeneity in the light of developing, or acquired, drug resistance. Chemoresistance is either categorized as acquired resistance (where resistance develops upon continued exposure to drug) or inherent resistance (related to a tumor being refractory or unresponsive to drug). Dr Swanton discusses findings where development of this heterogeneity (discussed here in a posting on Issues in Personalized Medicine in Cancer: Intratumor Heterogeneity and Branched Evolution Revealed by Multiregion Sequencing) and here (Notes On Tumor Heterogeneity: Targets and Mechanisms, from the 2015 AACR Meeting in Philadelphia PA) on recent findings on Branched Chain Heterogeneity) is resulting in clones resistant to the initial drug treatment.

To recount a bit of background I list the overall points of the one of previous posts on tumor heterogeneity (and an interview with Dr. Charles Swanton) are as follows:

Multiple biopsies of primary tumor and metastases are required to determine the full mutational landscape of a patient’s tumor

The intratumor heterogeneity will have an impact on the personalized therapy strategy for the clinician

Metastases arising from primary tumor clones will have a greater genomic instability and mutational spectrum than the tumor from which it originates

Tumors and their metastases do NOT evolve in a linear path but have a branched evolution and would complicate biomarker development and the prognostic and resistance outlook for the patient


The following is a curation of various talks and abstracts from the 2015 AACR National Meeting in Philadelphia on effects of clonal evolution and intratumoral heterogeneity of a tumor with respect to development of chemoresistance. As this theory of heterogeneity and clonal evolution is particularly new I attempted to present all works (although apologize for the length upfront) to forgo bias and so the reader may extract any information pertinent to their clinical efforts and research. However I will give a brief highlight summary below:


From the 2015 AACR National Meeting in Philadelphia






Presentation Title: Polyclonal and heterogeneous resistance to targeted therapy in leukemia
Presentation Time: Monday, Apr 20, 2015, 10:40 AM -10:55 AM
Location: Room 201, Pennsylvania Convention Center
Author Block: Catherine C. Smith, Amy Paguirigan, Chen-Shan Chin, Michael Brown, Wendy Parker, Mark J. Levis, Alexander E. Perl, Kevin Travers, Corynn Kasap, Jerald P. Radich, Susan Branford, Neil P. Shah. University of California, San Francisco, CA, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, Pacific Biosciences, Menlo Park, CA, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD, Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, University of California, San Francisco, CA
Abstract Body: Genomic studies in solid tumors have revealed significant branching intratumoral clonal genetic heterogeneity. Such complexity is not surprising in solid tumors, where sequencing studies have revealed thousands of mutations per tumor genome. However, in leukemia, the genetic landscape is considerably less complex. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is the human malignancy most definitively linked to a single genetic lesion, the BCR-ABL gene fusion. Genome wide sequencing of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has revealed that AML is the most genetically straightforward of all extensively sequenced adult cancers to date, with an average of 13 coding mutations and 3 or less clones identified per tumor.
In CML, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) of BCR-ABL have resulted in high rates of remission. However, despite excellent initial response rates with TKI monotherapy, patients still relapse, including virtually all patients with Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia and blast crisis CML. Studies of clinical resistance highlight BCR-ABL as the sole genetic driver in CML as secondary kinase domain (KD) mutations that prevent drug binding are the predominant mechanism of relapse on BCR-ABL TKIs.
In AML, a more diverse panel of disease-defining genetic mutations has been uncovered. However, in individual patients, a single oncogene can still drive disease. This is the case in FLT3 mutant AML, in which the investigational FLT3 TKI quizartinib achieved an initial response rate of ~50% in relapsed/refractory AML patients with activating FLT3 internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations, though most patients eventually relapsed. Confirming the importance of FLT3 in disease maintenance, we showed that 8 of 8 patients who relapsed on quizartinib did so due to acquired drug-resistant FLT3 KD mutations.
Studies in CML have revealed that sequential TKI therapy is associated with additional complexity where multiple mutations can coexist separately in an individual patient (“polyclonality”) or in tandem on a single allele (“compound mutations”). In AML, we observed polyclonal FLT3-ITD KD mutations in 2 of 8 patients examined in our initial study of quizartinib resistance.
In light of the polyclonal KD mutations observed in CML and AML at the time of TKI relapse, we undertook next generation sequencing studies to determine the true genetic complexity in CML and AML patients at the time of relapse on targeted therapy. We used Pacific Biosciences RS Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) third generation sequencing technology to sequence the entire ABL KD or the entire FLT3 juxtamembrane and KD on a single strand of DNA. Using this method, we assessed a total of 103 samples from 79 CML patients on ABL TKI therapy and 36 paired pre-treatment and relapse samples from 18 FLT3-ITD+ AML patients who responded to investigational FLT3 TKI therapy.
In CML, using SMRT sequencing, we detected all mutations previously detected by direct sequencing. Of samples in which multiple mutations were detectable by direct sequencing, 85% had compound mutant alleles detectable in a variety of combinations. Compound mutant alleles were comprised of both dominant and minor mutations, some which were not detectable by direct sequencing. In the most complex case, 12 individual mutant alleles comprised of 7 different mutations were identified in a single sample.
For 12 CML patients, we interrogated longitudinal samples (2-4 time points per patient) and observed complex clonal relationships with highly dynamic shifts in mutant allele populations over time. We detected compound mutations arising from ancestral single mutant clones as well as parallel evolution of de novo polyclonal and compound mutations largely in keeping with what would be expected to cause resistance to the second generation TKI therapy received by that patient.
We used a phospho-flow cytometric technique to assesses the phosphorylation status of the BCR-ABL substrate CRKL in as a method to test the ex vivo biochemical responsiveness of individual mutant cell populations to TKI therapy and assess functional cellular heterogeneity in a given patient at a given timepoint. Using this technique, we observed co-existing cell populations with differential ex vivo response to TKI in 2 cases with detectable polyclonal mutations. In a third case, we identified co-existence of an MLL-AF9 containing cell population that retained the ability to modulate p-CRKL in response to BCR-ABL TKIs along with a BCR-ABL containing only population that showed biochemical resistance to all TKIs, suggesting the co-existence of BCR-ABL independent and dependent resistance in a single patient.
In AML, using SMRT sequencing, we identified acquired quizartinib resistant KD mutations on the FLT3-ITD (ITD+) allele of 9 of 9 patients who relapsed after response to quizartinib and 4 of 9 patients who relapsed after response to the investigational FLT3 inhibitor, PLX3397. In 4 cases of quizartinib resistance and 3 cases of PLX3397 resistance, polyclonal mutations were observed, including 7 different KD mutations in one patient with PLX3397 resistance. In 7 quizartinib-resistant cases and 3 PLX3397-resistant cases, mutations occurred at the activation loop residue D835. When we examined non-ITD containing (ITD-) alleles, we surprisingly uncovered concurrent drug-resistant FLT3 KD mutations on ITD- alleles in 7 patients who developed quizartinib resistance and 4 patients with PLX3397 resistance. One additional PLX3397-resistant patient developed a D835Y mutation only in ITD- alleles at the time of resistance, suggesting selection for a non-ITD containing clone. All of the individual substitutions found on ITD- alleles were the same substitutions identified on ITD+ alleles for each individual patient.
Given that the same individual mutations found on ITD- alleles were also found on ITD+ alleles, we sought to determine whether these mutations were found in the same cell or were indicative of polyclonal blast populations in each patient. To answer this question, we performed single cell sorting of viably frozen blasts from 3 quizartinib-resistant patients with D835 mutations identified at the time of relapse and genotyped single cells for the presence or absence of ITD and D835 mutations. This analysis revealed striking genetic heterogeneity. In 2/3 cases, polyclonal D835 mutations were found in both ITD+ and ITD- cells. In all cases, FLT3-ITD and D835 mutations were found in both heterozygous and homozygous combinations. Most surprisingly, in all 3 patients, approximately 30-40% of FLT3-ITD+ cells had no identified quizartinib resistance-causing FLT3 KD mutation to account for resistance, suggesting the presence of non-FLT3 dependent resistance in all patients.
To determine that ITD+ cells lacking FLT3 KD mutations observed in patients relapsed on quizartinib are indeed consistent with leukemic blasts functionally resistant to quizartinib and do not instead represent a population of differentiated or non-proliferating cells, we utilized relapse blasts from another patient who initially achieved clearance of bone marrow blasts on quizartinib and developed a D835Y mutation at relapse. We performed a colony assay in the presence of 20nM quizartinib. As expected, this dose of quizartinib was unable to suppress the colony-forming ability of blasts from this relapsed patient when compared to DMSO treatment. Genotyping of individual colonies grown from this relapse sample in the presence of 20nM quizartinib again showed remarkable genetic heterogeneity, including ITD+ and ITD- colonies with D835Y mutations in homozygous and heterozygous combinations as well as ITD+ colonies without D835Y mutations, again suggesting the presence of blasts with non-FLT3 dependent resistance. Additionally, 4 colonies with no FLT3 mutations at all were identified in this sample, suggesting the presence of a quizartinib-resistant non-FLT3 mutant blast population. To see if we could identify specific mechanisms of off-target resistance, we performed targeted exome sequencing 33-AML relevant genes from relapse and pre-treatment DNA from all four patients and detected no new mutations in any genes other than FLT3 acquired at the time of disease relapse. Clonal genetic heterogeneity is not surprising in solid tumors, where multiple driver mutations frequently occur, but in CML and FLT3-ITD+ AML, where disease has been shown to be exquisitely dependent on oncogenic driver mutations, our studies suggest a surprising amount of clonal diversity. Our findings show that clinical TKI resistance in these diseases is amazingly intricate on the single allele level and frequently consists of both polyclonal and compound mutations that give rise to an complicated pool of TKI-resistant alleles that can change dynamically over time. In addition, we demonstrate that cell populations with off-target resistance can co-exist with other TKI-resistant populations, underscoring the emerging complexity of clinical TKI resistance. Such complexity argues strongly that monotherapy strategies in advanced CML and AML may be ultimately doomed to fail due to heterogeneous cell intrinsic resistance mechanisms. Ultimately, combination strategies that can address both on and off target resistance will be required to effect durable therapeutic responses.
Session Title: Tumor Heterogeneity and Evolution
Session Type: Educational Session
Session Start/End Time: Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Terrace Ballroom II-III (400 Level), Pennsylvania Convention Center
CME: CME-Designated
CME/CE Hours: 2
Session Description: One of the major challenges for both the measurement and management of cancer is its heterogeneity. Recent studies have revealed both extensive inter- and intra-tumor heterogeneity at the genotypic and phenotypic levels. Leaders in the field will discuss this challenge, its origins, dynamics and clinical importance. They will also review how we can best measure and deal with tumor heterogeneity, particularly intra-tumor heterogeneity.
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Carlo C. Maley. UCSF Helen Diller Family Comp. Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA
Universal biomarkers: How to handle tumor heterogeneity
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM – 1:25 PM
Carlo C. Maley. UCSF Helen Diller Family Comp. Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:25 PM – 1:30 PM
Heterogeneity of resistance to cancer therapy
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:30 PM – 1:55 PM
Ivana Bozic. HARVARD UNIV., Cambridge, MA
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:55 PM – 2:00 PM
Determinants of phenotypic intra-tumor heterogeneity: integrative approach
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:00 PM – 2:25 PM
Andriy Marusyk, Michalina Janiszewska, Doris Tabassum. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:25 PM – 2:30 PM
Cancer clonal complexity and evolution at the macro- and microheterogeneity scale
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:30 PM – 2:55 PM
Marco Gerlinger. Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:55 PM – 3:00 PM

From Ivana Bozic:

A spatial model predicts that dispersal and cell turnover limit intratumour heterogeneity.

Waclaw B, Bozic I, Pittman ME, Hruban RH, Vogelstein B, Nowak MA.

Nature. 2015 Sep 10;525(7568):261-4. doi: 10.1038/nature14971. Epub 2015 Aug 26.



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Timing and heterogeneity of mutations associated with drug resistance in metastatic cancers.

Bozic I, Nowak MA.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 11;111(45):15964-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1412075111. Epub 2014 Oct 27.



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Evolutionary dynamics of cancer in response to targeted combination therapy.

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Session Title: Mechanisms of Cancer Therapy Resistance
Session Type: Educational Session
Session Start/End Time: Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Room 204, Pennsylvania Convention Center
CME: CME-Designated
CME/CE Hours: 2
Session Description: Despite dramatic advances in the treatment of cancer, therapy resistance remains the most significant hurdle in improving the outcome of cancer patients. In this session, we will discuss many different aspects of therapy resistance, including a summary of our current understanding of therapy resistant tumor cell populations as well as analyses of the challenges associated with intratumoral heterogeneity and adaptive responses to targeted therapies.
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Charles Swanton. Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, London, United Kingdom
Tumor heterogeneity and drug resistance
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Charles Swanton. Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, London, United Kingdom

Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:30 PM – 1:40 PM
Discussion Discussion, Discussion

Principles of resistance to targeted therapy
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 1:40 PM – 2:10 PM
Levi A. Garraway. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:10 PM – 2:20 PM
Discussion Discussion, Discussion

Adaptive re-wiring of signaling pathways driving drug resistance to targeted therapies
Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:20 PM – 2:50 PM
Taru E. Muranen. Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Saturday, Apr 18, 2015, 2:50 PM – 3:00 PM
Discussion Discussion, Discussion

Presentation Abstract  




Abstract Number: 737
Presentation Title: Clonal evolution of the HER2 L755S mutation as a mechanism of acquired HER-targeted therapy resistance
Presentation Time: Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Section 30
Poster Board Number: 29
Author Block: Xiaowei Xu1, Agostina Nardone1, Huizhong Hu1, Lanfang Qin1, Sarmistha Nanda1, Laura Heiser2, Nicholas Wang2, Kyle Covington1, Edward Chen1, Alexander Renwick1, Tamika Mitchell1, Marty Shea1, Tao Wang1, Carmine De Angelis1, Alejandro Contreras1, Carolina Gutierrez1, Suzanne Fuqua1, Gary Chamness1, Chad Shaw1, Marilyn Li1, David Wheeler1, Susan Hilsenbeck1, Mothaffar Fahed Rimawi1, Joe Gray2, C.Kent Osborne1, Rachel Schiff1. 1Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; 2Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Abstract Body: Background: Targeting HER2 with lapatinib (L), trastuzumab (T), or the LT combination, is effective in HER2+ breast cancer (BC), but acquired resistance commonly occurs. In our 12-week neoadjuvant
trial (TBCRC006) of LT without chemotherapy in HER2+ BC, the overall pathologic complete response (pCR) rate was 27%. To investigate resistance mechanisms, we developed 10 HER2+ BC cell line
models resistant (R) to one or both drugs (LR/TR/LTR). To discover potential predictive markers/therapeutic targets to circumvent resistance, we completed genomic profiling of the cell lines and a
subset of pre-treatment specimens from TBCRC006.
Methods: Parental (P) and LR/TR/LTR lines of 10 cell line models were profiled with whole exome/RNA sequencing. Mutations detected in R lines but not in P lines of the same model were identified. Mutation-specific Q-PCR was designed for sensitive quantification. Resistant cell and xenograft tumor growth were measured in response to drugs. Whole exome sequencing (>100X) and Ampliseq of 17 baseline tumor/normal pairs from TBCRC006 were performed.
Results: We found and validated the HER2 L755S mutation in the BT474/ATCC-LTR line and BT474/AZ-LR line (in ~30% of DNA/RNA), in which the HER pathway was reactivated for resistance. Overexpression of this mutation was previously shown to induce LR in HER2-negative BC cell lines, and resistant growth of BT474/AZ-LR line is significantly inhibited by HER2-L755S-specific siRNA knock-down, suggesting its role as an acquired L/LT resistance driver in HER2+ BC. Sequencing of BT474/AZ-LR single cell clones found the mutation in ~30% of HER2 copies in every cell. Using mutation-specific Q-PCR, we found statistically higher HER2 L755S levels in two BT474 parentals compared to P lines of SKBR3, AU565, and UACC812. These data suggest that HER2 L755S resistant subclones preexist in the BT474 parentals and were selected by L treatment to become the major clone in the two R lines. The HER1/2 irreversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) afatinib (Afa) robustly inhibited growth of BT474/AZ-LR and BT474/ATCC-LTR cells (IC50: Afa 0.02µM vs. L 3 µM) and BT474/AZ-LR xenografts. Whole exome sequencing/Ampliseq of TBCRC006 found the HER2 L755S mutation in 1/17 primaries. This patient did not achieve pCR. The variant was present in 2% of DNA on both platforms, indicating a subclonal event of the resistance mutation.
Conclusion: Acquired L/LT resistance in the two BT474 R lines is due to selection of HER2 L755S subclones present in parental cells. The higher HER2 L755S
levels in BT474 parentals compared with other parentals, and detection of its subclonal presence in a pre-treatment HER2+ BC patient, suggest that sensitive mutation detection methods will be needed to identify patients with potentially actionable HER family mutations in primary tumor. Treating this patient group
with an irreversible TKI like Afa may prevent resistance and improve clinical outcome of this subset of HER2+ BC.
Presentation Number: SY07-04
Presentation Title: The evolutionary landscape of CLL: Therapeutic implications
Presentation Time: Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 2:25 PM – 2:45 PM
Location: Grand Ballroom (300 Level), Pennsylvania Convention Center
Author Block: Catherine J. Wu. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Abstract Body: Clonal evolution is a key feature of cancer progression and relapse. Recent studies across cancers have demonstrated the extensive degree of intratumoral heterogeneity present within individual cancers. We hypothesized that evolutionary dynamics contribute to the variations in disease tempo and response to therapy that are highly characteristic of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We have recently investigated this phenomenon by developing a pipeline that estimates the fraction of cancer cells harboring each somatic mutation within a tumor through integration of whole-exome sequence (WES) and local copy number data (Landau et al., Cell 2013). By applying this analysis approach to 149 CLL cases, we discovered earlier and later cancer drivers, uncovered patterns of clonal evolution in CLL and linked the presence of subclones harboring driver mutations with adverse clinical outcome. Thus, our study, generated from a heterogeneous sample cohort, strongly supports the concept that CLL clonal evolution arises from mass extinction and therapeutic bottlenecks which lead to the emergence of highly fit (and treatment resistant) subclones. We further hypothesized that epigenetic heterogeneity also shapes CLL clonal evolution through interrelation with genetic heterogeneity. Indeed, in recent work, we have uncovered stochastic methylation disorder as the primary cause of methylation changes in CLL and cancer in general, and that this phenomena impacts gene transcription, genetic evolution and clinical outcome. Thus, integrated studies of genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity in CLL have revealed the complex and diverse evolutionary trajectories of these cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is exquisitely suited for specifically and simultaneously targeting multiple lesions. We have developed an approach that leverages whole-exome sequencing to systematically identify personal tumor mutations with immunogenic potential, which can be incorporated as antigen targets in multi-epitope personalized therapeutic vaccines. We are pioneering this approach in an ongoing trial in melanoma and will now expand this concept to address diverse malignancies. Our expectation is that the choice of tumor neoantigens for a vaccine bypasses thymic tolerance and thus generates highly specific and potent high-affinity T cell responses to eliminate tumors in any cancer, including both ‘trunk’ and ‘branch’ lesions.


Abstract Number: LB-056
Presentation Title: TP53 and RB1 alterations promote reprogramming and antiandrogen resistance in advanced prostate cancer
Presentation Time: Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 4:50 PM – 5:05 PM
Location: Room 122, Pennsylvania Convention Center
Author Block: Ping Mu, Zhen Cao, Elizabeth Hoover, John Wongvipat, Chun-Hao Huang, Wouter Karthaus, Wassim Abida, Elisa De Stanchina, Charles Sawyers. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Abstract Body: Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is one of the most difficult cancers to treat with conventional methods and is responsible for nearly all prostate cancer deaths in the US. The Sawyers laboratory first showed that the primary mechanism of resistance to antiandrogen therapy is elevated androgen receptor (AR) expression. Research based on this finding has led to the development of next-generation antiandrogen: enzalutamide. Despite the exciting clinical success of enzalutamide, about 60% of patients exhibit various degrees of resistance to this agent. Highly variable responses to enzalutamide limit the clinical benefit of this novel antiandrogen, underscoring the importance of understanding the mechanisms of enzalutamide resistance. Most recently, an unbiased SU2C-Prostate Cancer Dream Team metastatic CRPC sequencing project led by Dr. Sawyers and Dr. Chinnaiyan revealed that mutations in the TP53 locus are the most significantly enriched alteration in CRPC tumors when compared to primary prostate cancers. Moreover, deletions and decreased expressions of the TP53 and RB1 loci (co-occurrence and individual occurrence) are more commonly associated with CRPC than with primary tumors. These results established that alteration of the TP53 and RB1 pathways are associated with the development of antiandrogen resistance.
By knockdowning TP53 or/and RB1 in the castration resistant LNCaP/AR model, we demonstrate that the disruption of either TP53 or RB1 alone confers significant resistance to enzalutamide both in vitro and in vivo. Strikingly, the co-inactivation of these pathways confers the most dramatic resistance. Since up-regulation of either AR or AR target genes is not observed in the resistant tumors, loss of TP53 and RB1 function confers enzalutamide resistance likely through an AR independent mechanism. In the clinic, resistance to enzalutamide is increasingly being associated with a transition to a poorly differentiated or neuroendocrine-like histology. Interestingly, we observed significant up-regulations of the basal cell marker Ck5 and the neuroendocrine-like cell marker Synaptophysin in the TP53 and RB1 inactivated cells, as well as down-regulation of the luminal cell marker Ck8. The differences between these markers became even greater after enzalutamide treatment. By using the p53-stabilizing drug Nutlin, level of p53 is rescued and consequently the the decrease of AR protein caused by RB1 and TP53 knockdown is reversed. These results strongly suggest that interference of TP53 and RB1 pathways confers antiandrogen resistance by “priming” prostate cancer cells to reprogramming or transdifferentiation, likely neuroendocrine-like differentiation, in response to treatment. Futher experiments will be performed to assess the molecular mechanism of TP53/RB1 alterations in mediating cell programming and conferring antiandrogen resistance.


Abstract Number: LB-146
Presentation Title: TGF-β-induced tumor heterogeneity and drug resistance of cancer stem cells
Presentation Time: Monday, Apr 20, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Section 41
Author Block: Naoki Oshimori1, Daniel Oristian1, Elaine Fuchs2. 1Rockefeller University, New York, NY; 2HHMI/Rockefeller University, New York, NY
Abstract Body: Among the most common and life-threatening cancers world-wide, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) exhibit high rates of tumor recurrence following anti-cancer therapy. Subsets of cancer stem cells (CSCs) often escape anti-cancer therapeutics and promote recurrence. However, its sources and mechanisms that generate tumor heterogeneity and therapy-resistant cell population are largely unknown. Tumor microenvironment may drive intratumor heterogeneity by transmitting signaling factors, oxygen and metabolites to tumor cells depending on their proximity to the local sources. While the hypothesis is attractive, experimental evidence is lacking, and non-genetic mechanisms that drive functional heterogeneity remain largely unknown. As a potential non-genetic factor, we focused on TGF-β because of its multiple roles in tumor progression.
Here we devise a functional reporter system to monitor, track and modify TGF-β signaling in mouse skin SCC in vivo. Using this approach, we found that perivascular TGF-β in the tumor microenvironment generates heterogeneity in TGF-β signaling in neighboring CSCs. This heterogeneity is functionally important: small subsets of TGF-β-responding CSCs proliferate more slowly than their non-responding counterparts. They also exhibit invasive morphology and a malignant differentiation program compared to their non-responding neighbors. By lineage tracing, we show that although TGF-β-responding CSCs clonally expand more slowly they gain a growth advantage in a remarkable ability to escape cisplatin-induced apoptosis. We show that indeed it is their progenies that make a substantial contribution in tumor recurrence. Surprisingly, the slower proliferating state of this subset of CSCs within the cancer correlated with but did not confer the survival advantage to anti-cancer drugs. Using transcriptomic, biochemical and genetic analyses, we unravel a novel mechanism by which heterogeneity in the tumor microenvironment allows a subset of CSCs to respond to TGF-β, and evade anti-cancer drugs.
Our findings also show that TGF-β established ability to suppress proliferation and promote invasion and metastasis do not happen sequentially, but rather simultaneously. This new work build upon the roles of this factor in tumor progression, and sets an important paradigm for a non-genetic factor that produces tumor heterogeneity.
Abstract Number: LB-129
Presentation Title: Identifying tumor subpopulations and the functional consequences of intratumor heterogeneity using single-cell profiling of breast cancer patient-derived xenografts
Presentation Time: Monday, Apr 20, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Section 41
Author Block: Paul Savage1, Sadiq M. Saleh1, Ernesto Iacucci1, Timothe Revil1, Yu-Chang Wang1, Nicholas Bertos1, Anie Monast1, Hong Zhao1, Margarita Souleimanova1, Keith Szulwach2, Chandana Batchu2, Atilla Omeroglu1, Morag Park1, Ioannis Ragoussis1. 1McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; 2Fluidigm Corporation, South San Francisco, CA
Abstract Body: Human breast tumors have been shown to exhibit extensive inter- and intra-tumor heterogeneity. While recent advances in genomic technologies have allowed us to deconvolute this heterogeneity, few studies have addressed the functional consequences of diversity within tumor populations. Here, we identified an index case for which we have derived a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) as a renewable tissue source to identify subpopulations and perform functional assays. On pathology, the tumor was an invasive ductal carcinoma which was hormone receptor-negative, HER2-positive (IHC 2+, FISH average HER2/CEP17 2.4), though the FISH signal was noted to be heterogeneous. On gene expression profiling of bulk samples, the primary tumor and PDX were classified as basal-like. We performed single cell RNA and exome sequencing of the PDX to identify population structure. Using a single sample predictor of breast cancer subtype, we have identified single basal-like, HER2-enriched and normal-like cells co-existing within the PDX tumor. Genes differentially expressed between these subpopulations are involved in proliferation and differentiation. Functional studies distinguishing these subpopulations are ongoing. Microfluidic whole genome amplification followed by whole exome capture of 81 single cells showed high and homogeneous target enrichment with >75% of reads mapping uniquely on target. Variant calling using GATK and Samtools revealed founder mutations in key genes as BRCA1 and TP53, as well as subclonal mutations that are being investigated further. Loss of heterozygocity was observed in 16 TCGA cancer driver genes and novel mutations in 7 cancer driver genes. These findings may be important in understanding the functional consequences of intra-tumor heterogeneity with respect to clinically important phenotypes such as invasion, metastasis and drug-resistance.
Abstract Number: 2847
Presentation Title: High complexity barcoding to study clonal dynamics in response to cancer therapy
Presentation Time: Monday, Apr 20, 2015, 4:35 PM – 4:50 PM
Location: Room 118, Pennsylvania Convention Center
Author Block: Hyo-eun C. Bhang1, David A. Ruddy1, Viveksagar Krishnamurthy Radhakrishna1, Rui Zhao2, Iris Kao1, Daniel Rakiec1, Pamela Shaw1, Marissa Balak1, Justina X. Caushi1, Elizabeth Ackley1, Nicholas Keen1, Michael R. Schlabach1, Michael Palmer1, William R. Sellers1, Franziska Michor2, Vesselina G. Cooke1, Joshua M. Korn1, Frank Stegmeier1. 1Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Cambridge, MA; 2Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Abstract Body: Targeted therapies, such as erlotinib and imatinib, lead to dramatic clinical responses, but the emergence of resistance presents a significant challenge. Recent studies have revealed intratumoral heterogeneity as a potential source for the emergence of therapeutic resistance. However, it is still unclear if relapse/resistance is driven predominantly by pre-existing or de novo acquired alterations. To address this question, we developed a high-complexity barcode library, ClonTracer, which contains over 27 million unique DNA barcodes and thus enables the high resolution tracking of cancer cells under drug treatment. Using this library in two clinically relevant resistance models, we demonstrate that the majority of resistant clones pre-exist as rare subpopulations that become selected in response to therapeutic challenge. Furthermore, our data provide direct evidence that both genetic and non-genetic resistance mechanisms pre-exist in cancer cell populations. The ClonTracer barcoding strategy, together with mathematical modeling, enabled us to quantitatively dissect the frequency of drug-resistant subpopulations and evaluate the impact of combination treatments on the clonal complexity of these cancer models. Hence, monitoring of clonal diversity in drug-resistant cell populations by the ClonTracer barcoding strategy described here may provide a valuable tool to optimize therapeutic regimens towards the goal of curative cancer therapies.
Abstract Number: 3590
Presentation Title: Resistance mechanisms to ALK inhibitors
Presentation Time: Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 8:00 AM -12:00 PM
Location: Section 31
Poster Board Number: 13
Author Block: Ryohei Katayama1, Noriko Yanagitani1, Sumie Koike1, Takuya Sakashita1, Satoru Kitazono1, Makoto Nishio1, Yasushi Okuno2, Jeffrey A. Engelman3, Alice T. Shaw3, Naoya Fujita1. 1Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan; 2Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan; 3Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA
Abstract Body: Purpose: ALK-rearranged non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was first reported in 2007. Approximately 3-5% of NSCLCs harbor an ALK gene rearrangement. The first-generation ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) crizotinib is a standard therapy for patients with advanced ALK-rearranged NSCLC. Several next-generation ALK-TKIs have entered the clinic and have shown promising antitumor activity in crizotinib-resistant patients. As patients still relapse even on these next-generation ALK-TKIs, we examined mechanisms of resistance to one next-generation ALK-TKI – alectinib – and potential strategies to overcome this resistance.
Experimental Procedure: We established a cell line model of alectinib resistance, and analyzed resistant tumor specimens from patients who had relapsed on alectinib. Cell lines were also established under an IRB-approved protocol when there was sufficient fresh tumor tissue. We established Ba/F3 cells expressing EML4-ALK and performed ENU mutagenesis to compare potential crizotinib or alectinib-resistance mutations. In addition, we developed Ba/F3 models harboring ALK resistance mutations and evaluated the potency of multiple next-generation ALK-TKIs including 3rd generation ALK inhibitor in these models and in vivo. To elucidate structure-activity-relationships of ALK resistance mutations, we performed computational thermodynamic simulation with MP-CAFEE.
Results: We identified multiple resistance mutations, including ALK I1171N, I1171S, and V1180L, from the ENU mutagenesis screen and the cell line model. In addition we found secondary mutations at the I1171 residue from the Japanese patients who developed resistance to alectinib or crizotinib. Both ALK mutations (V1180L and I1171 mutations) conferred resistance to alectinib as well as to crizotinib, but were sensitive to ceritinib and other next-generation ALK-TKIs. Based on thermodynamics simulation, each resistance mutation is predicted to lead to distinct structural alterations that decrease the binding affinity of ALK-TKIs for ALK.
Conclusions: We have identified multiple alectinib-resistance mutations from the cell line model, patient derived cell lines, and tumor tissues, and ENU mutagenesis. ALK secondary mutations arising after alectinib exposure are sensitive to other next generation ALK-TKIs. These findings suggest a potential role for sequential therapy with multiple next-generation ALK-TKIs in patients with advanced, ALK-rearranged cancers.
Session Title: Mechanisms of Resistance: From Signaling Pathways to Stem Cells
Session Type: Major Symposium
Session Start/End Time: Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:30 AM -12:30 PM
Location: Terrace Ballroom II-III (400 Level), Pennsylvania Convention Center
CME: CME-Designated
CME/CE Hours: 2
Session Description: Even the most effective cancer therapies are limited due to the development of one or more resistance mechanisms. Acquired resistance to targeted therapies can, in some cases, be attributed to the selective propagation of a small population of intrinsically resistant cells. However, there is also evidence that cancer drugs themselves can drive resistance by triggering the biochemical- or genetic-reprogramming of cells within the tumor or its microenvironment. Therefore, understanding drug resistance at the molecular and biological levels may enable the selection of specific drug combinations to counteract these adaptive responses. This symposium will explore some of the recent advances addressing the molecular basis of cancer cell drug resistance. We will address how tumor cell signaling pathways become rewired to facilitate tumor cell survival in the face of some of our most promising cancer drugs. Another topic to be discussed involves how drugs select for or induce the reprogramming of tumor cells toward a stem-like, drug resistant fate. By targeting the molecular driver(s) of rewired signaling pathways and/or cancer stemness it may be possible to select drug combinations that prevent the reprogramming of tumors and thereby delay or eliminate the onset of drug resistance.
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:30 AM -12:30 PM
David A. Cheresh. UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:30 AM -10:40 AM
Resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors: Heterogeneity and therapeutic strategies.
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:40 AM -10:55 AM
Jeffrey A. Engelman. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:55 AM -11:00 AM
NG04: Clinical acquired resistance to RAF inhibitor combinations in BRAF mutant colorectal cancer through MAPK pathway alterations
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:00 AM -11:15 AM
Ryan B. Corcoran, Leanne G. Ahronian, Eliezer Van Allen, Erin M. Coffee, Nikhil Wagle, Eunice L. Kwak, Jason E. Faris, A. John Iafrate, Levi A. Garraway, Jeffrey A. Engelman. Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:15 AM -11:20 AM
SY27-02: Tumour heterogeneity and therapy resistance in melanoma
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:20 AM -11:35 AM
Claudia Wellbrock. Univ. of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

Presentation Number: SY27-02
Presentation Title: Tumour heterogeneity and therapy resistance in melanoma
Presentation Time: Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:20 AM -11:35 AM
Location: Terrace Ballroom II-III (400 Level), Pennsylvania Convention Center
Author Block: Claudia Wellbrock. Univ. of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Abstract Body: Solid tumors are structurally very complex; they consist of heterogeneous cancer cell populations, other non-cancerous cell types and a distinct extracellular matrix. Interactions of cancer cells with non-cancerous cells is well investigated, and our recent work in melanoma has demonstrated that the cellular environment that surrounds cancer cells has a major impact on the way a patient responds to MAP-kinase pathway targeting therapy.
We have shown that intra-tumor signaling within a heterogeneous tumor can have a major impact on the efficacy of BRAF and MEK inhibitors. With the increasing evidence of genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity within tumors, intra-tumor signaling between individual cancer-cell subpopulations is therefore a crucial factor that needs to be considered in future therapy approaches. Our work has identified the ‘melanocyte-lineage survival oncogene’ MITF as an important player in phenotypic heterogeneity (MITFhigh and MITFlow cells) in melanoma, and MITF expression levels are crucial for the response to MAP-kinase pathway targeted therapy. We found that ‘MITF heterogeneity’ can be caused by cell-autonomous mechanisms or by the microenvironment, including the immune-microenvironment.
We have identified various mechanisms underlying MITF action in resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors in melanoma. In MITFhigh expressing cells, MITF confers cell-autonomous resistance to MAP-kinase pathway targeted therapy. Moreover, it appears that in melanomas heterogeneous for MITF expression (MITFhigh and MITFlow cells), individual subpopulations of resistant and sensitive cells communicate and MITF can contribute to overall tumor-resistance through intra-tumor signaling. Finally, we have identified a novel approach of interfering with MITF action, which profoundly sensitizes melanoma to MAP-kinase pathway targeted therapy.
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:35 AM -11:40 AM
SY27-03: Breast cancer stem cell state transitions mediate therapeutic resistance
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:40 AM -11:55 AM
Max S. Wicha. University of Michigan, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:55 AM -12:00 PM
SY27-04: Induction of cancer stemness and drug resistance by EGFR blockade
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 12:00 PM -12:15 PM
David A. Cheresh. UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA


Cellular Reprogramming in Carcinogenesis: Implications for Tumor Heterogeneity, Prognosis, and Therapy
Session Type: Major Symposium
Session Start/End Time: Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:30 AM -12:30 PM
Location: Room 103, Pennsylvania Convention Center
CME: CME-Designated
CME/CE Hours: 2
Session Description: Cancers, both solid and liquid, consist of phenotypically heterogeneous cell types that make up the full cellular complement of disease. Deep sequencing of bulk cancers also frequently reveals a genetic intratumoral heterogeneity that reflects clonal evolution in space and in time and under the influence of treatment. How the distinct phenotypic and genotypic cells contribute to individual cancer growth and progression is incompletely understood. In this symposium, we will discuss issues of cancer heterogeneity and effects on growth and treatment resistance, with emphasis on cancer cell functional properties and influences of the microenvironment, interclonal genomic heterogeneity, and lineage relationships between cancer cells with stem cell and differentiated properties. Understanding these complex cellular relationships within cancers will have critical implications for devising more effective treatments.
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:30 AM -12:30 PM
Peter B. Dirks. Univ. of Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:30 AM -10:40 AM

Origins, evolution and selection in childhood leukaemia
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 10:40 AM -11:00 AM
Tariq Enver. Cancer Research UK, London, United Kingdom

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:00 AM -11:05 AM

Cytokine-controlled stem cell plasticity inintestinal tumorigenesis
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:05 AM -11:25 AM
Florian Greten. Georg-Speyer-Haus, Frankfurt, Germany

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:25 AM -11:30 AM

SY23-03: Intratumoural heterogeneity in human serous ovarian carcinoma
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:30 AM -11:50 AM
John P. Stingl. Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Inst., Cambridge, United Kingdom

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:50 AM -11:55 AM

Functional and genomic heterogeneity in brain tumors
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015, 11:55 AM -12:15 PM


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 20;112(3):851-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320611111. Epub 2015 Jan 5.

Single cell-derived clonal analysis of human glioblastoma links functional and genomic heterogeneity.

Meyer M1, Reimand J2, Lan X3, Head R1, Zhu X1, Kushida M1, Bayani J4, Pressey JC5, Lionel AC6, Clarke ID7, Cusimano M8, Squire JA9, Scherer SW6, Bernstein M10, Woodin MA5, Bader GD11, Dirks PB12.

Author information


Glioblastoma (GBM) is a cancer comprised of morphologically, genetically, and phenotypically diverse cells. However, an understanding of the functional significance of intratumoral heterogeneity is lacking. We devised a method to isolate and functionally profile tumorigenic clones from patient glioblastoma samples. Individual clones demonstrated unique proliferation and differentiation abilities. Importantly, naïve patient tumors included clones that were temozolomide resistant, indicating that resistance to conventional GBM therapy can preexist in untreated tumors at a clonal level. Further, candidate therapies for resistant clones were detected with clone-specific drug screening. Genomic analyses revealed genes and pathways that associate with specific functional behavior of single clones. Our results suggest that functional clonal profiling used to identify tumorigenic and drug-resistant tumor clones will lead to the discovery of new GBM clone-specific treatment strategies.



739: Tumor cell plasticity with transition to a mesenchymal phenotype is a mechanism of chemoresistance that is reversed by Notch pathway inhibition in lung adenocarcinoma
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Khaled A. Hassan. University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

745: Oncostatin M receptor activation leads to molecular targeted therapy resistance in non-small cell lung cancer
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Kazuhiko Shien1, Vassiliki A. Papadimitrakopoulou1, Dennis Ruder1, Nana E. Hanson1, Neda Kalhor1, J. Jack Lee1, Waun Ki Hong1, Ximing Tang1, Roy S. Herbst2, Luc Girard3, John D. Minna3, Jonathan M. Kurie1, Ignacio I. Wistuba1, Julie G. Izzo1. 1University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; 2Yale Cancer Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; 3Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX

746: Activation of EGFR bypass signaling through TGFα overexpression induces acquired resistance to alectinib in ALK-translocated lung cancer cells
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Tetsuo Tani, Hiroyuki Yasuda, Junko Hamamoto, Aoi Kuroda, Daisuke Arai, Kota Ishioka, Keiko Ohgino, Ichiro Kawada, Katsuhiko Naoki, Hayashi Yuichiro, Tomoko Betsuyaku, Kenzo Soejima. Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

752: Elucidating the mechanisms of acquired resistance in lung adenocarcinomas
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Sandra Ortiz-Cuarán1, Lynnette Fernandez-Cuesta1, Christine M. Lovly2, Marc Bos1, Matthias Scheffler3, Sebastian Michels3, Kerstin Albus4, Lydia Meyer4, Katharina König4, Ilona Dahmen1, Christian Mueller1, Luca Ozretić4, Lars Tharun4, Philipp Schaub1, Alexandra Florin4, Berit Pinther1, Nike Bahlmann1, Sascha Ansén3, Martin Peifer1, Lukas C. Heukamp4, Reinhard Buettner4, Martin L. Sos1, Jürgen Wolf3, William Pao2, Roman K. Thomas1. 1University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany; 2Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; 3Department of Internal Medicine, Center for Integrated Oncology Köln-Bonn, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany; 4Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany

760: On the evolution of erlotinib-resistant NSCLC subpopulations
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Michael E. Ramirez1, Robert J. Steininger, III1, Lani F. Wu2, Steven J. Altschuler2. 1UT Southwestern, Dallas, TX; 2UCSF, San Francisco, CA
763: Implications of resistance patterns with NSCLC targeted agents
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
David J. Stewart, Paul Wheatley-Price, Rob MacRae, Jason Pantarotto. University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada


768: A kinome-wide siRNA screen identifies modifiers of sensitivity to the EGFR T790M-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), AZD9291, in EGFR mutant lung adenocarcinoma
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Eiki Ichihara1, Joshua A. Bauer2, Pengcheng Lu3, Fei Ye3, Darren Cross4, William Pao1, Christine M. Lovly1. 1Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN; 2Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology High-Throughput Screening Facility, Nashville, TN; 3Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN; 4AstraZeneca Oncology Innovative Medicines, United Kingdom

LB-055: Clinical acquired resistance to RAF inhibitor combinations in BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer through MAPK pathway alterations
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 4:35 PM – 4:50 PM
Leanne G. Ahronian1, Erin M. Sennott1, Eliezer M. Van Allen2, Nikhil Wagle2, Eunice L. Kwak1, Jason E. Faris1, Jason T. Godfrey1, Koki Nishimura1, Kerry D. Lynch3, Craig H. Mermel1, Elizabeth L. Lockerman1, Anuj Kalsy1, Joseph M. Gurski, Jr.1, Samira Bahl4, Kristin Anderka4, Lisa M. Green4, Niall J. Lennon4, Tiffany G. Huynh3, Mari Mino-Kenudson3, Gad Getz1, Dora Dias-Santagata3, A. John Iafrate3, Jeffrey A. Engelman1, Levi A. Garraway2, Ryan B. Corcoran1. 1Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA; 2Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA; 3Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Pathology, Boston, MA; 4Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Cambridge, MA


Other Articles on this Site Related to Tumor Heterogeneity Include

Notes On Tumor Heterogeneity: Targets and Mechanisms, from the 2015 AACR Meeting in Philadelphia PA

Issues in Personalized Medicine: Discussions of Intratumor Heterogeneity from the Oncology Pharma forum on LinkedIn

Issues in Personalized Medicine in Cancer: Intratumor Heterogeneity and Branched Evolution Revealed by Multiregion Sequencing

CANCER COMPLEXITY: Heterogeneity in Tumor Progression and Drug Response – 2015 Annual Symposium @Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT – W34, 6/12/2015 9:00 AM EDT – 4:30 PM EDT

In vitro Models of Tumor Microenvironment for New Cancer Target and Drug Discovery, 11/17 – 11/19/2014, Hyatt Boston Harbor

What can we expect of tumor therapeutic response?


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Humanized Mice May Revolutionize Cancer Drug Discovery


Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Decades ago cancer research and the process of oncology drug discovery was revolutionized by the development of mice deficient in their immune system, allowing for the successful implantation of human-derived tumors. The ability to implant human tumors without rejection allowed researchers to study how the kinetics of human tumor growth in its three-dimensional environment, evaluate potential human oncogenes and drivers of oncogenesis, and evaluate potential chemotherapeutic therapies. Indeed, the standard preclinical test for antitumor activity has involved the subcutaneous xenograft model in immunocompromised (SCID or nude athymic) mice. More detail is given in the follow posts in which I describe some early pioneers in this work as well as the development of large animal SCID models:

Heroes in Medical Research: Developing Models for Cancer Research

The SCID Pig: How Pigs are becoming a Great Alternate Model for Cancer Research

The SCID Pig II: Researchers Develop Another SCID Pig, And Another Great Model For Cancer Research

This strategy (putting human tumor cells into immunocompromised mice and testing therapeutic genes and /or compounds) has worked extremely well for most cytotoxic chemotherapeutics (those chemotherapeutic drugs with mechanisms of action related to cell kill, vital cell functions, and cell cycle). For example the NCI 60 panel of human tumor cell lines has proved predictive for the chemosensitivity of a wide range of compounds.

Even though the immunocompromised model has contributed greatly to the chemotherapeutic drug discovery process. using these models to develop the new line of immuno-oncology products has been met with challenges three which I highlight below with curated database of references and examples.

From a practical standpoint development of a mouse which can act as a recipient for human tumors yet have a humanized immune system allows for the preclinical evaluation of antitumoral effect of therapeutic antibodies without the need to use neutralizing antibodies to the comparable mouse epitope,   thereby reducing the complexity of the study and preventing complications related to pharmacokinetics.

Champions Oncology Files Patents for Use of PDX Platform in Immune-Oncology

Hackensack, NJ – August 17, 2015 – Champions Oncology, Inc. (OTC: CSBR), engaged in the development of advanced technology solutions and services to personalize the development and use of oncology drugs, today announced that it has filed two patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) relating to the development and use of mice with humanized immune systems to test immune-oncology drugs and therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Dr. David Sidransky, the founder and Chairman of Champions Oncology commented, “Drug development ‎in the immune-oncology space is fundamentally changing our approach to cancer treatment. These patents represent potentially invaluable tools for developing and personalizing immune therapy based on cutting edge sequence analysis, bioinformatics and our unique in vivo models.”

Joel Ackerman, Chief Executive Officer of Champions Oncology stated, “Developing intellectual property related to our Champions TumorGraft® platform has been an important component of strategy. The filing of these patents is an important milestone in leveraging our research and development investment to expand our platform and create proprietary tools for use by our pharmaceutical partners. We continue to look for additional revenue streams to supplement our fee-for-service business and we believe these patents will help us capture more of the value we create for our customers in the future.”

The first patent filing covers the methodology used by the Company to create a mouse model, containing a humanized immune system and a human tumor xenograft, which is capable of testing the efficacy of immune-oncology agents, both as single agents and in combination with anti-neoplastic drugs. The second patent filing relates to the detection of neoantigens and their role in the development of anti-cancer vaccines.

Keren Pez, Chief Scientific Officer, explained, “In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in cancer research that focuses on exploring the power of the human immune system to attack tumors. However, it’s challenging to test immune-oncology agents in traditional animal models due to the major differences between human and murine immune systems. The Champions ImmunoGraft™ platform has the unique ability of mimicking a human adaptive immune response in the mice, which allows us to specifically evaluate a variety of cancer therapeutics that modulate human immunity.

“Therapeutic vaccines that trigger the immune system to mount a response against a growing tumor are another area of intense interest. The development of an effective vaccine remains challenging but has an outstanding curative potential. Tumors harbor mutations in DNA that result in the translation of aberrant proteins. While these proteins have the potential to provoke an immune response that destructs early-stage cancer development, often the immune response becomes insufficient. Vaccines can trigger it by proactively challenging the system with these specific mutated peptides. Nevertheless, developing anti-cancer vaccines that effectively inhibit tumor growth has been complicated, partially due to challenges in finding the critical mutations, among others difficulties. With the more recent advances in genome sequencing, it’s now possible to identify tumor-specific antigens, or neoantigens, that naturally develop as an individual’s tumor grows and mutates,” she continued.

Traumatic spinal cord injury in mice with human immune systems.

Carpenter RS, Kigerl KA, Marbourg JM, Gaudet AD, Huey D, Niewiesk S, Popovich PG.

Exp Neurol. 2015 Jul 17;271:432-444. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.07.011. [Epub ahead of print]

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Jul;21(7):1652-73. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000446.

Use of Humanized Mice to Study the Pathogenesis of Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases.

Koboziev I1, Jones-Hall Y, Valentine JF, Webb CR, Furr KL, Grisham MB.

Author information


Animal models of disease have been used extensively by the research community for the past several decades to better understand the pathogenesis of different diseases and assess the efficacy and toxicity of different therapeutic agents. Retrospective analyses of numerous preclinical intervention studies using mouse models of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases reveal a generalized failure to translate promising interventions or therapeutics into clinically effective treatments in patients. Although several possible reasons have been suggested to account for this generalized failure to translate therapeutic efficacy from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the mouse immune system is substantially different from the human. Indeed, it is well known that >80 major differences exist between mouse and human immunology; all of which contribute to significant differences in immune system development, activation, and responses to challenges in innate and adaptive immunity. This inconvenient reality has prompted investigators to attempt to humanize the mouse immune system to address important human-specific questions that are impossible to study in patients. The successful long-term engraftment of human hematolymphoid cells in mice would provide investigators with a relatively inexpensive small animal model to study clinically relevant mechanisms and facilitate the evaluation of human-specific therapies in vivo. The discovery that targeted mutation of the IL-2 receptor common gamma chain in lymphopenic mice allows for the long-term engraftment of functional human immune cells has advanced greatly our ability to humanize the mouse immune system. The objective of this review is to present a brief overview of the recent advances that have been made in the development and use of humanized mice with special emphasis on autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. In addition, we discuss the use of these unique mouse models to define the human-specific immunopathological mechanisms responsible for the induction and perpetuation of chronic gut inflammation.

J Immunother Cancer. 2015 Apr 21;3:12. doi: 10.1186/s40425-015-0056-2. eCollection 2015.

Human tumor infiltrating lymphocytes cooperatively regulate prostate tumor growth in a humanized mouse model.

Roth MD1, Harui A1.

Author information



The complex interactions that occur between human tumors, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and the systemic immune system are likely to define critical factors in the host response to cancer. While conventional animal models have identified an array of potential anti-tumor therapies, mouse models often fail to translate into effective human treatments. Our goal is to establish a humanized tumor model as a more effective pre-clinical platform for understanding and manipulating TIL.


The immune system in NOD/SCID/IL-2Rγnull (NSG) mice was reconstituted by the co-administration of human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) or subsets (CD4+ or CD8+) and autologous human dendritic cells (DC), and animals simultaneously challenged by implanting human prostate cancer cells (PC3 line). Tumor growth was evaluated over time and the phenotype of recovered splenocytes and TIL characterized by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Serum levels of circulating cytokines and chemokines were also assessed.


A tumor-bearing huPBL-NSG model was established in which human leukocytes reconstituted secondary lymphoid organs and promoted the accumulation of TIL. These TIL exhibited a unique phenotype when compared to splenocytes with a predominance of CD8+ T cells that exhibited increased expression of CD69, CD56, and an effector memory phenotype. TIL from huPBL-NSG animals closely matched the features of TIL recovered from primary human prostate cancers. Human cytokines were readily detectible in the serum and exhibited a different profile in animals implanted with PBL alone, tumor alone, and those reconstituted with both. Immune reconstitution slowed but could not eliminate tumor growth and this effect required the presence of CD4+ T cell help.


Simultaneous implantation of human PBL, DC and tumor results in a huPBL-NSG model that recapitulates the development of human TIL and allows an assessment of tumor and immune system interaction that cannot be carried out in humans. Furthermore, the capacity to manipulate individual features and cell populations provides an opportunity for hypothesis testing and outcome monitoring in a humanized system that may be more relevant than conventional mouse models.

Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1213:379-88. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1453-1_31.

A chimeric mouse model to study immunopathogenesis of HCV infection.

Bility MT1, Curtis A, Su L.

Author information


Several human hepatotropic pathogens including chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) have narrow species restriction, thus hindering research and therapeutics development against these pathogens. Developing a rodent model that accurately recapitulates hepatotropic pathogens infection, human immune response, chronic hepatitis, and associated immunopathogenesis is essential for research and therapeutics development. Here, we describe the recently developed AFC8 humanized liver- and immune system-mouse model for studying chronic hepatitis C virus and associated human immune response, chronic hepatitis, and liver fibrosis.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]



Free PMC Article

Immune humanization of immunodeficient mice using diagnostic bone marrow aspirates from carcinoma patients.

Werner-Klein M, Proske J, Werno C, Schneider K, Hofmann HS, Rack B, Buchholz S, Ganzer R, Blana A, Seelbach-Göbel B, Nitsche U, Männel DN, Klein CA.

PLoS One. 2014 May 15;9(5):e97860. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097860. eCollection 2014.

From 2015 AACR National Meeting in Philadelphia

LB-050: Patient-derived tumor xenografts in humanized NSG mice: a model to study immune responses in cancer therapy
Sunday, Apr 19, 2015, 3:20 PM – 3:35 PM
Minan Wang1, James G. Keck1, Mingshan Cheng1, Danying Cai1, Leonard Shultz2, Karolina Palucka2, Jacques Banchereau2, Carol Bult2, Rick Huntress2. 1The Jackson Laboratory, Sacramento, CA; 2The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME



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  2. Shi LM, Fan Y, Lee JK, Waltham M, Andrews DT, Scherf U, Paull KD, Weinstein JN. J Chem Inf Comput Sci. 2000;40:367–379. [PubMed]
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  4. Potti A, Dressman HK, Bild A, et al. Genomic signatures to guide the use of chemotherapeutics. Nat Med. 2006;12:1294–1300. [PubMed]
  5. Baggerly KA, Coombes KR. Deriving chemosensitivity from cell lines: forensic bioinformatics and reproducible research in high-throughput biology. Ann Appl Stat. 2009;3:1309–1334.
  6. Carlson, B. Putting Oncology Patients at Risk Biotechnol Healthc. 2012 Fall; 9(3): 17–21.
  7. Salter KH, Acharya CR, Walters KS, et al. An Integrated Approach to the Prediction of Chemotherapeutic Response in Patients with Breast Cancer. Ouchi T, ed. PLoS ONE. 2008;3(4):e1908. NOTE RETRACTED PAPER


Other posts on this site on Animal Models, Disease and Cancer Include:


Heroes in Medical Research: Developing Models for Cancer Research

Guidelines for the welfare and use of animals in cancer research

Model mimicking clinical profile of patients with ovarian cancer @ Yale School of Medicine

Vaccines, Small Peptides, aptamers and Immunotherapy [9]

Immunotherapy in Cancer: A Series of Twelve Articles in the Frontier of Oncology by Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Mouse With ‘Humanized Version’ Of Human Language Gene Provides Clues To Language Development

The SCID Pig: How Pigs are becoming a Great Alternate Model for Cancer Research

The SCID Pig II: Researchers Develop Another SCID Pig, And Another Great Model For Cancer Research




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