Cancer cells often acquire a constitutively active nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) program to promote survival, proliferation and metastatic potential by mechanisms that remain largely unknown. Extending observations from an immunologic setting, we demonstrate that microRNA-146a and microRNA-146b (miR-146a/b) when expressed in the highly metastatic human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 function to negatively regulate NF-kappaB activity. Lentiviral-mediated expression of miR-146a/b significantly downregulated interleukin (IL)-1 receptor-associated kinase and TNF receptor-associated factor 6, two key adaptor/scaffold proteins in the IL-1 and Toll-like receptor signaling pathway, known to positively regulate NF-kappaB activity. Impaired NF-kappaB activity was evident from reduced phosphorylation of the NF-kappaB inhibitor IkappaBalpha, reduced NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity and suppressed expression of the NF-kappaB target genes IL-8, IL-6 and matrix metalloproteinase-9. Functionally, miR-146a/b-expressing MDA-MB-231 cells showed markedly impaired invasion and migration capacity relative to control cells. These findings implicate miR-146a/b as a negative regulator of constitutive NF-kappaB activity in a breast cancer setting and suggest that modulating miR-146a/b levels has therapeutic potential to suppress breast cancer metastases.
Recombinant humanized anti-HER2 antibody, rhuMAb HER2, inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells overexpressing HER2 and has clinical activity. We explored in preclinical models its capacity to enhance the tumoricidal effects of paclitaxel and doxorubicin. In cultures of naturally HER2-overexpressing cancer cells, rhuMAb HER2 inhibited growth and enhanced the cytotoxic effects of paclitaxel. Treatment of well established BT-474 breast cancer xenografts overexpressing HER2 in athymic mice with rhuMAb HER2 resulted in a dose-dependent antitumor activity. In combination studies, treatment with paclitaxel and rhuMAb HER2 or doxorubicin and rhuMAb HER2 resulted in greater inhibition of growth than that observed with any agent alone. The combination of paclitaxel and rhuMAb HER2 resulted in the highest tumor growth inhibition and had a significantly superior complete tumor regression rate when compared with either paclitaxel or rhuMAb HER2 alone. Clinical trials that are built on these results are under way.
Subclassification of ovarian carcinomas can be used to guide treatment and determine prognosis. Germline and somatic mutations, loss of heterozygosity (LOH), and epigenetic events such as promoter hypermethylation can lead to decreased expression of BRCA1/2 in ovarian cancers. The mechanism of BRCA1/2 loss is a potential method of subclassifying high grade serous carcinomas.
A consecutive series of 49 ovarian cancers was assessed for mutations status of BRCA1 and BRCA2, LOH at the BRCA1 and BRCA2 loci, methylation of the BRCA1 promoter, BRCA1, BRCA2, PTEN, and PIK3CA transcript levels, PIK3CA gene copy number, and BRCA1, p21, p53, and WT-1 immunohistochemistry.
Eighteen (37%) of the ovarian carcinomas had germline or somatic BRCA1 mutations, or epigenetic loss of BRCA1. All of these tumours were high-grade serous or undifferentiated type. None of the endometrioid (n = 5), clear cell (n = 4), or low grade serous (n = 2) carcinomas showed loss of BRCA1, whereas 47% of the 38 high-grade serous or undifferentiated carcinomas had loss of BRCA1. It was possible to distinguish high grade serous carcinomas with BRCA1 mutations from those with epigenetic BRCA1 loss: tumours with BRCA1 mutations typically had decreased PTEN mRNA levels while those with epigenetic loss of BRCA1 had copy number gain of PIK3CA. Overexpression of p53 with loss of p21 expression occurred significantly more frequently in high grade serous carcinomas with epigenetic loss of BRCA1, compared to high grade serous tumors without loss of BRCA1.
High grade serous carcinomas can be subclassified into three groups: BRCA1 loss (genetic), BRCA1 loss (epigenetic), and no BRCA1 loss. Tumors in these groups show distinct molecular alterations involving the PI3K/AKT and p53 pathways.
KRAS mutation is a hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) but remains an intractable pharmacologic target. Consequently, defining RAS effector pathway(s) required for PDA initiation and maintenance is critical to improve treatment of this disease. Here, we show that expression of BRAF(V600E), but not PIK3CA(H1047R), in the mouse pancreas leads to pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions. Moreover, concomitant expression of BRAF(V600E) and TP53(R270H) result in lethal PDA. We tested pharmacologic inhibitors of RAS effectors against multiple human PDA cell lines. Mitogen-activated protein (MAP)/extracellular signal-regulated (ERK) kinase (MEK) inhibition was highly effective both in vivo and in vitro and was synergistic with AKT inhibition in most cell lines tested. We show that RAF→MEK→ERK signaling is central to the initiation and maintenance of PDA and to rational combination strategies in this disease. These results emphasize the value of leveraging multiple complementary experimental systems to prioritize pathways for effective intervention strategies in PDA.
PDA is diffi cult to treat, in large part, due to recurrent mutations in the KRAS gene. Here, we defi ne rational treatment approaches for the disease achievable today with existing drug combinations by thorough genetic and pharmacologic dissection of the major KRAS effector pathways, RAF→MEK→ERK and phosphoinositide 3′-kinase (PI3'K)→AKT.
First-generation molecular profiles for human breast cancers have enabled the identification of features that can predict therapeutic response; however, little is known about how the various data types can best be combined to yield optimal predictors. Collections of breast cancer cell lines mirror many aspects of breast cancer molecular pathobiology, and measurements of their omic and biological therapeutic responses are well-suited for development of strategies to identify the most predictive molecular feature sets.
We used least squares-support vector machines and random forest algorithms to identify molecular features associated with responses of a collection of 70 breast cancer cell lines to 90 experimental or approved therapeutic agents. The datasets analyzed included measurements of copy number aberrations, mutations, gene and isoform expression, promoter methylation and protein expression. Transcriptional subtype contributed strongly to response predictors for 25% of compounds, and adding other molecular data types improved prediction for 65%. No single molecular dataset consistently out-performed the others, suggesting that therapeutic response is mediated at multiple levels in the genome. Response predictors were developed and applied to TCGA data, and were found to be present in subsets of those patient samples.
These results suggest that matching patients to treatments based on transcriptional subtype will improve response rates, and inclusion of additional features from other profiling data types may provide additional benefit. Further, we suggest a systems biology strategy for guiding clinical trials so that patient cohorts most likely to respond to new therapies may be more efficiently identified.
The HER2/neu proto-oncogene is overexpressed in 25% to 30% of patients with breast cancer. Trastuzumab (Herceptin; Genentech, San Francisco, CA), a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody with high affinity for the HER2 protein, inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells overexpressing HER2. In this phase II study the efficacy and toxicity of weekly administration of trastuzumab was evaluated in 46 patients with metastatic breast cancer whose tumors overexpressed HER2. A loading dose of 250 mg trastuzumab was administered intravenously, which was followed by 10 weekly doses of 100 mg each. Upon completion of this treatment period, patients with no disease progression could receive a weekly maintenance dose of 100 mg. Patients in this trial had extensive metastatic disease, and most had received prior anticancer therapy. Ninety percent of patients achieved adequate serum levels of trastuzumab. Toxicity was minimal, and no antibodies against trastuzumab could be detected. Objective responses were observed in 5 of the 43 evaluable patients, which included 1 complete remission and 4 partial remissions, for an overall response rate of 11.6%. Responses were seen in mediastinum, lymph nodes, liver, and chest wall lesions. Minor responses (seen in 2 patients) and stable disease (14 patients) lasted for a median of 5.1 months. These results demonstrate that trastuzumab is well tolerated and clinically active in patients with HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancers who have received extensive prior therapy. The regression of human cancer through the targeting of putative growth factor receptors such as HER2 warrants further evaluation of trastuzumab in the treatment of breast cancer.
We have generated anti-HER2 (ErbB2) immunoliposomes (ILs), consisting of long circulating liposomes linked to anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody (MAb) fragments, to provide targeted drug delivery to HER2-overexpressing cells. Immunoliposomes were constructed using a modular strategy in which components were optimized for internalization and intracellular drug delivery. Parameters included choice of antibody construct, antibody density, antibody conjugation procedure, and choice of liposome construct. Anti-HER2 immunoliposomes bound efficiently to and internalized in HER2-overexpressing cells in vitro as determined by fluorescence microscopy, electron microscopy, and quantitative analysis of fluorescent probe delivery. Delivery via ILs in HER2-overexpressing cells yielded drug uptake that was up to 700-fold greater than with non-targeted sterically stabilized liposomes. In vivo, anti-HER2 ILs showed extremely long circulation as stable constructs in normal adult rats after a single i.v. dose, with pharmacokinetics that were indistinguishable from sterically stabilized liposomes. Repeat administrations revealed no increase in clearance, further confirming that ILs retain the long circulation and non-immunogenicity of sterically stabilized liposomes. In five different HER2-overexpressing xenograft models, anti-HER2 ILs loaded with doxorubicin (dox) showed potent anticancer activity, including tumor inhibition, regressions, and cures (pathologic complete responses). ILs were significantly superior vs. all other treatment conditions tested: free dox, liposomal dox, free MAb (trastuzumab), and combinations of dox+MAb or liposomal dox+MAb. For example, ILs produced significantly superior antitumor effects vs. non-targeted liposomes (P values from <0.0001 to 0.04 in eight separate experiments). In a non-HER2-overexpressing xenograft model (MCF7), ILs and non-targeted liposomal dox produced equivalent antitumor effects. Detailed studies of tumor localization indicated a novel mechanism of drug delivery for anti-HER2 ILs. Immunotargeting did not increase tumor tissue levels of ILs vs. liposomes, as both achieved very high tumor localization (7.0-8.5% of injected dose/g tissue) in xenograft tumors. However, histologic studies using colloidal-gold labeled ILs demonstrated efficient intracellular delivery in tumor cells, while non-targeted liposomes accumulated within stroma, either extracellularly or within macrophages. In the MCF7 xenograft model lacking HER2-overexpression, no difference in tumor cell uptake was seen, with both ILs and non-targeted liposomes accumulating within stroma. Thus, anti-HER2 ILs, but not non-targeted liposomes, achieve intracellular drug delivery via receptor-mediated endocytosis, and this mechanism is associated with superior antitumor activity. Based on these results, anti-HER2 immunoliposomes have been developed toward clinical trials. Reengineering of construct design for clinical use has been achieved, including: new anti-HER2 scFv F5 generated by screening of a phage antibody library for internalizing anti-HER2 phage antibodies; modifications of the scFv expression construct to support large scale production and clinical use; and development of methods for large-scale conjugation of antibody fragments with liposomes. We developed a scalable two-step protocol for linkage of scFv to preformed and drug-loaded liposomes. Our final, optimized anti-HER2 ILs-dox construct consists of F5 conjugated to derivatized PEG-PE linker and incorporated into commercially available liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil). Finally, further studies of the mechanism of action of anti-HER2 ILs-dox suggest that this strategy may provide optimal delivery of anthracycline-based chemotherapy to HER2-overexpressing cancer cells in the clinic, while circumventing the cardiotoxicity associated with trastuzumab+anthracycline. We conclude that anti-HER2 immunoliposomes represent a promising technology for tumor-targeted drug delivery, and that this strategy may also be applicable to other receptor targets and/or using other delivered agents.
Breast cancer is a heterogeneous malignancy; its age-specific incidence profile rises exponentially until menopause and increases more slowly thereafter, reflecting the superimposition of early-onset and late-onset breast cancer rates. While early-onset breast cancers largely represent inherited or early life transforming effects on immature mammary epithelium, late-onset breast cancers likely follow extended exposures to promoting stimuli of susceptible epithelium that has failed to age normally. Among stimuli thought to promote late-onset breast tumorigenesis are the altered extracellular matrix and secreted products of senescent fibroblasts; however, the extent to which these senescent influences exist within the aging breast remains unknown. Clinical observations and biomarker studies indicate that late-onset breast cancers grow more slowly and are biologically less aggressive than early-onset breast cancers, even when controlled for hormone receptor (e.g. estrogen receptor, ER) and growth factor receptor (e.g. HER2) expression, supporting the conclusion that the biology of breast cancer is age-dependent.
In order to fulfill its function of producing and delivering sufficient milk to newborn mammalian offspring, the mammary gland first has to form an extensive ductal network. As in all phases of mammary development, hormonal cues elicit local intra- and inter-cellular signaling cascades that regulate ductal growth and differentiation. Among other things, ductal development requires the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), its ligand amphiregulin (AREG), and the transmembrane metalloproteinase ADAM17, which can cleave and release AREG from the cell surface so that it may interact with its receptor. Tissue recombination and transplantation studies demonstrate that EGFR phosphorylation and ductal development proceed only when ADAM17 and AREG are expressed on mammary epithelial cells and EGFR is present on stromal cells, and that local administration of soluble AREG can rescue the development of ADAM17-deficient transplants. Thus proper mammary morphogenesis requires the ADAM17-mediated release of AREG from ductal epithelial cells, the subsequent activation of EGFR on stromal cells, and EGFR-dependent stromal responses that in return elicit a new set of epithelial responses, all culminating in the formation of a fully functional ductal tree. This, however, raises new issues concerning what may act upstream, downstream or in parallel with the ADAM17-AREG-EGFR axis, how it may become hijacked or corrupted during the onset and evolution of cancer, and how such ill effects may be confronted.
Age is one of the most important risk factors for human malignancies, including breast cancer; in addition, age at diagnosis has been shown to be an independent indicator of breast cancer prognosis. Except for inherited forms of breast cancer, however, there is little genetic or epigenetic understanding of the biological basis linking aging with sporadic breast cancer incidence and its clinical behavior.
DNA and RNA samples from matched estrogen receptor (ER)-positive sporadic breast cancers diagnosed in either younger (age <or= 45 years) or older (age >or= 70 years) Caucasian women were analyzed by array comparative genomic hybridization and by expression microarrays. Array comparative genomic hybridization data were analyzed using hierarchical clustering and supervised age cohort comparisons. Expression microarray data were analyzed using hierarchical clustering and gene set enrichment analysis; differential gene expression was also determined by conditional permutation, and an age signature was derived using prediction analysis of microarrays.
Hierarchical clustering of genome-wide copy-number changes in 71 ER-positive DNA samples (27 younger women, 44 older women) demonstrated two age-independent genotypes; one with few genomic changes other than 1q gain/16q loss, and another with amplifications and low-level gains/losses. Age cohort comparisons showed no significant differences in total or site-specific genomic breaks and amplicon frequencies. Hierarchical clustering of 5.1 K genes variably expressed in 101 ER-positive RNA samples (53 younger women, 48 older women) identified six transcriptome subtypes with an apparent age bias (P < 0.05). Samples with higher expression of a poor outcome-associated proliferation signature were predominantly (65%) younger cases. Supervised analysis identified cancer-associated genes differentially expressed between the cohorts; with younger cases expressing more cell cycle genes and more than threefold higher levels of the growth factor amphiregulin (AREG), and with older cases expressing higher levels of four different homeobox (HOX) genes in addition to ER (ESR1). An age signature validated against two other independent breast cancer datasets proved to have >80% accuracy in discerning younger from older ER-positive breast cancer cases with characteristic differences in AREG and ESR1 expression.
These findings suggest that epigenetic transcriptome changes, more than genotypic variation, account for age-associated differences in sporadic breast cancer incidence and prognosis.
It is now well recognized that tumor cell-host interactions regulate all aspects of cancer development. Amongst the various host response programs that facilitate primary cancer development, an emerging body of literature points to a critical role for leukocytes and their soluble mediators as regulating discrete events during primary tumor development and metastasis. This review focuses on the multiple aspects of leukocytes and their effector molecules as regulators of the metastatic process.
Molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTC) from blood is technically challenging because cells are rare and difficult to isolate. We developed a novel approach to isolate CTCs from blood via immunomagnetic enrichment followed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (IE-FACS). Isolated CTCs were subjected to genome-wide copy number analysis via array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). In clinical studies, CTCs were isolated from 181 patients with metastatic breast cancer, 102 of which were successfully profiled, including matched archival primary tumor from five patients. CTCs revealed a wide range of copy number alterations including those previously reported in breast cancer. Comparison with two published aCGH datasets of primary breast tumors revealed similar frequencies of recurrent genomic copy number aberrations. In addition, serial testing of CTCs confirmed reproducibility and indicated genomic change over time. Comparison of CTCs with matched archival primary tumors confirmed shared lineage as well as some divergence. We showed that it is feasible to isolate CTCs away from hematopoietic cells with high purity through IE-FACS and profile them via aCGH analysis. Our approach may be used to explore genomic events involved in cancer progression and to monitor therapeutic efficacy of targeted therapies in clinical trials in a relatively noninvasive manner.
Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is an enzyme involved in DNA repair. PARP inhibitors can act as chemosensitizers, or operate on the principle of synthetic lethality when used as single agent. Clinical trials have shown drugs in this class to be promising for BRCA mutation carriers. We postulated that inability to demonstrate response in non-BRCA carriers in which BRCA is inactivated by other mechanisms or with deficiency in homologous recombination for DNA repair is due to lack of molecular markers that define a responding subpopulation. We identified candidate markers for this purpose for olaparib (AstraZeneca) by measuring inhibitory effects of nine concentrations of olaparib in 22 breast cancer cell lines and identifying features in transcriptional and genome copy number profiles that were significantly correlated with response. We emphasized in this discovery process genes involved in DNA repair. We found that the cell lines that were sensitive to olaparib had a significant lower copy number of BRCA1 compared to the resistant cell lines (p value 0.012). In addition, we discovered seven genes from DNA repair pathways whose transcriptional levels were associated with response. These included five genes (BRCA1, MRE11A, NBS1, TDG, and XPA) whose transcript levels were associated with resistance and two genes (CHEK2 and MK2) whose transcript levels were associated with sensitivity. We developed an algorithm to predict response using the seven-gene transcription levels and applied it to 1,846 invasive breast cancer samples from 8 U133A/plus 2 (Affymetrix) data sets and found that 8-21 % of patients would be predicted to be responsive to olaparib. A similar response frequency was predicted in 536 samples analyzed on an Agilent platform. Importantly, tumors predicted to respond were enriched in basal subtype tumors. Our studies support clinical evaluation of the utility of our seven-gene signature as a predictor of response to olaparib.
We used a lectin chromatography/MS-based approach to screen conditioned medium from a panel of luminal (less aggressive) and triple negative (more aggressive) breast cancer cell lines (n=5/subtype). The samples were fractionated using the lectins Aleuria aurantia (AAL) and Sambucus nigra agglutinin (SNA), which recognize fucose and sialic acid, respectively. The bound fractions were enzymatically N-deglycosylated and analyzed by LC-MS/MS. In total, we identified 533 glycoproteins, ∼90% of which were components of the cell surface or extracellular matrix. We observed 1011 glycosites, 100 of which were solely detected in ≥3 triple negative lines. Statistical analyses suggested that a number of these glycosites were triple negative-specific and thus potential biomarkers for this tumor subtype. An analysis of RNaseq data revealed that approximately half of the mRNAs encoding the protein scaffolds that carried potential biomarker glycosites were up-regulated in triple negative vs luminal cell lines, and that a number of genes encoding fucosyl- or sialyltransferases were differentially expressed between the two subtypes, suggesting that alterations in glycosylation may also drive candidate identification. Notably, the glycoproteins from which these putative biomarker candidates were derived are involved in cancer-related processes. Thus, they may represent novel therapeutic targets for this aggressive tumor subtype.
Components of the plasminogen activation system, which are overexpressed in aggressive breast cancer subtypes, offer appealing targets for development of new diagnostics and therapeutics. By comparing gene expression data in patient populations and cultured cell lines, we identified elevated levels of the urokinase plasminogen activation receptor (uPAR, PLAUR) in highly aggressive breast cancer subtypes and cell lines. Recombinant human anti-uPAR antagonistic antibodies exhibited potent binding in vitro to the surface of cancer cells expressing uPAR. In vivo these antibodies detected uPAR expression in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumor xenografts using near infrared imaging and (111)In single-photon emission computed tomography. Antibody-based uPAR imaging probes accurately detected small disseminated lesions in a tumor metastasis model, complementing the current clinical imaging standard (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose at detecting non-glucose-avid metastatic lesions. A monotherapy study using the antagonistic antibodies resulted in a significant decrease in tumor growth in a TNBC xenograft model. In addition, a radioimmunotherapy study, using the anti-uPAR antibodies conjugated to the therapeutic radioisotope (177)Lu, found that they were effective at reducing tumor burden in vivo. Taken together, our results offer a preclinical proof of concept for uPAR targeting as a strategy for breast cancer diagnosis and therapy using this novel human antibody technology.
Activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway in estrogen receptor α (ER)-positive breast cancer is associated with reduced ER expression and activity, luminal B subtype, and poor outcome. Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), a negative regulator of this pathway, is typically lost in ER-negative breast cancer. We set out to clarify the role of reduced PTEN levels in endocrine resistance, and to explore the combination of newly developed PI3K downstream kinase inhibitors to overcome this resistance.
Altered cellular signaling, gene expression, and endocrine sensitivity were determined in inducible PTEN-knockdown ER-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer cell and/or xenograft models. Single or two-agent combinations of kinase inhibitors were examined to improve endocrine therapy.
Moderate PTEN reduction was sufficient to enhance PI3K signaling, generate a gene signature associated with the luminal B subtype of breast cancer, and cause endocrine resistance in vitro and in vivo. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), protein kinase B (AKT), or mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitors, alone or in combination, improved endocrine therapy, but the efficacy varied by PTEN levels, type of endocrine therapy, and the specific inhibitor(s). A single-agent AKT inhibitor combined with fulvestrant conferred superior efficacy in overcoming resistance, inducing apoptosis and tumor regression.
Moderate reduction in PTEN, without complete loss, can activate the PI3K pathway to cause endocrine resistance in ER-positive breast cancer, which can be overcome by combining endocrine therapy with inhibitors of the PI3K pathway. Our data suggests that the ER degrader fulvestrant, to block both ligand-dependent and -independent ER signaling, combined with an AKT inhibitor is an effective strategy to test in patients.
To generate a panel of antibodies binding human breast cancers, a human single chain Fv phage display library was selected for rapid internalization into the SK-BR-3 breast cancer cell line. Thirteen unique antibodies were identified within the 55 cell binding antibodies studied, all of them showing specific staining of tumor cells compare to normal epithelial cells. Two of the antibodies bound the ErbB2 oncogene while 6 bound the tumor marker transferrin receptor (TfR). By developing a scFv immunoprecipitation method, we were able to use LC-MS/MS to identify the antigen bound by one of the antibodies (3GA5) as FPRP (prostaglandin F2alpha receptor-regulatory protein)/EWI-F/CD9P-1 (CD9 partner 1) an Ig superfamily member that has been described to interact directly with CD9 and CD81 tetraspanins and to be overexpressed in adherent cancer cell lines. Although the 3GA5 scFv had no direct anti-proliferative effect, intracellular expression of the scFv was able to knockdown CD9P-1 expression and could be used to further define the role of the tetraspanin system in proliferation and metastasis. Moreover, the 3GA5 scFv was rapidly internalized into breast tumor cells and could have potential for the targeted delivery of cytotoxic agents to breast cancers. This study is the proof of principle that the direct selection of phage antibody libraries on tumor cells can effectively lead to the identification and functional characterization of relevant tumor markers.
ErbB2-overexpressing human cancers represent potentially sensitive targets for therapy by candidate histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as we have shown that HDAC inhibitors can selectively reduce ErbB2 expression by repressing the ErbB2 promoter and accelerating the decay of cytoplasmic ErbB2 transcripts. To extend these in vitro findings and enhance the in vivo pharmacodynamic properties of HDAC inhibitors, we stably encapsulated a potent hydroxamate-based HDAC inhibitor (LAQ824) within long-circulating liposomes (Ls-LAQ824) and immunoliposomes (ILs-LAQ824) bearing >10,000 LAQ824 molecules per nanovesicle. Liposomal LAQ824 exhibits prolonged in vivo stability and, unlike free LAQ824, circulates with a half-life of 10.8 hours following a single i.v. injection. Three weekly i.v. injections of 20 to 25 mg/kg Ls-LAQ824 in nude mice with ErbB2 overexpressing BT-474 breast tumor xenografts significantly impairs tumor growth, and administration of ErbB2-targeted ILs-LAQ824 may further improve this antitumor activity. Studies of tumor-bearing mice 24 hours after single treatment indicate that: (a) >10% of injected liposomal LAQ824 is still circulating (whereas free LAQ824 is undetectable in the blood after 15 minutes); and (b) tumor uptake of Ls-LAQ824 and ILs-LAQ824 is >3% injected drug per gram of tumor, producing levels of acetylated tumor histones that are 5- to 10-fold increased over those following free LAQ824 or saline treatments and resulting in concordantly reduced levels of tumor ErbB2 mRNA. These preclinical results support the clinical evaluation of HDAC inhibitors against ErbB2-overexpressing malignancies, and further indicate that encapsulation into targeted and nontargeted liposomes substantially improves the in vivo pharmacokinetics, tumor uptake, and antitumor properties of hydroxamate-based HDAC inhibitors.
A major challenge to broadening oncology applications for inhibitors of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is the identification of UPS-dependent cancer pathways predictive of tumors responsive to peptidomimetic inhibitors of its 20S core protease activity. To inform clinical studies evaluating UPS inhibitors as breast cancer therapeutics, seven phenotypically diverse human breast cancer cell line models were characterized for their cellular and molecular responses to the clinically approved 20S inhibitor bortezomib (PS341; Velcade), focusing on those overexpressing estrogen receptor (ER) or ERBB2/HER2, because these oncogenic receptor pathways are constitutively activated in approximately 80% of all breast cancers. All models demonstrated dose-dependent bortezomib reduction in intracellular 20S activity correlating with cell growth inhibition, and bortezomib IC(50) values (concentrations producing 50% growth inhibition) varied directly with pretreatment 20S activities (r = 0.74; *, p < 0.05), suggesting that basal 20S activity may serve as a clinical predictor of tumor responsiveness to UPS inhibition. Reduction in 20S activity (> 60%) was associated with early (24 h) intracellular relocalization of ER (nucleus to cytoplasm) and ERBB2 (plasma membrane to perinuclear lysosomes), buildup of ubiquitinated and Hsp70-associated receptor, degradation and loss of ER and ERBB2 function, and induction of cellular apoptosis. These models were also used to screen a pharmacologic panel of pathway-targeted anticancer agents [4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-5-(benzothiazolylthiomethyl)benzylidenecyanoacetamide (AG825), 6-(4-bromo-2-chloro-phenylamino)-7-fluoro-3-methyl-3H-benzoimidazole-5-carboxylic acid (2-hydroxy-ethoxy)-amide (AZD6244/ARRY142886), 2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one hydrochloride (LY294002), 17-N-allylamino-17-demethoxy geldanamycin (17AAG), and (2E)-N-hydroxy-3-[4-[[(2-hydroxyethyl)[2-(1H-indol-3-yl)ethyl]amino]methyl]phenyl]-2-propenamide (LAQ824)] for those capable of sensitizing to bortezomib. In keeping with the observation that 20S reduction has little effect on mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 (MEK1/2) signaling in either ER-positive or ERBB2-positive models, only the MEK-1/2 inhibitor AZD6244 consistently improved the antitumor activity of bortezomib.
The antitumor activity of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors has been linked to gene expression induced by acetylation of histone and nonhistone proteins; but the molecular basis for their antitumor selectivity remains largely unknown. With development of a genomically integrated, ErbB2 promoter-reporting breast cancer cell screen, ErbB2 promoter inhibiting activity was observed by the HDAC inhibitors trichostatin A (TSA) and sodium butyrate. Paradoxically, these agents stimulated the episomal form of this ErbB2 promoter-reporter introduced by transient transfection. Transcriptional run-off assays in ErbB2 amplified and overexpressing breast cancer cells confirmed that within 5 h, TSA exposure profoundly inhibits ErbB2 transcript synthesis from the amplified oncogene yet preserves transcription from single copy genes such as the epithelial-specific Ets family member, ESX. Northern analyses of ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer lines (SKBR3, BT-474, and MDA-453) showed that within 24 h of submicromolar treatment by TSA, ESX transcript levels increase while ErbB2 transcript levels rapidly decline, with no TSA effect apparent on the open chromatin configuration of either gene as monitored by DNase I hypersensitivity. Actinomycin D studies confirmed that in addition to inhibiting ErbB2 transcript synthesis, TSA selectively destabilizes mature ErbB2 transcripts enhancing their decay. Whereas TSA markedly reduced ErbB2 protein levels in these overexpressing cell lines, TSA treatment of MCF/HER2-18 cells engineered to overexpress the ErbB2 receptor under control of a heterologous promoter increased their expression of ErbB2 protein. These findings suggest that further studies are warranted to determine whether ErbB2-positive human cancers represent unusually sensitive clinical targets for HDAC inhibitor therapy.
Discovery of tumor-selective antibodies or antibody fragments is a promising approach for delivering therapeutic agents to antigen over-expressing cancers. Therefore it is important to develop methods for the identification of target- and function specific antibodies for effective drug delivery. Here we describe a highly selective and sensitive method for characterizing the internalizing potential of multivalently displayed antibodies or ligands conjugated to liposomes into tumor cells. The assay requires minute amounts of histidine-tagged ligand and relies on the non-covalent coupling of these antibodies to fluorescent liposomes containing a metal ion-chelating lipid. Following incubation of cells with antibody-conjugated liposomes, surface bound liposomes are gently removed and the remaining internalized liposomes are quantitated based on fluorescence in a high throughput manner. We have termed this methodology "Chelated Ligand Internalization Assay", or CLIA.
The specificity of the assay was demonstrated with different antibodies to the ErbB-2 and EGF receptors. Antibody-uptake correlated with receptor expression levels in tumor cell lines with a range of receptor expression. Furthermore, Ni-NTA liposomes containing doxorubicin were used to screen for the ability of antibodies to confer target-specific cytotoxicity. Using an anti-ErbB2 single chain Fv (scFv) (F5) antibody, cytotoxicity could be conferred to ErbB2-overexpressing cells; however, a poly(ethylene glycol)-linked lipid (DSPE-PEG-NTA-Ni) was necessary to allow for efficient loading of the drug and to reduce nonspecific drug leakage during the course of the assay.
The CLIA method we describe here represents a rapid, sensitive and robust assay for the identification and characterization of tumor-specific antibodies capable of high drug-delivery efficiency when conjugated to liposomal nanocarriers.
A number of approaches have been utilized to generate antibodies to cancer cell surface receptors that can be used as potential therapeutics. A number of these therapeutic approaches, including antibody-drug conjugates, immunotoxins, and targeted nucleic acid delivery, require antibodies that not only bind receptor but also undergo internalization into the cell upon binding. We previously reported on the ability to generate cancer cell binding and internalizing antibodies directly from human phage antibody libraries selected for internalization into cancer cell lines. While a number of useful antibodies have been generated using this approach, limitations include the inability to direct the selections to specific antigens and to identify the antigen bound by the antibodies. Here we show that these limitations can be overcome by using yeast-displayed antigens known to be associated with a cell type to select the phage antibody output after several rounds of selection on a mammalian cell line. We used this approach to generate several human phage antibodies to yeast-displayed EphA2 and CD44. The antibodies bound both yeast-displayed and mammalian cell surface antigens, and were endocytosed upon binding to mammalian cells. This approach is generalizable to many mammalian cell surface proteins, results in the generation of functional internalizing antibodies, and does not require antigen expression and purification for antibody generation.
Co-expression modules are groups of genes with highly correlated expression patterns. In cancer, differences in module activity potentially represent the heterogeneity of phenotypes important in carcinogenesis, progression, or treatment response. To find gene expression modules active in breast cancer subpopulations, we assembled 72 breast cancer-related gene expression datasets containing ∼5,700 samples altogether. Per dataset, we identified genes with bimodal expression and used mixture-model clustering to ultimately define 11 modules of genes that are consistently co-regulated across multiple datasets. Functionally, these modules reflected estrogen signaling, development/differentiation, immune signaling, histone modification, ERBB2 signaling, the extracellular matrix (ECM) and stroma, and cell proliferation. The Tcell/Bcell immune modules appeared tumor-extrinsic, with coherent expression in tumors but not cell lines; whereas most other modules, interferon and ECM included, appeared intrinsic. Only four of the eleven modules were represented in the PAM50 intrinsic subtype classifier and other well-established prognostic signatures; although the immune modules were highly correlated to previously published immune signatures. As expected, the proliferation module was highly associated with decreased recurrence-free survival (RFS). Interestingly, the immune modules appeared associated with RFS even after adjustment for receptor subtype and proliferation; and in a multivariate analysis, the combination of Tcell/Bcell immune module down-regulation and proliferation module upregulation strongly associated with decreased RFS. Immune modules are unusual in that their upregulation is associated with a good prognosis without chemotherapy and a good response to chemotherapy, suggesting the paradox of high immune patients who respond to chemotherapy but would do well without it. Other findings concern the ECM/stromal modules, which despite common themes were associated with different sites of metastasis, possibly relating to the "seed and soil" hypothesis of cancer dissemination. Overall, co-expression modules provide a high-level functional view of breast cancer that complements the "cancer hallmarks" and may form the basis for improved predictors and treatments.