Publications by authors named "Bettina Kunze"

2 Publications

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Notch signaling drives development of Barrett's metaplasia from Dclk1-positive epithelial tuft cells in the murine gastric mucosa.

Sci Rep 2021 Feb 24;11(1):4509. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin II, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), but its cellular origin and mechanism of neoplastic progression remain unresolved. Notch signaling, which plays a key role in regulating intestinal stem cell maintenance, has been implicated in a number of cancers. The kinase Dclk1 labels epithelial post-mitotic tuft cells at the squamo-columnar junction (SCJ), and has also been proposed to contribute to epithelial tumor growth. Here, we find that genetic activation of intracellular Notch signaling in epithelial Dclk1-positive tuft cells resulted in the accelerated development of metaplasia and dysplasia in a mouse model of BE (pL2.Dclk1.N2IC mice). In contrast, genetic ablation of Notch receptor 2 in Dclk1-positive cells delayed BE progression (pL2.Dclk1.N2fl mice), and led to increased secretory cell differentiation. The accelerated BE progression in pL2.Dclk1.N2IC mice correlated with changes to the transcriptomic landscape, most notably for the activation of oncogenic, proliferative pathways in BE tissues, in contrast to upregulated Wnt signalling in pL2.Dclk1.N2fl mice. Collectively, our data show that Notch activation in Dclk1-positive tuft cells in the gastric cardia can contribute to BE development.
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February 2021

Notch Signaling Mediates Differentiation in Barrett's Esophagus and Promotes Progression to Adenocarcinoma.

Gastroenterology 2020 08 20;159(2):575-590. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

Department of Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, New York; Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, New York, New York.

Background & Aims: Studies are needed to determine the mechanism by which Barrett's esophagus (BE) progresses to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Notch signaling maintains stem cells in the gastrointestinal tract and is dysregulated during carcinogenesis. We explored the relationship between Notch signaling and goblet cell maturation, a feature of BE, during EAC pathogenesis.

Methods: We measured goblet cell density and levels of Notch messenger RNAs in BE tissues from 164 patients, with and without dysplasia or EAC, enrolled in a multicenter study. We analyzed the effects of conditional expression of an activated form of NOTCH2 (pL2.Lgr5.N2IC), conditional deletion of NOTCH2 (pL2.Lgr5.N2fl/fl), or loss of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) (pL2.Lgr5.p65fl/fl), in Lgr5 (progenitor) cells in L2-IL1B mice (which overexpress interleukin 1 beta in esophagus and squamous forestomach and are used as a model of BE). We collected esophageal and stomach tissues and performed histology, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, transcriptome, and real-time polymerase chain reaction analyses. Cardia and forestomach tissues from mice were cultured as organoids and incubated with inhibitors of Notch or NF-kB.

Results: Progression of BE to EAC was associated with a significant reduction in goblet cell density comparing nondysplastic regions of tissues from patients; there was an inverse correlation between goblet cell density and levels of NOTCH3 and JAG2 messenger RNA. In mice, expression of the activated intracellular form of NOTCH2 in Lgr5 cells reduced goblet-like cell maturation, increased crypt fission, and accelerated the development of tumors in the squamocolumnar junction. Mice with deletion of NOTCH2 from Lgr5 cells had increased maturation of goblet-like cells, reduced crypt fission, and developed fewer tumors. Esophageal tissues from in pL2.Lgr5.N2IC mice had increased levels of RelA (which encodes the p65 unit of NF-κB) compared to tissues from L2-IL1B mice, and we found evidence of increased NF-κB activity in Lgr5 cells. Esophageal tissues from pL2.Lgr5.p65fl/fl mice had lower inflammation and metaplasia scores than pL2.Lgr5.N2IC mice. In organoids derived from pL2-IL1B mice, the NF-κB inhibitor JSH-23 reduced cell survival and proliferation.

Conclusions: Notch signaling contributes to activation of NF-κB and regulates differentiation of gastric cardia progenitor cells in a mouse model of BE. In human esophageal tissues, progression of BE to EAC was associated with reduced goblet cell density and increased levels of Notch expression. Strategies to block this pathway might be developed to prevent EAC in patients with BE.
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August 2020