Publications by authors named "Martin F Berthelsen"

9 Publications

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In vivo CRISPR inactivation of Fos promotes prostate cancer progression by altering the associated AP-1 subunit Jun.

Oncogene 2021 Mar 5. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Prostate cancer is a major global health concern with limited treatment options for advanced disease. Its heterogeneity challenges the identification of crucial driver genes implicated in disease progression. Activating protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor is associated with cancer since the first identification of its subunits, the proto-oncogenes JUN and FOS. Whereas both JUN and FOS have been implicated in prostate cancer, this study provides the first functional evidence that FOS acts as a tumor suppressor during prostate cancer progression and invasion. Data mining revealed decreased FOS expression in prostate cancer and a further downregulation in metastatic disease, consistent with FOS expression in cell lines derived from different prostate cancer stages. FOS deficiency in prostate cancer cell lines increases cell proliferation and induces oncogenic pathway alterations. Importantly, in vivo CRISPR/Cas9-mediated Fos and Pten double mutation in murine prostate epithelium results in increased proliferation and invasiveness compared to the abrogation of Pten alone. Interestingly, enhanced Jun expression is observed in the murine prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia lacking Fos. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of Jun combined with Fos and Pten deficiency diminishes the increased proliferation rate in vivo but not the ability to form invasive disease. Overall, we demonstrate that loss of Fos promotes disease progression from clinical latent prostate cancer to advanced disease through accelerated proliferation and invasiveness, partly through Jun.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-021-01724-6DOI Listing
March 2021

Comparative Analysis of Stk11/Lkb1 versus Pten Deficiency in Lung Adenocarcinoma Induced by CRISPR/Cas9.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Feb 26;13(5). Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark.

This study focused on STK11, PTEN, KRAS, and TP53, which are often found to be mutated in lung cancer. We compared Stk11 and Pten implication in lung cancer in combination with loss of Trp53 and gain of function of Kras in a CRISPR/Cas9 mouse model. Mice with loss of Stk11, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation (SKT) reached human endpoint at around four months post-initiation. In comparison, mice with loss of Pten, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation (PKT) survived six months or longer post-initiation. Pathological examination revealed an increase in proliferation in SKT deficient lung epithelia compared to PKT. This difference was independent of Pten loss, indicating that loss of Pten is dispensable for cell proliferation in lung adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, tumors with loss of Stk11, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation had a significantly higher progression rate, monitored by PET/MRI scanning, compared to mice with loss of Pten, Trp53, and KrasG12D mutation, revealing that mutations in Stk11 are essential for adenocarcinoma progression. Overall, by using the CRISPR/Cas9 mouse model of lung adenocarcinoma, we showed that mutations in Stk11 are a key driver, whereas loss of Pten is dispensable for adenocarcinoma progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13050974DOI Listing
February 2021

STEEP mediates STING ER exit and activation of signaling.

Nat Immunol 2020 08 20;21(8):868-879. Epub 2020 Jul 20.

Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

STING is essential for control of infections and for tumor immunosurveillance, but it can also drive pathological inflammation. STING resides on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and traffics following stimulation to the ERGIC/Golgi, where signaling occurs. Although STING ER exit is the rate-limiting step in STING signaling, the mechanism that drives this process is not understood. Here we identify STEEP as a positive regulator of STING signaling. STEEP was associated with STING and promoted trafficking from the ER. This was mediated through stimulation of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P) production and ER membrane curvature formation, thus inducing COPII-mediated ER-to-Golgi trafficking of STING. Depletion of STEEP impaired STING-driven gene expression in response to virus infection in brain tissue and in cells from patients with STING-associated diseases. Interestingly, STING gain-of-function mutants from patients interacted strongly with STEEP, leading to increased ER PtdIns(3)P levels and membrane curvature. Thus, STEEP enables STING signaling by promoting ER exit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41590-020-0730-5DOI Listing
August 2020

The cGAS-STING pathway is a therapeutic target in a preclinical model of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Oncogene 2020 02 18;39(8):1652-1664. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Department of Biomedicine, University of Aarhus, Hoegh-Guldberg Gade 10, Aarhus C, Denmark.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver cancer, and the incidence of HCC is increasing. Recently, cancer immunotherapy has emerged as an efficient treatment against some cancers. Here we have used a mouse model of mutagen-induced HCC to explore the therapeutic usefulness of targeting the DNA-activated STING pathway in HCC. STING-deficient mice exhibited unaltered initial development of HCC, but had higher number of large tumors at late stages of disease. In the liver of STING-deficient HCC mice, we observed reduced levels of phospho-STAT1, autophagy, and cleaved caspase3. These responses were activated in the liver by treatment with a cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) STING agonist. Importantly, CDN treatment of mice after HCC development efficiently reduced tumor size. Initiation of CDN treatment at an even later stage of disease to allow HCC detection by MR scanning revealed that the majority of tumors regressed in response to CDN, but new tumors were also detected, which were unresponsive to CDN treatment. Overall, the modulation of the STING pathway affects the development of HCC, and holds promise for a use as a treatment of this disease, most likely in combination with other immunomodulatory treatments such as PD1 inhibitors or with standard of care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-019-1108-8DOI Listing
February 2020

Virus Delivery of CRISPR Guides to the Murine Prostate for Gene Alteration.

J Vis Exp 2018 04 27(134). Epub 2018 Apr 27.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University;

With an increasing incidence of prostate cancer, identification of new tumor drivers or modulators is crucial. Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM) for prostate cancer are hampered by tumor heterogeneity and its complex microevolution dynamics. Traditional prostate cancer mouse models include, amongst others, germline and conditional knockouts, transgenic expression of oncogenes, and xenograft models. Generation of de novo mutations in these models is complex, time-consuming, and costly. In addition, most of traditional models target the majority of the prostate epithelium, whereas human prostate cancer is well known to evolve as an isolated event in only a small subset of cells. Valuable models need to simulate not only prostate cancer initiation, but also progression to advanced disease. Here we describe a method to target a few cells in the prostate epithelium by transducing cells by viral particles. The delivery of an engineered virus to the murine prostate allows alteration of gene expression in the prostate epithelia. Virus type and quantity will hereby define the number of targeted cells for gene alteration by transducing a few cells for cancer initiation and many cells for gene therapy. Through surgery-based injection in the anterior lobe, distal from the urinary track, the tumor in this model can expand without impairing the urinary function of the animal. Furthermore, by targeting only a subset of prostate epithelial cells the technique enables clonal expansion of the tumor, and therefore mimics human tumor initiation, progression, as well as invasion through the basal membrane. This novel technique provides a powerful prostate cancer model with improved physiological relevance. Animal suffering is limited, and since no additional breeding is required, overall animal count is reduced. At the same time, analysis of new candidate genes and pathways is accelerated, which in turn is more cost efficient.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/57525DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6101041PMC
April 2018

A genetically inducible porcine model of intestinal cancer.

Mol Oncol 2017 11 10;11(11):1616-1629. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Department of Molecular Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.

Transgenic porcine cancer models bring novel possibilities for research. Their physical similarities with humans enable the use of surgical procedures and treatment approaches used for patients, which facilitates clinical translation. Here, we aimed to develop an inducible oncopig model of intestinal cancer. Transgenic (TG) minipigs were generated using somatic cell nuclear transfer by handmade cloning. The pigs encode two TG cassettes: (a) an Flp recombinase-inducible oncogene cassette containing KRAS-G12D, cMYC, SV40LT - which inhibits p53 - and pRB and (b) a 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT)-inducible Flp recombinase activator cassette controlled by the intestinal epithelium-specific villin promoter. Thirteen viable transgenic minipigs were born. The ability of 4-OHT to activate the oncogene cassette was confirmed in vitro in TG colonic organoids and ex vivo in tissue biopsies obtained by colonoscopy. In order to provide proof of principle that the oncogene cassette could also successfully be activated in vivo, three pigs were perorally treated with 400 mg tamoxifen for 2 × 5 days. After two months, one pig developed a duodenal neuroendocrine carcinoma with a lymph node metastasis. Molecular analysis of the carcinoma and metastasis confirmed activation of the oncogene cassette. No tumor formation was observed in untreated TG pigs or in the remaining two treated pigs. The latter indicates that tamoxifen delivery can probably be improved. In summary, we have generated a novel inducible oncopig model of intestinal cancer, which has the ability to form metastatic disease already two months after induction. The model may be helpful in bridging the gap between basic research and clinical usage. It opens new venues for longitudinal studies of tumor development and evolution, for preclinical assessment of new anticancer regimens, for pharmacology and toxicology assessments, as well as for studies into biological mechanisms of tumor formation and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/1878-0261.12136DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664002PMC
November 2017

Pancreas specific expression of oncogenes in a porcine model.

Transgenic Res 2017 10 29;26(5):603-612. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, 8200, Aarhus N, Denmark.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading course of cancer death and early detection of the disease is crucial for successful treatment. However, pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect in its earliest stages and once symptoms appear, the cancer has often progressed beyond possibility for curing. Research into the disease has been hampered by the lack of good models. We have generated a porcine model of pancreatic cancer with use of transgenic overexpression of an oncogene cassette containing MYC, KRAS and SV40 LT. The expression was initiated from a modified Pdx-1 promoter during embryogenesis in a subset of pancreatic epithelial cells. Furthermore, cells expressing the oncogenes also expressed a yellow fluorescent protein (mVenus) and an inducible negative regulator protein (rtTR-KRAB). Cells where the Pdx-1 promoter had not been activated, expressed a red fluorescent protein (Katushka). In vitro analyses of cells obtained from the transgenic pigs showed increased proliferation and expression of the transgenes when activated. Induction of the repressor protein eliminated the oncogene expression and decreased cell proliferation. In vivo analysis identified foci of pancreatic cells expressing the oncogenes at day zero post farrowing. These populations expanded and formed hyperplastic foci, with beginning abnormality at day 45. Cells in the foci expressed the oncogenic proteins and the majority of the cells were positive for the proliferation marker, Ki67. We predict that this model could be used for advanced studies in pancreatic cancer in a large animal model with focus on early detection, treatment, and identification of new biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11248-017-0031-4DOI Listing
October 2017

Recombinase-Mediated Cassette Exchange (RMCE)-in Reporter Cell Lines as an Alternative to the Flp-in System.

PLoS One 2016 19;11(8):e0161471. Epub 2016 Aug 19.

Department of Biomedicine, Faculty of Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark.

Recombinase mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) is a powerful tool for targeted insertion of transgenes. Here we describe non-proprietary 'RMCE-in' cell lines as an alternative to the 'Flp-in' system and cell lines. RMCE-in cell lines offer a number of advantages including increased efficiency of integration of the genetic element of interest (GEI) at a single docking site, lack of bacterial backbone at the docking site both before and after GEI integration, removal of selection and visual markers initially present at the docking site upon GEI integration and the possibility to validate GEI integration by loss of a red fluorescence reporter. Moreover, the RMCE-in cell lines are compatible with GEI donors used for the Flp-in system. We demonstrate a three-step procedure for generating RMCE-in cell lines, (I) RMCE-in transposon and SB10 transposase transfection, (II) clone isolation, and (III) selecting single integrated clones with highest RFP level, which could in principle be used to turn any cell line into an RMCE-in cell line. The RMCE-in system was used as a proof of concept to produce three new RMCE-in cell lines using HEK293, HeLa, and murine embryonic stem (mES) cells. The established RMCE-in cell lines and vector are freely available from the ATCC cell bank and Addgene respectively.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161471PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991790PMC
July 2017