Publications by authors named "Randall French"

18 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Tumor-penetrating therapy for β5 integrin-rich pancreas cancer.

Nat Commun 2021 03 9;12(1):1541. Epub 2021 Mar 9.

Cancer Research Center, Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by marked desmoplasia and drug resistance due, in part, to poor drug delivery to extravascular tumor tissue. Here, we report that carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) induce β5 integrin expression in tumor cells in a TGF-β dependent manner, making them an efficient drug delivery target for the tumor-penetrating peptide iRGD. The capacity of iRGD to deliver conjugated and co-injected payloads is markedly suppressed when β5 integrins are knocked out in the tumor cells. Of note, β5 integrin knock-out in tumor cells leads to reduced disease burden and prolonged survival of the mice, demonstrating its contribution to PDAC progression. iRGD significantly potentiates co-injected chemotherapy in KPC mice with high β5 integrin expression and may be a powerful strategy to target an aggressive PDAC subpopulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21858-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7943581PMC
March 2021

Cancer cells escape autophagy inhibition via NRF2-induced macropinocytosis.

Cancer Cell 2021 May 18;39(5):678-693.e11. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, Departments of Pharmacology and Pathology, School of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. Electronic address:

Many cancers, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), depend on autophagy-mediated scavenging and recycling of intracellular macromolecules, suggesting that autophagy blockade should cause tumor starvation and regression. However, until now autophagy-inhibiting monotherapies have not demonstrated potent anti-cancer activity. We now show that autophagy blockade prompts established PDAC to upregulate and utilize an alternative nutrient procurement pathway: macropinocytosis (MP) that allows tumor cells to extract nutrients from extracellular sources and use them for energy generation. The autophagy to MP switch, which may be evolutionarily conserved and not cancer cell restricted, depends on activation of transcription factor NRF2 by the autophagy adaptor p62/SQSTM1. NRF2 activation by oncogenic mutations, hypoxia, and oxidative stress also results in MP upregulation. Inhibition of MP in autophagy-compromised PDAC elicits dramatic metabolic decline and regression of transplanted and autochthonous tumors, suggesting the therapeutic promise of combining autophagy and MP inhibitors in the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2021.02.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8119368PMC
May 2021

Cancer-associated fibroblast secretion of PDGFC promotes gastrointestinal stromal tumor growth and metastasis.

Oncogene 2021 03 18;40(11):1957-1973. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.

Targeted therapies for gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) are modestly effective, but GIST cannot be cured with single agent tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In this study, we sought to identify new therapeutic targets in GIST by investigating the tumor microenvironment. Here, we identified a paracrine signaling network by which cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) drive GIST growth and metastasis. Specifically, CAFs isolated from human tumors were found to produce high levels of platelet-derived growth factor C (PDGFC), which activated PDGFC-PDGFRA signal transduction in GIST cells that regulated the expression of SLUG, an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) transcription factor and downstream target of PDGFRA signaling. Together, this paracrine induce signal transduction cascade promoted tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Moreover, in metastatic GIST patients, SLUG expression positively correlated with tumor size and mitotic index. Given that CAF paracrine signaling modulated GIST biology, we directly targeted CAFs with a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor, which synergized with imatinib to increase tumor cell killing and in vivo disease response. Taken together, we identified a previously unappreciated cellular target for GIST therapy in order to improve disease control and cure rates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-021-01685-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7979540PMC
March 2021

Isolation and Characterization of Patient-derived Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Organoid Models.

J Vis Exp 2020 01 14(155). Epub 2020 Jan 14.

Moores Cancer Center, University of California San Diego; Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, University of California San Diego;

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is amongst the most lethal malignancies. Recently, next-generation organoid culture methods enabling the 3-dimensional (3D) modeling of this disease have been described. Patient-derived organoid (PDO) models can be isolated from both surgical specimens as well as small biopsies and form rapidly in culture. Importantly, organoid models preserve the pathogenic genetic alterations detected in the patient's tumor and are predictive of the patient's treatment response, thus enabling translational studies. Here, we provide comprehensive protocols for adapting tissue culture workflow to study 3D, matrix embedded, organoid models. We detail methods and considerations for isolating and propagating primary PDAC organoids. Furthermore, we describe how bespoke organoid media is prepared and quality controlled in the laboratory. Finally, we describe assays for downstream characterization of the organoid models such as isolation of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), and drug testing. Importantly we provide critical considerations for implementing organoid methodology in a research laboratory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/60364DOI Listing
January 2020

Detection and Quantification of GPCR mRNA: An Assessment and Implications of Data from High-Content Methods.

ACS Omega 2019 Oct 30;4(16):17048-17059. Epub 2019 Sep 30.

Department of Pharmacology, Department of Surgery, Moores Cancer Center, and Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0636, United States.

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of membrane receptors and targets for approved drugs. The analysis of GPCR expression is, thus, important for drug discovery and typically involves messenger RNA (mRNA)-based methods. We compared transcriptomic complementary DNA (cDNA) (Affymetrix) microarrays, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based TaqMan arrays for their ability to detect and quantify expression of endoGPCRs (nonchemosensory GPCRs with endogenous agonists). In human pancreatic cancer-associated fibroblasts, RNA-seq and TaqMan arrays yielded closely correlated values for GPCR number (∼100) and expression levels, as validated by independent qPCR. By contrast, the microarrays failed to identify ∼30 such GPCRs and generated data poorly correlated with results from those methods. RNA-seq and TaqMan arrays also yielded comparable results for GPCRs in human cardiac fibroblasts, pancreatic stellate cells, cancer cell lines, and pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells. The magnitude of mRNA expression for several Gq/11-coupled GPCRs predicted cytosolic calcium increase and cell migration by cognate agonists. RNA-seq also revealed splice variants for endoGPCRs. Thus, RNA-seq and qPCR-based arrays are much better suited than transcriptomic cDNA microarrays for assessing GPCR expression and can yield results predictive of functional responses, findings that have implications for GPCR biology and drug discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.9b02811DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6796235PMC
October 2019

MST1R kinase accelerates pancreatic cancer progression via effects on both epithelial cells and macrophages.

Oncogene 2019 07 9;38(28):5599-5611. Epub 2019 Apr 9.

Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA.

The MST1R (RON) kinase is overexpressed in >80% of human pancreatic cancers, but its role in pancreatic carcinogenesis is unknown. In this study, we examined the relevance of Mst1r kinase to Kras driven pancreatic carcinogenesis using genetically engineered mouse models. In the setting of mutant Kras, Mst1r overexpression increased acinar-ductal metaplasia (ADM), accelerated the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), and resulted in the accumulation of (mannose receptor C type 1) MRC1+, (arginase 1) Arg+ macrophages in the tumor microenvironment. Conversely, absence of a functional Mst1r kinase slowed PanIN initiation, resulted in smaller tumors, prolonged survival and a reduced tumor-associated macrophage content. Mst1r expression was associated with increased production of its ligand Mst1, and in orthotopic models, suppression of Mst1 expression resulted in reduced tumor size, changes in macrophage polarization and enhanced T cell infiltration. This study demonstrates the functional significance of Mst1r during pancreatic cancer initiation and progression. Further, it provides proof of concept that targeting Mst1r can modulate pancreatic cancer growth and the microenvironment. This study provides further rationale for targeting Mst1r as a therapeutic strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-019-0811-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6625868PMC
July 2019

A Multiscale Map of the Stem Cell State in Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.

Cell 2019 04 4;177(3):572-586.e22. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program, NCI-Designated Cancer Center, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Drug resistance and relapse remain key challenges in pancreatic cancer. Here, we have used RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-seq, and genome-wide CRISPR analysis to map the molecular dependencies of pancreatic cancer stem cells, highly therapy-resistant cells that preferentially drive tumorigenesis and progression. This integrated genomic approach revealed an unexpected utilization of immuno-regulatory signals by pancreatic cancer epithelial cells. In particular, the nuclear hormone receptor retinoic-acid-receptor-related orphan receptor gamma (RORγ), known to drive inflammation and T cell differentiation, was upregulated during pancreatic cancer progression, and its genetic or pharmacologic inhibition led to a striking defect in pancreatic cancer growth and a marked improvement in survival. Further, a large-scale retrospective analysis in patients revealed that RORγ expression may predict pancreatic cancer aggressiveness, as it positively correlated with advanced disease and metastasis. Collectively, these data identify an orthogonal co-option of immuno-regulatory signals by pancreatic cancer stem cells, suggesting that autoimmune drugs should be evaluated as novel treatment strategies for pancreatic cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.03.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6711371PMC
April 2019

E47 Governs the MYC-CDKN1B/p27-RB Network to Growth Arrest PDA Cells Independent of CDKN2A/p16 and Wild-Type p53.

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018 16;6(2):181-198. Epub 2018 May 16.

Development, Aging and Regeneration Program, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, California.

Background & Aims: Oncogenic mutations in KRAS, coupled with inactivation of p53, CDKN2A/p16, and SMAD4, drive progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Overexpression of MYC and deregulation of retinoblastoma (RB) further promote cell proliferation and make identifying a means to therapeutically alter cell-cycle control pathways in PDA a significant challenge. We previously showed that the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor E47 induced stable growth arrest in PDA cells in vitro and in vivo. Here, we identified molecular mechanisms that underlie E47-induced growth arrest in low-passage, patient-derived primary and established PDA cell lines.

Methods: RNA sequencing was used to profile E47-dependent transcriptomes in 5 PDA cell lines. Gene Ontology analysis identified cell-cycle control as the most altered pathway. Small interfering RNA/short hairpin RNA knockdown, small-molecule inhibitors, and viral expression were used to examine the function of E47-dependent genes in cell-cycle arrest. Cell morphology, expression of molecular markers, and senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity assays identified cellular senescence.

Results: E47 uniformly inhibited PDA cell-cycle progression by decreasing expression of MYC, increasing the level of CDKN1B/p27, and restoring RB tumor-suppressor function. The molecular mechanisms by which E47 elicited these changes included altering both RNA transcript levels and protein stability of MYC and CDKN1B/p27. At the cellular level, E47 elicited a senescence-like phenotype characterized by increased senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity and altered expression of senescence markers.

Conclusions: E47 governs a highly conserved network of cell-cycle control genes, including MYC, CDKN1B/p27, and RB, which can induce a senescence-like program in PDA cells that lack CDKN2A/p16 and wild-type p53. RNA sequencing data are available at the National Center for Biotechnology Information GEO at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/; accession number: GSE100327.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmgh.2018.05.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6039985PMC
May 2018

GPCRomics: GPCR Expression in Cancer Cells and Tumors Identifies New, Potential Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets.

Front Pharmacol 2018 22;9:431. Epub 2018 May 22.

Department of Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States.

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the largest family of targets for approved drugs, are rarely targeted for cancer treatment, except for certain endocrine and hormone-responsive tumors. Limited knowledge regarding GPCR expression in cancer cells likely has contributed to this lack of use of GPCR-targeted drugs as cancer therapeutics. We thus undertook GPCRomic studies to define the expression of endoGPCRs (which respond to endogenous molecules such as hormones, neurotransmitters and metabolites) in multiple types of cancer cells. Using TaqMan qPCR arrays to quantify the mRNA expression of ∼340 such GPCRs, we found that human chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells/stromal cells associated with CLL, breast cancer cell lines, colon cancer cell lines, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells, cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs), and PDAC tumors express 50 to >100 GPCRs, including many orphan GPCRs (which lack known physiologic agonists). Limited prior data exist regarding the expression or function of most of the highly expressed GPCRs in these cancer cells and tumors. Independent results from public cancer gene expression databases confirm the expression of such GPCRs. We propose that highly expressed GPCRs in cancer cells (for example, GPRC5A in PDAC and colon cancer cells and GPR68 in PDAC CAFs) may contribute to the malignant phenotype, serve as biomarkers and/or may be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00431DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5972277PMC
May 2018

Reprogramming pancreatic stellate cells via p53 activation: A putative target for pancreatic cancer therapy.

PLoS One 2017 6;12(12):e0189051. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Gene Expression Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, United States of America.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by an extremely dense fibrotic stroma, which contributes to tumor growth, metastasis, and drug resistance. During tumorigenesis, quiescent pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) are activated and become major contributors to fibrosis, by increasing growth factor signaling and extracellular matrix deposition. The p53 tumor suppressor is known to restrict tumor initiation and progression through cell autonomous mechanisms including apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and senescence. There is growing evidence that stromal p53 also exerts anti-tumor activity by paracrine mechanisms, though a role for stromal p53 in PDAC has not yet been described. Here, we demonstrate that activation of stromal p53 exerts anti-tumor effects in PDAC. We show that primary cancer-associated PSCs (caPSCs) isolated from human PDAC express wild-type p53, which can be activated by the Mdm2 antagonist Nutlin-3a. Our work reveals that p53 acts as a major regulator of PSC activation and as a modulator of PDAC fibrosis. In vitro, p53 activation by Nutlin-3a induces profound transcriptional changes, which reprogram activated PSCs to quiescence. Using immunofluorescence and lipidomics, we have also found that p53 activation induces lipid droplet accumulation in both normal and tumor-associated fibroblasts, revealing a previously undescribed role for p53 in lipid storage. In vivo, treatment of tumor-bearing mice with the clinical form of Nutlin-3a induces stromal p53 activation, reverses caPSCs activation, and decreases fibrosis. All together our work uncovers new functions for stromal p53 in PDAC.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0189051PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5718507PMC
December 2017

GPR68, a proton-sensing GPCR, mediates interaction of cancer-associated fibroblasts and cancer cells.

FASEB J 2018 03 3;32(3):1170-1183. Epub 2018 Jan 3.

Department of Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.

The microenvironment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by a dense fibrotic stroma (desmoplasia) generated by pancreatic cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) derived from pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) and pancreatic fibroblasts (PFs). Using an unbiased GPCRomic array approach, we identified 82 G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) commonly expressed by CAFs derived from 5 primary PDAC tumors. Compared with PSCs and PFs, CAFs have increased expression of GPR68 (a proton-sensing GPCR), with the results confirmed by immunoblotting, The Cancer Genome Atlas data, and immunohistochemistry of PDAC tumors. Co-culture of PSCs with PDAC cells, or incubation with TNF-α, induced GPR68 expression. GPR68 activation (by decreasing the extracellular pH) enhanced IL-6 expression via a cAMP/PKA/cAMP response element binding protein signaling pathway. Knockdown of GPR68 by short interfering RNA diminished low pH-induced production of IL-6 and enhancement of PDAC cell proliferation by CAF conditioned media. CAFs from other gastrointestinal cancers also express GPR68. PDAC cells thus induce expression by CAFs of GPR68, which senses the acidic microenvironment, thereby increasing production of fibrotic markers and IL-6 and promoting PDAC cell proliferation. CAF-expressed GPR68 is a mediator of low-pH-promoted regulation of the tumor microenvironments, in particular to PDAC cell-CAF interaction and may be a novel therapeutic target for pancreatic and perhaps other types of cancers.-Wiley, S. Z., Sriram, K., Liang, W., Chang, S. E., French, R., McCann, T., Sicklick, J., Nishihara, H., Lowy, A. M., Insel, P. A. GPR68, a proton-sensing GPCR, mediates interaction of cancer-associated fibroblasts and cancer cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.201700834RDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5892729PMC
March 2018

Characterization of RON protein isoforms in pancreatic cancer: implications for biology and therapeutics.

Oncotarget 2016 Jul;7(29):45959-45975

Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

The RON tyrosine kinase receptor is under investigation as a novel target in pancreatic cancer. While RON mutations are uncommon, RON isoforms are produced in cancer cells via a variety of mechanisms. In this study we sought to: 1) characterize RON isoform expression in pancreatic cancer, 2) investigate mechanisms that regulate isoform expression, and 3) determine how various isoforms effect gene expression, oncogenic phenotypes and responses to RON directed therapies. We quantified RON transcripts in human pancreatic cancer and found expression levels 2500 fold that of normal pancreas with RON isoform expression comprising nearly 50% of total transcript. RNA seq studies revealed that the short form (sfRON) and P5P6 isoforms which have ligand independent activity, induce markedly different patterns of gene expression than wild type RON. We found that transcription of RON isoforms is regulated by promoter hypermethylation as the DNA demethylating agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine decreased all RON transcripts in a subset of pancreatic cancer cell lines. The viability of sfRON-expressing HPDE cells was reduced by a RON specific small molecule inhibitor, while a therapeutic monoclonal antibody had no demonstrable effects. In summary, RON isoforms may comprise half of total RON transcript in human pancreatic cancer and their expression is regulated at least in part by promoter hypermethylation. RON isoforms activate distinct patterns of gene expression, have transforming activity and differential responses to RON directed therapies. These findings further our understanding of RON biology in pancreatic cancer and have implications for therapeutic strategies to target RON activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216774PMC
July 2016

BAP1 mutation is a frequent somatic event in peritoneal malignant mesothelioma.

J Transl Med 2015 Apr 16;13:122. Epub 2015 Apr 16.

Moores UCSD Cancer Center, 3855 Health Science Drive, Maildrop 0820, 92093, La Jolla, USA.

Background: Malignant mesothelioma (MM) arises from mesothelial cells that line the pleural, peritoneal and pericardial surfaces. The majority of MMs are pleural and have been associated with asbestos exposure. Previously, pleural MMs have been genetically characterized by the loss of BAP1 (40-60%) as well as loss of NF2 (75%) and CDKN2A (60%). The rare peritoneal form of MM occurs in ~10% cases. With only ~300 cases diagnosed in the US per year, its link to asbestos exposure is not clear and its mutational landscape unknown.

Methods: We analyzed the somatic mutational landscape of 12 peritoneal MM of epitheloid subtype using copy number analysis (N = 9), whole exome sequencing (N = 7) and targeted sequencing (N = 12).

Results: Peritoneal MM display few copy number alterations, with most samples having less than 10 Mbp total changes, mostly through deletions and no high copy number amplification. Chromosome band 3p21 encoding BAP1 is the most recurrently deleted region (5/9), while, in contrast to pleural MM, NF2 and CDKN2A are not affected. We further identified 87 non-silent mutations across 7 sequenced tumors, with a median of 8 mutated genes per tumor, resulting in a very low mutation rate (median 1.3 10(-6)). BAP1 was the only recurrently mutated gene (N = 3/7). In one additional case, loss of the entire chromosome 3 leaves a non-functional copy of BAP1 carrying a rare nonsense germline variant, thus suggesting a potential genetic predisposition in this patient. Finally, with targeted sequencing of BAP1 in 3 additional cases, we conclude that BAP1 is frequently altered through copy number losses (N = 3/12), mutations (N = 3/12) or both (N = 2/12) sometimes at a sub-clonal level.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest a major role for BAP1 in peritoneal MM susceptibility and oncogenesis and indicate important molecular differences to pleural MM as well as potential strategies for therapy and prevention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-015-0485-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4422481PMC
April 2015

Tumor-penetrating iRGD peptide inhibits metastasis.

Mol Cancer Ther 2015 Jan 12;14(1):120-8. Epub 2014 Nov 12.

Cancer Research Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California. Center for Nanomedicine and Department of Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

Tumor-specific tissue-penetrating peptides deliver drugs into extravascular tumor tissue by increasing tumor vascular permeability through interaction with neuropilin (NRP). Here, we report that a prototypic tumor-penetrating peptide iRGD (amino acid sequence: CRGDKGPDC) potently inhibits spontaneous metastasis in mice. The antimetastatic effect was mediated by the NRP-binding RXXK peptide motif (CendR motif), and not by the integrin-binding RGD motif. iRGD inhibited migration of tumor cells and caused chemorepulsion in vitro in a CendR- and NRP-1-dependent manner. The peptide induced dramatic collapse of cellular processes and partial cell detachment, resulting in the repellent activity. These effects were prominently displayed when the cells were seeded on fibronectin, suggesting a role of CendR in functional regulation of integrins. The antimetastatic activity of iRGD may provide a significant additional benefit when this peptide is used for drug delivery to tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-14-0366DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4297196PMC
January 2015

Generation of orthotopic patient-derived xenografts from gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

J Transl Med 2014 Feb 10;12:41. Epub 2014 Feb 10.

Division of Surgical Oncology and Department of Surgery, Moores UCSD Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, 3855 Health Sciences Drive, Mail Code 0987, La Jolla, CA 92093-0987, USA.

Background: Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is the most common sarcoma and its treatment with imatinib has served as the paradigm for developing targeted anti-cancer therapies. Despite this success, imatinib-resistance has emerged as a major problem and therefore, the clinical efficacy of other drugs has been investigated. Unfortunately, most clinical trials have failed to identify efficacious drugs despite promising in vitro data and pathological responses in subcutaneous xenografts. We hypothesized that it was feasible to develop orthotopic patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) from resected GIST that could recapitulate the genetic heterogeneity and biology of the human disease.

Methods: Fresh tumor tissue from three patients with pathologically confirmed GISTs was obtained immediately following tumor resection. Tumor fragments (4.2-mm3) were surgically xenografted into the liver, gastric wall, renal capsule, and pancreas of immunodeficient mice. Tumor growth was serially assessed with ultrasonography (US) every 3-4 weeks. Tumors were also evaluated with positron emission tomography (PET). Animals were sacrificed when they became moribund or their tumors reached a threshold size of 2500-mm3. Tumors were subsequently passaged, as well as immunohistochemically and histologically analyzed.

Results: Herein, we describe the first model for generating orthotopic GIST PDXs. We have successfully xenografted three unique KIT-mutated tumors into a total of 25 mice with an overall success rate of 84% (21/25). We serially followed tumor growth with US to describe the natural history of PDX growth. Successful PDXs resulted in 12 primary xenografts in NOD-scid gamma or NOD-scid mice while subsequent successful passages resulted in 9 tumors. At a median of 7.9 weeks (range 2.9-33.1 weeks), tumor size averaged 473 ± 695-mm³ (median 199-mm3, range 12.6-2682.5-mm³) by US. Furthermore, tumor size on US within 14 days of death correlated with gross tumor size on necropsy. We also demonstrated that these tumors are FDG-avid on PET imaging, while immunohistochemically and histologically the PDXs resembled the primary tumors.

Conclusions: We report the first orthotopic model of human GIST using patient-derived tumor tissue. This novel, reproducible in vivo model of human GIST may enhance the study of GIST biology, biomarkers, personalized cancer treatments, and provide a preclinical platform to evaluate new therapeutic agents for GIST.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1479-5876-12-41DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930355PMC
February 2014

IGF1-R signals through the RON receptor to mediate pancreatic cancer cell migration.

Carcinogenesis 2011 Aug 11;32(8):1151-6. Epub 2011 May 11.

Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, 3855 Health Sciences Drive, San Diego, CA 92093-0987, USA.

The RON receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) is overexpressed in the majority of pancreatic cancers, yet its role in pancreatic cancer cell biology remains to be clarified. Recent work in childhood sarcoma identified RON as a mediator of resistance to insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF1-R)-directed therapy. To better understand RON function in pancreatic cancer cells, we sought to identify novel RON interactants. Using multidimensional protein identification analysis, IGF-1R was identified and confirmed to interact with RON in pancreatic cancer cell lines. IGF-1 induces rapid phosphorylation of RON, but RON signaling did not activate IGF-1R indicating unidirectional signaling between these RTKs. We next demonstrate that IGF-1 induces pancreatic cancer cell migration that is RON dependent, as inhibition of RON signaling by either shRNA-mediated RON knockdown or by a RON kinase inhibitor abrogated IGF-1 induced wound closure in a scratch assay. In pancreatic cancer cells, unlike childhood sarcoma, STAT-3, rather than RPS6, is activated in response to IGF-1, in a RON-dependent manner. The current study defines a novel interaction between RON and IGF-1R and taken together, these two studies demonstrate that RON is an important mediator of IGF1-R signaling and that this finding is consistent in both human epithelial and mesenchymal cancers. These findings demand additional investigation to determine if IGF-1R independent RON activation is associated with resistance to IGF-1R-directed therapies in vivo and to identify suitable biomarkers of activated RON signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgr086DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149203PMC
August 2011

The RON tyrosine kinase receptor regulates vascular endothelial growth factor production in pancreatic cancer cells.

Pancreas 2010 Apr;39(3):301-7

Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA.

Objectives: The RON receptor mediates tumorigenic phenotypes in pancreatic cancer (PC), but no investigations currently have implicated RON signaling as a regulator of angiogenesis in PC. Angiogenesis is vital to oncogenesis, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the most well-characterized angiogenic protein. This study sought to determine the effect of RON stimulation on in vitro angiogenesis and VEGF production in PC cell lines.

Methods: Vascular endothelial growth factor levels from conditioned media of hepatocyte growth factor-like protein-stimulated BxPC-3 and FG cells were quantitated via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and likewise interrogated in the presence and absence of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/AKT inhibitors. To determine in vitro angiogenesis, human microvascular endothelial cells were subsequently exposed to the same conditioned media to assay for microtubule formation.

Results: RON signaling resulted in a 52% and 34% increase in VEGF levels in BxPC-3 and FG cells, respectively. Vascular endothelial growth factor secretion was inhibited with MAPK or phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase blockade in BxPC-3 cells, but only MAPK inhibition resulted in decreased VEGF production in FG cells. BxPC-3 conditioned media induced tubule formation in human microvascular endothelial cells, which was abrogated by RON inhibition.

Conclusions: RON signaling results in MAPK-mediated VEGF secretion by PC cells and promotion of microtubule formation. These findings suggest another mechanism by which RON signaling may promote PC progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/mpa.0b013e3181bb9f73DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849173PMC
April 2010

Silencing of RON receptor signaling promotes apoptosis and gemcitabine sensitivity in pancreatic cancers.

Cancer Res 2010 Feb 26;70(3):1130-40. Epub 2010 Jan 26.

Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

The RON receptor tyrosine kinase is overexpressed in premalignant pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) and in the majority of pancreatic cancers. In pancreatic cells, RON is an important K-Ras effector and RON ligand can enhance migration/invasion and apoptotic resistance. However, the pathobiological significance of RON overexpression in pancreatic cancers has yet to be fully established. In this study, we demonstrate that RON signaling mediates a unique transcriptional program that is conserved between cultured cells derived from murine PanIN or human pancreatic cancer cells grown as subcutaneous tumor xenografts. In both systems, RON signaling regulates expression of genes implicated in cancer-cell survival, including Bcl-2 and the transcription factors signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT 3) and c-Jun. shRNA-mediated silencing of RON in pancreatic cancer xenografts inhibited their growth, primarily by increasing susceptibility to apoptosis and by sensitizing them to gemcitabine treatment. Escape from RON silencing was associated with re-expression of RON and/or expression of phosphorylated forms of the related c-Met or epidermal growth factor receptors. These findings indicate that RON signaling mediates cell survival and in vivo resistance to gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer, and they reveal mechanisms through which pancreatic cancer cells may circumvent RON-directed therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0761DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943733PMC
February 2010
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