Publications by authors named "Rossella Rota"

41 Publications

Dual IGF1R/IR inhibitors in combination with GD2-CAR T-cells display a potent anti-tumor activity in diffuse midline glioma H3K27M-mutant.

Neuro Oncol 2021 Dec 29. Epub 2021 Dec 29.

Department of Onco-hematology, Gene and Cell Therapy, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital-IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Background: Diffuse midline gliomas (DMG) H3K27M-mutant, including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), are pediatric brain tumors associated with grim prognosis. Although GD2-CAR T-cells demonstrated significant anti-tumor activity against DMG H3K27M-mutant in vivo, a multimodal approach may be needed to more effectively treat patients. We investigated GD2 expression in DMG/DIPG and other pediatric high-grade gliomas (pHGG) and sought to identify chemical compounds that would enhance GD2-CAR T-cell anti-tumor efficacy.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry in tumor tissue samples and immunofluorescence in primary patient-derived cell lines were performed to study GD2 expression. We developed a high-throughput cell-based assay to screen 42 kinase inhibitors in combination with GD2-CAR T-cells. Cell viability, western blots, flow-cytometry, real time PCR experiments, DIPG 3D culture models and orthotopic xenograft model were applied to investigate the effect of selected compounds on DIPG cell death and CAR T-cell function.

Results: GD2 was heterogeneously, but widely, expressed in the tissue tested, while its expression was homogeneous and restricted to DMG/DIPG H3K27M-mutant cell lines. We identified dual IGF1R/IR antagonists, BMS-754807 and linsitinib, able to inhibit tumor cell viability at concentrations that do not affect CAR T-cells. Linsitinib, but not BMS-754807, decreases activation/exhaustion of GD2-CAR T-cells and increases their central memory profile. The enhanced anti-tumor activity of linsitinib/GD2-CAR T-cell combination was confirmed in DIPG models in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo.

Conclusion: Our study supports the development of IGF1R/IR inhibitors to be used in combination with GD2-CAR T-cells for treating patients affected by DMG/DIPG and, potentially, by pHGG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/neuonc/noab300DOI Listing
December 2021

DNMT3A and DNMT3B Targeting as an Effective Radiosensitizing Strategy in Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Cells 2021 10 30;10(11). Epub 2021 Oct 30.

Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in childhood. Recently, we demonstrated the overexpression of both DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) and 3B (DNMT3B) in RMS tumour biopsies and cell lines compared to normal skeletal muscle. Radiotherapy may often fail due to the abnormal expression of some molecules able to drive resistance mechanisms. The aim of this study was to analyse the involvement of DNMT3A and DNMT3B in radioresistance in RMS. RNA interference experiments against DNMT3A/3B were performed in embryonal RMS cells, upon ionizing radiation (IR) exposure and the effects of the combined treatment on RMS cells were analysed. DNMT3A and DNMT3B knocking down increased the sensitivity of RMS cells to IR, as indicated by the drastic decrease of colony formation ability. Interestingly, DNMT3A/3B act in two different ways: DNMT3A silencing triggers the cellular senescence program by up-regulating p16 and p21, whilst DNMT3B depletion induces significant DNA damage and impairs the DNA repair machinery (ATM, DNA-PKcs and Rad51 reduction). Our findings demonstrate for the first time that DNMT3A and DNMT3B overexpression may contribute to radiotherapy failure, and their inhibition might be a promising radiosensitizing strategy, mainly in the treatment of patients with metastatic or recurrent RMS tumours.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells10112956DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8616246PMC
October 2021

Focal adhesion kinase inhibitor TAE226 combined with Sorafenib slows down hepatocellular carcinoma by multiple epigenetic effects.

J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2021 Nov 16;40(1):364. Epub 2021 Nov 16.

Unit of Molecular Genetics of Complex Phenotypes, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Via S. Paolo, 15, 00146, Rome, Italy.

Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and lethal malignant tumours worldwide. Sorafenib (SOR) is one of the most effective single-drug systemic therapy against advanced HCC, but the identification of novel combination regimens for a continued improvement in overall survival is a big challenge. Recent studies highlighted the crucial role of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in HCC growth. The aim of this study was to investigate the antitumor effects of three different FAK inhibitors (FAKi), alone or in combination with SOR, using in vitro and in vivo models of HCC.

Methods: The effect of PND1186, PF431396, TAE226 on cell viability was compared to SOR. Among them TAE226, emerging as the most effective FAKi, was tested alone or in combination with SOR using 2D/3D human HCC cell line cultures and HCC xenograft murine models. The mechanisms of action were assessed by gene/protein expression and imaging approaches, combined with high-throughput methods.

Results: TAE226 was the more effective FAKi to be combined with SOR against HCC. Combined TAE226 and SOR treatment reduced HCC growth both in vitro and in vivo by affecting tumour-promoting gene expression and inducing epigenetic changes via dysregulation of FAK nuclear interactome. We characterized a novel nuclear functional interaction between FAK and the NuRD complex. TAE226-mediated FAK depletion and SOR-promoted MAPK down-modulation caused a decrease in the nuclear amount of HDAC1/2 and a consequent increase of the histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation, thus counteracting histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation.

Conclusions: Altogether, our findings provide the first evidence that TAE226 combined with SOR efficiently reduces HCC growth in vitro and in vivo. Also, our data highlight that deep analysis of FAK nuclear interactome may lead to the identification of new promising targets for HCC therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13046-021-02154-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8597092PMC
November 2021

MS-275 (Entinostat) Promotes Radio-Sensitivity in PAX3-FOXO1 Rhabdomyosarcoma Cells.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 Oct 1;22(19). Epub 2021 Oct 1.

Department of Radiotherapy, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University of Rome, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood. About 25% of RMS expresses fusion oncoproteins such as PAX3/PAX7-FOXO1 (fusion-positive, FP) while fusion-negative (FN)-RMS harbors RAS mutations. Radiotherapy (RT) plays a crucial role in local control but metastatic RMS is often radio-resistant. HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) radio-sensitize different cancer cells types. Thus, we evaluated MS-275 (Entinostat), a Class I and IV HDACi, in combination with RT on RMS cells in vitro and in vivo. MS-275 reversibly hampered cell survival in vitro in FN-RMS RD (RASmut) and irreversibly in FP-RMS RH30 cell lines down-regulating cyclin A, B, and D1, up-regulating p21 and p27 and reducing ERKs activity, and c-Myc expression in RD and PI3K/Akt/mTOR activity and N-Myc expression in RH30 cells. Further, MS-275 and RT combination reduced colony formation ability of RH30 cells. In both cell lines, co-treatment increased DNA damage repair inhibition and reactive oxygen species formation, down-regulated , , and anti-oxidant genes and improved RT ability to induce G2 growth arrest. MS-275 inhibited in vivo growth of RH30 cells and completely prevented the growth of RT-unresponsive RH30 xenografts when combined with radiation. Thus, MS-275 could be considered as a radio-sensitizing agent for the treatment of intrinsically radio-resistant PAX3-FOXO1 RMS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms221910671DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8508838PMC
October 2021

SNAI2-Mediated Repression of Protects Rhabdomyosarcoma from Ionizing Radiation.

Cancer Res 2021 11 30;81(21):5451-5463. Epub 2021 Aug 30.

Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute (GCCRI), UT Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas.

Ionizing radiation (IR) and chemotherapy are mainstays of treatment for patients with rhabdomyosarcoma, yet the molecular mechanisms that underlie the success or failure of radiotherapy remain unclear. The transcriptional repressor SNAI2 was previously identified as a key regulator of IR sensitivity in normal and malignant stem cells through its repression of the proapoptotic BH3-only gene . Here, we demonstrate a clear correlation between SNAI2 expression levels and radiosensitivity across multiple rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines. Modulating SNAI2 levels in rhabdomyosarcoma cells through its overexpression or knockdown altered radiosensitivity and . SNAI2 expression reliably promoted overall cell growth and inhibited mitochondrial apoptosis following exposure to IR, with either variable or minimal effects on differentiation and senescence, respectively. Importantly, SNAI2 knockdown increased expression of the proapoptotic BH3-only gene BIM, and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing experiments established that SNAI2 is a direct repressor of . Because the p53 pathway is nonfunctional in the rhabdomyosarcoma cells used in this study, we have identified a new, p53-independent SNAI2/BIM signaling axis that could potentially predict clinical responses to IR treatment and be exploited to improve rhabdomyosarcoma therapy. SIGNIFICANCE: SNAI2 is identified as a major regulator of radiation-induced apoptosis in rhabdomyosarcoma through previously unknown mechanisms independent of p53.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-4191DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8669772PMC
November 2021

Romidepsin (FK228) fails in counteracting the transformed phenotype of rhabdomyosarcoma cells but efficiently radiosensitizes, in vitro and in vivo, the alveolar phenotype subtype.

Int J Radiat Biol 2021 4;97(7):943-957. Epub 2021 Jun 4.

Department of Radiotherapy, Policlinico Umberto I, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Purpose: Herein we describe the in vitro and in vivo activity of FK228 (Romidepsin), an inhibitor of class I HDACs, in counteracting and radiosensitizing embryonal (ERMS, fusion-negative) and alveolar (ARMS, fusion-positive) rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS).

Methods: RH30 (ARMS, fusion-positive) and RD (ERMS, fusion-negative) cell lines and human multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (HMSC) were used. Flow cytometry analysis, RT-qPCR, western blotting and enzymatic assays were performed. Irradiation was delivered by using an x-6 MV photon linear accelerator. FK228 (1.2 mg/kg) in vivo activity, combined or not with radiation therapy (2 Gy), was assessed in murine xenografts.

Results: Compared to HMSC, RMS expressed low levels of class I HDACs. In vitro, FK228, as single agents, reversibly downregulated class I HDACs expression and activity and induced oxidative stress, DNA damage and a concomitant growth arrest associated with PARP-1-mediated transient non-apoptotic cell death. Surviving cells upregulated the expression of cyclin A, B, D1, p27, Myc and activated PI3K/Akt/mTOR and MAPK signaling, known to be differently involved in cancer chemoresistance. Interestingly, while no radiosensitizing effects were detected, in vitro or in vivo, on RD cells, FK228 markedly radiosensitized RH30 cells by impairing antioxidant and DSBs repair pathways in vitro. Further, FK228 when combined with RT in vivo significantly reduced tumor mass in mouse RH30 xenografts.

Conclusion: FK228 did not show antitumor activity as a single agent whilst its combination with RT resulted in radiosensitization of fusion-positive RMS cells, thus representing a possible strategy for the treatment of the most aggressive RMS subtype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09553002.2021.1928786DOI Listing
September 2021

Small heat-shock protein HSPB3 promotes myogenesis by regulating the lamin B receptor.

Cell Death Dis 2021 05 6;12(5):452. Epub 2021 May 6.

Centre for Neuroscience and Nanotechnology, Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 41125, Modena, Italy.

One of the critical events that regulates muscle cell differentiation is the replacement of the lamin B receptor (LBR)-tether with the lamin A/C (LMNA)-tether to remodel transcription and induce differentiation-specific genes. Here, we report that localization and activity of the LBR-tether are crucially dependent on the muscle-specific chaperone HSPB3 and that depletion of HSPB3 prevents muscle cell differentiation. We further show that HSPB3 binds to LBR in the nucleoplasm and maintains it in a dynamic state, thus promoting the transcription of myogenic genes, including the genes to remodel the extracellular matrix. Remarkably, HSPB3 overexpression alone is sufficient to induce the differentiation of two human muscle cell lines, LHCNM2 cells, and rhabdomyosarcoma cells. We also show that mutant R116P-HSPB3 from a myopathy patient with chromatin alterations and muscle fiber disorganization, forms nuclear aggregates that immobilize LBR. We find that R116P-HSPB3 is unable to induce myoblast differentiation and instead activates the unfolded protein response. We propose that HSPB3 is a specialized chaperone engaged in muscle cell differentiation and that dysfunctional HSPB3 causes neuromuscular disease by deregulating LBR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41419-021-03737-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8102500PMC
May 2021

Interaction between SNAI2 and MYOD enhances oncogenesis and suppresses differentiation in Fusion Negative Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Nat Commun 2021 01 8;12(1):192. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute, Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, Texas, USA.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is an aggressive pediatric malignancy of the muscle, that includes Fusion Positive (FP)-RMS harboring PAX3/7-FOXO1 and Fusion Negative (FN)-RMS commonly with RAS pathway mutations. RMS express myogenic master transcription factors MYOD and MYOG yet are unable to terminally differentiate. Here, we report that SNAI2 is highly expressed in FN-RMS, is oncogenic, blocks myogenic differentiation, and promotes growth. MYOD activates SNAI2 transcription via super enhancers with striped 3D contact architecture. Genome wide chromatin binding analysis demonstrates that SNAI2 preferentially binds enhancer elements and competes with MYOD at a subset of myogenic enhancers required for terminal differentiation. SNAI2 also suppresses expression of a muscle differentiation program modulated by MYOG, MEF2, and CDKN1A. Further, RAS/MEK-signaling modulates SNAI2 levels and binding to chromatin, suggesting that the differentiation blockade by oncogenic RAS is mediated in part by SNAI2. Thus, an interplay between SNAI2, MYOD, and RAS prevents myogenic differentiation and promotes tumorigenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20386-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7794422PMC
January 2021

FAK Signaling in Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Nov 10;21(22). Epub 2020 Nov 10.

Department of Oncohematology, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, 00165 Rome, Italy.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of children and adolescents. The fusion-positive (FP)-RMS variant expressing chimeric oncoproteins such as PAX3-FOXO1 and PAX7-FOXO1 is at high risk. The fusion negative subgroup, FN-RMS, has a good prognosis when non-metastatic. Despite a multimodal therapeutic approach, FP-RMS and metastatic FN-RMS often show a dismal prognosis with 5-year survival of less than 30%. Therefore, novel targets need to be discovered to develop therapies that halt tumor progression, reducing long-term side effects in young patients. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase that regulates focal contacts at the cellular edges. It plays a role in cell motility, survival, and proliferation in response to integrin and growth factor receptors' activation. FAK is often dysregulated in cancer, being upregulated and/or overactivated in several adult and pediatric tumor types. In RMS, both in vitro and preclinical studies point to a role of FAK in tumor cell motility/invasion and proliferation, which is inhibited by FAK inhibitors. In this review, we summarize the data on FAK expression and modulation in RMS. Moreover, we give an overview of the approaches to inhibit FAK in both preclinical and clinical cancer settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21228422DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7697003PMC
November 2020

CDK9 as a Valuable Target in Cancer: From Natural Compounds Inhibitors to Current Treatment in Pediatric Soft Tissue Sarcomas.

Front Pharmacol 2020 13;11:1230. Epub 2020 Aug 13.

Department of Drug Chemistry and Technologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Cyclin-Dependent Kinases (CDKs) are well-known reliable targets for cancer treatment being often deregulated. Among them, since the transcription-associated CDK9 represents the sentry of cell transcriptional homeostasis, it can be a valuable target for managing cancers in which the transcriptional machinery is dysregulated by tumor-driver oncogenes. Here we give an overview of some natural compounds identified as CDK inhibitors with reported activity also against CDK9, that were taken as a model for the development of highly active synthetic anti-CDK9 agents. After, we summarize the data on CDK9 inhibition in a group of rare pediatric solid tumors such as rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, synovial sarcoma and malignant rhabdoid tumors (soft tissue sarcomas), highlighting the more recent results in this field. Finally, we discuss the perspective and challenge of CDK9 modulation in cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.01230DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7438590PMC
August 2020

Design of First-in-Class Dual EZH2/HDAC Inhibitor: Biochemical Activity and Biological Evaluation in Cancer Cells.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2020 May 19;11(5):977-983. Epub 2020 Mar 19.

Department of Drug Chemistry and Technologies, Sapienza University of Rome, P. le A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.

Since the histone modifying enzymes EZH2 and HDACs control a number of epigenetic-dependent carcinogenic pathways, we designed the first-in-class dual EZH2/HDAC inhibitor displaying (sub)micromolar inhibition against both targets. When tested in several cancer cell lines, the hybrid impaired cell viability at low micromolar level and in leukemia U937 and rhabdomyosarcoma RH4 cells provided G1 arrest, apoptotic induction, and increased differentiation, associated with an increase of acetyl-H3 and acetyl-α-tubulin and a decrease of H3K27me3 levels. In glioblastoma U87 cells, hampered epithelial to mesenchymal transition by increasing the E-cadherin expression, thus proposing itself as a useful candidate for anticancer therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.0c00014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7236245PMC
May 2020

Miswired Enhancer Logic Drives a Cancer of the Muscle Lineage.

iScience 2020 May 29;23(5):101103. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

Genetics Branch, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address:

Core regulatory transcription factors (CR TFs) establish enhancers with logical ordering during embryogenesis and development. Here we report that in fusion-positive rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the muscle lineage, the chief oncogene PAX3-FOXO1 is driven by a translocated FOXO1 super enhancer (SE) restricted to a late stage of myogenesis. Using chromatin conformation capture techniques, we demonstrate that the extensive FOXO1 cis-regulatory domain interacts with PAX3. Furthermore, RNA sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing data in tumors bearing rare PAX translocations implicate enhancer miswiring across all fusion-positive tumors. HiChIP of H3K27ac showed connectivity between the FOXO1 SE, additional intra-domain enhancers, and the PAX3 promoter. We show that PAX3-FOXO1 transcription is diminished when this network of enhancers is ablated by CRISPR. Our data reveal a hijacked enhancer network that disrupts the stepwise CR TF logic of normal skeletal muscle development (PAX3 to MYOD to MYOG), replacing it with an "infinite loop" enhancer logic that locks rhabdomyosarcoma in an undifferentiated stage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101103DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7226896PMC
May 2020

The CRISP(Y) Future of Pediatric Soft Tissue Sarcomas.

Front Chem 2020 13;8:178. Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Department of Oncohematology, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

The RNA-guided clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/associated nuclease 9 (Cas9)-based genome editing technology has increasingly become a recognized method for translational research. In oncology, the ease and versatility of CRISPR/Cas9 has made it possible to obtain many results in the identification of new target genes and in unravel mechanisms of resistance to therapy. The majority of the studies have been made on adult tumors so far. In this mini review we present an overview on the major aspects of CRISPR/Cas9 technology with a focus on a group of rare pediatric malignancies, soft tissue sarcomas, on which this approach is having promising results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2020.00178DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7083251PMC
March 2020

Histone hyperacetylation disrupts core gene regulatory architecture in rhabdomyosarcoma.

Nat Genet 2019 12 29;51(12):1714-1722. Epub 2019 Nov 29.

Genetics Branch, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Core regulatory transcription factors (CR TFs) orchestrate the placement of super-enhancers (SEs) to activate transcription of cell-identity specifying gene networks, and are critical in promoting cancer. Here, we define the core regulatory circuitry of rhabdomyosarcoma and identify critical CR TF dependencies. These CR TFs build SEs that have the highest levels of histone acetylation, yet paradoxically the same SEs also harbor the greatest amounts of histone deacetylases. We find that hyperacetylation selectively halts CR TF transcription. To investigate the architectural determinants of this phenotype, we used absolute quantification of architecture (AQuA) HiChIP, which revealed erosion of native SE contacts, and aberrant spreading of contacts that involved histone acetylation. Hyperacetylation removes RNA polymerase II (RNA Pol II) from core regulatory genetic elements, and eliminates RNA Pol II but not BRD4 phase condensates. This study identifies an SE-specific requirement for balancing histone modification states to maintain SE architecture and CR TF transcription.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0534-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6886578PMC
December 2019

Aberrant Function of the C-Terminal Tail of HIST1H1E Accelerates Cellular Senescence and Causes Premature Aging.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 09 22;105(3):493-508. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria, Weskoppies Hospital, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa.

Histones mediate dynamic packaging of nuclear DNA in chromatin, a process that is precisely controlled to guarantee efficient compaction of the genome and proper chromosomal segregation during cell division and to accomplish DNA replication, transcription, and repair. Due to the important structural and regulatory roles played by histones, it is not surprising that histone functional dysregulation or aberrant levels of histones can have severe consequences for multiple cellular processes and ultimately might affect development or contribute to cell transformation. Recently, germline frameshift mutations involving the C-terminal tail of HIST1H1E, which is a widely expressed member of the linker histone family and facilitates higher-order chromatin folding, have been causally linked to an as-yet poorly defined syndrome that includes intellectual disability. We report that these mutations result in stable proteins that reside in the nucleus, bind to chromatin, disrupt proper compaction of DNA, and are associated with a specific methylation pattern. Cells expressing these mutant proteins have a dramatically reduced proliferation rate and competence, hardly enter into the S phase, and undergo accelerated senescence. Remarkably, clinical assessment of a relatively large cohort of subjects sharing these mutations revealed a premature aging phenotype as a previously unrecognized feature of the disorder. Our findings identify a direct link between aberrant chromatin remodeling, cellular senescence, and accelerated aging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.07.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6731364PMC
September 2019

Chemical genomics reveals histone deacetylases are required for core regulatory transcription.

Nat Commun 2019 07 8;10(1):3004. Epub 2019 Jul 8.

Genetics Branch, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.

Identity determining transcription factors (TFs), or core regulatory (CR) TFs, are governed by cell-type specific super enhancers (SEs). Drugs to selectively inhibit CR circuitry are of high interest for cancer treatment. In alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, PAX3-FOXO1 activates SEs to induce the expression of other CR TFs, providing a model system for studying cancer cell addiction to CR transcription. Using chemical genetics, the systematic screening of chemical matter for a biological outcome, here we report on a screen for epigenetic chemical probes able to distinguish between SE-driven transcription and constitutive transcription. We find that chemical probes along the acetylation-axis, and not the methylation-axis, selectively disrupt CR transcription. Additionally, we find that histone deacetylases (HDACs) are essential for CR TF transcription. We further dissect the contribution of HDAC isoforms using selective inhibitors, including the newly developed selective HDAC3 inhibitor LW3. We show HDAC1/2/3 are the co-essential isoforms that when co-inhibited halt CR transcription, making CR TF sites hyper-accessible and disrupting chromatin looping.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11046-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6614369PMC
July 2019

Insights into pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma research: Challenges and goals.

Pediatr Blood Cancer 2019 10 21;66(10):e27869. Epub 2019 Jun 21.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Overall survival rates for pediatric patients with high-risk or relapsed rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) have not improved significantly since the 1980s. Recent studies have identified a number of targetable vulnerabilities in RMS, but these discoveries have infrequently translated into clinical trials. We propose streamlining the process by which agents are selected for clinical evaluation in RMS. We believe that strong consideration should be given to the development of combination therapies that add biologically targeted agents to conventional cytotoxic drugs. One example of this type of combination is the addition of the WEE1 inhibitor AZD1775 to the conventional cytotoxic chemotherapeutics, vincristine and irinotecan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pbc.27869DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6707829PMC
October 2019

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Cancer Stem Cells: An Overview.

Front Oncol 2018 26;8:475. Epub 2018 Oct 26.

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States.

Soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) are an uncommon group of solid tumors that can arise throughout the human lifespan. Despite their commonality as non-bony cancers that develop from mesenchymal cell precursors, they are heterogeneous in their genetic profiles, histology, and clinical features. This has made it difficult to identify a single target or therapy specific to STSs. And while there is no one cell of origin ascribed to all STSs, the cancer stem cell (CSC) principle-that a subpopulation of tumor cells possesses stem cell-like properties underlying tumor initiation, therapeutic resistance, disease recurrence, and metastasis-predicts that ultimately it should be possible to identify a feature common to all STSs that could function as a therapeutic Achilles' heel. Here we review the published evidence for CSCs in each of the most common STSs, then focus on the methods used to study CSCs, the developmental signaling pathways usurped by CSCs, and the epigenetic alterations critical for CSC identity that may be useful for further study of STS biology. We conclude with discussion of some challenges to the field and future directions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00475DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212576PMC
October 2018

Brain Targeting by Liposome-Biomolecular Corona Boosts Anticancer Efficacy of Temozolomide in Glioblastoma Cells.

ACS Chem Neurosci 2018 12 31;9(12):3166-3174. Epub 2018 Jul 31.

Department of Molecular Medicine , Sapienza University of Rome , Viale Regina Elena 291 , 00161 Rome , Italy.

Temozolomide (TMZ) is the current first-line chemotherapy for treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). However, similar to other brain therapeutic compounds, access of TMZ to brain tumors is impaired by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) leading to poor response for GBM patients. To overcome this major hurdle, we have synthesized a set of TMZ-encapsulating nanomedicines made of four cationic liposome (CL) formulations with systematic changes in lipid composition and physical-chemical properties. The targeting nature of this nanomedicine is provided by the recruitment of proteins, with natural targeting capacity, in the biomolecular corona (BC) layer that forms around CLs after exposure to human plasma (HP). TMZ-loaded CL-BC complexes were thoroughly characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS), electrophoretic light scattering (ELS), and nanoliquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (nano-LC MS/MS). BCs were found to be enriched of typical BC fingerprints (BCFs) (e.g., Apolipoproteins, Vitronectin, and vitamin K-dependent protein), which have a substantial capacity in binding to receptors that are overexpressed at the BBB (e.g., scavenger receptor class B, type I and low-density lipoprotein receptor). We found that the CL formulation exhibiting the highest levels of targeting BCFs had larger uptake in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) that are commonly used as an in vitro model of the BBB. This formulation could also deliver TMZ to the human glioblastoma U-87 MG cell line and thus substantially enhance their antitumor efficacy compared to corona free CLs. Thus, we propose that the BC-based nanomedicines may pave a more effective way for efficient treatment of GBM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00339DOI Listing
December 2018

Pitfalls in the quantitative imaging of glutathione in living cells.

Nat Commun 2018 04 23;9(1):1588. Epub 2018 Apr 23.

Laboratory of Molecular Genetics and Functional Genomics, Division of Genetic and Rare Disease, Children's Hospital and Research Institute "Bambino Gesù", Viale di San Paolo 15, Rome, 00146, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04035-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913264PMC
April 2018

Evaluation of Endoglin (CD105) expression in pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma.

BMC Cancer 2018 01 5;18(1):31. Epub 2018 Jan 5.

Department of Hematology/Oncology, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Piazza di Sant'Onofrio, 4, 00165, Rome, Italy.

Background: The Intratumoral Microvessel Density (IMVD) is commonly used to quantify tumoral vascularization and is usually assessed by pan-endothelial markers, such as CD31. Endoglin (CD105) is a protein predominantly expressed in proliferating endothelium and the IMVD determined by this marker measures specifically the neovascularization. In this study, we investigated the CD105 expression in pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma and assessed the neovascularization by using the angiogenic ratio IMVD-CD105 to IMVD-CD31.

Methods: Paraffin-embedded archival tumor specimens were selected from 65 pediatric patients affected by rhabdomyosarcoma. The expression levels of CD105, CD31 and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) were investigated in 30 cases (18 embryonal and 12 alveolar) available for this study. The IMVD-CD105 to IMVD-CD31 expression ratio was correlated with clinical and pathologic features of these patients.

Results: We found a specific expression of endoglin (CD105) in endothelial cells of all the rhabdomyosarcoma specimens analyzed. We observed a significant positive correlation between the IMVD individually measured by CD105 and CD31. The CD105/CD31 expression ratio was significantly higher in patients with lower survival and embryonal histology. Indeed, patients with a CD105/CD31 expression ratio < 1.3 had a significantly increased OS (88%, 95%CI, 60%-97%) compared to patients with higher values (40%, 95%CI, 12%-67%). We did not find any statistical correlation among VEGF and EFS, OS and CD105/CD31 expression ratio.

Conclusion: CD105 is expressed on endothelial cells of rhabdomyosarcoma and represent a useful tool to quantify neovascularization in this tumor. If confirmed by further studies, these results will indicate that CD105 is a potential target for combined therapies in rhabdomyosarcoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-017-3947-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755407PMC
January 2018

The Role of HCMV and HIV-1 MicroRNAs: Processing, and Mechanisms of Action during Viral Infection.

Front Microbiol 2017 21;8:689. Epub 2017 Apr 21.

RNA Editing Laboratory, Oncohaematology Department, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere ScientificoRome, Italy.

Viruses infect host cells releasing their genome (DNA or RNA) containing all information needed to replicate themselves. The viral genome takes control of the cells and helps the virus to evade the host immune system. Some viruses alter the functions of infected cells without killing them. In some cases infected cells lose control over normal cell proliferation and becomes cancerous. Viruses, such as HCMV and HIV-1, may leave their viral genome in the host cells for a certain period (latency) and begin to replicate when the cells are stressed causing diseases. HCMV and HIV-1 have developed multiple strategies to avoid recognition and elimination by the host's immune system. These strategies rely on viral products that mimic specific components of the host cells to prevent immune recognition of virally infected cells. In addition to viral proteins, viruses encode short non-coding RNAs (vmiRNAs) that regulate both viral and host cellular transcripts to favor viral infection and actively curtail the host's antiviral immune response. In this review, we will give an overview of the general functions of microRNAs generated by HCMV and HIV-1, their processing and interaction with the host's immune system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.00689DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5399795PMC
April 2017

PAX3-FOXO1 Establishes Myogenic Super Enhancers and Confers BET Bromodomain Vulnerability.

Cancer Discov 2017 08 26;7(8):884-899. Epub 2017 Apr 26.

Genetics Branch, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is a life-threatening myogenic cancer of children and adolescent young adults, driven primarily by the chimeric transcription factor PAX3-FOXO1. The mechanisms by which PAX3-FOXO1 dysregulates chromatin are unknown. We find PAX3-FOXO1 reprograms the -regulatory landscape by inducing super enhancers. PAX3-FOXO1 uses super enhancers to set up autoregulatory loops in collaboration with the master transcription factors MYOG, MYOD, and MYCN. This myogenic super enhancer circuitry is consistent across cell lines and primary tumors. Cells harboring the fusion gene are selectively sensitive to small-molecule inhibition of protein targets induced by, or bound to, PAX3-FOXO1-occupied super enhancers. Furthermore, PAX3-FOXO1 recruits and requires the BET bromodomain protein BRD4 to function at super enhancers, resulting in a complete dependence on BRD4 and a significant susceptibility to BRD inhibition. These results yield insights into the epigenetic functions of PAX3-FOXO1 and reveal a specific vulnerability that can be exploited for precision therapy. PAX3-FOXO1 drives pediatric fusion-positive rhabdomyosarcoma, and its chromatin-level functions are critical to understanding its oncogenic activity. We find that PAX3-FOXO1 establishes a myoblastic super enhancer landscape and creates a profound subtype-unique dependence on BET bromodomains, the inhibition of which ablates PAX3-FOXO1 function, providing a mechanistic rationale for exploring BET inhibitors for patients bearing PAX-fusion rhabdomyosarcoma. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2159-8290.CD-16-1297DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7802885PMC
August 2017

Focal adhesion kinase depletion reduces human hepatocellular carcinoma growth by repressing enhancer of zeste homolog 2.

Cell Death Differ 2017 05 24;24(5):889-902. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

Liver Research Unit, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer in humans. The focal adhesion tyrosine kinase (FAK) is often over-expressed in human HCC and FAK inhibition may reduce HCC cell invasiveness. However, the anti-oncogenic effect of FAK knockdown in HCC cells remains to be clarified. We found that FAK depletion in HCC cells reduced in vitro and in vivo tumorigenicity, by inducing G2/M arrest and apoptosis, decreasing anchorage-independent growth, and modulating the expression of several cancer-related genes. Among these genes, we showed that FAK silencing decreased transcription and nuclear localization of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) and its tri-methylation activity on lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3). Accordingly, FAK, EZH2 and H3K27me3 were concomitantly upregulated in human HCCs compared to non-tumor livers. In vitro experiments demonstrated that FAK affected EZH2 expression and function by modulating, at least in part, p53 and E2F2/3 transcriptional activity. Moreover, FAK silencing downregulated both EZH2 binding and histone H3K27me3 levels at the promoter of its target gene NOTCH2. Finally, we found that pharmacological inhibition of FAK activity resembled these effects although milder. In summary, we demonstrate that FAK depletion reduces HCC cell growth by affecting cancer-promoting genes including the pro-oncogene EZH2. Furthermore, we unveil a novel unprecedented FAK/EZH2 crosstalk in HCC cells, thus identifying a targetable network paving the way for new anticancer therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/cdd.2017.34DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423113PMC
May 2017

MicroRNA fingerprints in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) identified miR-150-5p as a tumor suppressor and potential target for treatment.

Oncotarget 2016 Aug;7(34):55395-55408

Division of Hematology, Arthur G. James Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.

Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is an aggressive leukemia of early childhood characterized by aberrant proliferation of myelomonocytic cells and hypersensitivity to GM-CSF stimulation. Mutually exclusive mutations in the RAS/ERK pathway genes such as PTPN11, NRAS, KRAS, CBL, or NF1 are found in ~90% of the cases. These mutations give rise to disease at least in part by activating STAT5 through phosphorylation and by promoting cell growth. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression, which are often deregulated in leukemia. However, little is known about their role in JMML. Here, we report distinctive miR expression signatures associated with the molecular subgroups of JMML. Among the downregulated miRs in JMML, miR-150-5p was found to target STAT5b, a gene which is often over-activated in JMML, and contributes to the characteristic aberrant signaling of this disorder. Moreover, loss of miR-150-5p and upregulation of STAT5b expression were also identified in a murine model of JMML. Ectopic overexpression of miR-150-5p in mononuclear cells from three JMML patients significantly decreased cell proliferation. Altogether, our data indicate that miR expression is deregulated in JMML and may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disorder by modulating key effectors of cytokine receptor pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5342425PMC
August 2016

Activation of an endothelial Notch1-Jagged1 circuit induces VCAM1 expression, an effect amplified by interleukin-1β.

Oncotarget 2015 Dec;6(41):43216-29

Department of Oncohematology, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

The Notch1 and Notch4 signaling pathways regulate endothelial cell homeostasis. Inflammatory cytokines induce the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules, including VCAM1, partly by downregulating Notch4 signaling. We investigated the role of endothelial Notch1 in this IL-1β-mediated process. Brief treatment with IL-1β upregulated endothelial VCAM1 and Notch ligand Jagged1. IL-1β decreased Notch1 mRNA levels, but levels of the active Notch1ICD protein remained constant. IL-1β-mediated VCAM1 induction was downregulated in endothelial cells subjected to pretreatment with a pharmacological inhibitor of the γ-secretase, which activates Notch receptors, producing NotchICD. It was also downregulated in cells in which Notch1 and/or Jagged1 were silenced.Conversely, the forced expression of Notch1ICD in naïve endothelial cells upregulated VCAM1 per se and amplified IL-1β-mediated VCAM1 induction. Jagged1 levels increased and Notch4 signaling was downregulated in parallel. Finally, Notch1ICD and Jagged1 expression was upregulated in the endothelium of the liver in a model of chronic liver inflammation.In conclusion, we describe here a cell-autonomous, pro-inflammatory endothelial Notch1-Jagged1 circuit (i) triggering the expression of VCAM1 even in the absence of inflammatory cytokines and (ii) enhancing the effects of IL-1β. Thus, IL-1β regulates Notch1 and Notch4 activity in opposite directions, consistent with a selective targeting of Notch1 in inflamed endothelium.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6456DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791227PMC
December 2015

Recent Insights into Notch Signaling in Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Curr Drug Targets 2016 ;17(11):1235-44

Division of Pediatric Hematology- Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine, Box 102382 DUMC, Durham, NC 27710, USA.

The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved developmental network critical for embryonic and postnatal regulation of tissue growth, homeostasis, and repair. Signaling is initiated when transmembrane Notch ligands bind to transmembrane Notch receptors on nearby cells. Sequential proteolytic steps generate an activated Notch fragment that translocates to the nucleus, where it drives activation of canonical Notch target genes. In skeletal muscle, Notch signaling governs myogenic cell fate and stem cell maintenance. In the human soft tissue sarcoma rhabdomyosarcoma, which bears markers of skeletal muscle commitment and so is thought to be related to the skeletal muscle lineage, Notch signaling is also found to be upregulated and dysregulated. This review provides an overview of Notch signaling during normal embryonic and postnatal myogenesis, information on the recently discovered aberrant Notch signaling occurring in muscular dystrophies, the upregulation and mechanism of Notch signaling in the embryonal variant of rhabdomyosarcoma and related soft tissue sarcomas, and Notch cross-talk with other metazoan developmental pathways including Hippo, Hedgehog, Wnt, and TGF-&#946;. The review concludes with updates on current promising efforts to target and inhibit Notch signaling in human sarcomas including rhabdomyosarcoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1389450116666150907105756DOI Listing
August 2017

MicroRNA-101 is repressed by EZH2 and its restoration inhibits tumorigenic features in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.

Clin Epigenetics 2015 6;7:82. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Department of Oncohematology, Laboratory of Angiogenesis, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome, Italy.

Background: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a pediatric soft tissue sarcoma arising from myogenic precursors that have lost their capability to differentiate into skeletal muscle. The polycomb-group protein EZH2 is a Lys27 histone H3 methyltransferase that regulates the balance between cell proliferation and differentiation by epigenetically silencing muscle-specific genes. EZH2 is often over-expressed in several human cancers acting as an oncogene. We previously reported that EZH2 inhibition induces cell cycle arrest followed by myogenic differentiation of RMS cells of the embryonal subtype (eRMS). MiR-101 is a microRNA involved in a negative feedback circuit with EZH2 in different normal and tumor tissues. To that, miR-101 can behave as a tumor suppressor in several cancers by repressing EZH2 expression. We, therefore, evaluated whether miR-101 is de-regulated in eRMS and investigated its interplaying with EZH2 as well as its role in the in vitro tumorigenic potential of these tumor cells.

Results: Herein, we report that miR-101 is down-regulated in eRMS patients and in tumor cell lines compared to their controls showing an inverse pattern of expression with EZH2. We also show that miR-101 is up-regulated in eRMS cells following both genetic and pharmacological inhibition of EZH2. In turn, miR-101 forced expression reduces EZH2 levels as well as restrains the migratory potential of eRMS cells and impairs their clonogenic and anchorage-independent growth capabilities. Finally, EZH2 recruitment to regulatory region of miR-101-2 gene decreases in EZH2-silenced eRMS cells. This phenomenon is associated to reduced H3K27me3 levels at the same regulatory locus, indicating that EZH2 directly targets miR-101 for repression in eRMS cells.

Conclusions: Altogether, our data show that, in human eRMS, miR-101 is involved in a negative feedback loop with EZH2, whose targeting has been previously shown to halt eRMS tumorigenicity. They also demonstrate that the re-induction of miR-101 hampers the tumor features of eRMS cells. In this scenario, epigenetic dysregulations confirm their crucial role in the pathogenesis of this soft tissue sarcoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-015-0107-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4527101PMC
August 2015

Rhabdomyosarcoma: current challenges and their implications for developing therapies.

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2014 Nov 3;4(11):a025650. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) represents a rare, heterogeneous group of mesodermal malignancies with skeletal muscle differentiation. One major subgroup of RMS tumors (so-called "fusion-positive" tumors) carries exclusive chromosomal translocations that join the DNA-binding domain of the PAX3 or PAX7 gene to the transactivation domain of the FOXO1 (previously known as FKHR) gene. Fusion-negative RMS represents a heterogeneous spectrum of tumors with frequent RAS pathway activation. Overtly metastatic disease at diagnosis is more frequently found in individuals with fusion-positive than in those with fusion-negative tumors. RMS is the most common pediatric soft-tissue sarcoma, and approximately 60% of all children and adolescents diagnosed with RMS are cured by currently available multimodal therapies. However, a curative outcome is achieved in <30% of high-risk individuals with RMS, including all those diagnosed as adults, those diagnosed with fusion-positive tumors during childhood (including metastatic and nonmetastatic tumors), and those diagnosed with metastatic disease during childhood (including fusion-positive and fusion-negative tumors). This white paper outlines current challenges in RMS research and their implications for developing more effective therapies. Urgent clinical problems include local control, systemic disease, need for improved risk stratification, and characterization of differences in disease course in children and adults. Biological challenges include definition of the cellular functions of PAX-FOXO1 fusion proteins, clarification of disease heterogeneity, elucidation of the cellular origins of RMS, delineation of the tumor microenvironment, and identification of means for rational selection and testing of new combination therapies. To streamline future therapeutic developments, it will be critical to improve access to fresh tumor tissue for research purposes, consider alternative trial designs to optimize early clinical testing of candidate drugs, coalesce advocacy efforts to garner public and industry support, and facilitate collaborative efforts between academia and industry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a025650DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4208704PMC
November 2014

Hyper-activation of Notch3 amplifies the proliferative potential of rhabdomyosarcoma cells.

PLoS One 2014 5;9(5):e96238. Epub 2014 May 5.

Department of Oncohematology, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, Roma, Italy.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a pediatric myogenic-derived soft tissue sarcoma that includes two major histopathological subtypes: embryonal and alveolar. The majority of alveolar RMS expresses PAX3-FOXO1 fusion oncoprotein, associated with the worst prognosis. RMS cells show myogenic markers expression but are unable to terminally differentiate. The Notch signaling pathway is a master player during myogenesis, with Notch1 activation sustaining myoblast expansion and Notch3 activation inhibiting myoblast fusion and differentiation. Accordingly, Notch1 signaling is up-regulated and activated in embryonal RMS samples and supports the proliferation of tumor cells. However, it is unable to control their differentiation properties. We previously reported that Notch3 is activated in RMS cell lines, of both alveolar and embryonal subtype, and acts by inhibiting differentiation. Moreover, Notch3 depletion reduces PAX3-FOXO1 alveolar RMS tumor growth in vivo. However, whether Notch3 activation also sustains the proliferation of RMS cells remained unclear. To address this question, we forced the expression of the activated form of Notch3, Notch3IC, in the RH30 and RH41 PAX3-FOXO1-positive alveolar and in the RD embryonal RMS cell lines and studied the proliferation of these cells. We show that, in all three cell lines tested, Notch3IC over-expression stimulates in vitro cell proliferation and prevents the effects of pharmacological Notch inhibition. Furthermore, Notch3IC further increases RH30 cell growth in vivo. Interestingly, knockdown of Notch canonical ligands JAG1 or DLL1 in RMS cell lines decreases Notch3 activity and reduces cell proliferation. Finally, the expression of Notch3IC and its target gene HES1 correlates with that of the proliferative marker Ki67 in a small cohort of primary PAX-FOXO1 alveolar RMS samples. These results strongly suggest that high levels of Notch3 activation increase the proliferative potential of RMS cells.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0096238PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010457PMC
June 2015
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