Publications by authors named "Sven T Liffers"

8 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Statins affect cancer cell plasticity with distinct consequences for tumor progression and metastasis.

Cell Rep 2021 Nov;37(8):110056

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen at the University Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany; German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) partner site Essen, Essen, Germany. Electronic address:

Statins are among the most commonly prescribed drugs, and around every fourth person above the age of 40 is on statin medication. Therefore, it is of utmost clinical importance to understand the effect of statins on cancer cell plasticity and its consequences to not only patients with cancer but also patients who are on statins. Here, we find that statins induce a partial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype in cancer cells of solid tumors. Using a comprehensive STRING network analysis of transcriptome, proteome, and phosphoproteome data combined with multiple mechanistic in vitro and functional in vivo analyses, we demonstrate that statins reduce cellular plasticity by enforcing a mesenchymal-like cell state that increases metastatic seeding ability on one side but reduces the formation of (secondary) tumors on the other due to heterogeneous treatment responses. Taken together, we provide a thorough mechanistic overview of the consequences of statin use for each step of cancer development, progression, and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110056DOI Listing
November 2021

Secondary resistance to anti-EGFR therapy by transcriptional reprogramming in patient-derived colorectal cancer models.

Genome Med 2021 07 16;13(1):116. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Background: The development of secondary resistance (SR) in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) treated with anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) antibodies is not fully understood at the molecular level. Here we tested in vivo selection of anti-EGFR SR tumors in CRC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models as a strategy for a molecular dissection of SR mechanisms.

Methods: We analyzed 21 KRAS, NRAS, BRAF, and PI3K wildtype CRC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models for their anti-EGFR sensitivity. Furthermore, 31 anti-EGFR SR tumors were generated via chronic in vivo treatment with cetuximab. A multi-omics approach was employed to address molecular primary and secondary resistance mechanisms. Gene set enrichment analyses were used to uncover SR pathways. Targeted therapy of SR PDX models was applied to validate selected SR pathways.

Results: In vivo anti-EGFR SR could be established with high efficiency. Chronic anti-EGFR treatment of CRC PDX tumors induced parallel evolution of multiple resistant lesions with independent molecular SR mechanisms. Mutations in driver genes explained SR development in a subgroup of CRC PDX models, only. Transcriptional reprogramming inducing anti-EGFR SR was discovered as a common mechanism in CRC PDX models frequently leading to RAS signaling pathway activation. We identified cAMP and STAT3 signaling activation, as well as paracrine and autocrine signaling via growth factors as novel anti-EGFR secondary resistance mechanisms. Secondary resistant xenograft tumors could successfully be treated by addressing identified transcriptional changes by tailored targeted therapies.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that SR PDX tumors provide a unique platform to study molecular SR mechanisms and allow testing of multiple treatments for efficient targeting of SR mechanisms, not possible in the patient. Importantly, it suggests that the development of anti-EGFR tolerant cells via transcriptional reprogramming as a cause of anti-EGFR SR in CRC is likely more prevalent than previously anticipated. It emphasizes the need for analyses of SR tumor tissues at a multi-omics level for a comprehensive molecular understanding of anti-EGFR SR in CRC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-021-00926-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8283888PMC
July 2021

MEK Inhibition Targets Cancer Stem Cells and Impedes Migration of Pancreatic Cancer Cells and .

Stem Cells Int 2019 2;2019:8475389. Epub 2019 Jun 2.

Department of Internal Medicine I, Ulm University, Germany.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains a devastating disease with a very poor prognosis. At the same time, its incidence is on the rise, and PDAC is expected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death by 2030. Despite extensive work on new therapeutic approaches, the median overall survival is only 6-12 months after diagnosis and the 5-year survival is less than 7%. While pancreatic cancer is particularly difficult to treat, patients usually succumb not to the growth of the primary tumor, but to extensive metastasis; therefore, strategies to reduce the migratory and metastatic capacity of pancreatic cancer cells merit close attention. The vast majority of pancreatic cancers harbor RAS mutations. The outstanding relevance of the RAS/MEK/ERK pathway in pancreatic cancer biology has been extensively shown previously. Due to their high dependency on Ras mutations, pancreatic cancers might be particularly sensitive to inhibitors acting downstream of Ras. Herein, we use a genetically engineered mouse model of pancreatic cancer and primary pancreatic cancer cells were derived from this model to demonstrate that small-molecule MEK inhibitors functionally abrogate cancer stem cell populations as demonstrated by reduced sphere and organoid formation capacity. Furthermore, we demonstrate that MEK inhibition suppresses TGF-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and migration and ultimately results in a highly significant reduction in circulating tumor cells in mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2019/8475389DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6589314PMC
June 2019

Salinomycin increases chemosensitivity to the effects of doxorubicin in soft tissue sarcomas.

BMC Cancer 2013 Oct 21;13:490. Epub 2013 Oct 21.

Institute of Pathology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Buerkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Germany.

Background: Chemotherapy for soft tissue sarcomas remains unsatisfactory due to their low chemosensitivity. Even the first line chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin only yields a response rate of 18-29%. The antibiotic salinomycin, a potassium ionophore, has recently been shown to be a potent compound to deplete chemoresistant cells like cancer stem like cells (CSC) in adenocarcinomas. Here, we evaluated the effect of salinomycin on sarcoma cell lines, whereby salinomycin mono- and combination treatment with doxorubicin regimens were analyzed.

Methods: To evaluate the effect of salinomycin on fibrosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and liposarcoma cell lines, cells were drug exposed in single and combined treatments, respectively. The effects of the corresponding treatments were monitored by cell viability assays, cell cycle analysis, caspase 3/7 and 9 activity assays. Further we analyzed NF-κB activity; p53, p21 and PUMA transcription levels, together with p53 expression and serine 15 phosphorylation.

Results: The combination of salinomycin with doxorubicin enhanced caspase activation and increased the sub-G1 fraction. The combined treatment yielded higher NF-κB activity, and p53, p21 and PUMA transcription, whereas the salinomycin monotreatment did not cause any significant changes.

Conclusions: Salinomycin increases the chemosensitivity of sarcoma cell lines - even at sub-lethal concentrations - to the cytostatic drug doxorubicin. These findings support a strategy to decrease the doxorubicin concentration in combination with salinomycin in order to reduce toxic side effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2407-13-490DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854645PMC
October 2013

Global microRNA expression profiling of microdissected tissues identifies miR-135b as a novel biomarker for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Int J Cancer 2012 Jul 19;131(2):E86-95. Epub 2011 Nov 19.

Institute of Pathology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is known for its poor prognosis resulting from being diagnosed at an advanced stage. Accurate early diagnosis and new therapeutic modalities are therefore urgently needed. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), considered a new class of biomarkers and therapeutic targets, may be able to fulfill those needs. Combining tissue microdissection with global miRNA array analyses, cell type-specific miRNA expression profiles were generated for normal pancreatic ductal cells, acinar cells, PDAC cells derived from xenografts and also from macrodissected chronic pancreatitis (CP) tissues. We identified 78 miRNAs differentially expressed between ND and PDAC cells providing new insights into the miRNA-driven pathophysiological mechanisms involved in PDAC development. Having filtered miRNAs which are upregulated in the three pairwise comparisons of PDAC vs. ND, PDAC vs. AZ and PDAC vs. CP, we identified 15 miRNA biomarker candidates including miR-135b. Using relative qRT-PCR to measure miR-135b normalized to miR-24 in 75 FFPE specimens (42 PDAC and 33 CP) covering a broad range of tumor content, we discriminated CP from PDAC with a sensitivity and specificity of 92.9% [95% CI=(80.5, 98.5)] and 93.4% [95% CI=(79.8, 99.3)], respectively. Furthermore, the area under the curve (AUC) value reached of 0.97 was accompanied by positive and negative predictive values of 95% and 91%, respectively. In conclusion, we report pancreatic cell-specific global miRNA profiles, which offer new candidate miRNAs to be exploited for functional studies in PDAC. Furthermore, we provide evidence that miRNAs are well-suited analytes for development of sensitive and specific aid-in-diagnosis tests for PDAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.26466DOI Listing
July 2012

MicroRNA-148a is down-regulated in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas and regulates cell survival by targeting CDC25B.

Lab Invest 2011 Oct 27;91(10):1472-9. Epub 2011 Jun 27.

Institute of Pathology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs: short non-coding RNAs) are emerging as a class of potential novel tumor markers, as their dysregulation is being increasingly reported in various types of cancers. In the present study, we investigated the transcription status of miRNA-148a (miR-148a) in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and its role in the regulation of the dual specificity protein phosphatase CDC25B. We observed that miR-148a exhibited a significant 4-fold down-regulation in PDAC as opposed to normal pancreatic ductal cells. In addition, we observed that stable lentiviral-mediated overexpression of miR-148a in the pancreatic cancer cell line IMIM-PC2, inhibited tumor cell growth and colony formation. Furthermore, CDC25B was identified as a potential target of miR-148a by in silico analysis using PicTar, Targetscan and miRanda in conjunction with gene ontology analysis. The proposed interaction between miR-148a and the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of CDC25B was verified by in-vitro luciferase assays. We demonstrate that the activity of a luciferase reporter containing the 3'UTR of CDC25B was repressed in the presence of miR-148a mimics, confirming that miR-148a targets the 3'UTR of CDC25B. Finally, CDC25B was down-regulated at the protein level in miR-148a overexpressing IMIM-PC2-cells, and in transiently transfected pancreatic cell lines (as detected by Western blot analysis), as well as in patient tumor samples (as detected by immunohistochemistry). In summary, we identified CDC25B as a novel miR-148a target which may confer a proliferative advantage in PDAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/labinvest.2011.99DOI Listing
October 2011

Keratin 23, a novel DPC4/Smad4 target gene which binds 14-3-3ε.

BMC Cancer 2011 Apr 14;11:137. Epub 2011 Apr 14.

Medizinisches Proteom-Center, Ruhr-University Bochum-Zentrum fuer Klinische Forschung, Universitaetsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany.

Background: Inactivating mutations of SMAD4 are frequent in metastatic colorectal carcinomas. In previous analyses, we were able to show that restoration of Smad4 expression in Smad4-deficient SW480 human colon carcinoma cells was adequate to suppress tumorigenicity and invasive potential, whereas in vitro cell growth was not affected. Using this cellular model system, we searched for new Smad4 targets comparing nuclear subproteomes derived from Smad4 re-expressing and Smad4 negative SW480 cells.

Methods: High resolution two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis was applied to identify novel Smad4 targets in the nuclear subproteome of Smad4 re-expressing SW480 cells. The identified candidate protein Keratin 23 was further characterized by tandem affinity purification. Immunoprecipitation, subfractionation and immunolocalization studies in combination with RNAi were used to validate the Keratin 23-14-3-3ε interaction.

Results: We identified keratins 8 and 18, heat shock proteins 60 and 70, plectin 1, as well as 14-3-3ε and γ as novel proteins present in the KRT23-interacting complex. Co-immunoprecipitation and subfractionation analyses as well as immunolocalization studies in our Smad4-SW480 model cells provided further evidence that KRT23 associates with 14-3-3ε and that Smad4 dependent KRT23 up-regulation induces a shift of the 14-3-3ε protein from a nuclear to a cytoplasmic localization.

Conclusion: Based on our findings we propose a new regulatory circuitry involving Smad4 dependent up-regulation of KRT23 (directly or indirectly) which in turn modulates the interaction between KRT23 and 14-3-3ε leading to a cytoplasmic sequestration of 14-3-3ε. This cytoplasmic KRT23-14-3-3 interaction may alter the functional status of the well described 14-3-3 scaffold protein, known to regulate key cellular processes, such as signal transduction, cell cycle control, and apoptosis and may thus be a previously unappreciated facet of the Smad4 tumor suppressive circuitry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2407-11-137DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3095566PMC
April 2011

Unintended spread of a biosafety level 2 recombinant retrovirus.

Retrovirology 2009 Sep 22;6:86. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Department of Molecular and Medical Virology, Ruhr-University Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany.

Background: Contamination of vertebrate cell lines with animal retroviruses has been documented repeatedly before. Although such viral contaminants can be easily identified with high sensitivity by PCR, it is impossible to screen for all potential contaminants. Therefore, we explored two novel methods to identify viral contaminations in cell lines without prior knowledge of the kind of contaminant.

Results: The first hint for the presence of contaminating retroviruses in one of our cell lines was obtained by electron microscopy of exosome-like vesicles released from the supernatants of transfected 293T cells. Random amplification of particle associated RNAs (PAN-PCR) from supernatant of contaminated 293T cells and sequencing of the amplicons revealed several nucleotide sequences showing highest similarity to either murine leukemia virus (MuLV) or squirrel monkey retrovirus (SMRV). Subsequent mass spectrometry analysis confirmed our findings, since we could identify several peptide sequences originating from monkey and murine retroviral proteins. Quantitative PCRs were established for both viruses to test currently cultured cell lines as well as liquid nitrogen frozen cell stocks. Gene fragments for both viruses could be detected in a broad range of permissive cell lines from multiple species. Furthermore, experimental infections of cells negative for these viruses showed that both viruses replicate rapidly to high loads. We decided to further analyze the genomic sequence of the MuLV-like contaminant virus. Surprisingly it was neither identical to MuLV nor to the novel xenotropic MuLV related retrovirus (XMRV) but showed 99% identity to a synthetic retrovirus which was engineered in the 1980s.

Conclusion: The high degree of nucleotide identity suggests unintended spread of a biosafety level 2 recombinant virus, which could also affect the risk assessment of gene-modified organisms released from contaminated cell cultures. The study further indicates that both mass spectrometry and PAN-PCR are powerful methods to identify viral contaminations in cell lines without prior knowledge of the kind of contaminant. Both methods might be useful tools for testing cell lines before using them for critical purposes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1742-4690-6-86DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760500PMC
September 2009
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