Inhibition of signaling between human CXCR4 and zebrafish ligands by the small molecule IT1t impairs the formation of triple-negative breast cancer early metastases in a zebrafish xenograft model
Claudia Tulotta, Cristina Stefanescu, Elena Beletkaia, Jeroen Bussmann, Katsiaryna Tarbashevich, Thomas Schmidt, B. Ewa Snaar-Jagalska
Disease Models & Mechanisms 2016 9:141-153. doi: 10.1242/dmm.023275
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a highly aggressive and recurrent type of breast carcinoma that is associated with poor patient prognosis. Because of the limited efficacy of current treatments, new therapeutic strategies need to be developed. The CXCR4-CXCL12 chemokine signaling axis guides cell migration in physiological and pathological processes, including breast cancer metastasis. Although targeted therapies to inhibit the CXCR4-CXCL12 axis are under clinical experimentation, still no effective therapeutic approaches have been established to block CXCR4 in TNBC. To unravel the role of the CXCR4-CXCL12 axis in the formation of TNBC early metastases, we used the zebrafish xenograft model. Importantly, we demonstrate that cross-communication between the zebrafish and human ligands and receptors takes place and human tumor cells expressing CXCR4 initiate early metastatic events by sensing zebrafish cognate ligands at the metastatic site. Taking advantage of the conserved intercommunication between human tumor cells and the zebrafish host, we blocked TNBC early metastatic events by chemical and genetic inhibition of CXCR4 signaling. We used IT1t, a potent CXCR4 antagonist, and show for the first time its promising anti-tumor effects. In conclusion, we confirm the validity of the zebrafish as a xenotransplantation model and propose a pharmacological approach to target CXCR4 in TNBC.
From drug response profiling to target addiction scoring in cancer cell models
Bhagwan Yadav, Peddinti Gopalacharyulu, Tea Pemovska, Suleiman A. Khan, Agnieszka Szwajda, Jing Tang,Krister Wennerberg, Tero Aittokallio
Disease Models & Mechanisms 2015 8:1255-1264. doi: 10.1242/dmm.02110
Deconvoluting the molecular target signals behind observed drug response phenotypes is an important part of phenotype-based drug discovery and repurposing efforts. We demonstrate here how our network-based deconvolution approach, named target addiction score (TAS), provides insights into the functional importance of druggable protein targets in cell-based drug sensitivity testing experiments. Using cancer cell line profiling data sets, we constructed a functional classification across 107 cancer cell models, based on their common and unique target addiction signatures. The pan-cancer addiction correlations could not be explained by the tissue of origin, and only correlated in part with molecular and genomic signatures of the heterogeneous cancer cells. The TAS-based cancer cell classification was also shown to be robust to drug response data resampling, as well as predictive of the transcriptomic patterns in an independent set of cancer cells that shared similar addiction signatures with the 107 cancers. The critical protein targets identified by the integrated approach were also shown to have clinically relevant mutation frequencies in patients with various cancer subtypes, including not only well-established pan-cancer genes, such as PTEN tumor suppressor, but also a number of targets that are less frequently mutated in specific cancer types, including ABL1 oncoprotein in acute myeloid leukemia. An application to leukemia patient primary cell models demonstrated how the target deconvolution approach offers functional insights into patient-specific addiction patterns, such as those indicative of their receptor-type tyrosine-protein kinase FLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) status and co-addiction partners, which may lead to clinically actionable, personalized drug treatment developments. To promote its application to the future drug testing studies, we have made available an open-source implementation of the TAS calculation in the form of a stand-alone R package.