Gene Summary

Gene:IL2RG; interleukin 2 receptor subunit gamma
Aliases: P64, CIDX, IMD4, CD132, SCIDX, IL-2RG, SCIDX1
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is an important signaling component of many interleukin receptors, including those of interleukin -2, -4, -7 and -21, and is thus referred to as the common gamma chain. Mutations in this gene cause X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID), as well as X-linked combined immunodeficiency (XCID), a less severe immunodeficiency disorder. [provided by RefSeq, Mar 2010]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cytokine receptor common subunit gamma
Source:NCBIAccessed: 13 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (16)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (5)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 13 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Leukemic Gene Expression Regulation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Cell Survival
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Lung Cancer
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets
  • X Chromosome
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Apoptosis
  • bcl-X Protein
  • Leukaemia
  • Western Blotting
  • Messenger RNA
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Mutation
  • Immunophenotyping
  • RNA Interference
  • Signal Transduction
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7
  • Cancer Stem Cells
  • Interleukin Receptor Common gamma Subunit
  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Knockout Mice
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Cell Line
  • Virus Integration
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Drug Resistance
  • Cultured Cells
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • SCID
  • Childhood Cancer
Tag cloud generated 13 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (3)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: IL2RG (cancer-related)

Williams MT, Yousafzai YM, Elder A, et al.
The ability to cross the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier is a generic property of acute lymphoblastic leukemia blasts.
Blood. 2016; 127(16):1998-2006 [PubMed] Related Publications
Prevention of central nervous system (CNS) relapse is critical for cure of childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). Despite this, mechanisms of CNS infiltration are poorly understood, and the timing, frequency, and properties of BCP-ALL blasts entering the CNS compartment are unknown. We investigated the CNS-engrafting potential of BCP-ALL cells xenotransplanted into immunodeficient NOD.Cg- ITALIC! Prkdc (ITALIC! scid) ITALIC! Il2rg (ITALIC! tm1Wjl)/SzJ mice. CNS engraftment was seen in 23 of 29 diagnostic samples (79%): 2 of 2 from patients with overt CNS disease and 21 of 27 from patients thought to be CNS negative by diagnostic lumbar puncture. Histologic findings mimic human pathology and demonstrate that leukemic cells transit the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier situated close to the dural sinuses, the site of recently discovered CNS lymphatics. Retrieval of blasts from the CNS showed no evidence for chemokine receptor-mediated selective trafficking. The high frequency of infiltration and lack of selective trafficking led us to postulate that CNS tropism is a generic property of leukemic cells. To test this, we performed serial dilution experiments which showed CNS engraftment in 5 of 6 mice after transplant of as few as 10 leukemic cells. Clonal tracking techniques confirmed the polyclonal nature of CNS-infiltrating cells, with multiple clones engrafting in both the CNS and periphery. Overall, these findings suggest that subclinical seeding of the CNS is likely to be present in most BCP-ALL patients at original diagnosis, and efforts to prevent CNS relapse should concentrate on effective eradication of disease from this site rather than targeting entry mechanisms.

Zhou J, Wang W, Xie Y, et al.
Proteomics-Based Identification and Analysis of Proteins Associated with Helicobacter pylori in Gastric Cancer.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(1):e0146521 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a spiral-shaped Gram-negative bacterium that causes the most common chronic infection in the human stomach. Approximately 1%-3% of infected individuals develop gastric cancer. However, the mechanisms by which H. pylori induces gastric cancer are not completely understood. The available evidence indicates a strong link between the virulence factor of H. pylori, cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA), and gastric cancer. To further characterize H. pylori virulence, we established three cell lines by infecting the gastric cancer cell lines SGC-7901 and AGS with cagA+ H. pylori and transfecting SGC-7901 with a vector carrying the full-length cagA gene. We detected 135 differently expressed proteins from the three cell lines using proteome technology, and 10 differential proteins common to the three cell lines were selected and identified by LC-MS/MS as well as verified by western blot: β-actin, L-lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (DLD), pre-mRNA-processing factor 19 homolog (PRPF19), ATP synthase, calmodulin (CaM), p64 CLCP, Ran-specific GTPase-activating protein (RanGAP), P43 and calreticulin. Detection of the expression of these proteins and genes encoding these proteins in human gastric cancer tissues by real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) and western blot revealed that the expression of β-ACTIN, LDH, DLD, PRPF19 and CaM genes were up-regulated and RanGAP was down-regulated in gastric cancer tissues and/or metastatic lymph nodes compared to peri-cancerous tissues. High gene expression was observed for H. pylori infection in gastric cancer tissues. Furthermore, the LDH, DLD and CaM genes were demethylated at the promoter -2325, -1885 and -276 sites, respectively, and the RanGAP gene was highly methylated at the promoter -570 and -170 sites in H. pylori-infected and cagA-overexpressing cells. These results provide new insights into the molecular pathogenesis and treatment targets for gastric cancer with H. pylori infection.

Willerslev-Olsen A, Krejsgaard T, Lindahl LM, et al.
Staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA) stimulates STAT3 activation and IL-17 expression in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
Blood. 2016; 127(10):1287-96 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is characterized by proliferation of malignant T cells in a chronic inflammatory environment. With disease progression, bacteria colonize the compromised skin barrier and half of CTCL patients die of infection rather than from direct organ involvement by the malignancy. Clinical data indicate that bacteria play a direct role in disease progression, but little is known about the mechanisms involved. Here, we demonstrate that bacterial isolates containing staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA) from the affected skin of CTCL patients, as well as recombinant SEA, stimulate activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and upregulation of interleukin (IL)-17 in immortalized and primary patient-derived malignant and nonmalignant T cells. Importantly, SEA induces STAT3 activation and IL-17 expression in malignant T cells when cocultured with nonmalignant T cells, indicating an indirect mode of action. In accordance, malignant T cells expressing an SEA-nonresponsive T-cell receptor variable region β chain are nonresponsive to SEA in monoculture but display strong STAT3 activation and IL-17 expression in cocultures with SEA-responsive nonmalignant T cells. The response is induced via IL-2 receptor common γ chain cytokines and a Janus kinase 3 (JAK3)-dependent pathway in malignant T cells, and blocked by tofacitinib, a clinical-grade JAK3 inhibitor. In conclusion, we demonstrate that SEA induces cell cross talk-dependent activation of STAT3 and expression of IL-17 in malignant T cells, suggesting a mechanism whereby SEA-producing bacteria promote activation of an established oncogenic pathway previously implicated in carcinogenesis.

Hopkins TG, Mura M, Al-Ashtal HA, et al.
The RNA-binding protein LARP1 is a post-transcriptional regulator of survival and tumorigenesis in ovarian cancer.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2016; 44(3):1227-46 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are increasingly identified as post-transcriptional drivers of cancer progression. The RBP LARP1 is an mRNA stability regulator, and elevated expression of the protein in hepatocellular and lung cancers is correlated with adverse prognosis. LARP1 associates with an mRNA interactome that is enriched for oncogenic transcripts. Here we explore the role of LARP1 in epithelial ovarian cancer, a disease characterized by the rapid acquisition of resistance to chemotherapy through the induction of pro-survival signalling. We show, using ovarian cell lines and xenografts, that LARP1 is required for cancer cell survival and chemotherapy resistance. LARP1 promotes tumour formation in vivo and maintains cancer stem cell-like populations. Using transcriptomic analysis following LARP1 knockdown, cross-referenced against the LARP1 interactome, we identify BCL2 and BIK as LARP1 mRNA targets. We demonstrate that, through an interaction with the 3' untranslated regions (3' UTRs) of BCL2 and BIK, LARP1 stabilizes BCL2 but destabilizes BIK with the net effect of resisting apoptosis. Together, our data indicate that by differentially regulating the stability of a selection of mRNAs, LARP1 promotes ovarian cancer progression and chemotherapy resistance.

Valletta S, Dolatshad H, Bartenstein M, et al.
ASXL1 mutation correction by CRISPR/Cas9 restores gene function in leukemia cells and increases survival in mouse xenografts.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(42):44061-71 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recurrent somatic mutations of the epigenetic modifier and tumor suppressor ASXL1 are common in myeloid malignancies, including chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and are associated with poor clinical outcome. CRISPR/Cas9 has recently emerged as a powerful and versatile genome editing tool for genome engineering in various species. We have used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to correct the ASXL1 homozygous nonsense mutation present in the CML cell line KBM5, which lacks ASXL1 protein expression. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ASXL1 homozygous correction resulted in protein re-expression with restored normal function, including down-regulation of Polycomb repressive complex 2 target genes. Significantly reduced cell growth and increased myeloid differentiation were observed in ASXL1 mutation-corrected cells, providing new insights into the role of ASXL1 in human myeloid cell differentiation. Mice xenografted with mutation-corrected KBM5 cells showed significantly longer survival than uncorrected xenografts. These results show that the sole correction of a driver mutation in leukemia cells increases survival in vivo in mice. This study provides proof-of-concept for driver gene mutation correction via CRISPR/Cas9 technology in human leukemia cells and presents a strategy to illuminate the impact of oncogenic mutations on cellular function and survival.

Ji MH, Kim SK, Kim CY, et al.
Physiological Expression and Accumulation of the Products of Two Upstream Open Reading Frames mrtl and MycHex1 Along With p64 and p67 Myc From the Human c-myc Locus.
J Cell Biochem. 2016; 117(6):1407-18 [PubMed] Related Publications
In addition to the canonical c-Myc p64 and p67 proteins, the human c-myc locus encodes two distinct proteins, mrtl (myc-related translation/localization regulatory factor) and MycHex1 (Myc Human Exon 1), from the upstream open reading frames within the 5'-untranslated region of the c-myc P0 mRNA. The aim of this study is to examine simultaneously, for the first time, mrtl, MycHex1, c-Myc p64, and p67 in human tumor cell lines and pediatric brain tumor tissues. Western blot analysis demonstrated endogenous mrtl, MycHex1, c-Myc p64, and p67 simultaneously. The relative abundance of mrtl and MycHex1 were consistent among a variety of human tumor cell lines, and the relative intensities of mrtl and MycHex1 correlated positively. Confocal imaging revealed mrtl predominantly localized to the nuclear envelope, along with prominent reticular pattern in the cytoplasm. MycHex1 was observed as a series of bright foci located within the nucleus, a subset of which colocalized with fibrillarin. mrtl and MycHex1 co-immunoprecipitated with RACK1, c-Myc, fibrillarin, coilin, and with each other. These findings suggest that mrtl and MycHex1 have multiple interaction partners in both the nucleus and cytoplasm. Sequence analyses confirmed a known polymorphism of mrtl at base 1965 (G>T) and new mutations at bases 1900 (C>G) and 1798 (C>G). Evidence is presented for expression and stable accumulation of all four proteins encoded by three distinct non-overlapping open reading frames within the human c-myc locus. Additional work is warranted to further elucidate the functional or regulatory roles of these molecules in regulation of c-Myc and in oncogenesis.

Wang L, Ni X, Covington KR, et al.
Genomic profiling of Sézary syndrome identifies alterations of key T cell signaling and differentiation genes.
Nat Genet. 2015; 47(12):1426-34 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Sézary syndrome is a rare leukemic form of cutaneous T cell lymphoma characterized by generalized redness, scaling, itching and increased numbers of circulating atypical T lymphocytes. It is rarely curable, with poor prognosis. Here we present a multiplatform genomic analysis of 37 patients with Sézary syndrome that implicates dysregulation of cell cycle checkpoint and T cell signaling. Frequent somatic alterations were identified in TP53, CARD11, CCR4, PLCG1, CDKN2A, ARID1A, RPS6KA1 and ZEB1. Activating CCR4 and CARD11 mutations were detected in nearly one-third of patients. ZEB1, encoding a transcription repressor essential for T cell differentiation, was deleted in over one-half of patients. IL32 and IL2RG were overexpressed in nearly all cases. Our results demonstrate profound disruption of key signaling pathways in Sézary syndrome and suggest potential targets for new therapies.

Simpson HM, Khan RZ, Song C, et al.
Concurrent Mutations in ATM and Genes Associated with Common γ Chain Signaling in Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(11):e0141906 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Peripheral T cell lymphoma (PTCL) is a heterogeneous malignancy with poor response to current therapeutic strategies and incompletely characterized genetics. We conducted whole exome sequencing of matched PTCL and non-malignant samples from 12 patients, spanning 8 subtypes, to identify potential oncogenic mutations in PTCL. Analysis of the mutations identified using computational algorithms, CHASM, PolyPhen2, PROVEAN, and MutationAssessor to predict the impact of these mutations on protein function and PTCL tumorigenesis, revealed 104 somatic mutations that were selected as high impact by all four algorithms. Our analysis identified recurrent somatic missense or nonsense mutations in 70 genes, 9 of which contained mutations predicted significant by all 4 algorithms: ATM, RUNX1T1, WDR17, NTRK3, TP53, TRMT12, CACNA2D1, INTS8, and KCNH8. We observed somatic mutations in ATM (ataxia telangiectasia-mutated) in 5 out of the 12 samples and mutations in the common gamma chain (γc) signaling pathway (JAK3, IL2RG, STAT5B) in 3 samples, all of which also harbored mutations in ATM. Our findings contribute insights into the genetics of PTCL and suggest a relationship between γc signaling and ATM in T cell malignancy.

Pham LV, Lu G, Tamayo AT, et al.
Establishment and characterization of a novel MYC/BCL2 "double-hit" diffuse large B cell lymphoma cell line, RC.
J Hematol Oncol. 2015; 8:121 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of lymphoid malignancy worldwide. Approximately 5 % of cases of DLBCL are so-called double-hit lymphomas (DHL), defined by a chromosomal translocation or rearrangement involving MYC/8q24.2 in combination with another recurrent breakpoint, usually BCL2/18q21.3. Patients with MYC/BCL2 DHL are resistant to standard front-line therapy, and currently, there is no consensus for a therapeutic strategy to treat these patients. Lack of clinically relevant or validated human experimental DHL models of any type that would improve our understanding of the biologic basis of MYC/BCL2 DHL pathophysiology continues to hamper identification of valid therapeutic targets. We describe a unique MYC/BCL2 DHL cell line with morphologic features of DLBCL that we have established, designated as RC.
METHODS: We used tissue culture techniques to establish the RC cell line from primary DLBCL cells. We also utilized molecular and cellular biological techniques including flow cytometry, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA fingerprinting, reverse-phase protein array, conventional cytogenetics, and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis to characterize the RC cell line. NSG-severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice were utilized as a model for xeno-transplantation of RC cells.
RESULTS: RC cells had the following immunophenotype: positive for CD10, CD19, CD20, CD22, CD38, CD43, CD44, and CD79b and negative for CD3, CD4, CD5, CD8, CD11c, CD14, CD30, CD56, and CD200, which was identical to the primary tumor cells. Conventional cytogenetic analysis showed a t(2;8)(p12;q24.2) and t(14;18)(q32;q21.3), corresponding to MYC and BCL2 gene rearrangements, respectively. DNA fingerprinting authenticated the RC cell line to be of the same clone as the primary tumor cells. In addition, RC cells were established in SCID mice as an in vivo model for translational therapeutics studies. Proteomic analysis showed activation of the mTOR signaling pathway in RC cells that can be targeted with an mTOR inhibitor.
CONCLUSION: The data presented confirm the validity of the RC cell line as a representative model of MYC/BCL2 DHL that will be useful for both in vitro and in vivo studies of DHL pathogenesis and therapeutics.

Piskounova E, Agathocleous M, Murphy MM, et al.
Oxidative stress inhibits distant metastasis by human melanoma cells.
Nature. 2015; 527(7577):186-91 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Solid cancer cells commonly enter the blood and disseminate systemically, but are highly inefficient at forming distant metastases for poorly understood reasons. Here we studied human melanomas that differed in their metastasis histories in patients and in their capacity to metastasize in NOD-SCID-Il2rg(-/-) (NSG) mice. We show that melanomas had high frequencies of cells that formed subcutaneous tumours, but much lower percentages of cells that formed tumours after intravenous or intrasplenic transplantation, particularly among inefficiently metastasizing melanomas. Melanoma cells in the blood and visceral organs experienced oxidative stress not observed in established subcutaneous tumours. Successfully metastasizing melanomas underwent reversible metabolic changes during metastasis that increased their capacity to withstand oxidative stress, including increased dependence on NADPH-generating enzymes in the folate pathway. Antioxidants promoted distant metastasis in NSG mice. Folate pathway inhibition using low-dose methotrexate, ALDH1L2 knockdown, or MTHFD1 knockdown inhibited distant metastasis without significantly affecting the growth of subcutaneous tumours in the same mice. Oxidative stress thus limits distant metastasis by melanoma cells in vivo.

Sharma N, Nanta R, Sharma J, et al.
PI3K/AKT/mTOR and sonic hedgehog pathways cooperate together to inhibit human pancreatic cancer stem cell characteristics and tumor growth.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(31):32039-60 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) play major roles in cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis. It is evident from growing reports that PI3K/Akt/mTOR and Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathways are aberrantly reactivated in pancreatic CSCs. Here, we examined the efficacy of combining NVP-LDE-225 (PI3K/mTOR inhibitor) and NVP-BEZ-235 (Smoothened inhibitor) on pancreatic CSCs characteristics, microRNA regulatory network, and tumor growth. NVP-LDE-225 co-operated with NVP-BEZ-235 in inhibiting pancreatic CSC's characteristics and tumor growth in mice by acting at the level of Gli. Combination of NVP-LDE-225 and NVP-BEZ-235 inhibited self-renewal capacity of CSCs by suppressing the expression of pluripotency maintaining factors Nanog, Oct-4, Sox-2 and c-Myc, and transcription of Gli. NVP-LDE-225 co-operated with NVP-BEZ-235 to inhibit Lin28/Let7a/Kras axis in pancreatic CSCs. Furthermore, a superior interaction of these drugs was observed on spheroid formation by pancreatic CSCs isolated from Pankras/p53 mice. The combination of these drugs also showed superior effects on the expression of proteins involved in cell proliferation, survival and apoptosis. In addition, NVP-LDE-225 co-operated with NVP-BEZ-235 in inhibiting EMT through modulation of cadherin, vimentin and transcription factors Snail, Slug and Zeb1. In conclusion, these data suggest that the combined inhibition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR and Shh pathways may be beneficial for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Kuramitsu S, Ohno M, Ohka F, et al.
Lenalidomide enhances the function of chimeric antigen receptor T cells against the epidermal growth factor receptor variant III by enhancing immune synapses.
Cancer Gene Ther. 2015; 22(10):487-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
The epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) is exclusively expressed on the cell surface in ~50% of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This variant strongly and persistently activates the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt signaling pathway in a ligand-independent manner resulting in enhanced tumorigenicity, cellular motility and resistance to chemoradiotherapy. Our group generated a recombinant single-chain variable fragment (scFv) antibody specific to the EGFRvIII, referred to as 3C10-scFv. In the current study, we constructed a lentiviral vector transducing the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that consisted of 3C10-scFv, CD3ζ, CD28 and 4-1BB (3C10-CAR). The 3C10-CAR-transduced peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and CD3(+) T cells specifically lysed the glioma cells that express EGFRvIII. Moreover, we demonstrated that CAR CD3(+) T cells migrated to the intracranial xenograft of GBM in the mice treated with 3C10-CAR PBMCs. An important and novel finding of our study was that a thalidomide derivative lenalidomide induced 3C10-CAR PBMC proliferation and enhanced the persistent antitumor effect of the cells in vivo. Lenalidomide also exhibited enhanced immunological synapses between the effector cells and the target cells as determined by CD11a and F-actin polymerization. Collectively, lentiviral-mediated transduction of CAR effectors targeting the EGFRvIII showed specific efficacy, and lenalidomide even intensified CAR cell therapy by enhanced formation of immunological synapses.

Park H, Cho SY, Kim H, et al.
Genomic alterations in BCL2L1 and DLC1 contribute to drug sensitivity in gastric cancer.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(40):12492-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gastric cancer (GC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Recent high-throughput analyses of genomic alterations revealed several driver genes and altered pathways in GC. However, therapeutic applications from genomic data are limited, largely as a result of the lack of druggable molecular targets and preclinical models for drug selection. To identify new therapeutic targets for GC, we performed array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) of DNA from 103 patients with GC for copy number alteration (CNA) analysis, and whole-exome sequencing from 55 GCs from the same patients for mutation profiling. Pathway analysis showed recurrent alterations in the Wnt signaling [APC, CTNNB1, and DLC1 (deleted in liver cancer 1)], ErbB signaling (ERBB2, PIK3CA, and KRAS), and p53 signaling/apoptosis [TP53 and BCL2L1 (BCL2-like 1)] pathways. In 18.4% of GC cases (19/103), amplification of the antiapoptotic gene BCL2L1 was observed, and subsequently a BCL2L1 inhibitor was shown to markedly decrease cell viability in BCL2L1-amplified cell lines and in similarly altered patient-derived GC xenografts, especially when combined with other chemotherapeutic agents. In 10.9% of cases (6/55), mutations in DLC1 were found and were also shown to confer a growth advantage for these cells via activation of Rho-ROCK signaling, rendering these cells more susceptible to a ROCK inhibitor. Taken together, our study implicates BCL2L1 and DLC1 as potential druggable targets for specific subsets of GC cases.

Zhang M, Mathews Griner LA, Ju W, et al.
Selective targeting of JAK/STAT signaling is potentiated by Bcl-xL blockade in IL-2-dependent adult T-cell leukemia.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(40):12480-5 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) develops in individuals infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1). Presently there is no curative therapy for ATL. HTLV-1-encoded protein Tax (transactivator from the X-gene region) up-regulates Bcl-xL (B-cell lymphoma-extra large) expression and activates interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-9, and IL-15 autocrine/paracrine systems, resulting in amplified JAK/STAT signaling. Inhibition of JAK signaling reduces cytokine-dependent ex vivo proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from ATL patients in smoldering/chronic stages. Currently, two JAK inhibitors are approved for human use. In this study, we examined activity of multiple JAK inhibitors in ATL cell lines. The selective JAK inhibitor ruxolitinib was examined in a high-throughput matrix screen combined with >450 potential therapeutic agents, and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor navitoclax was identified as a strong candidate for multicomponent therapy. The combination was noted to strongly activate BAX (Bcl-2-associated X protein), effect mitochondrial depolarization, and increase caspase 3/7 activities that lead to cleavage of PARP (poly ADP ribose polymerase) and Mcl-1 (myeloid cell leukemia 1). Ruxolitinib and navitoclax independently demonstrated modest antitumor efficacy, whereas the combination dramatically lowered tumor burden and prolonged survival in an ATL murine model. This combination strongly blocked ex vivo proliferation of five ATL patients' PBMCs. These studies provide support for a therapeutic trial in patients with smoldering/chronic ATL using a drug combination that inhibits JAK signaling and antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL.

Ramsdale R, Jorissen RN, Li FZ, et al.
The transcription cofactor c-JUN mediates phenotype switching and BRAF inhibitor resistance in melanoma.
Sci Signal. 2015; 8(390):ra82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Most patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma display remarkable but incomplete and short-lived responses to inhibitors of the BRAF kinase or the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK), collectively BRAF/MEK inhibitors. We found that inherent resistance to these agents in BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma cell lines was associated with high abundance of c-JUN and characteristics of a mesenchymal-like phenotype. Early drug adaptation in drug-sensitive cell lines grown in culture or as xenografts, and in patient samples during therapy, was consistently characterized by down-regulation of SPROUTY4 (a negative feedback regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases and the BRAF-MEK signaling pathway), increased expression of JUN and reduced expression of LEF1. This coincided with a switch in phenotype that resembled an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In cultured cells, these BRAF inhibitor-induced changes were reversed upon removal of the drug. Knockdown of SPROUTY4 was sufficient to increase the abundance of c-JUN in the absence of drug treatment. Overexpressing c-JUN in drug-naïve melanoma cells induced similar EMT-like phenotypic changes to BRAF inhibitor treatment, whereas knocking down JUN abrogated the BRAF inhibitor-induced early adaptive changes associated with resistance and enhanced cell death. Combining the BRAF inhibitor with an inhibitor of c-JUN amino-terminal kinase (JNK) reduced c-JUN phosphorylation, decreased cell migration, and increased cell death in melanoma cells. Gene expression data from a panel of melanoma cell lines and a patient cohort showed that JUN expression correlated with a mesenchymal gene signature, implicating c-JUN as a key mediator of the mesenchymal-like phenotype associated with drug resistance.

Arva NC, Schafernak KT
Rare Presentations of Epstein-Barr Virus--Associated Smooth Muscle Tumor in Children.
Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2016 Mar-Apr; 19(2):132-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has oncogenic potential and has been implicated in the etiology of a wide range of malignancies. Certain EBV-driven neoplasms, such as smooth muscle tumors (SMTs), manifest typically in immunocompromised patients. In children, these neoplasms have been encountered in the setting of primary immune disorders, specifically severe combined and common variable immunodeficiency syndromes. Human immunodeficiency virus infection and posttransplant immunosuppression, in particular liver and kidney transplantation, likewise increase the risk in the pediatric population. The location of these neoplasms appears related to the type of immunodeficiency: in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome they are frequently located intracranially or intraspinally, whereas after transplant they usually involve the liver or lung. We report 2 distinct cases of EBV-related SMT, unique through their coassociated immunosuppressive state or location: the 1st occurred in a patient with immunodeficiency secondary to NEMO gene mutation following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; the 2nd developed in the orbit after heart transplant.

Wong SH, Goode DL, Iwasaki M, et al.
The H3K4-Methyl Epigenome Regulates Leukemia Stem Cell Oncogenic Potential.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 28(2):198-209 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The genetic programs that maintain leukemia stem cell (LSC) self-renewal and oncogenic potential have been well defined; however, the comprehensive epigenetic landscape that sustains LSC cellular identity and functionality is less well established. We report that LSCs in MLL-associated leukemia reside in an epigenetic state of relative genome-wide high-level H3K4me3 and low-level H3K79me2. LSC differentiation is associated with reversal of these broad epigenetic profiles, with concomitant downregulation of crucial MLL target genes and the LSC maintenance transcriptional program that is driven by the loss of H3K4me3, but not H3K79me2. The H3K4-specific demethylase KDM5B negatively regulates leukemogenesis in murine and human MLL-rearranged AML cells, demonstrating a crucial role for the H3K4 global methylome in determining LSC fate.

Sanmamed MF, Rodriguez I, Schalper KA, et al.
Nivolumab and Urelumab Enhance Antitumor Activity of Human T Lymphocytes Engrafted in Rag2-/-IL2Rγnull Immunodeficient Mice.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(17):3466-78 [PubMed] Related Publications
A current pressing need in cancer immunology is the development of preclinical model systems that are immunocompetent for the study of human tumors. Here, we report the development of a humanized murine model that can be used to analyze the pharmacodynamics and antitumor properties of immunostimulatory monoclonal antibodies (mAb) in settings where the receptors targeted by the mAbs are expressed. Human lymphocytes transferred into immunodeficient mice underwent activation and redistribution to murine organs, where they exhibited cell-surface expression of hCD137 and hPD-1. Systemic lymphocyte infiltrations resulted in a lethal CD4(+) T cell-mediated disease (xenograft-versus-host disease), which was aggravated when murine subjects were administered clinical-grade anti-hCD137 (urelumab) and anti-hPD-1 (nivolumab). In mice engrafted with human colorectal HT-29 carcinoma cells and allogeneic human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), or with a patient-derived gastric carcinoma and PBMCs from the same patient, we found that coadministration of urelumab and nivolumab was sufficient to significantly slow tumor growth. Correlated with this result were increased numbers of activated human T lymphocytes producing IFNγ and decreased numbers of human regulatory T lymphocytes in the tumor xenografts, possibly explaining the efficacy of the therapeutic regimen. Our results offer a proof of concept for the use of humanized mouse models for surrogate efficacy and histology investigations of immune checkpoint drugs and their combinations.

Chandran SS, Paria BC, Srivastava AK, et al.
Tumor-Specific Effector CD8+ T Cells That Can Establish Immunological Memory in Humans after Adoptive Transfer Are Marked by Expression of IL7 Receptor and c-myc.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(16):3216-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The optimal T-cell attributes for adoptive cancer immunotherapy are unclear. Recent clinical trials of ex vivo-expanded tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes indicated that differentiated T effector cells can elicit durable antitumor responses in some patients with cancer, with their antitumor activity tightly correlated with their persistence in the host. Thus, there is great interest in the definition of intrinsic biomarkers that can predict the conversion of short-lived tumor antigen-specific T effector cells into long-lived T memory cells. Long-term persistence of ex vivo-expanded tumor-specific CD8+ T effector clones has been reported in refractory metastatic melanoma patients after adoptive T-cell transfer. By using highly homogeneous clone populations from these preparations, we performed a comparative transcriptional profiling to define preinfusion molecular attributes that can be ascribed to an effector-to-memory transition. Through this route, we discovered that preinfusion T-cell clones that expressed the IL7 receptor (IL7R) and c-myc were more likely to persist longer after adoptive transfer to patients. The predictive value of these two biomarkers was strengthened by using IL7R protein, IL7-induced pSTAT5, and c-myc mRNA expression to prospectively identify human tumor-specific T effector clones capable of engraftment into immunodeficient mice. Overall, our findings reveal IL7R and c-myc expression as intrinsic biomarkers that can predict the fate of CD8+ T effector cells after adoptive transfer.

Furlow PW, Zhang S, Soong TD, et al.
Mechanosensitive pannexin-1 channels mediate microvascular metastatic cell survival.
Nat Cell Biol. 2015; 17(7):943-52 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
During metastatic progression, circulating cancer cells become lodged within the microvasculature of end organs, where most die from mechanical deformation. Although this phenomenon was first described over a half-century ago, the mechanisms enabling certain cells to survive this metastasis-suppressive barrier remain unknown. By applying whole-transcriptome RNA-sequencing technology to isogenic cancer cells of differing metastatic capacities, we identified a mutation encoding a truncated form of the pannexin-1 (PANX1) channel, PANX1(1-89), as recurrently enriched in highly metastatic breast cancer cells. PANX1(1-89) functions to permit metastatic cell survival during traumatic deformation in the microvasculature by augmenting ATP release from mechanosensitive PANX1 channels activated by membrane stretch. PANX1-mediated ATP release acts as an autocrine suppressor of deformation-induced apoptosis through P2Y-purinergic receptors. Finally, small-molecule therapeutic inhibition of PANX1 channels is found to reduce the efficiency of breast cancer metastasis. These data suggest a molecular basis for metastatic cell survival on microvasculature-induced biomechanical trauma.

Lamhamedi-Cherradi SE, Menegaz BA, Ramamoorthy V, et al.
An Oral Formulation of YK-4-279: Preclinical Efficacy and Acquired Resistance Patterns in Ewing Sarcoma.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2015; 14(7):1591-604 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ewing sarcoma is a transcription factor-mediated pediatric bone tumor caused by a chromosomal translocation of the EWSR1 gene and one of several genes in the ETS family of transcription factors, typically FLI1 or ERG. Full activity of the resulting oncogenic fusion protein occurs only after binding RNA helicase A (RHA), and novel biologically targeted small molecules designed to interfere with that interaction have shown early promise in the preclinical setting. Herein, we demonstrate marked preclinical antineoplastic activity of an orally bioavailable formulation of YK-4-279 and identify mechanisms of acquired chemotherapy resistance that may be exploited to induce collateral sensitivity. Daily enteral administration of YK-4-279 led to significant delay in Ewing sarcoma tumor growth within a murine model. In advance of anticipated early-phase human clinical trials, we investigated both de novo and acquired mechanism(s) by which Ewing sarcoma cells evade YK-4-279-mediated cell death. Drug-resistant clones, formed by chronic in vitro exposure to steadily increased levels of YK-4-279, overexpressed c-Kit, cyclin D1, pStat3(Y705), and PKC isoforms. Interestingly, cross-resistance to imatinib and enzastaurin (selective inhibitors of c-Kit and PKC-β, respectively), was observed and the use of YK-4-279 with enzastaurin in vitro led to marked drug synergy, suggesting a potential role for combination therapies in the future. By advancing an oral formulation of YK-4-279 and identifying prominent mechanisms of resistance, this preclinical research takes us one step closer to a shared goal of curing adolescents and young adults afflicted by Ewing sarcoma.

Alonso S, Su M, Jones JW, et al.
Human bone marrow niche chemoprotection mediated by cytochrome P450 enzymes.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(17):14905-12 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Substantial evidence now demonstrates that interactions between the tumor microenvironment and malignant cells are a critical component of clinical drug resistance. However, the mechanisms responsible for microenvironment-mediated chemoprotection remain unclear. We showed that bone marrow (BM) stromal cytochrome P450 (CYP)26 enzymes protect normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from the pro-differentiation effects of retinoic acid. Here, we investigated if stromal expression of CYPs is a general mechanism of chemoprotection. We found that similar to human hepatocytes, human BM-derived stromal cells expressed a variety of drug-metabolizing enzymes. CYP3A4, the liver's major drug-metabolizing enzyme, was at least partially responsible for BM stroma's ability to protect multiple myeloma (MM) and leukemia cells from bortezomib and etoposide, respectively, both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, clarithromycin overcame stromal-mediated MM resistance to dexamethasone, suggesting that CYP3A4 inhibition plays a role in its ability to augment the activity of lenalidomide and dexamethasone as part of the BiRd regimen. We uncovered a novel mechanism of microenvironment-mediated drug resistance, whereby the BM niche creates a sanctuary site from drugs. Targeting these sanctuaries holds promise for eliminating minimal residual tumor and improving cancer outcomes.

Morton JJ, Bird G, Keysar SB, et al.
XactMice: humanizing mouse bone marrow enables microenvironment reconstitution in a patient-derived xenograft model of head and neck cancer.
Oncogene. 2016; 35(3):290-300 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The limitations of cancer cell lines have led to the development of direct patient-derived xenograft models. However, the interplay between the implanted human cancer cells and recruited mouse stromal and immune cells alters the tumor microenvironment and limits the value of these models. To overcome these constraints, we have developed a technique to expand human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) and use them to reconstitute the radiation-depleted bone marrow of a NOD/SCID/IL2rg(-/-) (NSG) mouse on which a patient's tumor is then transplanted (XactMice). The human HSPCs produce immune cells that home into the tumor and help replicate its natural microenvironment. Despite previous passage on nude mice, the expression of epithelial, stromal and immune genes in XactMice tumors aligns more closely to that of the patient tumor than to those grown in non-humanized mice-an effect partially facilitated by human cytokines expressed by both the HSPC progeny and the tumor cells. The human immune and stromal cells produced in the XactMice can help recapitulate the microenvironment of an implanted xenograft, reverse the initial genetic drift seen after passage on non-humanized mice and provide a more accurate tumor model to guide patient treatment.

Poswar Fde O, Farias LC, Fraga CA, et al.
Bioinformatics, interaction network analysis, and neural networks to characterize gene expression of radicular cyst and periapical granuloma.
J Endod. 2015; 41(6):877-83 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Bioinformatics has emerged as an important tool to analyze the large amount of data generated by research in different diseases. In this study, gene expression for radicular cysts (RCs) and periapical granulomas (PGs) was characterized based on a leader gene approach.
METHODS: A validated bioinformatics algorithm was applied to identify leader genes for RCs and PGs. Genes related to RCs and PGs were first identified in PubMed, GenBank, GeneAtlas, and GeneCards databases. The Web-available STRING software (The European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL], Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany) was used in order to build the interaction map among the identified genes by a significance score named weighted number of links. Based on the weighted number of links, genes were clustered using k-means. The genes in the highest cluster were considered leader genes. Multilayer perceptron neural network analysis was used as a complementary supplement for gene classification.
RESULTS: For RCs, the suggested leader genes were TP53 and EP300, whereas PGs were associated with IL2RG, CCL2, CCL4, CCL5, CCR1, CCR3, and CCR5 genes.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data revealed different gene expression for RCs and PGs, suggesting that not only the inflammatory nature but also other biological processes might differentiate RCs and PGs.

Cheah MT, Chen JY, Sahoo D, et al.
CD14-expressing cancer cells establish the inflammatory and proliferative tumor microenvironment in bladder cancer.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(15):4725-30 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Nonresolving chronic inflammation at the neoplastic site is consistently associated with promoting tumor progression and poor patient outcomes. However, many aspects behind the mechanisms that establish this tumor-promoting inflammatory microenvironment remain undefined. Using bladder cancer (BC) as a model, we found that CD14-high cancer cells express higher levels of numerous inflammation mediators and form larger tumors compared with CD14-low cells. CD14 antigen is a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked glycoprotein and has been shown to be critically important in the signaling pathways of Toll-like receptor (TLR). CD14 expression in this BC subpopulation of cancer cells is required for increased cytokine production and increased tumor growth. Furthermore, tumors formed by CD14-high cells are more highly vascularized with higher myeloid cell infiltration. Inflammatory factors produced by CD14-high BC cells recruit and polarize monocytes and macrophages to acquire immune-suppressive characteristics. In contrast, CD14-low BC cells have a higher baseline cell division rate than CD14-high cells. Importantly, CD14-high cells produce factors that further increase the proliferation of CD14-low cells. Collectively, we demonstrate that CD14-high BC cells may orchestrate tumor-promoting inflammation and drive tumor cell proliferation to promote tumor growth.

Fogal V, Babic I, Chao Y, et al.
Mitochondrial p32 is upregulated in Myc expressing brain cancers and mediates glutamine addiction.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(2):1157-70 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metabolic reprogramming is a key feature of tumorigenesis that is controlled by oncogenes. Enhanced utilization of glucose and glutamine are the best-established hallmarks of tumor metabolism. The oncogene c-Myc is one of the major players responsible for this metabolic alteration. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in Myc-induced metabolic reprogramming are not well defined. Here we identify p32, a mitochondrial protein known to play a role in the expression of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes, as a critical player in Myc-induced glutamine addiction. We show that p32 is a direct transcriptional target of Myc and that high level of Myc in malignant brain cancers correlates with high expression of p32. Attenuation of p32 expression reduced growth rate of glioma cells expressing Myc and impaired tumor formation in vivo. Loss of p32 in glutamine addicted glioma cells induced resistance to glutamine deprivation and imparted sensitivity to glucose withdrawal. Finally, we provide evidence that p32 expression contributes to Myc-induced glutamine addiction of cancer cells. Our findings suggest that Myc promotes the expression of p32, which is required to maintain sufficient respiratory capacity to sustain glutamine metabolism in Myc transformed cells.

Gao X, Wang H, Cai S, et al.
Phosphorylation of NMDA 2B at S1303 in human glioma peritumoral tissue: implications for glioma epileptogenesis.
Neurosurg Focus. 2014; 37(6):E17 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECT: Peritumoral seizures are an early symptom of a glioma. To gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying tumor-induced epileptogenesis, the authors studied modulation of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in peritumoral tissue.
METHODS: To study the possible etiology of peritumoral seizures, NMDA receptor expression, posttranslational modification, and function were analyzed in an orthotopic mouse model of human gliomas and primary patient glioma tissue in which the peritumoral border (tumor-brain interface) was preserved in a tissue block during surgery.
RESULTS: The authors found that the NMDA receptor containing the 2B subunit (NR2B), a predominantly extrasynaptic receptor, is highly phosphorylated at S1013 in the neurons located in the periglioma area of the mouse brain. NR2B is also highly phosphorylated at S1013 in the neurons located in the peritumoral area from human brain tissue containing a glioma. The phosphorylation of the extrasynaptic NMDA receptor increases its permeability for Ca(2+) influx and subsequently mediates neuronal overexcitation and seizure activity.
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that overexcitation of the extrasynaptic NMDA receptors in the peritumoral neurons may contribute to the development of peritumoral seizures and that the phosphorylated NR2B may be a therapeutic target for blocking primary brain tumor-induced peritumoral seizures.

Klinghammer K, Raguse JD, Plath T, et al.
A comprehensively characterized large panel of head and neck cancer patient-derived xenografts identifies the mTOR inhibitor everolimus as potential new treatment option.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(12):2940-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models have shown to reflect original patient tumors better than any other preclinical model. We embarked in a study establishing a large panel of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas PDX for biomarker analysis and evaluation of established and novel compounds. Out of 115 transplanted specimens 52 models were established of which 29 were characterized for response to docetaxel, cetuximab, methotrexate, carboplatin, 5-fluorouracil and everolimus. Further, tumors were subjected to sequencing analysis and gene expression profiling of selected mTOR pathway members. Most frequent response was observed for docetaxel and cetuximab. Responses to carboplatin, 5-fluorouracil and methotrexate were moderate. Everolimus revealed activity in the majority of PDX. Mutational profiling and gene expression analysis did not reveal a predictive biomarker for everolimus even though by trend RPS6KB1 mRNA expression was associated with response. In conclusion we demonstrate a comprehensively characterized panel of head and neck cancer PDX models, which represent a valuable and renewable tissue resource for evaluation of novel compounds and associated biomarkers.

Brun SN, Markant SL, Esparza LA, et al.
Survivin as a therapeutic target in Sonic hedgehog-driven medulloblastoma.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(29):3770-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Medulloblastoma (MB) is a highly malignant brain tumor that occurs primarily in children. Although surgery, radiation and high-dose chemotherapy have led to increased survival, many MB patients still die from their disease, and patients who survive suffer severe long-term side effects as a consequence of treatment. Thus, more effective and less toxic therapies for MB are critically important. Development of such therapies depends in part on identification of genes that are necessary for growth and survival of tumor cells. Survivin is an inhibitor of apoptosis protein that regulates cell cycle progression and resistance to apoptosis, is frequently expressed in human MB and when expressed at high levels predicts poor clinical outcome. Therefore, we hypothesized that Survivin may have a critical role in growth and survival of MB cells and that targeting it may enhance MB therapy. Here we show that Survivin is overexpressed in tumors from patched (Ptch) mutant mice, a model of Sonic hedgehog (SHH)-driven MB. Genetic deletion of survivin in Ptch mutant tumor cells significantly inhibits proliferation and causes cell cycle arrest. Treatment with small-molecule antagonists of Survivin impairs proliferation and survival of both murine and human MB cells. Finally, Survivin antagonists impede growth of MB cells in vivo. These studies highlight the importance of Survivin in SHH-driven MB, and suggest that it may represent a novel therapeutic target in patients with this disease.

Chakrabarti R, Wei Y, Hwang J, et al.
ΔNp63 promotes stem cell activity in mammary gland development and basal-like breast cancer by enhancing Fzd7 expression and Wnt signalling.
Nat Cell Biol. 2014; 16(10):1004-15, 1-13 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Emerging evidence suggests that cancer is populated and maintained by tumour-initiating cells (TICs) with stem-like properties similar to those of adult tissue stem cells. Despite recent advances, the molecular regulatory mechanisms that may be shared between normal and malignant stem cells remain poorly understood. Here we show that the ΔNp63 isoform of the Trp63 transcription factor promotes normal mammary stem cell (MaSC) activity by increasing the expression of the Wnt receptor Fzd7, thereby enhancing Wnt signalling. Importantly, Fzd7-dependent enhancement of Wnt signalling by ΔNp63 also governs tumour-initiating activity of the basal subtype of breast cancer. These findings establish ΔNp63 as a key regulator of stem cells in both normal and malignant mammary tissues and provide direct evidence that breast cancer TICs and normal MaSCs share common regulatory mechanisms.

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