Mutational signatures in tumours induced by high and low energy radiation in Trp53 deficient mice

Ionising radiation (IR) is a recognised carcinogen responsible for cancer development in patients previously treated using radiotherapy, and in individuals exposed as a result of accidents at nuclear energy plants. However, the mutational signatures induced by distinct types and doses of radiation are unknown. Here, we analyse the genetic architecture of mammary tumours, lymphomas and sarcomas induced by high (56Fe-ions) or low (gamma) energy radiation in mice carrying Trp53 loss of function alleles. In mammary tumours, high-energy radiation is associated with induction of focal structural variants, leading to genomic instability and Met amplification. Gamma-radiation is linked to large-scale structural variants and a point mutation signature associated with oxidative stress. The genomic architecture of carcinomas, sarcomas and lymphomas arising in the same animals are significantly different. Our study illustrates the complex interactions between radiation quality, germline Trp53 deficiency and tissue/cell of origin in shaping the genomic landscape of IR-induced tumours.

Team Mutographs
Journal Nature
Authors Yun Rose Li et al
DATE January 2020
Association of autophagy status with amount of Fusobacterium nucleatum in colorectal cancer

Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum), which has been associated with colorectal carcinogenesis, can impair anti-tumour immunity, and actively invade colon epithelial cells. Considering the critical role of autophagy in host defence against microorganisms, we hypothesised that autophagic activity of tumour cells might influence the amount of F. nucleatum in colorectal cancer tissue. Using 724 rectal and colon cancer cases within the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, we evaluated autophagic activity of tumour cells by immunohistochemical analyses of BECN1 (beclin 1), MAP1LC3 (LC3), and SQSTM1 (p62) expression. We measured the amount of F. nucleatum DNA in tumour tissue by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We conducted multivariable ordinal logistic regression analyses to examine the association of tumour BECN1, MAP1LC3, and SQSTM1 expression with the amount of F. nucleatum, adjusting for potential confounders, including microsatellite instability status; CpG island methylator phenotype; long-interspersed nucleotide element-1 methylation; and KRAS, BRAF, and PIK3CA mutations. Compared with BECN1-low cases, BECN1-intermediate and BECN1-high cases were associated with lower amounts of F. nucleatum with odds ratios (for a unit increase in three ordinal categories of the amount of F. nucleatum) of 0.54 (95% confidence interval, 0.29-0.99) and 0.31 (95% confidence interval, 0.16-0.60), respectively (Ptrend < 0.001 across ordinal BECN1 categories). Tumour MAP1LC3 and SQSTM1 levels were not significantly associated with the amount of F. nucleatum (Ptrend > 0.06). Tumour BECN1, MAP1LC3, and SQSTM1 levels were not significantly associated with patient survival (Ptrend > 0.10). In conclusion, tumour BECN1 expression is inversely associated with the amount of F. nucleatum in colorectal cancer tissue, suggesting a possible role of autophagy in the elimination of invasive microorganisms

Journal The Journal of Pathology
Authors Koichiro Haruki et al
DATE 27 December 2019
Reprogramming of fatty acid metabolism in cancer

A common feature of cancer cells is their ability to rewire their metabolism to sustain the production of ATP and macromolecules needed for cell growth, division and survival. In particular, the importance of altered fatty acid metabolism in cancer has received renewed interest as, aside their principal role as structural components of the membrane matrix, they are important secondary messengers, and can also serve as fuel sources for energy production. In this review, we will examine the mechanisms through which cancer cells rewire their fatty acid metabolism with a focus on four main areas of research. (1) The role of de novo synthesis and exogenous uptake in the cellular pool of fatty acids. (2) The mechanisms through which molecular heterogeneity and oncogenic signal transduction pathways, such as PI3K–AKT–mTOR signalling, regulate fatty acid metabolism. (3) The role of fatty acids as essential mediators of cancer progression and metastasis, through remodelling of the tumour microenvironment. (4) Therapeutic strategies and considerations for successfully targeting fatty acid metabolism in cancer. Further research focusing on the complex interplay between oncogenic signalling and dysregulated fatty acid metabolism holds great promise to uncover novel metabolic vulnerabilities and improve the efficacy of targeted therapies.

Team Rosetta
Journal British Journal of Cancer
Authors Nikos Koundouros, George Poulogiannis
DATE 10 December 2019
Calcification microstructure reflects breast tissue microenvironment

Microcalcifications are important diagnostic indicators of disease in breast tissue. Tissue microenvironments differ in many aspects between normal and cancerous cells, notably extracellular pH and glycolytic respiration. Hydroxyapatite microcalcification microstructure is also found to differ between tissue pathologies, including differential ion substitutions and the presence of additional crystallographic phases. Distinguishing between tissue pathologies at an early stage is essential to improve patient experience and diagnostic accuracy, leading to better disease outcome. This study explores the hypothesis that microenvironment features may become immortalised within calcification crystallite characteristics thus becoming indicators of tissue pathology. In total, 55 breast calcifications incorporating 3 tissue pathologies (benign – B2, ductal carcinoma in-situ - B5a and invasive malignancy - B5b) from archive formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded core needle breast biopsies were analysed using X-ray diffraction. Crystallite size and strain were determined from 548 diffractograms using Williamson-Hall analysis. There was an increased crystallinity of hydroxyapatite with tissue malignancy compared to benign tissue. Coherence length was significantly correlated with pathology grade in all basis crystallographic directions (P < 0.01), with a greater difference between benign and in situ disease compared to in-situ disease and invasive malignancy. Crystallite size and non-uniform strain contributed to peak broadening in all three pathologies. Furthermore, crystallite size and non-uniform strain normal to the basal planes increased significantly with malignancy (P < 0.05). Our findings support the view that tissue microenvironments can influence differing formation mechanisms of hydroxyapatite through acidic precursors, leading to differential substitution of carbonate into the hydroxide and phosphate sites, causing significant changes in crystallite size and non-uniform strain.

Journal Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia
Authors Sarah Gosling et al
DATE 05 December 2019
Human Colon-on-a-Chip Enables Continuous In Vitro Analysis of Colon Mucus Layer Accumulation and Physiology

BACKGROUND & AIMS: The mucus layer in the human colon protects against commensal bacteria and pathogens, and defects in its unique bilayered structure contribute to intestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis. However, our understanding of colon physiology is limited by the lack of in vitro models that replicate human colonic mucus layer structure and function. Here, we investigated if combining organ-on-a-chip and organoid technologies can be leveraged to develop a human-relevant in vitro model of colon mucus physiology.

METHODS: A human colon-on-a-chip (Colon Chip) microfluidic device lined by primary patient-derived colonic epithelial cells was used to recapitulate mucus bilayer formation, and to visualize mucus accumulation in living cultures noninvasively.

RESULTS: The Colon Chip supports spontaneous goblet cell differentiation and accumulation of a mucus bilayer with impenetrable and penetrable layers, and a thickness similar to that observed in the human colon, while maintaining a subpopulation of proliferative epithelial cells. Live imaging of the mucus layer formation on-chip showed that stimulation of the colonic epithelium with prostaglandin E2, which is increased during inflammation, causes rapid mucus volume expansion via an Na-K-Cl cotransporter 1 ion channel–dependent increase in its hydration state, but no increase in de novo mucus secretion.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows the production of colonic mucus with a physiologically relevant bilayer structure in vitro, which can be analyzed in real time noninvasively. The Colon Chip may offer a new preclinical tool to analyze the role of mucus in human intestinal homeostasis as well as diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and cancer.

Team STORMing Cancer
Journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Authors Alexandra Sontheimer-Phelps et al
DATE 25 November 2019