Paul Mischel, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
The evolutionary dynamics of extrachromosomal DNA in human cancers.
Oncogene amplification on extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) is a common event, driving aggressive tumor growth, drug resistance and shorter survival. Currently, the impact of nonchromosomal oncogene inheritance-random identity by descent-is poorly understood. Also unclear is the impact of ecDNA on somatic variation and selection. Here integrating theoretical models of random segregation, unbiased image analysis, CRISPR-based ecDNA tagging with live-cell imaging and CRISPR-C, we demonstrate that random ecDNA inheritance results in extensive intratumoral ecDNA copy number heterogeneity and rapid adaptation to metabolic stress and targeted treatment. Observed ecDNAs benefit host cell survival or growth and can change within a single cell cycle. ecDNA inheritance can predict, a priori, some of the aggressive features of ecDNA-containing cancers. These properties are facilitated by the ability of ecDNA to rapidly adapt genomes in a way that is not possible through chromosomal oncogene amplification. These results show how the nonchromosomal random inheritance pattern of ecDNA contributes to poor outcomes for patients with cancer.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41588-022-01177-x
View details for PubMedID 36123406
ecDNA hubs drive cooperative intermolecular oncogene expression.
Extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) is prevalent in human cancers and mediates high expression of oncogenes through gene amplification and altered gene regulation1. Gene induction typically involves cis-regulatory elements that contact and activate genes on the same chromosome2,3. Here we show that ecDNA hubs-clusters of around 10-100 ecDNAs within the nucleus-enable intermolecular enhancer-gene interactions to promote oncogene overexpression. ecDNAs that encode multiple distinct oncogenes form hubs in diverse cancer cell types and primary tumours. Each ecDNA is more likely to transcribe the oncogene when spatially clustered with additional ecDNAs. ecDNA hubs are tethered by the bromodomain and extraterminal domain (BET) protein BRD4 in a MYC-amplified colorectal cancer cell line. The BET inhibitor JQ1 disperses ecDNA hubs and preferentially inhibits ecDNA-derived-oncogene transcription. The BRD4-bound PVT1 promoter is ectopically fused to MYC and duplicated in ecDNA, receiving promiscuous enhancer input to drive potent expression of MYC. Furthermore, the PVT1 promoter on an exogenous episome suffices to mediate gene activation in trans by ecDNA hubs in a JQ1-sensitive manner. Systematic silencing of ecDNA enhancers by CRISPR interference reveals intermolecular enhancer-gene activation among multiple oncogene loci that are amplified on distinct ecDNAs. Thus, protein-tethered ecDNA hubs enable intermolecular transcriptional regulation and may serve as units of oncogene function and cooperative evolution and as potential targets for cancer therapy.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-04116-8
View details for PubMedID 34819668
Targeting glioblastoma signaling and metabolism with a re-purposed brain-penetrant drug.
2021; 37 (5): 109957
The highly lethal brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM) poses a daunting challenge because the blood-brain barrier renders potentially druggable amplified or mutated oncoproteins relatively inaccessible. Here, we identify sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 1 (SMPD1), an enzyme that regulates the conversion of sphingomyelin to ceramide, as an actionable drug target in GBM. We show that the highly brain-penetrant antidepressant fluoxetine potently inhibits SMPD1 activity, killing GBMs, through inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling and via activation of lysosomal stress. Combining fluoxetine with temozolomide, a standard of care for GBM, causes massive increases in GBM cell death and complete tumor regression in mice. Incorporation of real-world evidence from electronic medical records from insurance databases reveals significantly increased survival in GBM patients treated with fluoxetine, which was not seen in patients treated with other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. These results nominate the repurposing of fluoxetine as a potentially safe and promising therapy for patients with GBM and suggest prospective randomized clinical trials.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109957
View details for PubMedID 34731610