All Publications

  • Cancer-stromal cell interactions in breast cancer brain metastases induce glycocalyx-mediated resistance to HER2-targeting therapies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Goyette, M. A., Stevens, L. E., DePinho, C. R., Seehawer, M., Nishida, J., Li, Z., Wilde, C. M., Li, R., Qiu, X., Pyke, A. L., Zhao, S., Lim, K., Tender, G. S., Northey, J. J., Riley, N. M., Long, H. W., Bertozzi, C. R., Weaver, V. M., Polyak, K. 2024; 121 (20): e2322688121


    Brain metastatic breast cancer is particularly lethal largely due to therapeutic resistance. Almost half of the patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer develop brain metastases, representing a major clinical challenge. We previously described that cancer-associated fibroblasts are an important source of resistance in primary tumors. Here, we report that breast cancer brain metastasis stromal cell interactions in 3D cocultures induce therapeutic resistance to HER2-targeting agents, particularly to the small molecule inhibitor of HER2/EGFR neratinib. We investigated the underlying mechanisms using a synthetic Notch reporter system enabling the sorting of cancer cells that directly interact with stromal cells. We identified mucins and bulky glycoprotein synthesis as top-up-regulated genes and pathways by comparing the gene expression and chromatin profiles of stroma-contact and no-contact cancer cells before and after neratinib treatment. Glycoprotein gene signatures were also enriched in human brain metastases compared to primary tumors. We confirmed increased glycocalyx surrounding cocultures by immunofluorescence and showed that mucinase treatment increased sensitivity to neratinib by enabling a more efficient inhibition of EGFR/HER2 signaling in cancer cells. Overexpression of truncated MUC1 lacking the intracellular domain as a model of increased glycocalyx-induced resistance to neratinib both in cell culture and in experimental brain metastases in immunodeficient mice. Our results highlight the importance of glycoproteins as a resistance mechanism to HER2-targeting therapies in breast cancer brain metastases.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2322688121

    View details for PubMedID 38709925

  • Increasing equity in science requires better ethics training: A course by trainees, for trainees. Cell genomics Patel, R. A., Ungar, R. A., Pyke, A. L., Adimoelja, A., Chakraborty, M., Cotter, D. J., Freund, M., Goddard, P., Gomez-Stafford, J., Greenwald, E., Higgs, E., Hunter, N., MacKenzie, T. M., Narain, A., Gjorgjieva, T., Martschenko, D. O. 2024: 100554


    Despite the profound impacts of scientific research, few scientists have received the necessary training to productively discuss the ethical and societal implications of their work. To address this critical gap, we-a group of predominantly human genetics trainees-developed a course on genetics, ethics, and society. We intend for this course to serve as a template for other institutions and scientific disciplines. Our curriculum positions human genetics within its historical and societal context and encourages students to evaluate how societal norms and structures impact the conduct of scientific research. We demonstrate the utility of this course via surveys of enrolled students and provide resources and strategies for others hoping to teach a similar course. We conclude by arguing that if we are to work toward rectifying the inequities and injustices produced by our field, we must first learn to view our own research as impacting and being impacted by society.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xgen.2024.100554

    View details for PubMedID 38697124