All Publications

  • Cell volume expansion and local contractility drive collective invasion of the basement membrane in breast cancer. Nature materials Chang, J., Saraswathibhatla, A., Song, Z., Varma, S., Sanchez, C., Alyafei, N. H., Indana, D., Slyman, R., Srivastava, S., Liu, K., Bassik, M. C., Marinkovich, M. P., Hodgson, L., Shenoy, V., West, R. B., Chaudhuri, O. 2023


    Breast cancer becomes invasive when carcinoma cells invade through the basement membrane (BM)-a nanoporous layer of matrix that physically separates the primary tumour from the stroma. Single cells can invade through nanoporous three-dimensional matrices due to protease-mediated degradation or force-mediated widening of pores via invadopodial protrusions. However, how multiple cells collectively invade through the physiological BM, as they do during breast cancer progression, remains unclear. Here we developed a three-dimensional in vitro model of collective invasion of the BM during breast cancer. We show that cells utilize both proteases and forces-but not invadopodia-to breach the BM. Forces are generated from a combination of global cell volume expansion, which stretches the BM, and local contractile forces that act in the plane of the BM to breach it, allowing invasion. These results uncover a mechanism by which cells collectively interact to overcome a critical barrier to metastasis.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41563-023-01716-9

    View details for PubMedID 37957268

  • Deterministic evolution and stringent selection during preneoplasia. Nature Karlsson, K., Przybilla, M. J., Kotler, E., Khan, A., Xu, H., Karagyozova, K., Sockell, A., Wong, W. H., Liu, K., Mah, A., Lo, Y. H., Lu, B., Houlahan, K. E., Ma, Z., Suarez, C. J., Barnes, C. P., Kuo, C. J., Curtis, C. 2023


    The earliest events during human tumour initiation, although poorly characterized, may hold clues to malignancy detection and prevention1. Here we model occult preneoplasia by biallelic inactivation of TP53, a common early event in gastric cancer, in human gastric organoids. Causal relationships between this initiating genetic lesion and resulting phenotypes were established using experimental evolution in multiple clonally derived cultures over 2 years. TP53 loss elicited progressive aneuploidy, including copy number alterations and structural variants prevalent in gastric cancers, with evident preferred orders. Longitudinal single-cell sequencing of TP53-deficient gastric organoids similarly indicates progression towards malignant transcriptional programmes. Moreover, high-throughput lineage tracing with expressed cellular barcodes demonstrates reproducible dynamics whereby initially rare subclones with shared transcriptional programmes repeatedly attain clonal dominance. This powerful platform for experimental evolution exposes stringent selection, clonal interference and a marked degree of phenotypic convergence in premalignant epithelial organoids. These data imply predictability in the earliest stages of tumorigenesis and show evolutionary constraints and barriers to malignant transformation, with implications for earlier detection and interception of aggressive, genome-instable tumours.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06102-8

    View details for PubMedID 37258665

    View details for PubMedCentralID 5656752

  • Pathogenic or benign? Nature biotechnology Du, P. P., Liu, K., Bassik, M. C., Hess, G. T. 2022

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41587-022-01333-y

    View details for PubMedID 35578021

  • Inter-cellular CRISPR screens reveal regulators of cancer cell phagocytosis. Nature Kamber, R. A., Nishiga, Y., Morton, B., Banuelos, A. M., Barkal, A. A., Vences-Catalan, F., Gu, M., Fernandez, D., Seoane, J. A., Yao, D., Liu, K., Lin, S., Spees, K., Curtis, C., Jerby-Arnon, L., Weissman, I. L., Sage, J., Bassik, M. C. 2021


    Monoclonal antibody therapies targeting tumour antigens drive cancer cell elimination in large part by triggering macrophage phagocytosis of cancer cells1-7. However, cancer cells evade phagocytosis using mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Here we develop a platform for unbiased identification of factors that impede antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) using complementary genome-wide CRISPR knockout and overexpression screens in both cancer cells and macrophages. In cancer cells, beyond known factors such as CD47, we identify many regulators of susceptibility to ADCP, including the poorly characterized enzyme adipocyte plasma membrane-associated protein (APMAP). We find that loss of APMAP synergizes with tumour antigen-targeting monoclonal antibodies and/or CD47-blocking monoclonal antibodies to drive markedly increased phagocytosis across a wide range of cancer cell types, including those that are otherwise resistant to ADCP. Additionally, we show that APMAP loss synergizes with several different tumour-targeting monoclonal antibodies to inhibit tumour growth in mice. Using genome-wide counterscreens in macrophages, we find that the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR84 mediates enhanced phagocytosis of APMAP-deficient cancer cells. This work reveals a cancer-intrinsic regulator of susceptibility to antibody-driven phagocytosis and, more broadly, expands our knowledge of the mechanisms governing cancer resistance to macrophage phagocytosis.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-03879-4

    View details for PubMedID 34497417

  • The RUNX1-ETO target gene RASSF2 suppresses t(8;21) AML development and regulates Rac GTPase signaling. Blood cancer journal Stoner, S. A., Liu, K. T., Andrews, E. T., Liu, M. n., Arimoto, K. I., Yan, M. n., Davis, A. G., Weng, S. n., Dow, M. n., Xian, S. n., DeKelver, R. C., Carter, H. n., Zhang, D. E. 2020; 10 (2): 16


    Large-scale chromosomal translocations are frequent oncogenic drivers in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). These translocations often occur in critical transcriptional/epigenetic regulators and contribute to malignant cell growth through alteration of normal gene expression. Despite this knowledge, the specific gene expression alterations that contribute to the development of leukemia remain incompletely understood. Here, through characterization of transcriptional regulation by the RUNX1-ETO fusion protein, we have identified Ras-association domain family member 2 (RASSF2) as a critical gene that is aberrantly transcriptionally repressed in t(8;21)-associated AML. Re-expression of RASSF2 specifically inhibits t(8;21) AML development in multiple models. Through biochemical and functional studies, we demonstrate RASSF2-mediated functions to be dependent on interaction with Hippo kinases, MST1 and MST2, but independent of canonical Hippo pathway signaling. Using proximity-based biotin labeling we define the RASSF2-proximal proteome in leukemia cells and reveal association with Rac GTPase-related proteins, including an interaction with the guanine nucleotide exchange factor, DOCK2. Importantly, RASSF2 knockdown impairs Rac GTPase activation, and RASSF2 expression is broadly correlated with Rac-mediated signal transduction in AML patients. Together, these data reveal a previously unappreciated mechanistic link between RASSF2, Hippo kinases, and Rac activity with potentially broad functional consequences in leukemia.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41408-020-0282-9

    View details for PubMedID 32029705

  • Hippo kinase loss contributes to del(20q) hematologic malignancies through chronic innate immune activation BLOOD Stoner, S. A., Yan, M., Liu, K., Arimoto, K., Shima, T., Wang, H., Johnson, D. T., Bejar, R., Jamieson, C., Guan, K., Zhang, D. 2019; 134 (20): 1730–44


    Heterozygous deletions within chromosome 20q, or del(20q), are frequent cytogenetic abnormalities detected in hematologic malignancies. To date, identification of genes in the del(20q) common deleted region that contribute to disease development have remained elusive. Through assessment of patient gene expression, we have identified STK4 (encoding Hippo kinase MST1) as a 20q gene that is downregulated below haploinsufficient amounts in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). Hematopoietic-specific gene inactivation in mice revealed Hippo kinase loss to induce splenomegaly, thrombocytopenia, megakaryocytic dysplasia, and a propensity for chronic granulocytosis; phenotypes that closely resemble those observed in patients harboring del(20q). In a JAK2-V617F model, heterozygous Hippo kinase inactivation led to accelerated development of lethal myelofibrosis, recapitulating adverse MPN disease progression and revealing a novel genetic interaction between these 2 molecular events. Quantitative serum protein profiling showed that myelofibrotic transformation in mice was associated with cooperative effects of JAK2-V617F and Hippo kinase inactivation on innate immune-associated proinflammatory cytokine production, including IL-1β and IL-6. Mechanistically, MST1 interacted with IRAK1, and shRNA-mediated knockdown was sufficient to increase IRAK1-dependent innate immune activation of NF-κB in human myeloid cells. Consistent with this, treatment with a small molecule IRAK1/4 inhibitor rescued the aberrantly elevated IL-1β production in the JAK2-V617F MPN model. This study identified Hippo kinase MST1 (STK4) as having a central role in the biology of del(20q)-associated hematologic malignancies and revealed a novel molecular basis of adverse MPN progression that may be therapeutically exploitable via IRAK1 inhibition.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood.2019000170

    View details for Web of Science ID 000496936100009

    View details for PubMedID 31434702

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6856986