Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona

Girona, Spain

Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona

Girona, Spain
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Menendez J.A.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Menendez J.A.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGI | Alarco n T.,Computational and Mathematical Biology Research Group
Frontiers in Oncology | Year: 2014

The acquisition of and departure from stemness in cancer tissues might not only be hardwired by genetic controllers, but also by the pivotal regulatory role of the cellular metabotype, which may act as a "starter dough" for cancer stemness traits. We have coined the term metabostemness to refer to the metabolic parameters causally controlling or functionally substituting the epitranscriptional orchestration of the genetic reprogramming that redirects normal and tumor cells toward less-differentiated CSC cellular states. Certain metabotypic alterations might operate as pivotal molecular events rendering a cell of origin susceptible to epigenetic rewiring required for the acquisition of aberrant stemness and, concurrently, of refractoriness to differentiation. The metabostemness attribute can remove, diminish, or modify the nature of molecular barriers present in Waddington's epigenetic landscapes, thus allowing differentiated cells to more easily (re)-enter into CSC cellular macrostates. Activation of the metabostemness trait can poise cells with chromatin states competent for rapid dedifferentiation while concomitantly setting the idoneous metabolic stage for later reprogramming stimuli to finish the journey from non-cancerous into tumor-initiating cells. Because only a few permitted metabotypes will be compatible with the operational properties owned by CSC cellular states, the metabostemness property provides a new framework through which to pharmacologically resolve the apparently impossible problem of discovering drugs aimed to target the molecular biology of the cancer stemness itself. We are embarking on one of the cancer field's biggest challenges, namely the discovery of the key metabolic features and the elite metabolites that influence chromatin structure and epigenetic circuits in charge of CSC reprogramming and the incorporation of novel metaboloepigenetic strategies that can effectively hamper cancer initiation and progression at the stem cell level. © 2014 Menendez and Alarco´n.


Corominas-Faja B.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Corominas-Faja B.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGI | Cufi S.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Cufi S.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGI | And 15 more authors.
Cell Cycle | Year: 2013

Energy metabolism plasticity enables stemness programs during the reprogramming of somatic cells to an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) state. This relationship may introduce a new era in the understanding of Warburg's theory on the metabolic origin of cancer at the level of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Here, we used Yamanaka's stem cell technology in an attempt to create stable CSC research lines in which to dissect the transcriptional control of mTO R - the master switch of cellular catabolism and anabolism - in CSC-like states. The rare colonies with iPSC-like morphology, obtained following the viral transduction of the Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc (OSKM) stemness factors into MCF-7 luminal-like breast cancer cells (MCF-7/Rep), demonstrated an intermediate state between cancer cells and bona fide iPSCs. MCF-7/Rep cells notably overexpressed SOX2 and stage-specific embryonic antigen (SSEA)-4 proteins; however, other stemness-related markers (OCT4, NANOG, SSEA-1, TRA-1-60, and TRA-1-81) were found at low to moderate levels. The transcriptional analyses of OSKM factors confirmed the strong but unique reactivation of the endogenous Sox2 stemness gene accompanied by the silencing of the exogenous Sox2 transgene in MCF-7/Rep cells. Some but not all MCF-7/Rep cells acquired strong alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity compared with MCF-7 parental cells. SOX2-overexpressing MCF-7/Rep cells contained drastically higher percentages of CD44+ and ALDEFLUOR-stained ALDHbright cells than MCF-7 parental cells. The overlap between differentially expressed mTO R signaling-related genes in 3 different SOX2-overexpressing CSC-like cell lines revealed a notable downregulation of 3 genes, PRKAA1 (which codes for the catalytic α 1 subunit of AMPK), DDIT4/REDD1 (a stress response gene that operates as a negative regulator of mTO R), and DEPTOR (a naturally occurring endogenous inhibitor of mTO R activity). The insulin-receptor gene (INSR) was differentially upregulated in MCF-7/Rep cells. Consistent with the downregulation of AMPK expression, immunoblotting procedures confirmed upregulation of p70S6K and increased phosphorylation of mTO R in Sox2-overexpressing CSC-like cell populations. Using an in vitro model of the de novo generation of CSC-like states through the nuclear reprogramming of an established breast cancer cell line, we reveal that the transcriptional suppression of mTO R repressors is an intrinsic process occurring during the acquisition of CSC-like properties by differentiated populations of luminal-like breast cancer cells. This approach may provide a new path for obtaining information about preventing the appearance of CSCs through the modulation of the AMPK/mTO R pathway. © 2013 Landes Bioscience.


Cufi S.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Cufi S.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IdIBGi | Vazquez-Martin A.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Vazquez-Martin A.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IdIBGi | And 6 more authors.
Cell Cycle | Year: 2011

The molecular mechanisms used by breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) to survive and/or maintain their undifferentiated CD44 +CD24 -/low mesenchymal-like antigenic state remain largely unexplored. Autophagy, a key homeostatic process of cytoplasmic degradation and recycling evolved to respond to stress conditions, might be causally fundamental in the biology of BCSCs. Stable and specific knockdown of autophagy-regulatory genes by lentiviral-delivered small hairpin (sh) RNA drastically decreased the number of JIMT-1 epithelial BC cells bearing CD44 +CD24 -/low cell-surface antigens from ∼75% in parental and control (-) shRNA-transduced cells to 26% and 7% in ATG8/LC3 shRNA- and ATG12 shRNA-transduced cells, respectively. Autophagy inhibition notably enhanced transcriptional activation of CD24 gene, potentiating the epithelial-like phenotype of CD44 +CD24 + cells vs. the mesenchymal CD44 +CD24 -/low progeny. EMT-focused Real Time RT-PCR profiling revealed that genetic ablation of autophagy transcriptionally repressed the gene coding for the mesenchymal filament vimentin (VIM). shRNA-driven silencing of the ATG12 gene and disabling the final step in the autophagy pathway by the antimalarial drug chloroquine both prevented TGFβ1-induced accumulation of vimentin in JIMT-1 cells. Knockdown of autophagy-specific genes was sufficient also to increase by up to 11-times the number of CD24 + cells in MDA-MB-231 cells, a BC model of mesenchymal origin that is virtually composed of CD44 +CD24 -/low cells. Chloroquine treatment augmented the number of CD24 + cells and concomitantly reduced constitutive overexpression of vimentin in MDA-MB-231 cells. This is the first report demonstrating that autophagy is mechanistically linked to the maintenance of tumor cells expressing high levels of CD44 and low levels of CD24, which are typical of BCSCs. © 2011 Landes Bioscience.


Oliveras-Ferraros C.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Oliveras-Ferraros C.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGI | Vazquez-Martin A.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Vazquez-Martin A.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGI | And 11 more authors.
Cell Cycle | Year: 2014

Therapeutic interventions based on metabolic inhibitor-based therapies are expected to be less prone to acquired resistance. However, there has not been any study assessing the possibility that the targeting of the tumor cell metabolism may result in unforeseeable resistance. We recently established a pre-clinical model of estrogen-dependent MCF-7 breast cancer cells that were chronically adapted to grow (> 10 months) in the presence of graded, millimolar concentrations of the anti-diabetic biguanide metformin, an AMPK agonist/mTOR inhibitor that has been evaluated in multiple in vitro and in vivo cancer studies and is now being tested in clinical trials. To assess what impact the phenomenon of resistance might have on the metformin-like "dirty" drugs that are able to simultaneously hit several metabolic pathways, we employed the ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) software to functionally interpret the data from Agilent whole-human genome arrays in the context of biological processes, networks, and pathways. Our findings establish, for the first time, that a "global"targeting of metabolic reprogramming using metformin certainly imposes a great selective pressure for the emergence of new breast cancer cellular states. Intriguingly, acquired resistance to metformin appears to trigger a transcriptome reprogramming toward a metastatic stem-like profile, as many genes encoding the components of the degradome (KLK11, CTSF, FREM1, BACE-2, CASP, TMPRSS4, MMP16, HTRA1), cancer cell migration and invasion factors (TP63, WISP2, GAS3, DKK1, BCAR3, PABPC1, MUC1, SPARCL1, SEMA3B, SEMA6A), stem cell markers (DCLK1, FAK ), and key pro-metastatic lipases (MAGL and Cpla2) were included in the signature. Because this convergent activation of pathways underlying tumor microenvironment interactions occurred in low-proliferative cancer cells exhibiting a notable downregulation of the G2/M DNA damage checkpoint regulators that maintain genome stability (CCNB1, CCNB2, CDC20, CDC25C, AURKA, AURKB, BUB1, CENP-A, CENP-M) and pro-autophagic features (i.e., TRAIL upregulation and BCL-2 downregulation), it appears that the unique mechanism of acquired resistance to metformin has opposing roles in growth and metastatic dissemination. While refractoriness to metformin limits breast cancer cell growth, likely due to aberrant mitotic/cytokinetic machinery and accelerated autophagy, it notably increases the potential of metastatic dissemination by amplifying the number of pro-migratory and stemness inputs via the activation of a significant number of proteases and EMT regulators. Future studies should elucidate whether our findings using supra-physiological concentrations of metformin mechanistically mimic the ultimate processes that could paradoxically occur in a polyploid, senescent-autophagic scenario triggered by the chronic metabolic stresses that occur during cancer development and after treatment with cancer drugs. © 2014 Landes Bioscience.


PubMed | Rovira i Virgili University, Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGI and Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) | Year: 2014

Therapeutic interventions based on metabolic inhibitor-based therapies are expected to be less prone to acquired resistance. However, there has not been any study assessing the possibility that the targeting of the tumor cell metabolism may result in unforeseeable resistance. We recently established a pre-clinical model of estrogen-dependent MCF-7 breast cancer cells that were chronically adapted to grow (> 10 months) in the presence of graded, millimolar concentrations of the anti-diabetic biguanide metformin, an AMPK agonist/mTOR inhibitor that has been evaluated in multiple in vitro and in vivo cancer studies and is now being tested in clinical trials. To assess what impact the phenomenon of resistance might have on the metformin-like dirty drugs that are able to simultaneously hit several metabolic pathways, we employed the ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) software to functionally interpret the data from Agilent whole-human genome arrays in the context of biological processes, networks, and pathways. Our findings establish, for the first time, that a global targeting of metabolic reprogramming using metformin certainly imposes a great selective pressure for the emergence of new breast cancer cellular states. Intriguingly, acquired resistance to metformin appears to trigger a transcriptome reprogramming toward a metastatic stem-like profile, as many genes encoding the components of the degradome (KLK11, CTSF, FREM1, BACE-2, CASP, TMPRSS4, MMP16, HTRA1), cancer cell migration and invasion factors (TP63, WISP2, GAS3, DKK1, BCAR3, PABPC1, MUC1, SPARCL1, SEMA3B, SEMA6A), stem cell markers (DCLK1, FAK), and key pro-metastatic lipases (MAGL and Cpla2) were included in the signature. Because this convergent activation of pathways underlying tumor microenvironment interactions occurred in low-proliferative cancer cells exhibiting a notable downregulation of the G 2/M DNA damage checkpoint regulators that maintain genome stability (CCNB1, CCNB2, CDC20, CDC25C, AURKA, AURKB, BUB1, CENP-A, CENP-M) and pro-autophagic features (i.e., TRAIL upregulation and BCL-2 downregulation), it appears that the unique mechanism of acquired resistance to metformin has opposing roles in growth and metastatic dissemination. While refractoriness to metformin limits breast cancer cell growth, likely due to aberrant mitotic/cytokinetic machinery and accelerated autophagy, it notably increases the potential of metastatic dissemination by amplifying the number of pro-migratory and stemness inputs via the activation of a significant number of proteases and EMT regulators. Future studies should elucidate whether our findings using supra-physiological concentrations of metformin mechanistically mimic the ultimate processes that could paradoxically occur in a polyploid, senescent-autophagic scenario triggered by the chronic metabolic stresses that occur during cancer development and after treatment with cancer drugs.


Vazquez-Martin A.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Vazquez-Martin A.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IdIBGi | Lopez-Bonetc E.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IdIBGi | Lopez-Bonetc E.,University of Girona | And 10 more authors.
Drug Resistance Updates | Year: 2011

Ideal oncology drugs would be curative after a short treatment course if they could eliminate epithelium-originated carcinomas at their non-invasive, pre-malignant stages. Such ideal molecules, which are expected to molecularly abrogate all the instrumental mechanisms acquired by migrating cancer stem cells (CSCs) to by-pass tumour suppressor barriers, might already exist. We here illustrate how system biology strategies for repositioning existing FDA-approved drugs may accelerate our therapeutic capacity to eliminate CSC traits in pre-invasive intraepithelial neoplasias. First, we describe a signalling network signature that overrides bioenergetics stress- and oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) phenomena in CSCs residing at pre-invasive lesions. Second, we functionally map the anti-malarial chloroquine and the anti-diabetic metformin ("old drugs") to their recently recognized CSC targets ("new uses") within the network. By discussing the preclinical efficacy of chloroquine and metformin to inhibiting the genesis and self-renewal of CSCs we finally underscore the expected translational impact of the "old drugs-new uses" repurposing strategy to open a new CSC-targeted chemoprevention era. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Cufi S.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Cufi S.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGi | Vazquez-Martin A.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Vazquez-Martin A.,Girona Biomedical Research Institute IDIBGi | And 9 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2012

The autophagic process, which can facilitate breast cancer resistance to endocrine, cytotoxic, and molecularly targeted agents, is mainly regulated at the post-translational level. Although recent studies have suggested a possible transcriptome regulation of the autophagic genes, little is known about either the analysis tools that can be applied or the functional importance of putative candidate genes emerging from autophagy-dedicated transcriptome studies. In this context, we evaluated whether the constitutive activation of the autophagy machinery, as revealed by a transcriptome analysis using an autophagy-focused polymerase chain reaction (PCR) array, might allow for the identification of novel autophagy-specific biomarkers for intrinsic (primary) resistance to HER2-targeted therapies. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR)-based profiling of 84 genes involved in autophagy revealed that, when compared to trastuzumab-sensitive SKBR3 cells, the positive regulator of autophagic vesicle formation ATG12 (autophagy-related gene 12) was the most differentially up-regulated gene in JIMT1 cells, a model of intrinsic cross-resistance to trastuzumab and other HER1/2-targeting drugs. An analysis of the transcriptional status of ATG12 in > 50 breast cancer cell lines suggested that the ATG12 transcript is commonly upregulated in trastuzumab-unresponsive HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells. A lentiviral-delivered small hairpin RNA stable knockdown of the ATG12 gene fully suppressed the refractoriness of JIMT1 cells to trastuzumab, erlotinib, gefitinib, and lapatinib in vitro. ATG12 silencing significantly reduced JIMT1 tumor growth induced by subcutaneous injection in nude mice. Remarkably, the outgrowth of trastuzumab-unresponsive tumors was prevented completely when trastuzumab treatment was administered in an ATG12-silenced genetic background. We demonstrate for the first time the usefulness of low-density, autophagy-dedicated qRT-PCR-based platforms for monitoring primary resistance to HER2-targeted therapies by transcriptionally screening the autophagy interactome. The degree of predictive accuracy warrants further investigation in the clinical situation. © Cufi et al.


Oliveras-Ferraros C.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Oliveras-Ferraros C.,Hospital Of Girona Dr Josep Trueta | Cufi S.,Catalan Institute of Oncology Girona ICO Girona | Cufi S.,Hospital Of Girona Dr Josep Trueta | And 10 more authors.
Cell Cycle | Year: 2011

An unexplored molecular scenario that might explain the inhibitory impact of the anti-diabetic drug metformin on the genesis of breast cancer relates to metformin's ability to modulate the expression status of micro (mi)RNAs. We here report the first miRNA expression profiling of human epithelial breast cancer cells cultured in the presence of metformin. We conducted real-time transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) Arrays to quantitatively compare the expression profile of 88 cancer-related miRNA sequences before and after treatment of MCF-7 cells, which were used as well-differentiated, epithelioid cell controls, with graded concentrations of metformin. Metformin-treated MCF-7 cells notably exhibited up to 18-fold increases in miRNA lethal-7a (let-7a) expression compared with untreated control cells. We confirmed that MCF-7 cells undergoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transition in response to the cytokine TGFβ notably upregulated (∼five-fold) miRNA-181a expression and exhibited better mammosphere-forming capabilities. We then explored the ability of metformin to impede TGFβ-enhanced propensity of breast cancer stem cells to form mammospheres in a miRNA-181a-related manner. Remarkably, TGFβ treatment failed to upregulate miRNA-181a expression in the presence of metformin, which was able to fully abrogate TGFβ-enhanced mammosphere-forming ability. In addition, metformin co-treatment fully prevented TGFβ-induced downregulation of the tumor suppressor miRNA-96 (∼ten-fold). Metformin's molecular functioning to prevent invasive breast cancer can be explained in terms of its previously unrecognized ability to efficiently upregulate the tumor-suppressive miRNAs let-7a & miRNA-96 and inhibit the oncogenic miRNA-181a, thus epigenetically preserving the differentiated phenotype of mammary epithelium while preventing EMT-related cancer-initiating cell self-renewal. © 2011 Landes Bioscience.

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