A functional yeast survival screen of tumor-derived cDNA libraries designed to identify anti-apoptotic mammalian oncogenes
Inga Maria Melzer
Ralf Joachim Rieker
David Lukas Wachter
- Yeast cells can be killed upon expression of pro-apoptotic mammalian proteins. We have established a functional yeast survival screen that was used to isolate novel human anti-apoptotic genes overexpressed in treatment-resistant tumors. The screening of three different cDNA libraries prepared from metastatic melanoma, glioblastomas and leukemic blasts allowed for the identification of many yeast cell death-repressing cDNAs, including 28% of genes that are already known to inhibit apoptosis, 35% of genes upregulated in at least one tumor entity and 16% of genes described as both anti-apoptotic in function and upregulated in tumors. These results confirm the great potential of this screening tool to identify novel anti-apoptotic and tumor-relevant molecules. Three of the isolated candidate genes were further analyzed regarding their anti-apoptotic function in cell culture and their potential as a therapeutic target for molecular therapy. PAICS, an enzyme required for de novo purine biosynthesis, the long non-coding RNA MALAT1 and the MAST2 kinase are overexpressed in certain tumor entities and capable of suppressing apoptosis in human cells. Using a subcutaneous xenograft mouse model, we also demonstrated that glioblastoma tumor growth requires MAST2 expression. An additional advantage of the yeast survival screen is its universal applicability. By using various inducible pro-apoptotic killer proteins and screening the appropriate cDNA library prepared from normal or pathologic tissue of interest, the survival screen can be used to identify apoptosis inhibitors in many different systems.
Vaccination Directed against the Human Endogenous Retrovirus-K Envelope Protein Inhibits Tumor Growth in a Murine Model System
Sarah M. Büchner
Winfried S. Wels
Barbara S. Schnierle
- Human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) genomes are chromosomally integrated in all cells of an individual. They are normally transcriptionally silenced and transmitted only vertically. Enhanced expression of HERV-K accompanied by the emergence of anti-HERV-K-directed immune responses has been observed in tumor patients and HIV-infected individuals. As HERV-K is usually not expressed and immunological tolerance development is unlikely, it is an appropriate target for the development of immunotherapies. We generated a recombinant vaccinia virus (MVA-HKenv) expressing the HERV-K envelope glycoprotein (ENV), based on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), and established an animal model to test its vaccination efficacy. Murine renal carcinoma cells (Renca) were genetically altered to express E. coli beta-galactosidase (RLZ cells) or the HERV-K ENV gene (RLZ-HKenv cells). Intravenous injection of RLZ-HKenv cells into syngenic BALB/c mice led to the formation of pulmonary metastases, which were detectable by X-gal staining. A single vaccination of tumor-bearing mice with MVA-HKenv drastically reduced the number of pulmonary RLZ-HKenv tumor nodules compared to vaccination with wild-type MVA. Prophylactic vaccination of mice with MVA-HKenv precluded the formation of RLZ-HKenv tumor nodules, whereas wild-type MVA-vaccinated animals succumbed to metastasis. Protection from tumor formation correlated with enhanced HERV-K ENV-specific killing activity of splenocytes. These data demonstrate for the first time that HERV-K ENV is a useful target for vaccine development and might offer new treatment opportunities for diverse types of cancer.
Murine amniotic fluid stem cells contribute mesenchymal but not epithelial components to reconstituted mammary ducts
Petra A. B. Klemmt
- Introduction: Amniotic fluid harbors cells indicative of all three germ layers, and pluripotent fetal amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSs) are considered potentially valuable for applications in cellular therapy and tissue engineering. We investigated whether it is possible to direct the cell fate of AFSs in vivo by transplantation experiments into a particular microenvironment, the mammary fat pad. This microenvironment provides the prerequisites to study stem cell function and the communication between mesenchymal and epithelial cells. On clearance of the endogenous epithelium, the ductal tree can be reconstituted by the transfer of exogenously provided mammary stem cells. Analogously, exogenously provided stem cells from other tissues can be investigated for their potential to contribute to mammary gland regeneration. Methods: We derived pluripotent murine AFSs, measured the expression of stem cell markers, and confirmed their in vitro differentiation potential. AFSs were transplanted into cleared and non cleared fat pads of immunocompromised mice to evaluate their ability to assume particular cell fates under the instructive conditions of the fat-pad microenvironment and the hormonal stimulation during pregnancy. Results: Transplantation of AFSs into cleared fat pads alone or in the presence of exogenous mammary epithelial cells caused their differentiation into stroma and adipocytes and replaced endogenous mesenchymal components surrounding the ducts in co-transplantation experiments. Similarly, transplantation of AFSs into fat pads that had not been previously cleared led to AFS-derived stromal cells surrounding the elongating endogenous ducts. AFSs expressed the marker protein α-SMA, but did not integrate into the myoepithelial cell layer of the ducts in virgin mice. With pregnancy, a small number of AFS-derived cells were present in acinar structures. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that the microenvironmental cues of the mammary fat pad cause AFSs to participate in mammary gland regeneration by providing mesenchymal components to emerging glandular structures, but do not incorporate or differentiate into ductal epithelial cells.
The viral vector vaccine VSV-GP boosts immune response upon repeated applications
Lisa Mareike Egerer
Dorothee von Laer
- Poster presentation AIDS Vaccine 2012 Boston, MA, USA. 9-12 September 2012
Background: Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a potent candidate vaccine vector for various viral diseases (e.g. HIV, HCV, RSV). The biggest limitation of VSV, however, is its neurotoxicity, which limits application in humans. The second drawback is that VSV induces neutralizing antibodies rapidly and is thus ineffective as a vaccine vector upon repeated applications. Our group has recently shown that VSV pseudotyped with the glycoprotein (GP) of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), VSV-GP, is not neurotoxic. The aim of this project was to evaluate the potential of VSV-GP as a vaccine vector.
Methods: For this purpose, we used Ovalbumin (OVA) as a model antigen and analyzed immunogenicity of GP-pseudotyped and wildtype VSV containing OVA (VSV-GP-OVA and VSV-OVA) in vitro and in vivo in mouse models.
Results: We showed that both vectors infected murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (bmDCs) in vitro. These bmDCs were able to activate OVA specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Immunization experiments in mice revealed that both VSV-OVA and VSV-GP-OVA induced functional OVA-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) after a single immunization. In addition, with both viruses, mice generated antibodies against OVA. However, boosting with the same virus was only possible for the GP-pseudotyped virus but not for wild type VSV. The efficacy of repeated immunization with VSV-OVA was most likely limited by high levels of neutralizing antibodies, which we detected after the first immunization. In contrast, no neutralizing antibodies against VSV-GP were induced even after boosting.
Conclusion: Taken together, we showed that the non-neurotoxic VSV-GP is able to induce specific T cell and B cell responses against the model antigen OVA to the same level as the wild type VSV vector. However, in contrast to wild type VSV, VSV-GP-OVA boosted the immune response upon repeated applications. Thus, VSV-GP is a promising novel vaccine vector.
Ökosystem statt Nutzwald
Protection of stem cell-derived lymphocytes in a primate AIDS gene therapy model after in vivo selection
Grant D. Trobridge
Robert A. Wu
Brian C. Beard
Sum Ying Chiu
Nina M. Muñoz
Dorothee von Laer
John J. Rossi
- Background: There is currently no effective AIDS vaccine, emphasizing the importance of developing alternative therapies. Recently, a patient was successfully transplanted with allogeneic, naturally resistant CCR5-negative (CCR5 delta 32) cells, setting the stage for transplantation of naturally resistant, or genetically modified stem cells as a viable therapy for AIDS. Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy using vectors that express various anti-HIV transgenes has also been attempted in clinical trials, but inefficient gene transfer in these studies has severely limited the potential of this approach. Here we evaluated HSC gene transfer of an anti-HIV vector in the pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) model, which closely models human transplantation. Methods and Findings: We used lentiviral vectors that inhibited both HIV-1 and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/HIV-1 (SHIV) chimera virus infection, and also expressed a P140K mutant methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) transgene to select gene-modified cells by adding chemotherapy drugs. Following transplantation and MGMT-mediated selection we demonstrated transgene expression in over 7% of stem-cell derived lymphocytes. The high marking levels allowed us to demonstrate protection from SHIV in lymphocytes derived from gene-modified macaque long-term repopulating cells that expressed an HIV-1 fusion inhibitor. We observed a statistically significant 4-fold increase of gene-modified cells after challenge of lymphocytes from one macaque that received stem cells transduced with an anti-HIV vector (p<0.02, Student's t-test), but not in lymphocytes from a macaque that received a control vector. We also established a competitive repopulation assay in a second macaque for preclinical testing of promising anti-HIV vectors. The vectors we used were HIV-based and thus efficiently transduce human cells, and the transgenes we used target HIV-1 genes that are also in SHIV, so our findings can be rapidly translated to the clinic. Conclusions: Here we demonstrate the ability to select protected HSC-derived lymphocytes in vivo in a clinically relevant nonhuman primate model of HIV/SHIV infection. This approach can now be evaluated in human clinical trials in AIDS lymphoma patients. In this patient setting, chemotherapy would not only kill malignant cells, but would also increase the number of MGMTP140K-expressing HIV-resistant cells. This approach should allow for high levels of HIV-protected cells in AIDS patients to evaluate AIDS gene therapy.
A motif unique to the human DEAD-box protein DDX3 is important for nucleic acid binding, ATP hydrolysis, RNA/DNA unwinding and HIV-1 replication
Giulia Di Cicco
- DEAD-box proteins are enzymes endowed with nucleic acid-dependent ATPase, RNA translocase and unwinding activities. The human DEAD-box protein DDX3 has been shown to play important roles in tumor proliferation and viral infections. In particular, DDX3 has been identified as an essential cofactor for HIV-1 replication. Here we characterized a set of DDX3 mutants biochemically with respect to nucleic acid binding, ATPase and helicase activity. In particular, we addressed the functional role of a unique insertion between motifs I and Ia of DDX3 and provide evidence for its implication in nucleic acid binding and HIV-1 replication. We show that human DDX3 lacking this domain binds HIV-1 RNA with lower affinity. Furthermore, a specific peptide ligand for this insertion selected by phage display interferes with HIV-1 replication after transduction into HelaP4 cells. Besides broadening our understanding of the structure-function relationships of this important protein, our results identify a specific domain of DDX3 which may be suited as target for antiviral drugs designed to inhibit cellular cofactors for HIV-1 replication.
Remission of invasive, cancer stem-like glioblastoma xenografts using lentiviral vector-mediated suicide gene therapy
Peter C. Huszthy
Kai Ove Skaftnesmo
Dorothee von Laer
- Background: Glioblastoma is the most frequent and most malignant primary brain tumor with a poor prognosis. The translation of therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma from the experimental phase into the clinic has been limited by insufficient animal models, which lack important features of human tumors. Lentiviral gene therapy is an attractive therapeutic option for human glioblastoma, which we validated in a clinically relevant animal model. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used a rodent xenograft model that recapitulates the invasive and angiogenic features of human glioblastoma to analyze the transduction pattern and therapeutic efficacy of lentiviral pseudotyped vectors. Both, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus glycoprotein (LCMV-GP) and vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV-G) pseudotyped lentiviral vectors very efficiently transduced human glioblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, pseudotyped gammaretroviral vectors, similar to those evaluated for clinical therapy of glioblastoma, showed inefficient gene transfer in vitro and in vivo. Both pseudotyped lentiviral vectors transduced cancer stem-like cells characterized by their CD133-, nestin- and SOX2-expression, the ability to form spheroids in neural stem cell medium and to express astrocytic and neuronal differentiation markers under serum conditions. In a therapeutic approach using the suicide gene herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSV-1-tk) fused to eGFP, both lentiviral vectors mediated a complete remission of solid tumors as seen on MRI resulting in a highly significant survival benefit (p<0.001) compared to control groups. In all recurrent tumors, surviving eGFP-positive tumor cells were found, advocating prodrug application for several cycles to even enhance and prolong the therapeutic effect. Conclusions/Significance: In conclusion, lentiviral pseudotyped vectors are promising candidates for gene therapy of glioma in patients. The inefficient gene delivery by gammaretroviral vectors is in line with the results obtained in clinical therapy for GBM and thus confirms the high reproducibility of the invasive glioma animal model for translational research.
Maltose-binding protein enhances secretion of recombinant human granzyme B accompanied by in vivo processing of a precursor MBP fusion protein
Robert A. Jabulowsky
Winfried S. Wels
- Background: The apoptosis-inducing serine protease granzyme B (GrB) is an important factor contributing to lysis of target cells by cytotoxic lymphocytes. Expression of enzymatically active GrB in recombinant form is a prerequisite for functional analysis and application of GrB for therapeutic purposes. Methods and Findings: We investigated the influence of bacterial maltose-binding protein (MBP) fused to GrB via a synthetic furin recognition motif on the expression of the MBP fusion protein also containing an N-terminal alpha-factor signal peptide in the yeast Pichia pastoris. MBP markedly enhanced the amount of GrB secreted into culture supernatant, which was not the case when GrB was fused to GST. MBP-GrB fusion protein was cleaved during secretion by an endogenous furin-like proteolytic activity in vivo, liberating enzymatically active GrB without the need of subsequent in vitro processing. Similar results were obtained upon expression of a recombinant fragment of the ErbB2/HER2 receptor protein or GST as MBP fusions. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that combination of MBP as a solubility enhancer with specific in vivo cleavage augments secretion of processed and functionally active proteins from yeast. This strategy may be generally applicable to improve folding and increase yields of recombinant proteins.
Role of p53 serine 46 in p53 target gene regulation
Simon J. van Heeringen
Hendrik G. Stunnenberg
- The tumor suppressor p53 plays a crucial role in cellular growth control inducing a plethora of different response pathways. The molecular mechanisms that discriminate between the distinct p53-responses have remained largely elusive. Here, we have analyzed the p53-regulated pathways induced by Actinomycin D and Etoposide treatment resulting in more growth arrested versus apoptotic cells respectively. We found that the genome-wide p53 DNA-binding patterns are almost identical upon both treatments notwithstanding transcriptional differences that we observed in global transcriptome analysis. To assess the role of post-translational modifications in target gene choice and activation we investigated the genome-wide level of phosphorylation of Serine 46 of p53 bound to DNA (p53-pS46) and of Serine 15 (p53-pS15). Interestingly, the extent of S46 phosphorylation of p53 bound to DNA is considerably higher in cells directed towards apoptosis while the degree of phosphorylation at S15 remains highly similar. Moreover, our data suggest that following different chemotherapeutical treatments, the amount of chromatin-associated p53 phosphorylated at S46 but not at pS15 is higher on certain apoptosis related target genes. Our data provide evidence that cell fate decisions are not made primarily on the level of general p53 DNA-binding and that post-translationally modified p53 can have distinct DNA-binding characteristics.