Intercellular mechanisms by which the stromal microenvironment contributes to solid tumor progression and targeted therapy resistance remain poorly understood, presenting significant clinical hurdles. PEAK1 (Pseudopodium-Enriched Atypical Kinase One) is an actin cytoskeleton- and focal adhesion-associated pseudokinase that promotes cell state plasticity and cancer metastasis by mediating growth factor-integrin signaling crosstalk. Here, we determined that stromal PEAK1 expression predicts poor outcomes in HER2-positive breast cancers high in SNAI2 expression and enriched for MSC content. Specifically, we identified that the fibroblastic stroma in HER2-positive breast cancer patient tissue stains positive for both nuclear SNAI2 and cytoplasmic PEAK1. Furthermore, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) express high PEAK1 protein levels and potentiate tumorigenesis, lapatinib resistance and metastasis of HER2-positive breast cancer cells in a PEAK1-dependent manner. Analysis of PEAK1-dependent secreted factors from MSCs revealed INHBA/activin-A as a necessary factor in the conditioned media of PEAK1-expressing MSCs that promotes lapatinib resistance. Single-cell CycIF analysis of MSC-breast cancer cell co-cultures identified enrichment of p-Akthigh/p-gH2AXlow, MCL1high/p-gH2AXlowand GRP78high/VIMhighbreast cancer cell subpopulations by the presence of PEAK1-expressing MSCs and lapatinib treatment. Bioinformatic analyses on a PEAK1-centric stroma-tumor cell gene set and follow-up immunostaining of co-cultures predict targeting antiapoptotic and stress pathways as a means to improve targeted therapy responses and patient outcomes in HER2-positive breast cancer and other stroma-rich malignancies. These data provide the first evidence that PEAK1 promotes tumorigenic phenotypes through a previously unrecognized SNAI2-PEAK1-INHBA stromal cell axis.
Gene expression states persist for varying lengths of time at the single-cell level, a phenomenon known as gene expression memory. When cells switch states, losing memory of their prior state, this transition can occur in the absence of genetic changes. However, we lack robust methods to find regulators of memory or track state switching. Here, we develop a lineage tracing-based technique to quantify memory and identify cells that switch states. Applied to melanoma cells without therapy, we quantify long-lived fluctuations in gene expression that are predictive of later resistance to targeted therapy. We also identify the PI3K and TGF-β pathways as state switching modulators. We propose a pretreatment model, first applying a PI3K inhibitor to modulate gene expression states, then applying targeted therapy, which leads to less resistance than targeted therapy alone. Together, we present a method for finding modulators of gene expression memory and their associated cell fates.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Nature Publishing Group
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Nature Communications
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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This article is categorized under:
Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Mechanistic Models
Biological Mechanisms > Cell Signaling
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