• Somatic mutation of the cohesin complex subunit confers therapeutic vulnerabilities in cancer

      Liu, Y.; Xu, H.; Van der Jeught, K. (American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2018)
      A synthetic lethality-based strategy has been developed to identify therapeutic targets in cancer harboring tumor-suppressor gene mutations, as exemplified by the effectiveness of poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors in BRCA1/2-mutated tumors. However, many synthetic lethal interactors are less reliable due to the fact that such genes usually do not perform fundamental or indispensable functions in the cell. Here, we developed an approach to identifying the "essential lethality" arising from these mutated/deleted essential genes, which are largely tolerated in cancer cells due to genetic redundancy. We uncovered the cohesion subunit SA1 as a putative synthetic-essential target in cancers carrying inactivating mutations of its paralog, SA2. In SA2-deficient Ewing sarcoma and bladder cancer, further depletion of SA1 profoundly and specifically suppressed cancer cell proliferation, survival, and tumorigenic potential. Mechanistically, inhibition of SA1 in the SA2-mutated cells led to premature chromatid separation, dramatic extension of mitotic duration, and consequently, lethal failure of cell division. More importantly, depletion of SA1 rendered those SA2-mutated cells more susceptible to DNA damage, especially double-strand breaks (DSBs), due to reduced functionality of DNA repair. Furthermore, inhibition of SA1 sensitized the SA2-deficient cancer cells to PARP inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, providing a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with SA2-deficient tumors. Copyright 2018 American Society for Clinical Investigation. All rights reserved.
    • ST2 as checkpoint target for colorectal cancer immunotherapy

      Van der Jeught, K.; Sun, Y.; He, X. (The American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2020)
      Immune checkpoint blockade immunotherapy delivers promising clinical results in colorectal cancer (CRC). However, only a fraction of cancer patients develop durable responses. The tumor microenvironment (TME) negatively impacts tumor immunity and subsequently clinical outcomes. Therefore, there is a need to identify other checkpoint targets associated with the TME. Early-onset factors secreted by stromal cells as well as tumor cells often help recruit immune cells to the TME, among which are alarmins such as IL-33. The only known receptor for IL-33 is stimulation 2 (ST2). Here we demonstrated that high ST2 expression is associated with poor survival and is correlated with low CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity in CRC patients. ST2 is particularly expressed in tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). In preclinical models of CRC, we demonstrated that ST2-expressing TAMs (ST2+ TAMs) were recruited into the tumor via CXCR3 expression and exacerbated the immunosuppressive TME; and that combination of ST2 depletion using ST2-KO mice with anti-programmed death 1 treatment resulted in profound growth inhibition of CRC. Finally, using the IL-33trap fusion protein, we suppressed CRC tumor growth and decreased tumor-infiltrating ST2+ TAMs. Together, our findings suggest that ST2 could serve as a potential checkpoint target for CRC immunotherapy.