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The TOP vector: a new high-titer lentiviral construct for delivery of sgRNAs and transgenes to primary T cells

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev

2021 Daryl Humes; Stephanie Rainwater; Julie Overbaugh

Efficient delivery of nucleic acids for the engineering of primary T cells is central to the study of the basic biology of these key immune effector cells and has clinical implications. To date, lentiviral vectors delivering guide RNAs for CRISPR-Cas9 editing are not optimal for use in primary cells. Herein, we describe the T cell optimized for packaging (TOP) vector for delivering guide RNAs and transgenes into primary T cells. The TOP vector produces high-titer virus compared to a routinely used guide RNA vector, resulting in a ~10-fold increase in transduction in T cells. Moreover, a TOP vector expressing a chimeric antigen receptor and a guide RNA targeting the T cell receptor showed an ~5- to 9-fold increased transduction efficiency with ~2- to 3-fold higher expression compared to the commonly used epHIV7 vector and was simultaneously able to mediate efficient knockout of the endogenous T cell receptor in >71% of transduced cells upon Cas9 electroporation. The increased packaging of the TOP vector genome into viral particles appears to contribute to its higher transduction efficiency. The TOP vector represents an optimal tool for tandem delivery of transgenes and guide RNAs to primary T cells for use in functional screens and immunotherapy applications.

Correction to: Role of androgen receptor splice variant-7 (AR-V7) in prostate cancer resistance to 2nd-generation androgen receptor signaling inhibitors


2021 Ilsa Coleman; Peter Nelson


Patterns and timing of perioperative blood transfusion and association with outcomes after radical cystectomy

Urol Oncol

2021 Robert Montgomery; Michael Schweizer; Heather Cheng; Lawrence True; Funda Vakar-Lopez; Jonathan Wright; Petros Grivas; John Lee; Andrew Hsieh; Daniel Lin; George Schade; John Gore; Ali Khaki; Yaw Nyame; Sarah Psutka; Maria Tretiakova; Evan Yu

BACKGROUND: Perioperative blood transfusion (PBT) has been associated with worse outcomes across tumor types, including bladder cancer. We report our institutional experience with PBT utilization in the setting of radical cystectomy (RC) for patients with bladder cancer, exploring whether timing of PBT receipt influences perioperative and oncologic outcomes. METHODS: Consecutive patients with bladder cancer treated with RC were identified. PBT was defined as red blood cell transfusion during RC or the postoperative admission. Clinicopathologic and peri and/or postoperative parameters were extracted and compared between patients who did and did not receive PBT using Mann Whitney U Test, chi-square, and log-rank test. Overall (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS) were estimated with the Kaplan Meier method. Univariate/multivariate logistic and Cox proportional hazards regression were used to identify variables associated with postoperative and oncologic outcomes, respectively. RESULTS: The cohort consisted of 747 patients (77% men; median age 67 years). Median follow-up was 61.5 months (95% CI 55.8-67.2) At least one postoperative complication (90-day morbidity) occurred in 394 (53%) patients. Median OS and RFS were 91.8 months (95% CI: 76.0-107.6) and 66.0 months (95% CI: 48.3-83.7), respectively. On multivariate analysis, intraoperative, but not postoperative, BT was independently associated with shorter OS (HR: 1.74, 95% CI: 1.32-2.29) and RFS (HR: 1.55, 95%CI: 1.20-2.01), after adjusting for relevant clinicopathologic variables. PBT (intra- or post- operative) was significantly associated with prolonged postoperative hospitalization 10 days. CONCLUSIONS: Intraoperative BT was associated with inferior OS and RFS, and PBT overall was associated with prolonged hospitalization following RC. Further studies are needed to validate this finding and explore potential causes for this observation.

Whole-genome characterization of lung adenocarcinomas lacking the RTK/RAS/RAF pathway

Cell Rep

2021 Alice Berger; Sitapriya Moorthi

RTK/RAS/RAF pathway alterations (RPAs) are a hallmark of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). In this study, we use whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 85 cases found to be RPA(-) by previous studies from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to characterize the minority of LUADs lacking apparent alterations in this pathway. We show that WGS analysis uncovers RPA(+) in 28 (33%) of the 85 samples. Among the remaining 57 cases, we observe focal deletions targeting the promoter or transcription start site of STK11 (n = 7) or KEAP1 (n = 3), and promoter mutations associated with the increased expression of ILF2 (n = 6). We also identify complex structural variations associated with high-level copy number amplifications. Moreover, an enrichment of focal deletions is found in TP53 mutant cases. Our results indicate that RPA(-) cases demonstrate tumor suppressor deletions and genome instability, but lack unique or recurrent genetic lesions compensating for the lack of RPAs. Larger WGS studies of RPA(-) cases are required to understand this important LUAD subset.

Sustained Helicobacter pylori infection accelerates gastric dysplasia in a mouse model

Life Sci Alliance

2021 Christina Leverich; Robert Pierce; Nina Salama; Julien Dubrulle; Valerie O'Brien; Jean Campbell; Vattanak Kong; Amanda Koehne; Armando Rodriguez

More than 80% of gastric cancer is attributable to stomach infection with Helicobacter pylori (Hp). Gastric preneoplastic progression involves sequential tissue changes, including loss of parietal cells, metaplasia and dysplasia. In transgenic mice, active KRAS expression recapitulates these tissue changes in the absence of Hp infection. This model provides an experimental system to investigate additional roles of Hp in preneoplastic progression, beyond its known role in initiating inflammation. Tissue histology, gene expression, the immune cell repertoire, and metaplasia and dysplasia marker expression were assessed in KRAS+ mice +/-Hp infection. Hp+/KRAS+ mice had severe T-cell infiltration and altered macrophage polarization; a different trajectory of metaplasia; more dysplastic glands; and greater proliferation of metaplastic and dysplastic glands. Eradication of Hp with antibiotics, even after onset of metaplasia, prevented or reversed these tissue phenotypes. These results suggest that gastric preneoplastic progression differs between Hp+ and Hp- cases, and that sustained Hp infection can promote the later stages of gastric preneoplastic progression.

High-resolution mapping of the neutralizing and binding specificities of polyclonal sera post HIV Env trimer vaccination


2021 Julie Overbaugh; Jesse Bloom; Adam Dingens; Sarah Hilton; Keara Malone

Mapping polyclonal serum responses is critical to rational vaccine design. However, most high-resolution mapping approaches involve isolating and characterizing individual antibodies, which incompletely defines the polyclonal response. Here we use two complementary approaches to directly map the specificities of the neutralizing and binding antibodies of polyclonal anti-HIV-1 sera from rabbits immunized with BG505 Env SOSIP trimers. We used mutational antigenic profiling to determine how all mutations in Env affected viral neutralization and electron microscopy polyclonal epitope mapping (EMPEM) to directly visualize serum Fabs bound to Env trimers. The dominant neutralizing specificities were generally only a subset of the more diverse binding specificities. Additional differences between binding and neutralization reflected antigenicity differences between virus and soluble Env trimer. Further, we refined residue-level epitope specificity directly from sera, revealing subtle differences across sera. Together, mutational antigenic profiling and EMPEM yield a holistic view of the binding and neutralizing specificity of polyclonal sera.

Development of antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity function in HIV-1 antibodies


2021 Meghan Garrett; Duncan Ralph; Dana Arenz; Amrit Dhar; Zachary Yaffe; Laura Doepker; Sonja Danon; Elias Harkins; Frederick Matsen; Julie Overbaugh; Megan Stumpf

A prerequisite for the design of an HIV vaccine that elicits protective antibodies is understanding the developmental pathways that result in desirable antibody features. The development of antibodies that mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) is particularly relevant because such antibodies have been associated with HIV protection in humans. We reconstructed the developmental pathways of six human HIV-specific ADCC antibodies using longitudinal antibody sequencing data. Most of the inferred naïve antibodies did not mediate detectable ADCC. Gain of antigen binding and ADCC function typically required mutations in complementarity determining regions of one or both chains. Enhancement of ADCC potency often required additional mutations in framework regions. Antigen binding affinity and ADCC activity were correlated, but affinity alone was not sufficient to predict ADCC potency. Thus, elicitation of broadly active ADCC antibodies may require mutations that enable high affinity antigen recognition along with mutations that optimize factors contributing to functional ADCC activity.

YAP1 and its fusion proteins in cancer initiation, progression and therapeutic resistance

Dev Biol

2021 Eric Holland; Valeri Vasioukhin; Frank Szulzewsky

YAP1 is a transcriptional co-activator whose activity is controlled by the Hippo signaling pathway. In addition to important functions in normal tissue homeostasis and regeneration, YAP1 has also prominent functions in cancer initiation, aggressiveness, metastasis, and therapy resistance. In this review we are discussing the molecular functions of YAP1 and its roles in cancer, with a focus on the different mechanisms of de-regulation of YAP1 activity in human cancers, including inactivation of upstream Hippo pathway tumor suppressors, regulation by intersecting pathways, miRNAs, and viral oncogenes. We are also discussing new findings on the function and biology of the recently identified family of YAP1 gene fusions, that constitute a new type of activating mutation of YAP1 and that are the likely oncogenic drivers in several subtypes of human cancers. Lastly, we also discuss different strategies of therapeutic inhibition of YAP1 functions.

Interplay of opposing fate choices stalls oncogenic growth in murine skin epithelium


2021 Madeline Sandoval; Zhe Ying; Slobodan Beronja

Skin epithelium can accumulate a high burden of oncogenic mutations without morphological or functional consequences. To investigate the mechanism of oncogenic tolerance, we induced HrasG12V in single murine epidermal cells and followed them long-term. We observed that HrasG12V promotes an early and transient clonal expansion driven by increased progenitor renewal that is replaced with an increase in progenitor differentiation leading to reduced growth. We attribute this dynamic effect to emergence of two populations within oncogenic clones: renewing progenitors along the edge and differentiating ones within the central core. As clone expansion is accompanied by progressive enlargement of the core and diminishment of the edge compartment, the intra-clonal competition between the two populations results in stabilized oncogenic growth. To identify the molecular mechanism of HrasG12V-driven differentiation, we screened known Ras-effector in vivo, and identified Rassf5 as a novel regulator of progenitor fate choice that is necessary and sufficient for oncogene-specific differentiation.

A brain-penetrant microtubule-targeting agent that disrupts hallmarks of glioma tumorigenesis

Neurooncol Adv

2021 Eric Holland; Patrick Cimino; Debra Kumasaka; Nephi Stella

Background: Glioma is sensitive to microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs), but most MTAs do not cross the blood brain barrier (BBB). To address this limitation, we developed the new chemical entity, ST-401, a brain-penetrant MTA. Methods: Synthesis of ST-401. Measures of MT assembly and dynamics. Cell proliferation and viability of patient-derived (PD) glioma in culture. Measure of tumor microtube (TM) parameters using immunofluorescence analysis and machine learning-based workflow. Pharmacokinetics (PK) and experimental toxicity in mice. In vivo antitumor activity in the RCAS/tv-a PDGFB-driven glioma (PDGFB-glioma) mouse model. Results: We discovered that ST-401 disrupts microtubule (MT) function through gentle and reverisible reduction in MT assembly that triggers mitotic delay and cell death in interphase. ST-401 inhibits the formation of TMs, MT-rich structures that connect glioma to a network that promotes resistance to DNA damage. PK analysis of ST-401 in mice shows brain penetration reaching antitumor concentrations, and in vivo testing of ST-401 in a xenograft flank tumor mouse model demonstrates significant antitumor activity and no over toxicity in mice. In the PDGFB-glioma mouse model, ST-401 enhances the therapeutic efficacies of temozolomide (TMZ) and radiation therapy (RT). Conclusion: Our study identifies hallmarks of glioma tumorigenesis that are sensitive to MTAs and reports ST-401 as a promising chemical scaffold to develop brain-penetrant MTAs.