Brockmann, M., Poon, E., Berry, T., Carstensen, A., Deubzer, H.E., Rycak, L., Jamin, Y., Thway, K., Robinson, S.P., Roels, F., et al.
(2013). Small molecule inhibitors of aurora-a induce proteasomal degradation of N-myc in childhood neuroblastoma. Cancer cell,
Amplification of MYCN is a driver mutation in a subset of human neuroendocrine tumors, including neuroblastoma. No small molecules that target N-Myc, the protein encoded by MYCN, are clinically available. N-Myc forms a complex with the Aurora-A kinase, which protects N-Myc from proteasomal degradation. Although stabilization of N-Myc does not require the catalytic activity of Aurora-A, we show here that two Aurora-A inhibitors, MLN8054 and MLN8237, disrupt the Aurora-A/N-Myc complex and promote degradation of N-Myc mediated by the Fbxw7 ubiquitin ligase. Disruption of the Aurora-A/N-Myc complex inhibits N-Myc-dependent transcription, correlating with tumor regression and prolonged survival in a mouse model of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma. We conclude that Aurora-A is an accessible target that makes destabilization of N-Myc a viable therapeutic strategy. .
DuBois, S.G., Chesler, L., Groshen, S., Hawkins, R., Goodarzian, F., Shimada, H., Yanik, G., Tagen, M., Stewart, C., Mosse, Y.P., et al.
(2012). Phase I study of vincristine, irinotecan, and ¹³¹I-metaiodobenzylguanidine for patients with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma: a new approaches to neuroblastoma therapy trial. Clin cancer res,
PURPOSE: (131)I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) is a targeted radiopharmaceutical with activity in patients with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma. Irinotecan is a known radiosensitizer with activity in neuroblastoma. This phase I study aimed to determine the recommended phase 2 dose of MIBG together with fixed doses of vincristine and irinotecan. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Patients 1 to 30 years old with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma and MIBG-avid tumors were eligible. All patients had autologous hematopoietic stem cells (PBSC) available and met standard phase I organ function requirements. Irinotecan (20 mg/m(2)/dose IV) was given on days 0 to 4 and 7 to 11, with vincristine (1.5 mg/m(2) IV) on days 0 and 7. MIBG was given on day 1 following a 3 + 3 phase I dose escalation design starting at 8 mCi/kg MIBG. PBSCs were administered at dose level 8 mCi/kg for prolonged myelosuppression and for all patients at 12 mCi/kg or more. RESULTS: Twenty-four patients evaluable for dose escalation (median age, 6.7 years; range, 1.9-26.8 years) received 1 (n = 17), 2 (n = 5), or 3 (n = 2) cycles of therapy. Myelosuppression and diarrhea were the most common toxicities. Two of 6 patients at the 18 mCi/kg dose level had dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), including one with protocol-defined DLT with prolonged mild aspartate aminotransferase elevation. Eighteen mCi/kg was the recommended phase 2 dose. Six additional patients were treated at 18 mCi/kg, with one additional DLT. Responses (2 complete and 4 partial responses) occurred in 6 of 24 (25%) evaluable patients. CONCLUSIONS: MIBG is tolerable and active at 18 mCi/kg with standard doses of vincristine and irinotecan..
Berry, T., Luther, W., Bhatnagar, N., Jamin, Y., Poon, E., Sanda, T., Pei, D., Sharma, B., Vetharoy, W.R., Hallsworth, A., et al.
(2012). The ALK(F1174L) mutation potentiates the oncogenic activity of MYCN in neuroblastoma. Cancer cell,
The ALK(F1174L) mutation is associated with intrinsic and acquired resistance to crizotinib and cosegregates with MYCN in neuroblastoma. In this study, we generated a mouse model overexpressing ALK(F1174L) in the neural crest. Compared to ALK(F1174L) and MYCN alone, co-expression of these two oncogenes led to the development of neuroblastomas with earlier onset, higher penetrance, and enhanced lethality. ALK(F1174L)/MYCN tumors exhibited increased MYCN dosage due to ALK(F1174L)-induced activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR and MAPK pathways, coupled with suppression of MYCN pro-apoptotic effects. Combined treatment with the ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitor Torin2 overcame the resistance of ALK(F1174L)/MYCN tumors to crizotinib. Our findings demonstrate a pathogenic role for ALK(F1174L) in neuroblastomas overexpressing MYCN and suggest a strategy for improving targeted therapy for ALK-positive neuroblastoma..
Swartling, F.J., Savov, V., Persson, A.I., Chen, J., Hackett, C.S., Northcott, P.A., Grimmer, M.R., Lau, J., Chesler, L., Perry, A., et al.
(2012). Distinct neural stem cell populations give rise to disparate brain tumors in response to N-MYC. Cancer cell,
The proto-oncogene MYCN is mis-expressed in various types of human brain tumors. To clarify how developmental and regional differences influence transformation, we transduced wild-type or mutationally stabilized murine N-myc(T58A) into neural stem cells (NSCs) from perinatal murine cerebellum, brain stem, and forebrain. Transplantation of N-myc(WT) NSCs was insufficient for tumor formation. N-myc(T58A) cerebellar and brain stem NSCs generated medulloblastoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumors, whereas forebrain NSCs developed diffuse glioma. Expression analyses distinguished tumors generated from these different regions, with tumors from embryonic versus postnatal cerebellar NSCs demonstrating Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) dependence and SHH independence, respectively. These differences were regulated in part by the transcription factor SOX9, activated in the SHH subclass of human medulloblastoma. Our results demonstrate context-dependent transformation of NSCs in response to a common oncogenic signal..
Moreno, L., Chesler, L., Hargrave, D., Eccles, S.A. & Pearson, A.D.
(2011). Preclinical drug development for childhood cancer. Expert opin drug dis,
Importance of the field: More effective drugs are needed to treat poor prognosis paediatric malignancies. Development of anticancer agents for childhood cancers faces several unique challenges compared with their adult counterparts.Areas covered in this review: We demonstrate how recent advances in preclinical drug development may overcome these difficulties and challenges. We explain the role of academia, regulators and industry in this field, address issues with preclinical models and illustrate several examples of biology-driven drug development in childhood cancers.What the reader will gain: Increased knowledge about preclinical drug development in paediatric oncology including different preclinical models, established preclinical research networks, and relationships among academia, industry and regulators, as illustrated by several examples of targeted agents in childhood solid malignancies.Take home message: It is anticipated that emerging advanced preclinical models and testing platforms will provide a more efficient, biologically-driven rationale to support the use of targeted therapies in several malignancies such as neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma or high grade glioma which account for the majority of deaths related to childhood cancer..
Chesler, L. & Weiss, W.A.
(2011). Genetically engineered murine models--contribution to our understanding of the genetics, molecular pathology and therapeutic targeting of neuroblastoma. Semin cancer biol,
Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM) have made major contributions to a molecular understanding of several adult cancers and these results are increasingly being translated into the pre-clinical setting where GEMM will very likely make a major impact on the development of targeted therapeutics in the near future. The relationship of pediatric cancers to altered developmental programs, and their genetic simplicity relative to adult cancers provides unique opportunities for the application of new advances in GEMM technology. In neuroblastoma the well-characterized TH-MYCN GEMM is increasingly used for a variety of molecular-genetic, developmental and pre-clinical therapeutics applications. We discuss: the present and historical application of GEMM to neuroblastoma research, future opportunities, and relevant targets suitable for new GEMM strategies in neuroblastoma. We review the potential of these models to contribute both to an understanding of the developmental nature of neuroblastoma and to improved therapy for this disease..
Faisal, A., Vaughan, L., Bavetsias, V., Sun, C., Atrash, B., Avery, S., Jamin, Y., Robinson, S.P., Workman, P., Blagg, J., et al.
(2011). The aurora kinase inhibitor CCT137690 downregulates MYCN and sensitizes MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma in vivo. Mol cancer ther,
Aurora kinases regulate key stages of mitosis including centrosome maturation, spindle assembly, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis. Aurora A and B kinase overexpression has also been associated with various human cancers, and as such, they have been extensively studied as novel antimitotic drug targets. Here, we characterize the Aurora kinase inhibitor CCT137690, a highly selective, orally bioavailable imidazo[4,5-b]pyridine derivative that inhibits Aurora A and B kinases with low nanomolar IC(50) values in both biochemical and cellular assays and exhibits antiproliferative activity against a wide range of human solid tumor cell lines. CCT137690 efficiently inhibits histone H3 and transforming acidic coiled-coil 3 phosphorylation (Aurora B and Aurora A substrates, respectively) in HCT116 and HeLa cells. Continuous exposure of tumor cells to the inhibitor causes multipolar spindle formation, chromosome misalignment, polyploidy, and apoptosis. This is accompanied by p53/p21/BAX induction, thymidine kinase 1 downregulation, and PARP cleavage. Furthermore, CCT137690 treatment of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines inhibits cell proliferation and decreases MYCN protein expression. Importantly, in a transgenic mouse model of neuroblastoma that overexpresses MYCN protein and is predisposed to spontaneous neuroblastoma formation, this compound significantly inhibits tumor growth. The potent preclinical activity of CCT137690 suggests that this inhibitor may benefit patients with MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma..
Swartling, F.J., Grimmer, M.R., Hackett, C.S., Northcott, P.A., Fan, Q.-., Goldenberg, D.D., Lau, J., Masic, S., Nguyen, K., Yakovenko, S., et al.
(2010). Pleiotropic role for MYCN in medulloblastoma. Genes dev,
Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood. Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling drives a minority of MB, correlating with desmoplastic pathology and favorable outcome. The majority, however, arises independently of SHH and displays classic or large cell anaplastic (LCA) pathology and poor prognosis. To identify common signaling abnormalities, we profiled mRNA, demonstrating misexpression of MYCN in the majority of human MB and negligible expression in normal cerebella. We clarified a role in pathogenesis by targeting MYCN (and luciferase) to cerebella of transgenic mice. MYCN-driven MB showed either classic or LCA pathologies, with Shh signaling activated in approximately 5% of tumors, demonstrating that MYCN can drive MB independently of Shh. MB arose at high penetrance, consistent with a role for MYCN in initiation. Tumor burden correlated with bioluminescence, with rare metastatic spread to the leptomeninges, suggesting roles for MYCN in both progression and metastasis. Transient pharmacological down-regulation of MYCN led to both clearance and senescence of tumor cells, and improved survival. Targeted expression of MYCN thus contributes to initiation, progression, and maintenance of MB, suggesting a central role for MYCN in pathogenesis..
Chesler, L., Goldenberg, D., Collins, R., Grimmer, M., Kim, G.E., Tihan, T., Nguyen, K., Yakovenko, S., Matthay, K.K. & Weiss, W.A., et al.
(2008). Chemotherapy-Induced Apoptosis in a Transgenic Model of Neuroblastoma Proceeds Through p53 Induction. Neoplasia,
Chemoresistance in neuroblastoma is a significant issue complicating treatment of this common pediatric solid tumor. MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas are infrequently mutated at p53 and are chemosensitive at diagnosis but acquire p53 mutations and chemoresistance with relapse. Paradoxically, Myc-driven transformation is thought to require apoptotic blockade. We used the TH-MYCN transgenic murine model to examine the role of p53-driven apoptosis on neuroblastoma tumorigenesis and the response to chemotherapy. Tumors formed with high penetrance and low latency in p53-haploinsufficient TH-MYCN mice. Cyclophosphamide (CPM) induced a complete remission in p53 wild type TH-MYCN tumors, mirroring the sensitivity of childhood neuroblastoma to this agent. Treated tumors showed a prominent proliferation block, induction of p53 protein, and massive apoptosis proceeding through induction of the Bcl-2 homology domain-3-only proteins PUMA and Bim, leading to the activation of Bax and cleavage of caspase-3 and-9. Apoptosis induced by CPM was reduced in p53-haploinsufficient tumors. Treatment of MYCN-expressing human neuroblastoma cell lines with CPM induced apoptosis that was suppressible by siRNA to p53. Taken together, the results indicate that the p53 pathway plays a significant role in opposing MYCN-driven oncogenesis in a mouse model of neuroblastoma and that basal inactivation of the pathway is achieved in progressing tumors. This, in part, explains the striking sensitivity of such tumors to chemotoxic agents that induce p53-dependent apoptosis and is consistent with clinical observations that therapy-associated mutations in p53 are a likely contributor to the biology of tumors at relapse and secondarily mediate resistance to therapy..
Chesler, L., Schlieve, C., Goldenberg, D.D., Kenney, A., Kim, G., McMillan, A., Matthay, K.K., Rowitch, D. & Weiss, W.A.
(2006). Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase destabilizes Mycn protein and blocks malignant progression in neuroblastoma. Cancer res,
Amplification of MYCN occurs commonly in neuroblastoma. We report that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibition in murine neuroblastoma (driven by a tyrosine hydroxylase-MYCN transgene) led to decreased tumor mass and decreased levels of Mycn protein without affecting levels of MYCN mRNA. Consistent with these observations, PI3K inhibition in MYCN-amplified human neuroblastoma cell lines resulted in decreased levels of Mycn protein without affecting levels of MYCN mRNA and caused decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis. To clarify the importance of Mycn as a target of broad-spectrum PI3K inhibitors, we transduced wild-type N-myc and N-myc mutants lacking glycogen synthase kinase 3beta phosphorylation sites into human neuroblastoma cells with no endogenous expression of myc. In contrast to wild-type N-myc, the phosphorylation-defective mutant proteins were stabilized and were resistant to the antiproliferative effects of PI3K inhibition. Our results show the importance of Mycn as a therapeutic target in established tumors in vivo, offer a mechanistic rationale to test PI3K inhibitors in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma, and represent a therapeutic approach applicable to a broad range of cancers in which transcription factors are stabilized through a PI3K-dependent mechanism..