Soft tissue sarcoma: biology and therapeutic correlates

Hannay, Jonathan A.F. (2015) Soft tissue sarcoma: biology and therapeutic correlates. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) comprise a heterogenenous group of greater than 50 malignancies of putative mesenchymal cell origin and as such they may arise in diverse tissue types in various anatomical locations throughout the whole body. Collectively they account for approximately 1% of all human malignancies yet have a spectrum of aggressive behaviours amongst their subtypes. They thus pose a particular challenge to manage and remain an under investigated group of cancers with no generally applicable new therapies in the past 40 years and an overall 5-year survival rate that remains stagnant at around 50%.

From September 2000 to July 2006 I undertook a full time post-doctoral level research fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA in the department of Surgical Oncology to investigate the biology of soft tissue sarcoma and test novel anti- sarcoma adenovirus-based therapy in the preclinical nude rat model of isolated limb perfusion against human sarcoma xenografts. This work, in collaboration with colleagues as indicated herein, led to a number of publications in the scientific literature furthering our understanding of the malignant phenotype of sarcoma and reported preclinical studies with wild-type p53, in a replication deficient adenovirus vector, and oncolytic adenoviruses administered by isolated limb perfusion. Additional collaborative and pioneering preclinical studies reported the molecular imaging of sarcoma response to systemically delivered therapeutic phage RGD-4c AAVP.

Doxorubicin chemotherapy is the single most active broadly applicable anti-sarcoma chemotherapeutic yet only has an approximate 30% overall response rate with additional breakthrough tumour progression and recurrence after initial chemo-responsiveness further problematic features in STS management. Doxorubicin is a substrate for the multi- drug resistance (mdr) gene product p-glycoprotein drug efflux pump and exerts its main mode of action by induction of DNA double-strand breaks during the S-phase of the cell cycle. Two papers in my thesis characterise different aspects of chemoresistance in sarcoma. The first shows that wild-type p53 suppresses Protein Kinase Calpha (PKCα) phosphorylation (and activation) of p-glycoprotein by transcriptional repression of PKCα through a Sp-1 transcription factor binding site in its -244/-234 promoter region. The second paper demonstrates that Rad51 (a central mediator of homologous recombination repair of double strand breaks) has elevated levels in sarcoma and particularly in the S- G2 phase of the cell cycle. Suppression of Rad51 with small interfering RNA in sarcoma cell culture led to doxorubicin chemosensitisation. Reintroduction of wild-type p53 into STS cell lines resulted in decreased Rad51 protein and mRNA expression via transcriptional repression of the Rad51 promoter through increased AP-2 binding.

In light of poor response rates to chemotherapy, escape from local control portends a poor prognosis for patients with sarcoma. Two papers in my thesis characterise aspects of sarcoma angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis. Human sarcoma samples were found to have high levels of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) with expression levels that correlated with p53 mutational status. MMP-9 is known to degrade extracellular collagen, contribute to the control of the angiogenic switch necessary in primary tumour progression and facilitate invasion and metastasis. Reconstitution of wild-type p53 function led to decreased levels of MMP-9 protein and mRNA as well as zymography-assessed MMP-9 proteolytic activity and decreased tumour cell invasiveness. Reintroduction of wild-type p53 into human sarcoma xenografts in-vivo decreased tumour growth and MMP-9 protein expression. Wild-type p53 was found to suppress mmp-9 transcription via decreased binding of NF-κB to its -607/-595 mmp-9 promoter element. Studies on the role of the VEGF165 in sarcoma found that sarcoma cells stably transfected with VEGF165 formed more aggressive xenografted tumours with increased vascularity, growth rate, metastasis, and resistance to chemotherapy. Use of the anti-VEGFR2 antibody DC101 enhanced doxorubicin sensitivity at sub-conventional dosing, inhibited tumour growth, decreased development of metastases, and reduced tumour micro-vessel density while increasing the vessel maturation index. These effects were explained primarily through effects on endothelial cells (e.c.s), rather than the tumour cells per se, where DC101 induced e.c. sensitivity to doxorubicin and suppressed e.c. production of MMPs.

The p53 tumour suppressor pathway is the most frequently mutated pathway in sarcoma. Recapitulation of wild-type p53 function in sarcoma exerts a number of anti-cancer outcomes such as growth arrest, resensitisation to chemotherapy, suppression of invasion, and attenuation of angiogenesis. Using a modified nude rat-human sarcoma xenograft model for isolated limb perfusion (ILP) delivery of wild-type p53 in a replication deficient adenovirus vector I showed that functionally competent wild-type p53 could be delivered to and detected in human leiomyosarcoma xenografts confirming preclinical feasibility - although not efficacious due to low transgene expression. Viral fibre modification to express the RGD tripeptide motif led to greater viral uptake by sarcoma cells in vitro (transductional targeting) and changing the transgene promoter to a response element active in cells with active telomerase expression restricted the transgene expression to the tumour intracellular environment (transcriptional targeting). Delivery of the fibre-modified, selectively replication proficient oncolytic adenovirus Ad.hTC.GFP/ E1a.RGD by ILP demonstrated a more robust, and tumour-restricted, transgene expression with evidence of anti-sarcoma effect confirmed microscopically. Collaborative studies using the fibre modified phage RGD-4C AAVP confirmed that systemic delivery specifically, efficiently, and repeatedly targets human sarcoma xenografts, binds to αv integrins in tumours, and demonstrates a durable, though heterogeneous, transgene expression of 1-4 weeks. Incorporation of the Herpes Simplex Virus thymidine kinase (HSVtk) transgene into RGD-4C AAVP permitted CT-PET spatial and temporal molecular imaging in vivo of transgene expression and allowed quantification of tumour metabolic activity both before and after interval administration of a systemic cytotoxic with predictable and measurable response to treatment before becoming apparent clinically.

These papers further the medical and scientific community’s understanding of the biology of soft tissue sarcoma and report preclinical studies with novel and promising anti- sarcoma therapeutics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: soft tissue sarcoma, sarcoma, chemoresistance, gene therapy, p53, adenovirus, phage, RGD, Rad51, mdr1, DC101, VEGF, VEGFR2, ILP, isolated limb perfusion, doxorubicin, PKC, MMP, angiogenesis
Subjects: R Medicine > RB Pathology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
R Medicine > RD Surgery
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Supervisor's Name: not applicable, . .
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mr J. A. F. Hannay
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6988
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author, except for the published papers where copyright is retained by the original holders as indicated.
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2016 11:48
Last Modified: 18 May 2022 11:07
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