All Publications

  • Organoid Modeling of the Tumor Immune Microenvironment. Cell Neal, J. T., Li, X., Zhu, J., Giangarra, V., Grzeskowiak, C. L., Ju, J., Liu, I. H., Chiou, S., Salahudeen, A. A., Smith, A. R., Deutsch, B. C., Liao, L., Zemek, A. J., Zhao, F., Karlsson, K., Schultz, L. M., Metzner, T. J., Nadauld, L. D., Tseng, Y., Alkhairy, S., Oh, C., Keskula, P., Mendoza-Villanueva, D., De La Vega, F. M., Kunz, P. L., Liao, J. C., Leppert, J. T., Sunwoo, J. B., Sabatti, C., Boehm, J. S., Hahn, W. C., Zheng, G. X., Davis, M. M., Kuo, C. J. 2018; 175 (7): 1972


    Invitro cancer cultures, including three-dimensional organoids, typically contain exclusively neoplastic epithelium but require artificial reconstitution to recapitulate the tumor microenvironment (TME). The co-culture of primary tumor epithelia with endogenous, syngeneic tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) as a cohesive unit has been particularly elusive. Here, an air-liquid interface (ALI) method propagated patient-derived organoids (PDOs) from >100 human biopsies or mouse tumors in syngeneic immunocompetent hosts as tumor epithelia with native embedded immune cells (T, B, NK, macrophages). Robust droplet-based, single-cell simultaneous determination of gene expression and immune repertoire indicated that PDO TILs accurately preserved the original tumor Tcell receptor (TCR) spectrum. Crucially, human and murine PDOs successfully modeled immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) with anti-PD-1- and/or anti-PD-L1 expanding and activating tumor antigen-specific TILs and eliciting tumor cytotoxicity. Organoid-based propagation of primary tumor epithelium en bloc with endogenous immune stroma should enable immuno-oncology investigations within the TME and facilitate personalized immunotherapy testing.

    View details for PubMedID 30550791

  • Hmga2 is dispensable for pancreatic cancer development, metastasis, and therapy resistance. Scientific reports Chiou, S., Dorsch, M., Kusch, E., Naranjo, S., Kozak, M. M., Koong, A. C., Winslow, M. M., Gruner, B. M. 2018; 8 (1): 14008


    Expression of the chromatin-associated protein HMGA2 correlates with progression, metastasis and therapy resistance in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Hmga2 has also been identified as a marker of a transient subpopulation of PDAC cells that has increased metastatic ability. Here, we characterize the requirement for Hmga2 during growth, dissemination, and metastasis of PDAC in vivo using conditional inactivation of Hmga2 in well-established autochthonous mouse models of PDAC. Overall survival, primary tumour burden, presence ofdisseminated tumour cells in the peritoneal cavity or circulating tumour cells in the blood, and presence and number of metastases were not significantly different between mice with Hmga2-wildtype or Hmga2-deficient tumours. Treatment of mice with Hmga2-wildtype and Hmga2-deficient tumours with gemcitabine did not uncover a significant impact of Hmga2-deficiency on gemcitabine sensitivity. Hmga1 and Hmga2 overlap in their expression in both human and murine PDAC, however knockdown of Hmga1 in Hmga2-deficient cancer cells also did not decrease metastatic ability. Thus, Hmga2 remains a prognostic marker which identifies a metastatic cancer cell state in primary PDAC, however Hmga2 has limited if any direct functional impact on PDAC progression and therapy resistance.

    View details for PubMedID 30228296

  • Gpr124 is essential for blood-brain barrier integrity in central nervous system disease NATURE MEDICINE Chang, J., Mancuso, M. R., Maier, C., Liang, X., Yuki, K., Yang, L., Kwong, J. W., Wang, J., Rao, V., Vallon, M., Kosinski, C., Zhang, J. J., Mah, A. T., Xu, L., Li, L., Gholamin, S., Reyes, T. F., Li, R., Kuhnert, F., Han, X., Yuan, J., Chiou, S., Brettman, A. D., Daly, L., Corney, D. C., Cheshier, S. H., Shortliffe, L. D., Wu, X., Snyder, M., Chan, P., Giffard, R. G., Chang, H. Y., Andreasson, K., Kuo, C. J. 2017; 23 (4): 450-?


    Although blood-brain barrier (BBB) compromise is central to the etiology of diverse central nervous system (CNS) disorders, endothelial receptor proteins that control BBB function are poorly defined. The endothelial G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) Gpr124 has been reported to be required for normal forebrain angiogenesis and BBB function in mouse embryos, but the role of this receptor in adult animals is unknown. Here Gpr124 conditional knockout (CKO) in the endothelia of adult mice did not affect homeostatic BBB integrity, but resulted in BBB disruption and microvascular hemorrhage in mouse models of both ischemic stroke and glioblastoma, accompanied by reduced cerebrovascular canonical Wnt-β-catenin signaling. Constitutive activation of Wnt-β-catenin signaling fully corrected the BBB disruption and hemorrhage defects of Gpr124-CKO mice, with rescue of the endothelial gene tight junction, pericyte coverage and extracellular-matrix deficits. We thus identify Gpr124 as an endothelial GPCR specifically required for endothelial Wnt signaling and BBB integrity under pathological conditions in adult mice. This finding implicates Gpr124 as a potential therapeutic target for human CNS disorders characterized by BBB disruption.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.4309

    View details for PubMedID 28288111

  • Molecular definition of a metastatic lung cancer state reveals a targetable CD109-Janus kinase-Stat axis. Nature medicine Chuang, C., Greenside, P. G., Rogers, Z. N., Brady, J. J., Yang, D., Ma, R. K., Caswell, D. R., Chiou, S., Winters, A. F., Grüner, B. M., Ramaswami, G., Spencley, A. L., Kopecky, K. E., Sayles, L. C., Sweet-Cordero, E. A., Li, J. B., Kundaje, A., Winslow, M. M. 2017; 23 (3): 291-300


    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with the majority of mortality resulting from metastatic spread. However, the molecular mechanism by which cancer cells acquire the ability to disseminate from primary tumors, seed distant organs, and grow into tissue-destructive metastases remains incompletely understood. We combined tumor barcoding in a mouse model of human lung adenocarcinoma with unbiased genomic approaches to identify a transcriptional program that confers metastatic ability and predicts patient survival. Small-scale in vivo screening identified several genes, including Cd109, that encode novel pro-metastatic factors. We uncovered signaling mediated by Janus kinases (Jaks) and the transcription factor Stat3 as a critical, pharmacologically targetable effector of CD109-driven lung cancer metastasis. In summary, by coupling the systematic genomic analysis of purified cancer cells in distinct malignant states from mouse models with extensive human validation, we uncovered several key regulators of metastatic ability, including an actionable pro-metastatic CD109-Jak-Stat3 axis.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.4285

    View details for PubMedID 28191885

  • Blimp1 induces transient metastatic heterogeneity in pancreatic cancer. Cancer discovery Chiou, S. H., Risca, V. I., Wang, G. X., Yang, D., Grüner, B. M., Kathiria, A. S., Ma, R. K., Vaka, D., Chu, P., Kozak, M., Castellini, L., Graves, E. E., Kim, G. E., Mourrain, P., Koong, A. C., Giaccia, A. J., Winslow, M. M. 2017


    Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most metastatic and deadly cancers. Despite the clinical significance of metastatic spread, our understanding of molecular mechanisms that drive PDAC metastatic ability remains limited. Using a novel genetically engineered mouse model of human PDAC, we uncover a transient subpopulation of cancer cells with exceptionally high metastatic ability. Global gene expression profiling and functional analyses uncovered the transcription factor Blimp1 as a key driver of PDAC metastasis. The highly metastatic PDAC subpopulation is enriched for hypoxia-induced genes and hypoxia-mediated induction of Blimp1 contributes to the regulation of a subset of hypoxia-associated gene expression programs. These findings support a model in which up-regulation of Blimp1 links microenvironmental cues to a metastatic stem cell character.

    View details for PubMedID 28790031

  • Multiplexed in vivo homology-directed repair and tumor barcoding enables parallel quantification of Kras variant oncogenicity. Nature communications Winters, I. P., Chiou, S. H., Paulk, N. K., McFarland, C. D., Lalgudi, P. V., Ma, R. K., Lisowski, L., Connolly, A. J., Petrov, D. A., Kay, M. A., Winslow, M. M. 2017; 8 (1): 2053


    Large-scale genomic analyses of human cancers have cataloged somatic point mutations thought to initiate tumor development and sustain cancer growth. However, determining the functional significance of specific alterations remains a major bottleneck in our understanding of the genetic determinants of cancer. Here, we present a platform that integrates multiplexed AAV/Cas9-mediated homology-directed repair (HDR) with DNA barcoding and high-throughput sequencing to simultaneously investigate multiple genomic alterations in de novo cancers in mice. Using this approach, we introduce a barcoded library of non-synonymous mutations into hotspot codons 12 and 13 of Kras in adult somatic cells to initiate tumors in the lung, pancreas, and muscle. High-throughput sequencing of barcoded KrasHDRalleles from bulk lung and pancreas reveals surprising diversity in Kras variant oncogenicity. Rapid, cost-effective, and quantitative approaches to simultaneously investigate the function of precise genomic alterations in vivo will help uncover novel biological and clinically actionable insights into carcinogenesis.

    View details for PubMedID 29233960

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5727199

  • An in vivo multiplexed small-molecule screening platform. Nature methods Grüner, B. M., Schulze, C. J., Yang, D., Ogasawara, D., Dix, M. M., Rogers, Z. N., Chuang, C., McFarland, C. D., Chiou, S., Brown, J. M., Cravatt, B. F., Bogyo, M., Winslow, M. M. 2016; 13 (10): 883-889


    Phenotype-based small-molecule screening is a powerful method to identify molecules that regulate cellular functions. However, such screens are generally performed in vitro under conditions that do not necessarily model complex physiological conditions or disease states. Here, we use molecular cell barcoding to enable direct in vivo phenotypic screening of small-molecule libraries. The multiplexed nature of this approach allows rapid in vivo analysis of hundreds to thousands of compounds. Using this platform, we screened >700 covalent inhibitors directed toward hydrolases for their effect on pancreatic cancer metastatic seeding. We identified multiple hits and confirmed the relevant target of one compound as the lipase ABHD6. Pharmacological and genetic studies confirmed the role of this enzyme as a regulator of metastatic fitness. Our results highlight the applicability of this multiplexed screening platform for investigating complex processes in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.3992

    View details for PubMedID 27617390

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5088491

  • Nfib Promotes Metastasis through a Widespread Increase in Chromatin Accessibility CELL Denny, S. K., Yang, D., Chuang, C., Brady, J. J., Lim, J. S., Gruner, B. M., Chiou, S., Schep, A. N., Baral, J., Hamard, C., Antoine, M., Wislez, M., Kong, C. S., Connolly, A. J., Park, K., Sage, J., Greenleaf, W. J., Winslow, M. M. 2016; 166 (2): 328-342


    Metastases are the main cause of cancer deaths, but the mechanisms underlying metastatic progression remain poorly understood. We isolated pure populations of cancer cells from primary tumors and metastases from a genetically engineered mouse model of human small cell lung cancer (SCLC) to investigate the mechanisms that drive the metastatic spread of this lethal cancer. Genome-wide characterization of chromatin accessibility revealed the opening of large numbers of distal regulatory elements across the genome during metastatic progression. These changes correlate with copy number amplification of the Nfib locus, and differentially accessible sites were highly enriched for Nfib transcription factor binding sites. Nfib is necessary and sufficient to increase chromatin accessibility at a large subset of the intergenic regions. Nfib promotes pro-metastatic neuronal gene expression programs and drives the metastatic ability of SCLC cells. The identification of widespread chromatin changes during SCLC progression reveals an unexpected global reprogramming during metastatic progression.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2016.05.052

    View details for PubMedID 27374332

  • Pancreatic cancer modeling using retrograde viral vector delivery and in vivo CRISPR/Cas9-mediated somatic genome editing GENES & DEVELOPMENT Chiou, S., Winters, I. P., Wang, J., Naranjo, S., Dudgeon, C., Tamburini, F. B., Brady, J. J., Yang, D., Gruener, B. M., Chuang, C., Caswell, D. R., Zeng, H., Chu, P., Kim, G. E., Carpizo, D. R., Kim, S. K., Winslow, M. M. 2015; 29 (14): 1576-1585


    Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a genomically diverse, prevalent, and almost invariably fatal malignancy. Although conventional genetically engineered mouse models of human PDAC have been instrumental in understanding pancreatic cancer development, these models are much too labor-intensive, expensive, and slow to perform the extensive molecular analyses needed to adequately understand this disease. Here we demonstrate that retrograde pancreatic ductal injection of either adenoviral-Cre or lentiviral-Cre vectors allows titratable initiation of pancreatic neoplasias that progress into invasive and metastatic PDAC. To enable in vivo CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene inactivation in the pancreas, we generated a Cre-regulated Cas9 allele and lentiviral vectors that express Cre and a single-guide RNA. CRISPR-mediated targeting of Lkb1 in combination with oncogenic Kras expression led to selection for inactivating genomic alterations, absence of Lkb1 protein, and rapid tumor growth that phenocopied Cre-mediated genetic deletion of Lkb1. This method will transform our ability to rapidly interrogate gene function during the development of this recalcitrant cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/gad.264861.115

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358596300010

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4526740

  • Obligate Progression Precedes Lung Adenocarcinoma Dissemination CANCER DISCOVERY Caswell, D. R., Chuang, C., Yang, D., Chiou, S., Cheemalavagu, S., Kim-Kiselak, C., Connolly, A., Winslow, M. M. 2014; 4 (7): 781-789


    Despite its clinical importance, very little is known about the natural history and molecular underpinnings of lung cancer dissemination and metastasis. Here, we used a genetically engineered mouse model of metastatic lung adenocarcinoma in which cancer cells are fluorescently marked to determine whether dissemination is an inherent ability or a major acquired phenotype during lung adenocarcinoma metastasis. We find very little evidence for dissemination from oncogenic KRAS-driven hyperplasias or most adenocarcinomas. p53 loss is insufficient to drive dissemination but rather enables rare cancer cells in a small fraction of primary adenocarcinomas to gain alterations that drive dissemination. Molecular characterization of disseminated tumor cells indicates that downregulation of the transcription factor Nkx2-1 precedes dissemination. Finally, we show that metastatic primary tumors possess a highly proliferative subpopulation of cells with characteristics matching those of disseminating cells. We propose that dissemination is a major hurdle during the natural course of lung adenocarcinoma metastasis.Because of its aggressively metastatic nature, lung cancer is the top cancer killer of both men and women in the United States. We show that, unlike in other cancer types, lung cancer dissemination is a major initial barrier to metastasis. Our findings provide insight into the effect of p53 deficiency and downregulation of Nkx2-1 during lung adenocarcinoma progression.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0862

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338708900024

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4090265

  • A conditional system to specifically link disruption of protein-coding function with reporter expression in mice. Cell reports Chiou, S., Kim-Kiselak, C., Risca, V. I., Heimann, M. K., Chuang, C., Burds, A. A., Greenleaf, W. J., Jacks, T. E., Feldser, D. M., Winslow, M. M. 2014; 7 (6): 2078-2086


    Conditional gene deletion in mice has contributed immensely to our understanding of many biological and biomedical processes. Despite an increasing awareness of nonprotein-coding functional elements within protein-coding transcripts, current gene-targeting approaches typically involve simultaneous ablation of noncoding elements within targeted protein-coding genes. The potential for protein-coding genes to have additional noncoding functions necessitates the development of novel genetic tools capable of precisely interrogating individual functional elements. We present a strategy that couples Cre/loxP-mediated conditional gene disruption with faithful GFP reporter expression in mice in which Cre-mediated stable inversion of a splice acceptor-GFP-splice donor cassette concurrently disrupts protein production and creates a GFP fusion product. Importantly, cassette inversion maintains physiologic transcript structure, thereby ensuring proper microRNA-mediated regulation of the GFP reporter, as well as maintaining expression of nonprotein-coding elements. To test this potentially generalizable strategy, we generated and analyzed mice with this conditional knockin reporter targeted to the Hmga2 locus.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.05.031

    View details for PubMedID 24931605

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4113058

  • The E3 ligase c-Cbl regulates dendritic cell activation EMBO REPORTS Chiou, S., Shahi, P., Wagner, R. T., Hu, H., Lapteva, N., Seethammagari, M., Sun, S., Levitt, J. M., Spencer, D. M. 2011; 12 (9): 971-979


    The activation of innate and adaptive immunity is always balanced by inhibitory signalling mechanisms to maintain tissue integrity. We have identified the E3 ligase c-Cbl--known for its roles in regulating lymphocyte signalling--as a modulator of dendritic cell activation. In c-Cbl-deficient dendritic cells, Toll-like receptor-induced expression of proinflammatory factors, such as interleukin-12, is increased, correlating with a greater potency of dendritic-cell-based vaccines against established tumours. This proinflammatory phenotype is accompanied by an increase in nuclear factor (NF)-κB activity. In addition, c-Cbl deficiency reduces both p50 and p105 levels, which have been shown to modulate the stimulatory function of NF-κB. Our data indicate that c-Cbl has a crucial, RING-domain-dependent role in regulating dendritic cell maturation, probably by facilitating the regulatory function of p105 and/or p50.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/embor.2011.143

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294476500021

    View details for PubMedID 21799517

  • Current concepts of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in human malignancies Post-ISIR Congress Kyoto Symposium Chiou, S. H., Sheu, B. C., Chang, W. C., Huang, S. C., Ho, H. N. ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD. 2005: 35–50


    Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) develop as manifestations of the recognition and defense against malignant cells by the host immune system. TILs were literally defined as "tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes", which a posteriori locate within the tumor tissues. Although such cells can be found, they fail to control the growth of tumor. Many have proposed diverse mechanisms for dysfunction of TILs with regard to the roles of immunosurveillance against cancer. However, only a few cancer types, e.g. melanoma, have seen the benefits brought by activating these cells for immunotherapy. Functional defects of TILs have been linked to abnormalities of signaling molecules; however, there is conflicting data. The death of TILs was attributed to expression of cancer-derived FasL, PD-1 and RCAS1, and cancer-induced activation-induced cell death (AICD). Confirmed by studies using TILs and animal models, the compromise of tumor-specific immune responses was thought to result from not only mechanisms of clonal anergy but also exhaustion and/or deletion. Furthermore, functional cytotoxic CD8(+) TILs might be rendered incompetent by cancer-induced up-regulation of inhibitory NK receptors or proximal signaling abnormalities. Additionally, immune privilege was partly attributed to recruitment of regulatory T cells to the tumor sites. The failure of IL-2 signaling, which stands at the center of T cell functionalities, had been linked to the enzymatic activity of cancer-derived matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Finally, the exploitation of IDO expression, an important enzyme in pregnancy-related immunosuppression, by cancer cells might play a role in tumor immunity. The disparity of cancer types, origin, developmental stages and individual genetic backgrounds likely account for differences, or even contradictions, which might be the reason why immunotherapy works only on a few cancer types. Delineating the mechanisms behind functional defects of TILs can help not only boost chances of the development of a successful cure but understand the not fully identified roles played by immune system in the face of malignancies.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jri.2005.06.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000232933000004

    View details for PubMedID 16111767

  • Integration of high-risk human papillomavirus DNA correlates with HLA genotype aberration and reduced HLA class I molecule expression in human cervical. carcinoma CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY Sheu, B. C., Chiou, S. H., Chang, W. C., Chow, S. N., Lin, H. H., Chen, R. J., Huang, S. C., Ho, H. N., Hsu, S. M. 2005; 115 (3): 295-301


    In human cervical cancer (CC), local immunity against this human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated neoplasia has been signified. To stratify the possibility of HPV integration on HLA mutations, we measured the genotypic and phenotypic integrity of all available HLA class I loci in 30 cases of CC. Paired normal and cancer genomic DNA was analyzed with DNA typing trays, including 57 subtypes of HLA-A, 120 subtypes of HLA-B, and 60 subtypes of HLA-C. We demonstrated significant mutations of HLA genotype with reduced HLA molecule expression in CC. HPV coincide in > 70% cases of aberrant HLA genes. Southern blot analysis revealed the presence of HPV DNA within the mutated HLA foci. Our study reveals a plausible role of HPV integration in the contexts of aberrant HLA genotypes in CC cells. Disruptions of the HLA genes can be possible tactics of HPV to attain the potential carcinogenetic purposes, and thus the cancer immune escape.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.clim.2005.02.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000229390300009

    View details for PubMedID 15893697

  • Up-regulation of inhibitory natural killer receptors CD94/NKG2A with suppressed intracellular perforin expression of tumor-infiltrating CD8(+) T lymphocytes in human cervical carcinoma CANCER RESEARCH Sheu, B. C., Chiou, S. H., Lin, H. H., Chow, S. N., Huang, S. C., Ho, H. N., Hsu, S. N. 2005; 65 (7): 2921-2929


    Inhibitory signals that govern the cytolytic functions of CD8(+) T lymphocytes have been linked to the expression of natural killer cell receptors (NKRs) on CTLs. There is limited knowledge about the induction of inhibitory NKR (iNKR) expression in vivo. Up-regulation of iNKRs has been linked to the modulation of the virus- and/or tumor-specific immune responses in animal models. In the present study, we directly examined the expression of various NKRs on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) derived from human cervical cancer. We found that in human cervical cancer, the percentage expression of immunoglobulin-like NKR(+)CD8(+) T lymphocytes were similar in gated CD8(+)-autologous TILs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. On the contrary, cervical cancer-infiltrating CD8(+) T lymphocytes expressed up-regulated C-type lectin NKRs CD94/NKG2A compared with either peripheral blood CD8(+) T cells or normal cervix-infiltrating CD8(+) T lymphocytes. Dual NKR coexpression analyses showed that CD94 and NKG2A were mainly expressed on CD56(-)CD161(-)CD8(+) TILs within the cancer milieu. Immunohistochemical study showed that cervical cancer cells expressed abundant interleukin 15 (IL-15) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). In kinetic coculture assay, cervical cancer cells can promote the expression of CD94/NKG2A on CD8(+) T lymphocytes. The cancer-derived effects can be reversed by addition of rIL-15Ralpha/Fc and anti-TGF-beta antibody. Functional analyses illustrated that intracellular perforin expression of CD8(+) T cells was minimal upon up-regulation of CD94/NKG2A. Kinetic cytotoxicity assays showed that up-regulated expressions of CD94/NKG2A restrain CD8(+) T lymphocyte cytotoxicity. Our study strongly indicated that cervical cancer cells could promote the expression of iNKRs via an IL-15- and possibly TGF-beta-mediated mechanism and abrogate the antitumor cytotoxicity of TILs.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227972300057

    View details for PubMedID 15805295