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  • Alkasalias, Twana; Moyano-Galceran, Lidia; Arsenian-Henriksson, Marie; Lehti, Kaisa (2018)
    Tumorigenesis is a complex process involving dynamic interactions between malignant cells and their surrounding stroma, including both the cellular and acellular components. Within the stroma, fibroblasts represent not only a predominant cell type, but also a major source of the acellular tissue microenvironment comprising the extracellular matrix (ECM) and soluble factors. Normal fibroblasts can exert diverse suppressive functions against cancer initiating and metastatic cells via direct cell-cell contact, paracrine signaling by soluble factors, and ECM integrity. The loss of such suppressive functions is an inherent step in tumor progression. A tumor cell-induced switch of normal fibroblasts into cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), in turn, triggers a range of pro-tumorigenic signals accompanied by distraction of the normal tissue architecture, thus creating an optimal niche for cancer cells to grow extensively. To further support tumor progression and metastasis, CAFs secrete factors such as ECM remodeling enzymes that further modify the tumor microenvironment in combination with the altered adhesive forces and cell-cell interactions. These paradoxical tumor suppressive and promoting actions of fibroblasts are the focus of this review, highlighting the heterogenic molecular properties of both normal and cancer-associated fibroblasts, as well as their main mechanisms of action, including the emerging impact on immunomodulation and different therapy responses.
  • Salo, Tuula; Dourado, Mauricio Rocha; Sundquist, Elias; Apu, Ehsanul Hoque; Alahuhta, Ilkka; Tuomainen, Katja; Vasara, Jenni; Al-Samadi, Ahmed (2018)
    Alongside cancer cells, tumours exhibit a complex stroma containing a repertoire of cells, matrix molecules and soluble factors that actively crosstalk between each other. Recognition of this multifaceted concept of the tumour microenvironment (TME) calls for authentic TME mimetics to study cancer in vitro. Traditionally, tumourigenesis has been investigated in non-human, three-dimensional rat type I collagen containing organotypic discs or by means of mouse sarcoma-derived gel, such as Matrigel (R). However, the molecular compositions of these simplified assays do not properly simulate human TME. Here, we review the main properties and benefits of using human leiomyoma discs and their matrix Myogel for in vitro assays. Myoma discs are practical for investigating the invasion of cancer cells, as are cocultures of cancer and stromal cells in a stiff, hypoxic TME mimetic. Myoma discs contain soluble factors and matrix molecules commonly present in neoplastic stroma. In Transwell, IncuCyte, spheroid and sandwich assays, cancer cells move faster and form larger colonies in Myogel than in Matrigel (R). Additionally, Myogel can replace Matrigel (R) in hanging-drop and tube-formation assays. Myogel also suits three-dimensional drug testing and extracellular vesicle interactions. To conclude, we describe the application of our myoma-derived matrices in 3D in vitro cancer assays. This article is part of the discussion meeting issue 'Extracellular vesicles and the tumour microenvironment'.
  • Acheva, Anna; Haghdoost, Siamak; Sollazzo, Alice; Launonen, Virpi; Kämäräinen, Meerit (2019)
    The aim of the study was to investigate the role of a microenvironment in the induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) as a sign of early stages of carcinogenesis in human lung epithelial cell lines after protracted low-dose rate gamma-radiation exposures. BEAS-2B and HBEC-3KT lung cell lines were irradiated with low-dose rate gamma-rays (Cs-137, 1.4 or 14 mGy/h) to 0.1 or 1 Gy with or without adding TGF-beta. TGF-beta-treated samples were applied as positive EMT controls and tested in parallel to find out if the radiation has a potentiating effect on the EMT induction. To evaluate the effect of the stromal component, the epithelial cells were irradiated in cocultures with stromal MRC-9 lung fibroblasts. On day 3 post treatment, the EMT markers: alpha-SMA, vimentin, fibronectin, and E-cadherin, were analyzed. The oxidative stress levels were evaluated by 8-oxo-dG analysis in both epithelial and fibroblast cells. The protracted exposure to low Linear Energy Transfer (LET) radiation at the total absorbed dose of 1 Gy was able to induce changes suggestive of EMT. The results show that the presence of the stromal component and its signaling (TGF-beta) in the cocultures enhances the EMT. Radiation had a minor cumulative effect on the TGF-beta-induced EMT with both doses. The oxidative stress levels were higher than the background in both epithelial and stromal cells post chronic irradiation (0.1 and 1 Gy); as for the BEAS-2B cell line, the increase was statistically significant. We suggest that the induction of EMT in bronchial epithelial cells by radiation requires more than single acute exposure and the presence of stromal component might enhance the effect through free radical production and accumulation.
  • Alkasalias, Twana; Alexeyenko, Andrey; Hennig, Katharina; Danielsson, Frida; Lebbink, Robert Jan; Fielden, Matthew; Turunen, S. Pauliina; Lehti, Kaisa; Kashuba, Vladimir; Madapura, Harsha S.; Bozoky, Benedek; Lundberg, Emma; Balland, Martial; Guven, Hayrettin; Klein, George; Gad, Annica K. B.; Pavlova, Tatiana (2017)
    Fibroblasts are a main player in the tumor-inhibitory microenvironment. Upon tumor initiation and progression, fibroblasts can lose their tumor-inhibitory capacity and promote tumor growth. The molecular mechanisms that underlie this switch have not been defined completely. Previously, we identified four proteins over-expressed in cancer-associated fibroblasts and linked to Rho GTPase signaling. Here, we show that knocking out the Ras homolog family member A (RhoA) gene in normal fibroblasts decreased their tumor-inhibitory capacity, as judged by neighbor suppression in vitro and accompanied by promotion of tumor growth in vivo. This also induced PC3 cancer cell motility and increased colony size in 2D cultures. RhoA knockout in fibroblasts induced vimentin intermediate filament reorganization, accompanied by reduced contractile force and increased stiffness of cells. There was also loss of wide F-actin stress fibers and large focal adhesions. In addition, we observed a significant loss of a-smooth muscle actin, which indicates a difference between RhoA knockout fibroblasts and classic cancer-associated fibroblasts. In 3D collagen matrix, RhoA knockout reduced fibroblast branching and meshwork formation and resulted in more compactly clustered tumor-cell colonies in coculture with PC3 cells, which might boost tumor stem-like properties. Coculturing RhoA knockout fibroblasts and PC3 cells induced expression of proinflammatory genes in both. Inflammatory mediators may induce tumor cell stemness. Network enrichment analysis of transcriptomic changes, however, revealed that the Rho signaling pathway per se was significantly triggered only after coculturing with tumor cells. Taken together, our findings in vivo and in vitro indicate that Rho signaling governs the inhibitory effects by fibroblasts on tumor-cell growth.
  • Bagordakis, Elizabete; Sawazaki-Calone, Iris; Soares Macedo, Carolina Carneiro; Carnielli, Carolina M.; de Oliveira, Carine Ervolino; Rodrigues, Priscila Campioni; Rangel, Ana Lucia C. A.; dos Santos, Jean Nunes; Risteli, Juha; Graner, Edgard; Salo, Tuula; Paes Leme, Adriana Franco; Coletta, Ricardo D. (2016)
    An important role has been attributed to cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in the tumorigenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), the most common tumor of the oral cavity. Previous studies demonstrated that CAF-secreted molecules promote the proliferation and invasion of OSCC cells, inducing a more aggressive phenotype. In this study, we searched for differences in the secretome of CAFs and normal oral fibroblasts (NOF) using mass spectrometry-based proteomics and biological network analysis. Comparison of the secretome profiles revealed that upregulated proteins involved mainly in extracellular matrix organization and disassembly and collagen metabolism. Among the upregulated proteins were fibronectin type III domain-containing 1 (FNDC1), serpin peptidase inhibitor type 1 (SERPINE1), and stanniocalcin 2 (STC2), the upregulation of which was validated by quantitative PCR and ELISA in an independent set of CAF cell lines. The transition of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1)-mediating NOFs into CAFs was accompanied by significant upregulation of FNDC1, SERPINE1, and STC2, confirming the participation of these proteins in the CAF-derived secretome. Type I collagen, the main constituent of the connective tissue, was also associated with several upregulated biological processes. The immunoexpression of type I collagen N-terminal propeptide (PINP) was significantly correlated in vivo with CAFs in the tumor front and was associated with significantly shortened survival of OSCC patients. Presence of CAFs in the tumor stroma was also an independent prognostic factor for OSCC disease-free survival. These results demonstrate the value of secretome profiling for evaluating the role of CAFs in the tumor microenvironment and identify potential novel therapeutic targets such as FNDC1, SERPINE1, and STC2. Furthermore, type I collagen expression by CAFs, represented by PINP levels, may be a prognostic marker of OSCC outcome.