• Catching moving targets: cancer stem cell hierarchies, therapy-resistance & considerations for clinical intervention.

      Gasch, Claudia; Ffrench, Brendan; O'Leary, John J; Gallagher, Michael F (BioMed Central, 2017)
      It is widely believed that targeting the tumour-initiating cancer stem cell (CSC) component of malignancy has great therapeutic potential, particularly in therapy-resistant disease. However, despite concerted efforts, CSC-targeting strategies have not been efficiently translated to the clinic. This is partly due to our incomplete understanding of the mechanisms underlying CSC therapy-resistance. In particular, the relationship between therapy-resistance and the organisation of CSCs as Stem-Progenitor-Differentiated cell hierarchies has not been widely studied. In this review we argue that modern clinical strategies should appreciate that the CSC hierarchy is a dynamic target that contains sensitive and resistant components and expresses a collection of therapy-resisting mechanisms. We propose that the CSC hierarchy at primary presentation changes in response to clinical intervention, resulting in a recurrent malignancy that should be targeted differently. As such, addressing the hierarchical organisation of CSCs into our bench-side theory should expedite translation of CSC-targeting to bed-side practice. In conclusion, we discuss strategies through which we can catch these moving clinical targets to specifically compromise therapy-resistant disease.
    • The MyD88+ phenotype is an adverse prognostic factor in epithelial ovarian cancer.

      d'Adhemar, Charles J; Spillane, Cathy D; Gallagher, Michael F; Bates, Mark; Costello, Katie M; Barry-O'Crowley, Jacqui; Haley, Kathryn; Kernan, Niamh; Murphy, Ciara; Smyth, Paul C; et al. (2014)
      The prognosis of epithelial ovarian cancer is poor in part due to the high frequency of chemoresistance. Recent evidence points to the Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4), and particularly its adaptor protein MyD88, as one potential mediator of this resistance. This study aims to provide further evidence that MyD88 positive cancer cells are clinically significant, stem-like and reproducibly detectable for the purposes of prognostic stratification. Expression of TLR4 and MyD88 was assessed immunohistochemically in 198 paraffin-embedded ovarian tissues and in an embryonal carcinoma model of cancer stemness. In parallel, expression of TLR4 and MyD88 mRNA and regulatory microRNAs (miR-21 and miR-146a) was assessed, as well as in a series of chemosensitive and resistant cancer cells lines. Functional analysis of the pathway was assessed in chemoresistant SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells. TLR4 and MyD88 expression can be reproducibly assessed via immunohistochemistry using a semi-quantitative scoring system. TLR4 expression was present in all ovarian epithelium (normal and neoplastic), whereas MyD88 was restricted to neoplastic cells, independent of tumour grade and associated with reduced progression-free and overall survival, in an immunohistological specific subset of serous carcinomas, p<0.05. MiR-21 and miR-146a expression was significantly increased in MyD88 negative cancers (p<0.05), indicating their participation in regulation. Significant alterations in MyD88 mRNA expression were observed between chemosensitive and chemoresistant cells and tissue. Knockdown of TLR4 in SKOV-3 ovarian cells recovered chemosensitivity. Knockdown of MyD88 alone did not. MyD88 expression was down-regulated in differentiated embryonal carcinoma (NTera2) cells, supporting the MyD88+ cancer stem cell hypothesis. Our findings demonstrate that expression of MyD88 is associated with significantly reduced patient survival and altered microRNA levels and suggest an intact/functioning TLR4/MyD88 pathway is required for acquisition of the chemoresistant phenotype. Ex vivo manipulation of ovarian cancer stem cell (CSC) differentiation can decrease MyD88 expression, providing a potentially valuable CSC model for ovarian cancer.