JOURNAL OF HEPATOLOGY
363 - 376
Background & aims: Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a neoplasia of the biliary tract driven by genetic, epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms. Herein, we investigated the role of the transcription factor FOSL1, as well as its downstream transcriptional effectors, in the development and progression of CCA.
Methods: FOSL1 was investigated in human CCA clinical samples. Genetic inhibition of FOSL1 in human and mouse CCA cell lines was performed in in vitro and in vivo models using constitutive and inducible short-hairpin RNAs. Conditional FOSL1 ablation was done using a genetically engineered mouse (GEM) model of CCA (mutant KRAS and Trp53 knockout). Follow-up RNA and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequencing analyses were carried out and downstream targets were validated using genetic and pharmacological inhibition.
Results: An inter-species analysis of FOSL1 in CCA was conducted. First, FOSL1 was found to be highly upregulated in human and mouse CCA, and associated with poor patient survival. Pharmacological inhibition of different signalling pathways in CCA cells converged on the regulation of FOSL1 expression. Functional experiments showed that FOSL1 is required for cell proliferation and cell cycle progression in vitro, and for tumour growth and tumour maintenance in both orthotopic and subcutaneous xenograft models. Likewise, FOSL1 genetic abrogation in a GEM model of CCA extended mouse survival by decreasing the oncogenic potential of transformed cholangiocytes. RNA and ChIP sequencing studies identified direct and indirect transcriptional effectors such as HMGCS1 and AURKA, whose genetic and pharmacological inhibition phenocopied FOSL1 loss.
Conclusions: Our data illustrate the functional and clinical relevance of FOSL1 in CCA and unveil potential targets amenable to pharmacological inhibition that could enable the implementation of novel therapeutic strategies.
Lay summary: Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) development and progression stands as a critical step for the development of novel therapies. Through an inter-species approach, this study provides evidence of the clinical and functional role of the transcription factor FOSL1 in cholangiocarcinoma. Moreover, we report that downstream effectors of FOSL1 are susceptible to pharmacological inhibition, thus providing new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION
1879 - 1895
Few therapies are currently available for patients with KRAS-driven cancers, highlighting the need to identify new molecular targets that modulate central downstream effector pathways. Here we found the miRNA cluster mir181ab1 as a key modulator of KRAS-driven oncogenesis. Ablation of Mir181ab1 in genetically-engineered mouse models of Kras-driven lung and pancreatic cancer was deleterious to tumor initiation and progression. Expression of both resident miRNAs in the Mir181ab1 cluster, miR181a1 and miR181b1, was necessary to rescue the Mir181ab1-loss phenotype underscoring their non-redundant role. In human cancer cells, depletion of miR181ab1 impaired proliferation and 3D growth, whereas overexpression provided a proliferative advantage. Lastly, we unveiled miR181ab1-regulated genes responsible for this phenotype. These studies identified what we believe to be a previously unknown role for miR181ab1 as a potential therapeutic target in two highly aggressive and difficult to treat KRAS-mutated cancers.