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Project type/Form of grant
Grant for employment or scholarship
Title [sv]
Tumörstromat som läkemedelsmål vid pankreascancer
Title [en]
Targeting Tumor-stromal Interactions in Pancreatic Cancer
Abstract [en]
Pancreatic cancer is resistant to all available adjuvant therapies, indicating that novel strategies to tackle the disease are needed. The pancreatic tumor is characterized by a pronounced tumor stroma that surrounds the cancer cells, containing extracellular matrix and cancer-associated fibroblasts that provide the cancer cells with important signals that regulate cancer cell growth and survival, and contribute to therapy resistance. The overall goal of this project is to get a deeper understanding in the stromal heterogeneity, and to reveal and explore potential drugable targets hidden within the stroma. First, we will decipher the composition of the extracellular matrix by applying mass spectrometry-based methods, then resolving the phenotypic diversity found in cancer- associated fibroblasts embedded within the tumor by utilizing fluorescent in situ RNA sequencing techniques. Next, we aim to determine which stromal elements that are important in regulating cancer cell growth, survival, immune escape, and drug resistance by using genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer and organoid based co-culture systems. Finally, we will develop and test drugs that target the most pro-tumorigenic stromal interactions with the aim to discover and explore novel therapeutic strategies. The project is initiated and spans over a time period of  5 years and will be conducted at a newly established research group at Wallenberg centre for molecular medicine at Umeå University.
Publications (3 of 3) Show all publications
Lidström, T., Cumming, J., Gaur, R., Frängsmyr, L., Pateras, I., Mickert, M. J., . . . Öhlund, D. (2023). Extracellular galectin 4 drives immune evasion and promotes T-cell apoptosis in pancreatic cancer. Cancer immunology research, 11(1), 72-92
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Extracellular galectin 4 drives immune evasion and promotes T-cell apoptosis in pancreatic cancer
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2023 (English)In: Cancer immunology research, ISSN 2326-6066, Vol. 11, no 1, p. 72-92Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by rich deposits of extracellular matrix (ECM), affecting the pathophysiology of the disease. Here, we identified galectin 4 (gal 4) as a cancer cell produced protein deposited into the ECM of PDAC tumors and detected high circulating levels of gal 4 in PDAC patients. In orthotopic transplantation experiments we observed increased infiltration of T-cells and prolonged survival in immunocompetent mice transplanted with cancer cells with reduced expression of gal 4. Increased survival was not observed in immunodeficient RAG1-/- mice, demonstrating that the effect was mediated by the adaptive immune system. Furthermore, by performing single-cell RNA-sequencing we found that the myeloid compartment and cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) subtypes were altered in the transplanted tumors. Reduced gal 4 expression was associated with higher proportion of myofibroblastic CAFs and reduced numbers of inflammatory CAFs. We also found higher proportions of M1 macrophages, T-cells and antigen presenting dendritic cells in tumors with reduced gal 4 expression. Using a co-culture system, we observed that extracellular gal 4 induced apoptosis in T-cells by binding N-glycosylation residues on CD3 epsilon/delta. Hence, we show that gal 4 is involved in immune evasion and identify gal 4 as a promising drug target for overcoming immunosuppression in PDAC. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Association for Cancer Research, 2023
Galectin 4, pancreatic cancer, immunosuppression, extracellular matrix, drug target
National Category
Cancer and Oncology
Research subject
Immunology; Medicine; Oncology
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201042 (URN)10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-21-1088 (DOI)36478037 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85145492684 (Scopus ID)
The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT), PT2015-6432Swedish Cancer Society, AMP17-877, LP18-2202, LP20-2257, LP 21-2298Swedish Research Council, 2017-01531The Kempe Foundations, JCK-1301, SMK-1765Swedish Society of Medicine, SLS-890521, SLS-786661, SLS-691681, SLS-591551Västerbotten County Council, RV-930167, VLL-643451, VLL-832001Sjöberg FoundationKnut and Alice Wallenberg FoundationMarianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, MMW 2020.0189Swedish Cancer Society, CAN 2017/332, CAN 2017/827, 20 1339 PjFSwedish Cancer Society, AMP-18-919Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form. 

Available from: 2022-11-16 Created: 2022-11-16 Last updated: 2023-10-18Bibliographically approved
Lidström, T. (2022). Immunosuppressive and metastasis-promoting matrisome proteins in pancreatic cancer: the role of galectin 4 and SERPINB5. (Doctoral dissertation). Umeå: Umeå University
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Immunosuppressive and metastasis-promoting matrisome proteins in pancreatic cancer: the role of galectin 4 and SERPINB5
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Immunosuppresiva och metastasfrämjande matrsomproteiner i pankreascancer : effekten av galectin-4 och SERPINB5
Abstract [en]

In Sweden 1200-1300 people are diagnosed with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) every year. Late diagnosis, together with poor treatment response and resistance to checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy, contributes to the poor prognosis of the disease. 

PDAC is characterized by abundant deposits of extracellular matrix, which mainly includes structural proteins including collagens, proteoglycans, cell-binding glycoproteins, carbohydrates, and secreted proteins, all constituting the matrisome of the tumor. The matrisome protects cancer cells and affects the outcome. Several highly expressed matrisome proteins are involved in oncogenesis, including the processes of immunosuppression and metastasis formation, therefore contributing to the poor prognosis. In this thesis the pathophysiological role of several matrisome proteins in PDAC tumor progression was studied. Unbiased analysis of matrisome proteins in PDAC tumors revealed increased levels of cancer cell-derived secreted proteins compared to normal healthy control tissue. Subsequently, differentially expressed candidate proteins, with known cellular functions in other disease but hitherto uncharacterized role in PDAC progression, were selected.

Serine protease inhibitor clade B member 5 (SERPINB5), agrin, and cystatin B (CSTB), were selected for the study described in paper I based on their known roles in the metastasis formation process in other types of cancers. SERPINB5, agrin and CSTB were found to increase metastasis in models of PDAC by affecting epithelial to mesenchymal transition, ECM degradation and extravasation. In PDAC tumors, high levels of extracellular SERPINB5 correlated to reduced overall survival.  

Galectin 4 (Gal 4) was selected for the study described in paper II based on its known immunosuppressive effects. Gal 4 is highly expressed in PDAC and was found to inhibit T cell infiltration and induce apoptosis in CD8+ T cells by binding to CD3 on the surface of T cells. Gal 4 was associated with better survival in PDAC patients and correlated to higher activation and cytolytic effect of CD8+ T cells.

The relation between gal 4 and other immunosuppressive proteins was studied in paper III. Analysis of available datasets revealed that gal 4 expression correlates with other cancer cell-derived immunosuppressive proteins of the galectin family, galectin 3 and galectin 9, while negatively correlating with the stroma-derived factors galectin-1 and TGFBI.

Findings in this thesis show that targeting of matrisome proteins in PDAC can be a promising therapy strategy. Blocking extracellular SERPINB5 could result in reduced metastasis and increased survival. Blocking intracellular gal 4 could increase anti-tumor immunity and synergize with checkpoint inhibition therapy.

The identified co-expression and coregulation of different immunosuppressive proteins indicate that different tumors can be classified based on their predominant immunosuppressive mechanisms. Following this classification in individual patients, combinations of therapies against different immunosuppressive mechanisms could represent a promising strategy to introduce effective immunotherapies for PDAC patients.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2022. p. 87
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 2207
pancreatic cancer, galectin 4, immunotherapy, SERPINB5, metastasis, extracellular matrix, drug target
National Category
Cancer and Oncology
Research subject
Oncology; Immunology; Medicine
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201043 (URN)978-91-7855-941-1 (ISBN)978-91-7855-942-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2022-12-09, Hörsal B, 9 trappor, byggnad 1D, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2022-11-18 Created: 2022-11-16 Last updated: 2022-11-17Bibliographically approved
Lidström, T., Patthey, C. & Öhlund, D.Coordination and cooperation of immunosuppressive mechanisms in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coordination and cooperation of immunosuppressive mechanisms in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The ability to evade the immune system is crucial for cancer cells to survive. In pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), various mechanisms contributing to immunosuppression have been described, including the recruitment of suppressive immune cells like M2 macrophages, the expression of cell membrane attached proteins like PDL-1, or secretion of extracellular proteins inducing immune cell apoptosis. PDAC is characterized by a rich stroma, consisting of large quantities of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, immune cells, fibroblasts and blood vessels. Cancer cell-derived proteins deposited in the stroma can inhibit immune cell function and thereby contribute to the progression of the disease. Galectin 4 (gal 4) is highly expressed by PDAC cancer cells and is secreted into the stroma and has recently been shown to have the capacity to induce T-cell apoptosis in PDAC tumor. High levels of gal 4 is also associated to poor prognosis and reduced immune activity in PDAC patients. Here we show that sets of immunosuppressive genes form groups based on correlation of expression levels. Gal 4 gene expression correlates with other galectin family proteins, collectively clustering into a distinct immune evasion group. This cluster has negative correlation to other more classical immunosuppressive factors, such as PDL-1, CXCL12, and TGFBI, indicating that a subset of tumors mainly relies on galectins to achieve immune evasion. Conversely, tumors with low expression of gal 4 have high expression of one or more of the classical immunosuppressive factors. These results indicate that different tumors rely on different mechanisms to achieve immune evasion and emphasize the need for personalized treatment strategies when targeting immunosuppression in PDAC.  

pancreatic adenocarcinoma, Galectin 4, immunotherapy, pancreatic cancer, immunosuppression, co-expression, combination therapy, galectin 3, galectin 9
National Category
Cancer and Oncology
Research subject
Medical Cell Biology; Oncology; Immunology
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201041 (URN)
Available from: 2022-11-16 Created: 2022-11-16 Last updated: 2022-11-16
Principal InvestigatorÖhlund, Daniel
Coordinating organisation
Umeå University
2018-01-01 - 2021-12-31
National Category
Cancer and Oncology
DiVA, id: project:1562Project, id: 2017-01531_VR

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