Student project

Gene expression analysis of metastases and IL-1R1 characterization in a NALP3 mouse model

Tumor microenvironment contributes strongly to tumor evolution toward metastasis, a final stage in cancer progression. It provides essential clues to promote migration of cancer cells in metastatic sites. Moreover, inflammatory cells and immunomodulatory mediators present in the microenvironment are able to polarize the host immune response, thereby potentiating primary tumor development. The reciprocal and dynamic interactions between microenvironment and tumor cells orchestrate critical steps of evolution toward metastasis. To address the role of inflammation in tumor progression, a mouse model of downregulated inflammation was used: the NALP3 gene in these mice is knocked-out, causing a impaired processing of the two inflammatory cytokines Interleukin-1[beta] and IL-18 which are essential for the recruitment and activation of immune cells. In this case, a decrease in tumor growth and metastasis was observed in previous studies, leading us to investigate the molecular and cellular interactions of tumor and immune cells in inflammatory and non-inflammatory contexts. Gene expression analysis was performed on two steps of mouse tumor cells: the B16-F10 melanoma cells seem to be more dependent on the immune cells recruitment to metastasize in vivo, while the Lewis Lung Carcinomas cells showed a quite equivalent growth in both wild-type or NALP3 knock-out mice. Different techniques were used to do so, such as standard in vitro assays and mRNA expression analyses, and in vivo tests with extraction of tumoral mRNA by Laser Capture Microdissection. Gene expression analyses of tumor cells were performed to address the influence of the inflammatory background. Comparison of these two gene expression profiles may reveal genes related to the specific reactive inflammatory response surrounding the given metastases. Another point that was investigated was the importance of the IL-1R1, receptor of interleukin-1. Since it represents the counterpart of IL-1[beta] signaling, its expression by immune and tumor cells may correlate with degree of tumor growth and invasion. In vitro and in vivo assays allowed better understanding the importance of this receptor. While a downregulation of this receptor impairs proliferation of in vitro cell cultures, at the in vivo level, the number of metastases is decreased too. These results provide potential clues indicating the important role played by the inflammatory cells, and how they can support and promote tumor progression, in particular through the expression of NALP3. The adaptation mechanisms of tumor cells to their microenvironment were also assessed, opening different insights for targeting the tumor itself as well as the inflammatory microenvironment.

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