Collective cancer invasion forms an integrin-dependent radioresistant niche
Cancer fatalities result from metastatic dissemination and therapy resistance, both processes that depend on signals from the tumor microenvironment. To identify how invasion and resistance programs cooperate, we used intravital microscopy of orthotopic sarcoma and melanoma xenografts. We demonstrate that these tumors invade collectively and that, specifically, cells within the invasion zone acquire increased resistance to radiotherapy, rapidly normalize DNA damage, and preferentially survive. Using a candidate-based approach to identify effectors of invasion-associated resistance, we targeted v1 and aVv3/v5 integrins, essential extracellular matrix receptors in mesenchymal tumors, which mediate cancer progression and resistance. Combining radiotherapy with v1 or aV integrin monotargeting in invading tumors led to relapse and metastasis in 40-60% of the cohort, in line with recently failed clinical trials individually targeting integrins. However, when combined, anti-v1/aV integrin dual targeting achieved relapse-free radiosensitization and prevented metastatic escape. Collectively, invading cancer cells thus withstand radiotherapy and DNA damage by v1/aVv3/v5 integrin cross-talk, but efficient radiosensitization can be achieved by multiple integrin targeting.
Geissler, Edward K.