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 β1 and αVβ3/β5 integrins, essential extracellular matrix receptors in mesenchymal tumors, which mediate cancer progression and resistance. Combining radiotherapy with β1 or αV 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-β1/αV integrin dual targeting achieved relapse-free radiosensitization and prevented metastatic escape. Collectively, invading cancer cells thus withstand radiotherapy and DNA damage by β1/αVβ3/β5 integrin cross-talk, but efficient radiosensitization can be achieved by multiple integrin targeting.
Collective cancer invasion forms an integrin-dependent radioresistant niche
A. Haeger and S. Alexander contributed equally to this work.
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Anna Haeger, Stephanie Alexander, Manon Vullings, Fabian M.P. Kaiser, Cornelia Veelken, Uta Flucke, Gudrun E. Koehl, Markus Hirschberg, Michael Flentje, Robert M. Hoffman, Edward K. Geissler, Stephan Kissler, Peter Friedl; Collective cancer invasion forms an integrin-dependent radioresistant niche. J Exp Med 6 January 2020; 217 (1): e20181184. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20181184
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