Non-cell-autonomous tumor suppression: oncogene-provoked apoptosis promotes tumor cell senescence via stromal crosstalk
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- Reimann, M., Schmitt, C.A. & Lee, S. J Mol Med (2011) 89: 869. doi:10.1007/s00109-011-0770-2
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Activated oncogenes evoke cellular fail-safe programs such as apoptosis, senescence, or autophagy to protect the organism from the expansion of damaged and potentially harmful cells. Non-cell-autonomous interactions between tumor cells and nonmalignant bystander cells add to cell-autonomous modes of tumor suppression during tumor development and progression. In particular, the role of stroma or host immune cells converting tumor-generated signals into a response that feeds back to the tumor cell population has been experimentally underappreciated. Using the Eμ-myc transgenic mouse lymphoma model, we elucidated how constitutive Myc signaling indirectly promotes cellular senescence via cytokines that were released by nonmalignant cells in response to oncogene-evoked cell-autonomous effects. Specifically, Myc primarily promotes apoptosis in a subset of the tumor cell population, leading to the attraction of macrophages, which subsequently engulf the apoptotic remainders. Phagocytosis-activated macrophages, in turn, exhibit strongly increased secretion of various cytokines, among them transforming growth factor beta to an extent that is capable of inducing cellular senescence in surrounding malignant cells. Our findings, recapitulated in human aggressive B-cell lymphomas, unveil that apoptosis and senescence are not simply two context-dependent cell-autonomous choices of stress responses, but rather cooperate via extracellular mediators—namely cells of the innate immune system—to profoundly limit tumorigenesis in vivo. A deeper mechanistic understanding of the organismic interconnection between different fail-safe programs will help to identify cellular components of the tumor stroma and their signal mediators that are readily available to impose a second line of host defense against cancer cells. This will open new perspectives for the development of antineoplastic therapies, whose targets not only encompass tumor but also stroma cell populations.