Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare disease involving cystic lung destruction by invasive LAM cells. These cells harbor loss-of-function mutations in TSC2, conferring hyperactive mTORC1 signaling. Here, tissue engineering tools are employed to model LAM and identify new therapeutic candidates. Biomimetic hydrogel culture of LAM cells is found to recapitulate the molecular and phenotypic characteristics of human disease more faithfully than culture on plastic. A 3D drug screen is conducted, identifying histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as anti-invasive agents that are also selectively cytotoxic toward TSC2-/- cells. The anti-invasive effects of HDAC inhibitors are independent of genotype, while selective cell death is mTORC1-dependent and mediated by apoptosis. Genotype-selective cytotoxicity is seen exclusively in hydrogel culture due to potentiated differential mTORC1 signaling, a feature that is abrogated in cell culture on plastic. Importantly, HDAC inhibitors block invasion and selectively eradicate LAM cells in vivo in zebrafish xenografts. These findings demonstrate that tissue-engineered disease modeling exposes a physiologically relevant therapeutic vulnerability that would be otherwise missed by conventional culture on plastic. This work substantiates HDAC inhibitors as possible therapeutic candidates for the treatment of patients with LAM and requires further study.
Keywords: 3D drug screen; HDAC inhibition; biomimetic hydrogel culture; lymphangioleiomyomatosis; mTORC1; therapeutics development; zebrafish.
© 2023 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.