Imperial College London

DrSung PilHong

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Surgery & Cancer

CRUK Clinician Scientist



s.hong Website




ICTEM buildingHammersmith Campus





Publication Type

10 results found

Hedayat S, Cascione L, Cunningham D, Schirripa M, Lampis A, Hahne JC, Tunariu N, Hong SP, Marchetti S, Khan K, Fontana E, Angerilli V, Delrieux M, Nava Rodrigues D, Procaccio L, Rao S, Watkins D, Starling N, Chau I, Braconi C, Fotiadis N, Begum R, Guppy N, Howell L, Valenti M, Cribbes S, Kolozsvari B, Kirkin V, Lonardi S, Ghidini M, Passalacqua R, Elghadi R, Magnani L, Pinato DJ, Di Maggio F, Ghelardi F, Sottotetti E, Vetere G, Ciraci P, Vlachogiannis G, Pietrantonio F, Cremolini C, Cortellini A, Loupakis F, Fassan M, Valeri Net al., 2024, Circulating microRNA analysis in a prospective co-clinical trial identifies MIR652-3p as a response biomarker and driver of regorafenib resistance mechanisms in colorectal cancer., Clin Cancer Res

BACKGROUND: The multi-kinase inhibitor regorafenib has demonstrated efficacy in chemo-refractory metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients. However, lack of predictive biomarkers and concerns over significant toxicities hamper the use of regorafenib in clinical practice. METHODS: Serial liquid biopsies were obtained at baseline and monthly until disease progression in chemo-refractory mCRC patients treated with regorafenib in a phase II clinical trial (PROSPECT-R n=40; NCT03010722) and in a multicentric validation cohort (n=241). Tissue biopsies collected at baseline, after 2 months and at progression in the PROSPECT-R trial were used to establish Patient-Derived Organoids (PDOs) and for molecular analyses. MicroRNA profiling was performed on baseline bloods using the NanoString nCounter platform and results were validated by digital droplet PCR and/or In Situ Hybridization in paired liquid and tissue biopsies. PDOs co-cultures and PDO-xenotransplants were generated for functional analyses. RESULTS: Large-scale microRNA expression analysis in longitudinal matched liquid and tissue biopsies from the PROSPECT-R trial identified MIR652-3p as a biomarker of clinical benefit to regorafenib. These findings were confirmed in an independent validation cohort and in a "control" group of 100 patients treated with lonsurf. Using ex vivo co-culture assays paired with single-cell RNA-sequencing of PDO established pre- and post-treatment, we modelled regorafenib response observed in vivo and in patients, and showed that MIR652-3p controls resistance to regorafenib by impairing regorafenib-induced lethal autophagy and by orchestrating the switch from neo-angiogenesis to vessel co-option. CONCLUSIONS: Our results identify MIR652-3p as potential biomarker and as a driver of cell and non-cell autonomous mechanisms of resistance to regorafenib.

Journal article

Acar A, Nichol D, Fernandez-Mateos J, Cresswell GD, Barozzi I, Hong SP, Trahearn N, Spiteri I, Stubbs M, Burke R, Stewart A, Caravagna G, Werner B, Vlachogiannis G, Maley CC, Magnani L, Valeri N, Banerji U, Sottoriva Aet al., 2020, Exploiting evolutionary steering to induce collateral drug sensitivity in cancer, Nature Communications, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2041-1723

Drug resistance mediated by clonal evolution is arguably the biggest problem in cancer therapy today. However, evolving resistance to one drug may come at a cost of decreased fecundity or increased sensitivity to another drug. These evolutionary trade-offs can be exploited using ‘evolutionary steering’ to control the tumour population and delay resistance. However, recapitulating cancer evolutionary dynamics experimentally remains challenging. Here, we present an approach for evolutionary steering based on a combination of single-cell barcoding, large populations of 108–109 cells grown without re-plating, longitudinal non-destructive monitoring of cancer clones, and mathematical modelling of tumour evolution. We demonstrate evolutionary steering in a lung cancer model, showing that it shifts the clonal composition of the tumour in our favour, leading to collateral sensitivity and proliferative costs. Genomic profiling revealed some of the mechanisms that drive evolved sensitivity. This approach allows modelling evolutionary steering strategies that can potentially control treatment resistance.

Journal article

Zhang Y, Takahashi Y, Hong SP, Liu F, Bednarska J, Goff P, Novak P, Shevchuk A, Gopal S, Barozzi I, Magnani L, Sakai H, Suguru Y, Fujii T, Gorelkin P, Majouga A, Weiss D, Edwards C, Ivanov A, Klenerman D, Sviderskaya E, Edel J, Korchev Yet al., 2019, High-resolution label-free 3D mapping of extracellular pH of single living cells, Nature Communications, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 2041-1723

Dynamic mapping of extracellular pH (pHe) at the single-cell level is critical for understanding the role of H+ in cellular and subcellular processes, with particular importance in cancer. While several pHe sensing techniques have been developed, accessing this information at the single-cell level requires improvement in sensitivity, spatial and temporal resolution. We report on a zwitterionic label-free pH nanoprobe that addresses these long-standing challenges. The probe has a sensitivity >0.01 units, 2 ms response time, and 50 nm spatial resolution. The technology was incorporated into a double-barrel nanoprobe integrating pH sensing with feedback-controlled distance sensing via Scanning Ion Conductance Microscopy. This allows for the simultaneous 3D topographical imaging and pHe monitoring of living cancer cells. These classes of nanoprobes were used for real-time high spatiotemporal resolution pHe mapping at the subcellular level and revealed tumour heterogeneity of the peri-cellular environments of melanoma and breast cancer cells.

Journal article

Kim WK, Kwon Y, Jang M, Park M, Kim J, Cho S, Jang DG, Lee W-B, Jung SH, Choi HJ, Min BS, Il Kim T, Hong SP, Paik Y-K, Kim Het al., 2019, β-catenin activation down-regulates cell-cell junction-related genes and induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in colorectal cancers, Scientific Reports, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2045-2322

WNT signaling activation in colorectal cancers (CRCs) occurs through APC inactivation or β-catenin mutations. Both processes promote β-catenin nuclear accumulation, which up-regulates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We investigated β-catenin localization, transcriptome, and phenotypic differences of HCT116 cells containing a wild-type (HCT116-WT) or mutant β-catenin allele (HCT116-MT), or parental cells with both WT and mutant alleles (HCT116-P). We then analyzed β-catenin expression and associated phenotypes in CRC tissues. Wild-type β-catenin showed membranous localization, whereas mutant showed nuclear localization; both nuclear and non-nuclear localization were observed in HCT116-P. Microarray analysis revealed down-regulation of Claudin-7 and E-cadherin in HCT116-MT vs. HCT116-WT. Claudin-7 was also down-regulated in HCT116-P vs. HCT116-WT without E-cadherin dysregulation. We found that ZEB1 is a critical EMT factor for mutant β-catenin-mediated loss of E-cadherin and Claudin-7 in HCT116-P and HCT116-MT cells. We also demonstrated that E-cadherin binds to both WT and mutant β-catenin, and loss of E-cadherin releases β-catenin from the cell membrane and leads to its degradation. Alteration of Claudin-7, as well as both Claudin-7 and E-cadherin respectively caused tight junction (TJ) impairment in HCT116-P, and dual loss of TJs and adherens junctions (AJs) in HCT116-MT. TJ loss increased cell motility, and subsequent AJ loss further up-regulated that. Immunohistochemistry analysis of 101 CRCs revealed high (14.9%), low (52.5%), and undetectable (32.6%) β-catenin nuclear expression, and high β-catenin nuclear expression was significantly correlated with overall survival of CRC patients (P = 0.009). Our findings suggest that β-catenin activation induces EMT progression by modifying cell-cell junctions, and thereby contributes to CRC aggressiveness.

Journal article

Hong SP, Lombardo Y, Chan TE, Corleone G, Rotmensz N, Magnani L, Bravaccini S, Rocca A, Pruneri G, McEwen KR, Coombes RC, Barozzi Iet al., 2019, Single-cell transcriptomics reveals multi-step adaptations to endocrine therapy, Nature Communications, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2041-1723

Resistant tumours are thought to arise from the action of Darwinian selection on genetically heterogenous cancer cell populations. However, simple clonal selection is inadequate to describe the late relapses often characterising luminal breast cancers treated with endocrine therapy (ET), suggesting a more complex interplay between genetic and non-genetic factors. Here, we dissect the contributions of clonal genetic diversity and transcriptional plasticity during the early and late phases of ET at single-cell resolution. Using single-cell RNA-sequencing and imaging we disentangle the transcriptional variability of plastic cells and define a rare sub population of pre-adapted (PA) cells which undergoes further transcriptomic reprogramming and copy number changes to acquire full resistance. We find evidence for sub-clonal expression of a PA signature in primary tumours and for dominant expression in clustered circulating tumour cells. We propose a multi-step model for ET resistance development and advocate the use of stage-specific biomarkers.

Journal article

Jang M, Kwon Y, Kim H, Kim H, Min BS, Park Y, Kim TI, Hong SP, Kim WKet al., 2018, Microsatellite instability test using peptide nucleic acid probe-mediated melting point analysis: a comparison study, BMC Cancer, Vol: 18, ISSN: 1471-2407

BackgroundAnalysis of high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) phenotype in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is important for evaluating prognosis and choosing a proper adjuvant therapy. Although the conventional MSI analysis methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) fragment analysis and immunohistochemistry (IHC) show high specificity and sensitivity, there are substantial barriers to their use.MethodsIn this study, we analyzed the MSI detection performance of three molecular tests and IHC. For the molecular tests, we included a recently developed peptide nucleic acid probe (PNA)-mediated real-time PCR-based method using five quasi-monomorphic mononucleotide repeat markers (PNA method) and two conventional PCR fragment analysis methods using NCI markers (NCI method) or five quasi-monomorphic mononucleotide repeat markers (MNR method). IHC analysis was performed with four mismatch repair proteins. The performance of each method was validated in 166 CRC patient samples, which consisted of 76 MSI-H and 90 microsatellite stable (MSS) CRCs previously diagnosed by NCI method.ResultsOf the 166 CRCs, 76 MSI-H and 90 MSS CRCs were determined by PNA method. On the other hand, 75 MSI-H and 91 MSS CRCs were commonly determined by IHC and MNR methods. Based on the originally diagnosed MSI status, PNA showed 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity while IHC and MNR showed 98.68% sensitivity and 100% specificity. When we analyzed the maximum sensitivity of MNR and PNA method, which used the same five markers, PNA method could detect alterations in all five mononucleotide repeat markers in samples containing down to 5% MSI-H DNAs, whereas MNR required at least 20% MSI-H DNAs to achieve the same performance.ConclusionsBased on these findings, we suggest that PNA method can be used as a practical laboratory test for the diagnosis of MSI.

Journal article

Noberini R, Osti D, Miccolo C, Richichi C, Lupia M, Corleone G, Hong S-P, Colombo P, Pollo B, Fornasari L, Pruneri G, Magnani L, Cavallaro U, Chiocca S, Minucci S, Pelicci G, Bonaldi Tet al., 2018, Extensive and systematic rewiring of histone post-translational modifications in cancer model systems, Nucleic Acids Research, Vol: 46, Pages: 3817-3832, ISSN: 0305-1048

Histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) generate a complex combinatorial code that regulates gene expression and nuclear functions, and whose deregulation has been documented in different types of cancers. Therefore, the availability of relevant culture models that can be manipulated and that retain the epigenetic features of the tissue of origin is absolutely crucial for studying the epigenetic mechanisms underlying cancer and testing epigenetic drugs. In this study, we took advantage of quantitative mass spectrometry to comprehensively profile histone PTMs in patient tumor tissues, primary cultures and cell lines from three representative tumor models, breast cancer, glioblastoma and ovarian cancer, revealing an extensive and systematic rewiring of histone marks in cell culture conditions, which includes a decrease of H3K27me2/me3, H3K79me1/me2 and H3K9ac/K14ac, and an increase of H3K36me1/me2. While some changes occur in short-term primary cultures, most of them are instead time-dependent and appear only in long-term cultures. Remarkably, such changes mostly revert in cell line- and primary cell-derived in vivo xenograft models. Taken together, these results support the use of xenografts as the most representative models of in vivo epigenetic processes, suggesting caution when using cultured cells, in particular cell lines and long-term primary cultures, for epigenetic investigations.

Journal article

Magnani L, Frige G, Gadaleta RM, Corleone G, Fabris S, Kempe MH, Vershure PJ, Barozzi I, Vircillo V, Hong S, Perone Y, Saini M, Trumpp A, Viale G, Neri A, Simak A, Colleoni MA, Pruneri G, Minucci Set al., 2017, Acquired CYP19A1 amplification is an early specific mechanism of aromatase inhibitor resistance in ERα metastatic breast cancer, Nature Genetics, Vol: 49, Pages: 444-450, ISSN: 1546-1718

Tumor evolution is shaped by many variables, potentially involving external selective pressures induced by therapies1. After surgery, patients with estrogen receptor (ERα)-positive breast cancer are treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy2, including selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and/or aromatase inhibitors (AIs)3. However, more than 20% of patients relapse within 10 years and eventually progress to incurable metastatic disease4. Here we demonstrate that the choice of therapy has a fundamental influence on the genetic landscape of relapsed diseases. We found that 21.5% of AI-treated, relapsed patients had acquired CYP19A1 (encoding aromatase) amplification (CYP19A1amp). Relapsed patients also developed numerous mutations targeting key breast cancer–associated genes, including ESR1 and CYP19A1. Notably, CYP19A1amp cells also emerged in vitro, but only in AI-resistant models. CYP19A1 amplification caused increased aromatase activity and estrogen-independent ERα binding to target genes, resulting in CYP19A1amp cells showing decreased sensitivity to AI treatment. These data suggest that AI treatment itself selects for acquired CYP19A1amp and promotes local autocrine estrogen signaling in AI-resistant metastatic patients.

Journal article

Hong SP, Lombardo Y, Corleone G, Coombes CR, Magnani Let al., 2016, Epigenetic plasticity identifies seed breast cancer cells driving drug resistance and metastatic progression, UK Breast Cancer Research Symposium, Publisher: Springer (part of Springer Nature), Pages: 191-191, ISSN: 0167-6806

Conference paper

Magnani L, Patten DK, Nguyen VTM, Hong SP, Steel JH, Patel N, Lombardo Y, Faronato M, Gomes AR, Woodley L, Page K, Guttery D, Primrose L, Fernandez Garcia D, Shaw J, Viola P, Green A, Nolan C, Ellis IO, Rakha EA, Shousha S, Lam EWF, Gyorffy B, Lupien M, Coombes RCet al., 2015, The pioneer factor PBX1 is a novel driver of metastatic progression in ERα-positive breast cancer., Oncotarget, Vol: 6, Pages: 21878-24891, ISSN: 1949-2553

Over 30% of ERα breast cancer patients develop relapses and progress to metastatic disease despite treatment with endocrine therapies. The pioneer factor PBX1 translates epigenetic cues and mediates estrogen induced ERα binding. Here we demonstrate that PBX1 plays a central role in regulating the ERα transcriptional response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling. PBX1 regulates a subset of EGF-ERα genes highly expressed in aggressive breast tumours. Retrospective stratification of luminal patients using PBX1 protein levels in primary cancer further demonstrates that elevated PBX1 protein levels correlate with earlier metastatic progression. In agreement, PBX1 protein levels are significantly upregulated during metastatic progression in ERα-positive breast cancer patients. Finally we reveal that PBX1 upregulation in aggressive tumours is partly mediated by genomic amplification of the PBX1 locus. Correspondingly, ERα-positive breast cancer patients carrying PBX1 amplification are characterized by poor survival. Notably, we demonstrate that PBX1 amplification can be identified in tumor derived-circulating free DNA of ERα-positive metastatic patients. Metastatic patients with PBX1 amplification are also characterized by shorter relapse-free survival. Our data identifies PBX1 amplification as a functional hallmark of aggressive ERα-positive breast cancers. Mechanistically, PBX1 amplification impinges on several critical pathways associated with aggressive ERα-positive breast cancer.

Journal article

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