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1.  OSU-03012 enhances Ad.mda-7-induced GBM cell killing via ER stress and autophagy and by decreasing expression of mitochondrial protective proteins 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):526-536.
The present studies focused on determining whether the autophagy-inducing drug OSU-03012 (AR-12) could enhance the toxicity of recombinant adenoviral delivery of melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells. The toxicity of a recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7) was enhanced by OSU-03012 in a diverse panel of primary human GBM cells. The enhanced toxicity correlated with reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and expression of MCL-1 and BCL-XL, and was blocked by molecular activation of ERK1/2 and by inhibition of the intrinsic, but not the extrinsic, apoptosis pathway. Both OSU-03012 and expression of MDA-7/IL-24 increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) that correlated with increased levels of autophagy and expression of dominant negative PERK blocked autophagy induction and tumor cell death. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin1 suppressed OSU-03012 enhanced MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy and blocked the lethal interaction between the two agents. Ad.mda-7-infected GBM cells secreted MDA-7/IL-24 into the growth media and this conditioned media induced expression of MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected GBM cells. OSU-03012 interacted with conditioned media to kill GBM cells and knockdown of MDA-7/IL-24 in these cells suppressed tumor cell killing. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the induction of autophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction by a combinatorial treatment approach represents a potentially viable strategy to kill primary human GBM cells.
PMCID: PMC2888700  PMID: 20107314
ROS; caspase; ER stress; CD95; cell death
2.  Growth Inhibitory and Anti-Tumour Activities of OSU-03012, a Novel PDK-1 Inhibitor, on Vestibular Schwannoma and Malignant Schwannoma Cells 
Vestibular schwannomas (VS) frequently express high levels of activated AKT. Small-molecule inhibitors of AKT signaling may have therapeutic potential in suppressing the growth of benign VS and malignant schwannomas.
Primary VS and Schwann cells, human malignant schwannoma HMS-97 cells, and mouse Nf2−/− Schwann cells and schwannoma cells were prepared to investigate the growth inhibitory and anti-tumour activities of OSU-03012, a celecoxib-derived small-molecule inhibitor of phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1. Cell proliferation assays, apoptosis, Western blot, in vivo xenograft analysis using SCID mice, and immunohistochemistry were performed.
OSU-03012 inhibited cell proliferation more effectively in both VS and HMS-97 cells than in normal human Schwann cells. The IC50 of OSU-03012 at 48 hours was approximately 3.1 μM for VS cells and 2.6 μM for HMS-97 cells, compared with the IC50 of greater than 12 μM for human Schwann cells. Similarly, mouse Nf2−/− schwannoma and Nf2−/− Schwann cells were more sensitive to growth inhibition by OSU-03012 than wild-type mouse Schwann cells and mouse schwannoma cells established from transgenic mice carrying the NF2 promoter-driven SV40 T-antigen gene. Like VS cells, malignant schwannoma HMS-97 cells expressed high levels of activated AKT. OSU-03012 induced apoptosis in both VS and HMS-97 cells and caused a marked reduction of AKT phosphorylation at both the Ser-308 and Thr-473 sites in a dose-dependent manner. In vivo xenograft analysis showed that OSU-03012 was well-tolerated and inhibited the growth of HMS-97 schwannoma xenografts by 55% after nine weeks of oral treatment. The anti-tumour activity correlated with reduced AKT phosphorylation.
OSU-03012 is a potential chemotherapeutic agent for VS and malignant schwannomas.
PMCID: PMC2692816  PMID: 19359162
Vestibular schwannoma; Malignant schwannoma HMS-97; Neurofibromatosis type 2; The Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) gene; Merlin; PI3K/AKT pathway; OSU-03012; Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor; Phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1; Xenograft; Magnetic resonance imaging
3.  OSU-03012 suppresses GRP78/BiP expression that causes PERK-dependent increases in tumor cell killing 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(4):224-236.
We have further defined mechanism(s) by which the drug OSU-03012 (OSU) kills tumor cells. OSU lethality was suppressed by knock down of PERK and enhanced by knock down of ATF6 and IRE1α. OSU treatment suppressed expression of the chaperone, BiP/GRP78, and did so through reduced stability of the protein. Knock down of BiP/GRP78 further enhanced OSU lethality. Overexpression of BiP/GRP78 abolished OSU toxicity. Pre-treatment of cells with OSU enhanced radiosensitivity to a greater extent than concomitant or sequential drug treatment with radiation exposure. Expression of a mutant active p110 PI3K, or mutant active forms of the EGFR in GBM cells did not differentially suppress OSU killing. In contrast loss of PTEN function reduced OSU lethality, without altering AKT, p70 S6K or mTOR activity, or the drug's ability to radiosensitize GBM cells. Knock down of PTEN protected cells from OSU and radiation treatment whereas re-expression of PTEN facilitated drug lethality and radiosensitization. In a dose-dependent fashion OSU prolonged the survival of mice carrying GBM tumors and interacted with radiotherapy to further prolong survival. Collectively, our data show that reduced BiP/GRP78 levels play a key role in OSU-3012 toxicity in GBM cells, and that this drug has in vivo activity against an invasive primary human GBM isolate.
PMCID: PMC3336069  PMID: 22354011
OSU-03012; BiP/GRP78; ER stress; PERK; ionizing radiation; ceramide
4.  Sensitivity to the non-COX inhibiting celecoxib derivative, OSU03012, is p21WAF1/CIP1 dependent 
OSU03012 is a non-COX inhibiting celecoxib derivative with growth inhibiting and apoptotic activity in many cancer cell lines. To investigate mechanisms related to cell cycle proteins in growth inhibition and apoptosis induced by OSU03012, the primary human oral epithelial cell line, TE1177, was transformed with HPV16 E6 (TE/E6), HPV16 E7 (TE/E7) or empty vector (TE/V). TE/E6 cell lines exhibiting low levels of p53 and undetectable levels of p21WAF1/CIP1 were sensitized to the growth inhibiting and apoptotic effects of OSU03012. The TE/E7 cell lines expressing low levels of Rb and elevated levels of p53 and p21WAF1/CIP1 were resistant. OSU03012 reduced the number of cells in the S phase of the TE/E7 and TE/V cell lines with intact p53-p21WAF1/CIP1 checkpoint, but not in the checkpoint defective TE/E6 cell lines. Treatment with OSU03012 also markedly reduced the levels of cyclin A and Cdk2 in TE/E7 and TE/V, but not in TE/E6 cell lines, which had significantly enhanced basal levels of cyclin A and Cdk2. Consistent with the TE/E6 cell line, p21WAF1/CIP1−/− mouse embryo fibroblasts were more sensitive to OSU03012-induced apoptosis as evidenced by PARP and caspase 3 cleavages. These data suggest that p21WAF1/CIP1 is an important factor in the sensitivity of cells to the growth inhibiting and apoptotic effects of OSU03012.
PMCID: PMC2605165  PMID: 18798266
OSU03012; apoptosis; cell cycle; oral cancer; p21WAF1/CIP1
5.  OSU-03012 interacts with lapatinib to kill brain cancer cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(14):1501-1511.
We have further defined mechanism(s) by which the drug OSU-03012 (OSU) kills brain cancer cells. OSU toxicity was enhanced by the HSP90 inhibitor 17-N-Allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17AAG) that correlated with reduced expression of ERBB1 and ERBB2. Inhibition of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway blocked the interaction between 17AAG and OSU. OSU toxicity was enhanced by the inhibitor of ERBB1/2/4, lapatinib. Knock down of ERBB1/2/4 in a cell line specific fashion promoted OSU toxicity. Combined exposure of cells to lapatinib and OSU resulted in reduced AKT and ERK1/2 activity; expression of activated forms of AKT and to a lesser extent MEK1 protected cells from the lethal effects of the drug combination. Knock down of PTEN suppressed, and expression of PTEN enhanced, the lethal interaction between OSU and lapatinib. Downstream of PTEN, inhibition of mTOR recapitulated the effects of lapatinib. Knock down of CD95, NOXA, PUMA, BIK or AIF, suppressed lapatinib and OSU toxicity. Knock down of MCL-1 enhanced, and overexpression of MCL-1 suppressed, drug combination lethality. Lapatinib and OSU interacted in vivo to suppress the growth of established tumors. Collectively our data argue that the inhibition of ERBB receptor function represents a useful way to enhance OSU lethality in brain tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3542242  PMID: 22990204
glioblastoma; medulloblastoma; lapatinib; OSU-03012; apoptosis; autophagy; ERBB1; PTEN
6.  Mutations in Rotavirus Nonstructural Glycoprotein NSP4 Are Associated with Altered Virus Virulence 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(5):3666-3672.
Rotaviruses are major pathogens causing life-threatening dehydrating gastroenteritis in children and animals. One of the nonstructural proteins, NSP4 (encoded by gene 10), is a transmembrane, endoplasmic reticulum-specific glycoprotein. Recently, our laboratory has shown that NSP4 causes diarrhea in 6- to 10-day-old mice by functioning as an enterotoxin. To confirm the role of NSP4 in rotavirus pathogenesis, we sequenced gene 10 from two pairs of virulent and attenuated porcine rotaviruses, the OSU and Gottfried strains. Comparisons of the NSP4 sequences from these two pairs of rotaviruses suggested that structural changes between amino acids (aa) 131 and 140 are important in pathogenesis. We next expressed the cloned gene 10 from the OSU virulent (OSU-v) and OSU attenuated (OSU-a) viruses by using the baculovirus expression system and compared the biological activities of the purified proteins. NSP4 from OSU-v virus increased intracellular calcium levels over 10-fold in intestinal cells when added exogenously and 6-fold in insect cells when expressed endogenously, whereas NSP4 from OSU-a virus had little effect. NSP4 from OSU-v caused diarrhea in 13 of 23 neonatal mice, while NSP4 from OSU-a caused disease in only 4 of 25 mice (P < 0.01). These results suggest that avirulence is associated with mutations in NSP4. Results from site-directed mutational analyses showed that mutated OSU-v NSP4 with deletion or substitutions in the region of aa 131 to 140 lost its ability to increase intracellular calcium levels and to induce diarrhea in neonatal mice, confirming the importance of amino acid changes from OSU-v NSP4 to OSU-a NSP4 in the alteration of virus virulence.
PMCID: PMC109587  PMID: 9557647
7.  OSU-DY7, a novel D-tyrosinol derivative, mediates cytotoxicity in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and Burkitt lymphoma through p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway 
British journal of haematology  2011;153(5):623-633.
Drug resistance and associated immune deregulation limit use of current therapies in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), thus warranting alternative therapy development. Herein we demonstrate that OSU-DY7, a novel D-tyrosinol derivative targeting p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), mediates cytotoxicity in lymphocytic cell lines representing CLL (MEC-1), acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (697 cells), Burkitt lymphoma (Raji and Ramos) and primary B cells from CLL patients in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The OSU-DY7-induced cytotoxicity is dependent on caspase activation, as evidenced by induction of caspase-3 activation and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage and rescue of cytotoxicity by Z-VAD-FMK. Interestingly, OSU-DY7-induced cytotoxicity is mediated through activation of p38 MAPK, as evidenced by increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and downstream target protein MAPKAPK2. Pretreatment of B-CLL cells with SB202190, a specific p38 MAPK inhibitor, results in decreased MAPKAPK2 protein level with concomitant rescue of the cells from OSU-DY7-mediated cytotoxicity. Furthermore, OSU-DY7-induced cytotoxicity is associated with down regulation of p38 MAPK target BIRC5, that is rescued at protein and mRNA levels by SB202190. This study provides evidence for a role of OSU-DY7 in p38 MAPK activation and BIRC5 down regulation associated with apoptosis in B lymphocytic cells, thus warranting development of this alternative therapy for lymphoid malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3696190  PMID: 21470196
D-tyrosinol; chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK); apoptosis; BIRC5
8.  OSU-03012 sensitizes breast cancers to lapatinib-induced cell killing: a role for Nck1 but not Nck2 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:256.
Lapatinib is characterized as an ErbB1/ErbB2 dual inhibitor and has recently been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. In this study, we examined mechanisms associated with enhancing the activity of lapatinib via combination with other therapies.
In the present studies, estrogen receptor (ER) positive and ER negative breast cancer cells were genetically manipulated to up- or downregulate eIF2-alpha, its phospho-mutant, Nck1, or Nck2, then treated with OSU-03012, lapatinib or the combination and assayed for cytotoxicity/cytostaticity using clonogenic assays.
Treatment of breast cancer cell lines with lapatinib and OSU-03012 (a small molecule derivative of the Cox-2 inhibitor celecoxib) induced synergistic cytotoxic/cytostatic effects. This combination therapy corresponded to an increase in the phosphorylation of eIF2-α at serine51 and a decrease in Nck1 expression. Ectopic expression of phospho-mutant eIF2-α (Ser51Ala) or downregulation of eIF2-α in addition to downregulation of the eIF2-α kinase PERK inhibited the synergistic and cytotoxic effects. Furthermore, ectopic expression of Nck1, but not Nck2 abolished the decrease in cell viability observed in combination-treated cells. Downregulation of Nck1 failed to “rescue” the ablation of the cytotoxic/cytostatic effects by the phospho-mutant of eIF2-α (Ser51Ala) demonstrating that Nck1 downregulation is upstream of eIF2-α phosphorylation in the anti-survival pathway activated by lapatinib and OSU-03012 treatment. Finally, co-immunoprecipitation assays indicated that eIF2-α dissociates from the Nck1/PP1 complex after OSU-03012 and lapatinib co-treatment.
These data indicate that OSU-03012 and lapatinib co-treatment is an effective combination therapy, which functions to enhance cell killing through the Nck1/eIF2 complex. Hence, this complex is a novel target for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3674920  PMID: 23706161
Breast cancer; Lapatinib; Combination therapy; Nck; eIF2-alpha
9.  Targeting ER Stress and Akt with OSU-03012 and Gefitinib or Erlotinib to Overcome Resistance to EGFR Inhibitors* 
Cancer research  2008;68(8):2820-2830.
Pre-existing and acquired resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors limit their clinical usefulness in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This study characterizes the efficacy and mechanisms of the combination of gefitinib or erlotinib with OSU-03012, a celecoxib-derived antitumor agent, to overcome EGFR inhibitor-resistance in three NSCLC cell lines, H1155, H23, and A549. The OSU-03012/EGFR inhibitor combination induced pronounced apoptosis in H1155 and H23 cells, but not in A549 cells, suggesting a correlation between drug sensitivity and basal phospho-Akt levels independently of EGFR expression status. Evidence indicates that this combination facilitates apoptosis through both Akt signaling inhibition and upregulation of ER stress-induced, GADD153-mediated pathways. For example, ectopic expression of constitutively active Akt significantly attenuated the inhibitory effect on cell survival, and siRNA-mediated knockdown of GADD153 protected cells from undergoing apoptosis in response to drug co-treatments. Furthermore, the OSU-03012/EGFR inhibitor combination induced GADD153-mediated upregulation of death receptor 5 expression and subsequent activation of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway. It is noteworthy that the ER stress response induced by this combination was atypical in that the cytoprotective pathway was not engaged. In addition, in vivo suppression of tumor growth and modulation of intratumoral biomarkers were observed in a H1155 tumor xenograft model in nude mice. These data suggest that the concomitant modulation of Akt and ER stress pathways with the OSU-03012/EGFR inhibitor combination represents a unique approach to overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance in NCSLC and perhaps other types of cancer with elevated basal Akt activities.
PMCID: PMC3904349  PMID: 18413750
Non-small cell lung cancer; ER stress; Akt; OSU-03012; EGFR inhibitors
10.  Regulation of autophagy by ceramide-CD95-PERK signaling 
Autophagy  2008;4(7):929-931.
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC3292039  PMID: 18719356
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
11.  PKR-Like Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase Is Necessary for Lipogenic Activation during HCMV Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003266.
PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase (PERK) is an ER-associated stress sensor protein which phosphorylates eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) to induce translation attenuation in response to ER stress. PERK is also a regulator of lipogenesis during adipocyte differentiation through activation of the cleavage of sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 (SREBP1), resulting in the upregulation of lipogenic enzymes. Our recent studies have shown that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection in human fibroblasts (HF) induces adipocyte-like lipogenesis through the activation of SREBP1. Here, we report that PERK expression is highly increased in HCMV-infected cells and is necessary for HCMV growth. Depletion of PERK, using short hairpin RNA (shRNA), resulted in attenuation of HCMV growth, inhibition of lipid synthesis and reduction of lipogenic gene expression. Examination of the cleavage of SREBP proteins showed PERK depletion inhibited the cleavage of SREBP1, but not SREBP2, in HCMV-infected cells, suggesting different cleavage regulatory mechanisms for SREBP1 and 2. Further studies showed that the depletion of SREBP1, but not SREBP2, reduced lipid synthesis in HCMV infection, suggesting that activation of SREBP1 is sufficient to induce lipogenesis in HCMV infection. The reduction of lipid synthesis by PERK depletion can be partially restored by expressing a Flag-tagged nuclear form of SREBP1a. Our studies also suggest that the induction of PERK in HCMV-infected cells stimulates SREBP1 cleavage by reducing levels of Insig1 (Insulin inducible gene 1) protein; this occurs independent of the phosphorylation of eIF2α. Introduction of an exogenous Insig1-Myc into HCMV infected cells significantly reduced HCMV growth and lipid synthesis. Our data demonstrate that the induction of PERK during HCMV infection is necessary for full activation of lipogenesis; this effect appears to be mediated by limiting the levels of Insig1 thus freeing SREBP1-SCAP complexes for SREBP1 processing.
Author Summary
HCMV, a β-herpesvirus, is a significant pathogen which infects most of the human population by puberty. Primary HCMV infection can be unnoticed in healthy people, but can be life threatening for the immunocompromised and it is the most important cause of congenital infection in the developed world, frequently leading to deafness, mental retardation and developmental disability. HCMV infection alters cellular signaling and metabolism in order to establish and maintain an optimal cellular environment that can accommodate the increased demands for nutrients, energy, and macromolecular synthesis that accompany viral infection. On the other hand, increased demands for nutrients, energy and increased protein loading to the ER can induce ER stress, particularly the unfolded protein response (UPR). HCMV induces the UPR in infected cells but also highly regulates its effects. Our recent studies showed HCMV infection can also induce adipocyte-like lipogenesis by activation of the transcription factor SREBP1. We now provide evidence that the induction of the UPR is connected to lipogenic activation during HCMV infection. We show that the ER stress sensor protein, PERK, is critical for lipogenic activation induced during HCMV infection.
PMCID: PMC3617203  PMID: 23592989
12.  PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy in primary human glioma cells 
Autophagy  2008;4(4):513-515.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin 24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The studies by further defines the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that were dependent on activation of JNK1-3 with subsequent activation of BAX and the induction of mitochondrial dysfunction. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent upon protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK-/- cells. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methyladenine, expression of HSP70 or of BiP/GRP78, or by knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin 1 expression, but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin 1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data demonstrate that GST-MDA-7 induces an ER stress response that, via the induction of autophagy, is causal in the activation of pro-apoptotic pathways that converge on the mitochondrion and ultimately culminate in decreased glioma cell survival.
PMCID: PMC2674579  PMID: 18299661
autophagy; caspase; ER stress; cell death
13.  Caspase-, cathepsin-, and PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced cell killing in primary human glioma cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(2):297-313.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The present studies focused on defining the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that correlated with inactivation of ERK1/2 and activation of JNK1-3. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent on protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK−/− cells. JNK1-3 signaling activated BAX, whereas inhibition of JNK1-3, deletion of BAX, or expression of dominant-negative caspase-9 suppressed lethality. GST-MDA-7 also promoted a PERK-, JNK-, and cathepsin B–dependent cleavage of BID; loss of BID function promoted survival. GST-MDA-7 suppressed BAD and BIM phosphorylation and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methylade-nine, expression of HSP70 or BiP/GRP78, or knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data show that GST-MDA-7 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is causal in the activation of multiple proapoptotic pathways, which converge on the mitochondrion and highlight the complexity of signaling pathways altered by mda-7/IL-24 in glioma cells that ultimately culminate in decreased tumor cell survival.
PMCID: PMC3204355  PMID: 18281515
14.  SPARC induces endoplasmic reticulum stress leading to autophagy-mediated apoptosis in neuroblastoma 
International journal of oncology  2012;42(1):188-196.
Our previous studies showed that overexpression of Secreted Protein Acidic and Rich in Cysteine (SPARC) induced autophagy-mediated apoptosis in PNET cells. In the present study, we attempt to elucidate the molecular mechanisms and signaling cascades associated with SPARC overexpression in combination with radiation therapy that eventually leads to autophagy-mediated apoptosis in neuroblastoma. SPARC expression in SK-N-AS and NB-1691 cells demonstrated the activation of caspase 3, cleavage of PARP and induction of apoptosis. The experiments to unravel the mechanisms associated with autophagy -apoptosis illustrated that SPARC overexpression triggered endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and thereby unfolded protein response (UPR). This was apparent with the activation of stress receptors, inositol-requiring enzyme (IRE 1α), RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK) and BiP. The study further demonstrated the induction of transcription factor CHOP as a result of IRE-JNK activation in response to increased SPARC levels. Inhibition of ER stress and JNK activation led to inhibition of autophagy-mediated apoptosis. Further, the apparent expression of ER stress molecules among the orthotopic tumors treated by SPARC overexpression plasmids substantiated our in vitro observations. Taken together, these results illustrate the critical role of ER stress in regulating autophagy-mediated apoptosis in SPARC-overexpressed neuroblastoma cells and radiation treatment.
PMCID: PMC3538858  PMID: 23123816
SPARC; Neuroblastoma; Autophagy; Apoptosis; ER stress
15.  The secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) induces endoplasmic reticulum stress leading to autophagy-mediated apoptosis in neuroblastoma 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;42(1):188-196.
Our previous studies showed that overexpression of secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) induced autophagy-mediated apoptosis in PNET cells. In the present study, we attempted to elucidate the molecular mechanisms and signaling cascades associated with SPARC overexpression in combination with radiation therapy that eventually leads to autophagy-mediated apoptosis in neuroblastoma. SPARC expression in SK-N-AS and NB-1691 cells demonstrated the activation of caspase 3, cleavage of PARP and induction of apoptosis. The experiments to unravel the mechanisms associated with autophagy-apoptosis illustrated that SPARC overexpression triggered endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and thereby unfolded protein response (UPR). This was apparent with the activation of stress receptors, inositol-requiring enzyme (IRE 1α), RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK) and BiP. This study further demonstrated the induction of transcription factor CHOP as a result of IRE-JNK activation in response to increased SPARC levels. Inhibition of ER stress and JNK activation led to inhibition of autophagy-mediated apoptosis. Further, the apparent expression of ER stress molecules among the orthotopic tumors treated by SPARC overexpression plasmids substantiated our in vitro observations. Taken together, these results illustrate the critical role of ER stress in regulating autophagy-mediated apoptosis in SPARC-overexpressed neuroblastoma cells and radiation treatment.
PMCID: PMC3538858  PMID: 23123816
secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine; neuroblastoma; autophagy; apoptosis; endoplasmic reticulum stress
16.  PERK is required at the ER-mitochondrial contact sites to convey apoptosis after ROS-based ER stress 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2012;19(11):1880-1891.
Endoplasmic reticulum stress is emerging as an important modulator of different pathologies and as a mechanism contributing to cancer cell death in response to therapeutic agents. In several instances, oxidative stress and the onset of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress occur together; yet, the molecular events linking reactive oxygen species (ROS) to ER stress-mediated apoptosis are currently unknown. Here, we show that PERK (RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase), a key ER stress sensor of the unfolded protein response, is uniquely enriched at the mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAMs). PERK−/− cells display disturbed ER morphology and Ca2+ signaling as well as significantly weaker ER-mitochondria contact sites. Re-expression of a kinase-dead PERK mutant but not the cytoplasmic deletion mutant of PERK in PERK−/− cells re-establishes ER-mitochondria juxtapositions and mitochondrial sensitization to ROS-mediated stress. In contrast to the canonical ER stressor thapsigargin, during ROS-mediated ER stress, PERK contributes to apoptosis twofold by sustaining the levels of pro-apoptotic C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) and by facilitating the propagation of ROS signals between the ER and mitochondria through its tethering function. Hence, this study reveals an unprecedented role of PERK as a MAMs component required to maintain the ER-mitochondria juxtapositions and propel ROS-mediated mitochondrial apoptosis. Furthermore, it suggests that loss of PERK may cause defects in cell death sensitivity in pathological conditions linked to ROS-mediated ER stress.
PMCID: PMC3469056  PMID: 22705852
PERK; mitochondria-associated membranes; ROS; ER stress; apoptosis; photodynamic therapy
17.  Regulation of Subtilase Cytotoxin-Induced Cell Death by an RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase-Like Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase-Dependent Proteasome Pathway in HeLa Cells 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(5):1803-1814.
Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) produces subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB), which cleaves the molecular chaperone BiP in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), leading to an ER stress response and then activation of apoptotic signaling pathways. Here, we show that an early event in SubAB-induced apoptosis in HeLa cells is mediated by RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK), not activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) or inositol-requiring enzyme 1(Ire1), two other ER stress sensors. PERK knockdown suppressed SubAB-induced eIF2α phosphorylation, activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) expression, caspase activation, and cytotoxicity. Knockdown of eIF2α by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or inhibition of eIF2α dephosphorylation by Sal003 enhanced SubAB-induced caspase activation. Treatment with proteasome inhibitors (i.e., MG132 and lactacystin), but not a general caspase inhibitor (Z-VAD) or a lysosome inhibitor (chloroquine), suppressed SubAB-induced caspase activation and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, suggesting that the ubiquitin-proteasome system controls events leading to caspase activation, i.e., Bax/Bak conformational changes, followed by cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Levels of ubiquitinated proteins in HeLa cells were significantly decreased by SubAB treatment. Further, in an early event, some antiapoptotic proteins, which normally turn over rapidly, have their synthesis inhibited, and show enhanced degradation via the proteasome, resulting in apoptosis. In PERK knockdown cells, SubAB-induced loss of ubiquitinated proteins was inhibited. Thus, SubAB-induced ER stress is caused by BiP cleavage, leading to PERK activation, not by accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, which undergo PERK-dependent degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
PMCID: PMC3347452  PMID: 22354021
18.  PDK-1/AKT pathway as a novel therapeutic target in rhabdomyosarcoma cells using OSU-03012 compound 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;97(6):785-791.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common paediatric soft-tissue sarcoma including two major subtypes, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) and embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS). Increasing evidence suggests that oncogenesis of RMS involves multistages of signalling protein dysregulation which may include prolonged activation of serine/threonine kinases such as phosphoinositide-dependant kinase-1 (PDK-1) and AKT. To date, whether PDK-1/AKT pathway is activated in RMS is unknown. This study was to examine phosphorylation status of AKT and to evaluate a novel small molecular inhibitor, OSU-03012 targeting PDK-1 in RMS. We examined phosphorylation levels of AKT using ARMS and ERMS tissue microarray and immunohistochemistry staining. Our results showed phospho-AKTThr308 level is elevated 42 and 35% in ARMS and ERMS, respectively. Phospho-AKTSer473 level is also increased 43% in ARMS and 55% in ERMS. Furthermore, we showed that OSU-03012 inhibits cell viability and induces apoptosis in ARMS and ERMS cell lines (RH30, SMS-CTR), which express elevated phospho-AKT levels. Normal cells are much less sensitive to OSU-03012 and in which no detectable apoptosis was observed. This study showed, for the first time, that PDK-1/AKT pathway is activated in RMS and may play an important role in survival of RMS. PDK-1/AKT pathway may be an attractive therapeutic target for cancer intervention in RMS using OSU-03012.
PMCID: PMC2360380  PMID: 17848913
AKT; PDK-1; rhabdomyosarcoma; small molecular inhibitor; tissue microarray
19.  PERK-dependent regulation of IAP translation during ER stress 
Oncogene  2008;28(6):910-920.
Exposure of cells to Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress leads to activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)–Akt signaling pathway and transcriptional induction of the inhibitor of apoptosis family of proteins. One of the proximal effectors of the ER stress response, the PKR-like ER kinase (PERK), leads to cellular adaptation to stress by multiple mechanisms, including attenuation of protein synthesis, and transcriptional induction of pro-survival genes. While PERK activity leads to cellular adaptation to ER stress, we now demonstrate that PERK activity also inhibits the ER stress-induced apoptotic program through induction of cellular inhibitor of apoptosis (cIAP1 and cIAP2) proteins. This induction of IAPs occurs through both transcriptional and translational responses that are PERK-dependent. Reintroduction of cIAP1 or cIAP2 expression into PERK−/− MEFs during ER stress delays the early onset of ER stress-induced caspase activation and apoptosis observed in these cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that activation of the PI3K-Akt pathway by ER stress is dependent on PERK, suggesting additional ways in which PERK activity protects cells from ER stress-induced apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2642534  PMID: 19029953
PERK; ER Stress; Apoptosis; IAP
20.  Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Response Mediated by the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 Pathway Is Involved in Osteoblast Differentiation Induced by BMP2* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;286(6):4809-4818.
To avoid excess accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), eukaryotic cells have signaling pathways from the ER to the cytosol or nucleus. These processes are collectively termed the ER stress response. Double stranded RNA activated protein kinase (PKR)-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) is a major transducer of the ER stress response and directly phosphorylates eIF2α, resulting in translational attenuation. Phosphorylated eIF2α specifically promotes the translation of the transcription factor ATF4. ATF4 plays important roles in osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Perk−/− mice are reported to exhibit severe osteopenia, and the phenotypes observed in bone tissues are very similar to those of Atf4−/− mice. However, the involvement of the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 signaling pathway in osteogenesis is unclear. Phosphorylated eIF2α and ATF4 protein levels were attenuated in Perk−/− calvariae, and the gene expression levels of osteocalcin (Ocn) and bone sialoprotein (Bsp), which are targets for ATF4, were also down-regulated. Treatment of wild-type primary osteoblasts with BMP2, which is required for osteoblast differentiation, induced ER stress, leading to an increase in ATF4 protein expression levels. In contrast, the level of ATF4 in Perk−/− osteoblasts was severely diminished. The results indicate that PERK signaling is required for ATF4 activation during osteoblast differentiation. Perk−/− osteoblasts exhibited decreased alkaline phosphatase activities and delayed mineralized nodule formation relative to wild-type cultures. These abnormalities were almost completely restored by the introduction of ATF4 into Perk−/− osteoblasts. Taken together, ER stress occurs during osteoblast differentiation and activates the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 signaling pathway followed by the promotion of gene expression essential for osteogenesis, such as Ocn and Bsp.
PMCID: PMC3039352  PMID: 21135100
Bone; Differentiation; ER Stress; Transcription Factors; Transcription Target Genes; Osteoblast
21.  Regulation of Autophagy Via PERK-eIF2α Effectively Relieve the Radiation Myelitis Induced by Iodine-125 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e76819.
Radiation myelitis is the most serious complication in clinical radiotherapy for spinal metastases. We previously showed that 125I brachytherapy induced apoptosis of spinal cord neurons accompanied by autophagy. In this study, we further investigated the mechanism by which 125I radiation triggered autophagy in neural cells. We found that autophagy induced by 125I radiation was involved in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and mainly dependent on PERK-eIF2α pathway. The expressions of LC3II, ATG12 and PI3K were significantly suppressed in PERK knockout neural cells. Meanwhile, the expressions of phosphorylated-Akt s473 and caspase3/8 all significantly increased in neural cells transfected with a PERK siRNA and which enhanced apoptosis of neurons after 125I radiation. The results were consistent with that by MTT and Annexin-FITC/PT staining. In annimal model of banna pigs with radiation myelitis caused by 125I brachytherapy, we have successfully decreased PERK expression by intrathecal administration of the lentivirus vector. The apoptosis rate was significantly higher than that in control group and which deteriorated radiation myelitis of banna pigs. Thus, autophagy caused by 125I radiation was mainly as an attempt of cell survival at an early stage, but it would be a self-destructive process and promoted the process of apoptosis and necrosis radiated by 125I for more than 72 hours. The study would be useful and helpful to maximize efficiency of radiation therapy in clinical therapy.
PMCID: PMC3818370  PMID: 24223705
22.  The Beclin 1 network regulates autophagy and apoptosis 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;18(4):571-580.
Beclin 1, the mammalian orthologue of yeast Atg6, has a central role in autophagy, a process of programmed cell survival, which is increased during periods of cell stress and extinguished during the cell cycle. It interacts with several cofactors (Atg14L, UVRAG, Bif-1, Rubicon, Ambra1, HMGB1, nPIST, VMP1, SLAM, IP3R, PINK and survivin) to regulate the lipid kinase Vps-34 protein and promote formation of Beclin 1-Vps34-Vps15 core complexes, thereby inducing autophagy. In contrast, the BH3 domain of Beclin 1 is bound to, and inhibited by Bcl-2 or Bcl-XL. This interaction can be disrupted by phosphorylation of Bcl-2 and Beclin 1, or ubiquitination of Beclin 1. Interestingly, caspase-mediated cleavage of Beclin 1 promotes crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy. Beclin 1 dysfunction has been implicated in many disorders, including cancer and neurodegeneration. Here, we summarize new findings regarding the organization and function of the Beclin 1 network in cellular homeostasis, focusing on the cross-regulation between apoptosis and autophagy.
PMCID: PMC3131912  PMID: 21311563
Beclin 1; PI3K; Bcl-2; autophagy; apoptosis; signal transduction
23.  PERK and GCN2 Contribute to eIF2α Phosphorylation and Cell Cycle Arrest after Activation of the Unfolded Protein Response Pathway 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(12):5493-5501.
Exposure of cells to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress leads to activation of PKR-like ER kinase (PERK), eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation, repression of cyclin D1 translation, and subsequent cell cycle arrest in G1 phase. However, whether PERK is solely responsible for regulating cyclin D1 accumulation after unfolded protein response pathway (UPR) activation has not been assessed. Herein, we demonstrate that repression of cyclin D1 translation after UPR activation occurs independently of PERK, but it remains dependent on eIF2α phosphorylation. Although phosphorylation of eIF2α in PERK–/– fibroblasts is attenuated in comparison with wild-type fibroblasts, it is not eliminated. The residual eIF2α phosphorylation correlates with the kinetics of cyclin D1 loss, suggesting that another eIF2α kinase functions in the absence of PERK. In cells harboring targeted deletion of both PERK and GCN2, cyclin D1 loss is attenuated, suggesting GCN2 functions as the redundant kinase. Consistent with these results, cyclin D1 translation is also stabilized in cells expressing a nonphosphorylatable allele of eIF2α; in contrast, repression of global protein translation still occurs in these cells, highlighting a high degree of specificity in transcripts targeted for translation inhibition by phosphorylated eIF2α. Our results demonstrate that PERK and GCN2 function to cooperatively regulate eIF2α phosphorylation and cyclin D1 translation after UPR activation.
PMCID: PMC1289396  PMID: 16176978
24.  Protective Mechanism of KIOM-4 in Streptozotocin-Induced Pancreatic β-Cells Damage Is Involved in the Inhibition of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress 
Endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis plays an important role in the destruction of pancreatic β-cells and contributes to the development of type 1 diabetes. The present study examined the effect of KIOM-4, a mixture of four plant extracts, on streptozotocin- (STZ-) induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in rat pancreatic β-cells (RINm5F). KIOM-4 was found to inhibit STZ-induced apoptotic cell death, confirmed by formation of apoptotic bodies and DNA fragmentation. STZ was found to induce the characteristics of ER stress; mitochondrial Ca2+ overloading, enhanced ER staining, release of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), phosphorylation of RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) like ER kinase (PERK) and eukaryotic initiation factor-2α (eIF-2α), cleavage of activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) and caspase 12, and upregulation of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-homologous protein (CHOP). However, KIOM-4 attenuated these changes induced by STZ. Furthermore, KIOM-4 suppressed apoptosis induced by STZ in CHOP downregulated cells using CHOP siRNA. These results suggest that KIOM-4 exhibits protective effects in STZ-induced pancreatic β-cell damage, by interrupting the ER stress-mediated pathway.
PMCID: PMC2949593  PMID: 20924496
25.  Calcineurin Interacts with PERK and Dephosphorylates Calnexin to Relieve ER Stress in Mammals and Frogs 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e11925.
The accumulation of misfolded proteins within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) triggers a cellular process known as the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). One of the earliest responses is the attenuation of protein translation. Little is known about the role that Ca2+ mobilization plays in the early UPR. Work from our group has shown that cytosolic phosphorylation of calnexin (CLNX) controls Ca2+ uptake into the ER via the sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) 2b.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we demonstrate that calcineurin (CN), a Ca2+ dependent phosphatase, associates with the (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK), and promotes PERK auto-phosphorylation. This association, in turn, increases the phosphorylation level of eukaryotic initiation factor-2 α (eIF2-α) and attenuates protein translation. Data supporting these conclusions were obtained from co-immunoprecipitations, pull-down assays, in-vitro kinase assays, siRNA treatments and [35S]-methionine incorporation measurements. The interaction of CN with PERK was facilitated at elevated cytosolic Ca2+ concentrations and involved the cytosolic domain of PERK. CN levels were rapidly increased by ER stressors, which could be blocked by siRNA treatments for CN-Aα in cultured astrocytes. Downregulation of CN blocked subsequent ER-stress-induced increases in phosphorylated elF2-α. CN knockdown in Xenopus oocytes predisposed them to induction of apoptosis.
We also found that CLNX was dephosphorylated by CN when Ca2+ increased. These data were obtained from [γ32P]-CLNX immunoprecipitations and Ca2+ imaging measurements. CLNX was dephosphorylated when Xenopus oocytes were treated with ER stressors. Dephosphorylation was pharmacologically blocked by treatment with CN inhibitors.
Finally, evidence is presented that PERK phosphorylates CN-A at low resting levels of Ca2+. We further show that phosphorylated CN-A exhibits decreased phosphatase activity, consistent with this regulatory mechanism being shut down as ER homeostasis is re-established.
Our data suggest two new complementary roles for CN in the regulation of the early UPR. First, CN binding to PERK enhances inhibition of protein translation to allow the cell time to recover. The induction of the early UPR, as indicated by increased P-elF2α, is critically dependent on a translational increase in CN-Aα. Second, CN dephosphorylates CLNX and likely removes inhibition of SERCA2b activity, which would aid the rapid restoration of ER Ca2+ homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2916823  PMID: 20700529

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