Abnormalities in the Notch signaling system are considered to play a role in the tumorigenesis of bronchiogenic carcinoma. The present study aimed to investigate the expression of Notch3 in adult lung cancer patients and its role in the pathogenesis of primary bronchiogenic carcinoma. The expression of the Notch3 protein in lung squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, small cell carcinoma and corresponding non-tumor tissues was detected by immunohistochemistry. To investigate the expression of Notch3 in adenocarcinoma tissues, Notch3 mRNA and protein expression were measured with reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blot analysis, respectively. It was demonstrated that Notch3 had a stronger positive degree of expression in lung squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma compared with the corresponding non-tumor tissue (P<0.01). The expression of Notch3 in small cell carcinoma tissue was lower compared with that of the corresponding non-tumor tissue (P<0.01). The expression of Notch3 in the lung adenocarcinoma group was the highest of the three lung carcinoma groups (P<0.01). RT-PCR revealed that the expression of Notch3 mRNA in the lung adenocarcinoma group was higher than that of the normal lung group, but there was no statistically significant difference (P=0.05). The expression of Notch1 protein in the lung adenocarcinoma group was significantly higher compared with the normal lung group (P<0.01), as shown by western blot analysis. Notch3 may be involved in the pathogenesis of bronchogenic carcinoma, in particular in the promotion of the lung cancer oncogene, and a difference in its expression may exist in the various pathological types.
bronchiogenic carcinoma; Notch3; lung cancer
Recent high throughput genomic sequencing studies of solid tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), ovarian cancer, lung adenocarcinoma, glioblastoma, breast cancer and lung SCC, have highlighted DNA mutation as a mechanism for aberrant Notch signaling. A primary challenge of targeting Notch for treatment of solid malignancies is determining whether Notch signaling is cancer-promoting or tumor-suppressing for a specific cancer. We compiled reported Notch receptor and ligand missense and nonsense mutations in order glean insights into aberrant Notch signaling.
Frequencies of coding mutations differed for the four Notch genes. 4.7% of tumors harbored NOTCH1 missense or nonsense mutations. NOTCH2 and NOTCH3 had similar overall mutation rates of 1.5% and 1.3%, respectively, while NOTCH4 mutations were rarer. Notch ligand genes were rarely mutated.
The combined mutation frequency and position spectra of the four Notch paralogs across the different cancers provide an opportunity to begin to illuminate the different contributions of each Notch paralog to each tumor type and to identify opportunities for therapeutic targeting. Notch signaling pathway activators and inhibitors are currently in early clinical development for treatment of solid malignancies. Defining the status and consequences of altered Notch signaling will be important for selection of appropriate treatment.
The Notch receptor signaling pathway regulates expression of the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor ATOH1 (Math1/Hath1) to determine cell fate in the intestine. In differentiating intestinal stem cells, high levels of Notch activity specify absorptive enterocyte/colonocyte differentiation, whereas high ATOH1 activity specifies secretory (goblet, enteroendocrine, and Paneth) cell differentiation. In colorectal cancer, ATOH1 is a tumor suppressor that is silenced in most tumors, while Notch is oncogenic and often highly active in human tumors. In other gastrointestinal malignancies with features of intestinal metaplasia, such as esophageal and gastric cancers, the Notch-ATOH1 pathway becomes activated. In cancers and preneoplastic tissues that retain the ability to activate ATOH1, therapeutic targeting of this pathway can be achieved by inhibiting Notch activity (with Notch-targeting antibodies or small-molecule inhibitors of γ-secretase). Thus, targeting the Notch-ATOH1 pathway represents a novel approach to differentiation therapy in gastrointestinal cancers.
Notch; Delta-like; Jagged; Atoh1; Math1; Hath1; γ-secretase; Intestine; Colon; Crypts of Lieberkühn; Stem cell; Cancer; Differentiation
Dysregulated Notch signaling has been implicated in numerous human diseases, including a broad spectrum of cancers. Mutations in Notch1 are prevalent in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and abnormal expression of different human Notch receptors contributes to B-cell tumors as well as cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, skin, prostate, colon, brain and other tissues. Several γ-secretase inhibitors, small chemical compounds that were initially developed to inhibit the activity of the γ-secretase aspartyl protease in Alzheimer’s disease, are now being explored for their potential chemotherapeutic applications in Notch-associated cancers. An alternative approach involves the development of antibodies to inhibit specific Notch receptors, their activating ligands, or other components of the Notch pathway in tumors. Here we review recent progress and current challenges in the use of these strategies to modulate Notch signaling for cancer therapy.
Notch; cancer; T-ALL; γ-secretase; inhibitor
Overexpression of TMPRSS4, a cell surface-associated transmembrane serine protease, has been reported in pancreatic, colorectal and thyroid cancers, and has been implicated in tumor cell migration and metastasis. Few reports have investigated both TMPRSS4 gene expression levels and the protein products. In this study, quantitative RT-PCR and protein staining were used to assess TMPRSS4 expression in primary non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) tissues and in lung tumor cell lines. At the transcriptional level, TMPRSS4 message was significantly elevated in the majority of human squamous cell and adenocarcinomas compared with normal lung tissues. Staining of over 100 NSCLC primary tumor and normal specimens with rabbit polyclonal anti-TMPRSS4 antibodies confirmed expression at the protein level in both squamous cell and adenocarcinomas with little or no staining in normal lung tissues. Human lung tumor cell lines expressed varying levels of TMPRSS4 mRNA in vitro. Interestingly, tumor cell lines with high levels of TMPRSS4 mRNA failed to show detectable TMPRSS4 protein by either immunoblotting or flow cytometry. However, protein levels were increased under hypoxic culture conditions suggesting that hypoxia within the tumor microenvironment may upregulate TMPRSS4 protein expression in vivo. This was supported by the observation of TMPRSS4 protein in xenograft tumors derived from the cell lines. In addition, staining of human squamous cell carcinoma samples for carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), a hypoxia marker, showed TMPRSS4 positive cells adjacent to CAIX positive cells. Overall, these results indicate that the cancer-associated TMPRSS4 protein is overexpressed in NSCLC and may represent a potential therapeutic target.
TMPRSS4; lung cancer; carbonic anhydrase IX; hypoxia; serine protease
Recent studies have implicated aberrant Notch signaling in breast cancers. Yet, relatively little is known about the pattern of expression of various components of the Notch pathway, or its mechanism of action. To better understand the role of the Notch pathway in breast cancer, we have undertaken a detailed expression analysis of various Notch receptors, their ligands, and downstream targets at different stages of breast cancer progression.
We report here that there is a general increase in the expression levels of Notch 1, 2, 4, Jagged1, Jagged2, and Delta-like 4 proteins in breast cancers, with simultaneous upregulation of multiple Notch receptors and ligands in a given cancer tissue. While Notch3 and Delta-like1 were undetectable in normal tissues, moderate to high expression was detected in several cancers. We detected the presence of active, cleaved Notch1, along with downstream targets of the Notch pathway, Hes1/Hes5, in ~75% of breast cancers, clearly indicating that in a large proportion of breast cancers Notch signaling is aberrantly activated. Furthermore, we detected cleaved Notch1 and Hes1/5 in early precursors of breast cancers - hyperplasia and ductal carcinoma in situ - suggesting that aberrant Notch activation may be an early event in breast cancer progression. Mechanistically, while constitutively active Notch1 alone failed to transform immortalized breast cells, it synergized with the Ras/MAPK pathway to mediate transformation. This cooperation is reflected in vivo, as a subset of cleaved Notch positive tumors additionally expressed phopsho-Erk1/2 in the nuclei. Such cases exhibited high node positivity, suggesting that Notch-Ras cooperation may lead to poor prognosis.
High level expression of Notch receptors and ligands, and its increased activation in several breast cancers and early precursors, places Notch signaling as a key player in breast cancer pathogenesis. Its cooperation with the Ras/MAPK pathway in transformation offers combined inhibition of the two pathways as a new modality for breast cancer treatment.
Folate receptor alpha (FRα) and reduced folate carrier-1 (RFC1) regulate uptake of folate molecules inside the cell. FRα is a potential biomarker of tumors response to antifolate chemotherapy and a target for therapy using humanized monocloncal antibody. Information on the protein expression of these receptors in non–small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is limited.
Material and Methods
Expressions of FRα and RFC1 were examined by IHC in 320 surgically resected NSCLC (202 adenocarcinomas and 118 squamous cell carcinomas) tissue specimens and correlated with patients’ clinicopathologic characteristics. FOLR1 mRNA expression was examined using publicly available microarray datasets. FRα expression was correlated with thymidylate synthase (TS) and p53 expression in NSCLCs, and with EGFR and KRAS mutations in adenocarcinomas.
NSCLC overexpressed FRα and RFC1. In a multivariate analysis, lung adenocarcinomas were more likely to express FRα in the cytoplasm (odds ratio [OR] = 4.39; P<0.0001) and membrane (OR = 5.34; P<0.0001) of malignant cells than squamous cell carcinomas. Tumors from never-smokers were more likely to express cytoplasmic (OR = 3.35; P<0.03) and membrane (OR = 3.60; P=0.0005) FRα than those from smokers. In adenocarcinoma, EGFR mutations correlated with higher expression of membrane FRα and FOLR1 gene expressions. High levels of FRα expression was detected in 42 NSCLC advanced metastatic tumor tissues.
FRα and RFC1 proteins are overexpressed in NSCLC tumor tissues. The high levels of FRα in lung adenocarcinomas may be associated to these tumors’ better responses to antifolate chemotherapy and represents a potential novel target for this tumor type.
non–small cell lung carcinoma; EGFR; membrane transporter; FRα; FRC1
The Notch pathway is functionally important in breast cancer. Notch-1 has been reported to maintain an estrogen-independent phenotype in estrogen receptor α (ERα)+ breast cancer cells. Notch-4 expression correlates with Ki67. Notch-4 also plays a key role in breast cancer stem-like cells. Estrogen-independent breast cancer cell lines have higher Notch activity than estrogen-dependent lines. Protein kinase Cα (PKCα) overexpression is common in endocrine-resistant breast cancers and promotes tamoxifen (TAM)-resistant growth in breast cancer cell lines. We tested whether PKCα overexpression affects Notch activity and whether Notch signaling contributes to endocrine resistance in PKCα-overexpressing breast cancer cells.Analysis of published microarray data from ERα+ breast carcinomas shows that PKCα expression correlates strongly with Notch-4. Real-time reverse transcription PCR and immunohistochemistry on archival specimens confirmed this finding. In a PKCα-overexpressing, TAM-resistant T47D model, PKCα selectively increases Notch-4, but not Notch-1, expression in vitro and in vivo. This effect is mediated by activator protein-1 (AP-1) occupancy of the Notch-4 promoter. Notch-4 knockdown inhibits estrogen-independent growth of PKCα-overexpressing T47D cells, whereas Notch-4IC expression stimulates it. Gene expression profiling shows that multiple genes and pathways associated with endocrine resistance are induced in Notch-4IC- and PKCα-expressing T47D cells. In PKCα-overexpressing T47D xenografts, an orally active γ-secretase inhibitor at clinically relevant doses significantly decreased estrogen-independent tumor growth, alone and in combination with TAM. In conclusion, PKCα overexpression induces Notch-4 through AP-1. Notch-4 promotes estrogen-independent, TAM-resistant growth and activates multiple pathways connected with endocrine resistance and chemoresistance. Notch inhibitors should be clinically evaluated in PKCα- and Notch-4-overexpressing, endocrine-resistant breast cancers.
Notch; breast cancer; endocrine therapy; PKCα
Women with triple-negative breast cancer have the worst prognosis, frequently present with metastatic tumors and have few targeted therapy options. Notch-1 and Notch-4 are potent breast oncogenes that are overexpressed in triple-negative and other subtypes of breast cancer. PEA3, an ETS transcription factor, is also overexpressed in triple-negative and other breast cancer subtypes. We investigated whether PEA3 could be the critical transcriptional activator of Notch receptors in MDA-MB-231 and other breast cancer cells.
Real-time PCR and Western blot analysis were performed to detect Notch-1, Notch-2, Notch-3 and Notch-4 receptor expression in breast cancer cells when PEA3 was knocked down by siRNA. Chromatin immunoprecipitation was performed to identify promoter regions for Notch genes that recruited PEA3. TAM-67 and c-Jun siRNA were used to identify that c-Jun was necessary for PEA3 enrichment on the Notch-4 promoter. A Notch-4 luciferase reporter was used to confirm that endogenous PEA3 or AP-1 activated the Notch-4 promoter region. Cell cycle analysis, trypan blue exclusion, annexin V flow cytometry, colony formation assay and an in vivo xenograft study were performed to determine the biological significance of targeting PEA3 via siRNA, Notch signaling via a γ-secretase inhibitor, or both.
Herein we provide new evidence for transcriptional regulation of Notch by PEA3 in breast cancer. PEA3 activates Notch-1 transcription in MCF-7, MDA-MB-231 and SKBr3 breast cancer cells. PEA3 activates Notch-4 transcription in MDA-MB-231 cells where PEA3 levels are endogenously high. In SKBr3 and BT474 breast cancer cells where PEA3 levels are low, overexpression of PEA3 increases Notch-4 transcripts. Chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed the enrichment of PEA3 on Notch-1 and Notch-4 promoters in MDA-MB-231 cells. PEA3 recruitment to Notch-1 was AP-1-independent, whereas PEA3 recruitment to Notch-4 was c-JUN-dependent. Importantly, the combined inhibition of Notch signaling via a γ-secretase inhibitor (MRK-003 GSI) and knockdown of PEA3 arrested growth in the G1 phase, decreased both anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent growth and significantly increased apoptotic cells in vitro. Moreover, either PEA3 knockdown or MRK-003 GSI treatment significantly reduced tumor growth of MDA-MB-231 xenografts in vivo.
Taken together, the results from this study demonstrate for the first time that Notch-1 and Notch-4 are novel transcriptional targets of PEA3 in breast cancer cells. Targeting of PEA3 and/or Notch pathways might provide a new therapeutic strategy for triple-negative and possibly other breast cancer subtypes.
NOTCH1 encodes the canonical member of the mammalian Notch receptor family. Activating lesions frequently affect NOTCH1 in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and recently have been found in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as well. We explored the oncogenic potential of activated NOTCH1 in the lung by developing a transgenic mouse model in which activated NOTCH1 was overexpressed in the alveolar epithelium. The initial response to activated NOTCH1 was proliferation and the accumulation of alveolar hyperplasia, which was then promptly cleared by apoptosis. After an extended latency period, however, pulmonary adenomas arose in the transgenic mice, but failed to progress to carcinoma. Interestingly, MYC and MYCL1 were expressed in the adenomas, suggesting that selection for enhanced MYC activity may facilitate tumorigenesis. Using mice engineered to co-express activated NOTCH1 and MYC, we found that supplementing MYC expression increased the frequency of N1ICD-induced adenomas and enabled progression to adenocarcinoma and metastases. Cooperation stemmed from synergistic activation of tumor cell cycling, a process that apparently countered any impedance to tumorigenesis posed by MYC and/or activated NOTCH1-induced apoptosis. Significantly, cooperation was independent of RAS activation. Taken together, the data suggest that activated NOTCH1 substitutes for RAS activation in cooperation with MYC in the development of NSCLC. These tumor models should be valuable for exploring the role of activated NOTCH1 in the genesis of NSCLC and for testing therapies targeting either activated NOTCH1 or its downstream effectors.
Notch receptors normally play a key role in guiding a variety of cell fate decisions during development and differentiation of metazoan organisms. On the other hand, dysregulation of Notch1 signaling is associated with many different types of cancer as well as tumor angiogenesis, making Notch1 a potential therapeutic target.
Here we report the in vitro activities of inhibitory Notch1 monoclonal antibodies derived from cell-based and solid-phase screening of a phage display library. Two classes of antibodies were found, one directed against the EGF-repeat region that encompasses the ligand-binding domain (LBD), and the second directed against the activation switch of the receptor, the Notch negative regulatory region (NRR). The antibodies are selective for Notch1, inhibiting Jag2-dependent signaling by Notch1 but not by Notch 2 and 3 in reporter gene assays, with EC50 values as low as 5±3 nM and 0.13±0.09 nM for the LBD and NRR antibodies, respectively, and fail to recognize Notch4. While more potent, NRR antibodies are incomplete antagonists of Notch1 signaling. The antagonistic activity of LBD, but not NRR, antibodies is strongly dependent on the activating ligand. Both LBD and NRR antibodies bind to Notch1 on human tumor cell lines and inhibit the expression of sentinel Notch target genes, including HES1, HES5, and DTX1. NRR antibodies also strongly inhibit ligand-independent signaling in heterologous cells transiently expressing Notch1 receptors with diverse NRR “class I” point mutations, the most common type of mutation found in human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In contrast, NRR antibodies failed to antagonize Notch1 receptors bearing rare “class II” or “class III” mutations, in which amino acid insertions generate a duplicated or constitutively sensitive metalloprotease cleavage site. Signaling in T-ALL cell lines bearing class I mutations is partially refractory to inhibitory antibodies as compared to cell-penetrating gamma-secretase inhibitors.
Antibodies that compete with Notch1 ligand binding or that bind to the negative regulatory region can act as potent inhibitors of Notch1 signaling. These antibodies may have clinical utility for conditions in which inhibition of signaling by wild-type Notch1 is desired, but are likely to be of limited value for treatment of T-ALLs associated with aberrant Notch1 activation.
To investigate the effects and mechanisms of trastuzumab on Notch-1 pathway in breast cancer cells, recognizing the significance of Notch-1 signaling pathway in trastuzumab resistance.
Immunocytochemistry staining and Western blotting were employed to justify the expression of Notch-1 protein in HER2-overexpressing SK-BR3 cells and HER2-non-overexpressing breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. Western blotting and reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) were used to detect the activated Notch-1 and Notch-1 target gene HES-1 mRNA expression after SK-BR3 cells were treated with trastuzumab. Double immunofluorescence staining and co-immunoprecipitation were used to analyze the relationship of Notch-1 and HER2 proteins.
The level of Notch-1 nuclear localization and activated Notch-1 proteins in HER2-overexpressing cells were significantly lower than in HER2-non-overexpressing cells (P<0.01), and the expressions of activated Notch-1 and HES-1 mRNA were obviously increased after trastuzumab treatment (P<0.05), but HER2 expression did not change significantly for trastuzumab treating (P>0.05). Moreover, Notch-1 was discovered to co-localize and interact with HER2 in SK-BR3 cells.
Overexpression of HER2 decreased Notch-1 activity by the formation of a HER2-Notch1 complex, and trastuzumab can restore the activity of Notch-1 signaling pathway, which could be associated with cell resistance to trastuzumab.
Notch-1; HER2; Trastuzumab; Breast cancer
The role of Notch signaling in cervical cancer was investigated, suggesting potential therapy using combinations of Notch1-activating agents and somatostatin receptor 2–targeting agents.
The role of Notch signaling in cervical cancer is seemingly controversial. To confirm the function of Notch signaling in this type of cancer, we established a stable Notch1-activated cervical cancer HeLa cell line. We found that Notch1 activation resulted in apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and tumor suppression. At the molecular level, we found that a variety of genes associated with cyclic AMP, G protein-coupled receptor, and cancer signaling pathways contributed to Notch1-mediated tumor suppression. We observed that the expression of somatostatin (SST) was dramatically induced by Notch1 signaling activation, which was accompanied by enhanced expression of the cognate SST receptor subtype 1 (SSTR1) and SSTR2. Certain genes, such as tumor protein 63 (TP63, p63), were upregulated, whereas others, such as B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2), Myc, Akt, and STAT3, were downregulated. Subsequently, knockdown of Notch1-induced SST reversed Notch1-induced decrease of BCL-2 and increase of p63, indicating that Notch1-induced tumor suppression may be partly through upregulating SST signaling. Our findings support a possible crosstalk between Notch signaling and SST signaling. Moreover, Notch-induced SSTR activation could enhance SSTR-targeted cancer chemotherapy. Valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, suppressed cell growth and upregulated the expression of Notch1 and SSTR2. A combination therapy with VPA and the SSTR2-targeting cytotoxic conjugate CPT-SST strongly led to greater suppression, as compared to each alone. Our findings thus provide us with a promising clinical opportunity for enhanced cancer therapy using combinations of Notch1-activating agents and SSTR2-targeting agents.
Notch1 signaling; Cervical cancer; Tumor suppression; SST signaling; Receptor-targeted therapy
S100P is a Ca2+ binding protein overexpressed in a variety of cancers, and thus, has been considered a potential tumor biomarker. Very little has been studied about its normal expression and functions.
We examined S100P expression in normal human tissues by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. S100P protein expression was also studied in a series of tumors, consisting of 74 ovarian, 11 pancreatic, 56 gastric, 57 colorectal, 89 breast and 193 prostate carcinomas using a novel anti-S100P monoclonal antibody.
Among the normal tissues, the highest S100P mRNA levels were observed in the placenta and esophagus. Moderate signals were also detected in the stomach, duodenum, large intestine, prostate and leukocytes. At the protein level, the highest reactions for S100P were seen in the placenta and stomach. Immunostaining of tumor specimens showed that S100P protein is expressed in all the tumor categories included in the study, being most prevalent in gastric tumors.
Based on our observations, S100P is widely expressed in both normal and malignant tissues. The high expression in some tumors suggests that it may represent a potential target molecule for future diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
We report here the significance of the Notch1 receptor in intracellular trafficking of recombinant adeno-associated virus type 2 (rAAV2). RNA profiling of human prostate cancer cell lines with various degrees of AAV transduction indicated a correlation of the amount of Notch1 with rAAV transgene expression. A definitive role of Notch1 in enhancing AAV transduction was confirmed by developing clonal derivatives of DU145 cells overexpressing either full-length or intracellular Notch1. To discern stages of AAV2 transduction influenced by Notch1, competitive binding with soluble heparin and Notch1 antibody, intracellular trafficking using Cy3-labeled rAAV2, and blocking assays for proteasome and dynamin pathways were performed. Results indicated that in the absence or low-level expression of Notch1, only binding of virus was found on the cell surface and internalization was impaired. However, increased Notch1 expression in these cells allowed efficient perinuclear accumulation of labeled capsids. Nuclear transport of the vector was evident by transgene expression and real-time PCR analyses. Dynamin levels were not found to be different among these cell lines, but blocking dynamin function abrogated AAV2 transduction in DU145 clones overexpressing full-length Notch1 but not in clones overexpressing intracellular Notch1. These studies provide evidence for the role of activated Notch1 in intracellular trafficking of AAV2, which may have implications in the optimal use of AAV2 in human gene therapy.
Aberrant expression of Jagged1 and Notch1 are associated with poor outcome in breast cancer. However, the reason that Jagged1 and/or Notch overexpression portends a poor prognosis is unknown. We identify Slug, a transcriptional repressor, as a novel Notch target and show that elevated levels of Slug correlate with increased expression of Jagged1 in various human cancers. Slug was essential for Notch-mediated repression of E-cadherin, which resulted in β-catenin activation and resistance to anoikis. Inhibition of ligand-induced Notch signaling in xenografted Slug-positive/E-cadherin–negative breast tumors promoted apoptosis and inhibited tumor growth and metastasis. This response was associated with down-regulated Slug expression, reexpression of E-cadherin, and suppression of active β-catenin. Our findings suggest that ligand-induced Notch activation, through the induction of Slug, promotes tumor growth and metastasis characterized by epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and inhibition of anoikis.
TGF-β and Notch signaling pathways play important roles in regulating self-renewal of stem cells and gastrointestinal carcinogenesis. Loss of TGF-β signaling components activates Notch signaling in esophageal adenocarcinoma, but the basis for this effect has been unclear. Here we report that loss of TGF-β adapter β2SP (SPNB2) activates Notch signaling and its target SOX9 in primary fibroblasts or esophageal adenocarcinoma cells. Expression of the stem cell marker SOX9 was markedly higher in esophageal adenocarcinoma tumor tissues than normal tissues, and its higher nuclear staining in tumors correlated with poorer survival and lymph node invasion in esophageal adenocarcinoma patients. Downregulation of β2SP by lentivirus short hairpin RNA increased SOX9 transcription and expression, enhancing nuclear localization for both active Notch1 (intracellular Notch1, ICN1) and SOX9. In contrast, reintroduction into esophageal adenocarcinoma cells of β2SP and a dominant-negative mutant of the Notch coactivator mastermind-like (dnMAN) decreased SOX9 promoter activity. Tumor sphere formation and invasive capacity in vitro and tumor growth in vivo were increased in β2SP-silenced esophageal adenocarcinoma cells. Conversely, SOX9 silencing rescued the phenotype of esophageal adenocarcinoma cells with loss of β2SP. Interaction between Smad3 and ICN1 via Smad3 MH1 domain was also observed, with loss of β2SP increasing the binding between these proteins, inducing expression of Notch targets SOX9 and C-MYC, and decreasing expression of TGF-β targets p21(CDKN1A), p27 (CDKN1B), and E-cadherin. Taken together, our findings suggest that loss of β2SP switches TGF-β signaling from tumor suppression to tumor promotion by engaging Notch signaling and activating SOX9.
Recent work with mouse models and human leukemic samples has shown that gain-of-function mutation(s) in Notch1 is a common genetic event in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). The Notch1 receptor signals through a γ-secretase-dependent process that releases intracellular Notch1 from the membrane to the nucleus, where it forms part of a transcriptional activator complex. To identify Notch1 target genes in leukemia, we developed mouse T-cell leukemic lines that express intracellular Notch1 in a doxycycline-dependent manner. Using gene expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation, we identified c-myc as a novel, direct, and critical Notch1 target gene in T-cell leukemia. c-myc mRNA levels are increased in primary mouse T-cell tumors that harbor Notch1 mutations, and Notch1 inhibition decreases c-myc mRNA levels and inhibits leukemic cell growth. Retroviral expression of c-myc, like intracellular Notch1, rescues the growth arrest and apoptosis associated with γ-secretase inhibitor treatment or Notch1 inhibition. Consistent with these findings, retroviral insertional mutagenesis screening of our T-cell leukemia mouse model revealed common insertions in either notch1 or c-myc genes. These studies define the Notch1 molecular signature in mouse T-ALL and importantly provide mechanistic insight as to how Notch1 contributes to human T-ALL.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a paediatric soft-tissue sarcoma arising from skeletal muscle precursors coexpressing markers of proliferation and differentiation. Inducers of myogenic differentiation suppress RMS tumourigenic phenotype. The Notch target gene HES1 is upregulated in RMS and prevents tumour cell differentiation in a Notch-dependent manner. However, Notch receptors regulating this phenomenon are unknown. In agreement with data in RMS primary tumours, we show here that the Notch3 receptor is overexpressed in RMS cell lines versus normal myoblasts. Notch3-targeted downregulation in RMS cells induces hyper-phosphorylation of p38 and Akt essential for myogenesis, resulting in the differentiation of tumour cells into multinucleated myotubes expressing Myosin Heavy Chain. These phenomena are associated to a marked decrease in HES1 expression, an increase in p21Cip1 level and the accumulation of RMS cells in the G1 phase. HES1-forced overexpression in RMS cells reverses, at least in part, the pro-differentiative effects of Notch3 downregulation. Notch3 depletion also reduces the tumourigenic potential of RMS cells both in vitro and in vivo. These results indicate that downregulation of Notch3 is sufficient to force RMS cells into completing a correct full myogenic program providing evidence that it contributes, partially through HES1 sustained expression, to their malignant phenotype. Moreover, they suggest Notch3 as a novel potential target in human RMS.
Notch; rhabdomyosarcoma; differentiation; muscle cells; sarcoma
EGF receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) is the most common variant of the EGF receptor observed in human tumors. It results from the in frame deletion of exons 2-7 and the generation of a novel glycine residue at the junction of exons 1 and 8. This novel juxtaposition of amino acids within the extra-cellular domain of the EGF receptor creates a tumor specific and immunogenic epitope. EGFRvIII expression has been seen in many tumor types including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), breast adenocarcinoma, non-small cell lung carcinoma, ovarian adenocarcinoma and prostate cancer, but has been rarely observed in normal tissue. Because this variant is tumor specific and highly immunogenic, it can be used for both a diagnostic marker as well as a target for immunotherapy. Unfortunately many of the monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies directed against EGFRvIII have cross reactivity to wild type EGFR or other non-specific proteins. Furthermore, a monoclonal antibody to EGFRvIII is not readily available to the scientific community.
In this study, we have developed a recombinant antibody that is specific for EGFRvIII, has little cross reactivity for the wild type receptor, and which can be easily produced. We initially designed a recombinant antibody with two anti-EGFRvIII single chain Fv's linked together and a human IgG1 Fc component. To enhance the specificity of this antibody for EGFRvIII, we mutated tyrosine H59 of the CDRH2 domain and tyrosine H105 of the CDRH3 domain to phenylalanine for both the anti-EGFRvIII sequence inserts. This mutated recombinant antibody, called RAbDMvIII, specifically detects EGFRvIII expression in EGFRvIII expressing cell lines as well as in EGFRvIII expressing GBM primary tissue by western blot, immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence (IF) and FACS analysis. It does not recognize wild type EGFR in any of these assays. The affinity of this antibody for EGFRvIII peptide is 1.7 × 107 M-1 as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
This recombinant antibody thus holds great potential to be used as a research reagent and diagnostic tool in research laboratories and clinics because of its high quality, easy viability and unique versatility. This antibody is also a strong candidate to be investigated for further in vivo therapeutic studies.
Notch and Wnt signaling function together to regulate colonic progenitor cell division and differentiation. Studies in mice have also shown that Notch signaling is required for adenoma formation in response to elevated Wnt-pathway signaling that occurs in the APCMin mouse model of human adenomatous polyposis coli. We therefore used in situ hybridization to analyze expression of Notch ligands, receptors and fringe genes, as well as the Notch target gene, HES1, in human colorectal cancer (CRC). In a small cohort of tumors, JAGGED ligands, NOTCH1, LFNG and HES1 were expressed at levels similar to, or higher than, levels observed in the crypt. To explore the possibility that Notch signaling may play a quantitative role in human CRC we next analyzed HES1 mRNA expression in 130 tumors, each associated with outcome data. The vast majority of these tumors expressed HES1, although at varying levels. Absolute expression levels did not correlate with patient survival. These results establish that JAG ligands and NOTCH1, as well as Notch receptor activation are consistent features of human CRC and support the notion that many of these tumors, like the APCMin mouse, may respond to anti-Notch therapeutic regimes.
Notch; Hes1; colon cancer; signaling; prognosis
Pancreas cancer is one of most aggressive human cancers with the survival rate for patients with metastatic pancreas cancer at 5-6 months. The poor survival demonstrates a clear need for better target identification, drug development and new therapeutic strategies. Recent discoveries have shown that the role for Notch pathway is important in both development and cancer. Its contribution to oncogenesis also involves crosstalks with other growth factor pathways, such as Akt and its modulator, PTEN. The mounting evidence supporting a role for Notch in cancer promotion and survival suggests that targeting this pathway alone or in combination with other therapeutics represents a promising therapeutic strategy.
Using a pancreas cancer tissue microarray, we noted that Jagged1, Notch3 and Notch4 are overexpressed in pancreas tumors (26%, 84% and 31% respectively), whereas Notch1 is expressed in blood vessels. While there was no correlation between Notch receptor expression and survival, stage or tumor grade, Notch3 was associated with Jagged1 and EGFR expression, suggesting a unique relationship between Notch3 and Jagged1. Inhibition of the Notch pathway genetically and with gamma-secretase inhibitor (GSI) resulted in tumor suppression and enhanced cell death. The observed anti-tumor activity appeared to be through Akt and modulation of PTEN phosphorylation. We discovered that transcriptional regulation of RhoA by Notch is important for PTEN phosphorylation. Finally, the mTOR inhibitor Rapamycin enhanced the effect of GSI on RhoA expression, resulting in down regulation of phospho-Akt and increased in vitro tumor cytotoxity.
Notch pathway plays an important role in maintaining pancreas tumor phenotype. Targeting this pathway represents a reasonable strategy for the treatment of pancreas cancers. Notch modulates the Akt pathway through regulation of PTEN phosphorylation, an observation that has not been made previously. Furthermore, we discovered that this regulation is dependent on RhoA/Rock1 activation. Enhanced phospho-Akt suppression when GSI is combined with rapamycin suggests that targeting both pathways will lead to a greater efficacy in the treatment of patients with pancreas cancer.
A recent epidemiological study demonstrated a reduced risk of lung cancer mortality in breast cancer patients using antiestrogens. These and other data implicate a role for estrogens in lung cancer, particularly nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Approximately 61% of human NSCLC tumors express nuclear estrogen receptor β (ERβ); however, the role of ERβ and estrogens in NSCLC is likely to be multifactorial. Here we tested the hypothesis that proteins interacting with ERβ in human lung adenocarcinoma cells that respond proliferatively to estradiol (E2) are distinct from those in non-E2-responsive cells.
FLAG affinity purification of FLAG-ERβ-interacting proteins was used to isolate ERβ-interacting proteins in whole cell extracts from E2 proliferative H1793 and non-E2-proliferative A549 lung adenocarcinoma cell lines. Following trypsin digestion, proteins were identified using liquid chromatography electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Proteomic data were analyzed using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Select results were confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation.
LC-MS/MS identified 27 non-redundant ERβ-interacting proteins. ERβ-interacting proteins included hsp70, hsp60, vimentin, histones and calmodulin. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of the ERβ-interacting proteins revealed differences in molecular and functional networks between H1793 and A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments in these and other lung adenocarcinoma cells confirmed that ERβ and EGFR interact in a gender-dependent manner and in response to E2 or EGF. BRCA1 interacted with ERβ in A549 cell lines and in human lung adenocarcinoma tumors, but not normal lung tissue.
Our results identify specific differences in ERβ-interacting proteins in lung adenocarcinoma cells corresponding to ligand-dependent differences in estrogenic responses.
The prognosis for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is poor, and the mechanisms underlying the development of HCC remain unclear. Notch1 and Notch3 may be involved in malignant transformation, although their roles remain unknown.
Materials and Methods
HCC tissues were stained with anti-Notch1 or -Notch3 antibody. The migration and invasion capacities of the cells were measured with transwell cell culture chambers. RT-PCR was used to measure the expression of Notch1 and Notch3 mRNA. Additionally, western blot analysis was used to assess the protein expression of Notch1, Notch3, CD44v6, E-cadherin, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), MMP-9, and urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA). RNA interference was used to down-regulate the expression of Notch1 and Notch3. Cell viability was assessed using MTT.
Based on immunohistochemistry, high Notch1 expression was correlated with tumor size, tumor grade, metastasis, venous invasion and AJCC TNM stage. High Notch3 expression was only strongly correlated with metastasis, venous invasion and satellite lesions. Kaplan-Meier curves demonstrated that patients with high Notch1 or Notch3 expression were at a significantly increased risk for shortened survival time. In vitro, the down-regulation of Notch1 decreased the migration and invasion capacities of HCC cells by regulating CD44v6, E-cadherin, MMP-2, MMP-9, and uPA via the COX-2 and ERK1/2 pathways. Down-regulation of Notch3 only decreased the invasion capacity of HCC cells by regulating MMP-2 and MMP-9 via the ERK1/2 pathway.
Based on the migration and invasion of HCC, we hypothesize that targeting Notch1 may be more useful than Notch3 for designing novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for HCC in the near future.
Notch signaling plays an important role in developmental processes and adult tissue homeostasis. Altered Notch signaling has been associated with various diseases including cancer. While the importance of altered Notch signaling in cancers of hematopoietic and epithelial origins has been established, its role in tumors of mesenchymal origin is less clear. Here, we report that human osteosarcoma cell lines and primary human osteosarcoma tumor samples show significant up-regulation of Notch, its target genes and Osterix. Notch inhibition by γ-secretase inhibitors or by using lentiviral mediated expression of dominant negative Mastermind-like protein (DN-MAML) decreases osteosarcoma cell proliferation in vitro. In vivo, established human tumor xenografts in nude mice show decreased tumor growth after chemical or genetic inhibition of Notch signaling. Finally, transcriptional profiling of osteosarcomas from p53 mutant mice confirmed up-regulation of Notch1 target genes Hes1, Hey1 and its ligand Dll4. Our data suggest that activation of Notch signaling contributes to the pathogenesis of human osteosarcomas and its inhibition may be a therapeutic approach for the treatment of this mesenchymal tumor.