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1.  Oncogenic MicroRNA-27a Is A Target For Anticancer Agent Methyl 2-Cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate in Colon Cancer Cells 
Methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) is a synthetic derivative of glycyrrhetinic acid, a triterpenoid phytochemical found in licorice extracts. CDODA-Me inhibited growth of RKO and SW480 colon cancer cells and this was accompanied by decreased expression of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 protein and mRNA and several Sp-dependent genes including survivin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1 or Flt-1). CDODA-Me also induced apoptosis, arrested RKO and SW480 cells at G2/M, and inhibited tumor growth in athymic nude mice bearing RKO cells as xenografts. CDODA-Me decreased expression of microRNA-27a (miR-27a), and this was accompanied by increased expression of two miR-27a-regulated mRNAs, namely ZBTB10 (an Sp repressor) and Myt-1 which catalyzes phosphorylation of cdc2 to inhibit progression of cells through G2/M. Both CDODA-Me and antisense miR-27a induced comparable responses in RKO and SW480 cells, suggesting that the potent anticarcinogenic activity of CDODA-Me is due to repression of oncogenic miR-27a.
PMCID: PMC2766353  PMID: 19582879
CDODA-Me; anticarcinogenicity; miR-27a; colon cancer; cell cycle
Molecular carcinogenesis  2011;50(9):655-667.
Methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) and the corresponding 2-trifluoromethyl analog (CF3DODA-Me) are derived synthetically from the triterpenoid glycyrrhetinic acid, a major component of licorice. CDODA-Me and CF3DODA-Me inhibited growth of highly invasive ARO, DRO, K-18 and HTh-74 thyroid cancer cells and this was due, in part, to decreased expression of specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 that are overexpressed in these cells. CDODA-Me and CF3DODA-Me also decreased expression of Sp-dependent genes, such as survivin and vascular endothelial growth factor, and induced apoptosis. In addition, pituitary tumor-transforming gene-1 (PTTG-1) protein and mRNA levels were also decreased in thyroid cancer cells treated with CDODA-Me or CF3DODA-Me and this was accompanied by decreased expression of PTTG-1-dependent c-Myc and fibroblast growth factor 2 genes. RNA interference studies against Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 proteins showed that in thyroid cancer cells, PTTG-1 was an Sp-dependent gene. This study demonstrates for the first time that drugs, such as CDODA-Me and CF3DODA-Me, that decrease Sp protein expression also downregulate PTTG-1 in thyroid cancer cells and therefore have potential for clinical treatment of thyroid cancer and other endocrine neoplasias where PTTG-1 is a major pro-oncogenic factor.
PMCID: PMC3128656  PMID: 21268135
PTTG-1; Sp proteins; thyroid cancer; anticancer agents
3.  Unifying Mechanisms of Action of the Anticancer Activities of Triterpenoids and Synthetic Analogs 
Triterpenoids such as betulinic acid (BA) and synthetic analogs of oleanolic acid [2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO)] and glycyrrhetinic acid [2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-oleana-1,12-dien-30-oc acid (CDODA)] are potent anticancer agents that exhibit antiproliferative, antiangiogenic, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic activities. Although their effects on multiple pathways have been reported, unifying mechanisms of action have not been reported. Studies in this laboratory have now demonstrated that several triterpenoids including BA and some derivatives, celastrol, methyl ursolatee, β-boswellic acid derivatives, and the synthetic analogs CDDO, CDODA and their esters decreased expression of specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors and several pro-oncogenic Sp-regulated genes in multiple cancer cell lines. The mechanisms of this response are both compound- and cell context-dependent and include activation of both proteasome-dependent and -independent pathways. Triterpenoid-mediated induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has now been characterized as an important proteasome-independent pathway for downregulation of Sp transcription factors. ROS decreases expression of microRNA-27a (miR-27a) and miR-20a/miR-17-5p and this results in the induction of the transcriptional “Sp-repressors” ZBTB10 and ZBTB4, respectively, which in turn downregulate Sp and Sp-regulated genes. Triterpenoids also activate or deactive nuclear receptors and G-protein coupled receptors, and these pathways contribute to their antitumorigenic activity and may also play a role in targeting Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 which are highly overexpressed in multiple cancers and appear to be important for maintaining the cancer phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3532564  PMID: 22583404
Sp transcription factors; downregulation; reactive oxygen species
4.  Induction of the Transcriptional Repressor ZBTB4 in Prostate Cancer Cells by Drug-induced Targeting of microRNA-17-92/106b-25 Clusters 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(9):1852-1862.
Androgen-insensitive DU145 and PC3 human prostate cancer cells express high levels of specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4, and treatment of cells with methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) inhibited cell growth and downregulated Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 expression. CDODA-Me (15 mg/kg/d) was a potent inhibitor of tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model (PC3 cells) and also decreased expression of Sp transcription factors in tumors. CDODA-Me-mediated downregulation of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 was due to induction of the transcriptional repressor ZBTB4 which competitively binds and displaces Sp transcription factors from GC-rich sites in Sp1, Sp3, Sp4 and Sp-regulated gene promoters. ZBTB4 levels are relatively low in DU145 and PC3 cells due to suppression by microRNA (miR) paralogs that are members of the miR-17-92 (miR-20a/17-5p) and miR-106b-25 (miR-106b/93) clusters. Examination of publically available prostate cancer patient array data showed an inverse relationship between ZBTB4 and miRs-20a/17-5p/106b/93 expression, and increased ZBTB4 in prostate cancer patients was a prognostic factor for increased survival. CDODA-Me induces ZBTB4 in prostate cancer cells through disruption of miR-ZBTB4 interactions and this results in downregulation of pro-oncogenic Sp transcription factors and Sp-regulated genes.
PMCID: PMC3632183  PMID: 22752225
ZBTB4; CDODA-Me; Sp; miR-17-92; miR-106b
5.  Dying tumor cells stimulate proliferation of living tumor cells via caspase-dependent protein kinase Cδ activation in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma 
Molecular oncology  2014;9(1):105-114.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal human cancers, and radiotherapy is often implemented for locally advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Tumor cell repopulation is a major challenge in treating cancers after radiotherapy. In order to address the problem of tumor repopulation, our previous studies have demonstrated that dying cells stimulate the proliferation of living tumor cells after radiotherapy. In particular, dying cells undergoing apoptosis also activate survival or proliferation signals and release growth factors to surrounding living cells. In the present study, we used an in vitro model to examine the possible mechanisms for dying cell-stimulated tumor repopulation in pancreatic cancer. In this model, a small number of living, luciferase-labeled pancreatic cancer cells (reporter) were seeded onto a layer of a much larger number of irradiated, unlabeled pancreatic cancer cells and the growth of the living cells was measured over time as a gauge of tumor repopulation. Our results indicate that irradiated, dying Panc1 feeder cells significantly stimulated the proliferation of living Panc1 reporter cells. Importantly, we identified that the percentage of apoptotic cells and the cleavage of caspases 3 and 7 and protein kinase Cδ (PKCδ) were increased in irradiated Panc1 cells. We presumed that caspases 3 and 7 and PKCδ as integral mediators in the process of dying pancreatic cancer cell stimulation of living tumor cell growth. In order to demonstrate the importance of caspases 3, 7 and PKCδ, we introduced dominant-negative mutants of caspase 3 (DN_C3), caspase 7 (DN_C7), or PKCδ (DN_PKCδ) into Panc1 cells using lentiviral vectors. The stably transduced Panc1 cells were irradiated and used as feeders and we found a significant decrease in the growth of living Panc1 reporter cells when compared with irradiated wild-type Panc1 cells as feeders. Moreover, the role of PKCδ in the growth stimulation of living tumor cells was further confirmed using a pan PKC inhibitor GF109203× and a specific PKCδ inhibitor, rottlerin. Additionally, we found significantly increased phosphorylation of Akt, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase/stress-activated protein kinase (JNK1/2) in the irradiated Panc1 cells. Mechanistically, PKCδ cleavage was attenuated in both DN_C3 and DN_C7 transduced Panc1 cells, and both Akt and p38 MAPK phosphorylation were attenuated in DN_PKCδ transduced Panc1 cells following radiation. Thus, this report suggests a novel finding that cellular signaling from caspase 3/7-PKCδ-Akt/p38 MAPK is crucial to the repopulation in Panc1 cells after radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4528398  PMID: 25156550
pancreatic cancer; apoptosis; repopulation; caspase; PKCδ; Akt/MAPK
6.  NSAID Inhibition of Prostate Cancer Cell Migration Is Mediated by Nag-1 Induction via the p38 MAPK-p75NTR Pathway 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2010;8(12):1656-1664.
The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) R-flurbiprofen and ibuprofen have been shown to induce expression of p75NTR (neurotrophin receptor) in prostate cancer cell lines. p75NTR, a tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member, is a proapoptotic protein that functions as a tumor suppressor in the human prostate. Expression of p75NTR is lost as prostate cancer progresses and is minimal in several metastatic prostate cancer cell lines. NSAIDs induce p75NTR through activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, with a concomitant decrease in cell survival. Here, we show that treatment with R-flurbiprofen and ibuprofen induces expression of the NSAID-activated gene-1 (Nag-1) protein, a divergent member of the TGF beta (TGF-β) family, in PC-3 cells. Using the selective pharmacologic inhibitor of p38 MAPK, SB202190, and p38 MAPK-specific siRNA (small interfering RNA), we show that Nag-1 induction following NSAID treatment is mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway. p75NTR-specific siRNA pretreatment shows that Nag-1 induction by NSAIDs is downstream of p75NTR induction. Decreased survival of NSAID-treated cells is rescued by p75NTR-specific siRNA but not by Nag-1 siRNA. Transwell chamber and in vitro wound healing assays demonstrate decreased cell migration upon NSAID treatment. Pretreatment of PC-3 cells with p75NTR and Nag-1–specific siRNA shows that NSAID inhibition of cell migration is mediated by Nag-1 and p75NTR. These results demonstrate a role for Nag-1 in NSAID inhibition of cell migration, but not survival.
PMCID: PMC3003770  PMID: 21097678
7.  Proteasome inhibitor MG132 induces NAG-1/GDF15 expression through the p38 MAPK pathway in glioblastoma cells 
The expression of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 (NAG-1) is regulated by the p53 and Egr-1 tumor suppressor pathways. Many anti-cancer drugs and chemicals induce NAG-1 expression, but the mechanisms are not fully understood. Transgenic mice expressing human NAG-1 are resistant to intestinal and prostate cancer, suggesting that NAG-1 is a tumor suppressor. Proteasome inhibitors exhibit anti-glioblastoma activities in preclinical studies. Here, we show that the proteasome inhibitors MG132 and bortezomib induced NAG-1 expression and secretion in glioblastoma cells. MG132 increased NAG-1 expression through transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms. At the transcriptional level, the induction of NAG-1 required the −133 to +41 bp region of the promoter. At post-transcriptional levels, MG132 stabilized NAG-1 mRNA by increasing the half-life from 1.5 h to > 8 h. Because of the dramatic increase in mRNA stability, this is likely the major contributor to MG132-mediated NAG-1 induction. Further probing into the mechanism revealed that MG132 increased phosphorylation of the p38 MAPK pathway. Consequently, inhibiting p38 phosphorylation blocked activation of the NAG-1 promoter and decreased mRNA stability, indicating that p38 MAPK activation mediates both MG132-dependent promoter activation and mRNA stabilization of NAG-1. We propose that the induction of NAG-1 by p38 MAPK is a potential contributor to the anti-glioblastoma activity of proteasome inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3558552  PMID: 23261467
NAG-1/GDF15; MG132; glioblastoma; p38 MAPK
8.  Alisertib induces cell cycle arrest and autophagy and suppresses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition involving PI3K/Akt/mTOR and sirtuin 1-mediated signaling pathways in human pancreatic cancer cells 
Pancreatic cancer is the most aggressive cancer worldwide with poor response to current therapeutics. Alisertib (ALS), a potent and selective Aurora kinase A inhibitor, exhibits potent anticancer effects in preclinical and clinical studies; however, the effect and underlying mechanism of ALS in the pancreatic cancer treatment remain elusive. This study aimed to examine the effects of ALS on cell growth, autophagy, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and to delineate the possible molecular mechanisms in human pancreatic cancer PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells. The results showed that ALS exerted potent cell growth inhibitory, pro-autophagic, and EMT-suppressing effects in PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells. ALS remarkably arrested PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells in G2/M phase via regulating the expression of cyclin-dependent kinases 1 and 2, cyclin B1, cyclin D1, p21 Waf1/Cip1, p27 Kip1, and p53. ALS concentration-dependently induced autophagy in PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells, which may be attributed to the inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), and extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2) but activation of 5′-AMP-dependent kinase signaling pathways. ALS significantly inhibited EMT in PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells with an increase in the expression of E-cadherin and a decrease in N-cadherin. In addition, ALS suppressed the expression of sirtuin 1 (Sirt1) and pre-B cell colony-enhancing factor/visfatin in both cell lines with a rise in the level of acetylated p53. These findings show that ALS induces cell cycle arrest and promotes autophagic cell death but inhibits EMT in pancreatic cancer cells with the involvement of PI3K/Akt/mTOR, p38 MAPK, Erk1/2, and Sirt1-mediated signaling pathways. Taken together, ALS may represent a promising anticancer drug for pancreatic cancer treatment. More studies are warranted to investigate other molecular targets and mechanisms and verify the efficacy and safety of ALS in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC4304576  PMID: 25632225
alisertib; pancreatic cancer; cell cycle; autophagy; EMT; Sirt1
9.  A peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ligand MCC-555 imparts anti-proliferative response in pancreatic cancer cells by PPARgamma-independent up-regulation of KLF4 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2012;263(2):225-232.
MCC-555 is a novel PPARα/γ dual ligand of the thiazolidinedione class and was recently developed as an anti-diabetic drug with unique properties. MCC-555 also has anti-proliferative activity through growth inhibition and apoptosis induction in several cancer cell types. Our group has shown that MCC-555 targets several proteins in colorectal tumorigenesis including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)-activated gene (NAG-1) which plays an important role in chemoprevention responsible for chemopreventive compounds. NAG-1 is a member of the TGF-β superfamily and is involved in tumor progression and development; however, NAG-1’s roles in pancreatic cancer have not been studied. In this report, we found that MCC-555 alters not only NAG-1 expression, but also p21 and cyclin D1 expression. NAG-1 and p21 expression was not blocked by PPARγ-specific antagonist GW9662, suggesting that MCC-555-induced NAG-1 and p21 expression is independent of PPARγ activation. However, decreasing cyclin D1 by MCC-555 seems to be affected by PPARγ activation. Further, we found that the GC box located in the NAG-1 promoter play an important role in NAG-1 transactivation by MCC-555. Subsequently, we screened several transcription factors that may bind to the GC box region in the NAG-1 promoter and found that KLF4 potentially binds to this region. Expression of KLF4 precedes NAG-1 and p21 expression in the presence of MCC-555, whereas blocking KLF4 expression using specific KLF4 siRNA showed that both NAG-1 and p21 expression by MCC-555 was blocked. In conclusion, MCC-555’s actions on anti-proliferation involve both PPARγ-dependent and -independent pathways, thereby enhancing anti-tumorigenesis in pancreatic cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3443873  PMID: 22750490
MCC-555; KLF4; p21; NAG-1; cyclin D1; and PPAR
10.  GSK3β mediates pancreatic cancer cell invasion in vitro via the CXCR4/MMP-2 Pathway 
Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) expression and activity are upregulated in pancreatic cancer tissues. In our previous study, we found that stromal cell-derived factor-1/ chemokine receptor C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 4 (SDF-1α/CXCR4) upregulated matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) and promoted invasion in PANC1 and SW-1990 pancreatic cancer cells by activating p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK). Additionally, inhibition of GSK3β reduced MMP-2 secretion.
To investigate the molecular mechanism of GSK3β in pancreatic cancer tissues, we created stable PANC1 cells up-regulation of GSK3β by transfecting GSK3β overexpression plasmid, and down-regulation of GSK3β using two different types of RNA interference.
Western blotting showed that overexpression of GSK3β up-regulated CXCR4 and MMP-2 expression; suppression of GSK3β down-regulated CXCR4 and MMP-2 protein expression. Up-regulation of MMP2 induced by overexpression of GSK3β was blocked by inhibition of CXCR4. Overexpression of GSK3β promoted PANC1 cell invasion, and down-regulation of GSK3β suppressed PANC1 cell invasion in the transwell invasion assays. However, inhibition of CXCR4 using shRNA attenuated the ability of GSK3β to promote PANC1 cell invasion.
This study demonstrated that GSK3β promotes PANC1 cell invasion via the CXCR4/MMP-2 pathway.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12935-015-0216-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4513390  PMID: 26213494
Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β); CXCR4; MMP-2
11.  Dietary agent, benzyl isothiocyanate inhibits signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 phosphorylation and collaborates with sulforaphane in the growth suppression of PANC-1 cancer cells 
The Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) proteins comprise a family of latent transcription factors with diverse functions. STAT3 has well established roles in cell proliferation, growth and survival, and its persistent activation has been detected with high frequency in many human cancers. As constitutive activation of STAT3 appears to be vital for the continued survival of these cancerous cells, it has emerged as an attractive target for chemotherapeutics. We examined whether the inhibitory activities of bioactive compounds from cruciferous vegetables, such as Benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) and sulforaphane, extended to STAT3 activation in PANC-1 human pancreatic cancer cells. BITC and sulforaphane were both capable of inhibiting cell viability and inducing apoptosis in PANC-1. Sulforaphane had minimal effect on the direct inhibition of STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation, however, suggesting its inhibitory activities are most likely STAT3-independent. Conversely, BITC was shown to inhibit the tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3, but not the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, MAPK and p70S6 kinase. These results suggest that STAT3 may be one of the targets of BITC-mediated inhibition of cell viability in PANC-1 cancer cells. In addition, we show that BITC can prevent the induction of STAT3 activation by Interleukin-6 in MDA-MB-453 breast cancer cells. Furthermore, combinations of BITC and sulforaphane inhibited cell viability and STAT3 phosphorylation more dramatically than either agent alone. These findings suggest that the combination of the dietary agents BITC and sulforaphane has potent inhibitory activity in pancreatic cancer cells and that they may have translational potential as chemopreventative or therapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC3224892  PMID: 19712481
12.  Plumbagin induces cell cycle arrest and autophagy and suppresses epithelial to mesenchymal transition involving PI3K/Akt/mTOR-mediated pathway in human pancreatic cancer cells 
Plumbagin (PLB), an active naphthoquinone compound, has shown potent anticancer effects in preclinical studies; however, the effect and underlying mechanism of PLB for the treatment of pancreatic cancer is unclear. This study aimed to examine the pancreatic cancer cell killing effect of PLB and investigate the underlying mechanism in human pancreatic cancer PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells. The results showed that PLB exhibited potent inducing effects on cell cycle arrest in PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells via the modulation of cell cycle regulators including CDK1/CDC2, cyclin B1, cyclin D1, p21 Waf1/Cip1, p27 Kip1, and p53. PLB treatment concentration- and time-dependently increased the percentage of autophagic cells and significantly increased the expression level of phosphatase and tensin homolog, beclin 1, and the ratio of LC3-II over LC3-I in both PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells. PLB induced inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) pathways and activation of 5′-AMP-dependent kinase as indicated by their altered phosphorylation, contributing to the proautophagic activities of PLB in both cell lines. Furthermore, SB202190, a selective inhibitor of p38 MAPK, and wortmannin, a potent, irreversible, and selective PI3K inhibitor, remarkably enhanced PLB-induced autophagy in PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells, indicating the roles of PI3K and p38 MAPK mediated signaling pathways in PLB-induced autophagic cell death in both cell lines. In addition, PLB significantly inhibited epithelial to mesenchymal transition phenotype in both cell lines with an increase in the expression level of E-cadherin and a decrease in N-cadherin. Moreover, PLB treatment significantly suppressed the expression of Sirt1 in both cell lines. These findings show that PLB promotes cell cycle arrest and autophagy but inhibits epithelial to mesenchymal transition phenotype in pancreatic cancer cells with the involvement of PI3K/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin and p38 MAPK mediated pathways.
PMCID: PMC4304578  PMID: 25632222
Plumbagin; pancreatic cancer; cell cycle; autophagy; EMT; Sirt1
13.  Rasfonin, a novel 2-pyrone derivative, induces ras-mutated Panc-1 pancreatic tumor cell death in nude mice 
Xiao, Z | Li, L | Li, Y | Zhou, W | Cheng, J | Liu, F | Zheng, P | Zhang, Y | Che, Y
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(5):e1241-.
Rasfonin is a novel 2-pyrone derivative reported to induce apoptosis in ras-dependent cells. In this study, its effects on ras-mutated pancreatic cancer cells were investigated in vitro and in vivo. Two human pancreatic cancer cell lines Panc-1 (mutated K-ras) and BxPC-3 (wild-type K-ras) were selected to test the effects of rasfonin on cell proliferation, clone formation, migration and invasion in vitro. Immunoblotting was used to detect the expressions of EGFR–Ras–Raf–MEK–ERK signaling pathway proteins. Ras activity was measured using a pull-down ELISA kit and guanine exchange factor (GEF)/GTPase-activating proteins (GAP) activity was measured by [3H]-GDP radiometric ligand binding. For an in vivo study, CD1 nude mice bearing Panc-1 cells were treated with rasfonin or Salirasib (FTS). We found that rasfonin suppressed proliferation more strongly in Panc-1 cells (IC50=5.5 μM) than BxPC-3 cells (IC50=10 μM) in vitro. Clone formation, migration and invasion by Panc-1 cells were also reduced by rasfonin. Rasfonin had little effect on the farnesylation of Ras, but it strongly downregulated Ras activity and consequently phosphorylation of c-Raf/MEK/ERK. Further experiments indicated that rasfonin reduced Son of sevenless (Sos1) expression but did not alter GEF and GAP activities. The in vivo experiments also revealed that rasfonin (30 mg/kg) delayed the growth of xenograft tumors originating from Panc-1 cells. Tumor weight was ultimately decreased after 20 days of treatment of rasfonin. Rasfonin is a robust inhibitor of pancreatic cancers with the K-ras mutation. The reduction of Sos1 expression and the consequently depressed Ras–MAPK activity could be important in its anticancer activity.
PMCID: PMC4047882  PMID: 24853419
rasfonin; ras; pancreatic cancer; sos1; Panc-1 cell
14.  Withaferin A Targets Heat Shock Protein 90 in Pancreatic Cancer Cells 
Biochemical pharmacology  2010;79(4):542-551.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the efficacy and the mechanism of Hsp90 inhibition of Withaferin A (WA), a steroidal lactone occurring in Withania somnifera, in pancreatic cancer in vitro and in vivo. Withaferin A exhibited potent antiproliferative activity against pancreatic cancer cells in vitro (with IC50s of 1.24, 2.93 and 2.78 μM) in pancreatic cancer cell lines Panc-1, MiaPaca2 and BxPc3, respectively. Annexin V staining showed that WA induced significant apoptosis in Panc-1 cells in a dose dependent manner. Western blotting demonstrated that WA inhibited Hsp90 chaperone activity to induce degradation of Hsp90 client proteins (Akt, Cdk4 and glucocorticoid receptor), which was reversed by the proteasomal inhibitor, MG132. WA-Biotin pull-down assay of Hsp90 using Panc-1 cancer cell lysates and purified Hsp90 showed that WA-biotin binds to C-terminus of Hsp90, which was competitively blocked by unlabeled WA. Co-immunoprecipitation exhibited that WA (10 μM) disrupted Hsp90-Cdc37 complexes from 1–24 hour post treatment, while it neither blocked ATP binding to Hsp90, nor changed Hsp90-P23 association. WA (3, 6 mg/kg) inhibited tumor growth in pancreatic Panc-1 xenografts by 30% and 58%, respectively. These data demonstrate that Withaferin A binds Hsp90, inhibits Hsp90 chaperone activity through an ATP independent mechanism, results in Hsp90 client protein degradation, and exhibits in vivo anticancer activity against pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC2794909  PMID: 19769945
Withaferin A; Pancreatic cancer; Hsp90; Reactive cysteine; Client protein; Cdc37
15.  microRNA-218 suppresses the proliferation, invasion and promotes apoptosis of pancreatic cancer cells by targeting HMGB1 
To detect the expression profiles of microRNA-218 (miR-218) in human pancreatic cancer tissue (PCT) and cells and their effects on the biological features of human pancreatic cancer cell line PANC-1 and observe the effect of miR-218 on the expression of the target gene high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), with an attempt to provide new treatment methods and strategies for pancreatic cancer.
The expressions of miR-218 in PCT and normal pancreas tissue as well as in various pancreatic cancer cell lines including AsPC-1, BxPC-3, and PANC-1 were determined with quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The change of miR-218 expression in PANC-1 cells was detected using qRT-PCT after the transfection of miR-218 mimic for 48 h. Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) was applied for detecting the effect of miR-218 on the activity of PANC-1 cells. The effects of miR-218 on the proliferation and apoptosis of PANC-1 cells were analyzed using the flow cytometry. The effect of miR-218 on the migration of PANC-1 cells was detected using the Trans-well migration assay. The HMGB1 was found to be a target gene of miR-218 by luciferase reporter assay, and the effect of miR-218 on the expression of HMGB1 protein in cells were determined using Western blotting.
As shown by qRT-PCR, the expressions of miR-218 in PCT and in pancreatic cancer cell line significantly decreased when compared with the normal pancreatic tissue (NPT) (P<0.01). Compared with the control group, the miR-218 expression significantly increased in the PANC-1 group after the transfection of miR-218 mimic for 48 h (P<0.01). Growth curve showed that the cell viability significantly dropped after the overexpression of miR-218 in the PANC-1 cells for two days (P<0.05). Flow cytometry showed that the S-phase fraction significantly dropped after the overexpression of miR-218 (P<0.01) and the percentage of apoptotic cells significantly increased (P<0.01). As shown by the Trans-well migration assay, the enhanced miR-218 expression was associated with a significantly lower number of cells that passed through a Transwell chamber (P<0.01). Luciferase reporter assay showed that, compared with the control group, the relative luciferase activity significantly decreased in the miR-218 mimic group (P<0.01). As shown by the Western blotting, compared with the control group, the HMGB1 protein expression significantly decreased in the PANC-1 group after the transfection of miR-218 mimic for 48 h (P<0.01).
The miR-218 expression decreases in human PCT and cell lines. miR-218 can negatively regulate the HMGB1 protein expression and inhibit the proliferation and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells. A treatment strategy by enhancing the miR-218 expression may benefit the patients with pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC4490199  PMID: 26157321
Pancreatic cancer; microRNA-218 (miR-218); proliferation; apoptosis; high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1)
16.  Molecular evidence for increased antitumor activity of gemcitabine in combination with a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, P276-00 in pancreatic cancers 
P276-00 is a novel cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor currently in Phase II clinical trials. Gemcitabine is a standard of care for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The present study investigated the effect of the combination of P276-00 and gemcitabine in five pancreatic cancer cell lines.
Cytotoxic activity was evaluated by Propidium Iodide assay. Cell cycle and apoptosis was analyzed by flow cytometry. Genes and proteins known to inhibit apoptosis and contribute to chemoresistance were analysed using western blot analysis and RT-PCR. In vivo efficacy was studied in PANC-1 xenograft model.
The combination of gemcitabine followed by P276-00 was found to be highly to weakly synergistic in various pancreatic cancer cell lines as assessed by the combination index. Enhancement of apoptosis in PANC-1 cells and decrease in the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 and survivin was seen. P276-00 potentiated the gemcitabine-induced cytotoxicity by modulation of proteins involved in chemoresistance to gemcitabine and cell cycle viz. antiapoptotic proteins p8 and cox-2, proapoptotic protein BNIP3 and cell cycle related proteins Cdk4 and cyclin D1. The above results could explain the novel mechanisms of action of the combination therapy. We also show here that gemcitabine in combination with P276-00 is much more effective as an antitumor agent compared with either agent alone in the PANC-1 xenograft tumor model in SCID mice.
The chemosensitzation of pancreatic tumors to gemcitabine would likely be an important and novel strategy for treatment of pancreatic cancer and enable the use of lower and safer concentrations, to pave the way for a more effective treatment in this devastating disease. Phase IIb clinical trials of P276-00 in combination with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer patients are ongoing.
PMCID: PMC3478973  PMID: 22873289
Cdk inhibitor; P276-00; Gemcitabine; Combination studies; Pancreatic cancer
17.  KiSS-1-mediated suppression of the invasive ability of human pancreatic carcinoma cells is not dependent on the level of KiSS-1 receptor GPR54 
Molecular Medicine Reports  2015;13(1):123-129.
The onset of local invasion and lymphatic metastasis in pancreatic cancer limits survival following surgical intervention and additional therapies. Reduced expression of KiSS-1 in pancreatic cancer is associated with cancer metastasis. Previous studies have indicated that kisspeptin, the KiSS-1 peptide, is able to bind to its receptor-GPR54 (hOT7T175) and suppress the migration of PANC-1 pancreatic cancer cells. Whether the metastatic suppression of KiSS-1 is dependent on the levels of GPR54 in pancreatic cancer cell lines remains unclear. Human BxPC-3 pancreatic carcinoma cells are highly differentiated without exhibiting metastasis, however PANC-1 pancreatic carcinoma cells are poorly differentiated and exhibit local and lymph node metastasis. Compared with primary cultured trophoblasts, BxPc-3 and PANC-1 cells were observed to express low levels of KiSS-1 mRNA and protein, measured using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting, respectively. However, greater mRNA and protein expression levels of GPR54 were observed in PANC-1 cells compared with BxPc-3 cells. An MTT assay was used to investigate the effect of KiSS-1 on BxPc-3 and PANC-1 cell proliferation. There were no significant differences in proliferation following transfection with KiSS-1 in BxPc-3 and PANC-1 cells compared with the controls (P>0.05). A Transwell assay with chambers coated with Matrigel was used to evaluate the in vitro invasive ability of BxPc-3 and PANC-1 cells, with the invasion index of BxPc-3 and PANC-1 cells significantly reduced following 48 h of KiSS-1 overexpression (P<0.05). The mRNA and protein expression levels of KiSS-1 were significantly increased in BxPc-3 and PANC-1 cells 48 h subsequent to transfection with KiSS-1 (P<0.05), while GPR54 expression was not altered (P>0.05). KiSS-1 is a metastasis suppressor gene of pancreatic cancer, and this suppression is not dependent on the expression levels of GPR54. Therefore, KiSS-1 is potentially a novel target for gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC4686058  PMID: 26572251
KiSS-1; pancreatic cancer; GPR54; proliferation; invasion
18.  Insulin-like growth factor-I receptor in proliferation and motility of pancreatic cancer 
AIM: To develop a molecular therapy for pancreatic cancer, the insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) signaling pathway was analyzed.
METHODS: Pancreatic cancer cell lines (MIA-Paca2, NOR-P1, PANC-1, PK-45H, PK-1, PK-59 and KP-4) were cultured in media with 10 mL/L fetal bovine serum. Western blotting analysis was performed to clarify the expression of IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR). Picropodophyllin (PPP), a specific inhibitor of IGF-IR, LY294002, a specific inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K), and PD98059, a specific inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase, were added to the media. After 72 h, a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium inner salt (MTS) assay was performed to analyze cell proliferation. A wound assay was performed to analyze cell motility with hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining 48 h after addition of each inhibitor.
RESULTS: All cell lines clearly expressed not only IGF-IR but also phosphorylated IGF-IR. PPP significantly suppressed proliferation of MIA-Paca2, NOR-P1, PANC-1, PK-45H, PK-1, PK-59 and KP-4 cells to 36.9% ± 2.4% (mean ± SD), 30.9% ± 5.5%, 23.8% ± 3.9%, 37.1% ± 5.3%, 10.4% ± 4.5%, 52.5% ± 4.5% and 22.6% ± 0.4%, at 2 μmol/L, respectively (P < 0.05). LY294002 significantly suppressed proliferation of MIA-Paca2, NOR-P1, PANC-1, PK-45H, PK-1, PK-59 and KP-4 cells to 44.4% ± 7.6%, 32.9% ± 8.2%, 53.9% ± 8.0%, 52.8% ± 4.0%, 32.3% ± 4.2%, 51.8% ± 4.5%, and 30.6% ± 9.4%, at 50 μmol/L, respectively (P < 0.05). PD98059 did not significantly suppress cell proliferation. PPP at 2 μmol/L suppressed motility of MIA-Paca2, NOR-P1, PANC-1, PK-45H, PK-1, PK-59 and KP-4 cells to 3.0% ± 0.2%, 0%, 0%, 2.0% ± 0.1%, 5.0% ± 0.2%, 3.0% ± 0.1%, and 5.0% ± 0.2%, respectively (P < 0.05). LY294002 at 50 μmol/L suppressed motility of MIA-Paca2, NOR-P1, PANC-1, PK-45H, PK-1, PK-59 and KP-4 to 3.0% ± 0.2%, 0%, 3.0% ± 0.2%, 0%, 0%, 0% and 3% ± 0.1%, respectively (P < 0.05). PD980509 at 20 μmol/L did not suppress motility. Cells were observed by microscopy to analyze the morphological changes induced by the inhibitors. Cells in medium treated with 2 μmol/L PPP or 50 μmol/L LY294002 had pyknotic nuclei, whereas those in medium with 20 μmol/L PD98059 did not show apoptosis.
CONCLUSION: IGF-IR and PI3K are good candidates for molecular therapy of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC2856825  PMID: 20397262
Insulin-like growth factor-I receptor; Phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase; Pancreatic neoplasms
19.  JWA gene regulates PANC-1 pancreatic cancer cell behaviors through MEK-ERK1/2 of the MAPK signaling pathway 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(4):1859-1863.
The present study aimed to investigate the role of JWA gene in the proliferation, apoptosis, invasion and migration of PANC-1 pancreatic cancer cells and the effect on the MAPK signaling pathway. Human PANC-1 pancreatic cancer cells were cultured in vitro, and small interfering RNA (siRNA) was designed for the JWA gene. The siRNA was transfected into PANC-1 cells. Subsequently, the cell proliferation was measured by MTT assay; cell apoptosis was detected by analyzing BAX and Bcl-2 protein expression; cell migration and invasion were measured using Transwell® chambers; and the protein expression of JWA and ERK1/2, JNK and p38 and their phosphorylated forms were measured by western blotting. By utilizing the MTT assay, the results showed that when JWA protein expression was inhibited, the proliferation of PANC-1 cells was enhanced. In addition, the expression of apoptosis-associated protein (AAP) BAX was substantially decreased, while the expression of the apoptosis inhibitor gene, Bcl-2, was significantly enhanced. Using Transwell chambers, it was found that the number of penetrating PANC-1 cells was significantly increased after transfection with JWA siRNA, suggesting that the migration and invasion of the cells was substantially increased. By studying the association between JWA and the MAPK pathway in PANC-1 cells, it was found that the expression of p-ERK1/2 of the MAPK pathway was significantly downregulated following JWA siRNA transfection. However, the expression levels of ERK1/2, JNK, p38, p-JNK and p-p38 showed no significant differences. In conclusion, it was shown that JWA affects the proliferation, apoptosis, invasion and migration of PANC-1 pancreatic cancer cells which could be attributed to effects on the expression of ERK1/2 in the MAPK pathway.
PMCID: PMC4156185  PMID: 25202426
JWA; PANC-1 cells; MAPK pathways; siRNA
20.  Role of reactive oxygen species in brucein D-mediated p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase and nuclear factor-κB signalling pathways in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;102(3):583-593.
In human pancreatic adenocarcinoma, nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-κB) transcription factor is constitutively activated that contributes to the resistance of the tumour cells to induced apoptosis. In our earlier studies, we have shown that brucein D (BD) mediated apoptosis through activation of the p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway in pancreatic cancer cells. This study investigated the function of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in BD-mediated p38-MAPK and NF-κB signalling pathways in PANC-1 cells.
Glutathione and dihydroethidium assays were used to measure the antioxidant and superoxide levels, respectively. The protein expression of p22phox, p67phox and p38-MAPK were examined by western blot. The NF-κB activity was evaluated by electrophoretic mobility shift assay.
Treatment with BD depleted the intracellular glutathione levels in PANC-1 cells. Brucein D triggered the activation of NADPH oxidase isoforms, p22phox and p67phox while enhancing the generation of superoxide. Increases in both intracellular ROS and NADPH oxidase activity were inhibited by an antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Brucein D-mediated activation of p38-MAPK was also inhibited by NAC. However, inhibition of NF-κB activity in BD-treated cells was independent of ROS. In vivo studies showed that BD treatment effectively reduced the rate of xenograft human pancreatic tumour in nude mice with no significant toxicity.
These data suggest that BD is an apoptogenic agent for pancreatic cancer cells through activation of the redox-sensitive p38-MAPK pathway and inhibition of NF-κB anti-apoptotic activity in pancreatic cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2822930  PMID: 20068565
brucein D; PANC-1 cells; apoptosis; reactive oxygen species; pancreatic cancer
21.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 (NAG-1) expression inhibits urethane-induced pulmonary tumorigenesis in transgenic mice 
Expression of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 (NAG-1) inhibits gastrointestinal tumorigenesis in NAG-1 transgenic mice (C57/BL6 background). In the present study, we investigated whether NAG-1 protein would alter urethane-induced pulmonary lesions in NAG-1 transgenic mice on an FVB background (NAG-1Tg+/FVB). NAG-1Tg+/FVB mice had both decreased number and size of urethane-induced tumors, compared to control littermates (NAG-1Tg+/FVB = 16 ± 4 per mouse versus control = 20 ± 7 per mouse, p<0.05). Urethane-induced pulmonary adenomas (PAs) and adenocarcinomas (PACs) were observed in control mice, but only PAs were observed in NAG-1Tg+/FVB mice. Urethane-induced tumors from control littermates and NAG-1Tg+/FVB mice highly expressed proteins in the arachidonic acid pathway (cyclooxygenases 1/2, prostaglandin E synthase, and prostaglandin E2 receptor) and highly activated several kinases (phospho-Raf-1 and phospho-ERK1/2). However, only urethane-induced p38 MAPK phosphorylation was decreased in NAG-1Tg+/FVB mice. Furthermore, significantly increased apoptosis in tumors of NAG-1Tg+/FVB mice compared to control mice was observed as assessed by caspase 3/7 activity. In addition, fewer inflammatory cells were observed in the lung tissue isolated from urethane-treated NAG-1Tg+/FVB mice compared to control mice. These results paralleled in vitro assays using human A549 pulmonary carcinoma cells. Less phosphorylated p38 MAPK was observed in cells over-expressing NAG-1, compared to control cells. Overall, our study revealed for the first time that NAG-1 protein inhibits urethane-induced tumor formation, probably mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway, and is a possible new target for lung cancer chemoprevention.
PMCID: PMC2697576  PMID: 19401523
NAG-1; lung tumorigenesis; p38 MAPK; apoptosis; inflammation
22.  Structure-Dependent Inhibition of Bladder and Pancreatic Cancer Cell Growth by 2-Substituted Glycyrrhetinic and Ursolic Acid Derivatives 
Derivatives of oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid substituted with electron withdrawing groups at the 2-position in the A-ring which also contains a 1-en-3-one structure are potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth. In this study, we have compared the effects of several 2-substituted analogs of triterpenoid acid methyl esters derived from ursolic and glycyrrhetinic acid on proliferation of KU7 and 253JB-V bladder and Panc-1 and Panc-28 pancreatic cancer cells. The results show that the 2-cyano and 2-trifluoromethyl derivatives were the most active compounds. The glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives with the rearranged C-ring containing the 9(11)-en-12-one structure were generally more active than the corresponding 12-en-11-one isomers. However, differences in growth inhibitory IC50 values were highly variable and dependent on the 2- substitutent (CN vs. CF3) and cancer cell context.
PMCID: PMC2408873  PMID: 18359628
glycyrrhetinate analogs; growth inhibition; bladder cancer; pancreatic cancer
23.  Vitamin E succinate induces NAG-1 expression in a p38 kinase-dependent mechanism 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(4):961-971.
NAG-1 (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene), a member of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, is involved in many cellular processes, such as inflammation, apoptosis/survival, and tumorigenesis. Vitamin E succinate (VES) is the succinate derivative of α-tocopherol and has antitumorigenic activity in a variety of cell culture and animal models. In the current study, the regulation and role of NAG-1 expression in PC-3 human prostate carcinoma cells by VES was examined. VES treatment induced growth arrest and apoptosis as well as an increase in NAG-1 protein and mRNA levels in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. VES treatment induced nuclear translocation and activation of p38 kinase. Pretreatment with p38 kinase inhibitor blocked the VES-induced increase in NAG-1 protein and mRNA levels, whereas an inhibition of protein kinase C, Akt, c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase, or MEK activity had no effect on VES-induced NAG-1 levels. Forced expression of constitutively active MKK6, an upstream kinase for p38, induced an increase in NAG-1 promoter activity, whereas p38 kinase inhibitor blocked MKK6-induced increase in NAG-1 promoter activity. VES treatment resulted in >3-fold increase in the half-life of NAG-1 mRNA in a p38 kinase-dependent manner and transient transfection experiment showed that VES stabilizes NAG-1 mRNA through AU-rich elements in 3′-untranslated region of NAG-1 mRNA. The inhibition of NAG-1 expression by small interfering RNA significantly blocked VES-induced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, suggesting that NAG-1 may play an important role in VES-induced apoptosis. These results indicate that VES-induced expression of NAG-1 mRNA/protein is regulated by transcriptional/post-transcriptional mechanism in a p38 kinase-dependent manner and NAG-1 can be chemopreventive/therapeutic target in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC2634861  PMID: 18413810
24.  Mesothelin confers pancreatic cancer cell resistance to TNF-α-induced apoptosis through Akt/PI3K/NF-κB activation and IL-6/Mcl-1 overexpression 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:106.
Previous studies showed that mesothelin (MSLN) plays important roles in survival of pancreatic cancer (PC) cells under anchorage dependent/independent conditions as well as resistance to chemotherapy. The recent success of intratumorally-injected adeno-encoded, chemo/radiation-inducible-promoter driven hTNF-α, (TNFerade) + gemcitabine in pre-clinical models of PC have renewed interest in use of TNF-α as a therapeutic component. To help find additional factors which might affect the therapy, we examined the resistance of MSLN-overexpressing pancreatic cancer cell lines to TNF-α-induced growth inhibition/apoptosis.
Stable MSLN overexpressing MIA PaCa-2 cells (MIA-MSLN), stable MSLN-silenced AsPC-1 cells (AsPC-shMSLN) and other pancreatic cells (MIA-PaCa2, Panc 28, Capan-1, BxPC3, PL 45, Hs 766T, AsPC-1, Capan-2, Panc 48) were used. NF-κB activation was examined by western blots and luciferase reporter assay. TNF-α induced growth inhibition/apoptosis was measured by MTT, TUNEL assay and caspase activation. IL-6 was measured using luminex based assay.
Compared to low endogenous MSLN-expressing MIA PaCa-2 and Panc 28 cells, high endogenous MSLN-expressing Capan-1, BxPC3, PL 45, Hs 766T, AsPC-1, Capan-2, Panc 48 cells were resistant to TNF-α induced growth inhibition. Stable MSLN overexpressing MIA-PaCa2 cells (MIA-MSLN) were resistant to TNF-α-induced apoptosis while stable MSLN-silenced AsPC1 cells (AsPC-shMSLN) were sensitive. Interestingly, TNF-α-treated MIA-MSLN cells showed increased cell cycle progression and cyclin A induction, both of which were reversed by caspase inhibition. We further found that MIA-MSLN cells showed increased expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-XL and Mcl-1; deactivated (p-Ser75) BAD, and activated (p-Ser70) Bcl-2. Constitutively activated NF-κB and Akt were evident in MIA-MSLN cells that could be suppressed by MSLN siRNA with a resultant increase in sensitivity of TNF-α induced apoptosis. Blocking NF-κB using IKK inhibitor wedelolactone also increased sensitivity to TNF-α-mediated cytotoxicity with concomitant decrease in Mcl-1. Blocking Akt using PI3K inhibitor also had a likewise effect presumably affecting cell cycle. MIA-MSLN cells produced increased IL-6 and were increased furthermore by TNF-α treatment. SiRNA-silencing of IL-6 increased TNF-α sensitivity of MIA-MSLN cells.
Our study delineates a MSLN-Akt-NF-κB-IL-6-Mcl-1 survival axis that may be operative in PC cells, and might help cancer cells' survival in the highly inflammatory milieu evident in PC. Further, for the success of TNFerade + gemcitabine to be successful, we feel the simultaneous inhibition of components of this axis is also essential.
PMCID: PMC3175472  PMID: 21880146
Pancreatic cancer; Mesothelin; TNF-α; Apoptosis
25.  Modulation of Pancreatic Cancer Chemoresistance by Inhibition of TAK1 
TGF-β-activated kinase-1 (TAK1), a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase, functions in the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and activator protein-1, which can suppress proapoptotic signaling pathways and thus promote resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. However, it is not known if inhibition of TAK1 is effective in reducing chemoresistance to therapeutic drugs against pancreatic cancer.
NF-κB activity was measured by luciferase reporter assay in human pancreatic cancer cell lines AsPc-1, PANC-1, and MDAPanc-28, in which TAK1 expression was silenced by small hairpin RNA. TAK1 kinase activity was targeted in AsPc-1, PANC-1, MDAPanc-28, and Colo357FG cells with exposure to increasing doses of a selective small-molecule inhibitor, LYTAK1, for 24 hours. To test the effect of LYTAK1 in combination with chemotherapeutic agents, AsPc-1, PANC-1, MDAPanc-28 cells, and control cells were treated with increasing doses of oxaliplatin, SN-38, or gemcitabine in combination with LYTAK1. In vivo activity of oral LYTAK1 was evaluated in an orthotopic nude mouse model (n = 40, 5 per group) with luciferase-expressing AsPc-1 pancreatic cancer cells. The results of in vitro proliferation were analyzed for statistical significance of differences by nonlinear regression analysis; differences in mouse survival were determined using a log-rank test. All statistical tests were two-sided.
AsPc-1 and MDAPanc-28 TAK1 knockdown cells had a statistically significantly lower NF-κB activity than did their respective control cell lines (relative luciferase activity: AsPc-1, mean = 0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.10 to 0.27; control, mean = 3.06, 95% CI = 2.31 to 3.80; MDAPanc-28, mean = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.13 to 0.46; control, mean = 4.53, 95% CI = 3.43 to 5.63; both P < .001). TAK1 inhibitor LYTAK1 had potent in vitro cytotoxic activity in AsPc-1, PANC-1, MDAPanc-28, and Colo357FG cells, with IC50 between 5 and 40 nM. LYTAK1 also potentiated the cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agents oxaliplatin, SN-38, and gemcitabine in AsPc-1, PANC-1, and MDAPanc-28 cells compared with control cells (P < .001). In nude mice, oral administration of LYTAK1 plus gemcitabine statistically significantly reduced tumor burden (gemcitabine vs gemcitabine plus LYTAK1, P = .03) and prolonged survival duration (median survival: gemcitabine, 82 days vs gemcitabine plus LYTAK1, 122 days; hazard ratio = 0.334, 95% CI = 0.027 to 0.826, P = .029).
The results of this study suggest that genetic silencing or inhibition of TAK1 kinase activity in vivo is a potential therapeutic approach to reversal of the intrinsic chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3149044  PMID: 21743023

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