Agr2 is a putative protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) initially identified as an estrogen-responsive gene in breast cancer cell lines. While Agr2 expression in breast cancer is positively correlated with estrogen receptor (ER) expression, it is upregulated in both hormone dependent and independent carcinomas. Several in vitro and xenograft studies have implicated Agr2 in different oncogenic features of breast cancer; however, the physiological role of Agr2 in normal mammary gland development remains to be defined. Agr2 expression is developmentally regulated in the mammary gland, with maximum expression during late pregnancy and lactation. Using a mammary gland specific knockout mouse model, we show that Agr2 facilitates normal lobuloalveolar development by regulating mammary epithelial cell proliferation; we found no effects on apoptosis in Agr2−/− mammary epithelial cells. Consequently, mammary glands of Agr2−/− females exhibit reduced expression of milk proteins, and by two weeks post-partum their pups are smaller in size. Utilizing a conditional mouse model, we show that Agr2 constitutive expression drives precocious lobuloalveolar development and increased milk protein expression in the virgin mammary gland. In vitro studies using knock down and overexpression strategies in estrogen receptor positive and negative mammary epithelial cell lines demonstrate a role for Agr2 in estradiol-induced cell proliferation. In conclusion, the estrogen-responsive Agr2, a candidate breast cancer oncogene, regulates epithelial cell proliferation and lobuloalveolar development in the mammary gland. The pro-proliferative effects of Agr2 may explain its actions in early tumorigenesis.
Agr2; mammary gland; development; proliferation; estrogen-responsive; knockout; overexpression
Anterior Gradient 2 (AGR2) is a protein disulfide isomerase that plays important roles in diverse processes in multiple cell lineages as a developmental regulator, survival factor and susceptibility gene for inflammatory bowel disease. Here, we show using germline and inducible Agr2−/− mice that Agr2 plays important roles in intestinal homeostasis. Agr2−/− intestine has decreased goblet cell Mucin 2, dramatic expansion of the Paneth cell compartment, abnormal Paneth cell localization, elevated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, severe terminal ileitis and colitis. Cell culture experiments show that Agr2 expression is induced by ER stress, and that siRNA knockdown of Agr2 increases ER stress response. These studies implicate Agr2 in intestinal homeostasis and ER stress and suggest a role in the etiology of inflammatory bowel disease.
AGR2, anterior gradient 2; intestine; Goblet cell; Paneth cell; ER stress; PDI, protein disulfide isomerase
The aberrant activation of the developmentally regulated anterior gradient protein 2 (AGR2) gene has been associated with a metastatic phenotype. However, its mechanism of action and its regulation in prostate cancer is unknown. We had previously found that the ErbB3 binding protein 1 (EBP1), whose expression is reduced in prostate cancer, is a putative repressor of AGR2. The current study demonstrates that overexpression of AGR2 promotes the motility and invasiveness of non-metastatic LNCaP cells, while silencing of AGR2 in metastatic LNCaP derivative C4–2B cells significantly reduced cell invasion, suggesting AGR2 is an important determinant of the invasive capacity in human prostate cancer. Further, we provide evidence that the anti-invasive effect of EBP1 occurs, at least in part, through its ability to inhibit the expression of AGR2. EBP1 suppresses the promoter activity of the AGR2 gene, downregulates Foxa1 & Foxa2-stimulated AGR2 transcription and decreases metastatic behavior. In contrast, ablation of EBP1 upregulates the expression of the AGR2 gene, enhances Foxa1 and Foxa2–stimulated AGR2 promoter activity, and results in a more metastatic phenotype. We also found a significant inverse correlation between EBP1 and AGR2 levels in prostate cancer cell lines and importantly, primary prostate tumors. Collectively, our results highlight a previously uncharacterized EBP1-Foxa-AGR2 signaling circuit that has potential mechanistic and functional significance in therapeutic management of metastatic prostate cancer.
Mammalian Anterior Gradient 2 (AGR2) is a protein disulfide isomerase that is required for the production of intestinal mucus and Paneth and goblet cell homeostasis. However, whether increased endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress occurs in Agr2−/− mice remains a controversial issue.
We characterized the function of zebrafish agr2 by both morpholino antisense oligomer-mediated knockdown and agr2 mRNA overexpression. Fluorescent whole-mount double in situ hybridization indicated that in the intestine, agr2 was only expressed in goblet cells. Significantly increased numbers of immature Alcian blue-stained goblet cells were observed in the intestines of 104- and 120-hours post fertilization (hpf) agr2 morphants. Transmission electron microscopy analyses further confirmed the existence of immature pre-goblet cells containing few mucous granules in the mid-intestines of 104- and 120-hpf agr2 morphants. agr2 expression was not significantly induced by an ER stress inducer, tunicamycin. Expression of the ER chaperone gene hspa5, the spliced form of xbp1s, c/enhancer binding protein homologous protein chop, and the activating transcription factor 4b1 atf4b1 were not significantly induced in either 104-hpf agr2 morphants or agr2-overexpressed embryos. Similar percentages of P-Histone H3-stained M phase cells were identified in intestines of 104-hpf agr2 morphants and control embryos.
Our study demonstrates that in contrast to mouse AGR2, zebrafish Agr2 is expressed in only one intestinal secretory cell type - the goblet cells. Agr2 is essential for terminal differentiation of intestinal goblet cells in zebrafish embryos. Either knockdown of agr2 function or agr2 overexpression could not extensively induce expression of members of the unfolded protein response pathway.
Anterior gradient-2 (AGR2) promotes tumor growth, cell migration, and cellular transformation, and is one of the specific mRNA markers for circulating tumor cells in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. We investigated the feasibility of AGR2 as a potent antigen for tumor immunotherapy against colorectal cancer (CRC) cells using dendritic cells (DCs) transduced with a recombinant adenovirus harboring the AGR2 gene (AdAGR2). DCs transduced with a recombinant adenovirus encoding the AGR2 gene (AdAGR2/DCs) were characterized. These genetically-modified DCs expressed AGR2 mRNA as well as AGR2 protein at a multiplicity of infection of 1,000 without any significant alterations in DC viability and cytokine secretion (IL-10 and IL-12p70) compared with unmodified DCs as a control. In addition, AdAGR2 transduction did not impair DC maturation, but enhanced expression of HLA-DR, CD80, and CD86. AdAGR2/DCs augmented the number of IFN-γ-secreting T-cells and elicited potent AGR2-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes capable of lysing AGR2-expressing CRC cell lines. These results suggest that AGR2 act as a potentially important antigen for immunotherapy against CRC in clinical applications.
AGR2 protein, human; antigens, neoplasm; colorectal neoplasms; dendritic cells; immunotherapy, active
Anterior gradient homolog 2 (AGR2) is a functional protein with critical roles in a diverse range of biological systems, including vertebrate tissue development, inflammatory tissue injury responses, and cancer progression. Clinical studies have shown that the AGR2 protein is overexpressed in a wide range of human cancers, including carcinomas of the esophagus, pancreas, breast, prostate, and lung, making the protein as a potential cancer biomarker. However, the general biochemical functions of AGR2 in human cells remain undefined, and the signaling mechanisms that drive AGR2 to inhibit p53 are still not clearly illustrated. Therefore, it is of great interest to develop molecular probes specifically recognizing AGR2 for its detection and for the elucidation of AGR2-associated molecular mechanism.
Through a bead-based and flow cytometry monitored SELEX technology, we have identified a group of DNA aptamers that can specifically bind to AGR2 with Kd values in the nanomolar range after 14 rounds of selections. Aptamer C14B was chosen to further study, due to its high binding affinity and specificity. The optimized and shortened C14B1 has special G-rich characteristics, and the G-rich region of this binding motif was further characterized to reveal an intramolecular parallel G-quadruplex by CD spectroscopy and UV spectroscopy. Our experiments confirmed that the stability of the G-quadruplex structure was strongly dependent on the nature of the monovalent ions and the formation of G-quadruplex structure was also important for the binding capacity of C14B1 to the target. Furthermore, we have designed a kind of allosteric molecule beacon (aMB) probe for selective and sensitive detection of AGR2.
In this work, we have developed new aptamer probes for specific recognition of the AGR2. Structural study have identified that the binding motif of aptamer is an intramolecular parallel G-quadruplex structure and its structure and binding affinity are strongly dependent on the nature of the monovalent ion. Furthermore, with our design of AGR2-aMB, AGR2 could be sensitively and selectively detected. This aptamer probe has great potential to serve as a useful tool for early diagnosis and prognosis of cancer and for fundamental research to elucidate the biochemical functions of AGR2.
Mucins are gel-forming proteins that are responsible for the characteristic viscoelastic properties of mucus. Mucin overproduction is a hallmark of asthma, but the cellular requirements for airway mucin production are poorly understood. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) protein anterior gradient homolog 2 (AGR2) is required for production of the intestinal mucin MUC2, but its role in the production of the airway mucins MUC5AC and MUC5B is not established. Microarray data were analyzed to examine the relationship between AGR2 and MUC5AC expression in asthma. Immunofluorescence was used to localize AGR2 in airway cells. Coimmunoprecipitation was used to identify AGR2-immature MUC5AC complexes. Agr2−/− mice were used to determine the role of AGR2 in allergic airway disease. AGR2 localized to the ER of MUC5AC- and MUC5B-producing airway cells and formed a complex with immature MUC5AC. AGR2 expression increased together with MUC5AC expression in airway epithelium from “Th2-high” asthmatics. Allergen-challenged Agr2−/− mice had greater than 50% reductions in MUC5AC and MUC5B proteins compared with allergen-challenged wild-type mice. Impaired mucin production in Agr2−/− mice was accompanied by an increase in the proportion of mucins contained within the ER and by evidence of ER stress in airway epithelium. This study shows that AGR2 increases with mucin overproduction in individuals with asthma and in mouse models of allergic airway disease. AGR2 interacts with immature mucin in the ER and loss of AGR2 impairs allergen-induced MUC5AC and MUC5B overproduction.
asthma; airway epithelium; mucus; endoplasmic reticulum stress; protein disulfide isomerase
Previous studies have shown that Agr genes, which encode thioredoxin domain-containing secreted proteins, play a critical role in limb regeneration in salamanders. To determine the evolutionary conservation of Agr function, it is important to examine whether Agrs play a similar role in species with a different type of regeneration. Here, we refined the phylogeny of Agrs, revealing three subfamilies: Ag1, Agr2 and Agr3. Importantly, we established that Ag1 was lost in higher vertebrates, which correlates with their decreased regeneration ability. In Xenopus laevis tadpoles (anamniotes), which have all three Agr subfamilies and a high regenerating capacity, Agrs were activated in the stumps of tails and hindlimb buds that were amputated at stage 52. However, Agrs were not up-regulated when the hindlimb buds were amputated at stage 57, the stage at which their regeneration capacity is lost. Our findings indicate the general importance of Agrs for body appendages regeneration in amphibians.
Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of death in women. Early detection of ovarian cancer is essential to decrease mortality. However, the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is difficult due to a lack of clinical symptoms and suitable molecular diagnostic markers. Thus, identification of meaningful tumor biomarkers with potential clinical application is clearly needed. To search for a biomarker for the early detection of ovarian cancer, we identified human anterior gradient 2 (AGR2) from our systematic analysis of paired normal and ovarian tumor tissue cDNA microarray. We noted a marked overexpression of AGR2 mRNA and protein in early stage mucinous ovarian tumors compared to normal ovarian tissues and serous type ovarian tumors by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. To further elucidate the role of AGR2 in ovarian tumorigenesis, stable 2774 human ovarian cancer cell lines overexpressing AGR2 were established. Forced expression of AGR2 in 2774 cells enhanced the growth and migration of ovarian cancer cells. AGR2 protein was detected in the serum of mucinous ovarian cancer patients by Western blot and ELISA analysis. Thus, AGR2 is a potential biomarker for the diagnosis of mucinous ovarian cancer and an ELISA assay may facilitate the early detection of mucinous ovarian cancer using patient serum.
AGR2 protein, human; biological markers; ovarian neoplasms
Anterior-gradient 2 (AGR2) is an estrogen-responsive secreted protein. Its upregulation has been well documented in a number of cancers, particularly breast cancer, for which mixed data exist on the prognostic implications of AGR2 expression. Although emerging evidence indicates that AGR2 is associated with poor prognosis, its function and impact on cancer-relevant pathways have not been elucidated in breast cancer.
To investigate the biologic role of AGR2 in breast cancer, AGR2 was transiently knocked down, by using siRNA, in T47 D and ZR-75-1 (estrogen receptor-α (ER)-positive) and MDA-MB-231 and SK-BR-3 (ER-negative) human breast cancer cell lines. The impact of silencing AGR2 was evaluated in both anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent growth (soft agar, spheroid) assays. Cell-cycle profiles in ER-positive cell lines were determined with BrdU incorporation, and cell death was measured with Annexin V, JC-1, and F7-26 staining. After transiently silencing AGR2 or stimulating with recombinant AGR2, modulation of key regulators of growth and survival pathways was assessed with Western blot. Combination studies of AGR2 knockdown with the antiestrogens tamoxifen and fulvestrant were carried out and assessed at the level of anchorage-dependent growth inhibition and target modulation (cyclin D1, ER).
AGR2 knockdown inhibited growth in anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent assays, with a more-pronounced effect in ER-positive cell lines. Cyclin D1 levels and BrdU incorporation were reduced with AGR2 knockdown. Conversely, cyclin D1 was induced with recombinant AGR2. AGR2 knockdown induced cell death in ZR-75-1 and T47 D cells, and also downregulated survivin and c-Myc. Evidence of AGR2-ER crosstalk was demonstrated by a reduction of ER at the protein level after transiently silencing AGR2. AGR2 knockdown in combination with fulvestrant or tamoxifen did not preclude the efficacy of the antiestrogens, but enhanced it. In addition, p-Src, implicated in tamoxifen resistance, was downregulated with AGR2 knockdown.
Transiently silencing AGR2 in ER-positive breast cancer cell lines inhibited cell growth and cell-cycle progression and induced cell death. Breast cancer drivers (ER and cyclin D1) as well as cancer-signaling nodes (pSrc, c-Myc, and survivin) were demonstrated to be downstream of AGR2. Collectively, the data presented support the utility of anti-AGR2 therapy in ER-positive breast cancers because of its impact on cancer-relevant pathways.
Bacteria possess a repertoire of distinct regulatory systems promoting survival in disparate environments. Under in vitro conditions it was demonstrated for the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus that the expression of most virulence factors is coordinated by the global regulator agr. To monitor bacterial gene regulation in the host, we developed a method for direct transcript analysis from clinical specimens. Quantification of specific transcripts was performed by competitive reverse transcription-PCR, and results were normalized against the constitutively expressed gene for gyrase (gyr). Using sputum from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients infected with S. aureus we examined the transcription of the effector molecule RNAIII of agr, of spa (protein A), generally repressed by agr, and of hla (alpha-toxin), generally activated by agr. In the CF lung RNAIII was expressed poorly, indicating an inactive agr in vivo. Despite the low level of RNAIII expression, spa was detectable only in minute amounts and an irregular transcription of hla was observed in all sputum samples. After subculturing of patient strains agr-deficient isolates and isolates with unusual expression profiles, i.e., not consistent with those obtained from prototypic strains, were observed. In conclusion, the agr activity seems to be nonessential in CF, and from the described expression pattern of spa and hla, other regulatory circuits aside from agr are postulated in vivo.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is responsible for an increasing number of serious hospital and community acquired infections. Virulence gene expression in Staphylococcus aureus is orchestrated by regulators such as the accessory gene regulator (agr). Staphylococcal strains are divided into four major agr groups (agrI-IV) on the basis of agrD and agrC polymorphisms. The purpose of this study was to define the prevalence of MRSA strains in appointed Tehran's hospitals and then to define and compare the proportion of agr I, II, III, IV polymorphisms between MRSA and Methicillin Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) strains. A total of 235 isolates were evaluated by conventional antibiotic susceptibility tests and PCR for agr and mecA genes. 112 strains were MRSA (47.5%) and the most prevalent agr specific group was agr I followed by agr III, agr II and agr IV, respectively. The prevalence of agr groups amongst MRSA and MSSA strains was not statistically significant (P≥0.05). This study suggests that agr I is not only the most prevalent agr type in MRSAs but also the most common one in Methicillin Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) strains in Iran.
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus; agr; PCR
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains one of the most lethal cancers largely due to disseminated disease at the time of presentation. Here, we investigated the role and mechanism of action of the metastasis-associated protein anterior gradient 2 (AGR2) in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer. AGR2 was induced in all sporadic and familial pancreatic intraepithelial precursor lesions (PanIN), PDACs, circulating tumor cells, and metastases studied. Confocal microscopy and flow cytometric analyses indicated that AGR2 localized to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the external surface of tumor cells. Furthermore, induction of AGR2 in tumor cells regulated the expression of several ER chaperones (PDI, CALU, RCN1), proteins of the ubiquitin-proteasome degradation pathway (HIP2, PSMB2, PSMA3, PSMC3, and PSMB4), and lysosomal proteases [cathepsin B (CTSB) and cathepsin D (CTSD)], in addition to promoting the secretion of the precursor form pro-CTSD. Importantly, the invasiveness of pancreatic cancer cells was proportional to the level of AGR2 expression. Functional downstream targets of the proinvasive activity of AGR2 included CTSB and CTSD in vitro, and AGR2, CTSB, and CTSD were essential for the dissemination of pancreatic cancer cells in vivo. Taken together, the results suggest that AGR2 promotes dissemination of pancreatic cancer and that its cell surface targeting may permit new strategies for early detection as well as therapeutic management.
We aim to estimate the diagnostic performances of anterior gradient homolog-2 (AGR2) and Leucine-rich repeat-containing-G-protein-coupled receptor 5 (LGR5) in peripheral blood (PB) as mRNA biomarkers in colorectal cancer (CRC) and to explore their prognostic significance. Real-time PCR was used to analyze AGR2 and LGR5 in 54 stages I-IV CRC patients and 19 controls. Both mRNAs were significantly increased in PB from CRC patients compared to controls. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curves were 0.722 (p = 0.006), 0.376 (p = 0.123) and 0.767 (p = 0.001) for AGR2, LGR5 and combined AGR2/LGR5, respectively. The AGR2/LGR5 assay resulted in 67.4% sensitivity and 94.7% specificity. AGR2 correlated with pT3–pT4 and high-grade tumors. LGR5 correlated with metastasis, R2 resections and high-grade. The progression-free survival (PFS) of patients with high AGR2 was reduced (p = 0.037; HR, 2.32), also in the stage I-III subgroup (p = 0.046). LGR5 indicated a poor prognosis regarding both PFS (p = 0.007; HR, 1.013) and overall survival (p = 0.045; HR, 1.01). High AGR2/LGR5 was associated with poor PFS (p = 0.014; HR, 2.8) by multivariate analysis. Our findings indicate that the assessment of AGR2 and LGR5 in PB might reflect the presence of circulating tumor cells (CTC) and stem cell like CTC in CRC. Increased AGR2 and LGR5 are associated with poor outcomes.
colorectal cancer; real-time PCR; circulating tumor cells; prognostic markers; stem cells; anterior gradient homolog-2; leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor 5
Staphylococcus aureus exoprotein expression is controlled by a global regulon known as agr. This system activates transcription of some target genes and represses transcription of others. Target genes expressed postexponentially such as alpha-hemolysin (hla) are activated by agr; target genes expressed during exponential phase such as protein A (spa) are repressed by agr. A unique feature of the agr system is that this transcriptional regulation is mediated by a 517-nucleotide transcript, RNAIII. While it is clear that agr differentially regulates the expression of exponential and postexponential exoproteins, the precise role of agr in the temporal control of these events has not yet been explored. In this report, we examine the effects of expressing RNAIII, the agr regulator, under the control of the inducible beta-lactamase (bla) promoter at different times in the growth cycle. We confirm previous results showing that agr is required for postexponential-phase expression of hla and further show that a separate postexponential-phase signal independent of agr function is also needed for activation of hla transcription. We also show that in an agr mutant transcription of spa occurs throughout the growth cycle, is inhibited immediately upon induction of RNAIII, and is thus indifferent to the postexponential signal required for hla activation.
The effect of alkaline pH on expression of the accessory gene regulator (agr) in Staphylococcus aureus was examined. agr, a global regulator, affects the expression of numerous exoproteins, including alpha-hemolysin, toxic shock syndrome toxin 1, protein A, and staphylococcal enterotoxins types B, C, and D. agr contains two major, divergent transcripts, designated RNAII and RNAIII. In this study, the level of RNAIII was used to monitor agr expression because this transcript and/or its protein product(s) appears to be responsible for altering target gene expression. S. aureus FRI1230 and its Agr- derivative were examined in a fermentor system which allowed batch cultures to be maintained at a constant pH. FRI1230 cultures were grown at pH 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, and 8.0. Northern (RNA blot) analysis of samples revealed that maximal agr expression occurred at pH 7.0, with virtually no RNAIII observed at pH 8.0. The effect of alkaline pH on an agr target gene, sec, was also evaluated. sec expression was reduced at alkaline pH in strain FRI1230 (Agr+) but not in its Agr- derivative, indicating that an intact agr allele is required for the pH effect on sec. Examination of batch cultures under conditions of nonmaintained pH gave results that were also consistent with a role for alkaline pH in repressing agr expression.
We previously reported that the cvfB gene (SA1223) of Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for the virulence of this pathogenic bacterium. We show here that the cvfB gene regulates exoprotein gene expression. In a cvfB gene deletion mutant, hemolysin, DNase, and protease production were decreased, whereas protein A expression was increased. The amount of RNAIII, the transcript from the P3 promoter in the agr locus that regulates the expression of various virulence factors, was also reduced in the cvfB mutant. In addition, P2 and P3 promoter activity in the agr locus was decreased in the mutant. Under the genetic background of the agr-null mutation, cvfB gene disruption decreased the production levels of DNase and protease. Moreover, the cvfB and agr double mutant was less virulent than the agr mutant in silkworms. These results suggest that the cvfB gene product contributes to the expression of virulence factors and to pathogenicity via both agr-dependent and agr-independent pathways.
We have studied the role of the accessory gene regulator (agr) of Staphylococcus aureus as a virulence determinant in the pathogenesis of septic arthritis. At least 15 genes coding for potential virulence factors in Staphylococcus aureus are regulated by a putative multicomponent signal transduction system encoded by the agr/hld locus. agr and hld mutants show a decreased synthesis of extracellular toxins and enzymes, such as alpha-, beta-, and delta-hemolysin, leucocidin, lipase, hyaluronate lyase, and proteases, and at the same time an increased synthesis of coagulase and protein A as compared with the wild-type counterpart. We have used a recently described murine model of S. aureus-induced arthritis to study the virulence of S. aureus 8325-4 and two agr/hld mutants derived from it. Sixty percent of the mice injected with the wild-type strain developed arthritis, whereas agrA and hld mutants displayed joint involvement in only 10 and 30%, respectively. In addition, 40% of the mice inoculated with the wild-type strain displayed an erosive arthropathy; such changes were not detectable at all in mice inoculated with the agrA mutant. Serum levels of interleukin-6, a potent B-cell differentiation factor, were significantly higher (P < 0.001) in the mice inoculated with the wild-type strain than in those inoculated with the agrA mutant counterpart. Overall, our results suggest that the agr system of S. aureus is an important virulence determinant in the induction and progression of septic arthritis in mice.
A gram-positive anaerobic pathogen, Clostridium perfringens, causes clostridial myonecrosis or gas gangrene in humans by producing numerous extracellular toxins and enzymes that act in concert to degrade host tissue. The agr system is known to be important for the regulation of virulence genes in a quorum-sensing manner in Staphylococcus aureus. A homologue for S. aureus agrBD (agrBDSa) was identified in the C. perfringens strain 13 genome, and the role of C. perfringens agrBD (agrBDCp) was examined. The agrBDCp knockout mutant did not express the theta-toxin gene, and transcription of the alpha- and kappa-toxin genes was also significantly decreased in the mutant strain. The mutant strain showed a recovery of toxin production after the addition of the culture supernatant of the wild-type strain, indicating that the agrBDCp mutant lacks a signal molecule in the culture supernatant. An agr-virR double-knockout mutant was constructed to examine the role of the VirR/VirS two-component regulatory system, a key virulence regulator, in agrBDCp-mediated regulation of toxin production. The double-mutant strain could not be stimulated for toxin production with the wild-type culture supernatant. These results indicate that the agrBDCp system plays an important role in virulence regulation and also suggest that VirR/VirS is required for sensing of the extracellular signal and activation of toxin gene transcription in C. perfringens.
The aims of this study were: to characterise and compare plasma concentrations of midkine (MDK) in normal healthy women with concentrations observed in women with ovarian cancer; and to establish and compare the performance of MDK with that of anterior gradient 2 protein (AGR2) and CA125 in the development of multi-analyte classification algorithms for ovarian cancer. Median plasma concentrations of immunoreactive MDK, AGR2 and CA125 were significantly greater in the case cohort (909 pg/ml, 765 pg/ml and 502 U/ml, respectively n = 46) than in the control cohort (383 pg/ml, 188 pg/ml and 13 U/ml, respectively n = 61) (p < 0.001). The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) for MDK and AGR2 was not significantly different (0.734 ± 0.046 and 0.784 ± 0.049, respectively, mean ± SE) but were both significantly less than the AUC for CA125 (0.934 ± 0.030, p < 0.003). When subjected to stochastic gradient boosted logistic regression modelling, the AUC of the multi-analyte panel (MDK, AGR2 and CA125, 0.988 ± 0.010) was significantly greater than that of CA125 alone (0.934 ± 0.030, p = 0.035). The sensitivity and specificity of the multi-analyte algorithm were 95.2 and 97.7%, respectively. Within the study cohort, CA125 displayed a sensitivity and specificity of 87.0 and 94.6%, respectively. The data obtained in this study confirm that both MDK and AGR2 individually display utility as biomarkers for ovarian cancer and that in a multi-analyte panel significantly improve the diagnostic utility of CA125 in symptomatic women.
Subgenomic DNA microarrays were employed to evaluate the expression of the accessory gene regulator (agr locus) as well as multiple virulence-associated genes in Staphylococcus aureus. Gene expression was examined during growth of S. aureus in vitro in standard laboratory medium and rabbit serum and in vivo in subcutaneous chambers implanted in either nonimmune rabbits or rabbits immunized with staphylococcal enterotoxin B. Expression of RNAIII, the effector molecule of the agr locus, was dramatically repressed in serum and in vivo, despite the increased expression of secreted virulence factors sufficient to cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in the animals. Statistical analysis and clustering of virulence genes based on their expression profiles in the various experimental conditions demonstrated no positive correlation between the expression of agr and any staphylococcal virulence factors examined. Disruption of the agr locus had only a minimal effect on the expression in vivo of the virulence factors examined. An effect of immunization on the expression of agr and virulence factors was also observed. These results suggest that agr activation is not necessary for development of staphylococcal TSS and that regulatory circuits responding to the in vivo environment override agr activity.
The anterior gradient protein-2 (AGR2) is inducible by oestrogen and itself can induce metastasis in a rat model for breast cancer. Here, a rabbit antibody to recombinant human AGR2 was used to assess its prognostic significance in a retrospective cohort of 351 breast cancer patients treated by adjuvant hormonal therapy. The antibody stains 66% of breast carcinomas to varying degrees. The percentage of positive carcinoma cells in tumours directly correlates with the level of AGR2 mRNA (Spearman's rank correlation, P=0.0007) and protein (linear regression analysis r2=0.95, P=0.0002). There is a significant association of staining of carcinomas for AGR2 with oestrogen receptor α (ERα) staining and with low histological grade (both Fisher's Exact test P<0.0001). In the ERα-positive cases, but not the ERα-negative cases, when subdivided into the separate staining classes for AGR2, there is a significantly progressive decrease in patient survival with increased staining (log rank test, P=0.006). The significant association of staining for AGR2 with patient death over a 10-year period (log rank test P=0.007, hazard ratio=3) only becomes significant at 6 years of follow-up. This may be due to the cessation of adjuvant hormonal therapy at an earlier time, resulting in adverse re-expression of the metastasis-inducing protein AGR2.
AGR2 immunocytochemistry; patient survival; ERα-positive breast cancer
The four gene products of the accessory gene regulator (agr) P2 operon of Staphylococcus aureus assemble a quorum-sensing system: AgrA and AgrC resemble a two-component signal transduction system, and AgrB and AgrD are required to produce an autoinducing peptide. Upon activation, this quorum-sensing system positively regulates the transcription of the P2 operon as well as the P3 operon, whose transcript, RNAIII, regulates the expression of virulence genes. Four groups of S. aureus have been identified based on the agr sequences and the group-specific interaction between the autoinducing peptide and AgrC. AgrB is a transmembrane protein involved in the processing of AgrD propeptide, and its interaction with AgrD is also group specific. In this study, a series of chimeric AgrBs were constructed by swapping between group I and group II AgrBs, and these mutants were used to analyze the group-specific segment(s) in AgrB that was responsible for AgrD processing. Our results revealed that the first transmembrane α-helix and the extracellular loop 1 of group I AgrB were decisive in the specific processing of group I AgrD. In contrast, two hydrophilic segments of group II AgrB played a crucial role in the group-specific processing of group II AgrD. We also found that several chimeric AgrBs were capable of processing AgrD from both groups, suggesting that all AgrB homologues may utilize the same or a similar mechanism in the processing of AgrDs.
The production of cell surface proteins in Staphylococcus aureus is generally down-regulated in the postexponential growth phase by the global regulator agr. The effector of this regulation is the RNAIII molecule, which is encoded within the agr locus. RNAIII seems to regulate most target genes at the level of transcription, but it also has an effect on the translation of some genes. To study the role of agr on the expression of fibronectin binding proteins (FnBPs), we investigated the transcription and translation of fnb genes in agr mutant strain WA250 and its parent strain, 8325-4. The results show that fnb genes are negatively regulated by agr and also by an agr-independent mechanism that restricts fnb mRNA synthesis to the early exponential phase of growth. Transcription and Western blot analysis of cell-associated FnBPs demonstrated that synthesis of both FnBPA and FnBPB in the wild-type and agr mutant strains took place preferentially during the first hour of growth and rapidly decreased after the second hour. We also confirmed previous results showing that the agr mutant strain has an increased capacity to bind fibronectin compared to its parent agr+ strain. However, while the concentrations of fnb mRNAs and proteins differed by a factor of 16 between the strains, the difference in fibronectin binding was only twofold, indicating that the binding of fibronectin to the bacteria is not proportional to the amount of FnBPs on their surface.
The accessory gene regulator (Agr) system is a quorum-sensing system of Staphylococcus aureus responsible for upregulation of certain exoprotein genes and downregulation of certain cell-wall associated proteins during the post-exponential phase of growth. The enterotoxin B (seb) determinant is upregulated by the Agr system. Agr-regulated cis elements within the seb promoter region were examined by deletion analyses of the seb promoter by a hybrid promoter approach utilizing the staphylococcal lac operon promoter. To identify the regulatory pathway for enterotoxin B expression, the seb promoter fused to the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene was introduced into mutants of S. aureus lacking agr or different members of the Sar family of transcriptional regulators. Agr control of seb promoter activity was found to be dependent upon the presence of a functional Rot protein, and Rot was shown to be able to bind to the seb promoter. Therefore, the Agr-mediated post-exponential-phase increase in seb transcription results from the Agr system's inactivation of Rot repressor activity.