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1.  Double-Stranded RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Is Involved in 2-Methoxyestradiol–Mediated Cell Death of Osteosarcoma Cells 
We studied the involvement of interferon-regulated, PKR on 2-ME–mediated actions in human osteosarcoma cells. Our results show that PKR is activated by 2-ME treatment and is necessary for 2-ME–mediated induction of osteosarcoma cell death.
Introduction
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor and most frequently develops during adolescence. 2-Methoxyestradiol (2-ME), a metabolite of 17β-estradiol, induces interferon gene expression and apoptosis in human osteosarcoma cells. In this report, we studied the role of interferon-regulated double-stranded (ds)RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) protein on 2-ME–mediated cell death in human osteosarcoma cells.
Materials and Methods
Western blot analyses were used to measure PKR protein and phosphorylation levels. Cell survival and apoptosis assays were measured using trypan blue exclusion and Hoechst dye methods, respectively. A transient transfection protocol was used to express the dominant negative PKR mutants.
Results and Conclusions
PKR was increased in 2-ME–treated MG63 cells, whereas 17β-estradiol, 4-hydroxyestradiol, and 16α-hydroxyestradiol, which do not induce cell death, had no effect on PKR protein levels. Also, 2-ME treatment induced PKR kinase activity as indicated by increased autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of the endogenous substrate, eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)-2α. dsRNA poly (I).poly (C), an activator of PKR protein, increased cell death when osteosarcoma cells were treated with a submaximal concentration of 2-ME. In contrast, a serine-threonine kinase inhibitor SB203580 and a specific PKR inhibitor 2-aminopurine (2-AP) blocked the 2-ME–induced cell death in MG63 cells. A dominant negative PKR mutant protein conferred resistance to 2-ME–induced cell death to MG63 osteosarcoma and 2-ME–mediated PKR regulation did not require interferon gene expression. PKR protein is activated in cell free extracts by 2-ME treatment, resulting in autophosphorylation and in the phosphorylation of the substrate eIF-2α. We conclude from these results that PKR is regulated by 2-ME independently of interferon and is essential for 2-ME–mediated cell death in MG63 osteosarcoma cells.
doi:10.1359/JBMR.060914
PMCID: PMC1955766  PMID: 17014383
estrogen metabolite; MG63 cells; interferon; protein kinase; double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase
2.  Oleanane triterpenoid CDDO-Me induces apoptosis in multidrug resistant osteosarcoma cells through inhibition of Stat3 pathway 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:187.
Background
The activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) pathway correlates with tumor growth, survival, drug resistance and poor prognosis in osteosarcoma. To explore the potential therapeutic values of this pathway, we assessed both the expression and the activation of Stat3 pathway in several pairs of multidrug resistant (MDR) osteosarcoma cell lines, and tissues. To explore the potential therapeutic values of this pathway, we analyzed the ability of the synthetic oleanane triterpenoid, C-28 methyl ester of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolen-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO-Me), to inhibit Stat3 expression and activation as well as its effects on doxorubicin sensitivity in osteosarcoma cells.
Methods
Expression of Stat3, phosphorylated Stat3 (pStat3) and Stat3 targeted proteins, including Bcl-XL, Survivin and MCL-1 were determined in drug sensitive and MDR osteosarcoma cell lines and tissues by Western blot analysis. The effect of CDDO-Me on osteosarcoma cell growth was evaluated by MTT and apoptosis by PARP cleavage assay and caspase-3/7 activity.
Results
Stat3 pathway was activated in osteosarcoma tissues and in MDR cell lines. CDDO-Me inhibited growth and induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma cell lines. Treatment with CDDO-Me significantly decreased the level of nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of Stat3. The inhibition of Stat3 pathway correlated with the suppression of the anti-apoptotic Stat3 targeted genes Bcl-XL, survivin, and MCL-1. Furthermore, CDDO-Me increased the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin in the MDR osteosarcoma cell lines.
Conclusions
Stat3 pathway is overexpressed in MDR osteosarcoma cells. CDDO-Me significantly inhibited Stat3 phosphorylation, Stat3 nuclear translocation and induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma. This study provides the framework for the clinical evaluation of CDDO-Me, either as monotherapy or perhaps even more effectively in combination with doxorubicin to treat osteosarcoma and overcome drug resistance.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-187
PMCID: PMC2874784  PMID: 20459702
3.  Macrophages inhibit human osteosarcoma cell growth after activation with the bacterial cell wall derivative liposomal muramyl tripeptide in combination with interferon-γ 
Background
In osteosarcoma, the presence of tumor-infiltrating macrophages positively correlates with patient survival in contrast to the negative effect of tumor-associated macrophages in patients with other tumors. Liposome-encapsulated muramyl tripeptide (L-MTP-PE) has been introduced in the treatment of osteosarcoma patients, which may enhance the potential anti-tumor activity of macrophages. Direct anti-tumor activity of human macrophages against human osteosarcoma cells has not been described so far. Hence, we assessed osteosarcoma cell growth after co-culture with human macrophages.
Methods
Monocyte-derived M1-like and M2-like macrophages were polarized with LPS + IFN-γ, L-MTP-PE +/− IFN-γ or IL-10 and incubated with osteosarcoma cells. Two days later, viable tumor cell numbers were analyzed. Antibody-dependent effects were investigated using the therapeutic anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab.
Results
M1-like macrophages inhibited osteosarcoma cell growth when activated with LPS + IFN-γ. Likewise, stimulation of M1-like macrophages with liposomal muramyl tripeptide (L-MTP-PE) inhibited tumor growth, but only when combined with IFN-γ. Addition of the tumor-reactive anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab did not further improve the anti-tumor activity of activated M1-like macrophages. The inhibition was mediated by supernatants of activated M1-like macrophages, containing TNF-α and IL-1β. However, specific blockage of these cytokines, nitric oxide or reactive oxygen species did not inhibit the anti-tumor effect, suggesting the involvement of other soluble factors released upon macrophage activation. While LPS + IFN-γ–activated M2-like macrophages had low anti-tumor activity, IL-10–polarized M2-like macrophages were able to reduce osteosarcoma cell growth in the presence of the anti-EGFR cetuximab involving antibody-dependent tumor cell phagocytosis.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates that human macrophages can be induced to exert direct anti-tumor activity against osteosarcoma cells. Our observation that the induction of macrophage anti-tumor activity by L-MTP-PE required IFN-γ may be of relevance for the optimization of L-MTP-PE therapy in osteosarcoma patients.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-33-27
PMCID: PMC4007518  PMID: 24612598
Macrophages; Muramyl tripeptide; IFN-γ; Osteosarcoma; Cetuximab
4.  RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Is Essential for 2-Methoxyestradiol-Induced Autophagy in Osteosarcoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59406.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant bone tumor in children and young adults. Surgical resection and adjunctive chemotherapy are the only widely available options of treatment for this disease. Anti-tumor compound 2-Methoxyestradiol (2-ME) triggers cell death through the induction of apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells, but not in normal osteoblasts. In this report, we have investigated whether autophagy plays a role in 2-ME actions on osteosarcoma cells. Transmission electron microscopy imaging shows that 2-ME treatment leads to the accumulation of autophagosomes in human osteosarcoma cells. 2-ME induces the conversion of the microtubule-associated protein LC3-I to LC3-II, a biochemical marker of autophagy that is correlated with the formation of autophagosomes. Conversion to LC3-II is accompanied by protein degradation in 2-ME-treated cells. 2-ME does not induce autophagosome formation in normal primary human osteoblasts. In addition, 2-ME-dependent autophagosome formation in osteosarcoma cells requires ATG7 expression. Furthermore, 2-ME does not induce accumulation of autophagosomes in osteosarcoma cells that express dominant negative mutant RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) and are resistant to anti-proliferative and anti-tumor effects of 2-ME. Taken together, our study shows that 2-ME treatment induces PKR-dependent autophagy in osteosarcoma cells, and that autophagy could play an important role in 2-ME-mediated anti-tumor actions and in the control of osteosarcoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059406
PMCID: PMC3602192  PMID: 23527187
5.  Anti-Interferon Autoantibodies in Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Syndrome Type 1 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e289.
Background
The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene influences thymic self-tolerance induction. In autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1; OMIM 240300), recessive AIRE mutations lead to autoimmunity targetting endocrine and other epithelial tissues, although chronic candidiasis usually appears first. Autoimmunity and chronic candidiasis can associate with thymomas as well. Patients with these tumours frequently also have high titre immunoglobulin G autoantibodies neutralising type I interferon (IFN)–α and IFN-ω, which are secreted signalling proteins of the cytokine superfamily involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.
Methods and Findings
We tested for serum autoantibodies to type I IFNs and other immunoregulatory cytokines using specific binding and neutralisation assays. Unexpectedly, in 60/60 Finnish and 16/16 Norwegian APS1 patients with both AIRE alleles mutated, we found high titre neutralising immunoglobulin G autoantibodies to most IFN-α subtypes and especially IFN-ω (60% homologous to IFN-α)—mostly in the earliest samples. We found lower titres against IFN-β (30% homologous to IFN-α) in 23% of patients; two-thirds of these (from Finland only) also had low titres against the distantly related “type III IFN” (IFN-λ1; alias interleukin-29). However, autoantibodies to the unrelated type II IFN, IFN-γ, and other immunoregulatory cytokines, such as interleukin-10 and interleukin-12, were much rarer and did not neutralise.
Neutralising titres against type I IFNs averaged even higher in patients with APS1 than in patients with thymomas. Anti–type I IFN autoantibodies preceded overt candidiasis (and several of the autoimmune disorders) in the informative patients, and persisted for decades thereafter. They were undetectable in unaffected heterozygous relatives of APS1 probands (except for low titres against IFN-λ1), in APS2 patients, and in isolated cases of the endocrine diseases most typical of APS1, so they appear to be APS1-specific.
Looking for potentially autoimmunising cell types, we found numerous IFN-α+ antigen-presenting cells—plus strong evidence of local IFN secretion—in the normal thymic medulla (where AIRE expression is strongest), and also in normal germinal centres, where it could perpetuate these autoantibody responses once initiated. IFN-α2 and IFN-α8 transcripts were also more abundant in antigen-presenting cells cultured from an APS1 patient's blood than from age-matched healthy controls.
Conclusions
These apparently spontaneous autoantibody responses to IFNs, particularly IFN-α and IFN-ω, segregate like a recessive trait; their high “penetrance” is especially remarkable for such a variable condition. Their apparent restriction to APS1 patients implies practical value in the clinic, e.g., in diagnosing unusual or prodromal AIRE-mutant patients with only single components of APS1, and possibly in prognosis if they prove to predict its onset. These autoantibody responses also raise numerous questions, e.g., about the rarity of other infections in APS1. Moreover, there must also be clues to autoimmunising mechanisms/cell types in the hierarchy of preferences for IFN-ω, IFN-α8, IFN-α2, and IFN-β and IFN-λ1.
Almost all of nearly 100 APS1 patients studied made large amounts of auto-antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω. The antibodies appeared early during development of the disease and may play a role in its etiology.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The human body is under constant attack by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of protein specific to pathogens) while ignoring self-antigens. If tolerance to self-antigens breaks down, autoimmunity develops, often causing disease. There are many common autoimmune diseases—type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, for example—but because these involve defects in many genes as well as environmental factors, the details of how autoimmunity develops remain unclear. Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1), however, is caused by defects in a single gene. Patients with this rare disease characteristically have defects (or mutations) in both copies of a gene called AIRE (for autoimmune regulator). In normal people, the protein product of this gene helps to establish tolerance to a subset of self-antigens. People carrying AIRE mutations make an autoimmune response against some of their own tissues, typically the endocrine (hormone-producing) tissues that control body metabolism. A major component of this autoimmune response are “autoantibodies” (antibodies are immune molecules that normally recognize and attack foreign substances, whereas autoantibodies are directed against the body's own molecules).
Why Was This Study Done?
For a diagnosis of APS1, a patient must have at least two of the following symptoms: recurrent, localized yeast infections (usually the first symptom of the disease to appear in early childhood), hypoparathyroidism (failure of the gland that controls calcium levels in the body), and Addison disease (failure of the steroid-producing adrenal glands, which help the body respond to stress). The researchers who did this study had previously noticed that these yeast infections and autoimmunity (usually against muscle) can also occur in patients with tumors of the thymus (thymomas). The thymus is the organ that generates immune cells called T cells. Generation of the T cell repertoire in the thymus involves selection of those T cells that recognize only foreign substances. T cells that can react against self-antigens are eliminated, and the AIRE gene is thought to be involved in this “education process.” Like those with APS1, patients with thymomas make autoantibodies not only against target organs (especially muscle in their case), but also against interferon alpha (IFN-α) and interferon omega (IFN-ω), two secreted immune regulators. The researchers wanted to know if patients with APS1 also make autoantibodies against interferons, because this could provide insights into how autoimmunity develops in APS1 and other autoimmune diseases.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested blood from nearly 100 APS1 patients for antibodies to IFN-α, IFN-ω, and other immunoregulatory cytokines. They found that almost all patients made large amounts of antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω; some also made lower amounts of antibodies against two related interferons, but none made blocking antibodies against unrelated interferons or other immune regulators. For many patients, serum samples were available at different times during their disease, which allowed the researchers to show that the antibodies appeared early in disease development, before the onset of yeast infections or damage to endocrine tissues, and their production continued for decades as the patient aged. Furthermore, only patients with APS1 made these antibodies—they were absent in patients with Addison disease alone, for example.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The discovery that autoantibodies to IFN-α and IFN-ω are made persistently in patients with APS1 suggests ways in which autoimmunity develops in these patients. These can now be investigated further both in patients and in animal models of the disease. The discovery also has practical implications. Measurement of these autoantibodies might help some APS1 patients by allowing earlier diagnosis—and prompter treatment—than in current practice. The levels of these autoantibodies might also help to predict the time course of APS1 in individual patients, although more studies will be needed to check this out. Finally, if future studies show that interferon autoantibodies are responsible for the patients' susceptibility to yeast infections (which seems plausible), treatment with IFN-γ, an interferon to which APS1 patients do not make autoantibodies, might provide an alternative way to deal with this problem.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030289.
• MedlinePlus pages on autoimmune diseases
• Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man page on APS1
• Links to patient information on APS1 from the Stanford Health Library
• Wikipedia page on autoendocrine polyendocrinopathy (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
• Information on autoimmunity from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030289
PMCID: PMC1475653  PMID: 16784312
6.  Wnt Inhibitory Factor 1 (WIF-1) decreases tumorigenesis and metastasis in osteosarcoma 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(3):731-741.
It has been reported that the progression of osteosarcoma was closely associated with aberrant activation of canonical Wnt signaling. Wnt inhibitory factor-1 (WIF-1) is a secreted Wnt inhibitor whose role in human osteosarcoma remains unknown. In this study, WIF-1 expression in normal human osteoblast and osteosarcoma cell lines was determined by real-time RT-PCR, methylation-specific PCR (MSP), and Western blotting analysis. In addition, tissue array from patient samples was examined for WIF-1 expression by immunohistochemistry. Compared to normal human osteoblasts, WIF-1 mRNA and protein levels were significantly down-regulated in several osteosarcoma cell lines. The downregulation of WIF-1 mRNA expression is associated with its promoter hypermethylation in these tested cell lines. Importantly, WIF-1 expression was also downregulated in 76% of examined osteosarcoma cases. These results suggest that the downregulation of WIF-1 expression plays a role in osteosarcoma progression. To further study the potential tumor suppressor function of WIF-1 in osteosarcoma, we established stable 143B cell lines overexpressing WIF-1. WIF-1 overexpression significantly decreased tumor growth rate in nude mice as examined by subcutaneous injection of 143B cells stably transfected with WIF-1 and vector control. WIF-1 overexpression also markedly reduced the number of lung metastasis in vivo in an orthotopic mouse model of osteosarcoma. Together, these data suggest that WIF-1 exerts potent anti-osteosarcoma effect in vivo in mouse models. Therefore, re-expression of WIF-1 in WIF-1 deficient osteosarcoma represents a potential novel treatment and preventive strategy.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0147
PMCID: PMC2837364  PMID: 20197388
osteosarcoma; Wnt; WIF-1; tumor growth; metastasis
7.  Interferon-Dependent Engagement of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4B via S6 Kinase (S6K)- and Ribosomal Protein S6K-Mediated Signals▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(10):2865-2875.
Although the roles of Jak-Stat pathways in type I and II interferon (IFN)-dependent transcriptional regulation are well established, the precise mechanisms of mRNA translation for IFN-sensitive genes remain to be defined. We examined the effects of IFNs on the phosphorylation/activation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4B (eIF4B). Our data show that eIF4B is phosphorylated on Ser422 during treatment of sensitive cells with alpha IFN (IFN-α) or IFN-γ. Such phosphorylation is regulated, in a cell type-specific manner, by either the p70 S6 kinase (S6K) or the p90 ribosomal protein S6K (RSK) and results in enhanced interaction of the protein with eIF3A (p170/eIF3A) and increased associated ATPase activity. Our data also demonstrate that IFN-inducible eIF4B activity and IFN-stimulated gene 15 protein (ISG15) or IFN-γ-inducible chemokine CXCL-10 protein expression are diminished in S6k1/S6k2 double-knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts. In addition, IFN-α-inducible ISG15 protein expression is blocked by eIF4B or eIF3A knockdown, establishing a requirement for these proteins in mRNA translation/protein expression by IFNs. Importantly, the generation of IFN-dependent growth inhibitory effects on primitive leukemic progenitors is dependent on activation of the S6K/eIF4B or RSK/eIF4B pathway. Taken together, our findings establish critical roles for S6K and RSK in the induction of IFN-dependent biological effects and define a key regulatory role for eIF4B as a common mediator and integrator of IFN-generated signals from these kinases.
doi:10.1128/MCB.01537-08
PMCID: PMC2682034  PMID: 19289497
8.  Hyperoside, a Flavonoid Compound, Inhibits Proliferation and Stimulates Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Osteosarcoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e98973.
Osteosarcoma, one of the most common malignant bone tumours, is generally considered a differentiation disease caused by genetic and epigenetic disruptions in the terminal differentiation of osteoblasts. Novel therapies based on the non-cytotoxic induction of cell differentiation-responsive pathways could represent a significant advance in treating osteosarcoma; however, effective pharmaceuticals to induce differentiation are lacking. In the present study, we investigated the effect of hyperoside, a flavonoid compound, on the osteoblastic differentiation of U2OS and MG63 osteosarcoma cells in vitro. Our results demonstrated that hyperoside inhibits the proliferation of osteosarcoma cells by inducing G0/G1 arrest in the cell cycle, without causing obvious cell death. Cell migration assay further suggested that hyperoside could inhibit the invasion potential of osteosarcoma cells. Additionally, osteopontin and runt-related transcription factor 2 protein levels and osteocalcin activation were upregulated dramatically in hyperoside-treated osteosarcoma cells, suggesting that hyperoside may stimulates osteoblastic differentiation in osteosarcoma cells. This differentiation was accompanied by the activation of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β and bone morphogenetic protein-2, suggesting that the hyperoside-induced differentiation involves the TGF-β signalling pathway. To our knowledge, this study is the first to evaluate the differentiation effect of hyperoside in osteosarcoma cells and assess the possible potential for hyperoside treatment as a future therapeutic approach for osteosarcoma differentiation therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098973
PMCID: PMC4077650  PMID: 24983940
9.  Cyr61 promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition and tumor metastasis of osteosarcoma by Raf-1/MEK/ERK/Elk-1/TWIST-1 signaling pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13(1):236.
Background
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant tumor in children and young adults, and its treatment requires effective therapeutic approaches because of a high mortality rate for lung metastasis. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) has received considerable attention as a conceptual paradigm for explaining the invasive and metastatic behavior during cancer progression. The cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (Cyr61) gene, a member of the CCN gene family, is responsible for the secretion of Cyr61, a matrix-associated protein that is involved in several cellular functions. A previous study showed that Cyr61 expression is related to osteosarcoma progression. In addition, Cyr61 could promote cell migration and metastasis in osteosarcoma. However, discussions on the molecular mechanism involved in Cyr61-regulated metastasis in osteosarcoma is poorly discussed.
Results
We determined that the expression level of Cyr61 induced cell migration ability in osteosarcoma cells. The Cyr61 protein promoted the mesenchymal transition of osteosarcoma cells by upregulating mesenchymal markers (TWIST-1 and N-cadherin) and inhibiting the epithelial marker (E-cadherin). Moreover, the Cyr61-induced cell migration was mediated by EMT. The Cyr61 protein elicited a signaling cascade that included αvβ5 integrin, Raf-1, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and Elk-1. The reagent or gene knockdown of these signaling proteins could inhibit Cyr61-promoted EMT in osteosarcoma. Finally, the knockdown of Cyr61 expression obviously inhibited cell migration and repressed mesenchymal phenotypes, reducing lung metastasis.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that Cyr61 promotes the EMT of osteosarcoma cells by regulating EMT markers via a signal transduction pathway that involves αvβ5 integrin, Raf-1, MEK, ERK, and Elk-1.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-236) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-236
PMCID: PMC4210521  PMID: 25326651
Osteosarcoma; Cyr61; EMT; Migration
10.  MicroRNA-34a Inhibits the Proliferation and Metastasis of Osteosarcoma Cells Both In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33778.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenously expressed, small noncoding RNAs, which suppress its target mRNAs at the post-transcriptional level. Studies have demonstrated that miR-34a, which is a direct target of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, functions as a tumor suppressor and is associated with the tumor growth and metastasis of various human malignances. However, the role of miR-34a in osteosarcoma has not been totally elucidated. In the present study, the effects of miR-34a on osteosarcoma and the possible mechanism by which miR-34a affected the tumor growth and metastasis of osteosarcoma were investigated.
Methodology/Principal Finding
Over-expression of miR-34a partially inhibited proliferation, migration and invasion of osteosarcoma cells in vitro, as well as the tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis of osteosarcoma cells in vivo. c-Met is a target of miR-34a, and regulates the migration and invasion of osteosarcoma cells. Osteosarcoma cells over-expressing miR-34a exhibited a significant decrease in the expression levels of c-Met mRNA and protein simultaneously. Finally, the results from bioinformatics analysis demonstrated that there were multiple putative targets of miR-34a that may be associated with the proliferation and metastasis of osteosarcoma, including factors in Wnt and Notch signaling pathways.
Conclusion/Significance
The results presented in this study demonstrated that over-expression of miR-34a could inhibit the tumor growth and metastasis of osteosarcoma probably through down regulating c-Met. And there are other putative miR-34a target genes beside c-Met which could potentially be key players in the development of osteosarcoma. Since pulmonary metastases are responsible for mortality of patient carrying osteosarcoma, miR-34a may prove to be a promising gene therapeutic agent. It will be interesting to further investigate the mechanism by which miR-34a functions as a tumor suppressor gene in osteosarcoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033778
PMCID: PMC3310405  PMID: 22457788
11.  Intact interferon signaling in peripheral blood leukocytes of high-grade osteosarcoma patients 
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy  2012;61(6):941-947.
High-grade osteosarcoma has a poor prognosis with an overall survival rate of about 60 percent. The recently closed European and American Osteosarcoma Study Group (EURAMOS)-1 trial investigates the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy with or without interferon-α. It is however unknown whether the interferon-signaling pathways in immune cells of osteosarcoma patients are functional. We studied the molecular and functional effects of interferon treatment on peripheral blood lymphocytes and monocytes of osteosarcoma patients, both in vivo and ex vivo. In contrast to other tumor types, in osteosarcoma, interferon signaling as determined by the phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)1 at residue 701 was intact in immune cell subsets of 33 osteosarcoma patients as compared to 19 healthy controls. Also, cytolytic activity of interferon-α stimulated natural killer cells against allogeneic (n = 7 patients) and autologous target cells (n = 3 patients) was not impaired. Longitudinal monitoring of three osteosarcoma patients on interferon-α monotherapy revealed a relative increase in the CD16-positive subpopulation of monocytes during treatment. Since interferon signaling is intact in immune cells of osteosarcoma patients, there is a potential for indirect immunological effects of interferon-α treatment in osteosarcoma.
doi:10.1007/s00262-012-1232-6
PMCID: PMC3362707  PMID: 22402907
Osteosarcoma; Tumor immunology; Interferon-α; NK cell
12.  A novel synthetic derivative of the natural product berbamine inhibits cell viability and induces apoptosis of human osteosarcoma cells, associated with activation of JNK/AP-1 signaling 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(11):1024-1031.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor in children and adolescents. There is a critical need to find more potent drugs for patients with metastatic or recurrent disease. Berbamine (BBM) is a natural compound derived from the Berberis amurensis plants. BBM and its derivatives have been shown to have antitumor effects in several cancers. Here, we report that a novel synthetic berbamine derivative, BBMD3, inhibits cell viability and induces apoptosis of G292, KHOS, and MG-63 human osteosarcoma cells. Induction of apoptosis in these tumor cells depends on activation of caspase-3 and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Since pan-caspase inhibitor (Z-VAD-FMK) and caspase-9 inhibitor (Z-LEHD-FMK) could block the cleavage of PARP, the apoptosis induced by BBMD3 is through intrinsic signaling pathway. BBMD3 increased phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)/stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK), resulting in increase of phosphorylated c-Jun and total c-Fos, the major components of transcriptional factor AP-1. JNK inhibitor could partially suppress antitumor effect of BBMD3 on osteosarcoma cells. BBMD3 increased the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and ROS scavenger, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), could block the phosphorylation of JNK and c-Jun induced by BBMD3. BBMD3 increased the expression of the pro-apototic gene Bad, associated with apoptosis induction. Finally, BBMD3 also decreased the expression of cyclin D1 and D2, the positive cell cycle regulators, which is correlated with growth inhibition in osteosarcoma cells. Collectively, these findings indicate that BBMD3 is a potentially promising drug for the treatment of human osteosarcoma.
doi:10.4161/cbt.26045
PMCID: PMC3925657  PMID: 24025361
berbamine derivative; osteosarcoma; apoptosis; JNK; AP-1; natural product
13.  Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of Interferons 
Pharmaceuticals  2010;3(4):1162-1186.
Interferons (IFNs) are class II cytokines that are key components of the innate immune response to virus infection. Three IFN sub-families, type I, II, and III IFNs have been identified in man, Recombinant analogues of type I IFNs, in particular IFNα2 and IFNβ1, have found wide application for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis and remitting relapsing multiple sclerosis respectively. Type II IFN, or IFN gamma, is used principally for the treatment of chronic granulomatous disease, while the recently discovered type III IFNs, also known as IFN lambda or IL-28/29, are currently being evaluated for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. IFNs are in general well tolerated and the most common adverse events observed with IFNα or IFNβ therapy are “flu-like” symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, and myalgia. Prolonged treatment is associated with more serious adverse events including leucopenia, thrombocytopenia, increased hepatic transaminases, and neuropsychiatric effects. Type I IFNs bind to high-affinity cell surface receptors, composed of two transmembrane polypeptides IFNAR1 and IFNAR2, resulting in activation of the Janus kinases Jak1 and Tyk2, phosphorylation and activation of the latent cytoplasmic signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT1) and STAT2, formation of a transcription complex together with IRF9, and activation of a specific set of genes that encode the effector molecules responsible for mediating the biological activities of type I IFNs. Systemic administration of type I IFN results in activation of IFN receptors present on essentially all types of nucleated cells, including neurons and hematopoietic stem cells, in addition to target cells. This may well explain the wide spectrum of IFN associated toxicities. Recent reports suggest that certain polymorphisms in type I IFN signaling molecules are associated with IFN-induced neutropenia and thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic hepatitis C. IFNγ binds to a cell-surface receptor composed of two transmembrane polypeptides IFGR1 and IFGR2 resulting in activation of the Janus kinases Jak1 and Jak2, phosphorylation of STAT1, formation of STAT1 homodimers, and activation of a specific set of genes that encode the effector molecules responsible for mediating its biological activity. In common with type I IFNs, IFNγ receptors are ubiquitous and a number of the genes activated by IFNγ are also activated by type I IFNs that may well account for a spectrum of toxicities similar to that associated with type I IFNs including “flu-like” symptoms, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased hepatic transaminases. Although type III IFNs share the major components of the signal transduction pathway and activate a similar set of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) as type I IFNs, distribution of the IFNλ receptor is restricted to certain cell types suggesting that IFNλ therapy may be associated with a reduced spectrum of toxicities relative to type I or type II IFNs. Repeated administration of recombinant IFNs can cause in a break in immune tolerance to self-antigens in some patients resulting in the production of neutralizing antibodies (NABs) to the recombinant protein homologue. Appearance of NABs is associated with reduced pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and a reduced clinical response. The lack of cross-neutralization of IFNβ by anti-IFNα NABs and vice versa, undoubtedly accounts for the apparent lack of toxicity associated with the presence of anti-IFN NABs with the exception of relatively mild infusion/injection reactions.
doi:10.3390/ph3041162
PMCID: PMC4034027
cytokines; interferons; interleukins; innate immunity; Toll-like receptors
14.  Effect of ethanol on innate antiviral pathways and HCV replication in human liver cells 
Virology Journal  2005;2:89.
Alcohol abuse reduces response rates to IFN therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. To model the molecular mechanisms behind this phenotype, we characterized the effects of ethanol on Jak-Stat and MAPK pathways in Huh7 human hepatoma cells, in HCV replicon cell lines, and in primary human hepatocytes. High physiological concentrations of acute ethanol activated the Jak-Stat and p38 MAPK pathways and inhibited HCV replication in several independent replicon cell lines. Moreover, acute ethanol induced Stat1 serine phosphorylation, which was partially mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway. In contrast, when combined with exogenously applied IFN-α, ethanol inhibited the antiviral actions of IFN against HCV replication, involving inhibition of IFN-induced Stat1 tyrosine phosphorylation. These effects of alcohol occurred independently of i) alcohol metabolism via ADH and CYP2E1, and ii) cytotoxic or cytostatic effects of ethanol. In this model system, ethanol directly perturbs the Jak-Stat pathway, and HCV replication.
Infection with Hepatitis C virus is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. With a propensity to progress to chronic infection, approximately 70% of patients with chronic viremia develop histological evidence of chronic liver diseases including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The situation is even more dire for patients who abuse ethanol, where the risk of developing end stage liver disease is significantly higher as compared to HCV patients who do not drink [1,2].
Recombinant interferon alpha (IFN-α) therapy produces sustained responses (ie clearance of viremia) in 8–12% of patients with chronic hepatitis C [3]. Significant improvements in response rates can be achieved with IFN plus ribavirin combination [4-6] and pegylated IFN plus ribavirin [7,8] therapies. However, over 50% of chronically infected patients still do not clear viremia. Moreover, HCV-infected patients who abuse alcohol have extremely low response rates to IFN therapy [9], but the mechanisms involved have not been clarified.
MAPKs play essential roles in regulation of differentiation, cell growth, and responses to cytokines, chemokines and stress. The core element in MAPK signaling consists of a module of 3 kinases, named MKKK, MKK, and MAPK, which sequentially phosphorylate each other [10]. Currently, four MAPK modules have been characterized in mammalian cells: Extracellular Regulated Kinases (ERK1 and 2), Stress activated/c-Jun N terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK), p38 MAP kinases, and ERK5 [11]. Interestingly, ethanol modulates MAPKs [12]. However, information on how ethanol affects MAPKs in the context of innate antiviral pathways such as the Jak-Stat pathway in human cells is extremely limited.
When IFN-α binds its receptor, two receptor associated tyrosine kinases, Tyk2 and Jak1 become activated by phosphorylation, and phosphorylate Stat1 and Stat2 on conserved tyrosine residues [13]. Stat1 and Stat2 combine with the IRF-9 protein to form the transcription factor interferon stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF-3), which binds to the interferon stimulated response element (ISRE), and induces transcription of IFN-α-induced genes (ISG). The ISGs mediate the antiviral effects of IFN. The transcriptional activities of Stats 1, 3, 4, 5a, and 5b are also regulated by serine phosphorylation [14]. Phosphorylation of Stat1 on a conserved serine amino acid at position 727 (S727), results in maximal transcriptional activity of the ISGF-3 transcription factor complex [15]. Although cross-talk between p38 MAPK and the Jak-Stat pathway is essential for IFN-induced ISRE transcription, p38 does not participate in IFN induction of Stat1 serine phosphorylation [14,16-19]. However, cellular stress responses induced by stimuli such as ultraviolet light do induce p38 MAPK mediated Stat1 S727 phosphorylation [18].
In the current report, we postulated that alcohol and HCV proteins modulate MAPK and Jak-Stat pathways in human liver cells. To begin to address these issues, we characterized the interaction of acute ethanol on Jak-Stat and MAPK pathways in Huh7 cells, HCV replicon cells lines, and primary human hepatocytes.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-2-89
PMCID: PMC1318489  PMID: 16324217
HCV; IFN; virus-host interactions; signal transduction; alcohol
15.  Targeting of Interferon-Beta to Produce a Specific, Multi-Mechanistic Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e353.
Background
Oncolytic viruses hold much promise for clinical treatment of many cancers, but a lack of systemic delivery and insufficient tumor cell killing have limited their usefulness. We have previously demonstrated that vaccinia virus strains are capable of systemic delivery to tumors in mouse models, but infection of normal tissues remains an issue. We hypothesized that interferon-beta (IFN-β) expression from an oncolytic vaccinia strain incapable of responding to this cytokine would have dual benefits as a cancer therapeutic: increased anticancer effects and enhanced virus inactivation in normal tissues. We report the construction and preclinical testing of this virus.
Methods and Findings
In vitro screening of viral strains by cytotoxicity and replication assay was coupled to cellular characterization by phospho-flow cytometry in order to select a novel oncolytic vaccinia virus. This virus was then examined in vivo in mouse models by non-invasive imaging techniques. A vaccinia B18R deletion mutant was selected as the backbone for IFN-β expression, because the B18R gene product neutralizes secreted type-I IFNs. The oncolytic B18R deletion mutant demonstrated IFN-dependent cancer selectivity and efficacy in vitro, and tumor targeting and efficacy in mouse models in vivo. Both tumor cells and tumor-associated vascular endothelial cells were targeted. Complete tumor responses in preclinical models were accompanied by immune-mediated protection against tumor rechallenge. Cancer selectivity was also demonstrated in primary human tumor explant tissues and adjacent normal tissues. The IFN-β gene was then cloned into the thymidine kinase (TK) region of this virus to create JX-795 (TK−/B18R−/IFN-β+). JX-795 had superior tumor selectivity and systemic intravenous efficacy when compared with the TK−/B18R− control or wild-type vaccinia in preclinical models.
Conclusions
By combining IFN-dependent cancer selectivity with IFN-β expression to optimize both anticancer effects and normal tissue antiviral effects, we were able to achieve, to our knowledge for the first time, tumor-specific replication, IFN-β gene expression, and efficacy following systemic delivery in preclinical models.
Stephen Thorne and colleagues describe, in a mouse model, an oncolytic vaccinia virus with interferon-dependent cancer selectivity that allows tumor-specific replication; it also expresses the IFN-β gene and hence has efficacy against tumors.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Normally, throughout life, cell division (which produces new cells) and cell death are carefully balanced to keep the body in good working order. But sometimes cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material that allow them to divide uncontrollably to form cancers—disorganized masses of cells. Cancers can develop anywhere in the body and, as they develop, their cells acquire other genetic changes that enable them to move and start new tumors (metastases) elsewhere. Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly dividing cancer cells but, because some normal cells are also sensitive to these drugs, it is hard to destroy the cancer without causing serious side effects. Consequently, researchers are trying to develop “targeted” therapies that attack the changes in cancer cells that allow them to divide uncontrollably but leave normal cells unscathed. One promising class of targeted therapies is oncolytic viruses. These viruses make numerous copies of themselves inside cancer cells (but not inside normal cells). Eventually the cancer cell bursts open (lyses), releases more of the therapeutic agent, and dies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Existing oncolytic viruses have two major disadvantages: they have to be injected directly into tumors, and therefore they can't destroy distant metastases; and they don't kill cancer cells particularly efficiently. In this study, the researchers have tried to adapt vaccinia virus (a virus that infects humans and which has recently been shown to kill tumor cells when injected into the bloodstream) in two ways: to both infect cancer cells selectively and then to kill them effectively.
They hypothesized that putting a gene that causes expression of a protein called interferon-beta (IFN-β) in a particular virus strain that is itself incapable of responding to IFN-β might achieve these aims. Human cells infected with viruses usually release IFNs, which induce an antiviral state in nearby cells. But vaccinia virus makes anti-IFN proteins that prevent IFN release. If the viral genes that encode these proteins are removed from the virus, the virus cannot spread through normal cells. However, many cancer cells have defective IFN signaling pathways so the virus can spread through them. IFN-β expression by the virus, however, should improve its innate anticancer effects because IFN-β stops cancer cells dividing, induces an antitumor immune response, and stops tumors developing good blood supplies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers selected a vaccinia virus strain called WR-delB18R in which the B18R gene, which encodes an anti-IFN protein, had been removed from the virus. (WR is a wild-type virus.) In laboratory experiments, IFN treatment blocked the spread of WR-delB18R in normal human cells but not in human tumor cells. After being injected into the veins of tumor-bearing mice, WR-delB18R was rapidly cleared from normal tissues but persisted in the tumors. A single injection of WR-delB18R directly into the tumor killed most of the tumor cells. A similar dose injected into a vein was less effective but nevertheless increased the survival time of some of the mice by directly killing the tumor cells, by targeting the blood supply of the tumors, and by inducing antitumor immunity. Finally, when the researchers inserted the IFN-β gene into this WR-delB18R, the new virus—JX-795—was much better at killing tumors after intravenous injection than either WR or WR-delB18R.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the vaccinia virus can be adapted so that it replicates only in tumor cells and kills these cells effectively after intravenous injection. In particular, they show that the strategy adopted by the researchers both optimizes the anticancer effects of the virus and minimizes viral replication in normal tissues. JX-795 is a promising oncolytic virus, therefore, particularly since vaccinia virus has been safely used for many years to vaccinate people against smallpox. Nevertheless, it will be some years before JX-795 can be used clinically. Vaccinia virus constructs like this need to be tested extensively in the laboratory and in animals before any attempt is made to test them in people and, even if they passes all these preclinical tests with flying colors, only clinical trials will reveal whether they can treat human cancer. Several related strains of vaccinia virus are currently undergoing clinical testing.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040353.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information on all aspects of cancer (in English and Spanish)
CancerQuest, from Emory University, provides information on all aspects of cancer (in several languages)
The UK charity Cancerbackup also provides information on all aspects of cancer
Wikipedia has a page on oncolytic viruses (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
A short interview about oncolytic viruses with researcher Dr. John Bell is available on the Insidermedicine Web site
The Oncolytic virus Web page provides lists of oncolytic viruses classified by type
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040353
PMCID: PMC2222946  PMID: 18162040
16.  Distinct mechanisms of loss of IFN-gamma mediated HLA class I inducibility in two melanoma cell lines 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:34.
Background
The inability of cancer cells to present antigen on the cell surface via MHC class I molecules is one of the mechanisms by which tumor cells evade anti-tumor immunity. Alterations of Jak-STAT components of interferon (IFN)-mediated signaling can contribute to the mechanism of cell resistance to IFN, leading to lack of MHC class I inducibility. Hence, the identification of IFN-γ-resistant tumors may have prognostic and/or therapeutic relevance. In the present study, we investigated a mechanism of MHC class I inducibility in response to IFN-γ treatment in human melanoma cell lines.
Methods
Basal and IFN-induced expression of HLA class I antigens was analyzed by means of indirect immunofluorescence flow cytometry, Western Blot, RT-PCR, and quantitative real-time RT-PCR (TaqMan® Gene Expression Assays). In demethylation studies cells were cultured with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay (EMSA) was used to assay whether IRF-1 promoter binding activity is induced in IFN-γ-treated cells.
Results
Altered IFN-γ mediated HLA-class I induction was observed in two melanoma cells lines (ESTDAB-004 and ESTDAB-159) out of 57 studied, while treatment of these two cell lines with IFN-α led to normal induction of HLA class I antigen expression. Examination of STAT-1 in ESTDAB-004 after IFN-γ treatment demonstrated that the STAT-1 protein was expressed but not phosphorylated. Interestingly, IFN-α treatment induced normal STAT-1 phosphorylation and HLA class I expression. In contrast, the absence of response to IFN-γ in ESTDAB-159 was found to be associated with alterations in downstream components of the IFN-γ signaling pathway.
Conclusion
We observed two distinct mechanisms of loss of IFN-γ inducibility of HLA class I antigens in two melanoma cell lines. Our findings suggest that loss of HLA class I induction in ESTDAB-004 cells results from a defect in the earliest steps of the IFN-γ signaling pathway due to absence of STAT-1 tyrosine-phosphorylation, while absence of IFN-γ-mediated HLA class I expression in ESTDAB-159 cells is due to epigenetic blocking of IFN-regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) transactivation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-34
PMCID: PMC1808467  PMID: 17319941
17.  Critical Role of Heat Shock Protein 27 in Bufalin-Induced Apoptosis in Human Osteosarcomas: A Proteomic-Based Research 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47375.
Bufalin is the primary component of the traditional Chinese herb “Chan Su”. Evidence suggests that this compound possesses potent anti-tumor activities, although the exact molecular mechanism(s) is unknown. Our previous study showed that bufalin inhibited growth of human osteosarcoma cell lines U2OS and U2OS/MTX300 in culture. Therefore, this study aims to further clarify the in vitro and in vivo anti-osteosarcoma effects of bufalin and its molecular mechanism of action. We found bufalin inhibited both methotrexate (MTX) sensitive and resistant human osteosarcoma cell growth and induced G2/M arrest and apoptosis. Using a comparative proteomics approach, 24 differentially expressed proteins following bufalin treatment were identified. In particular, the level of an anti-apoptotic protein, heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27), decreased remarkably. The down-regulation of Hsp27 and alterations of its partner signaling molecules (the decrease in p-Akt, nuclear NF-κB p65, and co-immunoprecipitated cytochrome c/Hsp27) were validated. Hsp27 over-expression protected against bufalin-induced apoptosis, reversed the dephosphorylation of Akt and preserved the level of nuclear NF-κB p65 and co-immunoprecipitated Hsp27/cytochrome c. Moreover, bufalin inhibited MTX-resistant osteosarcoma xenograft growth, and a down-regulation of Hsp27 in vivo was observed. Taken together, bufalin exerted potent anti-osteosarcoma effects in vitro and in vivo, even in MTX resistant osteosarcoma cells. The down-regulation of Hsp27 played a critical role in bufalin-induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells. Bufalin may have merit to be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for osteosarcoma, particularly in MTX-resistant groups.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047375
PMCID: PMC3473020  PMID: 23091618
18.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3β, NF-κB Signaling, and Tumorigenesis of Human Osteosarcoma 
Background
Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), a serine/threonine protein kinase, may function as a tumor suppressor or an oncogene, depending on the tumor type. We sought to determine the biological function of GSK-3β in osteosarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer for which the identification of new therapeutic targets is urgent.
Methods
We used cell viability assays, colony formation assays, and apoptosis assays to analyze the effects of altered GSK-3β expression in U2OS, MG63, SAOS2, U2OS/MTX300, and ZOS osteosarcoma cell lines. Nude mice (n = 5–8 mice per group) were injected with U2OS/MTX300, and ZOS cells to assess the role of GSK-3β in osteosarcoma growth in vivo and to evaluate the effects of inhibitors and/or anticancer drugs on tumor growth. We used an antibody array, polymerase chain reaction, western blotting, and a luciferase reporter assay to establish the effect of GSK-3β inhibition on the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway. Immunochemistry was performed on primary tumor specimens from osteosarcoma patients (n = 74) to determine the relationship of GSK-3β activity with overall survival.
Results
Osteosarcoma cells with low levels of inactive p-Ser9-GSK-3β formed colonies in vitro and tumors in vivo more readily than cells with higher levels and cells in which GSK-3β had been silenced formed fewer colonies and smaller tumors than parental cells. Silencing or pharmacological inhibition of GSK-3β resulted in apoptosis of osteosarcoma cells. Inhibition of GSK-3β resulted in inhibition of the NF-κB pathway and reduction of NF-κB-mediated transcription. Combination treatments with GSK-3β inhibitors, NF-κB inhibitors, and chemotherapy drugs increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs in vitro and in vivo. Patients whose osteosarcoma specimens had hyperactive GSK-3β, and nuclear NF-κB had a shorter median overall survival time (49.2 months) compared with patients whose tumors had inactive GSK-3β and NF-κB (109.2 months).
Conclusion
GSK-3β activity may promote osteosarcoma tumor growth, and therapeutic targeting of the GSK-3β and/or NF-κB pathways may be an effective way to enhance the therapeutic activity of anticancer drugs against osteosarcoma.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djs210
PMCID: PMC3352834  PMID: 22534782
19.  IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) tyrosine kinase inhibitor cyclolignan PPP inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in multidrug resistant osteosarcoma cell lines 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(8):2122-2130.
Insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) is an important mediator of tumor-cell survival and demonstrates prognostic significance in sarcoma. To explore potential therapeutic strategies for interrupting signaling through this pathway, we assessed the ability of cyclolignan picropodophyllin (PPP), a member of the cyclolignan family, to selectively inhibit the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity of IGF-1R in several sarcoma cell line model systems. Of the diverse sarcoma subtypes studied, osteosarcoma cell lines were found to be particularly sensitive to IGF-1R inhibition, including several multidrug resistant osteosarcoma cell lines with documented resistance to various conventional anticancer drugs. PPP shows relatively little toxicity in human osteoblast cell lines when compared to osteosarcoma cell lines. These studies demonstrate that PPP significantly inhibits IGF-1R expression and activation in both chemotherapy sensitive and resistant osteosarcoma cell lines. This inhibition of the IGF1-R pathway correlates with suppression of proliferation of osteosarcoma cell lines and with apoptosis induction as measured by monitoring PARP and its cleavage product and by quantitative measurement of apoptosis-associated CK18Asp396. Importantly, PPP increases the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin in doxorubicin-resistant osteosarcoma cell lines U-2OSMR and KHOSMR. Furthermore, siRNA down-regulation of IGF-1R expression in drug resistant cell lines also caused re-sensitization to doxorubicin. Our data suggests that inhibition of IGF-1R with PPP offers a novel and selective therapeutic strategy for ostosarcoma, and at the same time, PPP is effective at reversing the drug-resistance phenotype in osteosarcoma cell lines.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0115
PMCID: PMC2766237  PMID: 19638450
IGF-1R; PPP; osteosarcoma; drug resistance
20.  Blocking Signaling at the Level of GLI Regulates Downstream Gene Expression and Inhibits Proliferation of Canine Osteosarcoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96593.
The Hedgehog-GLI signaling pathway is active in a variety of human malignancies and is known to contribute to the growth and survival of human osteosarcoma cells. In this study, we examined the expression and regulation of GLI transcription factors in multiple canine osteosarcoma cell lines and analyzed the effects of inhibiting GLI with GANT61, a GLI-specific inhibitor. Compared with normal canine osteoblasts, real-time PCR showed that GLI1 and GLI2 were highly expressed in two out of three cell lines and correlated with downstream target gene expression of PTCH1and PAX6. Treatment of canine osteosarcoma cells with GANT61 resulted in decreased expression of GLI1, GLI2, PTCH1, and PAX6. Furthermore, GANT61 inhibited proliferation and colony formation in all three canine osteosarcoma cell lines. The finding that GLI signaling activity is present and active in canine osteosarcoma cells suggests that spontaneously arising osteosarcoma in dogs might serve as a good model for future preclinical testing of GLI inhibitors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096593
PMCID: PMC4014515  PMID: 24810746
21.  Down-Regulation of the Interferon Signaling Pathway in T Lymphocytes from Patients with Metastatic Melanoma 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e176.
Background
Dysfunction of the immune system has been documented in many types of cancers. The precise nature and molecular basis of immune dysfunction in the cancer state are not well defined.
Methods and Findings
To gain insights into the molecular mechanisms of immune dysfunction in cancer, gene expression profiles of pure sorted peripheral blood lymphocytes from 12 patients with melanoma were compared to 12 healthy controls. Of 25 significantly altered genes in T cells and B cells from melanoma patients, 17 are interferon (IFN)-stimulated genes. These microarray findings were further confirmed by quantitative PCR and functional responses to IFNs. The median percentage of lymphocytes that phosphorylate STAT1 in response to interferon-α was significantly reduced (Δ = 16.8%; 95% confidence interval, 0.98% to 33.35%) in melanoma patients (n = 9) compared to healthy controls (n = 9) in Phosflow analysis. The Phosflow results also identified two subgroups of patients with melanoma: IFN-responsive (33%) and low-IFN-response (66%). The defect in IFN signaling in the melanoma patient group as a whole was partially overcome at the level of expression of IFN-stimulated genes by prolonged stimulation with the high concentration of IFN-α that is achievable only in IFN therapy used in melanoma. The lowest responders to IFN-α in the Phosflow assay also showed the lowest gene expression in response to IFN-α. Finally, T cells from low-IFN-response patients exhibited functional abnormalities, including decreased expression of activation markers CD69, CD25, and CD71; TH1 cytokines interleukin-2, IFN-γ, and tumor necrosis factor α, and reduced survival following stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 antibodies compared to controls.
Conclusions
Defects in interferon signaling represent novel, dominant mechanisms of immune dysfunction in cancer. These findings may be used to design therapies to counteract immune dysfunction in melanoma and to improve cancer immunotherapy.
Prompted by altered expression patterns of interferon-responsive genes in T and B cells, Peter Lee and colleagues find that lymphocytes from melanoma patients have defects in interferon signaling.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The immune system, in addition to fighting infections, provides one of the body's main defenses against cancer. During cancer development, normal cells acquire genetic changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. Some of these changes alter the antigens (proteins recognized by the immune system) expressed on their surface. As a result, the immune system recognizes and eliminates the newly formed cancer cells. Tumors—large masses of cancer cells—occur when this immune surveillance fails. Some tumors, for example, hide from the immune system by altering the antigens they express. Others release factors that shut off the immune response. However, for many tumor types, it is not clear why immune surveillance fails during their development or why global immune suppression develops in most patients with advanced disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists want to understand the molecular basis of immune dysfunction in patients with cancer because if they knew what had gone wrong with the immune system, they might be able to repair it. Also, there is considerable interest in immunotherapy for cancer—for example, treatment with interferons (proteins made by certain immune system cells that activate other immune cells and also kill tumor cells) and the development of vaccines to stimulate antitumor immune responses. So far, immunotherapy has not been very successful, probably because of the underlying dysfunction of the immune system in patients with cancer. Understanding this dysfunction might lead to improvements in immunotherapy, so in this study the researchers have investigated the molecular mechanism responsible for immune dysfunction in patients with metastatic melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers purified lymphocytes (immune cells that are involved in antitumor responses) from the blood of patients with metastatic melanoma and healthy people and examined their patterns of gene expression using a technique called microarray expression profiling. CD8 T cells (which kill cells expressing foreign or altered antigens), CD4 T cells (which help other T and B lymphocytes do their jobs), and B cells (which make antibodies, proteins that recognize antigens and label cancer cells for destruction by the immune system) from patients with melanoma all expressed lower levels of 24 genes, and higher levels of one gene, than those from healthy individuals. 17 of these genes were interferon-stimulated genes, which encode proteins responsible for the effects of interferons. Therefore, the researchers checked the functional responses of patient and control lymphocytes to interferon. When interferon binds to lymphocytes, it triggers the addition of a phosphate group to the protein STAT1, which then induces changes in gene expression. STAT1 phosphorylation occurred in a lower percentage of patient lymphocytes than control lymphocytes in response to interferon-α (which is sometimes used to treat melanoma). The lymphocytes from one-third of the patients responded well to interferon-α, but those from the other patients showed little response. Furthermore, prolonged treatment with high concentrations of interferon-α partly overcame the defect in interferon signaling in patient lymphocytes. Finally, T cells from the patients failed to make the normal markers of immune cell activation or cytokines (proteins that mediate the killing of tumor cells) after exposure to activating stimuli and had reduced survival compared to control lymphocytes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results indicate that for patients with metastatic melanoma defects in interferon signaling are an important contributor to immune dysfunction. They also show that T cells from patients with melanoma (particularly those who respond poorly to interferon-α) have functional abnormalities that make them less likely to recognize and deal with melanoma cells. These results need confirming in many more patients, but they nevertheless represent an important step toward understanding the immune dysfunction associated with advanced melanoma and possibly other tumors. In addition, the identification of two subgroups of patients—interferon responders and poor interferon responders—may explain why only some patients with melanoma benefit from treatment with interferon-α. It might, therefore, be possible to pre-select those who would benefit from this treatment (which has some serious side effects) by examining patient lymphocytes for interferon responsiveness.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040176.
US National Cancer Institute information (in English and Spanish) for patients on the immune system and its involvement in cancer, and for patients and professionals on melanoma
American Cancer Society information for patients on immunotherapy
Cancer Research Institute (New York) web-based book on cancer and the immune system
MedlinePlus encyclopedia pages on melanoma (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK patient information on melanoma, including information on immunotherapy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040176
PMCID: PMC1865558  PMID: 17488182
22.  MicroRNA-221 Induces Cell Survival and Cisplatin Resistance through PI3K/Akt Pathway in Human Osteosarcoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53906.
Background
MicroRNAs are short regulatory RNAs that negatively modulate protein expression at a post-transcriptional and/or translational level and are deeply involved in the pathogenesis of several types of cancers. Specifically, microRNA-221 (miR-221) is overexpressed in many human cancers, wherein accumulating evidence indicates that it functions as an oncogene. However, the function of miR-221 in human osteosarcoma has not been totally elucidated. In the present study, the effects of miR-221 on osteosarcoma and the possible mechanism by which miR-221 affected the survival, apoptosis, and cisplatin resistance of osteosarcoma were investigated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Real-time quantitative PCR analysis revealed miR-221 was significantly upregulated in osteosarcoma cell lines than in osteoblasts. Both human osteosarcoma cell lines SOSP-9607 and MG63 were transfected with miR-221 mimic or inhibitor to regulate miR-221 expression. The effects of miR-221 were then assessed by cell viability, cell cycle analysis, apoptosis assay, and cisplatin resistance assay. In both cells, upregulation of miR-221 induced cell survival and cisplatin resistance and reduced cell apoptosis. In addition, knockdown of miR-221 inhibited cell growth and cisplatin resistance and induced cell apoptosis. Potential target genes of miR-221 were predicted using bioinformatics. Moreover, luciferase reporter assay and western blot confirmed that PTEN was a direct target of miR-221. Furthermore, introduction of PTEN cDNA lacking 3′-UTR or PI3K inhibitor LY294002 abrogated miR-221-induced cisplatin resistance. Finally, both miR-221 and PTEN expression levels in osteosarcoma samples were examined by using real-time quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry. High miR-221 expression level and inverse correlation between miR-221 and PTEN levels were revealed in osteosarcoma tissues.
Conclusions/Significance
These results for the first time demonstrate that upregulation of miR-221 induces the malignant phenotype of human osteosarcoma whereas knockdown of miR-221 reverses this phenotype, suggesting that miR-221 could be a potential target for osteosarcoma treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053906
PMCID: PMC3553141  PMID: 23372675
23.  Delivery of inhibitor of growth 4 (ING4) gene significantly inhibits proliferation and invasion and promotes apoptosis of human osteosarcoma cells 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7380.
Growing evidence has suggested that inhibitor of growth 4 (ING4), a novel member of ING family proteins, plays a critical role in the development and progression of different tumors via multiple pathways. However, the function of ING4 in human osteosarcoma remains unclear. To understand its potential roles and mechanisms in inhibiting osteosarcoma, we constructed an expression vector pEGFP-ING4 and transfected the human osteosarcoma cells using this vector. We then studied the effects of over-expressed ING4 in the transfected cells on the proliferation, apoptosis and invasion of the osteosarcoma cells. The up-regulation of ING4 in the osteosarcoma cells, arising from the stable pEGFP-ING4 gene transfection, was found to significantly inhibit the cell proliferation by the cell cycle alteration with S phase reduction and G0/G1 phase arrest, induce cell apoptosis via the activation of the mitochondria pathway, and suppress cell invasion through the down-regulation of the matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 expression. In addition, increased ING4 level evoked the blockade of NF-κB signaling pathway and down-regulation of its target proteins. Our work suggests that ING4 can suppress osteosarcoma progression through signaling pathways such as mitochondria pathway and NF-κB signaling pathway and ING4 gene therapy is a promising approach to treating osteosarcoma.
doi:10.1038/srep07380
PMCID: PMC4260466  PMID: 25490312
24.  The expression and role of serotonin receptor 5HTR2A in canine osteoblasts and an osteosarcoma cell line 
Background
The significance of the serotonergic system in bone physiology and, more specifically, the importance of the five hydroxytryptamine receptor 2A (5HTR2A) in normal osteoblast proliferation have been previously described; however the role of serotonin in osteosarcoma remains unclear. Particularly, the expression and function of 5HTR2A in canine osteosarcoma has not yet been studied, thus we sought to determine if this indoleamine modulates cellular proliferation in vitro. Using real time quantitative reverse transcription PCR and immunoblot analyses, we explored receptor expression and signaling differences between non-neoplastic canine osteoblasts (CnOb) and an osteosarcoma cell line (COS). To elucidate specific serotonergic signaling pathways triggered by 5HTR2A, we performed immunoblots for ERK and CREB. Finally, we compared cell viability and the induction of apoptosis in the presence 5HTR2A agonists and antagonists.
Results
5HTR2A was overexpressed in the malignant cell line in comparison to normal cells. In CnOb cells, ERK phosphorylation (ERK-P) decreased in response to both serotonin and a specific 5HTR2A antagonist, ritanserin. In contrast, ERK-P abundance increased in COS cells following either treatment. While endogenous CREB was undetectable in CnOb, CREB was observed constitutively in COS, with expression and exhibited increased CREB phosphorylation following escalating concentrations of ritanserin. To determine the influence of 5HTR2A signaling on cell viability we challenged cells with ritanserin and serotonin. Our findings confirmed that serotonin treatment promoted cell viability in malignant cells but not in normal osteoblasts. Conversely, ritanserin reduced cell viability in both the normal and osteosarcoma cells. Further, ritanserin induced apoptosis in COS at the same concentrations associated with decreased cell viability.
Conclusions
These findings confirm the existence of a functional 5HTR2A in a canine osteosarcoma cell line. Results indicate that intracellular second messenger signal coupling of 5HTR2A is different between normal and malignant cells, warranting further research to investigate its potential as a novel therapeutic target for canine osteosarcoma.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-251
PMCID: PMC3895671  PMID: 24330646
Osteosarcoma; Serotonin; 5HTR2A; Ritanserin
25.  Modulation of the Osteosarcoma Expression Phenotype by MicroRNAs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48086.
Background
Osteosarcomas are the most common primary malignant tumors of bone and show multiple and complex genomic aberrations. miRNAs are non-coding RNAs capable of regulating gene expression at the post transcriptional level, and miRNAs and their target genes may represent novel therapeutic targets or biomarkers for osteosarcoma. In order to investigate the involvement of miRNAs in osteosarcoma development, global microarray analyses of a panel of 19 human osteosarcoma cell lines was performed.
Principal findings
We identified 177 miRNAs that were differentially expressed in osteosarcoma cell lines relative to normal bone. Among these, miR-126/miR-126*, miR-142-3p, miR-150, miR-223, miR-486-5p and members of the miR-1/miR-133a, miR-144/miR-451, miR-195/miR-497 and miR-206/miR-133b clusters were found to be downregulated in osteosarcoma cell lines. All miRNAs in the paralogous clusters miR-17-92, miR-106b-25 and miR-106a-92 were overexpressed. Furthermore, the upregulated miRNAs included miR-9/miR-9*, miR-21*, miR-31/miR-31*, miR-196a/miR-196b, miR-374a and members of the miR-29 and miR-130/301 families. The most interesting inversely correlated miRNA/mRNA pairs in osteosarcoma cell lines included miR-9/TGFBR2 and miR-29/p85α regulatory subunit of PI3K. PTEN mRNA correlated inversely with miR-92a and members of the miR-17 and miR-130/301 families. Expression profiles of selected miRNAs were confirmed in clinical samples. A set of miRNAs, miR-1, miR-18a, miR-18b, miR-19b, miR-31, miR-126, miR-142-3p, miR-133b, miR-144, miR-195, miR-223, miR-451 and miR-497 was identified with an intermediate expression level in osteosarcoma clinical samples compared to osteoblasts and bone, which may reflect the differentiation level of osteosarcoma relative to the undifferentiated osteoblast and fully differentiated normal bone. Significance: This study provides an integrated analysis of miRNA and mRNA in osteosarcoma, and gives new insight into the complex genetic mechanisms of osteosarcoma development and progression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048086
PMCID: PMC3485010  PMID: 23133552

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