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1.  Alterations in gene expression and sensitivity to genotoxic stress following HdmX or Hdm2 knockdown in human tumor cells harboring wild-type p53 
Aging (Albany NY)  2009;1(1):89-108.
While half of all human tumors possess p53 mutations, inactivation of wild-type p53 can also occur through a variety of mechanisms that do not involve p53 gene mutation or deletion. Our laboratory has been interested in tumor cells possessing wild-type p53 protein and elevated levels of HdmX and/or Hdm2, two critical negative regulators of p53 function. In this study we utilized RNAi to knockdown HdmX or Hdm2 in MCF7 human breast cancer cells, which harbor wild-type p53 and elevated levels of HdmX and Hdm2 then examined gene expression changes and effects on cell growth. Cell cycle and growth assays confirmed that the loss of either HdmX or Hdm2 led to a significant growth inhibition and G1 cell cycle arrest. Although the removal of overexpressed HdmX/2 appears limited to an anti-proliferative effect in MCF7 cells, the loss of HdmX and/or Hdm2 enhanced cytotoxicity in these same cells exposed to DNA damage. Through the use of Affymetrix GeneChips and subsequent RT-qPCR validations, we uncovered a subset of anti-proliferative p53 target genes activated upon HdmX/2 knockdown. Interestingly, a second set of genes, normally transactivated by E2F1 as cells transverse the G1-S phase boundary, were found repressed in a p21-dependent manner following HdmX/2 knockdown. Taken together, these results provide novel insights into the reactivation of p53 in cells overexpressing HdmX and Hdm2.
PMCID: PMC2783638  PMID: 19946469
p53; HdmX; Hdm2; RNAi; gene expression profiling
2.  Alterations in gene expression and sensitivity to genotoxic stress following HdmX or Hdm2 knockdown in human tumor cells harboring wild-type p53 
Aging  2009;1(1):89-108.
While half of all human tumors possess p53 mutations, inactivation of wild-type p53 can also occur through a variety of mechanisms that do not involve p53 gene mutation or deletion. Our laboratory has been interested in tumor cells possessing wild-type p53 protein and elevated levels of HdmX and/or Hdm2, two critical negative regulators of p53 function. In this study we utilized RNAi to knockdown HdmX or Hdm2 in MCF7 human breast cancer cells, which harbor wild-type p53 and elevated levels of HdmX and Hdm2 then examined gene expression changes and effects on cell growth. Cell cycle and growth assays confirmed that the loss of either HdmX or Hdm2 led to a significant growth inhibition and G1 cell cycle arrest. Although the removal of overexpressed HdmX/2 appears limited to an anti-proliferative effect in MCF7 cells, the loss of HdmX and/or Hdm2 enhanced cytotoxicity in these same cells exposed to DNA damage. Through the use of Affymetrix GeneChips and subsequent RT-qPCR validations, we uncovered a subset of anti-proliferative p53 target genes activated upon HdmX/2 knockdown. Interestingly, a second set of genes, normally transactivated by E2F1 as cells transverse the G1-S phase boundary, were found repressed in a p21-dependent manner following HdmX/2 knockdown. Taken together, these results provide novel insights into the reactivation of p53 in cells overexpressing HdmX and Hdm2.
PMCID: PMC2783638  PMID: 19946469
p53; HdmX; Hdm2; RNAi; gene expression profiling
3.  BH3 activation blocks Hdmx suppression of apoptosis and co-operates with Nutlin to induce cell death 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2008;7(13):1973-1982.
The Hdmx protein restricts p53 activity in vivo and is overexpressed in a significant fraction of human tumors that retain the wild type p53 allele. An understanding of how Hdmx limits p53 activation and blocks apoptosis could therefore lead to development of novel therapeutic agents. We previously showed that Hdmx modulates tumor cell sensitivity to Nutlin-3a, a potent antagonist of the p53/Hdm2 interaction. In this report, we demonstrate that this also applies to MI-219, another Hdm2 antagonist. Thus, the inability to disrupt Hdmx/p53 complexes is a potential barrier to the efficacy of these compounds as single agents. We show that sensitivity to apoptosis in cells with high Hdmx levels is restored by combined treatment with Nutlin and a Bcl-2 family member antagonist to activate Bax. The data are consistent with a model in which Hdmx attenuates p53-dependent activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway, and that this occurs upstream of Bax activation. Thus, selectively inhibiting Hdm2 and activating Bax is one effective strategy to induce apoptosis in tumors with high Hdmx levels. Our findings also indicate that preferential induction of apoptosis in tumor versus normal cells occurs using appropriate drug doses.
PMCID: PMC2625302  PMID: 18604177
p53; apoptosis; Hdmx; Mdmx; bcl-2
4.  Abrogation of Wip1 expression by RITA-activated p53 potentiates apoptosis induction via activation of ATM and inhibition of HdmX 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;18(11):1736-1745.
Inactivation of the p53 tumour suppressor, either by mutation or by overexpression of its inhibitors Hdm2 and HdmX is the most frequent event in cancer. Reactivation of p53 by targeting Hdm2 and HdmX is therefore a promising strategy for therapy. However, Hdm2 inhibitors do not prevent inhibition of p53 by HdmX, which impedes p53-mediated apoptosis. Here, we show that p53 reactivation by the small molecule RITA leads to efficient HdmX degradation in tumour cell lines of different origin and in xenograft tumours in vivo. Notably, HdmX degradation occurs selectively in cancer cells, but not in non-transformed cells. We identified the inhibition of the wild-type p53-induced phosphatase 1 (Wip1) as the major mechanism important for full engagement of p53 activity accomplished by restoration of the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase-signalling cascade, which leads to HdmX degradation. In contrast to previously reported transactivation of Wip1 by p53, we observed p53-dependent repression of Wip1 expression, which disrupts the negative feedback loop conferred by Wip1. Our study reveals that the depletion of both HdmX and Wip1 potentiates cell death due to sustained activation of p53. Thus, RITA is an example of a p53-reactivating drug that not only blocks Hdm2, but also inhibits two important negative regulators of p53 – HdmX and Wip1, leading to efficient elimination of tumour cells.
PMCID: PMC3190111  PMID: 21546907
p53; HdmX; RITA; Wip1; cancer
5.  A Stapled p53 Helix Overcomes HDMX-Mediated Suppression of p53 
Cancer cell  2010;18(5):411-422.
Cancer cells neutralize p53 by deletion, mutation, proteasomal degradation, or sequestration to achieve a pathologic survival advantage. Targeting the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2 can lead to a therapeutic surge in p53 levels. However, the efficacy of HDM2 inhibition can be compromised by overexpression of HDMX, an HDM2 homologue that binds and sequesters p53. Here we report that a stapled p53 helix preferentially targets HDMX, blocks the formation of inhibitory p53-HDMX complexes, induces p53-dependent transcriptional upregulation, and thereby overcomes HDMX-mediated cancer resistance in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, our analysis of p53 interaction dynamics provides a blueprint for reactivating the p53 pathway in cancer by matching HDM2, HDMX, or dual inhibitors to the appropriate cellular context.
PMCID: PMC3050021  PMID: 21075307
6.  HdmX overexpression inhibits oncogene induced cellular senescence 
Cell Cycle  2010;9(16):3376-3382.
Cellular senescence is an irreversible state of terminal growth arrest that requires functional p53. Acting to block tumor formation, induction of senescence has also been demonstrated to contribute to tumor clearance via the immune system following p53 reactivation.1,2 the Hdm2-antagonist, Nutlin-3a, has been shown to reactivate p53 and induce a quiescent state in various cancer cell lines,3,4 similar to the G1 arrest observed upon RNAi targeting of Hdm2 in MCF7 breast cancer.5 In the present study we show that HdmX, a negative regulator of p53, impacts the senescence pathway. Specifically, overexpression of HdmX blocks Ras mediated senescence in primary human fibroblasts. the interaction of HdmX with p53 and the re-localization of HdmX to the nucleus through Hdm2 association appear to be required for this activity. Furthermore, inhibiting HdmX in prostate adenocarcinoma cells expressing wild-type p53, mutant Ras and high levels of HdmX-induced cellular senescence as measured by an increase in irreversible β-galactosidase staining. Together these results suggest that HdmX overexpression may contribute to tumor formation by blocking senescence and that targeting HdmX may represent an attractive anti-cancer therapeutic approach.
PMCID: PMC3041169  PMID: 20724842
HdmX; p53; Ras; senescence; LNCaP
7.  Full-length hdmX transcripts decrease following genotoxic stress 
Oncogene  2008;27(52):6657-6666.
Previous studies have suggested that the mdmX gene is constitutively transcribed, and that MdmX protein activity is instead controlled by cellular localization and DNA damage induced Mdm2-mediated ubiquitination leading to proteasomal degradation. In these studies, we report that the human mdmX (hdmX) mRNA is reproducibly decreased in various human cell lines following treatment with various DNA-damaging agents. Repression of hdmX transcripts is observed in DNAdamaged HCT116 colon cancer cells and in isogenic p53−/− cells, suggesting that this effect is p53-independent. Reduction in the amount of hdmX transcript occurs in both human tumor cell lines and primary human diploid fibroblasts, and results in a significant reduction of HdmX protein. Examination of hdmX promoter activity suggests that damage-induced repression of hdmX mRNA is not significantly impacted by transcription initiation. In contrast, changes in hdmX mRNA splicing appear to partly explain the reduction in full-length hdmX mRNA levels in tumor cell lines with the destabilization of full-length hdmX transcripts, potentially through microRNA miR-34a regulation, also impacting transcript levels. Taken together, this study uncovers previously unrecognized cellular mechanisms by which hdmX mRNA levels are kept low following genotoxic stress.
PMCID: PMC2610866  PMID: 18711402
HdmX; p53; transcription; splicing; micro-RNAs
8.  N-Acylpolyamine Inhibitors of HDM2 and HDMX Binding to p53 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2009;17(23):7884-7893.
Selective inhibition of protein-protein interactions important for cellular processes could lead to the development of new therapies against disease. In the area of cancer, overexpression of the proteins human double minute 2 (HDM2) and its homolog HDMX has been linked to tumor aggressiveness. Both HDM2 and HDMX bind to p53 and prevent cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in damaged cells. Developing a strategy to simultaneously prevent the binding of both HDM2 and HDMX to p53 is an essential feature of inhibitors to restore p53 activity in a number of different cancers. Inhibition of protein-protein interactions with synthetic molecules is an emerging area of research that requires new inhibitors tailored to mimic the types of interfaces between proteins. Our strategy to create inhibitors of protein-protein interactions is to develop a non-natural scaffold that may be used as a starting point to identify important molecular components necessary for inhibition. In this study, we report an N-acylpolyamine (NAPA) scaffold that supports numerous sidechains in a compact atomic arrangement. NAPAs were constructed by a series of reductive aminations between amino acid derivatives followed by acylation at the resulting secondary amine. An optimized NAPA was able to equally inhibit the association of both HDM2 and HDMX with p53. Our results demonstrate some of the challenges associated with targeting multiple protein-protein interactions involved in overlapping cellular processes.
PMCID: PMC2784108  PMID: 19880322
9.  Genetic and Molecular Characterization of Uveal Melanoma Cell Lines 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2012;25(2):182-187.
The recent identification of frequent activating mutations in GNAQ or GNA11 in uveal melanoma provides an opportunity to better understand the pathogenesis of this melanoma subtype, and to develop rational therapeutics to target the cellular effects mediated by these mutations. Cell lines from uveal melanoma tumors are an essential tool for these types of analyses. We report the mutation status of relevant melanoma genes, expression levels of proteins of interest and DNA fingerprinting of a panel of uveal melanoma cell lines used in the research community.
This study represents the most comprehensive molecular analysis of uveal melanoma cell lines performed to date. The data confirms the mutually exclusive nature of GNAQ and GNA11 mutations in vitro. The lack of BRAF, NRAS, KIT, PI3K, and AKT mutations reveal GNAQ and GNA11 uveal melanoma cells to be distinct among melanoma types. The data provided is intended as a reference for investigators to select appropriate model systems and assist with authentication of uveal melanoma cell lines.
PMCID: PMC3288394  PMID: 22236444
uveal melanoma; GNAQ; GNA11
10.  Functional profiling of p53-binding sites in Hdm2 and Hdmx using a genetic selection system 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2010;18(16):6099-6108.
Upregulation of structurally homologous oncoproteins Hdm2 and Hdmx has been linked to the depletion or inactivation of their common regulation target the tumor suppressor p53 protein leading to the progression of cancer. The restoration of the p53 function, rendered suppressed or dormant by these negative regulators, establishes, therefore, a unique opportunity for a targeted induction of apoptosis in cancers that retain wild-type p53. While several small molecules have been reported to rescue the tumor suppressor by antagonizing the Hdm2–p53 interaction, these agents displayed limited application scope by being ineffective in tumors enriched with active Hdmx. Here, we describe the use of a genetic selection system and encoded library of conformationally preorganized peptides to perform functional profiling of each regulator revealing specific recognition features that guide the antagonism of Hdm2–p53 and Hdmx–p53 interactions. Structure-activity relationship analysis of the most effective leads identified functional and structural elements mediating selective recognition of the two structurally related regulators, while providing convenient starting points for further activity optimization.
PMCID: PMC2922946  PMID: 20638853
Hdm2; Hdmx; Protein-protein interactions; Genetic selection; Cyclic peptides
11.  HDMX regulates p53 activity and confers chemoresistance to 3-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;12(9):956-966.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the deadliest tumors afflicting humans, and the mechanisms of its onset and progression remain largely undefined. Our attempts to elucidate its molecular pathogenesis through DNA copy-number analysis by genome-wide digital karyotyping and single nucleotide polymorphism arrays identified a dramatic focal amplification on chromosome 1q32 in 4 of 57 GBM tumors. Quantitative real-time PCR measurements revealed that HDMX is the most commonly amplified and overexpressed gene in the 1q32 locus. Further genetic screening of 284 low- and high-grade gliomas revealed that HDMX amplifications occur solely in pediatric and adult GBMs and that they are mutually exclusive of TP53 mutations and MDM2 amplifications. Here, we demonstrate that HDMX regulates p53 to promote GBM growth and attenuates tumor response to chemotherapy. In GBM cells, HDMX overexpression inhibits p53-mediated transcriptional activation of p21, releases cells from G0 to G1 phase, and enhances cellular proliferation. HDMX overexpression does not affect the expression of PUMA and BAX proapoptotic genes. While in GBM cells treated with the chemotherapeutic agent 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU), HDMX appears to stabilize p53 and promote phosphorylation of the DNA double-stranded break repair protein H2AX, up-regulate the DNA repair gene VPX, stimulate DNA repair, and confer resistance to BCNU. In summary, HDMX exhibits bona fide oncogenic properties and offers a promising molecular target for GBM therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC2940701  PMID: 20472715
chemoresistance; GBM; HDMX; oncogene; p53
12.  Osteopontin Expression and Serum Levels in Metastatic Uveal Melanoma — A Pilot Study 
PURPOSE: This pilot study examined osteopontin expression in uveal melanoma and focused on the role of measuring serum osteopontin to detect metastatic uveal melanoma.
METHODS: Osteopontin mRNA was measured in 3 uveal melanoma cell lines of varying invasive potential by real time PCR.Tissue sections of primary and metastatic uveal melanomas were stained for osteopontin. Serum osteopontin levels were measured by ELISA assays in 15 patients with metastatic uveal melanoma and in 37 patients who were disease-free for at least 10 years after treatment of the primary tumor. Paired serum samples drawn from 8 patients before and after development of metastasis were analyzed.
RESULTS: By real time PCR, highly invasive primary and metastatic uveal melanoma cells expressed 6 and 250 fold excess osteopontin mRNA respectively compared with poorly invasive primary uveal melanoma cells. Tissue sections of primary uveal melanomas lacking looping vasculogenic mimicry patterns either did not stain for osteopontin or exhibited weak diffuse staining. In primary melanomas containing looping vasculogenic mimicry patterns, strong osteopontin staining was detected in the tumor periphery where patterns were located. Diffuse strong expression of osteopontin was detected in 8 samples of metastatic uveal melanomas to the liver. Serum osteopontin levels were significantly higher in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma compared with patients who were disease-free for at least 10 years after treatment (p=0.0001) or with age matched controls. Serum osteopontin levels were significantly higher (p=0.008) after metastasis than before the detection of metastasis in 8 patients. When a cut-off value of 10ng/ml was used, the sensitivity and specificity of serum osteopontin in detecting metastatic melanoma was 87.5% and the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve was 96%.
CONCLUSIONS: Osteopontin is expressed diffusely in tissue sections of hepatic metastases from uveal melanoma and increased serum osteopontin levels correlate with metastatic melanoma to the liver with high specificity and sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC1414783  PMID: 16505010
13.  Resveratrol Inhibits Uveal Melanoma Tumor Growth via Early Mitochondrial Dysfunction 
To test the efficacy of resveratrol, a nontoxic plant product, in the treatment of uveal melanoma.
The effect of oral administration and peritumor injection of resveratrol was tested on tumor growth in two animal models of uveal melanoma. The mechanism of resveratrol action on uveal melanoma cells was studied in vitro in a cell-viability assay: with JC-1 dye, to measure mitochondrial membrane potential; by Western blot analysis, to analyze the cellular redistribution of cytochrome c and Smac/diablo; and in a fluorescence assay with specific substrates, to measure activation of different caspases.
Resveratrol treatment inhibited tumor growth in animal models of uveal melanoma. Since oral administration resulted in relatively low bioavailability of resveratrol, the effect of increased local levels was tested by peritumor injection of the drug. This method resulted in tumor cell death and tumor regression. In vitro experiments with multiple uveal melanoma cell lines demonstrate that resveratrol causes a decrease in cell viability, resulting at least in part from an increase in apoptosis through a mitochondrial pathway. An early event in drug action is the direct targeting of mitochondria by resveratrol, which leads to a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and the eventual activation of caspase-3.
These data suggest that resveratrol can inhibit tumor growth and can induce apoptosis via the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway and that by further increasing bioavailability of resveratrol the potency of the drug can be increased, leading to tumor regression. The nontoxic nature of the drug at levels needed for therapy make resveratrol an attractive candidate for the treatment of uveal melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2465765  PMID: 18385041
14.  Differential Roles of ATM- and Chk2-Mediated Phosphorylations of Hdmx in Response to DNA Damage†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(18):6819-6831.
The p53 tumor suppressor plays a major role in maintaining genomic stability. Its activation and stabilization in response to double strand breaks (DSBs) in DNA are regulated primarily by the ATM protein kinase. ATM mediates several posttranslational modifications on p53 itself, as well as phosphorylation of p53's essential inhibitors, Hdm2 and Hdmx. Recently we showed that ATM- and Hdm2-dependent ubiquitination and subsequent degradation of Hdmx following DSB induction are mediated by phosphorylation of Hdmx on S403, S367, and S342, with S403 being targeted directly by ATM. Here we show that S367 phosphorylation is mediated by the Chk2 protein kinase, a downstream kinase of ATM. This phosphorylation, which is important for subsequent Hdmx ubiquitination and degradation, creates a binding site for 14-3-3 proteins which controls nuclear accumulation of Hdmx following DSBs. Phosphorylation of S342 also contributed to optimal 14-3-3 interaction and nuclear accumulation of Hdmx, but phosphorylation of S403 did not. Our data indicate that binding of a 14-3-3 dimer and subsequent nuclear accumulation are essential steps toward degradation of p53's inhibitor, Hdmx, in response to DNA damage. These results demonstrate a sophisticated control by ATM of a target protein, Hdmx, which itself is one of several ATM targets in the ATM-p53 axis of the DNA damage response.
PMCID: PMC1592859  PMID: 16943424
15.  In silico improvement of β3-peptide inhibitors of p53•hDM2 and p53•hDMX 
There is great interest in molecules capable of inhibiting the interactions between p53 and its negative regulators hDM2 and hDMX, as these molecules have validated potential against cancers in which one or both oncoproteins are overexpressed. We reported previously that appropriately substituted β3-peptides inhibit these interactions and, more recently, that minimally cationic β3-peptides are sufficiently cell permeable to upregulate p53-dependent genes in live cells. These observations, coupled with the known stability of β-peptides in a cellular environment, and the recently reported structures of hDM2 and hDMX, motivated us to exploit computational modeling to identify β-peptides with improved potency and/or selectivity. This exercise successfully identified a new β3-peptide, β53-16, that possesses the highly desirable attribute of high affinity for both hDM2 as well as hDMX and identifies the 3,4-dichlorophenyl moiety as a novel determinant of hDMX affinity.
PMCID: PMC2754742  PMID: 19415930
16.  PD-L1: PD-1 Interaction Contributes to the Functional Suppression of T-Cell Responses to Human Uveal Melanoma Cells In Vitro 
To assess the expression of PD-L1 on human uveal melanomas and its potential to suppress T-cell function.
A panel of primary and metastatic uveal melanoma cell lines was evaluated for PD-L1 expression by RT-PCR and flow cytometric analysis. Uveal melanoma-containing eyes were examined for PD-L1 expression by immunohistochemistry. PD-L1 function was tested by coculturing IFN-γ-pretreated uveal melanoma cells with activated Jurkat T cells for 48 hours and assessing T-cell production of IL-2 by ELISA.
Five of the nine primary and one of the five metastatic uveal melanoma cell lines tested constitutively expressed PD-L1 protein at various levels. However, all primary and metastatic uveal melanoma cell lines upregulated PD-L1 expression after stimulation with IFN-γ. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that PD-L1 was not expressed by primary uveal melanomas in situ. IL-2 production by activated Jurkat T cells was decreased significantly when the cells were cocultured with IFN-γ-pretreated uveal melanoma cells. More than 70% of IL-2 production was restored by addition of either anti-PD-L1 or anti-PD-1 antibody to the coculture assays (P < 0.01).
Expression of PD-L1 by uveal melanoma cells regulates T-cell function by suppressing IL-2 production. The results imply that the presence of IFN-γ in the tumor local microenvironment promotes upregulation of PD-L1 expression by uveal melanoma, which may, in part, promote immune escape by impairing T-cell function. The selective blockade of PD-L1 is a potential strategy in T-cell-based immunotherapy for uveal melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2465808  PMID: 18296654
17.  Uveal Melanoma Expression of Indoleamine 2, 3 Deoxygenase: Establishment of an Immune Privileged Environment by Tryptophan Depletion 
Experimental eye research  2007;85(5):617-625.
The enzyme indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO) catalyzes degradation of tryptophan, an essential amino acid required for lymphocyte activation and proliferation. Many tumors express IDO which implied that it acts as a mechanism to evade T cell-mediated immune attack, and also to establish an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. The purpose of this study was to determine whether primary and metastatic uveal melanoma expressed the IDO gene and whether uveal melanoma cells could deplete tryptophan. In situ expression of IDO in primary uveal melanoma from tumor bearing eyes and metastatic uveal melanoma liver tissues was determined by immunohistostaining with IDO-specific antibody. Reverse transcription PCR was used to assess IDO gene transcription by primary and metastatic uveal melanoma cell lines. IDO protein expression was determined by Western blot of uveal melanoma cell protein lysate. IDO catalytic activity was assessed by measuring the presence of kynurenine, a product generated by tryptophan degradation, in uveal melanoma culture supernatants.
Primary uveal melanoma from tumor-bearing eyes and metastatic uveal melanoma from the liver did not express IDO in situ. IDO was not constitutively expressed in either primary or metastatic uveal melanoma cell lines. However, stimulation of primary and metastatic uveal melanoma cell cultures with interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) universally upregulated both IDO gene and protein expression. Culture supernatants from IFN-γ treated primary and metastatic uveal melanoma cell cultures contained elevated levels of kynurenine. Addition of the IDO inhibitor 1-methyl DL-tryptophan significantly diminished kynurenine levels in IFN-γ treated uveal melanoma cell cultures. The results from this study suggest that IFN-γ inducible IDO upregulation by primary and metastatic uveal melanoma may generate a local immune privileged microenvironment to promote escape from T cell-mediated immune surveillance.
PMCID: PMC2695208  PMID: 17870068
18.  Constitutive Overexpression of Pigment Epithelium–Derived Factor Inhibition of Ocular Melanoma Growth and Metastasis 
Pigment epithelium–derived factor (PEDF) is expressed in human uveal melanoma. In a mouse model with ocular melanoma, PEDF suppresses tumor angiogenesis, tumor size, and number of hepatic micrometastases.
Pigment epithelium–derived factor (PEDF) is known to be an angiogenesis suppressor and to have antitumor effects. This study investigates whether constitutive overexpression of PEDF inhibits the growth and hepatic micrometastasis of ocular melanoma.
Real-time RT-PCR was used to detect endogenous PEDF expression in human uveal melanoma cell lines and mouse melanoma cells. A lentiviral vector containing a mouse PEDF expression sequence was constructed and transduced into mouse melanoma cells in vitro. Transgene expression was assessed by Western blot analysis. Angiogenesis and transendothelial migration assays were performed in constitutively stable PEDF-overexpressing cells and transduced lentiviral vector control cells. The size and microvessel density of the ocular tumor and the number of hepatic micrometastasis were compared between the mice inoculated with PEDF-overexpressing tumor cells and those mice with the control cell line.
Four human uveal melanoma and three mouse melanoma cell lines were found to express PEDF mRNA. Endogenous overexpressing PEDF melanoma cells lost the ability to migrate and form tubes in vitro. In the animal experiment, the size of the ocular melanoma and the number of hepatic micrometastasis were decreased and microvessel density was also reduced in mice inoculated with constitutively overexpressing PEDF melanoma cells.
Lentivirus-mediated gene transfer of PEDF decreased the growth of ocular melanoma and its hepatic micrometastasis in a mouse ocular melanoma model. Dual antitumor/antiangiogenic activities of PEDF suggest that PEDF gene therapy may be considered an approach for the treatment of ocular melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2819011  PMID: 19661223
19.  Amplification of Mdmx (or Mdm4) Directly Contributes to Tumor Formation by Inhibiting p53 Tumor Suppressor Activity 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(13):5835-5843.
Human tumors are believed to harbor a disabled p53 tumor suppressor pathway, either through direct mutation of the p53 gene or through aberrant expression of proteins acting in the p53 pathway, such as p14ARF or Mdm2. A role for Mdmx (or Mdm4) as a key negative regulator of p53 function in vivo has been established. However, a direct contribution of Mdmx to tumor formation remains to be demonstrated. Here we show that retrovirus-mediated Mdmx overexpression allows primary mouse embryonic fibroblast immortalization and leads to neoplastic transformation in combination with HRasV12. Furthermore, the human Mdmx ortholog, Hdmx, was found to be overexpressed in a significant percentage of various human tumors and amplified in 5% of primary breast tumors, all of which retained wild-type p53. Hdmx was also amplified and highly expressed in MCF-7, a breast cancer cell line harboring wild-type p53, and interfering RNA-mediated reduction of Hdmx markedly inhibited the growth potential of these cells in a p53-dependent manner. Together, these results make Hdmx a new putative drug target for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC480894  PMID: 15199139
20.  Triamcinolone acetonide and anecortave acetate do not stimulate uveal melanoma cell growth 
Molecular Vision  2008;14:1752-1759.
Radiotherapy-induced radiation retinopathy can develop in over 40% of eyes treated for uveal melanoma. Triamcinolone acetonide (TA) and anecortave acetate (AA) can be used to treat radiation retinopathy. It is not known whether TA or AA has any effect on potentially still viable uveal melanoma cells in the choroid after radiotherapy. We therefore studied the effect of these drugs on the proliferation of uveal melanoma cell lines in vitro. Furthermore, as these drugs are supposed to counteract vascular leakage, we determined their effect on the expression and production of the proangiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), the antiangiogenic pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), and thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) in uveal melanoma cells.
Three uveal melanoma cell lines were treated in vitro with TA or AA. Cell proliferation was measured by counting cells and using the Water-Soluble Tetrazolium Salt-1 (WST-1) assay. VEGF-A and PEDF production was measured by ELISA, and intracellular expression of angiogenic-associated genes including VEGF-A, PEDF, and TSP-1 was determined by real-time quantitative RT–PCR.
We found no effect of TA or AA on tumor cell growth or production of VEGF-A and PEDF in any of the three uveal melanoma cell lines tested. Regarding expression as measured by RT–PCR, TA had an inhibiting effect on TSP-1 in only one cell line, and no effect on VEGF-A or PEDF. AA showed a similar lack of effect.
Since TA and AA do not stimulate uveal melanoma cell growth, it seems to be safe to use these drugs to treat radiation retinopathy after irradiation for uveal melanoma. Additional experiments using more cell lines or primary tumor cell cultures are needed to validate this conclusion. Furthermore, the results of our study suggest that TA does not exert its antileakage effect through downregulation of VEGF-A or upregulation of TSP-1 or PEDF in uveal melanoma cell lines. It is possible that TA and AA influence these pro- and antiangiogenic factors only under hypoxic circumstances. Further investigation is needed.
PMCID: PMC2556975  PMID: 18836566
21.  The Pharmacological NF-κB Inhibitor BAY11-7082 Induces Cell Apoptosis and Inhibits the Migration of Human Uveal Melanoma Cells 
Uveal melanomas are highly metastatic and have high rate of recurrence due to the lack of effective systemic therapy. The identification of important survival pathways in uveal melanomas provides novel therapeutic targets for effective treatment. In the present study, we found that the NF-κB signaling pathway was constitutively and highly activated in uveal melanoma cells. Treatment with the pharmacological NF-κB specific inhibitor BAY11-7082 markedly decreased the nuclear translocation of NF-κB. In a dose-dependent setting, BAY11-7082 inhibited the proliferation and growth of uveal melanoma cells by inducing apoptosis without effect on cell cycle. The migration capacity of uveal melanoma cells was also significantly suppressed by BAY11-7082 treatment. Mechanistically, BAY11-7082 increased the activity of caspase 3 and reduced the expression of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2, but did not influence the expression of pro-apoptotic protein Bax. Furthermore, BAY11-7082 induced uveal melanoma cell apoptosis and inhibited xenograft tumor growth in vivo. Collectively, the present study identified NF-κB as an important survival signal for uveal melanoma cells and suggested that administration of specific NF-κB inhibitor BAY11-7082 could serve as an effective treatment for patients with uveal melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3546654  PMID: 23443086
uveal melanoma; NF-κB; BAY11-7082; apoptosis; cell migration
22.  BAP1 deficiency causes loss of melanocytic cell identity in uveal melanoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:371.
Uveal melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer with a strong propensity for metastasis, yet little is known about the biological mechanisms underlying this metastatic potential. We recently showed that most metastasizing uveal melanomas, which exhibit a class 2 gene expression profile, contain inactivating mutations in the tumor suppressor BAP1. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of BAP1 in uveal melanoma progression.
Uveal melanoma cells were studied following RNAi-mediated depletion of BAP1 using proliferation, BrdU incorporation, flow cytometry, migration, invasion, differentiation and clonogenic assays, as well as in vivo tumorigenicity experiments in NOD-SCID-Gamma mice.
Depletion of BAP1 in uveal melanoma cells resulted in a loss of differentiation and gain of stem-like properties, including expression of stem cell markers, increased capacity for self-replication, and enhanced ability to grow in stem cell conditions. BAP1 depletion did not result in increased proliferation, migration, invasion or tumorigenicity.
BAP1 appears to function in the uveal melanocyte lineage primarily as a regulator of differentiation, with cells deficient for BAP1 exhibiting stem-like qualities. It will be important to elucidate how this effect of BAP1 loss promotes metastasis and how to reverse this effect therapeutically.
PMCID: PMC3846494  PMID: 23915344
BAP1; Uveal melanoma; Differentiation; Stem cell; Metastasis; Tumor suppressor
23.  Effects of interferon alfa and gamma on human uveal melanoma cells in vitro. 
BACKGROUND--Uveal melanoma is a tumour with a high incidence of metastasis and a high mortality rate. Additional therapies to obtain a better local control or an effective treatment of metastases are necessary. Interferons may be applied. METHODS--The effects of human interferon alfa and gamma on proliferation and expression of immunologically important molecules of human uveal melanoma cells in vitro were studied. A propidium iodide assay was used to determine proliferation and immunostaining with monoclonal antibodies was applied to detect changes in antigen expression on two primary uveal melanoma cell lines, Mel 202 and 92-1. RESULTS--Interferon alfa inhibited proliferation of cell line 92-1 at a concentration of 50 IU/ml, but had no effect on cell line Mel 202, while interferon gamma inhibited growth of both cell lines. Only interferon gamma had a visible effect on cell morphology. With respect to the immunomodulatory effects, interferon alfa increased monomorphic HLA class I expression, but did not affect HLA class II expression. Interferon gamma induced not only HLA class I but also class II expression. The effects on HLA expression were locus-specific with the strongest effects observed for HLA-B and DR products. Small differences were observed with respect to the susceptibility of two different melanoma cell lines to antiproliferative effects and to modulation of antigen expression. CONCLUSION--The effects of interferon alfa and gamma on human uveal melanoma cells in vitro suggest a potential role of these cytokines in the treatment of patients with uveal melanoma. In particular, the immunomodulatory effects of these cytokines in vitro imply that treatment of patients with these cytokines might stimulate a beneficial antimelanoma immune response in vivo.
PMCID: PMC505272  PMID: 7488605
24.  Analysis of human MDM4 variants in papillary thyroid carcinomas reveals new potential markers of cancer properties 
A wild-type (wt) p53 gene characterizes thyroid tumors, except for the rare anaplastic histotype. Because p53 inactivation is a prerequisite for tumor development, alterations of p53 regulators represent an alternative way to impair p53 function. Indeed, murine double minute 2 (MDM2), the main p53 negative regulator, is overexpressed in many tumor histotypes including those of the thyroid. A new p53 regulator, MDM4 (a.k.a. MDMX or HDMX) an analog of MDM2, represents a new oncogene although its impact on tumor properties remains largely unexplored. We estimated levels of MDM2, MDM4, and its variants, MDM4-S (originally HDMX-S) and MDM4-211 (originally HDMX211), in a group of 57 papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), characterized by wt tumor protein 53, in comparison to matched contra-lateral lobe normal tissue. Further, we evaluated the association between expression levels of these genes and the histopathological features of tumors. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction revealed a highly significant downregulation of MDM4 mRNA in tumor tissue compared to control tissue (P < 0.0001), a finding confirmed by western blot on a subset of 20 tissue pairs. Moreover, the tumor-to-normal ratio of MDM4 levels for each individual was significantly lower in late tumor stages, suggesting a specific downregulation of MDM4 expression with tumor progression. In comparison, MDM2 messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels were frequently upregulated with no correlation with MDM4 levels. Lastly, we frequently detected overexpression of MDM4-S mRNA and presence of the aberrant form, MDM4-211 in this tumor group. These findings indicate that MDM4 alterations are a frequent event in PTC. It is worthy to note that the significant downregulation of full-length MDM4 in PTC reveals a novel status of this factor in human cancer that counsels careful evaluation of its role in human tumorigenesis and of its potential as therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC2359832  PMID: 18335186
MDM4; MDM2; Thyroid carcinoma; MDM4 variants; p53
25.  The relation between c-myc expression and interferon sensitivity in uveal melanoma 
The British Journal of Ophthalmology  2004;88(12):1563-1567.
Background/aim: Interferons (IFN) are currently being used to treat melanoma, including some patients with uveal melanoma. IFN is thought to inhibit tumour growth through downregulation of the c-myc oncogene; the overexpression of which has been shown to be associated with resistance in cell lines. The aim of this study was to investigate the relation between c-myc gene expression and IFN sensitivity in a series of uveal melanomas in a short term chemosensitivity assay.
Methods: Tumours from 45 patients with uveal melanoma who had undergone enucleation were studied. The ATP chemosensitivity assay was used to study sensitivity to IFN-α-2b in freshly isolated cells from each tumour. Flow cytometry was used to assess c-myc expression in formalin fixed material from the primary specimens.
Results: There was a wide range of IFN sensitivity between the specimens whereas c-myc expression was universal and present in 80% of the tumour cells in 80% of the specimens. Higher c-myc expression was associated with IFN-α resistance as measured by the maximum percentage of inhibition (p = 0.05) and there was a trend with the IFN sensitivity index (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that tumours with high c-myc expression are also associated with IFN resistance. Future research is required to explore the potential of c-myc gene manipulation combined with IFN therapy.
PMCID: PMC1772437  PMID: 15548813
c-myc; uveal melanoma; interferon; chemosensitivity

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