Accumulating evidence suggests that cancer associated stromal fibroblasts contribute to tumor growth by actively communicating with cancer cells. Our aim is to identify signaling pathways involved in tumor-stromal cell interactions in human pancreatic cancer.
We established primary fibroblast cultures from human pancreatic adenocarcinomas and non-neoplastic pancreas tissues. To identify differentially expressed genes in CAFs, we performed gene expression profiling of human pancreatic CAFs and non-neoplastic pancreatic fibroblasts.
The Hedgehog receptor Smoothened (SMO) was upregulated in cancer associated fibroblasts relative to control fibroblasts. CAFs expressing SMO could transduce the Shh signal to activate Gli1 expression, and siRNA knockdown of SMO blocked the induction of Gli1 in these cells. Stromal fibroblasts of human primary pancreatic adenocarcinomas overexpressed Smo compared to normal pancreatic fibroblasts.
These findings implicate overexpression of Smo as a mechanism for the activation of Hedgehog signaling in human pancreatic CAFs and suggest that stromal cells may be a therapeutic target for Smo antagonists in pancreatic cancer.
The Hedgehog (Hh) family of secreted proteins includes intercellular signaling molecules that specify cell fate and patterning during the development of many tissues. In this study we show that the different components of the Hh signaling pathway are expressed in human thymus. The three mammalian Hh proteins, Sonic (Shh), Indian (Ihh), and Desert (Dhh) hedgehog, are produced by thymic epithelial cells. Shh-expressing epithelial cells are restricted to the thymic subcapsula and medulla, whereas Ihh- and Dhh-producing epithelial cells are distributed throughout the thymus. The requisite Hh receptors, Patched 1(Ptc1) and Smoothened (Smo), and the Gli transcription factors are expressed by thymocytes and also by epithelial cells. Ptc1 is expressed in most thymocyte subsets, whereas Smo expression is mainly associated with immature thymocytes. The isoform of the Ptc receptor, Ptc2, is expressed only by intrathymic progenitor cells and epithelial cells. Other Hh-binding proteins with modulating functions, such as Hedgehog-interacting protein (Hip) and growth arrest-specific gene-1 (Gas-1), are also expressed in human thymus. Our study shows that the intrathymic expression pattern of the Hh signaling pathway components is complex and suggests that Hh proteins may regulate human thymocyte differentiation from the earliest developmental stages, as well as thymic epithelial cell function.
human thymus; Hedgehog; T-cell development
Indian hedgehog (Ihh) controls multiple aspects of endochondral skeletal development by signaling to both chondrocytes and perichondrial cells. Previous efforts to delineate direct effects of Ihh on chondrocytes by Col2-Cre-mediated ablation of Smoothened (Smo, encoding a transmembrane protein indispensable for Ihh signaling) has been only partially successful, due to the inability to discriminate between chondrocytes and perichondrial cells. Here we report a transgenic line (Col2-Cre™) expressing under the control of the Colα1(II) promoter an inert form of Cre that is activatable by exogenous tamoxifen (TM); TM administration at proper times during embryogenesis induced Cre activity in chondrocytes but not in the perichondrium. By using this mouse line, we deleted Smo within subsets of chondrocytes without affecting the perichondrium, and found that Smo removal led to localized disruption of the expression of parathyroid hormone related protein (PTHrP) and the morphology of chondrocytes. Unexpectedly, TM invariably induced Cre activity in a subset of cells associated with the trabecular bone surface of long bones. These cells, when genetically marked and cultured in vitro, were capable of producing bone nodules. Expression of the Col2-Cre™ transgene in these cells likely reflected the endogenous Colα1(II) promoter activity, as similar cells were found to express the IIA isoform of Colα1(II) mRNA endogenously. In summary, the present study has not only provided evidence that Ihh signaling directly controls PTHrP expression and chondrocyte morphology in the growth region cartilage, but has also uncovered a distinct cell type associated with the trabecular bone that appears to possess osteogenic potential.
Ihh; Smo; PTHrP; Type IIA procollagen; Cre; tamoxifen; cartilage; mouse
Previous work has identified Indian hedgehog (Ihh) as a major mediator of progesterone signaling during embryo implantation. Ihh acts through its downstream effector smoothened (Smo) to activate the GLI family of transcription factors. In order to gain a better understanding of Ihh action during embryo implantation, we expressed a Cre-recombinase-dependent constitutively activated SMO in the murine uterus using the Pgrtm2(cre)Lyd (PRcre) mouse model [Pgrtm2(cre)Lyd+Gt(ROSA)26Sortm1(Smo/EYFP)Amc+ (PRcre/+SmoM2+)]. Female PRcre/+SmoM2+ mice were infertile. They exhibited normal serum progesterone levels and normal ovulation, but their ova failed to be fertilized in vivo and their uterus failed to undergo the artificially induced decidual response. Examination of the PRcre/+SmoM2+ uteri revealed numerous features such as uterine hypertrophy, the presence of a stratified luminal epithelial cell layer, a reduced number of uterine glands, and an endometrial stroma that had lost its normal morphologic characteristics. Microarray analysis of 3-mo-old PRcre/+SmoM2+ uteri demonstrated a chondrocytic signature and confirmed that constitutive activation of PRcre/+SmoM2+ increased extracellular matrix production. Thus, constitutive activation of Smo in the mouse uterus alters postnatal uterine differentiation which interferes with early pregnancy. These results provide new insight into the role of Hedgehog signaling during embryo implantation.
Activation of smoothened in the mouse uterus reveals a requirement for the precise regulation of hedgehog signaling during early pregnancy and postnatal uterine development.
differentiation; implantation; mouse; smoothened; uterus
Dispatched1 (Disp1) is required for the release of cholesterol modified hedgehog (Hh) proteins from producing cells. We investigated the role of Disp1 in Indian hedgehog (Ihh) signaling in the developing bone bypassing the lethality of the Disp1C829F allele at early somite stages through the supply of non-cholesterol modified Sonic hedgehog (N-Shh). The long bones that develop in the absence of wild type Disp1, while clearly shorter, have a juxtaposition of proliferating and non-proliferating hypertrophic chondrocytes that is markedly more normal in organization than those of ihh null mutants. Direct analysis of Ihh trafficking in the target field demonstrates that Ihh is distributed well beyond Ihh expressing cells though the range of movement and signaling action is more restricted than in wild type long bones. Consequently, a PTHrP-Ihh feedback loop is established, but over a shorter distance, reflecting the reduced range of Ihh movement. These analyses of the Disp1C829F mutation demonstrate that Disp1 is not absolutely required for the paracrine signaling role of Ihh in the skeleton. However, Disp1 is critical for the full extent of signaling within the chondrocyte target field and consequently the establishment of a normal skeletal growth plate.
Disp1; Ihh gradient; growth plate; PTHrP; endochondral ossification
Indian Hedgehog (Ihh) is a key component of the regulatory apparatus governing chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation in the growth plate. Recent studies have demonstrated that the primary cilium is the site of Ihh signaling within the cell, and that primary cilia are essential for bone and cartilage formation. Primary cilia are also postulated to act as mechanosensory organelles that transduce mechanical forces acting on the cell into biological signals.
In this study, we used a hydrostatic compression system to examine Ihh signal transduction under the influence of mechanical load. Our results demonstrate that hydrostatic compression increased both Ihh gene expression and Ihh-responsive Gli-luciferase activity. These increases were aborted by disrupting the primary cilia structure with chloral hydrate.
These results suggest that growth plate chondrocytes respond to hydrostatic loading by increasing Ihh signaling, and that the primary cilium is required for this mechano-biological signal transduction to occur.
Growth plate chondrocyte; hydrostatic compression; primary cilium; Indian hedgehog
The hedgehog signaling pathway plays an important role in cell growth and differentiation both in normal embryonic development and in tumors. Our previous work shows that hedgehog pathway is frequently activated in esophageal cancers. To further elucidate the role of hedgehog pathway in esophageal cancers we examined the expression of the target genes, hedgehog-interacting protein (HIP) and platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα) and hedgehog signaling molecules, smoothened (SMO), suppressor of fused (Su(Fu)) in the specimens using in situ hybridization and RT-PCR. We found that HIP, PDGFRα, SMO and Su(Fu) gene highly expressed in the primary esophageal squamous cell carcinomas but not in normal esophageal tissue. The transcripts of HIP, PDGFRα and SMO were expressed in 13 of 15 esophageal cancers. Su(Fu) expression was missing in 2 esophageal cancers. The results from in-situ hybridization were further confirmed by RT-PCR. Our results revealed a set of genes for detecting hedgehog signaling activation in esophageal cancer.
esophageal cancer; hedgehog; hedgehog-interacting protein; platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha; smoothened; suppressor of fused
Genetic and cell biological studies have indicated that Indian hedgehog (Ihh) plays an important role in bone development and osteoblast differentiation. However, the molecular mechanism by which Ihh regulates osteoblast differentiation is complex and remains to be fully elucidated. In this study, we investigated the role of Ihh signaling in osteoblast differentiation using mesenchymal cells and primary osteoblasts. We observed that Ihh stimulated alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, osteocalcin expression, and calcification. Overexpression of Gli2- but not Gli3-induced ALP, osteocalcin expression, and calcification of these cells. In contrast, dominant-negative Gli2 markedly inhibited Ihh-dependent osteoblast differentiation. Ihh treatment or Gli2 overexpression also up-regulated the expression of Runx2, an essential transcription factor for osteoblastogenesis, and enhanced the transcriptional activity and osteogenic action of Runx2. Coimmunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated a physical interaction between Gli2 and Runx2. Moreover, Ihh or Gli2 overexpression failed to increase ALP activity in Runx2-deficient mesenchymal cells. Collectively, these results suggest that Ihh regulates osteoblast differentiation of mesenchymal cells through up-regulation of the expression and function of Runx2 by Gli2.
The Hedgehog signaling pathway functions as an organizer in embryonic development. Recent studies have demonstrated constitutive activation of Hedgehog pathway in various types of malignancies. However, it remains unclear how Hedgehog pathway is involved in the pathogenesis of osteosarcoma. To explore the involvement of aberrant Hedgehog pathway in the pathogenesis of osteosarcoma, we investigated the expression and activation of Hedgehog pathway in osteosarcoma and examined the effect of SMOOTHENED (SMO) inhibition.
To evaluate the expression of genes of Hedgehog pathway, we performed real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry using osteosarcoma cell lines and osteosarcoma biopsy specimens. To evaluate the effect of SMO inhibition, we did cell viability, colony formation, cell cycle in vitro and xenograft model in vivo. Real-time PCR revealed that osteosarcoma cell lines over-expressed Sonic hedgehog, Indian hedgehog, PTCH1, SMO, and GLI. Real-time PCR revealed over-expression of SMO, PTCH1, and GLI2 in osteosarcoma biopsy specimens. These findings showed that Hedgehog pathway is activated in osteosarcomas. Inhibition of SMO by cyclopamine, a specific inhibitor of SMO, slowed the growth of osteosarcoma in vitro. Cell cycle analysis revealed that cyclopamine promoted G1 arrest. Cyclopamine reduced the expression of accelerators of the cell cycle including cyclin D1, cyclin E1, SKP2, and pRb. On the other hand, p21cip1 wprotein was up-regulated by cyclopamine treatment. In addition, knockdown of SMO by SMO shRNA prevents osteosarcoma growth in vitro and in vivo.
These findings suggest that inactivation of SMO may be a useful approach to the treatment of patients with osteosarcoma.
A number of Smoothened (SMO) pathway antagonists are currently undergoing clinical trials as anti-cancer agents. These drugs are proposed to attenuate tumor growth solely through inhibition of Hedgehog (HH), which is produced in tumor cells but acts on tumor stromal cells. The pivotal argument underlying this model is that the growth inhibitory properties of SMO antagonists on HH-producing cancer cells are due to their off-target effects. Here we show that the tumorigenic properties of such lung cancer cells depend on their intrinsic level of HH activity. Notably, reducing HH signaling in these tumor cells decreases HH target gene expression. Taken together, these results question the dogma that autocrine HH signaling plays no role in HH-dependent cancers, and does so without using SMO antagonists.
Hedgehog; cancer; non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC); autocrine
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine subtype of lung cancer for which there is no effective treatment1,2. Using a mouse model in which deletion of Rb1 and Trp53 in the lung epithelium of adult mice induces SCLC3,4, we found that the Hedgehog signaling pathway is activated in SCLC cells independently of the lung microenvironment. Constitutive activation of the Hedgehog signaling molecule Smoothened (Smo) promoted the clonogenicity of human SCLC in vitro and the initiation and progression of mouse SCLC in vivo. Reciprocally, deletion of Smo in Rb1 and Trp53-mutant lung epithelial cells strongly suppressed SCLC initiation and progression in mice. Furthermore, pharmacological blockade of Hedgehog signaling inhibited the growth of mouse and human SCLC, most notably following chemotherapy. These findings show a crucial cell-intrinsic role for Hedgehog signaling in the development and maintenance of SCLC and identify Hedgehog pathway inhibition as a therapeutic strategy to slow the progression of disease and delay cancer recurrence in individuals with SCLC.
Hedgehog regulates the activity of its signal transducer Smoothened by enhancing its interaction with the deubiquitinase USP8, thereby promoting Smoothened translocation to the cell surface and so enhancing Hh signaling.
The seven transmembrane protein Smoothened (Smo) is a critical component of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway and is regulated by phosphorylation, dimerization, and cell-surface accumulation upon Hh stimulation. However, it is not clear how Hh regulates Smo accumulation on the cell surface or how Hh regulates the intracellular trafficking of Smo. In addition, little is known about whether ubiquitination is involved in Smo regulation. In this study, we demonstrate that Smo is multi-monoubiquitinated and that Smo ubiquitination is inhibited by Hh and by phosphorylation. Using an in vivo RNAi screen, we identified ubiquitin-specific protease 8 (USP8) as a deubiquitinase that down-regulates Smo ubiquitination. Inactivation of USP8 increases Smo ubiquitination and attenuates Hh-induced Smo accumulation, leading to decreased Hh signaling activity. Moreover, overexpression of USP8 prevents Smo ubiquitination and elevates Smo accumulation, leading to increased Hh signaling activity. Mechanistically, we show that Hh promotes the interaction of USP8 with Smo aa625–753, which covers the three PKA and CK1 phosphorylation clusters. Finally, USP8 promotes the accumulation of Smo at the cell surface and prevents localization to the early endosomes, presumably by deubiquitinating Smo. Our studies identify USP8 as a positive regulator in Hh signaling by down-regulating Smo ubiquitination and thereby mediating Smo intracellular trafficking.
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway is well known for its role in directing processes such as cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation during embryogenesis. The signal initiated by Hh binding to its receptor, Patched, is transduced by another protein called Smoothened (Smo), which moves from membranes inside the cell to accumulate on the cell surface when Hh binds. This accumulation of Smo on the cell surface is thought to play a central role in maintaining Hh signaling. In this study, we investigated how Hh controls the stability and movement of Smo inside the cell. We found that Smo is modified by addition of a small protein called ubiquitin (Ub), and that Hh regulates the ubiquitination of Smo. We identified an enzyme called USP8 that can remove the ubiquitin modification from Smo, thereby enhancing its signaling activity. Furthermore we show that Hh can enhance the interaction between Smo and USP8. Finally, we discovered that USP8 promotes the movement of Smo from inside the cell to the cell surface. We conclude that Hh promotes the deubiquitination of Smo by USP8, resulting in the relocation of Smo to the cell surface where it enhances Hh signaling.
Hedgehog transduces signal by promoting cell surface expression of the seven-transmembrane protein Smoothened (Smo) in Drosophila, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that Smo is downregulated by ubiquitin-mediated endocytosis and degradation, and that Hh increases Smo cell surface expression by inhibiting its ubiquitination. We find that Smo is ubiquitinated at multiple Lysine residues including those in its autoinhibitory domain (SAID), leading to endocytosis and degradation of Smo by both lysosome- and proteasome-dependent mechanisms. Hh inhibits Smo ubiquitination via PKA/CK1-mediated phosphorylation of SAID, leading to Smo cell surface accumulation. Inactivation of the ubiquitin activating enzyme Uba1 or perturbation of multiple components of the endocytic machinery leads to Smo accumulation and Hh pathway activation. In addition, we find that the non-visual β-arrestin Kurtz (Krz) interacts with Smo and acts in parallel with ubiquitination to downregulate Smo. Finally, we show that Smo ubiquitination is counteracted by the deubiquitinating enzyme UBPY/USP8. Gain and loss of UBPY lead to reciprocal changes in Smo cell surface expression. Taken together, our results suggest that ubiquitination plays a key role in the downregulation of Smo to keep Hh pathway activity off in the absence of the ligand, and that Hh-induced phosphorylation promotes Smo cell surface accumulation by inhibiting its ubiquitination, which contributes to Hh pathway activation.
The Hedgehog (Hh) family of secreted proteins governs cell growth and patterning in diverse species ranging from Drosophila to human. Hh signals across the cell surface membrane by regulating the subcellular location and conformation of a membrane protein called Smoothened (Smo). In Drosophila, Smo accumulates on the cell surface in response to Hh, whereas in the absence of Hh it is internalized and degraded. The molecular mechanisms that control this intracellular trafficking and degradation of Smo were unknown, but here we show that Smo is modified by attachment of several molecules of a small protein called ubiquitin, which tags it for internalization and degradation within the cell. Hh inhibits this ubiquitination of Smo by inducing another modification, phosphorylation, of its intracellular tail by two types of protein kinase enzymes. This loss of ubiquitination and gain of phosphorylation causes the accumulation of Smo at the cell surface. What's more, we find that another protein called Kurtz interacts with Smo and acts in parallel with the ubiquitination process to promote internalization of Smo, and that the deubiquitinating enzyme UBPY/USP8 counteracts ubiquitination of Smo to promote its cell surface accumulation. Our study demonstrates that reversible ubiquitination plays a key role in regulating Smo trafficking to and from the cell surface and thus it provides novel insights into the mechanism of Hh signaling from the outside to the inside of the cell.
The hedgehog pathway regulates epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, differentiation, proliferation and survival during development. Stimulation of hedgehog signaling induces carcinogenesis or promotes cell survival in cancers of multiple organs. Using real-time, quantitative PCR, laser capture microdissection, and immunohistochemistry, distinctive patterns of expression of the hedgehog pathway members patched 1 (PTCH1), smoothened, GLI1, GLI2 and the 3 hedgehog ligands were identified for epithelial cells and stromal fibroblasts in benign breast and breast cancer. Hedgehog ligands were expressed at higher levels in some cancer epithelial cell lines compared to noncancerous epithelial cells. Correspondingly, expression of GLI1, a transcription factor and transcriptional product of hedgehog signaling, was increased 8-fold in cancer epithelial cell lines; however, PTCH1, also a transcriptional target of hedgehog signaling in many cell types, was not increased. GLI1 protein and mRNA, and PTCH1 and sonic hedgehog (SHH) proteins were elevated in 3 of 10 breast cancers; however, PTCH1 transcripts were not consistently increased. Hedgehog-mediated transcription, as indicated by a reporter of GLI-dependent promoter activity and by expression of GLI1 transcripts, was reduced by the hedgehog pathway inhibitor cyclopamine in both MDA-MB-435 cancer epithelial cells and MCF10AT epithelial cells, a cell line derived from benign breast. However, cyclopamine reduced viability of cancer epithelial cell lines, including MDA-MB-435, but did not specifically affect fibroblasts or epithelial cells from benign breast, including MCF10AT. Treatment with sonic hedgehog ligand diminished the cyclopamine-induced reduction in GLI-dependent promoter activity in MCF10AT and MDA-MB-435 and viability of MDA-MB-435. These results demonstrate modulation of GLI-mediated transcription in both cancer and benign-derived epithelial cells by cyclopamine and sonic hedgehog, and further suggest that hedgehog signaling contributes to the survival of only the cancer epithelial cells. Determination as to whether the increase in GLI1 and SHH expression in breast cancer indicates a significant increase in hedgehog signaling will require further evaluation.
breast; breast cancer; hedgehog; fibroblast; epithelial cell; GLI1; patched 1; GLI2; smoothened
During embryogenesis, muscle and bone develop in close temporal and spatial proximity. We show that Indian Hedgehog, a bone-derived signaling molecule, participates in growth of skeletal muscle. In Ihh−/− embryos, skeletal muscle development appears abnormal at embryonic day 14.5 and at later ages through embryonic day 20.5, dramatic losses of hindlimb muscle occur. To further examine the role of Ihh in myogenesis, we manipulated Ihh expression in the developing chick hindlimb. Reduction of Ihh in chicken embryo hindlimbs reduced skeletal muscle mass similar to that seen in Ihh−/− mouse embryos. The reduction in muscle mass appears to be a direct effect of Ihh since ectopic expression of Ihh by RCAS retroviral infection of chicken embryo hindlimbs restores muscle mass. These effects are independent of bone length, and occur when Shh is not expressed, suggesting Ihh acts directly on fetal myoblasts to regulate secondary myogenesis. Loss of muscle mass in Ihh null mouse embryos is accompanied by a dramatic increase in myoblast apoptosis accompanied by a loss of p21 protein. Our data suggest that Ihh promotes fetal myoblast survival during their differentiation into secondary myofibers by maintaining p21 protein levels.
Indian Hedgehog; Myogenesis; Skeletal Muscle; Myoblast; Development; p21
Emerging laboratory and clinical investigations demonstrate that Hedgehog signaling (Hh) represents a novel therapeutic target in various human cancers. This conserved signaling pathway precisely regulates self-renewal and terminal differentiation in embryonic development, but is typically silenced in adult tissues, with reactivation usually only during tissue repair. Aberrant Hh pathway signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis, self-renewal, and chemotherapy resistance of a growing number of solid and hematologic malignancies. Major components of the Hh pathway include the Hh ligands (Sonic, Desert, and Indian), the transmembrane receptor Patched, the signal transducer Smoothened (Smo), and transcription factors Gli1–3 which regulate the transcription of Hh target genes. Mutations in Hh pathway genes, increased Hh signaling in tumor stroma, and Hh overexpression in self-renewing cells (cancer stem cells) have been described, and these different modes of Hh signaling have implications for the design of Hh pathway inhibitors and their integration into conventional treatment regimens. Discovery of a naturally-occurring Smo inhibitor, cyclopamine, and the identification of Hh pathway mutations and over expression in cancer cells prompted the development of several cyclopamine derivatives. Encouraging laboratory and in vivo data has resulted in Phase I and II clinical trials of Smo inhibitors. In this review, we will discuss the current understanding of Hh pathway signaling in malignancy and Smo antagonists in development. Recent data with these agents shows that they are well-tolerated and may be effective for subsets of patients. Challenges remain for appropriate patient selection and the optimal combination and sequence of these targeted therapies into current treatment paradigms.
hedgehog pathway; Smoothened inhibitors; cancer stem cells
The hedgehog (HH) signaling pathway is critical for ovarian function in Drosophila, but its role in the mammalian ovary has not been defined. Previously, expression of a dominant active allele of the HH signal transducer protein smoothened (SMO) in Amhr2cre/+SmoM2 mice caused anovulation in association with a lack of smooth muscle in the theca of developing follicles. The current study examined events during the first 2 wk of life in Amhr2cre/+SmoM2 mice to gain insight into the cause of anovulation. Expression of transcriptional targets of HH signaling, Gli1, Ptch1, and Hhip, which are used as measures of pathway activity, were elevated during the first several days of life in Amhr2cre/+SmoM2 mice compared to controls but were similar to controls in older mice. Microarray analysis showed that genes with increased expression in 2-day-old mutants compared to controls were enriched for the processes of vascular and tube development and steroidogenesis. The density of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM)-labeled endothelial tubes was increased in the cortex of newborn ovaries of mutant mice. Costaining of preovulatory follicles for PECAM and smooth muscle actin showed that muscle-type vascular support cells are deficient in theca of mutant mice. Expression of genes for steroidogenic enzymes that are normally expressed in the fetal adrenal gland were elevated in newborn ovaries of mutant mice. In summary, overactivation of HH signaling during early life alters gene expression and vascular development and this is associated with the lifelong development of anovulatory follicles in which the thecal vasculature fails to mature appropriately.
Transgenic mice with conditional overactivation of hedgehog signaling in the ovary are anovulatory due to alterations in the development of the ovarian vasculature during the neonatal period.
follicular development; ovary; ovulation
Runx2, required for bone formation, is ectopically expressed in breast cancer cells. To address the mechanism by which Runx2 contributes to the osteolytic disease induced by MDA-MB-231 cells, we investigated the effect of Runx2 on key components of the “vicious cycle” of TGFβ mediated tumor growth and osteolysis. We find that Runx2 directly upregulates Indian Hedgehog (IHH) and colocalizes with Gli2, a Hedgehog signaling molecule. These events further activate parathyroid hormone related peptide (PTHrP). Furthermore, Runx2 directly regulates the TGFβ induced PTHrP levels. A subnuclear targeting deficient mutant Runx2 which disrupts TGFβ induced Runx2-Smad interactions, failed to induce IHH and downstream events. In addition, Runx2 knockdown in MDA-MB-231 inhibited IHH and PTHrP expression in the presence of TGFβ. In vivo blockade of the Runx2-IHH pathway in MDA-MB-231 cells by Runx2 shRNA inhibition prevented the osteolytic disease. Thus, our studies define a novel role of Runx2 in upregulating the vicious cycle of metastatic bone disease, in addition to Runx2 regulation of genes related to progression of tumor metastasis.
Runx2; Bone Metastasis; Breast Cancer; PTHrP; TGFβ; Vicious cycle; shRNA-Runx2; MDA-MB-231
Conditional ablation of Indian hedgehog (Ihh) in the murine uterus results in mice that are sterile because of defects in embryo implantation. We performed microarray analysis on these mice at the time point at which the Ihh target genes are induced by the administration of exogenous hormone to mimic Day 3.5 of pregnancy. This analysis identified 863 genes altered by the conditional ablation of Ihh. Of these, genes that regulated the cell cycle were overrepresented. In addition, genes involved in epidermal growth factor (EGF) and estrogen (E2) signaling were found to be deregulated upon Ihh ablation. Furthermore, upon conditional ablation of Ihh, 15-mo-old mice exhibited hallmarks of estrogenized uteri, such as cystically dilated glands and hyalinized stroma. Thus, Ihh regulates embryo implantation by having an impact on the cell cycle, EGF signaling, and E2 signaling.
Gene expression profiling reveals the critical role of Indian hedgehog in cell cycle progression, EGF signaling, and the regulation of estrogen signaling in the uterus during embryo implantation.
estrogen; implantation; Indian Hedgehog; mouse; uterus
Background & Aims
Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) are regulated by the mesenchymal environment via physical interaction and diffusible factors. We examined the role of Indian hedgehog (Ihh) in mesenchymal organization and the mechanisms by which perturbations in epithelial–mesenchymal interactions affect ISC fate.
We generated mice with intestinal epithelial-specific disruption of Ihh. Gross and microscopic anatomical changes were determined using histologic, immunohistochemical, and in situ hybridization analyses. Molecular mechanisms were elucidated by expression profiling and in vitro analyses.
Deletion of intestinal epithelial Ihh disrupted the intestinal mesenchymal architecture, demonstrated by loss of the muscularis mucosae, deterioration of the extracellular matrix, and reductions in numbers of crypt myofibroblasts. Concurrently, the epithelial compartment had increased Wnt signaling, disturbed crypt polarity and architecture, defective enterocyte differentiation, and increased and ectopic proliferation that was accompanied by increased numbers of ISC. Mechanistic studies revealed that Hh inhibition deregulates bone morphogenetic protein signaling, increases matrix metalloproteinase levels, and disrupts extracellular matrix proteins, fostering a proliferative environment for ISCs and progenitor cells.
Ihh regulates ISC self-renewal and differentiation. Intestinal epithelial Ihh signals to the mesenchymal compartment to regulate formation and proliferation of mesenchymal cells, which in turn affect epithelial proliferation and differentiation. These findings provide a basis for analyses of the role of the muscularis mucosae in ISC regulation.
Hedgehog signaling; ECM; MMP; BMP
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling network is critical for patterning and organogenesis in mammals, and has been implicated in a variety of cancers. Smoothened (Smo), the gene encoding the principal signal transducer, is overexpressed frequently in breast cancer, and constitutive activation in MMTV-SmoM2 transgenic mice caused alterations in mammary gland morphology, increased proliferation, and changes in stem/progenitor cell number. Both in transgenic mice and in clinical specimens, proliferative cells did not usually express detectable Smo, suggesting the hypothesis that Smo functioned in a non-cell autonomous manner to stimulate proliferation. Here, we employed a genetically tagged mouse model carrying a Cre-recombinase-dependent conditional allele of constitutively active Smo (SmoM2) to test this hypothesis. MMTV-Cre- or adenoviral-Cre-mediated SmoM2 expression in the luminal epithelium, but not in the myoepithelium, was required for the hyper-proliferative phenotypes. High levels of proliferation were observed in cells adjacent or in close-proximity to Smo expressing cells demonstrating that SmoM2 expressing cells were stimulating proliferation via a paracrine or juxtacrine mechanism. In contrast, Smo expression altered luminal cell differentiation in a cell-autonomous manner. SmoM2 expressing cells, purified by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) via the genetic fluorescent tag, expressed high levels of Ptch2, Gli1, Gli2, Jag2 and Dll-1, and lower levels of Notch4 and Hes6, in comparison to wildtype cells. These studies provide insight into the mechanism of Smo activation in the mammary gland and its possible roles in breast tumorigenesis. In addition, these results also have potential implications for the interpretation of proliferative phenotypes commonly observed in other organs as a consequence of hedgehog signaling activation.
SmoM2; ductal hyperplasia; paracrine tissue interactions; hedgehog signaling; microenvironment; notch signaling
Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is frequently up-regulated in fibrogenic pancreatic diseases including chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Although recent series suggest exclusive paracrine activation of stromal cells by Hh ligands from epithelial components, debates still exist on how Hh signaling works in pathologic conditions. To explore how Hh signaling affects the pancreas, we investigated transgenic phenotypes in zebrafish that over-express either Indian Hh or Sonic Hh along with green fluorescence protein (GFP) to enable real-time observation, or GFP alone as control, at the ptf1a domain. Transgenic embryos and zebrafish were serially followed for transgenic phenotypes, and investigated using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. Over-expression of Ihh or Shh reveals virtually identical phenotypes. Hh induces morphologic changes in a developing pancreas without derangement in acinar differentiation. In older zebrafish, Hh induces progressive pancreatic fibrosis intermingled with proliferating ductular structures, which is accompanied by the destruction of the acinar structures. Both myofibroblasts and ductular are activated and proliferated by paracrine Hh signaling, showing restricted expression of Hh downstream components including Patched1 (Ptc1), Smoothened (Smo), and Gli1/2 in those Hh-responsive cells. Hh ligands induce matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), especially MMP9 in all Hh-responsive cells, and transform growth factor-ß1 (TGFß1) only in ductular cells. Aberrant Hh over-expression, however, does not induce pancreatic tumors. On treatment with inhibitors, embryonic phenotypes are reversed by either cyclopamine or Hedgehog Primary Inhibitor-4 (HPI-4). Pancreatic fibrosis is only prevented by HPI-4. Our study provides strong evidence of Hh signaling which induces pancreatic fibrosis through paracrine activation of Hh-responsive cells in vivo. Induction of MMPs and TGFß1 by Hh signaling expands on the current understanding of how Hh signaling affects fibrosis and tumorigenesis. These transgenic models will be a valuable platform in exploring the mechanism of fibrogenic pancreatic diseases which are induced by Hh signaling activation.
Hedgehog signaling is thought to play a role in several human cancers including prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer cells express many of the gene products involved in hedgehog signaling, these cells are refractory to the canonical signaling effects of exogenous hedgehog ligands or to activated Smoothened, the hedgehog-regulated mediator of Gli transcriptional activation. Here, we show that the expression of hedgehog ligands and some hedgehog target genes are regulated by androgen in the human prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP and its more metastatic variants (C4-2 and C4-2B). Androgen (R1881) strongly suppressed the expression of hedgehog ligands in these cells and their prolonged maintenance in androgen-deficient medium upregulated Sonic and Indian hedgehog mRNA and protein levels by up to 30,000-fold. Hedgehogs were released into the conditioned medium of androgen-deprived LNCaP cells and this medium was able to increase hedgehog target gene expression in hedgehog-responsive mouse fibroblasts (MC3T3-E1). Moreover, this activity was accompanied by increased expression of Gli target genes, Patched 1 and Gli2, in LNCaP that could be suppressed by cyclopamine, indicating that chronic androgen-deprivation also re-awakens the autocrine responsiveness of the cancer cells to hedgehog. In contrast to the suppressive effects of R1881 on hedgehog ligand and Gli2 expression, we found that Gli1 expression in LNCaP cells was induced by R1881. Given the ability of androgen to modulate the expression and release of hedgehog ligands and the activity of the autocrine hedgehog signaling pathway in these prostate cancer cells, our results imply that chronic androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer might create a hedgehog signaling environment in the region of the tumor that could ultimately impact on the long term effectiveness of this treatment. This consideration supports the idea of clinically testing hedgehog-blocking drugs in conjunction with ADT in patients with advanced prostate cancer.
prostate cancer; androgen; hedgehog; sonic hedgehog; gli; patched
Hedgehog protein IHH expression is regulated by transcription factor δ-EF1 to control endochondral bone formation
Indian hedgehog (Ihh) regulates proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes in the growth plate. Although the biology of Ihh is currently well documented, its transcriptional regulation is poorly understood. δ-EF1 is a two-handed zinc finger/homeodomain transcriptional repressor. Targeted inactivation of mouse δ-EF1 leads to skeletal abnormalities including disorganized growth plates, shortening of long bones, and joint fusions, which are reminiscent of defects associated with deregulation of Ihh signaling. Here, we show that the absence of δ-EF1 results in delayed hypertrophic differentiation of chondrocytes and increased cell proliferation in the growth plate. Further, we demonstrate that δ-EF1 binds to the putative regulatory elements in intron 1 of Ihh in vitro and in vivo, resulting in down-regulation of Ihh expression. Finally, we show that δ-EF1 haploinsufficiency leads to a postnatal increase in trabecular bone mass associated with enhanced Ihh expression. In summary, we have identified δ-EF1 as an in vivo negative regulator of Ihh expression in the growth plate.
The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of hedgehog signaling molecules in gastric cancer. In situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR for hedgehog signaling molecules, smoothened (SMO), suppressor of fused [Su(Fu)], and the target genes hedgehog-interacting protein (HIP) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα) were performed in 30 gastric cancer and two gastritis specimens. Using in situ hybridization, SMO expression was detected in 18/30 cancerous specimens (60%) as well as in 1/2 gastritis specimens (50%). Su(Fu) was expressed in 15/30 (50%), HIP in 14/30 (~47%), and PDGFRα in 6/30 (20%) gastric cancer specimens. Despite the heterogeneous expression pattern, SMO, Su(Fu) and PDGFRα transcripts were highly correlated with the HIP transcript in the 30 gastric cancer specimens (p=0.0006, 0.0003 and 0.0441, respectively). Results from the in situ hybridization were further confirmed by RT-PCR for the expression of all of the genes and by immunohistochemistry for SMO expression. The findings revealed a set of genes for detecting Hh signaling activation in gastric cancer.
hedgehog; smoothened; suppressor of fused; hedgehog-interacting protein; PDGFRα; gastric cancer