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1.  Oligodeoxynucleotide 5mers containing a 5′-CpG induce apoptosis through a mitochondrial mechanism in T lymphocytic leukaemia cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(11):2242-2250.
A chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester 15mer oligodeoxynucleotide of randomly selected sequence was observed to rapidly induce apoptosis in MOLT-4 and Jurkat E6 T lymphocytic leukaemia cells following intracytoplasmic delivery. A series of further methylphosphonate substitutions and mutations and truncations of the oligodeoxynucleotide served to establish that the phosphodiester-linked sequence CGGTA present in the 15mer was responsible for this biological activity. End-protected CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 5mers of sequence type CGNNN exhibited a range of apoptosis-inducing potencies, with CGTTA being the most active. The latter was shown to significantly reduce the rate of RNA synthesis in MOLT-4 cells within 1 h; DNA laddering and redistribution of phosphatidylserine to the outer surface of the plasma membrane were marked by 160 min and mitochondrial transmembrane potential collapsed over roughly the same time scale. Pro-caspase 8 was reduced within 130 min and the proteolytically activated caspase 8 substrate Bid was also down by this time, implicating release of cytochrome c from mitochondria by the active 15 kDa fragment of Bid. Substantial proteolytic activation of pro-caspase 3 was relatively delayed. These findings support a mitochondrial amplification mechanism for apoptosis triggered by CpG 5mers.
PMCID: PMC102630  PMID: 10871345
2.  Selecting optimal oligonucleotide composition for maximal antisense effect following streptolysin O-mediated delivery into human leukaemia cells. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(7):1567-1575.
It is widely accepted that most cell types efficiently exclude oligonucleotides in vitro and require specific delivery systems, such as cationic lipids, to enhance uptake and subsequent antisense effects. Oligonucleotides are not readily transfected into leukaemia cell lines using cationic lipid systems and streptolysin O (SLO) is used to effect their delivery. We wished to investigate the optimal oligonucleotide composition for antisense efficacy and specificity following delivery into leukaemia cells using SLO. For this study the well characterised chronic myeloid leukaemia cell line KYO-1 was selected and oligonucleotides (20mers) were targeted to an empirically identified accessible site of c- myc mRNA. The efficiency and specificity of antisense effect was measured 4 and 24 h after SLO-mediated delivery of the oligonucleotides. C5-propyne phosphodiester and phosphorothioate compounds were found to present substantial non-specific effects at 20 microM but were inactive at 0.2 microM. Indeed, no antisense-specific effect was noted at any concentration at either time. All of the other oligonucleotides tested induced some measurable antisense effect, except 7 (chimeric, all-phosphorothioate, 2'-methoxyethoxy termini) which was essentially inactive at 20 microM. The rank efficiency order of the remaining antisense compounds was 4 = 3 >> 9 >> 10 = 8 = 5 = 6 > 11. The efficient antisense effects induced by the chimeric methylphosphonate-phosphodiester compounds were found to be highly specific. Increased phosphorothioate content in the oligonucleotide backbone correlated with reduced antisense activity (efficacy: 2'-methoxyethoxy series 9 >> 8 >> 7, 2'-methoxytriethoxy series 10 > 11). No consistent evidence was obtained for increased activity correlating with increased oligonucleotide-mRNA heteroduplex thermal stability. In conclusion, the chimeric methylphosphonate-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides present the most favourable characteristics of the compounds tested, for efficient and specific antisense suppression of gene expression following SLO-mediated delivery.
PMCID: PMC147466  PMID: 9512525
3.  CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 5mer-induced apoptosis in MOLT-4 leukaemia cells does not require caspase 3 or new protein synthesis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(9):2297-2304.
We have established that CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 5mers, of sequence type CGNNN (N = A, G, C or T), rapidly induce apoptosis/cell cycle arrest in human leukaemia lines. The 5′-CpG is obligatory for these effects. Induction of apoptosis in MOLT-4 cells did not require new protein synthesis and was insensitive to the caspase 3 inhibitor, Ac-DEVD-CHO, although the latter abrogated DNA laddering, phosphatidylserine externalization and collapse of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential. A subline of MOLT-4 cells, MOLT-4CpGR, was selected for acquired resistance to CpG 5mers. Differences in gene expression between MOLT-4 and MOLT-4CpGR cells were identified following three independent reciprocal cDNA subtractions, consensus selection and virtual cloning through targeted display. Several known genes were implicated in the action of or resistance to CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 5mers. Their protein products listed below immediately suggest cell signalling pathways/processes worthy of further investigation in elucidating the mechanism of CpG 5mer activity: caspase 2, the transcription factors Atf4, Hic, HoxB3 and Rqcd1, the splicing factors Rbmx, Sfrs5 and Sfrs7, the DNA replication factors Mcm5 and Brd4, phosphoinositide-3-kinase, annexin A1, mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma translocation 1 and three enzymes involved in protein ubiquitylation, Siah1, Gsa7 and Nin283.
PMCID: PMC154220  PMID: 12711674
4.  RNase H-independent antisense activity of oligonucleotide N3 '--> P5 ' phosphoramidates. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1997;25(4):776-780.
Oligonucleotide N3'-->P5'phosphoramidates are a new and promising class of antisense agents. Here we report biological properties of phosphoramidate oligonucleotides targeted against the human T cell leukemia virus type-I Tax protein, the major transcriptional transactivator of this human retrovirus. Isosequential phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides and uniformly modified and chimeric phosphoramidate oligodeoxynucleotides containing six central phosphodiester linkages are all quite stable in cell nuclei. The uniformly modified anti-tax phosphoramidate oligodeoxynucleotide does not activate nuclear RNase H, as was shown by RNase protection assay. In contrast, the chimeric phosphoramidate-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotide is an efficient activator of RNase H. The presence of one or two mismatched nucleotides in the phosphodiester portion of oligonucleotides affected this activation only negligibly. When introduced into tax-transformed fibroblasts ex vivo, only the uniformly modified anti-tax phosphoramidate oligodeoxynucleotide caused a sequence-dependent reduction in the Tax protein level. Neither the chimeric phosphoramidate nor the phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides significantly reduced tax expression under similar experimental conditions.
PMCID: PMC146512  PMID: 9016628
5.  Enhanced activity of an antisense oligonucleotide targeting murine protein kinase C-alpha by the incorporation of 2'-O-propyl modifications. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(3):411-417.
We have previously described the characterization of a 20mer phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotide (ISIS 4189) which inhibits murine protein kinase C-alpha (PKC-alpha) gene expression, both in vitro and in vivo. In an effort to increase the antisense activity of this oligonucleotide, 2'-O-propyl modifications have been incorporated into the 5'- and 3'-ends of the oligonucleotide, with the eight central bases left as phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides. Hybridization analysis demonstrated that these modifications increased affinity by approximately 8 and 6 degrees C per oligonucleotide for the phosphodiester (ISIS 7815) and phosphorothioate (ISIS 7817) respectively when hybridized to an RNA complement. In addition, 2'-O-propyl incorporation greatly enhanced the nuclease resistance of the oligonucleotides to snake venom phosphodiesterase or intracellular nucleases in vivo. The increase in affinity and nuclease stability of ISIS 7817 resulted in a 5-fold increase in the ability of the oligonucleotide to inhibit PKC-alpha gene expression in murine C127 cells, as compared with the parent phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotide. Thus an RNase H-dependent phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotide can be modified as a 2'-O-propyl 'chimeric' oligonucleotide to provide a significant increase in antisense activity in cell culture.
PMCID: PMC145662  PMID: 8602351
6.  NF-κB/STAT3/PI3K signaling crosstalk in iMycEμ B lymphoma 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:97.
Myc is a well known driver of lymphomagenesis, and Myc-activating chromosomal translocation is the recognized hallmark of Burkitt lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. We developed a model that mimics this translocation event by inserting a mouse Myc cDNA gene into the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus, just upstream of the intronic Eμ enhancer. These mice, designated iMycEμ, readily develop B-cell lymphoma. To study the mechanism of Myc-induced lymphoma, we analyzed signaling pathways in lymphoblastic B-cell lymphomas (LBLs) from iMycEμ mice, and an LBL-derived cell line, iMycEμ-1.
Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) were constitutively activated in iMycEμ mice, not only in LBLs but also in the splenic B-lymphocytes of young animals months before tumors developed. Moreover, inhibition of either transcription factor in iMycEμ-1 cells suppressed growth and caused apoptosis, and the abrogation of NF-κB activity reduced DNA binding by both STAT3 and Myc, as well as Myc expression. Inhibition of STAT3 signaling eliminated the activity of both NF-κB and Myc, and resulted in a corresponding decrease in the level of Myc. Thus, in iMycEμ-1 cells NF-κB and STAT3 are co-dependent and can both regulate Myc. Consistent with this, NF-κB and phosphorylated STAT3 were physically associated with one another. In addition, LBLs and iMycEμ-1 cells also showed constitutive AKT phosphorylation. Blocking AKT activation by inhibiting PI3K reduced iMycEμ-1 cell proliferation and caused apoptosis, via downregulation of NF-κB and STAT3 activity and a reduction of Myc levels. Co-treatment with NF-κB, STAT3 or/and PI3K inhibitors led to additive inhibition of iMycEμ-1 cell proliferation, suggesting that these signaling pathways converge.
Our findings support the notion that constitutive activation of NF-κB and STAT3 depends on upstream signaling through PI3K, and that this activation is important for cell survival and proliferation, as well as for maintaining the level of Myc. Together, these data implicate crosstalk among NF-κB, STAT3 and PI3K in the development of iMycEμ B-cell lymphomas.
PMCID: PMC2876994  PMID: 20433747
7.  Psoralen-modified clamp-forming antisense oligonucleotides reduce cellular c-Myc protein expression and B16-F0 proliferation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(19):4052-4061.
The c-myc protooncogene plays an important role in the abnormal growth pattern of melanoma cells. In an attempt to inhibit c-Myc expression and the growth of an established murine melanoma cell line, we targeted homopurine sequences within the mouse myc mRNA with modified antisense oligonucleotides (AS ODNs). Psoralen was conjugated to the 5′-end of these clamp-forming oligonucleotides (clamp ODNs). Gel mobility shift analysis demonstrated a sequence-specific interaction between the active clamp ODNs (Myc-E2C and Myc-E3C) and the 1.4 kb c-myc mRNA, but no interaction with the control clamp ODN (SCR**). This association was further confirmed by thermal denaturation studies. In vitro translation assays demonstrated that both Myc-E2C and Myc-E3C at 5 µM inhibited c-Myc expression >99% after UV activation at 366 nm. Immunostaining of B16-F0 cells with a c-Myc monoclonal antibody revealed a significant reduction in c-Myc after clamp ODN treatment compared with the untreated or SCR** control-treated cells. This result was corroborated by western blot analysis. Utilizing the MTT assay to determine the effects of ODN-mediated c-Myc reduction on B16-F0 growth, we observed 60 and 64% reductions in growth after treatment with 5 µM Myc-E3C and Myc-E2C, respectively. We attribute the enhanced effectiveness of the clamp ODNs to psoralen activation. Our preliminary data suggest that inhibiting c-Myc overexpression results in a significant reduction in abnormal proliferation of B16-F0 melanoma cells and that the increased efficiency of clamp ODNs may provide an important advantage for their use in antisense therapies.
PMCID: PMC60243  PMID: 11574688
8.  Targeting cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) but not CDK4/6 or CDK2 is selectively lethal to MYC-dependent human breast cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:32.
Although MYC is an attractive therapeutic target for breast cancer treatment, it has proven challenging to inhibit MYC directly, and clinically effective pharmaceutical agents targeting MYC are not yet available. An alternative approach is to identify genes that are synthetically lethal in MYC-dependent cancer. Recent studies have identified several cell cycle kinases as MYC synthetic-lethal genes. We therefore investigated the therapeutic potential of specific cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibition in MYC-driven breast cancer.
Using small interfering RNA (siRNA), MYC expression was depleted in 26 human breast cancer cell lines and cell proliferation evaluated by BrdU incorporation. MYC-dependent and MYC-independent cell lines were classified based on their sensitivity to siRNA-mediated MYC knockdown. We then inhibited CDKs including CDK4/6, CDK2 and CDK1 individually using either RNAi or small molecule inhibitors, and compared sensitivity to CDK inhibition with MYC dependence in breast cancer cells.
Breast cancer cells displayed a wide range of sensitivity to siRNA-mediated MYC knockdown. The sensitivity was correlated with MYC protein expression and MYC phosphorylation level. Sensitivity to siRNA-mediated MYC knockdown did not parallel sensitivity to the CDK4/6 inhibitor PD0332991; instead MYC-independent cell lines were generally sensitive to PD0332991. Cell cycle arrest induced by MYC knockdown was accompanied by a decrease in CDK2 activity, but inactivation of CDK2 did not selectively affect the viability of MYC-dependent breast cancer cells. In contrast, CDK1 inactivation significantly induced apoptosis and reduced viability of MYC-dependent cells but not MYC- independent cells. This selective induction of apoptosis by CDK1 inhibitors was associated with up-regulation of the pro-apoptotic molecule BIM and was p53-independent.
Overall, these results suggest that further investigation of CDK1 inhibition as a potential therapy for MYC-dependent breast cancer is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3903446  PMID: 24444383
MYC; Cyclin-dependent kinase; Synthetic lethality; Breast cancer
9.  Increased specificity for antisense oligodeoxynucleotide targeting of RNA cleavage by RNase H using chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester structures. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1992;20(4):763-770.
One of the inherent problems in the use of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides to ablate gene expression in cell cultures is that the stringency of hybridization in vivo is not subject to control and may be sub-optimal. Consequently, phosphodiester or phosphorothioate antisense effectors and non-targeted cellular RNA may form partial hybrids which are substrates for RNase H. Such processes could promote the sequence dependent inappropriate effects recently reported in the literature. We have attempted to resolve this problem by using chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides. In contrast to the extensive RNA degradation observed with all-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides, highly modified chimeric antisense effectors displayed negligible, or undetectable, cleavage at non-target sites without significantly impaired activity at the target site. We also note that all of the all-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides tested demonstrated inappropriate effects, and that such undesirable activity could vary widely between different sequences.
PMCID: PMC312015  PMID: 1371864
10.  Nuclear c-Myc plays an important role in the cytotoxicity of tumor necrosis factor alpha in tumor cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1994;14(9):5661-5670.
The phosphoprotein c-Myc has the potential to kill cells by apoptosis. To investigate whether c-Myc is involved in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha)-mediated cell killing, we have examined two HeLa cell lines (D98 and H21) which show dramatic differences in their susceptibilities to TNF-alpha cytotoxicity. Northern (RNA) blot analyses showed that there were no significant differences between these cell lines in basal or TNF-alpha-induced mRNA expression for a variety of proteins, including manganous superoxide dismutase, A20 zinc finger protein, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2, and hsp70, all of which are known to influence the susceptibility of certain cells to TNF-alpha killing. On the other hand, there was a dramatic increase in c-Myc mRNA expression in TNF-alpha-sensitive D98 cells, but not in TNF-alpha-resistant H21 cells, which was only observed when the cells were treated with cycloheximide. Western blot (immunoblot) analyses revealed that even in the absence of TNF-alpha or cycloheximide, c-Myc was detectable only in nuclear extracts of TNF-alpha-sensitive D98 cells, implying a role for preexisting c-Myc in TNF-alpha killing. In support of this interpretation, a c-myc antisense oligonucleotide specifically inhibited the TNF-alpha killing of D98 cells, provided that the oligonucleotide was added 6 h prior to TNF-alpha treatment. Either dexamethasone treatment or transient expression of c-myc antisense cDNA fragments decreased nuclear c-Myc in D98 cells and rendered the cells more resistant to TNF-alpha cytotoxicity. Nuclear c-Myc was also detectable in a TNF-alpha-sensitive human HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cell line, but it was undetectable in a derivative of HT-1080 (SS-HT-1080) known to be resistant to TNF-alpha killing because of overexpression of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2. HT-1080 cells transfected with antisense c-myc cDNA had significantly less nuclear c-Myc and were resistant to TNF-alpha cytotoxicity. Together, these data indicate that a nuclear transcription factor, c-Myc, plays an important role in sensitizing two different tumor cell types to TNF-alpha cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC359091  PMID: 8065303
11.  Rational design of point mutation-selective antisense DNA targeted to codon 12 of Ha-ras mRNA in human cells. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1995;23(17):3411-3418.
Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides targeted to Ha-ras mRNA have been designed to discriminate between the codon 12-mutated oncogene and the normal proto-oncogene. An in vitro assay using two different sources of RNase H (rabbit reticulocyte lysates and nuclear extract from HeLa cells) was used to characterize oligonucleotide binding to normal and mutated Ha-ras mRNA. Short oligonucleotides (12- or 13mers) centered on the mutation had a very high discriminatory efficiency. Longer oligonucleotides (16mers) did not discriminate efficiently between the mutated and the normal mRNA. We have tested the efficacy of dodecanucleotides to induce RNase H cleavage of the full-length mRNA, moving the target sequence from the loop to the stem region which is formed in the vicinity of mutated codon 12. The most selective oligonucleotides were centered on the mutation which is located near the junction between the loop and stem regions even though they were less efficient at inducing RNase H cleavage than those targeted to the loop region. The 12mer antisense oligonucleotide with the highest discriminatory power was selected for cell culture studies. This oligonucleotide inhibited the proliferation of a human cell line which had been transformed with the mutated Ha-ras gene (HBL100ras1) but had no effect on the parental cell line which was transfected with the vector DNA (HBL 100neo) and expressed only the normal Ha-ras gene. Growth inhibition of HBL100ras1 cells was associated with specific ablation of targeted Ha-ras mRNA as shown by RT-PCR. These results show that 'in vitro' evaluation using an RNase H assay allowed us to select an antisense oligonucleotide which elicited a selectivity towards point-mutated Ha-ras mRNA when added at 10 microM concentration to the culture medium of cells expressing wild type and mutated Ha-ras mRNA.
PMCID: PMC307218  PMID: 7567450
12.  Single base discrimination for ribonuclease H-dependent antisense effects within intact human leukaemia cells. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1995;23(6):954-961.
We have previously demonstrated, in vitro, that phosphodiester and phosphorothioate antisense oligodeoxynucleotides could direct ribonuclease H to cleave non-target RNA sites and that chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester analogue structures were substantially more specific. In this report we show that such chimeric molecules can promote point mutation-specific scission of target mRNA by both Escherichia coli and human RNases H in vitro. Intact human leukaemia cells 'biochemically microinjected' with antisense effectors demonstrated efficient suppression of target mRNA expression. It was noted that the chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester structures showed single base discrimination, whereas neither the phosphodiester nor phosphorothioate compounds were as stringent. Finally, we show that the antisense effects obtained in intact cells were due to endogenous RNase H activity.
PMCID: PMC306791  PMID: 7731809
13.  Inhibition of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo by c-myc antisense oligodeoxynucleotides. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1994;93(2):820-828.
Restenosis after angioplasty is due predominantly to accumulation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). The resistance of restenosis to pharmacological treatment has prompted investigation of genes involved in VSMC proliferation. We have examined the effect on VSMC proliferation of blocking expression of the c-myc proto-oncogene with antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, both in vitro and in a rat carotid artery injury model of angioplasty restenosis. Antisense c-myc oligodeoxynucleotides reduced average cell levels of c-myc mRNA and protein by 50-55% and inhibited proliferation of VSMCs when mitogenically stimulated from quiescence or when proliferating logarithmically (IC50 = 10 micrograms/ml). Corresponding sense c-myc, two-base-pair mismatch antisense c-myc, antisense alpha-actin or glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase oligodeoxynucleotides did not suppress c-myc expression or inhibit VSMC proliferation. Antisense c-myc inhibition was relieved by overexpression of an exogenous c-myc gene. After balloon catheter injury, peak c-myc mRNA expression occurred at 2 h. Antisense c-myc applied in a pluronic gel to the arterial adventitia reduced peak c-myc expression by 75% and significantly reduced neointimal formation at 14 d, compared with sense c-myc and gel application alone. We conclude that c-myc expression is required for VSMC proliferation in vitro and in the vessel wall. C-myc is a therefore a potential target for adjunctive therapy to reduce angioplasty restenosis.
PMCID: PMC293939  PMID: 8113414
14.  Global Regulation of Nucleotide Biosynthetic Genes by c-Myc 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2722.
The c-Myc transcription factor is a master regulator and integrates cell proliferation, cell growth and metabolism through activating thousands of target genes. Our identification of direct c-Myc target genes by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) coupled with pair-end ditag sequencing analysis (ChIP-PET) revealed that nucleotide metabolic genes are enriched among c-Myc targets, but the role of Myc in regulating nucleotide metabolic genes has not been comprehensively delineated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we report that the majority of genes in human purine and pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway were induced and directly bound by c-Myc in the P493-6 human Burkitt's lymphoma model cell line. The majority of these genes were also responsive to the ligand-activated Myc-estrogen receptor fusion protein, Myc-ER, in a Myc null rat fibroblast cell line, HO.15 MYC-ER. Furthermore, these targets are also responsive to Myc activation in transgenic mouse livers in vivo. To determine the functional significance of c-Myc regulation of nucleotide metabolism, we sought to determine the effect of loss of function of direct Myc targets inosine monophosphate dehydrogenases (IMPDH1 and IMPDH2) on c-Myc-induced cell growth and proliferation. In this regard, we used a specific IMPDH inhibitor mycophenolic acid (MPA) and found that MPA dramatically inhibits c-Myc-induced P493-6 cell proliferation through S-phase arrest and apoptosis.
Taken together, these results demonstrate the direct induction of nucleotide metabolic genes by c-Myc in multiple systems. Our finding of an S-phase arrest in cells with diminished IMPDH activity suggests that nucleotide pool balance is essential for c-Myc's orchestration of DNA replication, such that uncoupling of these two processes create DNA replication stress and apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2444028  PMID: 18628958
15.  Glutathione Depletion Induced by c-Myc Downregulation Triggers Apoptosis on Treatment with Alkylating Agents1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2004;6(3):195-206.
Here we investigate the mechanism(s) involved in the c-Myc-dependent drug response of melanoma cells. By using three M14-derived c-Myc low-expressing clones, we demonstrate that alkylating agents, cisplatin and melphalan, trigger apoptosis in the c-Myc antisense transfectants, but not in the parental line. On the contrary, topoisomerase inhibitors, adriamycin and camptothecin, induce apoptosis to the same extent regardless of c-Myc expression. Because we previously demonstrated that c-Myc downregulation decreases glutathione (GSH) content, we evaluated the role of GSH in the apoptosis induced by the different drugs. In control cells treated with one of the alkylating agents or the others, GSH depletion achieved by l-buthionine-sulfoximine preincubation opens the apoptotic pathway. The apoptosis proceeded through early Bax relocalization, cytochrome c release, and concomitant caspase-9 activation, whereas reactive oxygen species production and alteration of mitochondria membrane potential were late events. That GSH was determining in the c-Myc-dependent drug-induced apoptosis was demonstrated by altering the intracellular GSH content of the c-Myc low-expressing cells up to the level of controls. Indeed, GSH ethyl ester-mediated increase of GSH abrogated apoptosis induced by cisplatin and melphalan by inhibition of Bax/cytochrome c redistribution. The relationship among c-Myc, GSH content, and the response to alkylating agent has been also evaluated in the M14 Myc overexpressing clones as well as in the melanoma JR8 c-Myc antisense transfectants. All together, these results demonstrate that GSH plays a key role in governing c-Myc-dependent drug-induced apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC1502103  PMID: 15153331
c-Myc; glutathione; antineoplastic drugs; apoptosis; melanoma; ADR, adriamycin; CDDP, cisplatin; l-PAM, melphalan; CPT, camptothecin; ROS, reactive oxygen species; Δψm, mitochondrial membrane potential; DHE, dihydroethidium; GSH, reduced glutathione; BSO, l-buthionine-sulfoximine; PI, propidium iodide; PIPES, piperazine-N,N′-bis[2-ethanesulfonic acid]; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline
16.  Expression of the c-myc Proto-oncogene Is Essential for HIV-1 Infection in Activated T Cells  
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1999;189(9):1391-1398.
We previously found that activation of primary CD4+ T cells via both the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) and CD28 is required for HIV-1 DNA to be translocated from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Here we report that expression of c-Myc protein in CD4+ T cells is induced only after such costimulation. In addition, cyclosporin A not only inhibits nuclear import of HIV-1 DNA but also inhibits expression of c-Myc protein. Because of these correlations, we tested whether c-Myc is necessary for nuclear import of HIV-1 DNA. Specific c-myc antisense, but not sense or non-sense, phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides selectively induced the accumulation of two NH2-terminally truncated c-Myc proteins and abolished HIV-1 genome entry into host nuclei. Consequently, both virus replication and HIV-1–induced apoptotic cell death were inhibited. Synthesis of viral full-length DNA was not affected. Specific c-myc antisense oligonucleotide inhibited HIV-1 infection under conditions that did not affect cell cycle entry or proliferation. Thus, c-Myc appears to regulate HIV-1 DNA nuclear import via a mechanism distinct from those controlling entry into the cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC2193066  PMID: 10224279
c-Myc; HIV-1 DNA; T cell; nuclear import; apoptosis
17.  BET-bromodomain inhibition of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma 
MYC-amplified medulloblastomas are highly lethal tumors. BET bromodomain inhibition has recently been shown to suppress MYC-associated transcriptional activity in other cancers. The compound JQ1 inhibits BET bromodomain-containing proteins, including BRD4. Here we investigate BET bromodomain targeting for the treatment of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma.
Experimental Design
We evaluated the effects of genetic and pharmacological inhibition of BET bromodomains on proliferation, cell cycle, and apoptosis in established and newly generated patient- and GEMM-derived medulloblastoma cell lines and xenografts that harbored amplifications of MYC or MYCN. We also assessed the effect of JQ1 on MYC expression and global MYC-associated transcriptional activity. We assessed in vivo efficacy of JQ1 in orthotopic xenografts established in immunocompromised mice.
Treatment of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma cells with JQ1 decreased cell viability associated with arrest at G1 and apoptosis. We observed down-regulation of MYC expression and confirmed inhibition of MYC-associated transcriptional targets. Exogenous expression of MYC from a retroviral promoter reduced the effect of JQ1 on cell viability, suggesting that attenuated levels of MYC contribute to the functional effects of JQ1. JQ1 significantly prolonged survival of orthotopic xenograft models of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma (p<0.001). Xenografts harvested from mice after five doses of JQ1 had reduced expression of MYC mRNA and a reduced proliferative index.
JQ1 suppresses MYC expression and MYC-associated transcriptional activity in medulloblastomas, resulting in an overall decrease in medulloblastoma cell viability. These preclinical findings highlight the promise of BET bromodomain inhibitors as novel agents for MYC-amplified medulloblastoma.
PMCID: PMC4198154  PMID: 24297863
BET-bromodomain; JQ1; MYC; MYCN; MYCL1; medulloblastoma
18.  Escherichia coli Enterotoxin B Subunit Triggers Apoptosis of CD8+ T Cells by Activating Transcription Factor c-Myc 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(8):4923-4930.
Heat-labile enterotoxin from enterotoxinogenic Escherichia coli is not only an important cause of diarrhea in humans and domestic animals but also possesses potent immunomodulatory properties. Recently, the nontoxic, receptor-binding B subunit of heat-labile enterotoxin (EtxB) was found to induce the selective death of CD8+ T cells, suggesting that EtxB may trigger activation of proapoptotic signaling pathways. Here we show that EtxB treatment of CD8+ T cells but not of CD4+ T cells triggers the specific up-regulation of the transcription factor c-myc, implicated in the control of cell proliferation, differentiation, and death. A concomitant elevation in Myc protein levels was also evident, with peak expression occurring 4 h posttreatment. Preincubation with c-myc antisense oligodeoxynucleotides demonstrated that Myc expression was necessary for EtxB-mediated apoptosis. Myc activation was also associated with an increase of IκBα turnover, suggesting that elevated Myc expression may be dependent on NF-κB. When CD8+ T cells were pretreated with inhibitors of IκBα turnover and NF-κB translocation, this resulted in a marked reduction in both EtxB-induced apoptosis and Myc expression. Further, a non-receptor-binding mutant of EtxB, EtxB(G33D), was shown to lack the capacity to activate Myc transcription. These findings provide further evidence that EtxB is a signaling molecule that triggers activation of transcription factors involved in cell survival.
PMCID: PMC98583  PMID: 11447169
19.  Intracellular availability of unmodified, phosphorothioated and liposomally encapsulated oligodeoxynucleotides for antisense activity. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1992;20(21):5691-5698.
We have studied factors which may effect the intracellular availability of oligonucleotides to achieve antisense activity. 15-20 mer unmodified, phosphorothioate modified and liposomally encapsulated oligodeoxynucleotides have been tested in leukemia MOLT-3 cells. Phosphorothioate analogs penetrated and accumulated intact in cells in contrast to unmodified oligomers, which showed a high instability in cell culture medium. A slow decrease of intracellular concentration of undegraded phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides was observed after cell treatment and could be predominantly explained by a significant efflux transport. Using laser-assisted confocal microscopy we have observed that fluorescein 5-end-labeled phosphorothioate derivatives predominantly distributed in intracytoplasmic endocytic vesicles following cell treatment. The end-capped version of phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides exhibited greater cellular uptake than fully modified analogues while exhibiting similar biological stability. Liposome encapsulation made possible oligomer protection in serum-containing medium and substantially improved cellular accumulation. Furthermore, the efflux rate of oligomer initially introduced within liposomes is 2-fold lower than that observed in cells which have been incubated with free oligonucleotides. Liposomal preparations of oligodeoxynucleotides facilitate release from endocytic vesicles, and thus, cytoplasmic and nuclear localization are observed following cell treatment. Furthermore, intracellular distribution studies demonstrate that intracellular transport of unmodified oligomers is effectively achieved using the liposomal carrier.
PMCID: PMC334404  PMID: 1454532
20.  Myc interacts with Max and Miz1 to repress C/EBPδ promoter activity and gene expression 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:92.
"Loss of function" alterations in CCAAT/Enhancer Binding Proteinδ (C/EBPδ) have been reported in a number of human cancers including breast, prostate and cervical cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and acute myeloid leukemia. C/EBPδ gene transcription is induced during cellular quiescence and repressed during active cell cycle progression. C/EBPδ exhibits tumor suppressor gene properties including reduced expression in cancer cell lines and tumors and promoter methylation silencing.
We previously reported that C/EBPδ expression is inversely correlated with c-Myc (Myc) expression. Aberrant Myc expression is common in cancer and transcriptional repression is a major mechanism of Myc oncogenesis. A number of tumor suppressor genes are targets of Myc transcriptional repression including C/EBPα, p15INK4, p21CIP1, p27KIP1 and p57KIP2. This study investigated the mechanisms underlying Myc repression of C/EBPδ expression.
Myc represses C/EBPδ promoter activity in nontransformed mammary epithelial cells in a dose-dependent manner that requires Myc Box II, Basic Region and HLH/LZ domains. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays demonstrate that Myc, Miz1 and Max are associated with the C/EBPδ promoter in proliferating cells, when C/EBPδ expression is repressed. EMSAs demonstrate that Miz1 binds to a 30 bp region (-100 to -70) of the C/EBPδ promoter which contains a putative transcription initiator (Inr) element. Miz1 functions exclusively as a repressor of C/EBPδ promoter activity. Miz1 siRNA expression or expression of a Miz1 binding deficient Myc (MycV394D) construct reduces Myc repression of C/EBPδ promoter activity. Max siRNA expression, or expression of a Myc construct lacking the HLH/LZ (Max interacting) region, also reduces Myc repression of C/EBPδ promoter activity. Miz1 and Max siRNA treatments attenuate Myc repression of endogenous C/EBPδ expression. Myc Box II interacting proteins RuvBl1 (Pontin, TIP49) and RuvBl2 (Reptin, TIP48) enhances Myc repression of C/EBPδ promoter activity.
Myc represses C/EBPδ expression by associating with the C/EBPδ proximal promoter as a transient component of a repressive complex that includes Max and Miz1. RuvBl1 and RuvBl2 enhance Myc repression of C/EBPδ promoter activity. These results identify protein interactions that mediate Myc repression of C/EBPδ, and possibly other tumor suppressor genes, and suggest new therapeutic targets to block Myc transcriptional repression and oncogenic function.
PMCID: PMC2879254  PMID: 20426839
21.  Troglitazone suppresses c-Myc levels in human prostate cancer cells via a PPARγ-independent mechanism 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;11(12):1046-1058.
Troglitazone is a ligand for the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) that decreases growth of human prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. However, the mechanism by which troglitazone reduces prostate cancer cell growth is not fully understood. To understand the signaling pathways involved in troglitazone-induced decreases in prostate cancer growth, we examined the effect of troglitazone on androgen-independent C4-2 human prostate cancer cells. Initial experiments revealed troglitazone inhibited C4-2 cell proliferation by arresting cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle and inducing apoptosis. Since the proto-oncogene product c-Myc regulates both apoptosis and cell cycle progression, we next examined whether troglitazone altered expression of c-Myc. Troglitazone decreased c-Myc protein levels as well as expression of downstream targets of c-Myc in a dose-dependent manner. In C4-2 cells, troglitazone-induced decreases in c-Myc protein involve proteasome-mediated degradation of c-Myc protein as well as reductions in c-Myc mRNA levels. It appears that troglitazone stimulates degradation of c-Myc by increasing c-Myc phosphorylation, for the level of phosphorylated c-Myc was elevated in prostate cancer cells exposed to troglitazone. While troglitazone dramatically decreased the amount of c-Myc within C4-2 cells, the PPARγ ligands ciglitazone, rosiglitazone and pioglitazone did not reduce c-Myc protein levels. Furthermore the downregulation of c-Myc by troglitazone was not blocked by the PPARγ antagonist GW9662 and siRNA-mediated decreases in PPARγ protein. Thus, our data suggest that troglitazone reduces c-Myc protein independently of PPARγ.
PMCID: PMC3142365  PMID: 21525782
troglitazone; prostate cancer; c-Myc; cell cycle; PPARγ
22.  Anti-proliferative activity of the quassinoid NBT-272 in childhood medulloblastoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:19.
With current treatment strategies, nearly half of all medulloblastoma (MB) patients die from progressive tumors. Accordingly, the identification of novel therapeutic strategies remains a major goal. Deregulation of c-MYC is evident in numerous human cancers. In MB, over-expression of c-MYC has been shown to correlate with anaplasia and unfavorable prognosis. In neuroblastoma – an embryonal tumor with biological similarities to MB – the quassinoid NBT-272 has been demonstrated to inhibit cellular proliferation and to down-regulate c-MYC protein expression.
To study MB cell responses to NBT-272 and their dependence on the level of c-MYC expression, DAOY (wild-type, empty vector transfected or c-MYC transfected), D341 (c-MYC amplification) and D425 (c-MYC amplification) human MB cells were used. The cells were treated with different concentrations of NBT-272 and the impact on cell proliferation, apoptosis and c-MYC expression was analyzed.
NBT-272 treatment resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of cellular proliferation (IC50 in the range of 1.7 – 9.6 ng/ml) and in a dose-dependent increase in apoptotic cell death in all human MB cell lines tested. Treatment with NBT-272 resulted in up to 90% down-regulation of c-MYC protein, as demonstrated by Western blot analysis, and in a significant inhibition of c-MYC binding activity. Anti-proliferative effects were slightly more prominent in D341 and D425 human MB cells with c-MYC amplification and slightly more pronounced in c-MYC over-expressing DAOY cells compared to DAOY wild-type cells. Moreover, treatment of synchronized cells by NBT-272 induced a marked cell arrest at the G1/S boundary.
In human MB cells, NBT-272 treatment inhibits cellular proliferation at nanomolar concentrations, blocks cell cycle progression, induces apoptosis, and down-regulates the expression of the oncogene c-MYC. Thus, NBT-272 may represent a novel drug candidate to inhibit proliferation of human MB cells in vivo.
PMCID: PMC1794252  PMID: 17254356
23.  Targeted Blockage of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 5 Signaling Pathway with Decoy Oligodeoxynucleotides Suppresses Leukemic K562 Cell Growth 
DNA and Cell Biology  2011;30(2):71-78.
The protein signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) of the JAK/STAT pathway is constitutively activated because of its phosphorylation by tyrosine kinase activity of fusion protein BCR-ABL in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cells. This study investigated the potential therapeutic effect of STAT5 decoy oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) using leukemia K562 cells as a model. Our results showed that transfection of 21-mer-long STAT5 decoy ODN into K562 cells effectively inhibited cell proliferation and induced cell apoptosis. Further, STAT5 decoy ODN downregulated STAT5 targets bcl-xL, cyclinD1, and c-myc at both mRNA and protein levels in a sequence-specific manner. Collectively, these data demonstrate the therapeutic effect of blocking the STAT5 signal pathway by cis-element decoy for cancer characterized by constitutive STAT5 activation. Thus, our study provides support for STAT5 as a potential target downstream of BCR-ABL for CML treatment and helps establish the concept of targeting STAT5 by decoy ODN as a novel therapy approach for imatinib-resistant CML.
PMCID: PMC3031259  PMID: 21091189
24.  The bromodomain and extra-terminal inhibitor CPI203 enhances the antiproliferative effects of rapamycin on human neuroendocrine tumors 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(10):e1450-.
Endogenous c-MYC (MYC) has been reported to be a potential pharmacological target to trigger ubiquitous tumor regression of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) and lung tumors. Recently inhibitors of bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) family proteins have shown antitumor effects through the suppression of MYC in leukemia and lymphoma. In this paper, we investigated the antitumor activity of a BET protein bromodomain inhibitor (BETi) CPI203 as a single agent and in combination with rapamycin in human PanNETs. We found that exposure of human PanNET cell lines to CPI203 led to downregulation of MYC expression, G1 cell cycle arrest and nearly complete inhibition of cell proliferation. In addition, overexpression of MYC suppressed the growth inhibition caused by CPI203 and knockdown of MYC phenocopied the effects of CPI203 treatment. These findings indicate that suppression of MYC contributed to the antiproliferative effects of BETi inhibition in human PanNET cells. Importantly, CPI203 treatment enhanced the antitumor effects of rapamycin in PanNET cells grown in monolayer and in three-dimensional cell cultures, as well as in a human PanNET xenograft model in vivo. Furthermore, the combination treatment attenuated rapamycin-induced AKT activation, a major limitation of rapamycin therapy. Collectively, our data suggest that targeting MYC with a BETi may increase the therapeutic benefits of rapalogs in human PanNET patients. This provides a novel clinical strategy for PanNETs, and possibly for other tumors as well.
PMCID: PMC4237236  PMID: 25299775
25.  Antisense properties of tricyclo-DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(13):2751-2757.
Tricyclo (tc)-DNA belongs to the class of conformationally constrained DNA analogs that show enhanced binding properties to DNA and RNA. We prepared tc-oligonucleotides up to 17 nt in length, and evaluated their binding efficiency and selectivity towards complementary RNA, their biological stability in serum, their RNase H inducing potential and their antisense activity in a cellular assay. Relative to RNA or 2′-O-Me-phosphorothioate (PS)-RNA, fully modified tc-oligodeoxynucleotides, 10–17 nt in length, show enhanced selectivity and enhanced thermal stability by ∼1°C/modification in binding to RNA targets. Tricyclodeoxyoligonucleotides are completely stable in heat-deactivated fetal calf serum at 37°C. Moreover, tc-DNA–RNA duplexes are not substrates for RNase H. To test for antisense effects in vivo, we used HeLa cell lines stably expressing the human β-globin gene with two different point mutations in the second intron. These mutations lead to the inclusion of an aberrant exon in β-globin mRNA. Lipofectamine-mediated delivery of a 17mer tc-oligodeoxynucleotide complementary to the 3′-cryptic splice site results in correction of aberrant splicing already at nanomolar concentrations with up to 100-fold enhanced efficiency relative to a 2′-O-Me-PS-RNA oligonucleotide of the same length and sequence. In contrast to 2′-O-Me-PS-RNA, tc-DNA shows antisense activity even in the absence of lipofectamine, albeit only at much higher oligonucleotide concentrations.
PMCID: PMC117067  PMID: 12087157

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