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1.  Nuclear location of tumor suppressor protein maspin inhibits proliferation of breast cancer cells without affecting proliferation of normal epithelial cells 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:142.
Maspin, which is classified as a tumor suppressor protein, is downregulated in many types of cancer. Several studies have suggested potential anti-proliferative activity of maspin as well as sensitizing activity of maspin for therapeutic cytotoxic agents in breast cancer tissue culture and animal models. All of the experimental data gathered so far have been based on studies with maspin localized cytoplasmically, while maspin in breast cancer tumor cells may be located in the cytoplasm, nucleus or both. In this study, the effect of maspin cytoplasmic and nuclear location and expression level on breast cancer proliferation and patient survival was studied.
Tissue sections from 166 patients with invasive ductal breast cancer were stained by immunohistochemistry for maspin and Ki-67 protein. The localization and expression level of maspin were correlated with estimated patient overall survival and percent of Ki-67-positive cells. In further studies, we created constructs for transient transfection of maspin into breast cancer cells with targeted cytoplasmic and nuclear location. We analyzed the effect of maspin location in normal epithelial cell line MCF10A and three breast cancer cell lines - MCF-7, MDA-MB-231 and SKBR-3 - by immunofluorescence and proliferation assay.
We observed a strong positive correlation between moderate and high nuclear maspin level and survival of patients. Moreover, a statistically significant negative relationship was observed between nuclear maspin and Ki-67 expression in patients with invasive ductal breast cancer. Spearman’s correlation analysis showed a negative correlation between level of maspin localized in nucleus and percentage of Ki-67 positive cells. No such differences were observed in cells with cytoplasmic maspin. We found a strong correlation between nuclear maspin and loss of Ki-67 protein in breast cancer cell lines, while there was no effect in normal epithelial cells from breast. The anti-proliferative effect of nuclear maspin on breast cancer cells was statistically significant in comparison to cytoplasmic maspin.
Our results suggest that nuclear maspin localization may be a prognostic factor in breast cancer and may have a strong therapeutic potential in gene therapy. Moreover, these data provide a new insight into the role of cytoplasmic and nuclear fractions of maspin in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3975902  PMID: 24581141
Maspin; Breast cancer; Nuclear maspin; Cell proliferation; Ki-67
2.  mMaspin: the mouse homolog of a human tumor suppressor gene inhibits mammary tumor invasion and motility. 
Molecular Medicine  1997;3(1):49-59.
BACKGROUND: The human maspin gene encodes a protein in the serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) family with tumor-suppressing functions in cell culture and in nude mice. In order to examine the role of maspin in an intact mammal, we cloned and sequenced the cDNA of mouse maspin. The recombinant protein was produced and its activity in cell culture was assessed. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Mouse maspin (mMaspin) was cloned by screening a mouse mammary gland cDNA library with the human maspin cDNA probe. Northern blot analysis was used to examine the expression patterns in mouse tissues, mammary epithelial cells, and carcinomas. Recombinant mMaspin protein was produced in E. coli. Invasion and motility assays were used to assess the biological function of mMaspin. RESULTS: mMaspin is 89% homologous with human maspin at the amino acid level. Like its human homolog, mMaspin is expressed in normal mouse mammary epithelial cells and down-regulated in mouse breast tumor cell lines. The expression is altered at different developmental stages in mammary gland. Addition of the recombinant mMaspin protein to mouse tumor cells was shown to inhibit invasion in a dose-dependent manner. As with the human protein, recombinant mMaspin protein also inhibited mouse mammary tumor motility. Deletion in the putative mMaspin reactive site loop (RSL) region resulted in the loss of its inhibitory functions. CONCLUSIONS: mMaspin is the mouse homolog of a human tumor suppressor gene. The expression of mMaspin is down-regulated in tumor cells and is altered at different developmental stages of mammary gland. mMaspin has inhibitory properties similar to those of human maspin in cell culture, suggesting that the homologous proteins play similar physiological roles in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2230109  PMID: 9132279
3.  Epigenetic Silencing of Maspin Expression Occurs Early in the Conversion of Keratocytes to Fibroblasts 
Experimental eye research  2008;86(4):586-600.
Maspin, a 42 kDa non-classical serpin (serine protease inhibitor) that controls cell migration and invasion, is mainly expressed by epithelial-derived cells but is also expressed in corneal stromal keratocytes. Upon culture of stromal keratocytes in the presence of FBS, maspin is down regulated to nearly undetectable levels by passage two. DNA methylation is one of several processes that controls gene expression during cell differentiation, development, genetic imprinting, and carcinogenesis but has not been studied in corneal stromal cells. The purpose of this study was to determine whether DNA methylation of the maspin promoter and histone H3 dimethylation are involved in the mechanism of down regulation of maspin synthesis in human corneal stromal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Human donor corneal stroma cells were immediately placed into serum-free defined medium or cultured in the presence of FBS and passed into serum-free medium or medium containing FBS or FGF-2 to induce the fibroblast phenotype or TGF-β1 for the myofibroblast phenotype. These cell types are found in wounded corneas. The cells were used to prepare RNA for semi-quantitative or quantitative RT-PCR or to extract protein for western analysis. In addition, P4 FBS cultured fibroblasts were treated with the DNA demethylating agent, 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC), and the histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A (TSA). Cells with and without treatment were harvested and assayed for DNA methylation using sodium bisulfite sequencing. The methylation state of histone H3 associated with the maspin gene in the P4 fibroblast cells was determined using a ChIP assay. Freshly harvested corneal stromal cells expressed maspin but upon phenotypic differentiation, maspin mRNA and protein were dramatically down-regulated. Sodium bisulfite sequencing revealed that the maspin promoter in the freshly isolated stromal keratocytes was hypomethylated while both the P0 stromal cells and the P1 cells cultured in the presence of serum free defined medium, FGF-2 and TGF-β1 were hypermethylated. Down regulation of maspin synthesis was also associated with histone H3 dimethylation at Lysine 9. Both maspin mRNA and protein were reexpressed at low levels with 5-Aza-dC but not TSA treatment. Addition of TSA to 5-Aza-dC treated cells did not increase maspin expression. Treatment with 5-Aza-dC did not significantly alter demethylation of the maspin promoter but did demethylate histone H3. These results show maspin promoter hypermethylation and histone methylation occur with down regulation of maspin synthesis in corneal stromal cells and suggest regulation of genes upon conversion of keratocytes to wound healing fibroblasts can involve promoter and histone methylation.
PMCID: PMC2374753  PMID: 18291368
Cornea; Stromal Cells; Maspin; DNA Methylation; Stromal Fibroblasts; Stromal Myofibroblasts; Keratocytes
4.  Expression of Maspin is associated with the Intestinal Type of Gastric Adenocarcinoma 
Maspin is known as a tumor suppressor gene, but its significance has been questioned in various human cancers. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression pattern of Maspin in human gastric adenocarcinomas and its possible correlation with clinicopathological findings.
Materials and Methods
The expression of Maspin mRNA was measured by nested RT-PCR using 60 frozen adenocarcinomas of the stomach and 31 noncancerous tissues from the proximal resection margin. Immunohistochemical study for Maspin protein expression was carried out using 62 paraffin-embedded tissues, composed of both cancer and noncancerous tissues.
Maspin mRNA expression was detected in 80.0% (48 of 60) of the gastric adenocarcinomas, but in only 22.6% (7 of 31) of the normal gastric mucosa (p<0.001). The positive rate of Maspin protein expression was higher in the adenocarcinomas than the normal tissues (62.9% vs. 27.4%, p<0.05). In addition, the intestinal type of tumors showed significantly higher expression levels compared to the diffuse type of tumors (81.5% vs. 48.6%, p<0.05).
Our results suggest that Maspin is frequently expressed in human gastric cancers, and its expression might be associated with tumorigenesis of the intestinal type of gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC2785921  PMID: 19956519
Maspin; Gastric adenocarcinoma; Nested RT-PCR; Immunohistochemistry
5.  Elevated Maspin Expression Is Associated with Better Overall Survival in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (ESCC) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63581.
Tumor suppressor maspin is a differentially regulated gene in the progression of many types of cancer. While the biological function of maspin in blocking tumor invasion and metastasis is consistent with the loss of maspin expression at the late stage of tumor progression, the differential expression and the biological significance of maspin in early stage of tumor progression appear to be complex and remain to be elucidated. In the current study, we examined the expression of maspin in 84 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cases (stages I–III) and 55 non-tumor adjacent esophageal tissue specimens by immunohistochemical (IHC) staining. The correlation of maspin with clinicopathological parameters was analyzed. Compared to normal esophageal squamous tissue where 80% (47/55) of the cases expressed maspin at a low to moderate level, all ESCC specimens (100% (84/84)) were positive for maspin expression at a moderate to high level. ESCC with low or moderate maspin expression had significantly shorter postoperative survival rates compared to those that had high maspin expression (p<0.001). Since the correlation of maspin with ESCC histology and the correlation of maspin with ESCC prognosis seem to be at odds, we further investigated the biological function of maspin in ESCC using the established ESCC cell lines. The expression of maspin in five human esophageal squamous cancer cell lines (T12, E450, KYSE150, EC109, and KYSE510) was examined by the Western blot. ESCC cell line KYSE510 that did not express maspin and was stably transfected by maspin cDNA or an empty vector. The resulting transfected cells were characterized in vitro. Maspin expression significantly inhibited cell proliferation, motility and matrigel invasion. Taken together, our data suggest that the transient up-regulation of maspin in the early development of ESCC may be a defense mechanism against further transition towards more malignant phenotypes, ultimately slowing down ESCC tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3661574  PMID: 23717449
6.  Maspin Suppresses Survival of Lung Cancer Cells through Modulation of Akt Pathway 
Maspin is a tumor suppressor protein that has been reported to stimulate the cell death of cancer and inhibit the metastasis of cancer. The present study aimed to explore the survival pathway by which maspin modulates the resistance of human lung cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, and the consequences of maspin gene therapy in an animal model.
Materials and Methods
NCI-H157 and A549 cells were transfected with either a mock vector (pCMVTaq4C), maspin (pCMV-maspin), siControl or siMaspin. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis were performed to study the expressions of survival proteins in lung cancer. cDNA microarray analysis was carried out to compare the maspin-modulated gene expression between the xenograft tumors derived from the lung cancer cells that were stably transfected with pCMVTaq4C or pCMV-maspin. Maspin gene therapy was performed by intra-tumoral injections of pCMVTaq4C or pCMV-maspin into the pre-established subcutaneous tumors in nude mice.
Maspin significantly decreased the survival to doxorubicin and etoposide, whereas did not affect the survival to cisplatin in the NCI-H157 cells. Interestingly, transfection with a maspin plasmid resulted in a significant reduction of the phosphorylation of Akt in the NCI-H157 cells, whereas knockdown of maspin increased the phosphorylation of Akt in the A549 cells. Microarray analysis of the xenograft tumors revealed a specific gene expression profile, demonstrating that maspin is associated with the differential expressions of PTEN and IGF2R. Direct transfer of pCMV-maspin into the tumor significantly retarded the tumor growth in the animal experiments (p=0.0048).
Lung cancer cells lacking maspin could be resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs such as doxorubicin or etoposide, at least in part by maintaining Akt phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2848751  PMID: 20369051
SERPIN-B5; Akt; Survival; Microarray analysis
7.  Maspin is a deoxycholate-inducible, anti-apoptotic stress-response protein differentially expressed during colon carcinogenesis 
Increased maspin expression in the colon is related to colon cancer risk and patient survival. Maspin is induced by the hydrophobic bile acid, deoxycholate (DOC), which is an endogenous carcinogen and inducer of oxidative stress and DNA damage in the colon. Persistent exposure of colon epithelial cells, in vitro, to high physiologic levels of DOC results in increased constitutive levels of maspin protein expression associated with the development of apoptosis resistance. When an apoptosis-resistant colon epithelial cell line (HCT-116RC) developed in the authors’ laboratory was treated with a maspin-specific siRNA probe, there was a statistically significant increase in apoptosis compared to treatment with an siRNA control probe. These results indicate, for the first time, that maspin is an anti-apoptotic protein in the colon. Immunohistochemical evaluation of maspin expression in human colonic epithelial cells during sporadic colon carcinogenesis (131 human tissues evaluated) indicated a statistically significant increase in maspin protein expression beginning at the polyp stage of carcinogenesis. There was no statistically significant difference in maspin expression between hyperplastic/adenomatous polyps and colonic adenocarcinomas. The absence of “field defects” in the non-neoplastic colonic mucosa of patients with colonic neoplasia indicates that maspin may drive the growth of tumors, in part, through its anti-apoptotic function.
PMCID: PMC3234125  PMID: 22162927
maspin; anti-apoptotic; bile acid-inducible; immunohistochemistry; colon cancer
8.  Acute-phase serum amyloid A production by rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):142-144.
Acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA) is a major component of the acute-phase response. A sustained acute-phase response in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased joint damage. A-SAA mRNA expression was confirmed in all samples obtained from patients with RA, but not in normal synovium. A-SAA mRNA expression was also demonstrated in cultured RA synoviocytes. A-SAA protein was identified in the supernatants of primary synoviocyte cultures, and its expression colocalized with sites of macrophage accumulation and with some vascular endothelial cells. It is concluded that A-SAA is produced by inflamed RA synovial tissue. The known association between the acute-phase response and progressive joint damage may be the direct result of synovial A-SAA-induced effects on cartilage degradation.
Serum amyloid A (SAA) is the circulating precursor of amyloid A protein, the fibrillar component of amyloid deposits. In humans, four SAA genes have been described. Two genes (SAA1 and SAA2) encode A-SAA and are coordinately induced in response to inflammation. SAA1 and SAA2 are 95% homologous in both coding and noncoding regions. SAA3 is a pseudogene. SAA4 encodes constitutive SAA and is minimally inducible. A-SAA increases dramatically during acute inflammation and may reach levels that are 1000-fold greater than normal. A-SAA is mainly synthesized in the liver, but extrahepatic production has been demonstrated in many species, including humans. A-SAA mRNA is expressed in RA synoviocytes and in monocyte/macrophage cell lines such as THP-1 cells, in endothelial cells and in smooth muscle cells of atherosclerotic lesions. A-SAA has also been localized to a wide range of histologically normal tissues, including breast, stomach, intestine, pancreas, kidney, lung, tonsil, thyroid, pituitary, placenta, skin and brain.
To identify the cell types that produce A-SAA mRNA and protein, and their location in RA synovium.
Materials and methods:
Rheumatoid synovial tissue was obtained from eight patients undergoing arthroscopic biopsy and at joint replacement surgery. Total RNA was analyzed by reverse transcription (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for A-SAA mRNA. PCR products generated were confirmed by Southern blot analysis using human A-SAA cDNA. Localization of A-SAA production was examined by immunohistochemistry using a rabbit antihuman A-SAA polyclonal antibody. PrimaryRA synoviocytes were cultured to examine endogenous A-SAA mRNA expression and protein production.
A-SAA mRNA expression was detected using RT-PCR in all eight synovial tissue samples studied. Figure 1 demonstrates RT-PCR products generated using synovial tissue from three representative RA patients. Analysis of RA synovial tissue revealed differences in A-SAA mRNA levels between individual RA patients.
In order to identify the cells that expressed A-SAA mRNA in RA synovial tissue, we analyzed primary human synoviocytes (n = 2). RT-PCR analysis revealed A-SAA mRNA expression in primary RA synoviocytes (n = 2; Fig. 2). The endogenous A-SAA mRNA levels detected in individual primary RA synoviocytes varied between patients. These findings are consistent with A-SAA expression in RA synovial tissue (Fig. 1). Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) levels were relatively similar in the RA synoviocytes examined (Fig. 2). A-SAA protein in the supernatants of primary synoviocyte cultures from four RA patients was measured using ELISA. Mean values of a control and four RA samples were 77.85, 162.5, 249.8, 321.5 and 339.04 μg/l A-SAA, respectively, confirming the production of A-SAA protein by the primary RA synoviocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to localize sites of A-SAA production in RA synovial tissue. Positive staining was present in both the lining and sublining layers of all eight RA tissues examined (Fig. 3a). Staining was intense and most prominent in the cells closest to the surface of the synovial lining layer. Positively stained cells were evident in the perivascular areas of the sublining layer. In serial sections stained with anti-CD68 monoclonal antibody, positive staining of macrophages appeared to colocalize with A-SAA-positive cells (Fig. 3b). Immunohistochemical studies of cultured primary RA synoviocytes confirmed specific cytoplasmic A-SAA expression in these cells. The specificity of the staining was confirmed by the absence of staining found on serial sections and synoviocyte cells treated with IgG (Fig. 3c).
This study demonstrates that A-SAA mRNA is expressed in several cell populations infiltrating RA synovial tissue. A-SAA mRNA expression was observed in all eight unseparated RA tissue samples studied. A-SAA mRNA expression and protein production was demonstrated in primary cultures of purified RA synoviocytes. Using immunohistochemical techniques, A-SAA protein appeared to colocalize with both lining layer and sublining layer synoviocytes, macrophages and some endothelial cells. The detection of A-SAA protein in culture media supernatants harvested from unstimulated synoviocytes confirms endogenous A-SAA production, and is consistent with A-SAA mRNA expression and translation by the same cells. Moreover, the demonstration of A-SAA protein in RA synovial tissue, RA cultured synoviocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells is consistent with previous studies that demonstrated A-SAA production by a variety of human cell populations.
The RA synovial lining layer is composed of activated macrophages and fibroblast-like synoviocytes. The macrophage is the predominant cell type and it has been shown to accumulate preferentially in the surface of the lining layer and in the perivascular areas of the sublining layer. Nevertheless, our observations strongly suggest that A-SAA is produced not only by synoviocytes, but also by synovial tissue macrophage populations. Local A-SAA protein production by vascular endothelial cells was detected in some, but not all, of the tissues examined. The reason for the variability in vascular A-SAA staining is unknown, but may be due to differences in endothelial cell activation, events related to angiogenesis or the intensity of local inflammation.
The value of measuring serum A-SAA levels as a reliable surrogate marker of inflammation has been demonstrated for several diseases including RA, juvenile chronic arthritis, psoriatic arthropathy, ankylosing spondylitis, Behçet's disease, reactive arthritis and Crohn's disease. It has been suggested that serum A-SAA levels may represent the most sensitive measurement of the acute-phase reaction. In RA, A-SAA levels provide the strongest correlations with clinical measurements of disease activity, and changes in serum levels best reflect the clinical course.
A number of biologic activities have been described for A-SAA, including several that are relevant to the understanding of inflammatory and tissue-degrading mechanisms in human arthritis. A-SAA induces migration, adhesion and tissue infiltration of circulating monocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. In addition, human A-SAA can induce interleukin-1β, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist and soluble type II tumour necrosis factor receptor production by a monocyte cell line. Moreover, A-SAA can stimulate the production of cartilage-degrading proteases by both human and rabbit synoviocytes. The effects of A-SAA on protease production are interesting, because in RA a sustained acute-phase reaction has been strongly associated with progressive joint damage. The known association between the acute-phase response and progressive joint damage may be the direct result of synovial A-SAA-induced effects on cartilage degradation.
In contrast to noninflamed synovium, A-SAA mRNA expression was identified in all RA tissues examined. A-SAA appeared to be produced by synovial tissue synoviocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells. The observation of A-SAA mRNA expression in cultured RA synoviocytes and human RA synovial tissue confirms and extends recently published findings that demonstrated A-SAA mRNA expression in stimulated RA synoviocytes, but not in unstimulated RA synoviocytes.
PMCID: PMC17807  PMID: 11062604
acute-phase response; rheumatoid arthritis; serum amyloid A; synovial tissue
9.  HDAC1 Inhibition by Maspin Abrogates Epigenetic Silencing of Glutathione S-Transferase Pi (GSTp) in Prostate Carcinoma Cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(6):733-745.
Both maspin and glutathione s-transferase pi (GSTp) are implicated as tumor suppressors and down regulated in human prostate cancer. It is well established that GSTp down-regulation is through DNA methylation-based silencing. We report here that maspin expression in prostate cancer cell line DU145 reversed GSTp DNA methylation, as measured by methylation-specific PCR, MethyLight assay and bisulfite sequencing. The effect of maspin on GSTp expression was similar to that of the combination of a synthetic histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor and DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine. Maspin expression also led to an increased level of acetylated histone 3, decreased level of methyl transferase and methyl-CpG-binding domain proteins at the site of demethylated GSTp promoter DNA. Earlier, we have shown that maspin inhibits HDAC1. In PC3 cells where both maspin and GSTp are expressed at a reduced level, maspin knockdown led to a significant reduction in GSTp expression whereas dual knockdown of maspin and HDAC1 barely increased the level of GSTp expression. Thus, HDAC1 may play an essential role in cellular response to maspin-mediated GSTp de-silencing. Maspin has been shown to increase tumor cell sensitivity to drug induced apoptosis. Interestingly, GSTp re-expression in the absence of maspin expression perturbation blocked the phosphorylation of histone 2A.X, the induction of hypoxia-induced factor 1α (HIF-1α), and cell death of LNCaP cells under oxidative stress. Since DNA hypermethylation-based silencing may couple with and depend on histone deacetylation, our study suggests that endogenous HDAC inhibition by maspin may prevent pathological gene silencing in prostate tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3612175  PMID: 21622623
histone acetylation; DNA methylation; oxidative stress response; apoptosis; cellular detoxification; DNA damage repair; epithelial epigenetic homeostasis; prostate tumor progression
10.  Expression of Snail transcription factor in prostatic adenocarcinoma in Egypt: correlation with Maspin protein expression and clinicopathologic variables 
Background: Snail transcription factor and Maspin tumor suppressor serpin are involved in the regulation of progression, invasion and metastasis of many human malignancies. However, there is very limited data in the literature about their role in prostatic adenocarcinoma. The present study was designed to investigate Snail and Maspin expression, their interrelationship and their relationship to different clinicopathologic variables in clinically detectable prostatic adenocarcinoma. Material and methods: Tissue sections from 110 resected prostatic lesions distributed as 80 cases of prostatic adenocarcinoma and 30 cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) were evaluated for Snail and Maspin proteins expression by immunohistochemistry. Results: Snail protein expression was detected in 53.8% of prostatic adenocarcinomas versus none of BPH cases (p = < 0.001). A significant positive correlation of Snail expression to cancer grade (p = 0.015), lymph node metastasis (p = 0.026) and pTNM stage (p = 0.036). Maspin expression was detected in 36.6% of prostatic adenocarcinomas versus 93.3% of BPH cases (p = < 0.001). A significant negative correlation of Maspin expression to cancer grade (p = 0.007) and lymphovascular invasion (p = 0.017). Also detected was a significant negative relationship between Snail and Maspin expression in cancer cases under investigation (p = 0.002). Conclusion: Snail immunohistochemical expression can be promising as a potential prognostic biomarker in prostatic adenocarcinoma since it was significantly associated with clinicopathologic variables of progressive disease. A potential role for Snail in regulating Maspin expression is suggested based on the finding of negative association between Snail and Maspin expression in prostatic adenocarcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3726971  PMID: 23923074
Benign prostatic hyperplasia; immunohistochemistry; Maspin; prostatic adenocarcinoma; Snail; clinicopathologic variables
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(8):5661-5669.
Using two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis, we identified the tumor suppressor gene maspin as a TGFβ target gene in human mammary epithelial cells. TGFβ upregulates maspin expression both at the RNA and protein levels. This upregulation required Smad2/3 function and intact p53 binding elements in the maspin promoter. DNA affinity immunoblot and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) revealed the presence of both Smads and p53 at the maspin promoter in TGFβ-treated cells, suggesting that both transcription factors cooperate to induce maspin transcription. TGFβ did not activate maspin-luciferase reporter in p53-mutant MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, which exhibit methylation of the endogenous maspin promoter. Expression of ectopic p53, however, restored ligand-induced association of Smad2/3 with a transfected maspin promoter. Stable transfection of maspin inhibited basal and TGFβ-stimulated MDA-MB-231 cell motility. Finally, knockdown of endogenous maspin in p53 wild-type MCF10A/HER2 cells enhanced basal and TGFβ-stimulated motility. Taken together, these data support cooperation between the p53 and TGFβ tumor suppressor pathways in the induction of maspin expression, thus leading to inhibition of cell migration.
PMCID: PMC4015524  PMID: 17204482
12.  Maspin increases extracellular plasminogen activator activity associated with corneal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts 
Experimental eye research  2011;93(5):618-627.
Maspin, an inhibitor of cell migration and a stimulator of adhesion of cells to the ECM, is synthesized and released by corneal keratocytes into the extracellular matrix. When the cornea is wounded, the quiescent stromal keratocytes underlying the wound undergo apoptosis and cells adjacent to this apoptotic area convert to fibroblasts or myofibroblasts. This study explores the effect of extracellular maspin on the plasminogen-plasminogen activator system of corneal stromal cells following wounding. Treatment of corneal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts with r-maspin increased extracellular but not cell-associated tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), urinary-type plasminogen activator (uPA) or plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). Despite the extracellular increase in PAI-1, the net effect of maspin treatment was an increase in plasminogen activation. At physiological levels, maspin did not alter uPA or tPA mRNA levels, in these cells. The increase in pro and active uPA was due to decreased clearance in the presence of maspin for myofibroblasts but not for fibroblasts. The clearance of pro and active tPA was normal in fibroblasts indicating different mechanisms for the increase of these homologous enzymes in the two cell types. Increased generation of plasmin by maspin treated corneal stromal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts led to conversion of plasminogen to active plasmin degradation products and angiostatin-like molecules. This study suggests that extracellular maspin increased pro and active uPA and tPA released by corneal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts on the short time scale of 1–4 hours, but by 24 hrs there was no increase over the levels produced without maspin. This augmentation of plasminogen activator activity increases plasmin activation and angiostatin generation. It further indicates that the effect of maspin on uPA and tPA levels is cell type dependent.
PMCID: PMC3221939  PMID: 21810423
Maspin; cornea; turnover; urinary-type Plasminogen Activator; tissue-type Plasminogen Activator; Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1; fibroblast; myofibroblast
13.  Snail transcription factor negatively regulates maspin tumor suppressor in human prostate cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:336.
Maspin, a putative tumor suppressor that is down-regulated in breast and prostate cancer, has been associated with decreased cell motility. Snail transcription factor is a zinc finger protein that is increased in breast cancer and is associated with increased tumor motility and invasion by induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We investigated the molecular mechanisms by which Snail increases tumor motility and invasion utilizing prostate cancer cells.
Expression levels were analyzed by RT-PCR and western blot analyses. Cell motility and invasion assays were performed, while Snail regulation and binding to maspin promoter was analyzed by luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays.
Snail protein expression was higher in different prostate cancer cells lines as compared to normal prostate epithelial cells, which correlated inversely with maspin expression. Snail overexpression in 22Rv1 prostate cancer cells inhibited maspin expression and led to increased migration and invasion. Knockdown of Snail in DU145 and C4-2 cancer cells resulted in up-regulation of maspin expression, concomitant with decreased migration. Transfection of Snail into 22Rv1 or LNCaP cells inhibited maspin promoter activity, while stable knockdown of Snail in C4-2 cells increased promoter activity. ChIP analysis showed that Snail is recruited to the maspin promoter in 22Rv1 cells.
Overall, this is the first report showing that Snail can negatively regulate maspin expression by directly repressing maspin promoter activity, leading to increased cell migration and invasion. Therefore, therapeutic targeting of Snail may be useful to re-induce expression of maspin tumor suppressor and prevent prostate cancer tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3437215  PMID: 22857708
Snail; Maspin; Prostate cancer
14.  Maspin sensitizes prostate cancer cells to doxazosin-induced apoptosis 
Oncogene  2005;24(34):5375-5383.
Maspin is a mammary serine protease inhibitor or serpin with tumor suppressive and antiangiogenic activity that inhibits tumor motility, invasion and metastasis, at least by its actions on cell membrane and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Previous studies documented that the quinazoline-derived α1-adrenoceptor antagonist doxazosin affects the attachment and migration of prostate cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the effect of maspin overexpression on the apoptotic/antiadhesion response of prostate cancer cells to doxazosin. The response of maspin-overexpressing clones of human prostate cancer cells DU-145 to doxazosin was evaluated by determining cell viability, apoptosis and cell proliferation on the basis of the trypan blue exclusion assay/methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, Hoechst staining and caspase-3 activation, and [3H]thymidine incorporation assay. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor βRII (TGFβRII), Smad4 (a TGFβ intracellular effector) and bax expression was evaluated at the mRNA and protein level using reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting, respectively. The effect of doxazosin on cell attachment of maspin-expressing prostate cancer cells was evaluated on collagen- and fibronectin-coated plates. Cell migration was assessed using the wounding assay. In response to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, DU-145-maspin expressing cells undergo apoptosis, via poly(ADP-ribose) polymerasecleavage and caspase-3 activation. DU-145-maspin cells exhibited higher sensitivity to doxazosin and an earlier temporal activation of caspase-3. The number of apoptotic cells detected in response to doxazosin was significantly higher compared to the neo control (P<0.0001). Doxazosin resulted in dramatic downregulation of the 189 isoform of VEGF in maspin transfectants, while a fivefold induction of Smad4 mRNA expression was detected in those cells after 24 h of treatment. Maspin overexpression in prostate cancer cells resulted in an increased ability to attach to ECM-coated plates, and doxazosin treatment considerably antagonized this effect by decreasing the attachment potential to collagen and fibronectin. The present study supports the ability of maspin to enhance the apoptotic threshold of prostate cancer cells to the quinazoline-based α1-adrenoceptor antagonist doxazosin. These findings may have therapeutic significance in the development of antiangiogenic targeting by doxazosin and derivative agents for advanced prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC2274915  PMID: 16007219
prostate cancer; α-blockers; apoptosis
15.  Aberrant Methylation of the Maspin Promoter Is an Early Event in Human Breast Cancer1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2004;6(4):380-389.
The maspin gene functions as a tumor suppressor in human breasts, and its expression is frequently lost during breast cancer progression. In vitro models of human breast cancer indicate that the loss of maspin expression is closely linked to aberrant methylation of the maspin promoter. We conducted a study on 30 archival ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) specimens to determine if aberrant methylation of the maspin promoter occurred in vivo, and whether it occurred early in breast cancer evolution. Healthy tissue obtained from reduction mammoplasty was used as normal control. Results from immunohistochemical analysis indicate that maspin expression is lost in a substantial fraction of DCIS specimens (57%). Bisulfite sequencing of DNA isolated from laser capture-microdissected normal and neoplastic ducts showed that loss of maspin expression was often, but not always, linked to aberrant methylation of the maspin promoter, suggesting that other mechanisms, in addition to aberrant methylation, participate and/or cooperate to silence maspin gene expression. Taken together, these results indicate that aberrant methylation of the maspin promoter is an early event in human breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC1502109  PMID: 15256060
Methylation; breast cancer; tumor suppressor; maspin; laser capture; microdissection
16.  Gene expression profiles in human gastric cancer: expression of maspin correlates with lymph node metastasis 
British Journal of Cancer  2005;92(6):1130-1136.
To seek for a candidate gene that would regulate tumour progression and metastasis in gastric cancer, we investigated gene expression profiles by using DNA microarray. Tumour tissue and adjacent normal tissue were obtained from 21 patients with gastric cancer and then examined for their gene expression profiles by the Gene Chip® Human U95Av2 array, which includes 12 000 human genes and EST sequences. A total of 25 genes were upregulated and two genes were downregulated by at least four-fold in the tumour tissue. In a further analysis according to lymph node metastasis, the expressed levels of maspin, as well as carcinoembryonic antigen and nonspecific crossreacting antigen were significantly higher in tumours with lymph node metastasis than in those without it. Maspin expression in 85 gastric cancer patients was further investigated by using immunohistochemistry. Maspin expression was not observed in normal gastric epithelia without intestinal metaplasia. In contrast, maspin was expressed in 74 of 85 tumour tissues. There was a significant correlation between the incidence of maspin-positive tumour staining and lymph node metastasis. These results suggest that maspin has a potential role for tumour metastasis in gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC2361928  PMID: 15770218
gastric cancer; gene expression profiles; oligonucleotide microarray; maspin
17.  Maspin is a marker for early recurrence in primary stage III and IV colorectal cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(6):1636-1647.
Little is known about the factors that drive metastasis formation in colorectal cancer (CRC). Here, we set out to identify genes and proteins in patients with colorectal liver metastases that correlate with early disease recurrence. Such factors may predict a propensity for metastasis in earlier stages of CRC.
Gene expression profiling and proteomics were used to identify differentially expressed genes/proteins in resected liver metastases that recurred within 6 months following liver surgery vs those that did not recur for >24 months. Expression of the identified genes/proteins in stage II (n=243) and III (n=176) tumours was analysed by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays. Correlation of protein levels with stage-specific outcome was assessed by uni- and multivariable analyses.
Both gene expression profiling and proteomics identified Maspin to be differentially expressed in colorectal liver metastases with early (<6 months) and prolonged (>24 months) time to recurrence. Immunohistochemical analysis of Maspin expression on tumour sections revealed that it was an independent predictor of time to recurrence (log-rank P=0.004) and CRC-specific survival (P=0.000) in stage III CRC. High Maspin expression was also correlated with mucinous differentiation. In stage II CRC patients, high Maspin expression did not correlate with survival but was correlated with a right-sided tumour location.
High Maspin expression correlates with poor outcome in CRC after spread to the local lymph nodes. Therefore, Maspin may have a stage-specific function possibly related to tumour cell dissemination and/or metastatic outgrowth.
PMCID: PMC3776998  PMID: 24002600
Maspin; SerpinB5; colorectal cancer; metastasis; genomics; proteomics
18.  Activation of synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis: lack of expression of the tumour suppressor PTEN at sites of invasive growth and destruction 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):59-64.
In the present study, we searched for mutant PTEN transcripts in aggressive rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) and studied the expression of PTEN in RA. By automated sequencing, no evidence for the presence of mutant PTEN transcripts was found. However, in situ hybridization on RA synovium revealed a distinct expression pattern of PTEN, with negligible staining in the lining layer but abundant expression in the sublining. Normal synovial tissue exhibited homogeneous staining for PTEN. In cultured RA-SF, only 40% expressed PTEN. Co-implantation of RA-SF and normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice showed only limited expression of PTEN, with no staining in those cells aggressively invading the cartilage. Although PTEN is not genetically altered in RA, these findings suggest that a lack of PTEN expression may constitute a characteristic feature of activated RA-SF in the lining, and may thereby contribute to the invasive behaviour of RA-SF by maintaining their aggressive phenotype at sites of cartilage destruction.
PTEN is a novel tumour suppressor which exhibits tyrosine phosphatase activity as well as homology to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin. Mutations of PTEN have been described in several human cancers and associated with their invasiveness and metastatic properties. Although not malignant, rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) exhibit certain tumour-like features such as attachment to cartilage and invasive growth. In the present study, we analyzed whether mutant transcripts of PTEN were present in RA-SF. In addition, we used in situ hybridization to study the expression of PTEN messenger (m)RNA in tissue samples of RA and normal individuals as well as in cultured RA-SF and in the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model of RA.
Synovial tissue specimens were obtained from seven patients with RA and from two nonarthritic individuals. Total RNA was isolated from synovial fibroblasts and after first strand complementary (c)DNA synthesis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to amplify a 1063 base pair PTEN fragment that encompassed the coding sequence of PTEN including the phosphatase domain and all mutation sites described so far. The PCR products were subcloned in Escherichia coli, and up to four clones were picked from each plate for automated sequencing. For in situ hybridization, digoxigenin-labelled PTEN-specific RNA probes were generated by in vitro transcription. For control in situ hybridization, a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2-specific probe was prepared. To investigate the expression of PTEN in the absence of human macrophage or lymphocyte derived factors, we implanted RA-SF from three patients together with normal human cartilage under the renal capsule of SCID mice. After 60 days, mice were sacrificed, the implants removed and embedded into paraffin.
PCR revealed the presence of the expected 1063 base pair PTEN fragment in all (9/9) cell cultures (Fig. 1). No additional bands that could account for mutant PTEN variants were detected. Sequence analysis revealed 100% homology of all RA-derived PTEN fragments to those from normal SF as well as to the published GenBank sequence (accession number U93051). However, in situ hybridization demonstrated considerable differences in the expression of PTEN mRNA within the lining and the sublining layers of RA synovial membranes. As shown in Figure 2a, no staining was observed within the lining layer which has been demonstrated to mediate degradation of cartilage and bone in RA. In contrast, abundant expression of PTEN mRNA was found in the sublining of all RA synovial tissues (Figs 2a and b). Normal synovial specimens showed homogeneous staining for PTEN within the thin synovial membrane (Fig. 2c). In situ hybridization using the sense probe gave no specific staining (Fig. 2d). We also performed in situ hybridization on four of the seven cultured RA-SF and followed one cell line from the first to the sixth passage. Interestingly, only 40% of cultured RA-SF expressed PTEN mRNA (Fig. 3a), and the proportion of PTEN expressing cells did not change throughout the passages. In contrast, control experiments using a specific RNA probe for MMP-2 revealed mRNA expression by nearly all cultured cells (Fig. 3b). As seen before, implantation of RA-SF into the SCID mice showed considerable cartilage degradation. Interestingly, only negligible PTEN expression was found in those RA-SF aggressively invading the cartilage (Fig. 3c). In situ hybridization for MMP-2 showed abundant staining in these cells (Fig. 3d).
Although this study found no evidence for mutations of PTEN in RA synovium, the observation that PTEN expression is lacking in the lining layer of RA synovium as well as in more than half of cultured RA-SF is of interest. It suggests that loss of PTEN function may not exclusively be caused by genetic alterations, yet at the same time links the low expression of PTEN to a phenotype of cells that have been shown to invade cartilage aggressively.
It has been proposed that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTEN is responsible for its tumour suppressor activity by counteracting the actions of protein tyrosine kinases. As some studies have demonstrated an upregulation of tyrosine kinase activity in RA synovial cells, it might be speculated that the lack of PTEN expression in aggressive RA-SF contributes to the imbalance of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases in this disease. However, the extensive amino-terminal homology of the predicted protein to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin suggests a complex regulatory function involving cellular adhesion molecules and phosphatase-mediated signalling. The tyrosine phosphatase TEP1 has been shown to be identical to the protein encoded by PTEN, and gene transcription of TEP1 has been demonstrated to be downregulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Therefore, it could be hypothesized that TGF-β might be responsible for the downregulation of PTEN. However, the expression of TGF-β is not restricted to the lining but found throughout the synovial tissue in RA. Moreover, in our study the percentage of PTEN expressing RA-SF remained stable for six passages in culture, whereas molecules that are cytokine-regulated in vivo frequently change their expression levels when cultured over several passages. Also, cultured RA-SF that were implanted into SCID mice and deeply invaded the cartilage did not show significant expression of PTEN after 60 days. The drop in the percentage of PTEN expressing cells from the original cell cultures to the SCID mouse implants is of interest as this observation goes along with data from previous studies that have shown the prominent expression of activation-related molecules in the SCID mice implants that in vivo are found predominantly in the lining layer. Therefore, our data point to endogenous mechanisms rather than to the influence of exogenous human cytokines or factors in the downregulation of PTEN. Low expression of PTEN may belong to the features that distinguish between the activated phenotype of RA-SF and the sublining, proliferating but nondestructive cells.
PMCID: PMC17804  PMID: 11219390
rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; fibroblasts; PTEN tumour suppressor; severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model; cartilage destruction; in situ hybridization
19.  Caspase 8 and maspin are downregulated in breast cancer cells due to CpG site promoter methylation 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:32.
Epigenetic changes associated with promoter DNA methylation results in silencing of several tumor suppressor genes that lead to increased risk for tumor formation and for progression of the cancer.
Methylation specific PCR (MSP) and bisulfite sequencing were used for determination of proapoptotic gene Caspase 8 (CASP8) and the tumor suppressor gene maspin promoter methylation in four breast cancer and two non-tumorigenic breast cell lines. Involvement of histone H3 methylation in those cell lines were examined by CHIP assay.
The CpG sites in the promoter region of CASP8 and maspin were methylated in all four breast cancer cell lines but not in two non-tumorigenic breast cell lines. Demethylation agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dc) selectively inhibits DNA methyltransferases, DNMT3a and DNMT3b, and restored CASP8 and maspin gene expression in breast cancer cells. 5-aza-dc also reduced histone H3k9me2 occupancy on CASP8 promoter in SKBR3cells, but not in MCF-7 cells. Combination of histone deacetylase inhibitor Trichostatin A (TSA) and 5-aza-dc significant decrease in nuclear expression of Di-methyl histone H3-Lys27 and slight increase in acetyl histone H3-Lys9 in MCF-7 cells. CASP8 mRNA and protein level in MCF-7 cells were increased by the 5-aza-dc in combination with TSA. Data from our study also demonstrated that treatment with 5-FU caused a significant increase in unmethylated CASP8 and in CASP8 mRNA in all 3 cancer lines.
CASP8 and maspin expression were reduced in breast cancer cells due to promoter methylation. Selective application of demethylating agents could offer novel therapeutic opportunities in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2824712  PMID: 20132554
20.  Maspin: The New Frontier 
Maspin (mammary serine protease inhibitor) was identified in 1994 by subtractive hybridization analysis of normal mammary tissue and breast cancer cell lines. Subsequently, emerging evidence portrays maspin as a multifaceted protein, interacting with diverse group of intercellular and extracellular proteins, regulating cell adhesion, motility, apoptosis, and angiogenesis and critically involved in mammary gland development. The tissue-specific expression of maspin is epigenetically controlled, and aberrant methylation of maspin promoter is closely associated with maspin gene silencing. Identification of new tissue sites expressing maspin and novel maspin-binding partners has expanded the horizon for maspin research and promises maspin-based therapeutic approaches for combating cancer. This perspective briefly outlines the past and present strides in deciphering this unique molecule and speculates on new frontiers in maspin research and prospects of maspin as a diagnostic/prognostic indicator in cancer.
PMCID: PMC3175762  PMID: 17189399
21.  Suppression of Breast Tumor Growth and Metastasis by an Engineered Transcription Factor 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24595.
Maspin is a tumor and metastasis suppressor playing an essential role as gatekeeper of tumor progression. It is highly expressed in epithelial cells but is silenced in the onset of metastatic disease by epigenetic mechanisms. Reprogramming of Maspin epigenetic silencing offers a therapeutic potential to lock metastatic progression. Herein we have investigated the ability of the Artificial Transcription Factor 126 (ATF-126) designed to upregulate the Maspin promoter to inhibit tumor progression in pre-established breast tumors in immunodeficient mice. ATF-126 was transduced in the aggressive, mesenchymal-like and triple negative breast cancer line, MDA-MB-231. Induction of ATF expression in vivo by Doxycycline resulted in 50% reduction in tumor growth and totally abolished tumor cell colonization. Genome-wide transcriptional profiles of ATF-induced cells revealed a gene signature that was found over-represented in estrogen receptor positive (ER+) “Normal-like” intrinsic subtype of breast cancer and in poorly aggressive, ER+ luminal A breast cancer cell lines. The comparison transcriptional profiles of ATF-126 and Maspin cDNA defined an overlapping 19-gene signature, comprising novel targets downstream the Maspin signaling cascade. Our data suggest that Maspin up-regulates downstream tumor and metastasis suppressor genes that are silenced in breast cancers, and are normally expressed in the neural system, including CARNS1, SLC8A2 and DACT3. In addition, ATF-126 and Maspin cDNA induction led to the re-activation of tumor suppressive miRNAs also expressed in neural cells, such as miR-1 and miR-34, and to the down-regulation of potential oncogenic miRNAs, such as miR-10b, miR-124, and miR-363. As expected from its over-representation in ER+ tumors, the ATF-126-gene signature predicted favorable prognosis for breast cancer patients. Our results describe for the first time an ATF able to reduce tumor growth and metastatic colonization by epigenetic reactivation of a dormant, normal-like, and more differentiated gene program.
PMCID: PMC3172243  PMID: 21931769
22.  Interferon-Inducible Protein IFIXα Inhibits Cell Invasion by Upregulating the Metastasis Suppressor Maspin 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2008;47(10):739-743.
IFIXα, a member of the interferon-inducible HIN-200 family, has been identified as a putative tumor suppressor. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying IFIXα-mediated tumor suppression are poorly understood. In the present study, we demonstrated that the metastasis suppressor maspin acts as the downstream target of IFIXα. IFIXα suppressed the invasion activity of MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells, and its inhibitory effect was reversed by the knockdown of maspin. Both Maspin mRNA and protein were upregulated by IFIXα. Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, but not DNA methyltransferase inhibitor upregulated maspin, and HDAC1 inhibited the transactivation of maspin promoter. Although the HDAC1 protein was downregulated in IFIXα-expressing cells, IFIXα did not affect HDAC1 mRNA levels. Conversely, a proteasome inhibitor restored the level of HDAC1 protein in IFIXα-expressing cells, and the polyubiqutination of HDAC1 was promoted by IFIXα, suggesting that HDAC1 is regulated by IFIXα through a ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Together, these data provide novel insights into the tumor-suppressive function of IFIXα.
PMCID: PMC2596649  PMID: 18247378
IFIXα; maspin; HDAC1; breast cancer
23.  Kinesin-like protein CENP-E is upregulated in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):71-80.
Our aim was to identify specifically expressed genes using RNA arbitrarily primed (RAP)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for differential display in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, amplification of a distinct PCR product suitable for sequencing could be observed. Sequence analysis identified the PCR product as highly homologous to a 434 base pair segment of the human centromere kinesin-like protein CENP-E. Differential expression of CENP-E was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription PCR, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. CENP-E expression was independent from prednisolone and could not be completely inhibited by serum starvation. RAP-PCR is a suitable method to identify differentially expressed genes in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts. Also, because motifs of CENP-E show homologies to jun and fos oncogene products and are involved in virus assembly, CENP-E may be involved in the pathophysiology of RA.
Articular destruction by invading synovial fibroblasts is a typical feature in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent data support the hypothesis that key players in this scenario are transformed-appearing synovial fibroblasts at the site of invasion into articular cartilage and bone. They maintain their aggressive phenotype toward cartilage, even when first cultured and thereafter coimplanted together with normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficient mice for an extended period of time. However, little is known about the upregulation of genes that leads to this aggressive fibroblast phenotype. To inhibit this progressive growth without interfering with pathways of physiological matrix remodelling, identification of pathways that operate specifically in RA synovial fibroblasts is required. In order to achieve this goal, identification of genes showing upregulation restricted to RA synovial fibroblasts is essential.
To identify specifically expressed genes using RNA arbitrarily primed (RAP)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for differential display in patients with RA.
RNA was extracted from cultured synovial fibroblasts from 10 patients with RA, four patients with osteoarthritis (OA), and one patient with psoriatic arthritis. RAP-PCR was performed using different arbitrary primers for first-strand and second-strand synthesis. First-strand and second-strand synthesis were performed using arbitrary primers: US6 (5' -GTGGTGACAG-3') for first strand, and Nuclear 1+ (5' -ACGAAGAAGAG-3'), OPN28 (5' -GCACCAGGGG-3'), Kinase A2+ (5' -GGTGCCTTTGG-3')and OPN24 (5' -AGGGGCACCA-3') for second-strand synthesis. PCR reactions were loaded onto 8 mol/l urea/6% polyacrylamide-sequencing gels and electrophoresed.Gel slices carrying the target fragment were then excised with a razor blade, eluated and reamplified. After verifying their correct size and purity on 4% agarose gels, the reamplified products derived from the single-strand confirmation polymorphism gel were cloned, and five clones per transcript were sequenced. Thereafter, a GenBank® analysis was performed. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR of the segments was performed using the PCR MIMIC® technique.In-situ expression of centromere kinesin-like protein-E (CENP-E) messenger (m)RNA in RA synovium was assessed using digoxigenin-labelled riboprobes, and CENP-E protein expression in fibroblasts and synovium was performed by immunogold-silver immunohistochemistry and cytochemistry. Functional analysis of CENP-E was done using different approaches (eg glucocorticoid stimulation, serum starvation and growth rate analysis of synovial fibroblasts that expressed CENP-E).
In RA, amplification of a distinct PCR product suitable for sequencing could be observed. The indicated complementary DNA fragment of 434 base pairs from RA mRNA corresponded to nucleotides 6615-7048 in the human centromere kinesin-like protein CENP-E mRNA (GenBank® accession No. emb/Z15005).The isolated sequence shared greater than 99% nucleic acid (P = 2.9e-169) identity with the human centromere kinesin-like protein CENP-E. Two base changes at positions 6624 (A to C) and 6739 (A to G) did not result in alteration in the amino acid sequence, and therefore 100% amino acid identity could be confirmed. The amplification of 10 clones of the cloned RAP product revealed the presence of CENP-E mRNA in every fibroblast culture examined, showing from 50% (271.000 ± 54.000 phosphor imager arbitrary units) up to fivefold (961.000 ± 145.000 phosphor imager arbitrary units) upregulation when compared with OA fibroblasts. Neither therapy with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs such as methotrexate, gold, resochine or cyclosporine A, nor therapy with oral steroids influenced CENP-E expression in the RA fibroblasts. Of the eight RA fibroblast populations from RA patients who were receiving disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, five showed CENP-E upregulation; and of the eight fibroblast populations from RA patients receiving steroids, four showed CENP-E upregulation.
Numerous synovial cells of the patients with RA showed a positive in situ signal for the isolated CENP-E gene segment, confirming CENP-E mRNA production in rheumatoid synovium, whereas in OA synovial tissue CENP-E mRNA could not be detected. In addition, CENP-E expression was independent from medication. This was further confirmed by analysis of the effect of prednisolone on CENP-E expression, which revealed no alteration in CENP-E mRNA after exposure to different (physiological) concentrations of prednisolone. Serum starvation also could not suppress CENP-E mRNA completely.
Since its introduction in 1992, numerous variants of the differential display method and continuous improvements including RAP-PCR have proved to have both efficiency and reliability in examination of differentially regulated genes. The results of the present study reveal that RAP-PCR is a suitable method to identify differentially expressed genes in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts.
The mRNA, which has been found to be upregulated in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts, codes for a kinesin-like motor protein named CENP-E, which was first characterized in 1991. It is a member of a family of centromere-associated proteins, of which six (CENP-A to CENP-F) are currently known. CENP-E itself is a kinetochore motor, which accumulates transiently at kinetochores in the G2 phase of the cell cycle before mitosis takes place, appears to modulate chromosome movement and spindle elongation,and is degraded at the end of mitosis. The presence or upregulation of CENP-E has never been associated with RA.
The three-dimensional structure of CENP-E includes a coiled-coil domain. This has important functions and shows links to known pathways in RA pathophysiology. Coiled-coil domains can also be found in jun and fos oncogene products, which are frequently upregulated in RA synovial fibroblasts. They are also involved in DNA binding and transactivation processes resembling the situation in AP-1 (Jun/Fos)-dependent DNA-binding in rheumatoid synovium. Most interestingly, these coiled-coil motifs are crucial for the assembly of viral proteins, and the upregulation of CENP-E might reflect the influence of infectious agents in RA synovium. We also performed experiments showing that serum starvation decreased, but did not completely inhibit CENP-E mRNA expression. This shows that CENP-E is related to, but does not completely depend on proliferation of these cells. In addition, we determined the growth rate of CENP-E high and low expressors, showing that it was independent from the amount of CENP-E expression. supporting the statement that upregulation of CENP-E reflects an activated RA fibroblast phenotype. In summary, the results of the present study support the hypothesis that CENP-E, presumably independently from medication, may not only be upregulated, but may also be involved in RA pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC17776  PMID: 11056662
arthritis; centromere; differential display; immunohistochemistry; in situ hybridization; RNA fingerprinting
24.  Maspin protein expression correlates with tumor progression in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(4):621-626.
Maspin is a 42-kDa protein that belongs to the family of serine protease inhibitors. It is involved in various physiological processes. In cancer tissue, Maspin was found to influence angiogenesis, tumor growth, metastasis and the prognosis of tumor patients. This study was performed to analyze the involvement of Maspin in transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder as well as its prognostic impact in a large patient cohort. Specimens from 162 non-muscle invasive bladder cancer patients (pTa, 91; pT1, 71) treated by transurethral resection with a minimum 3-year follow-up (median 58.5 months) were included in the present investigation. Tissue microarrays were constructed, and the specimens were immunohistochemically stained for Maspin protein expression. Each tissue specimen was assessed on a staining scale ranging from 0 (no staining) to 300 (strong staining) and correlated with various clinicopathological parameters. Maspin protein expression predicted progression with a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 70% (p<0.001). In predicting recurrence, Maspin staining showed 52% sensitivity and 67% specificity (p<0.05). Kaplan-Meier analyses were performed, and a low Maspin protein expression was correlated with a higher incidence of tumor progression (p<0.0001). However, expression levels of Maspin protein did not distinguish between pTa and pT1 specimens. Multivariate analyses indicated Maspin expression as an independent factor for predicting progression (p<0.0001) and recurrence (p<0.05). The present results suggest that the Maspin protein expression is an independent prognostic indicator for predicting recurrence and progression to muscle invasive disease. This study further emphasizes a possible clinical role of this novel tumor suppressor gene in transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.
PMCID: PMC3436411  PMID: 22966354
biomarker; maspin; recurrence; prognosis; progression; transitional cell carcinoma; transitional bladder cancer
25.  Maspin Mediates Increased Tumor Cell Apoptosis upon Induction of the Mitochondrial Permeability Transition 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(5):1737-1748.
Maspin is a unique serpin with the ability to suppress certain types of malignant tumors. It is one of the few p53-targeted genes involved in tumor invasion and metastasis. With this in mind, we attempted to study the molecular mechanism behind this tumor suppression. Maspin-expressing mammary tumors are more susceptible to apoptosis in both implanted mammary tumors in vivo, a three-dimensional spheroid culture system, as well as in monolayer cell culture under lowered growth factors. Subcellular fractionation shows that a fraction of maspin (in both TM40D-Mp and mutant maspinΔN cells) translocates to the mitochondria. This translocation of maspin to the mitochondria is linked to the opening of the permeability transition pore, which in turn causes the loss of transmembrane potential, thus initiating apoptotic degradation. This translocation is absent in the other mutant, maspinΔRSL. It fails to cause any loss of membrane potential and also shows decreased caspase 3 levels, proving that translocation to the mitochondria is a key event for this increase in apoptosis by maspin. Suppression of maspin overexpression by RNA interference desensitizes cells to apoptosis. Our data indicate that maspin inhibits tumor progression through the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. These findings will be useful for maspin-based therapeutic interventions against breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC549349  PMID: 15713631

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