The potential of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) in therapeutic and diagnostic cancer applications is becoming increasingly recognized. These biologically compatible particles can be easily synthesized, tuned to different sizes, and functionalized by conjugation to various biologically useful materials. Efficient and specific delivery to tumor tissue can then be accomplished either by passive accumulation in leaky tumor vessels and tissue, or by directly targeting tumor-specific biomarkers. Tumor-localized GNPs can serve as both adjuvants for enhancing the efficacy of radiation therapy and also as contrast agents for various imaging modalities. In this review, we will discuss recent advancements and future potential in the application of GNP as both a radiosensitizer and an imaging contrast agent. Due to their versatility and biocompatibility, gold nanoparticles may represent a novel theranostic adjuvant for radiation applications in cancer management.
Gold Nanoparticle (GNP); theranostics; radiosensitization; nanoscale
Blood tests to detect circulating tumor cells (CTC) offer great potential to monitor disease status, gauge prognosis, and guide treatment decisions for patients with cancer. For patients with brain tumors, such as aggressive glioblastoma multiforme, CTC assays are needed that do not rely on expression of cancer cell surface biomarkers like epithelial cell adhesion molecules that brain tumors tend to lack. Here, we describe a strategy to detect CTC based on telomerase activity, which is elevated in nearly all tumor cells but not normal cells. This strategy uses an adenoviral detection system that is shown to successfully detect CTC in patients with brain tumors. Clinical data suggest that this assay might assist interpretation of treatment response in patients receiving radiotherapy, for example, to differentiate pseudoprogression from true tumor progression. These results support further development of this assay as a generalized method to detect CTC in patients with cancer.
Mitotic spindle-disrupting agents target and alter microtubule dynamics. These agents include clinically important chemotherapies, such as taxanes (paclitaxel [Taxol], docetaxel [Taxotere]) and vinca alkaloids (vincristine [Oncovin], vinblastine). Taxanes are a standard component of treatment for many malignancies, often in conjunction with other cytotoxic agents. However, the optimal sequencing of these treatments and whether efficacy may be influenced by in vitro cellular growth conditions remain incompletely investigated. Yet such preclinical investigations may guide clinical decision making. We therefore studied the effect of cell density on rapid killing by paclitaxel and vincristine. Breast, ovarian and prostate cancer cells were sensitive to rapid killing by either agent when grown at low density, but were markedly resistant when grown at high density, i.e., nearly confluent. The resistance of densely growing cells to rapid killing by these drugs translated to increased clonogenic survival. Pretreatment of densely growing cancer cells with cisplatin followed by paclitaxel, partially reversed the treatment resistance. Gene ontology associations from microarray analyses of cells grown at low and high density, suggested roles for membrane signal transduction and adhesion, but potentially also DNA damage repair and metabolism. Taken together, the treatment resistance at higher cell density may be associated with a lower proportion of active cycling in cells growing at high density as well as transduction of survival signals induced by increased cell-cell adhesion. Collectively these findings suggest mechanisms by which growth conditions may contribute to resistance to rapid killing by microtubule-disrupting drugs.
cellular density; paclitaxel; microtubule-targeting agents; microarray; cell cycle
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a popular vertebrate model for biomedical research. The rapid development, transparency, and experimental accessibility of the embryo offer opportunities for assessing the developmental effects of anticancer treatment strategies. We therefore systematically investigated parameters for growing U251 human glioma cells expressing red fluorescent protein (U251-RFP) in zebrafish embryos. Factors optimized include injection volume, number of cells injected, anatomic site of injection, age of the embryo at the time of injection, and postinjection incubation temperature. After injection into the embryos, the U251-RFP cells proliferated and the resultant tumors, and even individual cells, could be visualized in real-time via fluorescence microscopy without the need for sacrifice. These tumors recruited host zebrafish vasculature, suggesting cancer cell–host tissue interactions. Having optimized parameters for introducing and growing these human cells in the zebrafish embryos, we exposed both embryos and transplanted cancer cells to ionizing radiation and temozolomide, either alone or in combination. The human tumors in each embryo were substantially diminished following exposure to ionizing radiation and the decrease was further enhanced by pretreatment with temozolomide. In contrast, temozolomide had no discernible effects on embryonic development. These results together support the relative safety of temozolomide during embryonic development, as well as its anticancer efficacy when combined with radiation. These results suggest the value of the zebrafish model for in vivo testing of the efficacy and safety of anticancer strategies, especially on the very young.
Radiation therapy (RT) is an integral component of the treatment of many sarcomas and relies on accurate targeting of tumor tissue. Despite conventional treatment planning and RT, local failure rates of 10% to 28% at 5 years have been reported for locally advanced, unresectable sarcomas, due in part to limitations in the cumulative RT dose that may be safely delivered. We describe studies of the potential usefulness of gold nanoparticles modified for durable systemic circulation (through polyethylene glycosylation; hereinafter “P-GNPs”) as adjuvants for RT of sarcomas. In studies of two human sarcoma-derived cell lines, P-GNP in conjunction with RT caused increased unrepaired DNA damage, reflected by approximately 1.61-fold increase in γ-H2AX (histone phosphorylated on Ser139) foci density compared with RT alone. The combined RT and P-GNP also led to significantly reduced clonogenic survival of tumor cells, compared to RT alone, with dose-enhancement ratios of 1.08 to 1.16. In mice engrafted with human sarcoma tumor cells, the P-GNP selectively accumulated in the tumor and enabled durable imaging, potentially aiding radiosensitization as well as treatment planning. Mice pretreated with P-GNP before targeted RT of their tumors exhibited significantly improved tumor regression and overall survival, with long-term survival in one third of mice in this treatment group compared to none with RT only. Interestingly, prior RT of sarcoma tumors increased subsequent extravasation and in-tumor deposition of P-GNP. These results together suggest P-GNP may be integrated into the RT of sarcomas, potentially improving target imaging and radiosensitization of tumor while minimizing dose to normal tissues.
Histone deacetylases mediate critical cellular functions but relatively little is known about mechanisms controlling their expression, including expression of HDAC4, a class II HDAC implicated in the modulation of cellular differentiation and viability. Endogenous HDAC4 mRNA, protein levels and promoter activity were all readily repressed by mithramycin, suggesting regulation by GC-rich DNA sequences. We validated consensus binding sites for Sp1/Sp3 transcription factors in the HDAC4 promoter through truncation studies and targeted mutagenesis. Specific and functional binding by Sp1/Sp3 at these sites was confirmed with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and electromobility shift assays (EMSA). Cotransfection of either Sp1 or Sp3 with a reporter driven by the HDAC4 promoter led to high activities in SL2 insect cells (which lack endogenous Sp1/Sp3). In human cells, restored expression of Sp1 and Sp3 up-regulated HDAC4 protein levels, whereas levels were decreased by RNA-interference-mediated knockdown of either protein. Finally, variable levels of Sp1 were in concordance with that of HDAC4 in a number of human tissues and cancer cell lines. These studies together characterize for the first time the activity of the HDAC4 promoter, through which Sp1 and Sp3 modulates expression of HDAC4 and which may contribute to tissue or cell-line-specific expression of HDAC4.
Radiation therapy is a mainstay in the treatment of glioblastomas, but these tumors are often associated with radioresistance. Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway, which occurs frequently in glioblastomas due to inactivation of the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN), correlates with radioresistance. To directly test the link between Akt activation and radioresistance, we utilized PTEN-deficient U251 glioblastoma cells engineered to inducibly restore PTEN upon exposure to doxycycline. These cells showed high basal levels of Akt activation (i.e. high levels of phospho-Akt), but induction of PTEN led to substantially decreased phospho-Akt and was associated with radiosensitization. To investigate whether the PTEN-induced radiosensitization was attributable to impaired sensing versus repair of DNA damage, we assessed levels of γ-H2AX after ionizing radiation in U251 cells induced for PTEN. Initial post-radiation levels of γ-H2AX foci were not decreased in PTEN-induced cells; however, the resolution of these foci was significantly delayed. In contrast to these results, induction of phosphatase-dead PTEN showed no appreciable effect. Finally, exposure of cells to the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 did not decrease the occurrence of γ-H2AX foci after irradiation but did markedly delay their resolution. These results together support a direct link between Akt activation, repair of DNA damage, and radioresistance in glioblastoma. Targeting the PI3K/Akt pathway may modulate DNA repair to improve the efficacy of radiation therapy.
Anumber of proteins are recruited to nuclear foci upon exposure to double-strand DNA damage, including 53BP1 and Rad51, but the precise role of these DNA damage–induced foci remain unclear. Here we show in a variety of human cell lines that histone deacetylase (HDAC) 4 is recruited to foci with kinetics similar to, and colocalizes with, 53BP1 after exposure to agents causing double-stranded DNA breaks. HDAC4 foci gradually disappeared in repair-proficient cells but persisted in repair-deficient cell lines or cells irradiated with a lethal dose, suggesting that resolution of HDAC4 foci is linked to repair. Silencing of HDAC4 via RNA interference surprisingly also decreased levels of 53BP1 protein, abrogated the DNA damage–induced G2 delay, and radiosensitized HeLa cells. Our combined results suggest that HDAC4 is a critical component of the DNA damage response pathway that acts through 53BP1 and perhaps contributes in maintaining the G2 cell cycle checkpoint.
HDAC4; 53BP1; DNA damage; irradiation; G2 checkpoint
For patients with solid tumors, the tolerance of surrounding tissues often limits the dose of radiation that can be delivered. Thus, agents that preferentially increase the cytotoxic effects of radiation toward tumor cells would significantly alter the therapeutic ratio and improve patient survival. Using a high-throughput, unbiased screening approach, we have identified 4′-bromo-3′-nitropropiophenone (NS-123) as a radiosensitizer of human glioma cells in vitro and in vivo. NS-123 radiosensitized U251 glioma cells in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner, with dose enhancement ratios ranging from 1.3 to 2.0. HT-29 colorectal carcinoma and A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells were also radiosensitized by NS-123 in vitro, whereas NS-123 did not increase the radiation sensitivity of normal human astrocytes or developmental abnormalities or lethality of irradiated Zebrafish embryos. In a novel xenograft model of U251 cells implanted into Zebrafish embryos, NS-123 enhanced the tumor growth-inhibitory effects of ionizing radiation (IR) with no apparent effect on embryo development. Similar results were obtained using a mouse tumor xenograft model in which NS-123 sensitized U251 tumors to IR while exhibiting no overt toxicity. In vitro pretreatment with NS-123 resulted in accumulation of unrepaired IR-induced DNA strand breaks and prolonged phosphorylation of the surrogate markers of DNA damage H2AX, ataxia telangiectasia mutated protein, DNA-dependent protein kinase, and CHK2 after IR, suggesting that NS-123 inhibits a critical step in the DNA repair pathway. These results show the potential of this cell-based, high-throughput screening method to identify novel radiosensitizers and suggest that NS-123 and similar nitrophenol compounds may be effective in antiglioma modalities.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Current therapies are inadequate. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) are a recently developed class of anticancer agents that cause increased acetylation of core histones and nonhistone proteins leading to modulation of gene expression and protein activity involved in cancer cell growth and survival pathways. We examined the efficacy of the HDACi panobinostat (LBH589) in a wide range of lung cancers and mesotheliomas. Panobinostat was cytotoxic in almost all 37 cancer cell lines tested. IC50 and LD50 values were in the low nmol/L range (4–470 nmol/L; median, 20 nmol/L). Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines were among the most sensitive lines, with LD50 values consistently <25 nmol/L. In lung cancer and mesothelioma animal models, panobinostat significantly decreased tumor growth by an average of 62% when compared with vehicle control. Panobinostat was equally effective in immunocompetent and severe combined immunodeficiency mice, indicating that the inhibition of tumor growth by panobinostat was not due to direct immunologic effects. Panobinostat was, however, particularly effective in SCLC xenografts, and the addition of the chemotherapy agent etoposide augmented antitumor effects. Protein analysis of treated tumor biopsies revealed elevated amounts of cell cycle regulators such as p21 and proapoptosis factors, such as caspase 3 and 7 and cleaved poly[ADP-ribose] polymerase, coupled with decreased levels of antiapoptotic factors such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL. These studies together suggest that panobinostat may be a useful adjunct in the treatment of thoracic malignancies, especially SCLC.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a common, usually lethal disease with a median survival of only ~15 months. It has proven resistant in clinical trials to chemotherapeutic agents such as paclitaxel that are highly effective in vitro, presumably because of impaired drug delivery across the tumor's blood-brain barrier (BBB). In an effort to increase paclitaxel delivery across the tumor BBB, we linked the drug to a novel filomicelle nanocarrier made with biodegradable poly(ethylene-glycol)-block-poly(ε-caprolactone-r-D,L-lactide) and used precisely collimated radiation therapy (RT) to disrupt the tumor BBB's permeability in an orthotopic mouse model of GBM. Using a non-invasive bioluminescent imaging technique to assess tumor burden and response to therapy in our model, we demonstrated that the drug-loaded nanocarrier (DLN) alone was ineffective against stereotactically implanted intracranial tumors yet was highly effective against GBM cells in culture and in tumors implanted into the flanks of mice. When targeted cranial RT was used to modulate the tumor BBB, the paclitaxel-loaded nanocarriers became effective against the intracranial tumors. Focused cranial RT improved DLN delivery into the intracranial tumors, significantly improving therapeutic outcomes. Tumor growth was delayed or halted, and survival was extended by >50% (p<0.05) compared to the results obtained with either RT or the DLN alone. Combinations of RT and chemotherapeutic agents linked to nanocarriers would appear to be an area for future investigations that could enhance outcomes in the treatment of human GBM.
glioblastoma multiforme; nanocarrier; radiation therapy; brain tumors; chemotherapy
Preclinical studies of cranial radiation therapy (RT) using animal brain tumor models have been hampered by technical limitations in the delivery of clinically relevant RT. We established a bioimageable mouse model of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and an image-guided radiation delivery system that facilitated precise tumor localization and treatment and which closely resembled clinical RT. Our novel radiation system makes use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and bioluminescent imaging (BLI) to define tumor volumes, computed tomographic (CT) imaging for accurate treatment planning, a novel mouse immobilization system, and precise treatments delivered with the Small Animal Radiation Research Platform. We demonstrated that, in vivo, BLI correlated well with MRI for defining tumor volumes. Our novel restraint system enhanced setup reproducibility and precision, was atraumatic, and minimized artifacts on CT imaging used for treatment planning. We confirmed precise radiation delivery through immunofluorescent analysis of the phosphorylation of histone H2AX in irradiated brains and brain tumors. Assays with an intravenous near-infrared fluorescent probe confirmed that radiation of orthografts increased disruption of the tumor blood-brain barrier (BBB). This integrated model system, which facilitated delivery of precise, reproducible, stereotactic cranial RT in mice and confirmed RT's resultant histologic and BBB changes, may aid future brain tumor research.
HIV-1 integration is mediated by the HIV-1 integrase protein, which joins 3'-ends of viral DNA to host cell DNA. To complete the integration process, HIV-1 DNA has to be joined to host cell DNA also at the 5'-ends. This process is called post-integration repair (PIR). Integration and PIR involve a number of cellular co-factors. These proteins exhibit different degrees of involvement in integration and/or PIR. Some are required for efficient integration or PIR. On the other hand, some reduce the efficiency of integration. Finally, some are involved in integration site selection. We have studied the role of the histone deacetylase HDAC4 in these processes. HDAC4 was demonstrated to play a role in both cellular double-strand DNA break repair and transcriptional regulation. We observed that HDAC4 associates with viral DNA in an integrase-dependent manner. Moreover, infection with HIV-1-based vectors induces foci of the HDAC4 protein. The related histone deacetylases, HDAC2 and HDAC6, failed to associate with viral DNA after infection. These data suggest that HDAC4 accumulates at integration sites. Finally, overexpression studies with HDAC4 mutants suggest that HDAC4 may be required for efficient transduction by HIV-1-based vectors in cells that are deficient in other DNA repair proteins. We conclude that HDAC4 is likely involved in PIR.
The class II Histone deacetylase (HDAC), HDAC4, is expressed in a tissue-specific manner, and it represses differentiation of specific cell types. We demonstrate here that HDAC4 is expressed in the proliferative zone in small intestine and colon and that its expression is down-regulated during intestinal differentiation in vivo and in vitro. Subcellular localization studies demonstrated HDAC4 expression was predominantly nuclear in proliferating HCT116 cells and relocalized to the cytoplasm after cell cycle arrest. Down-regulating HDAC4 expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA) in HCT116 cells induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in vitro, reduced xenograft tumor growth, and increased p21 transcription. Conversely, overexpression of HDAC4 repressed p21 promoter activity. p21 was likely a direct target of HDAC4, because HDAC4 down-regulation increased p21 mRNA when protein synthesis was inhibited by cycloheximide. The importance of p21 repression in HDAC4-mediated growth promotion was demonstrated by the failure of HDAC4 down-regulation to induce growth arrest in HCT116 p21-null cells. HDAC4 down-regulation failed to induce p21 when Sp1 was functionally inhibited by mithramycin or siRNA-mediated down-regulation. HDAC4 expression overlapped with that of Sp1, and a physical interaction was demonstrated by coimmunoprecipitation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and sequential ChIP analyses demonstrated Sp1-dependent binding of HDAC4 to the proximal p21 promoter, likely directed through the HDAC4–HDAC3–N-CoR/SMRT corepressor complex. Consistent with increased transcription, HDAC4 or SMRT down-regulation resulted in increased histone H3 acetylation at the proximal p21 promoter locus. These studies identify HDAC4 as a novel regulator of colon cell proliferation through repression of p21.
hSgo2 (previously annotated as Tripin) was recently reported to be a new inner centromere protein that is essential for centromere cohesion (Kitajima et al., 2006). In this study, we show that hSgo2 exhibits a dynamic distribution pattern, and that its localization depends on the BUB1 and Aurora B kinases. hSgo2 is concentrated at the inner centromere of unattached kinetochores, but extends toward the kinetochores that are under tension. This localization pattern is reminiscent of MCAK, which is a microtubule depolymerase that is believed to be a key component of the error correction mechanism at kinetochores. Indeed, we found that hSgo2 is essential for MCAK to localize to the centromere. Delocalization of MCAK accounts for why cells depleted of hSgo2 exhibit kinetochore attachment defects that go uncorrected, despite a transient delay in the onset of anaphase. Consequently, these cells exhibit a high frequency of lagging chromosomes when they enter anaphase. We confirmed that hSgo2 is associated with PP2A, and we propose that it contributes to the spatial regulation of MCAK activity within inner centromere and kinetochore.
Pancreatic and colorectal carcinomas frequently express oncogenic/mutant K-Ras that contributes to both tumorigenesis and clinically observed resistance to radiation treatment. We have previously shown that farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTI) radiosensitize many pancreatic and colorectal cancer cell lines that express oncogenic K-ras at doses that inhibit the prenylation and activation of H-Ras but not K-Ras. In the present study, we have examined the mechanism of FTI-mediated radiosensitization in cell lines that express oncogenic K-Ras and found that wild-type H-Ras is a contributor to radiation survival in tumor cells that express oncogenic K-Ras. In these experiments, inhibiting the expression of oncogenic K-Ras, wild-type H-Ras, or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) led to similar levels of radiosensitization as treatment with the FTI tipifarnib. Treatment with the EGFR inhibitor gefitinib led to similar levels of radiosensitization, and the combinations of tipifarnib or gefitinib plus inhibition of K-Ras, H-Ras, or EGFR expression did not provide additional radiosensitization compared with tipifarnib or gefitinib alone. Finally, supplementing culture medium with the EGFR ligand transforming growth factor α was able to reverse the radiosensitizing effect of inhibiting K-ras expression. Taken together, these findings suggest that EGFR-activated H-Ras signaling is initiated by oncogenic K-Ras to promote radiation survival in pancreatic and colorectal cancers.
Ras; EGFR; radiosensitivity; signal transduction; cancer
Long Interspersed Elements (LINE-1s, L1s) are the most active mobile elements in the human genome and account for a significant fraction of its mass. The propagation of L1 in the human genome requires disruption and repair of DNA at the site of integration. As Barbara McClintock first hypothesized, genotoxic stress may contribute to the mobilization of transposable elements, and conversely, element mobility may contribute to genotoxic stress. We tested the ability of genotoxic agents to increase L1 retrotransposition in a cultured cell assay. We observed that cells exposed to gamma radiation exhibited increased levels of L1 retrotransposition. The L1 retrotransposition frequency was proportional to the number of phosphorylated H2AX foci, an indicator of genotoxic stress. To explore the role of the L1 endonuclease in this context, endonuclease-deficient tagged L1 constructs were produced and tested for their activity in irradiated cells. The activity of the endonuclease-deficient L1 was very low in irradiated cells, suggesting that most L1 insertions in irradiated cells still use the L1 endonuclease. Consistent with this interpretation, DNA sequences that flank L1 insertions in irradiated cells harbored target site duplications. These results suggest that increased L1 retrotransposition in irradiated cells is endonuclease dependent. The mobilization of L1 in irradiated cells potentially contributes to genomic instability and could be a driving force for secondary mutations in patients undergoing radiation therapy.
The fidelity of chromosomal duplication is monitored by cell cycle checkpoints operational during mitosis. One such cell cycle delay is invoked by microtubule-targeting agents such as nocodazole or paclitaxel (Taxol) and is mediated by mitotic checkpoint proteins that include BubR1. Relatively little is known about the regulation of expression and stability of BubR1 (or other checkpoint proteins) and how these factors dictate the durability of the cell cycle delay. We report here that treatment of HeLa cells with spindle-disrupting agents resulted in caspase activation and precipitated the cleavage of BubR1. This mechanism ultimately leads to reduced levels of full-length protein, which are accompanied by abrogation of the mitotic block; the checkpoint abrogation is substantially accelerated by inhibition of de novo protein synthesis. In contrast, inhibition of caspase activity blocked BubR1 degradation and prolonged mitosis. To confirm a direct link between caspase activity and BubR1 protein expression, we identified by site-directed mutagenesis the specific caspase cleavage sites cleaved after exposure to paclitaxel. Surprisingly, BubR1 has two sites of cleavage: primarily at Asp607/Asp610 and secondarily at Asp576/Asp579. BubR1 mutated at both locations (BubR1Δ579Δ610) was resistant to paclitaxel-induced degradation. Expression of BubR1Δ579Δ610 augmented the mitotic delay induced by spindle disruption in transfected cells as well as in clones engineered to inducibly express the mutant protein upon exposure to doxycycline and ultimately led to increased aneuploidy. Underscoring the importance of these caspase cleavage sites, both tetrapeptide motifs are identified in the amino acid sequences of human, mouse, chicken, and Xenopus BubR1. These results are potentially the first to link the control of the stability of a key mitotic checkpoint protein to caspase activation, a regulatory pathway that may be involved in killing defective cells and that has been evolutionarily conserved.
DNA and histone synthesis are both triggered at the beginning of S phase by cyclin/cdk2 activity. Previous studies showed that inhibition of DNA synthesis with hydroxyurea or cytosine arabinoside (AraC) triggers a concerted repression of histone synthesis, indicating that sustained histone synthesis depends on continued DNA synthesis. Here we show that ectopic expression of HIRA, the likely human ortholog of two cell cycle-regulated repressors of histone gene transcription in yeast (Hir1p and Hir2p), represses transcription of histones and that this, in turn, triggers a concerted block of DNA synthesis. Thus, in mammalian cells sustained DNA synthesis and histone synthesis are mutually dependent on each other during S phase. Although cyclin/cdk2 activity drives activation of both DNA and histone synthesis at the G1/S transition of cycling cells, concerted repression of DNA or histone synthesis in response to inhibition of either one of these is not accompanied by prolonged inhibition of cyclin A/cdk2 or E/cdk2 activity. Therefore, during S phase coupling of DNA and histone synthesis occurs, at least in part, through a mechanism that is independent of cyclin/cdk2 activity. Coupling of DNA and histone synthesis in S phase presumably contributes to the prompt and orderly assembly of newly replicated DNA into chromatin.