The long-term outcome of patients with mucoepidermoid carcinoma is poor. Limited availability of cell lines and lack of xenograft models is considered a major barrier to improved mechanistic understanding of this disease and development of effective therapies.
To generate and characterize human mucoepidermoid carcinoma cell lines and xenograft models suitable for mechanistic and translational studies.
Five human mucoepidermoid carcinoma specimens were available for generation of cell lines. Cell line tumorigenic potential was assessed by transplantation and serial in vivo passaging in immunodeficient mice, and cell line authenticity verified by short tandem repeat (STR) profiling.
A unique pair of mucoepidermoid carcinoma cell lines was established from a local recurrence (UM-HMC-3A) and from the metastatic lymph node (UM-HMC-3B) of the same patient, 4 years after surgical removal of the primary tumor. These cell lines retained epithelial-like morphology through 100 passages in vitro, contain the Crtc1-Maml2 fusion oncogene (characteristic of mucoepidermoid carcinomas), and express the prototypic target of this fusion (NR4A2). Both cell lines generated xenograft tumors when transplanted into immunodeficient mice. Notably, the xenografts exhibited histological features and Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS) staining patterns that closely resembled those found in human tumors. STR profiling confirmed the origin and authenticity of these cell lines.
These data demonstrate the generation and characterization of a pair of tumorigenic salivary mucoepidermoid carcinoma cell lines representative of recurrence and lymph node metastasis. Such models are useful for mechanistic and translational studies that might contribute to the discovery of new therapies for mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Mouse models; Salivary gland cancer; Xenograft; Oral cancer; Crtc1-Maml2; Tumor recurrence; Metastasis
Cancers may contain a small sub-population of uniquely tumorigenic cells that exhibit self-renewal and multipotency, i.e. cancer stem cells (CSC). These cells reside in invasive fronts in close proximity to blood vessels in many tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Recent evidence suggests that CSC resist chemotherapy and “drive” local recurrence and metastatic spread. Notably, endothelial cell-initiated signaling is critical for the survival and self-renewal of CSC and may play a role in resistance to therapy. Therefore, patients with head and neck cancer might benefit from therapies that target the CSC directly or their supportive perivascular niche.
Tumorigenesis; Angiogenesis; Stemness; Oral cancer; Tumor initiation; Tumor microenvironment
Emerging evidence suggests the existence of a tumorigenic population of cancer cells that demonstrate stem cell-like properties such as self-renewal and multipotency. These cells, termed cancer stem cells (CSC), are able to both initiate and maintain tumor formation and progression. Studies have shown that CSC are resistant to traditional chemotherapy treatments preventing complete eradication of the tumor cell population. Following treatment, CSC are able to re-initiate tumor growth leading to patient relapse. Salivary gland cancers are relatively rare but constitute a highly significant public health issue due to the lack of effective treatments. In particular, patients with mucoepidermoid carcinoma or adenoid cystic carcinoma, the two most common salivary malignancies, have low long-term survival rates due to the lack of response to current therapies. Considering the role of CSC in resistance to therapy in other tumor types, it is possible that this unique sub-population of cells is involved in resistance of salivary gland tumors to treatment. Characterization of CSC can lead to better understanding of the pathobiology of salivary gland malignancies as well as to the development of more effective therapies. Here, we make a brief overview of the state-of-the-science in salivary gland cancer, and discuss possible implications of the cancer stem cell hypothesis to the treatment of salivary gland malignancies.
Mucoepidermoid carcinoma; Adenoid cystic carcinoma; Perivascular niche; Chemoresistance; Tumor initiating cells
Recent evidence suggests that head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) harbor a small sub-population of highly tumorigenic cells, named cancer stem cells. A limiting factor in cancer stem cell research is the intrinsic difficulty of expanding cells in an undifferentiated state in vitro.
Here, we describe the development of the orosphere assay, a method for the study of putative head and neck cancer stem cells. An orosphere is defined as a non-adherent colony of cells sorted from primary HNSCC or from HNSCC cell lines and cultured in 3-D soft agar or ultra-low attachment plates. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and CD44 expression were used here as stem cell markers.
This assay allowed for the propagation of head and neck cancer cells that retained stemness and self-renewal.
The orosphere assay is well suited for studies designed to understand the pathobiology of head and neck cancer stem cells.
Squamous cell carcinoma; suspension culture; sphere; self-renewal; stemness
Recent evidence has unveiled a subpopulation of highly tumorigenic, multipotent cells capable of self-renewal in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). These unique cells, named here cancer stem cells (CSCs), proliferate slowly and might be involved in resistance to conventional chemotherapy. We have shown that CSCs are found in perivascular niches and rely on endothelial cell-secreted factors [particularly interleukin-6 (IL-6)] for their survival and self-renewal in HNSCC. Here, we hypothesized that cisplatin enhances the stem cell fraction in HNSCC. To address this hypothesis, we generated xenograft HNSCC tumors with University of Michigan-squamous cell carcinoma 22B (UM-SCC-22B) cells and observed that cisplatin treatment increased (P = .0013) the fraction of CSCs [i.e., aldehyde dehydrogenase activity high and cluster of differentiation 44 high (ALDHhighCD44high)]. Cisplatin promoted self-renewal and survival of CSCs in vitro, as seen by an increase in the number of orospheres in ultralow attachment plates and induction in B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 homolog (Bmi-1) and octamer-binding transcription factor 4 expression. Cisplatin-resistant cells expressed more Bmi-1 than cisplatinsensitive cells. IL-6 potentiated cisplatin-induced orosphere formation generated when primary human HNSCC cells were sorted for ALDHhighCD44high immediately after surgery and plated onto ultralow attachment plates. IL-6-induced signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) phosphorylation (indicative of stemness) was unaffected by treatment with cisplatin in UM-SCC-22B cells, whereas IL-6-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation (indicative of differentiation processes) was partially inhibited by cisplatin. Notably, cisplatin-induced Bmi-1 was inhibited by interleukin-6 receptor blockade in parental and cisplatin-resistant cells. Taken together, these results demonstrate that cisplatin enhances the fraction of CSCs and suggest a mechanism for resistance to cisplatin therapy in head and neck cancer.
The clinical translation of stem cell-based Regenerative Endodontics demands further development of suitable injectable scaffolds. Puramatrix™ is a defined, self-assembling peptide hydrogel which instantaneously polymerizes under normal physiological conditions. Here, we assessed the compatibility of Puramatrix™ with dental pulp stem cell (DPSC) growth and differentiation.
DPSC cells were grown in 0.05 to 0.25% Puramatrix™. Cell viability was measured colorimetrically using the WST-1 assay. Cell morphology was observed in 3-D modeling using confocal microscopy. In addition, we used the human tooth slice model with Puramatrix™ to verify DPSC differentiation into odontoblast-like cells, as measured by expression of DSPP and DMP-1.
DPSC survived and proliferated in Puramatrix™ for at least three weeks in culture. Confocal microscopy revealed that cells seeded in Puramatrix™ presented morphological features of healthy cells, and some cells exhibited cytoplasmic elongations. Notably, after 21 days in tooth slices containing Puramatrix™, DPSC cells expressed DMP-1 and DSPP, putative markers of odontoblastic differentiation.
Collectively, these data suggest that self-assembling peptide hydrogels might be useful injectable scaffolds for stem cell-based Regenerative Endodontics.
Tissue engineering; Hydrogel; Dental pulp; Regenerative Endodontics; Odontoblast; Stem cells
Recent studies have shown that Bcl-2 functions as a pro-angiogenic signaling molecule in addition to its well-known effect as an inhibitor of apoptosis. The discovery of AT101, a BH3-mimetic drug that is effective and well tolerated when administered orally, suggested the possibility of using a molecularly targeted drug in a metronomic regimen. Here, we generated xenograft squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) with humanized vasculature in immunodeficient mice. Mice received taxotere in combination with either daily 10 mg/kg AT101 (metronomic regimen) or weekly 70 mg/kg AT101 (bolus regimen). The effect of single drug AT101 on angiogenesis, and combination AT101/taxotere on the survival of endothelial cells and SCC cells, were also evaluated in vitro. Metronomic AT101 increased mouse survival (p=0.02), decreased tumor mitotic index (p=0.0009), and decreased tumor microvessel density (p=0.0052), as compared to bolus delivery of AT101. Notably, the substantial potentiation of the anti-tumor effect observed in the metronomic AT101 group was achieved using the same amount of drug and without significant changes in systemic toxicities. In vitro, combination of AT101 and taxotere showed additive toxicity for endothelial cells and synergistic or additive toxicity for tumor cells (SCC). Interestingly, low-dose (sub-apoptotic) concentrations of AT101 potently inhibited the angiogenic potential of endothelial cells. Taken together, these data unveiled the benefit of metronomic delivery of a molecularly targeted drug, and suggested that patients with squamous cell carcinomas might benefit from continuous administration of low dose BH3-mimetic drugs.
Developmental therapeutics; targeted therapy; angiogenesis; Bcl-2; squamous cell carcinoma
Stem cells play a critical role in development and in tissue regeneration. The dental pulp contains a small sub-population of stem cells that are involved in the response of the pulp to caries progression. Specifically, stem cells replace odontoblasts that have undergone cell death as a consequence of the cariogenic challenge. Stem cells also secrete factors that have the potential to enhance pulp vascularization and provide the oxygen and nutrients required for the dentinogenic response that is typically observed in teeth with deep caries. However, the same angiogenic factors that are required for dentin regeneration may ultimately contribute to the demise of the pulp by enhancing vascular permeability and interstitial pressure. Recent studies focused on the biology of dental pulp stem cells revealed that the multipotency and angiogenic capacity of these cells could be exploited therapeutically in dental pulp tissue engineering. Collectively, these findings suggest new treatment paradigms in the field of Endodontics. The goal of this review is to discuss the potential impact of dental pulp stem cells to Regenerative Endodontics.
Tissue Engineering; Dental pulp; Odontoblasts; Angiogenesis; Differentiation
Loco-regional spread of disease causes high morbidity and is associated with the poor prognosis of malignant oral tumors. Better understanding of mechanisms underlying the establishment of lymph node metastasis is necessary for the development of more effective therapies for patients with oral cancer. The aims of this work were to evaluate a possible correlation between endothelial cell Bcl-2 and lymph node metastasis in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), and to study signaling pathways that regulate Bcl-2 expression in lymphatic endothelial cells.
Endothelial cells were selectively retrieved from paraffin-embedded tissue sections of primary human OSCC from patients with or without lymph node metastasis by laser capture microdissection (LCM). RT-PCR was used to evaluate Bcl-2 expression in tumor-associated endothelial cells and in tumor cells. In vitro, mechanistic studies were performed to examine the effect of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C on the expression of Bcl-2 in primary human lymphatic endothelial cells.
We observed that Bcl-2 expression is upregulated in the endothelial cells of human oral tumors with lymph node metastasis as compared to endothelial cells from stage-matched tumors without metastasis. VEGF-C induced Bcl-2 expression in lymphatic endothelial cells via VEGFR-3 and PI3k/Akt signaling. Notably, OSCC cells express VEGF-C and induce Bcl-2 in lymphatic endothelial cells.
Collectively, this work unveiled a mechanism for the induction of Bcl-2 in lymphatic endothelial cells, and suggested that endothelial cell Bcl-2 contributes to lymph node metastasis in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma.
Oral cancer; Angiogenesis; Lymphangiogenesis; Biomarkers; VEGF; Head and Neck Cancer
Recent evidence demonstrated that cancer stem cells reside in close proximity to blood vessels in human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). These findings suggest the existence of a supporting perivascular niche for cancer stem cells.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of endothelial cell-secreted factors on the behavior of head and neck cancer stem-like cells (HNCSC).
Materials and methods
HNCSC were identified by sorting UM-SCC-22A (cell line derived from a primary squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx) and UM-SCC-22B (derived from the metastatic lymph node of the same patient) for CD44 expression and ALDH (aldehyde dehydrogenase) activity. HNCSC (ALDH+CD44+) and control (ALDH−CD44−) cells were cultured in ultra-low attachment plates in presence of conditioned medium from primary human endothelial cells.
ALDH+CD44+ generated more orospheres than control cells when cultured in suspension. The growth factor milieu secreted by endothelial cells protected HNCSC against anoikis. Mechanistic studies revealed that endothelial cell-secreted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induces proliferation of HNCSC derived from primary UM-SCC-22A, but not from the metastatic UM-SCC-22B. Likewise, blockade of VEGF abrogated endothelial cell-induced Akt phosphorylation in HNCSC derived from UM-SCC-22A while it had a modest effect in Akt phosphorylation in HNCSC from UM-SCC-22B.
This study revealed that endothelial cells initiate a crosstalk that protect head and neck cancer stem cells against anoikis, and suggest that therapeutic interference with this crosstalk might be beneficial for patients with head and neck cancer.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Perivascular niche; Angiogenesis; Tumor microenvironment; Metastasis
Emerging evidence indicates that a small population of cancer cells is highly tumorigenic, endowed with self-renewal, and has the ability to differentiate into cells that constitute the bulk of tumors. These cells are considered the “drivers” of the tumorigenic process in some tumor types, and have been named cancer stem cells. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) appears to be involved in the process leading to the acquisition of stemness by epithelial tumor cells. Through this process, cells acquire an invasive phenotype that may contribute to tumor recurrence and metastasis. Cancer stem cells have been identified in human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) using markers such as CD133 and CD44 expression, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity. The head and neck cancer stem cells reside primarily in perivascular niches in the invasive front where endothelial-cell initiated events contribute to their survival and function. In this review, we discuss the state-of-the-knowledge on the pathobiology of cancer stem cells, with a focus on the impact of these cells to head and neck tumor progression.
Oral cancer; Tumorigenesis; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; EMT; Self-renewal; Stemness; Perivascular niche; Squamous cell carcinoma; Angiogenesis
Recent studies have demonstrated that cancer stem cells play an important role in the pathobiology of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). However, little is known about functional interactions between head and neck cancer stem-like cells (CSC) and surrounding stromal cells. Here, we used Aldehyde Dehydrogenase activity and CD44 expression to sort putative stem cells from primary human HNSCC. Implantation of 1,000 CSC (ALDH+CD44+Lin−) led to tumors in 13 (out of 15) mice, while 10,000 non-cancer stem cells (NCSC; ALDH−CD44−Lin−) resulted in 2 tumors in 15 mice. These data demonstrated that ALDH and CD44 select a sub-population of cells that are highly tumorigenic. The ability to self-renew was confirmed by the observation that ALDH+CD44+Lin− cells sorted from human HNSCC formed more spheroids (orospheres) in 3-D agarose matrices or ultra-low attachment plates than controls and were serially passaged in vivo. We observed that approximately 80% of the CSC were located in close proximity (within 100-µm radius) of blood vessels in human tumors, suggesting the existence of perivascular niches in HNSCC. In vitro studies demonstrated that endothelial cell-secreted factors promoted self-renewal of CSC, as demonstrated by the upregulation of Bmi-1 expression and the increase in the number of orospheres as compared to controls. Notably, selective ablation of tumor-associated endothelial cells stably transduced with a caspase-based artificial death switch (iCaspase-9) caused a marked reduction in the fraction of CSC in xenograft tumors. Collectively, these findings indicate that endothelial cell-initiated signaling can enhance the survival and self-renewal of head and neck cancer stem cells.
Tumor microenvironment; perivascular niche; anti-angiogenic therapy; squamous cell carcinoma; stemness
To investigate the effect of a metronomic (low dose, high frequency) small molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2 (TW-37) in combination with radiotherapy on microvascular endothelial cells in vitro and in tumor angiogenesis in vivo.
Methods and materials
Primary human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC) were exposed to ionizing radiation and/or TW-37, and colony formation as well as capillary sprouting in 3-D collagen matrices, was evaluated. Xenografts vascularized with human blood vessels were engineered by co-transplantation of human squamous cell carcinoma cells (OSCC3) and HDMEC seeded in highly porous biodegradable scaffolds into the subcutaneous space of immunodeficient mice. Mice were treated with metronomic TW-37 and/or radiation, and tumor growth was evaluated.
Low dose TW-37 sensitized primary endothelial cells to radiation-induced inhibition of colony formation. Low dose TW-37 or radiation partially inhibited endothelial cell sprout formation, while in combination these therapies abrogated new sprouting. Combination of metronomic TW-37 and low dose radiation inhibited tumor growth and resulted in significant increase in time to failure as compared to controls, whereas single agents did not. Notably, histopathological analysis revealed that tumors treated with TW-37 (with or without radiation) are more differentiated and showed more cohesive invasive fronts, which is consistent with less aggressive phenotype.
These results demonstrate that metronomic TW-37 potentiates the anti-tumor effects of radiotherapy, and suggest that patients with head and neck cancer might benefit from the combination of small molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2 and radiation therapy.
Developmental therapeutics; Radiotherapy; Head and Neck Cancer; Apoptosis; Neovascularization
Thrombospondin 1 (TSP1) is a matrix glycoprotein that regulates cell adhesion, migration, and proliferation, and is a natural inhibitor of angiogenesis. Recent evidence suggests that TSP1 is a major physiologic activator of latent transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), and that TGF-β1 is important for wound healing. The purpose of this study was to examine whether excisional wound healing in TSP1-deficient mice is compromised as a result of deficient TGF-β1 activation.
Materials and Methods
Punch wounds were made on the dorsum of TSP1 deficient and wild-type mice and the area of granulation tissue, number of microvessels, and inflammatory cell infiltration was evaluated over a period of 28 days.
TSP1 deficient mice showed impaired wound healing with persistent granulation tissue, decreased collagen content over time, and delayed arrival of macrophages compared to wild-type littermates. The number of microvessels in wounds of TSP1-deficient mice was approximately two-fold greater than in wild-type littermates 10 days after injury. Topical application of TSP1, or KRFK (a peptide derived from TSP1 that activates latent TGF-β1), to wounds of TSP1-deficient mice rescued wild-type patterns of wound repair and partially recovered local levels of TGF-β1 expression. Topical application of anti-TGF-β neutralizing antibody impaired the ability of KRFK to rescue normal patterns of wound neovascularization in TSP1-deficient mice.
These results demonstrate that TSP1 plays a key role in the orchestration of wound healing, and that TSP1-mediated activation of local TGF-β1 is an important step in this process.
angiogenesis; neovascularization; oral cavity; apoptosis
In addition to the widely used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), endothelial cells appear to be a favorable cell source for hard tissue regeneration. Previously, fluorapatite was shown to stimulate and enhance mineralization of MSCs. This study aims to investigate the growth of endothelial cells on synthesized ordered fluorapatite surfaces and their effect on the mineralization of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) through coculture. Endothelial cells were grown on fluorapatite surfaces and characterized by cell counting, flow cytometry, scanning electron microscopy, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Cells were then cocultured with ASCs and stained for alkaline phosphatase and mineral formation. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathway perturbation and basic FGF (bFGF) treatment of the ASCs were also conducted to observe their effects on differentiation and mineralization of these cells. Fluorapatite surfaces showed good biocompatibility in supporting endothelial cells. Without a mineralization supplement, coculture with endothelial cells induced osteogenic differentiation of ASCs, which was further enhanced by the fluorapatite surfaces. This suggested a combined stimulating effect of endothelial cells and fluorapatite surfaces on the enhanced mineralization of ASCs. Greater amounts of bFGF release by endothelial cells alone or cocultures with ASCs stimulated by fluorapatite surfaces, together with FGF pathway perturbation and bFGF treatment results, suggested that the FGF signaling pathway may function in this process.
Two genes are considered synthetic lethal if mutation of either alone allows cell viability, while simultaneous mutation leads to cell death. A synthetic lethal screen unveiled the dependency of Wnt/B-catenin-addicted colorectal cancer cells on vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 kinase activity and suggested a novel therapeutic approach for this malignancy.
Synthetic lethality; Cell signaling; Receptor Tyrosine Kinase; Developmental Therapeutics; Gene Silencing
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling is critical for tumor angiogenesis. However, therapies based on the inhibition of VEGF receptors have shown modest results in patients with cancer. Surprisingly little is known about mechanisms underlying the regulation of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 expression, the main targets of these drugs. Here, analysis of tissue microarrays revealed an inversely reciprocal pattern of VEGF receptor regulation in the endothelium of human squamous cell carcinomas (high VEGFR1, low VEGFR2), as compared to the endothelium of control tissues (low VEGFR1, high VEGFR2). Mechanistic studies demonstrated that VEGF signals through the Akt/ERK pathway to inhibit constitutive ubiquitination and induce rapid VEGFR1 accumulation in endothelial cells. Surprisingly, VEGFR1 is primarily localized in the nucleus of endothelial cells. In contrast, VEGF signals through the JNK/c-Jun pathway to induce endocytosis, nuclear translocation, and downregulation of VEGFR2 via ubiquitination. VEGFR1 signaling is required for endothelial cell survival, while VEGFR2 regulates capillary tube formation. Notably, the antiangiogenic effect of Bevacizumab (anti-VEGF antibody) requires the normalization of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 levels in human squamous cell carcinomas vascularized with human blood vessels in immunodeficient mice. Collectively, this work demonstrate that VEGF-induced angiogenesis requires the inverse regulation of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 in tumor-associated endothelial cells.
Angiogenesis; Apoptosis; Receptor Tyrosine Kinase; Differentiation; Tumor Microenvironment
It is well known that angiogenesis plays a critical role in the pathobiology of tumors. Recent clinical trials have shown that inhibition of angiogenesis can be an effective therapeutic strategy for patients with cancer. However, one of the outstanding issues in anti-angiogenic treatment for cancer is the development of toxicities related to off-target effects of drugs. Transcriptional targeting of tumor endothelial cells involves the use of specific promoters for selective expression of therapeutic genes in the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels of tumors. Recently, several genes that are expressed specifically in tumor-associated endothelial cells have been identified and characterized. These discoveries have enhanced the prospectus of transcriptionaly targeting tumor endothelial cells for cancer gene therapy. In this manuscript, we review the promoters, vectors, and therapeutic genes that have been used for transcriptional targeting of tumor endothelial cells, and discuss the prospects of such approaches for cancer gene therapy.
Cancer; angiogenesis; promoter; tumor microenvironment; review
Members of the Bcl-2 family play a major role in the pathobiology of head and neck cancer. We have shown that Bcl-2 orchestrates a crosstalk between tumor cells and endothelial cells that have a direct impact on the progression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Notably, Bcl-2 is significantly upregulated in the tumor associated endothelial cells as compared to the endothelial cells of normal oral mucosa in patients with HNSCC. Here, we evaluated the effect of TW-37, a small molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2, on the cell cycle and survival of endothelial cells and HNSCC and on the progression of xenografted tumors. TW-37 has an IC50 of 1.1 µM for primary human endothelial cells and averaged 0.3 µM for head and neck cancer cells (OSCC3, UM-SCC-1, UM-SCC-74A). Combination of TW-37 and cisplatin showed enhanced cytotoxic effects for endothelial cells and HNSCC in vitro, as compared with single drug treatment . Notably, while cisplatin led to an expected G2/M cell cycle arrest, TW-37 mediated an “S” phase cell cycle arrest in endothelial cells and in HNSCC. In vivo, TW-37 inhibited tumor angiogenesis and induced tumor apoptosis without significant systemic toxicities. Combination of TW-37 and cisplatin enhanced the time to tumor failure (i.e. 4-fold increase in tumor volume), as compared to either drug given separately. Collectively, these data reveal that therapeutic inhibition of Bcl-2 function with TW-37 is sufficient to arrest endothelial cells and HNSCC in the “S” phase of cell cycle, and to inhibit head and neck tumor angiogenesis.
apoptosis; neovascularization; cisplatin; cancer
Antiangiogenic therapies have shown varying results partly because each tumor type secretes a distinct panel of angiogenic factors to sustain its own microvascular network. In addition, recent evidence demonstrated that tumors develop resistance to antiangiogenic therapy by turning on alternate angiogenic pathways when one pathway is therapeutically inhibited. Here, we test the hypothesis that expression of a caspase-based artificial death switch in tumor-associated endothelial cells will disrupt tumor blood vessels and slowdown tumor progression irrespective of tumor type. Adenoviral vectors expressing inducible Caspase-9 (iCaspase-9) under transcriptional regulation with the endothelial cell specific VEGFR2 promoter (Ad-hVEGFR2-iCaspase-9) induced apoptosis of proliferating human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC), but not human tumor cells (UM-SCC-17B, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; HepG2, hepatocellular carcinoma; PC-3, prostate adenocarcinoma; SLK, Kaposi’s sarcoma; MCF-7, breast adenocarcinoma). Notably, apoptosis was dependent upon activation of iCaspase-9 with the dimerizer drug AP20187. Local delivery of Ad-hVEGFR2-iCaspase-9 followed by intraperitoneal injection of AP20187 ablated tumor microvessels and inhibited xenografted tumor growth in all tumor models evaluated here. We conclude that a cancer gene therapy strategy based on a transcriptionally targeted viral vector expressing an inducible caspase allows for selective and controlled ablation of microvessels of histopathologically diverse tumor types.
angiogenesis; neovascularization; apoptosis; suicide gene
The specific targeting of diseases, particularly cancer, is a primary aim in drug development, as specificity reduces unwelcome effects on healthy tissue and increases drug efficacy at the target site. Drug specificity can be increased by improving the delivery system or by selecting drugs with affinity for a molecular ligand specific to the disease state. The role of the pro-survival Bcl-2 protein in maintaining the normal balance between apoptosis and cellular survival has been recognized for over a decade. Bcl-2 is vital during development, much less so in adults. It has also been noted that some cancers evade apoptosis and obtain a survival advantage through aberrant expression of Bcl-2. The new and remarkably diverse class of drugs, small molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2 (mw ~400–800), is examined herein. We present the activities of these compounds along with clinical observations, where available. The effects of Bcl-2 inhibition on attenuation of tumor cell growth are discussed, as are studies revealing the potential for Bcl-2 inhibitors as anti-angiogenic agents. Despite an enormous body of work published for the Bcl-2 family of proteins, we are still learning exactly how this group of molecules interacts and indeed what they do. The small molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2, in addition to their therapeutic potential, are proving to be an important investigative tool for understanding the function of Bcl-2.
Developmental therapeutics; Tumor; Neovascularization; Pharmacology
The specific targeting of diseases, particularly cancer, is a primary aim in drug development, as specificity reduces unwelcome effects on healthy tissue and increases drug efficacy at the target site. Drug specificity can be increased by improving the delivery system or by selecting drugs with affinity for a molecular ligand specific to the disease state. The role of the prosurvival Bcl-2 protein in maintaining the normal balance between apoptosis and cellular survival has been recognized for more than a decade. Bcl-2 is vital during development, much less so in adults. It has also been noted that some cancers evade apoptosis and obtain a survival advantage through aberrant expression of Bcl-2. The new and remarkably diverse class of drugs, small-molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2 (molecular weight approximately 400 to 800 Daltons), is examined herein. We present the activities of these compounds along with clinical observations, where available. The effects of Bcl-2 inhibition on attenuation of tumor cell growth are discussed, as are studies revealing the potential for Bcl-2 inhibitors as antiangiogenic agents. Despite an enormous body of work published for the Bcl-2 family of proteins, we are still learning exactly how this group of molecules interacts and indeed what they do. The small-molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2, in addition to their therapeutic potential, are proving to be an important investigative tool for understanding the function of Bcl-2.
It is well known that cancer cells secrete angiogenic factors to recruit and sustain tumor vascular networks. However, little is known about the effect of endothelial cell-secreted factors on the phenotype and behavior of tumor cells. The hypothesis underlying this study is that endothelial cells initiate signaling pathways that enhance tumor cell survival and migration. Here, we observed that soluble mediators from primary human dermal microvascular endothelial cells induce phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), Akt, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in a panel of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells (OSCC-3, UM-SCC-1, UM-SCC-17B, UM-SCC-74A). Gene expression analysis demonstrated that interleukin-6 (IL- 6), interleukin-8 (CXCL8), and epidermal growth factor (EGF) are upregulated in endothelial cells cocultured with HNSCC. Blockade of endothelial cell-derived IL-6, CXCL8, or EGF by gene silencing or neutralizing antibodies inhibited phosphorylation of STAT3, Akt, and ERK in tumor cells, respectively. Notably, activation of STAT3, Akt, and ERK by endothelial cells enhanced migration and inhibited anoikis of tumor cells. We have previously demonstrated that Bcl-2 is upregulated in tumor microvessels in patients with HNSCC. Here, we observed that Bcl-2 signaling induces expression of IL-6, CXCL8, and EGF, providing a mechanism for the upregulation of these cytokines in tumor-associated endothelial cells. This study expands the contribution of endothelial cells to the pathobiology of tumor cells. It unveils a new mechanism in which endothelial cells function as initiators of molecular crosstalks that enhance survival and migration of tumor cells.
Endothelial cell apoptosis plays a critical role in the disruption of blood vessels mediated by natural inhibitors of angiogenesis and by anti-vascular drugs. However, the proportion of endothelial cells required to mediate a significant decrease in microvessel density is unknown. A system based on an inducible caspase (iCaspase-9) offers a unique opportunity to address this question. The dimerizer drug AP20187 induces apoptosis of human dermal microvascular endothelial cells stably transduced with iCaspase-9 (HDMEC-iCaspase-9), but not control cells (HDMEC-LXSN). Here, we generated blood vessels containing several HDMEC-iCaspase-9:HDMEC-LXSN ratios, and developed a mathematical modeling involving a system of differential equations to evaluate experimentally inaccessible ratios. A significant decrease in capillary sprouts was observed when at least 17% of the endothelial cells underwent apoptosis in vitro. Exposure to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF165) did not prevent apoptosis of HDMEC-iCaspase-9, but increased the apoptotic requirement for sprout disruption. In vivo experiments showed the requirement of at least 22% apoptotic endothelial cells for a significant decrease in microvascular density. The combined use of biological experimentation with mathematical modeling allowed us to conclude that apoptosis of a relatively small proportion of endothelial cells is sufficient to mediate a significant decrease in microvessel density.
Short interfering RNA (siRNA) targeted against anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein proved to knockdown its expression and trigger cancer cell death. We used degradable, pH-sensitive, comb-like [P(EAA-co-BMA)-b-PNASI-g-P(HMA-co-TMAEMA)] polymer to condense anti-Bcl-2 siRNA into “smart” particles, which proved to shuttle their cargo past the endosomal membrane and into the cytoplasm of HeLa and UM-SCC-17B cancer cells. HeLa and UM-SCC-17B cancer cells were treated with anti-Bcl-2 particles followed by quantifying Bcl-2 mRNA and protein levels using qRT-PCR and western blotting, respectively. “Smart” anti-Bcl-2 particles selectively suppress Bcl-2 mRNA and protein levels in HeLa cells by 50%–60% and 79%–81%, respectively. Similarly, “smart” anti-Bcl-2 particles inhibited Bcl-2 mRNA levels by 30%, 40%, and 20% upon incubation with UM-SCC-17B cancer cells for 48, 72, and 96 h, respectively. Bcl-2 protein expression in UM-SCC-17B cancer cells was inhibited by 30% after treatment for 72 h. Results show that pH-sensitive comb-like polymer complex anti-Bcl-2 siRNA forming “smart” nanoparticles that deliver their cargo into the cytoplasm of HeLa and UM-SCC-17B cancer cells causing Bcl-2 knockdown at the mRNA and protein levels.
pH-sensitive comb-like polymers; smart particles; endosomal escape; cytoplasmic siRNA delivery; Bcl-2 knockdown