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1.  Reduced migration of MLH1 deficient colon cancer cells depends on SPTAN1 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:11.
Introduction
Defects in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) protein MLH1 are frequently observed in sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancers (CRC). Affected tumors generate much less metastatic potential than the MLH1 proficient forms. Although MLH1 has been shown to be not only involved in postreplicative MMR but also in several MMR independent processes like cytoskeletal organization, the connection between MLH1 and metastasis remains unclear. We recently identified non-erythroid spectrin αII (SPTAN1), a scaffolding protein involved in cell adhesion and motility, to interact with MLH1. In the current study, the interaction of MLH1 and SPTAN1 and its potential consequences for CRC metastasis was evaluated.
Methods
Nine cancer cell lines as well as fresh and paraffin embedded colon cancer tissue from 12 patients were used in gene expression studies of SPTAN1 and MLH1. Co-expression of SPTAN1 and MLH1 was analyzed by siRNA knock down of MLH1 in HeLa, HEK293, MLH1 positive HCT116, SW480 and LoVo cells. Effects on cellular motility were determined in MLH1 deficient HCT116 and MLH1 deficient HEK293T compared to their MLH1 proficient sister cells, respectively.
Results
MLH1 deficiency is clearly associated with SPTAN1 reduction. Moreover, siRNA knock down of MLH1 decreased the mRNA level of SPTAN1 in HeLa, HEK293 as well as in MLH1 positive HCT116 cells, which indicates a co-expression of SPTAN1 by MLH1. In addition, cellular motility of MLH1 deficient HCT116 and MLH1 deficient HEK293T cells was impaired compared to the MLH1 proficient sister clones. Consequently, overexpression of SPTAN1 increased migration of MLH1 deficient cells while knock down of SPTAN1 decreased cellular mobility of MLH1 proficient cells, indicating SPTAN1-dependent migration ability.
Conclusions
These data suggest that SPTAN1 levels decreased in concordance with MLH1 reduction and impaired cellular mobility in MLH1 deficient colon cancer cells. Therefore, aggressiveness of MLH1-positive CRC might be related to SPTAN1.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-11
PMCID: PMC3904401  PMID: 24456667
DNA mismatch repair; MLH1; SPTAN1; Cytoskeletal proteins; Cellular mobility
2.  Promoter Methylation of MLH1, PMS2, MSH2 and p16 Is a Phenomenon of Advanced-Stage HCCs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84453.
Epigenetic silencing of tumour suppressor genes has been observed in various cancers. Looking at hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) specific protein silencing was previously demonstrated to be associated with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, the proposed HCV dependent promoter methylation of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes and thereby enhanced progression of hepatocarcinogenesis has been the subject of controversial discussion. We investigated promoter methylation pattern of the MMR genes MLH1, MSH2 and PMS2 as well as the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A gene (p16) in 61 well characterized patients with HCCs associated with HCV, Hepatitis B virus infection or alcoholic liver disease. DNA was isolated from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumour and non-tumour adjacent tissue and analysed by methylation-specific PCR. Moreover, microsatellite analysis was performed in tissues showing methylation in MMR gene promoters. Our data demonstrated that promoter methylation of MLH1, MSH2, PMS2 and p16 is present among all considered HCCs. Hereby, promoter silencing was detectable more frequently in advanced-stage HCCs than in low-stage ones. However, there was no significant correlation between aberrant DNA methylation of MMR genes or p16 and HCV infection in related HCC specimens. In summary, we show that promoter methylation of essential MMR genes and p16 is detectable in HCCs most dominantly in pT3 stage tumour cases. Since loss of MMR proteins was previously described to be not only responsible for tumour development but also for chemotherapy resistance, the knowledge of mechanisms jointly responsible for HCC progression might enable significant improvement of individual HCC therapy in the future.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084453
PMCID: PMC3882222  PMID: 24400091
3.  C-Terminal Fluorescent Labeling Impairs Functionality of DNA Mismatch Repair Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31863.
The human DNA mismatch repair (MMR) process is crucial to maintain the integrity of the genome and requires many different proteins which interact perfectly and coordinated. Germline mutations in MMR genes are responsible for the development of the hereditary form of colorectal cancer called Lynch syndrome. Various mutations mainly in two MMR proteins, MLH1 and MSH2, have been identified so far, whereas 55% are detected within MLH1, the essential component of the heterodimer MutLα (MLH1 and PMS2). Most of those MLH1 variants are pathogenic but the relevance of missense mutations often remains unclear. Many different recombinant systems are applied to filter out disease-associated proteins whereby fluorescent tagged proteins are frequently used. However, dye labeling might have deleterious effects on MutLα's functionality. Therefore, we analyzed the consequences of N- and C-terminal fluorescent labeling on expression level, cellular localization and MMR activity of MutLα. Besides significant influence of GFP- or Red-fusion on protein expression we detected incorrect shuttling of single expressed C-terminal GFP-tagged PMS2 into the nucleus and found that C-terminal dye labeling impaired MMR function of MutLα. In contrast, N-terminal tagged MutLαs retained correct functionality and can be recommended both for the analysis of cellular localization and MMR efficiency.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031863
PMCID: PMC3279419  PMID: 22348133
4.  Identification of Lynch syndrome mutations in the MLH1-PMS2 interface that disturb dimerization and mismatch repair 
Human mutation  2010;31(8):975-982.
Missense alterations of the mismatch repair gene MLH1 have been identified in a significant proportion of individuals suspected of having Lynch syndrome, a hereditary syndrome which predisposes for cancer of colon and endometrium. The pathogenicity of many of these alterations, however, is unclear. A number of MLH1 alterations are located in the C-terminal domain (CTD) of MLH1, which is responsible for constitutive dimerization with PMS2. We analyzed which alterations may result in pathogenic effects due to interference with dimerization. We used a structural model of CTD of MLH1-PMS2 heterodimer to select 19 MLH1 alterations located inside and outside two candidate dimerization interfaces in the MLH1-CTD. Three alterations (p.Gln542Leu, p.Leu749Pro, p.Tyr750X) caused decreased co-expression of PMS2, which is unstable in the absence of interaction with MLH1, suggesting that these alterations interfere with dimerization. All three alterations are located within the dimerization interface suggested by our model. They also compromised mismatch repair, suggesting that defects in dimerization abrogate repair and confirming that all three alterations are pathogenic. Additionally, we provided biochemical evidence that four alterations with uncertain pathogenicity (p.Ala586Pro, p.Leu636Pro, p.Thr662Pro, and p.Arg755Trp) are deleterious because of poor expression or poor repair efficiency, and confirm the deleterious effect of eight further alterations.
doi:10.1002/humu.21301
PMCID: PMC2908215  PMID: 20533529
Lynch syndrome; HNPCC; MLH1; PMS2; MutL; missense mutation; dimerization

Results 1-4 (4)