Many physicians are reluctant to treat elderly glioblastoma (GBM) patients as aggressively as younger patients, which is not evidence based due to the absence of validated data from primary studies. We conducted a meta-analysis to provide valid evidence for the use of the aggressive combination of radiotherapy (RT) and temozolomide (TMZ) in elderly GBM patients.
A systematic literature search was conducted using the PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane databases. Studies comparing combined RT/TMZ with RT alone in elderly patients (≥65 years) with newly diagnosed GBM were eligible for inclusion.
No eligible randomized trials were identified. Alternatively, a meta-analysis of nonrandomized studies (NRSs) was performed, with 16 studies eligible for overall survival (OS) analysis and nine for progression-free survival (PFS) analysis. Combined RT/TMZ was shown to reduce the risk of death and progression in elderly GBM patients compared with RT alone (OS hazard ratio [HR] 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.48–0.72; PFS: HR 0.58, 95% CI 0.41–0.84). Evaluable patients were reported to tolerate combined treatment but certain toxicities, and especially hematological toxicities, were more frequently observed. Limited data on O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter status and quality of life were reported.
The meta-analysis of NRSs provided level 2a evidence (Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine) that combined RT/TMZ conferred a clear survival benefit on a selection of elderly GBM patients who had a favorable prognosis (e.g., extensive resection, favorable KPS). Toxicities were more frequent but acceptable. Future randomized trials are warranted to justify a definitive conclusion.
A sensitive, simple and reproducible protocol for nanoparticle-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging technique is described. The use of commercially available TiO2 nanoparticles abolishes heterogeneous crystallization, matrix background interferences and enhances signal detection, especially in the low mass range. Molecular image normalization was based on internal standard deposition on tissues, allowing direct comparison of drug penetration and distribution between different organs and tissues. The method was applied to analyze the distribution of the anticancer drug paclitaxel, inside normal and neoplastic mouse tissue sections. Spatial resolution was good, with a linear response between different in vivo treatments and molecular imaging intensity using therapeutic drug doses. This technique distinguishes the different intensity of paclitaxel distribution in control organs of mice, such as liver and kidney, in relation to the dose. Animals treated with 30 mg/kg of paclitaxel had half of the concentration of those treated with 60 mg/kg. We investigated the spatial distribution of paclitaxel in human melanoma mouse xenografts, following different dosage schedules and found a more homogeneous drug distribution in tumors of mice given repeated doses (5×8 mg/kg) plus a 60 mg/kg dose than in those assigned only a single 60 mg/kg dose. The protocol can be readily applied to investigate anticancer drug distribution in neoplastic lesions and to develop strategies to optimize and enhance drug penetration through different tumor tissues.
In recent years, a number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have reported on lenalidomide as a treatment for multiple myeloma (MM). Herein, we report results of a meta-analysis of RCTs examining the efficacy and safety of lenalidomide for MM.
Patients and Methods
Databases were searched using the terms “lenalidomide or revlimid AND multiple myeloma.”RCTs evaluating initial or maintenance therapeutic outcomes were included. Main outcome measures were response rates, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival, and adverse events.
Seven trials were included (N = 192–614 participants). Lenalidomide doses and treatment regimens differed between trials. Complete response (CR) and very good partial response (VGPR) risk ratios (RR) favored lenalidomide over placebo (CR = 2.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.29–5.02; VGPR = 2.82, 95% CI = 1.30–6.09). The PFS hazard ratio favored lenalidomide over placebo (0.37, 95% CI = 0.33–0.41). For adverse events, neutropenia, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), infection, and hematologic cancer RR favored placebo over lenalidomide (neutropenia: 4.74, 95% CI = 2.96–7.57; DVT: 2.52; 95% CI: 1.60–3.98; infection: 1.98; 95% CI: 1.50–2.62; hematologic cancer: 3.20; 95% CI: 1.28–7.98).
Lenalidomide is an effective treatment for MM; however, treatment-related adverse events must be considered and appropriate adjustments and/or prophylactic treatment should be initiated where possible.
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and other myeloid cells that infiltrate neoplastic lesions promote tumor progression and are associated with poor patient prognosis. We have recently demonstrated that trabectedin, a licensed and commercially available anticancer agent, is selectively cytotoxic for TAMs and their circulating precursors (monocytes). The macrophage-depleting effect of trabectedin is a key component of its antitumor activity.
tumor-associated macrophages; chemotherapy; micro-environment; angiogenesis; marine drug
To aid preclinical development of novel therapeutics for myeloma, an in vivo model which recapitulates the human condition is required. An important feature of such a model is the interaction of myeloma cells with the bone marrow microenvironment, as this interaction modulates tumour activity and protects against drug-induced apoptosis. Therefore NOD/SCIDγcnull mice were injected intra-tibially with luciferase-tagged myeloma cells. Disease progression was monitored by weekly bioluminescent imaging (BLI) and measurement of paraprotein levels. Results were compared with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and histology. Assessment of model suitability for preclinical drug testing was investigated using bortezomib, melphalan and two novel agents. Cells engrafted at week 3, with a significant increase in BLI radiance occurring between weeks 5 and 7. This was accompanied by an increase in paraprotein secretion, MRI-derived tumour volume and CD138 positive cells within the bone marrow. Treatment with known anti-myeloma agents or novel agents significantly attenuated the increase in all disease markers. In addition, intra-tibial implantation of primary patient plasma cells resulted in development of myeloma within bone marrow. In conclusion, using both myeloma cell lines and primary patient cells, we have developed a model which recapitulates human myeloma by ensuring the key interaction of tumour cells with the microenvironment.
Dexamethasone (DEX) co-treatment has proved beneficial in NSCLC patients, improving clinical symptoms by the reduction of side effects after chemotherapy. However, recent studies have shown that DEX could render cancer cells more insensitive to cytotoxic drug therapy, but it is not known whether DEX co-treatment could influence therapy-induced senescence (TIS), and unknown whether it is in a p53-dependent or p53-independent manner.
We examined in different human NSCLC cell lines and detected cellular senescence after cisplatin (DDP) treatment in the presence or absence of DEX. The in vivo effect of the combination of DEX and DDP was assessed by tumor growth experiments using human lung cancer cell lines growing as xenograft tumors in nude mice.
Co-treatment with DEX during chemotherapy in NSCLC resulted in increased tumor cell viability and inhibition of TIS compared with DDP treated group. DEX co-treatment cells exhibited the decrease of DNA damage signaling pathway proteins, the lower expression of p53 and p21CIP1, the lower cellular secretory program and down-regulation of NF-κB and its signaling cascade. DEX also significantly reduced DDP sensitivity in vivo.
Our results underscore that DEX reduces chemotherapy sensitivity by blunting therapy induced cellular senescence after chemotherapy in NSCLC, which may, at least in part, in a p53-dependent manner. These data therefore raise concerns about the widespread combined use of gluocorticoids (GCs) with antineoplastic drugs in the clinical management of cancer patients.
Assessment of tumor size changes is crucial in clinical trials and patient care. We compared imatinib-induced volume changes of liver metastases (LM) from gastro-intestinal stromal tumors (GIST) to RECIST and Choi criteria and their association with overall survival (OS).
LM from 84 GIST patients (training and validation set) were evaluated using manual and semi-automated Computed Tomography measurements at baseline, after 3, 6 and 12 months of imatinib. The ability of uni-dimensional (1D) and three-dimensional (3D) measurements to detect size changes (increase/decrease) ≥20% was evaluated. Volumetric response cut-offs were derived from minimally relevant changes (+20/−30%) by RECIST, considering lesions as spherical or ellipsoidal.
3D measurements detected size changes ≥20% more frequently than 1D at every time-point (P≤0.008). 3D and Choi criteria registered more responses than RECIST at 3 and 6 months for 3D-spheres (P≤0.03) and at all time-points for 3D-ellipsoids and Choi criteria (P<0.001). Progressive disease by 3D criteria seems to better correlate to OS at late time-points than other criteria.
Volume criteria (especially ellipsoids) classify a higher number of patients as imatinib-responders than RECIST. Volume discriminates size changes better than diameter in GIST and constitutes a feasible and robust method to evaluate response and predict patient benefit.
Flavonoids have attracted considerable attention in relation to their effects upon health. 8-Prenylnaringenin (8-PN) is found in the common hop (Humulus lupulus) and assumed to be responsible for the health impact of beer consumption. We wanted to clarify the effects of prenylation on the physiological functions of dietary flavonoids by comparing the effects of 8-PN with that of intact naringenin in the prevention of disuse muscle atrophy using a model of denervation in mice. Consumption of 8-PN (but not naringenin) prevented loss of weight in the gastrocnemius muscle further supported by the lack of induction of the protein content of a key ubiquitin ligase involved in muscle atrophy, atrogin-1, and by the activation of Akt phosphorylation. 8-PN content in the gastrocnemius muscle was tenfold higher than that of naringenin. These results suggested that, compared with naringenin, 8-PN was effectively concentrated into skeletal muscle to exert its preventive effects upon disuse muscle atrophy. It is likely that prenylation generates novel functions for 8-PN by enhancing its accumulation into muscle tissue through dietary intake.
Pyriplatin (cis-diammine(pyridine)chloroplatinum(II) or cDPCP), a platinum-based antitumor drug candidate, is a cationic compound with anticancer properties in mice and is a substrate for the organic cation transporters, hOCT1 and hOCT2, which facilitate oxaliplatin uptake. Unlike cisplatin and oxaliplatin, which form DNA cross-links, pyriplatin binds DNA in a monofunctional manner. The antiproliferative effects of pyriplatin, as well as combintions of pyriplatin with known anticancer drugs (paclitaxel, gemcitabine, SN38, cisplatin or 5-fluorouracil), were evaluated in a panel of epithelial cancer cell lines, with direct comparison to cisplatin and oxaliplatin. The effects of pyriplatin on gene expression and platinum-DNA adduct formation were also investigated. Pyriplatin exhibited cytotoxic effects against human cell lines after 24 h (IC50: 171 – 443 μM), with maximum cytotoxicity in HOP-62 non-small cell lung cancer cells after 72 h (IC50: 24 μM). Pyriplatin caused a G2/M block of cell cycle similar to that induced by cisplatin and oxaliplatin. Apoptotic cell death was supported by Annexin-V analysis and detection of phosphorylated H2AX and Chk2. Treatment with pyriplatin caused an increase in CDKN1/p21 and decrease in ERCC1 mRNA expression. On a platinum-per-nucleotide basis, pyriplatin adducts resulted in less cytotoxicity than cisplatin- and oxaliplatin-DNA adducts. The mRNA levels of several genes implicated in drug transport and repair of DNA damage, including MSH2 and GSTP1, correlate with pyriplatin cellular activity in our panel of cell lines. Synergy was observed in combinations of pyriplatin with paclitaxel. Because it has a different spectrum of activitythan that of cisplatin or oxaliplatin, pyriplatin may be regarded as a lead compound for the development of other drug candidates with cytotoxicity profiles that differ from those of the drugs currently in use.
cisplatin; pyriplatin; cytotoxicity; apoptosis; cell cycle; anticancer activity; DNA adducts
Identifying predictive biomarkers of drug response is of key importance to improve therapy management and drug selection in cancer therapy. To date, the influence of drug exposure and pharmacogenetic variants on sorafenib-induced toxicity remains poorly documented. The aim of this pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) study was to investigate the relationship between early toxicity and drug exposure or pharmacogenetic variants in unselected adult outpatients treated with single-agent sorafenib for advanced solid tumors.
Toxicity was recorded in 54 patients on days 15 and 30 after treatment initiation and sorafenib exposure was assessed in 51 patients. The influence of polymorphisms in CYP3A5, UGT1A9, ABCB1 and ABCG2 was examined in relation to sorafenib exposure and toxicity. Clinical characteristics, drug exposure and pharmacogenetic variants were tested univariately for association with toxicities. Candidate variables with p<0.1 were analyzed in a multivariate analysis.
Gender was the sole parameter independently associated with sorafenib exposure (p = 0.0008). Multivariate analysis showed that increased cumulated sorafenib (AUCcum) was independently associated with any grade ≥3 toxicity (p = 0.037); UGT1A9 polymorphism (rs17868320) with grade ≥2 diarrhea (p = 0.015) and female gender with grade ≥2 hand-foot skin reaction (p = 0.018). Using ROC curve, the threshold AUCcum value of 3,161 mg/L.h was associated with the highest risk to develop any grade ≥3 toxicity (p = 0.018).
In this preliminary study, increased cumulated drug exposure and UGT1A9 polymorphism (rs17868320) identified patients at high risk for early sorafenib-induced severe toxicity. Further PK/PD studies on larger population are warranted to confirm these preliminary results.
Fenretinide (4-HPR) is a synthetic retinoid that exhibits potent antitumor and chemopreventive activities against different malignancies, including ovarian tumors. We previously showed that in ovarian cancer cells, 4-HPR induces apoptosis through a signaling cascade starting from reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and involving endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK) activation, and induction of the proapoptotic PLAcental Bone morphogenetic protein (PLAB). Since recent studies have shown that the oncogene ALL1-fused from chromosome 1q (AF1q), a retinoic acid target gene, is implicated in apoptosis induction by several therapeutic agents, we investigated its possible involvement in the apoptosis induced by 4-HPR in ovarian cancer cells.
Protein expression analysis, performed in ovarian cancer cells and extended to other histotypes (breast, neuroblastoma, and cervical), revealed that 4-HPR enhanced AF1q expression in cancer cells sensitive to the retinoid but not in resistant cells. Through gene silencing, AF1q was found functionally involved in 4-HPR-induced apoptosis in A2780, an ovarian cancer cell line highly sensitive to retinoid growth inhibitory and apoptotic effects. Inhibition of the signaling intermediates of the 4-HPR apoptotic cascade showed that AF1q upregulation was depended on prior generation of ROS, induction of ER stress response, JNK activation, and PLAB upmodulation. Finally, we found that direct overexpression of AF1q, in the absence of external stimuli, increased apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell lines.
The study expands the knowledge of the 4-HPR mechanism of action, which has not yet been completely elucidated, identifying AF1q as a novel mediator of retinoid anticancer activity. In addition, we demonstrate, for the first time, that AF1q plays a role in the onset of basal apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells, thus providing new information about the activity of this protein whose biologic functions are mostly unknown.
Trabectedin, a new antitumor compound originally derived from a marine tunicate, is clinically effective in soft tissue sarcoma. The drug has shown a high selectivity for myxoid liposarcoma, characterized by the translocation t(12;16)(q13; p11) leading to the expression of FUS-CHOP fusion gene. Trabectedin appears to act interfering with mechanisms of transcription regulation. In particular, the transactivating activity of FUS-CHOP was found to be impaired by trabectedin treatment. Even after prolonged response resistance occurs and thus it is important to elucidate the mechanisms of resistance to trabectedin. To this end we developed and characterized a myxoid liposarcoma cell line resistant to trabectedin (402-91/ET), obtained by exposing the parental 402-91 cell line to stepwise increases in drug concentration. The aim of this study was to compare mRNAs, miRNAs and proteins profiles of 402-91 and 402-91/ET cells through a systems biology approach. We identified 3,083 genes, 47 miRNAs and 336 proteins differentially expressed between 402-91 and 402-91/ET cell lines. Interestingly three miRNAs among those differentially expressed, miR-130a, miR-21 and miR-7, harbored CHOP binding sites in their promoter region. We used computational approaches to integrate the three regulatory layers and to generate a molecular map describing the altered circuits in sensitive and resistant cell lines. By combining transcriptomic and proteomic data, we reconstructed two different networks, i.e. apoptosis and cell cycle regulation, that could play a key role in modulating trabectedin resistance. This approach highlights the central role of genes such as CCDN1, RB1, E2F4, TNF, CDKN1C and ABL1 in both pre- and post-transcriptional regulatory network. The validation of these results in in vivo models might be clinically relevant to stratify myxoid liposarcoma patients with different sensitivity to trabectedin treatment.
This analysis determined the incidence of serious rhabdomyolysis events reported during trabectedin treatment since the first phase I clinical trial in April 1996 up to September 2010.
Search was done in the Yondelis® Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials databases using a list of terms according to the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA, v. 13.1), followed by a medical review of all cases retrieved. Total estimated sample was 10,841 patients: 2,789 from clinical trials; 3,926 from compassionate use programs; and 4,126 treated in the marketplace. Two groups were identified: (1) rhabdomyolysis and (2) clinically relevant creatine phosphokinase (CPK) increases without acute renal failure (ARF). Descriptive analysis included demographic, clinical/laboratory data, and contributing/confounding factors. Potential predictive factors were evaluated by multivariate stepwise logistic regression analysis. Possible changes of pharmacokinetics (PK) in patients with rhabdomyolysis were explored using a population PK model.
The global incidence of rhabdomyolysis was 0.7 %, and most cases occurred in Cycle 2 of treatment. The incidence of fatal cases was 0.3 %. None of the variables evaluated to detect potential risk factors of rhabdomyolysis were predictive. Additionally, CPK increases (without ARF) were detected in 0.4 % of patients as an incidental finding with good prognosis.
Rhabdomyolysis is an uncommon event during trabectedin treatment. Multivariate analyses did not show any potential factor that could be predictive or represent a significantly higher risk of developing rhabdomyolysis. Nevertheless, close patient monitoring and adherence to drug administration guidelines may help to limit the incidence of this event.
Trabectedin; Rhabdomyolysis; Creatine phosphokinase
RNA-Seq allows a theoretically unbiased analysis of both genome-wide transcription levels and mutation status of a tumor. Using this technique we sought to identify novel candidate therapeutic targets expressed in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).
Specifically, we sought candidate invasion/migration targets based on expression levels across all tumors, novelty of expression in EOC, and known function. RNA-Seq analysis revealed the high expression of CD151, a transmembrane protein, across all stages of EOC. Expression was confirmed at both the mRNA and protein levels using RT-PCR and immunohistochemical staining, respectively.
In both EOC tumors and normal ovarian surface epithelial cells we demonstrated CD151 to be localized to the membrane and cell-cell junctions in patient-derived and established EOC cell lines. We next evaluated its role in EOC dissemination using two ovarian cancer-derived cell lines with differential levels of CD151 expression. Targeted antibody-mediated and siRNA inhibition or loss of CD151 in SKOV3 and OVCAR5 cell lines effectively inhibited their migration and invasion.
Taken together, these findings provide the first proof-of-principle demonstration for a next generation sequencing approach to identifying candidate therapeutic targets and reveal CD151 to play a role in EOC dissemination.
CD151; Epithelial Ovarian Cancer; Invasion; Migration; Metastasis; RNA-Seq
We sought to identify candidate serum biomarkers for the detection and surveillance of EOC. Based on RNA-Seq transcriptome analysis of patient-derived tumors, highly expressed secreted proteins were identified using a bioinformatic approach.
RNA-Seq was used to quantify papillary serous ovarian cancer transcriptomes. Paired end sequencing of 22 flash frozen tumors was performed. Sequence alignments were processed with the program ELAND, expression levels with ERANGE and then bioinformatically screened for secreted protein signatures. Serum samples from women with benign and malignant pelvic masses and serial samples from women during chemotherapy regimens were measured for IGFBP-4 by ELISA. Student's t Test, ANOVA, and ROC curves were used for statistical analysis.
Insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP-4) was consistently present in the top 7.5% of all expressed genes in all tumor samples. We then screened serum samples to determine if increased tumor expression correlated with serum expression. In an initial discovery set of 21 samples, IGFBP-4 levels were found to be elevated in patients, including those with early stage disease and normal CA125 levels. In a larger and independent validation set (82 controls, 78 cases), IGFBP-4 levels were significantly increased (p < 5 × 10-5). IGFBP-4 levels were ~3× greater in women with malignant pelvic masses compared to women with benign masses. ROC sensitivity was 73% at 93% specificity (AUC 0.816). In women receiving chemotherapy, average IGFBP-4 levels were below the ROC-determined threshold and lower in NED patients compared to AWD patients.
This study, the first to our knowledge to use RNA-Seq for biomarker discovery, identified IGFBP-4 as overexpressed in ovarian cancer patients. Beyond this, these studies identified two additional intriguing findings. First, IGFBP-4 can be elevated in early stage disease without elevated CA125. Second, IGFBP-4 levels are significantly elevated with malignant versus benign disease. These findings provide the rationale for future validation studies.
IGFBP-4; epithelial ovarian cancer; serum biomarker; RNA-Seq; transcriptome
Mesenchymal and amoeboid movements are two important mechanisms adopted by cancer cells to invade the surrounding environment. Mesenchymal movement depends on extracellular matrix protease activity, amoeboid movement on the RhoA-dependent kinase ROCK. Cancer cells can switch from one mechanism to the other in response to different stimuli, limiting the efficacy of antimetastatic therapies.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We investigated the acquisition and molecular regulation of the invasion capacity of neoplastically transformed human fibroblasts, which were able to induce sarcomas and metastases when injected into immunocompromised mice. We found that neoplastic transformation was associated with a change in cell morphology (from fibroblastic to polygonal), a reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, a decrease in the expression of several matrix metalloproteases and increases in cell motility and invasiveness. In a three-dimensional environment, sarcomagenic cells showed a spherical morphology with cortical actin rings, suggesting a switch from mesenchymal to amoeboid movement. Accordingly, cell invasion decreased after treatment with the ROCK inhibitor Y27632, but not with the matrix protease inhibitor Ro 28-2653. The increased invasiveness of tumorigenic cells was associated with reduced expression of Rnd3 (also known as RhoE), a cellular inhibitor of ROCK. Indeed, ectopic Rnd3 expression reduced their invasive ability in vitro and their metastatic potential in vivo.
These results indicate that, during neoplastic transformation, cells of mesenchymal origin can switch from a mesenchymal mode of movement to an amoeboid one. In addition, they point to Rnd3 as a possible regulator of mesenchymal tumor cell invasion and to ROCK as a potential therapeutic target for sarcomas.
This study was designed to determine the effects of vandetanib, a small-molecule receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor, on paclitaxel (PTX) tumor distribution and antitumor activity in xenograft models of human ovarian carcinoma. Nude mice bearing A2780-1A9 xenografts received daily (5, 10, or 15 days) doses of vandetanib (50 mg/kg per os), combined with PTX (20 mg/kg intravenously). Morphologic and functional modifications associated with the tumor vasculature (CD31 and α-smooth muscle actin staining and Hoechst 33342 perfusion) and PTX concentrations in plasma and tumor tissues were analyzed. Activity was evaluated as inhibition of tumor growth subcutaneously and spreading into the peritoneal cavity. Vandetanib treatment produced no significant change in tumor vessel density, although a reduced number of large vessels, an increased percentage of mature vessels, and diminished tumor perfusion were evident. Pretreatment with vandetanib led to decreased tumor PTX levels within 1 hour of PTX injection, although 24 hours later, tumor PTX levels were comparable with controls. In efficacy studies, the combination of vandetanib plus PTX improved antitumor activity compared with vandetanib or PTX alone, with greater effects being obtained when PTX was administered before vandetanib. The combination of PTX plus vandetanib reduced tumor burden in the peritoneal cavity of mice and significantly increased their survival. Analysis of vascular changes and PTX tumor uptake in vandetanib-treated tumors may help to guide the scheduling of vandetanib plus PTX combinations and may have implications for the design of clinical trials with these drugs.
Functional telomeres are required to maintain the replicative ability of cancer cells and represent putative targets for G-quadruplex (G4) ligands. Here, we show that the pentacyclic acridinium salt RHPS4, one of the most effective and selective G4 ligands, triggers damages in cells traversing S phase by interfering with telomere replication. Indeed, we found that RHPS4 markedly reduced BrdU incorporation at telomeres and altered the dynamic association of the telomeric proteins TRF1, TRF2 and POT1, leading to chromosome aberrations such as telomere fusions and telomere doublets. Analysis of the molecular damage pathway revealed that RHPS4 induced an ATR-dependent ATM signaling that plays a functional role in the cellular response to RHPS4 treatment. We propose that RHPS4, by stabilizing G4 DNA at telomeres, impairs fork progression and/or telomere processing resulting in telomere dysfunction and activation of a replication stress response pathway. The detailed understanding of the molecular mode of action of this class of compounds makes them attractive tools to understand telomere biology and provides the basis for a rational use of G4 ligands for the therapy of cancer.
Functional telomeres are required for the replicability of cancer cells. The G-rich strand of telomeric DNA can fold into a 4-stranded structure known as the G-quadruplex (G4), whose stabilization alters telomere function limiting cancer cell growth. Therefore, the G4 ligand RHPS4 may possess antitumor activity. Here, we show that RHPS4 triggers a rapid and potent DNA damage response at telomeres in human transformed fibroblasts and melanoma cells, characterized by the formation of several telomeric foci containing phosphorylated DNA damage response factors γ-H2AX, RAD17, and 53BP1. This was dependent on DNA repair enzyme ATR, correlated with delocalization of the protective telomeric DNA–binding protein POT1, and was antagonized by overexpression of POT1 or TRF2. In mice, RHPS4 exerted its antitumor effect on xenografts of human tumor cells of different histotype by telomere injury and tumor cell apoptosis. Tumor inhibition was accompanied by a strong DNA damage response, and tumors overexpressing POT1 or TRF2 were resistant to RHPS4 treatment. These data provide evidence that RHPS4 is a telomere damage inducer and that telomere disruption selectively triggered in malignant cells results in a high therapeutic index in mice. They also define a functional link between telomere damage and antitumor activity and reveal the key role of telomere-protective factors TRF2 and POT1 in response to this anti-telomere strategy.
Posttranslational modifications of p53 induced by two widely used anticancer agents, cisplatinum (DDP) and taxol were investigated in two human cancer cell lines. Although both drugs were able to induce phosphorylation at serine 20 (Ser20), only DDP treatment induced p53 phosphorylation at serine 15 (Ser15). Moreover, both drug treatments were able to increase p53 levels and consequently the transcription of waf1 and mdm-2 genes, although DDP treatment resulted in a stronger inducer of both genes. Using two ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) cell lines, the role of ATM in drug-induced p53 phosphorylations was investigated. No differences in drug-induced p53 phosphorylation could be observed, indicating that ATM is not the kinase involved in these phosphorylation events. In addition, inhibition of DNA-dependent protein kinase activity by wortmannin did not abolish p53 phosphorylation at Ser15 and Ser20, again indicating that DNA-PK is unlikely to be the kinase involved. After both taxol and DDP treatments, an activation of hCHK2 was found and this is likely to be responsible for phosphorylation at Ser20. In contrast, only DDP was able to activate ATR, which is the candidate kinase for phosphorylation of Ser15 by this drug. This data clearly suggests that differential mechanisms are involved in phosphorylation and activation of p53 depending on the drug type.
phosphorylation; cell cycle; checkpoints; anticancer agents; p53
The proapoptotic gene bax is one of the downstream effectors of p53. The p53 binding site in the bax promoter is less responsive to p53 than the one in the growth arrest mediating gene p21. We introduced the bax gene under the control of 13 copies of a strong p53 responsive element into two ovarian cancer cell lines. The clones expressing bax under the control of p53 obtained from the wild-type (wt) p53-expressing cell line A2780 were much more sensitive (500- to 1000-fold) to the anticancer agent taxol than the parent cell line, with a higher percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis after drug treatment that was clearly p53-dependent and bax-mediated. Xenografts established in nude mice from one selected clone (A2780/C3) were more responsive to taxol than the parental line and the apoptotic response of A2780/C3 tumors was also increased after treatment. Introduction of the same plasmid into the p53 null SKOV3 cell line did not alter the sensitivity to taxol or the induction of apoptosis. In conclusion, driving the p53 response (after taxol treatment) by activating the bax gene rather than the p21 gene results in induction of massive apoptosis, in vitro and in vivo, and greatly enhances sensitivity to the drug.
apoptosis; p53; anticancer agents; tumor xenografts; transcription
The transcriptional activity of the p53 tumor suppressor protein is crucial for the regulation of cell growth, apoptosis and tumor progression. The first identified p53 relative, p73, was reported to be monoallelically expressed in normal tissues. In some tumors, loss of heterozygosity was associated with overexpression of the silent allele. Human p73α was transfected into the wild-type p53-expressing human ovarian carcinoma cell line A2780. Unlike human osteosarcoma Saos-2 cells, A2780 cells could tolerate hyperexpression of p73α and clones overexpressing p73α could be isolated. No p53–p73 protein–protein interaction was found in these clones in co-immunoprecipitation experiments. Endogenous p53 transcriptional activity was markedly decreased both when p73 was integrated into the genome and in transient transfections using a reporter plasmid containing the p53 binding site linked to luciferase. Transient transfection of p73 with a mutation in the DNA-binding domain did not show these effects. The competition for p53 DNA binding by p73α was also evident in gel shift experiments. The results suggest that p73 can modulate p53 function by inhibiting its DNA binding and that overexpression of p73 in tumors might be a novel mechanism of inactivation of p53.