Constitutive activation of the Wnt pathway leads to adenoma formation, an obligatory step towards intestinal cancer. In view of the established role of Wnt in regulating stemness, we attempted the isolation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) from Apc- and Apc/KRAS-mutant intestinal tumours. Whereas CSCs are present in Apc/KRAS tumours, they appear to be very rare (<10−6) in the Apc–mutant adenomas. In contrast, the Lin−CD24hiCD29+ subpopulation of adenocarcinoma cells appear to be enriched in CSCs with increased levels of active β-catenin. Expression profiling analysis of the CSC-enriched subpopulation confirmed their enhanced Wnt activity and revealed additional differential expression of other signalling pathways, growth factor binding proteins, and extracellular matrix components. As expected, genes characteristic of the Paneth cell lineage (e.g. defensins) are co-expressed together with stem cell genes (e.g. Lgr5) within the CSC-enriched subpopulation. This is of interest as it may indicate a cancer stem cell niche role for tumor-derived Paneth-like cells, similar to their role in supporting Lgr5+ stem cells in the normal intestinal crypt. Overall, our results indicate that oncogenic KRAS activation in Apc-driven tumours results in the expansion of the CSCs compartment by increasing ®-catenin intracellular stabilization.
Proper development and tissue maintenance requires cell-cell adhesion structures, which serve diverse and crucial roles in tissue morphogenesis. Epithelial tissues have three main types of cell-cell junctions: tight junctions, which play a major role in barrier formation, and adherens junctions and desmosomes, which provide mechanical stability and organize the underlying cytoskeleton. Our current understanding of adhesion function is hindered by a lack of tools and methods to image junctions in mammals. To better understand the dynamics of adhesion in tissues we have created a knock-in ZO-1-GFP mouse and a BAC-transgenic mouse expressing desmoplakin I-GFP. We performed fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments to quantify the turnover rates of the tight junction protein ZO-1, the adherens junction protein E-cadherin, and the desmosomal protein desmoplakin in the epidermis. Proteins at each type of junction are remarkably stable in the epidermis, in contrast to the high observed mobility of E-cadherin and ZO-1 at adherens junctions and tight junctions, respectively, in cultured cells. Our data demonstrate that there are additional mechanisms for stabilizing junctions in tissues that are not modeled by cell culture.
Metastasizing tumor cells undergo a transformation that resembles a process in normal development when non-migratory epithelial cells modulate the expression of cytoskeletal and adhesion proteins to promote cell motility. Here we find a mesenchymal cadherin, Cadherin-11 (CDH11), is increased in cells exiting the ventricular zone (VZ) neuroepithelium during normal cerebral cortical development. When overexpressed in cortical progenitors in vivo, CDH11 causes premature exit from the neuroepithelium and increased cell migration. CDH11 expression is elevated in human brain tumors, correlating with higher tumor grade and decreased patient survival. In glioblastoma, CDH11-expressing tumor cells can be found localized near tumor vasculature. Endothelial cells stimulate TGFβ signaling and CDH11 expression in glioblastoma cells. TGFβ promotes glioblastoma cell motility, and knockdown of CDH11 expression in primary human glioblastoma cells inhibits TGFβ-stimulated migration. Together, these findings show that Cadherin-11 can promote cell migration in neural precursors and glioblastoma cells and suggest that endothelial cells increase tumor aggressiveness by co-opting mechanisms that regulate normal neural development.
Fibrosis in human diseases and animal models is associated with aberrant Wnt/β-catenin pathway activation. The regulation, activity, mechanism of action and significance of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the context of systemic sclerosis (SSc) has not been characterized.
Expression of Wnt signaling pathway components in SSc skin biopsies was analyzed. The regulation of profibrotic responses by canonical Wnt/ß-catenin was examined in explanted human mesenchymal cells. Fibrotic responses were studied by proliferation, migration and gel contraction assays. The fate specification of subcutaneous preadipocytes by canonical Wnt signaling was evaluated.
Analysis of published genome-wide expression datasets revealed elevated expression of the Wnt receptor Fzd2 and the Wnt target Lef1, and decreased expression of Wnt antagonists Dkk2 and Wif1 in skin biopsies from subsets of dcSSc patients. Immunohistochemistry showed increased nuclear β-catenin expression in these biopsies. In vitro, Wnt3a induced ß-catenin activation, stimulated fibroblast proliferation, migration, gel contraction and myofibroblast differentiation, and profibrotic gene expression. Genetic and pharmacological approaches were used to demonstrate that these profibrotic responses involved autocrine TGF-β signaling via Smads. In contrast, in explanted subcutaneous preadipocytes Wnt3a repressed adipogenesis and promoted myofibroblast differentiation.
Canonical Wnt signaling was hyperactivated in SSc skin biopsies, and in explanted mesenchymal cells Wnt3a stimulated fibrogenic responses while suppressing adipogenesis. Together, these results indicate that Wnts have potent profibrotic effects and canonical Wnt signaling plays an important role in the pathogenesis of fibrosis and lipoatrophy in SSc.
The regulation of mitochondrial dynamics is vital in complex cell types, such as neurons, that transport and localize mitochondria in high energy-demanding cell domains. The Armcx3 gene encodes a mitochondrial-targeted protein (Alex3) that contains several arm-like domains. In a previous study we showed that Alex3 protein regulates mitochondrial aggregation and trafficking. Here we studied the contribution of Wnt proteins to the mitochondrial aggregation and dynamics regulated by Alex3. Overexpression of Alex3 in HEK293 cells caused a marked aggregation of mitochondria, which was attenuated by treatment with several Wnts. We also found that this decrease was caused by Alex3 degradation induced by Wnts. While the Wnt canonical pathway did not alter the pattern of mitochondrial aggregation induced by Alex3, we observed that the Wnt/PKC non-canonical pathway regulated both mitochondrial aggregation and Alex3 protein levels, thereby rendering a mitochondrial phenotype and distribution similar to control patterns. Our data suggest that the Wnt pathway regulates mitochondrial distribution and dynamics through Alex3 protein degradation.
β-catenin, an adherens junction component and key Wnt pathway effector, regulates numerous developmental processes and supports embryonic stem cell (ESC) pluripotency in specific contexts. The β-catenin homologue γ-catenin (also known as Plakoglobin) is a constituent of desmosomes and adherens junctions and may participate in Wnt signaling in certain situations. Here, we use β-catenin(+/+) and β-catenin(−/−) mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to investigate the role of γ-catenin in Wnt signaling and mESC differentiation. Although γ-catenin protein is markedly stabilized upon inhibition or ablation of GSK-3 in wild-type (WT) mESCs, efficient silencing of its expression in these cells does not affect β-catenin/TCF target gene activation after Wnt pathway stimulation. Nonetheless, knocking down γ-catenin expression in WT mESCs appears to promote their exit from pluripotency in short-term differentiation assays. In β-catenin(−/−) mESCs, GSK-3 inhibition does not detectably alter cytosolic γ-catenin levels and does not activate TCF target genes. Intriguingly, β-catenin/TCF target genes are induced in β-catenin(−/−) mESCs overexpressing stabilized γ-catenin and the ability of these genes to be activated upon GSK-3 inhibition is partially restored when wild-type γ-catenin is overexpressed in these cells. This suggests that a critical threshold level of total catenin expression must be attained before there is sufficient signaling-competent γ-catenin available to respond to GSK-3 inhibition and to regulate target genes as a consequence. WT mESCs stably overexpressing γ-catenin exhibit robust Wnt pathway activation and display a block in tri-lineage differentiation that largely mimics that observed upon overexpression of β-catenin. However, β-catenin overexpression appears to be more effective than γ-catenin overexpression in sustaining the retention of markers of naïve pluripotency in cells that have been subjected to differentiation-inducing conditions. Collectively, our study reveals a function for γ-catenin in the regulation of mESC differentiation and has implications for human cancers in which γ-catenin is mutated and/or aberrantly expressed.
Gastric cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer death worldwide. Patients usually present late with local invasion or metastasis, for which there are no effective therapies available. Following previous studies that identified the adhesion molecule Cadherin-17(CDH17) as a potential marker for gastric carcinoma, we performed proof-of-principle studies to develop rational therapeutic approaches targeting CDH17 for treating this disease.
Immunohistochemistry was used to study the expression of CDH17 in 156 gastric carcinomas, and the relationship between survival and CDH17 expression was studied by multivariate analyses. The effect of RNA interference–mediated knockdown of CDH17 on proliferation of gastric carcinoma cell lines was examined in vitro and in vivo, as well as the effects on downstream signaling by immunoblotting.
CDH17 was consistently up-regulated in human gastric cancers, and overall survival in patients with CDH17 upregulation was poorer than in those without expression of this gene (5 yrs overall survival rate 29.0% vs. 45.0%, P<0.01). Functional assays demonstrated that CDH17 knockdown inhibited cell proliferation, adhesion, migration, invasion, clonogenicity and induce G0/G1 arrest. In mice, shRNA-mediated CDH17 knockdown markedly inhibits tumor growth; intratumoral injection of CDH17 shRNAs results in significant antitumor effects on transplanted tumor models. The antitumor mechanisms underlying CDH17 inhibition involve inactivation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Our results identify CDH17 as a biomarker of gastric carcinoma and attractive therapeutic target for this aggressive malignancy.
Rap1 and Rap2 are closely related proteins of the Ras family of small G-proteins. Rap1 is well known to regulate cell-cell adhesion. Here, we have analysed the effect of Rap-mediated signalling on endothelial permeability using electrical impedance measurements of HUVEC monolayers and subsequent determination of the barrier resistance, which is a measure for the ease with which ions can pass cell junctions. In line with its well-established effect on cell-cell junctions, depletion of Rap1 decreases, whereas activation of Rap1 increases barrier resistance. Despite its high sequence homology with Rap1, depletion of Rap2 has an opposite, enhancing, effect on barrier resistance. This effect can be mimicked by depletion of the Rap2 specific activator RasGEF1C and the Rap2 effector MAP4K4, establishing Rap2 signalling as an independent pathway controlling barrier resistance. As simultaneous depletion or activation of both Rap1 and Rap2 results in a barrier resistance comparable to control cells, Rap1 and Rap2 control barrier resistance in a reciprocal manner. This Rap1-antagonizing effect of Rap2 is established independent of junctional actin formation. These data establish that endothelial barrier resistance is determined by the combined antagonistic actions of Rap1 and Rap2.
X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is a peroxisomal disorder caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene that encodes the peroxisomal ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter subfamily D member 1 protein (ABCD1), which is referred to as the adrenoleukodystrophy protein (ALDP). Induction of the ABCD2 gene, the closest homolog of ABCD1, has been mentioned as a possible therapeutic option for the defective ABCD1 protein in X-ALD. However, little is known about the transcriptional regulation of ABCD2 gene expression. Here, through in silico analysis, we found two putative TCF-4 binding elements between nucleotide positions −360 and −260 of the promoter region of the ABCD2 gene. The transcriptional activity of the ABCD2 promoter was strongly increased by ectopic expression of β-catenin and TCF-4. In addition, mutation of either or both TCF-4 binding elements by site-directed mutagenesis decreased promoter activity. This was further validated by the finding that β-catenin and the promoter of the ABCD2 gene were pulled down with a β-catenin antibody in a chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Moreover, real-time PCR analysis revealed that β-catenin and TCF-4 increased mRNA levels of ABCD2 in both a hepatocellular carcinoma cell line and primary fibroblasts from an X-ALD patient. Interestingly, we found that the levels of very long chain fatty acids were decreased by ectopic expression of ABCD2-GFP as well as β-catenin and TCF-4. Taken together, our results demonstrate for the first time the direct regulation of ABCD2 by β-catenin and TCF-4.
Previous studies have shown that the cell polarity regulator hScrib interacts with, and consequently controls, the ERK signaling pathway. This interaction occurs through two well-conserved Kinase Interacting Motifs, which allow hScrib to bind ERK1 directly, resulting in a reduction in the levels of phospho-ERK. This suggests that hScrib might recruit a phosphatase to regulate this signaling pathway. Using a proteomic approach we now show that Protein Phosphatase 1γ (PP1γ) is a major interacting partner of hScrib. This interaction is direct and occurs through a conserved PP1γ interaction motif on the hScrib protein, and this interaction appears to be required for hScrib's ability to downregulate ERK phosphorylation. In addition, hScrib also controls the pattern of PP1γ localization, where loss of hScrib enhances the nuclear translocation of PP1γ. Furthermore, we also show that the ability of hScrib to interact with PP1γ is important for the ability of hScrib to suppress oncogene-induced transformation of primary rodent cells. Taken together, these results demonstrate that hScrib acts as a scaffold to integrate the control of the PP1γ and ERK signaling pathways and explains how disruption of hScrib localisation can contribute towards the development of human malignancy.
Desmosomes provide intercellular adhesive strength required for integrity of epithelial and some non-epithelial tissues. Within the epidermis, the cadherin-type adhesion molecules desmoglein (Dsg) 1–4 and desmocollin (Dsc) 1–3 build the adhesive core of desmosomes. In keratinocytes, several isoforms of these proteins are co-expressed. However, the contribution of specific isoforms to overall cell cohesion is unclear. Therefore, in this study we investigated the roles of Dsg2 and Dsg3, the latter of which is known to be essential for keratinocyte adhesion based on its autoantibody-induced loss of function in the autoimmune blistering skin disease pemphigus vulgaris (PV). The pathogenic PV antibody AK23, targeting the Dsg3 adhesive domain, led to profound loss of cell cohesion in human keratinocytes as revealed by the dispase-based dissociation assays. In contrast, an antibody against Dsg2 had no effect on cell cohesion although the Dsg2 antibody was demonstrated to interfere with Dsg2 transinteraction by single molecule atomic force microscopy and was effective to reduce cell cohesion in intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells which express Dsg2 as the only Dsg isoform. To substantiate these findings, siRNA-mediated silencing of Dsg2 or Dsg3 was performed in keratinocytes. In contrast to Dsg3-depleted cells, Dsg2 knockdown reduced cell cohesion only under conditions of increased shear. These experiments indicate that specific desmosomal cadherins contribute differently to keratinocyte cohesion and that Dsg2 compared to Dsg3 is less important in this context.
The pentaspan membrane glycoprotein CD133 (also known as prominin-1) has been widely used as a marker for both cancer and normal stem cells. However, the function of CD133 has not been elucidated. Here we describe a cancer stem cell line established from clear cell carcinoma of the ovary (CCC) and show that CD133 interacts with plakoglobin (also known as γ-catenin), a desmosomal linker protein. We further demonstrate that knockdown of CD133 by RNA interference (RNAi) results in the downregulation of desmoglein-2, a desmosomal cadherin, and abrogates cell-cell adhesion and tumorigenicity of CCC stem cells. We speculate that CD133 may be a promising target for cancer chemotherapy.
REDD1/redd1 is a stress-response gene that is induced under various stressful conditions such as hypoxia, DNA damage, and energy stress. The increased REDD1 inhibits mTOR signaling and cell growth. Here we report an unexpected role of Redd1 in regulating dorsoventral patterning in zebrafish embryos and the underlying mechanisms. Zebrafish redd1 mRNA is maternally deposited. Although it is ubiquitously detected in many adult tissues, its expression is highly tissue-specific and dynamic during early development. Hypoxia and heat shock strongly induce redd1 expression in zebrafish embryos. Knockdown of Redd1 using two independent morpholinos results in dorsalized embryos and this effect can be rescued by injecting redd1 mRNA. Forced expression of Redd1 ventralizes embryos. Co-expression of Redd1 with Wnt3a or a constitutively active form of β-catenin suggests that Redd1 alters dorsoventral patterning by antagonizing the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. These findings have unraveled a novel role of Redd1 in early development by antagonizing Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Kremens are high-affinity receptors for Dickkopf 1 (Dkk1) and regulate the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway by down-regulating the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 (LRP6). Dkk1 competes with Wnt for binding to LRP6; binding of Dkk1 inhibits canonical signaling through formation of a ternary complex with Kremen. The majority of down-regulated clathrin-mediated endocytic receptors contain short conserved regions that recognize tyrosine or dileucine sorting motifs. In this study, we found that Kremen1 is internalized from the cell surface in a clathrin-dependent manner. Kremen1 contains an atypical dileucine motif with the sequence DXXXLV. Mutation of LV to AA in this motif blocked Kremen1 internalization; as reported previously for other proteins, the aspartic acid residue in Kremen1 is not critical. Inhibition of expression of the adaptor protein 2 (AP-2) or inhibition of clathrin by pitstop 2 also blocked Kremen1 internalization. The novel amino acid sequence identified in Kremen1 is similar to the motif previously identified in hydra, yeast, and other organisms known to signal from the trans-Golgi network to the endosomal compartment.
Several polarity proteins, including Scribble (Scrb) have been implicated in control of vesicle traffic, and in particular the endocytosis of E-cadherin, but through unknown mechanisms. We now show that depletion of Scrb enhances endocytosis of E-cadherin by weakening the E-cadherin-p120catenin interaction. Unexpectedly, however, the internalized E-cadherin is not degraded but accumulates in the Golgi apparatus. Silencing p120-catenin causes degradation of E-cadherin in lysosomes, but degradation is blocked by the co-depletion of Scrb, which diverts the internalized E-cadherin to the Golgi. Loss of Scrb also enhances E-cadherin binding to retromer components, and retromer is required for Golgi accumulation of Scrb, and E-cadherin stability. These data identify a novel and unanticipated function for Scrb in blocking retromer-mediated diversion of E-cadherin to the Golgi. They provide evidence that polarity proteins can modify the intracellular itinerary for endocytosed membrane proteins.
Chronic activation of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling is found in a variety of human malignancies including melanoma, colorectal and hepatocellular carcinomas. Interestingly, expression of the HCMV-encoded chemokine receptor US28 in intestinal epithelial cells promotes intestinal neoplasia in transgenic mice, which is associated with increased nuclear accumulation of ß-catenin. In this study we show that this viral receptor constitutively activates ß-catenin and enhances ß-catenin-dependent transcription. Our data illustrate that this viral receptor does not activate ß-catenin via the classical Wnt/Frizzled signaling pathway. Analysis of US28 mediated signaling indicates the involvement of the Rho-Rho kinase (ROCK) pathway in the activation of ß-catenin. Moreover, cells infected with HCMV show significant increases in ß-catenin stabilization and signaling, which is mediated to a large extent by expression of US28. The modulation of the ß-catenin signal transduction pathway by a viral chemokine receptor provides alternative regulation of this pathway, with potential relevance for the development of colon cancer and virus-associated diseases.
Constitutive Wnt signalling is characterized by excessive levels of β-catenin protein and is a frequent occurrence in cancer. APC and Axin are key components of the β-catenin destruction complex that acts to promote β-catenin degradation. The levels of Axin are in turn controlled by tankyrases, members of the PARP-family of poly-ADP-ribosylation enzymes. In colorectal cancer cells, which typically harbor APC mutations, inhibition of tankyrase activity promotes Axin stabilization and attenuates Wnt signalling. Here, we examined the effect of inhibiting tankyrases in breast cancer cells with normal APC. We show that application of the small molecule tankyrase inhibitor, XAV939 or siRNA-mediated abrogation of tankyrase expression increases Axin1 and Axin2 protein levels and attenuates Wnt-induced transcriptional responses in several breast cancer lines. In MDA-MB-231 cells, inhibiton of tankyrase activity also attenuate Wnt3a induced cell migration. Moreover, in both MDA-MB-231 and colorectal cancer cells, XAV939 inhibits cell growth under conditions of serum-deprivation. However, the presence of serum prevents this growth inhibitory effect, although inhibition of Wnt-induced transcriptional and migratory responses was maintained. These results indicate that stabilization of Axin by inhibition of tankyrases alone, may not be an effective means to block tumor cell growth and that combinatorial therapeutic approaches should be considered.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that results in loss of normal lung architecture, but the signaling events that drive tissue destruction are incompletely understood. Wnt/β-catenin signaling is important in normal lung development, but whether abnormal signaling occurs in lung fibrosis due to systemic sclerosis and the consequences of β-catenin signaling toward the fibrogenic phenotype remain poorly defined. In this study, we show nuclear β-catenin accumulation in fibroblastic foci from lungs of patients with systemic sclerosis–associated advanced pulmonary fibrosis. Forced activation of β-catenin signaling in three independently derived sources of normal human lung fibroblasts promotes proliferation and migratory activities but is not sufficient to activate classic markers of fibroblast activation, such as TGF-β, type 1 collagen, α-smooth muscle actin, and connective tissue growth factor. These findings indicate that activation of β-catenin signaling in pulmonary fibroblasts may be a common feature of lung fibrosis, contributing to fibroproliferative and migratory activities associated with the disease.
Wnt/β-catenin signaling; scleroderma; fibrosis
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a malignancy with poor prognosis. WNT/β-catenin signaling dysregulation, especially β-catenin overactivation and WNT antagonist silencing, is associated with RCC carcinogenesis and progression. However, the role of WNT ligands in RCC has not yet been determined. We screened 19 WNT ligands from normal kidney and RCC cell lines and tissues and found that WNT10A was significantly increased in RCC cell lines and tissues as compared to that in normal controls. The clinical significance of increase in WNT10A was evaluated by performing an immunohistochemical association study in a 19-year follow-up cohort comprising 284 RCC and 267 benign renal disease (BRD) patients. The results of this study showed that WNT10A was dramatically upregulated in RCC tissues as compared to that in BRD tissues. This result suggests that WNT10A, nuclear β-catenin, and nuclear cyclin D1 act as independent risk factors for RCC carcinogenesis and progression, with accumulative risk effects. Molecular validation of cell line models with gain- or loss-of-function designs showed that forced WNT10A expression induced RCC cell proliferation and aggressiveness, including higher chemoresistance, cell migration, invasiveness, and cell transformation, due to the activation of β-catenin-dependent signaling. Conversely, WNT10A siRNA knockdown decreased cell proliferation and aggressiveness of RCC cells. In conclusion, we showed that WNT10A acts as an autocrine oncogene both in RCC carcinogenesis and progression by activating WNT/β-catenin signaling.
Wnt/β-catenin signaling is an essential pathway that regulates numerous cellular processes, including cell survival. The molecular mechanisms contributing to pro-survival Wnt signaling are mostly unknown. Signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins (STATs) are a well-described family of transcription factors. STAT3 induces expression of anti-apoptotic genes in many tissues and is a downstream mediator of protective growth factors and cytokines. In this study, we investigated whether pro-survival Wnt signaling is mediated by STAT3. The Wnt3a ligand activated Wnt signaling in the retinal pigment epithelium ARPE-19 cell line and significantly increased the viability of cells exposed to oxidative stress. Furthermore, Wnt3a increased STAT3 activation and nuclear translocation, as measured by an antibody against phosphorylated STAT3. Reducing STAT3 levels with siRNA eliminated Wnt3a-dependent protection from oxidative stress. Together, these data demonstrate a previously unknown link between Wnt3a-mediated activation of STAT3 and cell survival, and indicate cross-talk between two important pro-survival signaling pathways.
In contrast to lower vertebrates, the mammalian heart has a very limited regenerative capacity. Cardiomyocytes, lost after ischemia, are replaced by fibroblasts. Although the human heart is able to form new cardiomyocytes throughout its lifespan, the efficiency of this phenomenon is not enough to substitute sufficient myocardial mass after an infarction. In contrast, zebrafish hearts regenerate through epicardial activation and initiation of myocardial proliferation. With this study we obtain insights into the activation and cellular contribution of the mammalian epicardium in response to ischemia. In a mouse myocardial infarction model we analyzed the spatio-temporal changes in expression of embryonic epicardial, EMT, and stem cell markers and the contribution of cells of the Wt1-lineage to the infarcted area. Though the integrity of the epicardial layer overlaying the infarct is lost immediately after the induction of the ischemia, it was found to be regenerated at three days post infarction. In this regenerated epicardium, the embryonic gene program is transiently re-expressed as well as proliferation. Concomitant with this activation, Wt1-lineage positive subepicardial mesenchyme is formed until two weeks post-infarction. These mesenchymal cells replace the cardiomyocytes lost due to the ischemia and contribute to the fibroblast population, myofibroblasts and coronary endothelium in the infarct, and later also to the cardiomyocyte population. We show that in mice, as in lower vertebrates, an endogenous, epicardium-dependent regenerative response to injury is induced. Although this regenerative response leads to the formation of new cardiomyocytes, their number is insufficient in mice but sufficient in lower vertebrates to replace lost cardiomyocytes. These molecular and cellular analyses provide basic knowledge essential for investigations on the regeneration of the mammalian heart aiming at epicardium-derived cells.
The down-regulation of miR-214 has previously been observed in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we demonstrated the down-regulation of miR-214 is associated with cell invasion, stem-like traits and early recurrence of HCC. Firstly, we validated the suppression of miR-214 in human HCC by real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) in 20 paired tumor and non-tumor liver tissues of HCC patients and 10 histologically normal liver tissues from colorectal cancer patients with liver metastases. Further qRT-PCR analysis of 50 HCC tissues from an independent cohort of HCC patients of whom 29 with early recurrent disease (<2 years) and 21 with late recurrent disease demonstrated that the suppression of miR-214 was significantly more suppressed in samples from HCC patients with early recurrent disease compared those from patients with no recurrence. Re-expression of miR-214 significantly suppressed the growth of HCC cells in vitro and reduced their tumorigenicity in vivo. The enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2) and β-catenin (CTNNB1) was identified as two potential direct downstream targets of miR-214 through bioinformatics analysis and experimentally validated the miRNA-target interactions with a dual-firefly luciferase reporter assay. In corroborate with this, both EZH2 and CTNNB1 are found to be significantly overexpressed in human HCC biopsies. Since EZH2 can regulate CTNNB1, CTNNB1 can also be an indirect target of miR-214 through EZH2. Silencing EZH2 or CTNNB1 expression suppressed the growth and invasion of HCC cells and induced E-cadherin (CDH1), known to inhibit cell invasion and metastasis. Furthermore, the silencing of miR-214 or overexpression of EZH2 increased EpCAM+ stem-like cells through the activation of CTNNB1. Interestingly, the up-regulation of EZH2, CTNNB1 and the down-regulation of CDH1 in HCC patients correlated with early recurrent disease and can be an independent predictor of poor survival. Therefore, miR-214 can directly or indirectly target CTNNB1 to modulate the β-catenin signaling pathway in HCC.
Human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) form a new prospect for replacement therapies in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. The Wnt/-catenin signaling pathway is known to be involved in the differentiation process of hNPCs. RVM cells form a common cell model of hNPCs for in vitro investigation. Previous observations in RVM cells raise the question of whether observed kinetics of the Wnt/-catenin pathway in later differentiation phases are subject to self-induced signaling. However, a concern when investigating RVM cells is that experimental results are possibly biased by the asynchrony of cells w.r.t. the cell cycle.
In this paper, we present, based on experimental data, a computational modeling study on the Wnt/-catenin signaling pathway in RVM cell populations asynchronously distributed w.r.t. to their cell cycle phases. Therefore, we derive a stochastic model of the pathway in single cells from the reference model in literature and extend it by means of cell populations and cell cycle asynchrony. Based on this, we show that the impact of the cell cycle asynchrony on wet-lab results that average over cell populations is negligible. We then further extend our model and the thus-obtained simulation results provide additional evidence that self-induced Wnt signaling occurs in RVM cells. We further report on significant stochastic effects that directly result from model parameters provided in literature and contradict experimental observations.
During embryonic development, motile cells aggregate into cohesive groups, which give rise to tissues and organs. The role of cell migration in regulating aggregation is unclear. The current paradigm for aggregation is based on an equilibrium model of differential cell adhesivity to neighboring cells versus the underlying substratum. In many biological contexts, however, dynamics is critical. Here, we provide evidence that multicellular aggregation dynamics involves both local adhesive interactions and transport by cell migration. Using time-lapse video microscopy, we quantified the duration of cell-cell contacts among migrating cells that collided and adhered to another cell. This lifetime of cell-cell interactions exhibited a monotonic decreasing dependence on substratum adhesivity. Parallel quantitative measurements of cell migration speed revealed that across the tested range of adhesive substrata, the mean time needed for cells to migrate and encounter another cell was greater than the mean adhesion lifetime, suggesting that aggregation dynamics may depend on cell motility instead of the local differential adhesivity of cells. Consistent with this hypothesis, aggregate size exhibited a biphasic dependence on substratum adhesivity, matching the trend we observed for cell migration speed. Our findings suggest a new role for cell motility, alongside differential adhesion, in regulating developmental aggregation events and motivate new design principles for tuning aggregation dynamics in tissue engineering applications.
MUC1 is a large transmembrane glycoprotein and oncogene expressed by epithelial cells and overexpressed and underglycosylated in cancer cells. The MUC1 cytoplasmic subunit (MUC1-C) can translocate to the nucleus and regulate gene expression. It is frequently assumed that the MUC1 extracellular subunit (MUC1-N) does not enter the nucleus. Based on an unexpected observation that MUC1 extracellular domain antibody produced an apparently nucleus-associated staining pattern in trophoblasts, we have tested the hypothesis that MUC1-N is expressed inside the nucleus. Three different antibodies were used to identify MUC1-N in normal epithelial cells and tissues as well as in several cancer cell lines. The results of immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy analyses as well as subcellular fractionation, Western blotting, and siRNA/shRNA studies, confirm that MUC1-N is found within nuclei of all cell types examined. More detailed examination of its intranuclear distribution using a proximity ligation assay, subcellular fractionation, and immunoprecipitation suggests that MUC1-N is located in nuclear speckles (interchromatin granule clusters) and closely associates with the spliceosome protein U2AF65. Nuclear localization of MUC1-N was abolished when cells were treated with RNase A and nuclear localization was altered when cells were incubated with the transcription inhibitor 5,6-dichloro-1-b-d-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole (DRB). While MUC1-N predominantly associated with speckles, MUC1-C was present in the nuclear matrix, nucleoli, and the nuclear periphery. In some nuclei, confocal microscopic analysis suggest that MUC1-C staining is located close to, but only partially overlaps, MUC1-N in speckles. However, only MUC1-N was found in isolated speckles by Western blotting. Also, MUC1-C and MUC1-N distributed differently during mitosis. These results suggest that MUC1-N translocates to the nucleus where it is expressed in nuclear speckles and that MUC1-N and MUC1-C have dissimilar intranuclear distribution patterns.