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1.  EGFR is not a major driver for osteosarcoma cell growth in vitro but contributes to starvation and chemotherapy resistance 
Enhanced signalling via the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a hallmark of multiple human carcinomas. However, in recent years data have accumulated that EGFR might also be hyperactivated in human sarcomas. Aim of this study was to investigate the influence of EGFR inhibition on cell viability and its interaction with chemotherapy response in osteosarcoma cell lines.
We have investigated a panel of human osteosarcoma cell lines regarding EGFR expression and downstream signalling. To test its potential applicability as therapeutic target, inhibition of EGFR by gefitinib was combined with osteosarcoma chemotherapeutics and cell viability, migration, and cell death assays were performed.
Osteosarcoma cells expressed distinctly differing levels of functional EGFR reaching in some cases high amounts. Functionality of EGFR in osteosarcoma cells was proven by EGF-mediated activation of both MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathway (determined by phosphorylation of ERK1/2, AKT, S6, and GSK3β). The EGFR-specific inhibitor gefitinib blocked EGF-mediated downstream signal activation. At standard in vitro culture conditions, clinically achievable gefitinib doses demonstrated only limited cytotoxic activity, however, significantly reduced long-term colony formation and cell migration. In contrast, under serum-starvation conditions active gefitinib doses were distinctly reduced while EGF promoted starvation survival. Importantly, gefitinib significantly supported the anti-osteosarcoma activities of doxorubicin and methotrexate regarding cell survival and migratory potential.
Our data suggest that EGFR is not a major driver for osteosarcoma cell growth but contributes to starvation- and chemotherapy-induced stress survival. Consequently, combination approaches including EGFR inhibitors should be evaluated for treatment of high-grade osteosarcoma patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13046-015-0251-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4630894  PMID: 26526352
Osteosarcoma; Epidermal growth factor receptor; EGFR; Gefitinib; Therapy resistance
2.  Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptors as Therapeutic Targets in Human Melanoma: Synergism with BRAF Inhibition 
Cutaneous melanoma is a tumor with rising incidence and a very poor prognosis at the disseminated stage. Melanomas are characterized by frequent mutations in BRAF and also by overexpression of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), offering opportunities for therapeutic intervention. We investigated inhibition of FGF signaling and its combination with dacarbazine or BRAF inhibitors as an antitumor strategy in melanoma. The majority of melanoma cell lines displayed overexpression of FGF2 but also FGF5 and FGF18 together with different isoforms of FGF receptors (FGFRs) 1–4. Blockade of FGF signals with dominant-negative receptor constructs (dnFGFR1, 3, or 4) or small-molecule inhibitors (SU5402 and PD166866) reduced melanoma cell proliferation, colony formation, as well as anchorage-independent growth, and increased apoptosis. DnFGFR constructs also significantly inhibited tumor growth in vivo. Combination of FGF inhibitors with dacarbazine showed additive or antagonistic effects, whereas synergistic drug interaction was observed when combining FGFR inhibition with the multikinase/BRAF inhibitor sorafenib or the V600E mutant-specific BRAF inhibitor RG7204. In conclusion, FGFR inhibition has antitumor effects against melanoma cells in vitro and in vivo. Combination with BRAF inhibition offers a potential for synergistic antimelanoma effects and represents a promising therapeutic strategy against advanced melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3383623  PMID: 21753785
3.  Intracellular protein binding patterns of the anticancer ruthenium drugs KP1019 and KP1339 
The ruthenium compound KP1019 has demonstrated promising anticancer activity in a pilot clinical trial. This study aims to evaluate the intracellular uptake/binding patterns of KP1019 and its sodium salt KP1339, which is currently in a phase I–IIa study. Although KP1339 tended to be moderately less cytotoxic than KP1019, IC50 values in several cancer cell models revealed significant correlation of the cytotoxicity profiles, suggesting similar targets for the two drugs. Accordingly, both drugs activated apoptosis, indicated by caspase activation via comparable pathways. Drug uptake determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was completed after 1 h, corresponding to full cytotoxicity as early as after 3 h of drug exposure. Surprisingly, the total cellular drug uptake did not correlate with cytotoxicity. However, distinct differences in intracellular distribution patterns suggested that the major targets for the two ruthenium drugs are cytosolic rather than nuclear. Consequently, drug–protein binding in cytosolic fractions of drug-treated cells was analyzed by native size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) coupled online with ICP-MS. Ruthenium–protein binding of KP1019- and KP1339-treated cells distinctly differed from the platinum binding pattern observed after cisplatin treatment. An adapted SEC-SEC-ICP-MS system identified large protein complexes/aggregates above 700 kDa as initial major binding partners in the cytosol, followed by ruthenium redistribution to the soluble protein weight fraction below 40 kDa. Taken together, our data indicate that KP1019 and KP1339 rapidly enter tumor cells, followed by binding to larger protein complexes/organelles. The different protein binding patterns as compared with those for cisplatin suggest specific protein targets and consequently a unique mode of action for the ruthenium drugs investigated.
PMCID: PMC3371400  PMID: 20221888
Ruthenium; Size exclusion; chromatography–inductively coupled plasma mass; spectrometry; Drug uptake; Intracellular distribution; Anticancer
4.  MNS16A tandem repeats minisatellite of human telomerase gene: a risk factor for colorectal cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(6):866-871.
Telomerase reactivation and expression of human telomerase gene [human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)] are hallmarks of unlimited proliferation potential of cancer cells. A polymorphic tandem repeats minisatellite of hTERT gene, termed MNS16A was reported to influence hTERT expression. To assess the role of MNS16A as potential biomarker for colorectal cancer (CRC), we investigated for the first time the association of MNS16A genotypes with risk of colorectal polyps and CRC. In the ongoing colorectal cancer study of Austria (CORSA), 3842 Caucasian participants were recruited within a large screening project in the province Burgenland including 90 CRC cases, 308 high-risk polyps, 1022 low-risk polyps and 1822 polyp free controls verified by colonoscopy. MNS16A genotypes were determined by polymerase chain reaction from genomic DNA. Associations of MNS16A genotypes with CRC risk were estimated by logistic regression analysis computing odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We identified five different variable number of tandem repeats (VNTRs) of MNS16A including VNTR-364, a newly discovered rare variant. VNTR-274 allele was associated with a 2.7-fold significantly increased risk of CRC compared with the VNTR-302 wild-type (OR = 2.69; 95% CI = 1.11–6.50; P = 0.028). In our CORSA study, the medium length VNTR-274 was identified as risk factor for CRC. Although, this population-based study herewith reports the largest cohort size concerning MNS16A thus far, further large-scale studies in diverse populations are warranted to confirm hTERT MNS16A genotype as potential biomarker for assessment of CRC risk.
PMCID: PMC3314280  PMID: 21422235
5.  O6-Methylguanine DNA methyltransferase protein expression in tumor cells predicts outcome of temozolomide therapy in glioblastoma patients 
Neuro-Oncology  2009;12(1):28-36.
O6-Methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is implicated as a major predictive factor for treatment response to alkylating agents including temozolomide (TMZ) of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients. However, whether the MGMT status in GBM patients should be detected at the level of promoter methylation or protein expression is still a matter of debate. Here, we compared promoter methylation (by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction) and protein expression (by Western blot) in tumor cell explants with respect to prediction of TMZ response and survival of GBM patients (n = 71). Methylated MGMT gene promoter sequences were detected in 47 of 71 (66%) cases, whereas 37 of 71 (52%) samples were scored positive for MGMT protein expression. Although overall promoter methylation correlated significantly with protein expression (χ2 test, P < .001), a small subgroup of samples did not follow this association. In the multivariate Cox regression model, a significant interaction between MGMT protein expression, but not promoter methylation, and TMZ therapy was observed (test for interaction, P = .015). In patients treated with TMZ (n = 42), MGMT protein expression predicted a significantly shorter overall survival (OS; hazard ratio [HR] for death 5.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.76–17.37; P = .003), whereas in patients without TMZ therapy (n = 29), no differences in OS were observed (HR for death 1.00, 95% CI 0.45–2.20; P = .99). These data suggest that lack of MGMT protein expression is superior to promoter methylation as a predictive marker for TMZ response in GBM patients.
PMCID: PMC2940563  PMID: 20150365
O6-Methylguanine DNA methyltransferase; glioblastoma multiforme; protein expression; temozolomide
6.  Fibroblast growth factor receptor-mediated signals contribute to the malignant phenotype of non-small cell lung cancer cells: therapeutic implications and synergism with epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(10):3408-3419.
Fibroblast growth factors (FGF) and their high-affinity receptors (FGFR) represent an extensive cellular growth and survival system. Aim of this study was to evaluate the contribution of FGF/FGFR-mediated signals to the malignant growth of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and to assess their potential as targets for therapeutic interventions. Multiple FGFR mRNA splice variants were coexpressed in NSCLC cells (n = 16) with predominance of FGFR1. Accordingly, both expression of a dominant-negative FGFR1 (dnFGFR1) IIIc-green fluorescent protein fusion protein and application of FGFR small-molecule inhibitors (SU5402 and PD166866) significantly reduced growth, survival, clonogenicity, and migratory potential of the majority of NSCLC cell lines. Moreover, dnFGFR1 expression completely blocked or at least significantly attenuated s.c. tumor formation of NSCLC cells in severe combined immunodeficient mice. Xenograft tumors expressing dnFGFR1 exhibited significantly reduced size and mitosis rate, enhanced cell death, and decreased tissue invasion. When FGFR inhibitors were combined with chemotherapy, antagonistic to synergistic in vitro anticancer activities were obtained depending on the application schedule. In contrast, simultaneous blockage of FGFR- and epidermal growth factor receptor-mediated signals exerted synergistic effects. In summary, FGFR-mediated signals in cooperation with those transmitted by epidermal growth factor receptor are involved in growth and survival of human NSCLC cells and should be considered as targets for combined therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC2879863  PMID: 18852144
7.  Overexpression of Hsp27 in a human melanoma cell line: regulation of E-cadherin, MUC18/MCAM, and plasminogen activator (PA) system 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2003;8(3):249-257.
Hsp27 is considered a potential marker for cell differentiation in diverse tissues. Several aspects linked to the differentiation process and to the transition from high to low metastatic potential were analyzed in melanoma cells transfected with Hsp27. E-cadherin plays a central role in cell differentiation, migration, and normal development. Loss of expression or function of E-cadherin has been documented in a variety of human malignancies. We observed by fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) as well as immunofluorescence (IF) analysis a pronounced expression of E-cadherin in Hsp27-transfected A375 melanoma cells compared with control melanoma cells. The expression of the adhesion molecule MUC18/MCAM correlates directly with the metastatic potential of melanoma cells. In contrast to wild-type and neotransfected melanoma cells, in Hsp27-transfected cells the expression of MUC18/MCAM could not be detected by FACS and IF analysis. The plasminogen activator (PA) system plays a central role in mediating extracellular proteolysis and also in nonproteolytic events such as cell adhesion, migration, and transmembrane signaling. Hsp27 transfectants revealed elevated messenger ribonucleic acid expression of the urokinase-type PA (uPA) and its inhibitor, PA inhibitor type 1, which might indicate a neutralization effect of the proteolytic activity of uPA. Control cells failed to express both these molecules. The influence of Hsp27 expression on uPA activity and the involvement of E-cadherin could be demonstrated by use of anti–E-cadherin–blocking antibody. Our data provide evidence for an inhibitory-regulatory role of Hsp27 in tumor progression as found in our system.
PMCID: PMC514878  PMID: 14984058
9.  Overexpression of Hsp27 affects the metastatic phenotype of human melanoma cells in vitro 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2002;7(2):177-185.
Overexpression of the small heat shock protein Hsp27 has been shown by us to inhibit the in vitro proliferation rate and to delay tumor development of a human melanoma cell line (A375) in nude mice. We hypothesized that Hsp27 may influence the neoplastic phenotype. In the present study Hsp27 transfectants from this cell line were analyzed for various cellular aspects associated with the metastatic process. We found that Hsp27-overexpressing clones exhibited an altered cellular morphology as compared with control transfected cells. The Hsp27-positive cells tended to develop an epithelial-like phenotype growing in clusters and were characterized by a loss of transcytoplasmic stressfibers. In parallel, Hsp27-expressing cells lost the ability to form colonies in soft agar. The invasive potential was studied in vitro by the use of a reconstituted extracellular matrix–coated filter (Matrigel). Compared with controls, Hsp27-overexpressing cells showed decreased cell invasiveness through Matrigel. A correlation between invasion and activation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) has been shown in several cell models. Secretion of MMPs (MMP-2 and MMP-9) was studied by gelatin-substrate zymogram analysis, as well as by a sensitive gelatinase activity assay. The Hsp27-transfected A375 melanoma cell line showed decreased secretion of MMP-2 and MMP-9 as compared with the control transfected cells. Integrins are adhesion receptors and function in cell invasion by mediating cell movement on matrix molecules and by regulating the expression of MMPs. Both fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis and immunofluorescence analysis revealed a loss of αvβ3 integrin in Hsp27-transfected cell colonies. Our results demonstrate that Hsp27 overexpression has a profound impact on several parameters regulating the invasive and metastatic potential of melanoma cells in vitro.
PMCID: PMC514815  PMID: 12380685
10.  Overexpression of Hsp25 in K1735 murine melanoma cells enhances susceptibility to natural killer cytotoxicity 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2002;7(1):107-117.
In the present study we used a murine melanoma model to investigate the effect of the 25-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp25) on natural killer (NK) cytotoxicity. The melanoma lines K1735-Cl23 (low metastatic potential) and K1735-M2 (high metastatic potential) were transfected with hsp25 and a control plasmid. Highly purified interleukin (IL)-2–stimulated DX-5+ NK cells showed enhanced lysis of Hsp25-overexpressing K1735-Cl23 targets in comparison with controls. In contrast, there was no difference in susceptibility to lysis by purified IL-2–stimulated DX-5+ NK cells between Hsp25-overexpressing and control-transfected K1735-M2 targets. Fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis revealed that Hsp25 is displayed on the cell surface independently of Hsp25 overexpression and metastatic phenotype. Thus, surface localization of Hsp25 does not correlate with the target cell susceptibility to killing. To sum up, a cytoplasmic overexpression of Hsp25 is associated with an increased susceptibility to lysis by DX-5+ NK cells in the low-metastatic murine melanoma model investigated.
PMCID: PMC514796  PMID: 11892982

Results 1-10 (10)