Triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are highly aggressive and grow in response to sex steroid hormones despite lacking expression of the classical estrogen (E2) and progesterone (P4) receptors. Since P4 receptor membrane component 1 (PGRMC1) is expressed in breast cancer tumors and is known to mediate P4-induced cell survival, this study was designed to determine the expression of PGRMC1 in TNBC tumors and the involvement of PGRMC1 in regulating proliferation and survival of TNBC cells in vitro and the growth of TNBC tumors in vivo. For the latter studies, the MDA-MB-231 (MDA) cell line derived from TNBC was used. These cells express PGRMC1 but lack expression of the classical P4 receptor. A lentiviral-based shRNA approach was used to generate a stably transfected PGRMC1-deplete MDA line for comparison to the PGRMC1-intact MDA line. The present studies demonstrate that PGRMC1: 1) is expressed in TNBC cells; 2) mediates the ability of P4 to suppress TNBC cell mitosis in vitro; 3) is required for P4 to reduce the apoptotic effects of doxorubicin in vitro; and 4) facilitates TNBC tumor formation and growth in vivo. Taken together, these findings indicate that PGRMC1 plays an important role in regulating the growth and survival of TNBC cells in vitro and ultimately in the formation and development of these tumors in vivo. Thus, PGRMC1 may be a therapeutic target for TNBCs.
Breast cancer; endocrine; PGRMC1; progesterone; TNBC; xenograft
Prostate cancer is initially responsive to androgen deprivation, but the effectiveness of androgen receptor (AR) inhibitors in recurrent disease is variable. Biopsy of bone metastases is challenging, hence sampling circulating tumor cells (CTCs) may reveal drug resistance mechanisms. We established single cell RNA-sequencing profiles of 77 intact CTCs isolated from 13 patients (mean 6 CTCs/patient) using microfluidic enrichment. Single CTCs from each individual display considerable heterogeneity, including expression of AR gene mutations and splicing variants. Retrospective analysis of CTCs from patients progressing on AR inhibitor, compared with untreated cases indicates activation of noncanonical Wnt signaling (P=0.0064). Ectopic expression of Wnt5a in prostate cancer cells attenuates the antiproliferative effect of AR inhibition, while its suppression in drug-resistant cells restores partial sensitivity, a correlation also evident in an established mouse model. Thus, single cell analysis of prostate CTCs reveals heterogeneity in signaling pathways that could contribute to treatment failure.
Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) has been implicated in models of tumor cell migration, invasion and metastasis. In a search for candidate therapeutic targets to reverse this process, non-tumorigenic MCF10A breast epithelial cells were infected with an arrayed lentiviral kinome shRNA library and screened for either suppression or enhancement of a 26-gene EMT RNA signature. No individual kinase gene knockdown was sufficient to induce EMT. In contrast, grouped epithelial markers were induced by knockdown of multiple kinases, including mitogen activated protein kinase 7 (MAPK7). In breast cancer cells, suppression of MAPK7 increased E-cadherin (CDH1) expression and inhibited cell migration. In an orthotopic mouse model, MAPK7 suppression reduced the generation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and the appearance of lung metastases. Together, these observations raise the possibility that targeting kinases that maintain mesenchymal cell properties in cancer cells, such as MAPK7, may lessen tumor invasiveness.
Suppression of MAPK7 induces epithelial markers, reduces generation of circulating tumor cells and appearance of lung metastases.
EMT; MET; MAPK7; Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs); Metastasis
Endometrial cancer is the leading gynecologic cancer in women in the United States with 52,630 women predicted to be diagnosed with the disease in 2014. The objective of this study was to determine if progesterone (P4) receptor membrane component 1 (PGRMC1) influenced endometrial cancer cell viability in response to chemotherapy in vitro and in vivo. A Jentiviral-based shRNA knockdown approach was used to generate stable PGRMC1-intact and PGRMC1-deplete Ishikawa endometrial cancer cell lines that also lacked expression of the classical progesterone receptor (PGR). Progesterone treatment inhibited mitosis of PGRMC1-intact, but not PGRMC1-deplete cells, suggesting that PGRMC1 mediates the anti-mitotic actions of P4.To test the hypothesis that PGRMC1 attenuates chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, PGRMC1-intact and PGRMC1-deplete cells were treated in vitro with vehicle, P4 (1 μM), doxorubicin (Dox. 2 μg/ml). or P4 + Dox for 48 h. Doxorubicin treatment of PGRMC1-intact cells resulted in a significant increase in cell death; however, co-treatment with P4 significantly attenuated Dex-induced cell death. This response to P4 was lost in PGRMC1-deplete cells. To extend these observations in vivo, a xenograft model was employed where PGRMC1-intact and PGRMC1-deplete endometrial tumors were generated following subcutaneous and intraperitonea l inoculation of immunocompromised NOD/SCIO and nude mice, respectively. Tumors derived from PGRMC1-deplete cells grew slower than tumors from PGRMC1-intact cells. Mice harboring endometrial tumors were then given three treatments of vehicle (1:1 cremophor EL: ethanol + 0.9% saline) or chemotherapy [Paclitaxel (15 mg/kg, i.p.) followed after an interval of 30 minutes by CARBOplatin (SO mg/kg)] at five day intervals. In response to chemotherapy, tumor volume decreased approximately four-fold more in PGRMC1-deplete tumors when compared with PGRMC1 intact control tumors, suggesting that PGRMC1 promotes tumor cell viability during chemotherapeutic stress. In sum, these in vitro and in vivo findings demonstrate that PGRMC1 plays a prominent role in the growth and chemoresistance of human endometrial tumors.
Cancer; Chemotherapy; Endometrial; PGRMC1; Progesterone; Xenograft
Cancer cells metastasize through the bloodstream either as single migratory circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or as multicellular groupings (CTC-clusters). Existing technologies for CTC enrichment are designed primarily to isolate single CTCs, and while CTC-clusters are detectable in some cases, their true prevalence and significance remain to be determined. Here, we developed a microchip technology (Cluster-Chip) specifically designed to capture CTC-clusters independent of tumor-specific markers from unprocessed blood. CTC-clusters are isolated through specialized bifurcating traps under low shear-stress conditions that preserve their integrity and even two-cell clusters are captured efficiently. Using the Cluster-Chip, we identify CTC-clusters in 30–40% of patients with metastatic cancers of the breast, prostate and melanoma. RNA sequencing of CTC-clusters confirms their tumor origin and identifies leukocytes within the clusters as tissue-derived macrophages. Together, the development of a device for efficient capture of CTC-clusters will enable detailed characterization of their biological properties and role in cancer metastasis.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed from primary tumors into the bloodstream, mediating the hematogenous spread of cancer to distant organs. To define their composition, we compared genome-wide expression profiles of CTCs with matched primary tumors in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, isolating individual CTCs using epitope-independent microfluidic capture, followed by single-cell RNA sequencing. CTCs clustered separately from primary tumors and tumor-derived cell lines, showing low-proliferative signatures, enrichment for the stem-cell-associated gene Aldh1a2, biphenotypic expression of epithelial and mesenchymal markers, and expression of Igfbp5, a gene transcript enriched at the epithelial-stromal interface. Mouse as well as human pancreatic CTCs exhibit a very high expression of stromal-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, including SPARC, whose knockdown in cancer cells suppresses cell migration and invasiveness. The aberrant expression by CTCs of stromal ECM genes points to their contribution of microenvironmental signals for the spread of cancer to distant organs.
Clusters of circulating tumor cells (CTC-clusters) are present in the blood of patients with cancer but their contribution to metastasis is not well defined. Using mouse models with tagged mammary tumors, we demonstrate that CTC-clusters arise from oligoclonal tumor cell groupings and not from intravascular aggregation events. Although rare in the circulation compared with single CTCs, CTC-clusters have 23-50-fold increased metastatic potential. In patients with breast cancer, single-cell resolution RNA sequencing of CTC-clusters and single CTCs, matched within individual blood samples, identifies the cell junction component plakoglobin as highly differentially expressed. In mouse models, knockdown of plakoglobin abrogates CTC-cluster formation and suppresses lung metastases. In breast cancer patients, both abundance of CTC-clusters and high tumor plakoglobin levels denote adverse outcomes. Thus, CTC-clusters are derived from multicellular groupings of primary tumor cells held together through plakoglobin-dependent intercellular adhesion, and while rare, they greatly contribute to the metastatic spread of cancer.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are effective treatments for non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations. However, relapse typically occurs after an average of one year of continuous treatment. A fundamental histological transformation from NSCLC to small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is observed in a subset of the resistant cancers, but the molecular changes associated with this transformation remain unknown. Analysis of tumor samples and cell lines derived from resistant EGFR mutant patients revealed that RB is lost in 100% of these SCLC transformed cases, but rarely in those that remain NSCLC. Further, increased neuroendocrine marker and decreased EGFR expression as well as greater sensitivity to BCL2 family inhibition are observed in resistant SCLC transformed cancers compared to resistant NSCLCs. Together, these findings suggest that this subset of resistant cancers ultimately adopt many of the molecular and phenotypic characteristics of classical SCLC.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are effective treatments for non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations. However, relapse typically occurs after an average of 1 year of continuous treatment. A fundamental histological transformation from NSCLC to small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is observed in a subset of the resistant cancers, but the molecular changes associated with this transformation remain unknown. Analysis of tumour samples and cell lines derived from resistant EGFR mutant patients revealed that Retinoblastoma (RB) is lost in 100% of these SCLC transformed cases, but rarely in those that remain NSCLC. Further, increased neuroendocrine marker and decreased EGFR expression as well as greater sensitivity to BCL2 family inhibition are observed in resistant SCLC transformed cancers compared with resistant NSCLCs. Together, these findings suggest that this subset of resistant cancers ultimately adopt many of the molecular and phenotypic characteristics of classical SCLC.
Resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors occurs in treatments of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) with EGFR mutations but the mechanisms underlying this acquired resistance are unknown. Here the authors examine the molecular changes that occur in resistant cancers that transition from NSCLC to small-cell lung cancer phenotype and implicate loss of retinoblastoma in this process.
In Huntington's disease (HD), the size of the expanded HTT CAG repeat mutation is the primary driver of the processes that determine age at onset of motor symptoms. However, correlation of cellular biochemical parameters also extends across the normal repeat range, supporting the view that the CAG repeat represents a functional polymorphism with dominant effects determined by the longer allele. A central challenge to defining the functional consequences of this single polymorphism is the difficulty of distinguishing its subtle effects from the multitude of other sources of biological variation. We demonstrate that an analytical approach based upon continuous correlation with CAG size was able to capture the modest (∼21%) contribution of the repeat to the variation in genome-wide gene expression in 107 lymphoblastoid cell lines, with alleles ranging from 15 to 92 CAGs. Furthermore, a mathematical model from an iterative strategy yielded predicted CAG repeat lengths that were significantly positively correlated with true CAG allele size and negatively correlated with age at onset of motor symptoms. Genes negatively correlated with repeat size were also enriched in a set of genes whose expression were CAG-correlated in human HD cerebellum. These findings both reveal the relatively small, but detectable impact of variation in the CAG allele in global data in these peripheral cells and provide a strategy for building multi-dimensional data-driven models of the biological network that drives the HD disease process by continuous analysis across allelic panels of neuronal cells vulnerable to the dominant effects of the HTT CAG repeat.
Exposure to environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens) may play a causal role in the increased breast cancer incidence which has been observed in Europe and the US over the last 50 years. The xenoestrogen bisphenol A (BPA) leaches from plastic food/beverage containers and dental materials. Fetal exposure to BPA induces preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions in the adult rat mammary gland. Previous results suggest that BPA acts through the estrogen receptors which are detected exclusively in the mesenchyme during the exposure period by directly altering gene expression, leading to alterations of the reciprocal interactions between mesenchyme and epithelium. This initiates a long sequence of altered morphogenetic events leading to neoplastic transformation. Additionally, BPA induces epigenetic changes in some tissues. To explore this mechanism in the mammary gland, Wistar-Furth rats were exposed subcutaneously via osmotic pumps to vehicle or 250 µg BPA/kg BW/day, a dose that induced ductal carcinomas in situ. Females exposed from gestational day 9 to postnatal day (PND) 1 were sacrificed at PND4, PND21 and at first estrus after PND50. Genomic DNA (gDNA) was isolated from the mammary tissue and immuno-precipitated using anti-5-methylcytosine antibodies. Detection and quantification of gDNA methylation status using the Nimblegen ChIP array revealed 7412 differentially methylated gDNA segments (out of 58207 segments), with the majority of changes occurring at PND21. Transcriptomal analysis revealed that the majority of gene expression differences between BPA- and vehicle-treated animals were observed later (PND50). BPA exposure resulted in higher levels of pro-activation histone H3K4 trimethylation at the transcriptional initiation site of the alpha-lactalbumin gene at PND4, concomitantly enhancing mRNA expression of this gene. These results show that fetal BPA exposure triggers changes in the postnatal and adult mammary gland epigenome and alters gene expression patterns. These events may contribute to the development of pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions that manifest during adulthood.
For years, scientists from various disciplines have studied the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the health and wellbeing of humans and wildlife. Some studies have specifically focused on the effects of low doses, i.e. those in the range that are thought to be safe for humans and/or animals. Others have focused on the existence of non-monotonic dose-response curves. These concepts challenge the way that chemical risk assessment is performed for EDCs. Continued discussions have clarified exactly what controversies and challenges remain. We address several of these issues, including why the study and regulation of EDCs should incorporate endocrine principles; what level of consensus there is for low dose effects; challenges to our understanding of non-monotonicity; and whether EDCs have been demonstrated to produce adverse effects. This discussion should result in a better understanding of these issues, and allow for additional dialogue on their impact on risk assessment.
weight of evidence; organizational; adaptive effect; hormesis; human exposure; epidemiology; flare
The length of the huntingtin (HTT) CAG repeat is strongly correlated with both age at onset of Huntington’s disease (HD) symptoms and age at death of HD patients. Dichotomous analysis comparing HD to controls is widely used to study the effects of HTT CAG repeat expansion. However, a potentially more powerful approach is a continuous analysis strategy that takes advantage of all of the different CAG lengths, to capture effects that are expected to be critical to HD pathogenesis.
We used continuous and dichotomous approaches to analyze microarray gene expression data from 107 human control and HD lymphoblastoid cell lines. Of all probes found to be significant in a continuous analysis by CAG length, only 21.4% were so identified by a dichotomous comparison of HD versus controls. Moreover, of probes significant by dichotomous analysis, only 33.2% were also significant in the continuous analysis. Simulations revealed that the dichotomous approach would require substantially more than 107 samples to either detect 80% of the CAG-length correlated changes revealed by continuous analysis or to reduce the rate of significant differences that are not CAG length-correlated to 20% (n = 133 or n = 206, respectively). Given the superior power of the continuous approach, we calculated the correlation structure between HTT CAG repeat lengths and gene expression levels and created a freely available searchable website, “HD CAGnome,” that allows users to examine continuous relationships between HTT CAG and expression levels of ∼20,000 human genes.
Our results reveal limitations of dichotomous approaches compared to the power of continuous analysis to study a disease where human genotype-phenotype relationships strongly support a role for a continuum of CAG length-dependent changes. The compendium of HTT CAG length-gene expression level relationships found at the HD CAGnome now provides convenient routes for discovery of candidates influenced by the HD mutation.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been generated by enforced expression of defined sets of transcription factors in somatic cells. It remains controversial whether iPSCs are molecularly and functionally equivalent to blastocyst-derived embryonic stem cells (ESCs). By comparing genetically identical mouse ESCs and iPSCs, we show here that the overall mRNA and miRNA expression patterns of these cell types are indistinguishable with the exception of a few transcripts and miRNAs encoded on chromosome 12qF1. Specifically, maternally expressed imprinted genes in the Dlk1-Dio3 cluster including Gtl2, Rian and Mirg as well as a larger number of miRNAs encoded within this region were aberrantly silenced in the majority of iPSC clones, irrespective of their cell type of origin. Consistent with a developmental role of the Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster, iPSC clones with repressed Gtl2 contributed poorly to chimeras and failed to support the development of entirely iPSC-derived animals (“all-iPSC mice”). In contrast, iPSC clones with normal expression levels of these genes contributed to high-grade chimeras and generated viable all-iPSC mice. Importantly, treatment of an iPSC clone that had silenced Dlk1-Dio3 and failed to give rise to all-iPSC animals with a histone deacetylase inhibitor reactivated the locus and rescued its ability to support full-term development of exclusively iPSC-derived mice. Thus, the expression state of a single imprinted gene cluster distinguishes most murine iPSCs from ESCs and allows for the prospective identification of iPSC clones that have the full development potential of ESCs.
KRAS is the most commonly mutated oncogene, yet no effective targeted therapies exist for KRAS mutant cancers. We developed a pooled shRNA-drug screen strategy to identify genes that, when inhibited, cooperate with MEK inhibitors to effectively treat KRAS mutant cancer cells. The anti-apoptotic BH3 family gene BCL-XL emerged as a top hit through this approach. ABT-263 (navitoclax), a chemical inhibitor that blocks the ability of BCL-XL to bind and inhibit pro-apoptotic proteins, in combination with a MEK inhibitor led to dramatic apoptosis in many KRAS mutant cell lines from different tissue types. This combination caused marked in vivo tumor regressions in KRAS mutant xenografts and in a genetically engineered KRAS-driven lung cancer mouse model, supporting combined BCL-XL/MEK inhibition as a potential therapeutic approach for KRAS mutant cancers.
Proper coordination of cholesterol biosynthesis and trafficking is essential to human health. The sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) are key transcription regulators of genes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis/uptake. We show here that microRNAs (miR-33a/b) embedded within introns of the SREBP genes target the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), an important regulator of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) synthesis and reverse cholesterol transport, for post-transcriptional repression. Antisense inhibition of miR-33 in cell lines causes upregulation of ABCA1 expression and increased cholesterol efflux, and injection of mice on a western-type diet with locked nucleic acid (LNA)-antisense oligonucleotides results in elevated plasma HDL. Collectively, our findings indicate that miR-33 acts in concert with the SREBP host genes to control cholesterol homeostasis, and suggest that miR-33 may represent a therapeutic target for ameliorating cardiometabolic diseases.
Sex of birds is genetically determined through inheritance of the ZW sex chromosomes (ZZ males and ZW females). Although the mechanisms of avian sex determination remains unknown, the genetic sex is experimentally reversible by in ovo exposure to exogenous estrogens (ZZ-male feminization) or aromatase inhibitors (ZW-female masculinization). Expression of various testis- and ovary-specific marker genes during the normal and reversed gonadal sex differentiation in chicken embryos has been extensively studied, but the roles of sex-specific epigenetic marks in sex differentiation are unknown. In this study, we show that a 170-nt region in the promoter of CYP19A1/aromatase, a key gene required for ovarian estrogen biosynthesis and feminization of chicken embryonic gonads, contains highly quantitative, nucleotide base-level epigenetic marks that reflect phenotypic gonadal sex differentiation. We developed a protocol to feminize ZZ-male chicken embryonic gonads in a highly quantitative manner by direct injection of emulsified ethynylestradiol into yolk at various developmental stages. Taking advantage of this experimental sex reversal model, we show that the epigenetic sex marks in the CYP19A1/aromatase promoter involving DNA methylation and histone lysine methylation are feminized significantly but only partially in sex-converted gonads even when morphological and transcriptional marks of sex differentiation show complete feminization, being indistinguishable from gonads of normal ZW females. Our study suggests that the epigenetic sex of chicken embryonic gonads is more stable than the morphologically or transcriptionally characterized sex differentiation, suggesting the importance of the nucleotide base-level epigenetic sex in gonadal sex differentiation.
Quantitative epigenetic marks in the CYP19A1/aromatase promoter in male chicken embryonic gonads reveal that epigenetic sex is more resistant to estrogen-induced sex reversal than morphological or transcriptional sex factors.
embryo; endocrine disruptors; epigenetics; gene regulation; sex determination
Exposure of rodent fetuses to low doses of the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) causes subtle morphological changes in the prenatal mammary gland and results in pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions during adulthood. To examine whether the BPA-induced morphological alterations of the fetal mouse mammary glands are a) associated with changes in mRNA expression reflecting estrogenic actions and/or b) dependent on the estrogen receptor α (ERα), we compared the transcriptomal effects of BPA and the steroidal estrogen ethinylestradiol (EE2) on fetal mammary tissues of wild type and ERα knock-out mice. Mammary glands from fetuses of dams exposed to vehicle, 250 ng BPA/kg BW/d or 10 ng EE2/kg BW/d from embryonic day (E) 8 were harvested at E19. Transcriptomal analyses on the ductal epithelium and periductal stroma revealed altered expression of genes involved in the focal adhesion and adipogenesis pathways in the BPA-exposed stroma while genes regulating the apoptosis pathway changed their expression in the BPA-exposed epithelium. These changes in gene expression correlated with previously reported histological changes in matrix organization, adipogenesis, and lumen formation resulting in enhanced maturation of the fat-pad and delayed lumen formation in the epithelium of BPA-exposed fetal mammary glands. Overall similarities in the transcriptomal effects of BPA and EE2 were more pronounced in the epithelium, than in the stroma. In addition, the effects of BPA and EE2 on the expression of various genes involved in mammary stromal-epithelial interactions were suppressed in the absence of ERα. These observations support a model whereby BPA and EE2 act directly on the stroma, which expresses ERα, ERβ and GPR30 in fetal mammary glands, and that the stroma, in turn, affects gene expression in the epithelium, where ERα and ERβ are below the level of detection at this stage of development.
Fulvestrant is a representative pure antiestrogen and a Selective Estrogen Receptor Down-regulator (SERD). In contrast to the Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) such as 4-hydroxytamoxifen that bind to estrogen receptor α (ERα) as antagonists or partial agonists, fulvestrant causes proteasomal degradation of ERα protein, shutting down the estrogen signaling to induce proliferation arrest and apoptosis of estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells. We performed genome-wide RNAi knockdown screenings for protein kinases required for fulvestrant-induced apoptosis of the MCF-7 estrogen-dependent human breast caner cells and identified the c-Src tyrosine kinase (CSK), a negative regulator of the oncoprotein c-Src and related protein tyrosine kinases, as one of the necessary molecules. Whereas RNAi knockdown of CSK in MCF-7 cells by shRNA-expressing lentiviruses strongly suppressed fulvestrant-induced cell death, CSK knockdown did not affect cytocidal actions of 4-hydroxytamoxifen or paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent. In the absence of CSK, fulvestrant-induced proteasomal degradation of ERα protein was suppressed in both MCF-7 and T47D estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells whereas the TP53-mutated T47D cells were resistant to the cytocidal action of fulvestrant in the presence or absence of CSK. MCF-7 cell sensitivities to fulvestrant-induced cell death or ERα protein degradation was not affected by small-molecular-weight inhibitors of the tyrosine kinase activity of c-Src, suggesting possible involvement of other signaling molecules in CSK-dependent MCF-7 cell death induced by fulvestrant. Our observations suggest the importance of CSK in the determination of cellular sensitivity to the cytocidal action of fulvestrant.
The generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) often results in aberrant epigenetic silencing of the imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster, which compromises the cells’ ability to generate entirely iPSC-derived adult mice (“all-iPSC mice”). Here, we show that reprogramming in the presence of ascorbic acid attenuates hypermethylation of Dlk1-Dio3 by enabling a chromatin configuration that interferes with binding of the de novo DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a. This allowed us to generate all-iPSC mice from mature B cells, which have thus far failed to support the development of exclusively iPSC-derived postnatal animals. Our data demonstrate that transcription factor-mediated reprogramming can endow a defined, terminally differentiated cell type with a developmental potential equivalent to that of embryonic stem cells. More generally, these findings indicate that culture conditions during cellular reprogramming can strongly influence the epigenetic and biological properties of resultant iPSCs.
Sterol Regulatory Element-Binding Proteins (SREBPs) activate genes involved in the synthesis and trafficking of cholesterol and other lipids, and therefore are critical for maintaining lipid homeostasis. Aberrant SREBP activity, however, can result in excess stored fat and contribute to obesity, fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, hallmarks of metabolic syndrome. Our studies identify a conserved regulatory circuit in which SREBP-1 controls production of the methyl donor S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Methylation is critical for synthesis of phosphatidylcholine (PC), a major membrane component, and we find that blocking SAMe or PC synthesis in C. elegans, mouse liver and human cells causes elevated SREBP-1-dependent transcription and lipid droplet accumulation. Distinct from negative regulation of SREBP-2 by cholesterol, our data suggest a mechanism where maturation of nuclear, transcriptionally active SREBP-1 is controlled by levels of PC. Thus, nutritional or genetic conditions limiting SAMe or PC production may activate SREBP-1, contributing to human metabolic disorders.
Huntington's disease (HD) involves marked early neurodegeneration in the striatum, whereas the cerebellum is relatively spared despite the ubiquitous expression of full-length mutant huntingtin, implying that inherent tissue-specific differences determine susceptibility to the HD CAG mutation. To understand this tissue specificity, we compared early mutant huntingtin-induced gene expression changes in striatum to those in cerebellum in young Hdh CAG knock-in mice, prior to onset of evident pathological alterations. Endogenous levels of full-length mutant huntingtin caused qualitatively similar, but quantitatively different gene expression changes in the two brain regions. Importantly, the quantitatively different responses in the striatum and cerebellum in mutant mice were well accounted for by the intrinsic molecular differences in gene expression between the striatum and cerebellum in wild-type animals. Tissue-specific gene expression changes in response to the HD mutation, therefore, appear to reflect the different inherent capacities of these tissues to buffer qualitatively similar effects of mutant huntingtin. These findings highlight a role for intrinsic quantitative tissue differences in contributing to HD pathogenesis, and likely to other neurodegenerative disorders exhibiting tissue-specificity, thereby guiding the search for effective therapeutic interventions.
Huntington's disease is initiated by the expression of a CAG repeat-encoded polyglutamine region in full-length huntingtin, with dominant effects that vary continuously with CAG size. The mechanism could involve a simple gain of function or a more complex gain of function coupled to a loss of function (e.g. dominant negative-graded loss of function). To distinguish these alternatives, we compared genome-wide gene expression changes correlated with CAG size across an allelic series of heterozygous CAG knock-in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines (HdhQ20/7, HdhQ50/7, HdhQ91/7, HdhQ111/7), to genes differentially expressed between Hdhex4/5/ex4/5 huntingtin null and wild-type (HdhQ7/7) parental ES cells. The set of 73 genes whose expression varied continuously with CAG length had minimal overlap with the 754-member huntingtin-null gene set but the two were not completely unconnected. Rather, the 172 CAG length-correlated pathways and 238 huntingtin-null significant pathways clustered into 13 shared categories at the network level. A closer examination of the energy metabolism and the lipid/sterol/lipoprotein metabolism categories revealed that CAG length-correlated genes and huntingtin-null-altered genes either were different members of the same pathways or were in unique, but interconnected pathways. Thus, varying the polyglutamine size in full-length huntingtin produced gene expression changes that were distinct from, but related to, the effects of lack of huntingtin. These findings support a simple gain-of-function mechanism acting through a property of the full-length huntingtin protein and point to CAG-correlative approaches to discover its effects. Moreover, for therapeutic strategies based on huntingtin suppression, our data highlight processes that may be more sensitive to the disease trigger than to decreased huntingtin levels.
Fulvestrant is known to promote the degradation of the estrogen receptor (ER) in the nucleus. However, fulvestrant also promotes the aggregation of the newly synthesized ER in the cytoplasm. Accumulation of protein aggregates leads to cell death but this effect is limited as a result of their elimination by the proteasome. We tested whether combining fulvestrant with the proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, could enhance the accumulation of ER aggregates and cause apoptotic cell death.
The rate of aggregation of the ER was monitored in ER+ breast cancer cells lines, T47D, ZR-75.1, BT474, MDA-MB-361, MCF-7, fulvestrant resistance MCF-7, and tamoxifen-resistant T47D-cyclin D1 cells. Activation of the unfolded protein response, apoptosis, and metabolic rate were also monitored in these cell lines following treatment with fulvestrant, bortezomib, or bortezomib in combination with fulvestrant.
We found that bortezomib enhances the fulvestrant-mediated aggregation of the ER in the cytoplasm without blocking the degradation of the ER in the nucleus. Further, these aggregates activate a sustained unfolded protein response leading to apoptotic cell death. Further, we show that the combination induced tumor regression in a breast cancer mouse model of tamoxifen resistance.
Adding bortezomib to fulvestrant enhances its efficacy by taking advantage of the unique ability of fulvestrant to promote cytoplasmic aggregates of the ER. As this effect of fulvestrant is independent of the transcriptional activity of the ER, these results suggest that this novel combination may be effective in breast cancers that are ER+ but estrogen independent.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been derived from various somatic cell populations through ectopic expression of defined factors. It remains unclear whether iPSCs generated from different cell types are molecularly and functionally similar. Here we show that iPSCs obtained from mouse fibroblasts, hematopoietic and myogenic cells exhibit distinct transcriptional and epigenetic patterns. Moreover, we demonstrate that cellular origin influences the in vitro differentiation potentials of iPSCs into embryoid bodies and different hematopoietic cell types. Notably, continuous passaging of iPSCs largely attenuates these differences. Our results suggest that early-passage iPSCs retain a transient epigenetic memory of their somatic cells of origin, which manifests as differential gene expression and altered differentiation capacity. These observations may influence ongoing attempts to use iPSCs for disease modeling and could also be exploited in potential therapeutic applications to enhance differentiation into desired cell lineages.