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1.  Autocrine endothelin-3/endothelin receptor B signaling maintains cellular and molecular properties of glioblastoma stem cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(12):1668-1685.
Glioblastoma stem cells (GSC) express both radial glial cell (RGC) and neural crest cell (NCC)-associated genes. We report that endothelin 3 (EDN3), an essential mitogen for NCC development and migration, is highly produced by GSC. Serum-induced proliferative differentiation rapidly decreased EDN3 production and downregulated the expression of stemness-associated genes, and reciprocally, two glioblastoma markers, EDN1 and YKL-40 transcripts, were induced. Correspondingly, patient glioblastoma tissues express low levels of EDN3 mRNA and high levels of EDN1 and YKL-40 mRNA. Blocking EDN3/endothelin receptor B (EDNRB) signaling by an EDNRB antagonist (BQ788), or EDN3 RNA interference (siRNA), leads to cell apoptosis and functional impairment of tumor-sphere formation and cell spreading/migration in culture, and loss of tumorigenic capacity in animals. Using exogenous EDN3 as the sole mitogen in culture does not support GSC propagation, but can rescue GSC from undergoing cell apoptosis. Molecular analysis by gene expression profiling revealed that most genes downregulated by EDN3/EDNRB blockade were those involved in cytoskeleton organization, pause of growth and differentiation, and DNA damage response, implicating the involvement of EDN3/EDNRB signaling in maintaining GSC migration, undifferentiation, and survival. These data suggest that autocrine EDN3/EDNRB signaling is essential for maintaining GSC. Incorporating END3/EDNRB-targeted therapies into conventional cancer treatments may have clinical implication for the prevention of tumor recurrence.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-10-0563
PMCID: PMC3245317  PMID: 22013079
Glioblastoma; cancer stem cells; endothelin 3; radial glial cells; neural crest cells; neural stem cells
2.  Gene expression profile correlates with T cell infiltration and relative survival in glioblastoma patients vaccinated with dendritic cell immunotherapy 
Purpose
To assess the feasibility, safety, and toxicity of autologous tumor lysate-pulsed dendritic cell (DC) vaccination and toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists in patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma. Clinical and immune responses were monitored and correlated with tumor gene expression profiles.
Experimental Design
Twenty-three patients with glioblastoma (WHO grade IV) were enrolled in this dose-escalation study and received three biweekly injections of glioma lysate-pulsed DCs followed by booster vaccinations with either imiquimod or poly-ICLC adjuvant every three months until tumor progression. Gene expression profiling, IHC, FACS, and cytokine bead arrays were performed on patient tumors and PBMC.
Results
DC vaccinations are safe and not associated with any dose-limiting toxicity. The median overall survival from the time of initial surgical diagnosis of glioblastoma was 31.4 months, with a one-, two-, and three-year survival rate of 91%, 55% and 47%, respectively. Patients whose tumors had mesenchymal gene expression signatures exhibited increased survival following DC vaccination compared to historical controls of the same genetic subtype. Tumor samples with a mesenchymal gene expression signature had a higher number of CD3+ and CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) compared with glioblastomas of other gene expression signatures (p = 0.006).
Conclusion
Autologous tumor lysate-pulsed DC vaccination in conjunction with TLR agonists is safe as adjuvant therapy in newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma patients. Our results suggest that the mesenchymal gene expression profile may identify an immunogenic subgroup of glioblastoma that may be more responsive to immune-based therapies.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2563
PMCID: PMC3071163  PMID: 21135147
3.  Decitabine immunosensitizes human gliomas to NY-ESO-1 specific T lymphocyte targeting through the Fas/Fas Ligand pathway 
Background
The lack of effective treatments for gliomas makes them a significant health problem and highlights the need for the development of novel and innovative treatment approaches. Immunotherapy is an appealing strategy because of the potential ability for immune cells to traffic to and destroy infiltrating tumor cells. However, the absence of well-characterized, highly immunogenic tumor-rejection antigens (TRA) in gliomas has limited the implementation of targeted immune-based therapies.
Methods
We hypothesized that treatment with the demethylating agent, decitabine, would upregulate the expression of TRA on tumor cells, thereby facilitating enhanced surveillance by TRA-specific T cells.
Results and Discussion
Treatment of human glioma cells with decitabine increased the expression of NY-ESO-1 and other well characterized cancer testes antigens. The upregulation of NY-ESO-1 made these tumors susceptible to NY-ESO-1-specific T-cell recognition and lysis. Interestingly, decitabine treatment of T98 glioma cells also sensitized them to Fas-dependent apoptosis with an agonistic antibody, while a Fas blocking antibody could largely prevent the enhanced functional recognition by NY-ESO-1 specific T cells. Thus, decitabine treatment transformed a non-immunogenic glioma cell into an immunogenic target that was efficiently recognized by NY-ESO-1--specific T cells.
Conclusions
Such data supports the hypothesis that agents which alter epigenetic cellular processes may "immunosensitize" tumor cells to tumor-specific T cell-mediated lysis.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-9-192
PMCID: PMC3229551  PMID: 22060015
T cells; tumor immunity; decitabine; cancer testis antigens; Fas/Fas Ligand
4.  Characterization of three cell lines derived from fine needle biopsy of choroidal melanoma with metastatic outcome 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:607-615.
Purpose
To report three low-passage cell lines from primary choroidal melanoma with metastatic outcome, which were stable for cytogenetic patterns and expression profiles of the primary melanoma.
Methods
In patients with choroidal melanoma, transscleral fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) was performed immediately before plaque placement for 125iodine brachytherapy or immediately after enucleation. Cells were examined for cytopathology, evaluated by fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) for the centromere of chromosome 3, analyzed by 250K whole genome Mapping Array and U133 plus 2.0 Expression Array, and placed in cell culture. At passage 3, the cell lines were analyzed by Mapping Array and Expression Array.
Results
Three cell lines were propagated from primary choroidal melanomas in three patients who subsequently developed metastasis. Two cell lines were stable for the entire chromosomal aberration pattern of the respective primary tumor. In the third, necrotic material from the biopsy prevented further analysis, yet resulted in a stable cell line. Each cell line had chromosome 3 loss, 6q loss, 8p loss, multiple 8q gain, and 16q loss. Additionally, two cell lines had chromosome 6p gain. Two cell lines had RNA expression profiles similar to the respective primary tumors; the third cell line had a similar RNA expression profile relative to the other two cell lines.
Conclusions
FNAB of primary choroidal melanomas resulted in highly characterized, low-passage cell lines, which were stable for the cytogenetic patterns and expression profiles found in the primary tumor. These cell lines represent novel tools for the study of metastatic choroidal melanoma biology.
PMCID: PMC3049736  PMID: 21386926
5.  IL-17A is increased in the serum and in spinal cord CD8 and mast cells of ALS patients 
The contribution of inflammation to neurodegenerative diseases is increasingly recognized, but the role of inflammation in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (sALS) is not well understood and no animal model is available. We used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) to measure the cytokine interleukin-17A (IL-17A) in the serum of ALS patients (n = 32; 28 sporadic ALS (sALS) and 4 familial ALS (fALS)) and control subjects (n = 14; 10 healthy subjects and 4 with autoimmune disorders). IL-17A serum concentrations were 5767 ± 2700 pg/ml (mean ± SEM) in sALS patients and 937 ± 927 pg/ml in fALS patients in comparison to 7 ± 2 pg/ml in control subjects without autoimmune disorders (p = 0.008 ALS patients vs. control subjects by Mann-Whitney test). Sixty-four percent of patients and no control subjects had IL-17A serum concentrations > 50 pg/ml (p = 0.003 ALS patients vs. healthy subjects by Fisher's exact test). The spinal cords of sALS (n = 8), but not control subjects (n = 4), were infiltrated by interleukin-1β- (IL-1β-), and tumor necrosis factor-α-positive macrophages (co-localizing with neurons), IL-17A-positive CD8 cells, and IL-17A-positive mast cells. Mononuclear cells treated with aggregated forms of wild type superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) showed induction of the cytokines IL-1β, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-23 (IL-23) that may be responsible for induction of IL-17A. In a microarray analysis of 28,869 genes, stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells by mutant superoxide dismutase-1 induced four-fold higher transcripts of interleukin-1α (IL-1α), IL-6, CCL20, matrix metallopeptidase 1, and tissue factor pathway inhibitor 2 in mononuclear cells of patients as compared to controls, whereas the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) was increased in mononuclear cells of control subjects. Aggregated wild type SOD-1 in sALS neurons could induce in mononuclear cells the cytokines inducing chronic inflammation in sALS spinal cord, in particular IL-6 and IL-17A, damaging neurons. Immune modulation of chronic inflammation may be a new approach to sALS.
doi:10.1186/1742-2094-7-76
PMCID: PMC2992053  PMID: 21062492
6.  U87MG Decoded: The Genomic Sequence of a Cytogenetically Aberrant Human Cancer Cell Line 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(1):e1000832.
U87MG is a commonly studied grade IV glioma cell line that has been analyzed in at least 1,700 publications over four decades. In order to comprehensively characterize the genome of this cell line and to serve as a model of broad cancer genome sequencing, we have generated greater than 30× genomic sequence coverage using a novel 50-base mate paired strategy with a 1.4kb mean insert library. A total of 1,014,984,286 mate-end and 120,691,623 single-end two-base encoded reads were generated from five slides. All data were aligned using a custom designed tool called BFAST, allowing optimal color space read alignment and accurate identification of DNA variants. The aligned sequence reads and mate-pair information identified 35 interchromosomal translocation events, 1,315 structural variations (>100 bp), 191,743 small (<21 bp) insertions and deletions (indels), and 2,384,470 single nucleotide variations (SNVs). Among these observations, the known homozygous mutation in PTEN was robustly identified, and genes involved in cell adhesion were overrepresented in the mutated gene list. Data were compared to 219,187 heterozygous single nucleotide polymorphisms assayed by Illumina 1M Duo genotyping array to assess accuracy: 93.83% of all SNPs were reliably detected at filtering thresholds that yield greater than 99.99% sequence accuracy. Protein coding sequences were disrupted predominantly in this cancer cell line due to small indels, large deletions, and translocations. In total, 512 genes were homozygously mutated, including 154 by SNVs, 178 by small indels, 145 by large microdeletions, and 35 by interchromosomal translocations to reveal a highly mutated cell line genome. Of the small homozygously mutated variants, 8 SNVs and 99 indels were novel events not present in dbSNP. These data demonstrate that routine generation of broad cancer genome sequence is possible outside of genome centers. The sequence analysis of U87MG provides an unparalleled level of mutational resolution compared to any cell line to date.
Author Summary
Glioblastoma has a particularly dismal prognosis with median survival time of less than fifteen months. Here, we describe the broad genome sequencing of U87MG, a commonly used and thus well-studied glioblastoma cell line. One of the major features of the U87MG genome is the large number of chromosomal abnormalities, which can be typical of cancer cell lines and primary cancers. The systematic, thorough, and accurate mutational analysis of the U87MG genome comprehensively identifies different classes of genetic mutations including single-nucleotide variations (SNVs), insertions/deletions (indels), and translocations. We found 2,384,470 SNVs, 191,743 small indels, and 1,314 large structural variations. Known gene models were used to predict the effect of these mutations on protein-coding sequence. Mutational analysis revealed 512 genes homozygously mutated, including 154 by SNVs, 178 by small indels, 145 by large microdeletions, and up to 35 by interchromosomal translocations. The major mutational mechanisms in this brain cancer cell line are small indels and large structural variations. The genomic landscape of U87MG is revealed to be much more complex than previously thought based on lower resolution techniques. This mutational analysis serves as a resource for past and future studies on U87MG, informing them with a thorough description of its mutational state.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000832
PMCID: PMC2813426  PMID: 20126413
7.  Stem cell associated gene expression in glioblastoma multiforme: relationship to survival and the subventricular zone 
Journal of Neuro-Oncology  2009;96(3):359-367.
Current therapies for glioblastoma (GBM) target bulk tumor through measures such as resection and radiotherapy. However, recent evidence suggests that targeting a subset of tumor cells, so-called cancer stem cells, may be critical for inhibiting tumor growth and relapse. The subventricular zone (SVZ), which lines the ventricles of the brain, is thought to be the origin for the majority of neural stem cells and potentially cancer stem cells. Therefore, we assessed the relationship between tumor contact with the SVZ as determined by MRI, cancer stem cell gene expression and survival in 47 patients with GBM. Using DNA microarrays, we found that genes associated with cancer stem cells were not over-expressed in tumors contacting the SVZ. Contact with the SVZ trended with shorter survival (median 358 versus 644, P = 0.066). Over-expression of CD133 (prominin-1) and maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) was associated with shorter survival, whereas mitogen activated protein kinase 8 (MAPK8) was associated with longer survival (P values 0.008, 0.005 and 0.002 respectively). Thus we found no evidence of a stem-cell derived genetic signature specific for GBM in contact with the SVZ, but there was a relationship between stem cell gene expression and survival. More research is required to clarify the relationship between the SVZ, cancer stem cells and survival.
doi:10.1007/s11060-009-9983-4
PMCID: PMC2808508  PMID: 19655089
Glioblastoma; Glioma; Subventricular zone; Microarray; Stem cell; Survival; Genomics; MRI

Results 1-7 (7)