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author:("Li, renyi")
1.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3: A Potential Preventive Target for Prostate Cancer Management 
Urologic oncology  2015;33(11):456-463.
Prostate cancers are the frequently diagnosed cancers in men and patients with metastatic disease only have 28% chance for 5-year survival. Patients with low risk tumors are subjected to active surveillance while high risk cases are actively treated. Unfortunately, there is no cure for late-stage patients. Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3, α and β) is a protein serine/threonine kinase and has diverse cellular functions and numerous substrates. Accumulating evidence indicates that GSK-3α is mainly expressed in low-risk prostate cancers and is related to hormone-dependent androgen receptor (AR)-mediated gene expression, while GSK-3β is mainly expressed in high-risk prostate cancers and is related to hormone-independent AR-mediated gene expression. GSK-3 has been demonstrated as a positive regulator in AR transactivation and prostate cancer growth independent of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Different types of GSK-3 inhibitors including lithium show promising results in suppressing tumor growth in different animal models of prostate cancer. Importantly, clinical use of lithium is associated with reduced cancer incidence in psychiatric patients. Taken together, GSK-3 inhibition might be implicated in prostate cancer management as a preventive treatment.
PMCID: PMC4753786  PMID: 26051358
GSK-3; small chemicals; prostate cancer; lithium Chloride; cancer prevention; treatment
2.  Nanomicellar TGX221 blocks xenograft tumor growth of prostate cancer in nude mice 
The Prostate  2015;75(6):593-602.
Combination of androgen ablation along with early detection and surgery has made prostate cancer highly treatable at the initial stage. However, this cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among American men due to castration-resistant progression, suggesting that novel therapeutic agents are urgently needed for this life-threaten condition. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase p110β is a major cellular signaling molecule and has been identified as a critical factor in prostate cancer progression. In a recent report, we established a nanomicelle-based strategy to deliver p110β-specific inhibitor TGX221 to prostate cancer cells by conjugating the surface of nanomicelles with a RNA aptamer against prostate membrane specific antigen (PSMA) present in all clinical prostate cancers. In this study, we tested this nanomicellar TGX221 for its in vivo anti-tumor effect in mouse xenograft models.
Prostate cancer cell lines LAPC-4, LNCaP, C4-2 and 22RV1 were used to establish subcutaneous xenograft tumors in nude mice. Paraffin sections from xenograft tumor specimens were used in immunohistochemistry assays to detect AKT phosphorylation, cell proliferation marker Ki67 and PCNA, as well as BrdU incorporation. Quantitative PCR assay was conducted to determine PSA gene expression in xenograft tumors.
Although systemic delivery of unconjugated TGX221 significantly reduced xenograft tumor growth in nude mice compared to solvent control, the nanomicellar TGX221 conjugates completely blocked tumor growth of xenografts derived from multiple prostate cancer cell lines. Further analyses revealed that AKT phosphorylation and cell proliferation indexes were dramatically reduced in xenograft tumors received nanomicellar TGX221 compared to xenograft tumors received unconjugated TGX221 treatment. There was no noticeable side effect by gross observation or at microscopic level of organ tissue section.
These data strongly suggest that prostate cancer cell-targeted nanomicellar TGX221 is an effective anti-cancer agent for prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4376584  PMID: 25620467
prostate cancer; p110β; nanotechnology; micelle; TGX221; cancer therapy
3.  Enhancing DPYSL3 gene expression via a promoter-targeted small activating RNA approach suppresses cancer cell motility and metastasis 
Oncotarget  2016;7(16):22893-22910.
To explore a novel strategy in suppressing tumor metastasis, we took the advantage of a recent RNA activation (RNAa) theory and used small double-strand RNA molecules, termed as small activating RNAs (saRNA) that are complimentary to target gene promoter, to enhance transcription of metastasis suppressor gene. The target gene in this study is Dihydro-pyrimidinase-like 3 (DPYSL3, protein name CRMP4), which was identified as a metastatic suppressor in prostate cancers. There are two transcriptional variants of DPYSL3 gene in human genome, of which the variant 2 is the dominant transcript (DPYSL3v2, CRMP4a) but is also significantly down-regulated in primary prostate cancers. A total of 8 saRNAs for DPYSL3v1 and 14 saRNAs for DPYSL3v2 were tested in multiple prostate cancer cell lines. While none of the saRNAs significantly altered DPYSL3v1 expression, 4 saRNAs showed a strong enhancing effect on DPYSL3v2 expression, resulting in reduced cell mobility in vitro. To achieve a prostate cancer-specific delivery for in vivo testing, we conjugated the most potent saV2-9 RNA molecule with the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-targeting aptamer A10-3.2. The conjugates successful increased DPYSL3v2 gene expression in PSMA-positive but not PSMA-negative prostate cancer cells. In nude mice bearing orthotopic xenograft of prostate cancer, a 10-day consecutive treatment with the saV2-9 conjugates significantly suppress distal metastasis compared to the control saRNAs. Analysis of xenograft tissues revealed that DPYSL3v2 expression was largely increased in saV2-9 conjugate-treated group compared to the control group. In conclusion, DPYSL3v2 promoter-targeted saRNA molecules might be used as an adjunctive therapy to suppress prostate cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC5008410  PMID: 27014974
DPYSL3; CRMP4; metastasis; RNAa; saRNA
4.  Natural compound Alternol induces oxidative stress-dependent apoptotic cell death preferentially in prostate cancer cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2014;13(6):1526-1536.
Prostate cancers at the late stage of castration resistance are not responding well to most of current therapies available in clinic, reflecting a desperate need of novel treatment for this life-threatening disease. In this study, we evaluated the anti-cancer effect of a recently isolated natural compound Alternol in multiple prostate cancer cell lines with the properties of advanced prostate cancers in comparison to prostate-derived non-malignant cells. As assessed by trypan blue exclusion assay, a significant cell death was observed in all prostate cancer cell lines except DU145 but not in non-malignant (RWPE-1and BPH1) cells. Further analyses revealed that Alternol-induced cell death was an apoptotic response in a dose- and time-dependent manner, as evidenced by the appearance of apoptosis hallmarks such as Caspase-3 processing and PARP cleavage. Interestingly, Alternol-induced cell death was completely abolished by reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers, N-acetylcysteine (N-Ac) and dihydrolipoic acid (DHLA). We also demonstrated that the pro-apoptotic Bax protein was activated after Alternol treatment and was critical for Alternol-induced apoptosis. Animal xenograft experiments in nude mice showed that Alternol treatment largely suppressed tumor growth of PC-3 xenografts but not Bax-null DU-145 xenografts in vivo. These data suggest that Alternol might serve as a novel anticancer agent for late stage prostate cancer patient.
PMCID: PMC4165548  PMID: 24688053
Alternol; prostate cancer; apoptosis; Bax; Oxidative stress; tumor suppression
5.  PI-3 kinase p110β: a therapeutic target in advanced prostate cancers 
Prostate cancers in the castration-resistant stage are life-threatening because they are not curable in clinic. The novel androgen receptor inhibitor Xandi (Enzalutamide) and the new CYP17 inhibitor Zytiga (Abiraterone) prolonged patient survival only a few months in advanced prostate cancers. Therefore, novel therapeutic agents for advanced prostate cancers are urgently needed. PI-3 kinases are major intracellular signaling molecules that regulate multiple signal pathways related to cellular metabolism, cytokinesis, growth and survival. Accumulating evidence in the literature indicates that some isoforms of this kinase family are oncogenic and abnormally expressed in various human cancers, including prostate cancers. Recent extensive studies from our group and others showed that PI-3 kinase p110β is aberrantly overexpressed in advanced prostate cancers and is critical for prostate cancer development and progression as demonstrated in cell-based and animal models. Importantly, novel p110β-specific inhibitors have been developed and are currently been testing in clinical trials. In this article, we will briefly summarize recent developments in this regard.
PMCID: PMC4219313  PMID: 25374921
Prostate cancer; p110β; cancer therapy; castration resistance
6.  Prodrug Strategy for PSMA-targeted Delivery of TGX-221 to Prostate Cancer Cells 
Molecular pharmaceutics  2012;9(6):1705-1716.
TGX-221 is a potent, selective, and cell membrane permeable inhibitor of the PI3K p110β catalytic subunit. Recent studies showed that TGX-221 has anti-proliferative activity against PTEN-deficient tumor cell lines including prostate cancers. The objective of this study was to develop an encapsulation system for parenterally delivering TGX-221 to the target tissue through a prostate-specific membrane aptamer (PSMAa10) with little or no side effects. In this study, PEG-PCL micelles were formulated to encapsulate the drug, and a prodrug strategy was pursued to improve the stability of the carrier system. Fluorescence imaging studies demonstrated that the cellular uptake of both drug and nanoparticles were significantly improved by targeted micelles in a PSMA positive cell line. The area under the plasma concentration time curve of the micelle formulation in nude mice was 2.27-fold greater than the naked drug, and the drug clearance rate was 17.5-fold slower. These findings suggest a novel formulation approach for improving site-specific drug delivery of a molecular-targeted prostate cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3601665  PMID: 22494444
PEG-PCL micelle; TGX-221; PSMA; target delivery
7.  Prostate-targeted biodegradable nanoparticles loaded with androgen receptor silencing constructs eradicate xenograft tumors in mice 
Nanomedicine (London, England)  2012;7(9):1297-1309.
Prostate cancer is the major cause of cancer death in men and the androgen receptor (AR) has been shown to play a critical role in the progression of the disease. Our previous reports showed that knocking down the expression of the AR gene using a siRNA-based approach in prostate cancer cells led to apoptotic cell death and xenograft tumor eradication. In this study, we utilized a biodegradable nanoparticle to deliver the therapeutic AR shRNA construct specifically to prostate cancer cells.
Materials & methods
The biodegradable nanoparticles were fabricated using a poly(dl-lactic-co-glycolic acid) polymer and the AR shRNA constructs were loaded inside the particles. The surface of the nanoparticles were then conjugated with prostate-specific membrane antigen aptamer A10 for prostate cancer cell-specific targeting.
A10-conjugation largely enhanced cellular uptake of nanoparticles in both cell culture- and xenograft-based models. The efficacy of AR shRNA encapsulated in nanoparticles on AR gene silencing was confirmed in PC-3/AR-derived xenografts in nude mice. The therapeutic property of A10-conjugated AR shRNA-loaded nanoparticles was evaluated in xenograft models with different prostate cancer cell lines: 22RV1, LAPC-4 and LNCaP. Upon two injections of the AR shRNA-loaded nanoparticles, rapid tumor regression was observed over 2 weeks. Consistent with previous reports, A10 aptamer conjugation significantly enhanced xenograft tumor regression compared with nonconjugated nanoparticles.
These data demonstrated that tissue-specific delivery of AR shRNA using a biodegradable nanoparticle approach represents a novel therapy for life-threatening prostate cancers.
PMCID: PMC3448843  PMID: 22583574
androgen receptor; aptamer; nanoparticle; prostate cancer; prostate-specific membrane antigen; siRNA
8.  G-protein alpha-s and -12 subunits are involved in androgen-stimulated PI3K activation and androgen receptor transactivation in prostate cancer cells 
The Prostate  2011;71(12):1276-1286.
The androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that mediates androgenic hormone action in cells. We recently demonstrated the involvement of phosphoinositide 3-OH kinase (PI3K) p110beta in AR transactivation and gene expression. In this study, we determined the upstream signals that lead to PI3K/p110beta activation and AR transactivation after androgen stimulation.
Human prostate cancer LAPC-4 and 22Rv1 cell lines were used for the experiments. AR transactivation was assessed using an androgen responsive element-driven luciferase (ARE-LUC) assay. Cell proliferation was examined using BrdU incorporation and MTT assays. Target genes were silenced using small interfering RNA (siRNA) approach. Gene expression was evaluated at the mRNA level (real-time RT-PCR) and protein level (Western blot). PI3K kinase activities were measured using immunoprecipitation-based in vitro kinase assay. The AR-DNA binding activity was determined using Chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay.
First, at the cellular plasma membrane, disrupting the integrity of caveolae microdomain with methyl-β- cyclodextrin (M-β-CD) abolished androgen-induced AR transactivation and gene expression. Then, knocking down caveolae structural proteins caveolin-1 or -2 with the gene-specific siRNAs significantly reduced androgen-induced AR transactivation. Next, silencing Gαs and Gα12 genes but not other G-proteins blocked androgen-induced AR transactivation and cell proliferation. Consistently, overexpression of Gαs or Gα12 active mutants enhanced androgen-induced AR transactivation, of which Gαs active mutant sensitized the AR to castration-level of androgen (R1881). Most interestingly, knocking down Gαs but not Gα12 subunit significantly suppressed androgen-stimulated PI3K p110beta activation. However, chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis revealed that both Gαs or Gα12 subunits are involved in androgen-induced AR interaction with the AR target gene PSA promoter region.
These data suggest that caveolae-associated G-protein alpha subunits are involved in AR transactivation by modulating the activities of different PI3K isoforms.
PMCID: PMC3143312  PMID: 21308712
prostate cancer; caveolae; androgen receptor; G-protein
9.  Development of a peptide-drug conjugate for prostate cancer therapy 
Molecular pharmaceutics  2011;8(3):901-912.
TGX-221 is a highly potent phosphoinositide 3-kinases β (PI3Kβ) inhibitor that holds great promise as a novel chemotherapeutic agent to treat prostate cancer. However, poor solubility and lack of targetability limit its therapeutic applications. The objective of this present study is to develop a peptide-drug conjugate to specifically deliver TGX-221 to HER2 over-expressing prostate cancer cells. Four TGX-221 derivatives with added hydroxyl groups were synthesized for peptide conjugation. Among them, TGX-D1 exhibited a similar bioactivity to TGX-221, and it was selected for conjugation with a peptide promoiety containing a HER2-targeting ligand and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) substrate linkage. From this selection, the peptide-drug conjugate was proven to be gradually cleaved by PSA to release TGX-D1. Cellular uptake of the peptide-drug conjugate was significantly higher in prostate cancer cells compared to the parent drug. Moreover, both the peptide-drug conjugate and its cleaved products demonstrated comparable activities as the parent drug TGX-D1. Our results suggest that this peptide-drug conjugate may provide a promising chemotherapy for prostate cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3163154  PMID: 21510670
TGX-221; prostate cancer; prodrug; peptide ligand; HER2; PSA
10.  Association of Testosterone and Sex Hormone–Binding Globulin With Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance in Men 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(7):1618-1624.
We sought to assess the associations of testosterones and sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in men.
We defined metabolic syndrome according to the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Among men aged ≥20 years who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 1,226), the Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the prevalence ratio and 95% CI of metabolic syndrome according to circulating concentrations of testosterones and SHBG.
After adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, smoking status, alcohol intake, physical activity level, LDL cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and insulin resistance, men in the first quartile (lowest) (prevalence ratio 2.16 [95% CI 1.53–3.06]) and second quartile of total testosterone (2.51 [1.86–3.37]) were more likely to have metabolic syndrome than men in the fourth quartile (highest, referent group) (P < 0.001 for linear trend). Similarly, men in the first quartile of SHBG (2.17 [1.32–3.56]) were more likely to have metabolic syndrome than men in the fourth quartile (P = 0.02 for linear trend). No significant associations of calculated free testosterone (P = 0.31 for linear trend) and bioavailable testosterone (P = 0.11 for linear trend) with metabolic syndrome were detected after adjustment for all possible confounders.
Low concentrations of total testosterone and SHBG were strongly associated with increased likelihood of having metabolic syndrome, independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC2890370  PMID: 20368409
11.  Lupeol inhibits proliferation of human prostate cancer cells by targeting β-catenin signaling 
Carcinogenesis  2009;30(5):808-817.
Lupeol, a dietary triterpene, was shown to decrease serum prostate-specific antigen levels and inhibit the tumorigenicity of prostate cancer (CaP) cells in vivo. Here, we show that Lupeol inhibits the proliferative potential of CaP cells and delineated its mechanism of action. Employing a focused microarray of human CaP-associated genes, we found that Lupeol significantly modulates the expression level of genes such as ERBB2, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3, cyclin D1 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 that are known to be associated with proliferation and survival. A common feature of these genes is that all of them are known to either regulate or act as downstream target of β-catenin signaling that is highly aberrant in CaP patients. Lupeol treatment significantly (1) reduced levels of β-catenin in the cytoplasmic and nuclear fractions, (2) modulated expression levels of glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3β)–axin complex (regulator of β-catenin stability), (3) decreased the expression level and enzymatic activity of MMP-2 (downstream target of β-catenin), (4) reduced the transcriptional activation of T Cell Factor (TCF) responsive element (marker for β-catenin signaling) in pTK-TCF-Luc-transfected cells and (5) decreased the transcriptional activation of MMP-2 gene in pGL2-MMP-2-Luc-transfected cells. Effects of Lupeol treatment on β-catenin degradation were significantly reduced in CaP cells where axin is knocked down through small interfering RNA transfection and GSK3β activity is blocked. Collectively, these data suggest the multitarget efficacy of Lupeol on β-catenin-signaling network thus resulting in the inhibition CaP cell proliferation. We suggest that Lupeol could be developed as an agent for chemoprevention as well as chemotherapy of human CaP.
PMCID: PMC2722146  PMID: 19233958
12.  The calcimimetic R-568 induces apoptotic cell death in prostate cancer cells 
Increased serum level of parathyroid hormone (PTH) was found in metastatic prostate cancers. Calcimimetic R-568 was reported to reduce PTH expression, to suppress cell proliferation and to induce apoptosis in parathyroid cells. In this study, we investigated the effect of R-568 on cellular survival of prostate cancer cells.
Prostate cancer cell lines LNCaP and PC-3 were used in this study. Cellular survival was determined with MTT, trypan blue exclusion and fluorescent Live/Death assays. Western blot assay was utilized to assess apoptotic events induced by R-568 treatment. JC-1 staining was used to evaluate mitochondrial membrane potential.
In cultured prostate cancer LNCaP and PC-3 cells, R-568 treatment significantly reduced cellular survival in a dose- and time-dependent manner. R-568-induced cell death was an apoptotic event, as evidenced by caspase-3 processing and PARP cleavage, as well as JC-1 color change in mitochondria. Knocking down calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) significantly reduced R-568-induced cytotoxicity. Enforced expression of Bcl-xL gene abolished R-568-induced cell death, while loss of Bcl-xL expression led to increased cell death in R-568-treated LNCaP cells,.
Taken together, our data demonstrated that calcimimetic R-568 triggers an intrinsic mitochondria-related apoptotic pathway, which is dependent on the CaSR and is modulated by Bcl-xL anti-apoptotic pathway.
PMCID: PMC2716307  PMID: 19602280
13.  GPRC6A Null Mice Exhibit Osteopenia, Feminization and Metabolic Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3858.
GPRC6A is a widely expressed orphan G-protein coupled receptor that senses extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin and divalent cations in vitro. The physiological functions of GPRC6A are unknown.
Methods/Principal Findings
In this study, we created and characterized the phenotype of GPRC6A−/− mice. We observed complex metabolic abnormalities in GPRC6A−/− mice involving multiple organ systems that express GPRC6A, including bone, kidney, testes, and liver. GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited hepatic steatosis, hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. In addition, we observed high expression of GPRC6A in Leydig cells in the testis. Ablation of GPRC6A resulted in feminization of male GPRC6A−/− mice in association with decreased lean body mass, increased fat mass, increased circulating levels of estradiol, and reduced levels of testosterone. GPRC6A was also highly expressed in kidney proximal and distal tubules, and GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited increments in urine Ca/Cr and PO4/Cr ratios as well as low molecular weight proteinuria. Finally, GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) in association with impaired mineralization of bone.
GPRC6A−/− mice have a metabolic syndrome characterized by defective osteoblast-mediated bone mineralization, abnormal renal handling of calcium and phosphorus, fatty liver, glucose intolerance and disordered steroidogenesis. These findings suggest the overall function of GPRC6A may be to coordinate the anabolic responses of multiple tissues through the sensing of extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin and divalent cations.
PMCID: PMC2585477  PMID: 19050760

Results 1-13 (13)