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1.  Targeting the Bcl-2 Family for Cancer Therapy 
Programmed cell death is well-orchestrated process regulated by multiple pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes, particularly those of the Bcl-2 gene family. These genes are well documented in cancer with aberrant expression being strongly associated with resistance to chemotherapy and radiation.
Areas covered
This review focuses on the resistance induced by the Bcl-2 family of anti-apoptotic proteins and current therapeutic interventions currently in preclinical or clinical trials that target this pathway. Major resistance mechanisms that are regulated by Bcl-2 family proteins and potential strategies to circumvent resistance are also examined. Although antisense and gene therapy strategies are used to nullify Bcl-2 family proteins, recent approaches use small molecule inhibitors and peptides. Structural similarity of the Bcl-2 family of proteins greatly favors development of inhibitors that target the BH3 domain, called BH3 mimetics.
Expert opinion
Strategies to specifically identify and inhibit critical determinants that promote therapy-resistance and tumor progression represent viable approaches for developing effective cancer therapies. From a clinical perspective, pretreatment with novel, potent Bcl-2 inhibitors either alone or in combination with conventional therapies hold significant promise for providing beneficial clinical outcomes. Identifying small molecule inhibitors with broader and higher affinities for inhibiting all of the Bcl-2 pro-survival proteins will facilitate development of superior cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3955095  PMID: 23173842
BH3 domain; apoptosis; Mcl-1; radiation resistance; chemotherapy resistance
2.  Novel ZnO hollow-nanocarriers containing paclitaxel targeting folate-receptors in a malignant pH-microenvironment for effective monitoring and promoting breast tumor regression 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11760.
Low pH in the tumor micromilieu is a recognized pathological feature of cancer. This attribute of cancerous cells has been targeted herein for the controlled release of chemotherapeutics at the tumour site, while sparing healthy tissues. To this end, pH-sensitive, hollow ZnO-nanocarriers loaded with paclitaxel were synthesized and their efficacy studied in breast cancer in vitro and in vivo. The nanocarriers were surface functionalized with folate using click-chemistry to improve targeted uptake by the malignant cells that over-express folate-receptors. The nanocarriers released ~75% of the paclitaxel payload within six hours in acidic pH, which was accompanied by switching of fluorescence from blue to green and a 10-fold increase in the fluorescence intensity. The fluorescence-switching phenomenon is due to structural collapse of the nanocarriers in the endolysosome. Energy dispersion X-ray mapping and whole animal fluorescent imaging studies were carried out to show that combined pH and folate-receptor targeting reduces off-target accumulation of the nanocarriers. Further, a dual cell-specific and pH-sensitive nanocarrier greatly improved the efficacy of paclitaxel to regress subcutaneous tumors in vivo. These nanocarriers could improve chemotherapy tolerance and increase anti-tumor efficacy, while also providing a novel diagnostic read-out through fluorescent switching that is proportional to drug release in malignant tissues.
PMCID: PMC4491843  PMID: 26145450
3.  Design, Synthesis and Bio-evaluation of an EphA2-based Targeted Delivery System 
ChemMedChem  2014;9(7):1403-1412.
We recently described a new targeted delivery system based on specific EphA2 receptor targeting peptides conjugated with the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel. In this manuscript we investigate the chemical determinants responsible for the stability and degradation of these agents in plasma. Introducing modifications in both the peptide and the linker between the peptide and paclitaxel, resulted in drug conjugates that are both long-lived in rat plasma and that markedly reduced tumor size in a prostate cancer xenograft model compared to paclitaxel alone treatment. These studies identify critical rate-limiting degradation sites on the peptide-drug conjugates, enabling the design of agents with increased stability and efficacy. These results provide support for our central hypothesis that peptide-drug conjugates targeting the EphA2 receptor represent an innovative and potentially effective strategy to selectively deliver cytotoxic drugs to cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4082471  PMID: 24677792
Targeted delivery; drug discovery; EphA2; ephrin; chemotherapy
4.  Therapy of prostate cancer using a novel cancer terminator virus and a small molecule BH-3 mimetic 
Oncotarget  2015;6(13):10712-10727.
Despite recent advances, treatment options for advanced prostate cancer (CaP) remain limited. We are pioneering approaches to treat advanced CaP that employ conditionally replication-competent oncolytic adenoviruses that simultaneously produce a systemically active cancer-specific therapeutic cytokine, mda-7/IL-24, Cancer Terminator Viruses (CTV). A truncated version of the CCN1/CYR61 gene promoter, tCCN1-Prom, was more active than progression elevated gene-3 promoter (PEG-Prom) in regulating transformation-selective transgene expression in CaP and oncogene-transformed rat embryo cells. Accordingly, we developed a new CTV, Ad.tCCN1-CTV-m7, which displayed dose-dependent killing of CaP without harming normal prostate epithelial cells in vitro with significant anti-cancer activity in vivo in both nude mouse CaP xenograft and transgenic Hi-Myc mice (using ultrasound-targeted microbubble (MB)-destruction, UTMD, with decorated MBs). Resistance to mda-7/IL-24-induced cell deathcorrelated with overexpression of Bcl-2 family proteins. Inhibiting Mcl-1 using an enhanced BH3 mimetic, BI-97D6, sensitized CaP cell lines to mda-7/IL-24-induced apoptosis. Combining BI-97D6 with Ads expressing mda-7/IL-24promoted ER stress, decreased anti-apoptotic Mcl-1 expression and enhanced mda-7/IL-24expression through mRNA stabilization selectively in CaP cells. In Hi-myc mice, the combination induced enhanced apoptosis and tumor growth suppression. These studies highlight therapeutic efficacy of combining a BH3 mimetic with a novel CTV, supporting potential clinical applications for treating advanced CaP.
PMCID: PMC4484414  PMID: 25926554
BH3 mimetic; cancer terminator virus (CTV; prostate cancer (CaP); truncated CCN1 (tCCN1)-Prom; PEG-Prom
5.  Autophagy: Cancer’s Friend or Foe? 
Advances in cancer research  2013;118:61-95.
The functional relevance of autophagy in tumor formation and progression remains controversial. Autophagy can promote tumor suppression during cancer initiation and protect tumors during progression. Autophagy-associated cell death may act as a tumor suppressor, with several autophagy-related genes deleted in cancers. Loss of autophagy induces genomic instability and necrosis with inflammation in mouse tumor models. Conversely, autophagy enhances survival of tumor cells subjected to metabolic stress and may promote metastasis by enhancing tumor cell survival under environmental stress. Unraveling the complex molecular regulation and multiple diverse roles of autophagy is pivotal in guiding development of rational and novel cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC4349374  PMID: 23768510
6.  Genetically Engineered Mice as Experimental Tools to Dissect the Critical Events in Breast Cancer 
Advances in cancer research  2014;121:331-382.
Elucidating the mechanism of pathogenesis of breast cancer has greatly benefited from breakthrough advances in both genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models and xenograft transplantation technologies. The vast array of breast cancer mouse models currently available is testimony to the complexity of mammary tumorigenesis and attempts by investigators to accurately portray the heterogeneity and intricacies of this disease. Distinct molecular changes that drive various aspects of tumorigenesis, such as alterations in tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis, invasion and metastasis, angiogenesis, and drug resistance have been evaluated using the currently available GEM breast cancer models. GEM breast cancer models are also being exploited to evaluate and validate the efficacy of novel therapeutics, vaccines, and imaging modalities for potential use in the clinic. This review provides a synopsis of the various GEM models that are expanding our knowledge of the nuances of breast cancer development and progression and can be instrumental in the development of novel prevention and therapeutic approaches for this disease.
PMCID: PMC4349377  PMID: 24889535
7.  Cancer Terminator Viruses and Approaches for Enhancing Therapeutic Outcomes 
No single or combinatorial therapeutic approach has proven effective in decreasing morbidity or engendering a cure of metastatic cancer. In principle, conditionally replication-competent adenoviruses that induce tumor oncolysis through cancer-specific replication hold promise for cancer therapy. However, a single-agent approach may not be adequate to completely eradicate cancer in a patient because most cancers arise from abnormalities in multiple genetic and signal transduction pathways and targeting disseminated metastases is difficult to achieve. Based on these considerations, a novel class of cancer destroying adenoviruses have been produced, cancer terminator viruses (CTVs), in which cancer-specific replication is controlled by the progression-elevated gene-3 promoter and replicating viruses produce a second transgene encoding an apoptosis-inducing and immunomodulatory cytokine, either melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) or interferon-γ. This review focuses on these viruses and ways to improve their delivery systemically and enhance their therapeutic efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4348031  PMID: 23021240
8.  Molecular-Genetic Imaging of Cancer 
Advances in cancer research  2014;124:131-169.
Molecular-genetic imaging of cancer using nonviral delivery systems has great potential for clinical application as a safe, efficient, noninvasive tool for visualization of various cellular processes including detection of cancer, and its attendant metastases. In recent years, significant effort has been expended in overcoming technical hurdles to enable clinical adoption of molecular-genetic imaging. This chapter will provide an introduction to the components of molecular-genetic imaging and recent advances on each component leading to safe, efficient clinical applications for detecting cancer. Combination with therapy, namely, generating molecular-genetic theranostic constructs, will provide further impetus for clinical translation of this promising technology.
PMCID: PMC4339000  PMID: 25287688
9.  Targeting breast cancer-initiating/stem cells with melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) displays a broad range of antitumor properties including cancer-specific induction of apoptosis, inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and modulation of antitumor immune responses. In our study, we elucidated the role of MDA-7/IL-24 in inhibiting growth of breast cancer-initiating/stem cells. Ad.mda-7 infection decreased proliferation of breast cancer-initiating/stem cells without affecting normal breast stem cells. Ad.mda-7 induced apoptosis and endoplasmic reticulum stress in breast cancer-initiating/stem cells similar to unsorted breast cancer cells and inhibited the self-renewal property of breast cancer-initiating/stem cells by suppressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Prevention of inhibition of Wnt signaling by LiCl increased cell survival upon Ad.mda-7 treatment, suggesting that Wnt signaling inhibition might play a key role in MDA-7/IL-24-mediated death of breast cancer-initiating/stem cells. In a nude mouse subcutaneous xenograft model, Ad.mda-7 injection profoundly inhibited growth of tumors generated from breast cancer-initiating/stem cells and also exerted a potent “bystander” activity inhibiting growth of distant uninjected tumors. Further studies revealed that tumor growth inhibition by Ad.mda-7 was associated with a decrease in proliferation and angiogenesis, two intrinsic features of MDA-7/IL-24, and a reduction in vivo in the percentage of breast cancer-initiating/stem cells. Our findings demonstrate that MDA-7/IL-24 is not only nontoxic to normal cells and normal stem cells but also can kill both unsorted cancer cells and enriched populations of cancer-initiating/stem cells, providing further documentation that MDA-7/IL-24 might be a safe and effective way to eradicate cancers and also potentially establish disease-free survival.
PMCID: PMC4334374  PMID: 23720015
MDA-7/IL-24; apoptosis; Wnt signaling; cancer-initiating/stem cells; breast cancer
10.  Enhanced Prostate Cancer Gene Transfer and Therapy Using a Novel Serotype Chimera Cancer Terminator Virus (Ad.5/3-CTV) 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(1):34-43.
Few options are available for treating patients with advanced prostate cancer (PC). As PC is a slow growing disease and accessible by ultrasound, gene therapy could provide a viable option for this neoplasm. Conditionally replication-competent adenoviruses (CRCAs) represent potentially useful reagents for treating PC. We previously constructed a CRCA, cancer terminator virus (CTV), which showed efficacy both in vitro and in vivo for PC. The CTV was generated on a serotype 5-background (Ad.5-CTV) with infectivity depending on Coxsackie-Adenovirus Receptors (CARs). CARs are frequently reduced in many tumor types, including PCs thereby limiting effective Ad-mediated therapy. Using serotype chimerism, a novel CTV (Ad.5/3-CTV) was created by replacing the Ad.5 fiber knob with the Ad.3 fiber knob thereby facilitating infection in a CAR-independent manner. We evaluated Ad.5/3-CTV in comparison with Ad.5-CTV in low CAR human PC cells, demonstrating higher efficiency in inhibiting cell viability in vitro. Moreover, Ad.5/3-CTV potently suppressed in vivo tumor growth in a nude mouse xenograft model and in a spontaneously induced PC that develops in Hi-myc transgenic mice. Considering the significant responses in a Phase I clinical trial of a non-replicating Ad.5-mda-7 in advanced cancers, Ad.5/3-CTV may exert improved therapeutic benefit in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC4332535  PMID: 23868767
11.  Novel mechanism of MDA-7/IL-24 cancer-specific apoptosis through SARI induction 
Cancer research  2013;74(2):563-574.
Subtraction-hybridization combined with induction of cancer cell terminal differentiation in human melanoma cells identified melanoma differentiation associated gene-7 (mda-7/IL-24) and SARI (Suppressor of AP-1, induced by IFN) that display potent antitumor activity. These genes are not constitutively expressed in cancer cells and forced expression of mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7) or SARI(Ad.SARI) promotes cancer-specific cell death. Ectopic expression of mda-7/IL-24 induces SARI mRNA and protein in a panel of different cancer cells leading to cell death, without harming corresponding normal cells. Simultaneous inhibition of K-ras downstream extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) signaling in pancreatic cancer cells reverses the translational block of MDA-7/IL-24 and induces SARI expression and cell death. Using SARI-antisense-based approaches we demonstrate that SARI expression is necessary for mda-7/IL-24 antitumor effects. Secreted MDA-7/IL-24 protein induces antitumor ‘bystander’ effects by promoting its own expression. Recombinant MDA-7/IL-24 (His-MDA-7) induces SARI expression, supporting the involvement of SARI in the MDA-7/IL-24-driven autocrine loop culminating in antitumor effects. Moreover, His-MDA-7 after binding to its cognate receptors (IL-20R1/IL-20R2 or IL-22R/IL-20R2) induces intracellular signaling by phosphorylation of p38 MAPK leading to transcription of a family of growth arrest and DNA damage inducible (GADD) genes, culminating in apoptosis. Inhibition of p38 MAPK fails to induce SARI following Ad.mda-7 infection. These findings reveal the significance of the mda-7/IL-24-SARI axis in cancer-specific killing, and provide a potential strategy for treating both local and metastatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3915776  PMID: 24282278
SARI; MDA-7/IL-24; apoptosis; IL-20/IL-22 receptors
12.  MDA-9/syntenin is a key regulator of glioma pathogenesis 
Neuro-Oncology  2013;16(1):50-61.
The extraordinary invasiveness of human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) contributes to treatment failure and the grim prognosis of patients diagnosed with this tumor. Consequently, it is imperative to define further the cellular mechanisms that control GBM invasion and identify promising novel therapeutic targets. Melanoma differentiation associated gene–9 (MDA-9/syntenin) is a highly conserved PDZ domain–containing scaffolding protein that promotes invasion and metastasis in vitro and in vivo in human melanoma models. To determine whether MDA-9/syntenin is a relevant target in GBM, we investigated its expression in tumor samples and involvement in GBM invasion and angiogenesis.
We assessed MDA-9/syntenin levels in available databases, patient tumor samples, and human-derived cell lines. Through gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies, we analyzed changes in invasion, angiogenesis, and signaling in vitro. We used orthotopic xenografts with GBM6 cells to demonstrate the role of MDA-9/syntenin in GBM pathogenesis in vivo.
MDA-9/syntenin expression in high-grade astrocytomas is significantly higher than normal tissue counterparts. Forced overexpression of MDA-9/syntenin enhanced Matrigel invasion, while knockdown inhibited invasion, migration, and anchorage-independent growth in soft agar. Moreover, overexpression of MDA-9/syntenin increased activation of c-Src, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, and nuclear factor kappa-B, leading to elevated expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2 and secretion of interleukin-8 with corresponding changes observed upon knockdown. GBM6 cells that stably express small hairpin RNA for MDA-9/syntenin formed smaller tumors and had a less invasive phenotype in vivo.
Our findings indicate that MDA-9/syntenin is a novel and important mediator of invasion in GBM and a key regulator of pathogenesis, and we identify it as a potential target for anti-invasive treatment in human astrocytoma.
PMCID: PMC3870820  PMID: 24305713
MDA-9/syntenin; GBM; glioma; invasion; intracranial injection
13.  Novel Role of MDA-9/Syntenin in Regulating Urothelial Cell Proliferation by Modulating EGFR Signaling 
Urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC) rapidly progresses from superficial to muscle-invasive tumors. The key molecules involved in metastatic progression and its early detection require clarification. The present study defines a seminal role of the metastasis-associated gene MDA-9/Syntenin in UCC progression.
Experimental Design
Expression pattern of MDA-9/Syntenin was examined in 44 primary UCC and the impact of its overexpression and knock down was examined in multiple cells lines and key findings were validated in primary tumors.
Significantly higher (p= 0.002–0.003) expression of MDA-9/Syntenin was observed in 64% (28/44) of primary tumors and an association was evident with stage (p=0.01), grade (p=0.03) and invasion status (p=0.02). MDA-9/Syntenin overexpression in non-tumorigenic HUC-1 cells increased proliferation (p=0.0012), invasion (p=0.0001) and EGFR, AKT, PI3K and c-Src expression. Alteration of Beta-catenin, E-Cadherin, Vimentin, Claudin-1, ZO-1 and TCF4 expression were also observed. MDA-9/Syntenin knock down in 3 UCC cell lines reversed phenotypic and molecular changes observed in the HUC-1 cells and reduced in vivo metastasis. Key molecular changes observed in the cell lines were confirmed in primary tumors. A physical interaction and co-localization of MDA-9/Syntenin and EGFR was evident in UCC cell lines and primary tumors. A logistic regression model analysis revealed a significant correlation between MDA-9/Syntenin:EGFR and MDA-9/Syntenin: AKT expressions with stage (p=0.04, EGFR), (p=0.01, AKT). A correlation between MDA-9/Syntenin: β-catenin co-expression with stage (p=0.03) and invasion (p=0.04) was also evident.
Our findings indicate that MDA-9/Syntenin might provide an attractive target for developing detection, monitoring and therapeutic strategies for managing UCC.
PMCID: PMC3872137  PMID: 23873690
Urothelial cancer; MDA-9/Syntenin; invasion; EGFR signaling
14.  Expression patterns of MDA-9/syntenin during development of the mouse embryo 
Journal of molecular histology  2012;44(2):159-166.
MDA-9 (melanoma differentiation associated gene-9)/Syntenin is a PDZ domain-containing adaptor protein involved in multiple diverse cellular processes including organization of protein complexes in the plasma membrane, intracellular trafficking and cell surface targeting, synaptic transmission, and cancer metastasis. In the present study, we analyzed the expression pattern of MDA-9/syntenin during mouse development. MDA-9/syntenin was robustly expressed with tight regulation of its temporal and spatial expression during fetal development in the developing skin, spinal cord, heart, lung and liver, which are regulated by multiple signaling pathways in the process of organogenesis. Recent studies also indicate that MDA-9/syntenin is involved in the signaling pathways crucial during development such as Wnt, Notch and FGF. Taken together, these results suggest that MDA-9/syntenin may play a prominent role during normal mouse development in the context of cell proliferation as well as differentiation through modulating multiple signaling pathways as a crucial adaptor protein. Additionally, temporal regulation of MDA-9/syntenin expression may be required during specific stages and in specific tissues during development.
PMCID: PMC3605205  PMID: 23180153
MDA-9/syntenin; development; mouse embryo; adaptor protein
15.  Raf kinase inhibitor RKIP inhibits MDA-9/syntenin-mediated metastasis in melanoma 
Cancer research  2012;72(23):6217-6226.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (MDA-9), also known as syntenin, functions as a positive regulator of melanoma progression and metastasis. In contrast, the Raf kinase inhibitor RKIP, a negative modulator of RAF-stimulated MEKK activation, is strongly downregulated in metastatic melanoma cells. In this study, we explored an hypothesized inverse relationship between MDA-9 and RKIP in melanoma. Tumor array and cell line analyses confirmed an inverse relationship between expression of MDA-9 and RKIP during melanoma progression. We found that MDA-9 transcriptionally downregulated RKIP in support of a suggested crosstalk between these two proteins. Further, MDA-9 and RKIP physically interacted in a manner that correlated with a suppression of FAK and c-Src phosphorylation, crucial steps necessary for MDA-9 to promote FAK/c-Src complex formation and initiate signaling cascades that drive the MDA-9-mediated metastatic phenotype. Lastly, ectopic RKIP expression in melanoma cells overrode MDA-9-mediated signaling, inhibiting cell invasion, anchorage-independent growth and in vivo dissemination of tumor cells. Taken together, these findings establish RKIP as an inhibitor of MDA-9-dependent melanoma metastasis, with potential implications for targeting this process therapeutically.
PMCID: PMC3939082  PMID: 23066033
RKIP; MDA-9/syntenin, melanoma; c-Src; FAK
16.  AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC: Signaling Pathways, Downstream Genes, Interacting Proteins, and Regulation of Tumor Angiogenesis 
Advances in cancer research  2013;120:75-111.
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1), also known as metadherin (MTDH) and lysine-rich CEACAM1 coisolated (LYRIC), was initially cloned in 2002. AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has emerged as an important oncogene that is overexpressed in multiple types of human cancer. Expanded research on AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has established a functional role of this molecule in several crucial aspects of tumor progression, including transformation, proliferation, cell survival, evasion of apoptosis, migration and invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, and chemoresistance. The multifunctional role of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in tumor development and progression is associated with a number of signaling cascades, and recent studies identified several important interacting partners of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in regulating cancer promotion and other biological functions. This review evaluates the current literature on AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC function relative to signaling changes, interacting partners, and angiogenesis and highlights new perspectives of this molecule, indicating its potential as a significant target for the clinical treatment of various cancers and other diseases.
PMCID: PMC3928810  PMID: 23889988
17.  MDA-9/Syntenin and IGFBP-2 Promote Angiogenesis in Human Melanoma 
Cancer research  2012;73(2):844-854.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (mda-9/syntenin) encodes an adapter scaffold protein whose expression correlates with and mediates melanoma progression and metastasis. Tumor angiogenesis represents an integral component of cancer metastasis prompting us to investigate a possible role of mda-9/syntenin in inducing angiogenesis. Genetic (gain-of-function and loss-of-function) and pharmacological approaches were employed to modify mda-9/syntenin expression in normal immortal melanocytes, early radial growth phase melanoma and metastatic melanoma cells. The consequence of modifying mda-9/syntenin expression on angiogenesis was evaluated using both in vitro and in vivo assays, including tube formation assays using human vascular endothelial cells, CAM assays and xenograft tumor animal models. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments confirm that MDA-9/syntenin induces angiogenesis by augmenting expression of several pro-angiogenic factors/genes. Experimental evidence is provided for a model of angiogenesis induction by MDA-9/syntenin in which MDA-9/syntenin interacts with the ECM activating Src and FAK resulting in activation by phosphorylation of Akt, which induces HIF-1α. The HIF-1α activates transcription of Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein-2 (IGFBP-2), which is secreted thereby promoting angiogenesis and further induces endothelial cells to produce and secrete VEGF-A augmenting tumor angiogenesis. Our studies delineate an unanticipated cell non-autonomous function of MDA-9/syntenin in the context of angiogenesis, which may directly contribute to its metastasis-promoting properties. As a result, targeting MDA-9/syntenin or its downstream-regulated molecules may provide a means of simultaneously impeding metastasis by both directly inhibiting tumor cell transformed properties (autonomous) and indirectly by blocking angiogenesis (non-autonomous).
PMCID: PMC3548987  PMID: 23233738
mda-9/syntenin; melanoma; angiogenesis; IGFBP-2; HuVECs; CAM assay
18.  Identification of Genes Potentially Regulated by Human Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35) Using Melanoma as a Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76284.
Human Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35 or PNPT1) is an evolutionarily conserved 3′→5′ exoribonuclease implicated in the regulation of numerous physiological processes including maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis, mtRNA import and aging-associated inflammation. From an RNase perspective, little is known about the RNA or miRNA species it targets for degradation or whose expression it regulates; except for c-myc and miR-221. To further elucidate the functional implications of hPNPaseold-35 in cellular physiology, we knocked-down and overexpressed hPNPaseold-35 in human melanoma cells and performed gene expression analyses to identify differentially expressed transcripts. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis indicated that knockdown of hPNPaseold-35 resulted in significant gene expression changes associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and cholesterol biosynthesis; whereas overexpression of hPNPaseold-35 caused global changes in cell-cycle related functions. Additionally, comparative gene expression analyses between our hPNPaseold-35 knockdown and overexpression datasets allowed us to identify 77 potential “direct” and 61 potential “indirect” targets of hPNPaseold-35 which formed correlated networks enriched for cell-cycle and wound healing functional association, respectively. These results provide a comprehensive database of genes responsive to hPNPaseold-35 expression levels; along with the identification new potential candidate genes offering fresh insight into cellular pathways regulated by PNPT1 and which may be used in the future for possible therapeutic intervention in mitochondrial- or inflammation-associated disease phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3797080  PMID: 24143183
19.  Selected Approaches for Rational Drug Design and High Throughput Screening to Identify Anti-Cancer Molecules 
Structure-based modeling combined with rational drug design, and high throughput screening approaches offer significant potential for identifying and developing lead compounds with therapeutic potential. The present review focuses on these two approaches using explicit examples based on specific derivatives of Gossypol generated through rational design and applications of a cancer-specific-promoter derived from Progression Elevated Gene-3. The Gossypol derivative Sabutoclax (BI-97C1) displays potent anti-tumor activity against a diverse spectrum of human tumors. The model of the docked structure of Gossypol bound to Bcl-XL provided a virtual structure-activity-relationship where appropriate modifications were predicted on a rational basis. These structure-based studies led to the isolation of Sabutoclax, an optically pure isomer of Apogossypol displaying superior efficacy and reduced toxicity. These studies illustrate the power of combining structure-based modeling with rational design to predict appropriate derivatives of lead compounds to be empirically tested and evaluated for bioactivity. Another approach to cancer drug discovery utilizes a cancer-specific promoter as readouts of the transformed state. The promoter region of Progression Elevated Gene-3 is such a promoter with cancer-specific activity. The specificity of this promoter has been exploited as a means of constructing cancer terminator viruses that selectively kill cancer cells and as a systemic imaging modality that specifically visualizes in vivo cancer growth with no background from normal tissues. Screening of small molecule inhibitors that suppress the Progression Elevated Gene-3-promoter may provide relevant lead compounds for cancer therapy that can be combined with further structure-based approaches leading to the development of novel compounds for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3763986  PMID: 22931411
Progression Elevated Gene-3; Sabutoclax; Apogossypol; BI-97C1; Gossypol; AP-1; PEA3; ETV4; E1AF; c-fos; c-jun; Cancer Terminator Virus
20.  Combining histone deacetylase inhibitors with MDA-7/IL-24 enhances killing of renal carcinoma cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(11):1039-1049.
In the present study we show that histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) enhance the anti-tumor effects of melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin 24 (mda-7/IL-24) in human renal carcinoma cells. Similar data were obtained in other GU tumor cells. Combination of these two agents resulted in increased autophagy that was dependent on expression of ceramide synthase 6, with HDACIs enhancing MDA-7/IL-24 toxicity by increasing generation of ROS and Ca2+. Knock down of CD95 protected cells from HDACI and MDA-7/IL-24 lethality. Sorafenib treatment further enhanced (HDACI + MDA-7/IL-24) lethality. Anoikis resistant renal carcinoma cells were more sensitive to MDA-7/IL-24 that correlated with elevated SRC activity and tyrosine phosphorylation of CD95. We employed a recently constructed serotype 5/3 adenovirus, which is more effective than a serotype 5 virus in delivering mda-7/IL-24 to renal carcinoma cells and which conditionally replicates (CR) in tumor cells expressing MDA-7/IL-24 by virtue of placing the adenoviral E1A gene under the control of the cancer-specific promoter progression elevated gene-3 (Ad.5/3-PEG-E1A-mda-7; CRAd.5/3-mda-7, Ad.5/3-CTV), to define efficacy in renal carcinoma cells. Ad.5/3-CTV decreased the growth of renal carcinoma tumors to a significantly greater extent than did a non-replicative virus Ad.5/3-mda-7. In contralateral uninfected renal carcinoma tumors Ad.5/3-CTV also decreased the growth of tumors to a greater extent than did Ad.5/3-mda-7. In summation, our data demonstrates that HDACIs enhance MDA-7/IL-24-mediated toxicity and tumor specific adenoviral delivery and viral replication of mda-7/IL-24 is an effective pre-clinical renal carcinoma therapeutic.
PMCID: PMC3925659  PMID: 24025359
MDA-7/IL-24; HDACI; ceramide; apoptosis; bystander; cytokine; ROS; caspase; animal study
21.  SH3GL2 is frequently deleted in non-small cell lung cancer and downregulates tumor growth by modulating EGFR signaling 
The purpose of this study was to identify key genetic pathways involved in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and understand their role in tumor progression. We performed a genome wide scanning using paired tumors and corresponding 16 mucosal biopsies from four follow-up lung cancer patients on Affymetrix 250K-NSpI array platform. We found that a single gene SH3GL2 located on human chromosome 9p22 was most frequently deleted in all the tumors and corresponding mucosal biopsies. We further validated the alteration pattern of SH3GL2 in a substantial number of primary NSCLC tumors at DNA and protein level. We also overexpressed wild-type SH3GL2 in three NSCLC cell lines to understand its role in NSCLC progression. Validation in 116 primary NSCLC tumors confirmed frequent loss of heterozygosity of SH3GL2 in overall 51 % (49/97) of the informative cases. We found significantly low (p=0.0015) SH3GL2 protein expression in 71 % (43/60) primary tumors. Forced over-expression of wild-type (wt) SH3GL2 in three NSCLC cell lines resulted in a marked reduction of active epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression and an increase in EGFR internalization and degradation. Significantly decreased in vitro (p=0.0015–0.030) and in vivo (p=0.016) cellular growth, invasion (p=0.029–0.049), and colony formation (p=0.023–0.039) were also evident in the wt-SH3GL2-transfected cells accompanied by markedly low expression of activated AKT(Ser473), STAT3 (Tyr705), and PI3K. Downregulation of SH3GL2 interactor USP9X and activated β-catenin was also evident in the SH3GL2-transfected cells. Our results indicate that SH3GL2 is frequently deleted in NSCLC and regulates cellular growth and invasion by modulating EGFR function.
PMCID: PMC3691869  PMID: 22968441
Single nucleotide polymorphism array; Lung cancer; SH3GL2; Deletion
22.  Enhanced delivery of mda-7/IL-24 using a serotype chimeric adenovirus (Ad.5/3) in combination with the Apogossypol derivative BI-97C1 (Sabutoclax) improves therapeutic efficacy in low CAR colorectal cancer cells 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2012;227(5):2145-2153.
Adenovirus (Ad)-based gene therapy represents a potentially viable strategy for treating colorectal cancer. The infectivity of serotype 5 adenovirus (Ad.5), routinely used as a transgene delivery vector, is dependent on Coxsackie-adenovirus receptors (CAR). CAR expression is downregulated in many cancers thus preventing optimum therapeutic efficiency of Ad.5-based therapies. To overcome the low CAR problem, a serotype chimerism approach was used to generate a recombinant Ad (Ad.5/3) that is capable of infecting cancer cells via Ad.3 receptors in a CAR-independent manner. We evaluated the improved transgene delivery and efficacy of Ad.5/3 recombinant virus expressing melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), an effective wide-spectrum cancer-selective therapeutic. In low CAR human colorectal cancer cells RKO, wild-type Ad.5 virus expressing mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.5-mda-7) failed to infect efficiently resulting in lack of expression of MDA-7/IL-24 or induction of apoptosis. However, a recombinant Ad.5/3 virus expressing mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.5/3-mda-7) efficiently infected RKO cells resulting in higher MDA-7/IL-24 expression and inhibition of cell growth both in vitro and in nude mice xenograft models. Addition of the novel Bcl-2 family pharmacological inhibitor Apogossypol derivative BI-97C1 (Sabutoclax) significantly augmented the efficacy of Ad.5/3-mda-7. A combination regimen of suboptimal doses of Ad.5/3-mda-7 and BI-97C1 profoundly enhanced cytotoxicity in RKO cells both in vitro and in vivo. Considering the fact that Ad.5-mda-7 has demonstrated significant objective responses in a Phase I clinical trial for advanced solid tumors, Ad.5/3-mda-7 alone or in combination with BI-97C1 would be predicted to exert significantly improved therapeutic efficacy in colorectal cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3228880  PMID: 21780116
Viral gene therapy; Mcl-1 inhibition; apoptosis induction; anti-tumor activity
23.  mda-7/IL-24 differentially regulates soluble and nuclear clusterin in prostate cancer 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2012;227(5):1805-1813.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), a unique member of the IL-10 gene family, displays a broad range of antitumor properties including cancer-specific induction of apoptosis, inhibition of tumor angiogenesis, and modulation of anti-tumor immune responses. Here we identify clusterin (CLU) as a MDA-7/IL-24 interacting protein in DU-145 cells and investigate the role of MDA-7/IL-24 in regulating CLU expression and mediating the antitumor properties of mda-7/IL-24 in prostate cancer. Ad.mda-7 decreased expression of soluble CLU (sCLU) and increased expression of nuclear CLU (nCLU). In the initial phase of Ad.mda-7 infection sCLU expression increased and CLU interacted with MDA-7/IL-24 producing a cytoprotective effect. Infection of stable clones of DU-145 prostate cancer cells expressing sCLU with Ad.mda-7 resulted in generation of nCLU that correlated with decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis. In the presence of mda-7/IL-24, sCLU-DU-145 cells displayed G2/M phase arrest followed by apoptosis. Similarly, Ad.mda-7 infection decreased cell migration by altering cytoskeleton in sCLU-DU-145 cells. Ad.mda-7-treated sCLU-DU-145 cells displayed a significant reduction in tumor growth in mouse xenograft models and reduced angiogenesis when compared to the vector control group. Tumor tissue lysates demonstrated enhanced nCLU generated from sCLU with increased apoptosis in the presence of MDA-7/IL-24. Our findings reveal novel aspects relative to the role of sCLU/nCLU in regulating the anticancer properties of MDA-7/IL-24 that may be exploited for developing enhanced therapies for prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3228882  PMID: 21732348
MDA-7/IL-24; soluble clusterin; nuclear clusterin; G2/M arrest; apoptosis
24.  Targeted Apoptotic Effects of Thymoquinone and Tamoxifen on XIAP Mediated Akt Regulation in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61342.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is constitutively expressed endogenous inhibitor of apoptosis, exhibit its antiapoptotic effect by inactivating key caspases such as caspase-3, caspase-7 and caspase-9 and also play pivotal role in rendering cancer chemoresistance. Our studies showed the coadministration of TQ and TAM resulting in a substantial increase in breast cancer cell apoptosis and marked inhibition of cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Anti-angiogenic and anti-invasive potential of TQ and TAM was assessed through in vitro studies. This novel combinatorial regimen leads to regulation of multiple cell signaling targets including inactivation of Akt and XIAP degradation. At molecular level, TQ and TAM synergistically lowers XIAP expression resulting in binding and activation of caspase-9 in apoptotic cascade, and interfere with cell survival through PI3-K/Akt pathway by inhibiting Akt phosphorylation. Cleaved caspase-9 further processes other intracellular death substrates such as PARP thereby shifting the balance from survival to apoptosis, indicated by rise in the sub-G1 cell population. This combination also downregulates the expression of Akt-regulated downstream effectors such as Bcl-xL, Bcl-2 and induce expression of Bax, AIF, cytochrome C and p-27. Consistent with these results, overexpression studies further confirmed the involvement of XIAP and its regulatory action on Akt phosphorylation along with procaspase-9 and PARP cleavage in TQ-TAM coadministrated induced apoptosis. The ability of TQ and TAM in inhibiting XIAP was confirmed through siRNA-XIAP cotransfection studies. This novel modality may be a promising tool in breast cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3629226  PMID: 23613836
25.  Emerging Strategies for the Early Detection and Prevention of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer 
Journal of cellular physiology  2012;227(2):467-473.
Despite significant improvements in therapeutic protocols, Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) remains a major health problem worldwide. The 5-year post therapeutic survival rate is among the lowest of the major cancers with loco-regional relapse being the main cause of death. Moreover, in most instances, the quality of life of the afflicted patient is severely compromised. The poor prognosis for HNSCC is primarily due to disease detection at advanced stages. Accordingly, development of early detection and preventive strategies are essential. Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular biology and etiology of HNSCC should facilitate development of improved intervention and therapeutic approaches. The present review discusses the potential role of such factors for developing preventive and early diagnostic strategies for HNSCC management.
PMCID: PMC3158829  PMID: 21465466

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