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1.  Loss of HSulf-1 promotes altered lipid metabolism in ovarian cancer 
Cancer & Metabolism  2014;2:13.
Loss of the endosulfatase HSulf-1 is common in ovarian cancer, upregulates heparin binding growth factor signaling and potentiates tumorigenesis and angiogenesis. However, metabolic differences between isogenic cells with and without HSulf-1 have not been characterized upon HSulf-1 suppression in vitro. Since growth factor signaling is closely tied to metabolic alterations, we determined the extent to which HSulf-1 loss affects cancer cell metabolism.
Ingenuity pathway analysis of gene expression in HSulf-1 shRNA-silenced cells (Sh1 and Sh2 cells) compared to non-targeted control shRNA cells (NTC cells) and subsequent Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomics (KEGG) database analysis showed altered metabolic pathways with changes in the lipid metabolism as one of the major pathways altered inSh1 and 2 cells. Untargeted global metabolomic profiling in these isogenic cell lines identified approximately 338 metabolites using GC/MS and LC/MS/MS platforms. Knockdown of HSulf-1 in OV202 cells induced significant changes in 156 metabolites associated with several metabolic pathways including amino acid, lipids, and nucleotides. Loss of HSulf-1 promoted overall fatty acid synthesis leading to enhance the metabolite levels of long chain, branched, and essential fatty acids along with sphingolipids. Furthermore, HSulf-1 loss induced the expression of lipogenic genes including FASN, SREBF1, PPARγ, and PLA2G3 stimulated lipid droplet accumulation. Conversely, re-expression of HSulf-1 in Sh1 cells reduced the lipid droplet formation. Additionally, HSulf-1 also enhanced CPT1A and fatty acid oxidation and augmented the protein expression of key lipolytic enzymes such as MAGL, DAGLA, HSL, and ASCL1. Overall, these findings suggest that loss of HSulf-1 by concomitantly enhancing fatty acid synthesis and oxidation confers a lipogenic phenotype leading to the metabolic alterations associated with the progression of ovarian cancer.
Taken together, these findings demonstrate that loss of HSulf-1 potentially contributes to the metabolic alterations associated with the progression of ovarian pathogenesis, specifically impacting the lipogenic phenotype of ovarian cancer cells that can be therapeutically targeted.
PMCID: PMC4164348  PMID: 25225614
HSulf-1; Lipogenesis; Lipolysis; Lipid droplets; Microarray and metabolite profiling
3.  Melatonin Suppresses the Expression of 45S Preribosomal RNA and Upstream Binding Factor and Enhances the Antitumor Activity of Puromycin in MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells 
Since the dysregulation of ribosome biogenesis is closely associated with tumor progression, in the current study, the critical role of ribosome biogenesis related signaling was investigated in melatonin and/or puromycin induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Despite its weak cytotoxicity, melatonin from 3 mM attenuated the expression of 45S pre-ribosomal RNA (pre-rRNA), UBF as a nucleolar transcription factor, and fibrillarin at mRNA level and consistently downregulated nucleolar proteins such as UBF and fibrillarin at protein level in MDA-MB-231 cells. Furthermore, immunofluorescence assay revealed that UBF was also degraded by melatonin in MDA-MB-231 cells. In contrast, melatonin attenuated the expression of survival genes such as Bcl-xL, Mcl-1, cyclinD1, and cyclin E, suppressed the phosphorylation of AKT, mTOR, and STAT3, and cleaved PARP and activated caspase 3 only at a high concentration of 12 mM. However, combined treatment of melatonin (3 mM) and puromycin (1 μM) synergistically inhibited viability, attenuated the expression of 45S pre-rRNA and UBF, and consistently downregulated UBF, XPO1 and IPO7, procaspase 3, and Bcl-xL in MDA-MB 231 cells. Overall, these findings suggest that melatonin can be a cancer preventive agent by combination with puromycin via the inhibition of 45S pre-rRNA and UBF in MDA-MB 231 breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3638601  PMID: 23690862
4.  Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase α and Extracelluar Signal-Regulated Kinase Mediates CB-PIC-Induced Apoptosis in Hypoxic SW620 Colorectal Cancer Cells 
Here, antitumor mechanism of cinnamaldehyde derivative CB-PIC was elucidated in human SW620 colon cancer cells. CB-PIC significantly exerted cytotoxicity, increased sub-G1 accumulation, and cleaved PARP with apoptotic features, while it enhanced the phosphorylation of AMPK alpha and ACC as well as activated the ERK in hypoxic SW620 cells. Furthermore, CB-PIC suppressed the expression of HIF1 alpha, Akt, and mTOR and activated the AMPK phosphorylation in hypoxic SW620 cells. Conversely, silencing of AMPKα blocked PARP cleavage and ERK activation induced by CB-PIC, while ERK inhibitor PD 98059 attenuated the phosphorylation of AMPKα in hypoxic SW620 cells, implying cross-talk between ERK and AMPKα. Furthermore, cotreatment of CB-PIC and metformin enhanced the inhibition of HIF1α and Akt/mTOR and the activation of AMPKα and pACC in hypoxic SW620 cells. In addition, CB-PIC suppressed the growth of SW620 cells inoculated in BALB/c athymic nude mice, and immunohistochemistry revealed that CB-PIC treatment attenuated the expression of Ki-67, CD34, and CAIX and increased the expression of pAMPKα in CB-PIC-treated group. Interestingly, CP-PIC showed better antitumor activity in SW620 colon cancer cells under hypoxia than under normoxia, since it may be applied to chemoresistance. Overall, our findings suggest that activation of AMPKα and ERK mediates CB-PIC-induced apoptosis in hypoxic SW620 colon cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3622407  PMID: 23589723
5.  Inhibition of Hypoxia Inducible Factor Alpha and Astrocyte-Elevated Gene-1 Mediates Cryptotanshinone Exerted Antitumor Activity in Hypoxic PC-3 Cells 
Although cryptotanshinone (CT) was known to exert antitumor activity in several cancers, its molecular mechanism under hypoxia still remains unclear. Here, the roles of AEG-1 and HIF-1α in CT-induced antitumor activity were investigated in hypoxic PC-3 cells. CT exerted cytotoxicity against prostate cancer cells and suppressed HIF-1α accumulation and AEG-1 expression in hypoxic PC-3 cells. Also, AEG-1 was overexpressed in prostate cancer cells. Interestingly, HIF-1α siRNA transfection enhanced the cleavages of caspase-9,3, and PAPR and decreased expression of Bcl-2 and AEG1 induced by CT in hypoxic PC-3 cells. Of note, DMOG enhanced the stability of AEG-1 and HIF-1α during hypoxia. Additionally, CT significantly reduced cellular level of VEGF in PC-3 cells and disturbed tube formation of HUVECs. Consistently, ChIP assay revealed that CT inhibited the binding of HIF-1α to VEGF promoter. Furthermore, CT at 10 mg/kg suppressed the growth of PC-3 cells in BALB/c athymic nude mice by 46.4% compared to untreated control. Consistently, immunohistochemistry revealed decreased expression of Ki-67, CD34, VEGF, carbonic anhydrase IX, and AEG-1 indices in CT-treated group compared to untreated control. Overall, our findings suggest that CT exerts antitumor activity via inhibition of HIF-1α, AEG1, and VEGF as a potent chemotherapeutic agent.
PMCID: PMC3519236  PMID: 23243443
6.  Oral administration of penta-O-galloyl-β-D-glucose suppresses triple-negative breast cancer xenograft growth and metastasis in strong association with JAK1-STAT3 inhibition 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(6):804-811.
There is an urgent clinical need for chemotherapeutic and chemopreventive drugs for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBCa). Extending on our recent work, we hypothesize that the herbal compound 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose (PGG) can inhibit the growth and metastasis of TNBCa xenograft and target Janus-activated kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3-signaling axis. Daily oral gavage of 10 mg PGG/kg body wt decreased MDA-MB-231 xenograft weight by 49.3% (P < 0.01) at 40 days postinoculation, whereas weekly intraperitoneal injections of Taxol at the same dosage resulted in a 21.4% reduction (P > 0.1). PGG treatment also decreased the incidence of lung metastasis. Immunohistochemical staining detected decreased Ki-67 (proliferation) index and increased terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end labeling (apoptosis) index in PGG-treated and Taxol-treated xenografts. However, the CD34 (angiogenesis) index was decreased only in PGG-treated xenografts along with decreased phospho-STAT3. In cell culture of MDA-MB-231 cells, PGG decreased pSTAT3 and its downstream target proteins, decreased its upstream kinase pJAK1 and induced the expression of SHP1, a JAK1 upstream tyrosine phosphatase, within as early as 1 h of exposure. The phosphatase inhibitor pervanadate reversed the PGG-induced downregulation of pSTAT3 and caspase activation. Orally administered PGG can inhibit TNBCa growth and metastasis, probably through anti-angiogenesis, antiproliferation and apoptosis induction. Mechanistically, PGG-induced inhibition of JAK1-STAT3 axis may contribute to the observed in vivo efficacy and the effects on the cellular processes.
PMCID: PMC3106430  PMID: 21289371
7.  Suppression of STAT3 and HIF-1 Alpha Mediates Anti-Angiogenic Activity of Betulinic Acid in Hypoxic PC-3 Prostate Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21492.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor that regulates various cellular processes such as cell survival, angiogenesis and proliferation. In the present study, we examined that betulinic acid (BA), a triterpene from the bark of white birch, had the inhibitory effects on hypoxia-mediated activation of STAT3 in androgen independent human prostate cancer PC-3 cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
BA inhibited the protein expression and the transcriptional activities of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) under hypoxic condition. Consistently, BA blocked hypoxia-induced phosphorylation, DNA binding activity and nuclear accumulation of STAT3. In addition, BA significantly reduced cellular and secreted levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a critical angiogenic factor and a target gene of STAT3 induced under hypoxia. Furthermore, BA prevented in vitro capillary tube formation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) maintained in conditioned medium of hypoxic PC-3 cells, implying anti-angiogenic activity of BA under hypoxic condition. Of note, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChiP) assay revealed that BA inhibited binding of HIF-1α and STAT3 to VEGF promoter. Furthermore, silencing STAT3 using siRNA transfection effectively enhanced the reduced VEGF production induced by BA treatment under hypoxia.
Taken together, our results suggest that BA has anti-angiogenic activity by disturbing the binding of HIF-1α and STAT3 to the VEGF promoter in hypoxic PC-3 cells.
PMCID: PMC3123343  PMID: 21731766

Results 1-7 (7)