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1.  c-Met activation through a novel pathway involving osteopontin mediates oncogenesis by the transcription factor LSF 
Journal of hepatology  2011;55(6):1317-1324.
Background and Aims
Understanding the molecular pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) would facilitate development of targeted and effective therapies for this fatal disease. We recently demonstrated that the cellular transcription factor Late SV40 Factor (LSF) is overexpressed in more than 90% of human HCC cases, compared to normal liver, and plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis. LSF transcriptionally upregulates osteopontin (OPN) that plays a significant role in mediating the oncogenic function of LSF. The present study aims at a better understanding of LSF function by analyzing the signaling pathway modulated by LSF.
Methods
Phospho-receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) array was performed to identify which receptor tyrosine kinases are activated by LSF. Immunohistochemical analysis using tissue microarray was performed to establish correlation among LSF, OPN and phospho-c-Met levels in HCC patients. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis was performed to check OPN-induced CD44 and c-Met interaction. Inhibition studies using chemicals and siRNAs were performed in vitro and in vivo using nude mice xenograft models to establish the importance of c-Met activation in mediating LSF function.
Results
Secreted OPN, induced by LSF, activates c-Met via a potential interaction between OPN and its cell surface receptor CD44. A significant correlation was observed among LSF, OPN and activated c-Met levels in HCC patients. Chemical or genetic inhibition of c-Met resulted in profound abrogation of LSF-mediated tumorigenesis and metastasis in nude mice xenograft studies.
Conclusions
The present findings elucidate a novel pathway of c-Met activation during hepatocarcinogenesis and support the rationale of using c-Met inhibitors as potential HCC therapeutics.
doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2011.02.036
PMCID: PMC3183108  PMID: 21703197
Late SV40 Factor; CD44; Hepatocellular carcinoma; c-Met; osteopontin
2.  Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-7 (IGFBP7) functions as a potential tumor suppressor in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) 
Purpose
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly virulent malignancy with no effective treatment thus requiring innovative and effective targeted therapies. The oncogene Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis and profoundly downregulates insulin-like growth factor binding protein-7 (IGFBP7). The present study focuses on analyzing potential tumor suppressor functions of IGFBP7 in HCC and the relevance of IGFBP7 downregulation in mediating AEG-1 function.
Experimental Design
IGFBP7 expression was detected by immunohistochemistry in HCC tissue microarray and real-time PCR and ELISA in human HCC cell lines. Dual Fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed to detect loss of heterozygosity at IGFBP7 locus. Stable IGFBP7-overexpressing clones were established in the background of AEG-1-overexpressing human HCC cells and were analyzed for in vitro proliferation and senescence and in vivo tumorigenesis and angiogenesis.
Results
IGFBP7 expression is significantly downregulated in human HCC samples and cell lines compared to normal liver and hepatocytes, respectively, and inversely correlates with the stages and grades of HCC. Genomic deletion of IGFBP7 was identified in 26% of HCC patients. Forced overexpression of IGFBP7 in AEG-1 overexpressing HCC cells inhibited in vitro growth and induced senescence, and profoundly suppressed in vivo growth in nude mice that might be an end result of inhibition of angiogenesis by IGFBP7.
Conclusion
The present findings provide evidence that IGFBP7 functions as a novel putative tumor suppressor for HCC and establish the corollary that IGFBP7 downregulation can effectively modify AEG-1 function. Accordingly, targeted overexpression of IGFBP7 might be a potential novel therapy for HCC.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2774
PMCID: PMC3207018  PMID: 21908579
Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-7 (IGFBP7); Astrocyte elevated gene-1; gene deletion; senescence; angiogenesis
3.  Oncogene AEG-1 promotes glioma-induced neurodegeneration by increasing glutamate excitotoxicity 
Cancer research  2011;71(20):6514-6523.
Aggressive tumor growth, diffuse tissue invasion and neurodegeneration are hallmarks of malignant glioma. Although glutamate excitotoxicity is considered to play a key role in glioma-induced neurodegeneration, the mechanism(s) controlling this process is poorly understood. AEG-1 is an oncogene overexpressed in multiple types of human cancers including >90% of brain tumors. AEG-1 also promotes gliomagenesis particularly in the context of tumor growth and invasion, two primary characteristics of glioma. In the present study, we investigated the contribution of AEG-1 to glioma-induced neurodegeneration. Pearson correlation coefficient analysis in normal brain tissues and glioma patient samples indicated a strong negative correlation between expression of AEG-1 and a primary glutamate transporter of astrocytes EAAT2. Gain and loss of function studies in normal primary human fetal astrocytes and T98G glioblastoma multiforme cells revealed that AEG-1 repressed EAAT2 expression at a transcriptional level by inducing YY1 activity to inhibit CBP function as a coactivator on the EAAT2 promoter. In addition, AEG-1-mediated EAAT2 repression caused a reduction of glutamate uptake by glial cells, resulting in induction of neuronal cell death. These findings were also confirmed in glioma patient samples demonstrating that AEG-1 expression negatively correlated with NeuN expression. Taken together, our findings suggest that AEG-1 contributes to glioma-induced neurodegeneration, a hallmark of this fatal tumor, through regulation of EAAT2 expression.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-0782
PMCID: PMC3193553  PMID: 21852380
AEG-1; glioma; EAAT2; glutamate; glioma-induced neurodegeneration
4.  Increased RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC) Activity Contributes to Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;53(5):1538-1548.
There is virtually no effective treatment for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and novel targets need to be identified to develop effective treatment. We recently documented that the oncogene Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Employing yeast two-hybrid assay and co-immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry we identified Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing 1 (SND1), a nuclease in the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) facilitating RNAi-mediated gene silencing, as an AEG-1 interacting protein. Co-immunoprecipitation and co-localization studies confirmed that AEG-1 is also a component of RISC and both AEG-1 and SND1 are required for optimum RISC activity facilitating siRNA and miRNA-mediated silencing of luciferase reporter gene. In 109 human HCC samples SND1 was overexpressed in ∼74% cases compared to normal liver. Correspondingly, significantly higher RISC activity was observed in human HCC cells compared to immortal normal hepatocytes. Increased RISC activity, conferred by AEG-1 or SND1, resulted in increased degradation of tumor suppressor mRNAs that are target of oncomiRs. Inhibition of enzymatic activity of SND1 significantly inhibited proliferation of human HCC cells. As a corollary, stable overexpression of SND1 augmented and siRNA-mediated inhibition of SND1 abrogated growth of human HCC cells in vitro and in vivo thus revealing a potential role of SND1 in hepatocarcinogenesis.
Conclusion
We unravel a novel mechanism that overexpression of AEG-1 and SND1 leading to increased RISC activity might contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis. Targeted inhibition of SND1 enzymatic activity might be developed as an effective therapy for HCC.
doi:10.1002/hep.24216
PMCID: PMC3081619  PMID: 21520169
AEG-1; SND1; protein-protein interaction; RNAi; hepatocarcinogenesis
5.  Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1): a multifunctional regulator of normal and abnormal physiology 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2011;130(1):1-8.
Since its initial identification and cloning in 2002, Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1), also known as metadherin (MTDH), 3D3 and LYsine-RIch CEACAM1 co-isolated (LYRIC), has emerged as an important oncogene that is overexpressed in all cancers analyzed so far. Examination of a large cohort of patient samples representing diverse cancer indications has revealed progressive increase in AEG-1 expression with stages and grades of the disease and an inverse relationship between AEG-1 expression level and patient prognosis. AEG-1 functions as a bona fide oncogene by promoting transformation. In addition, it plays a significant role in invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis and chemoresistance, all important hallmarks of an aggressive cancer. AEG-1 is also implicated in diverse physiological and pathological processes, such as development, inflammation, neurodegeneration, migraine and Huntington disease. AEG-1 is a highly basic protein with a transmembrane domain and multiple nuclear localization signals and it is present in the cell membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, nucleolus and endoplasmic reticulum. In each location, AEG-1 interacts with specific proteins thereby modulating diverse intracellular processes the combination of which contributes to its pleiotrophic properties. The present review provides a snapshot of the current literature along with future perspectives on this unique molecule.
doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2011.01.008
PMCID: PMC3043119  PMID: 21256156
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1); Oncogene; Metastasis; Chemoresistance; Angiogenesis; Neurodegeneration
6.  Expression patterns of astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) during development of the mouse embryo 
Gene expression patterns : GEP  2010;10(7-8):361-367.
Expression of astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) is elevated in multiple human cancers including brain tumors, neuroblastomas, melanomas, breast cancers, non-small cell lung cancers, liver cancers, prostate cancers, and esophageal cancers. This gene plays crucial roles in tumor cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis and progression to metastasis. In addition, over-expression of AEG-1 protects primary and transformed cells from apoptosis-inducing signals by activating PI3K-Akt signaling pathways. These results suggest that AEG-1 is intimately involved in tumorigenesis and may serve as a potential therapeutic target for various human cancers. However, the normal physiological functions of AEG-1 require clarification. We presently analyzed the expression pattern of AEG-1 during mouse development. AEG-1 was expressed in mid-to-hindbrain, fronto-nasal processes, limbs, and pharyngeal arches in the early developmental period from E8.5 to E9.5. In addition, at stages of E12.5-E18.5 AEG-1 was localized in the brain, and olfactory and skeletal systems suggesting a role in neurogenesis, as well as in skin, including hair follicles, and in the liver, which are organ sites in which AEG-1 has been implicated in tumor development and progression. AEG-1 co-localized with Ki-67, indicating a role in cell proliferation, as previously revealed in tumorigenesis. Taken together, these results suggest that AEG-1 may play a prominent role during normal mouse development in the context of cell proliferation as well as differentiation, and that temporal regulation of AEG-1 expression may be required during specific stages and in specific tissues during development.
doi:10.1016/j.gep.2010.08.004
PMCID: PMC3165053  PMID: 20736086
AEG-1; development; mouse embryo; cell proliferation; cancer
7.  Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1): a novel target for human glioma therapy 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(1):79-88.
Malignant gliomas including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and anaplastic astrocytomas are the most common primary brain tumors. Despite multimodal treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, median survival for patients with GBMs is only 12–15 months. Identifying molecules critical for glioma progression is crucial for devising effective targeted therapy. In the present study, we investigated the potential contribution of Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1) in gliomagenesis and explored the possibility of AEG-1 as a therapeutic target for malignant glioma. We analyzed the expression levels of AEG-1 in 9 normal brain tissues and 98 brain tumor patient samples by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. AEG-1 expression was significantly elevated in > 90% of diverse human brain tumor samples including GBMs and astrocytic tumors, and also in human glioma cell lines as compared to normal brain tissues and normal astrocytes. Knockdown of AEG-1 by siRNA inhibited cell viability, cloning efficiency, invasive ability of U87 human glioma cells and 9L rat gliosarcoma cells. We also found that matrix metalloproteases (MMP-2 and MMP-9) are involved in AEG-1-mediated invasion of glioma cells. In an orthotopic nude mouse brain tumor model using primary human GBM12 tumor cells, AEG-1 siRNA significantly suppressed glioma cell growth in vivo. Taken together these provocative results indicate that AEG-1 may play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of glioma and that AEG-1 could represent a viable potential target for malignant glioma therapy.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0752
PMCID: PMC3165052  PMID: 20053777
AEG-1; brain tumor; glioma; invasion; angiogenesis
8.  Molecular mechanism of chemoresistance by Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1) 
Cancer research  2010;70(8):3249-3258.
Our recent findings demonstrate that Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1) is overexpressed in >90% of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples and AEG-1 plays a central role in regulating development and progression of HCC. In the present manuscript, we elucidate a molecular mechanism of AEG-1-induced chemoresistance, an important characteristic of aggressive cancers. AEG-1 increases the expression of multidrug resistance gene 1 (MDR1) protein resulting in increased efflux and decreased accumulation of doxorubicin (DOX) promoting DOX-resistance. Suppression of MDR1, by siRNA or by chemical reagents, or inhibition of AEG-1 or a combination of both genes significantly increases in vitro sensitivity to DOX. In nude mice xenograft studies, a lentivirus expressing AEG-1 shRNA, in combination with DOX, profoundly inhibited growth of aggressive human HCC cells compared to either agent alone. We document that although AEG-1 does not affect MDR1 gene transcription, it facilitates association of MDR1 mRNA to polysomes resulting in increased translation and AEG-1 also inhibits ubiquitination and subsequent proteasome-mediated degradation of MDR1 protein. This study is the first documentation of a unique aspect of AEG-1 function, i.e., translational and post-translational regulation of proteins. Inhibition of AEG-1 might provide a means of more effectively using chemotherapy to treat HCC, which displays inherent chemoresistance with aggressive pathology.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-4009
PMCID: PMC2855753  PMID: 20388796
Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1); doxorubicin; Multidrug resistance gene-1 (MDR1); translation; nude mice
9.  Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1): far more than just a gene regulated in astrocytes 
Cancer research  2009;69(22):8529-8535.
Since its original cloning by subtraction hybridization in 2002, it is now evident that Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) is a key contributor to the carcinogenic process in diverse organs. AEG-1 protein expression is elevated in advanced stages of many cancers, which correlates with poor survival. In specific cancers, such as breast and liver cancer, the AEG-1 gene itself is amplified further supporting a seminal role in tumorigenesis. Overexpression and inhibition studies both in in vitro and in in vivo models reveal the importance of AEG-1 in regulating multiple physiologically and pathologically relevant processes including proliferation, invasion, metastasis and gene expression. AEG-1 is a single-pass transmembrane protein with multiple nuclear localization signals and no known domains or motifs. Although pertinent roles of AEG-1 in the carcinogenic process are established, its potential function (promotion of metastasis only versus functioning as a bona fide oncogene) as well as localization (cell surface versus nucleus) remain areas requiring further clarification. The present review critically evaluates what is currently known about AEG-1 and provides new perspectives relative to this intriguing molecule that may provide a rational target for intervening in the cancer phenotype.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1846
PMCID: PMC2782420  PMID: 19903854
10.  Astrocyte elevated gene-1 regulates hepatocellular carcinoma development and progression 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly aggressive vascular cancer characterized by diverse etiology, activation of multiple signal transduction pathways, and various gene mutations. Here, we have determined a specific role for astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG1) in HCC pathogenesis. Expression of AEG1 was extremely low in human hepatocytes, but its levels were significantly increased in human HCC. Stable overexpression of AEG1 converted nontumorigenic human HCC cells into highly aggressive vascular tumors, and inhibition of AEG1 abrogated tumorigenesis by aggressive HCC cells in a xenograft model of nude mice. In human HCC, AEG1 overexpression was associated with elevated copy numbers. Microarray analysis revealed that AEG1 modulated the expression of genes associated with invasion, metastasis, chemoresistance, angiogenesis, and senescence. AEG1 also was found to activate Wnt/β-catenin signaling via ERK42/44 activation and upregulated lymphoid-enhancing factor 1/T cell factor 1 (LEF1/TCF1), the ultimate executor of the Wnt pathway, important for HCC progression. Inhibition studies further demonstrated that activation of Wnt signaling played a key role in mediating AEG1 function. AEG1 also activated the NF-κB pathway, which may play a role in the chronic inflammatory changes preceding HCC development. These data indicate that AEG1 plays a central role in regulating diverse aspects of HCC pathogenesis. Targeted inhibition of AEG1 might lead to the shutdown of key elemental characteristics of HCC and could lead to an effective therapeutic strategy for HCC.
doi:10.1172/JCI36460
PMCID: PMC2648696  PMID: 19221438

Results 1-10 (10)