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1.  Systematic siRNA Screen Unmasks NSCLC Growth Dependence by Palmitoyltransferase DHHC5 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2015;13(4):784-794.
Protein S-palmitoylation is a widespread and dynamic post-translational modification that regulates protein-membrane interactions, protein-protein interactions, and protein stability. A large family of palmitoyl acyl transferases, termed the DHHC family due to the presence of a common catalytic motif, catalyzes S-palmitoylation; the role of these enzymes in cancer is largely unexplored. In this study, an RNAi-based screen targeting all 23 members of the DHHC family was conducted to examine the effects on the growth in non-small cell cancer (NSCLC). Interestingly, siRNAs directed against DHHC5 broadly inhibited the growth of multiple NSCLC lines but not normal human bronchial epithelial cell (HBEC) lines. Silencing of DHHC5 by lentivirus-mediated expression of DHHC5 shRNAs dramatically reduced in vitro cell proliferation, colony formation and cell invasion in a subset of cell lines that were examined in further detail. The phenotypes were restored by transfection of a wild-type DHHC5 plasmid but not by a plasmid expressing a catalytically inactive DHHC5. Tumor xenograft formation was severely inhibited by DHHC5 knockdown and rescued by DHHC5 expression, using both a conventional and tetracycline-inducible shRNA. These data indicate that DHHC5 has oncogenic capacity and contributes to tumor formation in NSCLC; thus representing a potential novel therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC4398612  PMID: 25573953
lung cancer; post-translational lipid modifications; S-palmitoylation; xenografts; drug target
2.  Identification of Gene Expression Differences between Lymphangiogenic and Non-Lymphangiogenic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0150963.
It is well established that lung tumors induce the formation of lymphatic vessels. However, the molecular mechanisms controlling tumor lymphangiogenesis in lung cancer have not been fully delineated. In the present study, we identify a panel of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines that induce lymphangiogenesis and use genome-wide mRNA expression to characterize the molecular mechanisms regulating tumor lymphangiogenesis. We show that Calu-1, H1993, HCC461, HCC827, and H2122 NSCLC cell lines form tumors that induce lymphangiogenesis whereas Calu-3, H1155, H1975, and H2073 NSCLC cell lines form tumors that do not induce lymphangiogenesis. By analyzing genome-wide mRNA expression data, we identify a 17-gene expression signature that distinguishes lymphangiogenic from non-lymphangiogenic NSCLC cell lines. Importantly, VEGF-C is the only lymphatic growth factor in this expression signature and is approximately 50-fold higher in the lymphangiogenic group than in the non-lymphangiogenic group. We show that forced expression of VEGF-C by H1975 cells induces lymphangiogenesis and that knockdown of VEGF-C in H1993 cells inhibits lymphangiogenesis. Additionally, we demonstrate that the triple angiokinase inhibitor, nintedanib (small molecule that blocks all FGFRs, PDGFRs, and VEGFRs), suppresses tumor lymphangiogenesis in H1993 tumors. Together, these data suggest that VEGF-C is the dominant driver of tumor lymphangiogenesis in NSCLC and reveal a specific therapy that could potentially block tumor lymphangiogenesis in NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC4780812  PMID: 26950548
3.  Essential role of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A3 (ALDH1A3) for the maintenance of non-small cell lung cancer stem cells is associated with the STAT3 pathway 
Lung cancer stem cells (CSCs) with elevated aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity are self-renewing, clonogenic and tumorigenic. The purpose of our study is to elucidate the mechanisms by which lung CSCs are regulated.
Experimental Design
A genome-wide gene expression analysis was performed to identify genes differentially expressed in the ALDH+ vs. ALDH− cells. RT-PCR, western blot and Aldefluor assay were used to validate identified genes. To explore the function in CSCs we manipulated their expression followed by colony and tumor formation assays.
We identified a subset of genes that were differentially expressed in common in ALDH+ cells, among which ALDH1A3 was the most upregulated gene in ALDH+ vs. ALDH− cells. ShRNA-mediated knockdown of ALDH1A3 in NSCLCs resulted in a dramatic reduction in ALDH activity, clonogenicity and tumorigenicity, indicating that ALDH1A3 is required for tumorigenic properties. By contrast, overexpression of ALDH1A3 by itself it was not sufficient to increase tumorigenicity. The ALDH+ cells also expressed more activated Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription 3 (STAT3) than ALDH− cells. Inhibition of STAT3 or its activator EZH2 genetically or pharmacologically diminished the level of ALDH+ cells and clonogenicity. Unexpectedly, ALDH1A3 was highly expressed in female, never smokers, well differentiated tumors, or adenocarcinoma. ALDH1A3 low expression was associated with poor overall survival.
Our data show that ALDH1A3 is the predominant ALDH isozyme responsible for ALDH activity and tumorigenicity in most NSCLCs, and that inhibiting either ALDH1A3 or the STAT3 pathway are potential therapeutic strategies to eliminate the ALDH+ subpopulation in NSCLCs.
PMCID: PMC4438754  PMID: 24907115
Lung cancer; cancer stem cells; ALDH1A3; STAT3; Stattic
4.  Potential application of non-small cell lung cancer-associated autoantibodies to early cancer diagnosis 
To identify a panel of tumor associated autoantibodies which can potentially be used as biomarkers for the early diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Thirty-five unique and in-frame expressed phage proteins were isolated. Based on the gene expression profiling, four proteins were selected for further study. Both receiver operating characteristic curve analysis and leave-one-out method revealed that combined measurements of four antibodies produced have better predictive accuracies than any single marker alone. Leave-one-out validation also showed significant relevance with all stages of NSCLC patients. The panel of autoantibodies has a high potential for detecting early stage NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4512951  PMID: 22713465
NSCLC; Tumor-associated autoantibodies; SEREX; Early diagnosis
5.  TIMELESS is overexpressed in lung cancer and its expression correlates with poor patient survival 
Cancer science  2013;104(2):171-177.
TIMELESS (TIM) is a mammalian homolog of a Drosophila circadian rhythm gene, but its circadian properties in mammals have yet to be determined. TIM appears to be essential for replication protection and genomic stability. Recently, the involvement of TIM in human malignancies has been reported; therefore, we investigated the role of TIM in lung cancer. Microarray expression analysis of lung cancer cell lines showed that TIM expression was elevated 3.7-fold (P < 0.001) in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines (n = 116) compared to normal lung controls (n = 59). In addition, small cell lung cancer cell lines (n = 29) expressed TIM at levels 2.2-fold (P < 0.001) higher than non-small cell lung cancer. Western blot analysis of 22 lung cancer cell lines revealed that all of them expressed TIM protein and that 20 cell lines (91%) expressed TIM protein at higher levels than a normal control line. Remarkably, immunohistochemistry of 30 surgically resected lung cancer specimens showed that all lung cancer specimens but no matched normal lung tissues were positive for TIM expression. Moreover, immunohistochemistry of surgically resected specimens from 88 consecutive patients showed that high TIM protein levels correlated with poor overall survival (P = 0.013). Mutation analysis for TIM in 23 lung cancer cell lines revealed no mutation. TIM knockdown suppressed proliferation and clonogenic growth, and induced apoptosis in H157 and H460 cells. Taken together, our findings suggest that TIM could be useful as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for lung cancer and targeting it would be of high therapeutic value for this disease.
PMCID: PMC4454395  PMID: 23173913
6.  Analysis of TP53 Mutation Status in Human Cancer Cell Lines: A Reassessment 
Human mutation  2014;35(6):756-765.
Tumor-derived cell lines play an important role in the investigation of tumor biology and genetics. Across a wide array of studies, they have been tools of choice for the discovery of important genes involved in cancer and for the analysis of the cellular pathways that are impaired by diverse oncogenic events. They are also invaluable for screening novel anticancer drugs. The TP53 protein is a major component of multiple pathways that regulate cellular response to various types of stress. Therefore, TP53 status affects the phenotype of tumor cell lines profoundly and must be carefully ascertained for any experimental project. In the present review, we use the 2014 release of the UMD TP53 database to show that TP53 status is still controversial for numerous cell lines, including some widely used lines from the NCI-60 panel. Our analysis clearly confirms that, despite numerous warnings, the misidentification of cell lines is still present as a silent and neglected issue, and that extreme care must be taken when determining the status of p53, because errors may lead to disastrous experimental interpretations. A novel compendium gathering the TP53 status of 2,500 cell lines has been made available ( A stand-alone application can be used to browse the database and extract pertinent information on cell lines and associated TP53 mutations. It will be updated regularly to minimize any scientific issues associated with the use of misidentified cell lines (
PMCID: PMC4451114  PMID: 24700732
TP53; cancer cell line; cross-contamination; misidentification; recommendation
7.  Targeting ADAM-mediated ligand cleavage to inhibit HER3 and EGFR pathways in non-small cell lung cancer 
Cancer cell  2006;10(1):39-50.
We describe here the existence of a heregulin-HER3 autocrine loop, and the contribution of heregulin-dependent, HER2-mediated HER3 activation to gefitinib insensitivity in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). ADAM17 protein, a major ErbB ligand sheddase, is upregulated in NSCLC and is required not only for heregulin-dependent HER3 signaling, but also for EGFR ligand-dependent signaling in NSCLC cell lines. A selective ADAM inhibitor, INCB3619, prevents the processing and activation of multiple ErbB ligands, including heregulin. In addition, INCB3619 inhibits gefitinib-resistant HER3 signaling and enhances gefitinib inhibition of EGFR signaling in NSCLC. These results show that ADAM inhibition affects multiple ErbB pathways in NSCLC and thus offers an excellent opportunity for pharmacological intervention, either alone or in combination with other drugs.
PMCID: PMC4451119  PMID: 16843264
8.  On comparing heterogeneity across biomarkers 
Microscopy reveals complex patterns of cellular heterogeneity that can be biologically informative. However, a limitation of microscopy is that only a small number of biomarkers can typically be monitored simultaneously. Thus, a natural question is whether additional biomarkers provide a deeper characterization of the distribution of cellular states in a population. How much information about a cell’s phenotypic state in one biomarker is gained by knowing its state in another biomarker?
Here, we describe a framework for comparing phenotypic states across biomarkers. Our approach overcomes the current limitation of microscopy by not requiring co-staining biomarkers on the same cells; instead we require staining of biomarkers (possibly separately) on a common collection of phenotypically diverse cell lines.
We evaluate our approach on two image datasets: 33 oncogenically diverse lung cancer cell lines stained with 7 biomarkers, and 49 less diverse subclones of one lung cancer cell line stained with 12 biomarkers. We first validate our method by comparing it to the “gold standard” of co-staining. We then apply our approach to all pairs of biomarkers and use it to identify biomarkers that yield similar patterns of heterogeneity. The results presented in this work suggest that many biomarkers provide redundant information about heterogeneity. Thus, our approach provides a practical guide for selecting independently informative biomarkers and, more generally, will yield insights into both the connectivity of biological networks and the complexity of the state space of biological systems.
PMCID: PMC4442742  PMID: 25425168
Heterogeneity; Biomarker Selection; Systems Biology; Microscopy; Bioimage Informatics; Biological Networks; Single-Cell Variability; Information Theory
9.  Nullifying the CDKN2A/B Locus Promotes Mutant K-ras Lung Tumorigenesis 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2014;12(6):912-923.
Lung cancer commonly displays a number of recurrent genetic abnormalities and about 30% of lung adenocarcinomas carry activating mutations in the K-ras gene; often concomitantly with inactivation of tumor suppressor genes p16INK4A and p14ARF of the CDKN2A/B locus. However, little is known regarding the function of p15INK4B translated from the same locus. To determine the frequency of CDKN2A/B loss in human mutant K-ras lung cancer, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database was interrogated. Two-hit inactivation of CDKN2A and CDKN2B occurs frequently in mutant K-ras lung adenocarcinoma patients. Moreover, p15INK4B loss occurs in the presence of biallelic inactivation of p16INK4A and p14ARF suggesting that p15INK4B loss confers a selective advantage to mutant K-ras lung cancers that are p16INK4A and p14ARF deficient. To determine the significance of CDKN2A/B loss in vivo, genetically engineered lung cancer mouse models that express mutant K-ras in the respiratory epithelium were utilized. Importantly, complete loss of CDKN2A/B strikingly accelerated mutant K-ras driven lung tumorigenesis, leading to loss of differentiation, increased metastatic disease and decreased overall survival. Primary mutant K-ras lung epithelial cells lacking CDKN2A/B had increased clonogenic potential. Furthermore, comparative analysis of mutant K-ras;CDKN2A null with K-ras;CDKN2A/B null mice and experiments with mutant K-ras;CDKN2A/B deficient human lung cancer cells indicated that p15INK4B is a critical tumor suppressor. Thus, the loss of CDKN2A/B is of biological significance in mutant K-ras lung tumorigenesis by fostering cellular proliferation, cancer cell differentiation and metastatic behavior.
Implications: These findings indicate that mutant K-ras;CDKN2A/B null mice provide a platform for accurately modeling aggressive lung adenocarcinoma and testing therapeutic modalities.
PMCID: PMC4058359  PMID: 24618618
CDKN2AB; mutant KRAS; lung cancer; mouse lung cancer models
10.  Ras regulates kinesin 13 family members to control cell migration pathways in transformed human bronchial epithelial cells 
Oncogene  2013;33(47):5457-5466.
We show that expression of the microtubule depolymerizing kinesin KIF2C is induced by transformation of immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells by expression of K-RasG12V and knockdown of p53. Further investigation demonstrates that this is due to the K-Ras/ERK1/2 MAPK pathway, as loss of p53 had little effect on KIF2C expression. In addition to KIF2C, we also found that the related kinesin KIF2A is modestly upregulated in this model system; both proteins are expressed more highly in many lung cancer cell lines compared to normal tissue. As a consequence of their depolymerizing activity, these kinesins increase dynamic instability of microtubules. Depletion of either of these kinesins impairs the ability of cells transformed with mutant K-Ras to migrate and invade matrigel. However, depletion of these kinesins does not reverse the epithelial-mesenchymal transition caused by mutant K-Ras. Our studies indicate that increased expression of microtubule destabilizing factors can occur during oncogenesis to support enhanced migration and invasion of tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC4025984  PMID: 24240690
11.  Aiolos Promotes Anchorage Independence by Silencing p66Shc Transcription in Cancer Cells 
Cancer cell  2014;25(5):575-589.
Anchorage of tissue cells to their physical environment is an obligate requirement for survival which is lost in mature hematopoietic and in transformed epithelial cells. Here we find that a lymphocyte lineage-restricted transcription factor, Aiolos, is frequently expressed in lung cancers and predicts markedly reduced patient survival. Aiolos decreases expression of a large set of adhesion-related genes, disrupting cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. Aiolos also reconfigures chromatin structure within the SHC1 gene, causing isoform-specific silencing of the anchorage reporter p66Shc and blocking anoikis in vitro and in vivo. In lung cancer tissues and single cells, p66Shc expression inversely correlates with that of Aiolos. Together, these findings suggest that Aiolos functions as an epigenetic driver of lymphocyte mimicry in metastatic epithelial cancers.
PMCID: PMC4070880  PMID: 24823637
12.  A search for novel cancer/testis antigens in lung cancer identifies VCX/Y genes expanding the repertoire of potential immunotherapeutic targets 
Cancer research  2014;74(17):4694-4705.
Cancer/testis (CT) antigens are potential immunotherapeutic targets in cancer. However, the expression of particular antigens is limited to a subset of tumors of a given type. Thus, there is a need to identify antigens with complementary expression patterns for effective therapeutic intervention. In this study, we searched for genes that were distinctly expressed at a higher level in lung tumor tissue and the testes compared to other non-tumor tissues and identified members of the VCX/Y gene family as novel CT antigens. VCX3A, a member of the VCX/Y gene family, was expressed at the protein level in approximately 20% of lung adenocarcinomas and 35% of squamous cell carcinomas, but not expressed in normal lung tissues. Among CT antigens with concordant mRNA and protein expression levels, four CT antigens, XAGE1, VCX, IL13RA2, and SYCE1, were expressed, alone or in combination, in about 80% of lung adenocarcinoma tumors. The CT antigen VCX/Y gene family broadens the spectrum of CT antigens expressed in lung adenocarcinomas for clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC4398029  PMID: 24970476
Cancer/testis antigen; VCX/Y; lung cancer; immunotherapy
13.  Radiation-enhanced Lung Cancer Progression in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Lung Cancer is Predictive of Outcomes in Human Lung and Breast Cancer 
Carcinogenesis is an adaptive process between nascent tumor cells and their microenvironment including the modification of inflammatory responses from anti-tumorigenic to pro-tumorigenic. Radiation exposure can stimulate inflammatory responses that inhibit or promote carcinogenesis. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of radiation exposure on lung cancer progression in vivo and assess the relevance of this knowledge to human carcinogenesis.
Experimental Design
K-rasLA1 mice were irradiated with various doses and dose regimens and then monitored till death. Microarray analyses were performed using Illumina® BeadChips on whole lung tissue 70 days post-irradiation with a fractionated or acute dose of radiation and compared to age-matched unirradiated controls. Unique group classifiers were derived by comparative genomic analysis of three experimental cohorts. Survival analyses were performed using principal component analysis and k-means clustering on three lung adenocarcinoma, three breast adenocarcinoma, and two lung squamous carcinoma annotated microarray datasets.
Radiation exposure accelerates lung cancer progression in the K-rasLA1 lung cancer mouse model with dose fractionation being more permissive for cancer progression. A non-random inflammatory signature associated with this progression was elicited from whole lung tissue containing only benign lesions and predicts human lung and breast cancer patient survival across multiple datasets. Immunohistochemical analyses suggest that tumor cells drive predictive signature.
These results demonstrate that radiation exposure can cooperate with benign lesions in a transgenic model of cancer by impacting inflammatory pathways, and that clinically relevant similarities exist between human lung and breast carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3961755  PMID: 24486591
Radiation; Lung Cancer; Progression; Mouse models; Genomics
14.  A Re-evaluation of CD22 Expression by Human Lung Cancer 
Cancer research  2014;74(1):263-271.
CD22 is a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed by mature B cells. It inhibits signal transduction by the B cell receptor and its co-receptor CD19. Recently it was reported that most human lung cancer cells and cell lines express CD22 making it an important new lung cancer therapeutic target (Can Res 72:5556, 2012). The objective of our studies was to independently validate these results with the goal of testing the efficacy of our CD22 immunotoxins on lung cancer cell lines. As determined by qRT-PCR analysis, we found that levels of CD22 mRNA in a panel of human lung cancer cell lines were 200–60,000- fold lower than those observed in the human CD22+ Burkitt’s lymphoma cells, Daudi. Using flow cytometry with a panel of CD22 monoclonal antibodies and Western blot analyses, we could not detect surface or intracellular expression of CD22 protein in a panel of lung cancer cell lines. In addition, the in vitro proliferation of the lung tumor cell lines was not affected by CD22 antibodies or our highly potent anti-CD22 immunotoxin. By contrast, CD22+ Daudi cells expressed high levels of CD22 mRNA and protein and were sensitive to our CD22 immunotoxin. Importantly, primary non-small cell lung cancers from over 250 patient specimens did not express detectable levels of CD22 protein as assessed by immunohistochemistry. We conclude that CD22 is not expressed at measurable levels on the surface of lung cancer cells and that these cells can not be killed by anti-CD22 immunotoxins.
PMCID: PMC3903042  PMID: 24395821
lung cancer; CD22 expression
15.  Comprehensive biomarker analysis and final efficacy results of sorafenib in the BATTLE (Biomarker-Integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination) trial 
To report the clinical efficacy of sorafenib and to evaluate biomarkers associated with sorafenib clinical benefit in the BATTLE program.
Patients and Methods
Patients with previously treated non-small–cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received sorafenib until progression or unacceptable toxicity. Eight-week disease control rate (DCR), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were assessed. Prespecified biomarkers included K-RAS, EGFR, and B-RAF mutations, and EGFR gene copy number. Gene expression profiles from NSCLC cell lines and patient tumor biopsies with wild-type EGFR were used to develop a sorafenib sensitivity signature (SSS).
105 patients were eligible and randomized to receive sorafenib. Among 98 patients evaluable for 8-week DCR, the observed DCR was 58.2%. The median PFS and OS were 2.83 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.04-3.58) and 8.48 months (95% CI, 5.78-10.97), respectively. Eight-week DCR was higher in patients with wt-EGFR than patients with EGFR mutation (P=0.012), and in patients with EGFR gene copy number gain (FISH positive) versus patients FISH negative (P=0.048). In wt-EGFR tumors, the SSS was associated with improved PFS (median PFS 3.61 months in high SSS versus 1.84 months in low SSS, P=0.026) but not with 8-week DCR. Increased expression of fibroblast growth factor-1, NF-kB and hypoxia pathways were identified potential drivers of sorafenib resistance.
Sorafenib demonstrates clinical activity in NSCLC, especially with wt-EGFR. SSS was associated with improved PFS. These data identify subgroups that may derive clinical benefit from sorafenib and merit investigation in future trials. NCT00411671.
PMCID: PMC3905243  PMID: 24166906
multikinase inhibitor; non–small cell lung cancer; sorafenib; biomarkers; targeted treatment
16.  Genes suppressed by DNA methylation in non-small cell lung cancer reveal the epigenetics of epithelial–mesenchymal transition 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1079.
DNA methylation is associated with aberrant gene expression in cancer, and has been shown to correlate with therapeutic response and disease prognosis in some types of cancer. We sought to investigate the biological significance of DNA methylation in lung cancer.
We integrated the gene expression profiles and data of gene promoter methylation for a large panel of non-small cell lung cancer cell lines, and identified 578 candidate genes with expression levels that were inversely correlated to the degree of DNA methylation. We found these candidate genes to be differentially methylated in normal lung tissue versus non-small cell lung cancer tumors, and segregated by histologic and tumor subtypes. We used gene set enrichment analysis of the genes ranked by the degree of correlation between gene expression and DNA methylation to identify gene sets involved in cellular migration and metastasis. Our unsupervised hierarchical clustering of the candidate genes segregated cell lines according to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition phenotype. Genes related to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, such as AXL, ESRP1, HoxB4, and SPINT1/2, were among the nearly 20% of the candidate genes that were differentially methylated between epithelial and mesenchymal cells. Greater numbers of genes were methylated in the mesenchymal cells and their expressions were upregulated by 5-azacytidine treatment. Methylation of the candidate genes was associated with erlotinib resistance in wild-type EGFR cell lines. The expression profiles of the candidate genes were associated with 8-week disease control in patients with wild-type EGFR who had unresectable non-small cell lung cancer treated with erlotinib, but not in patients treated with sorafenib.
Our results demonstrate that the underlying biology of genes regulated by DNA methylation may have predictive value in lung cancer that can be exploited therapeutically.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1079) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4298954  PMID: 25486910
DNA methylation; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Erlotinib; Lung cancer
17.  VEGF/VEGFR-2 upregulates EZH2 expression in lung adenocarcinoma cells and EZH2 depletion enhances the response to platinum-based and VEGFR-2–targeted therapy 
Investigate the mechanisms of regulation and role associated with EZH2 expression in lung cancer cells.
Experimental Design
We investigated the mechanisms of EZH2 expression associated with the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) pathway. Furthermore, we sought to determine the role of EZH2 in response of lung adenocarcinoma to platinum-based chemotherapy, as well as the effect of EZH2 depletion on VEGFR-2–targeted therapy in lung adenocarcinoma cell lines. Additionally, we characterized EZH2 expression in lung adenocarcinoma specimens and correlated it with patients’ clinical characteristics.
In this study, we demonstrate that VEGF/VEGFR-2 activation induces expression of EZH2 through the upregulation of E2F3 and HIF-1α, and downregulated expression of miR-101. EZH2 depletion by treatment with 3-deazaneplanocin A and knockdown by siRNA decreased the expression of EZH2 and H3K27me3, increased PARP-C level, reduced cell proliferation and migration, and increased sensitivity of the cells to treatment with cisplatin and carboplatin. Additionally, high EZH2 expression was associated with poor overall survival in patients who received platinum-based adjuvant therapy, but not in patients who did not receive this therapy. Furthermore, we demonstrated for the first time that the inhibition of EZH2 greatly increased the sensitivity of lung adenocarcinoma cells to the anti-VEGFR-2 drug AZD2171.
Our results suggest that VEGF/VEGFR-2 pathway plays a role in regulation of EZH2 expression via E2F3, HIF-1α and miR-101. EZH2 depletion decreases the malignant potential of lung adenocarcinoma and sensitivity of the cells to both platinum-based and VEGFR-2–targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC4190586  PMID: 24850841
EZH2; NSCLC; VEGF/VEGFR-2 pathway; DZNep
18.  Nonlinear Quantitative Radiation Sensitivity Prediction Model Based on NCI-60 Cancer Cell Lines 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:903602.
We proposed a nonlinear model to perform a novel quantitative radiation sensitivity prediction. We used the NCI-60 panel, which consists of nine different cancer types, as the platform to train our model. Important radiation therapy (RT) related genes were selected by significance analysis of microarrays (SAM). Orthogonal latent variables (LVs) were then extracted by the partial least squares (PLS) method as the new compressive input variables. Finally, support vector machine (SVM) regression model was trained with these LVs to predict the SF2 (the surviving fraction of cells after a radiation dose of 2 Gy γ-ray) values of the cell lines. Comparison with the published results showed significant improvement of the new method in various ways: (a) reducing the root mean square error (RMSE) of the radiation sensitivity prediction model from 0.20 to 0.011; and (b) improving prediction accuracy from 62% to 91%. To test the predictive performance of the gene signature, three different types of cancer patient datasets were used. Survival analysis across these different types of cancer patients strongly confirmed the clinical potential utility of the signature genes as a general prognosis platform. The gene regulatory network analysis identified six hub genes that are involved in canonical cancer pathways.
PMCID: PMC4083270  PMID: 25032244
19.  27-Hydroxycholesterol Promotes Cell-autonomous ER-positive Breast Cancer Growth 
Cell reports  2013;5(3):637-645.
To date estrogen is the only known endogenous estrogen receptor (ER) ligand that promotes ER+ breast tumor growth. We report that the cholesterol metabolite 27-hydroxycholesterol (27HC) stimulates MCF-7 cell xenograft growth in mice. More importantly, in ER+ breast cancer patients, 27HC content in normal breast tissue is increased compared to that in cancer-free controls, and tumor 27HC content is further elevated. Increased tumor 27HC is correlated with diminished expression of CYP7B1, the 27HC metabolizing enzyme, and reduced expression of CYP7B1 in tumors is associated with poorer patient survival. Moreover, 27HC is produced by MCF-7 cells and it stimulates cell-autonomous, ER-dependent and GDNF-RET-dependent cell proliferation. Thus, 27HC is a locally-modulated, non-aromatized ER ligand that promotes ER+ breast tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC3950897  PMID: 24210818
20.  An epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) gene signature predicts resistance to EGFR and PI3K inhibitors and identifies Axl as a therapeutic target for overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance 
EMT has been associated with metastatic spread and EGFR inhibitor resistance. We developed and validated a robust 76-gene EMT signature using gene expression profiles from four platforms using NSCLC cell lines and patients treated in the BATTLE study.
We conducted an integrated gene expression, proteomic, and drug response analysis using cell lines and tumors from NSCLC patients. A 76-gene EMT signature was developed and validated using gene expression profiles from four microarray platforms of NSCLC cell lines and patients treated in the BATTLE (Biomarker-integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination) study, and potential therapeutic targets associated with EMT were identified.
Compared with epithelial cells, mesenchymal cells demonstrated significantly greater resistance to EGFR and PI3K/Akt pathway inhibitors, independent of EGFR mutation status, but more sensitivity to certain chemotherapies. Mesenchymal cells also expressed increased levels of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl and showed a trend towards greater sensitivity to the Axl inhibitor SGI-7079, while the combination of SGI-7079 with erlotinib reversed erlotinib resistance in mesenchymal lines expressing Axl and in a xenograft model of mesenchymal NSCLC. In NSCLC patients, the EMT signature predicted 8-week disease control in patients receiving erlotinib, but not other therapies.
We have developed a robust EMT signature that predicts resistance to EGFR and PI3K/Akt inhibitors, highlights different patterns of drug responsiveness for epithelial and mesenchymal cells, and identifies Axl as a potential therapeutic target for overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance associated with the mesenchymal phenotype
PMCID: PMC3567921  PMID: 23091115
lung cancer; EMT; EGFR inhibition; PI3K inhibition; Axl
21.  Proteomic Profiling Identifies Dysregulated Pathways in Small Cell Lung Cancer and Novel Therapeutic Targets Including PARP1 
Cancer discovery  2012;2(9):798-811.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive malignancy distinct from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in its metastatic potential and treatment response. Using an integrative proteomic and transcriptomic analysis, we investigated molecular differences contributing to the distinct clinical behavior of SCLC and NSCLC. SCLC demonstrated lower levels of several receptor tyrosine kinases and decreased activation of PI3K and Ras/MEK pathways, but significantly increased levels of E2F1-regulated factors including EZH2, thymidylate synthase, apoptosis mediators, and DNA repair proteins. Additionally, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1), a DNA repair protein and E2F1 co-activator, was highly expressed at the mRNA and protein levels in SCLC. SCLC growth was inhibited by PARP1 and EZH2 knockdown. Furthermore, SCLC was significantly more sensitive to PARP inhibitors than NSCLC, and PARP inhibition downregulated key components of the DNA repair machinery and enhanced the efficacy of chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3567922  PMID: 22961666
22.  Probe mapping across multiple microarray platforms 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2011;13(5):547-554.
Access to gene expression data has become increasingly common in recent years; however, analysis has become more difficult as it is often desirable to integrate data from different platforms. Probe mapping across microarray platforms is the first and most crucial step for data integration. In this article, we systematically review and compare different approaches to map probes across seven platforms from different vendors: U95A, U133A and U133 Plus 2.0 from Affymetrix, Inc.; HT-12 v1, HT-12v2 and HT-12v3 from Illumina, Inc.; and 4112A from Agilent, Inc. We use a unique data set, which contains 56 lung cancer cell line samples—each of which has been measured by two different microarray platforms—to evaluate the consistency of expression measurement across platforms using different approaches. Based on the evaluation from the empirical data set, the BLAST alignment of the probe sequences to a recent revision of the Transcriptome generated better results than using annotations provided by Vendors or from Bioconductor's Annotate package. However, a combination of all three methods (deemed the ‘Consensus Annotation’) yielded the most consistent expression measurement across platforms. To facilitate data integration across microarray platforms for the research community, we develop a user-friendly web-based tool, an API and an R package to map data across different microarray platforms from Affymetrix, Illumina and Agilent. Information on all three can be found at
PMCID: PMC3431719  PMID: 22199380
microarray; gene expression; probe; integrated analysis; probe mapping
23.  Global evaluation of Eph receptors and ephrins in lung adenocarcinomas identifies EphA4 as an inhibitor of cell migration and invasion 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(9):2021-2032.
The Eph family of receptors is the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, but it remains poorly studied in lung cancer. Our aim was to systematically explore the human Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, in lung adenocarcinoma. The prognostic impact of Eph receptor and ephrin gene expression was analyzed using 2 independent cohorts of lung adenocarcinoma. Gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinoma versus normal adjacent lung were studied in 3 independent cohorts and in cell lines. Gene expression profiles were validated with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Western blotting in cell lines. Functional studies to assess the role of Eph receptor A4 (EphA4) were performed in vitro. The biological effects of EphA4 in lung cancer cell lines were assayed following overexpression and knockdown. Of the 11 Eph receptors and 8 ephrins analyzed, only EphA4 and ephrin A1 gene expression were consistently associated with an improved outcome in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Expression levels of EphA4 by microarray correlated well with expression levels measured by qPCR and Western blotting. EphA4 overexpression reduced cell migration and invasion but did not affect cell cycle, apoptosis, or drug sensitivity. Surprisingly, EphA4 was expressed at higher levels in cancer versus non-cancer tissues and cell lines. EphA4 gene expression is associated with an improved outcome in patients with resected lung adenocarcinoma, likely by affecting cancer cell migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3438283  PMID: 22807579
non-small cell lung cancer; adenocarcinoma; Eph receptor; ephrin; prognosis
24.  Distinct transcriptome profiles identified in normal human bronchial epithelial cells after exposure to γ-rays and different elemental particles of high Z and energy 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:372.
Ionizing radiation composed of accelerated ions of high atomic number (Z) and energy (HZE) deposits energy and creates damage in cells in a discrete manner as compared to the random deposition of energy and damage seen with low energy radiations such as γ- or x-rays. Such radiations can be highly effective at cell killing, transformation, and oncogenesis, all of which are concerns for the manned space program and for the burgeoning field of HZE particle radiotherapy for cancer. Furthermore, there are differences in the extent to which cells or tissues respond to such exposures that may be unrelated to absorbed dose. Therefore, we asked whether the energy deposition patterns produced by different radiation types would cause different molecular responses. We performed transcriptome profiling using human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) after exposure to γ-rays and to two different HZE particles (28Si and 56Fe) with different energy transfer properties to characterize the molecular response to HZE particles and γ-rays as a function of dose, energy deposition pattern, and time post-irradiation.
Clonogenic assay indicated that the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) for 56Fe was 3.91 and for 28Si was 1.38 at 34% cell survival. Unsupervised clustering analysis of gene expression segregated samples according to the radiation species followed by the time after irradiation, whereas dose was not a significant parameter for segregation of radiation response. While a subset of genes associated with p53-signaling, such as CDKN1A, TRIM22 and BTG2 showed very similar responses to all radiation qualities, distinct expression changes were associated with the different radiation species. Gene enrichment analysis categorized the differentially expressed genes into functional groups related to cell death and cell cycle regulation for all radiation types, while gene pathway analysis revealed that the pro-inflammatory Acute Phase Response Signaling was specifically induced after HZE particle irradiation. A 73 gene signature capable of predicting with 96% accuracy the radiation species to which cells were exposed, was developed.
These data suggest that the molecular response to the radiation species used here is a function of the energy deposition characteristics of the radiation species. This novel molecular response to HZE particles may have implications for radiotherapy including particle selection for therapy and risk for second cancers, risk for cancers from diagnostic radiation exposures, as well as NASA’s efforts to develop more accurate lung cancer risk estimates for astronaut safety. Lastly, irrespective of the source of radiation, the gene expression changes observed set the stage for functional studies of initiation or progression of radiation-induced lung carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3680091  PMID: 23724988
Gene expression; HZE particles; Ionizing radiation; Human bronchial epithelial cells
25.  Antitumor activity of a novel STAT3 inhibitor and redox modulator in non-small cell lung cancer cells☆ 
Biochemical pharmacology  2012;83(10):1456-1464.
NSC-743380 is a novel STAT3 inhibitor that suppresses the growth of several NCI-60 cancer cell lines derived from different tissues and induces regression of xenograft tumors in vivo at various doses. To evaluate the antitumor activity of NSC-743380 in lung cancer cells, we analyzed the susceptibility of 50 NSCLC cell lines to this compound using cell viability assay. About 32% (16 of 50) of these cell lines were highly susceptible to this compound, with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of <1 µM. In mechanistic studies, the increased numbers of apoptotic cells as well as increased PARP cleavage showed that cytotoxic effects correlate with apoptosis induction. Treatment with NSC-743380 inhibited transcription factor STAT3 activation and induced ROS production in sensitive human lung cancer cell lines but not in resistant cells. Blocking ROS generation with the antioxidant NDGA dramatically abolished NSC-743380-induced growth suppression and apoptosis, but had minimal effect on NSC-743380-induced STAT3 inhibition, suggesting that STAT3 inhibition is not caused by ROS production. Interestingly, knockdown of STAT3 with use of shSTAT3 induced ROS generation and suppressed tumor cell growth. Moreover, scavenging ROS induced by STAT3 inhibition also diminished antitumor activity of STAT3 inhibition. In vivo administration of NSC-743380 suppressed tumor growth and p-STAT3 in lung tumors. Our results indicate that NSC-743380 is a potent anticancer agent for lung cancer and that its apoptotic effects in lung cancer cells are mediated by induction of ROS through STAT3 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3391570  PMID: 22387047
Drug development; Lung Cancer; STAT3; Reactive oxygen species

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