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1.  Receptor Tyrosine Kinase EphA5 Is a Functional Molecular Target in Human Lung Cancer* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2015;290(12):7345-7359.
Background: EphA5 is a functional target in lung cancer, the most common cause of tumor-related death in mankind.
Results: EphA5 regulates cell cycle checkpoints and DNA damage repair induced by ionizing radiation.
Conclusion: EphA5 is a novel regulator of DNA damage repair with clinical implications.
Significance: EphA5 may serve as a novel biomarker of radioresistance and a candidate target for therapeutic intervention in human lung cancer.
Lung cancer is often refractory to radiotherapy, but molecular mechanisms of tumor resistance remain poorly defined. Here we show that the receptor tyrosine kinase EphA5 is specifically overexpressed in lung cancer and is involved in regulating cellular responses to genotoxic insult. In the absence of EphA5, lung cancer cells displayed a defective G1/S cell cycle checkpoint, were unable to resolve DNA damage, and became radiosensitive. Upon irradiation, EphA5 was transported into the nucleus where it interacted with activated ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia mutated) at sites of DNA repair. Finally, we demonstrate that a new monoclonal antibody against human EphA5 sensitized lung cancer cells and human lung cancer xenografts to radiotherapy and significantly prolonged survival, thus suggesting the likelihood of translational applications.
PMCID: PMC4367244  PMID: 25623065
Cell Cycle; DNA Damage; DNA Damage Response; DNA Repair; Monoclonal Antibody; Receptor Tyrosine Kinase; Ionizing Radiation
2.  Breast Cancer Molecular Signatures as Determined by SAGE: Correlation with Lymph Node Status 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2007;5(9):881-890.
Global gene expression measured by DNA microarray platforms have been extensively used to classify breast carcinomas correlating with clinical characteristics, including outcome. We generated a breast cancer Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) high-resolution database of ~2.7 million tags to perform unsupervised statistical analyses to obtain the molecular classification of breast-invasive ductal carcinomas in correlation with clinicopathologic features. Unsupervised statistical analysis by means of a random forest approach identified two main clusters of breast carcinomas, which differed in their lymph node status (P = 0.01); this suggested that lymph node status leads to globally distinct expression profiles. A total of 245 (55 up-modulated and 190 down-modulated) transcripts were differentially expressed between lymph node (+) and lymph node (−) primary breast tumors (fold change, ≥2; P < 0.05). Various lymph node (+) up-modulated transcripts were validated in independent sets of human breast tumors by means of real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). We validated significant overexpression of transcripts for HOXC10 (P = 0.001), TPD52L1 (P = 0.007), ZFP36L1 (P = 0.011), PLINP1 (P = 0.013), DCTN3 (P = 0.025), DEK (P = 0.031), and CSNK1D (P = 0.04) in lymph node (+) breast carcinomas. Moreover, the DCTN3 (P = 0.022) and RHBDD2 (P = 0.002) transcripts were confirmed to be overexpressed in tumors that recurred within 6 years of follow-up by real-time RT-PCR. In addition, meta-analysis was used to compare SAGE data associated with lymph node (+) status with publicly available breast cancer DNA microarray data sets. We have generated evidence indicating that the pattern of gene expression in primary breast cancers at the time of surgical removal could discriminate those tumors with lymph node metastatic involvement using SAGE to identify specific transcripts that behave as predictors of recurrence as well.
PMCID: PMC4186709  PMID: 17855657
3.  WWOX protein expression in normal human tissues 
Journal of molecular histology  2006;37(0):115-125.
WWOX is a putative tumor suppressor gene that spans approximately a 1 Mb genomic region and is the site for the second most common chromosomal fragile site, FRA16D at 16q23. Various studies have focused on the expression of WWOX in human cancer mostly at the RNA level, but little is known about the normal pattern of WWOX protein expression in nonneoplastic tissues. In this study, a comprehensive analysis of WWOX protein expression in normal tissues was performed by means of immunohistochemistry utilizing a very specific anti-WWOX polyclonal antibody. We analyzed tissue cores of human samples representing more than 30 organs, using various tissue microarray (TMA) slides. Due to the potential role of WWOX in sex-steroid metabolism, whole sections from hormonally regulated organs like breast, ovaries, testes and prostate were also analyzed. The results from our study indicate that WWOX is preferentially highly expressed in secretory epithelial cells of reproductive, endocrine and exocrine organs, as well as in ductal epithelial cells from specific segments of the urinary system. Interestingly, we also observed significant WWOX protein expression in various cell types of neural origin including neurons, ependymal cells and astrocytes. No expression of WWOX was detected in adipose, connective, and lymphoid tissues, myelinized structures and blood vessels. By better defining the topographic distribution of WWOX in normal tissues this study provides some insight on the potential physiological role of this novel protein.
PMCID: PMC4144810  PMID: 16941225
WWOX; Protein expression; Tissue Microarrays; Tumor suppressor; FRA16D
4.  Impact of decitabine on immunohistochemistry expression of the putative tumor suppressor genes FHIT, WWOX, FUS1 and PTEN in clinical tumor samples 
Clinical Epigenetics  2014;6(1):13.
Since tumor suppressor gene function may be lost through hypermethylation, we assessed whether the demethylating agent decitabine could increase tumor suppressor gene expression clinically. For fragile histidine triad (FHIT), WW domain-containing oxidoreductase (WWOX), fused in sarcoma-1 (FUS1) and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), immunohistochemistry scores from pre- and post-decitabine tumor biopsies (25 patients) were correlated with methylation of the long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) repetitive DNA element (as a surrogate for global DNA methylation) and with tumor regression.
With negative staining pre-decitabine (score = 0), the number of patients converting to positive staining post-decitabine was 1 of 1 for FHIT, 3 of 6 for WWOX, 2 of 3 for FUS1 and 1 of 10 for PTEN. In tumors with low pre-decitabine tumor suppressor gene scores (≤150), expression was higher post-treatment in 8 of 8 cases for FHIT (P = 0.014), 7 of 17 for WWOX (P = 0.0547), 7 of 12 for FUS1 (P = 0.0726), and 1 of 16 for PTEN (P = 0.2034). If FHIT, WWOX and FUS1 were considered together, median pre- versus post-decitabine scores were 60 versus 100 (P = 0.0002). Overall, tumor suppressor gene expression change did not correlate with LINE-1 demethylation, although tumors converting from negative to positive had a median decrease in LINE-1 methylation of 24%, compared to 6% in those not converting (P = 0.069). Five of 15 fully evaluable patients had reductions in tumor diameter (range 0.2% to 33.4%). Of these, three had simultaneous increases in three tumor suppressor genes (including the two patients with the greatest tumor regression) compared to 2 of 10 with tumor growth (P = 0.25).
In tumors with low tumor suppressor gene expression, decitabine may be associated with increased expression of the tumor suppressor genes FHIT, FUS1, and WWOX, but not PTEN.
PMCID: PMC4094901  PMID: 25024751
Decitabine; FHIT; FUS1; WWOX; PTEN; Tumor suppressor genes; LINE-1 methylation
5.  Prognostic Significance of Combinations of RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase and EphA2 Biomarkers for NSCLC 
RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) is an independent prognostic variable in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the present study, we investigated the correlation between PKR and 25 other biomarkers for NSCLC, identified the markers that could further improve the prognostic significance of PKR, and elucidated the mechanisms of interaction between these markers and PKR.
Tissue microarray samples obtained from 218 lung cancer patients were stained with an anti-PKR antibody and antibodies against 25 biomarkers. Immunohistochemical expression was scored and used for Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The interaction between PKR and EphA2 in NSCLC cell lines was examined.
We found that PKR was associated with EphA2 and that the prognostic information regarding NSCLC provided by the combination of PKR and EphA2 (P/E) was significantly more accurate than that provided by either marker alone. The 5-year overall survival rate in PKRlow/EphA2high patients (20%) was significantly lower than that of PKRhigh/EphA2low patients (74%), PKRhigh/EphA2high patients (55%), and PKRlow/EphA2low patients (55%) (p< 0.0001). We also found that the PKR:EphA2 (P/E) ratio was significantly associated with prognosis (p< 0.0001). Univariate and multivariate Cox analyses revealed that this P/E combination or ratio was an independent predictor of overall survival. In addition, induction of PKR expression reduced EphA2 protein expression levels in NSCLC cell lines.
PKR/EphA2 is a significant predictor of prognosis for NSCLC. PKR/EphA2 may be a promising approach to improving screening efficiency and predicting prognosis in NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3573252  PMID: 23370317
PKR; EphA2; Biomarker; Lung cancer
6.  Decitabine impact on the endocytosis regulator RhoA, the folate carriers RFC1 and FOLR1, and the glucose transporter GLUT4 in human tumors 
Clinical Epigenetics  2014;6(1):2.
In 31 solid tumor patients treated with the demethylating agent decitabine, we performed tumor biopsies before and after the first cycle of decitabine and used immunohistochemistry (IHC) to assess whether decitabine increased expression of various membrane transporters. Resistance to chemotherapy may arise due to promoter methylation/downregulation of expression of transporters required for drug uptake, and decitabine can reverse resistance in vitro. The endocytosis regulator RhoA, the folate carriers FOLR1 and RFC1, and the glucose transporter GLUT4 were assessed.
Pre-decitabine RhoA was higher in patients who had received their last therapy >3 months previously than in patients with more recent prior therapy (P = 0.02), and varied inversely with global DNA methylation as assessed by LINE1 methylation (r = −0.58, P = 0.006). Tumor RhoA scores increased with decitabine (P = 0.03), and RFC1 also increased in patients with pre-decitabine scores ≤150 (P = 0.004). Change in LINE1 methylation with decitabine did not correlate significantly with change in IHC scores for any transporter assessed. We also assessed methylation of the RFC1 gene (alias SLC19A1). SLC19A1 methylation correlated with tumor LINE1 methylation (r = 0.45, P = 0.02). There was a small (statistically insignificant) decrease in SLC19A1 methylation with decitabine, and there was a trend towards change in SLC19A1 methylation with decitabine correlating with change in LINE1 methylation (r = 0.47, P <0.15). While SLC19A1 methylation did not correlate with RFC1 scores, there was a trend towards an inverse correlation between change in SLC19A1 methylation and change in RFC1 expression (r = −0.45, P = 0.19).
In conclusion, after decitabine administration, there was increased expression of some (but not other) transporters that may play a role in chemotherapy uptake. Larger patient numbers will be needed to define the extent to which this increased expression is associated with changes in DNA methylation.
PMCID: PMC3895853  PMID: 24401732
Decitabine; RhoA; RFC1; FOLR1; GLUT4; LINE1 methylation; Promoter methylation
7.  Divergent Genomic and Epigenomic Landscapes of Lung Cancer Subtypes Underscore the Selection of Different Oncogenic Pathways during Tumor Development 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37775.
For therapeutic purposes, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has traditionally been regarded as a single disease. However, recent evidence suggest that the two major subtypes of NSCLC, adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) respond differently to both molecular targeted and new generation chemotherapies. Therefore, identifying the molecular differences between these tumor types may impact novel treatment strategy. We performed the first large-scale analysis of 261 primary NSCLC tumors (169 AC and 92 SqCC), integrating genome-wide DNA copy number, methylation and gene expression profiles to identify subtype-specific molecular alterations relevant to new agent design and choice of therapy. Comparison of AC and SqCC genomic and epigenomic landscapes revealed 778 altered genes with corresponding expression changes that are selected during tumor development in a subtype-specific manner. Analysis of >200 additional NSCLCs confirmed that these genes are responsible for driving the differential development and resulting phenotypes of AC and SqCC. Importantly, we identified key oncogenic pathways disrupted in each subtype that likely serve as the basis for their differential tumor biology and clinical outcomes. Downregulation of HNF4α target genes was the most common pathway specific to AC, while SqCC demonstrated disruption of numerous histone modifying enzymes as well as the transcription factor E2F1. In silico screening of candidate therapeutic compounds using subtype-specific pathway components identified HDAC and PI3K inhibitors as potential treatments tailored to lung SqCC. Together, our findings suggest that AC and SqCC develop through distinct pathogenetic pathways that have significant implication in our approach to the clinical management of NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3357406  PMID: 22629454
8.  Phase I Clinical Trial of Systemically Administered TUSC2(FUS1)-Nanoparticles Mediating Functional Gene Transfer in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34833.
Tumor suppressor gene TUSC2/FUS1 (TUSC2) is frequently inactivated early in lung cancer development. TUSC2 mediates apoptosis in cancer cells but not normal cells by upregulation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. No drug strategies currently exist targeting loss-of–function genetic abnormalities. We report the first in-human systemic gene therapy clinical trial of tumor suppressor gene TUSC2.
Patients with recurrent and/or metastatic lung cancer previously treated with platinum-based chemotherapy were treated with escalating doses of intravenous N-[1-(2,3-dioleoyloxy)propyl]-N,N,N-trimethylammonium chloride (DOTAP):cholesterol nanoparticles encapsulating a TUSC2 expression plasmid (DOTAP:chol-TUSC2) every 3 weeks.
Thirty-one patients were treated at 6 dose levels (range 0.01 to 0.09 milligrams per kilogram). The MTD was determined to be 0.06 mg/kg. Five patients achieved stable disease (2.6–10.8 months, including 2 minor responses). One patient had a metabolic response on positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. RT-PCR analysis detected TUSC2 plasmid expression in 7 of 8 post-treatment tumor specimens but not in pretreatment specimens and peripheral blood lymphocyte controls. Proximity ligation assay, performed on paired biopsies from 3 patients, demonstrated low background TUSC2 protein staining in pretreatment tissues compared with intense (10–25 fold increase) TUSC2 protein staining in post-treatment tissues. RT-PCR gene expression profiling analysis of apoptotic pathway genes in two patients with high post-treatment levels of TUSC2 mRNA and protein showed significant post-treatment changes in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Twenty-nine genes of the 82 tested in the apoptosis array were identified by Igenuity Pathway Analysis to be significantly altered post-treatment in both patients (Pearson correlation coefficient 0.519; p<0.01).
DOTAP:chol-TUSC2 can be safely administered intravenously in lung cancer patients and results in uptake of the gene by human primary and metastatic tumors, transgene and gene product expression, specific alterations in TUSC2-regulated pathways, and anti-tumor effects (to our knowledge for the first time for systemic DOTAP:cholesterol nanoparticle gene therapy).
Trial Registration NCT00059605
PMCID: PMC3338819  PMID: 22558101

Results 1-8 (8)