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1.  Biomechanical remodeling of the microenvironment by stromal Caveolin-1 favors tumor invasion and metastasis 
Cell  2011;146(1):148-163.
Mechanotransduction, a key determinant of tissue homeostasis and tumor progression, is driven by intercellular adhesions, cell contractility and forces generated with the microenvironment, dependent on extracellular matrix composition, organization and compliance. Caveolin-1 (Cav1) favors cell elongation in 3D cultures and promotes Rho-and force-dependent contraction, matrix alignment and microenvironment stiffening through regulation of p190RhoGAP. In turn, microenvironment remodeling by Cav1-fibroblasts forces cell elongation. Cav1-deficient mice have disorganized stromal tissue architecture. Stroma associated with human carcinomas and melanoma metastases is enriched in Cav1-expressing carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Cav1 expression in breast CAFs correlates with low survival, and Cav1 depletion in CAFs decreases CAF contractility. Consistently, fibroblast expression of Cav1, through p190RhoGAP regulation, favors directional migration and invasiveness of carcinoma cells in vitro. In vivo, stromal Cav1 remodels peri- and intratumoral microenvironments to facilitate tumor invasion, correlating with increased metastatic potency. Thus, Cav1 modulates tissue responses through force-dependent architectural regulation of the microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3244213  PMID: 21729786
Caveolin-1; stiffness; mechanotransduction; cell-derived matrices; cell motility; microenvironment; tumor stroma
2.  The Fbx4 Tumor Suppressor Regulates Cyclin D1 Accumulation and Prevents Neoplastic Transformation ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(22):4513-4523.
Skp1-Cul1-F-box (SCF) E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes modulate the accumulation of key cell cycle regulatory proteins. Following the G1/S transition, SCFFbx4 targets cyclin D1 for proteasomal degradation, a critical event necessary for DNA replication fidelity. Deregulated cyclin D1 drives tumorigenesis, and inactivating mutations in Fbx4 have been identified in human cancer, suggesting that Fbx4 may function as a tumor suppressor. Fbx4+/− and Fbx4−/− mice succumb to multiple tumor phenotypes, including lymphomas, histiocytic sarcomas and, less frequently, mammary and hepatocellular carcinomas. Tumors and premalignant tissue from Fbx4+/− and Fbx4−/− mice exhibit elevated cyclin D1, an observation consistent with cyclin D1 as a target of Fbx4. Molecular dissection of the Fbx4 regulatory network in murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) revealed that loss of Fbx4 results in cyclin D1 stabilization and nuclear accumulation throughout cell division. Increased proliferation in early passage primary MEFs is antagonized by DNA damage checkpoint activation, consistent with nuclear cyclin D1-driven genomic instability. Furthermore, Fbx4−/− MEFs exhibited increased susceptibility to Ras-dependent transformation in vitro, analogous to tumorigenesis observed in mice. Collectively, these data reveal a requisite role for the SCFFbx4 E3 ubiquitin ligase in regulating cyclin D1 accumulation, consistent with tumor suppressive function in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3209253  PMID: 21911473
3.  Influence of Affinity and Antigen Internalization on the Uptake and Penetration of Anti-HER2 Antibodies in Solid Tumors 
Cancer research  2011;71(6):2250-2259.
Antibody drugs are widely used in cancer therapy, but conditions to maximize tumor penetration and efficacy have yet to be fully elucidated. In this study, we investigated the impact of antibody binding affinity on tumor targeting and penetration with affinity variants that recognize the same epitope. Specifically, we compared four derivatives of the C6.5 monoclonal antibody (MAb) which recognizes the same HER2 epitope (monovalent KDs ranging from 270nM to 0.56nM). Moderate affinity was associated with the highest tumor accumulation at 24hr and 120hr post i.v. injection, whereas high affinity was found to produce the lowest tumor accumulation. Highest affinity MAb were confined to the perivascular space of tumors with an average penetration of 20.4 +/− 7.5 microns from tumor blood vessels. Conversely, lowest affinity MAb exhibited a broader distribution pattern with an average penetration of 84.8 +/− 12.8 microns. In vitro internalization assays revealed that antibody internalization and catabolism generally increased with affinity, plateauing once the rate of HER2 internalization exceeded the rate of antibody dissociation. Effects of internalization and catabolism on tumor targeting were further examined using antibodies of moderate (C6.5) or high affinity (trastuzumab) labeled with residualizing (111In-labeled) or non-residualizing (125I-labeled) radioisotopes. Significant amounts of antibody of both affinities were degraded by tumors in vivo. Further, moderate to high affinity MAbs targeting the same HER2 epitope with monovalent affinity above 23nM had equal tumor accumulation of residualizing radiolabel over 120hrs. Results indicated equal tumor exposure, suggesting that MAb penetration and retention in tumors reflected affinity-based differences in tumor catabolism. Together, these results suggest that high-density, rapidly internalizing antigens subject high-affinity antibodies to greater internalization and degradation, thereby limiting their penetration of tumors. In contrast, lower affinity antibodies penetrate tumors more effectively when rates of antibody-antigen dissociation are higher than rates of antigen internalization. Together, our findings offer insights into how to optimize the ability of therapeutic antibodies to penetrate tumors.
PMCID: PMC3077882  PMID: 21406401
4.  Estrogen and Cytochrome P450 1B1 Contribute to Both Early- and Late-Stage Head and Neck Carcinogenesis 
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) is the sixth most common type of cancer in the U.S. The goal of this study was to evaluate the contribution of estrogens to the development of HNSCCs. Various cell lines derived from early- and late-stage head and neck lesions were used to: characterize the expression of estrogen synthesis and metabolism genes, including cytochrome P450 (CYP)1B1, examine the effect of estrogen on gene expression and evaluate the role of CYP1B1 and/or estrogen in cell motility, proliferation and apoptosis. Estrogen metabolism genes (CYP1B1, CYP1A1, catechol-o-methyltransferase, UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1, and glutathione-S-transferase P1) and estrogen receptor (ER)β were expressed in cell lines derived from both premalignant (MSK-Leuk1) and malignant (HNSCC) lesions. Exposure to estrogen induced CYP1B1 2.3 to 3.6 fold relative to vehicle-treated controls (P=0.0004) in MSK-Leuk1 cells but not in HNSCC cells. CYP1B1 knockdown by shRNA reduced the migration and proliferation of MSK-Leuk1 cells by 57% and 45%, respectively. Exposure of MSK-Leuk1 cells to estrogen inhibited apoptosis by 26%, while supplementation with the antiestrogen fulvestrant restored estrogen-dependent apoptosis. Representation of the estrogen pathway in human head and neck tissues from 128 patients was examined using tissue microarrays. The majority of the samples exhibited immunohistochemical staining for ERβ (91.9%), CYP1B1 (99.4%) and 17β-estradiol (88.4%). CYP1B1 and ERβ were elevated in HNSCCs relative to normal epithelium (P=0.024 and 0.008, respectively). These data provide novel insight into the mechanisms underlying head and neck carcinogenesis and facilitate the identification new targets for chemopreventive intervention.
PMCID: PMC3043603  PMID: 21205741
estrogen; CYP1B1; leukoplakia; HNSCC; cancer progression
5.  Hypoxia activates the cyclooxygenase-2–prostaglandin E synthase axis 
Carcinogenesis  2009;31(3):427-434.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), in particular HIF-1α, have been implicated in tumor biology. However, HIF target genes in the esophageal tumor microenvironment remain elusive. Gene expression profiling was performed upon hypoxia-exposed non-transformed immortalized human esophageal epithelial cells, EPC2-hTERT, and comparing with a gene signature of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). In addition to known HIF-1α target genes such as carbonic anhydrase 9, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP3) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, prostaglandin E synthase (PTGES) was identified as a novel target gene among the commonly upregulated genes in ESCC as well as the cells exposed to hypoxia. The PTGES induction was augmented upon stabilization of HIF-1α by hypoxia or cobalt chloride under normoxic conditions and suppressed by dominant-negative HIF-1α. Whereas PTGES messenger RNA (mRNA) was negatively regulated by normoxia, PTGES protein remained stable upon reoxygenation. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) biosynthesis was documented in transformed human esophageal cells by ectopic expression of PTGES as well as RNA interference directed against PTGES. Moreover, hypoxia stimulated PGE2 production in a HIF-1α-dependent manner. In ESCC, PTGES was overexpressed frequently at the mRNA and protein levels. Finally, COX-2 and PTGES were colocalized in primary tumors along with HIF-1α and IGFBP3. Activation of the COX-2–PTGES axis in primary tumors was further corroborated by concomitant upregulation of interleukin-1β and downregulation of hydroxylprostaglandin dehydrogenase. Thus, PTGES is a novel HIF-1α target gene, involved in prostaglandin E biosynthesis in the esophageal tumor hypoxic microenvironment, and this has implications in diverse tumors types, especially of squamous origin.
PMCID: PMC2832548  PMID: 20042640
6.  IGFBP-3 Regulates Esophageal Tumor Growth Through IGF-Dependent and Independent Mechanisms 
Cancer biology & therapy  2007;6(4):534-540.
Insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP)-3 exerts either proapoptotic or growth stimulatory effects depending upon the cellular context. IGFBP-3 is overexpressed frequently in esophageal cancer. Yet, the role of IGFBP-3 in esophageal tumor biology remains elusive. To delineate the functional consequences of IGFBP-3 overexpression, we stably transduced Ha-RasV12-transformed human esophageal cells with either wild-type or mutant IGFBP-3, the latter incapable of binding Insulin-like growth factor (IGFs) as a result of substitution of amino-terminal Ile56, Leu80, and Leu81 residues with Glycine residues. Wild-type, but not mutant, IGFBP-3 prevented IGF-I from activating the IGF-1 receptor and AKT, and suppressed anchorage-independent cell growth. When xenografted in nude mice, in vivo bioluminescence imaging demonstrated that wild-type, but not mutant IGFBP-3, abrogated tumor formation by the Ras-transformed cells with concurrent induction of apoptosis, implying a prosurvival effect of IGF in cancer cell adaptation to the microenvironment. Moreover, there was more aggressive tumor growth by mutant IGFBP-3 overexpressing cells than control cell tumors, without detectable caspase-3 cleavage in tumor tissues, indicating an IGF-independent growth stimulatory effect of mutant IGFBP-3. In aggregate, these data suggest that IGFBP-3 contributes to esophageal tumor development and progression through IGF-dependent and independent mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2993006  PMID: 17457048
IGFBP-3; IGF; Ras; esophageal cancer; in vivo bioluminescence
7.  VILIP-1 Expression In Vivo Results in Decreased Mouse Skin Keratinocyte Proliferation and Tumor Development 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10196.
VILIP-1, a member of the neuronal Ca2+ sensor protein family, is able to act as a tumor suppressor in carcinoma cells by inhibiting cell proliferation and migration. In order to study the role of VILIP-1 in skin carcinogenesis we generated transgenic mice overexpressing VILIP-1 in epidermis under the control of the bovine keratin K5 promoter (K5-VILIP-1). We studied the susceptibility of FVB wild type and VILIP-1 transgenic mice to chemically mediated carcinogenesis. After 30 weeks of treatment with a two-stage carcinogenesis protocol, all animals showed numerous skin tumors. Nevertheless, K5-VILIP-1 mice showed decreased squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) multiplicity of ∼49% (p<0.02) with respect to the corresponding SCC multiplicity observed in wild type (WT) mice. In addition, the relative percentage of low-grade cutaneous SCCs grade I (defined by the differentiation pattern according to the Broders grading scale) increased approximately 50% in the K5-VILIP1 mice when compared with SCCs in WT mice. Similar tendency was observed using a complete carcinogenesis protocol for skin carcinogenesis using benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P). Further studies of tumors and primary epidermal keratinocyte cultures showed that matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) levels and cell proliferation decreased in K5-VILIP-1 mice when compared with their wild counterparts. In addition tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) expression was higher in K5-VILIP-1 keratinocytes. These results show that VILIP-1 overexpression decreases the susceptibility to skin carcinogenesis in experimental mouse cancer models, thus supporting its role as a tumor suppressor gene.
PMCID: PMC2855367  PMID: 20419170
8.  Phosphorylation-dependent ubiquitination of cyclin D1 by the SCFFBX4-αBcrystallin complex 
Molecular cell  2006;24(3):355-366.
Growth factor-dependent accumulation of the cyclin D1 proto-oncogene is balanced by its rapid phosphorylation-dependent proteolysis. Degradation is triggered by threonine 286 phosphorylation, which promotes its ubiquitination by an unknown E3 ligase. We demonstrate that Thr286 phosphorylated cyclin D1 is recognized by a SCF ubiquitin ligase where FBX4 and αB crystallin govern substrate specificity. Overexpression of FBX4 and αB crystallin triggered cyclin D1 ubiquitination and increased cyclin D1 turnover. Impairment of SCFFBX4-αBcrystallin function attenuated cyclin D1 ubiquitination, promoting cyclin D1 overexpression and accelerated cell cycle progression. Purified SCFFBX4-αBcrystallin catalyzed polyubiquitination of cyclin D1 in vitro. Consistent with a putative role for a cyclin D1 E3 ligase in tumorigenesis, FBX4 and αB crystallin expression was reduced in tumor-derived cell lines and a subset of primary human cancers that overexpress cyclin D1. We conclude that SCFFBX4-αB crystallin is an important E3 ubiquitin ligase that promotes ubiquitin-dependent degradation of Thr286 phosphorylated cyclin D1.
PMCID: PMC1702390  PMID: 17081987
cyclin D1; CDK4; FBX4; αB crystallin; E3 ubiquitin ligase
9.  TRAIL-R deficiency in mice promotes susceptibility to chronic inflammation and tumorigenesis 
Preclinical data support the potential of the death-signaling receptors for TRAIL as targets for cancer therapy. However, it is unclear whether these death-signaling receptors suppress the emergence and growth of malignant tumors in vivo. Herein we show that TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor (TRAIL-R), the only proapoptotic death-signaling receptor for TRAIL in the mouse, suppresses inflammation and tumorigenesis. Loss of a single TRAIL-R allele on the lymphoma-prone Eμ-myc genetic background significantly reduced median lymphoma-free survival. TRAIL-R–deficient lymphomas developed with equal frequency irrespective of mono- or biallelic loss of TRAIL-R, had increased metastatic potential, and showed apoptotic defects relative to WT littermates. In addition, TRAIL-R–/– mice showed decreased long-term survival following a sublethal dose of ionizing radiation. Histological evaluation of moribund irradiated TRAIL-R–/– animals showed hallmarks of bronchopneumonia as well as tumor formation with increased NF-κB p65 expression. TRAIL-R also suppressed diethylnitrosamine-induced (DEN-induced) hepatocarcinogenesis, as an increased number of large tumors with apoptotic defects developed in the livers of DEN-treated TRAIL-R–/– mice. Thus TRAIL-R may function as an inflammation and tumor suppressor in multiple tissues in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2129232  PMID: 18079962
10.  Cell Cycle-Regulated Processing of HEF1 to Multiple Protein Forms Differentially Targeted to Multiple Subcellular Compartments 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(6):3540-3551.
HEF1, p130Cas, and Efs/Sin constitute a family of multidomain docking proteins that have been implicated in coordinating the regulation of cell adhesion. Each of these proteins contains an SH3 domain, conferring association with focal adhesion kinase; a domain rich in SH2-binding sites, phosphorylated by or associating with a number of oncoproteins, including Abl, Crk, Fyn, and others; and a highly conserved carboxy-terminal domain. In this report, we show that the HEF1 protein is processed in a complex manner, with transfection of a single cDNA resulting in the generation of at least four protein species, p115HEF1, p105HEF1, p65HEF1, and p55HEF1. We show that p115HEF1 and p105HEF1 are different phosphorylation states of the full-length HEF1. p55HEF1, however, encompasses only the amino-terminal end of the HEF1 coding sequence and arises via cleavage of full-length HEF1 at a caspase consensus site. We find that HEF1 proteins are abundantly expressed in epithelial cells derived from breast and lung tissue in addition to the lymphoid cells in which they have been predominantly studied to date. In MCF-7 cells, we find that expression of the endogenous HEF1 proteins is cell cycle regulated, with p105HEF1 and p115HEF1 being rapidly upregulated upon induction of cell growth, whereas p55HEF1 is produced specifically at mitosis. While p105HEF1 and p115HEF1 are predominantly cytoplasmic and localize to focal adhesions, p55HEF1 unexpectedly is shown to associate with the mitotic spindle. In support of a role at the spindle, two-hybrid library screening with HEF1 identifies the human homolog of the G2/M spindle-regulatory protein Dim1p as a specific interactor with a region of HEF1 encompassed in p55HEF1. In sum, these data suggest that HEF1 may directly connect morphological control-related signals with cell cycle regulation and thus play a role in pathways leading to the progression of cancer.
PMCID: PMC108935  PMID: 9584194

Results 1-10 (10)