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1.  Notch receptor inhibition reveals the importance of cyclin D1 and Wnt signaling in invasive esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most aggressive forms of squamous cell carcinomas. Common genetic lesions in ESCC include p53 mutations and EGFR overexpression, both of which have been implicated in negative regulation of Notch signaling. In addition, cyclin D1 is overexpressed in ESCC and can be activated via EGFR, Notch and Wnt signaling. To elucidate how these genetic lesions may interact during the development and progression of ESCC, we tested a panel of genetically engineered human esophageal cells (keratinocytes) in organotypic 3D culture (OTC), a form of human tissue engineering. Notch signaling was suppressed in culture and mice by dominant negative Mastermind-like1 (DNMAML1), a genetic pan-Notch inhibitor. DNMAML1 mice were subjected to 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide-induced oral-esophageal carcinogenesis. Highly invasive characteristics of primary human ESCC were recapitulated in OTC as well as DNMAML1 mice. In OTC, cyclin D1 overexpression induced squamous hyperplasia. Concurrent EGFR overexpression and mutant p53 resulted in transformation and invasive growth. Interestingly, cell proliferation appeared to be regulated differentially between those committed to squamous-cell differentiation and those invading into the stroma. Invasive cells exhibited Notch-independent activation of cyclin D1 and Wnt signaling. Within the oral-esophageal squamous epithelia, Notch signaling regulated squamous-cell differentiation to maintain epithelial integrity, and thus may act as a tumor suppressor by preventing the development of a tumor-promoting inflammatory microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3410579  PMID: 22860235
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; organotypic 3D culture; EGFR; P53; cyclin D1; Wnt; Notch; squamous-cell differentiation; invasion; 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide
2.  Deletion of p120-catenin results in a tumor microenvironment with inflammation and cancer that establishes it as a tumor suppressor gene 
Cancer cell  2011;19(4):470-483.
P120ctn interacts with E-cadherin, but no formal proof that p120ctn functions as a bone fide tumor suppressor gene has emerged. We report herein that p120ctn loss leads to tumor development in mice. We have generated a conditional knockout model of p120ctn whereby mice develop pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions in the oral cavity, esophagus and squamous forestomach. Tumor derived cells secrete granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), macrophage colony stimulating factor (M-CSF), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα). The tumors contain significant desmoplasia and immune cell infiltration. Immature myeloid cells comprise a significant percentage of the immune cells present, and likely participate in fostering a favorable tumor microenvironment, including the activation of fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3077713  PMID: 21481789
3.  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
4.  N-Cadherin and Keratinocyte Growth Factor Receptor Mediate the Functional Interplay between Ki-RASG12V and p53V143A in Promoting Pancreatic Cell Migration, Invasion, and Tissue Architecture Disruption 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(11):4185-4200.
The genetic basis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which constitutes the most common type of pancreatic malignancy, involves the sequential activation of oncogenes and inactivation of tumor suppressor genes. Among the pivotal genetic alterations are Ki-RAS oncogene activation and p53 tumor suppressor gene inactivation. We explain that the combination of these genetic events facilitates pancreatic carcinogenesis as revealed in novel three-dimensional cell (spheroid cyst) culture and in vivo subcutaneous and orthotopic xenotransplantation models. N-cadherin, a member of the classic cadherins important in the regulation of cell-cell adhesion, is induced in the presence of Ki-RAS mutation but subsequently downregulated with the acquisition of p53 mutation as revealed by gene microarrays and corroborated by reverse transcription-PCR and Western blotting. N-cadherin modulates the capacity of pancreatic ductal cells to migrate and invade, in part via complex formation with keratinocyte growth factor receptor and neural cell adhesion molecule and in part via interaction with p120-catenin. However, modulation of these complexes by Ki-RAS and p53 leads to enhanced cell migration and invasion. This preferentially induces the downstream effector AKT over mitogen-activated protein kinase to execute changes in cellular behavior. Thus, we are able to define molecules that in part are directly affected by Ki-RAS and p53 during pancreatic ductal carcinogenesis, and this provides a platform for potential new molecularly based therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC1489079  PMID: 16705170
5.  A mouse model of human oral-esophageal cancer 
Squamous cancers of the oral cavity and esophagus are common worldwide, but no good genetically based animal model exists. A number of environmental factors as well as genetic alterations have been identified in these cancers, yet the specific combination of genetic events required for cancer progression remains unknown. The Epstein-Barr virus ED-L2 promoter (L2) can be used to target genes in a specific fashion to the oral-esophageal squamous epithelium. To that end, we generated L2–cyclin D1 (L2D1+) mice and crossbred these with p53-deficient mice. Whereas L2D1+ mice exhibit a histologic phenotype of oral-esophageal dysplasia, the combination of cyclin D1 expression and p53 deficiency results in invasive oral-esophageal cancer. The development of the precancerous lesions was significantly reversed by the application of sulindac in the drinking water of the L2D1+/p53+/– mice. Furthermore, cell lines derived from oral epithelia of L2D1+/p53+/– and L2D1+/p53–/– mice, but not control mice, formed tumors in athymic nude mice. These data demonstrate that L2D1+/p53+/– mice provide a well-defined, novel, and faithful model of oral-esophageal cancer, which allows for the testing of novel chemopreventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC151126  PMID: 12235107

Results 1-5 (5)