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1.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Regulates Aberrant Expression of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-Binding Protein 3 
Cancer research  2004;64(21):7711-7723.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is frequently overexpressed in esophageal carcinoma and its precursor lesions. To gain insights into how EGFR overexpression affects cellular functions in primary human esophageal cells, we performed gene expression profiling and identified insulin-like growth factor-binding protein (IGFBP)-3 as the most up-regulated gene. IGFBP-3 regulates cell proliferation through both insulin-like growth factor-dependent and independent mechanisms. We found that IGFBP-3 mRNA and protein expression was increased in EGFR-overexpressing primary and immortalized human esophageal cells. IGFBP-3 was also up-regulated in EGFR-overexpressing cells in organotypic culture and in EGFR transgenic mice. Furthermore, IGFBP-3 mRNA was overexpressed in 80% of primary esophageal squamous cell carcinomas and 60% of primary esophageal adenocarcinomas. Concomitant up-regulation of EGFR and IGFBP-3 was observed in 60% of primary esophageal squamous cell carcinomas. Immunohistochemistry revealed cytoplasmic localization of IGFBP-3 in the preponderance of preneoplastic and neoplastic esophageal lesions. IGFBP-3 was also overexpressed in esophageal cancer cell lines at both mRNA (60%) and protein (40%) levels. IGFBP-3 secreted by cancer cells was capable of binding to insulin-like growth factor I. Functionally, epidermal growth factor appeared to regulate IGFBP-3 expression in esophageal cancer cell lines. Finally, suppression of IGFBP-3 by small interfering RNA augmented cell proliferation, suggesting that IGFBP-3 may inhibit tumor cell proliferation as a negative feedback mechanism. In aggregate, we have identified for the first time that IGFBP-3 is an aberrantly regulated gene through the EGFR signaling pathway and it may modulate EGFR effects during carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-0715
PMCID: PMC4140096  PMID: 15520175
2.  Antiproliferative effect of a novel mTOR inhibitor temsirolimus contributes to the prolonged survival of orthotopic esophageal cancer-bearing mice 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):230-236.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains one of the most aggressive cancers with poor prognosis regardless of a several reports that indicate a better therapeutic efficacy using some new chemotherapeutic agents. Recent drug development has contributed to an improved specificity to suppress mTOR activity by which many types of malignancies can be explosively progressed. Temsirolimus (CCI-779, TricelTM) is one of recently synthesized analogs of rapamycin and has provided better outcomes for patients with renal cell carcinoma. In this study, we experimentally evaluated an efficacy of targeting mTOR by temsirolimus for ESCC treatment, with an assessment of its survival advantage using an advanced ESCC animal model.
First, we confirmed that the expression of phosphorylated mTOR was increased in 46 of 58 clinical ESCC tumor tissues (79.3%) and appeared to get strengthened with tumor progression. All of ESCC cell lines used in this study revealed an increase of mTOR phosphorylation, accompanied with the upregulation of hypoxia inducible factor-I α (HIF-1α), one of the critical effectors regulated by mTOR. Temsirolimus treatment apparently suppressed the activation of mTOR and its downstream effectors, resulting in the reduced ability of ESCC cell proliferation. Finally, the weekly administration of temsirolimus significantly diminished the size of subcutaneous tumors (vehicle, 3261.6 ± 722.0; temsirolimus, 599.2 ± 122.9; p = 0.007) in nude mice and effectively prolonged orthotopic esophageal cancer-bearing mice (median survival periods: control, 31 d; temsirolimus, 43 d; p = 0.0024).
These data suggests that targeting mTOR by temsirolimus may become a therapeutic alternative for esophageal cancer, with a contribution to a better outcome.
doi:10.4161/cbt.23294
PMCID: PMC3595305  PMID: 23291985
temsirolimus; esophageal cancer; mTOR; prolonged survival; molecular-targeted therapy
3.  Inhibition of the Growth Factor MDK/Midkine by a Novel Small Molecule Compound to Treat Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71093.
Midkine (MDK) is a heparin-binding growth factor that is highly expressed in many malignant tumors, including lung cancers. MDK activates the PI3K pathway and induces anti-apoptotic activity, in turn enhancing the survival of tumors. Therefore, the inhibition of MDK is considered a potential strategy for cancer therapy. In the present study, we demonstrate a novel small molecule compound (iMDK) that targets MDK. iMDK inhibited the cell growth of MDK-positive H441 lung adenocarcinoma cells that harbor an oncogenic KRAS mutation and H520 squamous cell lung cancer cells, both of which are types of untreatable lung cancer. However, iMDK did not reduce the cell viability of MDK-negative A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells or normal human lung fibroblast (NHLF) cells indicating its specificity. iMDK suppressed the endogenous expression of MDK but not that of other growth factors such as PTN or VEGF. iMDK suppressed the growth of H441 cells by inhibiting the PI3K pathway and inducing apoptosis. Systemic administration of iMDK significantly inhibited tumor growth in a xenograft mouse model in vivo. Inhibition of MDK with iMDK provides a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of lung cancers that are driven by MDK.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071093
PMCID: PMC3745462  PMID: 23976985
4.  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.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgp326
PMCID: PMC2832548  PMID: 20042640
5.  Glutamine depletion induces murine neonatal melena with increased apoptosis of the intestinal epithelium 
AIM: To investigate the possible biological outcome and effect of glutamine depletion in neonatal mice and rodent intestinal epithelial cells.
METHODS: We developed three kinds of artificial milk with different amounts of glutamine; Complete amino acid milk (CAM), which is based on maternal mouse milk, glutamine-depleted milk (GDM), and glutamine-rich milk (GRM). GRM contains three-fold more glutamine than CAM. Eighty-seven newborn mice were divided into three groups and were fed with either of CAM, GDM, or GRM via a recently improved nipple-bottle system for seven days. After the feeding period, the mice were subjected to macroscopic and microscopic observations by immunohistochemistry for 5-bromo-2’-deoxyuridine (BrdU) and Ki-67 as markers of cell proliferation, and for cleaved-caspase-3 as a marker of apoptosis. Moreover, IEC6 rat intestinal epithelial cells were cultured in different concentrations of glutamine and were subject to a 4-[3-(4-iodophenyl)-2-(4-nitrophenyl)-2H-5-tetrazolio]-1,3-benzene disulfonate cell proliferation assay, flow cytometry, and western blotting to examine the biological effect of glutamine on cell growth and apoptosis.
RESULTS: During the feeding period, we found colonic hemorrhage in six of 28 GDM-fed mice (21.4%), but not in the GRM-fed mice, with no differences in body weight gain between each group. Microscopic examination showed destruction of microvilli and the disappearance of glycocalyx of the intestinal wall in the colon epithelial tissues taken from GDM-fed mice. Intake of GDM reduced BrdU incorporation (the average percentage of BrdU-positive staining; GRM: 13.8%, CAM: 10.7%, GDM: 1.14%, GRM vs GDM: P < 0.001, CAM vs GDM: P < 0.001) and Ki-67 labeling index (the average percentage of Ki-67-positive staining; GRM: 24.5%, CAM: 22.4% GDM: 19.4%, GRM vs GDM: P = 0.001, CAM vs GDM: P = 0.049), suggesting that glutamine depletion inhibited cell proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells. Glutamine deprivation further caused the deformation of the nuclear membrane and the plasma membrane, accompanied by chromatin degeneration and an absence of fat droplets from the colonic epithelia, indicating that the cells underwent apoptosis. Moreover, immunohistochemical analysis revealed the appearance of cleaved caspase-3 in colonic epithelial cells of GDM-fed mice. Finally, when IEC6 rat intestinal epithelial cells were cultured without glutamine, cell proliferation was significantly suppressed after 24 h (relative cell growth; 4 mmol/L: 100.0% ± 36.1%, 0 mmol/L: 25.3% ± 25.0%, P < 0.05), with severe cellular damage. The cells underwent apoptosis, accompanied by increased cell population in sub-G0 phase (4 mmol/L: 1.68%, 0.4 mmol/L: 1.35%, 0 mmol/L: 5.21%), where dying cells are supposed to accumulate.
CONCLUSION: Glutamine is an important alimentary component for the maintenance of intestinal mucosa. Glutamine deprivation can cause instability of the intestinal epithelial alignment by increased apoptosis.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v17.i6.717
PMCID: PMC3042649  PMID: 21390141
Glutamine; Newborn mice; Artificial milk; Melena; Intestinal epithelial cells; Apoptosis
6.  EGF-mediated regulation of IGFBP-3 determines esophageal epithelial cellular response to IGF-I 
IGF and EGF regulate various physiological and pathological processes. IGF binding protein (IGFBP)-3 regulates cell proliferation in IGF-dependent and -independent fashions. Recently, we identified IGFBP-3 as a novel EGF receptor (EGFR) downstream target molecule in primary and immortalized human esophageal epithelial cells, suggesting an interplay between the EGF and IGF signaling pathways. However, the regulatory mechanisms for IGFBP-3 expression and its functional role in esophageal cell proliferation remain to be elucidated. Herein, we report that IGFBP-3 mRNA and protein were induced upon growth factor deprivation in primary and immortalized human esophageal cells through mechanisms requiring p53-independent de novo mRNA transcription and protein synthesis. This occurred in the face of the activated phosphatidylinositol 3-OH-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Secreted IGFBP-3 neutralized IGFs and prevented IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) activation. In contrast, EGF suppressed IGFBP-3 mRNA and protein expression through activation of MAPK in an EGFR-tyrosine kinase-dependent manner to restore the cellular response to IGF-I. When stably overexpressed, wild-type IGFBP-3 but not I56G/L80G/L81G (GGG) mutant IGFBP-3, which has a reduced affinity to IGFs, prevented IGF-I from activating IGF-IR and Akt as well as stimulating cell proliferation. However, unlike other cell types where IGFBP-3 exerts antiproliferative effects, neither wild-type nor GGG mutant IGFBP-3 alone affected cell proliferation or EGFR activity. These results indicate that IGF signaling is subject to negative regulation through IGFBP-3 and positive regulation by EGF, the latter of which suppresses IGFBP-3. This provides a platform for understanding the novel cross talk between EGF- and IGF-mediated pathways.
doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00344.2005
PMCID: PMC2996094  PMID: 16210470
insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3; epidermal growth factor receptor; mammalian target of rapamycin; esophageal epithelial cells
7.  Coordinated Functions of E-Cadherin and Transforming Growth Factor β Receptor II In vitro and In vivo 
Cancer research  2006;66(20):9878-9885.
In epithelial cells, E-cadherin plays a key role in cell-cell adhesion, and loss of E-cadherin is a hallmark of tumor progression fostering cancer cell invasion and metastasis. To examine E-cadherin loss in squamous cell cancers, we used primary human esophageal epithelial cells (keratinocytes) as a platform and retrovirally transduced wild-type and dominant-negative forms of E-cadherin into these cells. We found decreased cell adhesion in the cells expressing dominant-negative E-cadherin, thereby resulting in enhanced migration and invasion. To analyze which molecular pathway(s) may modulate these changes, we conducted microarray analysis and found up-regulation of transforming growth factor β receptor II (TβRII) in the wild-type E-cadherin-overexpressing cells, which was confirmed by real-time PCR and Western blot analyses. To investigate the in vivo relevance of this finding, we analyzed tissue microarrays of paired esophageal squamous cell carcinomas and adjacent normal esophagus, and we could show a coordinated loss of E-cadherin and TβRII in ~80% of tumors. To determine if there may be an E-cadherin-dependent regulation of TβRII, we show the physical interaction of E-cadherin with TβRII and that this is mediated through the extracellular domains of E-cadherin and TβRII, respectively. In addition, TβRI is recruited to this complex. When placed in the context of three-dimensional cell culture, which reflects the physiologic microenvironment, TβRII-mediated cell signaling is dependent upon intact E-cadherin function. Our results, which suggest that E-cadherin regulates TβRII function, have important implications for epithelial carcinogenesis characterized through the frequent occurrence of E-cadherin and TβRII loss.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-4157
PMCID: PMC2996096  PMID: 17047049
8.  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
9.  IGF-IR and its inhibitors in gastrointestinal carcinomas (Review) 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(1):195-201.
The type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR) and its associated signaling system play a significant role in tumorigenesis, tumor survival and progression, and cancer therapeutic resistance, and thus has provoked great interest as a promising target for cancer treatment. In this report we present the role of IGF-IR in gastrointestinal carcinomas whose pathology has been identified as tightly correlated with an abnormal expression and activation of IGF-IR. Reported data from experimental studies suggest the feasibility of targeted IGF-IR therapy in gastrointestinal carcinomas. Many types of inhibitors against IGF-IR have been developed. Inhibitors with anti-IGF-IR monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors currently undergoing preclinical and clinical evolution are also reviewed.
doi:10.3892/ol_00000036
PMCID: PMC3436207  PMID: 22966282
type I insulin-like growth factor receptor; monoclonal antibody; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; gastrointestinal carcinoma; cancer therapy
10.  Progress in researches about focal adhesion kinase in gastrointestinal tract 
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a 125-kDa non-receptor protein tyrosine. Growth factors or the clustering of integrins facilitate the rapid phosphorylation of FAK at Tyr-397 and this in turn recruits Src-family protein tyrosine kinases, resulting in the phosphorylation of Tyr-576 and Tyr-577 in the FAK activation loop and full catalytic FAK activation. FAK plays a critical role in the biological processes of normal and cancer cells including the gastrointestinal tract. FAK also plays an important role in the restitution, cell survival and apoptosis and carcinogenesis of the gastrointestinal tract. FAK is over-expressed in cancer cells and its over-expression and elevated activities are associated with motility and invasion of cancer cells. FAK has been proposed as a potential target in cancer therapy. Small molecule inhibitors effectively inhibit the kinase activity of FAK and show a potent inhibitory effect for the proliferation and migration of tumor cells, indicating a high potential for application in cancer therapy.
doi:10.3748/wjg.15.5916
PMCID: PMC2795178  PMID: 20014455
Focal adhesion kinase; Restitution; Survival and apoptosis; Cancer; Inhibitor
11.  Cleavage of MCM2 licensing protein fosters senescence in human keratinocytes 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2008;7(22):3534-3538.
In eukaryotic cells, MCM, the minichromosome maintenance proteins, form a heterohexamer during G1 phase in a cell cycle and constitute a DNA helicase activity at the onset of replication. MCM proteins are downregulated and dissociated from chromatin when cells exit the cell cycle. MCM proteins are upregulated frequently in a variety of dysplastic and cancer cells. To delineate the role of MCM in esophageal epithelial biology, we determined the MCM family gene expression during the cellular senescence, immortalization, differentiation and apoptosis. All of the MCM2-7 proteins appeared to be downregulated in primary human esophageal keratinocytes upon replicative senescence. Their expression was restored by ectopic expression of a catalytic subunit of human telomerase, resulting in immortalization. Interestingly, we found a reciprocal induction of a novel MCM2-related protein fragment upon cell growth inhibition associated with senescence, contact inhibition or terminal differentiation, but not apoptosis. Epitope mapping of this MCM2-related fragment suggested the lack of amino- and carboxyl-terminal regions including one of the putative nuclear localization signals and the ATPase domain, the MCM box. The absence of multiple MCM2 transcripts implied a possible posttranslational molecular cleavage in generation of the MCM2-related fragment, and a potential functional role in regulation of the activity of the MCM protein complex.
PMCID: PMC2736109  PMID: 19001876
MCM2; senescence; differentiation; esophageal keratinocytes
12.  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.
doi:10.1128/MCB.01055-05
PMCID: PMC1489079  PMID: 16705170

Results 1-12 (12)