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1.  The combinatorial approach of laser-captured microdissection and reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction accurately determines HER2 status in breast cancer 
Biomarker Research  2016;4:8.
Background
HER2 expression in breast cancer correlates with increased metastatic potential, higher tumor recurrence rates and improved response to targeted therapies. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) are two methods commonly used for the analysis of HER2 in the clinic. However, lack of standardization, technical variability in laboratory protocols and subjective interpretation are major problems associated with these testing procedures.
Methods
Here we evaluated the applicability of reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) for HER2 testing in breast cancer. We tested thirty formaldehyde-fixed and paraffin-embedded tumor samples by RT-qPCR, FISH and IHC and analysed and compared the data from the three methods.
Results
We found that laser-captured microdissection is essential for the accurate determination of HER2 expression by RT-qPCR. When isolating RNA from total tumor tissue we obtained a significant number of false negative results. However, when using RNA from purified cancer cells the RT-qPCR data were fully consistent with FISH and IHC. In addition we provide evidence that ductal carcinomas might be further classified by the differential expression of HER3 and HER4.
Conclusions
Laser-captured microdissection in combination with RT-qPCR is a precise and cost-effective diagnostic approach for HER2 testing in cancer. The PCR assay is simple, accurate and robust and can easily be implemented and standardized in clinical laboratories.
doi:10.1186/s40364-016-0062-7
PMCID: PMC4823853  PMID: 27057311
Breast cancer; Personalized medicine; HER2; Microdissection; Polymerase chain reaction
2.  Whole-transcriptome gene expression profiling in an epidermolysis bullosa simplex Dowling-Meara model keratinocyte cell line uncovered novel, potential therapeutic targets and affected pathways 
BMC Research Notes  2015;8:785.
Background
To be able to develop effective therapeutics for epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS), it is necessary to elucidate the molecular pathomechanisms that give rise to the disease’s characteristic severe skin-blistering phenotype.
Results
Starting with a whole-transcriptome microarray analysis of an EBS Dowling-Meara model cell line (KEB7), we identified 207 genes showing differential expression relative to control keratinocytes. A complementary qRT-PCR study of 156 candidates confirmed 76.58 % of the selected genes to be significantly up-regulated or down-regulated (p-value <0.05) within biological replicates. Our hit list contains previously identified genes involved in epithelial cell proliferation, cell-substrate adhesion, and responses to diverse biological stimuli. In addition, we identified novel candidate genes and potential affected pathways not previously considered as relevant to EBS pathology.
Conclusions
Our results broaden our understanding of the molecular processes dysregulated in EBS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13104-015-1783-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13104-015-1783-7
PMCID: PMC4678661  PMID: 26666517
Epidermolysis bullosa simplex; Dowling-Meara; EBS-DM; Gene expression profiling
3.  Alpha-Catulin Contributes to Drug-Resistance of Melanoma by Activating NF-κB and AP-1 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119402.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer accounting for 48,000 deaths worldwide each year and an average survival rate of about 6-10 months with conventional treatment. Tumor metastasis and chemoresistance of melanoma cells are reported as the main reasons for the insufficiency of currently available treatments for late stage melanoma. The cytoskeletal linker protein α-catulin (CTNNAL1) has been shown to be important in inflammation, apoptosis and cytoskeletal reorganization. Recently, we found an elevated expression of α-catulin in melanoma cells. Ectopic expression of α-catulin promoted melanoma progression and occurred concomitantly with the downregulation of E-cadherin and the upregulation of mesenchymal genes such as N-cadherin, Snail/Slug and the matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9. In the current study we showed that α-catulin knockdown reduced NF-κB and AP-1 activity in malignant melanoma cells. Further, downregulation of α-catulin diminished ERK phosphorylation in malignant melanoma cells and sensitized them to treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs. In particular, cisplatin treatment led to decreased ERK-, JNK- and c-Jun phosphorylation in α-catulin knockdown melanoma cells, which was accompanied by enhanced apoptosis compared to control cells. Altogether, these results suggest that targeted inhibition of α-catulin may be used as a viable therapeutic strategy to chemosensitize melanoma cells to cisplatin by down-regulation of NF-κB and MAPK pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119402
PMCID: PMC4368766  PMID: 25793618
4.  Antimicrobial and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Endophytic Fungi Talaromyces wortmannii Extracts against Acne-Inducing Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e97929.
Acne vulgaris is the most common skin disease, causing significant psychosocial problems such as anxiety and depression similar to a chronic illness for those afflicted. Currently, obtainable agents for acne treatment have limited use. Thus, development of novel agents to treat this disease is a high medical need. The anaerobic bacterium Propionibacterium acnes has been implicated in the inflammatory phase of acne vulgaris by activating pro-inflammatory mediators such as the interleukin-8 (IL-8) via the NF-κB and MAPK pathways. Talaromyces wortmannii is an endophytic fungus, which is known to produce high bioactive natural compounds. We hypothesize that compound C but also the crude extract from T. wortmannii may possess both antibacterial activity especially against P. acnes and also anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting TNF-α-induced ICAM-1 expression and P. acnes-induced IL-8 release. Treatment of keratinocytes (HaCaT) with P. acnes significantly increased NF-κB and activator protein-1 (AP-1) activation, as well as IL-8 release. Compound C inhibited P. acnes-mediated activation of NF-κB and AP-1 by inhibiting IκB degradation and the phosphorylation of ERK and JNK MAP kinases, and IL-8 release in a dose-dependent manner. Based on these results, compound C has effective antimicrobial activity against P. acnes and anti-inflammatory activity, and we suggest that this substance or the crude extract are alternative treatments for antibiotic/anti-inflammatory therapy for acne vulgaris.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097929
PMCID: PMC4041568  PMID: 24887557
5.  PIM-1 kinase interacts with the DNA binding domain of the vitamin D receptor: a further kinase implicated in 1,25-(OH)2D3 signaling 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:18.
Background
The vitamin D3 receptor (VDR) is responsible for mediating the pleiotropic and, in part, cell-type-specific effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (calcitriol) on the cardiovascular and the muscle system, on the bone development and maintenance, mineral homeostasis, cell proliferation, cell differentiation, vitamin D metabolism, and immune response modulation.
Results
Based on data obtained from genome-wide yeast two-hybrid screenings, domain mapping studies, intracellular co-localization approaches as well as reporter transcription assay measurements, we show here that the C-terminus of human PIM-1 kinase isoform2 (amino acid residues 135–313), a serine/threonine kinase of the calcium/calmodulin-regulated kinase family, directly interacts with VDR through the receptor’s DNA-binding domain. We further demonstrate that PIM-1 modulates calcitriol signaling in HaCaT keratinocytes by enhancing both endogenous calcitriol response gene transcription (osteopontin) and an extrachromosomal DR3 reporter response.
Conclusion
These results, taken together with previous reports of involvement of kinase pathways in VDR transactivation, underscore the biological relevance of this novel protein-protein interaction.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-13-18
PMCID: PMC3404970  PMID: 22720752
Coactivator; PIM-1 kinase; Protein-Protein interaction; Serine/Threonine kinase; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor
6.  The transcription factor ZEB1 (δEF1) represses Plakophilin 3 during human cancer progression 
FEBS letters  2007;581(8):1617-1624.
Plakophilin 3 (PKP3) belongs to the p120ctn family of armadillo-related proteins predominantly functioning in desmosome formation. Here we report that PKP3 is transcriptionally repressed by the E-cadherin repressor ZEB1 in metastatic cancer cells. ZEB1 physically associates with two conserved E-box elements in the PKP3 promoter and partially represses the activity of corresponding human and mouse PKP3 promoter fragments in reporter gene assays. In human tumours ZEB1 is upregulated in invasive cancer cells at the tumour–host interface, which is accompanied by downregulation of PKP3 expression levels. Hence, the transcriptional repression of PKP3 by ZEB1 contributes to ZEB1-mediated disintegration of intercellular adhesion and epithelial to mesenchymal transition.
doi:10.1016/j.febslet.2007.03.026
PMCID: PMC2938730  PMID: 17391671
Epithelial to mesenchymal transition; Invasion; Transcription; Desmosomes; Cell adhesion
7.  E-cadherin regulates cell growth by modulating proliferation-dependent β-catenin transcriptional activity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;154(6):1185-1196.
β-Catenin is essential for E-cadherin–mediated cell adhesion in epithelial cells, but it also forms nuclear complexes with high mobility group transcription factors. Using a mouse mammary epithelial cell system, we have shown previously that conversion of epithelial cells to a fibroblastoid phenotype (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) involves downregulation of E-cadherin and upregulation of β-catenin transcriptional activity. Here, we demonstrate that transient expression of exogenous E-cadherin in both epithelial and fibroblastoid cells arrested cell growth or caused apoptosis, depending on the cellular E-cadherin levels. By expressing E-cadherin subdomains, we show that the growth-suppressive effect of E-cadherin required the presence of its cytoplasmic β-catenin interaction domain and/or correlated strictly with the ability to negatively interfere with β-catenin transcriptional activity. Furthermore, coexpression of β-catenin or lymphoid enhancer binding factor-1 or T cell factor 3 with E-cadherin rescued β-catenin transcriptional activity and counteracted E-cadherin–mediated cell cycle arrest. Stable expression of E-cadherin in fibroblastoid cells decreased β-catenin activity and reduced cell growth. Since proliferating cells had a higher β-catenin activity than G1 phase–arrested or contact-inhibited cells, we conclude that β-catenin transcriptional activity is essential for cell proliferation and can be controlled by E-cadherin in a cell adhesion-independent manner.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200104036
PMCID: PMC2150811  PMID: 11564756
carcinogenesis; catenins; cell proliferation; E-cadherin; LEF-1
8.  Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition by C-Fos Estrogen Receptor Activation Involves Nuclear Translocation of β-Catenin and Upregulation of β-Catenin/Lymphoid Enhancer Binding Factor-1 Transcriptional Activity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;148(1):173-188.
Mouse mammary epithelial cells expressing a fusion protein of c-Fos and the estrogen receptor (FosER) formed highly polarized epithelial cell sheets in the absence of estradiol. β-Catenin and p120ctn were exclusively located at the lateral plasma membrane in a tight complex with the adherens junction protein, E-cadherin. Upon activation of FosER by estradiol addition, cells lost epithelial polarity within two days, giving rise to a uniform distribution of junctional proteins along the entire plasma membrane. Most of the β-catenin and p120ctn remained in a complex with E-cadherin at the membrane, but a minor fraction of uncomplexed cytoplasmic β-catenin increased significantly. The epithelial–mesenchymal cell conversion induced by prolonged estradiol treatment was accompanied by a complete loss of E-cadherin expression, a 70% reduction in β-catenin protein level, and a change in the expression pattern of p120ctn isoforms. In these mesenchymal cells, β-catenin and p120ctn were localized in the cytoplasm and in defined intranuclear structures. Furthermore, β-catenin colocalized with transcription factor LEF-1 in the nucleus, and coprecipitated with LEF-1–related proteins from cell extracts. Accordingly, β-catenin– dependent reporter activity was upregulated in mesenchymal cells and could be reduced by transient expression of exogenous E-cadherin. Thus, epithelial mesenchymal conversion in FosER cells may involve β-catenin signaling.
PMCID: PMC3207144  PMID: 10629227
cell adhesion; E-cadherin; junctional complexes; polarized epithelium; wnt signaling

Results 1-8 (8)