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1.  Molecular effects of soy phytoalexin glyceollins in human prostate cancer cells LNCaP 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(9):862-871.
Glyceollins are soy-derived phytoalexins that have been proposed to be candidate cancer preventive compounds. The effect of the glyceollins on prostate cancer is unknown. The present study examined the molecular effects of soy phytoalexin, glyceollins, on human prostate cancer cell LNCaP to further elucidate its potential effects on prostate cancer prevention. We found that the glyceollins inhibited LNCaP cell growth similar to that of the soy isoflavone genistein. The growth inhibitory effects of the glyceollins appeared to be due to an inhibition of G1/S progression and correlated with an up-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1 A and B mRNA and protein levels. By contrast, genistein only up-regulates cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A. In addition, glyceollin treatments led to down-regulated mRNA levels for androgen responsive genes. In contrast to genistein, this effect of glyceollins on androgen responsive genes appeared to be mediated through modulation of an estrogen- but not androgen-mediated pathway. Hence, the glyceollins exerted multiple effects on LNCaP cells that may be considered cancer preventive and the mechanisms of action appeared to be different from other soy-derived phytochemicals.
doi:10.1002/mc.20532
PMCID: PMC4034473  PMID: 19263441
androgen; estrogen; cancer prevention; cell cycle; gene expression
2.  Dual inhibition of sphingosine kinase isoforms ablates TNF-induced drug resistance 
Oncology reports  2012;27(6):1779-1786.
Recent research has demonstrated that aberrant sphingolipid signaling is an important mechanism of chemo-resistance in solid tumors. Sphingosine kinase (Sphk), the primary enzyme metabolizing the sphingolipid ceramide into sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), is a primary mediator of breast cancer promotion, survival and chemoresistance. However, to date the mechanism of Sphk-mediated drug resistance is poorly understood. Using the dual sphingosine kinase isozyme inhibitor, SKI-II (4-[4-(4-chloro-phenyl)-thiazol-2-ylamino]-phenol), we explored the effects of sphingosine kinase inhibition on multi-drug-resistant breast cancer cells. We demonstrate that SKI-II alters endogenous sphingolipid signaling and decreases cancer proliferation, survival and viability. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of Sphk1/2 induced intrinsic apoptosis in these cells through modulation of the NF-κB pathway. SKI-II decreases NF-κB transcriptional activity through altered phosphorylation of the p65 subunit. Taken together, these results suggest that Sphk may be a promising therapeutic target in chemoresistant cancers.
doi:10.3892/or.2012.1743
PMCID: PMC4028227  PMID: 22469881
sphingolipids; chemoresistance; sphingosine kinase; NF-κB; breast cancer; ceramide; experimental therapeutics; sphingosine-1-phosphate
3.  Pharmacological inhibition of sphingosine kinase isoforms alters estrogen receptor signaling in human breast cancer 
Recently, crosstalk between sphingolipid signaling pathways and steroid hormones has been illuminated as a possible therapeutic target. Sphingosine kinase (SK), the key enzyme metabolizing pro-apoptotic ceramide to pro-survival sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), is a promising therapeutic target for solid tumor cancers. In this study, we examined the ability of pharmacological inhibition of S1P formation to block estrogen signaling as a targeted breast cancer therapy. We found that the Sphk1/2 selective inhibitor (SK inhibitor (SKI))-II, blocked breast cancer viability, clonogenic survival and proliferation. Furthermore, SKI-II dose-dependently decreased estrogen-stimulated estrogen response element transcriptional activity and diminished mRNA levels of the estrogen receptor (ER)-regulated genes progesterone receptor and steroid derived factor-1. This inhibitor binds the ER directly in the antagonist ligand-binding domain. Taken together, our results suggest that SKIs have the ability to act as novel ER signaling inhibitors in breast carcinoma.
doi:10.1530/JME-10-0116
PMCID: PMC4007162  PMID: 21321095
4.  The microRNA expression associated with morphogenesis of breast cancer cells in three-dimensional organotypic culture 
Oncology reports  2012;28(1):117-126.
Three-dimensional organotypic culture using reconstituted basement membrane matrix Matrigel (rBM 3-D) is an indispensable tool to characterize morphogenesis of mammary epithelial cells and to elucidate the tumor-modulating actions of extracellular matrix (ECM). microRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of oncogenes and tumor suppressors. The majority of our current knowledge of miRNA expression and function in cancer cells is derived from monolayer 2-D culture on plastic substratum, which lacks consideration of the influence of ECM-mediated morphogenesis on miRNAs. In the present study, we compared the expression of miRNAs in rBM 3-D and 2-D cultures of the non-invasive MCF-7 and the invasive MDA-MB231 cells. Our findings revealed a profound difference in miRNA profiles between 2-D and rBM 3-D cultures within each cell type. Moreover, rBM 3-D culture exhibited greater discrimination in miRNA profiles between MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 cells than 2-D culture. The disparate miRNA profiles correlated with distinct mass morphogenesis of MCF-7 and invasive stellate morphogenesis of MDA-MB231 cells in rBM 3-D culture. Supplementation of the tumor promoting type I collagen in rBM 3-D culture substantially altered the miRNA signature of mass morphologenesis of MCF-7 cells in rBM 3-D culture. Overexpression of the differentially expressed miR-200 family member miR429 in MDA-MB231 cells attenuated their invasive stellate morphogenesis in rBM 3-D culture. In summary, we provide the first miRNA signatures of morphogenesis of human breast cancer cells in rBM 3-D culture and warrant further utilization of rBM 3-D culture in investigation of miRNAs in breast cancer.
doi:10.3892/or.2012.1764
PMCID: PMC3991116  PMID: 22576799
microRNA; three-dimensional organotypic culture; extra-cellular matrix; breast cancer; morphogenesis
5.  The histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A alters microRNA expression profiles in apoptosis-resistant breast cancer cells 
Oncology reports  2011;27(1):10-16.
The development of drug resistance represents a major complication in the effective treatment of breast cancer. Epigenetic therapy, through the use of histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) or demethylation agents, is an emerging area of therapeutic targeting in a number of ontological entities, particularly in the setting of aggressive therapy-resistant disease. Using the well-described HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) we demonstrate the suppression of in vitro clonogenicity in the previously described apoptosis-resistant MCF-7TN-R breast carcinoma cell line. Additionally, recent work has demonstrated that these agents can alter the expression profile of microRNA signatures in malignant cells. Using an unbiased microRNA microarray analysis, changes in miRNA expression of MCF-7TN-R cells treated with TSA for 24 h were analyzed. We observed significant up-regulation of 22 miRNAs and down-regulation of 10 miRNAs in response to TSA treatment. Our results demonstrate that the HDACi, TSA, exerts anticancer activity in the apoptosis-resistant MCF-7TN-R breast carcinoma cell line. This activity is correlated with TSA alteration of microRNA expression profiles indicative of a less aggressive phenotype.
doi:10.3892/or.2011.1488
PMCID: PMC3982613  PMID: 21971930
microRNA; trichostatin A; histone deacetylase; MCF-7; breast cancer; drug resistance
6.  Sphingosine Kinase Isoforms as a Therapeutic Target in Endocrine Therapy Resistant Luminal and Basal-A Breast Cancer 
Sphingosine kinase signaling has become of increasing interest as a cancer target in recent years. Two sphingosine kinase inhibitors, SKI-II and ABC294640, are promising as potential breast cancer therapies. However, evidence for their therapeutic properties in specific breast cancer subtypes is currently lacking. In this study, we characterize these drugs in luminal, endocrine resistant (MDA-MB-361) and Basal-A, triple negative (MDA-MB-468) breast cancer cells and compare them with previously published data in other breast cancer cell models. Both SKI-II and ABC294640 demonstrated greater efficacy in Basal-A compared to luminal breast cancer. ABC294640, in particular, induced apoptosis and blocked proliferation both in vitro and in vivo in this triple negative breast cancer system. Furthermore, Sphk expression promotes survival and endocrine therapy resistance in previously sensitive breast cancer cells. Taken together, these results characterize sphingosine kinase inhibitors across breast cancer cell systems and demonstrate their therapeutic potential as anti-cancer agents.
doi:10.1258/ebm.2012.012028
PMCID: PMC3954577  PMID: 22859737
sphingolipids; chemoresistance; sphingosine kinase; breast cancer; ceramide; experimental therapeutics; sphingosine-1-phosphate
7.  MEK5/ERK5 Pathway: The first fifteen years 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2011;1825(1):37-48.
While conventional MAP kinase pathways are one of the most highly studied signal transduction molecules, less is known about the MEK5 signaling pathway. This pathway has been shown to play a role in normal cell growth cycles, survival and differentiation. This MEK5 pathway is also believed to mediate the effects of a number of oncogenes. MEK5 is the upstream activator of ERK5 in many epithelial cells. Activation of the MEK-MAPK pathway is a frequent event in malignant tumor formation and contributes to chemoresistance and anti-apoptotic signaling. This pathway may be involved in a number of more aggressive, metastatic varieties of cancer due to its role in cell survival, proliferation and EMT transitioning. Further study of this pathway may lead to new prognostic factors and new drug targets to combat more aggressive forms of cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.bbcan.2011.10.002
PMCID: PMC3954580  PMID: 22020294
mitogen-activated protein kinase; big-mitogen activated protein kinase; Erk5; cellular signaling; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; kinase inhibitors
8.  Discovery of a Series of Thiazole Derivatives as Novel Inhibitors of Metastatic Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2013;4(2):191-196.
Effective inhibitors of cancer cell migration and invasion can potentially lead to clinical applications as therapy to block tumor metastasis, the primary cause of death in cancer patients. To this end we have designed and synthesized a series of thiazole derivatives that showed potent efficacy against cell migration and invasion in metastatic cancer cells. The most effective compound, 5k, was found to have an IC50 value of 176 nM in the dose-dependent transwell migration assays in MDA-MB-231cells. At the dose of 10 μM, 5k also blocked about 80% of migration in HeLa and A549 cells and 60% of invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells. Importantly, the majority of the derivatives exhibited no apparent cytotoxicity in the clonogenic assays. The low to negligible inhibition of cell proliferation is a desirable property of these anti-migration derivatives because they hold promise of low toxicity to healthy cells as potential therapeutic agents. Mechanistic studies analyzing the actin cytoskeleton by microscopy demonstrate that compound 5k substantially reduced cellular f-actin, and prevented localization of fascin to actin-rich membrane protrusions. These results suggest that the anti-migration activity may result from impaired actin structures in protrusions that are necessary to drive migration.
doi:10.1021/ml300322n
PMCID: PMC3601768  PMID: 23526571
Thiazole derivatives; synthesis; anti-migration; anti-invasion; f-actin; fascin
9.  Discovery of a Series of Thiazole Derivatives as Novel Inhibitors of Metastatic Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2013;4(2):191-196.
Effective inhibitors of cancer cell migration and invasion can potentially lead to clinical applications as a therapy to block tumor metastasis, the primary cause of death in cancer patients. To this end, we have designed and synthesized a series of thiazole derivatives that showed potent efficacy against cell migration and invasion in metastatic cancer cells. The most effective compound, 5k, was found to have an IC50 value of 176 nM in the dose-dependent transwell migration assays in MDA-MB-231cells. At a dose of 10 μM, 5k also blocked about 80% of migration in HeLa and A549 cells and 60% of invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells. Importantly, the majority of the derivatives exhibited no apparent cytotoxicity in the clonogenic assays. The low to negligible inhibition of cell proliferation is a desirable property of these antimigration derivatives because they hold promise of low toxicity to healthy cells as potential therapeutic agents. Mechanistic studies analyzing the actin cytoskeleton by microscopy demonstrate that compound 5k substantially reduced cellular f-actin and prevented localization of fascin to actin-rich membrane protrusions. These results suggest that the antimigration activity may result from impaired actin structures in protrusions that are necessary to drive migration.
doi:10.1021/ml300322n
PMCID: PMC3601768  PMID: 23526571
thiazole derivatives; synthesis; antimigration; anti-invasion; f-actin; fascin
10.  Inhibition of p38-MAPK alters SRC coactivation and estrogen receptor phosphorylation 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(11):1026-1033.
The p38 mitogen activated protein kinase pathway (MAPK) is known to promote cell survival, endocrine therapy resistance and hormone independent breast cancer cell proliferation. Therefore, we utilized the novel p38 inhibitor RWJ67657 to investigate the relevance of targeting this pathway in the ER+ breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Our results show that RWJ67657 inhibits both basal and estrogen stimulated phosphorylation of p38α, resulting in decreased activation of the downstream p38α targets hsp27 and MAPAPK. Furthermore, inhibition of p38α by RWJ67657 blocks clonogenic survival of MCF-7 cells with little effect on non-cancerous breast epithelial cells. Even though p38α is known to phosphorylate ERα at residue within ER’s hinge region at Thr311, resulting in increased ERα transcriptional activation, our results suggest RWJ67657 inhibits the p38α-induced activation of ER by targeting both the AF-1 and AF-2 activation domains within ERα. We further show that RWJ67657 decreases the transcriptional activity of the ER coactivators SRC-1, SRC-2 and SRC-3. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that in addition to phosphorylating Thr311 within ERα, p38α indirectly activates the ER by phosphorylation and stimulation of the known ERα coactivators, SRC-1, -2 and-3. Overall, our data underscore the therapeutic potential of targeting the p38 MAPK pathway in the treatment of ER+ breast cancer.
doi:10.4161/cbt.20992
PMCID: PMC3461809  PMID: 22825349
p38; mitogen-activated protein kinase; estrogen receptor; breast cancer; SRC; drug discovery
11.  Glyceollin-elicited soy protein consumption induces distinct transcriptional effects compared to standard soy protein1 
Glyceollins are stress-induced compounds in soybeans with bioactive properties distinct from parent soy isoflavones. The goals of this study were to evaluate effects of dietary glyceollin-enriched and standard soy protein isolates and identify candidate target pathways of glyceollins on transcriptional profiles within mammary gland tissue. Thirty female postmenopausal cynomolgus monkeys were randomized to diets containing one of three protein sources for 3 weeks: (1) control casein / lactalbumin (C/L); (2) standard soy protein containing 194 mg/day isoflavones (SOY); and (3) glyceollin-enriched soy protein containing 189 mg/day isoflavones + 134 mg/day glyceollins (GLY). All diets contained a physiologic dose of estradiol (E2) (1 mg/day). All doses are expressed in human equivalents scaled by caloric intake. Relative to the control C/L diet, the GLY diet resulted in greater numbers of differentially regulated genes which showed minimal overlap with those of SOY. Effects of GLY related primarily to pathways involved in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, including peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling, adipocytokine expression, triglyceride synthesis, and lipase activity. Notable genes upregulated by the GLY diet included PPAR-gamma, adiponectin, leptin, lipin 1, and lipoprotein lipase. The GLY diet also resulted in lower serum total cholesterol, specifically non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and increased serum triglycerides compared to the C/L diet. No effects of GLY or SOY were seen on serum insulin, adipocytokines, or vascular and bone turnover markers. These preliminary findings suggest that glyceollin-enriched soy protein has divergent effects from standard soy with some specificity for adipocyte activity and nutrient metabolism.
doi:10.1021/jf2034863
PMCID: PMC3750717  PMID: 22126086
glyceollin; soy; isoflavone; estrogen receptor; metabolism
12.  Gαo potentiates estrogen receptor α activity via the ERK signaling pathway 
The Journal of endocrinology  2012;214(1):45-54.
The estrogen receptor α (ERα) is a transcription factor that mediates the biological effects of 17β-estradiol (E2). ERα transcriptional activity is also regulated by cytoplasmic signaling cascades. Here, several Gα protein subunits were tested for their ability to regulate ERα activity. Reporter assays revealed that overexpression of a constitutively active Gαo protein subunit potentiated ERα activity in the absence and presence of E2. Transient transfection of the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 showed that Gαo augments the transcription of several ERα-regulated genes. Western blots of HEK293T cells transfected with ER±Gαo revealed that Gαo stimulated phosphorylation of ERK 1/2 and subsequently increased the phosphorylation of ERα on serine 118. In summary, our results show that Gαo, through activation of the MAPK pathway, plays a role in the regulation of ERα activity.
doi:10.1530/JOE-12-0097
PMCID: PMC3614348  PMID: 22562654
13.  Phytoalexins, miRNAs and Breast Cancer: A Review of Phytochemical-mediated miRNA Regulation in Breast Cancer 
There is growing interest in the diverse signaling pathways that regulate and affect breast tumorigenesis, including the role of phytochemicals and the emerging role of microRNAs (miRNAs). Recent studies demonstrate that miRNAs regulate fundamental cellular and developmental processes at the transcriptional and translational level under normal and disease conditions. While there is growing evidence to support the role of phytoalexin-mediated miRNA regulation of cancer, few reports address this role in breast cancer. Recent reports by our group and others demonstrate that natural products, including stilbenes, curcumin, and glyceollins, could alter the expression of specific miRNAs, which may lead to increased sensitivity of cancer cells to conventional anti-cancer agents and, therefore, hormone-dependent and hormone-independent tumor growth inhibition. This review will discuss how dietary intake of natural products, by regulating specific miRNAs, contribute to the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
doi:10.1353/hpu.2013.0036
PMCID: PMC3628743  PMID: 23395943
Phytoalexins; microRNA; breast cancer; estrogen
14.  In Vitro and In Vivo Evaluation of Novel Anticancer Agents in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Models 
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is subtype of breast disease devoid of the estrogen, progesterone, and Her2/neu receptors which are targets for pharmacological intervention. There is a need for novel anti-breast cancer agents that target TNBC. Therefore, novel isochalcone DJ52 was evaluated using the alamar blue dye exclusion assay, the luciferase colony assay, and xenograft models to determine its efficacy and potency. DJ52 significantly decreased proliferation of cells measured by using the alamar blue dye method and produced IC50 values of DJ52, DJ56, and DJ82 at 10-6M, 10-5M, and 10-5M, respectively. In vivo studies were conducted by injecting MDA-MB-231 cells into SCID mice to determine tumor regression was measured over 20 days. DJ52 at 50mg/kg caused significant decrease in tumor volume (p value <.05) by nearly 50% compared with the control with vehicle alone. These data suggest that DJ52 has merit for further evaluation as a novel anticancer agent.
doi:10.1353/hpu.2013.0047
PMCID: PMC3628744  PMID: 23395947
Triple negative breast cancer; isochalcone; chalcone
15.  Regulation of ERα-mediated transcription of Bcl-2 by PI3K-AKT crosstalk: Implications for breast cancer cell survival 
International journal of oncology  2010;37(3):541-550.
Both estrogen, through the estrogen receptor (ER), and growth factors, through the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT pathway, have been shown to independently promote cell survival. Here, we investigated the role of ER/PI3K-AKT crosstalk in the regulation of cell survival in MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells. The ER inhibitor ICI 182,780 was used to determine the requirement of the ER for estrogen in the suppression of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) induced apoptosis. Gene reporter assays and Western blot analyses were used to determine the involvement of the pro-survival factor Bcl-2 and the coactivator GRIP1 in this survival crosstalk. We demonstrated that an intact ER signaling pathway was required for estrogen to suppress apoptosis induced by TNFα. Our gene reporter assays revealed that ERα, not ERβ, was targeted by AKT, resulting in transcriptional potentiation of the full-length Bcl-2 promoter, ultimately leading to increased Bcl-2 protein levels. AKT targeted both activation function (AF) domains of the ERα for maximal induction of Bcl-2 reporter activity, although the AF-II domain was predominately targeted. In addition, AKT also caused an upregulation of GRIP1 protein levels. Finally, AKT and GRIP1 cooperated to increase Bcl-2 protein expression to a greater level than either factor alone. Collectively, our study suggests a role for ER/PI3K-AKT crosstalk in cell survival and documents the ability of AKT to regulate Bcl-2 expression via differential activation of ERα and ERβ as well as regulation of GRIP1.
PMCID: PMC3613138  PMID: 20664923
estrogen receptor; breast cancer; AKT; cell signaling; cell survival
16.  Inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase alters microRNA expression and reverses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;42(4):1139-1150.
Acquired chemoresistance and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) are hallmarks of cancer progression and of increasing clinical relevance. We investigated the role of miRNA and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling in the progression of breast cancer to a drug-resistant and mesenchymal phenotype. We demonstrate that acquired death receptor resistance results in increased hormone-independent tumorigenesis compared to hormone-sensitive parental cells. Utilizing global miRNA gene expression profiling, we identified miRNA alterations associated with the development of death receptor resistance and EMT progression. We further investigated the role of p38 MAPK in this process, showing dose-dependent inactivation of p38 by its inhibitor RWJ67657 and decreased downstream ATF and NF-κB signaling. Pharmacological inhibition of p38 also decreased chemoresistant cancer tumor growth in xenograft animal models. Interestingly, inhibition of p38 partially reversed the EMT changes found in this cell system, as illustrated by decreased gene expression of the EMT markers Twist, Snail, Slug and ZEB and protein and mRNA levels of Twist, a known EMT promoter, concomitant with decreased N-cadherin protein. RWJ67657 treatment also altered the expression of several miRNAs known to promote therapeutic resistance, including miR-200, miR-303, miR-302, miR-199 and miR-328. Taken together, our results demonstrate the roles of multiple microRNAs and p38 signaling in the progression of cancer and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of targeting the p38 MAPK pathway for reversing EMT in an advanced tumor phenotype.
doi:10.3892/ijo.2013.1814
PMCID: PMC3622654  PMID: 23403951
p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase; epithelial-tomesenchymal transition; breast cancer; drug discovery
17.  The Organochlorine o,p’-DDT Plays a Role in Coactivator-Mediated MAPK Crosstalk in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2012;120(9):1291-1296.
Background: The organochlorine dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a known estrogen mimic and endocrine disruptor, has been linked to animal and human disorders. However, the detailed mechanism(s) by which DDT affects cellular physiology remains incompletely defined.
Objectives: We and others have shown that DDT activates cell-signaling cascades, culminating in the activation of estrogen receptor-dependent and -independent gene expression. Here, we identify a mechanism by which DDT alters cellular signaling and gene expression, independent of the estrogen receptor.
Methods: We performed quantitative polymerase chain reaction array analysis of gene expression in MCF-7 breast cancer cells using either estradiol (E2) or o,p´-DDT to identify distinct cellular gene expression responses. To elucidate the mechanisms by which DDT regulates cell signaling, we used molecular and pharmacological techniques.
Results: E2 and DDT treatment both altered the expression of many of the genes assayed, but up-regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) was observed only after DDT treatment, and this increase was not affected by the pure estrogen receptor α antagonist ICI 182780. Furthermore, DDT increased activation of the HIF-1 response element (HRE), a known enhancer of the VEGFA gene. This DDT-mediated increase in HRE activity was augmented by the coactivator CBP (CREB-binding protein) and was dependent on the p38 pathway.
Conclusions: DDT up-regulated the expression of several genes in MCF-7 breast cancer cells that were not altered by treatment with E2, including VEGFA. We propose that this DDT-initiated, ER-independent stimulation of gene expression is due to DDT’s ability to initiate crosstalk between MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) signaling pathways and transcriptional coactivators.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1104296
PMCID: PMC3440107  PMID: 22609851
breast cancer; CBP; coactivator; crosstalk; DDT; dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane; endocrine-disrupting chemical; HIF-1α; MAPK; organochlorine; p38 kinase; vascular endothelial growth factor
18.  Sorafenib enhances pemetrexed cytotoxicity through an autophagy -dependent mechanism in cancer cells 
Cancer research  2011;71(14):4955-4967.
Pemetrexed (ALIMTA) is a folate anti-metabolite that has been approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, and has been shown to stimulate autophagy. In the present study, we sought to further understand the role of autophagy in the response to pemetrexed and to test if combination therapy could enhance the level of toxicity through altered autophagy in tumor cells. The multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib (NEXAVAR), used in the treatment of renal and hepatocellular carcinoma, suppresses tumor angiogenesis and promotes autophagy in tumor cells. We found that sorafenib interacted in a greater than additive fashion with pemetrexed to increase autophagy and to kill a diverse array of tumor cell types. Tumor cell types that displayed high levels of cell killing after combination treatment showed elevated levels of AKT, p70 S6K and/or phosphorylated mTOR, in addition to Class III RTKs such as PDGFRβ and VEGFR1, known in vivo targets of sorafenib. In xenograft and in syngeneic animal models of mammary carcinoma and glioblastoma, the combination of sorafenib and pemetrexed suppressed tumor growth without deleterious effects on normal tissues or animal body mass. Taken together, the data suggest that premexetred and sorafenib act synergistically to enhance tumor killing via the promotion of a toxic form of autophagy that leads to activation of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway, and predict that combination treatment represents a future therapeutic option in the treatment of solid tumors.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-0898
PMCID: PMC3139015  PMID: 21622715
19.  Antiestrogenic Activity of Flavonoid Phytochemicals Mediated via the c-Jun N-terminal Protein Kinase Pathway 
Flavonoid phytochemicals act as both agonists and antagonists of the human estrogen receptors (ERs). While a number of these compounds act by directly binding to the ER, certain phytochemicals, such as the flavonoid compounds chalcone and flavone, elicit antagonistic effects on estrogen signaling independent of direct receptor binding. Here we demonstrate both chalcone and flavone function as cell type-specific selective ER modulators. In MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells chalcone and flavone suppress ERα activity through stimulation of the stress-activated members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family: c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)1 and JNK2. The use of dominant-negative mutants of JNK1 or JNK2 in stable transfected cells established that the antiestrogenic effects of chalcone and flavone required intact JNK signaling. We further show that constitutive activation of the JNK pathway partially suppresses estrogen (E2)-mediated gene expression in breast, but not endometrial carcinoma cells. Our results demonstrate a role for stress-activated MAPKs in the cell type-specific regulation of ERα function.
doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2012.05.004
PMCID: PMC4083692  PMID: 22634477
flavonoids; phytoestrogens; estrogen receptor; mitogen-activated protein kinase; antiestrogens; c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)
20.  Pharmacology and anti-tumor activity of RWJ67657, a novel inhibitor of p38 mitogen activated protein kinase 
Endocrine therapy resistance is a primary cause of clinical breast cancer treatment failure. The p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway is known to promote ligand independent tumor growth and resistance to endocrine therapy. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic potential of the p38 inhibitor RWJ67657 in the treatment of tamoxifen resistant MDA-MB-361 cells. RWJ67657 dose-dependently decreased both basal and stimulated activation of p38 MAPK signaling in this drug resistant cell system. Decreased activation of p38 by RWJ67657 resulted in inhibition of the downstream p38 targets hsp27 and MAPKAPK. Diminished p38 signaling resulted in inhibition of p38-medated gene transcription. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of p38 by RWJ67657 decreased biological effects of p38, including ER-mediated gene expression and clonogenic survival in a dose-dependent manner. Animal studies revealed significantly decreased p38 signaling in vivo following exposure to RWJ67657. Treatment with the inhibitor markedly decreased phosphorylation of p38 in MDA-MB-361 tumors, leading to decreased transcription of both Fra-1 and progesterone receptor. Utilizing well-established xenograft tumor models, we demonstrated that RWJ67657 exhibits potent anti-tumor properties. Treatment with RWJ67657 markedly decreased tamoxifen resistant tumor growth, both in the presence and absence of estrogen. Taken together, our findings demonstrate the therapeutic potential of targeting the p38-MAPK signaling cascade in the treatment of endocrine resistant breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3410584  PMID: 22860234
p38; mitogen-activated protein kinase; endocrine resistance; breast cancer; drug discovery; cancer biology; hormone independence; kinase inhibitors; estrogen receptor; gene transcription
21.  Targeting triple-negative breast cancer cells with the histone deacetylase inhibitor panobinostat 
Introduction
Of the more than one million global cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year, approximately fifteen percent are characterized as triple-negative, lacking the estrogen, progesterone, and Her2/neu receptors. Lack of effective therapies, younger age at onset, and early metastatic spread have contributed to the poor prognoses and outcomes associated with these malignancies. Here, we investigate the ability of the histone deacetylase inhibitor panobinostat (LBH589) to selectively target triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell proliferation and survival in vitro and tumorigenesis in vivo.
Methods
TNBC cell lines MDA-MB-157, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, and BT-549 were treated with nanomolar (nM) quantities of panobinostat. Relevant histone acetylation was verified by flow cytometry and immunofluorescent imaging. Assays for trypan blue viability, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) proliferation, and DNA fragmentation were used to evaluate overall cellular toxicity. Changes in cell cycle progression were assessed with propidium iodide flow cytometry. Additionally, qPCR arrays were used to probe MDA-MB-231 cells for panobinostat-induced changes in cancer biomarkers and signaling pathways. Orthotopic MDA-MB-231 and BT-549 mouse xenograft models were used to assess the effects of panobinostat on tumorigenesis. Lastly, flow cytometry, ELISA, and immunohistochemical staining were applied to detect changes in cadherin-1, E-cadherin (CDH1) protein expression and the results paired with confocal microscopy in order to examine changes in cell morphology.
Results
Panobinostat treatment increased histone acetylation, decreased cell proliferation and survival, and blocked cell cycle progression at G2/M with a concurrent decrease in S phase in all TNBC cell lines. Treatment also resulted in apoptosis induction at 24 hours in all lines except the MDA-MB-468 cell line. MDA-MB-231 and BT-549 tumor formation was significantly inhibited by panobinostat (10 mg/kg/day) in mice. Additionally, panobinostat up-regulated CDH1 protein in vitro and in vivo and induced cell morphology changes in MDA-MB-231 cells consistent with reversal of the mesenchymal phenotype.
Conclusions
This study revealed that panobinostat is overtly toxic to TNBC cells in vitro and decreases tumorigenesis in vivo. Additionally, treatment up-regulated anti-proliferative, tumor suppressor, and epithelial marker genes in MDA-MB-231 cells and initiated a partial reversal of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Our results demonstrate a potential therapeutic role of panobinostat in targeting aggressive triple-negative breast cancer cell types.
doi:10.1186/bcr3192
PMCID: PMC3446342  PMID: 22613095
Panobinostat; LBH589; triple-negative breast cancer; xenograft; histone deacetylase inhibitor; E-cadherin; CDH1; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
22.  Targeting NFκB mediated breast cancer chemoresistance through selective inhibition of sphingosine kinase-2 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;11(7):678-689.
Resistance to chemotherapy remains a significant obstacle in the treatment of hormone-independent breast cancer. Recent evidence suggests that altered sphingolipid signaling through increased sphingosine kinase activity may be an important mediator of breast cancer drug resistance. Sphingosine kinase-1 (Sphk1) is a proposed key regulator of breast cancer tumorigenesis, proliferation and resistance. There is, however, conflicting data on the role of sphingosine kinase-2 (Sphk2) in cancer biology and resistance, with some suggesting that Sphk2 has an opposing role to that of Sphk1. Here, we studied the effects of the novel selective Sphk2 inhibitor, ABC294640 (3-(4-chlorophenyl)-adamantane-1-carboxylic acid (pyridin-4-ylmethyl) amide), on human breast cancer. ABC294640 blocked both viability and survival at low micromolar IC50 concentrations in the endocrine therapy-resistant MDA-MB-231 and chemoresistant MCF-7TN-R cell systems. Treatment with the inhibitor significantly reduced proliferation, as seen in immunofluorescence staining of Ki-67 in vitro. Interestingly, pharmacological inhibition of Sphk2 induced apoptosis through the intrinsic programmed cell death pathway. Furthermore, ABC294640 also diminished NFκB survival signaling, through decreased activation of the Ser536 phosphorylation site on the p65 subunit. Xenografts of MCF-7TN-R cells growing in immunocompromised mice were utilized to validate the therapeutic efficacy of the sphingosine kinase-2 inhibitor. Treatment with 50 mg of ABC294640/kg completely blocked tumor volume in this model. These results indicate that pharmacological inhibition of Sphk2 with the orally bioavailable selective inhibitor, ABC294640, has therapeutic potential in the treatment of chemoand endocrine therapy-resistant breast cancer.
doi:10.4161/cbt.11.7.14903
PMCID: PMC3084971  PMID: 21307639
sphingolipids; chemoresistance; sphingosine kinase; NFkappaB; breast cancer; ceramide; TNF; sphingosine-1-phosphate
23.  Glyceollins as novel targeted therapeutic for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer 
Oncology Letters  2011;3(1):163-171.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of glyceollins on the suppression of tumorigenesis in triple-negative breast carcinoma cell lines. We further explored the effects of glyceollins on microRNA and protein expression in MDA-MB-231 cells. Triple-negative (ER-, PgR- and Her2/neu-) breast carcinoma cells were used to test the effects of glyceollins on tumorigenesis in vivo. Following this procedure, unbiased microarray analysis of microRNA expression was performed. Additionally, we examined the changes in the proteome induced by glyceollins in the MDA-MB-231 cells. Tumorigenesis studies revealed a modest suppression of MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 cell tumor growth in vivo. In response to glyceollins we observed a distinct change in microRNA expression profiles and proteomes of the triple-negative breast carcinoma cell line, MDA-MB-231. Our results demonstrated that the glyceollins, previously described as anti-estrogenic agents, also exert antitumor activity in triple-negative breast carcinoma cell systems. This activity correlates with the glyceollin alteration of microRNA and proteomic expression profiles.
doi:10.3892/ol.2011.460
PMCID: PMC3362514  PMID: 22740874
triple-negative breast cancer; microRNA; tumorigenesis; glyceollins
24.  Sorafenib enhances pemetrexed cytotoxicity through an autophagy- dependent mechanism in cancer cells 
Autophagy  2011;7(10):1261-1262.
Pemetrexed (ALIMTA) is a folate anti-metabolite that has been approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, and has been shown to stimulate autophagy. In the present study, we sought to further understand the role of autophagy in the response to pemetrexed and to test if combination therapy could enhance the level of toxicity through altered autophagy in tumor cells. The multikinase inhibitor sorafenib (NEXAVAR), used in the treatment of renal and hepatocellular carcinoma, suppresses tumor angiogenesis and promotes autophagy in tumor cells. We found that sorafenib interacted in a greater than additive fashion with pemetrexed to increase autophagy and to kill a diverse array of tumor cell types. Tumor cell types that displayed high levels of cell killing after combination treatment showed elevated levels of AKT, p70 S6K and/or phosphorylated mTOR, in addition to class III RTKs such as PDGFRβ and VEGFR1, known in vivo targets of sorafenib. In xenograft and in syngeneic animal models of mammary carcinoma and glioblastoma, the combination of sorafenib and pemetrexed suppressed tumor growth without deleterious effects on normal tissues or animal body mass. Taken together, the data suggest that premexetred and sorafenib act synergistically to enhance tumor killing via the promotion of a toxic form of autophagy that leads to activation of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway, and predict that combination treatment represents a future therapeutic option in the treatment of solid tumors.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.10.17029
PMCID: PMC3210312  PMID: 21814046
pemetrexed; sorafenib; autophagy; apoptosis; PDGFR; ZMP; AMP; thymidylate synthase
25.  Effects of 7-O Substitutions on Estrogenic and Antiestrogenic Activities of Daidzein Analogues in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(16):6153-6163.
Daidzein (1) is a natural estrogenic isoflavone. We report here that 1 can be transformed into antiestrogenic ligands by simple alkyl substitutions of the 7-hydroxyl hydrogen. To test the effect of such structural modifications on the hormonal activities of the resulting compounds, a series of daidzein analogues have been designed and synthesized. When MCF-7 cells were treated with the analogues, those resulting from hydrogen substitution by isopropyl (3d), isobutyl (3f), cyclopentyl (3g), and pyrano- (2), inhibited cell proliferation, estrogen-induced transcriptional activity, and estrogen receptor (ER) regulated progesterone receptor (PgR) gene expression. However, methyl (3a) and ethyl (3b) substitutions of the hydroxyl proton only led to moderate reduction of the estrogenic activities. These results demonstrated the structural requirements for the transformation of daidzein from an ER agonist to an antagonist. The most effective analogue, 2 was found to reduce in vivo estrogen stimulated MCF-7 cell tumorigenesis using a xenograft mouse model.
doi:10.1021/jm100610w
PMCID: PMC2956131  PMID: 20669983
Daidzein analogues; antiestrogen; isoflavones; breast cancer; phytoestrogen; SERM; estrogen receptor; xenograft model

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