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1.  Targeting the Bcl-2 Family for Cancer Therapy 
Introduction
Programmed cell death is well-orchestrated process regulated by multiple pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes, particularly those of the Bcl-2 gene family. These genes are well documented in cancer with aberrant expression being strongly associated with resistance to chemotherapy and radiation.
Areas covered
This review focuses on the resistance induced by the Bcl-2 family of anti-apoptotic proteins and current therapeutic interventions currently in preclinical or clinical trials that target this pathway. Major resistance mechanisms that are regulated by Bcl-2 family proteins and potential strategies to circumvent resistance are also examined. Although antisense and gene therapy strategies are used to nullify Bcl-2 family proteins, recent approaches use small molecule inhibitors and peptides. Structural similarity of the Bcl-2 family of proteins greatly favors development of inhibitors that target the BH3 domain, called BH3 mimetics.
Expert opinion
Strategies to specifically identify and inhibit critical determinants that promote therapy-resistance and tumor progression represent viable approaches for developing effective cancer therapies. From a clinical perspective, pretreatment with novel, potent Bcl-2 inhibitors either alone or in combination with conventional therapies hold significant promise for providing beneficial clinical outcomes. Identifying small molecule inhibitors with broader and higher affinities for inhibiting all of the Bcl-2 pro-survival proteins will facilitate development of superior cancer therapies.
doi:10.1517/14728222.2013.733001
PMCID: PMC3955095  PMID: 23173842
BH3 domain; apoptosis; Mcl-1; radiation resistance; chemotherapy resistance
2.  MDA-9/Syntenin and IGFBP-2 Promote Angiogenesis in Human Melanoma 
Cancer research  2012;73(2):844-854.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (mda-9/syntenin) encodes an adapter scaffold protein whose expression correlates with and mediates melanoma progression and metastasis. Tumor angiogenesis represents an integral component of cancer metastasis prompting us to investigate a possible role of mda-9/syntenin in inducing angiogenesis. Genetic (gain-of-function and loss-of-function) and pharmacological approaches were employed to modify mda-9/syntenin expression in normal immortal melanocytes, early radial growth phase melanoma and metastatic melanoma cells. The consequence of modifying mda-9/syntenin expression on angiogenesis was evaluated using both in vitro and in vivo assays, including tube formation assays using human vascular endothelial cells, CAM assays and xenograft tumor animal models. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments confirm that MDA-9/syntenin induces angiogenesis by augmenting expression of several pro-angiogenic factors/genes. Experimental evidence is provided for a model of angiogenesis induction by MDA-9/syntenin in which MDA-9/syntenin interacts with the ECM activating Src and FAK resulting in activation by phosphorylation of Akt, which induces HIF-1α. The HIF-1α activates transcription of Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein-2 (IGFBP-2), which is secreted thereby promoting angiogenesis and further induces endothelial cells to produce and secrete VEGF-A augmenting tumor angiogenesis. Our studies delineate an unanticipated cell non-autonomous function of MDA-9/syntenin in the context of angiogenesis, which may directly contribute to its metastasis-promoting properties. As a result, targeting MDA-9/syntenin or its downstream-regulated molecules may provide a means of simultaneously impeding metastasis by both directly inhibiting tumor cell transformed properties (autonomous) and indirectly by blocking angiogenesis (non-autonomous).
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-1681
PMCID: PMC3548987  PMID: 23233738
mda-9/syntenin; melanoma; angiogenesis; IGFBP-2; HuVECs; CAM assay
3.  Selected Approaches for Rational Drug Design and High Throughput Screening to Identify Anti-Cancer Molecules 
Structure-based modeling combined with rational drug design, and high throughput screening approaches offer significant potential for identifying and developing lead compounds with therapeutic potential. The present review focuses on these two approaches using explicit examples based on specific derivatives of Gossypol generated through rational design and applications of a cancer-specific-promoter derived from Progression Elevated Gene-3. The Gossypol derivative Sabutoclax (BI-97C1) displays potent anti-tumor activity against a diverse spectrum of human tumors. The model of the docked structure of Gossypol bound to Bcl-XL provided a virtual structure-activity-relationship where appropriate modifications were predicted on a rational basis. These structure-based studies led to the isolation of Sabutoclax, an optically pure isomer of Apogossypol displaying superior efficacy and reduced toxicity. These studies illustrate the power of combining structure-based modeling with rational design to predict appropriate derivatives of lead compounds to be empirically tested and evaluated for bioactivity. Another approach to cancer drug discovery utilizes a cancer-specific promoter as readouts of the transformed state. The promoter region of Progression Elevated Gene-3 is such a promoter with cancer-specific activity. The specificity of this promoter has been exploited as a means of constructing cancer terminator viruses that selectively kill cancer cells and as a systemic imaging modality that specifically visualizes in vivo cancer growth with no background from normal tissues. Screening of small molecule inhibitors that suppress the Progression Elevated Gene-3-promoter may provide relevant lead compounds for cancer therapy that can be combined with further structure-based approaches leading to the development of novel compounds for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3763986  PMID: 22931411
Progression Elevated Gene-3; Sabutoclax; Apogossypol; BI-97C1; Gossypol; AP-1; PEA3; ETV4; E1AF; c-fos; c-jun; Cancer Terminator Virus
4.  Enhanced delivery of mda-7/IL-24 using a serotype chimeric adenovirus (Ad.5/3) in combination with the Apogossypol derivative BI-97C1 (Sabutoclax) improves therapeutic efficacy in low CAR colorectal cancer cells 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2012;227(5):2145-2153.
Adenovirus (Ad)-based gene therapy represents a potentially viable strategy for treating colorectal cancer. The infectivity of serotype 5 adenovirus (Ad.5), routinely used as a transgene delivery vector, is dependent on Coxsackie-adenovirus receptors (CAR). CAR expression is downregulated in many cancers thus preventing optimum therapeutic efficiency of Ad.5-based therapies. To overcome the low CAR problem, a serotype chimerism approach was used to generate a recombinant Ad (Ad.5/3) that is capable of infecting cancer cells via Ad.3 receptors in a CAR-independent manner. We evaluated the improved transgene delivery and efficacy of Ad.5/3 recombinant virus expressing melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), an effective wide-spectrum cancer-selective therapeutic. In low CAR human colorectal cancer cells RKO, wild-type Ad.5 virus expressing mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.5-mda-7) failed to infect efficiently resulting in lack of expression of MDA-7/IL-24 or induction of apoptosis. However, a recombinant Ad.5/3 virus expressing mda-7/IL-24 (Ad.5/3-mda-7) efficiently infected RKO cells resulting in higher MDA-7/IL-24 expression and inhibition of cell growth both in vitro and in nude mice xenograft models. Addition of the novel Bcl-2 family pharmacological inhibitor Apogossypol derivative BI-97C1 (Sabutoclax) significantly augmented the efficacy of Ad.5/3-mda-7. A combination regimen of suboptimal doses of Ad.5/3-mda-7 and BI-97C1 profoundly enhanced cytotoxicity in RKO cells both in vitro and in vivo. Considering the fact that Ad.5-mda-7 has demonstrated significant objective responses in a Phase I clinical trial for advanced solid tumors, Ad.5/3-mda-7 alone or in combination with BI-97C1 would be predicted to exert significantly improved therapeutic efficacy in colorectal cancer patients.
doi:10.1002/jcp.22947
PMCID: PMC3228880  PMID: 21780116
Viral gene therapy; Mcl-1 inhibition; apoptosis induction; anti-tumor activity
5.  mda-7/IL-24 differentially regulates soluble and nuclear clusterin in prostate cancer 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2012;227(5):1805-1813.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), a unique member of the IL-10 gene family, displays a broad range of antitumor properties including cancer-specific induction of apoptosis, inhibition of tumor angiogenesis, and modulation of anti-tumor immune responses. Here we identify clusterin (CLU) as a MDA-7/IL-24 interacting protein in DU-145 cells and investigate the role of MDA-7/IL-24 in regulating CLU expression and mediating the antitumor properties of mda-7/IL-24 in prostate cancer. Ad.mda-7 decreased expression of soluble CLU (sCLU) and increased expression of nuclear CLU (nCLU). In the initial phase of Ad.mda-7 infection sCLU expression increased and CLU interacted with MDA-7/IL-24 producing a cytoprotective effect. Infection of stable clones of DU-145 prostate cancer cells expressing sCLU with Ad.mda-7 resulted in generation of nCLU that correlated with decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis. In the presence of mda-7/IL-24, sCLU-DU-145 cells displayed G2/M phase arrest followed by apoptosis. Similarly, Ad.mda-7 infection decreased cell migration by altering cytoskeleton in sCLU-DU-145 cells. Ad.mda-7-treated sCLU-DU-145 cells displayed a significant reduction in tumor growth in mouse xenograft models and reduced angiogenesis when compared to the vector control group. Tumor tissue lysates demonstrated enhanced nCLU generated from sCLU with increased apoptosis in the presence of MDA-7/IL-24. Our findings reveal novel aspects relative to the role of sCLU/nCLU in regulating the anticancer properties of MDA-7/IL-24 that may be exploited for developing enhanced therapies for prostate cancer.
doi:10.1002/jcp.22904
PMCID: PMC3228882  PMID: 21732348
MDA-7/IL-24; soluble clusterin; nuclear clusterin; G2/M arrest; apoptosis
6.  Emerging Strategies for the Early Detection and Prevention of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer 
Journal of cellular physiology  2012;227(2):467-473.
Despite significant improvements in therapeutic protocols, Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) remains a major health problem worldwide. The 5-year post therapeutic survival rate is among the lowest of the major cancers with loco-regional relapse being the main cause of death. Moreover, in most instances, the quality of life of the afflicted patient is severely compromised. The poor prognosis for HNSCC is primarily due to disease detection at advanced stages. Accordingly, development of early detection and preventive strategies are essential. Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular biology and etiology of HNSCC should facilitate development of improved intervention and therapeutic approaches. The present review discusses the potential role of such factors for developing preventive and early diagnostic strategies for HNSCC management.
doi:10.1002/jcp.22767
PMCID: PMC3158829  PMID: 21465466
7.  Oncogene AEG-1 promotes glioma-induced neurodegeneration by increasing glutamate excitotoxicity 
Cancer research  2011;71(20):6514-6523.
Aggressive tumor growth, diffuse tissue invasion and neurodegeneration are hallmarks of malignant glioma. Although glutamate excitotoxicity is considered to play a key role in glioma-induced neurodegeneration, the mechanism(s) controlling this process is poorly understood. AEG-1 is an oncogene overexpressed in multiple types of human cancers including >90% of brain tumors. AEG-1 also promotes gliomagenesis particularly in the context of tumor growth and invasion, two primary characteristics of glioma. In the present study, we investigated the contribution of AEG-1 to glioma-induced neurodegeneration. Pearson correlation coefficient analysis in normal brain tissues and glioma patient samples indicated a strong negative correlation between expression of AEG-1 and a primary glutamate transporter of astrocytes EAAT2. Gain and loss of function studies in normal primary human fetal astrocytes and T98G glioblastoma multiforme cells revealed that AEG-1 repressed EAAT2 expression at a transcriptional level by inducing YY1 activity to inhibit CBP function as a coactivator on the EAAT2 promoter. In addition, AEG-1-mediated EAAT2 repression caused a reduction of glutamate uptake by glial cells, resulting in induction of neuronal cell death. These findings were also confirmed in glioma patient samples demonstrating that AEG-1 expression negatively correlated with NeuN expression. Taken together, our findings suggest that AEG-1 contributes to glioma-induced neurodegeneration, a hallmark of this fatal tumor, through regulation of EAAT2 expression.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-0782
PMCID: PMC3193553  PMID: 21852380
AEG-1; glioma; EAAT2; glutamate; glioma-induced neurodegeneration
8.  Role of Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter-2 (EAAT2) and Glutamate in Neurodegeneration: Opportunities for Developing Novel Therapeutics 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2011;226(10):2484-2493.
Glutamate is an essential excitatory neurotransmitter regulating brain functions. Excitatory amino acid transporter (EAAT)-2 is one of the major glutamate transporters expressed predominantly in astroglial cells and is responsible for 90% of total glutamate uptake. Glutamate transporters tightly regulate glutamate concentration in the synaptic cleft. Dysfunction of EAAT2 and accumulation of excessive extracellular glutamate has been implicated in the development of several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Analysis of the 2.5-kb human EAAT2 promoter showed that NF-κB is an important regulator of EAAT2 expression in astrocytes. Screening of approximately 1,040 FDA-approved compounds and nutritionals led to the discovery that many β-lactam antibiotics are transcriptional activators of EAAT2 resulting in increased EAAT2 protein levels. Treatment of animals with ceftriaxone (CEF), a β-lactam antibiotic, led to an increase of EAAT2 expression and glutamate transport activity in the brain. CEF has neuroprotective effects in both in vitro and in vivo models based on its ability to inhibit neuronal cell death by preventing glutamate excitotoxicity. CEF increases EAAT2 transcription in primary human fetal astrocytes (PHFA) through the NF-κB signaling pathway. The NF-κB binding site at −272 position was critical in CEF-mediated EAAT2 protein induction. These studies emphasize the importance of transcriptional regulation in controlling glutamate levels in the brain. They also emphasize the potential utility of the EAAT2 promoter for developing both low and high throughput screening assays to identify novel small molecule regulators of glutamate transport with potential to ameliorate pathological changes occurring during and causing neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1002/jcp.22609
PMCID: PMC3130100  PMID: 21792905
9.  Targeting Mcl-1 for the therapy of cancer 
Introduction
Human cancers are genetically and epigenetically heterogeneous and have the capacity to commandeer a variety of cellular processes to aid in their survival, growth and resistance to therapy. One strategy is to overexpress proteins that suppress apoptosis, such as the Bcl-2 family protein Mcl-1. The Mcl-1 protein plays a pivotal role in protecting cells from apoptosis and is overexpressed in a variety of human cancers.
Areas covered
Targeting Mcl-1 for extinction in these cancers, using genetic and pharmacological approaches, represents a potentially effectual means of developing new efficacious cancer therapeutics. Here we review the multiple strategies that have been employed in targeting this fundamental protein, as well as the significant potential these targeting agents provide in not only suppressing cancer growth, but also in reversing resistance to conventional cancer treatments.
Expert Opinion
We discuss the potential issues that arise in targeting Mcl-1 and other Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic proteins, as well problems with acquired resistance. The application of combinatorial approaches that involve inhibiting Mcl-1 and manipulation of additional signaling pathways to enhance therapeutic outcomes is also highlighted. The ability to specifically inhibit key genetic/epigenetic elements and biochemical pathways that maintain the tumor state represent a viable approach for developing rationally based, effective cancer therapies.
doi:10.1517/13543784.2011.609167
PMCID: PMC3205956  PMID: 21851287
10.  A First-Generation Multi-Functional Cytokine for Simultaneous Optical Tracking and Tumor Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40234.
Creating new molecules that simultaneously enhance tumor cell killing and permit diagnostic tracking is vital to overcoming the limitations rendering current therapeutic regimens for terminal cancers ineffective. Accordingly, we investigated the efficacy of an innovative new multi-functional targeted anti-cancer molecule, SM7L, using models of the lethal brain tumor Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Designed using predictive computer modeling, SM7L incorporates the therapeutic activity of the promising anti-tumor cytokine MDA-7/IL-24, an enhanced secretory domain, and diagnostic domain for non-invasive tracking. In vitro assays revealed the diagnostic domain of SM7L produced robust photon emission, while the therapeutic domain showed marked anti-tumor efficacy and significant modulation of p38MAPK and ERK pathways. In vivo, the unique multi-functional nature of SM7L allowed simultaneous real-time monitoring of both SM7L delivery and anti-tumor efficacy. Utilizing engineered stem cells as novel delivery vehicles for SM7L therapy (SC-SM7L), we demonstrate that SC-SM7L significantly improved pharmacokinetics and attenuated progression of established peripheral and intracranial human GBM xenografts. Furthermore, SC-SM7L anti-tumor efficacy was augmented in vitro and in vivo by concurrent activation of caspase-mediated apoptosis induced by adjuvant SC-mediated S-TRAIL delivery. Collectively, these studies define a promising new approach to treating highly aggressive cancers, including GBM, using the optimized therapeutic molecule SM7L.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040234
PMCID: PMC3394792  PMID: 22808125
11.  IL-6 promotes prostate tumorigenesis and progression through autocrine cross-activation of IGF-IR 
Oncogene  2011;30(20):2345-2355.
As an established mediator of inflammation, IL-6 is implicated to facilitate prostate cancer progression to androgen independence through transactivation of the androgen receptor. However, whether IL-6 plays a causative role in de novo prostate tumorigenesis was never investigated. We now provide the first evidence that IL-6 can induce tumorigenic conversion and further progression to an invasive phenotype of non-tumorigenic benign prostate epithelial cells. Moreover, we find that paracrine IL-6 stimulates autocrine IL-6 loop and autocrine activation of IGF-IR to confer the tumorigenic property and that activation of STAT3 is critical in these processes. Inhibition of STAT3 activation or IGF-IR signaling suppresses IL-6-mediated malignant conversion and the associated invasive phenotype. Inhibition of STAT3 activation suppresses IL-6-induced upregulation of IGF-IR and its ligands IGF-I and IGF-II. These findings indicate IL-6 signaling cooperates with IGF-IR signaling in the prostate microenvironment to promote prostate tumorigenesis and progression to aggressiveness. Our findings suggest that STAT3 and IGF-IR may represent potential effective targets for prevention or treatment of prostate cancer.
doi:10.1038/onc.2010.605
PMCID: PMC3112005  PMID: 21258401
IL-6; STAT3; tumorigenesis; EMT; IGF-IR; prostate
12.  The development of MDA-7/IL-24 as a cancer therapeutic 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2010;128(2):375-384.
The cytokine melanoma differentiation associated gene 7 (mda-7) was identified by subtractive hybridization as a protein whose expression increased during the induction of terminal differentiation, and that was either not expressed or was present at low levels in tumor cells compared to non-transformed cells. Based on conserved structure, chromosomal location and cytokine-like properties, MDA-7, was classified as a member of the interleukin (IL)-10 gene family and designated as MDA-7/IL-24. Multiple studies have demonstrated that expression of MDA-7/IL-24 in a wide variety of tumor cell types, but not in corresponding equivalent non-transformed cells, causes their growth arrest and rapid cell death. In addition, MDA-7/IL-24 has been noted to radiosensitize tumor cells which in part is due to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and ceramide that cause endoplasmic reticulum stress and suppress protein translation. Phase I clinical trial data has shown that a recombinant adenovirus expressing MDA-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7 (INGN-241)) was safe and had measurable tumoricidal effects in over 40% of patients, strongly arguing that MDA-7/IL-24 could have significant therapeutic value. This review describes what is presently known about the impact of MDA-7/IL-24 on tumor cell biology and its potential therapeutic applications.
doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2010.08.001
PMCID: PMC2947573  PMID: 20732354
MDA-7; IL-24; Apoptosis; Autophagy; Ceramide; ROS; Ca2+; Clinical trial; Signal transduction; PERK; ER stress; MCL-1
13.  mda-7/IL-24: A Unique Member of the IL-10 Gene Family Promoting Cancer-Targeted Toxicity 
Cytokine & growth factor reviews  2010;21(5):381-391.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a unique member of the IL-10 gene family that displays nearly ubiquitous cancer-specific toxicity, with no harmful effects toward normal cells or tissues. mda-7/IL-24 was cloned from human melanoma cells by differentiation induction subtraction hybridization (DISH) and promotes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress culminating in apoptosis or toxic autophagy in a broad-spectrum of human cancers, when assayed in cell culture, in vivo in human tumor xenograft mouse models and in a Phase I clinical trial in patients with advanced cancers. This therapeutically active cytokine also induces indirect anti-tumor activity through inhibition of angiogenesis, stimulation of an anti-tumor immune response, and sensitization of cancer cells to radiation-, chemotherapy- and antibody-induced killing.
doi:10.1016/j.cytogfr.2010.08.004
PMCID: PMC3164830  PMID: 20926331
mda-7/IL-24; apoptosis; autophagy; bystander antitumor activity; cancer terminator virus
14.  Mechanism by Which Mcl-1 Regulates Cancer-Specific Apoptosis Triggered by mda-7/IL-24, an IL-10-Related Cytokine 
Cancer research  2010;70(12):5034-5045.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24), a cytokine belonging to the IL-10 family, selectively induces apoptosis in cancer cells without harming normal cells by promoting an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response. The precise molecular mechanism by which the ER stress response culminates in cell death requires further clarification. The present study shows that in prostate carcinoma cells, the mda-7/IL-24-induced ER stress response causes apoptosis by translational inhibition of the antiapoptotic protein myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1). Forced expression of Mcl-1 blocked mda-7/IL-24 lethality, whereas RNA interference or gene knockout of Mcl-1 markedly sensitized transformed cells to mda-7/IL-24. Mcl-1 downregulation by mda-7/IL-24 relieved its association with the proapoptotic protein Bak, causing oligomerization of Bak and leading to cell death. These observations show the profound role of the Bcl-2 protein family member Mcl-1 in regulating cancer-specific apoptosis induced by this cytokine. Thus, our studies provide further insights into the molecular mechanism of ER stress-induced cancer-selective apoptosis by mda-7/IL-24. As Mcl-1 is overexpressed in the majority of prostate cancers, mda-7/IL-24 might provide an effective therapeutic for this disease.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0563
PMCID: PMC3171699  PMID: 20501829
15.  Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1): a novel target for human glioma therapy 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(1):79-88.
Malignant gliomas including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and anaplastic astrocytomas are the most common primary brain tumors. Despite multimodal treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, median survival for patients with GBMs is only 12–15 months. Identifying molecules critical for glioma progression is crucial for devising effective targeted therapy. In the present study, we investigated the potential contribution of Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1) in gliomagenesis and explored the possibility of AEG-1 as a therapeutic target for malignant glioma. We analyzed the expression levels of AEG-1 in 9 normal brain tissues and 98 brain tumor patient samples by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. AEG-1 expression was significantly elevated in > 90% of diverse human brain tumor samples including GBMs and astrocytic tumors, and also in human glioma cell lines as compared to normal brain tissues and normal astrocytes. Knockdown of AEG-1 by siRNA inhibited cell viability, cloning efficiency, invasive ability of U87 human glioma cells and 9L rat gliosarcoma cells. We also found that matrix metalloproteases (MMP-2 and MMP-9) are involved in AEG-1-mediated invasion of glioma cells. In an orthotopic nude mouse brain tumor model using primary human GBM12 tumor cells, AEG-1 siRNA significantly suppressed glioma cell growth in vivo. Taken together these provocative results indicate that AEG-1 may play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of glioma and that AEG-1 could represent a viable potential target for malignant glioma therapy.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0752
PMCID: PMC3165052  PMID: 20053777
AEG-1; brain tumor; glioma; invasion; angiogenesis
16.  MDA-7/IL-24 as a cancer therapeutic: from bench to bedside 
Anti-cancer drugs  2010;21(8):725-731.
The novel cytokine melanoma differentiation associated gene-7 (mda-7) was identified by subtractive hybridization in the mid-1990s as a protein whose expression increased during the induction of terminal differentiation, and that was either not expressed or was present at low levels in tumor cells compared to non-transformed cells. Based on conserved structure, chromosomal location and cytokine-like properties, MDA-7, has now been classified as a member of the expanding interleukin (IL)-10 gene family and designated as MDA-7/IL-24. Multiple studies have demonstrated that expression of MDA-7/IL-24 in a wide variety of tumor cell types, but not in corresponding equivalent non-transformed cells, causes their growth arrest and ultimately cell death. In addition, MDA-7/IL-24 has been noted to be a radiosensitizing cytokine, which in part is due to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and ceramide that cause endoplasmic reticulum stress. Phase I clinical trial data has shown that a recombinant adenovirus expressing MDA-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7 (INGN-241)) was safe and had measurable tumoricidal effects in over 40% of patients, which strongly argues that MDA-7/IL-24 may have significant therapeutic value. This review describes what is known about the impact of MDA-7/IL-24 on tumor cell biology and its potential therapeutic applications.
doi:10.1097/CAD.0b013e32833cfbe1
PMCID: PMC2915543  PMID: 20613485
MDA-7: melanoma differentiation associated gene 7
17.  Autophagy switches to apoptosis in prostate cancer cells infected with melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) 
Autophagy  2011;7(9):1076-1077.
MDA-7/IL-24 has noteworthy potential as an anticancer therapeutic because of its diversity of antitumor properties, its lack of toxicity toward normal cells and tissues, and its safety and efficacy as evidenced in a phase I clinical trial. In a recent study, we document that Ad.mda-7-induced ER stress and ceramide production leads to early autophagy that subsequently switches to apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells. During the apoptotic phase, the MDA-7/IL-24 protein physically interacts with Beclin 1 and this interaction might inhibit Beclin 1 function culminating in apoptosis. Conversely, Ad.mda-7 infection leads to calpain-mediated cleavage of the Atg5 protein that might also facilitate a biochemical switch from autophagy to apoptosis. Our recent paper reveals novel aspects of the interplay between autophagy and apoptosis that underlie the cytotoxic action of MDA-7/IL-24 in prostate cancer cells. These new insights into MDA-7/IL-24 action provide intriguing leads for developing innovative combinatorial approaches for prostate cancer therapy.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.9.16163
PMCID: PMC3210317  PMID: 21610321
mda-7/IL-24; protective autophagy; apoptosis; Beclin 1; Atg5
18.  BI-97C1, an Optically Pure Apogossypol Derivative as Pan-Active Inhibitor of Anti-apoptotic B-cell lymphoma/leukemia-2 (Bcl-2) Family Proteins 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(10):4166-4176.
In our continued attempts to identify novel and effective pan-Bcl-2 antagonists, we have recently reported a series of compound 2 (Apogossypol) derivatives, resulting in the chiral compound 4 (8r). We report here on synthesis and evaluation on its optically pure individual isomers. Compound 11 (BI-97C1), the most potent diastereoisomer of compound 4, inhibits the binding of BH3 peptides to Bcl-XL, Bcl-2, Mcl-1 and Bfl-1 with IC50 values of 0.31, 0.32, 0.20 and 0.62 μM, respectively. The compound also potently inhibits cell growth of human prostate cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma cell lines with EC50 values of 0.13, 0.56 and 0.049 μM, respectively and shows little cytotoxicity against bax−/−bak−/− cells. Compound 11 displays in vivo efficacy in transgenic mice models and also demonstrated superior single-agent antitumor efficacy in a prostate cancer mouse xenograft model. Therefore, compound 11 represents a potential drug lead for the development of novel apoptosis-based therapies against cancer.
doi:10.1021/jm1001265
PMCID: PMC2880850  PMID: 20443627
19.  Mechanism of autophagy to apoptosis switch triggered in prostate cancer cells by antitumor cytokine mda-7/IL-24 
Cancer research  2010;70(9):3667-3676.
mda-7/IL-24 is a unique member of the IL-10 gene family, which displays a broad range of antitumor properties including induction of cancer-specific apoptosis. Adenoviral mediated delivery by Ad.mda-7 invokes an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is associated with ceramide production and autophagy in some cancer cells. Here we report that Ad.mda-7-induced ER stress and ceramide production triggers autophagy in human prostate cancer cells, but not normal prostate epithelial cells, through a canonical signaling pathway that involves Beclin-1, atg5 and hVps34. Autophagy occurs in cancer cells at early times after Ad.mda-7 infection but a switch to apoptosis occurs by 48 hr post-infection. Inhibiting autophagy with 3-methyladenosine increases Ad.mda-7-induced apoptosis, suggesting that autophagy may be initiated first as a cytoprotective mechanism. Inhibiting apoptosis by overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL increased autophagy after Ad.mda-7 infection. During the apoptotic phase, the MDA-7/IL-24 protein physically interacted with Beclin-1 in a manner that could inhibit Beclin-1 function culminating in apoptosis. Conversely, Ad.mda-7 infection elicited calpain-mediated cleavage of the autophagic protein ATG5 in a manner that could facilitate switch to apoptosis. Our findings reveal novel aspects of the interplay between autophagy and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells that underlie the cytotoxic action of mda-7/IL-24, possibly providing new insights in the development of combinatorial therapies for prostate cancer.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3647
PMCID: PMC2874885  PMID: 20406981
mda-7/IL-24; protective autophagy; apoptosis; Beclin-1; atg5
20.  PERK–Dependent Regulation of Ceramide Synthase 6 and Thioredoxin Play a Key Role in mda-7/IL-24–Induced Killing of Primary Human Glioblastoma Multiforme Cells 
Cancer research  2010;70(3):1120-1129.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7(mda-7) encodes IL-24, a cytokine that can selectively trigger apoptosis in transformed cells. Recombinant mda-7 adenovirus (Ad.mda-7) effectively kills glioma cells, offering a novel gene therapy strategy to address deadly brain tumors. In this study, we defined the proximal mechanisms by which Ad-mda-7 kills glioma cells. Key factors implicated included activation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress kinase protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), Ca++ elevation, ceramide generation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. PERK inhibition blocked ceramide or dihydroceramide generation, which were critical for Ca++ induction and subsequent ROS formation. Activation of autophagy and cell death relied upon ROS formation, the inhibition of which ablated Ad.mda-7–killing activity. In contrast, inhibiting TRX induced by Ad.MDA-7 enhanced tumor cytotoxicity and improved animal survival in an orthotopic tumor model. Our findings indicate that mda-7/IL-24 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that triggers production of ceramide, Ca2+, and ROS, which in turn promote glioma cell autophagy and cell death.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-4043
PMCID: PMC2890071  PMID: 20103619
21.  An Optically Pure Apogossypolone Derivative as Potent Pan-Active Inhibitor of Anti-Apoptotic Bcl-2 Family Proteins 
Our focus in the past several years has been on the identification of novel and effective pan-Bcl-2 antagonists. We have recently reported a series of Apogossypolone (ApoG2) derivatives, resulting in the chiral compound (±) BI97D6. We report here the synthesis and evaluation on its optically pure (−) and (+) atropisomers. Compound (−) BI97D6 potently inhibits the binding of BH3 peptides to Bcl-XL, Bcl-2, Mcl-1, and Bfl-1 with IC50 values of 76 ± 5, 31 ± 2, 25 ± 8, and 122 ± 28 nM, respectively. In a cellular assay, compound (−) BI97D6 effectively inhibits cell growth in the PC-3 human prostate cancer and H23 human lung cancer cell lines with EC50 values of 0.22 ± 0.08 and 0.14 ± 0.02 μM, respectively. Similarly, compound (−) BI97D6 effectively induces apoptosis in the BP3 human lymphoma cell line in a dose-dependent manner. The compound also shows little cytotoxicity against bax−/−/bak−/− cells, suggesting that it kills cancers cells predominantly via a Bcl-2 pathway. Moreover, compound (−) BI97D6 displays in vivo efficacy in both a Bcl-2-transgenic mouse model and in a prostate cancer xenograft model in mice. Therefore, compound (−) BI97D6 represents a promising drug lead for the development of novel apoptosis-based therapies for cancer.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2011.00028
PMCID: PMC3356046  PMID: 22655238
apoptosis; anti-apoptotic Bcl-2; cancer; apogossypolone; 5; 5′ apogossypolone derivatives
22.  Targeted activation of innate immunity for therapeutic induction of autophagy and apoptosis in melanoma cells 
Cancer cell  2009;16(2):103-114.
Summary
Inappropriate drug delivery, secondary toxicities and persistent chemo- and immuno-resistance have traditionally compromised treatment response in melanoma. Using cellular systems and genetically engineered mouse models, we show that melanoma cells retain an innate ability to recognize cytosolic dsRNA and mount persistent stress response programs able to block tumor growth, even in highly immunosuppressed backgrounds. The dsRNA mimic polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (pIC), coadministered with polyethyleneimine (PEI) as a carrier, was identified as an unanticipated inducer of autophagy downstream of an exacerbated endosomal maturation program. A concurrent activity of the dsRNA helicase MDA-5 driving the proapoptotic protein NOXA resulted in an efficient autodigestion of melanoma cells. These results reveal tractable links for therapeutic intervention among dsRNA helicases, endo/lysosomes and apoptotic factors.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2009.07.004
PMCID: PMC2851205  PMID: 19647221

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