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1.  Expression patterns of MDA-9/syntenin during development of the mouse embryo 
Journal of molecular histology  2012;44(2):159-166.
MDA-9 (melanoma differentiation associated gene-9)/Syntenin is a PDZ domain-containing adaptor protein involved in multiple diverse cellular processes including organization of protein complexes in the plasma membrane, intracellular trafficking and cell surface targeting, synaptic transmission, and cancer metastasis. In the present study, we analyzed the expression pattern of MDA-9/syntenin during mouse development. MDA-9/syntenin was robustly expressed with tight regulation of its temporal and spatial expression during fetal development in the developing skin, spinal cord, heart, lung and liver, which are regulated by multiple signaling pathways in the process of organogenesis. Recent studies also indicate that MDA-9/syntenin is involved in the signaling pathways crucial during development such as Wnt, Notch and FGF. Taken together, these results suggest that MDA-9/syntenin may play a prominent role during normal mouse development in the context of cell proliferation as well as differentiation through modulating multiple signaling pathways as a crucial adaptor protein. Additionally, temporal regulation of MDA-9/syntenin expression may be required during specific stages and in specific tissues during development.
doi:10.1007/s10735-012-9468-1
PMCID: PMC3605205  PMID: 23180153
MDA-9/syntenin; development; mouse embryo; adaptor protein
2.  Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing-1 (SND1) promotes migration and invasion via angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) and TGFβ signaling 
FEBS Open Bio  2014;4:353-361.
Highlights
•SND1 augments AT1R receptor level by posttranscriptional regulation.•SND1 activates TGFβ signaling which promotes the epithelial–mesenchymal transition.•Migration and invasion by human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells are augmented by SND1.•A correlation is observed between SND1 and AT1R expression in HCC patients.
Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing-1 (SND1) is overexpressed in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients and promotes tumorigenesis by human HCC cells. We now document that SND1 increases angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) levels by increasing AT1R mRNA stability. This results in activation of ERK, Smad2 and subsequently the TGFβ signaling pathway, promoting epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration and invasion by human HCC cells. A positive correlation was observed between SND1 and AT1R expression levels in human HCC patients. Small molecule inhibitors of SND1, alone or in combination with AT1R blockers, might be an effective therapeutic strategy for late-stage aggressive HCC.
doi:10.1016/j.fob.2014.03.012
PMCID: PMC4050181  PMID: 24918049
ACE, angiotensin-I converting enzyme; ACE-I, ACE inhibitors; AT1R, angiotensin II type 1 receptor; EMT, epithelial–mesenchymal transition; FDR, false discovery rate; HCC, human hepatocellular carcinoma; LP, losartan potassium; MTT, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; NASH, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; PAI-1, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1; RISC, RNA-induced silencing complex; SND1, Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing-1; SND1; AT1R; TGFβ; PAI-1; Invasion
3.  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
4.  AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC: Signaling Pathways, Downstream Genes, Interacting Proteins, and Regulation of Tumor Angiogenesis 
Advances in cancer research  2013;120:75-111.
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1), also known as metadherin (MTDH) and lysine-rich CEACAM1 coisolated (LYRIC), was initially cloned in 2002. AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has emerged as an important oncogene that is overexpressed in multiple types of human cancer. Expanded research on AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has established a functional role of this molecule in several crucial aspects of tumor progression, including transformation, proliferation, cell survival, evasion of apoptosis, migration and invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, and chemoresistance. The multifunctional role of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in tumor development and progression is associated with a number of signaling cascades, and recent studies identified several important interacting partners of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in regulating cancer promotion and other biological functions. This review evaluates the current literature on AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC function relative to signaling changes, interacting partners, and angiogenesis and highlights new perspectives of this molecule, indicating its potential as a significant target for the clinical treatment of various cancers and other diseases.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-401676-7.00003-6
PMCID: PMC3928810  PMID: 23889988
5.  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
6.  Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) promotes hepatocarcinogenesis: novel insights from a mouse model 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(5):1782-1791.
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) is a key contributor to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development and progression. To enhance our understanding of the role of AEG-1 in hepatocarcinogenesis, a transgenic mouse with hepatocyte-specific expression of AEG-1 (Alb/AEG1) was developed. Treating Alb/AEG-1, but not Wild type (WT) mice, with N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN), resulted in multinodular HCC with steatotic features and associated modulation of expression of genes regulating invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis and fatty acid synthesis. Hepatocytes isolated from Alb/AEG-1 mice displayed profound resistance to chemotherapeutics and growth factor deprivation with activation of pro-survival signaling pathways. Alb/AEG-1 hepatocytes also exhibited marked resistance towards senescence, which correlated with abrogation of activation of a DNA damage response. Conditioned media (CM) from Alb/AEG-1 hepatocytes induced marked angiogenesis with elevation in several coagulation factors. Among these factors, AEG-1 facilitated association of Factor XII (FXII) mRNA with polysomes resulting in increased translation. siRNA-mediated knockdown of FXII resulted in profound inhibition of AEG-1-induced angiogenesis.
Conclusion
We uncover novel aspects of AEG-1 functions, including induction of steatosis, inhibition of senescence and activation of coagulation pathway to augment aggressive hepatocarcinogenesis. The Alb/AEG-1 mouse provides an appropriate model to scrutinize the molecular mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis and to evaluate the efficacy of novel therapeutic strategies targeting HCC.
doi:10.1002/hep.25868
PMCID: PMC3449036  PMID: 22689379
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1); transgenic; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); senescence; angiogenesis
7.  Identification of Genes Potentially Regulated by Human Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35) Using Melanoma as a Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76284.
Human Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35 or PNPT1) is an evolutionarily conserved 3′→5′ exoribonuclease implicated in the regulation of numerous physiological processes including maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis, mtRNA import and aging-associated inflammation. From an RNase perspective, little is known about the RNA or miRNA species it targets for degradation or whose expression it regulates; except for c-myc and miR-221. To further elucidate the functional implications of hPNPaseold-35 in cellular physiology, we knocked-down and overexpressed hPNPaseold-35 in human melanoma cells and performed gene expression analyses to identify differentially expressed transcripts. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis indicated that knockdown of hPNPaseold-35 resulted in significant gene expression changes associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and cholesterol biosynthesis; whereas overexpression of hPNPaseold-35 caused global changes in cell-cycle related functions. Additionally, comparative gene expression analyses between our hPNPaseold-35 knockdown and overexpression datasets allowed us to identify 77 potential “direct” and 61 potential “indirect” targets of hPNPaseold-35 which formed correlated networks enriched for cell-cycle and wound healing functional association, respectively. These results provide a comprehensive database of genes responsive to hPNPaseold-35 expression levels; along with the identification new potential candidate genes offering fresh insight into cellular pathways regulated by PNPT1 and which may be used in the future for possible therapeutic intervention in mitochondrial- or inflammation-associated disease phenotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076284
PMCID: PMC3797080  PMID: 24143183
8.  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
9.  Targeted Apoptotic Effects of Thymoquinone and Tamoxifen on XIAP Mediated Akt Regulation in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61342.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is constitutively expressed endogenous inhibitor of apoptosis, exhibit its antiapoptotic effect by inactivating key caspases such as caspase-3, caspase-7 and caspase-9 and also play pivotal role in rendering cancer chemoresistance. Our studies showed the coadministration of TQ and TAM resulting in a substantial increase in breast cancer cell apoptosis and marked inhibition of cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Anti-angiogenic and anti-invasive potential of TQ and TAM was assessed through in vitro studies. This novel combinatorial regimen leads to regulation of multiple cell signaling targets including inactivation of Akt and XIAP degradation. At molecular level, TQ and TAM synergistically lowers XIAP expression resulting in binding and activation of caspase-9 in apoptotic cascade, and interfere with cell survival through PI3-K/Akt pathway by inhibiting Akt phosphorylation. Cleaved caspase-9 further processes other intracellular death substrates such as PARP thereby shifting the balance from survival to apoptosis, indicated by rise in the sub-G1 cell population. This combination also downregulates the expression of Akt-regulated downstream effectors such as Bcl-xL, Bcl-2 and induce expression of Bax, AIF, cytochrome C and p-27. Consistent with these results, overexpression studies further confirmed the involvement of XIAP and its regulatory action on Akt phosphorylation along with procaspase-9 and PARP cleavage in TQ-TAM coadministrated induced apoptosis. The ability of TQ and TAM in inhibiting XIAP was confirmed through siRNA-XIAP cotransfection studies. This novel modality may be a promising tool in breast cancer treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061342
PMCID: PMC3629226  PMID: 23613836
10.  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
11.  Is there a common upstream link for autophagic and apoptotic cell death in human high-grade gliomas? 
Neuro-Oncology  2011;13(7):725-735.
The prognosis of patients with human high-grade gliomas (HGGs) remains dismal despite major advances in their management, due mainly to the high resistance of these infiltrative tumor cells to programmed cell death (PCD). Most therapeutic strategies for HGGs are aimed to maximize PCD type I, apoptosis or type II, autophagy. These are predominantly distinctive processes, but many studies suggest a cross-talk between the two. A better understanding of the link between PCD types I and II might allow development of more effective therapies for HGGs. In this study, we examined whether there is a common upstream signaling event responsible for both apoptotic and autophagic PCD using 3 chemotherapeutic agents in human HGG cells. Our study shows that each agent caused a significant decrease in cell viability in each of the HGG cell lines tested. The increase rate of apoptosis and autophagy varied among cell lines and chemotherapeutic agents used. Increased expression of cytidine-cytidine-adenosine-adenosine-thymidine (C)/enhancer binding protein (EBP) homologous transcription factor C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP)/growth arrest and DNA damage–inducible gene 153 (GADD153) was documented after use of either pro-autophagic or pro-apoptotic agents. The involvement of CHOP/GADD153 in both type I and type II PCD was confirmed by overexpression and gene-silencing studies. Gene silencing by small-interfering RNA–mediated CHOP/GADD153 resulted in increased cell viability, decreased upregulation of microtubule-associated protein light-chain 3′ type II (LC3II) and cleaved caspase-3, and inhibition of apoptosis and autophagy. Exogenous expression of CHOP/GADD153 triggered apoptosis and autophagy in the absence of other stimuli. The clinical significance of these findings was supported by the evidence that celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug known to induce GADD153-mediated apoptosis, strongly increases both type I and type II PCD in HGG cells when combined with another inducer of GADD153. These data suggest that CHOP/GADD153 should be investigated as a novel targetable signaling step to improve therapies for HGGs.
doi:10.1093/neuonc/nor053
PMCID: PMC3129275  PMID: 21727211
apoptosis; autophagy; CHOP/GADD153; cell viability; gliomas
12.  Increased RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC) Activity Contributes to Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;53(5):1538-1548.
There is virtually no effective treatment for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and novel targets need to be identified to develop effective treatment. We recently documented that the oncogene Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Employing yeast two-hybrid assay and co-immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry we identified Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing 1 (SND1), a nuclease in the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) facilitating RNAi-mediated gene silencing, as an AEG-1 interacting protein. Co-immunoprecipitation and co-localization studies confirmed that AEG-1 is also a component of RISC and both AEG-1 and SND1 are required for optimum RISC activity facilitating siRNA and miRNA-mediated silencing of luciferase reporter gene. In 109 human HCC samples SND1 was overexpressed in ∼74% cases compared to normal liver. Correspondingly, significantly higher RISC activity was observed in human HCC cells compared to immortal normal hepatocytes. Increased RISC activity, conferred by AEG-1 or SND1, resulted in increased degradation of tumor suppressor mRNAs that are target of oncomiRs. Inhibition of enzymatic activity of SND1 significantly inhibited proliferation of human HCC cells. As a corollary, stable overexpression of SND1 augmented and siRNA-mediated inhibition of SND1 abrogated growth of human HCC cells in vitro and in vivo thus revealing a potential role of SND1 in hepatocarcinogenesis.
Conclusion
We unravel a novel mechanism that overexpression of AEG-1 and SND1 leading to increased RISC activity might contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis. Targeted inhibition of SND1 enzymatic activity might be developed as an effective therapy for HCC.
doi:10.1002/hep.24216
PMCID: PMC3081619  PMID: 21520169
AEG-1; SND1; protein-protein interaction; RNAi; hepatocarcinogenesis
13.  Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1): a multifunctional regulator of normal and abnormal physiology 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2011;130(1):1-8.
Since its initial identification and cloning in 2002, Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1), also known as metadherin (MTDH), 3D3 and LYsine-RIch CEACAM1 co-isolated (LYRIC), has emerged as an important oncogene that is overexpressed in all cancers analyzed so far. Examination of a large cohort of patient samples representing diverse cancer indications has revealed progressive increase in AEG-1 expression with stages and grades of the disease and an inverse relationship between AEG-1 expression level and patient prognosis. AEG-1 functions as a bona fide oncogene by promoting transformation. In addition, it plays a significant role in invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis and chemoresistance, all important hallmarks of an aggressive cancer. AEG-1 is also implicated in diverse physiological and pathological processes, such as development, inflammation, neurodegeneration, migraine and Huntington disease. AEG-1 is a highly basic protein with a transmembrane domain and multiple nuclear localization signals and it is present in the cell membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, nucleolus and endoplasmic reticulum. In each location, AEG-1 interacts with specific proteins thereby modulating diverse intracellular processes the combination of which contributes to its pleiotrophic properties. The present review provides a snapshot of the current literature along with future perspectives on this unique molecule.
doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2011.01.008
PMCID: PMC3043119  PMID: 21256156
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1); Oncogene; Metastasis; Chemoresistance; Angiogenesis; Neurodegeneration
14.  Stemness of the CT-2A Immunocompetent Mouse Brain Tumor Model: Characterization In Vitro 
Journal of Cancer  2012;3:166-174.
Evidence has pointed to brain tumor stem cells (BTSC) as culprits behind human high-grade glioma (hHGG) resistance to standard therapy. Pre-clinical rodent models are the mainstay for testing of new therapeutic strategies. The typical model involves the intracranial injection of human glioma cells into immunocompromised hosts, hindering the evaluation of tumor-host responses and resulting in non-infiltrative tumors. The CT-2A model is an immunocompetent mouse model with potential to overcome these disadvantages. In this study, we confirmed the highly infiltrative nature of intracranial CT-2A tumors and optimized reproducible injection parameters. We then generated neurospheres and established, for the first time, the stemness of this model. CT-2A expression of the BTSC marker, CD133, increased from 2% in monolayer cells to 31% in fully-formed neurospheres. Investigation of three stem cell markers (Oct4, Nanog and Nestin) revealed a distinct stemness signature with monolayer cells expressing Oct4 and Nestin (no Nanog), and neurospheres expressing all three. Additionally, CT-2A cells were more proliferative and invasive than U87 cells, while CT-2A neurospheres were significantly more proliferative and invasive than either monolayer cells in vitro. Taken together, our results show that this model is a valuable tool for pre-clinical testing of novel therapeutics against hHGG and also affords the opportunity for investigation of BTSC in an immunocompetent setting.
doi:10.7150/jca.4149
PMCID: PMC3328782  PMID: 22514559
immunocompetent mouse model; glioma; stem cells
15.  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
16.  Caspase-, cathepsin-, and PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced cell killing in primary human glioma cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(2):297-313.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The present studies focused on defining the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that correlated with inactivation of ERK1/2 and activation of JNK1-3. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent on protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK−/− cells. JNK1-3 signaling activated BAX, whereas inhibition of JNK1-3, deletion of BAX, or expression of dominant-negative caspase-9 suppressed lethality. GST-MDA-7 also promoted a PERK-, JNK-, and cathepsin B–dependent cleavage of BID; loss of BID function promoted survival. GST-MDA-7 suppressed BAD and BIM phosphorylation and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methylade-nine, expression of HSP70 or BiP/GRP78, or knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data show that GST-MDA-7 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is causal in the activation of multiple proapoptotic pathways, which converge on the mitochondrion and highlight the complexity of signaling pathways altered by mda-7/IL-24 in glioma cells that ultimately culminate in decreased tumor cell survival.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-2166
PMCID: PMC3204355  PMID: 18281515
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  Embryonic stem cell (ESC)-mediated transgene delivery induces growth suppression, apoptosis, radiosensitization, and overcomes temozolomide resistance in malignant gliomas 
Cancer gene therapy  2010;17(9):664-674.
High-grade gliomas are among the most lethal of all cancers. Despite considerable advances in multi-modality treatment, including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, the overall prognosis for patients with this disease remains dismal. Currently available treatments necessitate the development of more effective tumor-selective therapies. The use of gene therapy for malignant gliomas is promising as it allows in situ delivery and selectively targets brain tumor cells while sparing the adjacent normal brain tissue. Viral vectors to deliver pro-apoptotic genes to malignant glioma cells have been investigated. Although tangible results on patients’ survival remains to be further documented, significant advances in therapeutic gene transfer strategies have been made. Recently, cell-based gene delivery has been sought as an alternative method. In this paper, we report the pro-apoptotic effects of embryonic stem cell (ESC)-mediated mda-7/IL-24 delivery to malignant glioma cell lines. Our data show that these are similar to those observed using a viral vector. Additionally, acknowledging the heterogeneity of malignant glioma cells and their signaling pathways, we assessed the effects of conventional treatment for high grade gliomas, IR and TMZ, when combined with ESC-mediated transgene delivery. This combination resulted in synergistic effects on tumor cell death. The mechanisms involved in this beneficial effect included activation of both apoptosis and autophagy. Our in vitro data supports the concept that ESC-mediated gene delivery might offer therapeutic advantages over standard approaches to malignant gliomas. Our results corroborate the theory that combined treatments exploiting different signaling pathways are needed to succeed in the treatment of malignant gliomas.
doi:10.1038/cgt.2010.31
PMCID: PMC2923667  PMID: 20523363
Embryonic stem cell; apoptosis; autophagy; malignant gliomas; gene delivery
21.  Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1): far more than just a gene regulated in astrocytes 
Cancer research  2009;69(22):8529-8535.
Since its original cloning by subtraction hybridization in 2002, it is now evident that Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) is a key contributor to the carcinogenic process in diverse organs. AEG-1 protein expression is elevated in advanced stages of many cancers, which correlates with poor survival. In specific cancers, such as breast and liver cancer, the AEG-1 gene itself is amplified further supporting a seminal role in tumorigenesis. Overexpression and inhibition studies both in in vitro and in in vivo models reveal the importance of AEG-1 in regulating multiple physiologically and pathologically relevant processes including proliferation, invasion, metastasis and gene expression. AEG-1 is a single-pass transmembrane protein with multiple nuclear localization signals and no known domains or motifs. Although pertinent roles of AEG-1 in the carcinogenic process are established, its potential function (promotion of metastasis only versus functioning as a bona fide oncogene) as well as localization (cell surface versus nucleus) remain areas requiring further clarification. The present review critically evaluates what is currently known about AEG-1 and provides new perspectives relative to this intriguing molecule that may provide a rational target for intervening in the cancer phenotype.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1846
PMCID: PMC2782420  PMID: 19903854
22.  MDA-7/IL-24–induced cell killing in malignant renal carcinoma cells occurs by a ceramide/CD95/PERK–dependent mechanism 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(5):1280-1291.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The present studies focused on clarifying the mechanism(s) by which glutathione S-transferase (GST)-MDA-7 altered cell survival of human renal carcinoma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 caused plasma membrane clustering of CD95 and the association of CD95 with procaspase-8. GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed by inhibition of caspase-8 or by overexpression of short-form cellular FLICE inhibitory protein, but only weakly by inhibition of cathepsin proteases. GST-MDA-7–induced CD95 clustering (and apoptosis) was blocked by knockdown of acidic sphingomyelinase or, to a greater extent, ceramide synthase-6 expression. GST-MDA-7 killing was, in parallel, dependent on inactivation of extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 and on CD95-induced p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-jun NH2-terminal kinase-1/2 signaling. Knockdown of CD95 expression abolished GST-MDA-7–induced phosphorylation of protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase. GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed by knockout or expression of a dominant negative protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase that correlated with reduced c-jun NH2-terminal kinase-1/2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and maintained extracellular signal–regulated kinase-1/2 phosphorylation. GST-MDA-7 caused vacuolization of LC3 through a mechanism that was largely CD95 dependent and whose formation was suppressed by knockdown of ATG5 expression. Knockdown of ATG5 suppressed GST-MDA-7 toxicity. Our data show that in kidney cancer cells GST-MDA-7 induces ceramide-dependent activation of CD95, which is causal in promoting an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that activates multiple proapoptotic pathways to decrease survival.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0073
PMCID: PMC2889018  PMID: 19417161
23.  Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24): novel gene therapeutic for metastatic melanoma 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2006;224(3):300-307.
A potentially less toxic approach for cancer therapy comprises induction of tumor cells to lose growth potential irreversibly and terminally differentiate. Combining this scheme termed ‘differentiation therapy of cancer’ with subtraction hybridization to human melanoma cells resulted in the cloning of melanoma differentiation associated (mda) genes displaying elevated expression as a consequence of induction of terminal differentiation. One originally novel gene, mda-7, was found to display elevated expression in normal melanocytes and nevi with progressive loss of expression as a consequence of melanoma development and progression to metastasis. Based on structure, biochemical properties and chromosomal location, mda-7 has now been reclassified as interleukin (IL)-24 a member of the expanding IL-10 family of cytokines. In vitro cell culture and in vivo animal studies indicate that mda-7/IL-24 selectively induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in multiple human cancers (including melanomas), without harming normal cells, and promotes profound anti-tumor activity in nude mice containing human tumor xenografts. Based on these remarkable properties, a Phase I Clinical trial was conducted to test the safety of administration of mda-7/IL-24 by a replication incompetent adenovirus (Ad.mda-7; INGN 241) in patients with advanced solid cancers including melanoma. mda-7/IL-24 was found to be safe and to promote significant clinical activity, particularly in the context of patients with metastatic melanoma. These results provide an impetus for further clinical studies, and document a central paradigm of cancer therapy, namely translation of basic science from the “bench to the bedside.”
doi:10.1016/j.taap.2006.11.021
PMCID: PMC2739016  PMID: 17208263
mda-7/IL-24; apoptosis; metastatic melanoma; Phase I Clinical Trial
24.  PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy in primary human glioma cells 
Autophagy  2008;4(4):513-515.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin 24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The studies by further defines the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that were dependent on activation of JNK1-3 with subsequent activation of BAX and the induction of mitochondrial dysfunction. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent upon protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK-/- cells. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methyladenine, expression of HSP70 or of BiP/GRP78, or by knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin 1 expression, but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin 1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data demonstrate that GST-MDA-7 induces an ER stress response that, via the induction of autophagy, is causal in the activation of pro-apoptotic pathways that converge on the mitochondrion and ultimately culminate in decreased glioma cell survival.
PMCID: PMC2674579  PMID: 18299661
autophagy; caspase; ER stress; cell death
25.  Astrocyte elevated gene-1 regulates hepatocellular carcinoma development and progression 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly aggressive vascular cancer characterized by diverse etiology, activation of multiple signal transduction pathways, and various gene mutations. Here, we have determined a specific role for astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG1) in HCC pathogenesis. Expression of AEG1 was extremely low in human hepatocytes, but its levels were significantly increased in human HCC. Stable overexpression of AEG1 converted nontumorigenic human HCC cells into highly aggressive vascular tumors, and inhibition of AEG1 abrogated tumorigenesis by aggressive HCC cells in a xenograft model of nude mice. In human HCC, AEG1 overexpression was associated with elevated copy numbers. Microarray analysis revealed that AEG1 modulated the expression of genes associated with invasion, metastasis, chemoresistance, angiogenesis, and senescence. AEG1 also was found to activate Wnt/β-catenin signaling via ERK42/44 activation and upregulated lymphoid-enhancing factor 1/T cell factor 1 (LEF1/TCF1), the ultimate executor of the Wnt pathway, important for HCC progression. Inhibition studies further demonstrated that activation of Wnt signaling played a key role in mediating AEG1 function. AEG1 also activated the NF-κB pathway, which may play a role in the chronic inflammatory changes preceding HCC development. These data indicate that AEG1 plays a central role in regulating diverse aspects of HCC pathogenesis. Targeted inhibition of AEG1 might lead to the shutdown of key elemental characteristics of HCC and could lead to an effective therapeutic strategy for HCC.
doi:10.1172/JCI36460
PMCID: PMC2648696  PMID: 19221438

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