The tumor suppressor PTEN is now understood to regulate cellular processes at the cytoplasmic membrane, where it classically regulates PI3K signaling, as well as in the nucleus where multiple roles in controlling cell cycle and genome stability have been elucidated. Mechanisms that dictate nuclear import and, less extensively, nuclear export of PTEN have been described, however the relevance of these processes in disease states, particularly cancer, remain largely unknown. We investigated the impact of acid ceramidase on the nuclear-cytoplasmic trafficking of PTEN. Immunohistochemical analysis of a human prostate tissue microarray revealed that nuclear PTEN was lost in patients whose tumors had elevated acid ceramidase. We found that acid ceramidase promotes a reduction in nuclear PTEN that is dependent upon sphingosine 1-phosphate-mediated activation of Akt. We were further able to show that sphingosine 1-phosphate promotes formation of a complex between Crm1 and PTEN, and that leptomycin B prevents acid ceramidase and sphingosine 1-phosphate mediated loss of nuclear PTEN, suggesting an active exportin-mediated event. To investigate whether the tumor promoting aspects of acid ceramidase in prostate cancer depend upon its ability to export PTEN from the nucleus, we used enforced nuclear expression of PTEN to study docetaxel-induced apoptosis and cell killing, proliferation, and xenoengraftment. Interestingly, while acid ceramidase was able to protect cells expressing wild type PTEN from docetaxel, promote proliferation and xenoengraftment, acid ceramidase had no impact in cells expressing PTEN-NLS. These findings suggest that acid ceramidase, through sphingosine 1-phosphate, promotes nuclear export of PTEN as a means of promoting tumor formation, cell proliferation, and resistance to therapy.
Escape of prostate cancer (PCa) cells from ionizing radiation–induced (IR-induced) killing leads to disease progression and cancer relapse. The influence of sphingolipids, such as ceramide and its metabolite sphingosine 1-phosphate, on signal transduction pathways under cell stress is important to survival adaptation responses. In this study, we demonstrate that ceramide-deacylating enzyme acid ceramidase (AC) was preferentially upregulated in irradiated PCa cells. Radiation-induced AC gene transactivation by activator protein 1 (AP-1) binding on the proximal promoter was sensitive to inhibition of de novo ceramide biosynthesis, as demonstrated by promoter reporter and ChIP-qPCR analyses. Our data indicate that a protective feedback mechanism mitigates the apoptotic effect of IR-induced ceramide generation. We found that deregulation of c-Jun induced marked radiosensitization in vivo and in vitro, which was rescued by ectopic AC overexpression. AC overexpression in PCa clonogens that survived a fractionated 80-Gy IR course was associated with increased radioresistance and proliferation, suggesting a role for AC in radiotherapy failure and relapse. Immunohistochemical analysis of human PCa tissues revealed higher levels of AC after radiotherapy failure than those in therapy-naive PCa, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, or benign tissues. Addition of an AC inhibitor to an animal model of xenograft irradiation produced radiosensitization and prevention of relapse. These data indicate that AC is a potentially tractable target for adjuvant radiotherapy.
The Power of Food Scale (PFS) is a new measure that assesses the drive to consume highly palatable food in an obesogenic food environment. The data reported in this investigation evaluate whether the PFS moderates state cravings, control beliefs, and brain networks of older, obese adults following either a short-term post-absorptive state, in which participants were only allowed to consume water, or a short-term energy surfeit treatment condition, in which they consumed BOOST®. We found that the short-term post-absorptive condition,in which participants consumed water only, was associated withincreases in state cravings for desired food, a reduction in participants' confidence related to the control of eating behavior, and shifts in brain networks that parallel what is observed with other addictive behaviors. Furthermore, individuals who scored high on the PFSwere at an increased risk for experiencing these effects. Future research is needed to examine the eating behavior of persons who score high on the PFS and to develop interventions that directly target food cravings.
aging; brain networks; food; cravings; self-efficacy
There is considerable interest in understanding food cravings given the obesogenic environment of Western Society. In this paper we examine how the imagery of palatable foods affects cravings and functional connectivity in the visual cortex for people who differ on the power of food scale (PFS). Fourteen older, overweight/obese adults came to our laboratory on two different occasions. Both times they ate a controlled breakfast meal and then were restricted from eating for 2.5 h prior to scanning. On 1 day they consumed a BOOST® liquid meal after the period of food restriction, whereas on the other day they only consumed water (NO BOOST® condition). After these manipulations, they had an fMRI scan in which they were asked to image both neutral objects and their favorite snack foods; they also completed visual analog scales for craving, hunger, and the vividness of the imagery experiences. Irrespective of the BOOST® manipulation, we observed marked increases in food cravings when older, overweight/obese adults created images of favorite foods in their minds as opposed to creating an image of neutral objects; however, the increase in food craving following the imagery of desired food was more pronounced among those scoring high than low on the PFS. Furthermore, local efficiency within the visual cortex when imaging desired food was higher for those scoring high as compared to low on the PFS. The active imagery of desired foods seemed to have overpowered the BOOST® manipulation when evaluating connectivity in the visual cortex.
food craving; network science; visual cortex; power of food scale; older adults
A member of the p53 family, p73, has several isoforms and differentially regulates transcription of genes involved in the control of the cell cycle and apoptosis. We have previously shown efficient and p53-independent, tumor-specific cell death induced by the viral proteins E1A and Apoptin. Here, we demonstrate that the induction of apoptosis by these viral proteins involves activation of TAp73. Both E1A and Apoptin induced expression of endogenous TAp73 and the p53/p73 BH3-only pro-apoptotic target, PUMA, independently of the p53 function. Furthermore, exogenous expression of TAp73 isoforms, particularly TAp73β, sensitized cells to killing by both E1A and Apoptin, while expression of ΔNp73α blocked this activity. Besides, knockout of the p73 regulator, c-Abl, attenuated E1A-induced apoptosis. In accordance with the role of p73 in apoptosis induced by these viral proteins, overexpression of TAp73β strongly induced apoptosis in p53-deficient cancer cells in vitro and in HNSCC xenografts. Using a doxycycline-inducible system, we provide evidence for target selectivity and significant differences in protein stability for specific p73 isoforms, suggesting a diverse and pivotal role for p73 in response to various genotoxic agents. Collectively, our data show that in the absence of the p53 function, viral proteins E1A and Apoptin utilize the p73 pathway to induce efficient tumor cell death.
p73; E1A; Apoptin; apoptosis; PUMA
Objective. To investigate effects of weight loss on adipokines and health measures in obese older adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Methods. Participants were randomly assigned to either weight loss (WL) (men: 12, women: 14) or weight stable (WS) group (men: 12, women: 13). WL intervention included meal replacements and structured exercise training. Measurements of leptin, adiponectin, soluble leptin receptor, lifestyle behaviors, and body composition were collected at baseline and 6 months. Univariate analysis of covariance was performed on 6 month variables, and Spearman and partial correlations were made between variables. Results. Weight loss was 13.0% and 6.7% in WL for men and women, respectively. Women in WL had lower whole body and trunk fat than WS. The leptin : adiponectin ratio was lower for women in WL than WS at 6 months, with no group differences in adipokines for men. Leptin and free leptin index correlated with body fat in both genders at baseline. Interestingly, only women showed reductions in leptin (P < 0.100) and correlations between the percentage change leptin and trunk fat and the percentage changes in free leptin index with total fat and trunk fat. Partial correlations between 6 month adipokines after adjustments for covariates and group/time period show potential multivariate influences. Conclusions. In the presence of an effective weight loss intervention in older obese adults, there are significant relationships between weight and fat loss and leptin in women, but not men, suggesting gender-specific features of adipokine metabolism in this age group.
Increasingly recognized as bioactive molecules, sphingolipids have been studied in a variety of disease models. The impact of sphingolipids on cancer research facilitated the entry of sphingolipid analogues and enzyme modulators into clinical trials. Owing to its ability to regulate two bioactive sphingolipids, ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate, acid ceramidase (AC) emerges as an attractive target for drug development within the sphingolipid metabolic pathway. Indeed, there is extensive evidence supporting a pivotal role for AC in lipid metabolism and cancer biology. In this article, we review the current knowledge of the biochemical properties of AC, its relevance to tumor promotion, and its molecular targeting approaches.
Ceramidase; sphingolipids; ceramide; sphingosine; cancer therapy
Often protein (or gene) time-course data are collected for multiple replicates. Each replicate generally has sparse data with the number of time points being less than the number of proteins. Usually each replicate is modeled separately. However, here all the information in each of the replicates is used to make a composite inference about signal networks. The composite inference comes from combining well structured Bayesian probabilistic modeling with a multi-faceted Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm. Based on simulations which investigate many different types of network interactions and experimental variabilities, the composite examination uncovers many important relationships within the networks. In particular, when the edge's partial correlation between two proteins is at least moderate, then the composite's posterior probability is large.
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
Mortierella alpina is an oleaginous fungus which can produce lipids accounting for up to 50% of its dry weight in the form of triacylglycerols. It is used commercially for the production of arachidonic acid. Using a combination of high throughput sequencing and lipid profiling, we have assembled the M. alpina genome, mapped its lipogenesis pathway and determined its major lipid species. The 38.38 Mb M. alpina genome shows a high degree of gene duplications. Approximately 50% of its 12,796 gene models, and 60% of genes in the predicted lipogenesis pathway, belong to multigene families. Notably, M. alpina has 18 lipase genes, of which 11 contain the class 2 lipase domain and may share a similar function. M. alpina's fatty acid synthase is a single polypeptide containing all of the catalytic domains required for fatty acid synthesis from acetyl-CoA and malonyl-CoA, whereas in many fungi this enzyme is comprised of two polypeptides. Major lipids were profiled to confirm the products predicted in the lipogenesis pathway. M. alpina produces a complex mixture of glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids. In contrast, only two major sterol lipids, desmosterol and 24(28)-methylene-cholesterol, were detected. Phylogenetic analysis based on genes involved in lipid metabolism suggests that oleaginous fungi may have acquired their lipogenic capacity during evolution after the divergence of Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Chytridiomycota and Mucoromycota. Our study provides the first draft genome and comprehensive lipid profile for M. alpina, and lays the foundation for possible genetic engineering of M. alpina to produce higher levels and diverse contents of dietary lipids.
Oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are malignant tumors with a potent activity of local bone invasion; however the molecular mechanisms of tumor osteolysis are unclear. In this study, we identified high level expression of chemokine ligand, CXCL13 and RANK ligand (RANKL) in OSCC cells (SCC1, SCC12 and SCC14a). OSCC cell conditioned media (20%) induced osteoclast differentiation which was inhibited by OPG in peripheral blood monocyte cultures indicating that OSCC cells produce soluble RANKL. Recombinant hCXCL13 (10 ng/ml) significantly enhanced RANKL stimulated osteoclast differentiation in these cultures. Trans-well migration assay identified that CXCL13 induces chemotaxis of peripheral blood monocytes in vitro which was inhibited by addition of anti-CXCR5 receptor antibody. Zymogram analysis of conditioned media from OSCC cells revealed matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity. Interestingly, CXCL13 treatment to OSCC cells induced CXCR5 and MMP-9 expression suggesting an autocrine regulatory function in OSCC cells. To examine the OSCC tumor cell bone invasion/osteolysis, we established an in vivo model for OSCC by subcutaneous injection of OSCC cells onto the surface of calvaria in NCr-nu/nu athymic mice, which developed tumors in 4–5 weeks. μCT analysis revealed numerous osteolytic lesions in calvaria from OSCC tumor-bearing mice. Histochemical staining of calvarial sections from these mice revealed a significant increase in the numbers of TRAP-positive osteoclasts at the tumor-bone interface. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed CXCL13 and MMP-9 expression in tumor cells. Thus, our data implicate a functional role for CXCL13 in bone invasion and may be a potential therapeutic target to prevent osteolysis associated with OSCC tumors in vivo.
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC); Chemokine; MMP-9; Bone invasion; RANK ligand; Osteoclast; Mouse model
Importance of the field
Ceramide accumulation has been shown to be a conserved mechanism of apoptosis initiation in normal physiological processes as well as in response to cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. Therefore, it is unsurprising that many cancers develop aberrations of sphingolipid metabolism that prevent the accumulation of ceramide, whether by reduction of ceramide generation or by enhanced ceramide catabolism, particularly dangerous when catabolism leads to generation of pro-tumor sphingosine-1-phosphate and ceramide-1-phosphate. Numerous studies have now implicated dysregulation of sphingolipid metabolism in head and neck cancers.
What the reader will gain
The roles of sphingolipids and sphingolipid metabolism in cancer are reviewed and the reader will be brought up to date with discoveries in the field of sphingolipid metabolism in head and neck cancer.
Areas covered in this review
This review seeks to highlight the importance of sphingolipid metabolism and to bring sphingolipid metabolism to the forefront in the investigation of novel therapies for head and neck cancer. Further, it will review sphingolipid-centric therapies under investigation in preclinical and clinical trials of cancers of the head and neck.
Take home message
As treatments for head and neck cancers are currently limited, the potentials of targeting sphingolipid metabolism should be taken into consideration as we seek novel ways to combat this dangerous group of tumors.
Head and neck cancer; sphingolipids; ceramide; lipid metabolism; novel chemotherapeutic targets
Bioactive sphingolipids, such as ceramide, sphingosine, and sphingosine-1-phosphate are known bio-effector molecules which play important roles in various aspects of cancer biology including cell proliferation, growth arrest, apoptosis, metastasis, senescence, and inflammation. Therefore, enzymes involved in ceramide metabolism are gaining recognition as being critical regulators of cancer cell growth and/or survival. We previously observed that the ceramide metabolizing enzyme, acid ceramidase (AC), is up-regulated in tumor tissues. Studies have now concluded that this creates a dysfunctional ceramide pathway which is responsible for tumor progression and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. This suggests that development of small molecule drugs that inhibit AC enzyme activity is a promising approach for improving standard cancer therapy and patient’s clinical outcomes.
Prostate cancer; ceramide; acid ceramidase; tumor progression; therapeutic resistance; acid ceramidase inhibition; novel target
Time-resolved electron paramagnetic resonance (TREPR) was used to monitor the photochemistry of radical pairs from melanin in porcine retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells on the submicrosecond timescale. Two distinct signals were found: one of enhanced absorption/emission at early times and one mostly emissive at later times. The emissive character of the longer-lived feature suggests participation of an excited triplet precursor, something not generally thought to exist in melanins. The radicals in the early-time signal were separated by about 21 Å and those in the later-time signal were separated by about 22—24 Å.
Novel ω-N-amino analogs of B13 (Class E) were designed, synthesized and tested as inhibitors of acid ceramidase (ACDase) and potential anticancer agents deprived of unwanted lysosomal destabilization and ACDase proteolytic degradation properties of LCL204 (Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2008:16,1015–1031).
Representative analog LCL464, (1R, 2R)-2-N- (12′-N, N-dimethylaminododecanoyl amino)-1-(4″-nitrophenyl)-1, 3-propandiol, inhibited ACDase activity in vitro, with a similar potency as B13 but higher than LCL204. LCL464 caused an early inhibition of this enzyme at a cellular level corresponding to decrease of sphingosine and specific increase of C14- and C16-ceramide. LCL464 did not induce lysosomal destabilization nor degradation of ACDase, showed increased cell death demonstrating inherent anticancer activity in a wide range of different cancer cell lines, and induction of apoptosis via executioner caspases activation. LCL464 represents a novel structural lead as chemotherapeutic agent acting via the inhibition of ACDase.
ceramide; acid ceramidase; inhibitors; lysosomes; B13; LCL204; LCL464
We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
Heterodimer mutant reaction centers (RCs) of Blastochloris viridis were crystallized using microfluidic technology. In this mutant, a leucine residue replaced the histidine residue which had acted as a fifth ligand to the bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) of the primary electron donor dimer M site (HisM200). With the loss of the histidine-coordinated Mg, one bacteriochlorophyll of the special pair was converted into a bacteriopheophytin (BPhe), and the primary donor became a heterodimer supermolecule. The crystals had dimensions 400×100×100 μm, belonged to space group P43212, and were isomorphous to the ones reported earlier for the wild type (WT) strain. The structure was solved to a 2.5 Å resolution limit. Electron-density maps confirmed the replacement of the histidine residue and the absence of Mg. Structural changes in the heterodimer mutant RC relative to the WT included the absence of the water molecule that is typically positioned between the M side of the primary donor and the accessory BChl, a slight shift in the position of amino acids surrounding the site of the mutation, and the rotation of the M194 phenylalanine. The cytochrome subunit was anchored similarly as in the WT and had no detectable changes in its overall position. The highly conserved tyrosine L162, located between the primary donor and the highest potential heme C380, revealed only a minor deviation of its hydroxyl group. Concomitantly to modification of the BChl molecule, the redox potential of the heterodimer primary donor increased relative to that of the WT organism (772 mV vs. 517 mV). The availability of this heterodimer mutant and its crystal structure provides opportunities for investigating changes in light-induced electron transfer that reflect differences in redox cascades.
Blastochloris viridis; Heterodimer mutant; Reaction center structure; Primary donor redox potential; Photosynthetic reaction center; Microfluidic
A series of novel isosteric analogs of the ceramidase inhibitors, (1S, 2R)-N-myristoylamino-phenylpropanol-1 (D-e-MAPP) and (1R, 2R)-N-myristoylamino-4′-nitro-phenylpropandiol-1, 3 (B13), with modified targeting and physicochemical properties were designed, synthesized, and evaluated as potential anticancer agents. When MCF7 cells were treated with the analogs, results indicated that the new analogs were of equal or greater potency compared to the parent compounds. Their activity was predominantly defined by the nature of the modification of the N-acyl hydrophobic interfaces: N-acyl analogs (class A), urea analogs (class B), N-alkyl analogs (class C, lysosomotropic agents) and ω-cationic-N-acyl analogs (class D, mitochondriotropic agents). The most potent compounds belonged to either class D, the aromatic ceramidoids, or to class C, the aromatic N-alkylaminoalcohols. Representative analogs selected from this study were also evaluated by the National Cancer Institute in Vitro Anticancer Drug Discovery Screen. Again, results showed a similar class-dependent activity. In general, the active analogs were non-selectively broad spectrum and had promising activity against all cancer cell lines. However, some active analogs of the D-e-MAPP family were selective against different types of cancer. Compounds LCL85, 120, 385, 284, and 204 were identified to be promising lead compounds for therapeutic development.
D-e-MAPP; B13; Ceramidase inhibitors; Synthesis; Cytotoxicity
Novel isosteric analogs of the ceramidase inhibitors (1S, 2R)-N-myristoylamino-phenylpropanol-1 (D-e-MAPP) and (1R, 2R)-N-myristoylamino-4′-nitro-phenylpropandiol-1, 3 (B13) with modified targeting and physicochemical properties were developed and evaluated for their effects on endogenous bioactive sphingolipids: ceramide, sphingosine, and sphingosine 1-phosphate (Cer, Sph, and S1P) in MCF7 cells as determined by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). Time- and dose-response studies on the effects of these compounds on Cer species and Sph levels, combined with structure-activity relationship (SAR) data, revealed 4 distinct classes of analogs which were predominantly defined by modifications of the N-acyl-hydrophobic interfaces: N-acyl-analogs (class A), urea-analogs (class B), N-alkyl-analogs (class C), and ω-cationic-N-acyl analogs (class D). Signature patterns recognized for two of the classes correspond to the cellular compartment of action of the new analogs, with class D acting as mitochondriotropic agents and class C compounds acting as lysosomotropic agents. The neutral agents, classes A and B, do not have this compartmental preference. Moreover, we observed a close correlation between the selective increase of C16-, C14- and C18-Cers and inhibitory effects on MCF7 cell growth. The results are discussed in the context of compartmentally targeted regulators of Sph, Cer species, and S1P in cancer cell death, emphasizing the role of C16-Cer. These novel analogs should be useful in cell-based studies as specific regulators of Cer-Sph-S1P inter-metabolism, in vitro enzymatic studies, and for therapeutic development.
D-e-MAPP; B13; Ceramidases; Ceramidase inhibitors; Ceramide; Sphingosine; Sphingosine 1-phosphate; Lysosomes; Mitochondria; Cytotoxicity
It has been documented previously that defects in the generation of C18-ceramide, a product of ceramide synthase 1 (CerS1), also known as longevity assurance gene 1 (hLASS1), play important roles in the pathogenesis and/or progression of HNSCC. However, whether altered levels of ceramide generation in HNSCC tumors have any clinical relevance remains unknown. In this study, the levels of endogenous ceramides were measured in tumor tissues of 45 HNSCC patients as compared to their normal tissues using high-pressure liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), and then possible link between ceramide levels and the clinical parameters of HNSCC were examined. The data showed that the levels of C16-, C24-, C24:1-ceramide were significantly elevated in the majority of tumor tissues compared to their normal tissues, while the levels of only C18-ceramide were significantly decreased in HNSCC tumors, especially in tumor tissues of male patients. Importantly, it was also shown here that decreased C18-ceramide levels in HNSCC tumor tissues were significantly associated with the higher incidences of lymphovascular invasion, and pathologic nodal metastasis. Importantly, attenuation of C18-ceramide was also positively linked to the higher overall stages of the primary HNSCC tumors. Therefore, these data suggest, for the first time, that the defects in the generation/accumulation of C18-ceramide might have important clinical roles in HNSCC, especially in lymphovascular invasion and nodal disease.
Ceramide; Ceramide synthase; Longevity assurance gene (LASS); Head and neck cancer; Lymphovascular spread; Nodal metastasis
Selectively regulating gene expression is an essential molecular tool that is lacking for many pathogenic gram-positive bacteria. In this report, we describe the evaluation of a series of promoters regulated by the bacteriophage P1 temperature-sensitive C1 repressor in Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus faecalis, and Staphylococcus aureus. Using the lacZ gene to monitor gene expression, we examined the strength, basal expression, and induced expression of synthetic promoters carrying C1 operator sites. The promoters exhibited extremely low basal expression and, under inducing conditions, gave high levels of expression (100- to 1,000-fold induction). We demonstrate that the promoter system could be modulated by temperature and showed rapid induction and that the mechanism of regulation occurred at the level of transcription. Controlled expression with the same constructs was also demonstrated in the gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli. However, low basal expression and the ability to achieve derepression were dependent on both the number of mismatches in the C1 operator sites and the promoter driving c1 expression. Since the promoters were designed to contain conserved promoter elements from gram-positive species and were constructed in a broad-host-range plasmid, this system will provide a new opportunity for controlled gene expression in a variety of gram-positive bacteria.
The emergence and increasing prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens emphasizes the need for new and innovative antimicrobial strategies. Lytic phages, which kill their host following amplification and release of progeny phage into the environment, may offer an alternative strategy for combating bacterial infections. In this study, however, we describe the use of a nonlytic phage to specifically target and deliver DNA encoding bactericidal proteins to bacteria. To test the concept of using phage as a lethal-agent delivery vehicle, we used the M13 phagemid system and the addiction toxins Gef and ChpBK. Phage delivery of lethal-agent phagemids reduced target bacterial numbers by several orders of magnitude in vitro and in a bacteremic mouse model of infection. Given the powerful genetic engineering tools available and the present knowledge in phage biology, this technology may have potential use in antimicrobial therapies and DNA vaccine development.
Prior observations of phage-host systems in vitro have led to the conclusion that susceptible host cell populations must reach a critical density before phage replication can occur. Such a replication threshold density would have broad implications for the therapeutic use of phage. In this report, we demonstrate experimentally that no such replication threshold exists and explain the previous data used to support the existence of the threshold in terms of a classical model of the kinetics of colloidal particle interactions in solution. This result leads us to conclude that the frequently used measure of multiplicity of infection (MOI), computed as the ratio of the number of phage to the number of cells, is generally inappropriate for situations in which cell concentrations are less than 107/ml. In its place, we propose an alternative measure, MOIactual, that takes into account the cell concentration and adsorption time. Properties of this function are elucidated that explain the demonstrated usefulness of MOI at high cell densities, as well as some unexpected consequences at low concentrations. In addition, the concept of MOIactual allows us to write simple formulas for computing practical quantities, such as the number of phage sufficient to infect 99.99% of host cells at arbitrary concentrations.
The utility of promoters regulated by the bacteriophage P1 temperature-sensitive C1 repressor was examined in Shigella flexneri and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Promoters carrying C1 operator sites driving LacZ expression had induction/repression ratios of up to 240-fold in S. flexneri and up to 50-fold in K. pneumoniae. The promoters exhibited remarkably low basal expression, demonstrated modulation by temperature, and showed rapid induction. This system will provide a new opportunity for controlled gene expression in enteric gram-negative bacteria.