Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from preexisting vasculature, is essential for many physiological processes, and aberrant angiogenesis contributes to some of the most prevalent human diseases, including cancer. Angiogenesis is controlled by delicate balance between pro- and anti-angiogenic signals. While pro-angiogenic signaling has been extensively investigated, how developmentally regulated, naturally occurring anti-angiogenic molecules prevent the excessive growth of vascular and lymphatic vessels is still poorly understood. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on how semaphorins and their receptors, plexins and neuropilins, control normal and pathological angiogenesis, with an emphasis on semaphorin-regulated anti-angiogenic signaling circuitries in vascular and lymphatic endothelial cells. This emerging body of information may afford the opportunity to develop novel anti-angiogenic therapeutic strategies.
semaphorin; signaling; angiogenesis; lymphangiogenesis; cancer
The integration of extrinsic and intrinsic signals is required to preserve the self-renewal and tissue regenerative capacity of adult stem cells, while protecting them from malignant conversion or loss of proliferative potential by death, differentiation or senescence. Here we review emerging signaling circuitries regulating stem cell fate, with emphasis on epithelial stem cells. Wnt, mTOR, GPCRs, Notch, Rho GTPases, YAP and DNA and histone methylases are some of the mechanisms that allow stem cells to balance their regenerative potential and the initiation of terminal differentiation programs, guaranteeing appropriate tissue homeostasis. Understanding the signaling circuitries regulating stem cell fate decisions might provide important insights into cancer initiation and numerous human pathologies that involve the progressive loss of tissue-specific adult stem cells.
Despite our improved understanding of cancer, the 5-year survival rate for head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) patients remains relatively unchanged at 50% for the past three decades. HNSCC often metastasize to locoregional lymph nodes, and lymph node involvement represents one of the most important prognostic factors of poor clinical outcome. Among the multiple dysregulated molecular mechanism in HNSCC, emerging basic, preclinical, and clinical findings support the importance of the mTOR signaling route in HNSCC progression. Indeed, we observed here that the activation of mTOR is a widespread event in clinical specimens of HNSCC invading locoregional lymph nodes. We developed an orthotopic model of HNSCC consisting in the implantation of HNSCC cells into the tongues of immunocompromised mice. These orthotopic tumors spontaneously metastasize to the cervical lymph nodes, where the presence of HNSCC cells can be revealed by histological and immunohistochemical evaluation. Both primary and metastatic experimental HNSCC lesions exhibited elevated mTOR activity. The ability to monitor and quantitate lymph node invasion in this model system enabled us to explore whether the blockade of mTOR could impact on HNSCC metastasis. We found that inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin and the rapalog RAD001 diminished lymphangiogenesis in the primary tumors and prevented the dissemination of HNSCC cancer cells to the cervical lymph nodes, thereby prolonging animal survival. These findings may provide a rationale for the future clinical evaluation of mTOR inhibitors, including rapamycin and its analogs, as part of a molecular-targeted metastasis preventive strategy for the treatment of HNSCC patients.
mTOR; metastasis; oral cancer; targeted therapies; signal transduction
Our results demonstrate that nuclear factor of activated T-cell 3 (NFATc3) contributes to the regulation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) repressor regulated in development and DNA damage response 1 (REDD1) and mTOR downstream-targeted c-Myc expression. Furthermore, our study demonstrates a novel role for the NFATc3/REDD1/tuberous sclerosis complex 2 axis in the regulation of goblet cell differentiation.
The nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT) proteins are a family of transcription factors (NFATc1–c4) involved in the regulation of cell differentiation. We identified REDD1, a negative regulator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) through the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC1/2 complex), as a new molecular target of NFATc3. We show that treatment with a combination of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) plus ionophore A23187 (Io), which induces NFAT activation, increased REDD1 mRNA and protein expression and inhibited mTOR signaling; pretreatment with the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporin A (CsA), an antagonist of NFAT signaling, decreased REDD1 induction and mTOR inhibition. Knockdown of NFATc3, not NFATc1, NFATc2, or NFATc4, attenuated PMA/Io-induced REDD1 expression. Treatment with PMA/Io increased REDD1 promoter activity and increased NFATc3 binding to the REDD1 promoter. Overexpression of NFATc3 increased REDD1 mRNA and protein expression and increased PMA/Io-mediated REDD1 promoter activity. Treatment with PMA/Io increased expression of the goblet cell differentiation marker MUC2; these changes were attenuated by pretreatment with CsA or knockdown of REDD1 or NFATc3. Overexpression of NFATc3 increased, while knockdown of TSC2 decreased, MUC2 expression. We provide evidence showing NFATc3 inhibits mTOR via induction of REDD1. Our results suggest a role for the NFATc3/REDD1/TSC2 axis in the regulation of intestinal cell differentiation.
Strong epidemiologic evidence links smoking and cancer. An increased understanding of the molecular biology of tobacco-related cancers could advance progress toward improving smoking cessation and patient management. Knowledge gaps between tobacco addiction, tumorigenesis, and cancer brought an interdisciplinary group of investigators together to discuss “The Biology of Nicotine and Tobacco: Bench to Bedside.” Presentations on the signaling pathways and pathogenesis in tobacco-related cancers, mouse models of addiction, imaging and regulation of nicotinic receptors, the genetic basis for tobacco carcinogenesis and development of lung cancer, and molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis were heard. Importantly, new opportunities to use molecular biology to identify and abrogate tobacco-mediated carcinogenesis and to identify high-risk individuals were recognized.
Tumor cells can co-opt the pro-migratory activity of chemokines and their cognate G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to metastasize to regional lymph nodes or distant organs. Indeed, the migration toward SDF-1 (stromal cell-derived factor-1) of tumor cells bearing CXCR4 [chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4] has been implicated in the lymphatic and organ-specific metastasis of various human malignancies. Here, we used chimeric G proteins and GPCRs activated solely by artificial ligands to selectively activate the signaling pathways downstream of specific G proteins, and showed that CXCR4-mediated chemotaxis and transendothelial migration of metastatic basal-like breast cancer cells required activation of members of the Gα12/13 G protein family and of the small guanosine trisphosphatase Rho. Multiple complementary experimental strategies, including synthetic biology approaches, indicated that signaling-selective inhibition of the CXCR4-Gα13-Rho axis prevents the metastatic spread of basal-like breast cancer cells.
Emerging evidence supporting the activation of the Akt-mTOR signaling network in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) progression has provided the rationale for exploring the therapeutic potential of inhibiting this pathway for HNSCC treatment. Indeed, rapamycin, a clinically relevant mTOR inhibitor, promotes the rapid regression of HNSCC-tumor xenografts in mice. However, rapamycin does not affect the growth of HNSCC cells in vitro, thus raising the possibility that, as for other cancer types, rapamycin may not target cancer cells directly but may instead act on a component of the tumor microenvioronment, such as tumor-associated vasculature. Here, we utilized a retro-inhibition approach to assess the contribution of cancer cell-autonomous actions of rapamycin to its antitumor activity in HNSCC. A rapamycin-resistant form of mTOR (mTOR-RR) was expressed in HNSCC cells, while retaining the wild-type (rapamycin-sensitive) mTOR alleles in host-derived endothelial and stromal cells. Expression of mTOR-RR prevented the decrease in phospho-S6 levels caused by rapamycin through mTOR in HNSCC cells but not in stromal cells, and rendered HNSCC xenografts completely resistant to the antitumoral activity of rapamycin. This reverse-pharmacology strategy also enabled monitoring the direct consequences of inhibiting mTOR in cancer cells within the complex tumor micro-environment, which revealed that mTOR controls the accumulation of HIF-1α and the consequent expression of VEGF and a glucose transporter, Glut-1, in HNSCC cells. These findings indicate that HNSCC cells are the primary target of rapamycin in vivo, and provide evidence that its anti-angiogenic effects may represent a downstream consequence of mTOR inhibition in HNSCC cells.
mTOR; xenograft; signal transduction; human squamous cell carcinoma; drug discovery; rapamycin; lentivirus
The activation of Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway represents a frequent event in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) progression, thus raising the possibility of using specific mTOR inhibitors for the treatment of SCC patients. In this regard, blockade of mTOR with rapamycin prevents the growth of human head and neck SCC cells when xenotransplanted into immunodeficient mice. However, therapeutic responses in xenograft tumors are not always predictive of clinical anti-cancer activity.
As genetically defined and chemically-induced animal cancer models often reflect better the complexity of the clinical setting, we used here a two-step chemical carcinogenesis model to explore the effectiveness of rapamycin for the treatment of skin SCC.
Rapamycin exerted a remarkable anti-cancer activity in this chemically-induced cancer model, decreasing the tumor burden of mice harboring early and advanced tumor lesions, and even recurrent skin SCCs. Immunohistochemical studies on tumor biopsies and clustering analysis revealed that rapamycin causes the rapid decrease in the phosphorylation status of mTOR targets, followed by the apoptotic death of cancer cells and the reduction in the growth and metabolic activity of the surviving ones, concomitant with a decrease in the population of cancer cells expressing mutant p53. This approach enabled investigating the relationship among molecular changes caused by mTOR inhibition, thus helping identify relevant biomarkers for monitoring the effectiveness of mTOR inhibition in the clinical setting.
Together, these findings provide a strong rationale for the early evaluation of mTOR inhibitors as a molecular targeted approach to treat SCC.
rapamycin; carcinogenesis; squamous cell carcinoma; mTOR; molecular targets
A microfluidic electrochemical immunoassay system for multiplexed detection of protein cancer biomarkers was fabricated using a molded polydimethylsiloxane channel and routine machined parts interfaced with a pump and sample injector. Using off-line capture of analytes by heavily-enzyme-labeled 1 μm superparamagnetic particle (MP)-antibody bioconjugates and capture antibodies attached to an 8-electrode measuring chip, simultaneous detection of cancer biomarker proteins prostate specific antigen (PSA) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in serum was achieved at sub-pg mL−1 levels. MPs were conjugated with ~90,000 antibodies and ~200,000 horseradish peroxidase (HRP) labels to provide efficient off-line capture and high sensitivity. Measuring electrodes feature a layer of 5 nm glutathione-decorated gold nanoparticles to attach antibodies that capture MP-analyte bioconjugates. Detection limits of 0.23 pg mL−1 for PSA and 0.30 pg mL−1 for IL-6 were obtained in diluted serum mixtures. PSA and IL-6 biomarkers were measured in serum of prostate cancer patients in total assay time 1.15 h and sensor array results gave excellent correlation with standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). These microfluidic immunosensors employing nanostructured surfaces and off-line analyte capture with heavily-labeled paramagnetic particles hold great promise for accurate, sensitive multiplexed detection of diagnostic cancer biomarkers.
microfluidics; immunoarray; cancer biomarkers; off-line protein capture; gold nanoparticles; paramagnetic beads
Angioproliferative tumors induced by the Kaposi’s Sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) have been successfully treated with rapamycin, which provided direct evidence of the clinical activity of mTOR inhibitors in human malignancies. However, prolonged mTOR inhibition may raise concerns in immunocompromised patients, including AIDS-KS. Here, we explored whether KSHV-oncogenes deploy cell-type specific signaling pathways activating mTOR, which could be exploited to halt KS development while minimizing immune suppressive effects. We found that PI3Kγ, a PI3K isoform exhibiting restricted tissue distribution, is strictly required for signaling from the KSHV-encoded vGPCR oncogene to Akt/mTOR. Indeed, by using an endothelial-specific gene delivery system modeling KS development, we provide genetic and pharmacological evidence that PI3Kγ may represent a suitable molecular target for therapeutic intervention in KS.
Ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (RSK1), which plays a critical role in cell survival and proliferation, contains a bipartite nuclear localization sequence that permits its entry into the nucleus. RSK1 is retained in the nucleus via its indirect interactions with AKAP95. Interference with its nuclear entry or retention decreases DNA synthesis.
Ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (RSK1) belongs to a family of proteins with two kinase domains. Following activation in the cytoplasm by extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2), it mediates the cell-proliferative, cell-growth, and survival-promoting actions of a number of growth factors and other agonists. These diverse biological actions of RSK1 involve regulation of both cytoplasmic and nuclear events. However, the mechanisms that permit nuclear accumulation of RSK1 remain unknown. Here, we show that phosphorylation of RSK1 on S221 is important for its dissociation from the type Iα regulatory subunit of protein kinase A (PKA) in the cytoplasm and that RSK1 contains a bipartite nuclear localization sequence that is necessary for its nuclear entry. Once inside, the active RSK1 is retained in the nucleus via its interactions with PKA catalytic subunit and AKAP95. Mutations of RSK1 that do not affect its activity but disrupt its entry into the nucleus or expression of AKAP95 forms that do not enter the nucleus inhibit the ability of active RSK1 to stimulate DNA synthesis. Our findings identify novel mechanisms by which active RSK1 accumulates in the nucleus and also provide new insights into how AKAP95 orchestrates cell cycle progression.
Ligand engagement by integrins induces receptor clustering and formation of complexes at the integrin cytoplasmic face that controls cell signaling and cytoskeletal dynamics critical for adhesion-dependent processes. This study searches for a subset of integrin effectors that coordinates both tumor cell invasion and resistance to the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin in oral carcinomas. Candidate integrin effectors were identified in a proteomics screen of proteins recruited to clustered integrin αβ1, αvβ or α6β receptors in oral carcinomas. Proteins with diverse functions including microtubule and actin binding proteins, and factors involved in trafficking, transcription and translation were identified in oral carcinoma integrin complexes. Knockdown of effectors in the oral carcinoma HN12 cells revealed that p130Cas, Dek, Src and talin were required for invasion through Matrigel. Disruption of talin or p130Cas by RNA interference increased resistance to cisplatin, whereas targeting Dek, Src or zyxin reduced HN12 resistance to cisplatin. Analysis of the spreading of HN12 cells on collagen I and laminin I revealed that a decrease in p130Cas or talin expression inhibited spreading on both matrices. Interestingly, a reduction in zyxin expression enhanced spreading on laminin I and inhibited spreading on collagen I. Reduction of Dek, Src, talin or zyxin expression reduced HN12 proliferation by 30%. Proliferation was not affected by a reduction in p130Cas expression. We conclude that p130Cas, Src and talin function in both oral carcinoma invasion and resistance to cisplatin.
integrin; cytoplasmic effectors; oral carcinoma; tumor invasion; cell spreading; proliferation; cisplatin; chemoresistance; Matrigel
Current first-line treatments for most cancers feature a short-list of highly potent and often target-blind interventions, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical excision. These treatments wreak considerable havoc upon non-cancerous tissue and organs, resulting in deleterious and sometimes fatal side effects for the patient. In response, this past decade has witnessed the robust emergence of nanoparticles and, more relevantly, nanoparticle drug delivery systems (DDS), widely touted as the panacea of cancer therapeutics. While not a cure, nanoparticle DDS can successfully negotiate the clinical payoff between drug dosage and side effects by encompassing target-specific drug delivery strategies. The expanding library of nanoparticles includes lipoproteins, liposomes, dendrimers, polymers, metal and metal oxide nano-spheres and -rods, and carbon nanotubes, so do the modes of delivery. Importantly, however, the pharmaco-dynamics and –kinetics of these nano-complexes remain an urgent issue and a serious bottleneck in the transition from bench to bedside. This review addresses the rise of nanoparticle DDS platforms for cancer and explores concepts of gene/drug delivery and cytotoxicity in pre-clinical and clinical contexts.
Nano-material; Cancer; Drug delivery; Nano-toxicity; Carbon nanotube, siRNA; Gene delivery
This study identified matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) as a novel target gene of Forkhead box O transcription factor FoxO3a in the response to urotensin-II and the NADPH oxidase NOX4 and showed that FoxO3a activated by this pathway promotes vascular growth in vitro and in vivo.
The vasoactive peptide urotensin-II (U-II) has been associated with vascular remodeling in different cardiovascular disorders. Although U-II can induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) by the NADPH oxidase NOX4 and stimulate smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation, the precise mechanisms linking U-II to vascular remodeling processes remain unclear. Forkhead Box O (FoxO) transcription factors have been associated with redox signaling and control of proliferation and apoptosis. We thus hypothesized that FoxOs are involved in the SMC response toward U-II and NOX4. We found that U-II and NOX4 stimulated FoxO activity and identified matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) as target gene of FoxO3a. FoxO3a activation by U-II was preceded by NOX4-dependent phosphorylation of c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase and 14-3-3 and decreased interaction of FoxO3a with its inhibitor 14-3-3, allowing MMP2 transcription. Functional studies in FoxO3a-depleted SMCs and in FoxO3a–/– mice showed that FoxO3a was important for basal and U-II–stimulated proliferation and vascular outgrowth, whereas treatment with an MMP2 inhibitor blocked these responses. Our study identified U-II and NOX4 as new activators of FoxO3a, and MMP2 as a novel target gene of FoxO3a, and showed that activation of FoxO3a by this pathway promotes vascular growth. FoxO3a may thus contribute to progression of cardiovascular diseases associated with vascular remodeling.
While the small GTPase Rac1 and its effectors are well-established mediators of mitogenic and motile signaling by tyrosine-kinase receptors and have been implicated in breast tumorigenesis, little is known regarding the exchange factors (Rac-GEFs) that mediate ErbB receptor responses. Here we identify the PIP3-Gβγ-dependent Rac-GEF P-Rex1 as an essential mediator of Rac1 activation, motility, cell growth, and tumorigenesis driven by ErbB receptors in breast cancer cells. Notably, activation of P-Rex1 in breast cancer cells requires the convergence of inputs from ErbB receptors and a Gβγ- and PI3Kγ-dependent pathway. Moreover, we identified the GPCR CXCR4 as a crucial mediator of P-Rex1/Rac1 activation in response to ErbB ligands. P-Rex1 is highly overexpressed in human breast cancers and their derived cell lines, particularly those with high ErbB2 and ER expression. In addition to the prognostic and therapeutic implications, our findings reveal an ErbB effector pathway that is crucial for breast cancer progression.
P-Rex1; Rac-GEF; Rac1; ErbB receptors; PI3Kγ; Gβγ subunits; breast cancer
The overexpression of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 is a frequent event in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck (HNSCC), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are potent inhibitors of COX-1 and COX-2, exert chemopreventive effects on HNSCC cancer development. COX-2 promotes the release of the pro-inflammatory mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which acts on its cell surface G protein-coupled receptors EP1, EP2, EP3, and EP4. Here, we investigated the role of PGE2 and its receptors in cellular proliferation in HNSCC. The expression of COX-2 and EP1-4 was examined in immortalized oral epithelial cells and in a representative panel of HNSCC cell lines, and based on these data EP1-EP3 and COX-2 expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in a large clinical sample collection using HNSCC tissue microarrays. The ability of selective COX-2 inhibition to block PGE2 secretion was measured by ELISA specific assays. The effects of PGE2 on cell proliferation were evaluated using PGE2, its stable analog, and EP2 and EP3-specific synthetic agonists. The results presented here show that HNSCC tumoral lesions and their derived cell lines constitutively express COX-2 and the EP1, EP2 and EP3 receptors for PGE2. HNSCC cells secrete PGE2, which can be suppressed by low concentrations of COX-2 selective inhibitors, without inhibiting cell proliferation. Exogenously added stable PGE2 and EP3-specific agonists induce DNA synthesis in all HNSCC cell lines tested. Overall, our study supports the emerging notion that PGE2 produced in the tumor microenvironment by the overexpression of COX-2 in tumoral and inflammatory cells may promote the growth of HNSCC cells in an autocrine and paracrine fashion by acting on PGE2 receptors that are widely expressed in most HNSCC cancer cells. In particular, our findings suggest that EP3 receptor may play a more prominent role in HNSCC cell growth promotion, thus providing a rationale for the future evaluation of this PGE2 receptor as a target for HNSCC prevention strategies.
Head and neck cancer; Cyclooxygenase; Prostaglandin E2; PGE2 receptors; EP1; EP2; EP3; EP4; G protein-coupled receptors; Oral cancer
To study the distribution and clearance of polyethylene glycol (PEG)-ylated single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNTs) as drug delivery vehicles for the anticancer drug cisplatin in mice.
Materials & methods
PEG layers were attached to SWCNTs and dispersed in aqueous media and characterized using dynamic light scattering, scanning transmission electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy. Cytotoxicity was assessed in vitro using Annexin-V assay, and the distribution and clearance pathways in mice were studied by histological staining and Raman spectroscopy. Efficacy of PEG-SWCNT–cisplatin for tumor growth inhibition was studied in mice.
Results & discussion
PEG-SWCNTs were efficiently dispersed in aqueous media compared with controls, and did not induce apoptosis in vitro. Hematoxylin and eosin staining, and Raman bands for SWCNTs in tissues from several vital organs from mice injected intravenously with nanotube bioconjugates revealed that control SWCNTs were lodged in lung tissue as large aggregates compared with the PEG-SWCNTs, which showed little or no accumulation. Characteristic SWCNT Raman bands in feces revealed the presence of bilary or renal excretion routes. Attachment of cisplatin on bioconjugates was visualized with Z-contrast scanning transmission electron microscopy. PEG-SWCNT–cisplatin with the attached targeting ligand EGF successfully inhibited growth of head and neck tumor xenografts in mice.
PEG-SWCNTs, as opposed to control SWCNTs, form more highly dispersed delivery vehicles that, when loaded with both cisplatin and EGF, inhibit growth of squamous cell tumors.
biodistribution; cancer; carbon nanotube; cisplatin; clearance; drug delivery; dynamic light scattering; growth factor; H & E staining; polyethylene glycol; Raman spectroscopy; STEM
The progression and negative outcome of a variety of human carcinomas is intimately associated with aberrant activity of the c-Met oncogene. The underlying cause of this dysregulation, however, remains a subject of discussion, as the majority of cancer patients do not present with activating mutations in c-Met receptor itself. Here we show that the oncogenic protease matriptase is ubiquitously co-expressed with the c-Met in human squamous cell carcinomas and amplifies migratory and proliferative responses of primary epithelial cells to the cognate ligand for c-Met, proHGF/SF, through c-Met and Gab1 signaling. Furthermore, the selective genetic ablation of c-Met from matriptase-expressing keratinocytes completely negates the oncogenic potential of matriptase. In addition, matriptase-dependent carcinoma formation could be blocked by the pharmacologic inhibition of the Akt-mTor pathway. Our data identify matriptase as an initiator of c-Met-Akt-mTor-dependent signaling axis in tumors and reveal mTor activation as an essential component of matriptase/c-Met-induced carcinogenesis. The study provides a specific example of how epithelial transformation can be promoted by epigenetic acquisition of the capacity to convert a widely available paracrine growth factor precursor to its signaling competent state.
hepatocyte growth factor in carcinoma; mTor; protease-activated signaling; cell surface proteases
Yck2, like many palmitoylation substrate proteins, lacks hydrophobicity for targeting to membranes and thus to its Golgi-localized palmitoyl-transferase. Perhaps accommodating this targeting need, the Yck2 palmitoylation signal is found to be large and complex, consisting of domains local to, and distant from, the modification site cysteines.
The yeast kinase Yck2 tethers to the cytoplasmic surface of the plasma membrane through dual palmitoylation of its C-terminal Cys-Cys dipeptide, mediated by the Golgi-localized palmitoyl-transferase Akr1. Here, the Yck2 palmitoylation signal is found to consist of three parts: 1) a 10-residue-long, conserved C-terminal peptide (CCTP) that includes the C-terminal Cys-Cys dipeptide; 2) the kinase catalytic domain (KD); and mapping between these two elements; and 3) a 176-residue-long, poorly conserved, glutamine-rich sequence. The CCTP, which contains the C-terminal cysteines as well as an important Phe-Phe dipeptide, likely serves as an Akr1 recognition element, because CCTP mutations disrupt palmitoylation within a purified in vitro palmitoylation system. The KD contribution appears to be complex with roles for both KD activity (e.g., Yck2-mediated phosphorylation) and structure (e.g., Akr1 recognition elements). KD and CCTP mutations are strongly synergistic, suggesting that, like the CCTP, the KD may also participate at the Yck2-Akr1 recognition step. The long, glutamine-rich domain, which is located between the KD and CCTP, is predicted to be intrinsically disordered and may function as a flexible, interdomain linker, allowing a coupled interaction of the KD and CCTP with Akr1. Multipart palmitoylation signals may prove to be a general feature of this large class of palmitoylation substrates. These soluble proteins have no clear means of accessing membranes and thus may require active capture out of the cytoplasm for palmitoylation by their membrane-localized transferases.
Sphingosine kinase-1 (SPHK1) modulates the proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation of keratinocytes through the regulation of ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate levels. However, studies on the expression of SPHK1 in human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) specimens are lacking. Therefore, the aim of the present work was to evaluate SPHK1 expression in human primary HNSCCs and to correlate the results with clinical and anatomopathological parameters. We investigated the expression of this protein by immunohistochemistry performed in tissue microarrays of HNSCC and in an independent cohort of 37 paraffin-embedded specimens. SPHK1 expression was further validated by real-time PCR performed on laser capture-microdissected tissue samples. The positive rate of SPHK1 protein in the cancerous tissues was significantly higher (74%) than that in the nontumor oral tissues (23%), and malignant tissues showed stronger immunoreactivity for SPHK1 than normal matching samples. These results were confirmed by real-time PCR quantification of SPHK1 mRNA. Interestingly, the positive expression of SPHK1 was associated with shorter patient survival time (Kaplan-Meier survival curves) and with the loss of p21 expression. Taken together, these results demonstrate that SPHK1 is upregulated in HNSCC and provide clues of the role SPHK1 might play in tumor progression.
Sphingosine kinase; Oral cancer; Sphingolipids; Tissue microarray
The molecular mechanisms directing Foxp3 gene transcription in CD4+ T cells remain ill defined. We show that deletion of the inhibitory helix-loop-helix (HLH) protein Id3 results in defective Foxp3+ Treg cell generation. We identified two transforming grothw factor-β1 (TGF-β1)-dependent mechanisms that are vital for activation of Foxp3 gene transcription, and are defective in Id3−/− CD4+ T cells. Enhanced binding of the HLH protein E2A to the Foxp3 promoter promoted Foxp3 gene transcription. Id3 was required to relieve inhibition by GATA-3 at the Foxp3 promoter. Further, Id3−/− T cells increased differentiation of Th17 cells in vitro and in a mouse asthma model. A network of factors therefore act in a TGF-β-dependent manner to control Foxp3 expression and inhibit Th17 cell development.
LDL-related protein 6 (LRP6) is a coreceptor of WNTs and a key regulator of the WNT/β-catenin pathway. Upon activation, LRP6 is phosphorylated within its intracellular PPPS/TP motifs. These phosphorylated motifs are required to recruit axin and to inhibit glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), two basic components of the β-catenin destruction complex. On the basis of a kinome-wide small interfering RNA (siRNA) screen and confirmative biochemical analysis, we show that several proline-directed mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), such as p38, ERK1/2, and JNK1 are sufficient and required for the phosphorylation of PPPS/TP motifs of LRP6. External stimuli, which control the activity of MAPKs, such as phorbol esters and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) control the choice of the LRP6-PPPS/TP kinase and regulate the amplitude of LRP6 phosphorylation and WNT/β-catenin-dependent transcription. Our findings suggest that cells not only recruit one dedicated LRP6 kinase but rather select their LRP6 kinase depending on cell type and the external stimulus. Moreover, direct phosphorylation of LRP6 by MAPKs provides a unique point for convergence between WNT/β-catenin signaling and mitogenic pathways.
Previous studies from our laboratory have indicated that overexpression of the epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 8 (EPS8) enhances cell proliferation, migration and tumorigenicity in vivo, although the mechanisms involved remain unexplored. A microarray screen to search for potential mediators of EPS8 identified upregulation of multiple cell cycle-related targets such as the transcription factor FOXM1 and several of its reported downstream mediators, including cdc20, cyclin B1, cyclin A, aurora-B kinase and cdc25C in cells with elevated EPS8, as well as matrix metalloproteinase-9, which we reported previously to be upregulated by EPS8-dependent mechanisms. Cells engineered to overexpress FOXM1 showed increased proliferation, similar to EPS8-overexpressing cells. Conversely, targeted knockdown of FOXM1 in EPS8-overexpressing cells reduced proliferation. Cotransfection of EPS8 with a FOXM1-luciferase reporter plasmid into 293-T- or SVpgC2a-immortalized buccal keratinocytes demonstrated that EPS8 enhances FOXM1 promoter activity, whereas chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed elevated levels of acetylated histone H3 associated with the FOXM1 promoter in cells expressing high levels of EPS8. Treatment of EPS8-overexpressing cells with inhibitors of phosphoinositide 3-OH kinase or AKT reduced expression of FOXM1 and aurora-B kinase, a transcriptional target of FOXM1. Overexpression of EPS8 induced expression of the chemokine ligands CXCL5 and CXCL12 in a FOXM1-dependent manner, which was blocked by LY294002 or a dominant-negative form of AKT. Additionally, overexpression of FOXM1 enhanced cell migration, whereas targeted knockdown of CXCL5 or inhibition of AKT reduced migration of EPS8-expressing cells. These data suggest that EPS8 enhances cell proliferation and migration in part by deregulating FOXM1 activity and inducing CXC-chemokine expression, mediated by PI3K- and AKT-dependent mechanisms.
The effector protein of the canonical Wnt pathway is β-catenin, which is regulated by the ubiquitin system. This study shows that the E3 ubiquitin ligase EDD ubiquitinates β-catenin, leading to up-regulation of β-catenin's expression levels and activity. Thus the results demonstrate a role for the ubiquitin system in up-regulation of the Wnt pathway.
Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays a central role in development and is also involved in a diverse array of diseases. β-Catenin activity is tightly regulated via a multiprotein complex that includes the kinase glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). GSK-3β phosphorylates β-catenin, marking it for ubiquitination and degradation via the proteasome. Thus in regulation of the Wnt pathway, the ubiquitin system is known to be involved mostly in mediating the turnover of β-catenin, resulting in reduced Wnt signaling levels. Here we report that an arm of the ubiquitin system increases β-catenin protein levels. We show that GSK-3β directly interacts with the E3 ubiquitin ligase identified by differential display (EDD) that also binds β-catenin. Expression of EDD leads to enhanced nuclear accumulation of both GSK-3β and β-catenin and results in up-regulation of β-catenin expression levels and activity. Importantly, EDD ubiquitinates β-catenin through Lys29- or Lys11-linked ubiquitin chains, leading to enhanced stability of β-catenin. Our results demonstrate a role for the ubiquitin system in up-regulation of the Wnt signaling pathway, suggesting that EDD could function as a colorectal oncogene.