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1.  ZIP14 Zinc Transporter Downregulation and Zinc Depletion in the Development and Progression of Hepatocellular Cancer 
Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is a deadly and most rapidly increasing cancer in the USA and worldwide. The etiology and factors involved in development of HCC remain largely unknown. A marked decrease in zinc occurs in HCC. Its role and involvement in HCC has not been identified. We investigated the relationship of cellular zinc changes to the development of malignancy, and the identification of potential zinc transporters associated with the inability of hepatoma cells to accumulate zinc.
The detection of relative zinc levels in situ in normal hepatic cells vs. hepatoma was performed on normal and HCC tissue sections. ZIP1, 2, 3, and 14 transporters were identified by immunohistochemistry.
Intracellular zinc levels are markedly decreased in HCC hepatoma cells vs. normal hepatic cells in early stage and advanced stage malignancy. ZIP14 transporter is localized at the plasma membrane in normal hepatocytes, demonstrating its functioning for uptake and accumulation of zinc. The transporter is absent in the hepatoma cells and its gene expression is downregulated. The change in ZIP14 is concurrent with the decrease in zinc. ZIP1, 2, 3 are not associated with normal hepatocyte uptake of zinc, and HCC zinc depletion. HepG2 cells exhibit ZIP14 transporter. Zinc treatment inhibits their growth.
ZIP14 downregulation is likely involved in the depletion of zinc in the hepatoma cells in HCC. These events occur early in the development of malignancy possibly to protect the malignant cells from tumor suppressor effects of zinc. This provides new insight into important factors associated with HCC carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3724761  PMID: 21373779
Hepatocellular cancer; Zinc; ZIP transporters; ZIP14; Zinc transporters
2.  Evidence for Changes in RREB-1, ZIP3, and Zinc in the Early Development of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma 
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is an untreatable cancer with a 5-year survival rate of about 6 % or less for the past 35 years. This lack of significant progress is largely due to the lack of elucidation and understanding of the factors involved in the development of this cancer. Recent studies identified and implicated zinc in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer. This study was conducted to establish the changes in zinc, ZIP3 zinc transporter, and Ras-responsive element-binding protein 1 (RREB-1) transcription factor as early events in the development of malignancy.
In situ relative zinc determination and immunohistochemical analysis of ZIP3 and RREB-1 were performed on archived human pancreatic tissue sections and tissue micro-arrays. Normal/benign versus adenocarcinoma pancreas was compared. Panc1 cells were employed to determine the influence of RREB-1 on ZIP3 expression.
Zinc levels of normal ductal and acinar epithelium were markedly and consistently decreased in adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions also exhibited a loss of zinc. ZIP3 and RREB-1 were also markedly downregulated. Initial results indicate that RREB-1 regulates ZIP3 expression.
These results corroborate the earlier report that zinc, ZIP3, and RREB-1 are markedly decreased in early stage adenocarcinoma. Additionally and most importantly, these changes occur in PanIN, which are thought to be precancerous lesions leading to ductal adenocarcinoma. These results support a concept that downregulation of RREB-1 causes downregulation of ZIP3, which results in decreased zinc in premalignant and carcinoma cells. The decrease in zinc is essential to remove its cytotoxic effects on malignant cells. This relationship constitutes a new concept of early genetic/metabolic events in the progressive transformation of normal cells to premalignant cells to malignant cells in the development of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3696985  PMID: 22427155
Pancreatic cancer; Zinc; ZIP3; RREB-1; PanIN
3.  Epithelioid Trophoblastic Tumor: A Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Epithelioid trophoblastic tumor (ETT) is a rare gestational trophoblastic tumor. Cases of ETT present as abnormal vaginal bleeding in women of reproductive age, with low human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels. ETT can be a sequela of any gestational event and can present in both intrauterine and extrauterine sites. Metastasis and death have been reported. We present a case of a 44-year-old female incidentally diagnosed with ETT following laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy. Postoperative evaluation for metastatic disease was negative. The patient has been closely followed and remains disease free 8 months postoperatively. ETT presents a diagnostic challenge due to its rarity and histologic resemblance to other pathologies. ETT is relatively chemoresistant and managed surgically. Misdiagnosis delays effective treatment and affects survival.
PMCID: PMC3518084  PMID: 23243530
4.  Malignant Transformation of a Mature Cystic Ovarian Teratoma into Thyroid Carcinoma, Mucinous Adenocarcinoma, and Strumal Carcinoid: A Case Report and Literature Review 
Malignant transformation of a mature cystic teratoma (MCT) is an infrequent, often asymptomatic event. We report the first example of a struma ovarii with a focus of follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (a), mucinous adenocarcinoma (b), and strumal carcinoid tumor (c)—all three arising in one mature cystic teratoma of the ovary. From our reviews, we found limited data to guide management when these malignant foci occur within an MCT. Consideration should be given to thyroidectomy followed by total-body scanning and serum studies for foci of thyroid carcinoma and adjuvant therapy with thyroidectomy and radioablation if residual disease is identified (a). Additionally, extrapolating from data for mucinous adenocarcinomas, consideration could be given to adjuvant chemotherapy after appropriate staging (b). Strumal carcinoid tumors should be treated as tumors of low malignant potential. Observation is appropriate if after complete staging, no invasive implants are noted (c).
PMCID: PMC3458411  PMID: 23029627
5.  Xanthogranulomatous Inflammation of the Female Genital Tract: Report of Three Cases 
Journal of Cancer  2012;3:100-106.
Purpose and Methods: This is a series of three cases diagnosed with xanthogranulomatous inflammation of the female genital with emphasis on the etiology, clinical-pathologic features and biological behavior. Clinical, pathologic, radiologic and follow up data are reported.
Results: The three cases of Xanthogranulomatous inflammation of the female genital tract are the followings: 1) one case affecting the endometrium, 2) one case affecting the fallopian tube, and 3) one case confined to the ovary. The patient's age was 37, 22 and 62 year-old, respectively. Histologic examination revealed extensive infiltration of foamy histiocytes admixed with variable amount of inflammatory cells. The later include plasma cells, lymphocytes, and occasional multinucleated giant cells. Immunohistochemistry showed positive staining for CD68, a histiocytic marker, in foamy histiocytes, CD3, a T cell marker, and CD20, a B cell marker, in the background lymphocytes. The plasma cells were polyclonal with expression of both κ and λ light chains.
Conclusion: Xanthogranulomatous inflammation of the female genital tract is an unusual lesion, and clinically forms mass- like lesion in the pelvic cavity that invades the surrounding tissues, which may mimic the tumor clinically and by imaging.
PMCID: PMC3293171  PMID: 22393333
xanthogranulomatous inflammation; endometritis; salpingitis; oophoritis.
6.  Cellular Model of Warburg Effect Identifies Tumor Promoting Function of UCP2 in Breast Cancer and Its Suppression by Genipin 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24792.
The Warburg Effect is characterized by an irreversible injury to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and an increased rate of aerobic glycolysis. In this study, we utilized a breast epithelial cell line lacking mitochondrial DNA (rho0) that exhibits the Warburg Effect associated with breast cancer. We developed a MitoExpress array for rapid analysis of all known nuclear genes encoding the mitochondrial proteome. The gene-expression pattern was compared among a normal breast epithelial cell line, its rho0 derivative, breast cancer cell lines and primary breast tumors. Among several genes, our study revealed that over-expression of mitochondrial uncoupling protein UCP2 in rho0 breast epithelial cells reflects gene expression changes in breast cancer cell lines and in primary breast tumors. Furthermore, over-expression of UCP2 was also found in leukemia, ovarian, bladder, esophagus, testicular, colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, lung and prostate tumors. Ectopic expression of UCP2 in MCF7 breast cancer cells led to a decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and increased tumorigenic properties as measured by cell migration, in vitro invasion and anchorage independent growth. Consistent with in vitro studies, we demonstrate that UCP2 over-expression leads to development of tumors in vivo in an orthotopic model of breast cancer. Genipin, a plant derived small molecule, suppressed the UCP2 led tumorigenic properties, which were mediated by decreased reactive oxygen species and down-regulation of UCP2. However, UCP1, 3, 4 and 5 gene expression was unaffected. UCP2 transcription was controlled by SMAD4. Together, these studies suggest a tumor-promoting function of UCP2 in breast cancer. In summary, our studies demonstrate that i) the Warburg Effect is mediated by UCP2; ii) UCP2 is over-expressed in breast and many other cancers; iii) UCP2 promotes tumorigenic properties in vitro and in vivo and iv) genipin suppresses the tumor promoting function of UCP2.
PMCID: PMC3174207  PMID: 21935467
7.  NADPH oxidase 4 is an oncoprotein localized to mitochondria 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(3):223-231.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are known to be involved in many physiological and pathological processes. Initially ROS-producing NADPH oxidase (NOX) proteins were thought to be present in phagocytes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that NOX proteins are expressed in many other cell types and tissues. NOX family members' expression and function seems to vary from tissue to tissue. We determined the expression of the NOX family of proteins (NOX1-5) in normal breast tissue and breast tumors. Our study revealed that normal breast tissues express NOX1, 4 and 5 genes. Similar pattern of expression was revealed in a breast epithelial cell line. We found that NOX4 was overexpressed in the majority of breast cancer cell lines and primary breast tumors. NOX4 was also overexpressed in ovarian tumors. Overexpression of NOX4 in normal breast epithelial cells resulted in cellular senescence, resistance to apoptosis, and tumorigenic transformation. Overexpression of NOX4 in already transformed breast tumor cells also showed increased tumorigenicity. Strong evidence suggests that regulation of these processes occurs through NOX4 generation of ROS in the mitochondria. We demonstrate that the NOX4 protein contains a 73 amino acid long mitochondrial localization signal at the N-terminus that is capable of transporting a passenger protein GFP into the mitochondria. Treatment of NOX4 overexpressing cells with catalase resulted in decreased tumorigenic characteristics. Together, this study provides evidence for an oncogenic function for NOX4 protein localized to mitochondria and suggests that NOX4 is a novel source of ROS produced in the mitochondria. This study also identifies a possible treatment of NOX4-induced breast cancer by antioxidant treatment.
PMCID: PMC3040835  PMID: 20523116
NADPH oxidase 4; breast cancer; oncogenesis; catalase
8.  Tumorigenic transformation of human breast epithelial cells induced by mitochondrial DNA depletion 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(11):1732-1743.
Human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes 13 proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). In order to investigate the role of mitochondrial OXPHOS genes in breast tumorigenesis, we have developed a breast epithelial cell line devoid of mtDNA (ρ0 cells). Our analysis revealed that depletion of mtDNA in breast epithelial cells results in in vitro tumorigenic phenotype as well as breast tumorigenesis in a xenograft model. We identified two major gene networks which were differentially regulated between parental and ρ0 epithelial cells. The focal proteins in these networks include (i) FN1 (fibronectin) and (ii) p53. Bioinformatic analyses of FN1 network identified laminin, integrin and 3 of 6 members of peroxiredoxin whose expression were altered in ρ0 epithelial cells. In the p53 network, we identified SMC4 and WRN whose changes in expression suggest that this network may affect chromosomal stability. Consistent with above finding our study revealed an increase in DNA double strand breaks and unique chromosomal rearrangements in ρ0 breast epithelial cells. Additionally, we identified tight junction proteins claudin-1 and claudin-7 in p53 network. To determine the functional relevance of altered gene expression, we focused on detailed analyses of claudin-1 and -7 proteins in breast tumorigenesis. Our study determined that (i) claudin-1 and 7 were indeed downregulated in ρ0 breast epithelial cells, (ii) downregulation of claudin-1 or -7 led to neoplastic transformation of breast epithelial cells, and (iii) claudin-1 and -7 were also downregulated in primary breast tumors. Together, our study suggest that mtDNA encoded OXPHOS genes play a key role in transformation of breast epithelial cells and that multiple pathway involved in mitochondria-to-nucleus retrograde regulation contribute to transformation of breast epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2783327  PMID: 19151587
mitochondria; breast tumorigenesis; mtDNA depletion; claudin-1; claudin-7; ρ0 cells; mitochondrial DNA
9.  Evaluating regional blood spinal cord barrier dysfunction following spinal cord injury using longitudinal dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI 
BMC Medical Imaging  2009;9:10.
In vivo preclinical imaging of spinal cord injury (SCI) in rodent models provides clinically relevant information in translational research. This paper uses multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate neurovascular pathology and changes in blood spinal cord barrier (BSCB) permeability following SCI in a mouse model of SCI.
C57BL/6 female mice (n = 5) were subjected to contusive injury at the thoracic T11 level and scanned on post injury days 1 and 3 using anatomical, dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE-MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The injured cords were evaluated postmortem with histopathological stains specific to neurovascular changes. A computational model was implemented to map local changes in barrier function from the contrast enhancement. The area and volume of spinal cord tissue with dysfunctional barrier were determined using semi-automatic segmentation.
Quantitative maps derived from the acquired DCE-MRI data depicted the degree of BSCB permeability variations in injured spinal cords. At the injury sites, the damaged barriers occupied about 70% of the total cross section and 48% of the total volume on day 1, but the corresponding measurements were reduced to 55% and 25%, respectively on day 3. These changes implied spatio-temporal remodeling of microvasculature and its architecture in injured SC. Diffusion computations included longitudinal and transverse diffusivities and fractional anisotropy index. Comparison of permeability and diffusion measurements indicated regions of injured cords with dysfunctional barriers had structural changes in the form of greater axonal loss and demyelination, as supported by histopathologic assessments.
The results from this study collectively demonstrated the feasibility of quantitatively mapping regional BSCB dysfunction in injured cord in mouse and obtaining complementary information about its structural integrity using in vivo DCE-MRI and DTI protocols. This capability is expected to play an important role in characterizing the neurovascular changes and reorganization following SCI in longitudinal preclinical experiments, but with potential clinical implications.
PMCID: PMC2714086  PMID: 19519898
10.  Differential expression of metallothioneins (MTs) 1, 2, and 3 in response to zinc treatment in human prostate normal and malignant cells and tissues 
Molecular Cancer  2008;7:7.
The disturbance of zinc homeostasis featured with a significant decrease of cellular zinc level was well documented to associate with the development and progression of human prostate malignancy. We have previously reported that zinc treatment induces prostate malignant cell apoptosis through mitochondrial pathway. Metallothionein (MT) is a major receptor/donor of zinc in the cells. However, the studies on the expression of MT in association with the prostate pathological and malignant status are very limited, and the zinc regulation of MT isoform expression in prostate cells remains elusive. The goals of this study were to define the expression of endogenous MTs, the isoforms of MT 1, 2, 3 at both messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and protein levels; and to investigate the zinc effect on MT expression in normal prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and malignant PC-3 cells, and in relevant human tissues. Cellular MT proteins were detected by immunohistochemistry, fluorescence staining and Western blot analysis; reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to determine the MT isoform-specific mRNAs.
Our results demonstrated a significant suppression of endogenous levels of MT1/2 in malignant PC-3 cells (95% reduction compared to the normal prostate cells) and in human adenocarcinoma tissues (73% MT1/2 negative). A moderate reduction of MT1/2 expression was observed in BPH. Zinc treatment remarkably induced MT1/2 expression in PC-3 and BPH cells, which was accordant with the restored cellular zinc level. MT 3, as a growth inhibitory factor, was detected and up-regulated by zinc mainly in BPH cells.
This study provided evidence of the association of attenuated MT1/2 with prostate tumor progression, and the zinc induction of MT1/2 expression resulting in cellular zinc restoration. The results suggest the potential of MT1/2 as a candidate biomarker for prostate cancer and the utilization of zinc in prostate cancer prevention and treatment.
PMCID: PMC2265743  PMID: 18208603

Results 1-10 (10)