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1.  27-Hydroxycholesterol Promotes Cell-autonomous ER-positive Breast Cancer Growth 
Cell reports  2013;5(3):637-645.
To date estrogen is the only known endogenous estrogen receptor (ER) ligand that promotes ER+ breast tumor growth. We report that the cholesterol metabolite 27-hydroxycholesterol (27HC) stimulates MCF-7 cell xenograft growth in mice. More importantly, in ER+ breast cancer patients, 27HC content in normal breast tissue is increased compared to that in cancer-free controls, and tumor 27HC content is further elevated. Increased tumor 27HC is correlated with diminished expression of CYP7B1, the 27HC metabolizing enzyme, and reduced expression of CYP7B1 in tumors is associated with poorer patient survival. Moreover, 27HC is produced by MCF-7 cells and it stimulates cell-autonomous, ER-dependent and GDNF-RET-dependent cell proliferation. Thus, 27HC is a locally-modulated, non-aromatized ER ligand that promotes ER+ breast tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC3950897  PMID: 24210818
2.  An epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) gene signature predicts resistance to EGFR and PI3K inhibitors and identifies Axl as a therapeutic target for overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance 
EMT has been associated with metastatic spread and EGFR inhibitor resistance. We developed and validated a robust 76-gene EMT signature using gene expression profiles from four platforms using NSCLC cell lines and patients treated in the BATTLE study.
We conducted an integrated gene expression, proteomic, and drug response analysis using cell lines and tumors from NSCLC patients. A 76-gene EMT signature was developed and validated using gene expression profiles from four microarray platforms of NSCLC cell lines and patients treated in the BATTLE (Biomarker-integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination) study, and potential therapeutic targets associated with EMT were identified.
Compared with epithelial cells, mesenchymal cells demonstrated significantly greater resistance to EGFR and PI3K/Akt pathway inhibitors, independent of EGFR mutation status, but more sensitivity to certain chemotherapies. Mesenchymal cells also expressed increased levels of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl and showed a trend towards greater sensitivity to the Axl inhibitor SGI-7079, while the combination of SGI-7079 with erlotinib reversed erlotinib resistance in mesenchymal lines expressing Axl and in a xenograft model of mesenchymal NSCLC. In NSCLC patients, the EMT signature predicted 8-week disease control in patients receiving erlotinib, but not other therapies.
We have developed a robust EMT signature that predicts resistance to EGFR and PI3K/Akt inhibitors, highlights different patterns of drug responsiveness for epithelial and mesenchymal cells, and identifies Axl as a potential therapeutic target for overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance associated with the mesenchymal phenotype
PMCID: PMC3567921  PMID: 23091115
lung cancer; EMT; EGFR inhibition; PI3K inhibition; Axl
3.  Proteomic Profiling Identifies Dysregulated Pathways in Small Cell Lung Cancer and Novel Therapeutic Targets Including PARP1 
Cancer discovery  2012;2(9):798-811.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive malignancy distinct from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in its metastatic potential and treatment response. Using an integrative proteomic and transcriptomic analysis, we investigated molecular differences contributing to the distinct clinical behavior of SCLC and NSCLC. SCLC demonstrated lower levels of several receptor tyrosine kinases and decreased activation of PI3K and Ras/MEK pathways, but significantly increased levels of E2F1-regulated factors including EZH2, thymidylate synthase, apoptosis mediators, and DNA repair proteins. Additionally, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1), a DNA repair protein and E2F1 co-activator, was highly expressed at the mRNA and protein levels in SCLC. SCLC growth was inhibited by PARP1 and EZH2 knockdown. Furthermore, SCLC was significantly more sensitive to PARP inhibitors than NSCLC, and PARP inhibition downregulated key components of the DNA repair machinery and enhanced the efficacy of chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3567922  PMID: 22961666
4.  Probe mapping across multiple microarray platforms 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2011;13(5):547-554.
Access to gene expression data has become increasingly common in recent years; however, analysis has become more difficult as it is often desirable to integrate data from different platforms. Probe mapping across microarray platforms is the first and most crucial step for data integration. In this article, we systematically review and compare different approaches to map probes across seven platforms from different vendors: U95A, U133A and U133 Plus 2.0 from Affymetrix, Inc.; HT-12 v1, HT-12v2 and HT-12v3 from Illumina, Inc.; and 4112A from Agilent, Inc. We use a unique data set, which contains 56 lung cancer cell line samples—each of which has been measured by two different microarray platforms—to evaluate the consistency of expression measurement across platforms using different approaches. Based on the evaluation from the empirical data set, the BLAST alignment of the probe sequences to a recent revision of the Transcriptome generated better results than using annotations provided by Vendors or from Bioconductor's Annotate package. However, a combination of all three methods (deemed the ‘Consensus Annotation’) yielded the most consistent expression measurement across platforms. To facilitate data integration across microarray platforms for the research community, we develop a user-friendly web-based tool, an API and an R package to map data across different microarray platforms from Affymetrix, Illumina and Agilent. Information on all three can be found at
PMCID: PMC3431719  PMID: 22199380
microarray; gene expression; probe; integrated analysis; probe mapping
5.  Global evaluation of Eph receptors and ephrins in lung adenocarcinomas identifies EphA4 as an inhibitor of cell migration and invasion 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(9):2021-2032.
The Eph family of receptors is the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, but it remains poorly studied in lung cancer. Our aim was to systematically explore the human Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, in lung adenocarcinoma. The prognostic impact of Eph receptor and ephrin gene expression was analyzed using 2 independent cohorts of lung adenocarcinoma. Gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinoma versus normal adjacent lung were studied in 3 independent cohorts and in cell lines. Gene expression profiles were validated with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Western blotting in cell lines. Functional studies to assess the role of Eph receptor A4 (EphA4) were performed in vitro. The biological effects of EphA4 in lung cancer cell lines were assayed following overexpression and knockdown. Of the 11 Eph receptors and 8 ephrins analyzed, only EphA4 and ephrin A1 gene expression were consistently associated with an improved outcome in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Expression levels of EphA4 by microarray correlated well with expression levels measured by qPCR and Western blotting. EphA4 overexpression reduced cell migration and invasion but did not affect cell cycle, apoptosis, or drug sensitivity. Surprisingly, EphA4 was expressed at higher levels in cancer versus non-cancer tissues and cell lines. EphA4 gene expression is associated with an improved outcome in patients with resected lung adenocarcinoma, likely by affecting cancer cell migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3438283  PMID: 22807579
non-small cell lung cancer; adenocarcinoma; Eph receptor; ephrin; prognosis
6.  Distinct transcriptome profiles identified in normal human bronchial epithelial cells after exposure to γ-rays and different elemental particles of high Z and energy 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:372.
Ionizing radiation composed of accelerated ions of high atomic number (Z) and energy (HZE) deposits energy and creates damage in cells in a discrete manner as compared to the random deposition of energy and damage seen with low energy radiations such as γ- or x-rays. Such radiations can be highly effective at cell killing, transformation, and oncogenesis, all of which are concerns for the manned space program and for the burgeoning field of HZE particle radiotherapy for cancer. Furthermore, there are differences in the extent to which cells or tissues respond to such exposures that may be unrelated to absorbed dose. Therefore, we asked whether the energy deposition patterns produced by different radiation types would cause different molecular responses. We performed transcriptome profiling using human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) after exposure to γ-rays and to two different HZE particles (28Si and 56Fe) with different energy transfer properties to characterize the molecular response to HZE particles and γ-rays as a function of dose, energy deposition pattern, and time post-irradiation.
Clonogenic assay indicated that the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) for 56Fe was 3.91 and for 28Si was 1.38 at 34% cell survival. Unsupervised clustering analysis of gene expression segregated samples according to the radiation species followed by the time after irradiation, whereas dose was not a significant parameter for segregation of radiation response. While a subset of genes associated with p53-signaling, such as CDKN1A, TRIM22 and BTG2 showed very similar responses to all radiation qualities, distinct expression changes were associated with the different radiation species. Gene enrichment analysis categorized the differentially expressed genes into functional groups related to cell death and cell cycle regulation for all radiation types, while gene pathway analysis revealed that the pro-inflammatory Acute Phase Response Signaling was specifically induced after HZE particle irradiation. A 73 gene signature capable of predicting with 96% accuracy the radiation species to which cells were exposed, was developed.
These data suggest that the molecular response to the radiation species used here is a function of the energy deposition characteristics of the radiation species. This novel molecular response to HZE particles may have implications for radiotherapy including particle selection for therapy and risk for second cancers, risk for cancers from diagnostic radiation exposures, as well as NASA’s efforts to develop more accurate lung cancer risk estimates for astronaut safety. Lastly, irrespective of the source of radiation, the gene expression changes observed set the stage for functional studies of initiation or progression of radiation-induced lung carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3680091  PMID: 23724988
Gene expression; HZE particles; Ionizing radiation; Human bronchial epithelial cells
7.  Antitumor activity of a novel STAT3 inhibitor and redox modulator in non-small cell lung cancer cells☆ 
Biochemical pharmacology  2012;83(10):1456-1464.
NSC-743380 is a novel STAT3 inhibitor that suppresses the growth of several NCI-60 cancer cell lines derived from different tissues and induces regression of xenograft tumors in vivo at various doses. To evaluate the antitumor activity of NSC-743380 in lung cancer cells, we analyzed the susceptibility of 50 NSCLC cell lines to this compound using cell viability assay. About 32% (16 of 50) of these cell lines were highly susceptible to this compound, with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of <1 µM. In mechanistic studies, the increased numbers of apoptotic cells as well as increased PARP cleavage showed that cytotoxic effects correlate with apoptosis induction. Treatment with NSC-743380 inhibited transcription factor STAT3 activation and induced ROS production in sensitive human lung cancer cell lines but not in resistant cells. Blocking ROS generation with the antioxidant NDGA dramatically abolished NSC-743380-induced growth suppression and apoptosis, but had minimal effect on NSC-743380-induced STAT3 inhibition, suggesting that STAT3 inhibition is not caused by ROS production. Interestingly, knockdown of STAT3 with use of shSTAT3 induced ROS generation and suppressed tumor cell growth. Moreover, scavenging ROS induced by STAT3 inhibition also diminished antitumor activity of STAT3 inhibition. In vivo administration of NSC-743380 suppressed tumor growth and p-STAT3 in lung tumors. Our results indicate that NSC-743380 is a potent anticancer agent for lung cancer and that its apoptotic effects in lung cancer cells are mediated by induction of ROS through STAT3 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3391570  PMID: 22387047
Drug development; Lung Cancer; STAT3; Reactive oxygen species
8.  The SUMO E3-ligase PIAS1 regulates the tumor suppressor PML and its oncogenic counterpart PML-RARA 
Cancer Research  2012;72(9):2275-2284.
The ubiquitin-like SUMO proteins covalently modify protein substrates and regulate their functional properties. In a broad spectrum of cancers, the tumor suppressor PML undergoes ubiquitin-mediated degradation primed by CK2 phosphorylation. Here we report that the SUMO E3-ligase inhibitor PIAS1 regulates oncogenic signaling through its ability to sumoylate PML and the PML-RARA oncoprotein of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). PIAS1-mediated SUMOylation of PML promoted CK2 interaction and ubiquitin/proteasome-mediated degradation of PML, attenuating its tumor suppressor functions. In addition, PIAS1-mediated SUMOylation of PML-RARA was essential for induction of its degradation by arsenic trioxide, an effective APL treatment. Moreover, PIAS1 suppression abrogated the ability of arsenic trioxide to trigger apoptosis in APL cells. Lastly, PIAS1 was also essential for PML degradation in non-small cell lung cancer cells, and PML and PIAS1 were inversely correlated in NSCLC cell lines and primary specimens. Together, our findings reveal novel roles for PIAS1 and the SUMOylation machinery in regulating oncogenic networks and the response to leukemia therapy.
PMCID: PMC3342450  PMID: 22406621
9.  SMAC mimetic (JP1201) sensitizes non-small cell lung cancers to multiple chemotherapy agents in an IAP dependent but TNFα independent manner 
Cancer Research  2011;71(24):7640-7648.
Inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) are key regulators of apoptosis and are inhibited by the second mitocondrial activator of caspases (SMAC). Previously, a small subset of TNFα-expressing non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) was found to be sensitive to SMAC mimetics alone. In this study we determined if a SMAC mimetic (JP1201) could sensitize non-responsive NSCLC cell lines to standard chemotherapy. We found that JP1201 sensitized NSCLCs to doxorubicin, erlotinib, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, vinorelbine, and the combination of carboplatin with paclitaxel in a synergistic manner at clinically achievable drug concentrations. Sensitization did not occur with platinum alone. Furthermore, sensitization was specific for tumor compared to normal lung epithelial cells, increased in NSCLCs harvested after chemotherapy treatment, and did not induce TNFα secretion. Sensitization also was enhanced in vivo with increased tumor inhibition and increased survival of mice carrying xenografts. These effects were accompanied by caspase 3, 4, and 9 activation, indicating that both mitochondrial and ER stress-induced apoptotic pathways are activated by the combination of vinorelbine and JP1201. Chemotherapies that induce cell death through the mitochondrial pathway required only inhibition of XIAP for sensitization, while chemotherapies that induce cell death through multiple apoptotic pathways required inhibition of cIAP1, cIAP2, and XIAP. Therefore, the data suggest that IAP-targeted therapy using a SMAC mimetic provides a new therapeutic strategy for synergistic sensitization of NSCLCs to standard chemotherapy agents, which appears to occur independently of TNFα secretion.
PMCID: PMC3382117  PMID: 22049529
non-small cell lung cancer; smac mimetic; vinorelbine; gemcitabine; IAPs
10.  Robust Gene Expression Signature from Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded Samples Predicts Prognosis of Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients 
The requirement of frozen tissues for microarray experiments limits the clinical usage of genome-wide expression profiling using microarray technology. The goal of this study is to test the feasibility of developing lung cancer prognosis gene signatures using genome-wide expression profiling of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples, which are widely available and provide a valuable rich source for studying the association of molecular changes in cancer and associated clinical outcomes.
Experimental Design
We randomly selected 100 Non-Small-Cell lung cancer (NSCLC) FFPE samples with annotated clinical information from the UT-Lung SPORE Tissue Bank. We micro dissected tumor area from FFPE specimens, and used Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0 arrays to attain gene expression data. After strict quality control and analysis procedures, a supervised principal component analysis was used to develop a robust prognosis signature for NSCLC. Three independent published microarray data sets were used to validate the prognosis model.
This study demonstrated that the robust gene signature derived from genome-wide expression profiling of FFPE samples is strongly associated with lung cancer clinical outcomes, can be used to refine the prognosis for stage I lung cancer patients and the prognostic signature is independent of clinical variables. This signature was validated in several independent studies and was refined to a 59-gene lung cancer prognosis signature.
We conclude that genome-wide profiling of FFPE lung cancer samples can identify a set of genes whose expression level provides prognostic information across different platforms and studies, which will allow its application in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC3166982  PMID: 21742808
Lung Cancer Prognosis; Gene Expression Signature; Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded Samples
11.  Increased VEGFR-2 Gene Copy Is Associated With Chemoresistance and Shorter Survival in Patients with Non-small Cell Lung Carcinoma Who Receive Adjuvant Chemotherapy 
Cancer research  2011;71(16):5512-5521.
Vascular endothelial growth factor-2 (VEGFR-2 or KDR) is a known endothelial target also expressed in NSCLC tumor cells. We investigated the association between alterations in the KDR gene and clinical outcome in patients with resected NSCLC (n=248). KDR copy number gains (CNGs), measured by quantitative PCR and fluorescence in situ hybridization, were detected in 32% of tumors and associated with significantly higher KDR protein and higher microvessel density than tumors without CNGs. KDR CNGs were also associated with significantly increased risk of death (HR=5.16; P=0.003) in patients receiving adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy, but no differences were observed in patients not receiving adjuvant therapy. To investigate potential mechanisms for these associations we assessed NSCLC cell lines and found that KDR CNGs were significantly associated with in vitro resistance to platinum chemotherapy as well as increased levels of nuclear HIF-1α in both NSCLC tumor specimens and cell lines. Furthermore, KDR knockdown experiments using small interfering RNA reduced platinum resistance, cell migration, and HIF-1α levels in cells bearing KDR CNGs, providing evidence for direct involvement of KDR. No KDR mutations were detected in exons 7, 11 and 21 by PCR-based sequencing; however, two variant SNP genotypes were associated with favorable overall survival in adenocarcinoma patients. Our findings suggest that tumor cell KDR CNGs may promote a more malignant phenotype including increased chemoresistance, angiogenesis, and HIF-1α levels, and that KDR CNGs may be a useful biomarker for identifying patients at high risk for recurrence after adjuvant therapy, a group that may benefit from VEGFR-2 blockade.
PMCID: PMC3159530  PMID: 21724587
12.  STAT3 mediates resistance to MEK inhibitor through microRNA miR-17 
Cancer Research  2011;71(10):3658-3668.
AZD6244 is a small molecule inhibitor of the MEK kinase pathway currently in clinical trials. However, the mechanisms mediating intrinsic resistance to MEK inhibition are not fully characterized. To define molecular mechanisms of MEK inhibitor resistance, we analyzed responses of 38 lung cancer cell lines following AZD6244 treatment and their genome-wide gene expression profiles and identified a panel of genes correlated with sensitivity or resistance to AZD6244 treatment. In particular, Ingenuity pathway analysis revealed that activation of the STAT3 pathway was associated with MEK inhibitor resistance. Inhibition of this pathway by JSI-124, a STAT3-specific small molecule inhibitor, or with STAT3-specific siRNA sensitized lung cancer cells to AZD6244 and induced apoptosis. Moreover, combining a STAT3 inhibitor with AZD6244 induced expression of BIM and polyADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage, whereas activation of the STAT3 pathway inhibited BIM expression and elicited resistance to MEK inhibitors. We found that the STAT3-regulated microRNA miR-17 played a critical role in MEK inhibitor resistance, such that miR-17 inhibition sensitized resistant cells to AZD6244 by inducing BIM and PARP cleavage. Together, these results indicated that STAT3-mediated overexpression of miR-17 blocked BIM expression and caused resistance to AZD6244. Our findings suggest novel approaches to overcome resistance to MEK inhibitors by combining AZD6244 with STAT3 or miR-17 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3392199  PMID: 21444672
Gene expression profiling; MEK inhibitor resistance; AZD6244; STAT3 pathway; miR-17
13.  Pivotal role of epithelial cell adhesion molecule in the survival of lung cancer cells 
Cancer Science  2011;102(8):1493-1500.
Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) is overexpressed in a wide variety of human cancers including lung cancer, and its contribution to increased proliferation through upregulation of cell cycle accelerators such as cyclins A and E has been well established in breast and gastric cancers. Nevertheless, very little is known about its role in supporting the survival of cancer cells. In addition, the functional role of EpCAM in the pathogenesis of lung cancer remains to be explored. In this study, we show that RNAi-mediated knockdown of EpCAM suppresses proliferation and clonogenic growth of three EpCAM-expressing lung cancer cell lines (H3255, H358, and HCC827), but does not induce cell cycle arrest in any of these. In addition, EpCAM knockdown inhibits invasion in the highly invasive H358 but not in less invasive H3255 cells in a Transwell assay. Of note, the EpCAM knockdown induces massive apoptosis in the three cell lines as well as in another EpCAM-expressing lung cancer cell line, HCC2279, but to a much lesser extent in a cdk4/hTERT immortalized normal human bronchial epithelial cell line, HBEC4, suggesting that EpCAM could be a therapeutic target for lung cancer. Finally, EpCAM knockdown partially restores contact inhibition in HCC827, in association with p27Kip1 upregulation. These results indicate that EpCAM could contribute substantially to the pathogenesis of lung cancer, especially cancer cell survival, and suggest that EpCAM targeted therapy for lung cancer may have potential.
PMCID: PMC3381954  PMID: 21535318
14.  Research Resource: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Potential of Nuclear Receptor Expression in Lung Cancer 
Molecular Endocrinology  2012;26(8):1443-1454.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death. Despite a number of studies that have provided prognostic biomarkers for lung cancer, a paucity of reliable markers and therapeutic targets exist to diagnose and treat this aggressive disease. In this study we investigated the potential of nuclear receptors (NRs), many of which are well-established drug targets, as therapeutic markers in lung cancer. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we analyzed the expression of the 48 members of the NR superfamily in a human panel of 55 normal and lung cancer cell lines. Unsupervised cluster analysis of the NR expression profile segregated normal from tumor cell lines and grouped lung cancers according to type (i.e. small vs. non-small cell lung cancers). Moreover, we found that the NR signature was 79% accurate in diagnosing lung cancer incidence in smokers (n = 129). Finally, the evaluation of a subset of NRs (androgen receptor, estrogen receptor, vitamin D receptor, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ) demonstrated the therapeutic potential of using NR expression to predict ligand-dependent growth responses in individual lung cancer cells. Preclinical evaluation of one of these receptors (peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ) in mouse xenografts confirmed that ligand-dependent inhibitory growth responses in lung cancer can be predicted based on a tumor's receptor expression status. Taken together, this study establishes NRs as theragnostic markers for predicting lung cancer incidence and further strengthens their potential as therapeutic targets for individualized treatment.
PMCID: PMC3404298  PMID: 22700587
15.  Oncogenic KRAS-induced interleukin-8 overexpression promotes cell growth and migration and contributes to aggressive phenotypes of non-small cell lung cancer 
The CXC chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) is an angiogenic growth factor that is overexpressed in various cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Previously, IL-8 was shown as a transcriptional target of RAS signaling, raising the possibility of its role in oncogenic KRAS-driven NSCLC. Using microarray analysis, we identified IL-8 as the most downregulated gene by shRNA-mediated KRAS knockdown in NCI-H1792 NSCLC cells where IL-8 is overexpressed. NSCLC cell lines harboring KRAS or EGFR mutations overexpressed IL-8, while IL-8 levels were more prominent in KRAS mutants compared to EGFR mutants. IL-8 expression was downregulated by shRNA-mediated KRAS knockdown in KRAS mutants or by treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and EGFR siRNAs in EGFR mutants. In our analysis of the relationship of IL-8 expression with clinical parameters and mutation status of KRAS or EGFR in 89 NSCLC surgical specimens, IL-8 expression was shown to be significantly higher in NSCLCs of males, smokers, and elderly patients and those with pleural involvement and KRAS mutated adenocarcinomas. In KRAS mutant cells, the MEK inhibitor markedly decreased IL-8 expression, while the p38 inhibitor increased IL-8 expression. Attenuation of IL-8 function by siRNAs or a neutralizing antibody inhibited cell proliferation and migration of KRAS mutant/IL-8 overexpressing NSCLC cells. These results indicate that activating mutations of KRAS or EGFR upregulate IL-8 expression in NSCLC; IL-8 is highly expressed in NSCLCs from males, smokers, elderly patients, NSCLCs with pleural involvement, and KRAS-mutated adenocarcinomas; and IL-8 plays a role in cell growth and migration in oncogenic KRAS-driven NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3374723  PMID: 21544811
non-small cell lung cancer; KRAS; interleukin-8; molecular target
16.  Functional Characterization of CLPTM1L as a Lung Cancer Risk Candidate Gene in the 5p15.33 Locus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e36116.
Cleft Lip and Palate Transmembrane Protein 1-Like (CLPTM1L), resides in a region of chromosome 5 for which copy number gain has been found to be the most frequent genetic event in the early stages of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This locus has been found by multiple genome wide association studies to be associated with lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. CLPTM1L has been identified as an overexpressed protein in human ovarian tumor cell lines that are resistant to cisplatin, which is the only insight thus far into the function of CLPTM1L. Here we find CLPTM1L expression to be increased in lung adenocarcinomas compared to matched normal lung tissues and in lung tumor cell lines by mechanisms not exclusive to copy number gain. Upon loss of CLPTM1L accumulation in lung tumor cells, cisplatin and camptothecin induced apoptosis were increased in direct proportion to the level of CLPTM1L knockdown. Bcl-xL accumulation was significantly decreased upon loss of CLPTM1L. Expression of exogenous Bcl-xL abolished sensitization to apoptotic killing with CLPTM1L knockdown. These results demonstrate that CLPTM1L, an overexpressed protein in lung tumor cells, protects from genotoxic stress induced apoptosis through regulation of Bcl-xL. Thus, this study implicates anti-apoptotic CLPTM1L function as a potential mechanism of susceptibility to lung tumorigenesis and resistance to chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3366984  PMID: 22675468
17.  Genomic and functional analysis identifies CRKL as an oncogene amplified in lung cancer 
Oncogene  2009;29(10):1421-1430.
DNA amplifications, leading to the overexpression of oncogenes, are a cardinal feature of lung cancer and directly contribute to its pathogenesis. To uncover novel such alterations, we performed an array-based comparative genomic hybridization survey of 128 non-small cell lung cancer cell lines and tumors. Prominent among our findings, we identified recurrent high-level amplification at cytoband 22q11.21 in 3% of lung cancer specimens, with another 11% of specimens exhibiting low-level gain spanning that locus. The 22q11.21 amplicon core contained eight named genes, only four of which were overexpressed (by transcript profiling) when amplified. Among these, CRKL encodes an adaptor protein functioning in signal transduction, best known as a substrate of the BCR-ABL kinase in chronic myelogenous leukemia. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of CRKL in lung cancer cell lines with (but not without) amplification led to significantly decreased cell proliferation, cell-cycle progression, cell survival, and cell motility and invasion. In addition, overexpression of CRKL in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells led to EGF-independent cell growth. Our findings indicate that amplification and resultant overexpression of CRKL contributes to diverse oncogenic phenotypes in lung cancer, with implications for targeted therapy, and highlighting a role of adapter proteins as primary genetic drivers of tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3320568  PMID: 19966867
CRKL; lung cancer; DNA amplification; genomic profiling; adapter protein
18.  Cells lacking IκB kinase α (IKKα) demonstrate nuclear cyclin D1 overexpression and a neoplastic phenotype: Role of IKKα as a Tumor Suppressor 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(3):341-349.
IKKα and IKKβ, catalytic subunits of IκB kinase (IKK) complex are involved in activation of NF-κB and in mediating a variety of other biological functions. Though these proteins have a high sequence homology, IKKα exhibits different functional characteristics as compared to IKKβ. Earlier, we have demonstrated that cyclin D1 is over-expressed and predominantly localized in the nucleus of IKKα−/− cells, indicating that IKKα regulates turnover and sub-cellular distribution of cyclin D1, which is mediated by IKKα-induced phosphorylation of cyclin D1. Since cyclin D nuclear localization is implicated in tumor development, we examined whether the absence of IKKα leads to tumor development as well. In the current study, we demonstrate that IKKα plays a critical role in tumorigenesis. Though IKKα−/− MEF cells demonstrate a slower anchorage-dependent growth, they are clonogenic in soft agar. These cells are tumorigenic in nude mice. Microarray analysis of IKKα−/− cells indicates a differential expression of genes involved in proliferation and apoptosis. Further, analysis of microarray data of human lung cancer cell lines revealed decreased IKKα RNA expression level as compared to cell lines derived from normal bronchial epithelium. These results suggest that IKKα may function as a tumor suppressor gene. Absence of IKKα may induce tumorigenicity by nuclear localization of cyclin D1 and modulating the expression of genes involved in neoplastic transformation.
PMCID: PMC3072035  PMID: 21317297
19.  Knockdown of Oncogenic KRAS in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers Suppresses Tumor Growth and Sensitizes Tumor Cells to Targeted Therapy 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2011;10(2):336-346.
Oncogenic KRAS is found in >25% of lung adenocarcinomas, the major histologic subtype of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and is an important target for drug development. To this end, we generated four NSCLC lines with stable knockdown selective for oncogenic KRAS. As expected, stable knockdown of oncogenic KRAS led to inhibition of in vitro and in vivo tumor growth in the KRAS mutant NSCLC cells, but not in NSCLC cells that have wild-type KRAS (but mutant NRAS). Surprisingly, we did not see large-scale induction of cell death and the growth inhibitory effect was not complete. To further understand the ability of NSCLCs to grow despite selective removal of mutant KRAS expression, we performed microarray expression profiling of NSCLC cell lines with or without mutant KRAS knockdown and isogenic human bronchial epithelial cell lines (HBECs) with and without oncogenic KRAS. We found that while the MAPK pathway is significantly down-regulated after mutant KRAS knockdown, these NSCLCs showed increased levels of phospho-STAT3 and phospho-EGFR, and variable changes in phospho-Akt. In addition, mutant KRAS knockdown sensitized the NSCLCs to p38 and EGFR inhibitors. Our findings suggest that targeting oncogenic KRAS by itself will not be sufficient treatment but may offer possibilities of combining anti-KRAS strategies with other targeted drugs.
PMCID: PMC3061393  PMID: 21306997
20.  Comparing Statistical Methods for Constructing Large Scale Gene Networks 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29348.
The gene regulatory network (GRN) reveals the regulatory relationships among genes and can provide a systematic understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying biological processes. The importance of computer simulations in understanding cellular processes is now widely accepted; a variety of algorithms have been developed to study these biological networks. The goal of this study is to provide a comprehensive evaluation and a practical guide to aid in choosing statistical methods for constructing large scale GRNs. Using both simulation studies and a real application in E. coli data, we compare different methods in terms of sensitivity and specificity in identifying the true connections and the hub genes, the ease of use, and computational speed. Our results show that these algorithms performed reasonably well, and each method has its own advantages: (1) GeneNet, WGCNA (Weighted Correlation Network Analysis), and ARACNE (Algorithm for the Reconstruction of Accurate Cellular Networks) performed well in constructing the global network structure; (2) GeneNet and SPACE (Sparse PArtial Correlation Estimation) performed well in identifying a few connections with high specificity.
PMCID: PMC3260142  PMID: 22272232
21.  Tumor antigen ACRBP normalizes mitotic spindle function to promote cancer cell proliferation 
Cancer research  2010;70(19):7652-7661.
Cancer cells manage to divide in the context of gross chromosomal abnormalities. These abnormalities can promote bypass of normal restraints on cell proliferation, but at a cost of mitotic vulnerabilities that can be attacked by chemotherapy. Determining how cancer cells balance these issues may permit chemotherapeutic sensitivity to be leveraged more efficiently. From a pan-genomic siRNA screen for modifiers of chemoresponsiveness, we identified the tumor antigen ACRBP/OY-TES-1 as a specifier of paclitaxel resistance. ACRBP expression is normally restricted to the testes but detected in a wide variety of cancers, including most ovarian cancers. We found that ACRBP is both necessary and sufficient for paclitaxel resistance in ovarian cancer cell lines and ovarian tumor explants. Moreover, high ACRBP expression correlated with reduced survival time and faster relapse among ovarian cancer patients. We identified the mitotic spindle protein NuMA as an ACRBP-interacting protein that could account for the effects of ACRBP on paclitaxel sensitivity. In cancer cells, ACRBP restricted a NuMA-dependent abrogation of mitotic spindle assembly that is otherwise pathologic. As a consequence, ACRBP depletion resulted in mitotic errors and reduced proliferative fitness that could be rescued by NuMA co-depletion. We propose that the co-dependent relationship of ACRBP and NuMA in cancer cells reflects their passage through a selection bottleneck during tumor evolution, one which requires the acquisition of traits which normalize mitotic perturbations that originally drove the plasticity of a pre-neoplastic genome. The molecular definition of such traits as defined by the ACRBP-NuMA complex may represent conceptually ideal intervention targets, based on the wide therapeutic windows they may offer.
PMCID: PMC2948627  PMID: 20876808
Tumor Antigen; RNAi Screen; Emergent Dependency
22.  Frequent detection of infectious xenotropic murine leukemia virus (XMLV) in human cultures established from mouse xenografts 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;12(7):617-628.
To investigate the frequency of xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV) presence in human cell lines established from mouse xenografts and to search for the evidence of horizontal viral spread to other cell lines.
Six of 23 (26%) mouse DNA free xenograft cultures were strongly positive for MLV and their sequences had greater than 99% homology to known MLV strains. Four of five available supernatant fluids from these viral positive cultures were strongly positive for RT activity. Three of these supernatant fluids were studied to confirm the infectivity of the released virions for other human culture cells. Of the 78 non-xenograft derived cell lines maintained in the xenograft culture-containing facilities, 13 (17%) were positive for MLV, including XMRV, a virus strain first identified in human tissues. By contrast, all 50 cultures maintained in a xenograft culture-free facility were negative for viral sequences.
We examined xenograft tumor cell lines from seven independent laboratories and 128 non-xenografted tumor cell lines. Cell line DNA was examined for mouse DNA contamination, and by 3 Taqman qPCR assays targeting the gag, env or pol regions of MLV. Sequencing was used for viral strain identification. Supernatant fluids were tested for reverse transcriptase (RT) activity.
Human cultures derived after mouse xenografting frequently contain and release highly infectious xenotropic MLV viruses. Laboratories working with xenograft-derived human cultures should be aware of the risk of contamination with potentially biohazardous human-tropic mouse viruses and their horizontal spread to other cultures.
PMCID: PMC3218386  PMID: 21750403
xenograft cultures; xenotropic murine leukemia virus; retrovirus; XMRV virus; cell cultures; lung cancer; prostate cell line
23.  Lung Cancer Cell Lines as Tools for Biomedical Discovery and Research 
Lung cancer cell lines have made a substantial contribution to lung cancer translational research and biomedical discovery. A systematic approach to initiating and characterizing cell lines from small cell and non–small cell lung carcinomas has led to the current collection of more than 200 lung cancer cell lines, a number that exceeds those for other common epithelial cancers combined. The ready availability and widespread dissemination of the lines to investigators worldwide have resulted in more than 9000 citations, including multiple examples of important biomedical discoveries. The high (but not perfect) genomic similarities between lung cancer cell lines and the lung tumor type from which they were derived provide evidence of the relevance of their use. However, major problems including misidentification or cell line contamination remain. Ongoing studies and new approaches are expected to reveal the full potential of the lung cancer cell line panel.
PMCID: PMC2935474  PMID: 20679594
24.  Steroid Receptor Co-activator 3 (SRC-3) Expression in Lung Cancer and Its Role in Regulating Cancer Cell Survival and Proliferation 
Cancer research  2010;70(16):6477-6485.
Steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC-3) is a histone acetyltransferase and nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) co activator, located on 20q12, which is amplified in several epithelial cancers and well studied in breast cancer. However, its possible role in lung cancer pathogenesis is unknown. We found SRC-3 over-expressed in 27% of NSCLC patients (N=311) by immunohistochemistry, which correlated with poor disease-free (p=0.0015) and overall (p=0.0008) survival. Twenty-seven percent of NSCLCs exhibited SRC-3 gene amplification, and we found lung cancer cell lines expressed higher levels of SRC-3 than immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs), which in turn expressed higher level of SRC-3 than cultured primary human HBECs. siRNA-mediated down-regulation of SRC-3 in high-expressing (but not low expressing) lung cancer cells significantly inhibited tumor cell growth and induced apoptosis. Finally, we found that SRC-3 expression is inversely correlated with gefitinib sensitivity and that SRC-3 knockdown results in EGFR-TKI-resistant lung cancers becoming more sensitive to gefitinib. Together these data suggest that SRC-3 may be an important oncogene and therapeutic target for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2922434  PMID: 20663904
25.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495

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