Molecular classification of cancers has been significantly improved patient outcomes through the implementation of treatment protocols tailored to the abnormalities present in each patient's cancer cells. Breast cancer represents the poster child with marked improvements in outcome occurring due to the implementation of targeted therapies for estrogen receptor or human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 positive breast cancers. Important subtypes with characteristic molecular features as potential therapeutic targets are likely to exist for all tumor lineages including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) but have yet to be discovered and validated as targets. Because each tumor accumulates hundreds or thousands of genomic and epigenetic alterations of critical genes, it is challenging to identify and validate candidate tumor aberrations as therapeutic targets or biomarkers that predict prognosis or response to therapy. Therefore, there is an urgent need to devise new experimental and analytical strategies to overcome this problem. Systems biology approaches integrating multiple data sets and technologies analyzing patient tissues holds great promise for the identification of novel therapeutic targets and linked predictive biomarkers allowing implementation of personalized medicine for HCC patients.
Oligonucleotide array sequence analysis; Gene expression profiling; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Genomics; Systems biology; Proteomics
Because alterations of expression patterns and genomic copy numbers of thousands of genes are fundamental properties of cancer cells, and the application of high-throughput microarray-based genomic technologies for the analysis of cancer inevitably generate many false-positive results, it is rarely possible to select a reasonable number of candidate genes for therapeutic targets and/or biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis. Therefore, it will be necessary to devise new experimental and analytical strategies to overcome this problem. This review summarizes recent advances in gene expression profiling of hepatocellular carcinoma and discusses future strategies for analyzing large and complicated data sets from microarray studies and how to integrate these with diverse genomic data.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has the most rapidly rising cancer incidence in the US and Europe. The KLF6 tumor suppressor is frequently inactivated in HCC by loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) and/or mutation.
Here we have analyzed 33 HBV- and 40 HCV-related HCCs for mRNA expression of wildtype KLF6 (wtKLF6) as well as the KLF6 variant 1 (SV1), a truncated, growth-promoting variant that antagonizes wtKLF6 function. The HCV-related tumors analyzed represented the full histologic spectrum from cirrhosis and dysplasia to metastatic cancer.
Expression of KLF6 mRNA is decreased in 73% of HBV-associated HCCs compared to matched surrounding tissue (ST), with reductions of ~80% in one-third of the patients. KLF6 mRNA expression is also reduced in dysplastic nodules from patients with HCV compared to cirrhotic livers (p < 0.005), with an additional, marked decrease in the very advanced, metastatic stage (p < 0.05). An increased ratio of KLF6SV1/wt KLF6 is present in a subset (6/33, 18%) of the HBV-related HCCs compared to matched ST. Reconstituting KLF6 in HepG2 cells by retroviral infection decreased proliferation and related markers including cyclin D1 and beta-catenin, increased cellular differentiation based on induction of albumin, E-cadherin, and decreased alpha fetoprotein.
We conclude that reduced KLF6 expression is common in both HBV- and HCV-related HCCs and occurs at critical stages during cancer progression. Effects of KLF6 are attributable to regulation of genes controlling hepatocyte growth and differentiation.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Alternative splicing; KLF6SV1; Dysplasia; E-cadherin
Tumor cell proliferation requires both growth signals and sufficient cellular bioenergetics.The AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) pathway appears dominant over the oncogenic signaling pathway suppressing cell proliferation. This study investigated the preclinical efficacy of targeting the tumor bioenergetic pathway using a glycolysis inhibitor 2-deoxy glucose (2DG) and AMPK agonists, AICAR and metformin. We evaluated the in vitro anti-tumor activity of 2DG, metformin or AICAR alone, and 2DG in combination either with metformin or AICAR. We examined in vivo efficacy using xenograft mouse models. 2DG alone was not sufficient to promote tumor cell death, reflecting the limited efficacy demonstrated in clinical trials. A combined use of 2DG and AICAR also failed to induce cell death. However, 2DG and metformin led to significant cell death associated with decrease in cellular ATP, prolonged activation of AMPK, and sustained autophagy. Gene expression analysis and functional assays revealed that the selective AMPK agonist AICAR augments mitochondrial energy transduction (OXPHOS) while metformin compromises OXPHOS. Importantly, forced energy restoration with methylpyruvate reversed the cell death induced by 2DG and metformin, suggesting a critical role of energetic deprivation in the underlying mechanism of cell death. The combination of 2DG and metformin inhibited tumor growth in mouse xenograft models. Deprivation of tumor bioenergetics by dual inhibition of energy pathways might be an effective novel therapeutic approach for a broad spectrum of human tumors.
Tumor bioenergetics; Targeted therapy; Cancer energy metabolic pathway
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), the most abundant COX-2–derived prostaglandin found in colorectal cancer, promotes tumor cell proliferation and survival via multiple signaling pathways. However, the role of PGE2 in tumor hypoxia is not well understood. Here, we show a synergistic effect of PGE2 and hypoxia on enhancing ANGPTL4 expression and that elevation of ANGPTL4 promotes colorectal cancer growth. PGE2 induces ANGPTL4 expression at both the mRNA and protein levels under hypoxic conditions. Moreover, hypoxia induces one of the PGE2 receptors, namely EP1. Activation of EP1 enhances ANGPTL4 expression, whereas blockage of EP1 by its antagonist inhibits PGE2 induction of ANGPTL4 under hypoxic conditions. Importantly, over-expression of ANGPTL4 promotes cell proliferation and tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. In addition, treatment with ANGPTL4 recombinant protein increases colorectal carcinoma cell proliferation through effects on STAT1 signaling. The MAPK and Src pathways mediate ANGPTL4-induced STAT1 expression and activation. These results are relevant to human disease since we found that the expression of ANGPTL4 and STAT1 are elevated in 50% of human colorectal cancers tested and there is a positive correlation between COX-2 and ANGPTL4 as well STAT1 expression in colorectal carcinomas. Collectively, these findings suggest that PGE2 plays an important role in promoting cancer cell proliferation via ANGPTL4 under hypoxic conditions.
PGE2; hypoxia; ANGPTL4; colorectal cancer; proliferation
We investigated the clinical and biological significance of p130cas, an important cell signaling molecule, in ovarian carcinoma.
Expression of p130cas in ovarian tumors, as assessed by immunohistochemistry, was associated with tumor characteristics and patient survival. The effects of p130cas gene silencing with small interfering RNAs incorporated into neutral nanoliposomes (siRNA-DOPC), alone and in combination with docetaxel, on in vivo tumor growth and on tumor cell proliferation (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) and apoptosis (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling) were examined in mice bearing orthotopic taxane-sensitive (HeyA8 and SKOV3ip1) or taxane-resistant (HeyA8-MDR) ovarian tumors (n = 10 per group). To determine the specific mechanisms by which p130cas gene silencing abrogates tumor growth, we measured cell viability (MTT assay), apoptosis (fluorescence-activated cell sorting), autophagy (immunoblotting, fluorescence, and transmission electron microscopy), and cell signaling (immunoblotting) in vitro. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Of 91 ovarian cancer specimens, 70 (76%) had high p130cas expression; and 21 (24%) had low p130cas expression. High p130cas expression was associated with advanced tumor stage (P < .001) and higher residual disease (>1 cm) following primary cytoreduction surgery (P = .007) and inversely associated with overall survival and progression-free survival (median overall survival: high p130cas expression vs low expression, 2.14 vs 9.1 years, difference = 6.96 years, 95% confidence interval = 1.69 to 9.48 years, P < .001; median progression-free survival: high p130cas expression vs low expression, 1.04 vs 2.13 years, difference = 1.09 years, 95% confidence interval = 0.47 to 2.60 years, P = .01). In mice bearing orthotopically implanted HeyA8 or SKOV3ip1 ovarian tumors, treatment with p130cas siRNA-DOPC in combination with docetaxel chemotherapy resulted in the greatest reduction in tumor growth compared with control siRNA therapy (92%–95% reduction in tumor growth; P < .001 for all). Compared with control siRNA therapy, p130cas siRNA-DOPC reduced SKOV3ip1 cell proliferation (31% reduction, P < .001) and increased apoptosis (143% increase, P < .001) in vivo. Increased tumor cell apoptosis may have persisted despite pan-caspase inhibition by the induction of autophagy and related signaling pathways.
Increased p130cas expression is associated with poor clinical outcome in human ovarian carcinoma, and p130cas gene silencing decreases tumor growth through stimulation of apoptotic and autophagic cell death.
Despite continual efforts to develop prognostic and predictive models of colorectal cancer by using clinicopathological and genetic parameters, a clinical test that can discriminate between patients with good or poor outcome after treatment has not been established. Thus, the authors aim to uncover subtypes of colorectal cancer that have distinct biological characteristics associated with prognosis and identify potential biomarkers that best reflect the biological and clinical characteristics of subtypes.
Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis was applied to gene expression data from 177 patients with colorectal cancer to determine a prognostic gene expression signature. Validation of the signature was sought in two independent patient groups. The association between the signature and prognosis of patients was assessed by Kaplan–Meier plots, log-rank tests and the Cox model.
The authors identified a gene signature that was associated with overall survival and disease-free survival in 177 patients and validated in two independent cohorts of 213 patients. In multivariate analysis, the signature was an independent risk factor (HR 3.08; 95% CI 1.33 to 7.14; p=0.008 for overall survival). Subset analysis of patients with AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) stage III cancer revealed that the signature can also identify the patients who have better outcome with adjuvant chemotherapy (CTX). Adjuvant chemotherapy significantly affected disease-free survival in patients in subtype B (3-year rate, 71.2% (CTX) vs 41.9% (no CTX); p=0.004). However, such benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy was not significant for patients in subtype A.
The gene signature is an independent predictor of response to chemotherapy and clinical outcome in patients with colorectal cancer.
Epithelial ovarian cancers (EOCs) often exhibit morphologic features of embryonic Müllerian duct–derived tissue lineages and colonize peritoneal surfaces that overlie connective and adipose tissues. However, the mechanisms that enable EOC cells to readily adapt to the peritoneal environment are poorly understood. In this study, we show that expression of HOXA9, a Müllerian-patterning gene, is strongly associated with poor outcomes in patients with EOC and in mouse xenograft models of EOC. Whereas HOXA9 promoted EOC growth in vivo, HOXA9 did not stimulate autonomous tumor cell growth in vitro. On the other hand, expression of HOXA9 in EOC cells induced normal peritoneal fibroblasts to express markers of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and to stimulate growth of EOC and endothelial cells. Similarly, expression of HOXA9 in EOC cells induced normal adipose- and bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to acquire features of CAFs. These effects of HOXA9 were due in substantial part to its transcriptional activation of the gene encoding TGF-β2 that acted in a paracrine manner on peritoneal fibroblasts and MSCs to induce CXCL12, IL-6, and VEGF-A expression. These results indicate that HOXA9 expression in EOC cells promotes a microenvironment that is permissive for tumor growth.
The human POK family members are transcription factors with a POZ domain and zinc fingers that act primarily as transcriptional repressors. Several members of this family are involved in oncogenesis and this prompted us to assess whether expression levels of individual POK family members are associated with clinical outcomes in cancer. We have observed that ZBTB4 is downregulated in breast cancer patients, and that its expression is significantly correlated with relapse-free survival. Further integrative analysis of mRNA and microRNA (miR) expression data from the NCI-60 cell lines revealed an inverse correlation between ZBTB4 and oncogenic miRs derived from the miR-17-92 cluster and its paralogues. The experimental results using MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 human breast cancer cells confirm that miRNAs derived from these clusters, containing miR-17-5p, miR-20a, miR-106a, miR-106b and miR-93, negatively regulate ZBTB4 expression. Overexpression of ZBTB4 or restoration of ZBTB4 by using an antagomir inhibit growth and invasion of breast cancer cells, and this effect is due, in part, to ZBTB4-dependent repression of the specificity protein 1 (Sp1), Sp3, and Sp4 genes, and subsequent downregulation of several Sp-dependent oncogenes, in part, through competition between ZBTB4 and Sp transcription factors for GC-rich promoter sequences. These results confirm that ZBTB4 functions as a novel tumor suppressor gene with prognostic significance for breast cancer survival, and the oncogenic miR-17-92/ZBTB4/Sp axis may be a potential therapeutic target.
ZBTB4; miR-17-92 cluster; breast cancer; prognostic; Sp transcription factors
LIN28B is a homolog of LIN28 which induces pluripotency when expressed in conjunction with OCT4, SOX2, and KLF4 in somatic fibroblasts. LIN28B represses biogenesis of let-7 microRNAs and is implicated in both development and tumorigenesis. Recently, we have determined that LIN28B overexpression occurs in colon tumors. We conducted a comprehensive analysis of Lin28b protein expression in human colon adenocarcinomas. We found that LIN28B overexpression correlates with reduced patient survival and increased probability of tumor recurrence. In order to elucidate tumorigenic functions of LIN28B, we constitutively expressed LIN28B in colon cancer cells and evaluated tumor formation in vivo. Tumors with constitutive Lin28b expression exhibit increased expression of colonic stem cell markers LGR5 and PROM1, mucinous differentiation, and metastasis. Together, our findings point to a function for LIN28B in promoting colon tumor pathogenesis, especially metastasis.
LIN28B; LIN28; let-7; colon cancer; differentiation; metastasis
P120ctn interacts with E-cadherin, but no formal proof that p120ctn functions as a bone fide tumor suppressor gene has emerged. We report herein that p120ctn loss leads to tumor development in mice. We have generated a conditional knockout model of p120ctn whereby mice develop pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions in the oral cavity, esophagus and squamous forestomach. Tumor derived cells secrete granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), macrophage colony stimulating factor (M-CSF), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα). The tumors contain significant desmoplasia and immune cell infiltration. Immature myeloid cells comprise a significant percentage of the immune cells present, and likely participate in fostering a favorable tumor microenvironment, including the activation of fibroblasts.
Human squamous cell cancers are the most common epithelially derived malignancies. One example is esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), which is associated with a high mortality rate (1) that is related to a propensity for invasion and metastasis (2). Here we report that periostin, a highly expressed cell adhesion molecule, is a key component of a novel tumor invasive signature obtained from an organotypic culture model of engineered ESCC. This tumor invasive signature classifies with human ESCC microarrays, underscoring its utility in human cancer. Genetic modulation of periostin promotes tumor cell migration and invasion as revealed in gain of and loss of function experiments. Inhibition of EGFR signaling and restoration of wild-type p53 function were each found to attenuate periostin, suggesting interdependence of two common genetic alterations with periostin function. Collectively, our studies reveal periostin as an important mediator of ESCC tumor invasion and they indicate that organotypic (3D) culture can offer an important tool to discover novel biologic effectors in cancer.
tumor microenvironment; periostin; EGFR; p53
The heparin-degrading endosulfatases sulfatase 1 (SULF1) and sulfatase 2 (SULF2) have opposing effects in hepatocarcinogenesis despite structural similarity. Using mRNA expression arrays, we analyzed the correlations of SULF expression with signaling networks in human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and the associations of SULF expression with tumor phenotype and patient survival. Data from two mRNA microarray analyses of 139 and 36 HCCs and adjacent tissues were used as training and validation sets. Partek and Metacore software were used to identify SULF correlated genes and their associated signaling pathways. Associations between SULF expression, the hepatoblast subtype of HCC, and survival were examined. Both SULF1 and 2 had strong positive correlations with periostin, IQGAP1, TGFB1, and vimentin and inverse correlations with HNF4A and IQGAP2. Genes correlated with both SULFs were highly associated with the cell adhesion, cytoskeletal remodeling, blood coagulation, TGFB, and Wnt/β-catenin and epithelial mesenchymal transition signaling pathways. Genes uniquely correlated with SULF2 were more associated with neoplastic processes than genes uniquely correlated with SULF1. High SULF expression was associated with the hepatoblast subtype of HCC. There was a bimodal effect of SULF1 expression on prognosis, with patients in the lowest or highest tertile having a worse prognosis than those in the middle tertile. SULFs have complex effects on HCC signaling and patient survival. There are functionally similar associations with cell adhesion, ECM remodeling, TGFB, and WNT pathways, but also unique associations of SULF1 and SULF2. The roles and targeting of the SULFs in cancer require further investigation.
Cancer cells are metabolically stressed during tumour progression due to limited tumour vascularity and resultant nutrient, growth factor and oxygen deficiency that can induce cell death and inhibit tumour growth. We demonstrate that Rab25, a small GTPase involved in endosomal recycling, that is genomically amplified in multiple tumour lineages, is a key regulator of cellular bioenergetics and autophagy. RAB25 enhanced survival during nutrient stress by preventing apoptosis and autophagy via binding and activating AKT leading to increased glucose uptake and improved cellular bioenergetics. Unexpectedly, Rab25 induced the accumulation of glycogen in epithelial cancer cells, a process not previously identified. Strikingly, an increase in basal ATP levels combined with AKT-dependent increases in glucose uptake and glycogen storage allowed maintenance of ATP levels during bioenergetic stress. The clinical relevance of these findings was validated by the ability of a Rab25-dependent expression profile enriched for bioenergetics targets to identify patients with a poor prognosis. Thus, Rab25 is an unexpected regulator of cellular bioenergetics implicated as a useful biomarker and potential therapeutic target.
AKT; bioenergetic; cell death; glycogen; Rab25
ESR1 is one of the most important transcription factors and therapeutic targets in breast cancer. By applying systems-level re-analysis of publicly available gene expression data, we uncovered a potential regulator of ESR1. We demonstrated that orphan nuclear receptor NR2E3 regulates ESR1 via direct binding to the ESR1 promoter with concomitant recruitment of PIAS3 to the promoter in breast cancer cells, and is essential for physiological cellular activity of ESR1 in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer cells. Moreover, expression of NR2E3 was significantly associated with recurrence-free survival and a favourable response to tamoxifen treatment in women with ER-positive breast cancer. Our results provide mechanistic insights on the regulation of ESR1 by NR2E3 and the clinical relevance of NR2E3 in breast cancer.
breast cancer; genomics; microarray; NR2E3; nuclear receptor
Metastasis-related recurrence often occurs in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients who receive curative therapies. At present, it is challenging to identify patients with high risk of recurrence, which would warrant additional therapies. In this study, we sought to analyze a recently developed metastasis-related gene signature for its utility in predicting HCC survival using two independent cohorts consisting of a total of 386 patients who received radical resection. Cohort-1 contained 247 predominantly HBV-positive cases analyzed with an Affymetrix platform, while cohort-2 contained 139 cases with mixed etiology analyzed with the NCI Oligo Set microarray platform. We employed a survival risk prediction algorithm with training, test, and independent cross-validation strategies and found that the gene signature is predictive of overall and disease-free survival. Importantly, risk was significantly predicted independently of clinical characteristics and microarray platform. In addition, survival prediction was successful in patients with early disease, such as small (<5 cm in diameter) and solitary tumors, and the signature predicted particularly well for early recurrence risk (<2 years), especially when combined with serum alpha fetoprotein or tumor staging. In conclusion, we have demonstrated in two independent cohorts with mixed etiologies and ethnicity that the metastasis gene signature is a useful tool to predict HCC outcome, suggesting the general utility of this classifier. We recommend the use of this classifier as a molecular diagnostic test to assess the risk that an HCC patient will develop tumor relaps within 2 years after surgical resection, particularly for those with early stage tumors and solitary presentation.
Early Recurrence; Prognosis; Gene Signature; HCC
Gene expression is suppressed by DNA methylation. The goal of this study was to identify genes whose CpG site methylation and mRNA expression are associated with recurrence after surgical resection for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Sixty-two HCCs were examined by both whole genome DNA methylation and transcriptome analysis. The Cox model was used to select genes associated with recurrence. A validation was performed in an independent cohort of 66 HCC patients. Among fifty-nine common genes, increased CpG site methylation and decreased mRNA expression were associated with recurrence for 12 genes (Group A), whereas decreased CpG site methylation and increased mRNA expression were associated with recurrence for 25 genes (Group B). The remaining 22 genes were defined as Group C. Complement factor H (CFH) and myosin VIIA and Rab interacting protein (MYRIP) in Group A; proline/serine-rich coiled-coil 1 (PSRC1), meiotic recombination 11 homolog A (MRE11A), and myosin IE (MYO1E) in Group B; and autophagy-related protein LC3 A (MAP1LC3A), and NADH dehydrogenase 1 alpha subcomplex assembly factor 1 (NDUFAF1) in Group C were validated. In conclusion, potential tumor suppressor (CFH, MYRIP) and oncogenes (PSRC1, MRE11A, MYO1E) in HCC are reported. The regulation of individual genes by methylation in hepatocarcinogenesis needs to be validated.
Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Gene Expression Profiling; Microarray analysis; DNA methylation; Survival
RNA interference holds tremendous potential as a therapeutic approach, especially in the treatment of malignant tumors. However, efficient and biocompatible delivery methods are needed for systemic delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA). To maintain a high level of growth, tumor cells scavenge high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles by overexpressing its receptor: scavenger receptor type B1 (SR-B1). In this study, we exploited this cellular characteristic to achieve efficient siRNA delivery and established a novel formulation of siRNA by incorporating it into reconstituted HDL (rHDL) nanoparticles. Here, we demonstrate that rHDL nanoparticles facilitate highly efficient systemic delivery of siRNA in vivo, mediated by the SR-B1. Moreover, in therapeutic proof-of-concept studies, these nanoparticles were effective in silencing the expression of two proteins that are key to cancer growth and metastasis (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 and focal adhesion kinase) in orthotopic mouse models of ovarian and colorectal cancer. These data indicate that an rHDL nanoparticle is a novel and highly efficient siRNA carrier, and therefore, this novel technology could serve as the foundation for new cancer therapeutic approaches.
Angiogenesis is critical for tumor growth and metastasis, and several inhibitors of angiogenesis are currently in clinical use for the treatment of cancer. However, not all patients benefit from antiangiogenic therapy, and those tumors that initially respond to treatment ultimately become resistant. The mechanisms underlying this, and the relative contributions of tumor cells and stroma to resistance, are not completely understood. Here, using species-specific profiling of mouse xenograft models of human lung adenocarcinoma, we have shown that gene expression changes associated with acquired resistance to the VEGF inhibitor bevacizumab occurred predominantly in stromal and not tumor cells. In particular, components of the EGFR and FGFR pathways were upregulated in stroma, but not in tumor cells. Increased activated EGFR was detected on pericytes of xenografts that acquired resistance and on endothelium of tumors with relative primary resistance. Acquired resistance was associated with a pattern of pericyte-covered, normalized revascularization, whereas tortuous, uncovered vessels were observed in relative primary resistance. Importantly, dual targeting of the VEGF and EGFR pathways reduced pericyte coverage and increased progression-free survival. These findings demonstrated that alterations in tumor stromal pathways, including the EGFR and FGFR pathways, are associated with, and may contribute to, resistance to VEGF inhibitors and that targeting these pathways may improve therapeutic efficacy. Understanding stromal signaling may be critical for developing biomarkers for angiogenesis inhibitors and improving combination regimens.
In the United States, more than 40% of cancer patients develop brain metastasis. The median survival for untreated patients is 1 to 2 months, which may be extended to 6 months with conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The growth and survival of metastasis depend on the interaction of tumor cells with host factors in the organ microenvironment. Brain metastases are surrounded and infiltrated by activated astrocytes and are highly resistant to chemotherapy. We report here that coculture of human breast cancer cells or lung cancer cells with murine astrocytes (but not murine fibroblasts) led to the up-regulation of survival genes, including GSTA5, BCL2L1, and TWIST1, in the tumor cells. The degree of up-regulation directly correlated with increased resistance to all tested chemotherapeutic agents. We further show that the up-regulation of the survival genes and consequent resistance are dependent on the direct contact between the astrocytes and tumor cells through gap junctions and are therefore transient. Knocking down these genes with specific small interfering RNA rendered the tumor cells sensitive to chemotherapeutic agents. These data clearly demonstrate that host cells in the microenvironment influence the biologic behavior of tumor cells and reinforce the contention that the organ microenvironment must be taken into consideration during the design of therapy.
Gastric cancers are anatomically classified as proximal and distal cancers and have marked geographic variations. While distal tumors constitute the majority of gastric cancer cases in the East, including China, Korea, and Japan, most cases in the West are proximal gastric tumors. Five-year survival rate in the West is less than 20%, whereas it is closer to 60% in Korea and Japan. It has been suggested that the higher survival rate in patients in the East than in the West might be due to differences in screening for early detection, diagnostic criteria, and staging methods, and more radical surgery in the East than in the West. However, differences between the two anatomic groups of gastric cancer have never been addressed at the molecular level.
To address these differences, we generated gene expression data from three anatomically different tumor groups of the upper gastrointestinal tract (75 distal esophageal tumors, 68 proximal gastric tumors, and 65 distal gastric tumors), and applied systems-level comparison of tumor transcriptome. As expected, overall gene expression patterns in non-tumor tissues from two different anatomic sites (proximal and distal) of stomach were very similar to each other and had distinctive patterns (unique to gastric tissues) as compared with patterns in non-tumor tissues in the distal esophagus. Surprisingly, gene expression patterns of proximal gastric tumors were more similar to those of esophageal tumors and were significantly different from distal gastric tumors, suggesting biologic differences between proximal and distal gastric cancers.
Further analysis of gene expression data identified unique gene expression signatures for proximal and distal gastric tumors, and revealed signaling pathways that are uniquely activated in the two groups of gastric cancers. Our data provide new insight on the anatomic and geographic differences between various groups of gastric tumors. In addition to differences in ethnic background between patients in the East and West, there are remarkable disparities in the treatment of gastric cancer in the two regions, including use of different staging systems, surgical methods, and chemoradiotherapy schedules. However, our data indicate that biologic differences between two groups of tumors as reflected in gene expression patterns may also explain the disparities in outcome in the patient populations.
Signaling through the EGF receptor is regulated by endocytosis. ARAP1 is a protein with Arf guanosine triphosphatase-activating protein (GAP) and Rho GAP domains. We investigated the role of ARAP1 in EGF receptor endocytic trafficking. Following EGF treatment of cells, ARAP1 rapidly and transiently associated with the edge of the cell and punctate structures containing Rab5, rabaptin 5 and EGFR but not early embryonic antigen 1 (EEA1). EGF associated with the ARAP1-positive punctate structures prior to EEA1-positive early endosomes. Recruitment of ARAP1 to the punctate structures required active Rab5 and an additional signal from EGFR. Decreasing ARAP1 levels with small interfering RNA accelerated association of EGF with EEA1 endosomes and degradation of EGFR. Phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and c-Jun-amino-terminal kinase (JNK) was diminished and more transient in cells with reduced levels of ARAP1 than in controls. Based on these findings, we propose that ARAP1 regulates the endocytic traffic of EGFR and, consequently, the rate of EGFR signal attenuation.
ADP ribosylation factor; ARAP1; GTPase-activating protein; EGF; endocytosis; Rab5
We studied the expression levels of cyclins B1, D1, and E1 and the implications of cyclin overexpression for patient outcomes in distinct breast cancer subtypes defined by clinical variables and transcriptional profiling.
The expression levels of cyclins B1, D1, and E1 were quantified in 779 breast tumors and 53 cell lines using reverse phase protein arrays and/or transcriptional profiling.
Whereas cyclin E1 overexpression was a specific marker of triple-negative and basal-like tumors, cyclin B1 overexpression occurred in poor prognosis hormone receptor–positive, luminal B and basal-like breast cancers. Cyclin D1 overexpression occurred in luminal and normal-like cancers. Breast cancer subgroups defined by integrated expression of cyclins B1, D1, and E1 correlated significantly (P < 0.000001) with tumor subtypes defined by transcriptional profiling and clinical criteria. Across three hormone receptor–positive data sets, cyclin B1 was the dominant cyclin associated with poor prognosis in univariate and multivariate analyses. Although CCNE1 was present in significantly higher copy numbers in basal-like versus other subtypes (ANOVA P < 0.001), CCNB1 gene copy number did not show gain in breast cancer. Instead, cyclin B1 expression was increased in tumors with co-occurrence of TP53 mutations and MYC amplification, a combination that seems to characterize basal-like and luminal B tumors. CCNB1 gene expression was significantly correlated with PLK, CENPE, and AURKB gene expression.
Cyclins B1, D1, and E1 have distinct expressions in different breast cancer subtypes. Novel PLK, CENPE, and AURKB inhibitors should be assessed for therapeutic utility in poor prognosis cyclin B1–overexpressing breast cancers.
Increasing the understanding of the impact of changes in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes is essential for improving the management of lung cancer. Recently, we identified a new mouse lung-specific tumor suppressor—the G protein-coupled receptor 5A (Gprc5a). Microarray analysis of the transcriptomes of lung epithelial cells cultured from normal tracheas of Gprc5a knockout and wild-type mice defined a loss-of-Gprc5a gene signature, which revealed many aberrations in cancer-associated pathways. To assess the relevance of this mouse tumor suppressor to human lung cancer, the loss-of-Gprc5a signature was cross species compared with and integrated with publicly available gene expression data of human normal lung tissue and non-small cell lung cancers. The loss-of-Gprc5a signature was prevalent in human lung adenocarcinomas compared with squamous cell carcinomas or normal lung. Furthermore, it identified subsets of lung adenocarcinomas with poor outcome. These results demonstrate that gene expression patterns of Gprc5a loss in nontumorigenic mouse lung epithelial cells are evolutionarily conserved and important in human lung adenocarcinomas.
Metaplastic breast cancers (MBC) are aggressive, chemoresistant tumors characterized by lineage plasticity. To advance understanding of their pathogenesis and relatedness to other breast cancer subtypes, 28 MBCs were compared with common breast cancers using comparative genomic hybridization, transcriptional profiling, and reverse-phase protein arrays and by sequencing for common breast cancer mutations. MBCs showed unique DNA copy number aberrations compared with common breast cancers. PIK3CA mutations were detected in 9 of 19 MBCs (47.4%) versus 80 of 232 hormone receptor–positive cancers (34.5%; P = 0.32), 17 of 75 HER-2–positive samples (22.7%; P = 0.04), 20 of 240 basal-like cancers (8.3%; P < 0.0001), and 0 of 14 claudin-low tumors (P = 0.004). Of 7 phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT pathway phosphorylation sites, 6 were more highly phosphorylated in MBCs than in other breast tumor subtypes. The majority of MBCs displayed mRNA profiles different from those of the most common, including basal-like cancers. By transcriptional profiling, MBCs and the recently identified claudin-low breast cancer subset constitute related receptor-negative subgroups characterized by low expression of GATA3-regulated genes and of genes responsible for cell-cell adhesion with enrichment for markers linked to stem cell function and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In contrast to other breast cancers, claudin-low tumors and most MBCs showed a significant similarity to a “tumorigenic” signature defined using CD44+/CD24− breast tumor–initiating stem cell–like cells. MBCs and claudin-low tumors are thus enriched in EMT and stem cell–like features, and may arise from an earlier, more chemoresistant breast epithelial precursor than basal-like or luminal cancers. PIK3CA mutations, EMT, and stem cell-like characteristics likely contribute to the poor outcomes of MBC and suggest novel therapeutic targets.