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1.  Eight proteins play critical roles in RCC with bone metastasis via mitochondrial dysfunction 
Most kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas (RCC). RCC lacks early warning signs and 70 % of patients with RCC develop metastases. Among them, 50 % of patients having skeletal metastases developed a dismal survival of less than 10 % at 5 years. Therefore, exploring the key driving proteins and pathways involved in RCC bone metastasis could benefit patients’ therapy and prolong their survival. We examined the difference between the OS-RC-2 cells and the OS-RC-2-BM5 cells (subpopulation from OS-RC-2) of RCC with proteomics. Then we employed Western-blot, immunohistochemistry and the clinical database (oncomine) to screen and verify the key proteins and then we analyzed the functions and the related pathways of selected key proteins with system biology approaches. Our proteomic data revealed 26 significant changed spots (fold change <0.5 and >1.9, P < 0.05) between two cells. The Western blotting results validated for these identified spots were consistent with the proteomics’. From the public clinical database, 23 out of 26 proteins were connected with RCC metastases and 9 out of 23 with survival time directly (P < 0.05). Finally, only 8 out of 9 proteins had significantly positive results in tissues of RCC patients with bone metastasis compared with primary tumor (P < 0.05). System biology analyzing results showed these eight proteins mainly distributed in oxidative phosphorylation which indicates that mitochondria dysfunction played the critical role to regulate cells metastasis. Our article used a variety of experimental techniques to find eight proteins which abnormally regulated mitochondrial function to achieve a successful induction for RCC metastasis to bone.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10585-015-9731-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4503866  PMID: 26115722
Renal cell carcinoma; Bone metastasis; Mitochondria dysfunction; System biology; Proteomics
2.  Increased leukemia-associated gene expression in benzene-exposed workers 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5369.
Long-term exposure to benzene causes several adverse health effects, including an increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia. This study was to identify genetic alternations involved in pathogenesis of leukemia in benzene-exposed workers without clinical symptoms of leukemia. This study included 33 shoe-factory workers exposed to benzene at levels from 1 ppm to 10 ppm. These workers were divided into 3 groups based on the benzene exposure time, 1- < 7, 7- < 12, and 12- < 24 years. 17 individuals without benzene exposure history were recruited as controls. Cytogenetic analysis using Affymetrix Cytogenetics Array found copy-number variations (CNVs) in several chromosomes of benzene-exposed workers. Expression of targeted genes in these altered chromosomes, NOTCH1 and BSG, which play roles in leukemia pathogenesis, was further examined using real-time PCR. The NOTCH1 mRNA level was significantly increased in all 3 groups of workers, and the NOTCH1 mRNA level in the 12- < 24 years group was significantly higher than that in 1- < 7 and 7- < 12 years groups. Compared to the controls, the BSG mRNA level was significantly increased in 7- < 12 and 12- < 24 years groups, but not in the 1- < 7 years group. These results suggest that CNVs and leukemia-related gene expression might play roles in leukemia development in benzene-exposed workers.
PMCID: PMC4081871  PMID: 24993241
3.  Metformin inhibits histone H2B monoubiquitination and downstream gene transcription in human breast cancer cells 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(2):809-812.
Metformin, one of the most widely prescribed antihyperglycemic drugs, has recently received increasing attention for its potential effects with regard to cancer prevention and treatment. However, the mechanisms behind the suppression of cancer cell growth by metformin remain far from completely understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether metformin could regulate histone modification and its downstream gene transcription, and its potential function in inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation. A T47D cell proliferation curve was determined by cell counting following metformin treatment with differing doses or time courses. The cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry with propidium iodide staining. Histone H2B monoubiquitination was evaluated by western blotting subsequent to histone extraction. The histone H2B monoubiquitination downstream gene expression level was determined by quantitative PCR. The results showed that metformin changed the cell-cycle check-point and inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. AMPK was activated and histone H2B monoubiquitination and downstream gene transcription were inhibited following metformin treatment in the T47D cells. The effect of metformin on T47D cell proliferation was dependent on AMPK activity. It was concluded that metformin can suppress breast cancer cell growth by the activation of AMPK and the inhibition of histone H2B monoubiquitination and downstream gene transcription. This study reveals a novel potential mechanism of cancer cell growth suppression by metformin.
PMCID: PMC4081422  PMID: 25009658
metformin; histone H2B; breast cancer; AMPK
4.  AMPK regulates histone H2B O-GlcNAcylation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(9):5594-5604.
Histone H2B O-GlcNAcylation is an important post-translational modification of chromatin during gene transcription. However, how this epigenetic modification is regulated remains unclear. Here we found that the energy-sensing adenosine-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) could suppress histone H2B O-GlcNAcylation. AMPK directly phosphorylates O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) transferase (OGT). Although this phosphorylation does not regulate the enzymatic activity of OGT, it inhibits OGT–chromatin association, histone O-GlcNAcylation and gene transcription. Conversely, OGT also O-GlcNAcylates AMPK and positively regulates AMPK activity, creating a feedback loop. Taken together, these results reveal a crosstalk between the LKB1-AMPK and the hexosamine biosynthesis (HBP)-OGT pathways, which coordinate together for the sensing of nutrient state and regulation of gene transcription.
PMCID: PMC4027166  PMID: 24692660
5.  Decreased Autophagy Contributes to Myocardial Dysfunction in Rats Subjected to Nonlethal Mechanical Trauma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71400.
Autophagy is important in cells for removing damaged organelles, such as mitochondria. Insufficient autophagy plays a critical role in tissue injury and organ dysfunction under a variety of pathological conditions. However, the role of autophagy in nonlethal traumatic cardiac damage remains unclear. The aims of the present study were to investigate whether nonlethal mechanical trauma may result in the change of cardiomyocyte autophagy, and if so, to determine whether the changed myocardial autophagy may contribute to delayed cardiac dysfunction. Male adult rats were subjected to nonlethal traumatic injury, and cardiomyocyte autophagy, cardiac mitochondrial function, and cardiac function in isolated perfused hearts were detected. Direct mechanical traumatic injury was not observed in the heart within 24 h after trauma. However, cardiomyocyte autophagy gradually decreased and reached a minimal level 6 h after trauma. Cardiac mitochondrial dysfunction was observed by cardiac radionuclide imaging 6 h after trauma, and cardiac dysfunction was observed 24 h after trauma in the isolated perfused heart. These were reversed when autophagy was induced by administration of the autophagy inducer rapamycin 30 min before trauma. Our present study demonstrated for the first time that nonlethal traumatic injury caused decreased autophagy, and decreased autophagy may contribute to post-traumatic organ dysfunction. Though our study has some limitations, it strongly suggests that cardiac damage induced by nonlethal mechanical trauma can be detected by noninvasive radionuclide imaging, and induction of autophagy may be a novel strategy for reducing posttrauma multiple organ failure.
PMCID: PMC3747162  PMID: 23977036
6.  RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Is Essential for 2-Methoxyestradiol-Induced Autophagy in Osteosarcoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59406.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant bone tumor in children and young adults. Surgical resection and adjunctive chemotherapy are the only widely available options of treatment for this disease. Anti-tumor compound 2-Methoxyestradiol (2-ME) triggers cell death through the induction of apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells, but not in normal osteoblasts. In this report, we have investigated whether autophagy plays a role in 2-ME actions on osteosarcoma cells. Transmission electron microscopy imaging shows that 2-ME treatment leads to the accumulation of autophagosomes in human osteosarcoma cells. 2-ME induces the conversion of the microtubule-associated protein LC3-I to LC3-II, a biochemical marker of autophagy that is correlated with the formation of autophagosomes. Conversion to LC3-II is accompanied by protein degradation in 2-ME-treated cells. 2-ME does not induce autophagosome formation in normal primary human osteoblasts. In addition, 2-ME-dependent autophagosome formation in osteosarcoma cells requires ATG7 expression. Furthermore, 2-ME does not induce accumulation of autophagosomes in osteosarcoma cells that express dominant negative mutant RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) and are resistant to anti-proliferative and anti-tumor effects of 2-ME. Taken together, our study shows that 2-ME treatment induces PKR-dependent autophagy in osteosarcoma cells, and that autophagy could play an important role in 2-ME-mediated anti-tumor actions and in the control of osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC3602192  PMID: 23527187
7.  Regulation of interferon pathway in 2-methoxyestradiol-treated osteosarcoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:93.
Osteosarcoma is a bone tumor that often affects children and young adults. Although a combination of surgery and chemotherapy has improved the survival rate in the past decades, local recurrence and metastases still develop in 40% of patients. A definite therapy is yet to be determined for osteosarcoma. Anti- tumor compound and a metabolite of estrogen, 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME) induces cell death in osteosarcoma cells. In this report, we have investigated whether interferon (IFN) pathway is involved in 2-ME-induced anti-tumor effects in osteosarcoma cells.
2-ME effects on IFN mRNA levels were determined by Real time PCR analysis. Transient transfections followed by reporter assays were used for investigating 2-ME effects on IFN-pathway. Western blot analyses were used to measure protein and phosphorylation levels of IFN-regulated eukaryotic initiation factor-2 alpha (eIF-2α).
2-ME regulates IFN and IFN-mediated effects in osteosarcoma cells. 2 -ME induces IFN gene activity and expression in osteosarcoma cells. 2-ME treatment induced IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) sequence-dependent transcription and gamma-activated sequence (GAS)-dependent transcription in several osteosarcoma cells. Whereas, 2-ME did not affect IFN gene and IFN pathways in normal primary human osteoblasts (HOB). 2-ME treatment increased the phosphorylation of eIF-2α in osteosarcoma cells. Furthermore, analysis of osteosarcoma tissues shows that the levels of phosphorylated form of eIF-2α are decreased in tumor compared to normal controls.
2-ME treatment triggers the induction and activity of IFN and IFN pathway genes in 2-ME-sensitive osteosarcoma tumor cells but not in 2-ME-resistant normal osteoblasts. In addition, IFN-signaling is inhibited in osteosarcoma patients. Thus, IFN pathways play a role in osteosarcoma and in 2-ME-mediated anti-proliferative effects, and therefore targeted induction of IFN signaling could lead to effective treatment strategies in the control of osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC3414746  PMID: 22429849
2-Methoxyestradiol; osteosarcoma; Interferon; ISRE; GAS
8.  A bone-seeking clone exhibits different biological properties from the ACHN parental human renal cell carcinoma in vivo and in vitro 
Oncology Reports  2011;27(4):1104-1110.
Metastatic bone disease caused by renal cell carcinoma (RCC) occurs frequently. Very little is currently known about the mechanism of preferential metastasis of RCC to bone. We hypothesize that RCCs that develop bone metastases have the capacity to facilitate their colonization in bone. To examine this hypothesis, we established bone-seeking (ACHN-BO) clones of the human RCC cell line ACHN by repeated four passages in nude mice and in vitro of metastatic cells obtained from bone. These clones were examined for distinguishing biological characteristics and compared with the ACHN parental cells (ACHN-P) in vivo and in vitro. Our results showed that the ACHN-BO cell line could be successfully obtained by in vivo selection through the lateral tail vein. This approach results in the development of multiple osteolytic lesions in the distal femora and proximal tibiae within four weeks after inoculation, with a success rate of 85–100% and no additional comorbidity. ACHN-P cells developed metastases in lung, bone, brain, ovary and adrenal glands. Conversely, ACHN-BO cells exclusively metastasized to bones with larger osteolytic lesions. Compared with the ACHN-P cell line, the proliferation ability in ACHN-BO6 was increased by 9.68 and 6.42%, respectively (P<0.05), while the apoptotic ratio decreased significantly (P<0.05) and cells were blocked in the S phase with suppressed migration and invasion capacities. The ACHN-BO6 cell line produced greater amounts of the pro-angiogenic factors VEGF and TGF-β than ACHN-P. Our data suggest that these phenotypic changes allow RCC cells to promote osteoclastic bone resorption, survive and proliferate in bone, which consequently leads to the establishment of bone metastases. This model provides a reliable reproduction of the clinical situation and, therefore, is suitable for designing and evaluating more effective treatments for RCC bone metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3583590  PMID: 22139406
renal cell carcinoma; bone metastasis; in vivo selection; animal model development

Results 1-8 (8)