A major contributor to cancer mortality is recurrence and subsequent metastatic transformation following therapeutic intervention. Therefore, in order to develop new treatment modalities and improve the efficacy of current ones, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms that promote resistance to therapy in cancer cells. One pathway contributing to therapy resistance is autophagy, a self-digestive process that can eliminate unnecessary or damaged organelles to protect cancer cells from death. We have found that the VEGF-C/NRP-2 axis is involved in the activation of autophagy, which helps cancer cell survival following treatment. Inhibition of mTOR complex 1 activity by this axis is the underlying mechanism for the activation of autophagy. Furthermore, we identified two VEGF-C/NRP-2-regulated genes, LAMP-2 and WDFY-1 that have previously been suggested to participate in autophagy and vesicular trafficking. Up-regulation of WDFY-1 following VEGF-C or NRP-2 depletion contributes to cytotoxic drug-mediated cell death. Together, these data suggest a link between the VEGF-C axis and cancer cell survival despite the presence of chemotherapy-induced stress. Effective targeting of this pathway may lead to the development of new cancer therapies.
VEGF-C; NRP-2; autophagy; therapy resistance
Menopausal estrogen (E2) replacement therapy increases the risk of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive epithelial ovarian cancers (EOC). Whether E2 is tumorigenic or promotes expansion of undiagnosed pre-existing disease is unknown. To determine E2 effects on tumor promotion, we developed an intraperitoneal mouse xenograft model using ZsGreen fluorescent ER− 2008 and ER+ PEO4 human EOC cells. Tumor growth was quantified by in vivo fluorescent imaging. In ER+ tumors, E2 significantly increased size, induced progesterone receptors, and promoted lymph node metastasis, confirming that ER are functional and foster aggressiveness. Laser captured human EOC cells from ER− and ER+ xenografted tumors were profiled for expression of E2-regulated genes. Three classes of E-regulated EOC genes were defined, but less than 10% were shared with E-regulated breast cancer genes. Since breast cancer selective ER modulators (SERMs) are therapeutically ineffective in EOC, we suggest that our EOC-specific E-regulated genes can assist pharmacologic discovery of ovarian targeted SERM.
Ovarian Cancer; Xenograft; Estrogen; Metastasis; E-regulated genes
Management of metastatic disease is integral to cancer treatment. Evaluation of metastases often requires surgical removal of all anatomically susceptible lymph nodes for ex vivo pathologic examination. We report a family of novel ratiometric activatable cell-penetrating peptides, which contain Cy5 as far red fluorescent donor and Cy7 as near-infrared fluorescent acceptor. Cy5 is quenched in favor of Cy7 reemission until the intervening linker is cut by tumor-associated matrix metalloproteinases-2 and 9 (MMP2,9) or elastases. Such cleavage increases the Cy5:Cy7 emission ratio 40-fold and triggers tissue retention of the Cy5-containing fragment. This ratiometric increase provides an accelerated and quantifiable metric to identify primary tumors and metastases to liver and lymph nodes with increased sensitivity and specificity. This technique represents a significant advance over existing nonratiometric protease sensors and sentinel lymph node detection methods, which give no information about cancer invasion.
Overexpression of Bcl-2 family proteins has been found in a variety of aggressive human carcinomas, including pancreatic cancer, suggesting that specific agents targeting Bcl-2 family proteins would be valuable for pancreatic cancer therapy. We have previously reported that TW-37, a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2 family proteins, inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer. However, the precise role and the molecular mechanism of action of TW-37 have not been fully elucidated. In our current study, we found that TW-37 induces cell growth inhibition and S-phase cell cycle arrest, with regulation of several important cell cycle–related genes like p27, p57, E2F-1, cdc25A, CDK4, cyclin A, cyclin D1, and cyclin E. The cell growth inhibition was accompanied by increased apoptosis with concomitant attenuation of Notch-1, Jagged-1, and its downstream genes such as Hes-1 in vitro and in vivo. We also found that down-regulation of Notch-1 by small interfering RNA or γ-secretase inhibitors before TW-37 treatment resulted in enhanced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis. Our data suggest that the observed antitumor activity of TW-37 is mediated through a novel pathway involving inactivation of Notch-1 and Jagged-1.
RalBP1/RLIP76 is a widely expressed multifunctional protein that binds the Ral and R-Ras small GTPases. In the mouse, RLIP76 is non-essential but its depletion or blockade promotes tumorigenesis and heightens the sensitivity of normal and tumor cells to radiation and cytotoxic drugs. However, its pathobiological functions which support tumorigenesis are not well understood. Here we show that RLIP76 is required for angiogenesis and for efficient neovascularization of primary solid tumors. Tumor growth from implanted melanoma or carcinoma cells was blunted in RLIP76−/− mice. An X-ray microCT-based method to model tumor vascular structures revealed defects in both the extent and form of tumor angiogenesis in RLIP76−/− mice. Specifically, tumor vascular volumes were diminished and vessels were fewer in number, shorter, and narrower in RLIP76−/− mice than in wild-type mice. Moreover, we found that angiogenesis was blunted in mutant mice in the absence of tumor cells, with endothelial cells isolated from these animals exhibiting defects in migration, proliferation and cord formation in vitro. Taken together, our results establish that RLIP76 is required for efficient endothelial cell function and angiogenesis in solid tumors.
RalBP1/RLIP76; Tumor angiogenesis; Endothelial cell; Migration; X-ray micro-computed tomography
HPV-16 is associated etiologically with many human cervical cancers. It encodes three oncogenes E5, E6 and E7. Of these oncogenes, E7 has been found to be the dominant driver of cervical cancer in mice. Over 100 cellular proteins have been reported to associate with HPV-16 E7, which is thought to dysregulate the cell cycle in part by binding and inducing the degradation of pRb and its related ‘pocket protein’ family members, p107 and p130. The ability of E7 to inactivate the pRb family correlates with its ability to induce head and neck cancers in mice. We previously showed that the inactivation of pRb is itself not sufficient to recapitulate the oncogenic properties of E7 in cervical carcinogenesis. In this study, we evaluated mice that were deficient in multiple pocket proteins, including mice that lacked pRb, p107 and p130. Strikingly, combined loss of two or all three ‘pocket proteins’ resulted in development of high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), but not frank cervical carcinoma. These findings strongly argue that the oncogenic properties of HPV-16 E7 in human cervical carcinogenesis may involve disruption of E7 binding proteins beyond simply the pRb family members.
HPV-16-E7; pRb; p107; p130; cervical cancer
Both activating and inactivating mutations in protein tyrosine phosphatase Ptpn11 (encoding Shp2) are associated with tumorigenesis. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here we demonstrate that Shp2 plays an important role in mitosis, dysregulation of which results in chromosome instability and cancer predisposition. Depletion of Shp2 compromised the mitotic checkpoint. Shp2-depleted cells exhibited a delay in mitotic entry and an earlier mitotic exit. Moreover, Shp2 deficiency caused defective kinetochore-microtubule attachment, chromosome misalignment, chromosomal congression defects, lagging chromosomes, and chromosome missegregation. Reintroduction of wild-type Shp2, but not a catalytically-deficient mutant, restored the checkpoint function and chromosome alignment at metaphase in Shp2-deficient cells, establishing a requirement for the catalytic activity of Shp2 during mitosis. Further analyses revealed that Shp2 was required for the optimal activation of the mitotic kinases PLK1 and Aurora B and thereby the proper kinetochore localization and phosphorylation of BubR1, a core mitotic checkpoint protein that is also critical for chromosome alignment. Together, our findings demonstrate a previously unrecognized role for Shp2 in the maintenance of chromosome stability and suggest a new mechanism by which dysregulation of Shp2 signaling contributes to malignancy development.
Ptpn11 (Shp2); Phosphatase; Mitosis; Chromosome stability
Macrophage-induced bystander effects have been implicated as an important mediator of chromosomal instability and colon cancer triggered by Enterococcus faecalis a human intestinal commensal bacteria. There is little understanding about how inflammatory cytokines mediate bystander effects, but questions in this area are important because of the pivotal contributions made by inflammatory processes to cancer initiation and progression. Here we report that the central pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α acts as a diffusible mediator of the bystander effects induced by macrophages, an effect caused by a proliferation of macrophages that trigger epithelial cell production of Netrin-1, a neuronal guidance molecule. TNF-α-mediated bystander assays employed a murine co-culture system of primary colonic epithelial cells and E. faecalis-infected macrophages (in vitro), with an IL-10-deficient mouse model of colon cancer that involves long-term colonization with E. faecalis (in vivo). In cell co-cultures, we observed increased expression of the TNF-α receptor Tnfrsf1b and Netrin-1. These effects were blocked by anti-TNF-α antibody or by pretreatment with an inhibitor of NF-κB signaling. RNAi-mediated attenuation of Tnfrsf1b decreased TNF-α-induced netrin-1 production and augmented epithelial cell apoptosis in culture. Extending these observations, colon biopsies from E. faecalis-colonized IL-10−/− mice exhibited crypt hyperplasia and increased staining for macrophages, TNF-α, netrin-1, NF-κB, Tnfrsf1b and the proliferation marker PCNA, also displaying a reduction in epithelial cell apoptosis. Together, our results define a pathway for macrophage-induced bystander effects in which TNF-α triggers TNFRSF1b receptor signaling leading to increased production of Netrin-1, crypt hyperplasia and decreased epithelial cell apoptosis. In elucidating an important commensal-associatedpro-inflammatory mechanism in the intestinal microenvironment, our work highlights the role of Netrin-1 and a specific TNF-α receptor as candidate targets to prevent or treat colorectal cancer.
CRC Model; Bystander effect; TNF-α; Netrin-1; Tnfrsf1b; macrophage; tumorigenesis; colorectal cancer
Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) is considered a promising modality for cancer treatment, but despite ongoing improvements many patients do not experience clinical benefits. The tumor microenvironment is an important limiting factor in immunotherapy that has not been addressed fully in ACT treatments. In this study, we report that upregualtion of the immunosuppressive receptor PD-1 expressed on transferred T cells at the tumor site, in a murine model of ACT, compared with its expression on transferred T cells present in the peripheral blood and spleen. Since PD-1 can attenuate T cell-mediated antitumor responses, we tested whether its blockade with an anti-PD-1 antibody could enhance the antitumor activity of ACT in this model. Co-treatment with both agents increased the number of transferred T cells at the tumor site and also enhanced tumor regressions, compared to treatments with either agent alone. While anti-PD-1 did not reduce the number of immunosuppressive Treg cells and MDSCs present in tumor-bearing mice, we found that it increased expression of IFN-γ and CXCL10 at the tumor site. Bone marrow transplant experiments using IFN-γR-/- mice implicated IFN-γ as a crucial nexus for controlling PD-1-mediated tumor infiltration by T cells. Taken together, our results imply that blocking the PD-1 pathway can increase IFN-γ at the tumor site, thereby increasing chemokine-dependent trafficking of immune cells into malignant disease sites.
PD-1; T cell-mediated antitumor immune response; Adoptive cell transfer (ACT); melanoma immunotherapy
The oncoprotein Stathmin 1 (STMN1) is upregulated in most, if not all, cancers of epithelial cell origin; therefore STMN1 is considered a target for cancer therapy. However its role during metastasis has not been investigated. Here we report for the first time that STMN1 strongly inhibits metastatic behavior in both normal epithelial and cancerous epithelial cells. Initially, loss-of-STMN1 compromises cell-cell adhesion. This is followed by epithelial-to-mesenchymal-like transition (EMT), increased cell migration, and metastasis via cooperative activation of p38 and through TGF-β-independent and dependent mechanisms. In contrast, expressing STMN1 restores cell-cell adhesion and reverses the metastatic cascade. Primary prostate epithelial cell cultures from benign to undifferentiated adenocarcinoma clinical biopsies demonstrate that EMT-like cells arise while the cancer is still organ-confined and that their emergence is tumor-stage specific. Furthermore, primary EMT-like cells exhibit metastatic behavior both in vitro and in vivo as compared to their non-EMT counterpart. These observations predict that using STMN1 as a generic therapeutic target might accelerate metastasis. Instead, there may be a tumor stage-specific “window-of-opportunity” in which conserving STMN1 expression is required to inhibit emergence of metastatic disease.
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women. Despite its immunogenicity, effective antitumor responses are limited, due, in part, to the presence of forkhead box protein 3–positive (Foxp3+) T regulatory (Treg) cells in the tumor microenvironment. However, the mechanisms that regulate the accumulation and the suppressive function of these Foxp3+ Treg cells are poorly understood. Here, we found that the majority of Foxp3+ Treg cells accumulating in the tumor microenvironment of EOCs belong to the subset of Foxp3+ Treg cells expressing inducible costimulator (ICOS). The expansion and the suppressive function of these cells were strictly dependent on ICOS-L costimulation provided by tumor plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC). Accordingly, ICOS+Foxp3+Treg cells were found to localize in close vicinity of tumor pDCs, and their number directly correlated with the numbers of pDCs in the tumors. Furthermore, pDCs and ICOS+ Foxp3+Treg cells were found to be strong predictors for disease progression in patients with ovarian cancer, with ICOS+Treg cell subset being a stronger predictor than total Foxp3+Treg cells. These findings suggest an essential role for pDCs and ICOS-L in immunosuppression mediated by ICOS+ Foxp3+ Treg cells, leading to tumor progression in ovarian cancer.
Neovascularization is a limiting factor in tumor growth and progression. It is well known that changes in the tumor microenvironment, such as hypoxia and glucose deprivation (GD), can induce VEGF production. However, the mechanism linking GD to tumor growth and angiogenesis is unclear. We hypothesize that GD induces the angiogenic switch in tumors through activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR). We report that UPR activation in human tumors results in elevated expression of proangiogenic mediators and a concomitant decrease in angiogenesis inhibitors. cDNA microarray results showed that GD-induced UPR activation promoted upregulation of a number of proangiogenic mediators (VEGF, FGF2, IL6, etc.) and downregulation of several angiogenic inhibitors (THBS1, CXCL14 and CXCL10). In vitro studies revealed that partially blocking UPR signaling by silencing PERK or ATF4 significantly reduced the production of angiogenesis mediators induced by GD. However, suppressing the alpha subunit of hypoxia-inducible factors had no effect on this process. Chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed binding of ATF4 to a regulatory site in the VEGF gene. In vivo results confirmed that knockdown of PERK in tumor cells slows down tumor growth and decreases tumor blood vessel density. Collectively, these results demonstrate that the PERK/ATF4 arm of UPR mediates the angiogenic switch and is a potential target for antiangiogenic cancer therapy.
Glucose deprivation; UPR; angiogenic switch; VEGF; THBS1
mTOR is a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase that serves as a central regulator of cell growth, survival and autophagy. Deregulation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway occurs commonly in cancer and numerous inhibitors targeting the ATP-binding site of these kinases are currently undergoing clinical evaluation. Here we report the characterization of Torin2, a second generation ATP-competitive inhibitor that is potent and selective for mTOR with a superior pharmacokinetic profile to previous inhibitors. Torin2 inhibited mTORC1-dependent T389 phosphorylation on S6K (RPS6KB1) with an EC50 of 250 pM with approximately 800-fold selectivity for cellular mTOR versus PI3K. Torin2 also exhibited potent biochemical and cellular activity against PIKK family kinases including ATM (EC50 28 nM), ATR (EC50 35 nM) and DNA-PK (EC50 118 nM) (PRKDC), the inhibition of which sensitized cells to Irradiation. Similar to the earlier generation compound Torin1 and in contrast to other reported mTOR inhibitors, Torin2 inhibited mTOR kinase and mTORC1 signaling activities in a sustained manner suggestive of a slow dissociation from the kinase. Cancer cell treatment with Torin2 for 24 hours resulted in a prolonged block in negative feedback and consequent T308 phosphorylation on Akt. These effects were associated with strong growth inhibition in vitro. Single agent treatment with Torin2 in vivo did not yield significant efficacy against KRAS-driven lung tumors, but the combination of Torin2 with MEK inhibitor AZD6244 yielded a significant growth inhibition. Taken together, our findings establish Torin2 as a strong candidate for clinical evaluation in a broad number of oncological settings where mTOR signaling has a pathogenic role.
mTOR; ATM; ATR; lung cancer; kinase inhibitors
The DNA-damage response (DDR) plays a crucial role in tumor development in different tissues. Here we show that p53-binding protein 1 (53BP1), a key element of the DDR, is heterozygously lost in approximately 20% of human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) specimens, primarily of the Proneural subtype, and low 53BP1 expression levels are associated with worse prognosis. We present evidence that 53BP1 behaves as haploinsufficient tumor suppressor in a mouse model of PDGF-induced gliomagenesis. We also show that very low level of 53BP1 as found in 53BP1 null gliomas or robust 53BP1 gene silencing in glioma cell lines (but not 53BP1 heterozygous tumors or partial gene knock-down) sensitizes glioma cells to ionizing radiation (IR), both in vitro and in vivo. We further demonstrate the 53BP1 gene silencing induces defects in the nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) DNA repair pathway. These deficiencies lead to a failure to fully repair the damaged DNA upon exposure of glioma cells to IR with a consequent prolonged cell-cycle arrest and increased apoptosis. Our data suggest that either 53BP1 or other NHEJ components may be critical molecules to be pharmacologically-targeted in GBM in combination with standard therapies.
53BP1; DDR; GBM; Ionizing radiation; NHEJ
The histone methyltransferase EZH2 is a central epigenetic regulator of cell survival, proliferation, and cancer stem cell (CSC) function. EZH2 expression is increased in various human cancers, including highly aggressive pancreatic cancers, but the mechanisms underlying for its biologic effects are not yet well understood. In this study, we probed EZH2 function in pancreatic cancer using diflourinated-curcumin (CDF), a novel analogue of the turmeric spice component curcumin that has antioxidant properties. CDF decreased pancreatic cancer cell survival, clonogenicity, formation of pancreatospheres, invasive cell migration, and CSC function in human pancreatic cancer cells. These effects were associated with decreased expression of EZH2 and increased expression of a panel of tumor-suppressive microRNAs (miRNA), including let-7a,b,c,d, miR-26a, miR-101, miR-146a, and miR-200b,c that are typically lost in pancreatic cancer. Mechanistic investigations revealed that reexpression of miR-101 was sufficient to limit the expression of EZH2 and the proinvasive cell surface adhesion molecule EpCAM. In an orthotopic xenograft model of human pancreatic cancer, administration of CDF inhibited tumor growth in a manner associated with reduced expression of EZH2, Notch-1, CD44, EpCAM, and Nanog and increased expression of let-7, miR-26a, and miR-101. Taken together, our results indicated that CDF inhibited pancreatic cancer tumor growth and aggressiveness by targeting an EZH2-miRNA regulatory circuit for epigenetically controlled gene expression.
Mechanistic associations between obesity and colorectal cancer remain unclear. In this study, we investigated whether adipokines are risk factors for colorectal cancer and whether they may mediate its association with obesity. In a case–cohort study nested within the Women’s Health Initiative cohort of postmenopausal women, baseline plasma samples from 457 colorectal cancer cases and 841 subcohort subjects were assayed for seven adipokines—adiponectin, leptin, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), resistin, hepatocyte growth factor, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and TNF-α. Serum insulin and estradiol values measured previously were also available for data analysis. After adjusting for age, race, smoking, colonoscopy history, and estrogen level, a low level of antiinflammatory adiponectin and high levels of proinflammatory leptin, PAI-1, and IL-6 were associated with increased colorectal cancer risk, though only leptin remained significant after further adjustment for insulin [HRs comparing extreme quartiles (HRQ4–Q1), 1.84; 95% CI, 1.17–2.90]. Mediation analyses showed that leptin and insulin partially explained the association between waist circumference and colorectal cancer and attenuated it by 25% and 37%, respectively, with insulin being a significant mediator (P = 0.041). Our findings support the conclusion that adipokines involved in inflammation are associated with colorectal cancer risk, but that their effects may be mediated mostly by insulin, with leptin exerting an independent effect. Hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia may therefore partially explain the adiposity association with colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.
Tumor cell subpopulations that express cancer stem cell markers such as CD133 (prominin1) or ABCB5 are thought to be crucial for tumor initiation and heterogeneity, but their biological significance in melanoma has been controversial. Here, we report that CD133+ and ABCB5+ subpopulations are co-localized in melanomas in perivascular niches that contain CD144 (VE-cadherin)+ melanoma cells forming vessel-like channels, a phenomenon termed vasculogenic mimicry (VM). RNAi-mediated attenuation of CD133 established its critical function in morphogenesis of these perivascular niches as well as in melanoma tumorigenicity. Niche-associated genes CD144 and ABCB5 were downregulated in tumors derived from CD133 knockdown (KD) melanoma cells, compared to controls. CD133KD cells also lacked the ability to form CD144+ VM-like channels in a manner that was associated with a depletion of the ABCB5+ cell subpopulation. Lastly, CD133 KD cells exhibited poorer tumor growth in vivo. Taken together, our findings corroborate models in which CD133+/ABCB5+ melanoma cells reside in a complex anastomosing microvascular niche that encompasses CD144+ VM channels as well as authentic endothelial cell-lined blood vessels. Further, they indicate that CD133+ cells act as stem-like cells, which drive tumor growth by promoting VM and the morphogenesis of a specialized perivascular niche in melanoma.
CD133; melanoma; cancer stem cells; niche; vasculogenic mimicry
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an accepted cause of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and patients with HPV-associated HNSCC have a favorable prognosis. Currently there is no general guidance on the most appropriate biomarkers for clinical assessment of HPV in these malignancies. We compared PCR-based and serological HPV assays, as well as p16 immunohistochemistry, individually and in combination in a single population-based study to assess their associations with overall survival among HNSCC patients, and thus their potential value as biomarkers. HPV16 serology was determined for 488 patients, immunohistochemical detection of p16 expression in tumors was performed in a subset of 233 cases, and PCR-based methods to assess the presence of HPV16 DNA in a subset of 179 cases’ tumors. Considering each biomarker individually in the subset of patients studied for all endpoints, seropositivity for the E6 and E7 proteins was significantly associated with enhanced all-cause survival in oropharyngeal disease (HRE6/E7+ =0.1, 95%CI=0.02–0.3). Neither the presence of HPV16 DNA or p16 immunostaining was associated with significant enhanced overall survival in oropharyngeal disease ( HRDNA=0.9, 95% CI-0.3–2.9; HRp16=0.3, 95%CI=0.1–1.1). However, the combination of HPV positive DNA and E6 or E7 serology was associated with enhanced overall survival in oropharyngeal disease (HRDNA +/E6/E7+=0.1, 95%CI=0.02–1.0), while E6/E7 seronegative patients with evidence of HPV in tumor DNA did not show any evidence of favorable survival (HRDNA+/E6−/E7−=3.4, 95%CI = 0.6–18.1). Further, patients with p16 staining and E6 or E7 seropositivity had favorable survival from oropharyngeal disease (HRp16+/E6/E7+=0.1, 95%CI=0.02–0.4), while patients who were p16 positive and E6/E7 seronegative had significantly increased hazard of all causes of death (HRp16+/E6−/E7−=3.1, 95%CI=1.2–7.7). A stronger association of HPV presence with prognosis (assessed by all-cause survival) is observed when "HPV-associated" HNSCC is defined using tumor status (HPV DNA status or P16) and HPV E6/E7 serology in combination rather using tumor HPV status alone.
human papillomavirus; head and neck cancer; p16 immunostaining
The Rho-associated kinases ROCK1 and ROCK2 are critical for cancer cell migration and invasion, suggesting they may be useful therapeutic targets. In this study, we describe the discovery and development of RKI-1447, a potent small molecule inhibitor of ROCK1 and ROCK2. Crystal structures of the RKI-1447/ROCK1 complex revealed that RKI-1447 is a Type I kinase inhibitor that binds the ATP binding site through interactions with the hinge region and the DFG motif. RKI-1447 suppressed phosphorylation of the ROCK substrates MLC-2 and MYPT-1 in human cancer cells, but had no effect on the phosphorylation levels of the AKT, MEK and S6 kinase at concentrations as high as 10 μM. RKI-1447 was also highly selective at inhibiting ROCK-mediated cytoskeleton re-organization (actin stress fiber formation) following LPA stimulation, but does not affect PAK-meditated lamellipodia and filopodia formation following PDGF and Bradykinin stimulation, respectively. RKI-1447 inhibited migration, invasion and anchorage-independent tumor growth of breast cancer cells. In contrast, RKI-1313, a much weaker analog in vitro, had little effect on the phosphorylation levels of ROCK substrates, migration, invasion or anchorage-independent growth. Lastly RKI-1447 was highly effective at inhibiting the outgrowth of mammary tumors in a transgenic mouse model. In summary, our findings establish RKI-1447 as a potent and selective ROCK inhibitor with significant anti-invasive and anti-tumor activities and offer a preclinical proof-of-concept that justify further examination of RKI-1447 suitability as a potential clinical candidate.
Rho kinase; Anti-invasive; Anti-tumor; Breast cancer; RKI-1447
Medulloblastomas are malignant brain tumors that arise in the cerebellum in children and disseminate via the cerebrospinal fluid to the leptomeningeal spaces of the brain and spinal cord. Challenged by the poor prognosis for patients with metastatic dissemination, pediatric oncologists have developed aggressive treatment protocols, combining surgery, craniospinal radiation, and high-dose chemotherapy that often cause disabling neurotoxic effects in long-term survivors. Insights into the genetic control of medulloblastoma dissemination have come from transposon insertion mutagenesis studies. Mobilizing the Sleeping Beauty transposon in cerebellar neural progenitor cells caused widespread dissemination of typically nonmetastatic medulloblastomas in Patched+/− mice, in which Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling is hyperactive. Candidate metastasis genes were identified by sequencing the insertion sites and then mapping these sequences back to the mouse genome. To determine whether genes located at transposon insertion sites directly caused medulloblastomas to disseminate, we overexpressed candidate genes in Nestin+ neural progenitors in the cerebella of mice by retroviral transfer in combination with Shh. We show here that ectopic expression of Eras, Lhx1, Ccrk, and Akt shifted the in vivo growth characteristics of Shh-induced medulloblastomas from a localized pattern to a disseminated pattern in which tumor cells seeded the leptomeningeal spaces of the brain and spinal cord.
medulloblastoma; metastasis; leptomeningeal dissemination
Radiotherapy of intrathoracic and chest wall tumors may lead to exposure of the heart to ionizing radiation, resulting in radiation-induced heart diseases (RIHD). The main manifestations of RIHD become apparent many years after treatment and include cardiomyopathy and accelerated atherosclerosis. This study examines the role of the kallikrein-kinin system (KKS) in RIHD by investigating the cardiac radiation response in a kininogen-deficient Brown Norway Katholiek (BN/Ka) rat model. BN/Ka rats and wild-type Brown Norway (BN) rats were exposed to local heart irradiation with a single dose of 18 Gy or 24 Gy and were observed for 3-6 months. Examinations included in vivo and ex vivo cardiac function, histopathology, gene and protein expression measurements, and mitochondrial swelling assays. Upon local heart irradiation, changes in in vivo cardiac function were significantly less in BN/Ka rats. For instance, a single dose of 24 Gy caused a 35% increase in fractional shortening in BN rats compared to a 16% increase in BN/Ka rats. BN rats, but not BN/Ka rats, showed a 56% reduction in cardiac numbers of CD2-positive cells, and a 57% increase in CD68-positive cells, together with a 52% increase in phosphorylation of Erk1/2. Local heart irradiation had similar effects on histopathology, mitochondrial changes, and left ventricular mRNA levels of NADPH oxidases in the two genotypes. These results suggest that the KKS plays a role in the effects of radiation on cardiac function and recruitment of inflammatory cells. The KKS may have these effects at least in part by altering Erk1/2 signaling.
Radiation-induced heart disease; Kallikrein-kinin system; Bradykinin
Ulcerative colitis (UC) increases the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), but the mechanisms involved in colitis-to-cancer transition (CCT) are not well understood. CCT may involve a inflammation-dysplasia-carcinoma progression sequence compared to the better characterized adenoma-carcinoma progression sequence associated with sporadic CRC. One common thread may be activating mutations in components of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, which occur commonly as early events in sporadic CRC. To examine this hypothesis, we evaluated possible associations between Wnt/β-catenin signaling and CCT based on the cancer stem cell (CSC) model. Wnt/β-catenin immunostaining indicated that UC patients have a level of Wnt-pathway-active cells that is intermediate between normal colon and CRC. These UC cells exhibiting activation of the Wnt pathway constituted a major subpopulation (52%+7.21) of the colonic epithelial cells positive for aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), a putative marker of precursor colon CSC (pCCSC). We further fractionated this subpopulation of pCCSC using a Wnt pathway reporter assay. Over successive passages, pCCSCs with the highest Wnt activity exhibited higher clonogenic and tumorigenic potential than pCCSCs with the lowest Wnt activity, thereby establishing the key role of Wnt activity in driving CSC-like properties in these cells. Notably, 5/20 single cell injections of high-Wnt pCCSC resulted in tumor formation, suggesting a correlation with CCT. Attenuation of Wnt/β-catenin in high-Wnt pCCSC by shRNA-mediated downregulation or pharmacological inhibition significantly reduced tumor growth rates. Overall, the results of our study indicates (i) that early activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling is critical for CCT, and (ii) that high levels of Wnt/β-catenin signaling can further demarcate ALDH+ tumor-initiating cells in the non-dysplastic epithelium of UC patients. As such, our findings offer plausible diagnostic markers and therapeutic target in the Wnt signaling pathway for early intervention in CCT.
Colitis; Colorectal cancer; CSC; ALDH and Wnt/β-catenin
The ubiquitin interaction motif (UIM)-containing protein RAP80 was recently found to play a key role in DNA damage response (DDR) signaling by facilitating the translocation of several DDR mediators, including BRCA1, to ionizing irradiation (IR)-induced foci (IRIF). In this study, we examine the effect of the loss of RAP80 on genomic stability and the susceptibility to cancer development in RAP80 null (RAP80−/−) mice. RAP80−/− mice are viable and did not exhibit any apparent developmental defects. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) derived from RAP80−/− mice underwent premature senescence compared to wild type (WT) MEFs, were more sensitive to IR, and exhibited a higher level of spontaneous and IR-induced genomic instability. RAP80−/− thymocytes were more sensitive to IR-induced cell death than WT thymocytes. RAP80−/− mice were more susceptible to spontaneous lymphoma development and the development of DMBA-induced mammary gland tumors. Moreover, the loss of RAP80 accelerated tumor formation in both p53−/− and p53+/− mice. Our data indicate that RAP80-deficiency promotes genomic instability and causes an increase in cancer risk consistent with the concept that RAP80 exhibits a tumor suppressor function.
RAP80; UIMC1; Ubiquitin Interacting Motif; DNA repair; Trp53; mammary cancer; lymphoma; DMBA
Cell isolation via antibody-targeted magnetic beads is a powerful tool for research and clinical applications, most recently for isolating circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Nonetheless fundamental features of the cell-bead interface are still unknown. Here we apply a clinically-relevant antibody against the cancer target HER2 (ERBB2) for magnetic cell isolation. We investigate how many target proteins per cell are sufficient for a cell to be isolated. To understand the importance of primary antibody affinity, we compared a series of point mutants with known affinities and show that even starting with sub-nanomolar affinity, improving antibody affinity improved cell isolation. To test the importance of the connection between the primary antibody and the magnetic bead, we compared bridging the antibody to the beads with Protein L, secondary antibody or streptavidin: the high stability streptavidin-biotin linkage improved sensitivity by an order of magnitude. Cytoskeletal polymerization did not have a major effect on cell isolation, but isolation was inhibited by cholesterol depletion and enhanced by cholesterol loading of cells. Analyzing a panel of human cancer cell-lines spanning a wide range of expression showed that the standard approach could only isolate the highest expressing cells. However, our optimization of cholesterol level, primary antibody affinity, and antibody-bead linkage allowed efficient and specific isolation of cells expressing low levels of HER2 or EpCAM. These insights should guide future approaches to cell isolation, either magnetically or using other means, and extend the range of cellular antigens and biomarkers that can be targeted for isolation in cancer research and diagnosis.
CTC; metastasis; metastatic; MACS; tumor stem cell
The evolution of the cancer cell into a metastatic entity is the major cause of death in cancer patients. Activation of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) endows invasive and metastatic properties upon cancer cells that favor successful colonization of distal target organs. The observation that in many cancers distant metastases resemble the epithelial phenotype of primary tumors has led to speculation that the disseminated tumor cells recruited to the target organs undergo mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET). However, the MET cascade has not been recapitulated in vivo, and the cellular and molecular regulators that promote MET remain unknown. In a recent report, using a model of spontaneous breast cancer, we have shown that bone marrow (BM)-derived myeloid progenitor cells in the premetastatic lung secrete the proteoglycan versican, which induces MET of metastatic tumor cells and accelerates metastases. This review summarizes recent progress in MET research and outlines a unique paracrine cross talk between the microenvironment and the cancer cells that promotes tumor outgrowth in the metastatic organ and discusses opportunities for novel antimetastatic approaches for cancer therapy.