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1.  Correction: miR-989 Is Required for Border Cell Migration in the Drosophila Ovary 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):10.1371/annotation/709181e7-dfc9-40e9-bd0b-bd1c5541c2b1.
PMCID: PMC3741401
2.  Perceptions about preventing hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with chronic hepatitis in Taiwan 
AIM: To measure patient perceptions about preventing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and to predict the factors that influence patient willingness to receive therapy.
METHODS: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted at an outpatient clinic of a medical institution in southern Taiwan. Four hundred patients with chronic hepatitis B/C were recruited as participants. Two structured questionnaires based on the health belief model were utilized in this study, including the scales of perceptions about preventing HCC and knowledge of hepatitis B/C.
RESULTS: The statistical results demonstrated that the participants’ perceived susceptibility (r = -0.22, P < 0.001), benefits (r = -0.11, P = 0.028) and cues to action (r = -0.12, P = 0.014) about the prevention of HCC was significantly correlated with their age. The participants’ perceptions were also associated with their educational levels, household incomes and knowledge of hepatitis. Older patients and those with a lower socioeconomic status tended to have negative perceptions and less knowledge of hepatitis. Multivariate logistic regression further indicated that the participants’ age (B = -0.044, SE = 0.017, odds ratio = 0.957, P = 0.008, 95%CI: 0.926-0.989) and perceived barriers (B = -0.111, SE = 0.030, odds ratio = 0.895, P < 0.001, 95%CI: 0.845-0.949) were correlated with their willingness to receive antiviral therapy.
CONCLUSION: Healthcare professionals should provide appropriate and effective guidance to increase their patients’ awareness and to decrease the perceived barriers for continuing surveillance and antiviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC3683685  PMID: 23801839
Antiviral therapy; Health perception; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis C; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Health knowledge
3.  Gadoxetic Acid-Enhanced MRI and Sonoelastography: Non-Invasive Assessments of Chemoprevention of Liver Fibrosis in Thioacetamide-Induced Rats with Sho-Saiko-To 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114756.
This study aimed to compare the performance of gadoxetic acid -enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and sonoelastography in evaluating chemopreventive effects of Sho-Saiko-To (SST) in thioacetamide (TAA)-induced early liver fibrosis in rats.
Materials and Methods
Ten of Sprague-Dawley rats receiving TAA (200 mg/kg of body weight) intraperitoneal injection were divided into three groups: Group 1 (TAA only, n = 3), Group 2 (TAA +0.25 g/kg SST, n = 4) and Group 3 (TAA+1 g/kg SST, n = 3). Core needle liver biopsy at week 2 and liver specimens after sacrifice at week 6 confirmed liver fibrosis using histological examinations, including Sirius red staining, Ishak and Metavir scoring systems. Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI and shear-wave sonoelastography were employed to evaluate liver fibrosis. The expression of hepatic transporter organic anion transporter 1 (Oatp1), multidrug-resistant protein 2 (Mrp2) and alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-Sma) were also analyzed in each group by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blot.
According to histological grading by Sirius red staining, Ishak scores of liver fibrosis in Groups 1, 2 and 3 were 3, 2 and 1, respectively. As shown in gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI, the ratio of relative enhancement was significantly lower in Group 1 (1.87±0.21) than in Group 2 of low-dose (2.82±0.25) and Group 3 of high-dose (2.72±0.12) SST treatment at 10 minutes after gadoxetic acid intravenous injection (p<0.05). Sonoelastography showed that the mean difference before and after experiments in Groups 1, 2 and 3 were 4.66±0.1, 4.4±0.57 and 3±0.4 KPa (p<0.1), respectively. Chemopreventive effects of SST reduced the Mrp2 protein level (p<0.01) but not Oatp1 and α-Sma levels.
Sonoelastography and gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI could monitor the treatment effect of SST in an animal model of early hepatic fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC4260946  PMID: 25490034
4.  Matriptase regulates proliferation and early, but not terminal, differentiation of human keratinocytes 
Genetic defects in matriptase are linked to two congenital ichthyosis, autosomal recessive ichthyosis with hypotrichosis (ARIH, OMIM 610765) and, ichthyosis, follicular atrophoderma, hypotrichosis, and hypohidrosis (IFAH, OMIM602400). Mouse models with matriptase deficiency indicate an involvement of matriptase in suprabasal keratinocytes in the maintenance of the epidermal barrier. In contrast to what has been reported for mouse skin, we show that in human skin, matriptase is primarily expressed in the basal and spinous keratinocytes, but not in the more differentiated keratinocytes of the granular layer. In addition, matriptase zymogen activation was predominantly detected in the basal cells. Furthermore, using skin organotypic cultures as a model system to monitor the course of human epidermal differentiation, we found elevated matriptase zymogen activation during early stages of epidermal differentiation, coupled with a loss of matriptase expression in the late stages of this process. We also show here that matriptase deficiency in HaCaT cells modestly reduces cell proliferation and temporally affects calcium-induced expression of differentiation markers. These collective data suggests that, unlike mouse matriptase, human matriptase may be involved in regulation of keratinocyte growth and early differentiation, rather than terminal differentiation, providing mechanistic insights for the pathology of the two congenital ichthyoses, ARIH and IFAH.
PMCID: PMC3925676  PMID: 23900022
5.  Highly efficient generation of airway and lung epithelial cells from human pluripotent stem cells 
Nature biotechnology  2013;32(1):84-91.
The ability to generate lung and airway epithelial cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) would have applications in regenerative medicine, drug screening and modeling of lung disease, and studies of human lung development. We established, based on developmental paradigms, a highly efficient method for directed differentiation of hPSCs into lung and airway epithelial cells. Long-term differentiation in vivo and in vitro yielded basal, goblet, Clara, ciliated, type I and type II alveolar epithelial cells. Type II alveolar epithelial cells generated were capable of surfactant protein-B uptake and stimulated surfactant release, providing evidence of specific function. Inhibiting or removing agonists to signaling pathways critical for early lung development in the mouse—retinoic acid, Wnt and BMP—recapitulated defects in corresponding genetic mouse knockouts. The capability of this protocol to generate most cell types of the respiratory system suggests its utility for deriving patient-specific therapeutic cells.
PMCID: PMC4101921  PMID: 24291815
6.  Novel peptides suppress VEGFR-3 activity and antagonize VEGFR-3-mediated oncogenic effects 
Oncotarget  2014;5(11):3823-3835.
Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) supports tumor lymphangiogenesis. It was originally identified as a lymphangiogenic factor expressed in lymphatic endothelial cells. VEGFR-3 was detected in advanced human malignancies and correlated with poor prognosis. Our previous studies show that activation of the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis promotes cancer metastasis and is associated with clinical progression in patients with lung cancer, indicating that VEGFR-3 is a potential target for cancer therapy. In this study, we developed eight peptides targeting VEGFR-3. Two peptides strongly inhibited the kinase activity of VEGFR-3 and suppressed VEGF-C-mediated invasion of cancer cells. Moreover, these peptides abolished VEGF-C-induced drug resistance and tumor initiating cell formation. This study demonstrates the therapeutic potential of VEGFR-3-targeting peptides.
PMCID: PMC4116523  PMID: 25003617
VEGFR-3; VEGFR-3-targeting peptides; metastasis; drug resistance
7.  Antidiabetic Effects of Pterosin A, a Small-Molecular-Weight Natural Product, on Diabetic Mouse Models 
Diabetes  2013;62(2):628-638.
The therapeutic effect of pterosin A, a small-molecular-weight natural product, on diabetes was investigated. Pterosin A, administered orally for 4 weeks, effectively improved hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in streptozotocin, high-fat diet–fed, and db/db diabetic mice. There were no adverse effects in normal or diabetic mice treated with pterosin A for 4 weeks. Pterosin A significantly reversed the increased serum insulin and insulin resistance (IR) in dexamethasone-IR mice and in db/db mice. Pterosin A significantly reversed the reduced muscle GLUT-4 translocation and the increased liver phosphoenolpyruvate carboxyl kinase (PEPCK) expression in diabetic mice. Pterosin A also significantly reversed the decreased phosphorylations of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and Akt in muscles of diabetic mice. The decreased AMPK phosphorylation and increased p38 phosphorylation in livers of db/db mice were effectively reversed by pterosin A. Pterosin A enhanced glucose uptake and AMPK phosphorylation in cultured human muscle cells. In cultured liver cells, pterosin A inhibited inducer-enhanced PEPCK expression, triggered the phosphorylations of AMPK, acetyl CoA carboxylase, and glycogen synthase kinase-3, decreased glycogen synthase phosphorylation, and increased the intracellular glycogen level. These findings indicate that pterosin A may be a potential therapeutic option for diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3554375  PMID: 23069626
8.  Reciprocal regulation of MicroRNA-99a and insulin-like growth factor I receptor signaling in oral squamous cell carcinoma cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:6.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNA molecules can function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors in tumorigenesis. Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide with a 5-year survival rate of approximately 50%.
The expression of microRNA-99a (miR-99a) in OSCC tissues and cell lines was investigated using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis. The functions of miR-99a in migration/invasion and lung colonization were determined by transwell and tail vein injection assays, respectively. Specific targets of miR-99a were determined by software prediction, correlation with target protein expression, and luciferase reporter assay. The signaling pathways involved in regulation of miR-99a were investigated using the kinase inhibitors.
We observed reduced levels of miR-99a, identified as one of the most downregulated miRNA in OSCC and all tested OSCC cell lines compared to normal oral keratinocytes. Ectopic miR-99a expression in OSCC cells markedly reduced migration and invasion in vitro as well as lung colonization in vivo. When evaluating the specific targets of miR-99a, we found that ectopic miR-99a expression downregulates insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) protein and that the expression of miR-99a correlates negatively with IGF1R protein in OSCC cells. Insertion of the 3′UTR of IGF1R mRNA into the 3′UTR of a reporter gene markedly reduced luciferase activity in OSCC cells expressing miR-99a, suggesting that miR-99a reduces luciferase activity by targeting the 3′UTR of IGF1R mRNA. When evaluating the mechanisms of miR-99a downregulation, we observed the upregulation of miR-99a expression in serum-starved conditions and its suppression in response to insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) stimulation. Inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase inhibited IGF1-induced suppression of miR-99a, suggesting the negative regulation of miR-99a expression by IGF1R signaling.
Overall, results indicate that miR-99a functions as a tumor metastasis suppressor in OSCC cells and mutually regulates IGF1R expression in a reciprocal regulation.
PMCID: PMC3895693  PMID: 24410957
MicroRNA-99a; Tumor metastasis suppressor; Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor; Reciprocal regulation; Oral squamous cell carcinoma
9.  Functional activity of RLIM/Rnf12 is regulated by phosphorylation-dependent nucleocytoplasmic shuttling 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(19):3085-3096.
In mice, the ubiquitin ligase RLIM/Rnf12 is a critical survival factor for mammary milk-producing alveolar cells, but little is known about how its activity is regulated. It is shown here that RLIM shuttles between the nucleus and cytoplasm in a phosphorylation-dependent manner, and shuttling is important for its alveolar survival function.
The X-linked gene Rnf12 encodes the ubiquitin ligase really interesting new gene (RING) finger LIM domain–interacting protein (RLIM)/RING finger protein 12 (Rnf12), which serves as a major sex-specific epigenetic regulator of female mouse nurturing tissues. Early during embryogenesis, RLIM/Rnf12 expressed from the maternal allele is crucial for the development of extraembryonic trophoblast cells. In contrast, in mammary glands of pregnant and lactating adult females RLIM/Rnf12 expressed from the paternal allele functions as a critical survival factor for milk-producing alveolar cells. Although RLIM/Rnf12 is detected mostly in the nucleus, little is known about how and in which cellular compartment(s) RLIM/Rnf12 mediates its biological functions. Here we demonstrate that RLIM/Rnf12 protein shuttles between nucleus and cytoplasm and this is regulated by phosphorylation of serine S214 located within its nuclear localization sequence. We show that shuttling is important for RLIM to exert its biological functions, as alveolar cell survival activity is inhibited in cells expressing shuttling-deficient nuclear or cytoplasmic RLIM/Rnf12. Thus regulated nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of RLIM/Rnf12 coordinates cellular compartments during mammary alveolar cell survival.
PMCID: PMC3784382  PMID: 23904271
10.  Correction: Krüppel-Like Factor 4, a Tumor Suppressor in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Reverts Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition by Suppressing Slug Expression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):10.1371/annotation/af3b480b-2a5a-4483-a98d-82476b314ec1.
PMCID: PMC3861553
11.  Differentiated Epithelial- and Mesenchymal-Like Phenotypes in Subcutaneous Mouse Xenografts Using Diffusion Weighted-Magnetic Resonance Imaging 
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is important for tumor metastasis. Detection of EMT protein expression and observation of morphological changes are commonly used to identify EMT. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) and measuring apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values are noninvasive techniques for characterizing tumor microenvironments. We investigated the difference in ADC values between epithelial- and mesenchymal-like subcutaneous mouse xenografted tumors using DW-MRI. Epithelial-like MM189 PB-Klf4 and BL322 PB-Klf4 cells were generated from tumor suppressive Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf4)-expressing mesenchymal-like MM189 and BL322 cells. The ADC values of xenografted tumors from epithelial-like MM189 PB-Klf4 and BL322 PB-Klf4 were significantly lower than those from their mesenchymal-like counterparts (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). Our results suggested that DW-MRI is a potential tool for observing mesenchymal- or epithelial-like characteristics of subcutaneous xenografted tumors.
PMCID: PMC3856043  PMID: 24196357
diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging; epithelial; mesenchymal; apparent diffusion coefficient; mouse xenografts
12.  Maternal Loss of miRNAs Leads to Increased Variance in Primordial Germ Cell Numbers in Drosophila melanogaster 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;3(9):1573-1576.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression that may act as buffering agents to stabilize gene-regulatory networks. Here, we identify two miRNAs that are maternally required for normal embryonic primordial germ cell development in Drosophila melanogaster. Embryos derived from miR-969 and miR-9c mutant mothers had, on average, reduced germ cell numbers. Intriguingly, this reduction correlated with an increase in the variance of this quantitative phenotypic trait. Analysis of an independent set of maternal mutant genotypes suggests that reduction of germ cell number need not lead to increased variance. Our observations are consistent with the hypothesis that miR-969 and miR-9c contribute to stabilizing the processes that control germ number, supporting phenotypic robustness.
PMCID: PMC3755917  PMID: 23893743
microRNA; phenotypic trait variance; primordial germ cell development
13.  Assessment of Blood Flow in Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Correlations of Computed Tomography Perfusion Imaging and Circulating Angiogenic Factors 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly vascular tumor through the process of angiogenesis. To evaluate more non-invasive techniques for assessment of blood flow (BF) in HCC, this study examined the relationships between BF of HCC measured by computer tomography (CT) perfusion imaging and four circulating angiogenic factors in HCC patients. Interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 8 (IL-8), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) in plasma were measured using Bio-Plex multiplex immunoassay in 21 HCC patients and eight healthy controls. Circulating IL-6, IL-8 and VEGF showed higher concentrations in HCC patients than in controls (p < 0.05), and predicted HCC occurrence better than chance (p < 0.01). Twenty-one patients with HCC received 21-phase liver imaging using a 64-slice CT. Total BF, arterial BF, portal BF, arterial fraction (arterial BF/total BF) of the HCC and surrounding liver parenchyma, and HCC-parenchyma ratio were measured using a dual-vessel model. After analyzing the correlations between BF in HCC and four circulating angiogenic factors, we found that the HCC-parenchyma ratio of arterial BF showed a significantly positive correlation with the level of circulating IL-8 (p < 0.05). This circulating biomarker, IL-8, provides a non-invasive tool for assessment of BF in HCC.
PMCID: PMC3794740  PMID: 23985826
hepatocellular carcinoma; blood flow; circulating angiogenic factors; CT perfusion; interleukin 8
14.  p16 Stimulates CDC42-Dependent Migration of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69389.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Tumor dissemination to the extra-hepatic region of the portal vein, lymph nodes, lungs or bones contributes to the high mortality seen in HCC; yet, the molecular mechanisms responsible for HCC metastasis remain unclear. Prior studies have suggested a potential link between accumulated cytoplasm-localized p16 and tumor progression. Here we report that p16 enhances metastasis-associated phenotypes in HCC cells – ectopic p16 expression increased cell migration in vitro, and lung colonization after intravenous injection, whereas knockdown of endogenous p16 reduced cell migration. Interestingly, analysis of p16 mutants indicated that the Cdk4 interaction domain is required for stimulation of HCC cell migration; however, knockdown of Cdk4 and Cdk6 showed that these proteins are dispensable for this phenomenon. Intriguingly, we found that in p16-positive HCC samples, p16 protein is predominantly localized in the cytoplasm. In addition, we identified a potential role for nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling in p16-stimulated migration, consistent with the predominantly cytoplasmic localization of p16 in IHC-positive HCC samples. Finally, we determined that p16-stimulated cell migration requires the Cdc42 GTPase. Our results demonstrate for the first time a pro-migratory role for p16, and suggest a potential mechanism for the observed association between cytoplasmic p16 and tumor progression in diverse tumor types.
PMCID: PMC3722281  PMID: 23894465
15.  miR-989 Is Required for Border Cell Migration in the Drosophila Ovary 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67075.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by destabilizing target transcripts and/or inhibiting their translation. miRNAs are thought to have roles in buffering gene expression to confer robustness. miRNAs have been shown to play important roles during tissue development to control cell proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis. Many miRNAs are expressed in the germ line of Drosophila, and functions have been reported for a few miRNAs in maintenance of stem cell proliferation during oogenesis. Here, we analyse the function of Drosophila miR-989 in oogenesis. miR-989 is abundant in ovaries. Mutants lacking miR-989 did not display gross abnormalities affecting egg chamber formation or maturation. However, the migration of the border cell cluster was severely delayed in miR-989 mutant egg chambers. We demonstrate that miR-989 function is required in the somatic cells in the egg chamber, not in germ line cells for border cell migration. Loss of miR-989 from a fraction of the border cell cluster was sufficient to impair cluster migration as a whole, suggesting a role in border cells. Gene ontology analysis reveals that many predicted miR-989 target mRNAs are implicated in regulating cell migration, cell projection morphogenesis, cell adhesion as well as receptor tyrosine kinase and ecdysone signalling, consistent with an important regulatory role for miR-989 in border cell migration.
PMCID: PMC3700948  PMID: 23843983
16.  Cholestane-3β, 5α, 6β-triol Suppresses Proliferation, Migration, and Invasion of Human Prostate Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65734.
Oxysterols are oxidation products of cholesterol. Cholestane-3β, 5α, 6β-triol (abbreviated as triol) is one of the most abundant and active oxysterols. Here, we report that triol exhibits anti-cancer activity against human prostate cancer cells. Treatment of cells with triol dose-dependently suppressed proliferation of LNCaP CDXR-3, DU-145, and PC-3 human prostate cancer cells and reduced colony formation in soft agar. Oral administration of triol at 20 mg/kg daily for three weeks significantly retarded the growth of PC-3 xenografts in nude mice. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that triol treatment at 10–40 µM caused G1 cell cycle arrest while the TUNEL assay indicated that triol treatment at 20–40 µM induced apoptosis in all three cell lines. Micro-Western Arrays and traditional Western blotting methods indicated that triol treatment resulted in reduced expression of Akt1, phospho-Akt Ser473, phospho-Akt Thr308, PDK1, c-Myc, and Skp2 protein levels as well as accumulation of the cell cycle inhibitor p27Kip. Triol treatment also resulted in reduced Akt1 protein expression in PC-3 xenografts. Overexpression of Skp2 in PC-3 cells partially rescued the growth inhibition caused by triol. Triol treatment suppressed migration and invasion of DU-145, PC-3, and CDXR-3 cells. The expression levels of proteins associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition as well as focal adhesion kinase were affected by triol treatment in these cells. Triol treatment caused increased expression of E-cadherin protein levels but decreased expression of N-cadherin, vimentin, Slug, FAK, phospho-FAK Ser722, and phospho-FAK Tyr861 protein levels. Confocal laser microscopy revealed redistribution of β-actin and α-tubulin at the periphery of the CDXR-3 and DU-145 cells. Our observations suggest that triol may represent a promising therapeutic agent for advanced metastatic prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3681800  PMID: 23785446
17.  Antithrombin Regulates Matriptase Activity Involved in Plasmin Generation, Syndecan Shedding, and HGF Activation in Keratinocytes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62826.
Matriptase, a membrane-associated serine protease, plays an essential role in epidermal barrier function through activation of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored serine protease prostasin. The matriptase-prostasin proteolytic cascade is tightly regulated by hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor (HAI)-1 such that matriptase autoactivation and prostasin activation occur simultaneously and are followed immediately by the inhibition of both enzymes by HAI-1. However, the mechanisms whereby matriptase acts on extracellular substrates remain elusive. Here we report that some active matriptase can escape HAI-1 inhibition by being rapidly shed from the cell surface. In the pericellular environment, shed active matriptase is able to activate hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), accelerate plasminogen activation, and shed syndecan 1. The amount of active matriptase shed is inversely correlated with the amount of antithrombin (AT) bound to the surface of the keratinocytes. Binding of AT to the surface of keratinocytes is dependent on a functional heparin binding site, Lys-125, and that the N-glycosylation site Asn-135 be unglycosylated. This suggests that β-AT, and not α-AT, is responsible for regulation of pericellular matriptase activity in keratinocytes. Keratinocytes appear to rely on AT to regulate the level of pericellular active matriptase much more than breast and prostate epithelial cells in which AT regulation of matriptase activity occurs at much lower levels than keratinocytes. These results suggest that keratinocytes employ two distinct serine protease inhibitors to control the activation and processing of two different sets of matriptase substrates leading to different biological events: 1) HAI-1 for prostasin activation/inhibition, and 2) AT for the pericellular proteolysis involved in HGF activation, accelerating plasminogen activation, and shedding of syndecans.
PMCID: PMC3652837  PMID: 23675430
18.  Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester Suppresses Proliferation and Survival of TW2.6 Human Oral Cancer Cells via Inhibition of Akt Signaling 
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is a bioactive component extracted from honeybee hive propolis. Our observations indicated that CAPE treatment suppressed cell proliferation and colony formation of TW2.6 human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells dose-dependently. CAPE treatment decreased G1 phase cell population, increased G2/M phase cell population, and induced apoptosis in TW2.6 cells. Treatment with CAPE decreased protein abundance of Akt, Akt1, Akt2, Akt3, phospho-Akt Ser473, phospho-Akt Thr 308, GSK3β, FOXO1, FOXO3a, phospho-FOXO1 Thr24, phospho-FoxO3a Thr32, NF-κB, phospho-NF-κB Ser536, Rb, phospho-Rb Ser807/811, Skp2, and cyclin D1, but increased cell cycle inhibitor p27Kip. Overexpression of Akt1 or Akt2 in TW2.6 cells rescued growth inhibition caused by CAPE treatment. Co-treating TW2.6 cells with CAPE and 5-fluorouracil, a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug for oral cancers, exhibited additive cell proliferation inhibition. Our study suggested that administration of CAPE is a potential adjuvant therapy for patients with OSCC oral cancer.
PMCID: PMC3676757  PMID: 23615471
oral cancer; caffeic acid phenethyl ester; TW2.6; cell proliferation; cell cycle; Akt; Akt1; Akt2; phospho-Akt Ser473; phospho-Akt Thr 308; FOXO1; FOXO3a; phospho-FOXO1 Thr24; phospho-FoxO3a Thr32; NF-κB; phospho-NF-κB Ser536; Rb; phospho-Rb Ser807/811; Skp2; cyclin D1; p27; 5-fluorouracil
19.  Cadmium Induces Apoptosis in Pancreatic β-Cells through a Mitochondria-Dependent Pathway: The Role of Oxidative Stress-Mediated c-Jun N-Terminal Kinase Activation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e54374.
Cadmium (Cd), one of well-known highly toxic environmental and industrial pollutants, causes a number of adverse health effects and diseases in humans. The growing epidemiological studies have suggested a possible link between Cd exposure and diabetes mellitus (DM). However, the toxicological effects and underlying mechanisms of Cd-induced pancreatic β-cell injury are still unknown. In this study, we found that Cd significantly decreased cell viability, and increased sub-G1 hypodiploid cells and annexin V-Cy3 binding in pancreatic β-cell-derived RIN-m5F cells. Cd also increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and malondialdehyde (MDA) production and induced mitochondrial dysfunction (the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and the increase of cytosolic cytochrome c release), the decreased Bcl-2 expression, increased p53 expression, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, and caspase cascades, which accompanied with intracellular Cd accumulation. Pretreatment with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) effectively reversed these Cd-induced events. Furthermore, exposure to Cd induced the phosphorylations of c-jun N-terminal kinases (JNK), extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK)1/2, and p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), which was prevented by NAC. Additionally, the specific JNK inhibitor SP600125 or JNK-specific small interference RNA (si-RNA) transfection suppressed Cd-induced β-cell apoptosis and related signals, but not ERK1/2 and p38-MAPK inhibitors (PD98059 and SB203580) did not. However, the JNK inhibitor or JNK-specific si-RNA did not suppress ROS generation in Cd-treated cells. These results indicate that Cd induces pancreatic β-cell death via an oxidative stress downstream-mediated JNK activation-triggered mitochondria-regulated apoptotic pathway.
PMCID: PMC3566170  PMID: 23405080
20.  Targeting zymogen activation to control the matriptase-prostasin proteolytic cascade 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(21):7567-7578.
Membrane-associated serine protease matriptase has been implicated in human diseases, and might be a drug target. In the present study, a novel class of matriptase inhibitors targeting zymogen activation is developed by a combination of the screening of compound library using a cell-based matriptase activation assay and a computer-aided search of commercially available analogs of a selected compound. Four structurally related compounds are identified that can inhibit matriptase activation with IC50 at low μM in both intact-cell and cell-free systems, suggesting that these inhibitors target the matriptase autoactivation machinery rather than the intracellular signaling pathways. These activation inhibitors can also inhibit prostasin activation, a downstream event that occurs in lockstep with matriptase activation. In contrast, the matriptase catalytic inhibitor CVS-3983 at a concentration 300-fold higher than its Ki fails to inhibit activation of either protease. Our results suggest that inhibiting matriptase activation is an efficient way to control matriptase function.
PMCID: PMC3214968  PMID: 21966950
21.  Krüppel-Like Factor 4, a Tumor Suppressor in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Reverts Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition by Suppressing Slug Expression 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43593.
Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a zinc-finger transcription factor that plays an important role in differentiation and pathogenesis. KLF4 has been suggested to act as an oncogene or tumor suppressor in different tumor types. However, the role of KLF4 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that forced expression of Klf4 in murine HCC cell lines reduced anchorage-independent growth in soft agar as well as cell migration and invasion activities in vitro. Ectopic Klf4 expression impaired subcutaneous tumor growth and lung colonization in vivo. By contrast, Klf4 knockdown enhanced HCC cell migration. Interestingly, ectopic expression of Klf4 changed the morphology of murine HCC cells to a more epithelial phenotype. Associated with this, we found that expression of Slug, a critical epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related transcription factor, was significantly down-regulated in Klf4-expressing cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and luciferase reporter assays showed that Klf4 is able to bind and repress the activity of the Slug promoter. Furthermore, ectopic Slug expression partially reverts the Klf4-mediated phenotypes. Consistent with a role as a tumor suppressor in HCC, analysis of the public microarray databases from Oncomine revealed reduced KLF4 expression in human HCC tissues in comparison with normal liver tissues in 3 out of 4 data sets. By quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), we found reduced KLF4 mRNA in 50% of HCC tissues. Importantly, an inverse correlation between the expression of KLF4 and SLUG was found in HCC tissues. Our data suggest that KLF4 acts as a tumor suppressor in HCC cells, in part by suppressing SLUG transcription.
PMCID: PMC3427336  PMID: 22937066
22.  Mercuric Compounds Induce Pancreatic Islets Dysfunction and Apoptosis in Vivo 
Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is an environmental and industrial pollutant throughout the world. Mercury exposure leads to many physiopathological injuries in mammals. However, the precise toxicological effects of mercury on pancreatic islets in vivo are still unclear. Here, we investigated whether mercuric compounds can induce dysfunction and damage in the pancreatic islets of mice, as well as the possible mechanisms involved in this process. Mice were treated with methyl mercuric chloride (MeHgCl, 2 mg/kg) and mercuric chloride (HgCl2, 5 mg/kg) for more than 2 consecutive weeks. Our results showed that the blood glucose levels increased and plasma insulin secretions decreased in the mice as a consequence of their exposure. A significant number of TUNEL-positive cells were revealed in the islets of mice that were treated with mercury for 2 consecutive weeks, which was accompanied by changes in the expression of the mRNA of anti-apoptotic (Bcl-2, Mcl-1, and Mdm-2) and apoptotic (p53, caspase-3, and caspase-7) genes. Moreover, plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) levels increased significantly in the mice after treatment with mercuric compounds for 2 consecutive weeks, and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the pancreatic islets also markedly increased. In addition, the mRNA expression of genes related to antioxidation, including Nrf2, GPx, and NQO1, were also significantly reduced in these islets. These results indicate that oxidative stress injuries that are induced by mercuric compounds can cause pancreatic islets dysfunction and apoptosis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3497276  PMID: 23202902
mercuric compounds; pancreatic islets; oxidative stress; apoptosis
23.  Analgesic and Antiinflammatory Activities of the Aqueous Extract from Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng. Both In Vitro and In Vivo 
Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng. is a native Labiatae plant of Taiwan. The plants are commonly used in Chinese folk medicine for the treatment of cough, fever, sore throats, mumps, and mosquito bite. The aim of this study was to investigate the analgesic and antiinflammatory properties of the aqueous extract from Plectranthus amboinicus (PA) in vivo and in vitro. PA inhibited pain induced by acetic acid and formalin, and inflammation induced by carrageenan. The anti-inflammatory effect of PA was related to modulating antioxidant enzymes' activities in the liver and decreasing the Malondialdehyde (MDA) level and the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and cyclooxygenase2 (COX-2) in edema-paw tissue in mice. In vitro studies show that PA inhibited the proinflammatory mediators in RAW 264.7 cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). PA blocked the degradation of IκB-α and nuclear translocation of NF-κB p65 subunit. Finally, the amount of carvacrol in the aqueous extract of PA was 1.88 mg/g extract. Our findings suggest that PA has analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities. These effects were mediated by inhibiting the proinflammatory mediators through blocking NF-κB activation. Meanwhile, the effects observed in this study provide evidence for folkloric uses of Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng. in relieving pain and inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3170901  PMID: 21915187
24.  Arsenic Inhibits Myogenic Differentiation and Muscle Regeneration 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(7):949-956.
The incidence of low birth weights is increased in offspring of women who are exposed to high concentrations of arsenic in drinking water compared with other women. We hypothesized that effects of arsenic on birth weight may be related to effects on myogenic differentiation.
We investigated the effects of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) on the myogenic differentiation of myoblasts in vitro and muscle regeneration in vivo.
C2C12 myoblasts and primary mouse and human myoblasts were cultured in differentiation media with or without As2O3 (0.1–0.5 μM) for 4 days. Myogenic differentiation was assessed by myogenin and myosin heavy chain expression and multinucleated myotube formation in vitro; skeletal muscle regeneration was tested using an in vivo mouse model with experimental glycerol myopathy.
A submicromolar concentration of As2O3 dose-dependently inhibited myogenic differentiation without apparent effects on cell viability. As2O3 significantly and dose-dependently decreased phosphorylation of Akt and p70s6k proteins during myogenic differentiation. As2O3-induced inhibition in myotube formation and muscle-specific protein expression was reversed by transfection with the constitutively active form of Akt. Sections of soleus muscles stained with hematoxylin and eosin showed typical changes of injury and regeneration after local glycerol injection in mice. Regeneration of glycerol-injured soleus muscles, myogenin expression, and Akt phosphorylation were suppressed in muscles isolated from As2O3-treated mice compared with untreated mice.
Our results suggest that As2O3 inhibits myogenic differentiation by inhibiting Akt-regulated signaling.
PMCID: PMC2920914  PMID: 20299303
Akt signaling; arsenic trioxide; myogenic differentiation
25.  Differential Roles of Insulin-like Growth Factor Receptor- and Insulin Receptor-mediated Signaling in the Phenotypes of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2009;11(9):835-845.
Intrahepatic and extrahepatic metastases are common findings in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) expression is frequently induced in HCC, and serum IGF2 levels correlate with the presence of extrahepatic metastases. Yet, the role of IGF-induced signaling in the dissemination of HCC remains unclear. We have previously observed elevated IGF2 levels in tumors with metastatic potential in an HCC mouse model. Here, we demonstrate that inhibition of IGF2, or its receptor IGF1R, impairs the migration and invasion activities of murine HCC cells. Furthermore, inhibition of IGF1R also impairs the ability of HCC cells to colonize the lungs after introduction into the circulation through the tail vein but does not impair subcutaneous tumor growth. Collectively, these findings suggest that IGF1R-mediated signaling plays a causative role in tumor dissemination but is not required for tumor growth per se. Although previous studies indicate that IGF ligands can signal through IGF1R/insulin receptor (IR) heterodimers, and IR-A homodimers, we demonstrate that the IR is not required for invasion and metastasis by HCC cells. Finally, we identify matrix metalloproteinase 2 as a mediator of the invasive phenotype downstream of IGF1R-induced signaling. Thus, our studies demonstrate the importance of IGF2-induced signaling in the dissemination of HCC cells.
PMCID: PMC2735682  PMID: 19724677

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