Metastasis in medulloblastoma (MB) is associated with poor survival. Recent genetic studies revealed MB to comprise distinct molecular subgroups, including the sonic hedgehog (SHH) subgroup that exhibits a relatively high rate of progression. To identify targeted therapeutics against metastasis, a better understanding of the regulation of MB cell migration is needed. G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) have been implicated in cancer metastasis through their regulation of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) involved in growth factor (GF)-mediated cell migration. However, the specific roles and regulation of GRKs in MB have not been investigated.
Microarray mRNA analysis was performed for GRKs, GPCRs, and GFs in 29 human MB, and real time RT-PCR was used to detect GRK6 expression in MB cells. Lenti- or retro-virus infection, and siRNA or shRNA transfection, of MB cells was used to overexpress and knockdown target genes, respectively. Western blot was used to confirm altered expression of proteins. The effect of altered target protein on cell migration was determined by Boyden chamber assay and xCELLigence migration assays.
We observed co-overexpression of PDGFRA, CXCR4, and CXCL12 in the SHH MB subtype compared to non-SHH MB (5, 7, and 5-fold higher, respectively). GRK6, which typically acts as a negative regulator of CXCR4 signaling, is downregulated in MB, relative to other GRKs, while the percentage of GRK6 expression is lower in MB tumors with metastasis (22%), compared to those without metastasis (43%). In SHH-responsive MB cells, functional blockade of PDGFR abolished CXCR4-mediated signaling. shPDGFR transfected MB cells demonstrated increased GRK6 expression, while PDGF or 10% FBS treatment of native MB cells reduced the stability of GRK6 by inducing its proteosomal degradation. Overexpression or downregulation of Src, a key mediator of GF receptor/PDGFR signaling, similarly inhibited or induced GRK6 expression, respectively. siRNA downregulation of GRK6 enhanced CXCR4 signaling and promoted MB migration, while lentiviral-GRK6 overexpression suppressed CXCR4 signaling, potentiated the effect of AMD3100, a CXCR4 antagonist, and impaired migration.
Our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism of GF receptor/PDGFR-Src-mediated dysregulation of CXCR4 signaling that promotes MB cell migration, which could potentially be exploited for therapeutic targeting in SHH MB.
GRK6; CXCR4; Growth factor receptor; PDGFR; Src; Medullobastoma
New therapies are urgently needed for patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Chemotherapy and targeted therapies, including the Bcl-2 inhibitor ABT-737, may induce tumor cell autophagy. Autophagy can promote survival of cancer cells under stress and comprise a pathway of escape from cytotoxic therapies.
We explored the combination of ABT-737 and chloroquine, an inhibitor of autophagy, in preclinical models of SCLC. These included cell culture analyses of viability and of autophagic and apoptotic pathway induction, as well as in vivo analyses of efficacy in multiple xenograft models.
Combination treatment of SCLC lines with ABT-737 and chloroquine decreased viability and increased caspase-3 activation over treatment with either single agent. ABT-737 induced several hallmarks of autophagy. However, knockdown of beclin-1, a key regulator of entry into autophagy, diminished the efficacy of ABT-737, suggesting either that the effects of chloroquine were nonspecific or that induction but not completion of autophagy is necessary for the combined effect of ABT-737 and chloroquine. ABT-737 and chloroquine in SCLC cell lines downregulated Mcl-1 and upregulated NOXA, both of which may promote apoptosis. Treatment of tumor-bearing mice demonstrated that chloroquine could enhance ABT-737-mediated tumor growth inhibition against NCI-H209 xenografts, but did not alter ABT-737 response in three primary patient-derived xenograft models.
These data suggest that although ABT-737 can induce autophagy in SCLC, autophagic inhibition by choroquine does not markedly alter in vivo response to ABT-737 in relevant preclinical models, arguing against this as a treatment strategy for SCLC.
Autophagy; Apoptosis; ABT-737; Chloroquine; Primary xenograft
As 2013 commences I would like to take a moment to reflect and recognize the peer reviewers that made the previous year possible. Listed below are those people who reviewed for Molecular Cancer last year. All are generous individuals who donated their time to assessing and improving our authors’ submissions. Your combined efforts have been invaluable to the editorial staff in maintaining the continued success of the journal in the Open Access forum.
The editors of Molecular Cancer would like to thank all the reviewers who contributed to the journal in Volume 11 (2012) by participating in the review process - taking time out of your busy schedules and even to volunteer - without your critical insights, hard work and support for the journal we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.
Peripheral serotonin is involved in tumorigenesis and induces a pro-proliferative effect in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells; however, the intracellular mechanisms by which serotonin exerts a mitogenic effect remain unclear. In this research, we examined whether FOXO3a, a transcription factor at the interface of crucial cellular processes, plays a role downstream of serotonin in HCC cells.
The cell viability and expression of FOXO3a was assessed in three HCC cell lines (Huh7, HepG2 and Hep3B) during serum deprivation in the presence or absence of serotonin. Serum free media significantly inhibited HCC proliferation and led to reduced expression and nuclear accumulation of FOXO3a. Knockdown of FOXO3a enhanced the ability of serum deprivation to inhibit HCC cells proliferation. And overexpression of non-phosphorylated FOXO3a in HCC cells reversed serum-deprivation-induced growth inhibition. Serotonin reversed the serum-deprivation-induced inhibition of cell proliferation and upregulated FOXO3a in Huh7 cells; however, serotonin had no effect on the proliferation of serum-deprived HepG2 or Hep3B cells. In addition to proliferation, serotonin also induced phosphorylation of AKT and FOXO3a in serum-deprived Huh7 cells but not in HepG2 and Hep3B cells. However, the phosphorylation of FOXO3a induced by serotonin did not export FOXO3a from nucleus to cytoplasm in serum-deprived Huh7 cells. Consequently, we demonstrated that serotonin promoted the proliferation of Huh7 cells by increasing the expression of FOXO3a. We also provide preliminary evidence that different expression levels of the 5-HT2B receptor (5-HT2BR) may contribute to the distinct effects of serotonin in different serum-deprived HCC cells.
This study demonstrates that FOXO3a functions as a growth factor in serum-deprived HCC cells and serotonin promotes the proliferation of serum-deprived HCC cells via upregulation of FOXO3a, in the presence of sufficient levels of the serotonin receptor 5-HT2BR. Drugs targeting the serotonin-5-HT2BR-FOXO3a pathway may provide a novel target for anticancer therapy.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Serotonin; FOXO3a; 5-HT2B receptor; Cell proliferation
Palytoxin (PTX), a marine toxin isolated from the Cnidaria (zooanthid) Palythoa caribaeorum is one of the most potent non-protein substances known. It is a very complex molecule that presents both lipophilic and hydrophilic areas. The effect of PTX was investigated in a series of experiments conducted in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines and xenografts.
Materials and methods
Cell viability, and gene expression of the sodium/potassium-transporting ATPase subumit alpha1 (ATP1AL1) and GAPDH were analyzed in HNSCC cells and normal epithelial cells after treatment with PTX using cytotoxicity-, clonogenic-, and enzyme inhibitor assays as well as RT-PCR and Northern Blotting. For xenograft experiments severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice were used to analyze tumor regression. The data were statistically analyzed using One-Way Annova (SPSS vs20).
Significant toxic effects were observed in tumor cells treated with PTX (LD50 of 1.5 to 3.5 ng/ml) in contrast to normal cells. In tumor cells PTX affected both the release of LDH and the expression of the sodium/potassium-transporting ATPase subunit alpha1 gene suggesting loss of cellular integrity, primarily of the plasma membrane. Furthermore, strong repression of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase 3 (JNK3) mRNA expression was found in carcinoma cells which correlated with enhanced toxicity of PTX suggesting an essential role of the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK)/JNK signalling cascades pathway in the mechanisms of HNSCC cell resistance to PTX. In mice inoculated with carcinoma cells, injections of PTX into the xenografted tumors resulted within 24 days in extensive tumor destruction in 75% of the treated animals (LD50 of 68 ng/kg to 83 ng/kg) while no tumor regression occurred in control animals.
These results clearly provide evidence that PTX possesses preferential toxicity for head and neck carcinoma cells and therefore it is worth further studying its impact which may extend our knowledge of the biology of head and neck cancer.
Palytoxin; Anti-tumoral effect; Head and neck carcinoma; Xenografts; JNK3
The continued discovery of therapeutic antibodies, which address unmet medical needs, requires the continued discovery of tractable antibody targets. Multiple protein-level target discovery approaches are available and these can be used in combination to extensively survey relevant cell membranomes. In this study, the MDA-MB-231 cell line was selected for membranome survey as it is a ‘triple negative’ breast cancer cell line, which represents a cancer subtype that is aggressive and has few treatment options.
The MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cell line was used to explore three membranome target discovery approaches, which were used in parallel to cross-validate the significance of identified antigens. A proteomic approach, which used membrane protein enrichment followed by protein identification by mass spectrometry, was used alongside two phenotypic antibody screening approaches. The first phenotypic screening approach was based on hybridoma technology and the second was based on phage display technology. Antibodies isolated by the phenotypic approaches were tested for cell specificity as well as internalisation and the targets identified were compared to each other as well as those identified by the proteomic approach. An anti-CD73 antibody derived from the phage display-based phenotypic approach was tested for binding to other ‘triple negative’ breast cancer cell lines and tested for tumour growth inhibitory activity in a MDA-MB-231 xenograft model.
All of the approaches identified multiple cell surface markers, including integrins, CD44, EGFR, CD71, galectin-3, CD73 and BCAM, some of which had been previously confirmed as being tractable to antibody therapy. In total, 40 cell surface markers were identified for further study. In addition to cell surface marker identification, the phenotypic antibody screening approaches provided reagent antibodies for target validation studies. This is illustrated using the anti-CD73 antibody, which bound other ‘triple negative’ breast cancer cell lines and produced significant tumour growth inhibitory activity in a MDA-MB-231 xenograft model.
This study has demonstrated that multiple methods are required to successfully analyse the membranome of a desired cell type. It has also successfully demonstrated that phenotypic antibody screening provides a mechanism for rapidly discovering and evaluating antibody tractable targets, which can significantly accelerate the therapeutic discovery process.
Phage display; Hybridoma; Antibody; Phenotypic screening; Membranome; CD73
To clarify the implications of cell-free nucleic acids (cfNA) in the plasma in neoplastic disease, it is necessary to determine the kinetics of their release into the circulation.
To quantify non-tumor and tumor DNA and RNA in the plasma of tumor-bearing rats and to correlate such levels with tumor progression, we injected DHD/K12-PROb colon cancer cells subcutaneously into syngenic BD-IX rats. Rats were sacrificed and their plasma was analyzed from the first to the eleventh week after inoculation.
The release of large amounts of non-tumor DNA into plasma was related to tumor development from its early stages. Tumor-specific DNA was detected in 33% of tumor-bearing rats, starting from the first week after inoculation and at an increasing frequency thereafter. Animals that were positive for tumor DNA in the plasma had larger tumors than those that were negative (p = 0.0006). However, the appearance of both mutated and non-mutated DNA fluctuated with time and levels of both were scattered among individuals in each group. The release of non-tumor mRNA was unaffected by tumor progression and we did not detect mutated RNA sequences in any animals.
The release of normal and tumor cfDNA into plasma appeared to be related to individual-specific factors. The contribution of tumor DNA to the elevated levels of plasma DNA was intermittent. The release of RNA into plasma during cancer progression appeared to be an even more selective and elusive phenomenon than that of DNA.
Cell-free nucleic acids; Plasma; Quantitation; Tumor size; Metastasis
Estrogen receptor-α (ERα)-negative breast cancer is clinically aggressive and normally does not respond to conventional estrogen target-directed therapies. The soybean isoflavone, genistein (GE), has been shown to prevent and inhibit breast cancer and recent studies have suggested that GE can enhance the anticancer capacity of an estrogen antagonist, tamoxifen (TAM), especially in ERα-positive breast cancer cells. However, the role of GE in ERα-negative breast cancer remains unknown.
We have evaluated the in vitro and in vivo epigenetic effects of GE on ERα reactivation by using MTT assay, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, western-blot assay, immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay, immunohistochemistry and epigenetic enzymatic activity analysis. Preclinical mouse models including xenograft and spontaneous breast cancer mouse models were used to test the efficacy of GE in vivo.
We found that GE can reactivate ERα expression and this effect was synergistically enhanced when combined with a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, trichostatin A (TSA), in ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. GE treatment also re-sensitized ERα-dependent cellular responses to activator 17β-estradiol (E2) and antagonist TAM. Further studies revealed that GE can lead to remodeling of the chromatin structure in the ERα promoter thereby contributing to ERα reactivation. Consistently, dietary GE significantly prevented cancer development and reduced the growth of ERα-negative mouse breast tumors. Dietary GE further enhanced TAM-induced anti-cancer efficacy due at least in part to epigenetic ERα reactivation.
Our studies suggest that soybean genistein can epigenetically restore ERα expression, which in turn increases TAM-dependent anti-estrogen therapeutic sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. The results from our studies reveal a novel therapeutic combination approach using bioactive soybean product and anti-hormone therapy in refractory ERα-negative breast cancer which will provide more effective options in breast cancer therapy.
Genistein; ERα; Tamoxifen; Epigenetic; Breast cancer
NUP98 gene rearrangements have been reported in acute myeloid leukemia, giving rise to fusion proteins that seem to function as aberrant transcription factors, and are thought to be associated with poor prognosis.
A patient with treatment-related acute myeloid leukemia presented a t(3;11)(p11;p15) as the only cytogenetic abnormality. FISH and molecular genetic analyses identified a class 1 homeobox gene, POU1F1, located on chromosome 3p11, as the fusion partner of NUP98. In addition, we have found that the patient harbored an FLT3-ITD mutation, which most likely collaborated with the NUP98-POU1F1 fusion gene in malignant transformation.
We have identified POU1F1 as the NUP98 fusion partner in therapy-related AML with a t(3;11)(p11;p15). This is the first POU family member identified as a fusion partner in human cancer.
NUP98 gene; NP98-POU1F1; Gene fusion; Acute leukemia
During metaphase clathrin stabilises the mitotic spindle kinetochore(K)-fibres. Many anti-mitotic compounds target microtubule dynamics. Pitstop 2™ is the first small molecule inhibitor of clathrin terminal domain and inhibits clathrin-mediated endocytosis. We investigated its effects on a second function for clathrin in mitosis.
Pitstop 2 did not impair clathrin recruitment to the spindle but disrupted its function once stationed there. Pitstop 2 trapped HeLa cells in metaphase through loss of mitotic spindle integrity and activation of the spindle assembly checkpoint, phenocopying clathrin depletion and aurora A kinase inhibition.
Pitstop 2 is therefore a new tool for investigating clathrin spindle dynamics. Pitstop 2 reduced viability in dividing HeLa cells, without affecting dividing non-cancerous NIH3T3 cells, suggesting that clathrin is a possible novel anti-mitotic drug target.
Clathrin; Pitstop; Spindle assembly checkpoint; Metaphase; Cell death; Cancer
One key step in the development of prostate cancer (PCa) metastasis is the loss of E-cadherin expression associated with increased cellular motility and tumor invasion. This loss of E-cadherin expression is also required during normal embryogenesis and similar transcriptional repressors have been identified in both processes. We have previously reported the presence of one such transcription factor, WT1 in high Gleason grade prostate tumor tissues, and its absence in non-neoplastic or benign prostatic hyperplasia tissues.
To better understand the effect of WT1 on E-cadherin expression and migration of PCa cells we quantified WT1 and E-cadherin mRNA levels in normal prostate epithelial and PCa cell lines with varying migratory potential. In WT1 transfected cells E-cadherin transcript levels were decreased, while they were increased in siWT1-RNA transfected PCa cells, suggesting that elevated WT1 expression was sufficient to dampen E-cadherin levels and potentially enhance migratory ability. To delineate the mechanism of WT1-mediated repression of E-cadherin, potential WT1 binding sites were tested in vitro and in vivo binding of WT1 to the E-cadherin promoter in the chromatin of LNCaP and PC3 cells was assessed by Chromatin Immunoprecipitation. The effect of WT1 binding was measured in reporter assays; in PC3 and DU145 cells WT1 decreased the activity of the proximal E-cadherin promoter. Using site-directed mutagenesis, a newly identified WT1 binding site located 146 bp from the transcription start site was shown to be required for this repression by WT1. Transwell migration and wound healing assays revealed that in LNCaP cells with low migratory potential, over-expression of WT1 was sufficient to enhance migration, conversely, in the highly migratory PC3 cells silencing of WT1 decreased migration.
These findings suggested that WT1 expression in high grade prostate cancer may contribute to migration and metastasis. Thus, in prostate cancer WT1 may function as a novel oncogene facilitating development of the lethal metastatic phenotype.
WT1; E-cadherin; Prostate cancer; Migration; Metastasis
ADAMTS-1 (a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs) is a member of the ADAMTS family of metalloproteases. Here, we investigated mRNA and protein levels of ADAMTS-1 in normal and neoplastic tissues using qPCR, immunohistochemistry and immunoblot analyses, and we addressed the role of ADAMTS-1 in regulating migration, invasion and invadopodia formation in breast tumor cell lines.
In a series of primary breast tumors, we observed variable levels of ADAMTS-1 mRNA expression but lower levels of ADAMTS-1 protein expression in human breast cancers as compared to normal tissue, with a striking decrease observed in high-malignancy cases (triple-negative for estrogen, progesterone and Her-2). This result prompted us to analyze the effect of ADAMTS-1 knockdown in breast cancer cells in vitro. MDA-MB-231 cells with depleted ADAMTS-1 expression demonstrated increased migration, invasion and invadopodia formation. The regulatory mechanisms underlying the effects of ADAMTS-1 may be related to VEGF, a growth factor involved in migration and invasion. MDA-MB-231 cells with depleted ADAMTS-1 showed increased VEGF concentrations in conditioned medium capable of inducing human endothelial cells (HUVEC) tubulogenesis. Furthermore, expression of the VEGF receptor (VEGFR2) was increased in MDA-MB-231 cells as compared to MCF7 cells. To further determine the relationship between ADAMTS-1 and VEGF regulating breast cancer cells, MDA-MB-231 cells with reduced expression of ADAMTS-1 were pretreated with a function-blocking antibody against VEGF and then tested in migration and invasion assays; both were partially rescued to control levels.
ADAMTS-1 expression was decreased in human breast tumors, and ADAMTS-1 knockdown stimulated migration, invasion and invadopodia formation in breast cancer cells in vitro. Therefore, this series of experiments suggests that VEGF is involved in the effects mediated by ADAMTS-1 in breast cancer cells.
ADAMTS-1; Breast cancer; Migration; Invasion; VEGF
Prevalence of colorectal cancer (CRC) in the British Bangladeshi population (BAN) is low compared to British Caucasians (CAU). Genetic background may influence mutations and disease features.
We characterized the clinicopathological features of BAN CRCs and interrogated their genomes using mutation profiling and high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays and compared findings to CAU CRCs.
Age of onset of BAN CRC was significantly lower than for CAU patients (p=3.0 x 10-5) and this difference was not due to Lynch syndrome or the polyposis syndromes. KRAS mutations in BAN microsatellite stable (MSS) CRCs were comparatively rare (5.4%) compared to CAU MSS CRCs (25%; p=0.04), which correlates with the high percentage of mucinous histotype observed (31%) in the BAN samples. No BRAF mutations was seen in our BAN MSS CRCs (CAU CRCs, 12%; p=0.08). Array data revealed similar patterns of gains (chromosome 7 and 8q), losses (8p, 17p and 18q) and LOH (4q, 17p and 18q) in BAN and CAU CRCs. A small deletion on chromosome 16p13.2 involving the alternative splicing factor RBFOX1 only was found in significantly more BAN (50%) than CAU CRCs (15%) cases (p=0.04). Focal deletions targeting the 5’ end of the gene were also identified. Novel RBFOX1 mutations were found in CRC cell lines and tumours; mRNA and protein expression was reduced in tumours.
KRAS mutations were rare in BAN MSS CRC and a mucinous histotype common. Loss of RBFOX1 may explain the anomalous splicing activity associated with CRC.
Colorectal cancer; Genome analysis; British Bangladeshi; RBFOX1; KRAS; BRAF
The CCAAT/enhancer binding proteins (C/EBPs) play important roles in carcinogenesis of many tumors including the lung. Since multiple C/EBPs are expressed in lung, the combinatorial expression of these C/EBPs on lung carcinogenesis is not known.
A transgenic mouse line expressing a dominant negative A-C/EBP under the promoter of lung epithelial Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP) gene in doxycycline dependent fashion was subjected to 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)-induced lung carcinogenesis bioassay in the presence and absence of doxycycline, and the effect of abolition of DNA binding activities of C/EBPs on lung carcinogenesis was examined.
A-C/EBP expression was found not to interfere with tumor development; however, it suppressed the malignant conversion of adenoma to carcinoma during NNK-induced lung carcinogenesis. The results suggested that Ki67 may be used as a marker for lung carcinomas in mouse.
The DNA binding of C/EBP family members can be used as a potential molecular target for lung cancer therapy.
C/EBPs; Lung chemical carcinogenesis bioassay; Dominant negative; A-C/EBP; Transgenic mouse; 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone; NNK
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an established target for anti-cancer treatment in different tumour types. Two different strategies have been explored to inhibit this pivotal molecule in epithelial cancer development: small molecules TKIs and monoclonal antibodies. ErbB/HER-targeting by monoclonal antibodies such as cetuximab and trastuzumab or tyrosine-kinase inhibitors as gefitinib or erlotinib has been proven effective in the treatment of advanced NSCLC.
In this study we explored the potential of combining either erlotinib with cetuximab or trastuzumab to improve the efficacy of EGFR targeted therapy in EGFR wild-type NSCLC cell lines. Erlotinib treatment was observed to increase EGFR and/or HER2 expression at the plasma membrane level only in NSCLC cell lines sensitive to the drug inducing protein stabilization. The combined treatment had marginal effect on cell proliferation but markedly increased antibody-dependent, NK mediated, cytotoxicity in vitro. Moreover, in the Calu-3 xenograft model, the combination significantly inhibited tumour growth when compared with erlotinib and cetuximab alone.
Our results indicate that erlotinib increases surface expression of EGFR and/or HER2 only in EGFR-TKI sensitive NSCLC cell lines and, in turns, leads to increased susceptibility to ADCC both in vitro and in a xenograft models. The combination of erlotinib with monoclonal antibodies represents a potential strategy to improve the treatment of wild-type EGFR NSCLC patients sensitive to erlotinib.
Lung cancer; EGFR; Erlotinib; Cetuximab; ADCC
Transgenes introduced into cancer cell lines serve as powerful tools for identification of genes involved in cancer. However, the random nature of genomic integration site of a transgene highly influences the fidelity, reliability and level of its expression. In order to alleviate this bottleneck, we characterized the potential utility of a novel PhiC31 integrase-mediated site-specific insertion system (PhiC31-IMSI) for introduction of transgenes into a pre-inserted docking site in the genome of cancer cells.
According to this system, a “docking-site” was first randomly inserted into human cancer cell lines and clones with a single copy were selected. Subsequently, an “incoming” vector containing the gene of interest was specifically inserted in the docking-site using PhiC31.
Using the Pc-3 and SKOV-3 cancer cell lines, we showed that transgene insertion is reproducible and reliable. Furthermore, the selection system ensured that all surviving stable transgenic lines harbored the correct integration site. We demonstrated that the expression levels of reporter genes, such as green fluorescent protein and luciferase, from the same locus were comparable among sister, isogenic clones. Using in vivo xenograft studies, we showed that the genetically altered cancer cell lines retain the properties of the parental line. To achieve temporal control of transgene expression, we coupled our insertion strategy with the doxycycline inducible system and demonstrated tight regulation of the expression of the antiangiogenic molecule sFlt-1-Fc in Pc-3 cells. Furthermore, we introduced the luciferase gene into the insertion cassette allowing for possible live imaging of cancer cells in transplantation assays. We also generated a series of Gateway cloning-compatible intermediate cassettes ready for high-throughput cloning of transgenes and demonstrated that PhiC31-IMSI can be achieved in a high throughput 96-well plate format.
The novel PhiC31-IMSI system described in this study represents a powerful tool that can facilitate the characterization of cancer-related genes.
PhiC31 integrase; Site-specific integration; Doxycycline-inducible
Pancreatic cancer is characterized by constitutive activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Activation of MAPK is associated with the upregulation of genes implicated in the proliferation and survival of pancreatic cancer cells. We hypothesized that knockdown of these MAPK-associated molecules could produce notable anticancer phenotypes.
A RNA interference-mediated knockdown screening of 78 MAPK-associated molecules previously identified was performed to find molecules specifically associated with proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro. Expression of an identified molecule in pancreatic cancer tissues was examined by immunohistochemistry. In vivo tumorigenicity of cancer cells with stable knockdown of the molecule was assayed by using xenograft models. Flow cytometry and live cell imaging were employed to assess an association of the molecule with cell cycle.
The knockdown screening revealed that knockdown of SON, the gene encoding SON, which is a large serine/arginine-rich protein involved in RNA processing, substantially suppressed pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and survival in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo. SON expression was higher in ductal adenocarcinomas than in cells of normal ducts and precursor lesions in pancreatic cancer tissues. Knockdown of SON induced G2/M arrest and apoptosis in cultured cancer cells. The suppressive effect of SON knockdown on proliferation was less pronounced in cultured normal duct epithelial cells. SON formed nuclear speckles in the interphase of the cell cycle and dispersed in the cytoplasm during mitosis. Live cell imaging showed that SON diffusely dispersed in the early mitotic phase, accumulated in some foci in the cytoplasm in the late mitotic phase, and gradually reassembled into speckles after mitosis.
These results indicate that SON plays a critical role in the proliferation, survival, and tumorigenicity of pancreatic cancer cells, suggesting that SON is a novel therapeutic molecular target for pancreatic cancer.
SON; MAPK; RNA interference; Speckle; Cell cycle
IL-1β is a pleiotropic pro-inflammatory cytokine and its up-regulation is closely associated with various cancers including gastrointestinal tumors. However, it remains unclear how IL-1β may contribute to the initiation and development of these inflammation-associated cancers. Here we investigated the role of IL-1β in colon cancer stem cell (CSC) development.
Using self-renewal assay, soft-agar assay, invasion assay, real-time PCR analysis, immunoblot assay and shRNA knockdown, we determined the effects of IL-1β on cancer stem cell development and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human primary colon cancer cells and colon cancer cell line HCT-116.
We found that IL-1β can increase sphere-forming capability of colon cancer cells in serum-free medium. IL-1β-induced spheres displayed an up-regulation of stemness factor genes (Bmi1 and Nestin) and increased drug resistance, hallmarks of CSCs. Importantly, expression of EMT activator Zeb1 was increased in IL-1β-induced spheres, indicating that there might be a close association between EMT and IL-1β-induced CSC self-renewal. Indeed, IL-1β treatment led to EMT of colon cancer cells with loss of E-cadherin, up-regulation of Zeb1, and gain of the mesenchymal phenotype. Furthermore, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Zeb1 in HCT-116 cells reversed IL-1β-induced EMT and stem cell formation.
Our findings indicate that IL-1β may promote colon tumor growth and invasion through activation of CSC self-renewal and EMT, and Zeb1 plays a critical role in these two processes. Thus, IL-1β and Zeb1 might be new therapeutic targets against colon cancer stem cells.
Colon cancer; Tumor microenvironment; Inflammation; Interleukin-1β; Cancer stem cells; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Zeb1
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide. Loss of imprinting (LOI) of the insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) gene is an epigenetic abnormality observed in human colorectal neoplasms. Our aim was to investigate the feasibility of using the IGF2 imprinting system for targeted gene therapy of colorectal cancer.
We constructed a novel oncolytic adenovirus, Ad315-E1A, and a replication-deficient recombinant adenovirus, Ad315-EGFP, driven by the IGF2 imprinting system by inserting the H19 promoter, CCCTC binding factor, enhancer, human adenovirus early region 1A (E1A) and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter gene into a pDC-315 shuttle plasmid. Cell lines with IGF2 LOI (HCT-8 and HT-29), which were infected with Ad315-EGFP, produced EGFP. However, no EGFP was produced in cell lines with maintenance of imprinting (HCT116 and GES-1). We found that Ad315-E1A significantly decreased cell viability and induced apoptosis only in LOI cell lines in vitro. In addition, mice bearing HCT-8-xenografted tumors, which received intratumoral administration of the oncolytic adenovirus, showed significantly reduced tumor growth and enhanced survival.
Our recombinant oncolytic virus targeting the IGF2 LOI system inhibits LOI cell growth in vitro and in vivo, and provides a novel approach for targeted gene therapy.
Genomic imprinting; IGF2; Oncolytic adenovirus; Colorectal cancer; Targeted therapy
Due to the frequent dysregulation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway, mTOR represents a suitable therapeutic target in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, emerging data from clinical trials of HCC patients indicate that mTOR inhibition by RAD001 (Everolimus) alone has only moderate antitumor efficacy which may be due to the feedback activation of AKT after mTOR inhibition. In this study, we analyzed the effects of dual inhibition of mTOR and AKT on the proliferation of HCC cell lines. In addition, we measured the feedback activation of each of the AKT isoforms after mTOR inhibition in HCC cell lines and their enzymatic activity in primary samples from HCC patients.
The activation status of specific AKT isoforms in human HCC samples and corresponding healthy liver tissue was analyzed using an AKT isoform specific in vitro kinase assay. AKT isoform activation after mTOR inhibition was analyzed in three HCC cell lines (Hep3B, HepG2 and Huh7), and the impact of AKT signaling on proliferation after mTOR inhibition was investigated using the novel AKT inhibitor MK-2206 and AKT isoform specific knockdown cells.
AKT isoforms become differentially activated during feedback activation following RAD001 treatment. The combination of mTOR inhibition and AKT isoform knockdown showed only a weak synergistic effect on proliferation of HCC cell lines. However, the combinatorial treatment with RAD001 and the pan AKT inhibitor MK-2206 resulted in a strong synergism, both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, by analyzing primary HCC tissue samples we were able to demonstrate that a hotspot mutation (H1047R) of PI3KCA, the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of PI3K, was associated with increased in vitro kinase activity of all AKT isoforms in comparison to healthy liver tissue of the patient.
Our results demonstrate that dual targeting of mTOR and AKT by use of RAD001 and the pan AKT inhibitor MK-2206 does effectively inhibit proliferation of HCC cell lines. These data suggest that combined treatment with RAD001 and MK-2206 may be a promising therapy approach in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; RAD001; MK-2206; Proliferation; AKT; AKT isoform kinase assay
Ascites may affect the progression of ovarian cancer (OC). In particular, soluble factors present in OC ascites can create a protective environment for tumor cells that promote de novo resistance to drug- and death receptor-induced apoptosis. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for ascites-induced drug resistance are not well characterized.
Using human OC cell lines and tissues microarrays of human OC biopsies, we assessed the mechanism by which OC ascites increase Mcl-1 expression using Western blots, chemical inhibitors of ERK and small-inhibitory RNA treatments.
In the present study, we found that both Mcl-1 mRNA and protein levels were upregulated within 2 h upon treatment of OC cells with ascites obtained from women with advanced OC. In contrast, the expression of other Bcl-2 family antiapoptotic members such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL was not affected by ascites. An increase of Mcl-1 expression was consistently observed across different ascites from women with advanced serous OC. The knockdown of Mcl-1 significantly blocked ascites-induced Mcl-1 upregulation and ascites-mediated inhibition of TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Ascites induced a rapid phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Elk-1 transcription factor. Furthermore, we found that ERK1/2 inhibition or Elk-1 knockdown was sufficient to block ascites-induced Mcl-1 expression. In high grade serous OC, we found a positive correlation between phosphorylated ERK1/2 and Mcl-1 expression.
These results indicate that ascites-induced ERK1/2/Elk-1 signaling is critical for Mcl-1 expression and for the ascites-mediated attenuation of TRAIL-induced apoptosis. The ERK1/2/Elk-1/Mcl-1 pathway represents a novel mechanism by which ascites induce de novo TRAIL resistance in OC cells.
Ovarian cancer; Resistance; Mcl-1; ERK1/2; TRAIL; Elk-1
CD44 is considered as ‘a’ metastasis associated gene, despite the fact that it is an umbrella term for a group of molecules produced from a single gene by alternative splicing. However, little consideration is given to the above in the literature of colorectal carcinomas as well as other tumour types, leading to confusion and contradictory results about its possible role in tumour progression.
We compared the CD44 alternative splice pattern (ASP) of three genetically different human colorectal cancer cell lines (HT25, HT29, HCT116) using a series of PCR reactions and next- generation sequencing method, as well as identified a colorectal adenocarcinoma specific CD44 ASP. This ASP was further investigated in terms of its qualitative and quantitative stability in our experimental iso- and xenograft mouse models for colorectal cancer progression. A complex preclinical experimental set-up was established to separately test the different steps of tumour progression and the role of tumour microenvironment, respectively, focusing on the role of ‘CD44’ in this process.
We managed to present a colorectal cancer-specific CD44 ASP, which remained unchanged from cell lines throughout primary tumour formation and metastatic progression. Furthermore, we report a unique roster of all expressed CD44 variant isoforms characteristic to colorectal cancer. Finally, on quantitative assessment of the variable exons v3 and v6, higher co-expression levels were found to be characteristic to metastatically potent tumour cells.
Particular CD44 variant isoforms seem to act as “metastasis genes” via tumour microenvironment-driven shifts in v3 and v6 expressions. However, this function may just affect a minority of tumour subclones. This fact and the huge potential number of different CD44 splice variants that can contain v3 and v6 domains can explain incoherence of clinical studies regarding functional asessment of CD44 variants, as well as diminish the chances of using CD44 variants for predictive purpose.
CD44; v3; v6; Alternative; Splicing; Metastasis; Colorectal; Cancer; Microenvironment
Despite continuous efforts to identify genes that are pivotal regulators of advanced melanoma and closely related to it, to determine which of these genes have to be blocked in their function to keep this highly aggressive disease in check, it is far from clear which molecular pathway(s) and specific genes therein, is the Achilles’ heel of primary and metastatic melanoma. In this report, we present data, which document that the DEAD-box helicase DDX11, which is required for sister chromatid cohesion, is a crucial gatekeeper for melanoma cell survival.
Performing immunohistochemistry and immunoblot analysis, we determined expression of DDX11 in melanoma tissues and cell lines. Following transfection of melanoma cells with a DDX11-specific siRNA, we conducted a qPCR analysis to determine downregulation of DDX11 in the transfected melanoma cells. In subsequent studies, which focused upon an analysis of fluorescently labeled as well as Giesma-stained chromosome spreads, a proliferation analysis and apoptosis assays, we determined the impact of suppressing DDX11 expression on melanoma cells representing advanced melanoma.
The findings of the study presented herein document that DDX11 is upregulated with progression from noninvasive to invasive melanoma, and that it is expressed at high levels in advanced melanoma. Furthermore, and equally important, we demonstrate that blocking the expression of DDX11 leads not only to inhibition of melanoma cell proliferation and severe defects in chromosome segregation, but also drives melanoma cells rapidly into massive apoptosis.
To date, little is known as to whether helicases play a role in melanoma development and specifically, in the progression from early to advanced melanoma. In this report, we show that the helicase DDX11 is expressed at high levels in primary and metastatic melanoma, and that interfering with its expression leads to severe chromosome segregation defects, telomere shortening, and massive melanoma cell apoptosis. These findings suggest that DDX11 could be an important candidate for molecular targeted therapy for advanced melanoma.
Melanoma; DDX11; Chromosome segregation defects; Inhibition of proliferation; Apoptosis
Rapid breast tumor development relies on formation of new vasculature to supply the growing malignancy with oxygenated blood. Previously we found that estrogen aided in this neovasculogenesis via recruitment of bone marrow derived endothelial progenitor cells (BM-EPCs), leading to increased vessel formation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production in vivo. However, the cellular mechanism of this induction and the signaling pathways involved need elucidation.
Using the murine mammary cell line TG1-1 we observed estrogen (E2) lead to an up regulation of hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), an effect abrogated by the anti-estrogen Fulvestrant and the HIF-1 inhibitor YC-1 (3-(5’-hydroxymethyl-2’-furyl)-1-benzylindazole) suggesting the interchangeability of hypoxia and estrogen mediated effects. Estrogen modulation of HIF-1 and subsequent effects on endothelial cells is dependent on the Akt/PI3K pathway and protein synthesis as validated by the use of the inhibitors wortmannin and cycloheximide which abrogated estrogen’s effects respectively. Estrogen treated TG1-1 cells secreted higher levels of VEGF which were comparable to secreted levels from cells grown under hypoxic conditions. Soluble factors in conditioned media from E2 treated breast cancer cells also lead to migration and tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) in vitro.
Our data provide evidence that estrogen signaling mediates the tumor vasculogenic process required for breast cancer progression and involves a key regulator of the hypoxia signaling pathway. Further, hypoxia and estrogen are interchangeable as both similarly modulate epithelial-endothelial cell interaction.
Estrogen; Hypoxia; Neovasculogenesis; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Hypoxia inducible factor; Breast cancer
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is a deadly malignancy resistant to current therapies. It is critical to test new strategies, including tumor-targeted delivery of therapeutic agents. This study tested the possibility to target the transfer of a suicide gene in tumor cells using an oncotropic lentiviral vector.
Three cell surface markers were evaluated to target the transduction of cells by lentiviruses pseudotyped with a modified glycoprotein from Sindbis virus. Only Mucin-4 and the Claudin-18 proteins were found efficient for targeted lentivirus transductions in vitro. In subcutaneous xenografts of human pancreatic cancer cells models, Claudin-18 failed to achieve efficient gene transfer but Mucin-4 was found very potent. Human pancreatic tumor cells were modified to express a fluorescent protein detectable in live animals by bioimaging, to perform a direct non invasive and costless follow up of the tumor growth. Targeted gene transfer of a bicistronic transgene bearing a luciferase gene and the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene into orthotopic grafts was carried out with Mucin-4 oncotropic lentiviruses. By contrast to the broad tropism VSV-G carrying lentivirus, this oncotropic lentivirus was found to transduce specifically tumor cells, sparing normal pancreatic cells in vivo. Transduced cells disappeared after ganciclovir treatment while the orthotopic tumor growth was slowed down.
This work considered for the first time three aspect of pancreatic adenocarcinoma targeted therapy. First, lentiviral transduction of human pancreatic tumor cells was possible when cells were grafted orthotopically. Second, we used a system targeting the tumor cells with cell surface antigens and sparing the normal cells. Finally, the TK/GCV anticancer system showed promising results in vivo. Importantly, the approach presented here appeared to be a safer, much more specific and an as efficient way to perform gene delivery in pancreatic tumors, in comparison with a broad tropism lentivirus. This study will be useful in future designing of targeted therapies for pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma; Targeted therapy; Surface marker