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1.  Challenging the roles of CD44 and lipolysis stimulated lipoprotein receptor in conveying Clostridium perfringens iota toxin cytotoxicity in breast cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:163.
Background
Translational exploration of bacterial toxins has come to the forefront of research given their potential as a chemotherapeutic tool. Studies in select tissues have demonstrated that Clostridium perfringens iota toxin binds to CD44 and lipolysis stimulated lipoprotein receptor (LSR) cell-surface proteins. We recently demonstrated that LSR expression correlates with estrogen receptor positive breast cancers and that LSR signaling directs aggressive, tumor-initiating cell behaviors. Herein, we identify the mechanisms of iota toxin cytotoxicity in a tissue-specific, breast cancer model with the ultimate goal of laying the foundation for using iota toxin as a targeted breast cancer therapy.
Methods
In vitro model systems were used to determine the cytotoxic effect of iota toxin on breast cancer intrinsic subtypes. The use of overexpression and knockdown technologies confirmed the roles of LSR and CD44 in regulating iota toxin endocytosis and induction of cell death. Lastly, cytotoxicity assays were used to demonstrate the effect of iota toxin on a validated set of tamoxifen resistant breast cancer cell lines.
Results
Treatment of 14 breast cancer cell lines revealed that LSR+/CD44- lines were highly sensitive, LSR+/CD44+ lines were slightly sensitive, and LSR-/CD44+ lines were resistant to iota cytotoxicity. Reduction in LSR expression resulted in a significant decrease in toxin sensitivity; however, overexpression of CD44 conveyed toxin resistance. CD44 overexpression was correlated with decreased toxin-stimulated lysosome formation and decreased cytosolic levels of iota toxin. These findings indicated that expression of CD44 drives iota toxin resistance through inhibition of endocytosis in breast cancer cells, a role not previously defined for CD44. Moreover, tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells exhibited robust expression of LSR and were highly sensitive to iota-induced cytotoxicity.
Conclusions
Collectively, these data are the first to show that iota toxin has the potential to be an effective, targeted therapy for breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-163
PMCID: PMC4086999  PMID: 24990559
Clostridium perfringens iota toxin; Lipolysis stimulated lipoprotein receptor; CD44; Breast cancer; Endocytosis; Cytotoxicity; Tamoxifen resistance
2.  Thyroid hormone enhanced human hepatoma cell motility involves brain-specific serine protease 4 activation via ERK signaling 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:162.
Background
The thyroid hormone, 3, 3′, 5-triiodo-L-thyronine (T3), has been shown to modulate cellular processes via interactions with thyroid hormone receptors (TRs), but the secretory proteins that are regulated to exert these effects remain to be characterized. Brain-specific serine protease 4 (BSSP4), a member of the human serine protease family, participates in extracellular matrix remodeling. However, the physiological role and underlying mechanism of T3-mediated regulation of BSSP4 in hepatocellular carcinogenesis are yet to be established.
Methods
The thyroid hormone response element was identified by reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. The cell motility was analyzed via transwell and SCID mice. The BSSP4 expression in clinical specimens was examined by Western blot and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Results
Upregulation of BSSP4 at mRNA and protein levels after T3 stimulation is a time- and dose-dependent manner in hepatoma cell lines. Additionally, the regulatory region of the BSSP4 promoter stimulated by T3 was identified at positions -609/-594. BSSP4 overexpression enhanced tumor cell migration and invasion, both in vitro and in vivo. Subsequently, BSSP4-induced migration occurs through the ERK 1/2-C/EBPβ-VEGF cascade, similar to that observed in HepG2-TRα1 and J7-TRα1 cells. BSSP4 was overexpressed in clinical hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, compared with normal subjects, and positively associated with TRα1 and VEGF to a significant extent. Importantly, a mild association between BSSP4 expression and distant metastasis was observed.
Conclusions
Our findings collectively support a potential role of T3 in cancer cell progression through regulation of the BSSP4 protease via the ERK 1/2-C/EBPβ-VEGF cascade. BSSP4 may thus be effectively utilized as a novel marker and anti-cancer therapeutic target in HCC.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-162
PMCID: PMC4087245  PMID: 24980078
Thyroid hormone receptor; Secreted protein; BSSP4; SILAC; ERK 1/2-C/EBPβ-VEGF; Mmotility
3.  Anti-tumor innate immunity activated by intermittent metronomic cyclophosphamide treatment of 9L brain tumor xenografts is preserved by anti-angiogenic drugs that spare VEGF receptor 2 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:158.
Background
Metronomic cyclophosphamide given on an intermittent, 6-day repeating schedule, but not on an exposure dose-equivalent daily schedule, activates an anti-tumor innate immune response that leads to major regression of large implanted gliomas, without anti-angiogenesis.
Methods and approach
Mice bearing implanted 9L gliomas were used to investigate the effects of this 6-day repeating, immunogenic cyclophosphamide schedule on myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which are pro-angiogenic and can inhibit anti-tumor immunity, and to elucidate the mechanism whereby the innate immune cell-dependent tumor regression response to metronomic cyclophosphamide treatment is blocked by several anti-angiogenic receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Results
Intermittent metronomic cyclophosphamide scheduling strongly increased glioma-associated CD11b+ immune cells but not CD11b+Gr1+ myeloid-derived suppressor cells, while bone marrow and spleen reservoirs of the suppressor cells were decreased. The inhibition of immune cell recruitment and tumor regression by anti-angiogenic receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, previously observed in several brain tumor models, was recapitulated in the 9L tumor model with the VEGFR2-specific inhibitory monoclonal antibody DC101 (p < 0.01), implicating VEGFR2 signaling as an essential step in metronomic cyclophosphamide-stimulated immune cell recruitment. In contrast, sorafenib, a multi-receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor with comparatively weak VEGF receptor phosphorylation inhibitory activity, was strongly anti-angiogenic but did not block metronomic cyclophosphamide-induced innate immunity or tumor regression (p > 0.05).
Conclusions
The interference by receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the immunogenic actions of intermittent metronomic chemotherapy is not a consequence of anti-angiogenesis per se, as demonstrated in an implanted 9L tumor model. Furthermore, this undesirable interaction with tyrosine kinase inhibitors can be avoided by using anti-angiogenic drugs that spare the VEGFR2 pathway.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-158
PMCID: PMC4083145  PMID: 24965046
VEGFR2; Metronomic chemotherapy; Innate immunity; DC101; Sorafenib
4.  Long non-coding RNA HOTAIR, a c-Myc activated driver of malignancy, negatively regulates miRNA-130a in gallbladder cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:156.
Background
Protein coding genes account for only about 2% of the human genome, whereas the vast majority of transcripts are non-coding RNAs including long non-coding RNAs. A growing volume of literature has proposed that lncRNAs are important players in cancer. HOTAIR was previously shown to be an oncogene and negative prognostic factor in a variety of cancers. However, the factors that contribute to its upregulation and the interaction between HOTAIR and miRNAs are largely unknown.
Methods
A computational screen of HOTAIR promoter was conducted to search for transcription-factor-binding sites. HOTAIR promoter activities were examined by luciferase reporter assay. The function of the c-Myc binding site in the HOTAIR promoter region was tested by a promoter assay with nucleotide substitutions in the putative E-box. The association of c-Myc with the HOTAIR promoter in vivo was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay and Electrophoretic mobility shift assay. A search for miRNAs with complementary base paring with HOTAIR was performed utilizing online software program. Gain and loss of function approaches were employed to investigate the expression changes of HOTAIR or miRNA-130a. The expression levels of HOTAIR, c-Myc and miRNA-130a were examined in 65 matched pairs of gallbladder cancer tissues. The effects of HOTAIR and miRNA-130a on gallbladder cancer cell invasion and proliferation was tested using in vitro cell invasion and flow cytometric assays.
Results
We demonstrate that HOTAIR is a direct target of c-Myc through interaction with putative c-Myc target response element (RE) in the upstream region of HOTAIR in gallbladder cancer cells. A positive correlation between c-Myc and HOTAIR mRNA levels was observed in gallbladder cancer tissues. We predicted that HOTAIR harbors a miRNA-130a binding site. Our data showed that this binding site is vital for the regulation of miRNA-130a by HOTAIR. Moreover, a negative correlation between HOTAIR and miRNA-130a was observed in gallbladder cancer tissues. Finally, we demonstrate that the oncogenic activity of HOTAIR is in part through its negative regulation of miRNA-130a.
Conclusion
Together, these results suggest that HOTAIR is a c-Myc-activated driver of malignancy, which acts in part through repression of miRNA-130a.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-156
PMCID: PMC4085645  PMID: 24953832
Long non-coding RNA; HOTAIR; miRNA-130a; c-Myc; Gallbladder cancer
5.  Bortezomib treatment causes long-term testicular dysfunction in young male mice 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:155.
Background
With increased long-term survivors of childhood cancer patients, therapy-associated infertility has become one of the most common late side-effects and significantly affects their life-quality. Therefore, evaluation of anti-cancer agents on male reproduction and infertility prevention are urgently demanding. The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib has been launched in clinical trials for childhood cancers, however, its potential side effects on reproduction have so far been neither investigated experimentally nor reported in treated children. Thus the present study is designed to explore the impact of bortezomib on male reproductive function and to gain insights into how bortezomib exerts its adverse effects on man gonad, thereby providing pediatric oncologists relevant information.
Methods
35 day-old male mice were treated with one 11-day cycle of bortezomib and then sacrificed 2 days, 45 days, or 6 months later. A mating study was performed in the group followed for 6 months, and their pups were analyzed on postnatal day 50. Serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testicular testosterone levels were measured. Testicular morphology was evaluated by light- and electron microscopy, and the underlying mechanisms and pathways of testis damage were investigated.
Results
Testicular damage was visible already 2 days after stopping bortezomib and increased in severity by day 45. Then 80% of seminiferous tubules exhibited hypospermatogenesis with arrest at the levels of spermatogonia, spermatocytes and round spermatids. Germ cells were specifically targeted by bortezomib as evidenced by increased apoptosis mediated through activation of p53 and caspases. Even six months after the bortezomib treatment, testis weight, sperm concentration and seminiferous tubule length remained at a decreased level, indicating that spermatogenesis and tubular outgrowth could not fully recover. Combined with persistently increased serum levels of FSH in these mice, our results demonstrate that bortezomib can have long-term effects on testicular function, although fertility of bortezomib-exposed males remained and their offspring looked healthy.
Conclusion
Bortezomib treatment causes long-term gonadal dysfunction in male mice. Careful monitoring of gonadal function in male childhood cancer patients treated with bortezomib is thus strongly recommended.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-155
PMCID: PMC4074580  PMID: 24950741
Proteasome inhibitor; Bortezomib; Cancer; Mouse; Testis
6.  Differential chemosensitivity to antifolate drugs between RAS and BRAF melanoma cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:154.
Background
The importance of the genetic background of cancer cells for the individual susceptibility to cancer treatments is increasingly apparent. In melanoma, the existence of a BRAF mutation is a main predictor for successful BRAF-targeted therapy. However, despite initial successes with these therapies, patients relapse within a year and have to move on to other therapies. Moreover, patients harbouring a wild type BRAF gene (including 25% with NRAS mutations) still require alternative treatment such as chemotherapy. Multiple genetic parameters have been associated with response to chemotherapy, but despite their high frequency in melanoma nothing is known about the impact of BRAF or NRAS mutations on the response to chemotherapeutic agents.
Methods
Using cell proliferation and DNA methylation assays, FACS analysis and quantitative-RT-PCR we have characterised the response of a panel of NRAS and BRAF mutant melanoma cell lines to various chemotherapy drugs, amongst them dacarbazine (DTIC) and temozolomide (TMZ) and DNA synthesis inhibitors.
Results
Although both, DTIC and TMZ act as alkylating agents through the same intermediate, NRAS and BRAF mutant cells responded differentially only to DTIC. Further analysis revealed that the growth-inhibitory effects mediated by DTIC were rather due to interference with nucleotide salvaging, and that NRAS mutant melanoma cells exhibit higher activity of the nucleotide synthesis enzymes IMPDH and TK1. Importantly, the enhanced ability of RAS mutant cells to use nucleotide salvaging resulted in resistance to DHFR inhibitors.
Conclusion
In summary, our data suggest that the genetic background in melanoma cells influences the response to inhibitors blocking de novo DNA synthesis, and that defining the RAS mutation status could be used to stratify patients for the use of antifolate drugs.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-154
PMCID: PMC4079649  PMID: 24941944
Melanoma; RAS; BRAF; Alkylating agents; DNA synthesis; Salvage
7.  Higher FOXP3-TSDR demethylation rates in adjacent normal tissues in patients with colon cancer were associated with worse survival 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:153.
Background
The influence of natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) on the patients with colon cancer is unclear. Demethylated status of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) of the FOXP3 gene was reported to be a potential biomarker for the identification of nTregs.
Methods
The demethylation rate of the TSDR (TSDR-DMR) was calculated by using methylation-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction (MS-qPCR) assay. The expression of TSDR-DMR and FOXP3 mRNA was investigated in various colorectal cancer cell lines. A total of 130 colon carcinoma samples were utilized to study the DMR at tumor sites (DMRT) and adjacent normal tissue (DMRN). The correlations between DMRs and clinicopathological variables of patients with colon cancer were studied.
Results
The TSDR-DMRs varied dramatically among nTregs (97.920 ± 0.466%) and iTregs (3.917 ± 0.750%). Significantly, DMRT (3.296 ± 0.213%) was higher than DMRN (1.605 ± 0.146%) (n = 130, p = 0.000). Higher DMRN levels were found in female patients (p = 0.001) and those with distant metastases (p = 0.017), and were also associated with worse recurrence-free survival in non-stage IV patients (low vs. high, p = 0.022). However, further Cox multivariate analysis revealed that the FOXP3-TSDR status does not have prognostic value.
Conclusion
MS-qPCR assays of FOXP3-TSDR can efficiently distinguish nTregs from non-nTregs. Abnormal recruitment of nTregs occurs in the local tumor microenvironment. Infiltration of tissue-resident nTregs may have a negative role in anti-tumor effects in patients with colon cancer; however, this role is limited and complicated.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-153
PMCID: PMC4074420  PMID: 24938080
Regulatory T cells; Colorectal cancer; Transcription factor forkhead box P3; Treg-specific demethylated region; Survival analysis; Cox regression
8.  HDAC-inhibition counteracts everolimus resistance in renal cell carcinoma in vitro by diminishing cdk2 and cyclin A 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:152.
Background
Targeted therapies have improved therapeutic options of treating renal cell carcinoma (RCC). However, drug response is temporary due to resistance development.
Methods
Functional and molecular changes in RCC Caki-1 cells, after acquired resistance to the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-inhibitor everolimus (Cakires), were investigated with and without additional application of the histone deacetylase (HDAC)-inhibitor valproic acid (VPA). Cell growth was evaluated by MTT assay, cell cycle progression and apoptosis by flow cytometry. Target molecules of everolimus and VPA, apoptotic and cell cycle regulating proteins were investigated by western blotting. siRNA blockade was performed to evaluate the functional relevance of the proteins.
Results
Everolimus resistance was accompanied by significant increases in the percentage of G2/M-phase cells and in the IC50. Akt and p70S6K, targets of everolimus, were activated in Cakires compared to drug sensitive cells. The most prominent change in Cakires cells was an increase in the cell cycle activating proteins cdk2 and cyclin A. Knock-down of cdk2 and cyclin A caused significant growth inhibition in the Cakires cells. The HDAC-inhibitor, VPA, counteracted everolimus resistance in Cakires, evidenced by a significant decrease in tumor growth and cdk2/cyclin A.
Conclusion
It is concluded that non-response to everolimus is characterized by increased cdk2/cyclin A, driving RCC cells into the G2/M-phase. VPA hinders everolimus non-response by diminishing cdk2/cyclin A. Therefore, treatment with HDAC-inhibitors might be an option for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma and acquired everolimus resistance.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-152
PMCID: PMC4073177  PMID: 24935000
Renal cell carcinoma; Everolimus resistance; HDAC-inhibition; cdk2/cyclin A; Tumor growth
9.  Identification of a gene signature of a pre-transformation process by senescence evasion in normal human epidermal keratinocytes 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:151.
Background
Epidemiological data show that the incidence of carcinomas in humans is highly dependent on age. However, the initial steps of the age-related molecular oncogenic processes by which the switch towards the neoplastic state occurs remain poorly understood, mostly due to the absence of powerful models. In a previous study, we showed that normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) spontaneously and systematically escape from senescence to give rise to pre-neoplastic emerging cells.
Methods
Here, this model was used to analyze the gene expression profile associated with the early steps of age-related cell transformation. We compared the gene expression profiles of growing or senescent NHEKs to post-senescent emerging cells. Data analyses were performed by using the linear modeling features of the limma package, resulting in a two-sided t test or F-test based on moderated statistics. The p-values were adjusted for multiple testing by controlling the false discovery rate according to Benjamini Hochberg method.
The common gene set resulting of differential gene expression profiles from these two comparisons revealed a post-senescence neoplastic emergence (PSNE) gene signature of 286 genes.
Results
About half of these genes were already reported as involved in cancer or premalignant skin diseases. However, bioinformatics analyses did not highlight inside this signature canonical cancer pathways but metabolic pathways, including in first line the metabolism of xenobiotics by cytochrome P450. In order to validate the relevance of this signature as a signature of pretransformation by senescence evasion, we invalidated two components of the metabolism of xenobiotics by cytochrome P450, AKR1C2 and AKR1C3. When performed at the beginning of the senescence plateau, this invalidation did not alter the senescent state itself but significantly decreased the frequency of PSNE. Conversely, overexpression of AKR1C2 but not AKR1C3 increased the frequency of PSNE.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this study is the first to identify reprogrammation of metabolic pathways in normal keratinocytes as a potential determinant of the switch from senescence to pre-transformation.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-151
PMCID: PMC4065601  PMID: 24929818
Senescence; Neoplastic transformation; Xenobiotics; AKR1Cs; Keratinocytes; Gene expression profile
10.  FW-04-806 inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in human breast cancer cells by binding to N-terminus of Hsp90 and disrupting Hsp90-Cdc37 complex formation 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:150.
Background
Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) is a promising therapeutic target and inhibition of Hsp90 will presumably result in suppression of multiple signaling pathways. FW-04-806, a bis-oxazolyl macrolide compound extracted from China-native Streptomyces FIM-04-806, was reported to be identical in structure to the polyketide Conglobatin.
Methods
We adopted the methods of chemproteomics, computational docking, immunoprecipitation, siRNA gene knock down, Quantitative Real-time PCR and xenograft models on the research of FW-04-806 antitumor mechanism, through the HER2-overexpressing breast cancer SKBR3 and HER2-underexpressing breast cancer MCF-7 cell line.
Results
We have verified the direct binding of FW-04-806 to the N-terminal domain of Hsp90 and found that FW-04-806 inhibits Hsp90/cell division cycle protein 37 (Cdc37) chaperone/co-chaperone interactions, but does not affect ATP-binding capability of Hsp90, thereby leading to the degradation of multiple Hsp90 client proteins via the proteasome pathway. In breast cancer cell lines, FW-04-806 inhibits cell proliferation, caused G2/M cell cycle arrest, induced apoptosis, and downregulated Hsp90 client proteins HER2, Akt, Raf-1 and their phosphorylated forms (p-HER2, p-Akt) in a dose and time-dependent manner. Importantly, FW-04-806 displays a better anti-tumor effect in HER2-overexpressed SKBR3 tumor xenograft model than in HER2-underexpressed MCF-7 model. The result is consistent with cell proliferation assay and in vitro apoptosis assay applied for SKBR-3 and MCF-7. Furthermore, FW-04-806 has a favorable toxicity profile.
Conclusions
As a novel Hsp90 inhibitor, FW-04-806 binds to the N-terminal of Hsp90 and inhibits Hsp90/Cdc37 interaction, resulting in the disassociation of Hsp90/Cdc37/client complexes and the degradation of Hsp90 client proteins. FW-04-806 displays promising antitumor activity against breast cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo, especially for HER2-overexpressed breast cancer cells.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-150
PMCID: PMC4074137  PMID: 24927996
FW-04-806; Hsp90; Cdc37; HER2; Breast cancer
11.  Repression of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 expression by ciglitazone via Egr-1 represents a new approach for inhibition of lung cancer cell growth 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:149.
Background
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors gamma (PPARγ) ligands have been shown to inhibit the growth of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. However, the mechanisms underlying this effect remain incompletely elucidated.
Methods
Cell proliferation and apoptosis were measured by cell viability, MTT and caspase3/7 activity assays. Phosphorylation/protein expression and gene silence/overexpression of AMPKα, phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1), Egr-1 and PPARγ were performed by Western blot and siRNA/transfection assays. Dual-Luciferase Reporter Kit was used to measure the PPAR response elements (PPRE) reporter and PDK1 promoter activities, and ChIP assay was used to detect the Egr-1 protein binding to the DNA site in the PDK1 gene promoter.
Results
We found that ciglitazone, one synthetic PPARγ ligand, inhibited growth and induced apoptosis of NSCLC cells through decreased expression of PDK1, which was not blocked by GW9662 (a specific PPARγ antagonist). Overexpression of PDK1 overcame the effect of ciglitazone on cell growth and caspase 3/7 activity. Ciglitazone increased the phosphorylation of AMPKα and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and the inhibitor of AMPK (compound C), but not JNK (SP600125), reversed the effect of ciglitazone on PDK1 protein expression. Ciglitazone reduced PDK1 gene promoter activity, which was not observed in cells exposed to compound C, but not silenced of PPARγ siRNA. Combination of ciglitazone and metformin further reduced PDK1 expression and promoter activity. Furthermore, we showed that ciglitazone induced the protein expression of Egr-1, which was not observed in cells silencing of AMPKα. Moreover, silencing of Egr-1 abrogated the effect of ciglitazone on PDK1 promoter activity and cell growth. On the contrary, overexpression of Egr-1 enhanced the effect of ciglitazone on PDK1 gene promoter activity. ChIP assays demonstrated that ciglitazone induced Egr-1 protein bind to the specific DNA site in the PDK1 gene promoter.
Conclusion
Collectively, our results demonstrate that ciglitazone inhibits PDK1 expression through AMPKα-mediated induction of Egr-1 and Egr-1 binding to the specific DNA site in the PDK1 gene promoter, which is independent of PPARγ. Activation of AMPKα by metformin enhances the effect of ciglitazone. In turn, this leads to inhibition of NSCLC cell proliferation.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-149
PMCID: PMC4061523  PMID: 24925061
Human lung adenocarcinoma cell; Egr-1; PDK1; Ciglitazone; AMPKα; Metformin
12.  Mitochondrial Hsp90s suppress calcium-mediated stress signals propagating from mitochondria to the ER in cancer cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:148.
Background
Resistance to cell death in the presence of stressful stimuli is one of the hallmarks of cancer cells acquired during multistep tumorigenesis, and knowledge of the molecular mechanism of stress adaptation can be exploited to develop cancer-selective therapeutics. Mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are physically interconnected organelles that can sense and exchange various stress signals. Although there have been many studies on stress propagation from the ER to mitochondria, reverse stress signals originating from mitochondria have not been well reported.
Methods
After inactivation of the proteins by pharmacologic and genetic methods, the signal pathways were analyzed by fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, MTT assay, and western blotting. A mouse xenograft model was used to examine synergistic anticancer activity and the action mechanism of drugs in vivo.
Results
We show in this study that mitochondrial heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) suppresses mitochondria-initiated calcium-mediated stress signals propagating into the ER in cancer cells. Mitochondrial Hsp90 inhibition triggers the calcium signal by opening the mitochondrial permeability transition pore and, in turn, the ER ryanodine receptor, via calcium-induced calcium release. Subsequent depletion of ER calcium activates unfolded protein responses in the ER lumen, thereby increasing the expression of a pro-apoptotic transcription factor, CEBP homologous protein (CHOP). Combined treatment with the ER stressor thapsigargin and the mitochondrial Hsp90 inhibitor gamitrinib augmented interorganelle stress signaling by elevating CHOP expression, and showed synergistic cytotoxic activity exclusively in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
Conclusions
Collectively, mitochondrial Hsp90s confer cell death resistance to cancer cells by suppressing the mitochondria-initiated calcium-mediated interorganelle stress response.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-148
PMCID: PMC4070406  PMID: 24924916
Mitochondrial Hsp90s; Mitochondrial permeability transition pore; Ryanodine receptor; Calcium signaling; Combination cancer therapy
13.  Inhibition of the checkpoint kinase Chk1 induces DNA damage and cell death in human Leukemia and Lymphoma cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:147.
Background
Chk1 forms a core component of the DNA damage response and small molecule inhibitors are currently being investigated in the clinic as cytotoxic chemotherapy potentiators. Recent evidence suggests that Chk1 inhibitors may demonstrate significant single agent activity in tumors with specific DNA repair defects, a constitutively activated DNA damage response or oncogene induced replicative stress.
Methods
Growth inhibition induced by the small molecule Chk1 inhibitor V158411 was assessed in a panel of human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines and compared to cancer cell lines derived from solid tumors. The effects on cell cycle and DNA damage response markers were further evaluated.
Results
Leukemia and lymphoma cell lines were identified as particularly sensitive to the Chk1 inhibitor V158411 (mean GI50 0.17 μM) compared to colon (2.8 μM) or lung (6.9 μM) cancer cell lines. Chk1 inhibition by V158411 in the leukemia and lymphoma cell lines induced DNA fragmentation and cell death that was both caspase dependent and independent, and prevented cells undergoing mitosis. An analysis of in vitro pharmacodynamic markers identified a dose dependent decrease in Chk1 and cyclin B1 protein levels and Cdc2 Thr15 phosphorylation along with a concomitant increase in H2AX phosphorylation at Ser139 following V158411 treatment.
Conclusions
These data support the further evaluation of Chk1 inhibitors in hematopoietic cancers as single agents as well as in combination with standard of care cytotoxic drugs.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-147
PMCID: PMC4082411  PMID: 24913641
Chk1; Leukemia; Lymphoma; Kinase inhibitor; V158411
14.  Expression and Y435-phosphorylation of Abelson interactor 1 (Abi1) promotes tumour cell adhesion, extracellular matrix degradation and invasion by colorectal carcinoma cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:145.
Background
The Abelson tyrosine kinase (c-Abl) inhibitor STI571 (Glivec®) has been shown to effectively inhibit colorectal cancer cell migration and invasion. The c-Abl substrate abelson interactor 1 (Abi1) is a key regulator of actin reorganization and upregulated in colorectal carcinoma. The specific role of Abi1 in relation to extracellular matrix degradation and effects of targeting Abi1 phosphorylation have not yet been examined. Here, we investigated the role of Abi1 in relation to invasive properties in colorectal cancer.
Methods and results
In 56 primary human colorectal carcinoma samples, we found overexpression of Abi1 in 39% at the invasive edge of the tumour, associated with an infiltrative phenotype and high-grade tumour cell budding (p = 0.001). To explore the role of Abi1 in vitro, we employed the Abi1 expressing and KRAS-mutated CHD1 model and performed matrix degradation assays that showed Abi1 localization at specific sites of matrix degradation. Moreover, quantification of matrix dissolution demonstrated suppression after RNAi knockdown of Abi1 by 95% (p = 0.001). Importantly, treatment with STI571 did abolish Abi1 Y435-phosphorylation, suppressed the matrix dissolution, decreased fibronectin attachment, and suppressed cell invasion through reconstituted extracellular matrix.
Conclusion
Our data indicate that phosphorylated Abi1 contributes to the invasive properties of colorectal cancer.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-145
PMCID: PMC4066275  PMID: 24913355
Abelson interactor 1 (Abi1); Colorectal carcinoma; Extracellular matrix (ECM); Invasion; Metastasis
15.  A hormone-dependent feedback-loop controls androgen receptor levels by limiting MID1, a novel translation enhancer and promoter of oncogenic signaling 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:146.
Background
High androgen receptor (AR) level in primary tumour predicts increased prostate cancer (PCa)-specific mortality. Furthermore, activations of the AR, PI3K, mTOR, NFκB and Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathways are involved in the fatal development of castration-resistant prostate cancer during androgen ablation therapy. MID1, a negative regulator of the tumor-suppressor PP2A, is known to promote PI3K, mTOR, NFκB and Hh signaling. Here we investigate the interaction of MID1 and AR.
Methods
AR and MID1 mRNA and protein levels were measured by qPCR, Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Co-immunoprecipitation followed by PCR and RNA-pull-down followed by Western blot was used to investigate protein-mRNA interaction, chromatin-immunoprecipitation followed by next-generation sequencing for identification of AR chromatin binding sites. AR transcriptional activity and activity of promoter binding sites for AR were analyzed by reporter gene assays. For knockdown or overexpression of proteins of interest prostate cancer cells were transfected with siRNA or expression plasmids, respectively.
Results
The microtubule-associated MID1 protein complex associates with AR mRNA via purine-rich trinucleotide repeats, expansions of which are known to correlate with ataxia and cancer. The level of MID1 directly correlates with the AR protein level in PCa cells. Overexpression of MID1 results in a several fold increase in AR protein and activity without major changes in mRNA-levels, whereas siRNA-triggered knockdown of MID1 mRNA reduces AR-protein levels significantly. Upregulation of AR protein by MID1 occurs via increased translation as no major changes in AR protein stability could be observed. AR on the other hand, regulates MID1 via several functional AR binding sites in the MID1 gene, and, in the presence of androgens, exerts a negative feedback loop on MID1 transcription. Thus, androgen withdrawal increases MID1 and concomitantly AR-protein levels. In line with this, MID1 is significantly over-expressed in PCa in a stage-dependent manner.
Conclusion
Promotion of AR, in addition to enhancement of the Akt-, NFκB-, and Hh-pathways by sustained MID1-upregulation during androgen deprivation therapy provides a powerful proliferative scenario for PCa progression into castration resistance. Thus MID1 represents a novel, multi-faceted player in PCa and a promising target to treat castration resistant prostate cancer.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-146
PMCID: PMC4074869  PMID: 24913494
Androgen receptor; MID1; Translation; Prostate cancer; Reciprocal regulation
16.  mTOR inhibition and levels of the DNA repair protein MGMT in T98G glioblastoma cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:144.
Background
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and most aggressive type of primary adult brain tumour, responds poorly to conventional treatment. Temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy remains the most commonly used treatment, despite a large proportion of tumours displaying TMZ resistance. 60% of GBM tumours have unmethylated MGMT promoter regions, resulting in an overexpression of the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), which is responsible for tumour resistance to TMZ chemotherapy. Tumours also often exhibit hyperactive PI3-kinase/mTOR signalling, which enables them to resynthesise proteins quickly. Since MGMT is a suicide protein that is degraded upon binding to and repairing TMZ-induced O6-methylguanine adducts, it has been hypothesized that inhibition of translation via the mTOR signalling pathway could generate a tumour-specific reduction in MGMT protein and increase TMZ sensitivity.
Methods
MGMT was monitored at the post-transcriptional, translational and protein levels, to determine what effect mTOR inhibition was having on MGMT protein expression in vitro.
Results
We show that inhibiting mTOR signalling is indeed associated with acute inhibition of protein synthesis. Western blots show that despite this, relative to loading control proteins, steady state levels of MGMT protein increased and MGMT mRNA was retained in heavy polysomes. Whilst TMZ treatment resulted in maintained MGMT protein levels, concomitant treatment of T98G cells with TMZ and KU0063794 resulted in increased MGMT protein levels without changes in total mRNA levels.
Conclusions
These in vitro data suggest that, counterintuitively, mTOR inhibition may not be a useful adjunct to TMZ therapy and that more investigation is needed before applying mTOR inhibitors in a clinical setting.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-144
PMCID: PMC4061125  PMID: 24909675
MGMT; Stability; Translation; mTOR; Initiation of translation; KU0063794; Glioblastoma; TMZ resistance
17.  Trastuzumab emtansine is active on HER-2 overexpressing NSCLC cell lines and overcomes gefitinib resistance 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:143.
Background
HER-2 represents a relatively new therapeutic target for non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. The incidence for reported HER-2 overexpression/amplification/mutations ranges from 2 to 20% in NSCLC. Moreover, HER-2 amplification is a potential mechanism of resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR-TKI) (about 10% of cases). T-DM1, trastuzumab emtansine is an antibody-drug conjugate composed by the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab and the microtubule polymerization inhibitor DM1. The activity of T-DM1 has been studied in breast cancer but the role of T-DM1 in lung cancer remains unexplored.
Methods
Antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects of T-DM1 have been investigated in different NSCLC cell lines by MTT, crystal violet staining, morphological study and Western blotting. HER-2 expression and cell cycle were evaluated by flow cytometry and Western blotting. Antibody dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC) was measured with a CytoTox assay. Xenografted mice model has been generated using a NSCLC cell line to evaluate the effect of T-DM1 on tumor growth. Moreover, a morphometric and immunohistochemical analysis of tumor xenografts was conducted.
Results
In this study we investigated the effect of T-DM1 in a panel of NSCLC cell lines with different HER-2 expression levels, in H1781 cell line carrying HER-2 mutation and in gefitinib resistant HER-2 overexpressing PC9/HER2cl1 cell clone. T-DM1 efficiently inhibited proliferation with arrest in G2-M phase and induced cell death by apoptosis in cells with a significant level of surface expression of HER-2. Antibody-dependent cytotoxicity assay documented that T-DM1 maintained the same activity of trastuzumab. Our data also suggest that targeting HER-2 with T-DM1 potentially overcomes gefitinib resistance. In addition a correlation between cell density/tumor size with both HER-2 expression and T-DM1 activity was established in vitro and in an in vivo xenograft model.
Conclusions
Our results indicate that targeting HER-2 with T-DM1 may offer a new therapeutic approach in HER-2 over-expressing lung cancers including those resistant to EGFR TKIs.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-143
PMCID: PMC4058446  PMID: 24898067
Lung cancer; HER-2; Trastuzumab; T-DM1
18.  Evaluation of microRNA-10b prognostic significance in a prospective cohort of breast cancer patients 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:142.
Background
MicroRNA-10b (miR-10b) has a prominent role in regulating tumor invasion and metastasis by targeting the HOXD10 transcriptional repressor and has been found up-regulated in several tumor types.
Methods
We evaluated the expression of miR-10b in paired tumor and normal specimens obtained from a prospective cohort of breast cancer patients with at least 36 months follow-up enrolled according to the REMARK guidelines (n = 150). RNA quality was measured and only samples with RNA Integrity Number (RIN) ≥7.0 were analyzed.
Results
The relative expression of miR-10b in tumor as compared to its normal counterpart (RER) was determined by RT-qPCR. miR-10b RERs were higher in the subgroup of patients with synchronous metastases (n = 11, Median 0.25; IQR 0.11-1.02) as compared with patients without metastases (n = 90, Median 0.09; IQR 0.04-0.29) (p = 0.028). In the subgroup of patients without synchronous metastases (n = 90), higher miR-10b RERs were associated with increased risk of disease progression and death in both univariable (HR 1.16, p = 0.021 and HR 1.20, p = 0.015 respectively for 0.10 unitary increase of miR-10b RERs levels) and multivariable (HR1.30, p < 0.001, and HR 1.31, p = 0.003 respectively for 0.10 unitary increase of miR-10b RERs levels) Cox regression models. The addition of miR-10b RERs to the Nottingham Prognostic Index (NPI) provided an improvement in discrimination power and risk reclassification abilities for the clinical outcomes at 36 months. Survival C-indices significantly increased from 0.849 to 0.889 (p = 0.009) for OS and from 0.735 to 0.767 (p = 0.050) for DFS.
Conclusions
Our results provide evidences that the addition of miR-10b RERs to the prognostic factors used in clinical routine could improve the prediction abilities for both overall mortality and disease progression in breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-142
PMCID: PMC4055397  PMID: 24897960
Breast cancer; microRNA; Metastasis; RT-qPCR
20.  Colon cancer-derived oncogenic EGFR G724S mutant identified by whole genome sequence analysis is dependent on asymmetric dimerization and sensitive to cetuximab 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:141.
Background
Inhibition of the activated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with either enzymatic kinase inhibitors or anti-EGFR antibodies such as cetuximab, is an effective modality of treatment for multiple human cancers. Enzymatic EGFR inhibitors are effective for lung adenocarcinomas with somatic kinase domain EGFR mutations while, paradoxically, anti-EGFR antibodies are more effective in colon and head and neck cancers where EGFR mutations occur less frequently. In colorectal cancer, anti-EGFR antibodies are routinely used as second-line therapy of KRAS wild-type tumors. However, detailed mechanisms and genomic predictors for pharmacological response to these antibodies in colon cancer remain unclear.
Findings
We describe a case of colorectal adenocarcinoma, which was found to harbor a kinase domain mutation, G724S, in EGFR through whole genome sequencing. We show that G724S mutant EGFR is oncogenic and that it differs from classic lung cancer derived EGFR mutants in that it is cetuximab responsive in vitro, yet relatively insensitive to small molecule kinase inhibitors. Through biochemical and cellular pharmacologic studies, we have determined that cells harboring the colon cancer-derived G719S and G724S mutants are responsive to cetuximab therapy in vitro and found that the requirement for asymmetric dimerization of these mutant EGFR to promote cellular transformation may explain their greater inhibition by cetuximab than small-molecule kinase inhibitors.
Conclusion
The colon-cancer derived G719S and G724S mutants are oncogenic and sensitive in vitro to cetuximab. These data suggest that patients with these mutations may benefit from the use of anti-EGFR antibodies as part of the first-line therapy.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-141
PMCID: PMC4072491  PMID: 24894453
21.  Estrogen promotes stemness and invasiveness of ER-positive breast cancer cells through Gli1 activation 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:137.
Background
Although long-term estrogen (E2) exposure is associated with increased breast cancer (BC) risk, and E2 appears to sustain growth of BC cells that express functional estrogen receptors (ERs), its role in promoting BC stem cells (CSCs) remains unclear. Considering that Gli1, part of the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) developmental pathway, has been shown to mediate CSCs, we investigated whether E2 and Gli1 could promote CSCs and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in ER+ BC cell lines.
Methods
We knocked down Gli1 in several BC cells using a doxycycline-controlled vector, and compared Gli1-knockdown cells and Gli1+ cells in behavior and expression of ER, Gli1, ALDH1 (BC-CSC marker), Shh, Ptch1 (Shh receptor) and SOX2, Nanog and Bmi-1 (CSC-associated transcriptions factors), using PCR; tissue microarrays, western blot; chromatin immunoprecipitation q-PCR, confocal immunofluorescence microscopy; fluorescence-activated cell sorting; annexin–flow cytometry (for apoptosis); mammosphere culture; and colony formation, immunohistochemistry, Matrigel and wound-scratch assays.
Results
Both mRNA and protein expressions of ER correlated with those of Gli1 and ALDH1. E2 induced Gli1 expression only in ER+ BC cells. E2 promoted CSC renewal, invasiveness and EMT in ER+/Gli1+ cells but not in Gli1-knockdown cells.
Conclusions
Our results indicate that estrogen acts via Gli1 to promote CSC development and EMT in ER+ BC cells. These findings also imply that Gli1 mediates cancer stem cells, and thus could be a target of a novel treatment for ER+ breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-137
PMCID: PMC4057898  PMID: 24889938
Sonic hedgehog; Shh; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Estrogen
22.  Alpha-mangostin inhibits intracellular fatty acid synthase and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:138.
Background
Fatty acid synthase (FAS) has been proven over-expressed in human breast cancer cells and consequently, has been recognized as a target for breast cancer treatment. Alpha-mangostin, a natural xanthone found in mangosteen pericarp, has a variety of biological activities, including anti-cancer effect. In our previous study, alpha-mangostin had been found both fast-binding and slow-binding inhibitions to FAS in vitro. This study was designed to investigate the activity of alpha-mangostin on intracellular FAS activity in FAS over-expressed human breast cancer cells, and to testify whether the anti-cancer activity of alpha-mangostin may be related to its inhibitory effect on FAS.
Methods
We evaluated the cytotoxicity of alpha-mangostin in human breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Intracellular FAS activity was measured by a spectrophotometer at 340 nm of NADPH absorption. Cell Counting Kit assay was used to test the cell viability. Immunoblot analysis was performed to detect FAS expression level, intracellular fatty acid accumulation and cell signaling (FAK, ERK1/2 and AKT). Apoptotic effects were detected by flow cytometry and immunoblot analysis of PARP, Bax and Bcl-2. Small interfering RNA was used to down-regulate FAS expression and/or activity.
Results
Alpha-mangostin could effectively suppress FAS expression and inhibit intracellular FAS activity, and result in decrease of intracellular fatty acid accumulation. It could also reduce cell viability, induce apoptosis in human breast cancer cells, increase in the levels of the PARP cleavage product, and attenuate the balance between anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic proteins of the Bcl-2 family. Moreover, alpha-mangostin inhibited the phosphorylation of FAK. However, the active forms of AKT, and ERK1/2 proteins were not involved in the changes of FAS expression induced by alpha-mangostin.
Conclusions
Alpha-mangostin induced breast cancer cell apoptosis by inhibiting FAS, which provide a basis for the development of xanthone as an agent for breast cancer therapy.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-138
PMCID: PMC4060095  PMID: 24894151
Fatty acid synthase; Alpha-mangostin; Inhibitor; Breast cancer cells; Cell apoptosis
23.  Ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b represses IGF-I-induced epithelial mesenchymal transition via ZEB2 and microRNA-200c regulation in gastric cancer cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:136.
Background
Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) can induce epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) in many epithelial tumors; however, the molecular mechanism by which this occurs is not clearly understood. Additionally, little is known about the involvement of IGF-I in gastric cancer.
Methods
Two gastric cancer cell lines were treated with IGF-I to induce EMT and levels of transcription factor ZEB2 and microRNA-200c (miR-200c) were measured. Cells were treated with Akt/ERK inhibitors to investigate the role of these pathways in IGF-I-mediated EMT. Transfection of shRNA plasmids was used to silence the ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b to assess its involvement in this process. The relationship between IGF-IR and Cbl-b expression, and the effect of IGF-IR and Cbl-b on metastasis were analyzed in primary gastric adenocarcinoma patients.
Results
IGF-I-induced gastric cancer cell EMT was accompanied by ZEB2 up-regulation. Furthermore, both Akt/ERK inhibitors and knockdown of Akt/ERK gene reversed IGF-I-induced ZEB2 up-regulation and EMT through up-regulation of miR-200c, suggesting the involvement of an Akt/ERK-miR-200c-ZEB2 axis in IGF-I-induced EMT. The ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b also ubiquitinated and degraded IGF-IR and inhibited the Akt/ERK-miR-200c-ZEB2 axis, leading to the repression of IGF-I-induced EMT. There was a significant negative correlation between the expression of IGF-IR and Cbl-b in gastric cancer patient tissues (r = -0.265, p < 0.05). More of patients with IGF-IR-positive expression and Cbl-b-negative expression were with lymph node metastasis (p < 0.001).
Conclusions
Together, these findings demonstrate that the ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b represses IGF-I-induced EMT, likely through targeting IGF-IR for degradation and further inhibiting the Akt/ERK-miR-200c-ZEB2 axis in gastric cancer cells.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-136
PMCID: PMC4052283  PMID: 24885194
IGF-I; EMT; ZEB2; Cbl-b; microRNA-200c
24.  Nutlin-3 overcomes arsenic trioxide resistance and tumor metastasis mediated by mutant p53 in Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:133.
Background
Arsenic trioxide has been demonstrated as an effective anti-cancer drug against leukemia and solid tumors both in vitro and in vivo. However, recent phase II trials demonstrated that single agent arsenic trioxide was poorly effective against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which might be due to drug resistance.
Methods
Mutation detection of p53 gene in arsenic trioxide resistant HCC cell lines was performed. The therapeutic effects of arsenic trioxide and Nutlin-3 on HCC were evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. A series of experiments including MTT, apoptosis assays, co-Immunoprecipitation, siRNA transfection, lentiviral infection, cell migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchy-mal transition (EMT) assays were performed to investigate the underlying mechanisms.
Results
The acquisition of p53 mutation contributed to arsenic trioxide resistance and enhanced metastatic potential of HCC cells. Mutant p53 (Mutp53) silence could re-sensitize HCC resistant cells to arsenic trioxide and inhibit the metastatic activities, while mutp53 overexpression showed the opposite effects. Neither arsenic trioxide nor Nutlin-3 could exhibit obvious effects against arsenic trioxide resistant HCC cells, while combination of them showed significant effects. Nutlin-3 can not only increase the intracellular arsenicals through inhibition of p-gp but also promote the p73 activation and mutp53 degradation mediated by arsenic trioxide. In vivo experiments indicated that Nutlin-3 can potentiate the antitumor activities of arsenic trioxide in an orthotopic hepatic tumor model and inhibit the metastasis to lung.
Conclusions
Acquisitions of p53 mutations contributed to the resistance of HCC to arsenic trioxide. Nutlin-3 could overcome arsenic trioxide resistance and inhibit tumor metastasis through p73 activation and promoting mutant p53 degradation mediated by arsenic trioxide.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-133
PMCID: PMC4046148  PMID: 24884809
Arsenic trioxide resistance; Nutlin-3; Metastasis; p53 mutation; p73; Hepatocellular carcinoma
25.  Analyses of clinicopathological, molecular, and prognostic associations of KRAS codon 61 and codon 146 mutations in colorectal cancer: cohort study and literature review 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:135.
Background
KRAS mutations in codons 12 and 13 are established predictive biomarkers for anti-EGFR therapy in colorectal cancer. Previous studies suggest that KRAS codon 61 and 146 mutations may also predict resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in colorectal cancer. However, clinicopathological, molecular, and prognostic features of colorectal carcinoma with KRAS codon 61 or 146 mutation remain unclear.
Methods
We utilized a molecular pathological epidemiology database of 1267 colon and rectal cancers in the Nurse’s Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. We examined KRAS mutations in codons 12, 13, 61 and 146 (assessed by pyrosequencing), in relation to clinicopathological features, and tumor molecular markers, including BRAF and PIK3CA mutations, CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), LINE-1 methylation, and microsatellite instability (MSI). Survival analyses were performed in 1067 BRAF-wild-type cancers to avoid confounding by BRAF mutation. Cox proportional hazards models were used to compute mortality hazard ratio, adjusting for potential confounders, including disease stage, PIK3CA mutation, CIMP, LINE-1 hypomethylation, and MSI.
Results
KRAS codon 61 mutations were detected in 19 cases (1.5%), and codon 146 mutations in 40 cases (3.2%). Overall KRAS mutation prevalence in colorectal cancers was 40% (=505/1267). Of interest, compared to KRAS-wild-type, overall, KRAS-mutated cancers more frequently exhibited cecal location (24% vs. 12% in KRAS-wild-type; P < 0.0001), CIMP-low (49% vs. 32% in KRAS-wild-type; P < 0.0001), and PIK3CA mutations (24% vs. 11% in KRAS-wild-type; P < 0.0001). These trends were evident irrespective of mutated codon, though statistical power was limited for codon 61 mutants. Neither KRAS codon 61 nor codon 146 mutation was significantly associated with clinical outcome or prognosis in univariate or multivariate analysis [colorectal cancer-specific mortality hazard ratio (HR) = 0.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.29-2.26 for codon 61 mutation; colorectal cancer-specific mortality HR = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.42-1.78 for codon 146 mutation].
Conclusions
Tumors with KRAS mutations in codons 61 and 146 account for an appreciable proportion (approximately 5%) of colorectal cancers, and their clinicopathological and molecular features appear generally similar to KRAS codon 12 or 13 mutated cancers. To further assess clinical utility of KRAS codon 61 and 146 testing, large-scale trials are warranted.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-135
PMCID: PMC4051153  PMID: 24885062
Clinical outcome; Colon cancer; Genetic change; RAF; RAS

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