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1.  Intermittent Metronomic Drug Schedule Is Essential for Activating Antitumor Innate Immunity and Tumor Xenograft Regression12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):84-96.
Metronomic chemotherapy using cyclophosphamide (CPA) is widely associated with antiangiogenesis; however, recent studies implicate other immune-based mechanisms, including antitumor innate immunity, which can induce major tumor regression in implanted brain tumor models. This study demonstrates the critical importance of drug schedule: CPA induced a potent antitumor innate immune response and tumor regression when administered intermittently on a 6-day repeating metronomic schedule but not with the same total exposure to activated CPA administered on an every 3-day schedule or using a daily oral regimen that serves as the basis for many clinical trials of metronomic chemotherapy. Notably, the more frequent metronomic CPA schedules abrogated the antitumor innate immune and therapeutic responses. Further, the innate immune response and antitumor activity both displayed an unusually steep dose-response curve and were not accompanied by antiangiogenesis. The strong recruitment of innate immune cells by the 6-day repeating CPA schedule was not sustained, and tumor regression was abolished, by a moderate (25%) reduction in CPA dose. Moreover, an ∼20% increase in CPA dose eliminated the partial tumor regression and weak innate immune cell recruitment seen in a subset of the every 6-day treated tumors. Thus, metronomic drug treatment must be at a sufficiently high dose but also sufficiently well spaced in time to induce strong sustained antitumor immune cell recruitment. Many current clinical metronomic chemotherapeutic protocols employ oral daily low-dose schedules that do not meet these requirements, suggesting that they may benefit from optimization designed to maximize antitumor immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3924543  PMID: 24563621
2.  SPOP Mutations in Prostate Cancer across Demographically Diverse Patient Cohorts12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):14-20.
Recurrent mutations in the Speckle-Type POZ Protein (SPOP) gene occur in up to 15% of prostate cancers. However, the frequency and features of cancers with these mutations across different populations is unknown.
To investigate SPOP mutations across diverse cohorts and validate a series of assays employing high-resolution melting (HRM) analysis and Sanger sequencing for mutational analysis of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded material.
Design, Setting, and Participants
720 prostate cancer samples from six international cohorts spanning Caucasian, African American, and Asian patients, including both prostate-specific antigen-screened and unscreened populations, were screened for their SPOP mutation status. Status of SPOP was correlated to molecular features (ERG rearrangement, PTEN deletion, and CHD1 deletion) as well as clinical and pathologic features.
Results and Limitations
Overall frequency of SPOP mutations was 8.1% (4.6% to 14.4%), SPOP mutation was inversely associated with ERG rearrangement (P < .01), and SPOP mutant (SPOPmut) cancers had higher rates of CHD1 deletions (P < .01). There were no significant differences in biochemical recurrence in SPOPmut cancers. Limitations of this study include missing mutational data due to sample quality and lack of power to identify a difference in clinical outcomes.
SPOP is mutated in 4.6% to 14.4% of patients with prostate cancer across different ethnic and demographic backgrounds. There was no significant association between SPOP mutations with ethnicity, clinical, or pathologic parameters. Mutual exclusivity of SPOP mutation with ERG rearrangement as well as a high association with CHD1 deletion reinforces SPOP mutation as defining a distinct molecular subclass of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3924544  PMID: 24563616
3.  Personalized Ovarian Cancer Disease Surveillance and Detection of Candidate Therapeutic Drug Target in Circulating Tumor DNA12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):97-103.
Retrospective studies have demonstrated that nearly 50% of patients with ovarian cancer with normal cancer antigen 125 (CA125) levels have persistent disease; however, prospectively distinguishing between patients is currently impossible. Here, we demonstrate that for one patient, with the first reported fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) fusion transcript in ovarian cancer, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is a more sensitive and specific biomarker than CA125, and it can also inform on a candidate therapeutic. For a 4-year period, during which the patient underwent primary debulking surgery and chemotherapy, tumor recurrences, and multiple chemotherapeutic regimens, blood samples were longitudinally collected and stored. Whereas postsurgical CA125 levels were elevated only three times for 28 measurements, the FGFR2 fusion ctDNA biomarker was readily detectable by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in all of these same blood samples and in the tumor recurrences. Given the persistence of the FGFR2 fusion, we treated tumor cells derived from this patient and others with the FGFR2 inhibitor BGJ398. Only tumor cells derived from this patient were sensitive to FGFR2 inhibitor treatment. Using the same methodologic approach, we demonstrate in a second patient with a different fusion that PCR and agarose gel electrophoresis can also be used to identify tumor-specific DNA in the circulation. Taken together, we demonstrate that a relatively inexpensive, PCR-based ctDNA surveillance assay can outperform CA125 in identifying occult disease.
PMCID: PMC3924545  PMID: 24563622
4.  HLA Class II Antigen Expression in Colorectal Carcinoma Tumors as a Favorable Prognostic Marker12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):31-42.
The goal of this study was to determine the frequency of HLA class II antigen expression in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) tumors, its association with the clinical course of the disease, and the underlying mechanism(s). Two tissue microarrays constructed with 220 and 778 CRC tumors were stained with HLA-DR, DQ, and DP antigen-specific monoclonal antibody LGII-612.14, using the immunoperoxidase staining technique. The immunohistochemical staining results were correlated with the clinical course of the disease. The functional role of HLA class II antigens expressed on CRC cells was analyzed by investigating their in vitro interactions with immune cells. HLA class II antigens were expressed in about 25% of the 220 and 21% of the 778 tumors analyzed with an overall frequency of 23%. HLA class II antigens were detected in 19% of colorectal adenomas. Importantly, the percentage of stained cells and the staining intensity were significantly lower than those detected in CRC tumors. However, HLA class II antigen staining was weakly detected only in 5.4% of 37 normal mucosa tissues. HLA class II antigen expression was associated with a favorable clinical course of the disease. In vitro stimulation with interferon gamma (IFNγ) induced HLA class II antigen expression on two of the four CRC cell lines tested. HLA class II antigen expression on CRC cells triggered interleukin-1β (IL-1β) production by resting monocytes. HLA class II antigen expression in CRC tumors is a favorable prognostic marker. This association may reflect stimulation of IL-1β production by monocytes.
PMCID: PMC3924546  PMID: 24563618
5.  Multispectral Fluorescence Ultramicroscopy: Three-Dimensional Visualization and Automatic Quantification of Tumor Morphology, Drug Penetration, and Antiangiogenic Treatment Response12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):1-13.
Classic histology still represents the gold standard in tumor tissue analytics. However, two-dimensional analysis of single tissue slides does not provide a representative overview of the inhomogeneous tumor physiology, and a detailed analysis of complex three-dimensional structures is not feasible with this technique. To overcome this problem, we applied multispectral fluorescence ultramicroscopy (UM) to the field of tumor analysis. Optical sectioning of cleared tumor specimen provides the possibility to three-dimensionally acquire relevant tumor parameters on a cellular resolution. To analyze the virtual UM tumor data sets, we created a novel set of algorithms enabling the fully automatic segmentation and quantification of multiple tumor parameters. This new postmortem imaging technique was applied to determine the therapeutic treatment effect of bevacizumab on the vessel architecture of orthotopic KPL-4 breast cancer xenografts at different time points. A significant reduction of the vessel volume, number of vessel segments, and branching points in the tumor periphery was already detectable 1 day after initiation of treatment. These parameters remained virtually unchanged in the center of the tumor. Furthermore, bevacizumab-induced vessel normalization and reduction in vascular permeability diminished the penetration behavior of trastuzumab-Alexa 750 into tumor tissue. Our results demonstrated that this newimaging method enables the three-dimensional visualization and fully automatic quantification of multiple tumor parameters and drug penetration on a cellular level. Therefore,UM is a valuable tool for cancer research and drug development. It bridges the gap between common macroscopic and microscopic imaging modalities and opens up new three-dimensional (3D) insights in tumor biology.
PMCID: PMC3924547  PMID: 24563615
6.  Doubling Down on the PI3K-AKT-mTOR Pathway Enhances the Antitumor Efficacy of PARP Inhibitor in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Model beyond BRCA-ness12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):43-72.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, in addition to its pro-proliferative and antiapoptotic effects on tumor cells, contributes to DNA damage repair (DDR). We hypothesized that GDC-0980, a dual PI3K-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, would induce an efficient antitumor effect in BRCA-competent triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) model when combined with ABT888 and carboplatin. Mechanism-based in vitro studies demonstrated that GDC-0980 treatment alone or in combination led to DNA damage (increased pγH2AXS139; Western blot, immunofluorescence), gain in poly ADP-ribose (PAR), and a subsequent sensitization of BRCA-competent TNBC cells to ABT888 plus carboplatin with a time-dependent 1) decrease in proliferation signals (pAKTT308/S473, pP70S6KT421/S424, pS6RPS235/236), PAR/poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) ratios, PAR/pγH2AX ratios, live/dead cell ratios, cell cycle progression, and three-dimensional clonogenic growths and 2) increase in apoptosis markers (cleaved caspases 3 and 9, a pro-apoptotic BH3-only of Bcl-2 family (BIM), cleaved PARP, annexin V). The combination was effective in vitro in BRCA-wild-type PIK3CA-H1047R-mutated BT20 and PTEN-null HCC70 cells. The combination blocked the growth of established xenograft tumors by 80% to 90% with a concomitant decrease in tumor Ki67, CD31, phosphorylated vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, pS6RPS235/236, and p4EBP1T37/46 as well as an increase in cleaved caspase 3 immunohistochemistry (IHC) levels. Interestingly, a combination with GDC-0941, a pan-PI3K inhibitor, failed to block the tumor growth in MDA-MB231. Results demonstrate that the dual inhibition of PI3K and mTOR regulates DDR. In a BRCA-competent model, GDC-0980 enhanced the antitumor activity of ABT888 plus carboplatin by inhibiting both tumor cell proliferation and tumor-induced angiogenesis along with an increase in the tumor cell apoptosis. This is the first mechanism-based study to demonstrate the integral role of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway in DDR-mediated antitumor action of PARP inhibitor in TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3924548  PMID: 24563619
7.  Paradoxically Augmented Anti-Tumorigenic Action of Proton Pump Inhibitor and GastrininAPCMin/+ Intestinal Polyposis Model12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):73-83.
Though long-term administration of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) imposed the risk of gastrointestinal track tumorigenesis by accompanied hypergastrinemia, no overt increases of colon cancer risk were witnessed after a long-term cohort study. Our recent investigation revealed that PPI prevented colitis-associated carcinogenesis through anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-mutagenic mechanisms in spite of hypergastrinemia. Therefore, we hypothesized that PPI might either antagonize the trophic action of gastrin on gastrointestinal tumorigenesis or synergize to exert augmented anti-tumorigenic actions. We challenged APCMin/+ mice with gastrin, PPI, PPI and gastrin together for 10 weeks and counted intestinal polyposis accompanied with molecular changes. Gastrin significantly increased intestinal polyposis, but combination of PPI and gastrin markedly attenuated intestinal polyposis compared to gastrin-promoted APCMin/+ mice (P < .001), in which significant β-catenin phosphorylation and inhibition of β-catenin nuclear translocation were observed with PPI alone or combination of PPI and gastrin, whereas gastrin treatment significantly increased β-catenin nuclear translocation. Significant footprints of apoptosis, G0/G1 accumulation, inactivation of p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase, decreased expressions of CD31, and inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-α and cyclooxygenase-2 were noted in the combination group. In vitro investigations were similar to in vivo findings as shown that PPI treatment inhibited the binding of gastrin to its receptor, inactivated β-catenin-associated signaling including Tcf/Lef and glycogen synthase kinase β, and paradoxically inhibited β-catenin-associated proliferative activities. Our investigations explain why colon cancer risk has not increased despite long-term use of PPIs and provide a rationale for using PPI to achieve anti-tumorigenesis beyond acid suppression.
PMCID: PMC3924549  PMID: 24563620
8.  Chromatin Redistribution of the DEK Oncoprotein Represses hTERT Transcription in Leukemias12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(1):21-30.
Although numerous factors have been found to modulate hTERT transcription, the mechanism of its repression in certain leukemias remains unknown. We show here that DEK represses hTERT transcription through its enrichment on the hTERT promoter in cells from chronic and acute myeloid leukemias, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but not acute lymphocytic leukemias where hTERT is overexpressed. We isolated DEK from the hTERT promoter incubated with nuclear extracts derived from fresh acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cells and from cells expressing Tax, an hTERT repressor encoded by the human T cell leukemia virus type 1. In addition to the recruitment of DEK, the displacement of two potent known hTERT transactivators from the hTERT promoter characterized both AML cells and Tax-expressing cells. Reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays permitted to map the region that supports the repressive effect of DEK on hTERT transcription, which was proportionate to the level of DEK-promoter association but not with the level of DEK expression. Besides hTERT repression, this context of chromatin redistribution of DEK was found to govern about 40% of overall transcriptional modifications, including those of cancer-prone genes. In conclusion, DEK emerges as an hTERT repressor shared by various leukemia subtypes and seems involved in the deregulation of numerous genes associated with leukemogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3927101  PMID: 24563617
9.  Supplementation of Nicotinic Acid with NAMPT Inhibitors Results in Loss of In Vivo Efficacy in NAPRT1-Deficient Tumor Models1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1314-1329.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a metabolite essential for cell survival and generated de novo from tryptophan or recycled from nicotinamide (NAM) through the nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT)-dependent salvage pathway. Alternatively, nicotinic acid (NA) is metabolized to NAD through the nicotinic acid phosphoribosyltransferase domain containing 1 (NAPRT1)-dependent salvage pathway. Tumor cells are more reliant on the NAMPT salvage pathway making this enzyme an attractive therapeutic target. Moreover, the therapeutic index of NAMPT inhibitors may be increased by in NAPRT-deficient tumors by NA supplementation as normal tissues may regenerate NAD through NAPRT1. To confirm the latter, we tested novel NAMPT inhibitors, GNE-617 and GNE-618, in cell culture- and patient-derived tumor models. While NA did not protect NAPRT1-deficient tumor cell lines from NAMPT inhibition in vitro, it rescued efficacy of GNE-617 and GNE-618 in cell culture- and patient-derived tumor xenografts in vivo. NA co-treatment increased NAD and NAM levels in NAPRT1-deficient tumors to levels that sustained growth in vivo. Furthermore, NAM co-administration with GNE-617 led to increased tumor NAD levels and rescued in vivo efficacy as well. Importantly, tumor xenografts remained NAPRT1-deficient in the presence of NA, indicating that the NAPRT1-dependent pathway is not reactivated. Protection of NAPRT1-deficient tumors in vivo may be due to increased circulating levels of metabolites generated by mouse liver, in response to NA or through competitive reactivation of NAMPT by NAM. Our results have important implications for the development of NAMPT inhibitors when considering NA co-treatment as a rescue strategy.
PMCID: PMC3884523  PMID: 24403854
10.  Inflammatory Factors of the Tumor Microenvironment Induce Plasticity in Nontransformed Breast Epithelial Cells: EMT, Invasion, and Collapse of Normally Organized Breast Textures12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1330-1346.
Nontransformed breast epithelial cells that are adjacent to tumor cells are constantly exposed to tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), two inflammatory cytokines identified as having pro-tumoral causative roles. We show that continuous stimulation of nontransformed breast epithelial cells by TNFα + IL-1β for 2 to 3 weeks induced their spreading and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The mechanistic bases for this slow induction of EMT by TNFα + IL-1β are: 1) it took 2 to 3 weeks for the cytokines to induce the expression of the EMT activators Zeb1 and Snail; 2) although Twist has amplified the EMT-inducing activities of Zeb1 + Snail, its expression was reduced by TNFα + IL-1β; however, the lack of Twist was compensated by prolonged stimulation with TNFα + IL-1β that has potentiated the EMT-inducing activities of Zeb1 + Snail. Stimulation by TNFα + IL-1β has induced the following dissemination-related properties in the nontransformed cells: 1) up-regulation of functional matrix metalloproteinases; 2) induction of migratory and invasive capabilities; 3) disruption of the normal phenotype of organized three-dimensional acini structures typically formed only by nontransformed breast cells and spreading of nontransformed cells out of such acini. Our findings suggest that TNFα + IL-1β induce dissemination of nontransformed breast epithelial cells and their reseeding at the primary tumor site; if, then, such detached cells are exposed to transforming events, they may form secondary malignant focus and lead to disease recurrence. Thus, our study reveals novel pathways through which the inflammatory microenvironment may contribute to relapsed disease in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3884524  PMID: 24403855
11.  Quantitative Analysis of [11C]-Erlotinib PET Demonstrates Specific Binding for Activating Mutations of the EGFR Kinase Domain1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1347-1353.
Activating mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) occur in multiple tumor types, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and malignant glioma, and have become targets for therapeutic intervention. The determination of EGFR mutation status using a noninvasive, molecular imaging approach has the potential for clinical utility. In this study, we investigated [11C]-erlotinib positron emission tomography (PET) imaging as a tool to identify activating mutations of EGFR in both glioma and NSCLC xenografts. Radiotracer specific binding was determined for high and low specific activity (SA) [11C]-erlotinib PET scans in mice bearing synchronous human cancer xenografts with different EGFR expression profiles (PC9, HCC827, U87, U87 ΔEGFR, and SW620). Although xenograft immunohistochemistry demonstrated constitutive EGFR phosphorylation, PET scan analysis using the Simplified Reference Tissue Model showed that only kinase domain mutant NSCLC (HCC827 and PC9) had significantly greater binding potentials in high versus low SA scans. Xenografts with undetectable EGFR expression (SW620), possessing wild-type EGFR (U87), and expressing an activating extracellular domain mutation (U87 ΔEGFR) were indistinguishable under both high and low SA scan conditions. The results suggest that [11C]-erlotinib is a promising radiotracer that could provide a novel clinical methodology for assessing EGFR and erlotinib interactions in patients with tumors that harbor EGFR-activating kinase domain mutations.
PMCID: PMC3884525  PMID: 24403856
12.  Synthetic Lethality Screen Identifies RPS6KA2 as Modifier of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Activity in Pancreatic Cancer12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1354-1362.
Pancreatic cancer is characterized by a high degree of resistance to chemotherapy. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition using the small-molecule inhibitor erlotinib was shown to provide a small survival benefit in a subgroup of patients. To identify kinases whose inhibition acts synergistically with erlotinib, we employed a kinome-wide small-interfering RNA (siRNA)-based loss-of-function screen in the presence of erlotinib. Of 779 tested kinases, we identified several targets whose inhibition acted synergistically lethal with EGFR inhibition by erlotinib, among them the S6 kinase ribosomal protein S6 kinase 2 (RPS6KA2)/ribosomal S6 kinase 3. Activated RPS6KA2 was expressed in approximately 40% of 123 human pancreatic cancer tissues. RPS6KA2 was shown to act downstream of EGFR/RAS/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular-signal regulated kinase (ERK) signaling and was activated by EGF independently of the presence of KRAS mutations. Knockdown of RPS6KA2 by siRNA led to increased apoptosis only in the presence of erlotinib, whereas RPS6KA2 activation or overexpression rescued from erlotinib- and gemcitabine-induced apoptosis. This effect was at least in part mediated by downstream activation of ribosomal protein S6. Genetic as well as pharmacological inhibition of RPS6KA2 by the inhibitor BI-D1870 acted synergistically with erlotinib. By applying this synergistic lethality screen using a kinome-wide RNA interference-library approach, we identified RPS6KA2 as potential drug target whose inhibition synergistically enhanced the effect of erlotinib on tumor cell survival. This kinase therefore represents a promising drug candidate suitable for the development of novel inhibitors for pancreatic cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3884526  PMID: 24403857
13.  N-Myc Differentially Regulates Expression of MXI1 Isoforms in Neuroblastoma1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1363-1370.
Amplification of the MYCN proto-oncogene is associated with a poor prognosis in patients with metastatic neuroblastoma (NB). MYCN encodes the N-Myc protein, a transcriptional regulator that dimerizes with the Max transcription factor, binds to E-box DNA sequences, and regulates genes involved in cell growth and apoptosis. Overexpression of N-Myc leads to transcriptional activation and an increase in NB cell proliferation. Mxi1, a member of the Myc family of transcriptional regulators, also binds to Max. However, Mxi1 is a transcriptional repressor and inhibits proliferation of NB cells, suggesting that Mxi1 functions as an N-Myc antagonist. Our laboratory previously identified Mxi1-0, an alternatively transcribed Mxi1 isoform. Mxi1-0 has properties distinct from those of Mxi1; in contrast to Mxi1, Mxi1-0 is unable to suppress c-Myc-dependent transcription. We now show that Mxi1-0 expression increases in response to MYCN overexpression in NB cells, with a positive correlation between MYCN and MXI1-0 RNA levels. We also show that N-Myc expression differentially regulates the MXI1 and MXI1-0 promoters: Increased MYCN expression suppresses MXI1 promoter activity while enhancing transcription through the MXI1-0 promoter. Finally, induction of Mxi1-0 leads to increased proliferation, whereas expression of Mxi1 inhibits cell growth, indicating differential roles for these two proteins. These data suggest that N-Myc differentially regulates the expression of MXI1 and MXI1-0 and can alter the balance between the two transcription factors. Furthermore, MXI1-0 appears to be a downstream target of MYCN-dependent signaling pathways and may contribute to N-Myc-dependent cell growth and proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3884527  PMID: 24403858
14.  Tumor Evolution and Intratumor Heterogeneity of an Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Revealed by Whole-Genome Sequencing12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1371-1378.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is characterized by significant genomic instability that could lead to clonal diversity. Intratumor clonal heterogeneity has been proposed as a major attribute underlying tumor evolution, progression, and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. Understanding genetic heterogeneity could lead to treatments specific to resistant and metastatic tumor cells. To characterize the degree of intratumor genetic heterogeneity within a single tumor, we performed whole-genome sequencing on three separate regions of an human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma and two separate regions from one corresponding cervical lymph node metastasis. This approach achieved coverage of approximately 97.9% of the genome across all samples. In total, 5701 somatic point mutations (SPMs) and 4347 small somatic insertions and deletions (indels)were detected in at least one sample. Ninety-two percent of SPMs and 77% of indels were validated in a second set of samples adjacent to the discovery set. All five tumor samples shared 41% of SPMs, 57% of the 1805 genes with SPMs, and 34 of 55 cancer genes. The distribution of SPMs allowed phylogenetic reconstruction of this tumor's evolutionary pathway and showed that the metastatic samples arose as a late event. The degree of intratumor heterogeneity showed that a single biopsy may not represent the entire mutational landscape of HNSCC tumors. This approach may be used to further characterize intratumor heterogeneity in more patients, and their sample-to-sample variations could reveal the evolutionary process of cancer cells, facilitate our understanding of tumorigenesis, and enable the development of novel targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3884528  PMID: 24403859
15.  Regulation of Metformin Response by Breast Cancer Associated Gene 2123 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1379-1390.
Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a master regulator of cellular energy homeostasis, has emerged as a promising molecular target in the prevention of breast cancer. Clinical trials using the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, AMPK-activating, antidiabetic drug metformin are promising in this regard, but the question of why metformin is protective for some women but not others still remains. Breast cancer associated gene 2 (BCA2/Rabring7/RNF115), a novel Really Interesting New Gene (RING) finger ubiquitin E3 ligase, is overexpressed in >50% of breast tumors. Herein, we report that BCA2 is an endogenous inhibitor of AMPK activation in breast cancer cells and that BCA2 inhibition increases the efficacy of metformin. BCA2 overexpression inhibited both basal and inducible Thr172 phosphorylation/activation of AMPKα1, while BCA2-specific small interfering RNA (siRNA) enhanced phosphorylated AMPKα1 (pAMPKα1). The AMPK-suppressive function of BCA2 requires its E3 ligase-specific RING domain, suggesting that BCA2 targets some protein controlling (de)phosphorylation of AMPKα1 for degradation. Activation of AMPK by metformin triggered a growth inhibitory signal but also increased BCA2 protein levels, which correlated with AKT activation and could be curbed by an AMPK inhibitor, suggesting a potential feedback mechanism from pAMPKα1 to pAkt to BCA2. Finally, BCA2 siRNA, or inhibition of its upstream stabilizing kinase AKT, increased the growth inhibitory effect of metformin in multiple breast cancer cell lines, supporting the conclusion that BCA2 weakens metformin's efficacy. Our data suggest that metformin in combination with a BCA2 inhibitor may be a more effective breast cancer treatment strategy than metformin alone.
PMCID: PMC3884529  PMID: 24403860
16.  Combining Molecular Targeted Drugs to Inhibit Both Cancer Cells and Activated Stromal Cells in Gastric Cancer1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1391-1399.
Recent studies have revealed that PDGF plays a role in promoting progressive tumor growth in several cancers, including gastric cancer. Cancer-associated fibroblasts, pericytes, and lymphatic endothelial cells in stroma express high levels of PDGF receptor (PDGF-R); cancer cells and vascular endothelial cells do not. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine kinase that increases the production of proteins that stimulate key cellular processes such as cell growth and proliferation, cell metabolism, and angiogenesis. In the present study, we examined the effects of PDGF-R tyrosine kinase inhibitor (nilotinib) and mTOR inhibitor (everolimus) on tumor stroma in an orthotopic nude mice model of human gastric cancer. Expression of PDGF-B and PDGF-Rβ mRNAs was associated with stromal volume. Treatment with nilotinib did not suppress tumor growth but significantly decreased stromal reactivity, lymphatic invasion, lymphatic vessel area, and pericyte coverage of tumor microvessels. In contrast, treatment with everolimus decreased tumor growth and microvessel density but not stromal reactivity. Nilotinib and everolimus in combination reduced both the growth rate and stromal reaction. Target molecule-based inhibition of cancer-stromal cell interaction appears promising as an effective antitumor therapy.
PMCID: PMC3884530  PMID: 24403861
17.  Blockade of A2b Adenosine Receptor Reduces Tumor Growth and Immune Suppression Mediated by Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in a Mouse Model of Melanoma12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1400-1409.
The A2b receptor (A2bR) belongs to the adenosine receptor family. Emerging evidence suggest that A2bR is implicated in tumor progression in some murine tumor models, but the therapeutic potential of targeting A2bR in melanoma has not been examined. This study first shows that melanoma-bearing mice treated with Bay 60-6583, a selective A2bR agonist, had increased melanoma growth. This effect was associated with higher levels of immune regulatory mediators interleukin-10 (IL-10) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) and accumulation of tumor-associated CD11b positive Gr1 positive cells (CD11b+Gr1+) myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Depletion of CD11b+Gr1+ cells completely reversed the protumor activity of Bay 60-6583. Conversely, pharmacological blockade of A2bR with PSB1115 reversed immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment, leading to a significant melanoma growth delay. PSB1115 treatment reduced both levels of IL-10 and MCP-1 and CD11b+Gr1+ cell number in melanoma lesions. These effects were associated with higher frequency of tumor-infiltrating CD8 positive (CD8+) T cells and natural killer T (NKT) cells and increased levels of T helper 1 (Th1)-like cytokines. Adoptive transfer of CD11b+Gr1+ cells abrogated the antitumor activity of PSB1115. These data suggest that the antitumor activity of PSB1115 relies on its ability to lower accumulation of tumor-infiltrating MDSCs and restore an efficient antitumor T cell response. The antitumor effect of PSB1115 was not observed in melanoma-bearing nude mice. Furthermore, PSB1115 enhanced the antitumor efficacy of dacarbazine. These data indicate that A2bR antagonists such as PSB1115 should be investigated as adjuvants in the treatment of melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3884531  PMID: 24403862
18.  Cancer Subclonal Genetic Architecture as a Key to Personalized Medicine1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1410-1420.
The future of personalized oncological therapy will likely rely on evidence-based medicine to integrate all of the available evidence to delineate the most efficacious treatment option for the patient. To undertake evidence-based medicine through use of targeted therapy regimens, identification of the specific underlying causative mutation(s) driving growth and progression of a patient's tumor is imperative. Although molecular subtyping is important for planning and treatment, intraclonal genetic diversity has been recently highlighted as having significant implications for biopsy-based prognosis. Overall, delineation of the clonal architecture of a patient's cancer and how this will impact on the selection of the most efficacious therapy remain a topic of intense interest.
PMCID: PMC3884532  PMID: 24403863
19.  Estrogen Receptor β Isoform 5 Confers Sensitivity of Breast Cancer Cell Lines to Chemotherapeutic Agent-Induced Apoptosis through Interaction with Bcl2L1212 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1262-1271.
Alternative splicing of estrogen receptor β (ERβ) yields five isoforms, but their functions remain elusive. ERβ isoform 5 (ERβ5) has been positively correlated with better prognosis and longer survival of patients with breast cancer (BCa) in various clinical studies. In this study, we investigated the inhibitory role of ERβ5 in BCa cells. Although ERβ5 does not reduce proliferation of BCa cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, its ectopic expression significantly decreases their survival by sensitizing them to doxorubicin- or cisplatin-induced apoptosis through the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Moreover, we discovered Bcl2L12, which belongs to the Bcl-2 family regulating apoptosis, to be a specific interacting partner of ERβ5, but not ERβ1 or ERα, in an estradiol-independent manner. Knockdown of Bcl2L12 enhanced doxorubicin- or cisplatin-induced apoptosis, and this process was further promoted by ectopic expression of ERβ5. Whereas Bcl2L12 was previously shown to inhibit apoptosis through binding to caspase 7, such interaction is reduced in the presence of ERβ5, suggesting a mechanism by which ERβ5 sensitizes cells to apoptosis. In conclusion, ERβ5 interacts with Bcl2L12 and functions in a novel estrogen-independent molecular pathway that promotes chemotherapeutic Agent-Induced in vitro apoptosis of BCa cell lines.
PMCID: PMC3858893  PMID: 24339738
20.  Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres: Recurrent Cytogenetic Aberrations and Chromosome Stability under Extreme Telomere Dysfunction12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1301-1313.
Human tumors using the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) exert high rates of telomere dysfunction. Numerical chromosomal aberrations are very frequent, and structural rearrangements are widely scattered among the genome. This challenging context allows the study of telomere dysfunction-driven chromosomal instability in neoplasia (CIN) in a massive scale. We used molecular cytogenetics to achieve detailed karyotyping in 10 human ALT neoplastic cell lines. We identified 518 clonal recombinant chromosomes affected by 649 structural rearrangements. While all human chromosomes were involved in random or clonal, terminal, or pericentromeric rearrangements and were capable to undergo telomere healing at broken ends, a differential recombinatorial propensity of specific genomic regions was noted. We show that ALT cells undergo epigenetic modifications rendering polycentric chromosomes functionally monocentric, and because of increased terminal recombinogenicity, they generate clonal recombinant chromosomes with interstitial telomeric repeats. Losses of chromosomes 13, X, and 22, gains of 2, 3, 5, and 20, and translocation/deletion events involving several common chromosomal fragile sites (CFSs) were recurrent. Long-term reconstitution of telomerase activity in ALT cells reduced significantly the rates of random ongoing telomeric and pericentromeric CIN. However, the contribution of CFS in overall CIN remained unaffected, suggesting that in ALT cells whole-genome replication stress is not suppressed by telomerase activation. Our results provide novel insights into ALT-driven CIN, unveiling in parallel specific genomic sites that may harbor genes critical for ALT cancerous cell growth.
PMCID: PMC3858894  PMID: 24339742
21.  ETV6/RUNX1 Induces Reactive Oxygen Species and Drives the Accumulation of DNA Damage in B Cells1 2 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1292-1300.
The t(12;21)(p13;q22) chromosomal translocation is the most frequent translocation in childhood B cell precursor-acute lymphoblastic leukemia and results in the expression of an ETV6/RUNX1 fusion protein. The frequency of ETV6/RUNX1 fusions in newborns clearly exceeds the leukemia rate revealing that additional events occur in ETV6/RUNX1-positive cells for leukemic transformation. Hitherto, the mechanisms triggering these second hits remain largely elusive. Thus, we generated a novel ETV6/RUNX1 transgenic mouse model where the expression of the fusion protein is restricted to CD19+ B cells. These animals harbor regular B cell development and lack gross abnormalities. We established stable pro-B cell lines carrying the ETV6/RUNX1 transgene that allowed us to investigate whether ETV6/RUNX1 itself favors the acquisition of second hits. Remarkably, these pro-B cell lines as well as primary bone marrow cells derived from ETV6/RUNX1 transgenic animals display elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as tested with ETV6/RUNX1 transgenic dihydroethidium staining. In line, intracellular phospho-histone H2AX flow cytometry and comet assay revealed increased DNA damage indicating that ETV6/RUNX1 expression enhances ROS. On the basis of our data, we propose the following model: the expression of ETV6/RUNX1 creates a preleukemic clone and leads to increased ROS levels. These elevated ROS favor the accumulation of secondary hits by increasing genetic instability and double-strand breaks, thus allowing preleukemic clones to develop into fully transformed leukemic cells.
PMCID: PMC3858895  PMID: 24339741
22.  Hepatitis B Virus X Protein Inhibits Tumor Suppressor miR-205 through Inducing Hypermethylation of miR-205 Promoter to Enhance Carcinogenesis12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1282-1291.
The infection of hepatitis B virus (HBV) is closely associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), in which HBV X protein (HBx) plays crucial roles. MicroRNAs are involved in diverse biologic functions and in carcinogenesis by regulating gene expression. In the present study, we aim to investigate the underlying mechanism by which HBx enhances hepatocarcinogenesis. We found that miR-205 was downregulated in 33 clinical HCC tissues in comparison with adjacent noncancerous hepatic tissues. The expression levels of miR-205 were inversely correlated with those of HBx in abovementioned tissues. Then, we demonstrated that HBx was able to suppress miR-205 expression in hepatoma and liver cells. We validated that miR-205 directly targeted HBx mRNA. Ectopic expression of miR-205 downregulated HBx, whereas depletion of endogenous miR-205 upregulated HBx in hepatoma cells. Notably, our data revealed that HBx downregulated miR-205 through inducing hypermethylation of miR-205 promoter in the cells. In terms of function, the forced miR-205 expression remarkably inhibited the HBx-enhanced proliferation of hepatoma cells in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that miR-205 is a potential tumor-suppressive gene in HCC. HBx-transgenic mice showed that miR-205 was downregulated in the liver. Importantly, HBx was able to abrogate the effect of miR-205 on tumor suppression in carcinogenesis. Therefore, we conclude that HBx is able to inhibit tumor suppressor miR-205 to enhance hepatocarcinogenesis through inducing hypermethylation of miR-205 promoter during their interaction. Therapeutically, miR-205 may be useful in the treatment of HCC.
PMCID: PMC3858896  PMID: 24339740
23.  The Oncogenic Polycomb Histone Methyltransferase EZH2 Methylates Lysine 120 on Histone H2B and Competes Ubiquitination12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1251-1261.
The histone methyltransferase enhancer of zeste 2 (EZH2) is known to be a polycomb protein homologous to Drosophila enhancer of zeste and catalyzes the addition of methyl groups to histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27). We previously reported that EZH2 was overexpressed in various types of cancer and plays a crucial role in the cell cycle regulation of cancer cells. In the present study, we demonstrated that EZH2 has the function to monomethylate lysine 120 on histone H2B (H2BK120). EZH2-dependent H2BK120 methylation in cancer cells was confirmed with an H2BK120 methylation-specific antibody. Overexpression of EZH2 significantly attenuated the ubiquitination of H2BK120, a key posttranslational modification of histones for transcriptional regulation. Concordantly, knockdown of EZH2 increased the ubiquitination level of H2BK120, suggesting that the methylation of H2BK120 by EZH2 may competitively inhibit the ubiquitination of H2BK120. Subsequent chromatin immunoprecipitation-Seq and microarray analyses identified downstream candidate genes regulated by EZH2 through the methylation of H2BK120. This is the first report to describe a novel substrate of EZH2, H2BK120, unveiling a new aspect of EZH2 functions in human carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3858897  PMID: 24339737
24.  Mapping In Vivo Tumor Oxygenation within Viable Tumor by 19F-MRI and Multispectral Analysis1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1241-1250.
Quantifying oxygenation in viable tumor remains a major obstacle toward a better understanding of the tumor micro-environment and improving treatment strategies. Current techniques are often complicated by tumor heterogeneity. Herein, a novel in vivo approach that combines 19F magnetic resonance imaging (19F-MRI) R1 mapping with diffusion-based multispectral (MS) analysis is introduced. This approach restricts the partial pressure of oxygen (pO2) measurements to viable tumor, the tissue of therapeutic interest. The technique exhibited sufficient sensitivity to detect a breathing gas challenge in a xenograft tumor model, and the hypoxic region measured by MS 19F-MRI was strongly correlated with histologic estimates of hypoxia. This approach was then applied to address the effects of antivascular agents on tumor oxygenation, which is a research question that is still under debate. The technique was used to monitor longitudinal pO2 changes in response to an antibody to vascular endothelial growth factor (B20.4.1.1) and a selective dual phosphoinositide 3-kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor (GDC-0980). GDC-0980 reduced viable tumor pO2 during a 3-day treatment period, and a significant reduction was also produced by B20.4.1.1. Overall, this method provides an unprecedented view of viable tumor pO2 and contributes to a greater understanding of the effects of antivascular therapies on the tumor's microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3858898  PMID: 24339736
25.  PTEN Phosphatase-Independent Maintenance of Glandular Morphology in a Predictive Colorectal Cancer Model System1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(11):1218-1230.
Organotypic models may provide mechanistic insight into colorectal cancer (CRC) morphology. Three-dimensional (3D) colorectal gland formation is regulated by phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) coupling of cell division cycle 42 (cdc42) to atypical protein kinase C (aPKC). This study investigated PTEN phosphatase-dependent and phosphatase-independent morphogenic functions in 3D models and assessed translational relevance in human studies. Isogenic PTEN-expressing or PTEN-deficient 3D colorectal cultures were used. In translational studies, apical aPKC activity readout was assessed against apical membrane (AM) orientation and gland morphology in 3D models and human CRC. We found that catalytically active or inactive PTEN constructs containing an intact C2 domain enhanced cdc42 activity, whereas mutants of the C2 domain calcium binding region 3 membrane-binding loop (M-CBR3) were ineffective. The isolated PTEN C2 domain (C2) accumulated in membrane fractions, but C2 M-CBR3 remained in cytosol. Transfection of C2 but not C2 M-CBR3 rescued defective AM orientation and 3D morphogenesis of PTEN-deficient Caco-2 cultures. The signal intensity of apical phospho-aPKC correlated with that of Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor-1 (NHERF-1) in the 3D model. Apical NHERF-1 intensity thus provided readout of apical aPKC activity and associated with glandular morphology in the model system and human colon. Low apical NHERF-1 intensity in CRC associated with disruption of glandular architecture, high cancer grade, and metastatic dissemination. We conclude that the membrane-binding function of the catalytically inert PTEN C2 domain influences cdc42/aPKC-dependent AM dynamics and gland formation in a highly relevant 3D CRC morphogenesis model system.
PMCID: PMC3858899  PMID: 24348097

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