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1.  The Effects of the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Romidepsin (FK228) Are Enhanced by Aspirin (ASA) in COX-1 Positive Ovarian Cancer Cells through Augmentation of p21 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(11):928-935.
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors have shown preclinical efficacy in solid tumors, including ovarian cancers. Our group has published that the HDAC inhibitor, romidepsin (FK228) suppresses ovarian cancer cell growth at nanomolar concentrations in vitro. HDAC inhibitors appear to be even more effective when used in combination with other anti-tumor agents. However, it remains unclear which anti-tumor agents are best suited for combination therapy. A recent report suggested that aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, ASA) is synergistic with HDAC inhibitors in ovarian cancer cells. ASA is a relatively selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and has anti-proliferative effects in ovarian cancer cells. The goal of this study was to investigate the impact of ASA on the activity of the HDAC inhibitor, FK228 in COX-1 positive (OVCAR-3) and COX-1 negative (SKOV-3) human ovarian cancer cell lines. The growth inhibitory effects of FK228 were enhanced by ASA in COX-1 positive ovarian cancer cells. In contrast, ASA had no influence on the results of FK228 treatment in COX-1 negative ovarian cancer cells. Upregulation of the cell cycle control protein p21 was induced robustly by FK228 in both cell lines. In the COX-1 positive cells, p21 expression was augmented by the addition of ASA to FK228 treatment. Furthermore, COX-1 siRNA attenuated the effects of combined ASA and FK228 on the levels of p21 expression and the amount of growth inhibition. The additional increase in p21 by ASA in FK228-treated cells was not observed at the promoter or transcriptional levels. However, a significant delay in p21 protein degradation in the presence of ASA and FK228 in COX-1 positive cells was associated with inhibition of proteasome activity. Our study provides a potential rationale for combining ASA with HDAC inhibitors in a subset of ovarian cancers.
PMCID: PMC4047717  PMID: 20404564
Ovarian cancer; romidepsin; aspirin; p21; HDAC inhibitors; COX inhibitors; cell cycle control
2.  Modulating the tumor microenvironment to increase radiation responsiveness 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(21):1994-2001.
Radiosensitivity can be influenced both by factors intrinsic and extrinsic to the cancer cell. One of the factors in the tumor microenvironment (TME) extrinsic to the cancer cell that can affect radiosensitivity is oxygenation. Severely hypoxic cells require a 2–3 fold higher dose of radiation to achieve the same level of cell killing as do well-oxygenated cells. Other elements in the microenvironment that may influence tumor radiosensitivity are the response of stromal cells to radiation and the expression of factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). There are currently several classes of agents that may increase tumor radiosensitivity by modulating the TME. Pre-clinical evidence indicates that inhibition of VEGF may increase local control after radiation. Several mechanisms have been postulated to explain this including radiosensitization of tumor endothelial cells, prevention of the establishment of new vasculature post-radiation, and increased oxygenation secondary to vascular normalization. Agents targeting HIF-1 also increase local control after radiation in pre-clinical models. This may occur via indirect inhibition of VEGF, which is a downstream target of HIF-1, or by VEGF-independent means. When combined with radiation, the EGFR inhibitor cetuximab improves local control and survival in patients with head and neck cancer. Pre-clinical data indicate that EGFR inhibitors can increase the intrinsic radiosensitivity of cancer cells. They can also improve tumor blood flow and oxygenation, which may increase extrinsic radiosensitivity. One of the pathways downstream of EGFR that may contribute to this effect is the PI3K/Akt pathway. Agents that directly inhibit this pathway improve blood flow and increase tumor oxygenation in pre-clinical models. The challenge remains to obtain clinical data from patients showing that modulation of the TME is an important mechanism by which biological agents can radiosensitize tumors and then to utilize this information to optimize therapy.
PMCID: PMC3965173  PMID: 19823031
radiation; radiosensitization; vascular normalization; EGFR; VEGF; HIF; PI3 kinase; Akt; tumor microenvironment
3.  Docosahexaenoic acid induces dose dependent cell death in an early undifferentiated subtype of acute myeloid leukemia cell line 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(4):331-337.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most frequently diagnosed adulthood leukemia, yet current therapies offer a cure rate of less than 30%. This may be due in part to the fact that the leukemia-initiating cells in AML reside within the rare and highly primitive CD34+CD38- hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSC) population that are often resistant to chemotherapy. Docosahexanoic acid (DHA), a major component of fish oil, has previously been shown to inhibit the induction and progression of breast, prostate and colon cancer, and increase the therapeutic effects of numerous chemotherapeutics, often by enhancing apoptosis. In the present studies, we investigated DHA's effect on the primitive and undifferentiated AML cell line KG1a, to explore the potential of this fatty acid to serve as adjuvant therapy for AML. Treatment of KG1a cells with DHA for 96 hours did not lead to maturation or cell cycle modification when compared to an untreated KG1a control (n = 4). However, DHA treatment of KG1a cells resulted in a progressive loss of viability, DNA fragmentation, and an increase in Annexin V expression, demonstrating DHA-induced apoptosis (n = 4). Moreover, expression of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax was increased, with resultant skewing in the Bax/bcl-2 ratio, providing a mechanistic explanation for the observed DHA-induced increase in apoptosis. Since we also show that DHA does not have a detrimental effect on normal hematopoiesis our results suggest that DHA could potentially serve as an well-tolerated adjuvant in the treatment of AML patients.
PMCID: PMC3954154  PMID: 19197149
docosahexaenoic acid; DHA; KG1a; acute myeloid leukemia; apoptosis; Bax; Bcl2
4.  Suppression of Proliferation of Two Independent NF1 Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Cell Lines by the pan-ErbB Inhibitor CI-1033 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(12):1938-1946.
Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) is characterized by the abnormal proliferation of neuroectodermal tissues and the development of certain malignancies, particularly neurofibromas, which may progress into malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). Effective pharmacological therapy for the treatment of NF1 tumors is currently unavailable, and the prognosis for patients with MPNSTs is poor. Loss of neurofibromin correlates with increased expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB2 tyrosine kinases, and these kinases have been shown to promote NF1 tumor-associated pathologies in vivo. We show here that while NF1 MPNST cells have higher EGFR expression levels and are more sensitive to EGF when compared to a non-NF1 MPNST cell line, the ability of the EGFR inhibitor gefitinib to selectively inhibit NF1 MPNST cell proliferation is marginal. We also show that NF1 MPNST proliferation correlates with activated ErbB2, and can be suppressed by nanomolar concentrations of the pan-ErbB inhibitor CI-1033 (canertinib). Consequently, targeting both EGFR and ErbB2 may prove an effective strategy for suppressing NF1 MPNST tumor growth in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3923431  PMID: 18927496
EGF receptor; ErbB2; NF1; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; MPNST
5.  The silent estrogen receptor 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(6):485-496.
PMCID: PMC3901993  PMID: 19411863
breast cancer; epigenetic silencing; hormone resistance; ER reactivation; growth factors
6.  Inhibition of MCL-1 enhances lapatinib toxicity and overcomes lapatinib resistance via BAK-dependent autophagy 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(21):2084-2096.
Prior studies demonstrated that resistance to the ERBB1/2 inhibitor Lapatinib in HCT116 cells was mediated by increased MCL-1 expression. We examined whether inhibition of BCL-2 family function could restore Lapatinib toxicity in Lapatinib adapted tumor cells and enhance Lapatinib toxicity in naive cells. The BCL-2 family antagonist Obatoclax (GX15-070), that inhibits BCL-2/BCL-Xl/MCL-1 function, enhanced Lapatinib toxicity in parental HCT116 and Lapatinib adapted HCT116 cells. In breast cancer lines, regardless of elevated ERBB1/2 expression, GX15-070 enhanced Lapatinib toxicity within 3–12 h.The promotion of Lapatinib toxicity neither correlated with cleavage of caspase 3 nor was blocked by inhibition caspases; and was not associated with changes in the activities of ERK1/2, JNK1/2 or p38 MAPK but with reduced AKT, mTOR and S6K1 phosphorylation. The promotion of Lapatinib toxicity by GX15-070 correlated with increased cytosolic levels of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) and expression of ATG8 (LC3), and the formation of large vesicles that intensely stained for a transfected LC3-GFP construct. Knockdown of the autophagy regulatory proteins ATG5 or Beclin1 suppressed the induction of LC3-GFP vesicularization and significantly reduced cell killing, whereas knock down of MCL-1 and BCL-Xl enhanced the induction of LC3-GFP vesicularization and significantly enhanced cell killing. Knockdown of Beclin1 and AIF abolished cell killing. Collectively, our data demonstrate that Obatoclax mediated inhibition of MCL-1 rapidly enhances Lapatinib toxicity in tumor cells via a toxic form of autophagy and via AIF release from the mitochondrion.
PMCID: PMC3887451  PMID: 19823038
lapatinib; obatoclax; autophagy; cell death; resistance
7.  Diversity of DNA damage response of astrocytes and glioblastoma cell lines with various p53 status to treatment with etoposide and temozolomide 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(5):452-457.
Phpsphorylation of histone H2AX is a sensitive marker of DNA damage, particularly of DNA double strand breaks. Using multiparameter cytometry we explored effects of etoposide and temozolomide (TMZ) on three glioblastoma cell lines with different p53 status (A172, T98G, YKG-1) and on normal human astrocytes (NHA) correlating the drug-induced phosphorylated H2AX (γH2AX) with cell cycle phase and induction of apoptosis. Etoposide induced γH2AX in all phases of the cell cycle in all three glioblastoma lines and led to an arrest of T98G and YKG-1 cells in S and G2/M. NHA cells were arrested in G1 with no evidence of γH2AX induction. A172 responded by rise in γH2AX throughout all phases of the cycle, arrest at the late S- to G2/M-phase, and appearance of senescence features: induction of p53, p21WAF1/CIP1, p16INK4A and β-galactosidase, accompanied by morphological changes typical of senescence. T98G cells showed the presence of γH2AX in S phase with no evidence of cell cycle arrest. A modest degree of arrest in G1 was seen in YKG-1 cells with no rise in γH2AX. While frequency of apoptotic cells in all four TMZ-treated cell cultures was relatively low it is conceivable that the cells with extensive DNA damage were reproductively dead. The data show that neither the status of p53 (wild-type vs. mutated, or inhibited by pifithrin-α) nor the expression of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase significantly affected the cell response to TMZ. Because of diversity in response to TMZ between individual glioblastoma lines our data suggest that with better understanding of the mechanisms, the treatment may have to be customized to individual patients.
PMCID: PMC3855308  PMID: 19305157
glioblastoma; temozolomide; etoposide; DNA double strand break; DNA damage; senescence; cell cycle
8.  Mirk/Dyrk1B, a novel therapeutic target, mediates cell survival in non-small cell lung cancer cells 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(17):1671-1679.
Minibrain-related kinase (Mirk) is a member of the dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase (Dyrk)/minibrain family of dual-specificity protein kinases and is identical to Dyrk1B. Mirk/Dyrk1B is a serine/threonine kinase that has been found to be upregulated in solid tumors and mediates cell survival in colon cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and rhabdomyosarcomas. There is little known about Mirk in lung cancer. In the present study, we showed that Mirk protein was widely overexpressed in 13 of 19 NSCLC cell lines. Mirk immunoprecipitation coupled with anti-phosphotyrosine western blotting confirmed tyrosine phosphorylation of Mirk in NSCLC cells. Mirk knockdown by small interfering RNA induced cell apoptosis concomitant with upregulation of Bak, a Bcl-2 family member, and downregulation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) tyrosine phosphorylation. Mirk knockdown led to decreased cell colony formation in vitro as well as delayed tumor growth in an orthotopic mouse model and sensitized cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis. Using automated quantitative determination of the Mirk protein in tumor specimens of patients with early-stage lung cancer, overexpression of Mirk was found in nearly 90% of tumor specimens in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. These results suggest that Mirk is overexpressed in lung cancer, acts as a survival factor in lung cancer cells and may be a novel therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3839311  PMID: 19633423
Mirk/Dyrk1B; STAT3; Bcl-2; siRNA; apoptosis; lung cancer
9.  Cancer stem cells and hepatocellular carcinoma 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(18):1691-1698.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide, with a median survival of 6–16 m. Factors responsible for the poor prognosis include late onset diagnosis, underlying cirrhosis and resistance to chemotherapy; 40% of HCCs are clonal and therefore potentially arise from progenitor/stem cells. New insights are provided from several signaling pathways, such as STAT3, NOTCH, hedgehog and transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ), which are involved in stem cell renewal, differentiation, survival, and are commonly deregulated in HCC. Control of stem cell proliferation by the TGFβ, Notch, Wnt and Hedgehog pathways to suppress hepatocellular cancer and to form the endoderm suggest a dual role for this pathway in tumor suppression as well as progression of differentiation from a stem or progenitor stage. This review provides a rationale for detecting and analyzing tumor stem cells as one of the most effective ways to treat cancers such as hepatocellular cancer.
PMCID: PMC3821558  PMID: 19901516
TGF; 2-SPECTRIN; stem/progenitor cells; hepatocellular cancer; signal transduction
10.  Mcl1 downregulation sensitizes neuroblastoma to cytotoxic chemotherapy and small molecule Bcl2-family antagonists 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(16):1587-1595.
Neuroblastoma (NB) is a common, highly lethal pediatric cancer, with treatment failures largely attributable to the emergence of chemoresistance. The pro-survival Bcl2 homology (BH) proteins critically regulate apoptosis, and may represent important therapeutic targets for restoring drug sensitivity in NB. We used a human NB tumor tissue microarray to survey the expression of pro-survival BH proteins Mcl1 and Bcl2, and correlated expression to clinical prognostic factors and survival. Primary NB tumors heterogeneously expressed Mcl1 or Bcl2, with high expression correlating to high-risk phenotype. Co-expression is infrequent (11%), but correlates to reduced survival. Using RNA interference, we investigated the functional relevance of Mcl1 and Bcl2 in high-risk NB cell lines (SK-N-AS, IMR-5, NLF). Mcl1 knockdown induced apoptosis in all NB cell lines, while Bcl2 knockdown inhibited only NLF, suggesting functional heterogeneity Finally, we determined the relevance of Mcl1 in resistance to conventional chemotherapy (etoposide, doxorubicin) and small molecule Bcl2-family antagonists (ABT-737 and AT-101). Mcl1 silencing augmented sensitivity to chemotherapeutics 2- to 300-fold, while Bcl2 silencing did not, even in Bcl2-sensitive NLF cells. Resistance to ABT-737, which targets Bcl2/-w/-x, was overcome by Mcl1 knockdown. AT-101, which also neutralizes Mcl1, had single-agent cytotoxicity, further augmented by Mcl1 knockdown. In conclusion, Mcl1 appears a predominant pro-survival protein contributing to chemoresistance in NB, and Mcl1 inactivation may represent a novel therapeutic strategy. Optimization of compounds with higher Mcl1 affinity, or combination with additional Mcl1 antagonists, may enhance the clinical utility of this approach.
PMCID: PMC3770183  PMID: 19556859
embryonal tumors; Bcl2 family; oncogene; experimental therapeutics; Bcl2 antagonists; neuroblastoma; Mcl1
11.  A combined, rational approach towards inhibition of the MEK-ERK and mTOR pathways in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(20):1902-1903.
PMCID: PMC3720128  PMID: 19783905
pancreatic cancer; transgenic mouse; MEK; Kras; mTOR
12.  The role of autophagy as a mechanism of cytotoxicity by the clinically used agent MDA-7/IL-24 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):537-538.
PMCID: PMC3682463  PMID: 20234182
autophagy; apoptosis; MDA-7/IL-24; glioblastoma multiforme; PERK signaling
13.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3638238  PMID: 19729990
14.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3639297  PMID: 16131835
15.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3637993  PMID: 20581454
16.  MicroRNAs and Cancer Therapy: The next wave or here to stay? 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):479-482.
MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by degrading and/or suppressing the translation of target mRNA by Watson-Crick base pairing in the 3-′UTR of mRNA. The recent explosion of information about the biochemistry and action of microRNAs has implicated these regulatory molecules in many unexpected biologic processes, ranging from development and homeostasis to diseases such as cancer. In general, microRNAs are down regulated or deleted in cancer while a few are upregulated. However, some microRNAs suppress oncogenesis or metastasis, while others are involved in promoting tumorigenesis. All these developments make microRNAs attractive diagnostic markers as well as therapeutic targets. Here we will briefly review the opportunities and potential limitations of using microRNAs in cancer therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3623617  PMID: 20190563
17.  Modulation of the anti-cancer efficacy of microtubule-targeting agents by cellular growth conditions 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(10):809-818.
Mitotic spindle-disrupting agents target and alter microtubule dynamics. These agents include clinically important chemotherapies, such as taxanes (paclitaxel [Taxol], docetaxel [Taxotere]) and vinca alkaloids (vincristine [Oncovin], vinblastine). Taxanes are a standard component of treatment for many malignancies, often in conjunction with other cytotoxic agents. However, the optimal sequencing of these treatments and whether efficacy may be influenced by in vitro cellular growth conditions remain incompletely investigated. Yet such preclinical investigations may guide clinical decision making. We therefore studied the effect of cell density on rapid killing by paclitaxel and vincristine. Breast, ovarian and prostate cancer cells were sensitive to rapid killing by either agent when grown at low density, but were markedly resistant when grown at high density, i.e., nearly confluent. The resistance of densely growing cells to rapid killing by these drugs translated to increased clonogenic survival. Pretreatment of densely growing cancer cells with cisplatin followed by paclitaxel, partially reversed the treatment resistance. Gene ontology associations from microarray analyses of cells grown at low and high density, suggested roles for membrane signal transduction and adhesion, but potentially also DNA damage repair and metabolism. Taken together, the treatment resistance at higher cell density may be associated with a lower proportion of active cycling in cells growing at high density as well as transduction of survival signals induced by increased cell-cell adhesion. Collectively these findings suggest mechanisms by which growth conditions may contribute to resistance to rapid killing by microtubule-disrupting drugs.
PMCID: PMC3621729  PMID: 20234172
cellular density; paclitaxel; microtubule-targeting agents; microarray; cell cycle
18.  Establishment and characterization of a bona fide Barrett esophagus-associated adenocarcinoma cell line 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(11):1753-1755.
Esophageal adenocarcinoma currently has one of the most rapidly increasing tumor incidences in the United States, with the vast majority of cases occurring on the backdrop of metaplastic epithelium (Barrett esophagus). The availability of appropriate cell line models is essential for maintaining the pace of esophageal cancer research and for pre-clinical validation of new therapeutic modalities. The identity of several of the widely utilized esophageal adenocarcinoma cell lines (BIC-1, SEG-1 and TE-7) have recently been called into question. Here we describe the establishment and characterization of a bona fide esophageal cancer cell line, JH-EsoAd1, from a patient with Barrett-associated adenocarcinoma. The rapid dissemination of this cancer cell line to the esophageal cancer research community should help ameliorate the current scarcity of preclinical models in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3596869  PMID: 18787394
Barrett esophagus; adenocarcinoma; cell line; JH-EsoAd1; genotyping
19.  Gamma-radiation (GR) triggers a unique gene expression profile associated with cell death compared to proton radiation (PR) in mice in vivo 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(12):2023-2033.
Proton radiation (PR) therapy offers a number of potential advantages over conventional (photon) γ-radiation (GR) therapy for cancer, due to a more localized delivery of the radiation dose. However, the pathophysiological effects following PR-exposure are less well characterized than those of GR-exposure and the molecular changes associated with the acute apoptotic effects in mice in vivo following PR have not been elucidated. Previous studies have estimated the RBE of protons for various in vivo and in vitro endpoints at between 1.1 and 1.3. We assumed an RBE of 1.1 for the endpoints to be evaluated in these studies. Based on this assumption, ICR mice were treated with whole-body doses of GR (1.1 and 7.0 Gy) and PR (1.0 and 6.4 Gy) that were expected to represent RBE-weighted doses. The bone marrow, thymus, spleen and GI-tract were isolated and processed for histology and immunohistochemistry. The apoptotic responses varied greatly between GR and PR in a tissue- and dose-dependent manner. Surprisingly, cell death in the splenic white pulp was consistently lower in PR-treated animals compared to animals treated with GR. This was in spite of an increased presence of damaged DNA following PR as determined by staining for γH2AX and phospho-ATM. Interestingly, both PR and GR triggered nuclear accumulation of p53 and no significant differences were found in the majority of the known pro-apoptotic p53-target genes in the spleens of treated mice. However, GR uniquely triggered a pro-apoptotic expression profile including expression of the pro-apoptotic, p53- and interferon stimulated target gene Bcl-G. In contrast to PR, GR may, in a cell type specific manner, trigger a more diverse non-random stress-response that mediates apoptosis partially independent of the extent of DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3590842  PMID: 19106632
proton radiation; radiation; in vivo; apoptosis; microarray; gene expression; p53; Bcl-G; γ-radiation
20.  Design and development of masked therapeutic antibodies to limit off-target effects 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(22):2147-2152.
Therapeutic antibodies frequently cause side effects by binding antigen in non-target tissues. Here we demonstrate a novel molecular design of antibodies that addresses this problem by reversibly “masking” antibody complementarity determining regions until they reach diseased tissues containing disease-associated proteases. Specifically, two distinct single-chain Fv (scFv) fragments derived from antibodies against the epidermal growth factor receptor (cetuximab and 425) were fused a protease susceptible linker to their epitopes, which were engineered to encourage intermolecular association. Surface plasmon resonance and flow cytometry were used to confirm that the masked complex poorly interacts with native antigen, whereas protease treatment restores antigen recognition. Minimally, the “masked” scFvs possesses an eight-fold lower association with the epitope compared with the individual scFvs unmasked by proteolytic cleavage. This molecular design may have general utility for targeted release of therapeutic antibodies at disease sites.
PMCID: PMC3546534  PMID: 19783899
monoclonal antibodies; off-target toxicity; tumor associated protease; prodrug; protein engineering; EGFR; C225-cetuximab/erbitux; 425-matuzumab
21.  EphA2 as a promoter of melanoma tumorigenicity 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(3):279-288.
The greatest health threat from malignant melanoma is death due to metastatic disease. Consequently, the identification of markers predictive of metastatic disease is essential for identifying new therapeutic targets. EphA2, a protein tyrosine kinase receptor commonly expressed in epithelial cells, has been found to be overexpressed and constitutively active in melanoma tumor cells having a metastatic phenotype as characterized by increased invasion, proliferation and vasculogenic mimicry (VM). Based on this observation, we hypothesized that increased expression of EphA2 by melanoma tumor cells could promote these characteristics of a metastatic phenotype in addition to promoting tumorigenicity as a whole. We analyzed a panel of human melanoma tumor cell lines derived from patient tissues classified as primary (either radial growth phase or vertical growth phase) and/or metastatic for the expression of EphA2 and found a correlation between increased EphA2 expression and metastatic potential. Experiments using the most metastatic of the human melanoma cell lines demonstrated that downregulation of EphA2 results in a significant decrease in invasion, proliferation, clonogenicity and VM in vitro, in addition to suppressed tumorigenicity in an orthotopic mouse model. Lastly, utilization of a human phospho-kinase array revealed increased phosphorylation of several different protein kinases involved in mediating various aspects of cellular proliferation. To the best of our knowledge these results provide the first direct in vivo evidence demonstrating a role for EphA2 in promoting melanoma tumorigenicity and suggest EphA2 as a significant molecular target for the therapeutic intervention of malignant melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3491659  PMID: 19223760
melanoma; EphA2; metastasis; tumorigenesis; cellular proliferation
22.  Development of Ad-mda7/IL-24-resistant lung cancer cell lines 
Cancer biology & therapy  2007;7(1):103-108.
Many cancers can become resistant to repeated administration of even the most effective therapeutic agents. In developing adenoviral mda-7/IL-24 (Ad-mda-7/IL-24) therapy for lung cancer, we have anticipated this potential clinical problem by attempting to identify the molecular mechanisms of Ad-mda7/IL-24 resistance in several Ad-mda7/IL-24-resistant lung cancer cell lines that we have developed. For the present study, we established four Ad-mda7-resistant cell lines by repeated selection of resistant clones of parental Ad-mda7-sensitive A549 cells: two lines (A549R1 and A549R2) resistant to both adenoviral vector and the mda-7 gene and two (A549R3 and A549R4) resistant to the therapeutic mda-7 gene only. As shown by western blot analysis of several known anti-apoptotic proteins, parental A549 and resistant A549R3 cells expressed similar levels of AKT and phosphorylated AKT (p-AKT), whereas resistant A549R3 and A549R4 cells expressed higher levels of bcl-2 and lower levels of bcl-xL than did their parental cells. As shown by flow-cytometric analysis, treating resistant A549R3 and A549R4 cells with a combination of Ad-mda7 and 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17AAG) (50 nM) for 48 hours enhanced apoptosis. Together, these in vitro findings indicate that an antiapoptotic mechanism may underlie Ad-mda7 resistance and that such resistance can be overcome by addition of 17AAG. Further investigations along these lines are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3442784  PMID: 18059175
resistant cell lines; apoptosis; MDA-7; adenovirus; gene therapy
24.  Combined anti-angiogenic therapy against VEGF and integrin alphaVbeta3 in an orthotopic model of ovarian cancer 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(23):2263-2272.
We tested the efficacy of dual targeting of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the alphaVbeta3 integrin in orthotopic mouse models of ovarian cancer.
In the SKOV3ip1 model, both single-agent bevacizumab and etaracizumab reduced tumor growth by 52–63% (p < 0.05), while combined therapy reduced growth by 63–74% compared to either agent alone (p < 0.05). Furthermore, bevacizumab/paclitaxel was superior to paclitaxel alone (weight reduction by 53%, p < 0.05), but etaracizumab/paclitaxel was not. Combining all three agents was more effective than either agent with paclitaxel (p < 0.05). Significantly, both bevacizumab and etaracizumab each sensitized the taxane-resistant SKOV3TRip2 cells to paclitaxel, reducing growth by 56–73% (p < 0.05). Both agents decreased proliferation and microvessel density, and increased apoptosis, alone and in combination with paclitaxel. In the HeyA8 model, there was significantly reduced growth with bevacizumab treatment, but not with etaracizumab, and combination therapy was not superior to bevacizumab alone.
Experimental design
In vivo therapy experiments were conducted in chemo-sensitive (SKOV3ip1, HeyA8) and -resistant (SKOV3TRip2) ovarian cancer models. VEGF was targeted with bevacizumab and alphaVbeta3 with etaracizumab. Mice were treated with each agent alone, together, or in combination with paclitaxel for assessment of tumor growth. Tumor specimens were tested for proliferative index, microvessel density and apoptosis.
Bevacizumab and etaracizumab are more effective in combination than individually in some ovarian cancer models, but not all. Both can sensitize taxane-resistant ovarian cancer cells to paclitaxel, though bevacizumab was superior to etaracizumab in this regard. Further study of this dual anti-angiogenic therapy is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3400500  PMID: 19829059
VEGF; alphaVbeta3; bevacizumab; etaracizumab; ovarian cancer
25.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Plays a Significant Role in Hepatocyte Growth Factor Mediated Biological Responses in Mammary Epithelial Cells 
Cancer biology & therapy  2007;6(4):561-570.
Breast cancers often have deregulated hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and c-Met signaling that results in increased tumor growth and invasion. Elucidating the mechanism responsible for HGF/c-Met action in breast cancer progression has been difficult as c-Met communicates with a number of secondary receptors that can lead to various pathological outcomes. Understanding how these secondary receptors facilitate HGF/c-Met cellular responses will aid in the development of better therapeutic treatment options for breast cancer patients with elevated HGF signaling. In the present study it was shown that the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a significant role in HGF/c-Met mediated biological activities indicative of advanced tumor pathology, including enhanced proliferation and invasion. The clinically relevant EGFR inhibitor gefitinib was used to determine the role of EGFR in HGF-induced proliferation and motility in several mammary carcinoma cells including PyVmT, MDA-MB-231 and 4T1. Our analyses indicated that EGFR inhibition significantly blocked HGF activation of c-Met and EGFR and that inhibition of these pathways mitigated HGF induced proliferation and motility. The data indicate that this inhibition was not through a direct effect of gefitinib on c-Met, but that EGFR is necessary for c-Met activation in the assays performed. These results provide a novel mechanism of action for EGFR as a mediator of HGF signaling thereby linking EGFR to the oncogenic potential of c-Met in mammary carcinomas cells.
PMCID: PMC3395216  PMID: 17495520
Epidermal growth factor receptor; c-Met; Hepatocyte growth factor; therapy; cross-talk; signaling; motility; growth and breast cancer

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