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1.  PKC signaling in glioblastoma 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):287-294.
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain tumor characterized by intratumoral heterogeneity at cytopathological, genomic and transcriptional levels. Despite the efforts to develop new therapeutic strategies the median survival of GBM patients is 12−14 months. Results from large-scale gene expression profile studies confirmed that the genetic alterations in GBM affect pathways controlling cell cycle progression, cellular proliferation and survival and invasion ability, which may explain the difficulty to treat GBM patients. One of the signaling pathways that contribute to the aggressive behavior of glioma cells is the protein kinase C (PKC) pathway. PKC is a family of serine/threonine-specific protein kinases organized into three groups according the activating domains. Due to the variability of actions controlled by PKC isoforms, its contribution to the development of GBM is poorly understood. This review intends to highlight the contribution of PKC isoforms to proliferation, survival and invasive ability of glioma cells.
PMCID: PMC3667867  PMID: 23358475
GBM; PKC; TMZ; glioblastoma multiforme; glioma; protein kinase C; signaling pathway; temozolomide
2.  Therapeutic strategies targeting cancer stem cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):295-303.
Increasing studies have demonstrated a small proportion of cancer stem cells (CSCs) exist in the cancer cell population. CSCs have powerful self-renewal capacity and tumor-initiating ability and are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. Conventional anticancer therapies kill the rapidly proliferating bulk cancer cells but spare the relatively quiescent CSCs, which cause cancer recurrence. So it is necessary to develop therapeutic strategies acting specifically on CSCs. In recent years, studies have shown that therapeutic agents such as metformin, salinomycin, DECA-14, rapamycin, oncostatin M (OSM), some natural compounds, oncolytic viruses, microRNAs, cell signaling pathway inhibitors, TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL), interferon (IFN), telomerase inhibitors, all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and monoclonal antibodies can suppress the self-renewal of CSCs in vitro and in vivo. A combination of these agents and conventional chemotherapy drugs can significantly inhibit tumor growth, metastasis and recurrence. These strategies targeting CSCs may bring new hopes to cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3667868  PMID: 23358473
therapy; target; cancer stem cell
3.  Mechanisms of resistance to EGFR targeted therapies 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):304-314.
EGFR is a validated therapeutic target in many human cancers. EGFR targeted therapies are in widespread clinical use in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and other tumor types. Despite the clinical success of EGFR targeted therapy, resistance to treatment is a significant barrier to the optimized use of EGFR inhibitors to cure patients with lung and other cancers. Here, we review established and emerging mechanisms of resistance to EGFR targeted therapy and highlight strategies that could overcome treatment resistance and therefore enhance clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3667869  PMID: 23358468
EGFR; EGFR TKI; lung cancer; targeted therapy; resistance; erlotinib; kinase
4.  Metabolic reprogramming of the immune response in the tumor microenvironment 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):315-318.
A Division of Cancer Biology, NCI sponsored workshop, Metabolic Reprogramming of the Immune Response in the Tumor Microenvironment, was held October 2nd in Bethesda, MD. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together cancer cell biologists and immunologists to explore the mechanistic relationships between the metabolic pathways used by cancer cells and anti-tumor immune cells and how this information could be used to improve cancer immunotherapy. At the conclusion of the workshop a general discussion focused on defining the major challenges and opportunities concerning the impact of metabolism on anti-tumor immunity and cancer immunotherapy as well as what tools, technologies, resources or community efforts are required to accelerate research in this area. Overall, future studies need to consider how cancer cell metabolic pathways differ from activated lymphocytes in order to define a therapeutic window for cancer therapy. Further, studies aimed at reprogramming the metabolic qualities of T cells with the goal of improving immunotherapy were considered a promising avenue.
PMCID: PMC3667870  PMID: 23358474
Warburg; cancer; immunotherapy; lymphocyte; mTOR; metabolism; rapamycin
5.  The translocator protein (TSPO) ligand PK11195 induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest and sensitizes to chemotherapy treatment in pre- and post-relapse neuroblastoma cell lines 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):319-326.
High-risk neuroblastoma (NB) has a poor prognosis. Even with intensive myeloablative chemotherapy, relapse is common and almost uniformly fatal, and new treatments are needed. Translocator protein 18kDa (TSPO) ligands have been studied as potential new therapeutic agents in many cancers, but not in NB.
We studied the effects of TSPO ligands on cell proliferation, cell cycle progression and apoptosis using paired cell lines derived from the same patient at the time of initial surgery and again after development of progressive disease or relapse post-chemotherapy. We found that TSPO expression was significantly increased 2- to 10-fold in post-relapse cell lines compared with pre-treatment lines derived from the same individual. Subsequently, these cell lines were treated with the specific TSPO ligand 1-(2-chlorophenyl-N-methylpropyl)-3-isoquinolinecarboxamide (PK11195) (0–160µM) as a single agent, with cytotoxic chemotherapy agents alone (carboplatin, etoposide or melphalan), or with combinations of PK11195 and chemotherapy drugs. We found that PK11195 inhibited proliferation in a dose-dependent manner, induced apoptosis and caused G1/S cell cycle arrest in all tested NB cell lines at micromolar concentrations. In addition, PK11195 significantly decreased mRNA expression of the chemotherapy resistance efflux pumps ABCA3, ABCB1 and ABCC1 in two post-relapse NB cell lines. We also found that pre-treatment with PK11195 sensitized these cell lines to treatment with cytotoxic chemotherapy agents. These results suggest that PK11195 alone or in combination with standard chemotherapeutic drugs warrants further study for the treatment of neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3667871  PMID: 23358477
neuroblastoma; TSPO; PK11195; apoptosis; cell cycle analysis; RT-PCR
6.  Mammaglobin peptide as a novel biomarker for breast cancer detection 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):327-332.
Among the different types of tests used for cancer diagnosis, molecular tests have been increrasingly incorporated because of their ability to detect either expression or functional changes in the molecules associated with the disease. Mammaglobin is a protein found in mammary tissue and can be detected in serum. This protein has been proposed as a biomarker to diagnose breast cancer, given that patients exhibit an increased amount of the protein in serum and tumor tissue, in comparison to healthy individuals. The ELISA test was used in the present study to detect mammaglobin in blood samples from 51 breast cancer patients and 51 control individuals. Antibodies against mamaglobin were generated in rabbits by using the following synthetic peptides: A (amino acids 13 to 21), B (amino acids 31 to 39), C (amino acids 56 to 64) and a D peptide, corresponding to the protein isoform without three amino acids (59, 60 and 61 amino acids) from peptide C. All peptides were immunogenic and allowed generation of antibodies that were able to discriminate patients from controls. The best results were obtained for antiserum B, achieving the best sensitivity (86.3%) and specificity (96%).
PMCID: PMC3667872  PMID: 23358476
ELISA; biomarker; breast cancer; diagnosis; human mammaglobin
7.  In vivo metabolism of tryptophan in meningiomas is mediated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):333-339.
Expression and activity of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), the first and rate-limiting step of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan catabolism, can enable tumor cells to effectively evade the host’s immune response. The potential role of this system was investigated in meningiomas. Surgical specimens from 22 patients with meningiomas were used for cellular, immunological and molecular techniques (immunofluorescence, western blotting, RT-PCR and biochemical assay of enzyme activity) to investigate the expression and activity of IDO. In addition, PET imaging was obtained preoperatively in 10 patients using the tracer α-[11C]methyl-L-tryptophan (AMT) which interrogates the uptake and metabolism of tryptophan. Strong AMT accumulation was noted in all meningiomas by PET imaging indicating in vivo tryptophan uptake. Freshly-resected meningiomas expressed both LAT1, the tryptophan transporter system and IDO, demonstrating an active kynurenine pathway. Dissociated meningioma cells lost IDO expression. Following exposure to interferon-γ (IFNγ), IDO expression was reinduced and could be blocked by a selective IDO1 inhibitor. IDO activity may represent an element of local self-protection by meningiomas and could be targeted by emerging IDO1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3667873  PMID: 23358471
meningioma; immunosuppression; interferon-gamma; tryptophan metabolism; indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase; alpha-[11C]methyl-L-tryptophan PET; 1-methyl-tryptophan
8.  Lenalidomide in combination with gemcitabine as first-line treatment for patients with metastatic carcinoma of the pancreas 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):340-346.
Objectives: To evaluate the 6-mo overall survival, safety and tolerability of lenalidomide in combination with standard gemcitabine as first-line treatment for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Methods: Eligibility included: previously untreated metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas with metastases incurable by surgery/radiation therapy; ECOG PS 0–2; adequate organ function; prophylactic anticoagulation for venous thromboembolic events (VTEs). Patients received lenalidomide 25 mg PO (days 1–21) and gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m2 IV (days 1, 8 and 15) each 28-day cycle, with response evaluations every eight weeks. Results: Between 5/2009–4/2010, 72 patients (median age 64 years; 68% male; 42% ECOG PS 0) were enrolled in this multicenter, community-based study. Six-month OS was 37% (95% CI 26–48%). Median PFS and OS were 2.3 (95% CI 1.9–3.5) and 4.7 (95% CI 3.4–5.7) months, respectively. Eight partial responses (11%) were documented. Thirty-nine patients (54%) experienced thrombocytopenia (2 patients, 3% grade 4). Hematologic toxicities resulted in dose modifications for the majority of patients. Twenty patients (28%) developed VTEs during treatment. Conclusions: The observed 6-month OS (37%) of lenalidomide with gemcitabine does not suggest improvement compared with historical results with gemcitabine alone. Toxicities and dose modifications likely limited dose intensity. Further development of this regimen in pancreas cancer is not recommended.
PMCID: PMC3667874  PMID: 23358470
pancreas cancer; lenalidomide; phase II; gemcitabine combination
9.  Novel Hsp90 inhibitor NVP-AUY922 radiosensitizes prostate cancer cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):347-356.
Outcomes for poor-risk localized prostate cancers treated with radiation are still insufficient. Targeting the “non-oncogene” addiction or stress response machinery is an appealing strategy for cancer therapeutics. Heat-shock-protein-90 (Hsp90), an integral member of this machinery, is a molecular chaperone required for energy-driven stabilization and selective degradation of misfolded “client” proteins, that is commonly overexpressed in tumor cells. Hsp90 client proteins include critical components of pathways implicated in prostate cancer cell survival and radioresistance, such as androgen receptor signaling and the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway. We examined the effects of a novel non-geldanamycin Hsp90 inhibitor, AUY922, combined with radiation (RT) on two prostate cancer cell lines, Myc-CaP and PC3, using in vitro assays for clonogenic survival, apoptosis, cell cycle distribution, γ-H2AX foci kinetics and client protein expression in pathways important for prostate cancer survival and radioresistance. We then evaluated tumor growth delay and effects of the combined treatment (RT-AUY922) on the PI3K-Akt-mTOR and AR pathways in a hind-flank tumor graft model. We observed that AUY922 caused supra-additive radiosensitization in both cell lines at low nanomolar doses with enhancement ratios between 1.4–1.7 (p < 0.01). RT-AUY922 increased apoptotic cell death compared with either therapy alone, induced G2-M arrest and produced marked changes in client protein expression. These results were confirmed in vivo, where RT-AUY922 combination therapy produced supra-additive tumor growth delay compared with either therapy by itself in Myc-CaP and PC3 tumor grafts (both p < 0.0001). Our data suggest that combined RT-AUY922 therapy exhibits promising activity against prostate cancer cells, which should be investigated in clinical studies.
PMCID: PMC3667875  PMID: 23358469
prostate cancer; Hsp90; NVP-AUY922; radiosensitizer; DNA damage response
10.  Stearoyl gemcitabine nanoparticles overcome obesity-induced cancer cell resistance to gemcitabine in a mouse postmenopausal breast cancer model 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):357-364.
Obesity is associated with increased breast tumor aggressiveness and decreased response to multiple modalities of therapy in postmenopausal women. Delivering cancer chemotherapeutic drugs using nanoparticles has evolved as a promising approach to improve the efficacy of anticancer agents. However, the application of nanoparticles in cancer chemotherapy in the context of obesity has not been studied before. The nucleoside analog gemcitabine is widely used in solid tumor therapy. Previously, we developed a novel stearoyl gemcitabine solid-lipid nanoparticle formulation (GemC18-NPs) and showed that the GemC18-NPs are significantly more effective than gemcitabine in controlling tumor growth in mouse models. In the present study, using ovariectomized diet-induced obese female C57BL/6 mice with orthotopically transplanted MMTV-Wnt-1 mammary tumors as a model of postmenopausal obesity and breast cancer, we discovered that obesity induces tumor cell resistance to gemcitabine. Furthermore, our GemC18-NPs can overcome the obesity-related resistance to gemcitabine chemotherapy. These findings have important clinical implications for cancer chemotherapies involving gemcitabine or other nucleoside analogs in the context of obesity.
PMCID: PMC3667876  PMID: 23358472
obesity; tumor; nanoparticles; chemoresistance
11.  Prognostic impact of Fas-associated death domain, a key component in death receptor signaling, is dependent on the presence of lymph node metastasis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):365-369.
FAS-associated death domain (FADD) is a key adaptor protein that bridges a death receptor (e.g., death receptor 5; DR5) to caspase-8 to form the death-inducing signaling complex during apoptosis. The expression and prognostic impact of FADD in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have not been well studied. This study focuses on detecting FADD expression and analyzing its prognostic impact in primary and metastatic HNSCCs. We found a significant increase in FADD expression in primary tumors with lymph node metastasis (LNM) in comparison with primary tumors with no LNM. This increase was significantly less in the matched LNM tissues. Both univariate and multivariable analyses indicated that lower FADD expression was significantly associated with better disease-free survival and overall survival in HNSCC patients with LNM although FADD expression did not significantly affect survival of HNSCC patients without LNM . When combined with DR5 or caspase-8 expression, patients with LNM expressing both low FADD and DR5 or both low FADD and caspase-8 had significantly better prognosis than those expressing both high FADD and DR5 or both high FADD and caspase-8. However, the expression of both low FADD and caspase-8 was significantly linked to worse overall survival compared with both high FADD and caspase-8 expression in HNSCC patients without LNM. Hence, we suggest that FADD alone or together with DR5 and caspase-8 participates in metastatic process of HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC3667877  PMID: 23358467
FADD; caspase-8; death receptor 5; head and neck cancer; immunohistochemistry
12.  The RON receptor tyrosine kinase is a potential therapeutic target in Burkitt lymphoma 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(4):370-377.
Background: Aberrant expression of the RON receptor tyrosine kinase is associated with tumor progression and carcinogenesis. The aims of this study were to determine the role and functional mechanisms of RON in Burkitt lymphoma (BL) and to document its potential as a therapeutic target. Methods: RON expression was determined in BL cell lines by western blot analysis and examined in human lymphoma specimens by both western blotting and immunohistochemistry. The correlation between RON expression and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection was investigated. Raji cells were treated with the Zt/f2 anti-RON mAb and cell viability, colony formation, apoptosis and cell cycle arrest were measured in vitro using cell proliferation assays, colony-forming assays and flow cytometry. Downregulation of RON by Zt/f2 was validated in mice bearing Raji cell xenografts.
Results: Immunohistostaining showed a high frequency of RON+ cells in BL tissues and RON expression strongly correlated with EBV positivity. RON downregulation significantly decreased cell proliferation and colony formation via promotion of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in Raji cells. The in vivo study showed that RON knockdown inhibits the tumorigenic potential of Raji cells in nude mice.
Conclusions: RON acts as an oncogene in the carcinogenesis and progression of BL and is therefore a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC3667878  PMID: 23360784
Burkitt lymphoma; RON; mechanism; monoclonal antibody; oncogenic signal transduction; receptor tyrosine kinase; targeted therapy
13.  Characterization of Ewing sarcoma associated cancer/testis antigens 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):254-261.
The prognosis of patients suffering from tumors of the Ewing family (EFT) is still poor. Immunotherapy strategies are pursued and EFT-specific antigens have to be identified as targets for cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL). Due to the lack of expression of cancer/testis antigens (CTA) in normal tissues, these antigens are partially able to induce immune responses in cancer patients. Therefore, they are promising targets for immunotherapy. EFT are characterized by chromosomal rearrangements involving members of the TET (translocated in liposarcoma, Ewing sarcoma breakpoint region 1, TATA box binding protein-associated factor 15) family of RNA binding proteins and members of the E-26 (ETS) family of transcription factors. The resulting onco-fusion proteins are highly specific for EFT and downstream targets of TET-ETS represent candidate tumor specific antigens. In order to identify new EFT-associated CTA, we analyzed microarray-data sets from EFT and normal tissues from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. The impact of TET-ETS on expression of CTA was analyzed using GEO data sets from transgenic mesenchymal stem cells. One CTA with high specificity for EFT is lipase I (LIPI, membrane-associated phospholipase A1-β). CTL specific for LIPI-derived peptides LDYTDAKFV and NLLKHGASL were able to lyse HLA-A2 positive EFT cells in vitro which confirms the possible role of LIPI and other CTA for EFT-immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3595308  PMID: 23291981
Ewing sarcoma; gene expression; cancer/testis antigens; TET-ETS; LIPI
14.  Role of microRNAs in breast cancer 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):201-212.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of post-transcriptional gene regulators with critical functions in normal cellular processes as well as disease processes. They are small molecules with 18~23 nucleotides in length. Since their early discovery in 1993, a large number of miRNAs have been characterized and analyzed to understand their pivotal role and their impact in a myriad of biological processes. Substantial research on miRNA highlights the involvement of these tiny RNAs in the etiopathogenesis of a variety of human diseases such as cancer, neuro-degenerative disorders, diabetes, cardiac hypertrophy and respiratory diseases. In this review, we update on recent advances of the emerging role of miRNAs in breast cancer and their clinical implications.
PMCID: PMC3595302  PMID: 23291983
microRNAs; breast cancer; chemoresistance
15.  High-mobility group box 2 (HMGB2) modulates radioresponse and is downregulated by p53 in colorectal cancer cell 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):213-221.
Overexpression of high-mobility group box 2 (HMGB2) is recently reported in several malignant cancers and was correlated with poor response to preoperative chemoradiotherapy of colorectal cancer patients. To enhance the chemoradiotherapy efficacy, the biological function of HMGB2 was investigated with respect to radiation response. HMGB2 gene knockdown cells were constructed by infecting shRNA expressing lentivirus and clonogenic assay was performed to count the radiosensitivity. HMGB2 knockdown sensitized HCT-116 and HT-29 colorectal cancer cells to ionizing radiation. This could be due to an increased DNA damage and an inefficient DNA damage repair in HMGB2 knockdown cells. In addition, an exposure to radiation downregulated HMGB2 expression in colorectal cancer cells with an intact TP53 gene. HMGB2 gene expression of TP53-mutant cell was not affected by irradiation. p53-mediated downregulation of HMGB2 was confirmed by direct activation of p53 using Nutlin-3 or by inducing p53 expression using Tet-On system. Luciferase reporter assay showed that HMGB2 promoter activity was inversely correlated with the amount p53 cotransfected. Our study revealed that HMGB2 is necessary to protect colorectal cancer cells from DNA damage and efficient DNA repair and p53-mediated downregulation is a critical mechanism of modulating HMGB2 expression.
PMCID: PMC3595303  PMID: 23255232
HMGB2; radiation; DNA damage; p53; colorectal cancer
16.  The homeobox transcription factor Prox1 inhibits proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma cells by inducing p53-dependent senescence-like phenotype 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):222-229.
The homeobox transcription factor Prox1 is highly expressed in adult hepatocytes and is involved in the regulation of bile acid synthesis and gluconeogenesis in the liver by interacting with other transcriptional activators or repressors. Recent studies showed that Prox1 could inhibit proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and reduced Prox1 expression was associated with poor prognosis of HCC patients. However, the underlying mechanism by which Prox1 attenuates HCC growth is still unclear. In this study, we demonstrated that Prox1 induced senescence-like phenotype of HCC cells to reduce cell proliferation. Our results indicated that the tumor suppressor p53 is a key mediator of Prox1-induced growth suppression because Prox1 only induced senescence-like phenotype in HCC cells harboring wild type p53. In addition, knockdown of p53 by shRNA reversed the effect of Prox1. However, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay did not demonstrate the direct binding of Prox1 to proximal promoter of human p53 gene suggesting Prox1 might not directly activate p53 transcription. We found that Prox1 suppressed Twist expression in HCC cells and subsequently relieved its inhibition on p53 gene transcription. The involvement of Twist in the regulation of p53 by Prox1 was supported by the following evidence: (1) Prox1 inhibited Twist expression and promoter activity; (2) knockdown of Twist in SK-HEP-1 cells upregulated p53 expression and (3) ectopic expression of Twist counteracted Prox1-induced p53 transcription and senescence-like phenotype. We also indentified an E-box located at p53 promoter which is required for Twist to inhibit p53 expression. Finally, our animal experiment confirmed that Prox1 suppressed HCC growth in vivo. Collectively, we conclude that Prox1 suppresses proliferation of HCC cells via inhibiting Twist to trigger p53-dependent senescence-like phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3595304  PMID: 23291986
Prox1; Twist; p53; senescence; hepatocellular carcinoma
17.  Antiproliferative effect of a novel mTOR inhibitor temsirolimus contributes to the prolonged survival of orthotopic esophageal cancer-bearing mice 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):230-236.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains one of the most aggressive cancers with poor prognosis regardless of a several reports that indicate a better therapeutic efficacy using some new chemotherapeutic agents. Recent drug development has contributed to an improved specificity to suppress mTOR activity by which many types of malignancies can be explosively progressed. Temsirolimus (CCI-779, TricelTM) is one of recently synthesized analogs of rapamycin and has provided better outcomes for patients with renal cell carcinoma. In this study, we experimentally evaluated an efficacy of targeting mTOR by temsirolimus for ESCC treatment, with an assessment of its survival advantage using an advanced ESCC animal model.
First, we confirmed that the expression of phosphorylated mTOR was increased in 46 of 58 clinical ESCC tumor tissues (79.3%) and appeared to get strengthened with tumor progression. All of ESCC cell lines used in this study revealed an increase of mTOR phosphorylation, accompanied with the upregulation of hypoxia inducible factor-I α (HIF-1α), one of the critical effectors regulated by mTOR. Temsirolimus treatment apparently suppressed the activation of mTOR and its downstream effectors, resulting in the reduced ability of ESCC cell proliferation. Finally, the weekly administration of temsirolimus significantly diminished the size of subcutaneous tumors (vehicle, 3261.6 ± 722.0; temsirolimus, 599.2 ± 122.9; p = 0.007) in nude mice and effectively prolonged orthotopic esophageal cancer-bearing mice (median survival periods: control, 31 d; temsirolimus, 43 d; p = 0.0024).
These data suggests that targeting mTOR by temsirolimus may become a therapeutic alternative for esophageal cancer, with a contribution to a better outcome.
PMCID: PMC3595305  PMID: 23291985
temsirolimus; esophageal cancer; mTOR; prolonged survival; molecular-targeted therapy
18.  Brk/PTK6 cooperates with HER2 and Src in regulating breast cancer cell survival and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):237-245.
Breast tumor kinase (Brk)/protein tyrosine kinase-6 (PTK-6) is a nonreceptor PTK commonly expressed at high levels in breast cancer. Brk interacts closely with members of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family in breast cancer but the functional role of this interaction remains to be determined. Here, we provide novel mechanistic insights into the role of Brk in regulating cell survival and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the context of HER2-positive breast cancer cells. Overexpression of HER2 in MCF7 breast cancer cells (MCF7HER2) led to a higher level of Brk protein and concomitantly reduced Src Y416-phosphorylation, and the cells became mesenchymal in morphology. An in vivo selection of MCF7HER2 cells in nude mice resulted in a subline, termed EMT1, that exhibited not only mesenchymal morphology but also enhanced migration potential. Compared with MCF7HER2 cells, EMT1 cells maintained a similar level of HER2 protein but had much higher level of activated HER2, and the increase in Brk protein and the decrease in Src Y416-phosphorylation were less in EMT1 cells. EMT1 cells exhibited increased sensitivity to both pharmacological inhibition of HER2 and knockdown of Brk than did MCF7HER2 cells. Knockdown of Brk induced apoptosis and partially reversed the EMT phenotype in EMT1 cells. Overexpression of a constitutively active STAT3, a known substrate of Brk, overcame Brk knockdown-induced effects in EMT1 cells. Together, our findings support a new paradigm wherein Brk plays both a complementary and a counterbalancing role in cooperating with HER2 and Src to regulate breast cancer cell survival and EMT.
PMCID: PMC3595306  PMID: 23291984
Brk; EMT; HER2; STAT3; Src; breast cancer; survival
19.  Cadherin-17 induces tumorigenesis and lymphatic metastasis in gastric cancer through activation of NFκB signaling pathway 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):262-270.
Cadherin-17 (CDH17), as a structurally unique member of the cadherin superfamily, has been identified to predict a poor prognosis for gastric cancer (GC). Our previous study demonstrated the positive correlation between CDH17 and lymph node micrometastasis in GC. We sought to further identify the role of CDH17 in the tumorigenesis and lymphatic metastasis of GC. Hence, we inhibited the CDH17 expression in MKN-45 gastric cancer cells by using RNA interference. Consequently, the malignant potency of cancer cells was evaluated, and the change in NFκB signaling pathway was also probed. Tumor growth and lymphatic metastasis model were conducted in nude mice to confirm the hypothesis. Downregulation of CDH17 not only suppressed the proliferation, adherence and invasion potency of MKN-45 cells, but also induced cell cycle arrest. Meanwhile, the NFκB signaling pathway was inactivated as well, with the reductions of downstream proteins including VEGF-C and MMP-9. Moreover, silencing CDH17 inhibited tumor growth in vivo significantly, and there was no lymph node metastasis detected in the mice without CDH17 expression, as opposed to the positive nodes found in controls. CDH17 is a novel oncogene in gastric cancer cells, which is associated with lymphatic metastasis and proliferation strongly. The inactivation of NFκB signaling pathway might be involved in targeting CDH17 in GC. On the whole, CDH17 is proposed to serve as a biomarker and attractive therapeutic target in GC.
PMCID: PMC3595309  PMID: 23298905
NFκB signaling pathway; RNA interference; cadherin-17; gastric cancer; lymphatic metastasis
20.  Identification of the optimal therapeutic antibody for fluorescent imaging of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):271-277.
Intraoperative, real-time fluorescence imaging may significantly improve tumor visualization and resection and postoperatively, in pathological assessment. To this end, we sought to determine the optimal FDA approved therapeutic monoclonal antibody for optical imaging of human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). A near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probe (IRDye800) was covalently linked to bevacizumab, panitumumab or tocilizumab and injected systemically into immunodeficient mice bearing either cutaneous tumor cell lines (SCC13) or cutaneous human tumor explants. Tumors were then imaged and resected under fluorescent guidance with the SPY, an FDA-approved intraoperative imaging system, and the Pearl Impulse small animal imaging system. All fluorescently labeled antibodies delineated normal tissue from tumor in SCC13 xenografts based on tumor-to-background (TBR) ratios. The conjugated antibodies produced TBRs of 1.2–2 using SPY and 1.6–3.6 using Pearl; in comparison, isotype control antibody IgG-IRDye produced TBRs of 1.0 (SPY) and 0.98 (Pearl). Comparison between antibodies revealed them to be roughly equivalent for imaging purposes with both the SPY and Pearl (p = 0.89 SPY, p = 0.99 Pearl; one way ANOVA). Human tumor explants were also imaged and tumor detection was highest with panitumumab-IRDye800 when using the SPY (TBR 3.0) and Pearl (TBR 4.0). These data suggest that FDA approved antibodies may be clinically used for intraoperative detection of cSCC.
PMCID: PMC3595310  PMID: 23298904
optical imaging; cancer; surgery; cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma; antibody; animal model; fluorescence
21.  A novel p21 attenuator which is structurally related to sorafenib 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(3):278-285.
p21 is a member of the cyclin kinase inhibitor family of proteins and plays pivotal roles in cellular proliferation as well as in the regulation of apoptosis, and thus has diverse functions in diseases as varied as cancer and atherosclerosis. In light of its pleiotropic effects and potential clinical relevance, new methods of attenuation of p21 protein levels by selective inhibitors are therefore powerful tools to probe malignant, infectious and other diseases. Here we introduce a novel p21 attenuator, UC2288, which possesses consistent and relatively selective activity for p21. UC2288 was synthesized based on the chemical model of sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor that also attenuates p21, but unlike sorafenib, UC2288 did not inhibit Raf kinases or alter p-ERK protein levels. UC2288 decreased p21 mRNA expression independently of p53, and attenuated p21 protein levels with minimal effect on p21 protein stability. In addition, UC2288 inhibits cell growth in the kidney cancer cell lines (GI50 = approximately 10 µM) as well as multiple other cancer cell lines. Thus, this novel p21 inhibitor will be indispensable for exploring the function of p21, and upon further study may be translatable to the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3595311  PMID: 23298903
p21 inhibitor; p21; sorafenib; proliferation; apoptosis
22.  Serum caveolin-1, a biomarker of drug response and therapeutic target in prostate cancer models 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(2):117-126.
We investigated the effect of dasatinib and sunitinib on tyrosine kinase (TK) signaling, caveolin-1 (Cav-1) expression and secretion and proliferation of PC-3 and DU145 prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of both cell lines with either dasatinib or sunitinib reduced phosphorylation of PDGFR, VEGFR2, Akt, FAK, Src (dasatinib only) and Cav-1, and reduced cellular and secreted levels of Cav-1. Both agents dose-dependently inhibited proliferation of these cells. In PC-3 and DU145 subcutaneous xenografts, treatment with dasatinib, sunitinib or anti-Cav-1 antibody (Ab) alone produced significant tumor regression compared with that by vehicle or IgG alone. Combined dasatinib and anti-Cav-1 Ab treatment or sunitinib and anti-Cav-1 Ab produced greater tumor regression than either treatment alone. Serum Cav-1 levels were lower in dasatinib- and sunitinib-treated mice than they were in vehicle-treated mice, and correlated positively with tumor growth in dasatinib- and sunitinib-treated groups (r = 0.48, p = 0.031; r = 0.554, p = 0.0065, respectively), compared with vehicle controls. Cav-1 knockdown, in combination with dasatinib or sunitinib treatment in PC-3 cells, caused a greater reduction in the phosphorylation of PDGFR-β and VEGFR2, and expression and secretion of PDGF-B and VEGF-A than that in PC-3 cells treated with dasatinib or sunitinib alone in control siRNA cells, suggesting that Cav-1 is involved in an autocrine pathway that is affected by these drugs. Overall, our results suggest a role for Cav-1 as a biomarker of response to both dasatinib and sunitinib treatment and as a therapeutic target in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3571993  PMID: 23114714
caveolin-1; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; prostate cancer; biomarkers
23.  Prognostic impact of Beclin 1, p62/sequestosome 1 and LC3 protein expression in colon carcinomas from patients receiving 5-fluorouracil as adjuvant chemotherapy 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(2):100-107.
Autophagy is a cellular degradation process that can be activated in tumor cells to confer stress tolerance. During autophagy initiation and autophagosome formation, Beclin 1 binds microtubule-associated protein-1 light chain 3 (LC3I) that is converted to its membrane-bound form (LC3II) and interacts with the ubiquitin-binding protein p62/sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1). We determined the association of Beclin 1, LC3 and p62 protein expression with clinical outcome in resected stage II and III colon carcinomas (n = 178) from participants in 5-fluororuacil (5-FU)-based adjuvant therapy trials. The immunopercentage for each marker was determined and dichotomized for analysis with overall survival (OS) using Cox models. We found that autophagy markers localized to the tumor cell cytoplasm and showed increased expression relative to normal epithelial cells. Overexpression of Beclin 1, LC3 and p62 proteins were detected in 69%, 79% and 85% of tumors, respectively. Expression levels were not significantly associated with clinicopathological variables. In a multivariable analysis adjusting for tumor grade, stage and patient age, Beclin 1 overexpression was independently associated with worse OS [hazard ratio (HR), 1.82; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.0–3.3; p = 0.042] in patients who received 5-FU-based adjuvant therapy. Neither LC3 nor p62 overexpression was prognostic. In conclusion, Beclin 1 overexpression was associated with reduced survival in colon cancer patients treated with adjuvant 5-FU. These data are consistent with preclinical evidence indicating that autophagy can protect colon cancer cells from 5-FU and support the targeting of autophagy for therapeutic advantage in this malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3571991  PMID: 23192274
autophagy; Beclin 1; p62/sequestosome 1; LC3; colon cancer; 5-fluorouracil
24.  Tumor regression by phenethyl isothiocyanate involves DDB2 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(2):108-116.
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is a promising cancer chemopreventive agent commonly found in edible cruciferous vegetables. It has been implicated also for therapy, and is in clinical trial for lung cancer. Here, we provide evidence that the tumor suppressive effect of PEITC is related to its ability to induce expression of damaged DNA binding protein 2 (DDB2), a DNA repair protein involved also in apoptosis and premature senescence. DDB2 expression is attenuated in a wide variety of cancers including the aggressive colon cancers. We show that, in colon cancer cells, reactive oxygen species, which are induced by PEITC, augment expression of DDB2 through the p38MAPK/JNK pathway, independently of p53. PEITC-induced expression of DDB2 is critical for inhibition of tumor progression by PEITC. Tumors derived from DDB2-deficient colon cancer cells are refractory to PEITC-treatments, resulting from deficiencies in apoptosis and senescence. The DDB2-proficient tumors, on the other hand, respond effectively to PEITC. The results show that PEITC can be used to induce expression of DDB2, and that expression of DDB2 is critical for effective response of tumors to PEITC.
PMCID: PMC3571992  PMID: 23114715
DDB2; PEITC; ROS; apoptosis; colon cancer; drug resistance; senescence
25.  Inhibition of the MUC1-C oncoprotein is synergistic with cytotoxic agents in the treatment of breast cancer cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(2):127-134.
Mucin 1 (MUC1) is a heterodimeric glycoprotein that is aberrantly overexpressed in most human breast cancers. The oncogenic MUC1-C subunit promotes survival and blocks the apoptotic response to genotoxic anticancer agents. In the present studies, human MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 breast cancer cells were treated with the MUC1-C inhibitor, GO-203, a cell-penetrating peptide that blocks MUC1-C homodimerization and thereby its oncogenic function. Treatment with GO-203 was found to promote the apoptotic response of MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 cells to the therapeutic drugs taxol and doxorubicin (DOX). This effect was (1) attenuated by a pan-caspase inhibitor, and (2) mediated, at least in part, by activation of the effector caspase-7 and cleavage of the downstream substrate PARP. Further analysis of the interaction between GO-203 and taxol using isobolograms, which evaluate the nature of the interaction of two drugs, demonstrated that the combination is highly synergistic. These results were supported by combination index (CI) analysis with values of less than 1. GO-203 was also highly synergistic with DOX in studies of both MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 breast cancer cells. These findings indicate that blocking MUC1-C function could be effective in combination with taxol and DOX for the treatment of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3571994  PMID: 23114713
MUC1; GO-203; doxorubicin; taxol; synergy; breast cancer

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