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1.  Expression patterns of MDA-9/syntenin during development of the mouse embryo 
Journal of molecular histology  2012;44(2):159-166.
MDA-9 (melanoma differentiation associated gene-9)/Syntenin is a PDZ domain-containing adaptor protein involved in multiple diverse cellular processes including organization of protein complexes in the plasma membrane, intracellular trafficking and cell surface targeting, synaptic transmission, and cancer metastasis. In the present study, we analyzed the expression pattern of MDA-9/syntenin during mouse development. MDA-9/syntenin was robustly expressed with tight regulation of its temporal and spatial expression during fetal development in the developing skin, spinal cord, heart, lung and liver, which are regulated by multiple signaling pathways in the process of organogenesis. Recent studies also indicate that MDA-9/syntenin is involved in the signaling pathways crucial during development such as Wnt, Notch and FGF. Taken together, these results suggest that MDA-9/syntenin may play a prominent role during normal mouse development in the context of cell proliferation as well as differentiation through modulating multiple signaling pathways as a crucial adaptor protein. Additionally, temporal regulation of MDA-9/syntenin expression may be required during specific stages and in specific tissues during development.
doi:10.1007/s10735-012-9468-1
PMCID: PMC3605205  PMID: 23180153
MDA-9/syntenin; development; mouse embryo; adaptor protein
2.  Targeting the Bcl-2 Family for Cancer Therapy 
Introduction
Programmed cell death is well-orchestrated process regulated by multiple pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes, particularly those of the Bcl-2 gene family. These genes are well documented in cancer with aberrant expression being strongly associated with resistance to chemotherapy and radiation.
Areas covered
This review focuses on the resistance induced by the Bcl-2 family of anti-apoptotic proteins and current therapeutic interventions currently in preclinical or clinical trials that target this pathway. Major resistance mechanisms that are regulated by Bcl-2 family proteins and potential strategies to circumvent resistance are also examined. Although antisense and gene therapy strategies are used to nullify Bcl-2 family proteins, recent approaches use small molecule inhibitors and peptides. Structural similarity of the Bcl-2 family of proteins greatly favors development of inhibitors that target the BH3 domain, called BH3 mimetics.
Expert opinion
Strategies to specifically identify and inhibit critical determinants that promote therapy-resistance and tumor progression represent viable approaches for developing effective cancer therapies. From a clinical perspective, pretreatment with novel, potent Bcl-2 inhibitors either alone or in combination with conventional therapies hold significant promise for providing beneficial clinical outcomes. Identifying small molecule inhibitors with broader and higher affinities for inhibiting all of the Bcl-2 pro-survival proteins will facilitate development of superior cancer therapies.
doi:10.1517/14728222.2013.733001
PMCID: PMC3955095  PMID: 23173842
BH3 domain; apoptosis; Mcl-1; radiation resistance; chemotherapy resistance
3.  Phosphodiesterase 3/4 Inhibitor Zardaverine Exhibits Potent and Selective Antitumor Activity against Hepatocellular Carcinoma Both In Vitro and In Vivo Independently of Phosphodiesterase Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90627.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth common malignancy worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer-related death. Targeted therapies for HCC are being extensively developed with the limited success of sorafinib. In the present study, we investigated the potential antitumor activity of zardaverine, a dual-selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3/4 inhibitor in HCC cells both in vitro and in vivo. Although all zardaverine, PDE3 inhibitor trequinsin and PDE4 inhibitor rolipram increased intracellular cAMP levels through inhibiting PDE activity, only zardaverine significantly and selectively inhibited the proliferation of certain HCC cells, indicating that the antitumor activity of zardaverine is independent of PDE3/4 inhibition and intracellular cAMP levels. Further studies demonstrated that zardaverine induced G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest of sensitive HCC cells through dysregulating cell cycle-associated proteins, including Cdk4, Cdk6, Cdk2, Cyclin A, Cyclin E, p21 and Rb. Notably, Rb expression was reversely related to the cell sensitivity to zardaverine. The present findings indicate that zardaverine may have potential as targeted therapies for some HCC, and the likely mechanism of action underlying its selective antitumor activity may be related to its regulation of Rb or Rb-associated signaling in cell cycles.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090627
PMCID: PMC3944092  PMID: 24598942
4.  Raf kinase inhibitor RKIP inhibits MDA-9/syntenin-mediated metastasis in melanoma 
Cancer research  2012;72(23):6217-6226.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (MDA-9), also known as syntenin, functions as a positive regulator of melanoma progression and metastasis. In contrast, the Raf kinase inhibitor RKIP, a negative modulator of RAF-stimulated MEKK activation, is strongly downregulated in metastatic melanoma cells. In this study, we explored an hypothesized inverse relationship between MDA-9 and RKIP in melanoma. Tumor array and cell line analyses confirmed an inverse relationship between expression of MDA-9 and RKIP during melanoma progression. We found that MDA-9 transcriptionally downregulated RKIP in support of a suggested crosstalk between these two proteins. Further, MDA-9 and RKIP physically interacted in a manner that correlated with a suppression of FAK and c-Src phosphorylation, crucial steps necessary for MDA-9 to promote FAK/c-Src complex formation and initiate signaling cascades that drive the MDA-9-mediated metastatic phenotype. Lastly, ectopic RKIP expression in melanoma cells overrode MDA-9-mediated signaling, inhibiting cell invasion, anchorage-independent growth and in vivo dissemination of tumor cells. Taken together, these findings establish RKIP as an inhibitor of MDA-9-dependent melanoma metastasis, with potential implications for targeting this process therapeutically.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-0402
PMCID: PMC3939082  PMID: 23066033
RKIP; MDA-9/syntenin, melanoma; c-Src; FAK
5.  Luteoloside Suppresses Proliferation and Metastasis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells by Inhibition of NLRP3 Inflammasome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89961.
The inflammasome is a multi-protein complex which when activated regulates caspase-1 activation and IL-1β secretion. Inflammasome activation is mediated by NLR proteins that respond to stimuli. Among NLRs, NLRP3 senses the widest array of stimuli. NLRP3 inflammasome plays an important role in the development of many cancer types. However, Whether NLRP3 inflammasome plays an important role in the process of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is still unknown. Here, the anticancer effect of luteoloside, a naturally occurring flavonoid isolated from the medicinal plant Gentiana macrophylla, against HCC cells and the underlying mechanisms were investigated. Luteoloside significantly inhibited the proliferation of HCC cells in vitro and in vivo. Live-cell imaging and transwell assays showed that the migration and invasive capacities of HCC cells, which were treated with luteoloside, were significantly inhibited compared with the control cells. The inhibitory effect of luteoloside on metastasis was also observed in vivo in male BALB/c-nu/nu mouse lung metastasis model. Further studies showed that luteoloside could significantly reduce the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation. The decreased levels of ROS induced by luteoloside was accompanied by decrease in expression of NLRP3 inflammasome resulting in decrease in proteolytic cleavage of caspase-1. Inactivation of caspase-1 by luteoloside resulted in inhibition of IL-1β. Thus, luteoloside exerts its inhibitory effect on proliferation, invasion and metastasis of HCC cells through inhibition of NLRP3 inflammasome. Our results indicate that luteoloside can be a potential therapeutic agent not only as an adjuvant therapy for HCC, but also, in the control and prevention of metastatic HCC.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089961
PMCID: PMC3935965  PMID: 24587153
6.  Honokiol Enhances Paclitaxel Efficacy in Multi-Drug Resistant Human Cancer Model through the Induction of Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86369.
Resistance to chemotherapy remains a major obstacle in cancer therapy. This study aimed to evaluate the molecular mechanism and efficacy of honokiol in inducing apoptosis and enhancing paclitaxel chemotherapy in pre-clinical multi-drug resistant (MDR) cancer models, including lineage-derived human MDR (KB-8-5, KB-C1, KB-V1) and their parental drug sensitive KB-3-1 cancer cell lines. In vitro analyses demonstrated that honokiol effectively inhibited proliferation in KB-3-1 cells and the MDR derivatives (IC50 ranging 3.35±0.13 µg/ml to 2.77±0.22 µg/ml), despite their significant differences in response to paclitaxel (IC50 ranging 1.66±0.09 ng/ml to 6560.9±439.52 ng/ml). Honokiol induced mitochondria-dependent and death receptor-mediated apoptosis in MDR KB cells, which was associated with inhibition of EGFR-STAT3 signaling and downregulation of STAT3 target genes. Combined treatment with honokiol and paclitaxel synergistically augmented cytotoxicity in MDR KB cells, compared with treatment with either agent alone in vitro. Importantly, the combined treatment significantly inhibited in vivo growth of KB-8-5 tumors in a subcutaneous model. Tumor tissues from the combination group displayed a significant inhibition of Ki-67 expression and an increase in TUNEL-positive cells compared with the control group. These results suggest that targeting multidrug resistance using honokiol in combination with chemotherapy drugs may provide novel therapeutic opportunities.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086369
PMCID: PMC3934844  PMID: 24586249
7.  AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC, the Beginning: Initial Cloning, Structure, Expression Profile, and Regulation of Expression 
Since its initial identification as a HIV-1-inducible gene in 2002, astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1), subsequently cloned as metadherin (MTDH) and lysine-rich CEACAM1 coisolated (LYRIC), has emerged over the past 10 years as an important oncogene providing a valuable prognostic marker in patients with various cancers. Recent studies demonstrate that AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC is a pleiotropic protein that can localize in the cell membrane, cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), nucleus, and nucleolus, and contributes to diverse signaling pathways such as PI3K–AKT, NF-κB, MAPK, and Wnt. In addition to tumorigenesis, this multifunctional protein is implicated in various physiological and pathological processes including development, neurodegeneration, and inflammation. The present review focuses on the discovery of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC and conceptualizes areas of future direction for this intriguing gene. We begin by describing how AEG-1, MTDH, and LYRIC were initially identified by different research groups and then discuss AEG-1 structure, functions, localization, and evolution. We conclude with a discussion of the expression profile of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in the context of cancer, neurological disorders, inflammation, and embryogenesis, and discuss how AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC is regulated. This introductory discussion of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC will serve as the basis for the detailed discussions in other chapters of the unique properties of this intriguing molecule.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-401676-7.00001-2
PMCID: PMC3930353  PMID: 23889986
8.  AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC: Signaling Pathways, Downstream Genes, Interacting Proteins, and Regulation of Tumor Angiogenesis 
Advances in cancer research  2013;120:75-111.
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1), also known as metadherin (MTDH) and lysine-rich CEACAM1 coisolated (LYRIC), was initially cloned in 2002. AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has emerged as an important oncogene that is overexpressed in multiple types of human cancer. Expanded research on AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has established a functional role of this molecule in several crucial aspects of tumor progression, including transformation, proliferation, cell survival, evasion of apoptosis, migration and invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, and chemoresistance. The multifunctional role of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in tumor development and progression is associated with a number of signaling cascades, and recent studies identified several important interacting partners of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in regulating cancer promotion and other biological functions. This review evaluates the current literature on AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC function relative to signaling changes, interacting partners, and angiogenesis and highlights new perspectives of this molecule, indicating its potential as a significant target for the clinical treatment of various cancers and other diseases.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-401676-7.00003-6
PMCID: PMC3928810  PMID: 23889988
9.  AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in Liver Cancer 
Advances in cancer research  2013;120:193-221.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly virulent malignancy with diverse etiology. Identification of a common mediator of aggressive progression of HCC would be extremely beneficial not only for diagnostic/prognostic purposes but also for developing targeted therapies. AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC gene is amplified in human HCC patients, and overexpression of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has been identified in a high percentage of both hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus positive HCC cases, suggesting its key role in regulating hepatocarcinogenesis. Important insights into the molecular mechanisms mediating oncogenic properties of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC, especially regulating chemoresistance, angiogenesis, and metastasis, have been obtained from studies using HCC model. Additionally, analysis of HCC model has facilitated the identification of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC downstream genes and interacting proteins, thereby unraveling novel players regulating HCC development and progression leading to the development of novel interventional strategies. Characterization of a hepatocyte-specific AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC transgenic mouse (Alb/AEG-1) has revealed novel aspects of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC function in in vivo contexts. Combination of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC inhibition and chemotherapy has documented significant efficacy in abrogating human HCC xenografts in nude mice indicating the need for developing effective AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC inhibition strategies to obtain objective response and survival benefits in terminal HCC patients.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-401676-7.00007-3
PMCID: PMC3924581  PMID: 23889992
10.  AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC: Clinical Significance 
Advances in cancer research  2013;120:39-74.
“Gain-of-function” and “loss-of-function” studies in human cancer cells and analysis of a transgenic mouse model have convincingly established that AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC performs a seminal role in regulating proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis, and chemoresistance, the salient defining hallmarks of cancer. These observations are strongly buttressed by clinicopathologic correlations of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC expression in a diverse array of cancers distinguishing AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC as an independent biomarker for highly aggressive metastatic disease with poor prognosis. AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC has been shown to be a marker predicting response to chemotherapy, and serum anti-AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC antibody titer also serves as a predictor of advanced stages of aggressive cancer. However, inconsistent findings have been reported regarding the localization of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC protein in the nucleus or cytoplasm of cancer cells and the utility of nuclear or cytoplasmic AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC to predict the course and prognosis of disease. This chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of the existing literature to emphasize the common and conflicting findings relative to the clinical significance of AEG-1/MTDH/LYRIC in cancer.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-401676-7.00002-4
PMCID: PMC3924591  PMID: 23889987
12.  eRF3b, a Biomarker for Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Influences Cell Cycle and Phosphoralation Status of 4E-BP1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86371.
Background
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and its sequelae are now recognized as serious problems globally. Our aime is to screen hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and identify the characteristics of proteins involved.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We affinity-purified sample serum with weak cation-exchange (WCX) magnetic beads and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) analysis to search for potential markers. The 4210 Da protein, which differed substantially between HCC and CHB isolates, was later identified to be eukaryotic peptide chain release factor GTP-binding subunit eRF3b. Further research showed that eRF3b/GSPT2 was positively expressed in liver tissues. GSPT2 mRNA was, however differentially expressed in blood. Compared with normal controls, the relative expression of GSPT2/18s rRNA was higher in CHB patients than in patients with either LC or HCC (P = 0.035 for CHB vs. LC; P = 0.020 for CHB vs. HCC). The data of further research showed that eRF3b/GSPT2 promoted the entrance of the HepG2 cells into the S-phase and that one of the substrates of the mTOR kinase, 4E-BP1, was hyperphosphorylated in eRF3b-overexpressing HepG2 cells.
Conclusions
Overall, the differentially expressed protein eRF3b, which was discovered as a biomarker for HCC, could change the cell cycle and influence the phosphorylation status of 4E-BP1 on Ser65 in HepG2.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086371
PMCID: PMC3900531  PMID: 24466059
13.  Anthelmintic Efficacy of Gold Nanoparticles Derived from a Phytopathogenic Fungus, Nigrospora oryzae 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84693.
Exploring a green chemistry approach, this study brings to the fore, the anthelmintic efficacy of gold nanoparticles, highlighting the plausible usage of myconanotechnology. Gold nanoparticles of ∼6 to ∼18 nm diameter were synthesized by treating the mycelia-free culture filtrate of the phytopathogenic fungus with gold chloride. Their size and morphology were confirmed by UV-Vis spectroscopy, DLS data, AFM and TEM images. The XRD studies reveal a crystalline nature of the nanoparticles, which are in cubic phase. The FTIR spectroscopic studies before and after the formation of nanoparticles show the presence of possible functional groups responsible for the bio-reduction and capping of the synthesized gold nanoparticles. The latter were tested as vermifugal agents against a model cestode Raillietina sp., an intestinal parasite of domestic fowl. Further, ultrastructural and biochemical parameters were used to corroborate the efficacy study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084693
PMCID: PMC3897398  PMID: 24465424
14.  MDA-9/Syntenin and IGFBP-2 Promote Angiogenesis in Human Melanoma 
Cancer research  2012;73(2):844-854.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (mda-9/syntenin) encodes an adapter scaffold protein whose expression correlates with and mediates melanoma progression and metastasis. Tumor angiogenesis represents an integral component of cancer metastasis prompting us to investigate a possible role of mda-9/syntenin in inducing angiogenesis. Genetic (gain-of-function and loss-of-function) and pharmacological approaches were employed to modify mda-9/syntenin expression in normal immortal melanocytes, early radial growth phase melanoma and metastatic melanoma cells. The consequence of modifying mda-9/syntenin expression on angiogenesis was evaluated using both in vitro and in vivo assays, including tube formation assays using human vascular endothelial cells, CAM assays and xenograft tumor animal models. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments confirm that MDA-9/syntenin induces angiogenesis by augmenting expression of several pro-angiogenic factors/genes. Experimental evidence is provided for a model of angiogenesis induction by MDA-9/syntenin in which MDA-9/syntenin interacts with the ECM activating Src and FAK resulting in activation by phosphorylation of Akt, which induces HIF-1α. The HIF-1α activates transcription of Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein-2 (IGFBP-2), which is secreted thereby promoting angiogenesis and further induces endothelial cells to produce and secrete VEGF-A augmenting tumor angiogenesis. Our studies delineate an unanticipated cell non-autonomous function of MDA-9/syntenin in the context of angiogenesis, which may directly contribute to its metastasis-promoting properties. As a result, targeting MDA-9/syntenin or its downstream-regulated molecules may provide a means of simultaneously impeding metastasis by both directly inhibiting tumor cell transformed properties (autonomous) and indirectly by blocking angiogenesis (non-autonomous).
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-1681
PMCID: PMC3548987  PMID: 23233738
mda-9/syntenin; melanoma; angiogenesis; IGFBP-2; HuVECs; CAM assay
15.  Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines: Past, Present and Future 
Advances in cancer research  2013;119:421-475.
Therapeutic vaccines represent a viable option for active immunotherapy of cancers that aim to treat late stage disease by using a patient's own immune system. The promising results from clinical trials recently led to the approval of the first therapeutic cancer vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This major breakthrough not only provides a new treatment modality for cancer management, but also paves the way for rationally designing and optimizing future vaccines with improved anticancer efficacy. Numerous vaccine strategies are currently being evaluated both pre-clinically and clinically. This review discusses therapeutic cancer vaccines of diverse platforms or targets as well as the preclinical and clinical studies employing these therapeutic vaccines. We will also consider tumor-induced immune suppression that hinders the potency of therapeutic vaccines, and potential strategies to counteract these mechanisms for generating more robust and durable antitumor immune responses.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-407190-2.00007-1
PMCID: PMC3721379  PMID: 23870514
cancer vaccine; immunotherapy; tumor-associated antigen; immune modulator; immunosuppression; tumor microenvironment
16.  The role of tumor-associated macrophages in tumor vascularization 
Vascular Cell  2013;5:20.
Tumor vascularization is a highly complex process that involves the interaction between tumors and their surrounding stroma, as well as many distinct angiogenesis-regulating factors. Tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) represent one of the most abundant cell components in the tumor environment and key contributors to cancer-related inflammation. A large body of evidence supports the notion that TAMs play a critical role in promoting the formation of an abnormal tumor vascular network and subsequent tumor progression and invasion. Clinical and experimental evidence has shown that high levels of infiltrating TAMs are associated with poor patient prognosis and tumor resistance to therapies. In addition to stimulating angiogenesis during tumor growth, TAMs enhance tumor revascularization in response to cytotoxic therapy (e.g., radiotherapy), thereby causing cancer relapse. In this review, we highlight the emerging data related to the phenotype and polarization of TAMs in the tumor microenvironment, as well as the underlying mechanisms of macrophage function in the regulation of the angiogenic switch and tumor vascularization. Additionally, we discuss the potential of targeting pro-angiogenic TAMs, or reprograming TAMs toward a tumoricidal and angiostatic phenotype, to promote normalization of the tumor vasculature to enhance the outcome of cancer therapies.
doi:10.1186/2045-824X-5-20
PMCID: PMC3913793  PMID: 24314323
Angiogenesis; Tumor vascularization; Tumor-associated macrophages
17.  miR-146a Enhances the Oncogenicity of Oral Carcinoma by Concomitant Targeting of the IRAK1, TRAF6 and NUMB Genes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79926.
MicroRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression and are crucial to tumorigenesis. Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a prevalent malignancy worldwide. Up-regulation of miR-146 has been identified in OSCC tissues. However, the roles of miR-146 in carcinogenesis are controversial as it is suppressive in many other malignancies. The present study investigated the pathogenic implications of miR-146a in oral carcinogenesis. Microdissected OSCC exhibits higher levels of miR-146a expression than matched adjacent mucosal cells. The plasma miR-146a levels of patients are significantly higher than those of control subjects; these levels decrease drastically after tumor resection. miR-146a levels in tumors and in patients’ plasma can be used to classify OSCC and non-disease status (sensitivity: >0.72). Exogenous miR-146a expression is significantly increased in vitro oncogenic phenotypes as well as during xenograft tumorigenesis and OSCC metastasis. The plasma miR-146a levels of these mice parallel the xenograft tumor burdens of the mice. A miR-146a blocker abrogates the growth of xenograft tumors. miR-146a oncogenic activity is associated with down-regulation of IRAK1, TRAF6 and NUMB expression. Furthermore, miR-146a directly targets the 3′UTR of NUMB and a region within the NUMB coding sequence when suppressing NUMB expression. Exogenous NUMB expression attenuates OSCC oncogenicity. Double knockdown of IRAK1 and TRAF6, and of TRAF6 and NUMB, enhance the oncogenic phenotypes of OSCC cells. Oncogenic enhancement modulated by miR-146a expression is attenuated by exogenous IRAK1 or NUMB expression. This study shows that miR-146a expression contributes to oral carcinogenesis by targeting the IRAK1, TRAF6 and NUMB genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079926
PMCID: PMC3841223  PMID: 24302991
18.  UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase 1A Compromises Intracellular Accumulation and Anti-Cancer Effect of Tanshinone IIA in Human Colon Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79172.
Background and Purpose
NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) mediated quinone reduction and subsequent UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) catalyzed glucuronidation is the dominant metabolic pathway of tanshinone IIA (TSA), a promising anti-cancer agent. UGTs are positively expressed in various tumor tissues and play an important role in the metabolic elimination of TSA. This study aims to explore the role of UGT1A in determining the intracellular accumulation and the resultant apoptotic effect of TSA.
Experimental Approach
We examined TSA intracellular accumulation and glucuronidation in HT29 (UGT1A positive) and HCT116 (UGT1A negative) human colon cancer cell lines. We also examined TSA-mediated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, cytotoxicity and apoptotic effect in HT29 and HCT116 cells to investigate whether UGT1A levels are directly associated with TSA anti-cancer effect. UGT1A siRNA or propofol, a UGT1A9 competitive inhibitor, was used to inhibit UGT1A expression or UGT1A9 activity.
Key Results
Multiple UGT1A isoforms are positively expressed in HT29 but not in HCT116 cells. Cellular S9 fractions prepared from HT29 cells exhibit strong glucuronidation activity towards TSA, which can be inhibited by propofol or UGT1A siRNA interference. TSA intracellular accumulation in HT29 cells is much lower than that in HCT116 cells, which correlates with high expression levels of UGT1A in HT29 cells. Consistently, TSA induces less intracellular ROS, cytotoxicity, and apoptotic effect in HT29 cells than those in HCT116 cells. Pretreatment of HT29 cells with UGT1A siRNA or propofol can decrease TSA glucuronidation and simultaneously improve its intracellular accumulation, as well as enhance TSA anti-cancer effect.
Conclusions and Implications
UGT1A can compromise TSA cytotoxicity via reducing its intracellular exposure and switching the NQO1-triggered redox cycle to metabolic elimination. Our study may shed a light in understanding the cellular pharmacokinetic and molecular mechanism by which UGTs determine the chemotherapy effects of drugs that are UGTs’ substrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079172
PMCID: PMC3828323  PMID: 24244442
19.  Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) promotes hepatocarcinogenesis: novel insights from a mouse model 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(5):1782-1791.
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) is a key contributor to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development and progression. To enhance our understanding of the role of AEG-1 in hepatocarcinogenesis, a transgenic mouse with hepatocyte-specific expression of AEG-1 (Alb/AEG1) was developed. Treating Alb/AEG-1, but not Wild type (WT) mice, with N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN), resulted in multinodular HCC with steatotic features and associated modulation of expression of genes regulating invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis and fatty acid synthesis. Hepatocytes isolated from Alb/AEG-1 mice displayed profound resistance to chemotherapeutics and growth factor deprivation with activation of pro-survival signaling pathways. Alb/AEG-1 hepatocytes also exhibited marked resistance towards senescence, which correlated with abrogation of activation of a DNA damage response. Conditioned media (CM) from Alb/AEG-1 hepatocytes induced marked angiogenesis with elevation in several coagulation factors. Among these factors, AEG-1 facilitated association of Factor XII (FXII) mRNA with polysomes resulting in increased translation. siRNA-mediated knockdown of FXII resulted in profound inhibition of AEG-1-induced angiogenesis.
Conclusion
We uncover novel aspects of AEG-1 functions, including induction of steatosis, inhibition of senescence and activation of coagulation pathway to augment aggressive hepatocarcinogenesis. The Alb/AEG-1 mouse provides an appropriate model to scrutinize the molecular mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis and to evaluate the efficacy of novel therapeutic strategies targeting HCC.
doi:10.1002/hep.25868
PMCID: PMC3449036  PMID: 22689379
Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1); transgenic; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); senescence; angiogenesis
20.  Twist1 Promotes Gastric Cancer Cell Proliferation through Up-Regulation of FoxM1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77625.
Twist-related protein 1 (Twist1), also known as class A basic helix-loop-helix protein 38 (bHLHa38), has been implicated in cell lineage determination and differentiation. Previous studies demonstrate that Twist1 expression is up-regulated in gastric cancer with poor clinical outcomes. Besides, Twist1 is suggested to be involved in progression of human gastric cancer. However, its biological functions remain largely unexplored. In the present study, we show that Twist 1 overexpression leads to a significant up-regulation of FoxM1, which plays a key role in cell cycle progression in gastric cancer cells. In contrast, knockdown of Twist 1 reduces FoxM1 expression, suggesting that FoxM1 might be a direct transcriptional target of Twist 1. At the molecular level, we further reveal that Twist 1 could bind to the promoter region of FoxM1, and subsequently recruit p300 to induce FoxM1 mRNA transcription. Therefore, our results uncover a previous unknown Twist 1/FoxM1 regulatory pathway, which may help to understand the mechanisms of gastric cancer proliferation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077625
PMCID: PMC3812021  PMID: 24204899
21.  GADD45 proteins: central players in tumorigenesis 
Current molecular medicine  2012;12(5):634-651.
The Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible 45 (GADD45) proteins have been implicated in regulation of many cellular functions including DNA repair, cell cycle control, senescence and genotoxic stress. However, the pro-apoptotic activities have also positioned GADD45 as an essential player in oncogenesis. Emerging functional evidence implies that GADD45 proteins serve as tumor suppressors in response to diverse stimuli, connecting multiple cell signaling modules. Defects in the GADD45 pathway can be related to the initiation and progression of malignancies. Moreover, induction of GADD45 expression is an essential step for mediating anti-cancer activity of multiple chemotherapeutic drugs and the absence of GADD45 might abrogate their effects in cancer cells. In this review, we present a comprehensive discussion of the functions of GADD45 proteins, linking their regulation to effectors of cell cycle arrest, DNA repair and apoptosis. The ramifications regarding their roles as essential and central players in tumor growth suppression are also examined. We also extensively review recent literature to clarify how different chemotherapeutic drugs induce GADD45 gene expression and how its up-regulation and interaction with different molecular partners may benefit cancer chemotherapy and facilitate novel drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3797964  PMID: 22515981
GADD45 family; cancer; apoptosis; survival
22.  miR-29b, miR-205 and miR-221 Enhance Chemosensitivity to Gemcitabine in HuH28 Human Cholangiocarcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77623.
Background and Aims
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is highly resistant to chemotherapy, including gemcitabine (Gem) treatment. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, non-coding, short RNAs that can regulate multiple genes expression. Some miRNAs play important roles in the chemosensitivity of tumors. Here, we examined the relationship between miRNA expression and the sensitivity of CCA cells to Gem.
Methods
Microarray analysis was used to determine the miRNA expression profiles of two CCA cell lines, HuH28 and HuCCT1. To determine the effect of candidate miRNAs on Gem sensitivity, expression of each candidate miRNA was modified via either transfection of a miRNA mimic or transfection of an anti-oligonucleotide. Ontology-based programs were used to identify potential target genes of candidate miRNAs that were confirmed to affect the Gem sensitivity of CCA cells.
Results
HuCCT1 cells were more sensitive to Gem than were HuH28 cells, and 18 miRNAs were differentially expressed whose ratios over ± 2log2 between HuH28 and HuCCT1. Among these 18 miRNAs, ectopic overexpression of each of three downregulated miRNAs in HuH28 (miR-29b, miR-205, miR-221) restored Gem sensitivity to HuH28. Suppression of one upregulated miRNA in HuH28, miR-125a-5p, inhibited HuH28 cell proliferation independently to Gem treatment. Selective siRNA-mediated downregulation of either of two software-predicted targets, PIK3R1 (target of miR-29b and miR-221) or MMP-2 (target of miR-29b), also conferred Gem sensitivity to HuH28.
Conclusions
miRNA expression profiling was used to identify key miRNAs that regulate Gem sensitivity in CCA cells, and software that predicts miRNA targets was used to identify promising target genes for anti-tumor therapies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077623
PMCID: PMC3798426  PMID: 24147037
23.  Identification of Genes Potentially Regulated by Human Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35) Using Melanoma as a Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76284.
Human Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (hPNPaseold-35 or PNPT1) is an evolutionarily conserved 3′→5′ exoribonuclease implicated in the regulation of numerous physiological processes including maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis, mtRNA import and aging-associated inflammation. From an RNase perspective, little is known about the RNA or miRNA species it targets for degradation or whose expression it regulates; except for c-myc and miR-221. To further elucidate the functional implications of hPNPaseold-35 in cellular physiology, we knocked-down and overexpressed hPNPaseold-35 in human melanoma cells and performed gene expression analyses to identify differentially expressed transcripts. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis indicated that knockdown of hPNPaseold-35 resulted in significant gene expression changes associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and cholesterol biosynthesis; whereas overexpression of hPNPaseold-35 caused global changes in cell-cycle related functions. Additionally, comparative gene expression analyses between our hPNPaseold-35 knockdown and overexpression datasets allowed us to identify 77 potential “direct” and 61 potential “indirect” targets of hPNPaseold-35 which formed correlated networks enriched for cell-cycle and wound healing functional association, respectively. These results provide a comprehensive database of genes responsive to hPNPaseold-35 expression levels; along with the identification new potential candidate genes offering fresh insight into cellular pathways regulated by PNPT1 and which may be used in the future for possible therapeutic intervention in mitochondrial- or inflammation-associated disease phenotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076284
PMCID: PMC3797080  PMID: 24143183
24.  Panobinostat Synergistically Enhances the Cytotoxic Effects of Cisplatin, Doxorubicin or Etoposide on High-Risk Neuroblastoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e76662.
High-risk neuroblastoma remains a therapeutic challenge with a long-term survival rate of less than 40%. Therefore, new agents are urgently needed to overcome chemotherapy resistance so as to improve the treatment outcome of this deadly disease. Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors (HDACIs) represent a novel class of anticancer drugs. Recent studies demonstrated that HDACIs can down-regulate the CHK1 pathway by which cancer cells can develop resistance to conventional chemotherapy drugs. This prompted our hypothesis that combining HDACIs with DNA damaging chemotherapeutic drugs for treating neuroblastoma would result in enhanced anti-tumor activities of these drugs. Treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma cell lines with a novel pan-HDACI, panobinostat (LBH589), resulted in dose-dependent growth arrest and apoptosis in 4 high-risk neuroblastoma cell lines. Further, the combination of panobinostat with cisplatin, doxorubicin, or etoposide resulted in highly synergistic antitumor interactions in the high-risk neuroblastoma cell lines, independent of the sequence of drug administration. This was accompanied by cooperative induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, panobinostat treatment resulted in substantial down-regulation of CHK1 and its downstream pathway and abrogation of the G2 cell cycle checkpoint. Synergistic antitumor interactions were also observed when the DNA damaging agents were combined with a CHK1-specific inhibitor, LY2603618. Contrary to panobinostat treatment, LY2603618 treatments neither resulted in abrogation of the G2 cell cycle checkpoint nor enhanced cisplatin, doxorubicin, or etoposide-induced apoptosis in the high-risk neuroblastoma cells. Surprisingly, LY2603618 treatments caused substantial down-regulation of total CDK1. Despite this discrepancy between panobinostat and LY2603618, our results indicate that suppression of the CHK1 pathway by panobinostat is at least partially responsible for the synergistic antitumor interactions between panobinostat and the DNA damaging agents in high-risk neuroblastoma cells. The results of this study provide a rationale for clinical evaluation of the combination of panobinostat and cisplatin, doxorubicin, or etoposide for treating children with high-risk neuroblastoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076662
PMCID: PMC3786928  PMID: 24098799
25.  Doxorubicin-Induced Vascular Toxicity – Targeting Potential Pathways May Reduce Procoagulant Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75157.
Introduction
Previous study in mice using real-time intravital imaging revealed an acute deleterious effect of doxorubicin (DXR) on the gonadal vasculature, as a prototype of an end-organ, manifested by a reduction in blood flow and disintegration of the vessel wall. We hypothesized that this pattern may represent the formation of microthrombi. We aimed to further characterize the effect of DXR on platelets’ activity and interaction with endothelial cells (EC) and to examine potential protectants to reduce DXR acute effect on the blood flow.
Methods
The effect of DXR on platelet adhesion and aggregation were studied in vitro. For in vivo studies, mice were injected with either low molecular weight heparin (LMWH; Enoxaparin) or with eptifibatide (Integrilin©) prior to DXR treatment. Testicular arterial blood flow was examined in real-time by pulse wave Doppler ultrasound.
Results
Platelet treatment with DXR did not affect platelet adhesion to a thrombogenic surface but significantly decreased ADP-induced platelet aggregation by up to 40% (p<0.001). However, there was a significant increase in GPIIbIIIa-mediated platelet adhesion to DXR-exposed endothelial cells (EC; 5.7-fold; p<0.001) reflecting the toxic effect of DXR on EC. The testicular arterial blood flow was preserved in mice pre-treated with LMWH or eptifibatide prior to DXR (P<0.01).
Conclusions
DXR-induced acute vascular toxicity may involve increased platelet–EC adhesion leading to EC-bound microthrombi formation resulting in compromised blood flow. Anti-platelet/anti-coagulant agents are effective in reducing the detrimental effect of DXR on the vasculature and thus may serve as potential protectants to lessen this critical toxicity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075157
PMCID: PMC3779248  PMID: 24073244

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