Various factors play an essential role in patterning the digestive tract. During development, Sox2 and Cdx2 are exclusively expressed in the anterior and the posterior parts of the primitive gut, respectively. However, it is unclear whether these transcription factors influence each other in determining specification of the naïve gut endoderm. We therefore investigated whether Sox2 redirects the fate of the prospective intestinal part of the primitive gut. Ectopic expression of Sox2 in the posterior region of the primitive gut caused anteriorization of the gut toward a gastric-like phenotype. Sox2 activated the foregut transcriptional program, in spite of sustained co-expression of endogenous Cdx2. However, binding of Cdx2 to its genomic targets and thus its transcriptional activity was strongly reduced. Recent findings indicate that endodermal Cdx2 is required to initiate the intestinal program and to suppress anterior cell fate. Our findings suggest that reduced Cdx2 expression by itself is not sufficient to cause anteriorization, but that Sox2 expression is also required. Moreover, it indicates that the balance between Sox2 and Cdx2 function is essential for proper specification of the primitive gut and that Sox2 may overrule the initial patterning of the primitive gut, emphasizing the plasticity of the primitive gut.
gut development; Cdx2; Sox2
Histone methylation performs multiple functions such as DNA replication, transcription regulation, heterochromatin formation, and chromatin condensation. How this methylation gradient is orchestrated in the centromere during chromosome segregation is not known. Here we examine the temporal dynamics of protein methylation in the centromere by SUV39H1 methyltransferase, a key mitotic regulator, using fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based sensors in living HeLa cells and immunofluorescence of native SUV39H1 substrates. A quantitative analysis of methylation dynamics, using centromere-targeted sensors, reveals a temporal change during chromosome segregation. These dynamics result in an accurate chromosome congression to and alignment at the equator as an inhibition of methylation dynamics using SUV39H1 inhibitor perturbs chromosome congression in living HeLa cells. Surprisingly, this inhibition of methylation results in a brief increase in Aurora B kinase activity and an enrichment of microtubule depolymerase MCAK in the centromere with a concomitant kinetochore–microtubule destabilization and a reduced tension across the sister kinetochores with ultimate chromosome misalignments. We reason that SUV39H1 generates a gradient of methylation marks at the kinetochore that provides spatiotemporal information essential for accurate chromosome segregation in mitosis.
mitosis; SUV39H1; methylation; MARC; syntelin
The investigation of molecular mechanisms is a fascinating area of current biological research that unites efforts from scientists with very diverse expertise. This review provides a perspective on the characterization of protein interactions as a central aspect of this research. We discuss case studies on the neurotransmitter release machinery that illustrate a variety of principles and emphasize the power of combining nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy with other biophysical techniques, particularly X-ray crystallography. These studies have shown that: (i) the soluble SNAP receptor (SNARE) proteins form a tight complex that brings the synaptic vesicle and plasma membranes together, which is key for membrane fusion; (ii) the SNARE syntaxin-1 adopts an autoinhibitory closed conformation; (iii) Munc18-1 plays crucial functions through interactions with closed syntaxin-1 and with the SNARE complex; (iv) Munc13s mediate the opening of syntaxin-1; (v) complexins play dual roles through distinct interactions with the SNARE complex; (vi) synaptotagmin-1 acts a Ca2+ sensor, interacting simultaneously with the membranes and the SNAREs; and (vii) a Munc13 homodimer to Munc13-RIM heterodimer switch modulates neurotransmitter release. Overall, this research underlines the complexities involved in elucidating molecular mechanisms and how these mechanisms can depend critically on an interplay between strong and weak protein interactions.
molecular mechanisms; protein interactions; NMR spectroscopy; neurotransmitter release; membrane fusion; X-ray crystallography
The DNA damage response (DDR) is critical for the maintenance of genetic stability and serves as an anti-cancer barrier during early tumorigenesis. However, the role of the DDR in tumor progression and metastasis is less known. Here, we demonstrate that the ATM kinase, one of the critical DDR elements, is hyperactive in late stage breast tumor tissues with lymph-node metastasis and this hyperactivity correlates with elevated expression of the epithelial–mesenchymal transition marker, Snail. At the molecular level, we demonstrate that ATM regulates Snail stabilization by phosphorylation on Serine-100. Using mass spectrometry, we identified HSP90 as a critical binding protein of Snail in response to DNA damage. HSP90 binds to and stabilizes phosphorylated Snail. We further provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that activation of ATM-mediated Snail phosphorylation promotes tumor invasion and metastasis. Finally, we demonstrate that Snail Serine-100 phosphorylation is elevated in breast cancer tissues with lymph-node metastasis, indicating clinical significance of the ATM-Snail pathway. Together, our findings provide strong evidence that the ATM-Snail pathway promotes tumor metastasis, highlighting a previously undescribed role of the DDR in tumor invasion and metastasis.
ATM; snail; metastasis
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) carry signals within or at their limiting membranes, providing a mechanism by which cells can exchange more complex information than what was previously thought. In addition to mRNAs and microRNAs, there are DNA fragments in EVs. Solexa sequencing indicated the presence of at least 16434 genomic DNA (gDNA) fragments in the EVs from human plasma. Immunofluorescence study showed direct evidence that acridine orange-stained EV DNAs could be transferred into the cells and localize to and inside the nuclear membrane. However, whether the transferred EV DNAs are functional or not is not clear. We found that EV gDNAs could be homologously or heterologously transferred from donor cells to recipient cells, and increase gDNA-coding mRNA, protein expression, and function (e.g. AT1 receptor). An endogenous promoter of the AT1 receptor, NF-κB, could be recruited to the transferred DNAs in the nucleus, and increase the transcription of AT1 receptor in the recipient cells. Moreover, the transferred EV gDNAs have pathophysiological significance. BCR/ABL hybrid gene, involved in the pathogenesis of chronic myeloid leukemia, could be transferred from K562 EVs to HEK293 cells or neutrophils. Our present study shows that the gDNAs transferred from EVs to cells have physiological significance, not only to increase the gDNA-coding mRNA and protein levels, but also to influence function in recipient cells.
extracellular vesicles; genomic DNA; AT1 receptor; BCR/ABL hybrid gene
In soft-tissue sarcoma patients, enhanced expression of NG2/CSPG4 proteoglycan in pre-surgical primary tumours predicts post-surgical metastasis formation and thereby stratifies patients into disease-free survivors and patients destined to succumb to the disease. Both primary and secondary sarcoma lesions also up-regulate collagen type VI, a putative extracellular matrix ligand of NG2, and this matrix alteration potentiates the prognostic impact of NG2. Enhanced constitutive levels of the proteoglycan in isolated sarcoma cells closely correlate with a superior engraftment capability and local growth in xenogenic settings. This apparent NG2-associated malignancy was also corroborated by the diverse tumorigenic behaviour in vitro and in vivo of immunoselected NG2-expressing and NG2-deficient cell subsets, by RNAi-mediated knock down of endogenous NG2, and by ectopic transduction of full-length or deletion constructs of NG2. Cells with modified expression of NG2 diverged in their interaction with purified Col VI, matrices supplemented with Col VI, and cell-free matrices isolated from wild-type and Col VI null fibroblasts. The combined use of dominant-negative NG2 mutant cells and purified domain fragments of the collagen allowed us to pinpoint the reciprocal binding sites within the two molecules and to assert the importance of this molecular interaction in the control of sarcoma cell adhesion and motility. The NG2-mediated binding to Col VI triggered activation of convergent cell survival- and cell adhesion/migration-promoting signal transduction pathways, implicating PI-3K as a common denominator. Thus, the findings point to an NG2–Col VI interplay as putatively involved in the regulation of the cancer cell–host microenvironment interactions sustaining sarcoma progression.
proteoglycans; sarcoma; collagen type VI; tumour–stroma interaction; cell migration; prognostic biomarker
Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) have recently emerged as one of the central regulators of the immune system. In recent years, interest in understanding MDSC biology and applying MDSC for therapeutic purpose has exploded exponentially. Despite recent progress in MDSC biology, the mechanisms underlying MDSC development from expansion and activation to polarization in different diseases remain poorly understood. More recent studies have demonstrated that two MDSC subsets, M (monocytic)-MDSC and G (granulocytic)-MDSC, are able to polarize from a classically activated phenotype (M1) to an alternatively activated one (M2), or vice versa, in tumor-bearing mice. This phenotypic polarization affects MDSC function and disease progression. In this article, we summarize and discuss polarization, mechanism and therapeutic potential of MDSC. An emphasis is placed on the emerging concept of reprogramming MDSC polarization as a therapeutic strategy.
The androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to systematically suppress/reduce androgens binding to the androgen receptor (AR) has been the standard therapy for prostate cancer (PCa); yet, most of ADT eventually fails leading to the recurrence of castration resistant PCa. Here, we found that the PCa patients who received ADT had increased PCa stem/progenitor cell population. The addition of the anti-androgen, Casodex®, or AR-siRNA in various PCa cells led to increased stem/progenitor cells, whereas, in contrast, the addition of functional AR led to decreased stem/progenitor cell population but increased non-stem/progenitor cell population, suggesting that AR functions differentially in PCa stem/progenitor vs. non-stem/progenitor cells. Therefore, the current ADT might result in an undesired expansion of PCa stem/progenitor cell population, which explains why this therapy fails. Using various human PCa cell lines and three different mouse models, we concluded that targeting PCa non-stem/progenitor cells with AR degradation enhancer ASC-J9® and targeting PCa stem/progenitor cells with 5-azathioprine and γ-tocotrienol resulted in a significant suppression of the tumors at the castration resistant stage. This suggests that a combinational therapy that simultaneously targets both stem/progenitor and non-stem/progenitor cells will lead to better therapeutic efficacy and may become a new therapy to battle the PCa before and after castration resistant stages.
prostate cancer stem cells; androgen receptor; combination therapy
Dysregulation of microRNAs is a common feature in human cancers, including breast cancer (BC). Here we describe the epigenetic regulation of miR-148a and miR-152 and their impact on BC cells. Due to the hypermethylation of CpG island, the expression levels of both miR-148a and miR-152 (miR-148a/152) are decreased in BC tissues and cells. DNMT1, the DNA methyltransferase 1 for the maintenance methylation, is aberrantly up-regulated in BC and its overexpression is responsible for hypermethylation of miR-148a and miR-152 promoters. Intriguingly, we found that DNMT1 expression, which is one of the targets of miR-148a/152, is inversely correlated with the expression levels of miR-148a/152 in BC tissues. Those results lead us to propose a negative feedback regulatory loop between miR-148a/152 and DNMT1 in BC. More importantly, we demonstrate that IGF-IR and IRS1, often overexpressed in BC, are two novel targets of miR-148a/152. Overexpression of miR-148a or miR-152 significantly inhibits BC cell proliferation, colony formation, and tumor angiogenesis via targeting IGF-IR and IRS1 and suppressing their downstream AKT and MAPK/ERK signaling pathways. Our results suggest a novel miR-148a/152-DNMT1 regulatory circuit and reveal that miR-148a and miR-152 act as tumor suppressors by targeting IGF-IR and IRS1, and that restoration of miR-148a/152 expression may provide a strategy for therapeutic application to treat BC patients.
miR-148a; miR-152; DNMT1; IGF-IR; IRS1; breast cancer; tumor angiogenesis
Intramuscular injection of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) has been shown to induce ectopic bone formation. A chondrogenic phase is typically observed in this process, which suggests that there may exist a chondrogenic subpopulation of cells residing in skeletal muscle. Two prospective cell populations were isolated from rat skeletal muscle: fascia-derived cells (FDCs), extracted from gluteus maximus muscle fascia (epimysium) and muscle-derived cells (MDCs) isolated from the muscle body. Both populations were investigated for their cell surface marker profiles (flowcytometry analysis), proliferation rates as well as their myogenic and chondrogenic potentials. The majority of FDCs expressed mesenchymal stromal cell markers but not endothelial cell markers. FDCs underwent chondrogenic differentiation after BMP4 treatment in vitro, but not myogenic differentiation. Although MDCs showed chondrogenic potential, they expressed the myogenic cell marker desmin and readily underwent myogenic differentiation in vitro; however, the chondrogenic potential of the MDCs is confounded by the presence of FDC-like cells residing in the muscle perimysium and endomysium. To clarify the role of the muscle-derived myogenic cells in chondrogenesis, mixed pellets with varying ratios of FDCs and L6 myoblasts were formed and studied for chondrogenic potential. Our results indicated that the chondrogenic potential of the mixed pellets decreased with the increased ratio of myogenic cells to FDCs supporting the role of FDCs in chondrogenesis. Taken together, our results suggest that non-myogenic cells residing in the fascia of skeletal muscle have a strong chondrogenic potential and may represent a novel donor cell source for cartilage regeneration and repair.
skeletal muscle; fascia; chondrocytes; cartilage
Osteoclasts (OCs) are responsible for bone resorption in inflammatory joint diseases. Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) has been shown to induce differentiation of monocytes to OC precursors, but nothing is known about the underlying mechanisms. Here, we elucidate how MCPIP, induced by MCP-1, mediates this differentiation. Knockdown of MCPIP abolished MCP-1-mediated expression of OC markers, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase, and serine protease cathepsin K. Expression of MCPIP induced p47PHOX and its membrane translocation, reactive oxygen species formation, and induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress chaperones, up-regulation of autophagy marker, Beclin-1, and lipidation of LC3, and induction of OC markers. Inhibition of oxidative stress attenuated ER stress and autophagy, and suppressed expression of OC markers. Inhibition of ER stress by a specific inhibitor or by knockdown of IRE1 blocked autophagy and induction of OC markers. ER stress inducers, tunicamycin and thapsigargin, induced expression of OC markers. Autophagy inhibition by 3′-methyladenine, LY294002, wortmannin or by knockdown of Beclin-1 or Atg 7 inhibited MCPIP-induced expression of OC markers. These results strongly suggest that MCP-1-induced differentiation of OC precursor cells is mediated via MCPIP-induced oxidative stress that causes ER stress leading to autophagy, revealing a novel mechanistic insight into the role of MCP-1 in OCs differentiation.
MCP-1; MCPIP; osteoclast differentiation; reactive oxygen species; ER stress
Interplay between Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) and dendritic cells (DCs) maintains immunologic tolerance, but the effects of each cell on the other are not well understood. We report that polyclonal CD4+Foxp3+ Treg cells induced ex vivo with transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) (iTreg) suppress a lupus-like chronic graft-versus-host disease by preventing the expansion of immunogenic DCs and inducing protective DCs that generate additional recipient CD4+Foxp3+ cells. The protective effects of the transferred iTreg cells required both interleukin (IL)-10 and TGFβ, but the tolerogenic effects of the iTreg on DCs, and the immunosuppressive effects of these DCs were exclusively TGFβ-dependent. The iTreg were unable to tolerize Tgfbr2-deficient DCs. These results support the essential role of DCs in ‘infectious tolerance’ and emphasize the central role of TGFβ in protective iTreg/DC interactions in vivo.
regulatory T cells; dendritic cells; TGFβ; graft-versus-host disease
The field of regenerative medicine is rapidly gaining momentum as an increasing number of reports emerge concerning the induced conversions observed in cellular fate reprogramming. While in recent years, much attention has been focused on the conversion of fate-committed somatic cells to an embryonic-like or pluripotent state, there are still many limitations associated with the applications of induced pluripotent stem cell reprogramming, including relatively low reprogramming efficiency, the times required for the reprogramming event to take place, the epigenetic instability, and the tumorigenicity associated with the pluripotent state. On the other hand, lineage reprogramming involves the conversion from one mature cell type to another without undergoing conversion to an unstable intermediate. It provides an alternative approach in regenerative medicine that has a relatively lower risk of tumorigenesis and increased efficiency within specific cellular contexts. While lineage reprogramming provides exciting potential, there is still much to be assessed before this technology is ready to be applied in a clinical setting.
lineage reprogramming; cell plasticity; cell replacement therapy; disease modeling
If a mathematical model is to be used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis of a disease, it must describe the inherent quantitative dynamics of the state. An ideal candidate disease is prostate cancer owing to the fact that it is characterized by an excellent biomarker, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and also by a predictable response to treatment in the form of androgen suppression therapy. Despite a high initial response rate, the cancer will often relapse to a state of androgen independence which no longer responds to manipulations of the hormonal environment. In this paper, we present relevant background information and a quantitative mathematical model that potentially can be used in the optimal management of patients to cope with biochemical relapse as indicated by a rising PSA.
prostate cancer; intermittent androgen suppression; androgen deprivation; biochemical relapse; mathematical model; classification; prediction; optimal scheduling
The DNA damage response (DDR) is a signal transduction pathway that decides the cell's fate either to repair DNA damage or to undergo apoptosis if there is too much damage. Post-translational modifications modulate the assembly and activity of protein complexes during the DDR pathways. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are emerging as a class of endogenous gene modulators that control protein levels, thereby adding a new layer of regulation to the DDR. In this review, we describe a new role for miRNAs in regulating the cellular response to DNA damage with a focus on DNA double-strand break damage. We also discuss the implications of miRNA's role in the DDR to stem cells, including embryonic stem cells and cancer stem cells, stressing the potential applications for miRNAs to be used as sensitizers for cancer radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
microRNA; DNA damage response; radiosensitivity; stem cells
Although cancer and neurodegenerative disease are two distinct pathological disorders, emerging evidence indicates that these two types of disease share common mechanisms of genetic and molecular abnormalities. Recent studies show that individual microRNAs (miRNAs) could be involved in the pathology of both diseases, indicating that the mechanisms of these two seemingly dichotomous diseases converge in the dysregulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Given the increasing evidence showing that miRNA-based therapeutic strategies that modulate the activity of one or more miRNAs are potentially effective for a wide range of pathological conditions, the involvement of miRNAs in the common pathways of leading both diseases suggests a bright future for developing common therapeutic approaches for both diseases. Moreover, the miRNAs that are dysregulated in both diseases may hold promise as uniquely informative diagnostic markers. Here, we review recent studies on the miRNAs that have been implicated in both cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
microRNA; cancer; neurodegenerative disease
Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is a transcriptional factor that regulates a battery of genes that are critical to innate and adaptive immunity, cell proliferation, inflammation, and tumor development. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short RNA molecules of 20–25 nucleotides in length that negatively regulate gene expression in animals and plants primarily by targeting 3′ untranslated regions of mRNAs. In this work, we review the convergence of miRNAs and NF-κB signaling and dysregulation of miRNAs and NF-κB activation in human diseases, particularly in cancer. The function of miR-146, miR-155, miR-181b, miR-21, and miR-301a in NF-κB activation and their impact on tumorigenesis are discussed. Given that over 1000 human miRNAs have been identified, rendering miRNAs one of the most abundant classes of regulatory molecules, deciphering their biological function and pathological contribution in NF-κB dysregulation is essential to appreciate the complexity of immune systems and to develop therapeutics against cancer.
microRNA; NF-κB; cancer
Alternative splicing of the pyruvate kinase M gene (PK-M) can generate the M2 isoform and promote aerobic glycolysis and tumor growth. However, the cancer-specific alternative splicing regulation of PK-M is not completely understood. Here, we demonstrate that PK-M is regulated by reciprocal effects on the mutually exclusive exons 9 and 10, such that exon 9 is repressed and exon 10 is activated in cancer cells. Strikingly, exonic, rather than intronic, cis-elements are key determinants of PK-M splicing isoform ratios. Using a systematic sub-exonic duplication approach, we identify a potent exonic splicing enhancer in exon 10, which differs from its homologous counterpart in exon 9 by only two nucleotides. We identify SRSF3 as one of the cognate factors, and show that this serine/arginine-rich protein activates exon 10 and mediates changes in glucose metabolism. These findings provide mechanistic insights into the complex regulation of alternative splicing of a key regulator of the Warburg effect, and also have implications for other genes with a similar pattern of alternative splicing.
alternative splicing; cancer metabolism; pyruvate kinase; SRSF3