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1.  Origins of cancer symposium report: beyond the tumor cell 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):375-377.
The Origins of Cancer Symposium is a meeting organized by graduate students at the Van Andel Research Institute and serves as a forum for focused discussion on factors that contribute to the etiology of cancer. The theme for the fifth annual Origins of Cancer held on July 11th, 2014 was Beyond the Tumor Cell, which focused on the complex influences coming from the environment in which the cancer cell exists. Here we report on the meeting proceedings and briefly discuss the far-reaching implications.
PMCID: PMC4279435
Cancer; extracellular matrix; immunology; symposium; review
2.  STAT activation status differentiates leukemogenic from non-leukemogenic stem cells in AML and is suppressed by arsenic in t(6;9)-positive AML 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):378-392.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by an aberrant self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and a block in differentiation. The major therapeutic challenge is the characterization of the leukemic stem cell as a target for the eradication of the disease. Until now the biology of AML-associated fusion proteins (AAFPs), such as the t(15;17)-PML/RARα, t(8;21)-RUNX1/RUNX1T1 and t(6;9)-DEK/NUP214, all able to induce AML in mice, was investigated in different models and genetic backgrounds, not directly comparable to each other. To avoid the bias of different techniques and models we expressed these three AML-inducing oncogenes in an identical genetic background and compared their influence on the HSC compartment in vitro and in vivo.
These AAFPs exerted differential effects on HSCs and PML/RARα, similar to DEK/NUP214, induced a leukemic phenotype from a small subpopulation of HSCs with a surface marker pattern of long-term HSC and characterized by activated STAT3 and 5. In contrast the established AML occurred from mature populations in the bone marrow. The activation of STAT5 by PML/RARα and DEK/NUP214 was confirmed in t(15;17)(PML/RARα) and t(6;9)(DEK/NUP214)-positive patients as compared to normal CD34+ cells. The activation of STAT5 was reduced upon the exposure to Arsenic which was accompanied by apoptosis in both PML/RARα- and DEK/NUP214-positive leukemic cells. These findings indicate that in AML the activation of STATs plays a decisive role in the biology of the leukemic stem cell. Furthermore we establish exposure to arsenic as a novel concept for the treatment of this high risk t(6;9)-positive AML.
PMCID: PMC4279436  PMID: 25568664
leukemia initiating cell; t(6:9); STAT5; arsenic trioxide
3.  mTORC2 modulates feedback regulation of p38 MAPK activity via DUSP10/MKP5 to confer differential responses to PP242 in glioblastoma 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):393-406.
Dual-specificity phosphatases (DUSPs) dephosphorylate MAP kinases (MAPKs) resulting in their inactivation. Activation of MAPK signaling leads to enhanced DUSP expression, thus establishing feedback regulation of the MAPK pathway. The DUSPs are subject to regulation at the post-translational level via phosphorylation resulting in alterations of protein stability. Here we report that mTORC2 function leads to stabilization of the p38 MAPK phosphatase, DUSP10, thereby inhibiting p38 activity. We demonstrate that mTORC2 binds DUSP10 and phosphorylates DUSP10 on serine residues 224 and 230. These phosphorylation events block DUSP10 turnover resulting in inactivation of p38 signaling. We further show that insulin-stimulated PI3K/mTORC2 signaling regulates DUSP10 stability and p38 activity. Importantly, knockdown of DUSP10 or ectopic overexpression of nonphosphorylatable or phosphomimetic DUSP10 mutants was sufficient to confer differential mTOR kinase inhibitor responses to GBM cells in vitro and in murine xenografts. Finally, DUSP10 was shown to be overexpressed in a significant number of GBM patients. These data demonstrate the ability of the mTORC2 pathway to exert regulatory effects on the DUSP10/p38 feedback loop to control the cellular effects of mTOR kinase inhibitors in GBM and support the use of DUSP10 expression as a surrogate biomarker to predict responsiveness.
PMCID: PMC4279437  PMID: 25568665
4.  DEPTOR is linked to a TORC1-p21 survival proliferation pathway in multiple myeloma cells 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):407-419.
We investigated the mechanism by which gene silencing of the mTOR inhibitor, DEPTOR, induces cytoreductive effects on multiple myeloma (MM) cells. DEPTOR knockdown resulted in anti-MM effects in several MM cell lines. Using an inducible shRNA to silence DEPTOR, 8226 MM cells underwent TORC1 activation, downregulation of AKT/SGK activity, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and senescence. These latter cytotoxic effects were prevented by TORC1 paralysis (Raptor knockdown) but not by over-expression of AKT activity. In addition, DEPTOR knockdown-induced MM death was not associated with activation of the unfolded protein response, suggesting that enhanced ER stress did not play a role. In contrast, DEPTOR knockdown in 8226 cells induced p21 expression, independent of p53, and p21 knockdown prevented all of the cytotoxic effects following DEPTOR silencing. DEPTOR silencing resulted in p21 upregulation in additional MM cell lines. Furthermore, DEPTOR silencing in a murine xenograft model resulted in anti-MM effects associated with p21 upregulation. DEPTOR knockdown also resulted in a decreased expression of p21-targeting miRNAs and transfection of miRNA mimics prevented p21 upregulation and apoptosis following DEPTOR silencing. Use of a shRNA-resistant DEPTOR construct ruled out off-target effects of the shRNA. These results indicate that DEPTOR regulates growth and survival of MM cells via a TORC1/p21 pathway and suggest an involvement of p21-targeted miRNAs.
PMCID: PMC4279438  PMID: 25568666
Multiple Myeloma; DEPTOR; mTORC1; ER stress; AKT; p21
5.  RGS16, a novel p53 and pRb cross-talk candidate inhibits migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):420-435.
Data collected since the discovery of p53 and pRb/RB1 suggests these tumor suppressors cooperate to inhibit tumor progression. Patients who have mutations in both p53 and RB1 genes have increased tumor reoccurrence and decreased survival compared to patients with only one tumor suppressor gene inactivated. It remains unclear how p53 and pRb cooperate toward inhibiting tumorigenesis. Using RNA expression profiling we identified 179 p53 and pRb cross-talk candidates in normal lung fibroblasts (WI38) cells exogenously coexpressing p53 and pRb. Regulator of G protein signaling 16 (RGS16) was among the p53 and pRb cross-talk candidates and has been implicated in inhibiting activation of several oncogenic pathways associated with proliferation, migration, and invasion of cancer cells.
RGS16 has been found to be downregulated in pancreatic cancer patients with metastases compared to patients without metastasis. Expression of RGS16 mRNA was decreased in the pancreatic cancer cell lines tested compared to control. Expression of RGS16 inhibited migration of the BxPC-3 and AsPC-1 but not PANC-1 cells and inhibited invasion of BxPC-3 and AsPC-1 cells with no impact on cell viability. We have identified for the first time p53 and pRb cross-talk candidates and a role for RGS16 to inhibit pancreatic cancer migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC4279439  PMID: 25568667
p53; pRb; RGS16; EGF; migration; pancreatic cancer
6.  Tumor suppression by miR-31 in esophageal carcinoma is p21-dependent 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):436-444.
microRNA regulation network is important for the cancer genetic heterogeneity. Relative to the increasing numbers of microRNA's targets identified, upstream regulatory mechanisms that control functional microRNAs are less well-documented. Here, we investigated the function of miR-31, a pleiotropically-acting microRNA, in esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC). We demonstrated that miR-31 only exerted tumor-suppressive effects in TE-7 ESCC cells, but not in TE-1 ESCC cells, although both of these cell lines harbor inactive p53. Interestingly, TE-1 cells highly expressed p21, while p21 levels were virtually undetectable in TE-7 cells, suggesting a p21-dependent mechanism of miR-31-mediated tumor suppression. Accordingly, knockdown of p21 in TE-1 cells reversed the tumor suppressive actions of miR-31. In patient ESCC specimens, real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed that expression of E2F2 and STK40, two known miR-31 target oncogenes, was negatively correlated with the expression of miR-31 in a p21-dependent manner, supporting the conclusion that miR-31 only downregulates its target oncogenes when p21 levels are low. Collectively, these data suggest a novel mechanism through which the tumor-suppressive effect of miR-31 is p21-dependent. In addition, we speculate that delivery of miR-31 could provide therapeutic benefit in the personalized management of a subgroup of ESCC patients with p21-deficient tumors.
PMCID: PMC4279440  PMID: 25568668
microRNA; miR-31; p21; esophageal squamous cell cancer; personalized medicine
7.  The Bcl-2 inhibitor Obatoclax overcomes resistance to histone deacetylase inhibitors SAHA and LBH589 as radiosensitizers in patient-derived glioblastoma stem-like cells 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):445-459.
Glioblastoma has shown resistance to histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) as radiosensitizers in cultures with Bcl-XL over-expression. We study the efficacy of SAHA/RTx and LBH589/RTx when manipulating Bcl-2 family proteins using the Bcl-2 inhibitor Obatoclax in patient-derived glioblastoma stem-like cell (GSC) cultures. GSC cultures in general have a deletion in phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN). Synergy was determined by the Chou Talalay method. The effects on apoptosis and autophagy were studied by measuring caspase-3/7, Bcl-XL, Mcl-1 and LC3BI/II proteins. The relation between treatment response and O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation status, recurrence and gene expression levels of the tumors were studied. Obatoclax synergized with SAHA and LBH589 and sensitized cells to HDACi/RTx. Over 50% of GSC cultures were responsive to Obatoclax with either single agent. Combined with HDACi/RTx treatment, Obatoclax increased caspase-3/7 and inhibited Bcl-2 family proteins Bcl-XL and Mcl-1 more effectively than other treatments. Genes predictive for treatment response were identified, including the F-box/WD repeat-containing protein-7, which was previously related to Bcl-2 inhibition and HDACi sensitivity. We emphasize the functional relation between Bcl-2 proteins and radiosensitization by HDACi and provide a target for increasing responsiveness in glioblastoma by using the Bcl-2 inhibitor Obatoclax.
PMCID: PMC4279441  PMID: 25568669
Bcl-2; Bcl-XL; HDAC inhibitor; SAHA; LBH589; radiation; Obatoclax
8.  Taurolidine cooperates with antineoplastic drugs in neuroblastoma cells 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):460-469.
Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial tumor in childhood. Outcome of stage 4 disease remains poor and the development of novel therapeutic approaches is thus urgently needed. Taurolidine (TRD), originally invented to avoid catheter infections, has shown to exhibit antineoplastic activity in various cancers. The growth of neuroblastoma cell lines is inhibited by TRD as recently demonstrated. Further analysis disclosed a significant negative growth effect of TRD on the four neuroblastoma cell lines SH-EP TET21N, SK-N-AS, SK-N-BE(2)-M17 and SK-N-SH. Detected IC50 (51-274 μM; 48 h) are promising and correspond to clinically-achievable plasma levels. Apoptosis was induced (76-86%; 48 h) in a time-dependent manner mediated by a simultaneous activation of the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways. This was confirmed by cleavage of caspases -3, -8 and -9 and abrogation of apoptosis by pan-caspase inhibition. Application of TRD resulted in a significant enhancement of cytotoxic drugs vincristine/doxorubicin (2/3 of 4 cell lines) making TRD a promising candidate to be included in neuroblastoma therapy regimens in the future.
PMCID: PMC4279442  PMID: 25568670
Neuroblastoma; Apoptosis; Vincristine; Doxorubicin; Experimental Therapies
9.  The antihypertension drug doxazosin suppresses JAK/STATs phosphorylation and enhances the effects of IFN-α/γ-induced apoptosis 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):470-479.
Doxazosin, a commonly prescribed treatment for patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia, serves as an α1-blocker of the adrenergic receptors. In this study, we calculated its effect on the ovarian carcinoma cells. Doxazosin induces dose-dependent growth suppression and is additively activated through IFN-α or IFN-γ stimulation. They both enhanced G1 phase arrest, as well as the activity of caspase-3, and the reduction of cyclin D1 and CDK4 protein levels. Doxazosin growth suppression was abolished either by the Janus family of tyrosine kinase (JAK) or the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) inhibitor treatment. The activity of JAK/STAT was dependent on the level of doxazosin, suggesting a requirement of doxazosin for the activation of JAK/STAT. Furthermore, doxazosin plus IFN-α or doxazosin plus IFN-γ additively suppressed the activation of the JAK/STAT signals through phosphorylation of JAK and STAT, thus affecting the activation of subsequent downstream signaling components PI3K, mTOR, 70S6K, and PKCδ. In vivo study demonstrated that doxazosin significantly suppressed tumor growth in an ovarian cancer cell xenograft mouse model, inducing apoptotic cell death by up-regulating the expression of p53, whereas c-Myc expression was markedly reduced. Our data indicate that doxazosin can modulate the apoptotic effects of IFN-α- and IFN-γ through the JAK/STAT signaling pathways. Collectively, we indicate that this action may be a potent chemotherapeutic property against ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4279443  PMID: 25568671
doxazosin; interferon-α/γ; apoptotic cell death; JAK/STAT activation; cell cycle progression
10.  miR-155 induced transcriptome changes in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line leads to enhanced mitogen activated protein kinase signaling 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):353-364.
A single microRNA (miRNA) has the potential to regulate thousands of genes and thus govern multiple signaling pathways at once. miR-155 is an oncogenic miRNA which regulates many cellular pathways, designating it as a multifaceted regulator of proliferation, chemo-resistance, and apoptosis. While many singular targeted effects of miR-155 have been defined and an oncogenic role has been attributed to miR-155 expression, the global effect of miR-155 on the cellular transcriptomes of an ER+ breast cancer cell line has yet to be determined. Here we demonstrate that miR-155 expression increases tumorigenesis in vivo and we determine miR-155 mediated transcriptome changes through next generation sequencing analysis. miR-155 expression alters many signaling pathways, with the chief altered pathway being the MAPK signaling cascade and miR-155 induces shortening of target mRNA 3′UTRs and alternative isoform expression of MAPK related genes. In addition there is an observed increase in protein phosphorylation of components of MAPK signaling including ERK1/2 and AP-1 complex members (Fra-1 and c-Fos) as well as elevated gene expression of MAPK regulated genes Zeb1, Snail, Plaur, and SerpinE1.
PMCID: PMC4209600  PMID: 25352952
microRNA-155; breast cancer; MAPK; p38; 3′UTR; RNA-seq
11.  Telomere dysfunction suppresses multiple endocrine neoplasia in mice 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):306-319.
Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndrome is typified by the occurrence of tumors in two or more hormonal tissues. Whereas the genetics of MEN syndrome is relatively well understood, the tumorigenic mechanisms for these cancers remain relatively obscure. The Cdk4R24C mouse model develops highly penetrant pituitary tumors and endocrine pancreas adenomas, and, as such, this model is appropriate to gain insight into mechanisms underlying MEN. Using this model, here we provide evidence supporting an important role for telomerase in the pathogenesis of MEN. We observed increased aneuploidy in Cdk4R/R fibroblasts along with significantly elevated telomerase activity and telomere length in Cdk4R/R islets and embryonic fibroblasts. To better understand the role of telomerase, we generated Cdk4R24C mice with inactivation of the mTERC locus, which codes for the essential RNA component of the enzyme telomerase (mTERC−/− Cdk4R/R mice). Embryonic fibroblasts and islets derived from mTERC−/− Cdk4R/R mice exhibit reduced telomere length and proliferative capacity. Further, mTERC−/− Cdk4R/R fibroblasts display reduced transformation potential. Importantly, mTERC−/− Cdk4R/R mice display significantly reduced spontaneous tumorigenesis. Strikingly, we observed dramatic suppression of pituitary tumors and endocrine pancreas adenomas in mTERC−/− Cdk4R/R mice. Telomere dysfunction suppressed tumor initiation and increased latency of tumor development while not affecting the progression of established tumors. In summary, these results are suggestive of an important role for telomerase in tumor development in the Cdk4R24C mouse model, specifically in the genesis of tumors in the pituitary and the endocrine pancreas.
PMCID: PMC4209601  PMID: 25352948
Telomerase; Pituitary; Pancreas; Islets; Endocrine Neoplasia
12.  The apoptosis associated tyrosine kinase gene is frequently hypermethylated in human cancer and is regulated by epigenetic mechanisms 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):365-374.
Epigenetic gene inactivation through promoter hypermethylation is an important aberration involved in the silencing of tumor-associated genes in cancer. Here we identified the apoptosis associated tyrosine kinase (AATK) as an epigenetically downregulated tumor related gene. We analyzed the epigenetic regulation of AATK in several human cancer cell lines and normal tissues by methylation and expression analysis. Hypermethylation of AATK was also analyzed in 25 primary lung tumors, 30 breast cancers and 24 matching breast tissues. In normal tissues the AATK CpG island promoter was unmethylated and AATK was expressed. Hypermethylation of AATK occurred frequently in 13 out of 14 (93%) human cancer cell lines. Methylation was reversed by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine treatment leading to re-expression of AATK in cancer cell lines. Aberrant methylation of AATK was also revealed in primary lung (40%) and breast (53%) cancers, but was found to be significantly less methylated in matching normal breast tissues (17%; p<0.01). In addition, we observed that AATK is epigenetically reactivated through the chromatin regulator CTCF. We further show that overexpression of Aatk significantly suppresses colony formation in cancer cell lines. Our findings suggest that the apoptosis associated tyrosine kinase is frequently inactivated in human cancers and acts as a tumor suppressive gene.
PMCID: PMC4209602  PMID: 25352953
AATK; epigenetic regulation; DNA methylation; human cancer; tumor suppressor; CTCF
13.  Mirk kinase inhibition blocks the in vivo growth of pancreatic cancer cells 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):337-347.
The Mirk/dyrk1B gene is upregulated and sometimes amplified in pancreatic ductal carcinomas. In poor microenvironmental conditions Mirk mediates cell survival by maintaining cancer cells in a largely quiescent, noncycling state and by decreasing toxic ROS levels through maintaining expression of a series of antioxidant genes. Premature entry into cycle, increased ROS levels, DNA damage, and apoptosis follow Mirk kinase depletion or inhibition. Mirk kinase inhibitor EHT5372 treated Panc1 spheroids lost quiescence markers coincident with an increase in cyclin A showing entry into cycle, and exhibited DNA damage, apoptosis and smaller size. EHT5372 treatment in vivo led to an increased fraction of Ki67 positive, cycling cells in Panc1 xenografts whose size was reduced. Pdx-1-cre LSL/KrasG12D/Ink4a/Arf null B6 mice always develop pancreatic cancer, allowing only 30% survival by 8 weeks, while each of the Mirk kinase inhibitor treated mice survived 8 weeks. Mirk inhibition led to a roughly four-fold increase in tumor αSMA-positive fibroblasts and large stromal collagen-rich infiltrates in the pancreas that can restrain tumor growth. The mTOR inhibitor RAD001 alone, or together with EHT5372, reduced pancreatic cancer size 30-fold, while the drug combination reduced the number of microscopic tumor foci 2-fold compared to RAD001 alone.
PMCID: PMC4209603  PMID: 25352950
Mirk; dyrk1B; mTOR; Kras; pancreatic cancer
14.  TGF-β induced TMEPAI/PMEPA1 inhibits canonical Smad signaling through R-Smad sequestration and promotes non-canonical PI3K/Akt signaling by reducing PTEN in triple negative breast cancer 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):320-336.
TMEPAI (transmembrane prostate androgen-induced) is amplified at genomic, transcript and protein levels in triple-negative breast cancers and promotes TGF-β dependent growth, motility and invasion. Tumor promotion by TMEPAI depends on two different but related actions on TGF-β signaling. Firstly, TMEPAI binds and sequesters regulatory Smads2/3 and thereby decreases growth suppressive signaling by TGF-β. Secondly, increased expression of TMEPAI decreases PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) abundance, and thereby increases TGF-β dependent tumor promotive PI3K/Akt signaling. These actions of TMEPAI give rise to increased cell proliferation and motility. Moreover, signaling alterations produced by high TMEPAI were associated with oncogenic Snail expression and lung metastases. Finally, an inverse correlation between TMEPAI and PTEN levels was confirmed in triple negative breast cancer tumor samples. Together, our findings suggest that TMEPAI has dually critical roles to promote TGF-β dependent cancer cell growth and metastasis. Thus, redirected TGF-β signaling through TMEPAI may play a pivotal role in TGF-β mediated tumor promotion.
PMCID: PMC4209604  PMID: 25352949
TGF-β; TMEPAI; PMEPA1; Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC); Smad; PTEN
15.  Cutting the brakes and flooring the gas: how TMEPAI turns TGF-β into a tumor promoter 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):303-305.
In normal or nonmalignant cells, TGF-β inhibits cellular proliferation through activation of the SMAD-dependent canonical signaling pathway. Recent findings demonstrate that the protein TMEPAI1 can block the cytostatic effects of the canonical TGF-β signaling pathway, while activating cellular proliferation through the noncanonical, SMAD-independent TGF-β signaling pathway. As TMEPAI1 shows increased expression in the poor prognosis basal and HER2 intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer, these findings point to a new avenue of targeted therapy with considerable therapeutic potential.
PMCID: PMC4209605  PMID: 25352947
TGF beta; TMEPAI; breast cancer
16.  Generation of a mouse model of T-cell lymphoma based on chronic LPS challenge and TGF-β signaling disruption 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(9-10):348-352.
Alcoholic liver disease has various manifestations: asymptomatic steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis, which substantially increase the risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma. Transforming growth factor (TGF-β) signaling pathway is a major regulator in chronic liver diseases contributing to all liver disease progression from liver injury, inflammation and fibrosis to HCC. With the aim of generating a mouse model of alcoholic liver disease that would rapidly develop steatosis, inflammation as well as fibrosis, we formulated a regimen that combined chronic injections of low dose (2mg/kg) lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with Lieber DeCarli-based diet containing 6.7% ethanol feeding to mice with impaired TGF-β signaling through constitutive disruption of β2-spectrin and/or Smad3. Unexpectedly, the mice treated with chronic low dose LPS and fed the alcohol-containing diet developed very aggressive T-cell lymphomas to which the TGF-β mutant mice succumbed more rapidly than the wild type mice. In contrast, their liver phenotype was mild as they only developed steatosis but not hepatitis or significant fibrosis. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a mouse model of aggressive T- cell lymphoma based on chronic challenge with low dose LPS and TGF-β disruption.
PMCID: PMC4209606  PMID: 25352951
TGF-β; β2-spectrin; Smad3; T cell lymphoma
17.  Impairement of HT29 Cancer Cells Cohesion by the Soluble Form of Neurotensin Receptor-3 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):240-249.
The neurotensin (NT) receptor-3 (NTSR3), also called sortilin is a multifunctional protein localized at the intracellular and plasma membrane level. The extracellular domain of NTSR3 (sNTSR3) is released by shedding from several cell lines including colonic cancer cells. This soluble protein acts as an active ligand through its ability to bind, to be internalized in the human adenocarcinoma epithelial HT29 cells and to stimulate the PI3 kinase pathway. The aim of this study was to investigate cellular responses induced by sNTSR3 in HT29 cells. The cellular functions of sNTSR3 were monitored by immunofluocytochemistry, electron microscopy and quantitative PCR in order to characterize the cell shape and the expression of adhesion proteins. We evidenced that sNTSR3 significantly regulates the cellular morphology as well as the cell-cell and the cell-matrix adherens properties by decreasing the expession of several integrins and by modifying the structure of desmosomes. Altogether, these properties lead to an increase of cell detachment upon sNTSR3 treatment on HT29, HCT116 and SW620 cancer cells. Our results indicate that sNTSR3 may induce the first phase of a process which weaken HT29 epithelial properties including desmosome architecture, cell spreading, and initiation of cell separation, all events which could be responsible for cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4162136  PMID: 25221642
soluble sortilin; cell morphology; desmosomes; cancer; neurotensin
18.  Functional antagonism of TMPRSS2-ERG splice variants in prostate cancer 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):273-284.
The fusion between ERG coding sequences and the TMPRSS2 promoter is the most prevalent in prostate cancer (CaP). The presence of two main types of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion transcripts in CaP specimens, Type I and Type II, prompted us to hypothesize that the cumulative actions of different ERG variants may impact CaP development/progression. Using TMPRSS2-ERG3 (Type I) and TMPRSS2-ERG8 (Type II) expression vectors, we determined that the TMPRSS2- ERG8 encoded protein is deficient in transcriptional regulation compared to TMPRSS2-ERG3. Co-transfection of vectors resulted in decreased transcriptional regulation compared to TMPRSS2-ERG3 alone, suggesting transdominance of ERG8. Expression of exogenous ERG8 protein resulted in a decrease in endogenous ERG3 protein levels in TMPRSS2-ERG positive VCaP cells, with a concomitant decrease in C-MYC. Further, we showed a physical association between ERG3 and ERG8 in live cells by the bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay, providing a basis for the observed effects. Inhibitory effects of TMPRSS2-ERG8 on TMPRSS2- ERG3 were also corroborated by gene expression data from human prostate cancers, which showed a positive correlation between C-MYC expression and TMPRSS2-ERG3/TMPRSS2- ERG8 ratio. We propose that an elevated TMPRSS2-ERG3/TMPRSS2-ERG8 ratio results in elevated C-MYC in CaP, providing a strong rationale for the biomarker and therapeutic utility of ERG splice variants, along with C-MYC.
PMCID: PMC4162137  PMID: 25221645
ERG; Splice variants; Prostate cancer; Dominant negative; C-MYC
19.  CDK4/6 inhibition provides a potent adjunct to Her2-targeted therapies in preclinical breast cancer models 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):261-272.
In spite of the efficacy of Her2-targeted therapies, recurrence and progression remain a challenge for treatment of Her2 positive breast cancer. CDK4/6 controls pathway downstream of Her2, Inhibition of these kinases could represent an important therapeutic approach to augment the effectiveness of standard therapies. In models of acquired resistance to Her2-targeted therapies, Cyclin D1 was inappropriately activated and CDK4/6 inhibition was effective at blocking proliferation by targeting this common pathway associated with resistance. These data were recapitulated in Her2 positive xenografts. Furthermore, in a series of 35 primary breast tumor explants, treatment with PD-0332991 resulted in a greater than 4-fold suppression of the Ki67. The effects of CDK4/6 inhibition were dependent on an intact RB-pathway, and consonantly, loss of RB and high-levels of p16 were associated with resistance to CDK4/6 inhibition. Combination studies illustrated that CDK4/6 inhibition is cooperative with multiple Her2-targeted agents and provides a complementary mechanism of action to T-DM1 to efficiently suppresses the proliferation of residual Her2-positive tumor cell populations that survive T-DM1. Together, these data indicate CDK4/6 is a viable therapeutic target that functions downstream of Her2, and tissue based markers are available to direct rational utilization of CDK4/6 inhibitors in combination with Her2-targeted agents.
PMCID: PMC4162138  PMID: 25221644
RB; HER2; Palbocicllb; CDK4; T-DM1
20.  NVP-BEZ-235 enhances radiosensitization via blockade of the PI3K/mTOR pathway in cisplatin-resistant non-small cell lung carcinoma 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):293-302.
Most drug resistant cancer cells also develop resistance to radiation therapy. In this study, we hypothesized that the dual inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin, NVP-BEZ-235, could potentially enhance radiosensitization in cisplatin-resistance (CDDP-R) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells by disabling autophagy as a mechanism of self-preservation.
We used both in vitro and in vivo approaches, including clonogenic assays, Western blotting, molecular analyses of autophagy and apoptosis, a xenograft model of tumor growth, and immunohistochemical analysis.
Basal p-Akt, p-mTOR and p-S6R proteins were enhanced in CDDP-R NSCLC cells. CDDP-R-resistant NSCLC cells are less radiation sensitive in comparison to parental cells (DER=0.82, p=0.02); BEZ-235 enhanced the radiosensitivity (DER=1.2, p=0.01). In addition, combining BEZ-235/RT showed a dramatic tumor growth delay in a mouse xenograft model. Immunohistochemistry showed that combination therapy yielded 50% decrease in caspase-3 activity. Moreover, cell proliferation was reduced by 87.8% and vascular density by 86.1%. These results were associated with a downregulation of PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway and an increase in autophagy.
These findings may be utilized as a novel strategy to enhance the efficacy of radiation therapy in drug-selected non-small cell lung cancer exhibiting radioresistance.
PMCID: PMC4162139  PMID: 25221647
mTOR; NSCLC; autophagy; cisplatin resistance; radiosensitization
21.  CD133-positive cancer stem cells from Colo205 human colon adenocarcinoma cell line show resistance to chemotherapy and display a specific metabolomic profile 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):250-260.
During the past decade, cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) have drawn substantial interest in cancer research since they have been described as major targets to improve treatment of tumors and to prevent recurrence and metastasis. In this paper, we report on the search for CSCs within the Colo205 human adenocarcinoma cell line. We describe that CD133 (prominin) was the only reliable marker for the isolation and characterization of CSCs within a Colo205 cell population. CD133-positive cells displayed many CSC characteristics, such as tumorsphere formation ability, expression of early-stage development markers, high invasiveness, raised tumor initiation potential and resistance to cisplatin chemotherapy treatment. In vitro analyses also highlighted a specific metabolomic profile of CD133-positive cells and we concluded that the chemotherapy resistance of CSCs could be related to the quiescence of such cells associated with their reduced metabolism. Furthermore, in vivo metabolome analyses suggested that a high level of circulating glutathione molecules could also promote treatment resistance. From the perspective of metabolomics, we also discuss the controversial use of serum-free in vitro cultures for CSC enrichment prior to further phenotype characterization.
PMCID: PMC4162140  PMID: 25221643
cancer stem cells; CD133; metabolomics; adenocarcinoma; CE-TOF-MS
22.  Impact of DNA repair pathways on the cytotoxicity of piperlongumine in chicken DT40 cell-lines 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):285-292.
Piperlongumine is a naturally-occurring small molecule with various biological activities. Recent studies demonstrate that piperlongumine selectively kills various types of transformed cells with minimal toxicity to non-transformed cells by inducing a high level of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS generates various types of DNA lesions, including base modifications and single strand breaks. In order to examine the contribution of ROS-induced DNA damage to the cytotoxicity by piperlongumine, various DNA repair-deficient chicken DT40 cell-lines with a single DNA repair gene deletion were tested for cellular sensitivity to piperlongumine. The results showed that cell lines defective in homologous recombination (HR) display hyper-sensitivity to piperlongumine, while other cell lines with a deficiency in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER), Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway, or translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) polymerases, show no sensitivity to piperlongumine. The results strongly implicate that double strand breaks (DSBs) generated by piperlongumine are major cytotoxic DNA lesions. Furthermore, a deletion of 53BP1 or Ku70 in the BRCA1-deficient cell line restored cellular resistance to piperlongumine. This strongly supports the idea that piperlongumine induces DSB- mediated cell death. Interestingly, piperlongumine makes the wild type DT40 cell line hypersensitive to a PARP-inhibitor, Olaparib. The results implicate that piperlongumine inhibits HR. Further analysis with cell-based HR assay and the kinetic study of Rad51 foci formation confirmed that piperlongumine suppresses HR activity. Altogether, we revealed novel mechanisms of piperlongumine-induced cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC4162141  PMID: 25221646
BRCA1; BRCA2; piperlongumine; oxidative stress; homologous recombination; chemotherapy
23.  PTEN deficiency and mutant p53 confer glucose-addiction to thyroid cancer cells: impact of glucose depletion on cell proliferation, cell survival, autophagy and cell migration 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):226-239.
Proliferating cancer cells oxidize glucose through the glycolytic pathway. Since this metabolism is less profitable in terms of ATP production, cancer cells consume large quantity of glucose, and those that experience insufficient blood supply become glucose-addicted. We have analyzed the response to glucose depletion in WRO and FTC133 follicular thyroid cancer cells, which differ in the expression of two key regulators of the glucose metabolism. WRO cells, which express wild type p53 and PTEN, showed a higher rate of cell proliferation and were much less sensitive to glucose-depletion than FTC133 cells, which are PTEN null and express mutant p53. Glucose depletion slowed-down the autophagy flux in FTC133 cells, not in WRO cells. In a wound-healing assay, WRO cells were shown to migrate faster than FTC133 cells. Glucose depletion slowed down the cell migration rate, and these effects were more evident in FTC133 cells. Genetic silencing of either wild-type PTEN or p53 in WRO cells resulted in increased uptake of glucose, whereas the ectopic expression of PTEN in FTC133 cells resulted in diminished glucose uptake. In conclusion, compared to WRO, FTC133 cells were higher glucose up-taker and consumer. These data do not support the general contention that cancer cells lacking PTEN or expressing the mutant p53R273H are more aggressive and prone to better face glucose depletion. We propose that concurrent PTEN deficiency and mutant p53 leads to a glucose-addiction state that renders the cancer cell more sensitive to glucose restriction. The present observation substantiates the view that glucose-restriction may be an adjuvant strategy to combat these tumours.
PMCID: PMC4162142  PMID: 25221641
Warburg effect; glucose; autophagy; metabolic stress; PTEN; p53
24.  Identification of a novel lytic peptide for the treatment of solid tumours 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(5-6):186-200.
Originally known as host defence peptides for their substantial bacteriotoxic effects, many cationic antimicrobial peptides also exhibit a potent cytotoxic activity against cancer cells. Their mode of action is characterized mostly by electrostatic interactions with the plasma membrane, leading to membrane disruption and rapid necrotic cell death.
In this work, we have designed a novel cationic peptide of 27 amino acids (Cypep-1), which shows efficacy against a number of cancer cell types, both in vitro and in vivo, while normal human fibroblasts were significantly less affected. Surface plasmon resonance experiments as well as liposome leakage assays monitored by fluorescence spectroscopy revealed a substantial binding affinity of Cypep-1 to negatively charged liposomes and induced significant leakage of liposome content after exposure to the peptide. The observed membranolytic effect of Cypep-1 was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) as well as by time-lapse confocal microscopy. Pharmacokinetic profiling of Cypep-1 in rats showed a short plasma half-life after i.v. injection, followed mainly by retention in the liver, spleen and kidneys. Extremely low concentrations within the organs of the central nervous system indicated that Cypep-1 did not pass the blood-brain-barrier.
Local treatment of 4T1 murine mammary carcinoma allografts by means of a single local bolus injection of Cypep-1 led to a significant reduction of tumour growth in the following weeks and prolonged survival. Detailed histological analysis of the treated tumours revealed large areas of necrosis.
In sum, our findings show that the novel cationic peptide Cypep-1 displays a strong cytolytic activity against cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo and thus holds a substantial therapeutic potential.
PMCID: PMC4104761  PMID: 25061502
Antimicrobal lytic peptides; cationic lytic peptides; cancer treatment; membrane disruption
25.  NDRG2 overexpression enhances glucose deprivation-mediated apoptosis in breast cancer cells via inhibition of the LKB1-AMPK pathway 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(5-6):175-185.
The newly identified tumor suppressor, N-myc downstream-regulated gene 2 (NDRG2), has been studied in various cancers because of its anticancer and antimetastasis effects. In this study, we examined the effect of NDRG2 expression on cell viability in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells under conditions that are similar to the microenvironment of solid tumors, which include glucose deprivation. NDRG2 overexpression enhanced the pro-apoptotic effects of glucose deprivation. Glucose deprivation also induced the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which plays a role in protecting tumor cells from metabolic stresses. NDRG2 overexpression strongly reduced glucose deprivation-induced AMPK phosphorylation and increased the cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), which indicated the induction of apoptosis. The expression of a constitutively active form of AMPK effectively blocked glucose deprivation-induced apoptosis in NDRG2-overexpressing MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, NDRG2 overexpression also enhanced the pro-apoptotic effects of 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) or hypoxia, an inducer of metabolic stresses. Finally, we showed that LKB1 is an upstream kinase of AMPK that is involved in the inhibition of glucose deprivation-induced AMPK activity in NDRG2-overexpressing cells. Our findings collectively suggest that NDRG2 is a negative regulator of AMPK activity and functions as a sensitizer of glucose deprivation.
PMCID: PMC4104758  PMID: 25061501
NDRG2; AMPK; glucose deprivation; apoptosis

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