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1.  Regulation and role of post-translational modifications of enhancer of zeste homologue 2 in cancer development 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2737-2754.
Post-translational modifications (PTMs) are critical molecular events which alter protein conformation after their synthesis and diversity protein properties by modulating their stability, localization, interacting partners or the activity of their substrates, consequently exerting pivotal roles in regulating the functions of many important eukaryotic proteins. It has been well acknowledged that PTMs are of great importance in a broad range of biological processes such as gene regulation, cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, tissue development, diseases, tumor progression and drug resistance. As the core and contributing catalytic subunit of Polycomb repressive complex 2(PRC2), Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is a master epigenetic regulator, often serving as a highly conserved histone methyltransferase (HMTase) to induce histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) and repress gene transcription and expression. Dysregulated EZH2 expression is frequently associated with cancer development and poor prognosis in a wide variety of cancers. Considered its essential role in carcinogenesis, EZH2 is a potential candidate for cancer targeted therapy. Remarkably, mounting evidence highlights that EZH2 expression, activity and stability can be regulated by PTMs including phosphorylation, acetylation, ubiquitination, sumoylation and GlcNAcylation aside from its well-validated modifications in transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. However, the precise regulatory mechanisms underlying EZH2 PTMs and whether other types of PTMs orchestrate in EZH2 remain largely unclear. In this review, we summarize current advances in the understanding of EZH2 regulation by PTMs and their associated biological functions during tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC5199751  PMID: 28042497
Post-translational modifications (PTMs); polycomb group (PcG); polycomb repressive complex 2(PRC2); enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2); histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3)
2.  Alpinumisoflavone induces apoptosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma by modulating miR-370/PIM1 signaling 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2755-2771.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the most prevalent type of esophageal cancer and accumulating evidence has confirmed the role of miRNAs in ESCC. One such miRNA, miR-370, was found to be aberrantly downregulated in various human malignancies. This study showed that the expression of miR-370 was significantly lower in ESCC tissues and cell lines, and miR-370 functioned as a tumor suppressor in ESCC. Moreover, this is the first report that showed miR-370 suppresses cell proliferation and tumor growth by directly targeting Pim family kinases 1 (PIM1). Furthermore, alpinumisoflavone, a naturally occurring flavonoid, could inhibit tumor growth of ESCC by targeting miR-370/PIM1 signaling.
PMCID: PMC5199752  PMID: 28042498
ESCC; miR-370; PIM1; alpinumisoflavone
3.  PCAF acts as a gastric cancer suppressor through a novel PCAF-p16-CDK4 axis 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2772-2786.
Gastric cancer (GC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide and the pathogenesis of GC remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate a novel mechanism by which P300/CBP associating factor (PCAF) acts as a tumor suppressor in GC cells. We showed that both PCAF mRNA and protein were downregulated in GC cells, and that this downregulation correlated with poor survival. Meanwhile, the interaction between human anion exchanger 1 (AE1) and p16 is a key event in GC development. We found that PCAF inhibited GC growth by interacting with AE1 and p16 to promote ubiquitin-mediated degradation of AE1 and p16 upregulation and translocation into the nucleus. Binding of nuclear p16 to CDK4 prevented the CDK4-Cyclin D1 interaction to inhibit GC proliferation. Furthermore, reduced PCAF levels in GC cells were associated with intracellular alkalinization and decreased immunity. Together these results suggest that PCAF acts as a GC suppressor through a novel PCAF-p16-CDK4 axis. The downregulation of PCAF expression in GC cells that follows intracellular alkalinization and decreased immune response, indicates that GC therapies should focus on restoring PCAF levels.
PMCID: PMC5199753  PMID: 28042499
GC; PCAF-P16-CDK4 axis; AE1; proliferation
4.  MicroRNA-147 suppresses human hepatocellular carcinoma proliferation migration and chemosensitivity by inhibiting HOXC6 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2787-2798.
Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) experience poor prognosis and low survival rates. In this study, we explored the molecular mechanism of microRNA-147 (miR-147) in regulating human HCC. We firstly used quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) to compare the expression levels of miR-147 between 7 HCC and two normal liver cell lines, as well as 10 paired primary HCC tissues and their adjacent non-carcinoma tissues. We found miR-147 was down-regulated in both HCC cell lines and primary HCCs tissues. HCC cell lines HepG2 and HuH7 were transfected with lentiviral vector of miR-147 mimics. We found overexpressing miR-147 significantly inhibited HCC in vitro proliferation and migration, increased 5-FU chemosensitivity, and reduced in vivo tumorigenicity. Luciferase, qRT-PCR and western blot assays showed that HOXC6 was the downstream target of miR-147, and both gene and protein levels of HOXC6 were down-regulated by miR-147 in HCC cells. SiRNA mediated HOXC6 knockdown inhibited in vitro proliferation and migration, and increased 5-FU chemosensitivity in HCC. On the other hand, HOXC6 overexpression reversed the inhibitory effect of miR-147 on HCC in vitro proliferation. Therefore, our results suggest that miR-147 can modulates HCC development through the regulation on HOXC6.
PMCID: PMC5199754  PMID: 28042500
miR-147; hepatocellular carcinoma; HOXC6; migration; proliferation; chemosensitivity
5.  A new PDAC mouse model originated from iPSCs-converted pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSCcm) 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2799-2815.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most representative form of pancreatic cancers. PDAC solid tumours are constituted of heterogeneous populations of cells including cancer stem cells (CSCs), differentiated cancer cells, desmoplastic stroma and immune cells. The identification and consequent isolation of pancreatic CSCs facilitated the generation of genetically engineered murine models. Nonetheless, the current models may not be representative for the spontaneous tumour occurrence. In the present study, we show the generation of a novel pancreatic iPSC-converted cancer stem cell lines (CSCcm) as a cutting-edge model for the study of PDAC. The CSCcm lines were achieved only by the influence of pancreatic cancer cell lines conditioned medium and were not subjected to any genetic manipulation. The xenografts tumours from CSCcm lines displayed histopathological features of ADM, PanIN and PDAC lesions. Further molecular characterization from RNA-sequencing analysis highlighted primary culture cell lines (1st CSCcm) as potential candidates to represent the pancreatic CSCs and indicated the establishment of the pancreatic cancer molecular pattern in their subsequent progenies 2nd CSCcm and 3rd CSCcm. In addition, preliminary RNA-seq SNPs analysis showed that the distinct CSCcm lines did not harbour single point mutations for the oncogene Kras codon 12 or 13. Therefore, PDAC-CSCcm model may provide new insights about the actual occurrence of the pancreatic cancer leading to develop different approaches to target CSCs and abrogate the progression of this fatidic disease.
PMCID: PMC5199755  PMID: 28042501
Cancer stem cells; iPSCs; pancreatic cancer; PDAC; CSCcm; conditioned medium
6.  Verteporfin induces apoptosis and eliminates cancer stem-like cells in uveal melanoma in the absence of light activation 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2816-2830.
Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common primary ocular malignancy in adults. Currently, no beneficial systemic therapy is available; therefore, there is an urgent need for effective targeted therapeutic drugs. As verteporfin has shown anti-neoplastic activity in several types of cancers, here we hypothesized and investigated the efficacy of verteporfin against UM cells without light activation. MTS assay, flow cytometry analysis of apoptosis, Western blotting of relevant proteins, transwell migration and invasion assay, melanosphere culture, and measurement of ALDH+ populations, were used to evaluate the effects of verteporfin on UM cells. We found that verteporfin disrupted the interaction between YAP and TEAD4 in UM cells and decreased the expression of YAP targeted downstream genes. Verteporfin treatment decreased the cytoplasmic and nuclear levels of YAP and induced lysosome-dependent degradation of YAP protein. Verteporfin exhibited distinct inhibitory effect on the proliferation of four lines of UM cells (e.g., 92.1, Mel 270, Omm 1 and Omm 2.3), and induced apoptosis through the intrinsic pathway. Additionally, verteporfin suppressed migration and invasion of UM cells, impaired the traits of cancer stem-like cells (e.g., melanosphere formation capacity, and ALDH+ cell population). This study demonstrated the anti-neoplastic activity of verteporfin against UM cells in vitro, providing a rationale for evaluating this agent in clinical investigation.
PMCID: PMC5199756  PMID: 28042502
Apoptosis; cancer stem-like cells; uveal melanoma; verteporfin; YAP
7.  Isobolographic analysis demonstrates additive effect of cisplatin and HDIs combined treatment augmenting their anti-cancer activity in lung cancer cell lines 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2831-2845.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) are a new class of drugs which affect the activity of HDACs resulting in changed of acetylation in many proteins. HDIs can induce differentiation, cell growth arrest, apoptosis, inhibit proliferation and angiogenesis in cancer, whereas normal cells are comparatively resistant to the action of HDIs. The aim of this study was to investigate the combined effect of a well-known cytostatic agent-cisplatin (CDDP) and a histone deacetylase inhibitors-either suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA, vorinostat) or valproic acid (VPA), on the proliferation of lung cancer cells, as well as induction of apoptosis and inhibition of the cell cycle progression. The anti-proliferative activity of VPA or SAHA used alone, or in combination with CDDP were determined by means of MTT test. The type of pharmacologic interactions between HDAC inhibitors and CDDP was assessed using isobolographic analysis. We observed additive interactions for the CCDP with SAHA, as well as for the CDDP with VPA combinations with respect to their anti-proliferative effects on three different lung cancer cell lines (A549, NCI-H1563 and NCI-H2170). Such additive effects were observed regardless of the histologic type (adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma) and sensitivity for the drugs applied. Combination treatment also augmented the induction of apoptosis and cell cycle perturbation mediated by CDDP alone, thereby enhancing anti-cancer effect of tested drugs. In conclusion, the combined therapy of HDIs and CDDP may be a promising therapeutic tool in the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC5199757  PMID: 28042503
Isobolographic analysis; histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs); valproic acid (VPA); suberoylanilide hydroxamid acid (SAHA); cisplatin (CDDP); lung cancer
8.  Small molecular peptide-ScFv αvβ3 conjugates specifically inhibit lung cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo  
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2846-2858.
Integrin αvβ3 (ITG) is highly expressed in various cancers and is considered a major target for anti-angiogensis cancer therapy. The single chain fragment variable of which (ScFv αvβ3) has been reported to inhibit tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we conjugated cdGIGPQc which can exclusively bind to NSCLC cells according to our previous study synthesized by SPPS with ScFv αvβ3 expressed in E. coli BL21 (DE3) to develop a novel lung cancer specific targeted drug. Specific cell targeting of cdGIGPQc-ScFv was assessed in parallel with the single ScFv and a control nonspecific peptide-ScFv through immunofluorescence and flow cytometry while the αvβ3-binding property was examined by Western blot. Our results showed that cdGIGPQc-ScFv retained both the lung cancer-binding activity of cdGIGPQc and the antigen-recognizing ability of ScFv αvβ3 in vitro. CCK8 assays and in animal experiments suggested that cdGIGPQc-ScFv possessed a superior antitumor effect than ScFv and nonspecific peptide-ScFv both in vitro and vivo. Further immunohistochemical staining revealed that cdGIGPQc-ScFv retarded lung cancer growth through inhibiting tumor angiogensis and proliferation. Therefore, cdGIGPQc delivery of ScFv αvβ3 to lung cancer may be a hopeful new strategy for enhancing specific antitumor efficacy and cdGIGPQc-ScFv could be a potential drug for lung cancer targeted treatment.
PMCID: PMC5199758  PMID: 28042504
Lung cancer; cdGIGPQc; integrin avβ3; ScFv; targeted therapy
9.  MicroRNA-187 exerts tumor-suppressing functions in osteosarcoma by targeting ZEB2 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2859-2868.
MicroRNA-187 (miR-187) has been reported to be involved in the occurrence and development of several types of cancers; however, a role for miR-187 in osteosarcoma (OS) has not yet been reported. Here, miR-187 was found to be significantly downregulated in OS cell lines and tissue samples, and decreased miR-187 expression was shown to be correlated closely with the TNM stage and lymph node metastasis. miR-187 overexpression suppressed OS cell proliferation, colony formation, migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Mechanically, zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 2 (ZEB2) was shown to serve as a direct target of miR-187 in OS cells and the overexpression of ZEB2 rescued the miR-187-induced suppression of proliferation, colony formation, migration, and invasion in OS cells. In clinical OS specimens, ZEB2 expression levels were elevated and were inversely correlated with miR-187 expression. These results suggest that miR-187 functions as a tumor suppressor in OS, partially by targeting ZEB2, and that miR-187 can serve as a promising candidate for OS.
PMCID: PMC5199759  PMID: 28042505
Osteosarcoma; miR-187; ZEB2; proliferation
10.  MicroRNA-613 suppresses proliferation, migration and invasion of osteosarcoma by targeting c-MET 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2869-2879.
MicroRNA-613 (miR-613) has been reported to play an important role in the pathogenesis of multiple cancers by negatively regulating gene expression at posttranscriptional level. However, the biological role of miR-613 in osteosarcoma (OS) remained unclear. In this study, we aimed to determine the expression and biological roles of miR-613 in OS. We found that miR-613 was significantly downregulated in OS tissues and cell lines, and that decreased miR-613 expression was correlated negatively with advanced TNM stage and lymph node metastasis. Overexpression of miR-613 in OS cells significantly suppressed the proliferation and colony formation by regulating cell arrest at G0/G1 phase, and impaired the migration and invasive abilities of OS cells, followed by suppression of the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Bioinformatic and luciferase reporter analysis identified cellular-mesenchymal to epithelial transition factor (c-MET, also named as MET) as a direct target of miR-613. Overexpression of miR-613 significantly inhibited the c-MET expression and its downstream PI3k/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway in OS cells. In OS clinical samples, there was a significant inverse correlation between miR-613 and c-MET mRNA expression. Rescue experiments showed that overexpression of c-MET partially prevented miR-613-induced suppression of OS cell proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion. In conclusion, we provide first evidence for the suppressive activity of miR-613 by repressing c-MET, suggesting that miR-613 might be a potential therapeutic strategy for OS.
PMCID: PMC5199760  PMID: 28042506
miR-613; osteosarcoma; c-MET; proliferation; migration; invasion
11.  MicroRNA-497 suppresses cell proliferation and induces apoptosis through targeting PBX3 in human multiple myeloma 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2880-2889.
Aberrant expression of microRNA-497 (miRN-497) is implicated in development and progression of multiple types of cancers. However, the biological function and underlying mechanism of miR-497 in multiple myeloma (MM) remains unclear. Thus, we studied the potential biological roles of miR-497 in MM. The expression of miR-497 was examined in multiple myeloma and normal plasma cells by qRT-PCR. Biological functions of miR-497 were analyzed using cell proliferation, colony formation, cell cycle, apoptosis and luciferase assays in vitro, as well as via tumorigenicity in vivo analysis. Here, we observed reduced expression of miR-497 in MM plasma samples and cell lines. Ectopic expression of miR-497 dramatically suppressed cell proliferation and clonogenicity, as well as induced cell arrest at G0/G1 stage and apoptosis in vitro. Mechanistic investigation assays showed that Pre-B-cellleukemia transcription factor 3 (PBX3) was a novel and direct downstream target of miR-497. Interestingly, overexpression of PBX3 partially reverted the effect of miR-497 in MM cells. In xenograft model, overexpression of miR-497 inhibited tumorigenicity by repressing PBX3. These findings collectively suggested that miR-497 functioned as tumor suppressor in MM by directly targeting PBX3, supporting its utility as a novel and potential therapeutic agent for MM therapy.
PMCID: PMC5199761  PMID: 28042507
miR-497; multiple myeloma; PBX3; proliferation; apoptosis
12.  Usefulness of dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging for predicting treatment response to vinorelbine-cisplatin with or without recombinant human endostatin in bone metastasis of non-small cell lung cancer 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2890-2900.
Metastatic bone disease is a frequent complication of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and causes skeletal-related events, which result in a poor prognosis. Currently, no standard method has been developed to precisely assess the therapeutic response of bone metastases (BM) and the early efficacy of anti-angiogenic therapy, which does not conform to the concept of precision medicine. This study aimed to investigate the usefulness of dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) for precise evaluation of the response to chemotherapy with anti-angiogenic agents in NSCLC patients with BM. Patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group (vinorelbine + cisplatin [NP] + recombinant human endostatin [rh-endostatin]) or a control group (NP + placebo). All patients were evaluated before treatment and after 2 cycles of treatment using DCE-MRI quantitative analysis technology for BM lesions and chest computed tomography (CT). Correlations between changes in the DCE-MRI quantitative parameters and treatment effect were analyzed. We enrolled 33 patients, of whom 28 were evaluable (20 in the treatment group and 8 in the control group). The results suggested a higher objective response rate (30% vs. 0%), better overall survival (21.44 ± 17.28 months vs. 7.71 ± 4.68 months), and a greater decrease in the transport constant (Ktrans) value (60% vs. 4.4%) in the treatment group than in the control group (P < 0.05). The Ktrans values in the “partial remission plus stable disease (PR + SD)” group were significantly lower after treatment (P < 0.05). Patients with a decrease of > 50% in the Ktrans value showed a significantly better overall survival than those with a decrease of ≤ 50% (13.2 vs. 9.8 months, P < 0.05). Ktrans as a DEC-MRI quantitative parameter could be used for the precise evaluation of BM lesions after anti-angiogenic therapy and as a predictor of survival. In addition, we reconfirmed the anti-angiogenic effect of rh-endostatin in NSCLC patients with BM.
PMCID: PMC5199762  PMID: 28042508
DCE-MRI; quantitative parameters; non-small cell lung cancer; bone metastases; anti-angiogenic therapy; recombinant human endostatin; therapeutic response
13.  Ubiquitin-specific protease 11 (USP11) functions as a tumor suppressor through deubiquitinating and stabilizing VGLL4 protein 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2901-2909.
VGLL4 is a transcriptional repressor that interacts with transcription factors TEADs and inhibits YAP-induced overgrowth and tumorigenesis. VGLL4 protein was dramatically reduced in various types of human cancers. But how VGLL4 protein is post-transcriptional regulated is poorly understood. In this study, we identify deubiquitinating enzyme USP11 as a novel VGLL4 interactor. We reveal that the USP domain of USP11 and the N-terminal region of VGLL4 are required for mutual binding. USP11 controls VGLL4 protein stability by promoting its deubiquitination. Furthermore, our results show that knockdown of USP11 promotes cell growth, migration, and invasion in a YAP-dependent manner. Together, our results suggest that USP11 may exert its tumor suppressor role by modulating VGLL4/YAP-TEADs regulatory loop.
PMCID: PMC5199763  PMID: 28042509
USP11; VGLL4; deubiquitination; TEADs; Hippo pathway
14.  Molecular characterization of paediatric glioneuronal tumours with neuropil-like islands: a genome-wide copy number analysis 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2910-2918.
Paediatric glioneuronal tumour with neuropil-like islands (GTNI) is a rare neoplasm of neuronal differentiation and diffusely infiltrating astroglial and oligodendrocyte-like components. The 2007 World Health Organization classification of central nervous system tumours considered it as a pattern variation of anaplastic astrocytoma. There are few data on paediatric GTNI probably both for their rarity and variable clinical aggressiveness. We studied by SNP/CGH array four tumour samples of GTNI from two males and two females (one new-born and three children aged from 4 to 8 years), in order to identify any possible common genomic alteration. All patients received chemo- and radiotherapy after their surgical treatment. No genomic instability nor recurrent alterations have been demonstrated in two of our GTNI cases. In the remaining two, we detected a mosaic trisomy 8 (15-20%) in one case, and an amplification at 5q14.1 involving DMGDH (partially), BHMT2 and BHMT genes, with the distal breakpoint falling at 23 Kbp from the 5’UTR of JMY, a p53 cofactor. Although the smallness of the sample impairs any clinical-histological correlation, GTNI appear different at the molecular level, with genomic imbalances playing a possible role in at least part of them. Our work gives an important contribution in knowledge and classification of this family of tumours.
PMCID: PMC5199764  PMID: 28042510
Glioneuronal tumour with neuropil-like islands (GTNI); paediatric brain tumours; central nervous tumours (CNS); copy number variations (CNVs); SNP/CGH array; Database of Genomic Variants (DGV); mosaicism; amplification; common genomic alteration; variation of anaplastic astrocytoma
15.  Physcion induces apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma by modulating miR-370 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(12):2919-2931.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and aggressive malignancies. The current study is designed to explore the role of physcion, a major active ingredient in several traditional herbal medicinal plants, for the treatment of HCC. HCC cell lines, SMMC7721 and HepG2, were treated with physcion and its apoptosis-inducing effect was examined. Both in vitro and in vivo results from the present study demonstrated that physcion treatment resulted in apoptotic cell death in HCC cells via upregulation of miR-370. Furthermore, our findings showed that the physcion modulated the level of miR-370 through AMPK/Sp1/DNMT1 signaling. Taken together, these results showed that physcion exerts anti-tumor effect against HCC, which may be a potential agent for the adjunct chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC5199765  PMID: 28042511
Physcion; apoptosis; miR-370; DNMT1
16.  miR-193b directly targets STMN1 and inhibits the malignant phenotype in colorectal cancer 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2463-2475.
Accumulating evidence suggests that aberrantly expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) contribute to the initiation and progression of human cancers. However, the underlying function of miR-193b in colorectal cancer (CRC) remains largely unexplored. Herein, we demonstrate that miR-193b is significantly down-regulated in CRC tissues compared with their normal counterparts. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that decreased miR-193b expression was closely associated with the shorter overall survival of patients with CRC. Through gain-and loss-of-function studies, we showed that miR-193b significantly suppressed CRC cell proliferation and invasion. In addition, bioinformatics analyses and luciferase reporter assays identified Stathmin 1 (STMN1) as the direct functional target of miR-193b in CRC. Furthermore, silencing of STMN1 resulted in a phenotype similar to that observed for overexpression of miR-193b, and restoration of STMN1 expression completely rescued the inhibitory effect of miR-193b in CRC cells. Taken together, our study implies the essential role of miR-193b in negatively regulating CRC progression, and a novel link between miR-193b and STMN1 in CRC.
PMCID: PMC5126266  PMID: 27904764
Colorectal cancer; miR-193b; STMN1; prognosis
17.  Serum glycoprotein-derived N- and O-linked glycans as cancer biomarkers 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2390-2415.
Early detection of cancer is the key to improving survival. Since most clinically used serum cancer biomarkers are either glycoproteins or glycan structures that can be recognized by specific monoclonal antibodies, developing glycan structure-based biomarkers from human serum/plasma glycoproteins through mass spectrometry (MS) analysis are active research field during the past decades. Numerous studies have shown that changes in serum/plasma glycan structures occur during cancer initiation, progression, and treatment. This review describes N- and O-linked glycan structures identified from serum/plasma glycoprotein (s) by MS analysis with focus on alterations associated with different types of human cancers. The global changes in serum N- and O-linked glycan structures, especially the glycans that are not made by cancer cells such as B lymphocyte-derived IgG and liver-synthesized haptoglobin and α1 acid glycoprotein, suggest that glycans might be the long sought diagnostic biomarkers associated with system malfunction in the blood circulation of cancer patients. Therefore, N- and O-linked glycan structures have great potential to serve as cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment monitoring biomarkers to facilitate personalized medicine.
PMCID: PMC5126262  PMID: 27904760
N-glycans; O-glycans; serum; cancer; biomarker
18.  Vincristine-induced peripheral neuropathy in pediatric cancer patients 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2416-2430.
Vincristine is a chemotherapeutic agent that is a component of many combination regimens for a variety of malignancies, including several common pediatric tumors. Vincristine treatment is limited by a progressive sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy. Vincristine-induced peripheral neuropathy (VIPN) is particularly challenging to detect and monitor in pediatric patients, in whom the side effect can diminish long term quality of life. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding VIPN, focusing on its description, assessment, prediction, prevention, and treatment. Significant progress has been made in our knowledge about VIPN incidence and progression, and tools have been developed that enable clinicians to reliably measure VIPN in pediatric patients. Despite these successes, little progress has been made in identifying clinically useful predictors of VIPN or in developing effective approaches for VIPN prevention or treatment in either pediatric or adult patients. Further research is needed to predict, prevent, and treat VIPN to maximize therapeutic benefit and avoid unnecessary toxicity from vincristine treatment.
PMCID: PMC5126263  PMID: 27904761
Vincristine; peripheral neuropathy; prevention; assessment; pharmacogenetics; pediatric oncology
19.  Activin receptor-like kinases: a diverse family playing an important role in cancer 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2431-2447.
The role and function of the members of the TGFβ superfamily has been a substantial area of research focus for the last several decades. During that time, it has become apparent that aberrations in TGFβ family signaling, whether through the BMP, Activin, or TGFβ arms of the pathway, can result in tumorigenesis or contribute to its progression. Downstream signaling regulates cellular growth under normal physiological conditions yet induces diverse processes during carcinogenesis, ranging from epithelial- to-mesenchymal transition to cell migration and invasion to angiogenesis. Due to these observations, the question has been raised how to utilize and target components of these signaling pathways in cancer therapy. Given that these cascades include both ligands and receptors, there are multiple levels at which to interfere. Activin receptor-like kinases (ALKs) are a group of seven type I receptors responsible for TGFβ family signal transduction and are utilized by many ligands within the superfamily. The challenge lies in specifically targeting the often-overlapping functional effects of BMP, Activin, or TGFβ signaling during cancer progression. This review focuses on the characteristic function of the individual receptors within each subfamily and their recognized roles in cancer. We next explore the clinical utility of therapeutically targeting ALKs as some have shown partial responses in Phase I clinical trials but disappointing outcomes when used in Phase II studies. Finally, we discuss the challenges and future directions of this body of work.
PMCID: PMC5126264  PMID: 27904762
TGFβ; Activin; BMP; targeted therapy
20.  MicroRNA-133a-3p exerts inhibitory effects on gallbladder carcinoma via targeting RBPJ 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2448-2462.
Gallbladder carcinoma (GBC) is the most common biliary tract malignancy with high mortality. The median survival time is 6 months, and the 5-year survival rate less than 5% for GBC patients. Thus, it is imperative to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of GBC. miR-133a may exert anti-tumor effects on a variety of cancers. However, the role of miR-133a in the pathogenesis of GBC remains unclear. In this study, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) showed the miR-133a-3p expression markedly decreased in GBC as compared to adjacent normal tissues. Transient over-expression of miR-133a-3p inhibited the proliferation, migration and invasion abilities of GBC cells. Luciferase activity assay indicated that miR-133a-3p negatively regulated the expression of recombination signal-binding protein Jκ (RBPJ) directly, which is a key downstream transcription factor in the Notch signaling pathway. Moreover, PBPJ expression was up-regulated and negatively related to miR-133a-3p expression in GBC, and silencing of RBPJ achieved the effects as after miR-133a-3p over-expression. RBPJ over-expression could markedly reverse the inhibitory effects of miR-133a-3p on the proliferation, migration and invasion of GBC cells. Our findings indicate that miR-133a-3p acts as a tumor suppressor through directly targeting RBPJ in GBC.
PMCID: PMC5126265  PMID: 27904763
Gallbladder carcinoma; miR-133a-3p; recombination signal-binding protein Jκ; molecular mechanism
21.  Volasertib suppresses the growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro and in vivo  
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2476-2488.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the sixth most frequent malignant tumor with poor prognosis, and its clinical therapeutic outcome is poor. Volasertib, a potent small molecular inhibitor of polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), is currently tested for treatment of multiple cancers in the clinical trials. However, the antitumor effect of volasertib on HCC is still unknown. In this study, our data show that volasertib is able to induce cell growth inhibition, cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase and apoptosis with the spindle abnormalities in human HCC cells. Furthermore, volasertib also increases the intracellular reactive oxidative species (ROS) levels, and pretreated with ROS scavenger N-acety-L-cysteine partly reverses volasertib-induced apoptosis. Moreover, volasertib markedly inhibits the subcutaneous xenograft growth of HCC in nude mice. Overall, our study provides new therapeutic potential of volasertib on hepatocellular carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC5126267  PMID: 27904765
Hepatocellular carcinoma; volasertib; ROS; apoptosis
22.  The role of PIM1 in the ibrutinib-resistant ABC subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2489-2501.
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a heterogeneous lymphoma and the most common subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, accounting for roughly 30% of newly diagnosed cases in the United States. DLBCL can be separated into the activated B cell-like (ABC) and germinal center B cell-like (GCB) subtypes, with distinct gene expression profiles, oncogenic aberrations, and clinical outcomes. ABC-DLBCL is characterized by chronically active B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling that can be modulated by Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) activity. Thus, BTK serves as an attractive therapeutic target in this type of B-cell malignancy. Ibrutinib, a first-in-class, orally available covalent BTK inhibitor, has demonstrated clinical activity in several B-cell leukemias and lymphomas. A phase 1/2 clinical trial of single-agent ibrutinib in relapsed and refractory DLBCL patients revealed an overall response rate of 37% in ABC-DLBCL patients. However, responses to kinase-directed therapies are often limited by emerging resistance mechanisms that bypass the therapeutic target. Here we report the discovery of point mutations within the kinase PIM1 that reduce sensitivity to ibrutinib in ABC-DLBCL. These mutations stabilize PIM1 and affect upstream regulators and downstream targets of NF-κB signaling. The introduction of mutant PIM1 into an ABC-DLBCL cell line, TMD8, increased colony formation and decreased sensitivity to ibrutinib. In addition, ibrutinib-resistant cell lines generated by prolonged ibrutinib exposure in vitro upregulated PIM1 expression, consistent with a role for PIM1 in antagonizing ibrutinib activity. The combination of a pan-PIM inhibitor with ibrutinib synergistically inhibited proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Together, these data provide a rationale for combining BTK and PIM1 inhibition in the treatment of ABC-DLBCL.
PMCID: PMC5126268  PMID: 27904766
Bruton’s tyrosine kinase; ibrutinib; DLBCL; PIM1
23.  MiR-146a suppresses hepatocellular carcinoma by downregulating TRAF6 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2502-2513.
MicroRNAs have been proven to play important roles in many biological processes such as cellular growth and differentiation, apoptosis, and modulation of host response to viral infection. In the present study, we find that the expression of miR-146a was decreased in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues compared with corresponding adjacent tissues, and the expression level in HCC cell lines was lower than in a normal liver cell. Over-expression suppressed the proliferation and invasion of HCC cells. In addition, luciferase reporter assays and western blotting confirmed that miR-146a directly target TRAF6 which attenuated the effect of miR-146a on cell proliferation and invasion in HepG2 and SMMC7721 cells. Meanwhile, lentivirus-mediated increased expression of miR146a repressed tumor formation in nude mice. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that miR-146a suppresses HCC by down-regulating TRAF6. We also discovered that miR-146a may represent a novel potential candidate of the HCC carcinoma diagnostic marker in the long term.
PMCID: PMC5126269  PMID: 27904767
Hepatocellular carcinoma; miR-146a; proliferation; invasion; TRAF6; xenografted tumor
24.  Disruption of actin filaments and suppression of pancreatic cancer cell viability and migration following treatment with polyisoprenylated cysteinyl amides 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2532-2546.
Pancreatic cancer is characterized by K-Ras mutations in over 90% of the cases. The mutations make the tumors aggressive and resistant to current therapies resulting in very poor prognoses. Valiant efforts to drug mutant K-Ras and related proteins for the treatment of cancers with Ras mutations have been elusive. The need thus persists for therapies to target and suppress the hyperactive K-Ras mutant proteins to normal levels of activity. Polyisoprenylated cysteinyl amide inhibitors (PCAIs) of polyisoprenylated methylated protein methyl esterase (PMPMEase) were designed to disrupt polyisoprenylated protein metabolism and/or functions. The potential for PCAIs to serve as targeted anticancer agents for pancreatic cancer was evaluated in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cell lines expressing mutant (MIAPaCa-2 and Panc-1) and wild type (BxPC-3) K-Ras proteins. The PCAIs inhibited MIAPaCa-2 and BxPC-3 cell viability and induced apoptosis with EC50 values as low as 1.9 µM. The PCAIs, at 0.5 µM, inhibited MIAPaCa-2 cell migration by 50%, inhibited colony formation and disrupted F-actin filament organization. The PCAIs blocked MIAPaCa-2 cell progression at the G0/G1 phase. These results reveal that the PCAIs disrupt pertinent biological processes that lead to pancreatic cancer progression and thus have the potential to act as targeted effective treatments for pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC5126271  PMID: 27904769
PCAIs; PMPMEase; pancreatic cancer; cell migration; cell proliferation; F-actin
25.  Upregulating miR-146a by physcion reverses multidrug resistance in human chronic myelogenous leukemia K562/ADM cells 
American Journal of Cancer Research  2016;6(11):2547-2560.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of miR-146a in the drug resistance of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cells (K562/ADM) and to investigate the reversal effect of physcion, a natural compound, on the multidrug-resistance in CML. Our results showed that miR-146a was significantly downregulated in drug-resistant K562 cells and the overexpression of miR-146a in K562/ADM cells could restore the sensitivity to adriamycin (ADM). In addition, our results showed that the downregulation of miR-146a was associated with increase in CXCR4 expression, which was a direct target of miR-146a. Moreover, our findings also provided experimental evidence that physcion could enhance the anti-proliferative effect of ADM in K562/ADM cells by upregulating miR-146a. In conclusion, this present study showed that miR-146a conferred ADM resistance in CML cells and physcion could improve the sensitivity of K562/ADM cells by enhancing apoptosis via upregulating miR-146a.
PMCID: PMC5126272  PMID: 27904770
miR-146a; CXCR4; drug resistance; physcion; chronic myeloid leukemia

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