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1.  S100 protein family in human cancer 
S100 protein family has been implicated in multiple stages of tumorigenesis and progression. Among the S100 genes, 22 are clustered at chromosome locus 1q21, a region frequently rearranged in cancers. S100 protein possesses a wide range of intracellular and extracellular functions such as regulation of calcium homeostasis, cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell invasion and motility, cytoskeleton interactions, protein phosphorylation, regulation of transcriptional factors, autoimmunity, chemotaxis, inflammation and pluripotency. Many lines of evidence suggest that altered expression of S100 proteins was associated with tumor progression and prognosis. Therefore, S100 proteins might also represent potential tumor biomarkers and therapeutic targets. In this review, we summarize the evidence connecting S100 protein family and cancer and discuss the mechanisms by which S100 exerts its diverse functions.
PMCID: PMC3960449  PMID: 24660101
S100 proteins; proliferation; apoptosis; invasion; migration; pluripotency; biomarker
2.  Polyisoprenylated methylated protein methyl esterase overexpression and hyperactivity promotes lung cancer progression 
The involvement of hyperactive polyisoprenylated proteins in cancers has stimulated the search for drugs to target and suppress their excessive activities. Polyisoprenylated methylated protein methyl esterase (PMPMEase) inhibition has been shown to modulate polyisoprenylated protein function. For PMPMEase inhibition to be effective against cancers, polyisoprenylated proteins, the signaling pathways they mediate and/or PMPMEase must be overexpressed, hyperactive and be involved in at least some cases of cancer. PMPMEase activity in lung cancer cells and its expression in lung cancer cells and cancer tissues were investigated. PMPMEase was found to be overexpressed and significantly more active in lung cancer A549 and H460 cells than in normal lung fibroblasts. In a tissue microarray study, PMPMEase immunoreactivity was found to be significantly higher in lung cancer tissues compared to the normal controls (p < 0.0001). The mean scores ± SEM were 118.8 ± 7.7 (normal), 232.1 ± 25.1 (small-cell lung carcinomas), 352.1 ± 9.4 (squamous cell carcinomas), 311.7 ± 9.8 (adenocarcinomas), 350.0 ± 24.2 (papillary adenocarcinomas), 334.7 ± 30.1 (adenosquamous carcinomas), 321.9 ± 39.7 (bronchioloalveolar carcinomas), and 331.3 ± 85.0 (large-cell carcinomas). Treatment of lung cancer cells with L-28, a specific PMPMEase inhibitor, resulted in concentration-dependent cell death (EC50 of 8.5 μM for A549 and 2.8 μM for H460 cells). PMPMEase inhibition disrupted actin filament assembly, significantly inhibited cell migration and altered the transcription of cancer-related genes. These results indicate that elevated PMPMEase activity spur cell growth and migration, implying the possible use of PMPMEase as a protein biomarker and drug target for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3960450  PMID: 24660102
Polyisoprenylation; esterase; Ras; lung cancer; isoprenylation; methylation; nanostring; monomeric G-proteins
3.  Sepantronium is a DNA damaging agent that synergizes with PLK1 inhibitor volasertib 
In a search for novel agents that boost the anti-neoplastic effects of polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitor volasertib, we found that a sepantronium and volasertib combination at the nano mole concentration potently inhibited growth of various non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines than either drug alone in vitro. Combination use of volasertib with sepantronium inhibited adaptation of cells to polo arrest. Addition of sepantronium to volasertib prevented accumulation of survivin and cyclin B protein at a concentration causing no appreciable survivin down regulation. Sepantronium induced cell cycle arrest from G1 or G2/M phase. Further studies demonstrated DNA damage of cancer cells when they are treated with sepantronium, which is evidenced by induction of phospho-γH2AX. In line with induction of a DNA damage response in cancer cells, known DNA damage response sensors and transducers ATM, ATR, CHK1, CHK2, p53 are phosphorylated following drug treatment. Meanwhile, expression of CDKN1A, BAX and XRCC5 are induced at the mRNA level as determined by quantitative real time PCR. A single cell electrophoresis assay (Comet assay) of cells treated with sepantronium revealed severe DNA strand breaks. M-phase arrest does not increase the lethality of DNA damage by sepantronium as compared to G1 phase arrest. Knock down of survivin did not cause DNA damage. Hence, sepantronium is a DNA damaging agent that synergizes with volasertib and down-regulation of survivin is likely the consequence of DNA damage induced by sepantronium.
PMCID: PMC3960451  PMID: 24660103
Sepantronium; volasertib; DNA damage; lung cancer; synergy
4.  UMMS-4 enhanced sensitivity of chemotherapeutic agents to ABCB1-overexpressing cells via inhibiting function of ABCB1 transporter 
Multidrug resistance (MDR) mediated by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters through efflux of antineoplastic agents from cancer cells is a major obstacle to successful cancer chemotherapy. The inhibition of these ABC transporters is thus a logical approach to circumvent MDR. There has been intensive research effort to design and develop novel inhibitors for the ABC transporters to achieve this goal. In the present study, we evaluated the ability of UMMS-4 to modulate P-glycoprotein (P-gp/ABCB1)-, breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2)- and multidrug resistance protein (MRP1/ABCC1)-mediated MDR in cancer cells. Our findings showed that UMMS-4, at non-cytotoxic concentrations, apparently circumvents resistance to ABCB1 substrate anticancer drugs in ABCB1-overexpressing cells. When used at a concentration of 20 μmol/L, UMMS-4 produced a 17.53-fold reversal of MDR, but showed no effect on the sensitivity of drug-sensitive parental cells. UMMS-4, however, did not significantly alter the sensitivity of non-ABCB1 substrates in all cells and was unable to reverse ABCG2- and ABCC1-mediated MDR. Additionally, UMMS-4 profoundly inhibited the transport of rhodamine 123 (Rho 123) and doxorubicin (Dox) by the ABCB1 transporter. Furthermore, UMMS-4 did not alter the expression of ABCB1 at the mRNA and protein levels. In addition, the results of ATPase assays showed that UMMS-4 stimulated the ATPase activity of ABCB1. Taken together, we conclude that UMMS-4 antagonizes ABCB1-mediated MDR in cancer cells through direct inhibition of the drug efflux function of ABCB1. These findings may be useful for the development of safer and more effective MDR modulator.
PMCID: PMC3960452  PMID: 24660104
UMMS-4; multidrug resistance; ATP binding cassette transporters; ABCB1; chemotherapeutic drugs
5.  Assessment of M867, a selective caspase-3 inhibitor, in an orthotopic mouse model for non-small cell lung carcinoma 
Radiation-induced lung injury (RILI) is a significant dose limiting complication of thoracic radiation for lung, breast, and esophageal cancer. Strategies for increasing the therapeutic index of radiation involve the use of radiosensitizing agents. We investigated the potential of M867 to sensitize non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to radiation in vivo, while assessing its protective effects in normal lung parenchyma. H460-Luc2 cells were implanted into the mediastinum of athymic nude mice, which were separated into four treatment groups: control, M867, radiation therapy (RT) or combination. H460-Luc2 cell cultures were treated in parallel. Tumor growth was followed using bioluminescence imaging. Immunohistochemistry staining was used to detect phospho-Smad2/3 and cleaved caspase-3 expression. Western blot was done for the detection of cleaved caspase-3 and phospho-Smad2/3. TUNEL assays were used to measure apoptosis. M867+RT group had significantly increased tumor growth inhibition relative to either treatment alone (p=0.02). M867+RT was associated with increased levels of apoptosis (p<0.01), but combination treatment was associated with a decrease in caspase-dependent apoptosis relative to RT alone (p<0.01). We found that this increase in apoptosis in the M867+RT group was due to caspase-independent cell death. Based on early biomarker analyses of phospho-Smad 2/3 and cleaved caspase-3, M867+RT had a radio-protective effect on normal lung parenchyma. M867 may increase the therapeutic ratio of RT by enhancing the radiosensitivity of NSCLC while mitigating RILI. Further research is warranted to examine the late effects of lung injury and to study differences in the mechanism of action of M867 on lung cancer and normal tissue.
PMCID: PMC3960453  PMID: 24660105
M867; NSCLC; orthotopic mouse model; caspase; H460-Luc2; radiation
6.  Adenosine limits the therapeutic effectiveness of anti-CTLA4 mAb in a mouse melanoma model 
Combination therapies for melanoma that target immune-regulatory networks are entering clinical practice, and more are under investigation in preclinical or clinical studies. Adenosine plays a key role in regulating melanoma progression. We investigated the effectiveness of cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) antibody (mAb) in combination with either modulators of adenosine receptors (AR) activation or an inhibitor of adenosine production in a murine model of melanoma. We found that treatment with APCP, selective inhibitor of the adenosine-generating nucleotidase CD73, enhanced the activity of anti-CTLA4 mAb, by improving tumor immune response. Blockade of the adenosine A2a receptor (A2aR), which plays a critical role in the regulation of T-cell functions, significantly reduced melanoma growth. Most importantly, combination therapy including an A2aR antagonist with anti-CTLA4 mAb markedly inhibited tumor growth and enhanced anti-tumor immune responses. Targeting A3R and CTLA4 was not as effective in limiting melanoma growth as targeting A2aR. These data suggest that the efficacy of anti-CTLA4 melanoma therapy may be improved by targeting multiple mechanisms of immune suppression within tumor tissue, including CD73 or A2a receptor.
PMCID: PMC3960454  PMID: 24660106
CD73; adenosine receptor; CTLA4; melanoma; immunotherapy
7.  GNG2 inhibits invasion of human malignant melanoma cells with decreased FAK activity 
It is well known that heterotrimeric G protein is composed of a Gα-subunit and a Gβγ-dimer and promotes cancer characteristics. Our recent study showed reduced G protein γ2 subunit (Gng2/GNG2) expression levels in malignant melanoma cells compared with those in benign melanocytic cells in both mice and humans. Our recent study also showed that reduced GNG2 alone augmented proliferation of malignant melanoma cells. To our knowledge, however, there is no evidence showing an effect of Gng2/GNG2 alone on metastasis of any cancers including malignant melanoma. In his study, we first prepared GNG2-overexpressed SK-Mel28 human malignant melanoma cells, in which GNG2 protein expression level was undetectably low. Migration and invasion activities of the GNG2-overexpressed malignant melanoma cells were suppressed up to 1/10th, with decreased activity of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). We then found that the expression level of GNG2 in A375M, a highly metastatic cell line, was significantly lower than that in A375P, the parental cell line of A375M. We finally showed that knockdown of GNG2 alone in A375P cells enhanced migration and invasion with increased FAK activity. Taken together, our results suggest that overexpression of GNG2 alone inhibits metastasis in human malignant melanoma cells with decreased FAK activity. Thus, GNG2 might be a candidate of molecular targets of prevention and therapy for metastasis of malignant melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3960455  PMID: 24660107
G-protein; gamma subunit; malignant melanoma; invasion
8.  Significance of peripheral neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio among gastric cancer patients and construction of a treatment-predictive model: a study based on 1131 cases 
Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most common and deadly malignancies nowadays, and inflammatory cells are closely related to tumor progression. This prospective study aims to uncover clinical significance of peripheral immune cells and build a treatment-predictive model. From July 2006 to July 2011, a total of 1131 GC patients were selected, with their general characteristics, peripheral blood and pathological parameters, and operational information obtained. The relevancies between preoperational neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and postsurgical pathological indexes were analyzed. SPSS 17.0 was applied in data analysis, comparing the differences of NLR between different groups using Mann-Whitney U test, contrasting the pathological differences between NLR elevated and reduced groups using Fisher test, and quantifying the correlation between post-surgical pathology and pre-operational NLR using univariate analysis. Patients were then classified into radical (applied in the training dataset) and non-radical gastrectomy (applied in the test dataset) groups, based on which we further tried to build a predictive model indicating appropriateness for radical resection using support vector machine (SVM). We found that: patients with tumor invading out of the myometrium (pT3-4) had significantly larger NLR than those with lesion limited within the myometrium (pT1-2) (P<0.05); poorly differentiated and undifferentiated malignancies were associated with higher NLR than well and moderately differentiated ones (P<0.05); there was larger NLR among patients with tumor length ≥4 cm than those <4 cm (P<0.01); preoperative NLR was significantly positively correlated with tumor TNM classification, number of metastatic lymph nodes, invasive depth and tumor size (P<0.05); larger proportion of elevated NLR was significantly associated with larger tumor size, later tumor and nodal stages, and higher TNM classification (P<0.01). We finally built a SVM model based on peripheral carcinoembryonic antigen, carbohydrate antigen 19-9, lymphocyte percentage and platelet count, effectively predicting the inappropriateness of patients undergoing curative gastrectomy when all the 4 parameters elevated with high accuracy (74.61% for the training dataset and 75.28% for the test dataset). We concluded that peripheral blood NLR indicated tumor progression, and that an efficient treatment-predictive SVM model was constructed.
PMCID: PMC3960456  PMID: 24660108
Gastric carcinoma; neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio; support vector machine; gastrectomy; tumor progression
9.  Beyond laser microdissection technology: follow the yellow brick road for cancer research 
Normal biological tissues harbour different populations of cells with intricate spacial distribution patterns resulting in heterogeneity of their overall cellular composition. Laser microdissection involving direct viewing and expertise by a pathologist, enables access to defined cell populations or specific region on any type of tissue sample, thus selecting near-pure populations of targeted cells. It opens the way for molecular methods directed towards well-defined populations, and provides also a powerful tool in studies focused on a limited number of cells. Laser microdissection has wide applications in oncology (diagnosis and research), cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry and forensics for tissue selection, but other areas have been gradually opened up to these new methodological approaches, such as cell cultures and cytogenetics. In clinical oncology trials, molecular profiling of microdissected samples can yield global “omics” information which, together, with the morphological analysis of cells, can provide the basis for diagnosis, prognosis and patient-tailored treatments. This remarkable technology has brought new insights in the understanding of DNA, RNA, and the biological functions and regulation of proteins to identify molecular disease signatures. We review herein the different applications of laser microdissection in a variety of fields, and we particularly focus attention on the pre-analytical steps that are crucial to successfully perform molecular-level investigations.
PMCID: PMC3902229  PMID: 24482735
Laser microdissection; histopathology; quality control; snap-freezing; DNA; RNA; proteomics; in situ cellular and molecular analyses
10.  IGFBP3 promotes esophageal cancer growth by suppressing oxidative stress in hypoxic tumor microenvironment 
Insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), a hypoxia-inducible gene, regulates a variety of cellular processes including cell proliferation, senescence, apoptosis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). IGFBP3 has been linked to the pathogenesis of cancers. Most previous studies focus upon proapoptotic tumor suppressor activities of IGFBP3. Nevertheless, IGFBP3 is overexpressed in certain cancers including esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), one of the most aggressive forms of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). The tumor-promoting activities of IGFBP3 remain poorly understood in part due to a lack of understanding as to how the tumor microenvironment may influence IGFBP3 expression and how IGFBP3 may in turn influence heterogeneous intratumoral cell populations. Here, we show that IGFBP3 overexpression is associated with poor postsurgical prognosis in ESCC patients. In xenograft transplantation models with genetically engineered ESCC cells, IGFBP3 contributes to tumor progression with a concurrent induction of a subset of tumor cells showing high expression of CD44 (CD44H), a major cell surface receptor for hyaluronic acid, implicated in invasion, metastasis and drug resistance. Our gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments reveal that IGFBP3 mediates the induction of intratumoral CD44H cells. IGFBP3 cooperates with hypoxia to mediate the induction of CD44H cells by suppressing reactive oxygen species (ROS) in an insulin-like growth factor-independent fashion. Thus, our study sheds light on the growth stimulatory functions of IGFPB3 in cancer, gaining a novel mechanistic insight into the functional interplay between the tumor microenvironment and IGFBP3.
PMCID: PMC3902230  PMID: 24482736
CD44; esophageal; squamous cell carcinoma; hypoxia; IGFBP3 and reactive oxygen species
11.  Mutation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene sensitizes cancers to mitotic inhibitor induced cell death 
The retinoblastoma gene Rb is a prototype tumor suppressor, which encodes a protein that is inactivated in a broad range of human cancers through different mechanisms. Rb functions to regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, as well as cell death. Therefore, even though Rb inactivation promotes cancer development, this may also open up certain vulnerabilities of cancers that can potentially be targeted with drug intervention. Based on the assumption that cancers that have mutation, deletion, or rearrangement in the Rb locus represent strong loss of Rb function while cancers with WT Rb on average retain some Rb function, we searched Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer database to identify cancer drugs that are particularly effective to cancers with Rb genomic alterations. Three mitotic inhibitors were identified from this analysis. We further tested the effects of two mitotic inhibitors, Taxol and STLC, on prostate and breast cancer cells. We demonstrate that the Rb status affects cancer cell sensitivity to these mitotic drugs and that the sensitizing effects of Rb are mediated in part by its regulation of the cell cycle checkpoint protein Mad2. Since the mitotic inhibitors identified in our analysis inhibit mitosis through distinct targets, it is possible that the Rb functional status may serve as a general biomarker for cancer sensitivity to mitotic inhibitors. Because the Rb pathway is inactivated in a large number of human cancers, identification of agents that are particularly effective or ineffective based on the Rb status in cancers can potentially be used generally to matching patients with appropriate treatments to achieve better therapeutic outcome.
PMCID: PMC3902231  PMID: 24482737
Drug sensitivity; Rb; retinoblastoma tumor suppressor; Mad2; cell death; mitotic inhibitor; Taxol; S-Trityl-L-cysteine; STLC
12.  A novel experimental hypoxia chamber for cell culture 
Tissue hypoxia is a common pathophysiological process. Since 1990s, numerous studies have focused on investigating cellular adaptation to experimental hypoxia. A modular incubator chamber made of solid materials has frequently been used in the experiments that require hypoxic conditions. Here, we introduce a novel and inflatable chamber for hypoxia experiments. In experiments detecting hypoxia-induced accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and hypoxia-induced expression of HIF-1-regulated genes, the new chamber yielded reproducible and comparable results as the modular incubator chamber did. The new chamber did not create inner chamber pressure during its use. Other properties of the new chamber were low-cost, easy to use, and leakage-free. Moreover, the size of the new chamber was adjustable, and the smaller one could be placed onto an inverted microscope for real-time studies. The successful examples of real-time studies included the real-time recording of GFP-HIF-1α fusion nuclear translocation and endothelial cell tubular formation.
PMCID: PMC3902232  PMID: 24482738
Cell culture; hypoxia; hypoxia chamber; hypoxia-inducible factor 1
13.  Biomarkers and endosalpingiosis in the ovarian and tubal microenvironment of women at high-risk for pelvic serous carcinoma 
Introduction: BRCA mutations increase the risk for development of high-grade pelvic serous carcinomas. Tissue biomarkers distinguishing women at high-risk (HR) for ovarian cancer from those at low-risk (LR) may provide insights into tumor initiation pathways. Methods: A prospective study of 47 HR women (40% BRCA carriers) undergoing risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy and 48 LR controls undergoing salpingo-oophorectomy was performed. Ovarian/tubal tissues were harvested. Immunohistochemical analysis of candidate proteins CSF-1, CSF-1R, ErbB4 is presented, with scores separately analyzed in epithelium and stroma, in ampulla, fimbria, ovary, and ovarian endosalpingiosis (ES). Comparison was performed between HR and LR groups. Results: Elevated levels of CSF-1 (p=0.005) or ErbB4 (p=0.005) in the ovarian epithelium, or ErbB4 (p=0.005) in the ovarian stroma, were significantly associated with both the HR status and carrying a BRCA mutation, as was nuclear ErbB4 staining. Ovarian ES, an entity which likely derives from the tubal mucosal epithelium, was also associated with HR (p=0.038) and BRCA mutation status (p=0.011). Among the BRCA carriers only, markers also found association when present in the tube as well as in ovarian ES (p < 0.05). ROCs were generated including in the regression model both CSF-1 and ErbB4 expression levels. A model including CSF-1 in ovarian epithelium, ErbB4 in ovarian stroma, and younger age achieves AUC=0.87 (73% sensitivity, 93% specificity) of detection of the HR status. In BRCA carriers, CSF-1 in ovarian epithelium alone achieves AUC=0.85. Conclusions: Our data suggest that elevated levels of CSF-1/ErbB4 in the adnexae correlate with HR/BRCA carrier status. CSF-1/CSF-1R signaling is active in ovarian cancer progression; our data suggests a role in its initiation. ErbB4, in particular nuclear ErbB4, may have a role in tumor initiation as well. Ovarian ES, an entity which may represent a latent precursor to low-grade pelvic serous carcinomas, was surprisingly associated with both HR status and the BRCA carrier cohort. In line with these findings, both ErbB4 and CSF-1R expression in ovarian ES correlated with carrying a BRCA mutation. This analysis, which needs to be validated, indirectly suggests a potential link between ovarian ES and the development of pelvic serous carcinoma in women who are BRCA mutation carriers.
PMCID: PMC3902233  PMID: 24482739
CSF-1; ErbB4; endosalpingiosis; high-risk
14.  PCOS and obesity: insulin resistance might be a common etiology for the development of type I endometrial carcinoma 
Endometrial cancer (EC) is the most common gynecological malignancy in women and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Estrogenic stimulation significantly increases endometrial cell proliferation, and both insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are associated with the development of EC in women. It has long been known that insulin resistance occurs in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and/or obesity, but one important unanswered question is whether the insulin resistance associated with PCOS and obesity is part of the etiology of the initiation and development of EC. Therefore, research efforts to understand the common and specific underlying endometrial responses to insulin resistance in women with PCOS and obesity could provide further therapeutic options for early endometrial carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3902234  PMID: 24482740
PCOS; obesity; insulin resistance; estrogen; IGF-1; endometrial carcinoma
15.  Mouse induced pluripotent stem cell microenvironment generates epithelial-mesenchymal transition in mouse Lewis lung cancer cells 
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells may be a powerful tool in regenerative medicine, but their potential tumorigenicity is a significant challenge for the clinical use of iPS cells. Previously, we succeeded in converting miPS cells into cancer stem cells (CSCs) under the conditions of tumor microenvironment. Both stem cells and tumor cells are profoundly influenced by bi-directional communication with their respective microenvironment, which dictates cell fate determination and behavior. The microenvironment derived from iPS cells has not been well studied. In this paper, we have investigated the effects of secreted factors from Nanog-mouse iPS (miPS) cells on mouse Lewis lung cancer (LLC) cells that are found in the conditioned media. The results demonstrated that miPS cells secrete factors that can convert the epithelia phenotype of LLC cells to a mesenchymal phenotype, and that can promote tumorigenisity, migration and invasion. Furthermore, LLC cells that have been exposed to miPS conditioned medium became resistant to apoptosis. These various biological effects suggest that the miPS microenvironment contain factors that can promote an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) through an active Snail-MMP axis or by suppressing differentiation in LLC cells.
PMCID: PMC3902235  PMID: 24482741
Mouse induced pluripotent stem cell; stem cell microenvironment; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; lung Lewis cancer cell
16.  NFκB function and regulation in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma 
The nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activity of NFκB are constitutively increased in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) cells, and are responsible for their increased survival and proliferation. However, in addition to the anti-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory genes, NFκB induces expression of immunosuppressive genes, such as IL-10 and TGFβ, which inhibit the immune responses and are characteristic for the advanced stages of CTCL. While the mechanisms regulating NFκB-dependent transcription of anti-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory genes have been studied extensively, very little is known about the NFκB regulation of immunosuppressive genes. The specificity of NFκB-regulated responses is determined by the subunit composition of NFκB complexes recruited to the individual promoters, post-translational modifications of NFκB proteins, as well as by their interactions with other transcriptional factors and regulators. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms regulating the transcription of NFκB-dependent anti-apoptotic, pro-inflammatory and immunosuppressive genes in CTCL cells, as potential targets for CTCL therapies.
PMCID: PMC3816964  PMID: 24224122
Apoptosis; bortezomib; cutaneous T cell lymphoma; IκBα; IL-10; immunosuppression; NFκB; proteasome inhibition; TGFβ
17.  Clinical implications for loss or diminution of expression of Raf-1 kinase inhibitory protein and its phosphorylated form in ductal breast cancer 
Raf Kinase inhibitory protein (RKIP) is a well-established metastasis suppressor that is frequently downregulated in aggressive cancers. The impact of RKIP and its phosphorylated form on disease-free survival (DFS) and other clinicopathological parameters in breast cancer is yet to be discovered. To this end, we examined RKIP expression in 3 independent breast cancer cohorts. At the Protein level, loss or reduced total RKIP expression was associated with large-sized tumors characterized by high proliferative index, high-grade and diminished estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor expression. Loss or diminution of RKIP expression was significantly associated with shorter DFS in all cohorts. Moreover, the complete loss of p-RKIP was an independent prognostic factor using multivariate analysis in operable invasive ductal breast cancer. We show for the first time that ER, partly, drives RKIP expression through MTA3-Snail axis. Consistent with this finding, we found that, at the mRNA level, RKIP expression varied significantly across the different molecular subtypes of breast cancer with the Luminal (ER+) subtype expressing high levels of RKIP and the more aggressive Claudin-low (ER-) subtype, which depicted the highest epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) registered the lowest RKIP expression levels. In conclusion, loss of expression/diminution of RKIP or its phosphorylated form is associated with poor diseases-free survival in breast cancer. Determining the expression of RKIP and p-RKIP adds significant prognostic value to the management and subtyping of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3816965  PMID: 24224123
RKIP; PEBP1; ERK; estrogen receptor; aggressive cancer; breast cancer; Luminal; claudin-low; ERBB2; basal; prognosis; disease-free survival
18.  Down-regulation of miR-221 inhibits proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells through up-regulation of PTEN, p27kip1, p57kip2, and PUMA 
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death in the US and exhibits aggressive features with short survival rate and high mortality. Therefore, it is important to understand the molecular mechanism(s) involved in the aggressive growth of pancreatic cancers, and further design novel targeted therapies for its treatment with better treatment outcome. In the present study, we found that the expression of miR-221 was significantly up-regulated in pancreatic cancer cell lines and tumor tissues compared to normal pancreatic duct epithelial cells and normal pancreas tissues. Moreover, we found that the pancreatic cancer patients with high miR-221 expression had a relatively shorter survival compared to those with lower expression, suggesting that miR-221 could be an oncogenic miRNA and a prognostic factor for poor survival of patients. Interestingly, transfection of miR-221 inhibitor suppressed the proliferative capacity of pancreatic cancer cells with concomitant up-regulation of PTEN, p27kip1, p57kip2, and PUMA, which are the tumor suppressors and the predicted targets of miR-221. Most importantly, we found that the treatment of pancreatic cancer cells with isoflavone mixture (G2535), formulated 3,3’-diindolylmethane (BR-DIM), or synthetic curcumin analogue (CDF) could down-regulate the expression of miR-221 and consequently up-regulate the expression of PTEN, p27kip1, p57kip2, and PUMA, leading to the inhibition of cell proliferation and migration of MiaPaCa-2 and Panc-1 cells. These results provide experimental evidence in support of the oncogenic role of miR-221 and also demonstrate the role of isoflavone, BR-DIM, and CDF as potential non-toxic agents that are capable of down-regulation of miR-221. Therefore, these agents combined with conventional chemotherapeutics could be useful in designing novel targeted therapeutic strategy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer for which there is no curative therapy.
PMCID: PMC3816966  PMID: 24224124
miR-221; proliferation; pancreatic cancer; isoflavone; DIM; CDF
19.  Functional analysis of Drosophila DNA polymerase ε p58 subunit 
DNA polymerase ε (polε) plays a central role in DNA replication in eukaryotic cells, and has been suggested to the main synthetic polymerase on the leading strand. It is a hetero-tetrameric enzyme, comprising a large catalytic subunit (the A subunit ~250 kDa), a B subunit of ~60 kDa in most species (~80 kDa in budding yeast) and two smaller subunits (each ~20 kDa). In Drosophila, two subunits of polε (dpolε) have been identified. One is the 255 kDa catalytic subunit (dpolεp255), and the other is the 58 kDa subunit (dpolεp58). The functions of the B subunit have been mainly studied in budding yeast and mammalian cell culture, few studies have been performed in the context of an intact multicellular organism and therefore its functions in this context remain poorly understood. To address this we examined the in vivo role of dpolεp58 in Drosophila. A homozygous dpolεp58 mutant is pupal lethal, and the imaginal discs are less developed in the third instar larvae. In the eye discs of this mutant S phases, as measured by BrdU incorporation assays, were significantly reduced. In addition staining with an anti-phospho histone H3 (PH3) antibody, (a marker of M phase), was increased in the posterior region of eye discs, where usually cells stop replicating and start differentiation. These results indicate that dpolεp58 is essential for Drosophila development and plays an important role in progression of S phase in mitotic cell cycles. We also observed that the size of nuclei in salivary gland cells were decreased in dpolεp58 mutant, indicating that dpolεp58 also plays a role in endoreplication. Furthermore we detect a putative functional interaction between dpolε and ORC2 in discs suggesting that polε plays a role in the initiation of DNA replication in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC3816967  PMID: 24224125
DNA polymerase ε B subunit; Drosophila melanogaster
20.  Manic fringe inhibits tumor growth by suppressing Notch3 degradation in lung cancer 
Notch signaling plays an essential role in development as well as cancer. We have previously shown that Notch3 is important for lung cancer growth and survival. Notch receptors are activated through the interaction with their ligands, resulting in proteolytic cleavage of the receptors. This interaction is modulated by Fringe, a family of fucose-specific β1,3 N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases that modify the extracellular subunit of Notch receptors. Studies in developmental models showed that Fringe enhances Notch’s response to Delta ligands at the expense of Jagged ligands. We observed that Manic Fringe expression is down-regulated in lung cancer. Since Jagged1, a known ligand for Notch3, is often over-expressed in lung cancer, we hypothesized that Fringe negatively regulates Notch3 activation. In this study, we show that re-expression of Manic Fringe down-regulates Notch3 target genes HES1 and HeyL and reduces tumor phenotype in vitro and in vivo. The mechanism for this phenomenon appears to be related to modulation of Notch3 protein stability. Proteasome inhibition reverses Manic Fringe-induced protein turnover. Taken together, our data provide the first evidence that Manic Fringe functions as a tumor suppressor in the lung and that the mechanism of its anti-tumor activity is mediated by inhibition of Notch3 activation.
PMCID: PMC3816968  PMID: 24224126
Jagged1; manic fringe; Notch3; lung cancer
21.  Enhancement of taxol, doxorubicin and zoledronate anti-proliferation action on triple-negative breast cancer cells by a PTHrP blocking monoclonal antibody 
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are heterogeneous cancers that present tumors without the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Because of the absence of these receptors, there are currently no known specific molecular targets for treatment, and although TNBC tumors are chemosensitive, prognosis is poor because this type of cancer relapses more frequently and more aggressively than hormone receptor-positive cancers. The mechanisms by which TNBCs escape control by chemotherapy are not clear, and it is crucial to identify novel molecular drivers that can be targeted in order to develop more efficient therapeutic approaches. We recently highlighted a pleiotropic role for parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) in all stages of breast cancer, and used our neutralizing anti-PTHrP monoclonal antibody (mAb M158) to efficiently inhibit progression and metastasis of human breast cancer xenografts in athymic mice. In the present study, we present evidence for a strong in vitro anti-proliferative effect of our blocking anti-PTHrP mAb M158 as a single agent on TNBC lines of various subtypes that are known to express PTHrP (MDA-MB-231, BT-549, MDA-MB-435). The same mAb is inactive in a TNBC line without detectable PTHrP expression (MDA-MB-468). In in vitro combination studies, the mAb enhances the effect of the chemotherapeutic drugs taxol and doxorubicin in PTHrP-positive TNBC cells in an additive manner. When combined with the bisphosphonate zoledronate, M158 can act in additive or antagonistic fashion in vitro depending on the cell line. Our observations identify PTHrP as a novel target against TNBC cell proliferation, and suggest that combination therapies that include an anti-PTHrP approach might increase treatment efficacy in patients with PTHrP-positive TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3816969  PMID: 24224127
Breast cancer cell lines; PTHrP; TNBC; zoledronate; doxorubicin; paclitaxel; neutralizing antibody
22.  Histone demethylase GASC1, a potential prognostic and predictive marker in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Gene amplified in squamous cell carcinoma 1 (GASC1) is a member of Jumonji C-domain containing histone demethylases that play an essential role in affecting chromatin architecture and gene expression. The purpose of this study was to determine the expression features and the clinical significance of GASC1 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). GASC1 expression was detected on tissue microarrays of ESCC samples in 185 cases using immunohistochemical staining. Strong nuclear staining for GASC1 was observed in a subset of ESCC samples. The nuclear expression of GASC1 was significantly associated with lymph node metastasis (P=0.030) and tumor-node metastasis stages (P=0.013). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a tendency that high expression of GASC1 in the nucleus was associated with poor survival of ESCC patients, with a 5-year survival rate of 26.5%, as compared to 43.7% for patients with GASC1-negative/low expression. Furthermore, multivariate analysis revealed that high expression of GASC1 likely acts as a predictive factor for overall survival of ESCC patients, despite the P-value failing to reach significance (P=0.059). The findings indicate that histone demethylase GASC1 may play an important role in promoting cancer metastasis, and shed new light on the importance of targeting GASC1 to suppress metastatic disease in various tumor types, including ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3816970  PMID: 24224128
Histone demethylase; GASC1; lymph node metastasis; immunohistochemistry; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
23.  The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) most accurately reflects true survival for older oncology patients 
Introduction: The ability to ascertain survival information is important for retrospective and prospective studies. Two databases that can be used are the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and the National Death Index (NDI). Although the NDI is more complete, there are advantages to the SSDI such as ease of use and cost. The intent of this study was to determine accuracy of the SSDI. Methods: Publically available data on all known deceased individuals in the state of Ohio in 2003 were obtained from the State of Ohio Department of Health. A random sample of 63,557 of these were compared to the SSDI to identify risk factor for inclusion/exclusion. Results: Overall, 94.7% of all death records were confirmed by the SSDI. Age at death, gender, race, ethnicity, and cause of death were all found to significantly affect the likelihood of inclusion. Specifically, people aged 18-24 were included only 79.8% of the time compared to 96.2% for those over the age of 65. Also, malignancy as cause of death resulted in a 95.3% inclusion while trauma as a cause of death led to 86.5% inclusion. While Caucasians had an inclusion of 95.6%, African Americans were included only 87.8% of the time. Hispanics and women also had lower inclusion rates. Discussion: The SSDI is a strong tool for following up on participants lost to follow up in certain populations but is weaker in others. The SSDI would be particularly useful in a population that is largely older, Caucasian, or has malignant disease.
PMCID: PMC3816971  PMID: 24224129
Social; security; death; index; SSDI; NDI; survival
24.  Association between tumor-associated macrophage infiltration, high grade prostate cancer, and biochemical recurrence after radical prostatectomy 
Background: Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are a key component of the inflammatory microenvironment. Their role in prostate cancer development and progression remains unclear. We examined whether the amount of TAMs in prostate cancer is: 1) higher than prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) and benign tissue 2) associated with poorly differentiated disease, and 3) predictive of biochemical recurrence among surgically treated men. Methods: A tissue microarray (TMA) of prostatectomy specimens from 332 patients was stained for CD68, a TAM marker. A separate TMA was used for validation. Associations between mean TAMs in cancer cores and PSA recurrence were determined by Cox proportional hazards models after adjusting for age, preoperative PSA, race, body mass index, pathologic Gleason sum, seminal vesicle invasion, extracapsular extension, and margin status. Results: Mean TAM number was higher in cancer versus PIN and benign tissue (p<0.0001). Mean TAM number was higher in Gleason grade 4 cores vs. Gleason grade 3 cores (p=0.003). On multivariable analysis, no association was observed between mean TAM number per cancer core and biochemical recurrence in either cohort. Conclusion: Mean TAM number was higher in cancer cores vs. PIN and benign tissue, and higher in high grade prostate cancer supporting the potential role of TAMs in prostate cancer development. However, TAMs were not associated with biochemical recurrence after radical prostatectomy suggesting TAM counts do not provide independent prognostic value among surgically treated men. Further studies are required to elucidate the functional significance of TAMs in the prostate cancer microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3816972  PMID: 24224130
Biochemical recurrence; cancer development; prostate; tumor associated macrophages; tissue microarray
25.  Pharmacological modulation of blood-brain barrier increases permeability of doxorubicin into the rat brain 
Our group recently demonstrated in a rat model that pretreatment with morphine facilitates doxorubicin delivery to the brain in the absence of signs of increased acute systemic toxicity. Morphine and other drugs such as dexamethasone or ondansetron seem to inhibit MDR proteins localized on blood-brain barrier, neurons and glial cells increasing the access of doxorubicin to the brain by efflux transporters competition. We explored the feasibility of active modification of the blood-brain barrier protection, by using morphine dexamethasone or ondansetron pretreatment, to allow doxorubicin accumulation into the brain in a rodent model. Rats were pretreated with morphine (10 mg/kg, i.p.), dexamethasone (2 mg/kg, i.p.) or ondansetron (2 mg/kg, i.p.) before injection of doxorubicin (12 mg/kg, i.p.). Quantitative analysis of doxorubicin was performed by mass spectrometry. Acute hearth and kidney damage was analyzed by measuring doxorubicin accumulation, LDH activity and malondialdehyde plasma levels. The concentration of doxorubicin was significantly higher in all brain areas of rats pretreated with morphine (P < 0.001) or ondansetron (P < 0.05) than in control tissues. The concentration of doxorubicin was significantly higher in cerebral hemispheres and brainstem (P < 0.05) but not in cerebellum of rats pretreated with dexamethasone than in control tissues. Pretreatment with any of these drugs did not increase LDH activity or lipid peroxidation compared to controls. Our data suggest that morphine, dexamethasone or ondansetron pretreatment is able to allow doxorubicin penetration inside the brain by modulating the BBB. This effect is not associated with acute cardiac or renal toxicity. This finding might provide the rationale for clinical applications in the treatment of refractory brain tumors and pave the way to novel applications of active but currently inapplicable chemotherapeutic drugs.
PMCID: PMC3744021  PMID: 23977451
Doxorubicin; morphine; dexamethasone; ondansetron; blood-brain barrier; rodent model; MDR transporters; mass spectrometry

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