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author:("Cao, linzhi")
1.  Inhibiting autophagy potentiates the anticancer activity of IFN1@/IFNα in chronic myeloid leukemia cells 
Autophagy  2013;9(3):317-327.
IFN1@ (interferon, type 1, cluster, also called IFNα) has been extensively studied as a treatment for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The mechanism of anticancer activity of IFN1@ is complex and not well understood. Here, we demonstrate that autophagy, a mechanism of cellular homeostasis for the removal of dysfunctional organelles and proteins, regulates IFN1@-mediated cell death. IFN1@ activated the cellular autophagic machinery in immortalized or primary CML cells. Activation of JAK1-STAT1 and RELA signaling were required for IFN1@-induced expression of BECN1, a key regulator of autophagy. Moreover, pharmacological and genetic inhibition of autophagy enhanced IFN1@-induced apoptosis by activation of the CASP8-BID pathway. Taken together, these findings provide evidence for an important mechanism that links autophagy to immunotherapy in leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3590253  PMID: 23242206
IFN1@; autophagy; apoptosis; immunotherapy; chronic myeloid leukemia
2.  microRNA 30A promotes autophagy in response to cancer therapy 
Autophagy  2012;8(5):853-855.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small regulatory RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs play important roles in the regulation of development, growth, and metastasis of cancer, and in determining the response of tumor cells to anticancer therapy. In recent years, they have also emerged as important regulators of autophagy, a lysosomal-mediated pathway that contributes to degradation of a cell's own components. Imatinib, a targeted competitive inhibitor of the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase, has revolutionized the clinical treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). We demonstrate that MIR30A-mediated autophagy enhances imatinib resistance against CML including primary stem and progenitor cells. MIR30A, but not MIR101, is a potent inhibitor of autophagy by selectively downregulating BECN1 and ATG5 expression in CML cells. MIR30A mimics, as well as knockdown of BECN1 and ATG5, increases intrinsic apoptotic pathways. In contrast, the antagomir-30A increases autophagy and inhibits intrinsic apoptotic pathways, confirming that autophagy serves to protect against apoptosis. Taken together, these data clarify some of the underlying molecular mechanisms of tyrosine kinase inhibitor-induced autophagy.
PMCID: PMC3378424  PMID: 22617440
Atg5; autophagy; BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase; Beclin 1; chronic myelogenous leukemia; microRNA
3.  Targeting HMGB1-mediated autophagy as a novel therapeutic strategy for osteosarcoma 
Autophagy  2012;8(2):275-277.
Autophagy is a catabolic process critical to maintaining cellular homeostasis and responding to cytotoxic insult. Autophagy is recognized as “programmed cell survival” in contrast to apoptosis or programmed cell death. Upregulation of autophagy has been observed in many types of cancers and has been demonstrated to both promote and inhibit antitumor drug resistance depending to a large extent on the nature and duration of the treatment-induced metabolic stress as well as the tumor type. Cisplatin, doxorubicin and methotrexate are commonly used anticancer drugs in osteosarcoma, the most common form of childhood and adolescent cancer. Our recent study demonstrated that high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1)-mediated autophagy is a significant contributor to drug resistance in osteosarcoma cells. Inhibition of both HMGB1 and autophagy increase the drug sensitivity of osteosarcoma cells in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the ULK1-FIP200 complex is required for the interaction between HMGB1 and BECN1, which then promotes BECN1-PtdIns3KC3 complex formation during autophagy. Thus, these findings provide a novel mechanism of osteosarcoma resistance to therapy facilitated by HMGB1-mediated autophagy and provide a new target for the control of drug-resistant osteosarcoma patients.
PMCID: PMC3336081  PMID: 22301993
osteosarcoma; HMGB1; autophagy; apoptosis; chemotherapy
4.  HMGB1 is a therapeutic target for leukemia 
High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a nuclear DNA-binding protein, which functions as Damage Associated Molecular Pattern molecule (DAMP) when released from cells under conditions of stress, such as injury and infection. Recent studies indicate that HMGB1 plays an important role in leukemia pathogenesis and chemotherapy resistance. Serum HMGB1 is increased in childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia as compared to healthy control and complete remission groups. Moreover, HMGB1 is a negative regulator of apoptosis in leukemia cells through regulation of Bcl-2 expression and caspase-3 activity. As a positive regulator of autophagy, intracellular HMGB1 interacts with Beclin 1 in leukemia cells leading to autophagosome formation. Additionally, exogenous HMGB1 directly induces autophagy and cell survival in leukemia cells. Experimental strategies that selectively target HMGB1 effectively reverse and prevent chemotherapy resistance in leukemia cells, suggesting that HMGB1 is a novel therapeutic target in leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3301433  PMID: 22432086
HMGB1; leukemia; apoptosis; autophagy; chemotherapy
5.  A critical role for UVRAG in apoptosis 
Autophagy  2011;7(10):1242-1244.
Autophagy and apoptosis are tightly regulated biological processes that are crucial for cell growth, development and tissue homeostasis. UVRAG (UV radiation resistance-associated gene), a mammalian homolog of yeast Vps38, activates the Beclin 1/PtdIns3KC3 (class III phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase) complex, which promotes autophagosome formation. Moreover, UVRAG promotes autophagosome maturation by recruiting class C Vps complexes (HOPS complexes) and Rab7 of the late endosome. We found that UVRAG has anti-apoptotic activity during tumor therapy through interactions with Bax. UVRAG inhibits Bax translocation from the cytosol to mitochondria during chemotherapy- or UV irradiation-induced apoptosis of human tumor cells. Moreover, deletion of the UVRAG C2 domain abolishes Bax binding and anti-apoptotic activity. These results suggest that, in addition to its previously recognized pro-autophagy activity in response to starvation, UVRAG has cytoprotective functions in the cytosol that control the localization of Bax in tumor cells exposed to apoptotic stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3210309  PMID: 21606679
UVRAG; Bax; apoptosis; autophagy; mitochondria; tumor therapy
6.  Autophagy regulates myeloid cell differentiation by p62/SQSTM1-mediated degradation of PML-RARα oncoprotein 
Autophagy  2011;7(4):401-411.
PML-RARα oncoprotein is a fusion protein of promyelocytic leukemia (PML) and the retinoic acid receptor-α (RARα) and causes acute promyelocytic leukemias (APL). A hallmark of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) responses in APL is PML-RARα degradation, which promotes cell differentiation. Here, we demonstrated that autophagy is a crucial regulator of PML-RARα degradation. Inhibition of autophagy by short hairpin (sh) RNA that target essential autophagy genes such as ATG1, ATG5 and PI3KC3, and by autophagy inhibitors (e.g., 3-methyladenine), blocked PML-RARα degradation and subsequently granulocytic differentiation of human myeloid leukemic cells. In contrast, rapamycin, the mTOR kinase inhibitor, enhanced autophagy and promoted ATRA-induced PML-RARα degradation and myeloid cell differentiation. Moreover, PML-RARα co-immunoprecipitated with the ubiquitin-binding adaptor protein p62/SQSTM1, which is degraded through autophagy. Furthermore, knockdown of p62/SQSTM1 inhibited ATRA-induced PML-RARα degradation and myeloid cell differentiation. The identification of PML-RARα as a target of autophagy provides new insight into the mechanism of action of ATRA and its specificity for APL.
PMCID: PMC3127220  PMID: 21187718
autophagy; differentiation; oncoprotein; leukemia; degradation; PML-RARa; p62/SQSTM1
7.  DAMP-mediated autophagy contributes to drug resistance 
Autophagy  2011;7(1):112-114.
Damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) are cellularly derived molecules that can initiate and perpetuate immune responses following trauma, ischemia and other types of tissue damage in the absence of pathogenic infection. High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a prototypical DAMP and is associated with the hallmarks of cancer. Recently we found that HMGB1 release after chemotherapy treatment is a critical regulator of autophagy and a potential drug target for therapeutic interventions in leukemia. Overexpression of HMGB1 by gene transfection rendered leukemia cells resistant to cell death; whereas depletion or inhibition of HMGB1 and autophagy by RNA interference or pharmacological inhibitors increased the sensitivity of leukemia cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. HMGB1 release sustains autophagy as assessed by microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) lipidation, redistribution of LC3 into cytoplasmic puncta, degradation of p62 and accumulation of autophagosomes and autolysosomes. Moreover, these data suggest a role for HMGB1 in the regulation of autophagy through the PI3KC3-MEKERK pathway, supporting the notion that HMGB1-induced autophagy promotes tumor resistance to chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3039734  PMID: 21068541
DAMP; autophagy; HMGB1; chemotherapy resistance; leukemia; PI3KC3; ERK
8.  Extracellular matrix rigidity modulates neuroblastoma cell differentiation and N-myc expression 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:35.
Neuroblastoma is a pediatric malignancy characterized by tremendous clinical heterogeneity, in which some tumors are extremely aggressive while others spontaneously differentiate into benign forms. Because the degree of differentiation correlates with prognosis, and because differentiating agents such as retinoic acid (RA) have proven to decrease mortality, much effort has been devoted to identifying critical regulators of neuroblastoma differentiation in the cellular microenvironment, including cues encoded in the extracellular matrix (ECM). While signaling between tumor cells and the ECM is classically regarded to be based purely on biochemical recognition of ECM ligands by specific cellular receptors, a number of recent studies have made it increasingly clear that the biophysical properties of the ECM may also play an important role in this cross-talk. Given that RA-mediated neuroblastoma differentiation is accompanied by profound changes in cell morphology and neurite extension, both of which presumably rely upon mechanotransductive signaling systems, it occurred to us that mechanical cues from the ECM might also influence RA-mediated differentiation, which in turn might regulate clinically-relevant aspects of neuroblastoma biology. In this study, we tested this hypothesis by subjecting a series of neuroblastoma culture models to ECM microenvironments of varying mechanical stiffness and examined the regulatory role of ECM stiffness in proliferation, differentiation, and expression of tumor markers. We find that increasing ECM stiffness enhances neuritogenesis and suppresses cell proliferation. Remarkably, increasing ECM stiffness also reduces expression of N-Myc, a transcription factor involved in multiple aspects of oncogenic proliferation that is used for evaluating prognosis and clinical grading of neuroblastoma. Furthermore, the addition of RA enhances all of these effects for all ECM stiffnesses tested. Together, our data strongly support the notion that the mechanical signals from the cellular microenvironment influence neuroblastoma differentiation and do so synergistically with RA. These observations support further investigation of the role of microenvironmental mechanical signals in neuroblastoma proliferation and differentiation and suggest that pharmacological agents that modulate the underlying mechanotransductive signaling pathways may have a role in neuroblastoma therapy.
PMCID: PMC2831820  PMID: 20144241

Results 1-8 (8)