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1.  Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing-1 (SND1) promotes migration and invasion via angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) and TGFβ signaling 
FEBS Open Bio  2014;4:353-361.
Highlights
•SND1 augments AT1R receptor level by posttranscriptional regulation.•SND1 activates TGFβ signaling which promotes the epithelial–mesenchymal transition.•Migration and invasion by human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells are augmented by SND1.•A correlation is observed between SND1 and AT1R expression in HCC patients.
Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing-1 (SND1) is overexpressed in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients and promotes tumorigenesis by human HCC cells. We now document that SND1 increases angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) levels by increasing AT1R mRNA stability. This results in activation of ERK, Smad2 and subsequently the TGFβ signaling pathway, promoting epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration and invasion by human HCC cells. A positive correlation was observed between SND1 and AT1R expression levels in human HCC patients. Small molecule inhibitors of SND1, alone or in combination with AT1R blockers, might be an effective therapeutic strategy for late-stage aggressive HCC.
doi:10.1016/j.fob.2014.03.012
PMCID: PMC4050181  PMID: 24918049
ACE, angiotensin-I converting enzyme; ACE-I, ACE inhibitors; AT1R, angiotensin II type 1 receptor; EMT, epithelial–mesenchymal transition; FDR, false discovery rate; HCC, human hepatocellular carcinoma; LP, losartan potassium; MTT, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; NASH, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; PAI-1, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1; RISC, RNA-induced silencing complex; SND1, Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing-1; SND1; AT1R; TGFβ; PAI-1; Invasion
2.  MDA-9/Syntenin and IGFBP-2 Promote Angiogenesis in Human Melanoma 
Cancer research  2012;73(2):844-854.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (mda-9/syntenin) encodes an adapter scaffold protein whose expression correlates with and mediates melanoma progression and metastasis. Tumor angiogenesis represents an integral component of cancer metastasis prompting us to investigate a possible role of mda-9/syntenin in inducing angiogenesis. Genetic (gain-of-function and loss-of-function) and pharmacological approaches were employed to modify mda-9/syntenin expression in normal immortal melanocytes, early radial growth phase melanoma and metastatic melanoma cells. The consequence of modifying mda-9/syntenin expression on angiogenesis was evaluated using both in vitro and in vivo assays, including tube formation assays using human vascular endothelial cells, CAM assays and xenograft tumor animal models. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments confirm that MDA-9/syntenin induces angiogenesis by augmenting expression of several pro-angiogenic factors/genes. Experimental evidence is provided for a model of angiogenesis induction by MDA-9/syntenin in which MDA-9/syntenin interacts with the ECM activating Src and FAK resulting in activation by phosphorylation of Akt, which induces HIF-1α. The HIF-1α activates transcription of Insulin Growth Factor Binding Protein-2 (IGFBP-2), which is secreted thereby promoting angiogenesis and further induces endothelial cells to produce and secrete VEGF-A augmenting tumor angiogenesis. Our studies delineate an unanticipated cell non-autonomous function of MDA-9/syntenin in the context of angiogenesis, which may directly contribute to its metastasis-promoting properties. As a result, targeting MDA-9/syntenin or its downstream-regulated molecules may provide a means of simultaneously impeding metastasis by both directly inhibiting tumor cell transformed properties (autonomous) and indirectly by blocking angiogenesis (non-autonomous).
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-1681
PMCID: PMC3548987  PMID: 23233738
mda-9/syntenin; melanoma; angiogenesis; IGFBP-2; HuVECs; CAM assay
3.  Targeted Apoptotic Effects of Thymoquinone and Tamoxifen on XIAP Mediated Akt Regulation in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61342.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is constitutively expressed endogenous inhibitor of apoptosis, exhibit its antiapoptotic effect by inactivating key caspases such as caspase-3, caspase-7 and caspase-9 and also play pivotal role in rendering cancer chemoresistance. Our studies showed the coadministration of TQ and TAM resulting in a substantial increase in breast cancer cell apoptosis and marked inhibition of cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Anti-angiogenic and anti-invasive potential of TQ and TAM was assessed through in vitro studies. This novel combinatorial regimen leads to regulation of multiple cell signaling targets including inactivation of Akt and XIAP degradation. At molecular level, TQ and TAM synergistically lowers XIAP expression resulting in binding and activation of caspase-9 in apoptotic cascade, and interfere with cell survival through PI3-K/Akt pathway by inhibiting Akt phosphorylation. Cleaved caspase-9 further processes other intracellular death substrates such as PARP thereby shifting the balance from survival to apoptosis, indicated by rise in the sub-G1 cell population. This combination also downregulates the expression of Akt-regulated downstream effectors such as Bcl-xL, Bcl-2 and induce expression of Bax, AIF, cytochrome C and p-27. Consistent with these results, overexpression studies further confirmed the involvement of XIAP and its regulatory action on Akt phosphorylation along with procaspase-9 and PARP cleavage in TQ-TAM coadministrated induced apoptosis. The ability of TQ and TAM in inhibiting XIAP was confirmed through siRNA-XIAP cotransfection studies. This novel modality may be a promising tool in breast cancer treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061342
PMCID: PMC3629226  PMID: 23613836
4.  c-Met activation through a novel pathway involving osteopontin mediates oncogenesis by the transcription factor LSF 
Journal of hepatology  2011;55(6):1317-1324.
Background and Aims
Understanding the molecular pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) would facilitate development of targeted and effective therapies for this fatal disease. We recently demonstrated that the cellular transcription factor Late SV40 Factor (LSF) is overexpressed in more than 90% of human HCC cases, compared to normal liver, and plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis. LSF transcriptionally upregulates osteopontin (OPN) that plays a significant role in mediating the oncogenic function of LSF. The present study aims at a better understanding of LSF function by analyzing the signaling pathway modulated by LSF.
Methods
Phospho-receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) array was performed to identify which receptor tyrosine kinases are activated by LSF. Immunohistochemical analysis using tissue microarray was performed to establish correlation among LSF, OPN and phospho-c-Met levels in HCC patients. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis was performed to check OPN-induced CD44 and c-Met interaction. Inhibition studies using chemicals and siRNAs were performed in vitro and in vivo using nude mice xenograft models to establish the importance of c-Met activation in mediating LSF function.
Results
Secreted OPN, induced by LSF, activates c-Met via a potential interaction between OPN and its cell surface receptor CD44. A significant correlation was observed among LSF, OPN and activated c-Met levels in HCC patients. Chemical or genetic inhibition of c-Met resulted in profound abrogation of LSF-mediated tumorigenesis and metastasis in nude mice xenograft studies.
Conclusions
The present findings elucidate a novel pathway of c-Met activation during hepatocarcinogenesis and support the rationale of using c-Met inhibitors as potential HCC therapeutics.
doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2011.02.036
PMCID: PMC3183108  PMID: 21703197
Late SV40 Factor; CD44; Hepatocellular carcinoma; c-Met; osteopontin
5.  Increased RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC) Activity Contributes to Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;53(5):1538-1548.
There is virtually no effective treatment for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and novel targets need to be identified to develop effective treatment. We recently documented that the oncogene Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Employing yeast two-hybrid assay and co-immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry we identified Staphylococcal nuclease domain containing 1 (SND1), a nuclease in the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) facilitating RNAi-mediated gene silencing, as an AEG-1 interacting protein. Co-immunoprecipitation and co-localization studies confirmed that AEG-1 is also a component of RISC and both AEG-1 and SND1 are required for optimum RISC activity facilitating siRNA and miRNA-mediated silencing of luciferase reporter gene. In 109 human HCC samples SND1 was overexpressed in ∼74% cases compared to normal liver. Correspondingly, significantly higher RISC activity was observed in human HCC cells compared to immortal normal hepatocytes. Increased RISC activity, conferred by AEG-1 or SND1, resulted in increased degradation of tumor suppressor mRNAs that are target of oncomiRs. Inhibition of enzymatic activity of SND1 significantly inhibited proliferation of human HCC cells. As a corollary, stable overexpression of SND1 augmented and siRNA-mediated inhibition of SND1 abrogated growth of human HCC cells in vitro and in vivo thus revealing a potential role of SND1 in hepatocarcinogenesis.
Conclusion
We unravel a novel mechanism that overexpression of AEG-1 and SND1 leading to increased RISC activity might contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis. Targeted inhibition of SND1 enzymatic activity might be developed as an effective therapy for HCC.
doi:10.1002/hep.24216
PMCID: PMC3081619  PMID: 21520169
AEG-1; SND1; protein-protein interaction; RNAi; hepatocarcinogenesis
6.  The transcription factor LSF: a novel oncogene for hepatocellular carcinoma 
The transcription factor LSF (Late SV40 Factor), also known as TFCP2, belongs to the LSF/CP2 family related to Grainyhead family of proteins and is involved in many biological events, including regulation of cellular and viral promoters, cell cycle, DNA synthesis, cell survival and Alzheimer’s disease. Our recent studies establish an oncogenic role of LSF in Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). LSF overexpression is detected in human HCC cell lines and in more than 90% cases of human HCC patients, compared to normal hepatocytes and liver, and its expression level showed significant correlation with the stages and grades of the disease. Forced overexpression of LSF in less aggressive HCC cells resulted in highly aggressive, angiogenic and multi-organ metastatic tumors in nude mice. Conversely, inhibition of LSF significantly abrogated growth and metastasis of highly aggressive HCC cells in nude mice. Microarray studies revealed that as a transcription factor LSF modulated specific genes regulating invasion, angiogenesis, chemoresistance and senescence. LSF transcriptionally regulates thymidylate synthase (TS) gene, thus contributing to cell cycle regulation and chemoresistance. Our studies identify a network of proteins, including osteopontin (OPN), Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), c-Met and complement factor H (CFH), that are directly regulated by LSF and play important role in LSF-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. A high throughput screening identified small molecule inhibitors of LSF DNA binding and the prototype of these molecules, Factor Quinolinone inhibitor 1 (FQI1), profoundly inhibited cell viability and induced apoptosis in human HCC cells without exerting harmful effects to normal immortal human hepatocytes and primary mouse hepatocytes. In nude mice xenograft studies, FQI1 markedly inhibited growth of human HCC xenografts as well as angiogenesis without exerting any toxicity. These studies establish a key role of LSF in hepatocarcinogenesis and usher in a novel therapeutic avenue for HCC, an invariably fatal disease.
PMCID: PMC3365805  PMID: 22679558
Late SV40 Factor (LSF); hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); osteopontin (OPN); matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9); c-Met; thymidylate synthase (TS); angiogenesis; metastasis; cell cycle regulation; small molecule inhibitors; FQI1

Results 1-6 (6)