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1.  Strong Inverse Correlation Between MicroRNA-125b and Human Papillomavirus DNA in Productive Infection 
Infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a cause of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and cancer. microRNA (miRNA) in situ analysis of the transformation zone epithelia, the site of initial cervical HPV infection, showed that miRNAs let-7c, — 99a, 26a, and 125b were the most abundantly expressed. In situ testing of CIN 1 showed a dramatic reduction in miR-125b expression in the koilocytes, the cytologic marker of productive HPV infection. A marked reduction in miR-125b was likewise observed in the HPV-infected cells of the condyloma acuminatum, verruca vulgaris, and epidermodysplasia verruciformis. Reverse transcriptase in situ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed that the pre-miRNA 125b was present in the koilocyte, suggesting direct inactivation of the mature miRNA. HEK cells transfected with only the antimiR-125b showed perinuclear halos equivalent to HPV-infected koilocytes. NIH 3T3 cells transfected with the HPV 16 full-length genome and mimetic miR-125b showed a marked reduction in viral DNA and protein synthesis by quantitative PCR and in situ-based analyses, respectively (P=0.002). Alternatively, cotransfection with anti-miR-125b and HPV 16 markedly increased HPV DNA (P=0.002). Sequence analyses showed strong homology between L2 of different HPV genotypes and miR-125b. Transfection with HPV 16 L2 resulted in a marked reduction in miR-125b levels in the NIH 3T3 cells. HPV L2-induced inactivation of miR-125b is associated with the classic cytologic changes of the koilocyte, and the exogenous application of mimetic miR-125b markedly inhibits HPV DNA synthesis.
PMCID: PMC4284817  PMID: 20736742
human papillomavirus; microRNA; in situ hybridization; L2
2.  Dietary Apigenin Exerts Immune-Regulatory Activity in Vivo by Reducing NF-κB Activity, Halting Leukocyte Infiltration and Restoring Normal Metabolic Function 
The increasing prevalence of inflammatory diseases and the adverse effects associated with the long-term use of current anti-inflammatory therapies prompt the identification of alternative approaches to reestablish immune balance. Apigenin, an abundant dietary flavonoid, is emerging as a potential regulator of inflammation. Here, we show that apigenin has immune-regulatory activity in vivo. Apigenin conferred survival to mice treated with a lethal dose of Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) restoring normal cardiac function and heart mitochondrial Complex I activity. Despite the adverse effects associated with high levels of splenocyte apoptosis in septic models, apigenin had no effect on reducing cell death. However, we found that apigenin decreased LPS-induced apoptosis in lungs, infiltration of inflammatory cells and chemotactic factors’ accumulation, re-establishing normal lung architecture. Using NF-κB luciferase transgenic mice, we found that apigenin effectively modulated NF-κB activity in the lungs, suggesting the ability of dietary compounds to exert immune-regulatory activity in an organ-specific manner. Collectively, these findings provide novel insights into the underlying immune-regulatory mechanisms of dietary nutraceuticals in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4813185  PMID: 26938530
apoptosis; flavonoids; apigenin; leukocytes; NF-κB; inflammation; sepsis; mitochondria; cardiac dysfunction
3.  A Phase 1 Trial of Single Agent Reolysin in Patients with Relapsed Multiple Myeloma 
Reolysin®, a proprietary isolate of reovirus Type 3 Dearing, enters and preferentially induces apoptosis of malignant cells. RAS pathway activation has been associated with more efficient reoviral infectivity and enhanced oncolysis. Reovirus is currently in advanced solid tumor phase 1 – 2 trials; no clinical trials have been conducted in patients with hematologic malignancies.
A phase 1 trial treated 12 relapsed myeloma patients at two dose levels. Reolysin was infused daily for 5 days every 28 days. Bone marrow specimens were examined by In situ based hybridization (ISH) for CD138, p38, caspase-3, reoviral RNA and capsid protein at screening and cycle 1 day 8. Junctional adhesion molecule 1 (JAM-1) and cancer up regulated gene 2 (CUG2) were evaluated in patient samples and MM cell lines. Neutralizing Anti-Reovirus Antibody (NARA) assay was performed weekly during cycle 1.
There were no dose limiting toxicities (DLTs), patients reached the 3 x 1010 TCID50 daily on days 1-5 dose level, and grade 3 laboratory toxicities included neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and hypophosphatemia. In situ hybridization demonstrated reoviral genome confined in MM cells. Reoviral capsid protein and caspase-3 were rarely identified within reoviral RNA positive cells. The longest durations of stable disease were 4, 5 and 8 months.
Treatment with single-agent Reolysin was well tolerated and associated with avid reoviral RNA myeloma cell entry but only minimal intracellular reoviral protein production within MM cells. Our data support that in MM cells, Reolysin-induced oncolysis requires combination therapy, similar to other cancers.
PMCID: PMC4253985  PMID: 25294913
Reolysin; Reovirus; Multiple myeloma
4.  A Comparative Analysis of Clinical and Molecular Factors with the Stage of Cervical Cancer in a Brazilian Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57810.
Cell cycle protein expression plays an important role in the pathophysiology of cervical cancer. However, few studies have attempted to correlate the use of these biomarkers with the clinical progression of the tumor.
1) To analyze the expression of Ki-67, p53 and p16INK4a in cervical cancer, 2) to correlate the relative expression of these proteins as well as clinical parameters with the stage of disease, and 3) to determine the HPV DNA prevalence and subtype distribution.
Tissue Micro-Arrays (TMA) from patients with invasive cervical cancer (ICC) and controls were analyzed. HPV DNA detection was done by PCR and in situ hybridization. Ki-67, p53 and p16INK4a were analyzed by immunohistochemistry; clinical data was derived from the chart review.
Advanced tumor stage (III and IV) was strongly associated (p<0.005) with advanced age (>55 years old), with more than four pregnancies and with the lack of formal education. HPV DNA was found in 94.3% of cases with the most prevalent types being HPV16 (67.5%), followed by HPV33 (12.0%) and HPV35 (3.6%). High expression of Ki-67 and p16 was more common in the advanced FIGO stages (p = 0.023). Women with HPV16 tended to be younger (50.9 years; SE 1.9) compared to women with other types (59.9 years; SE 2.8).
We found that Ki-67 and p16 expression were independently associated with the tumor stage. We also noted that about 1/3 of the cervical cancers in this Brazilian cohort were not associated with HPV types directly targeted by the current HPV vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3591395  PMID: 23505442
5.  Evaluation of MCM-2 Expression in TMA Cervical Specimens 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e32936.
Minichromosome maintenance proteins (MCM) are highly expressed in actively replicating cells. The need for biological markers for cervical carcinoma and its precursor lesions is emerging. Our main aim was to determine the immunohistochemical expression of MCM-2 in HIV-positive and -negative dysplastic cervical specimens.
Immunohistochemical analysis of MCM-2 was performed in a total of 352 cervical TMA specimens of normal control, low-grade CIN, high-grade CIN and invasive tumor. 38 specimens were from HIV-positive women. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was constructed to determine the best cutoff to diagnose high-grade CIN and invasive cervical cancer.
In the progression from normal epithelium to high-grade CIN and invasive tumor we found significant differences in the MCM-2 expression (p<0.05). Based on the ROC curve of 80% with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.78, expression of MCM-2 to diagnose high-grade CIN and invasive tumor resulted in sensitivity of 81%, specificity of 66%, a positive predictive value (PPV) of 86% and a negative predictive value (NPV) of 57%. HIV-positive cervices revealed a decreasing expression of MCM-2 in both LGCIN and HGCIN compared with HIV-negative specimens (p<0.0001).
The present study suggests that immunohistochemical MCM-2 may not be a promising biomarker for diagnosing high-grade CIN and invasive cancer.
PMCID: PMC3320881  PMID: 22493662
7.  Benign Metastasizing Leiomyoma of the Lung 
Benign metastasizing leiomyomas are rare tumors, which are typically found in the lungs and, thus, might be confused with leiomyosarcomas. Further, it is not clear whether the term “benign metastasizing leiomyoma” is a misnomer and whether these lesions actually represent low-grade malignant tumors that have a low proliferation index. Micro-RNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs, which repress translation. The altered expression of miRNAs has been strongly correlated with the malignant phenotype. In this study, the histologic features, Ki67 index, p53, bcl-2, and miRNA expression were studied in 15 leiomyosarcomas (11 primary lesions and 4 metastases), 8 leiomyomas, and 10 cases of benign metastasizing leiomyoma (9 pulmonary lesions and 1 primary uterine lesion). As expected, the Ki67 index for the benign metastasizing leiomyomas was equivalent to that for the leiomyomas and statistically less than that for the leiomyosarcomas. The mean index was 2.3% (range: 0.9% to 8.8%) for the leiomyomas and 3.4% (range: 0.7% to 8.1%) for the benign metastasizing leiomyomas compared with 28.6% (range: 14.4% to 62.0%) for the leiomyosarcomas (P < 0.025). The miRNA, miR-221, which has been associated with a variety of cancers, was detected by in situ hybridization in 13/15 leiomyosarcomas, 0/8 leiomyomas, and 0/10 benign metastasizing leiomyomas. In conclusion, benign metastasizing leiomyomas are indeed most likely benign lesions, and up-regulation of miR-221 expression is an accurate way to differentiate leiomyosarcoma from benign metastasizing leiomyoma.
PMCID: PMC3038410  PMID: 18382364
micro-RNA; in situ hybridization; LNA probes; benign metastasizing leiomyoma
8.  In situ detection of mature microRNAs by labeled extension on ultramer templates 
BioTechniques  2009;46(2):115-126.
We describe a new method for the in situ detection of a mature microRNA (miRNA) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. The method involves the labeled extension of miRNA hybridized to an approximately 100-nucleotide–long ultramer template containing the complementary sequence of the miRNA at its 3′ terminus. Pretreatment of the tissue involves incubation with protease to expose the genomic DNA to DNase digestion, thereby eliminating the ultramer-independent DNA synthesis process inherent in paraffin-embedded tissue. By direct comparison with real-time reverse transcriptase (RT)–PCR, RT in situ PCR, and standard in situ hybridization using a locked nucleic acid (LNA) probe, it was evident that the ultramer extension method detects only the mature miRNA, is easier to optimize, results generally in a stronger signal, and is much less expensive than the LNA probe method currently used.
PMCID: PMC2693964  PMID: 19317656
microRNA; in situ hybridization; in situ PCR; LNA probe
9.  Reovirus-associated reduction of microRNA-let-7d is related to the increased apoptotic death of cancer cells in clinical samples 
We analyzed the in situ molecular correlates of infection from cancer patients treated with reovirus. Melanoma, colorectal, and ovarian cancer samples from such patients showed variable infection of the cancer cells but not the intermingled benign cells. RT in situ PCR showed most cancer cells contained the viral genome with threefold less having productive viral infection as documented by either tubulin or reoviral protein co-expression. Productive infection in the cancer cells was strongly correlated with co-expression of p38 and caspase-3 as well as apoptosis-related death (P<0.001). The cancer cell apoptotic death was due to a marked viral-induced inhibition of microRNA-let-7d that, in turn, upregulated caspase-3 activity. In summary, reovirus shows a striking tropism to cancer cells in clinical samples. A rate-limiting factor of reovirus-induced cancer cell death is productive viral infection that operates via the marked reduction of microRNA-let-7d and concomitant elevated caspase-3 expression.
PMCID: PMC4275064  PMID: 22699519
apoptosis; caspase-3; microRNA-let-7d; PKR; Ras; reovirus
10.  Transcribed ultraconserved noncoding RNAs (T-UCR) are involved in Barrett's esophagus carcinogenesis 
Oncotarget  2014;5(16):7162-7171.
Barrett's esophagus (BE) involves a metaplastic replacement of native esophageal squamous epithelium (Sq) by columnar-intestinalized mucosa, and it is the main risk factor for Barrett-related adenocarcinoma (BAc). Ultra-conserved regions (UCRs) are a class non-coding sequences that are conserved in humans, mice and rats. More than 90% of UCRs are transcribed (T-UCRs) in normal tissues, and are altered at transcriptional level in tumorigenesis. To identify the T-UCR profiles that are dysregulated in Barrett's mucosa transformation, microarray analysis was performed on a discovery set of 51 macro-dissected samples obtained from 14 long-segment BE patients. Results were validated in an independent series of esophageal biopsy/surgery specimens and in two murine models of Barrett's esophagus (i.e. esophagogastric-duodenal anastomosis). Progression from normal to BE to adenocarcinoma was each associated with specific and mutually exclusive T-UCR signatures that included up-regulation of uc.58-, uc.202-, uc.207-, and uc.223- and down-regulation of uc.214+. A 9 T-UCR signature characterized BE versus Sq (with the down-regulation of uc.161-, uc.165-, and uc.327-, and the up-regulation of uc.153-, uc.158-, uc.206-, uc.274-, uc.472-, and uc.473-). Analogous BE-specific T-UCR profiles were shared by human and murine lesions. This study is the first demonstration of a role for T-UCRs in the transformation of Barrett's mucosa.
PMCID: PMC4196192  PMID: 25216530
T-UCRs; Barrett's esophagus; Barrett's carcinogenesis; expression signature
11.  MicroRNA Profiles Discriminate among Colon Cancer Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e96670.
MicroRNAs are being exploited for diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of cancer and other diseases. Their high tissue specificity and critical role in oncogenesis provide new biomarkers for the diagnosis and classification of cancer as well as predicting patients' outcomes. MicroRNAs signatures have been identified for many human tumors, including colorectal cancer (CRC). In most cases, metastatic disease is difficult to predict and to prevent with adequate therapies. The aim of our study was to identify a microRNA signature for metastatic CRC that could predict and differentiate metastatic target organ localization. Normal and cancer tissues of three different groups of CRC patients were analyzed. RNA microarray and TaqMan Array analysis were performed on 66 Italian patients with or without lymph nodes and/or liver recurrences. Data obtained with the two assays were analyzed separately and then intersected to identify a primary CRC metastatic signature. Five differentially expressed microRNAs (hsa-miR-21, -103, -93, -31 and -566) were validated by qRT-PCR on a second group of 16 American metastatic patients. In situ hybridization was performed on the 16 American patients as well as on three distinct commercial tissues microarray (TMA) containing normal adjacent colon, the primary adenocarcinoma, normal and metastatic lymph nodes and liver. Hsa-miRNA-21, -93, and -103 upregulation together with hsa-miR-566 downregulation defined the CRC metastatic signature, while in situ hybridization data identified a lymphonodal invasion profile. We provided the first microRNAs signature that could discriminate between colorectal recurrences to lymph nodes and liver and between colorectal liver metastasis and primary hepatic tumor.
PMCID: PMC4055753  PMID: 24921248
12.  The Pathology of Severe Dengue in Multiple Organs of Human Fatal Cases: Histopathology, Ultrastructure and Virus Replication 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e83386.
Dengue is a public health problem, with several gaps in understanding its pathogenesis. Studies based on human fatal cases are extremely important and may clarify some of these gaps. In this work, we analyzed lesions in different organs of four dengue fatal cases, occurred in Brazil. Tissues were prepared for visualization in optical and electron microscopy, with damages quantification. As expected, we observed in all studied organ lesions characteristic of severe dengue, such as hemorrhage and edema, although other injuries were also detected. Cases presented necrotic areas in the liver and diffuse macro and microsteatosis, which were more accentuated in case 1, who also had obesity. The lung was the most affected organ, with hyaline membrane formation associated with mononuclear infiltrates in patients with pre-existing diseases such as diabetes and obesity (cases 1 and 2, respectively). These cases had also extensive acute tubular necrosis in the kidney. Infection induced destruction of cardiac fibers in most cases, with absence of nucleus and loss of striations, suggesting myocarditis. Spleens revealed significant destruction of the germinal centers and atrophy of lymphoid follicles, which may be associated to decrease of T cell number. Circulatory disturbs were reinforced by the presence of megakaryocytes in alveolar spaces, thrombus formation in glomerular capillaries and loss of endothelium in several tissues. Besides histopathological and ultrastructural observations, virus replication were investigated by detection of dengue antigens, especially the non-structural 3 protein (NS3), and confirmed by the presence of virus RNA negative strand (in situ hybridization), with second staining for identification of some cells. Results showed that dengue had broader tropism comparing to what was described before in literature, replicating in hepatocytes, type II pneumocytes and cardiac fibers, as well as in resident and circulating monocytes/macrophages and endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3987999  PMID: 24736395
13.  MicroRNA-135b Promotes Cancer Progression by Acting as a Downstream Effector of Oncogenic Pathways in Colon Cancer 
Cancer Cell  2014;25(4):469-483.
MicroRNA deregulation is frequent in human colorectal cancers (CRCs), but little is known as to whether it represents a bystander event or actually drives tumor progression in vivo. We show that miR-135b overexpression is triggered in mice and humans by APC loss, PTEN/PI3K pathway deregulation, and SRC overexpression and promotes tumor transformation and progression. We show that miR-135b upregulation is common in sporadic and inflammatory bowel disease-associated human CRCs and correlates with tumor stage and poor clinical outcome. Inhibition of miR-135b in CRC mouse models reduces tumor growth by controlling genes involved in proliferation, invasion, and apoptosis. We identify miR-135b as a key downsteam effector of oncogenic pathways and a potential target for CRC treatment.
•miR-135b is overexpressed in mouse and human colorectal cancer•miR-135b overexpression is associated with poor clinical outcome•miR-135b activation is triggered by oncogenic pathways in colorectal cancer•miR-135b represents a therapeutic target for colorectal cancer
Valeri et al. identify miR-135b as a key oncogenic pathway effector involved in transformation and colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. Upregulation of miR-135b in human CRCs correlates with poor clinical outcome. miR-135b targets several tumor suppressor genes and is a potential target for CRC therapy.
PMCID: PMC3995091  PMID: 24735923
14.  mir-125a-5p-mediated Regulation of Lfng is Essential for the Avian Segmentation Clock 
Developmental cell  2013;24(5):554-561.
Somites are embryonic precursors of the axial skeleton and skeletal muscles, and establish the segmental vertebrate body plan. Somitogenesis is controlled in part by a segmentation clock that requires oscillatory expression of genes including Lunatic fringe (Lfng). Oscillatory genes must be tightly regulated both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels for proper clock function. Here we demonstrate that microRNA-mediated regulation of Lfng is essential for proper segmentation during chick somitogenesis. We find that mir-125a-5p targets evolutionarily conserved sequences in the Lfng 3′UTR, and that preventing interactions between mir-125a-5p and Lfng transcripts in vivo causes abnormal segmentation and perturbs clock activity. This provides strong evidence that miRNAs function in the post-transcriptional regulation of oscillatory genes in the segmentation clock. Further, this demonstrates that the relatively subtle effects of miRNAs on target genes can have broad effects in developmental situations that have critical requirements for tight post-transcriptional regulation.
PMCID: PMC3799988  PMID: 23484856
15.  Fibulin-3 promotes glioma growth and resistance through a novel paracrine regulation of Notch signaling 
Cancer research  2012;72(15):3873-3885.
Malignant gliomas are highly invasive and chemoresistant brain tumors with extremely poor prognosis. Targeting of the soluble factors that trigger invasion and resistance therefore could have a significant impact against the infiltrative glioma cells that are a major source of recurrence. Fibulin-3 is a matrix protein that is absent in normal brain but upregulated in gliomas and promotes tumor invasion by unknown mechanisms. Here, we show that fibulin-3 is a novel soluble activator of Notch signaling that antagonizes DLL3, an autocrine inhibitor or Notch, and promotes tumor cell survival and invasion in a Notch-dependent manner. Using a strategy for inducible knockdown, we found that controlled downregulation of fibulin-3 reduced Notch signaling and led to increased apoptosis, reduced self-renewal of glioblastoma initiating cells, and impaired growth and dispersion of intracranial tumors. In addition, fibulin-3 expression correlated with expression levels of Notch-dependent genes and was a marker of Notch activation in patient-derived glioma samples. These findings underscore a major role for the tumor extracellular matrix in regulating glioma invasion and resistance to apoptosis via activation of the key Notch pathway. More importantly, this work describes a non-canonical, soluble activator of Notch in a cancer model and demonstrates how Notch signaling can be reduced by targeting tumor-specific accessible molecules in the tumor microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3896095  PMID: 22665268
Notch pathway; glioma invasion; chemoresistance extracellular matrix; fibulins; DLL3
16.  Cell Carriage, Delivery, and Selective Replication of an Oncolytic Virus in Tumor in Patients 
Science translational medicine  2012;4(138):138ra77.
Oncolytic viruses, which preferentially lyse cancer cells and stimulate an antitumor immune response, represent a promising approach to the treatment of cancer. However, how they evade the antiviral immune response and their selective delivery to, and replication in, tumor over normal tissue has not been investigated in humans. Here,we treated patients with a single cycle of intravenous reovirus before planned surgery to resect colorectal cancer metastases in the liver. Tracking the viral genome in the circulation showed that reovirus could be detected in plasma and blood mononuclear, granulocyte, and platelet cell compartments after infusion. Despite the presence of neutralizing antibodies before viral infusion in all patients, replication-competent reovirus that retained cytotoxicity was recovered from blood cells but not plasma, suggesting that transport by cells could protect virus for potential delivery to tumors. Analysis of surgical specimens demonstrated greater, preferential expression of reovirus protein in malignant cells compared to either tumor stroma or surrounding normal liver tissue. There was evidence of viral factories within tumor, and recovery of replicating virus from tumor (but not normal liver)was achieved in all four patients from whom fresh tissue was available. Hence, reovirus could be protected from neutralizing antibodies after systemic administration by immune cell carriage, which delivered reovirus to tumor.These findings suggest new preclinical and clinical scheduling and treatment combination strategies to enhance in vivo immune evasion and effective intravenous delivery of oncolytic viruses to patients in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3893925  PMID: 22700953
17.  miR-221 silencing blocks hepatocellular carcinoma and promotes survival 
Cancer research  2011;71(24):7608-7616.
Patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) face a dismal prognosis due to a lack of any effective therapies. To address this situation, we conducted a preclinical investigation of the therapeutic efficacy of oligonucleotides directed against the oncogenic microRNA miR-221 which has been implicated in HCC. Of 9 chemistries evaluated, we determined that a 2′-O-methyl phosphorothioate-modified anti-miR-221 oligonucleotide was most effective at reducing proliferation in vitro. A cholesterol-modified isoform of anti-miR-221 (chol-anti-miR-221) exhibited improved pharmacokinetics and liver tissue distribution compared to unmodified oligonucleotide. Chol-anti-miR-221 significantly reduced miR-221 levels in liver within a week of intravenous administration and in situ hybridization studies confirmed accumulation of the oligonucleotide in tumor cells in vivo. Within the same period, chol-anti-miR-221 reduced tumor cell proliferation and increased markers of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, elevating the tumor doubling time and increasing mouse survival. Taken together, our findings offer a preclinical proof of efficacy for chol-anti-miR-221 in a valid orthotopic mouse model of HCC, suggesting that this targeted agent could benefit treatment of advanced HCC patients.
PMCID: PMC3773601  PMID: 22009537
microRNA; antisense; antagomiR; HCC; liver
18.  MiR-34a/c-Dependent PDGFR-α/β Downregulation Inhibits Tumorigenesis and Enhances TRAIL-Induced Apoptosis in Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67581.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the world today. Although some advances in lung cancer therapy have been made, patient survival is still poor. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can act as oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes in human malignancy. The miR-34 family consists of tumor-suppressive miRNAs, and its reduced expression has been reported in various cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this study, we found that miR-34a and miR-34c target platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha and beta (PDGFR-α and PDGFR-β), cell surface tyrosine kinase receptors that induce proliferation, migration and invasion in cancer. MiR-34a and miR-34c were downregulated in lung tumors compared to normal tissues. Moreover, we identified an inverse correlation between PDGFR-α/β and miR-34a/c expression in lung tumor samples. Finally, miR-34a/c overexpression or downregulation of PDGFR-α/β by siRNAs, strongly augmented the response to TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) while reducing migratory and invasive capacity of NSCLC cells.
PMCID: PMC3689725  PMID: 23805317
19.  MicroRNA signatures associate with pathogenesis and progression of osteosarcoma 
Cancer Research  2012;72(7):1865-1877.
Osteosarcoma remains a leading cause of cancer death in adolescents. Treatment paradigms and survival rates have not improved in two decades. Driving the lack of therapeutic inroads, the molecular etiology of osteosarcoma remains elusive. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have demonstrated far-reaching effects on the cellular biology of development and cancer. Their role in osteosarcomagenesis remains largely unexplored. Here we identify for the first time an miRNA signature reflecting the pathogenesis of osteosarcoma from surgically procured samples from human patients. The signature includes high expression of miR-181a, miR-181b, and miR-181c as well as reduced expression of miR-16, miR-29b, and miR-142-5p. We also demonstrate that miR-181b and miR-29b exhibit restricted expression to distinct cell populations in the tumor tissue. Further, higher expression of miR-27a and miR-181c* in pre-treatment biopsy samples characterized patients who developed clinical metastatic disease. In addition, higher expression of miR-451 and miR-15b in pre-treatment samples correlated with subsequent positive response to chemotherapy. In vitro and in vivo functional validation in osteosarcoma cell lines confirmed the tumor suppressive role of miR-16 and the pro-metastatic role of miR-27a. Furthermore, predicted target genes for miR-16 and miR-27a were confirmed as down-regulated by real-time PCR. Affymetrix array profiling of cDNAs from the osteosarcoma specimens and controls were interrogated according to predicted targets of miR-16, miR142-5p, miR-29b, miR-181a/b, and miR-27a. This analysis revealed positive and negative correlations highlighting pathways of known importance to osteosarcoma, as well as novel genes. Thus, our findings establish a miRNA signature associated with pathogenesis of osteosarcoma as well as critical pre-treatment biomarkers of metastasis and responsiveness to therapy.
PMCID: PMC3328547  PMID: 22350417
osteosarcoma; microRNA; chemotherapy; metastasis-related miRs; gene array
20.  The Fanconi Anemia Pathway Limits Human Papillomavirus Replication 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(15):8131-8138.
High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) deregulate epidermal differentiation and cause anogenital and head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). The E7 gene is considered the predominant viral oncogene and drives proliferation and genome instability. While the implementation of routine screens has greatly reduced the incidence of cervical cancers which are almost exclusively HPV positive, the proportion of HPV-positive head and neck SCCs is on the rise. High levels of HPV oncogene expression and genome load are linked to disease progression, but genetic risk factors that regulate oncogene abundance and/or genome amplification remain poorly understood. Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genome instability syndrome characterized at least in part by extreme susceptibility to SCCs. FA results from mutations in one of 15 genes in the FA pathway, whose protein products assemble in the nucleus and play important roles in DNA damage repair. We report here that loss of FA pathway components FANCA and FANCD2 stimulates E7 protein accumulation in human keratinocytes and causes increased epithelial proliferation and basal cell layer expansion in the HPV-positive epidermis. Additionally, FANCD2 loss stimulates HPV genome amplification in differentiating cells, demonstrating that the intact FA pathway functions to restrict the HPV life cycle. These findings raise the possibility that FA genes suppress HPV infection and disease and suggest possible mechanism(s) for reported associations of HPV with an FA cohort in Brazil and for allelic variation of FA genes with HPV persistence in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3421690  PMID: 22623785
21.  MiR-101 and miR-144 Regulate the Expression of the CFTR Chloride Channel in the Lung 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50837.
The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR) is a chloride channel that plays a critical role in the lung by maintaining fluid homeostasis. Absence or malfunction of CFTR leads to Cystic Fibrosis, a disease characterized by chronic infection and inflammation. We recently reported that air pollutants such as cigarette smoke and cadmium negatively regulate the expression of CFTR by affecting several steps in the biogenesis of CFTR protein. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently received a great deal of attention as both biomarkers and therapeutics due to their ability to regulate multiple genes. Here, we show that cigarette smoke and cadmium up-regulate the expression of two miRNAs (miR-101 and miR-144) that are predicted to target CFTR in human bronchial epithelial cells. When premature miR-101 and miR-144 were transfected in human airway epithelial cells, they directly targeted the CFTR 3′UTR and suppressed the expression of the CFTR protein. Since miR-101 was highly up-regulated by cigarette smoke in vitro, we investigated whether such increase also occurred in vivo. Mice exposed to cigarette smoke for 4 weeks demonstrated an up-regulation of miR-101 and suppression of CFTR protein in their lungs. Finally, we show that miR-101 is highly expressed in lung samples from patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) when compared to control patients. Taken together, these results suggest that chronic cigarette smoking up-regulates miR-101 and that this miRNA could contribute to suppression of CFTR in the lungs of COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3511328  PMID: 23226399
22.  Transcription Factor ets-2 Plays an Important Role in the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Ets-2 is a ubiquitous transcription factor activated after phosphorylation at threonine-72. Previous studies highlighted the importance of phosphorylated ets-2 in lung inflammation and extracellular matrix remodeling, two pathways involved in pulmonary fibrosis. We hypothesized that phosphorylated ets-2 played an important role in pulmonary fibrosis, and we sought to determine the role of ets-2 in its pathogenesis. We challenged ets-2 (A72/A72) transgenic mice (harboring a mutated form of ets-2 at phosphorylation site threonine-72) and ets-2 (wild-type/wild-type [WT/WT]) control mice with sequential intraperitoneal injections of bleomycin, followed by quantitative measurements of lung fibrosis and inflammation and primary cell in vitro assays. Concentrations of phosphorylated ets-2 were detected via the single and dual immunohistochemical staining of murine lungs and lung sections from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Ets-2 (A72/A72) mice were protected from bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, compared with ets-2 (WT/WT) mice. This protection was characterized by decreased lung pathological abnormalities and the fibrotic gene expression of Type I collagen, Type III collagen, α–smooth muscle actin, and connective tissue growth factor. Immunohistochemical staining of lung sections from bleomycin-treated ets-2 (WT/WT) mice and from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis demonstrated increased staining of phosphorylated ets-2 that colocalized with Type I collagen expression and to fibroblastic foci. Lastly, primary lung fibroblasts from ets-2 (A72/A72) mice exhibited decreased expression of Type I collagen in response to stimulation with TGF-β, compared with fibroblasts from ets-2 (WT/WT) mice. These data indicate the importance of phosphorylated ets-2 in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis through the expression of Type I collagen and (myo)fibroblast activation.
PMCID: PMC3262682  PMID: 21562315
ets-2; Type I collagen; pulmonary fibrosis; bleomycin; fibroblast
23.  The distribution of immunomodulatory cells in the lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 
Modern Pathology  2011;25(3):416-433.
We have characterized the immune system involvement in the disease processes of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in novel ways. To do so, we analyzed lung tissue from 21 cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and 21 (non-fibrotic, non-cancerous) controls for immune cell and inflammation-related markers. The immunohistochemical analysis of the tissue was grouped by patterns of severity in disease pathology. There were significantly greater numbers of CD68+ and CD80+ cells, and significantly fewer CD3+, CD4+, and CD45RO+ cells in areas of relatively (histologically) normal lung in biopsies from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients compared to controls. In zones of active disease, characterized by epithelial cell regeneration and fibrosis, there were significantly more cells expressing CD4, CD8, CD20, CD68, CD80, CCR6, S100, IL-17, tumor necrosis factor-α, and retinoic acid-related orphan receptors compared to histologically normal lung areas from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients. Inflammation was implicated in these active regions by the cells that expressed retinoid orphan receptor-α, -β, and -γ, CCR6, and IL-17. The regenerating epithelial cells predominantly expressed these pro-inflammatory molecules, as evidenced by co-expression analyses with epithelial cytokeratins. Macrophages in pseudo-alveoli and CD3+ T cells in the fibrotic interstitium also expressed IL-17. Co-expression of IL-17 with retinoid orphan receptors, and epithelial cytoskeletal proteins, CD68, and CD3 in epithelial cells, macrophages, and T-cells, respectively, confirmed the production of IL-17 by these cell types. There was little staining for Foxp3, CD56, or CD34 in any idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis lung regions. The fibrotic regions had fewer immune cells overall. In summary, our study shows participation of innate and adaptive mononuclear cells in active-disease regions of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis lung, where the regenerating epithelial cells appear to propagate inflammation. The regenerative mechanisms become skewed to ultimately result in lethal, fibrotic restriction of lung function.
PMCID: PMC3270219  PMID: 22037258
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; co-expression analysis; immunohistochemistry; inflammation; IL-17; retinoic acid-related orphan receptors; usual interstitial pneumonia
24.  Correction: Evaluation of MCM-2 Expression in TMA Cervical Specimens 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):10.1371/annotation/1c0339c8-6f44-4e63-b3a6-bf49b18a0292.
PMCID: PMC3328511
25.  A comparison of clinically utilized human papillomavirus detection methods in head and neck cancer 
Detection of human papillomavirus in head and neck cancer has therapeutic implications. In-situ hybridization and immuno-histochemistry for p16 are used by surgical pathologists. We compared the sensitivity and specificity of three popular commercial tests for human papillomavirus detection in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas to a “gold standard” human papillomavirus PCR assay. One hundred-and-ten prospectively collected, formalin fixed tumor specimens were compiled onto tissue microarrays and tested for human papillomavirus DNA by in-situ hybridization with two probe sets: a biotinylated probe for high-risk human papillomavirus types 16/18 (Dako, CA), and a probe cocktail for 16/18 plus 10 additional high-risk types (Ventana, AZ). P16INK4 expression was also assessed using a Pharmingen immuno-histochemistry antibody (BD Biosciences, CA). Tissue microarrays were stained and scored at expert laboratories. Human papillomavirus DNA was detected by MY09/11-PCR using Gold AmpliTaq and dot-blot hybridization on matched fresh frozen specimens in a research laboratory. Human papillomavirus 16 E6 and E7-RNA expression was also measured using RT-PCR. Test performance was assessed by receiver operating characteristic analysis. High-risk human papillomavirus DNA types 16, 18 and 35 were detected by MY-PCR in 28% of tumors, with the majority (97%) testing positive for type 16. Compared to MY-PCR, the sensitivity and specificity for high-risk human papillomavirus DNA detection with Dako in-situ hybridization was 21% (95%CI:7–42) and 100% (95%CI:93–100), respectively. Corresponding test results by Ventana in-situ hybridization were 59% (95%CI:39–78) and 58% (95%CI:45–71), respectively. P16 immuno-histochemistry performed better overall than Dako (p=0.042) and Ventana (p=0.055), with a sensitivity of 52% (95%CI:32–71) and specificity of 93% (95%CI:84–98). Compared to a gold standard human papillomavirus PCR assays, HPV detection by in-situ hybridization was less accurate for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma on tissue microarrays than p16 immuno-histochemistry. Further testing is warranted before these assays should be recommended for clinical human papillomavirus detection.
PMCID: PMC3157570  PMID: 21572401
human papillomavirus; head and neck neoplasms; PCR; in-situ hybridization; immuno-histochemistry; p16; diagnostic methods

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