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1.  Protein Kinase C Beta in the Tumor Microenvironment Promotes Mammary Tumorigenesis 
Protein kinase C beta (PKCβ) expression in breast cancer is associated with a more aggressive tumor phenotype, yet the mechanism for how PKCβ is pro-tumorigenic in this disease is still unclear. Interestingly, while it is known that PKCβ mediates angiogenesis, immunity, fibroblast function and adipogenesis, all components of the mammary tumor microenvironment (TME), no study to date has investigated whether stromal PKCβ is functionally relevant in breast cancer. Herein, we evaluate mouse mammary tumor virus–polyoma middle T-antigen (MMTV–PyMT) induced mammary tumorigenesis in the presence and absence of PKCβ. We utilize two model systems: one where PKCβ is deleted in both the epithelial and stromal compartments to test the global requirement for PKCβ on tumor formation, and second, where PKCβ is deleted only in the stromal compartment to test its role in the TME. MMTV–PyMT mice globally lacking PKCβ live longer and develop smaller tumors with decreased proliferation and decreased macrophage infiltration. Similarly, when PKCβ is null exclusively in the stroma, PyMT-driven B6 cells form smaller tumors with diminished collagen deposition. These experiments reveal for the first time a tumor promoting role for stromal PKCβ in MMTV–PyMT tumorigenesis. In corroboration with these results, PKCβ mRNA (Prkcb) is increased in fibroblasts isolated from MMTV–PyMT tumors. These data were confirmed in a breast cancer patient cohort. Combined these data suggest the continued investigation of PKCβ in the mammary TME is necessary to elucidate how to effectively target this signaling pathway in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4006052  PMID: 24795864
protein kinase C beta; breast cancer; mammary neoplasms (experimental); tumor microenvironment; stroma; fibroblasts
2.  MicroRNA-128 coordinately targets Polycomb Repressor Complexes in glioma stem cells 
Neuro-Oncology  2013;15(9):1212-1224.
The Polycomb Repressor Complex (PRC) is an epigenetic regulator of transcription whose action is mediated by 2 protein complexes, PRC1 and PRC2. PRC is oncogenic in glioblastoma, where it is involved in cancer stem cell maintenance and radioresistance.
We used a set of glioblastoma patient samples, glioma stem cells, and neural stem cells from a mouse model of glioblastoma. We characterized gene/protein expression and cellular phenotypes by quantitative PCR/Western blotting and clonogenic, cell-cycle, and DNA damage assays. We performed overexpression/knockdown studies by lentiviral infection and microRNA/small interfering RNA oligonucleotide transfection.
We show that microRNA-128 (miR-128) directly targets mRNA of SUZ12, a key component of PRC2, in addition to BMI1, a component of PRC1 that we previously showed as a target as well. This blocks the partially redundant functions of PRC1/PRC2, thereby significantly reducing PRC activity and its associated histone modifications. MiR-128 and SUZ12/BMI1 show opposite expression in human glioblastomas versus normal brain and in glioma stemlike versus neural stem cells. Furthermore, miR-128 renders glioma stemlike cells less radioresistant by preventing the radiation-induced expression of both PRC components. Finally, miR-128 expression is significantly reduced in neural stem cells from the brain of young, presymptomatic mice in our mouse model of glioblastoma. This suggests that loss of miR-128 expression in brain is an early event in gliomagenesis. Moreover, knockdown of miR-128 expression in nonmalignant mouse and human neural stem cells led to elevated expression of PRC components and increased clonogenicity.
MiR-128 is an important suppressor of PRC activity, and its absence is an early event in gliomagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3748913  PMID: 23733246
glioblastoma; gliomagenesis; glioma stem cells; glioma therapy; microRNA
3.  Loss of fibroblast HIF-1α accelerates tumorigenesis 
Cancer research  2012;72(13):3187-3195.
Solid tumors consist of malignant cells and associated stromal components, including fibroblastic cells that contribute to tumor growth and progression. Although tumor fibrosis and aberrant vascularization contribute to the hypoxia often found in advanced tumors, the contribution of hypoxic signaling within tumor-associated fibroblasts to tumorigenesis remains unknown. In this study, we used a fibroblast-specific promoter to create mice in which key hypoxia regulatory genes, including VHL, HIF-1α, HIF-2α and VEGF-A, were knocked out specifically in tumor stromal fibroblasts. We found that loss of HIF-1α and its target gene VEGF-A accelerated tumor growth in murine model of mammary cancer. HIF-1α and VEGF-A loss also led to a reduction in vascular density and myeloid cell infiltration, which correlated with improved tumor perfusion. Together, our findings indicate that the fibroblast HIF-1α response is a critical component of tumor vascularization.
PMCID: PMC4089958  PMID: 22556263
fibroblast; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor-1
4.  MicroRNA 17-92 Cluster Mediates ETS1 and ETS2-Dependent RAS-Oncogenic Transformation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100693.
The ETS-family transcription factors Ets1 and Ets2 are evolutionarily conserved effectors of the RAS/ERK signaling pathway, but their function in Ras cellular transformation and biology remains unclear. Taking advantage of Ets1 and Ets2 mouse models to generate Ets1/Ets2 double knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we demonstrate that deletion of both Ets1 and Ets2 was necessary to inhibit HrasG12V induced transformation both in vitro and in vivo. HrasG12V expression in mouse embryonic fibroblasts increased ETS1 and ETS2 expression and binding to cis-regulatory elements on the c-Myc proximal promoter, and consequently induced a robust increase in MYC expression. The expression of the oncogenic microRNA 17-92 cluster was increased in HrasG12V transformed cells, but was significantly reduced when ETS1 and ETS2 were absent. MYC and ETS1 or ETS2 collaborated to increase expression of the oncogenic microRNA 17-92 cluster in HrasG12V transformed cells. Enforced expression of exogenous MYC or microRNA 17-92 rescued HrasG12V transformation in Ets1/Ets2-null cells, revealing a direct function for MYC and microRNA 17-92 in ETS1/ETS2-dependent HrasG12V transformation.
PMCID: PMC4072627  PMID: 24968297
5.  Pten in the Breast Tumor Microenvironment: Modeling Tumor-Stroma Co-Evolution 
Cancer research  2011;71(4):1203-1207.
Solid human tumors and their surrounding microenvironment are hypothesized to co-evolve in a manner that promotes tumor growth, invasiveness and spread. Mouse models of cancer have focused on genetic changes in the epithelial tumor cells and therefore have not robustly tested this hypothesis. We have recently developed a murine breast cancer model that ablates the PTEN tumor suppressor pathway in stromal fibroblasts. Remarkably, the model resembles human breast tumors both at morphologic and molecular levels. We propose that such models reflect subtypes of tumor-stromal co-evolution relevant to human breast cancer, and will therefore be useful in defining the mechanisms that underpin tumor-stroma crosstalk. Additionally, these models should also aid in molecularly classifying human breast tumors based on both the microenvironment subtypes they contain as well as on the tumor subtype.
PMCID: PMC3075554  PMID: 21303970
6.  Ambient Air Pollution Exaggerates Adipose Inflammation and Insulin Resistance in a Mouse Model of Diet-Induced Obesity 
Circulation  2009;119(4):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.799015.
There is a strong link between urbanization and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although a multitude of mechanisms have been proposed, there are no studies evaluating the impact of ambient air pollutants and the propensity to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus. We hypothesized that exposure to ambient fine particulate matter (<2.5 μm; PM2.5) exaggerates diet-induced insulin resistance, adipose inflammation, and visceral adiposity.
Methods and Results
Male C57BL/6 mice were fed high-fat chow for 10 weeks and randomly assigned to concentrated ambient PM2.5 or filtered air (n=14 per group) for 24 weeks. PM2.5-exposed C57BL/6 mice exhibited marked whole-body insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and an increase in visceral adiposity. PM2.5 exposure induced signaling abnormalities characteristic of insulin resistance, including decreased Akt and endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylation in the endothelium and increased protein kinase C expression. These abnormalilties were associated with abnormalities in vascular relaxation to insulin and acetylcholine. PM2.5 increased adipose tissue macrophages (F4/80+ cells) in visceral fat expressing higher levels of tumor necrosis factor-α/interleukin-6 and lower interleukin-10/N-acetyl-galactosamine specific lectin 1. To test the impact of PM2.5 in eliciting direct monocyte infiltration into fat, we rendered FVBN mice expressing yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) under control of a monocyte-specific promoter (c-fms, c-fmsYFP) diabetic over 10 weeks and then exposed these mice to PM2.5 or saline intratracheally. PM2.5 induced YFP cell accumulation in visceral fat and potentiated YFP cell adhesion in the microcirculation.
PM2.5 exposure exaggerates insulin resistance and visceral inflammation/adiposity. These findings provide a new link between air pollution and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC3845676  PMID: 19153269
air pollution; diabetes mellitus; macrophage; obesity
7.  Analysis of the IKKβ/NF-κB Signaling Pathway during Embryonic Angiogenesis 
The NF-κB signaling pathway regulates cellular growth, survival, differentiation and development. In this study, the functions of IκB kinase (IKK)β in angiogenesis during mouse development were examined. Conditional disruption of the Ikkβ locus in endothelial cells using the well-characterized Tie2-Cre transgene resulted in embryonic lethality between E13.5-15.5. Examination of the mutant embryos revealed that while deletion of Ikkβ occurred in endothelial cells throughout the embryo, only the vascular network in the fetal liver was affected. Disruption of the fetal liver vasculature was accompanied by decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis of hepatocytes, but hematopoiesis was not affected. Increased apoptosis was not observed outside of fetal liver in the mutant embryos. These results indicate that the IKKβ/NF-κB pathway plays a previously unappreciated role in development of the sinusoidal vasculature in the fetal liver and additionally that this pathway is critical in the crosstalk between endothelial cells and hepatocytes during mouse development.
PMCID: PMC2998709  PMID: 18816823
IKK (IκB kinase); Angiogenesis; Development
8.  Ets2 in Tumor Fibroblasts Promotes Angiogenesis in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71533.
Tumor fibroblasts are active partners in tumor progression, but the genes and pathways that mediate this collaboration are ill-defined. Previous work demonstrates that Ets2 function in stromal cells significantly contributes to breast tumor progression. Conditional mouse models were used to study the function of Ets2 in both mammary stromal fibroblasts and epithelial cells. Conditional inactivation of Ets2 in stromal fibroblasts in PyMT and ErbB2 driven tumors significantly reduced tumor growth, however deletion of Ets2 in epithelial cells in the PyMT model had no significant effect. Analysis of gene expression in fibroblasts revealed a tumor- and Ets2-dependent gene signature that was enriched in genes important for ECM remodeling, cell migration, and angiogenesis in both PyMT and ErbB2 driven-tumors. Consistent with these results, PyMT and ErbB2 tumors lacking Ets2 in fibroblasts had fewer functional blood vessels, and Ets2 in fibroblasts elicited changes in gene expression in tumor endothelial cells consistent with this phenotype. An in vivo angiogenesis assay revealed the ability of Ets2 in fibroblasts to promote blood vessel formation in the absence of tumor cells. Importantly, the Ets2-dependent gene expression signatures from both mouse models were able to distinguish human breast tumor stroma from normal stroma, and correlated with patient outcomes in two whole tumor breast cancer data sets. The data reveals a key function for Ets2 in tumor fibroblasts in signaling to endothelial cells to promote tumor angiogenesis. The results highlight the collaborative networks that orchestrate communication between stromal cells and tumor cells, and suggest that targeting tumor fibroblasts may be an effective strategy for developing novel anti-angiogenic therapies.
PMCID: PMC3745457  PMID: 23977064
9.  Pten in Stromal Fibroblasts Suppresses Mammary Epithelial Tumors 
Nature  2009;461(7267):1084-1091.
The tumor stroma is believed to contribute to some of the most malignant characteristics of epithelial tumors. However, signaling between stromal and tumor cells is complex and remains poorly understood. Here we show that the genetic inactivation of Pten in stromal fibroblasts of mouse mammary glands accelerated the initiation, progression and malignant transformation of mammary epithelial tumors. This was associated with the massive remodeling of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), innate immune cell infiltration and increased angiogenesis. Loss of Pten in stromal fibroblasts led to increased expression, phosphorylation (T72) and recruitment of Ets2 to target promoters known to be involved in these processes. Remarkably, Ets2 inactivation in Pten stroma-deleted tumors ameliorated disruption of the tumor microenvironment and was sufficient to decrease tumor growth and progression. Global gene expression profiling of mammary stromal cells identified a Pten-specific signature that was highly represented in the tumor stroma of breast cancer patients. These findings identify the Pten-Ets2 axis as a critical stroma-specific signaling pathway that suppresses mammary epithelial tumors.
PMCID: PMC2767301  PMID: 19847259
10.  Transcription factor ATF3 links host adaptive response to breast cancer metastasis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(7):2893-2906.
Host response to cancer signals has emerged as a key factor in cancer development; however, the underlying molecular mechanism is not well understood. In this report, we demonstrate that activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3), a hub of the cellular adaptive response network, plays an important role in host cells to enhance breast cancer metastasis. Immunohistochemical analysis of patient tumor samples revealed that expression of ATF3 in stromal mononuclear cells, but not cancer epithelial cells, is correlated with worse clinical outcomes and is an independent predictor for breast cancer death. This finding was corroborated by data from mouse models showing less efficient breast cancer metastasis in Atf3-deficient mice than in WT mice. Further, mice with myeloid cell–selective KO of Atf3 showed fewer lung metastases, indicating that host ATF3 facilitates metastasis, at least in part, by its function in macrophage/myeloid cells. Gene profiling analyses of macrophages from mouse tumors identified an ATF3-regulated gene signature that could distinguish human tumor stroma from distant stroma and could predict clinical outcomes, lending credence to our mouse models. In conclusion, we identified ATF3 as a regulator in myeloid cells that enhances breast cancer metastasis and has predictive value for clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3696548  PMID: 23921126
11.  A mouse model of yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) expression in hematopoietic cells to assess leukocyte–endothelial interactions in the microcirculation 
Microvascular research  2009;78(3):294-300.
In this study, we describe the use of intravital microscopy in a transgenic mouse model expressing yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) under the control of a monocyte specific promoter c-fms (CD115) to track and quantify specific leukocyte subsets. Flow cytometry on peripheral and bone marrow leukocytes revealed that YFP was predominantly expressed by CD11a+, CD11b+, and CD14+ monocytes. In the bone marrow, 67±4% of Ly6Chigh F4/80+ cells were YFPhigh while 55±1% of Ly6Clow F4/80+ cells were YFPlow supporting the use of c-fmsYFP expression as a marker of monocyte lineage. 70±7% of CD11b+ F4/80+ Ly6C+ (“triple positive”) cells expressed YFP. To assess leukocyte–endothelial interactions in YFP+ cells in c-fmsYFP+ mice, we evaluated leukocyte adhesion, rolling and local shear stress responses in the cremasteric endothelium 4 h following administration of TNFα. TNFα resulted in a five-fold increase in adhesion of YFP+ cells to the endothelium and provided superior discriminative ability in assessing rolling and adhesion events when compared with bright field microscopy. Additionally, when compared with Rhodamine-6G labeled leukocytes or GFP+ cells in mice transplanted with green fluorescent protein (GFP) positive bone marrow, the level of detail observed in the c-fmsYFP+ was greater, with both GFP+ and YFP+ cells demonstrating superior signal to noise compared to bright field microscopy. A weak positive linear correlation between wall shear stress and YFP+ cell adhesion (r2=0.20, p<0.05) was seen in the cremasteric microcirculation. Taken together, these data demonstrate the use of c-fmsYFP+ mice in identifying distinct monocyte subsets and highlight the potential of this model for real-time monocyte–endothelial interactions using intravital microscopy.
PMCID: PMC3073496  PMID: 19682464
Yellow fluorescent protein (YFP); Leukocyte; Intravital microscopy; Adhesion; Monocyte
12.  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
13.  Microphthalmia-associated Transcription Factor Interactions with 14-3-3 Modulate Differentiation of Committed Myeloid Precursors 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(9):3897-3906.
The microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is required for terminal osteoclast differentiation and is a target for signaling pathways engaged by colony stimulating factor (CSF)-1 and receptor-activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL). Work presented here demonstrates that MITF can shuttle from cytoplasm to nucleus dependent upon RANKL/CSF-1 action. 14-3-3 was identified as a binding partner of MITF in osteoclast precursors, and overexpression of 14-3-3 in a transgenic model resulted in increased cytosolic localization of MITF and decreased expression of MITF target genes. MITF/14-3-3 interaction was phosphorylation dependent, and Ser173 residue, within the minimal interaction region of amino acid residues 141–191, was required. The Cdc25C-associated kinase (C-TAK)1 interacted with an overlapping region of MITF. C-TAK1 increased MITF/14-3-3 complex formation and thus promoted cytoplasmic localization of MITF. C-TAK1 interaction was disrupted by RANKL/CSF-1 treatment. The results indicate that 14-3-3 regulates MITF activity by promoting the cytosolic localization of MITF in the absence of signals required for osteoclast differentiation. This work identifies a mechanism that regulates MITF activity in monocytic precursors that are capable of undergoing different terminal differentiation programs, and it provides a mechanism that allows committed precursors to rapidly respond to signals in the bone microenvironment to promote specifically osteoclast differentiation.
PMCID: PMC1593166  PMID: 16822840
14.  NF-κB Signaling in Fetal Lung Macrophages Disrupts Airway Morphogenesis 
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a common pulmonary complication of extreme prematurity. Arrested lung development leads to bronchopulmonary dysplasia, but the molecular pathways that cause this arrest are unclear. Lung injury and inflammation increase disease risk, but the cellular site of the inflammatory response and the potential role of localized inflammatory signaling in inhibiting lung morphogenesis are not known. Here we show that tissue macrophages present in the fetal mouse lung mediate the inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide and that macrophage activation inhibits airway morphogenesis. Macrophage depletion or targeted inactivation of the NF-κB signaling pathway protected airway branching in cultured lung explants from the effects of lipopolysaccharide. Macrophages also appear to be the primary cellular site of IL-1β production following lipopolysaccharide exposure. Conversely, targeted NF-κB activation in transgenic macrophages was sufficient to inhibit airway morphogenesis. Macrophage activation in vivo inhibited expression of multiple genes critical for normal lung development, leading to thickened lung interstitium, reduced airway branching, and perinatal death. We propose that fetal lung macrophage activation contributes to bronchopulmonary dysplasia by generating a localized inflammatory response that disrupts developmental signals critical for lung formation.
PMCID: PMC3159744  PMID: 21775686
15.  NF-kappaB activation within macrophages leads to an anti-tumor phenotype in a mammary tumor lung metastasis model 
Metastasis from primary tumor to the lungs is a major cause of the mortality associated with breast cancer. Both immune and inflammatory responses impact whether circulating mammary tumor cells successfully colonize the lungs leading to established metastases. Nuclear factor -kappaB (NF-κB) transcription factors regulate both immune and inflammatory responses mediated in part by the activities of macrophages. Therefore, NF-κB activity specifically within macrophages may be a critical determinant of whether circulating tumor cells successfully colonize the lungs.
To investigate NF-κB signaling within macrophages during metastasis, we developed novel inducible transgenic models which target expression of the reverse tetracycline transactivator (rtTA) to macrophages using the cfms promoter in combination with inducible transgenics that express either an activator (cIKK2) or an inhibitor (IκBα-DN). Doxycyline treatment led to activation or inhibition of NF-κB within macrophages. We used a tail vein metastasis model with mammary tumor cell lines established from MMTV-Polyoma Middle T-Antigen-derived tumors to investigate the effects of modulating NF-κB in macrophages during different temporal windows of the metastatic process.
We found that activation of NF-κB in macrophages during seeding leads to a reduction in lung metastases. The mechanism involved expression of inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species, leading to apoptosis of tumor cells and preventing seeding in the lung. Activation of NF-κB within macrophages after the seeding phase has no significant impact on establishment of metastases.
Our results have identified a brief, defined window in which activation of NF-κB has significant anti-metastatic effects and inhibition of NF-κB results in a worse outcome.
PMCID: PMC3236346  PMID: 21884585
16.  MicroRNA-451 Regulates LKB1/AMPK Signaling and Allows Adaptation to Metabolic Stress in Glioma Cells 
Molecular cell  2010;37(5):620-632.
To sustain tumor growth, cancer cells must be able to adapt to fluctuations in energy availability. We have identified a single microRNA that controls glioma cell proliferation, migration, and responsiveness to glucose deprivation. Abundant glucose allows relatively high miR-451 expression, promoting cell growth. In low glucose, miR-451 levels decrease, slowing proliferation but enhancing migration and survival. This allows cells to survive metabolic stress and seek out favorable growth conditions. In glioblastoma patients, elevated miR-451 is associated with shorter survival. The effects of miR-451 are mediated by LKB1, which it represses through targeting its binding partner, CAB39 (MO25α). Overexpression of miR-451 sensitized cells to glucose deprivation, suggesting that its downregulation is necessary for robust activation of LKB1 in response to metabolic stress. Thus, miR-451 is a regulator of the LKB1/AMPK pathway, and this may represent a fundamental mechanism that contributes to cellular adaptation in response to altered energy availability.
PMCID: PMC3125113  PMID: 20227367
17.  An Ets2-Specific Transcriptional Program in Tumor Associated Macrophages Promotes Tumor Metastasis 
Cancer research  2010;70(4):1323.
Tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) are implicated in breast cancer progression and metastasis, but relatively little is known about the genes pathways in these cells that contribute to malignant phenotypes. The transcription factor Ets2 is a direct target of signaling pathways involved in regulating macrophage functions during inflammation. To test whether Ets2 in TAMs modulated mouse mammary tumor growth and metastasis a genetic approach was used to conditionally delete Ets2 in TAMs. Ets2 deletion in TAMs decreased the frequency and size of mammary tumor metastases to lung in three different metastatic models. Expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays with isolated TAMs established that Ets2 repressed several well characterized inhibitors of angiogenesis. Consistent with these results, Ets2 ablation in TAMs led to decreased tumor angiogenesis and growth. An Ets2-TAM expression signature was identified within human breast cancer expression data and this signature could retrospectively predict overall survival of breast cancer patients in two independent sets of human breast cancer microarray data. In summary, we have identified Ets2 as a critical factor that acts to enhance mammary tumor growth and metastasis by regulating a transcriptional program in TAMs.
PMCID: PMC2822898  PMID: 20145133
Tumor Macrophages; Breast Cancer; Ets2; Metastasis; Angiogenesis
18.  e-Science, caGrid, and Translational Biomedical Research 
Computer  2008;41(11):58-66.
Translational research projects target a wide variety of diseases, test many different kinds of biomedical hypotheses, and employ a large assortment of experimental methodologies. Diverse data, complex execution environments, and demanding security and reliability requirements make the implementation of these projects extremely challenging and require novel e-Science technologies.
PMCID: PMC3035203  PMID: 21311723
19.  TNF Inhibits Notch-1 in Skeletal Muscle Cells by Ezh2 and DNA Methylation Mediated Repression: Implications in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12479.
Classical NF-κB signaling functions as a negative regulator of skeletal myogenesis through potentially multiple mechanisms. The inhibitory actions of TNFα on skeletal muscle differentiation are mediated in part through sustained NF-κB activity. In dystrophic muscles, NF-κB activity is compartmentalized to myofibers to inhibit regeneration by limiting the number of myogenic progenitor cells. This regulation coincides with elevated levels of muscle derived TNFα that is also under IKKβ and NF-κB control.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Based on these findings we speculated that in DMD, TNFα secreted from myotubes inhibits regeneration by directly acting on satellite cells. Analysis of several satellite cell regulators revealed that TNFα is capable of inhibiting Notch-1 in satellite cells and C2C12 myoblasts, which was also found to be dependent on NF-κB. Notch-1 inhibition occurred at the mRNA level suggesting a transcriptional repression mechanism. Unlike its classical mode of action, TNFα stimulated the recruitment of Ezh2 and Dnmt-3b to coordinate histone and DNA methylation, respectively. Dnmt-3b recruitment was dependent on Ezh2.
We propose that in dystrophic muscles, elevated levels of TNFα and NF-κB inhibit the regenerative potential of satellite cells via epigenetic silencing of the Notch-1 gene.
PMCID: PMC2930001  PMID: 20814569
20.  Eos mediates Foxp3-dependent gene silencing in regulatory T cells 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;325(5944):1142-1146.
Regulatory T cells (Treg) are critical to the maintenance of immunological self-tolerance and immune homeostasis by suppressing aberrant or excessive immune responses. Treg specifically express the transcription factor Foxp3, which mediates the coordinate activation of genes such as CTLA-4 and GITR along with repression of T effector cytokines such as interleukin-2 and interferon-γ. Despite progress in understanding mechanisms of Foxp3-dependent gene activation, the molecular mechanism of Foxp3-dependent gene repression remains largely unknown. Herein we report the identification of Eos, a zinc-finger transcription factor of the Ikaros family, as a critical mediator of Foxp3-dependent gene silencing in Treg. Eos interacts directly with Foxp3 and is necessary for gene silencing without affecting expression of Foxp3 activated genes. We further demonstrate that Eos and its corepressor C-terminal binding protein 1 (CtBP1) are necessary for histone modifications and ultimately promoter methylation involved in selective gene silencing in Treg. Knockdown of Eos in Treg abrogates their ability to suppress immune responses in vitro and in vivo and endows them with partial effector function. This transcriptional control of Treg function through association between Foxp3 and Eos/co-repressor can potentially be exploited for immune-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC2859703  PMID: 19696312
21.  Defective Co-activator Recruitment in Osteoclasts from Microphthalmia-Oak Ridge Mutant Mice 
Journal of cellular physiology  2009;220(1):230-237.
The three basic DNA-binding domain mutations of the microphthalmia associated transcription factor (Mitf), Mitfmi/mi, Mitfor/or and Mitfwh/wh, affect osteoclast differentiation with variable penetrance while completely impairing melanocyte development. Mitfor/or mice exhibit osteopetrosis that improves with age and their osteoclasts form functional multinuclear osteoclasts, raising the question as to why the Mitfor/or mutation results in osteopetrosis. Here we show that Mitfor/or osteoclasts express normal levels of acid phosphatase 5 (Acp5) mRNA and significantly lower levels of Cathepsin K (Ctsk) mRNA during receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) ligand (RANKL)-mediated differentiation. Studies using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis indicate that low levels of Mitfor/or protein are recruited to the Ctsk promoter. However, enrichment of Mitf-transcriptional co-activators PU.1 and Brahma-related gene 1 (Brg1) are severely impaired at the Ctsk promoter of Mitfor/or osteoclast precursors, indicating that defective recruitment of co-activators by the mutant Mitfor/or results in impaired Ctsk expression in osteoclasts. Cathepsin K may thus represent a unique class of Mitf regulated osteoclast-specific genes that are important for osteoclast function.
PMCID: PMC2852098  PMID: 19288495
Osteoclasts; Osteopetrosis; Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor; Acid phosphatase 5; Cathepsin K; Chromatin immunoprecipitation
22.  Breast Cancer-associated Fibroblasts Confer AKT1-mediated Epigenetic Silencing of Cystatin M in Epithelial Cells 
Cancer research  2008;68(24):10257.
The interplay between histone modifications and promoter hypermethylation provides a causative explanation for epigenetic gene silencing in cancer. Less is known about the upstream initiators that direct this process. Here, we report that the Cystatin M (CST6) tumor suppressor gene is concurrently down-regulated with other loci in breast epithelial cells co-cultured with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Promoter hypermethylation of CST6 is associated with aberrant AKT1 activation in epithelial cells, as well as the disabled INNP4B regulator resulted from the suppression by CAFs. Repressive chromatin, marked by trimethyl-H3K27 and dimethyl-H3K9, and de novo DNA methylation is established at the promoter. The findings suggest that microenvironmental stimuli are triggers in this epigenetic cascade, leading to the long-term silencing of CST6 in breast tumors. Our present findings implicate a causal mechanism defining how tumor stromal fibroblasts support neoplastic progression by manipulating the epigenome of mammary epithelial cells. The result also highlights the importance of direct cell-cell contract between epithelial cells and the surrounding fibroblasts that confer this epigenetic perturbation. Since this two-way interaction is anticipated, the described co-culture system can be used to determine the effect of epithelial factors on fibroblasts in future studies.
PMCID: PMC2821873  PMID: 19074894
23.  Erk1 and Erk2 Regulate Endothelial Cell Proliferation and Migration during Mouse Embryonic Angiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8283.
Angiogenesis is a complex process orchestrated by both growth factors and cell adhesion and is initiated by focal degradation of the vascular basement membrane with subsequent migration and proliferation of endothelial cells. The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway is required for EC function during angiogenesis. Although in vitro studies implicate ERK1 and ERK2 in endothelial cell survival, their precise role in angiogenesis in vivo remains poorly defined. Cre/loxP technology was used to inactivate Erk1 and Erk2 in endothelial cells during murine development, resulting in embryonic lethality due to severely reduced angiogenesis. Deletion of Erk1 and Erk2 in primary endothelial cells resulted in decreased cell proliferation and migration, but not in increased apoptosis. Expression of key cell cycle regulators was diminished in the double knockout cells, and decreased DNA synthesis could be observed in endothelial cells during embryogenesis. Interestingly, both Paxillin and Focal Adhesion Kinase were expressed at lower levels in endothelial cells lacking Erk1 and Erk2 both in vivo and in vitro, leading to defects in the organization of the cytoskeleton and in cell motility. The regulation of Paxillin and Focal Adhesion Kinase expression occurred post-transcriptionally. These results demonstrate that ERK1 and ERK2 coordinate endothelial cell proliferation and migration during angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2789384  PMID: 20011539
24.  Free cholesterol accumulation in macrophage membranes activates Toll-like receptors, p38 MAP kinase and induces cathepsin K 
Circulation research  2009;104(4):455-465.
The molecular events linking lipid accumulation in atherosclerotic plaques to complications such as aneurysm formation and plaque disruption are poorly understood. Balb-Apoe−/− mice bearing a null mutation in the Npc1 gene display prominent medial erosion and athero-thrombosis, while their macrophages accumulate free cholesterol in late endosomes and show increased cathepsin K (Ctsk) expression. We now show increased cathespin K immunostaining and increased SH-proteinase activity using near infrared fluorescence imaging over proximal aortas of Apoe−/−, Npc1−/− mice. In mechanistic studies, cholesterol loading of macrophage plasma membranes (cyclodextrin-cholesterol) or endosomal system (AcLDL+U18666A or Npc1 null mutation) activated Toll-like receptor signaling, leading to sustained phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase, and induction of p38 targets, including Ctsk, S100a8, Mmp8, and Mmp14. Studies in macrophages from knock-out mice showed major roles for TLR4, following plasma membrane cholesterol loading, and for TLR3, after late endosomal loading. TLR signaling via p38 led to phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factor MITF, acting at E-box elements in the Ctsk promoter. These studies suggest that free cholesterol enrichment of either plasma or endosomal membranes in macrophages leads to activation of signaling via various TLRs, prolonged p38 MAP kinase activation and induction of Mmps, Ctsk, and S100a8, potentially contributing to plaque complications.
PMCID: PMC2680702  PMID: 19122179
cathepsin K; p38; Toll-like receptor
25.  The PtdIns 3-Kinase/Akt Pathway Regulates Macrophage-Mediated ADCC against B Cell Lymphoma 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(1):e4208.
Macrophages are important effectors in the clearance of antibody-coated tumor cells. However, the signaling pathways that regulate macrophage-induced ADCC are poorly defined. To understand the regulation of macrophage-mediated ADCC, we used human B cell lymphoma coated with Rituximab as the tumor target and murine macrophages primed with IFNγ as the effectors. Our data demonstrate that the PtdIns 3-kinase/Akt pathway is activated during macrophage-induced ADCC and that the inhibition of PtdIns 3-kinase results in the inhibition of macrophage-mediated cytotoxicity. Interestingly, downstream of PtdIns 3-kinase, expression of constitutively active Akt (Myr-Akt) in macrophages significantly enhanced their ability to mediate ADCC. Further analysis revealed that in this model, macrophage-mediated ADCC is dependent upon the release of nitric oxide (NO). However, the PtdIns 3-kinase/Akt pathway does not appear to regulate NO production. An examination of the role of the PtdIns 3-kinase/Akt pathway in regulating conjugate formation indicated that macrophages treated with an inhibitor of PtdIns 3-kinase fail to polarize the cytoskeleton at the synapse and show a significant reduction in the number of conjugates formed with tumor targets. Further, inhibition of PtdIns 3-kinase also reduced macrophage spreading on Rituximab-coated surfaces. On the other hand, Myr-Akt expressing macrophages displayed a significantly greater ability to form conjugates with tumor cells. Taken together, these findings illustrate that the PtdIns 3-kinase/Akt pathway plays a critical role in macrophage ADCC through its influence on conjugate formation between macrophages and antibody-coated tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC2615217  PMID: 19148288

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