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1.  Oncolytic Virus-Mediated Reversal of Impaired Tumor Antigen Presentation 
Anti-tumor immunity can eliminate existing cancer cells and also maintain a constant surveillance against possible relapse. Such an antigen-specific adaptive response begins when tumor-specific T cells become activated. T-cell activation requires two signals on antigen presenting cells (APCs): antigen presentation through major histocombatibility complex (MHC) molecules and co-stimulation. In the absence of one or both these signals, T cells remain inactivated or can even become tolerized. Cancer cells and their associated microenvironment strategically hinder the processing and presentation of tumor antigens and consequently prevent the development of anti-tumor immunity. Many studies, however, demonstrate that interventions that over-turn tumor-associated immune evasion mechanisms can establish anti-tumor immune responses of therapeutic potential. One such intervention is oncolytic virus (OV)-based anti-cancer therapy. Here, we discuss how OV-induced immunological events override tumor-associated antigen presentation impairment and promote appropriate T cell–APC interaction. Detailed understanding of this phenomenon is pivotal for devising the strategies that will enhance the efficacy of OV-based anti-cancer therapy by complementing its inherent oncolytic activities with desired anti-tumor immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3989761  PMID: 24782988
reovirus; oncolytic virus; immunotherapy; antigen presentation; anti-tumor immunity
2.  DNA-PKCS binding to p53 on the p21WAF1/CIP1 promoter blocks transcription resulting in cell death 
Oncotarget  2011;2(12):1094-1108.
A key determinant of p53-mediated cell fate following various DNA damage modalities is p21WAF1/CIP1 expression, with elevated p21 expression triggering cell cycle arrest and repressed p21 expression promoting apoptosis. We show that under pro-death DNA damage conditions, the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKCS) is recruited to the p21 promoter where it forms a protein complex with p53. The DNA-PKCS-associated p53 displays post-translational modifications that are distinct from those under pro-arrest conditions, ablating p21 transcription and inducing cell death. Inhibition of DNA-PK activity prevents DNA-PKCS binding to p53 on the p21 promoter, restores p21 transcription and significantly reduces cell death. These data demonstrate that DNA-PKCS negatively regulates p21 expression by directly interacting with the p21 transcription machinery via p53, driving the cell towards apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3282069  PMID: 22190353
DNA-PKCs; p53; p21 transcription suppression
4.  Core Needle Biopsy of Breast Cancer Tumors Increases Distant Metastases in a Mouse Model12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(11):950-960.
INTRODUCTION: Incisional biopsies, including the diagnostic core needle biopsy (CNB), routinely performed before surgical excision of breast cancer tumors are hypothesized to increase the risk of metastatic disease. In this study, we experimentally determined whether CNB of breast cancer tumors results in increased distant metastases and examine important resultant changes in the primary tumor and tumor microenvironment associated with this outcome. METHOD: To evaluate the effect of CNB on metastasis development, we implanted murine mammary 4T1 tumor cells in BALB/c mice and performed CNB on palpable tumors in half the mice. Subsequently, emulating the human scenario, all mice underwent complete tumor excision and were allowed to recover, with attendant metastasis development. Tumor growth, lung metastasis, circulating tumor cell (CTC) levels, variation in gene expression, composition of the tumor microenvironment, and changes in immunologic markers were compared in biopsied and non-biopsied mice. RESULTS: Mice with biopsied tumors developed significantly more lung metastases compared to non-biopsied mice. Tumors from biopsied mice contained a higher frequency of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) accompanied by reduced CD4 + T cells, CD8 + T cells, and macrophages, suggesting biopsy-mediated development of an increasingly immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. We also observed a CNB-dependent up-regulation in the expression of SOX4, Ezh2, and other key epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) genes, as well as increased CTC levels among the biopsy group. CONCLUSION: CNB creates an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, increases EMT, and facilitates release of CTCs, all of which likely contribute to the observed increase in development of distant metastases.
PMCID: PMC4240917  PMID: 25425969
CCAC, Canadian Council on Animal Care; CNB, core needle biopsy; CTCs, circulating tumor cells; EMT, epithelial-mesenchymal transition; H&E, hematoxylin and eosin; MDSCs, myeloid-derived suppressor cells; PGE2, prostaglandin E2; breast cancer; core needle biopsy; metastasis immunosuppression; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
5.  Activation of p53 by Chemotherapeutic Agents Enhances Reovirus Oncolysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54006.
Mammalian reovirus is a benign virus that possesses the natural ability to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells (reovirus oncolysis). Reovirus exploits aberrant Ras signalling in many human cancers to promote its own replication and spread. In vitro and in vivo studies using reovirus either singly or in combination with anti-cancer drugs have shown very encouraging results. Presently, a number of reovirus combination therapies are undergoing clinical trials for a variety of cancers. Previously we showed that accumulation of the tumor suppressor protein p53 by Nutlin-3a (a specific p53 stabilizer) enhanced reovirus-induced apoptosis, and resulted in significantly higher levels of reovirus dissemination. In this study, we examined the role of p53 in combination therapies involving reovirus and chemotherapeutic drugs. We showed that sub-lethal concentrations of traditional chemotherapy drugs actinomycin D or etoposide, but not doxorubicin, enhanced reovirus-induced apoptosis in a p53-dependent manner. Furthermore, NF-κB activation and expression of p53-target genes (p21 and bax) were important for the p53-dependent enhancement of cell death. Our results show that p53 status affects the efficacy of combination therapy involving reovirus. Choosing the right combination partner for reovirus and a low dosage of the drug may help to both enhance reovirus-induced cancer elimination and reduce drug toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3546971  PMID: 23342061
6.  Reovirus Variants with Mutations in Genome Segments S1 and L2 Exhibit Enhanced Virion Infectivity and Superior Oncolysis 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(13):7403-7413.
Reovirus preferentially replicates in transformed cells and is being explored as a cancer therapy. Immunological and physical barriers to virotherapy inspired a quest for reovirus variants with enhanced oncolytic potency. Using a classical genetics approach, we isolated two reovirus variants (T3v1 and T3v2) with superior replication relative to wild-type reovirus serotype 3 Dearing (T3wt) on various human and mouse tumorigenic cell lines. Unique mutations in reovirus λ2 vertex protein and σ1 cell attachment protein were associated with the large plaque-forming phenotype of T3v1 and T3v2, respectively. Both T3v1 and T3v2 exhibited higher infectivity (i.e., a higher PFU-to-particle ratio) than T3wt. A detailed analysis of virus replication revealed that virus cell binding and uncoating were equivalent for variant and wild-type reoviruses. However, T3v1 and T3v2 were significantly more efficient than T3wt in initiating productive infection. Thus, when cells were infected with equivalent input virus particles, T3v1 and T3v2 produced significantly higher levels of early viral RNAs relative to T3wt. Subsequent steps of virus replication (viral RNA and protein synthesis, virus assembly, and cell death) were equivalent for all three viruses. In a syngeneic mouse model of melanoma, both T3v1 and T3v2 prolonged mouse survival compared to wild-type reovirus. Our studies reveal that oncolytic potency of reovirus can be improved through distinct mutations that increase the infectivity of reovirus particles.
PMCID: PMC3416329  PMID: 22532697
7.  Genotoxic Agents Promote the Nuclear Accumulation of Annexin A2: Role of Annexin A2 in Mitigating DNA Damage 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50591.
Annexin A2 is an abundant cellular protein that is mainly localized in the cytoplasm and plasma membrane, however a small population has been found in the nucleus, suggesting a nuclear function for the protein. Annexin A2 possesses a nuclear export sequence (NES) and inhibition of the NES is sufficient to cause nuclear accumulation. Here we show that annexin A2 accumulates in the nucleus in response to genotoxic agents including gamma-radiation, UV radiation, etoposide and chromium VI and that this event is mediated by the nuclear export sequence of annexin A2. Nuclear accumulation of annexin A2 is blocked by the antioxidant agent N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and stimulated by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), suggesting that this is a reactive oxygen species dependent event. In response to genotoxic agents, cells depleted of annexin A2 show enhanced phospho-histone H2AX and p53 levels, increased numbers of p53-binding protein 1 nuclear foci and increased levels of nuclear 8-oxo-2′-deoxyguanine, suggesting that annexin A2 plays a role in protecting DNA from damage. This is the first report showing the nuclear translocation of annexin A2 in response to genotoxic agents and its role in mitigating DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3511559  PMID: 23226323
8.  Viral subversion of autophagy impairs oncogene-induced senescence 
Autophagy  2012;8(7):1138-1140.
Many viruses have evolved elegant strategies to co-opt cellular autophagic responses to facilitate viral propagation and evasion of immune surveillance. Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) establishes a life-long persistent infection in its human host, and is etiologically linked to several cancers. KSHV gene products have been shown to modulate autophagy but their contribution to pathogenesis remains unclear. Our recent study demonstrated that KSHV subversion of autophagy promotes bypass of oncogene-induced senescence (OIS), an important host barrier to tumor initiation. These findings suggest that KSHV has evolved to subvert autophagy, at least in part, to establish an optimal niche for infection, concurrently dampening host antiviral defenses and allowing the ongoing proliferation of infected cells.
PMCID: PMC3429550  PMID: 22735194
KSHV; oncogene; DNA damage; autophagy; oncogene-induced senescence

Results 1-8 (8)