Epigenetic mechanisms mediating expression of the Runt-related transcription factor Runx2 are critical for controlling its osteogenic activity during skeletal development. Here, we characterized bona fide regulatory elements within 120 kbp of the endogenous bone-related Runx2 promoter (P1) in osteoblasts by genomic DNase I footprinting and chromatin immunoprecipitations (ChIPs). We identified a ~10 kbp genomic domain spanning the P1 promoter that interacts with acetylated histones H3 and H4 reflecting an open chromatin conformation in MC3T3 osteoblasts. This large chromatin domain contains a single major DNaseI hypersensitive (DHS) region that defines a 0.4 kbp “basal core” promoter. This region encompasses two endogenous genomic protein/DNA interaction sites (i.e., footprints at Activating Protein 1 [AP1], E-box and Runx motifs). Helix-Loop-Helix (HLH)/E-box occupancy and presence of the DHS region persists in several mesenchymal cell types, but AP1 site occupancy occurs only during S phase when Runx2 expression is minimal. Point-mutation of the HLH/E box dramatically reduces basal promoter activity. Our results indicate that the Runx2 P1 promoter utilizes two stable principal protein/DNA interaction domains associated with AP1 and HLH factors. These sites function together with dynamic and developmentally responsive sites in a major DHS region to support epigenetic control of bone-specific transcription when osteoblasts transition into a quiescent or differentiated state.
TWIST1 plays a key role in EMT-mediated tumor invasion and metastasis. Since bone metastasis is a hallmark of advanced prostate cancer and is detected in at least 85% of patients who die of this disease, it is of great importance to understand the regulation of the cellular signaling pathways involved in the metastatic process.
Prostatic cell lines were analyzed using real time RT-PCR, chromatin immunoprecipitations (ChIP) and transfection of siRNA’s and reporter constructs.
We report in this paper that TWIST1 is an androgen-regulated gene under tight regulation of NKX3-1. Androgens repress the expression of TWIST1 via NKX3-1, which is a prostate–specific tumor suppressor that is down-regulated in the majority of metastatic prostate tumors. We show that NKX3-1 binds to the TWIST1 promoter and that NKX3-1 over-expression reduces the activity of a TWIST1 promoter reporter construct, whereas NKX3-1 siRNA up-regulates endogenous TWIST1 mRNA in prostate cancer cells.
Our finding that NKX3-1 represses TWIST1 expression emphasizes the functional importance of NKX3-1 in regulating TWIST1 expression during prostate cancer progression to metastatic disease.
Prostate cancer; LNCaP cells; TWIST1; NKX3-1
The main impairment to tissue maintenance during aging is the reduced capacity for stem cell self-renewal over time due to senescence, the irreversible block in proliferation. We have previously described that the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor Twist-1 can greatly enhance the life span of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs). In the present study, we show that Twist-1 potently suppresses senescence and the Ink4A/Arf locus with a dramatic decrease in the expression of p16 and to some extent a decrease in p14. Furthermore, the polycomb group protein and histone methyltransferase Ezh2, which suppresses the Ink4A/Arf locus, was found to be induced by Twist-1, resulting in an increase in H3K27me3 along the Ink4A/Arf locus, repressing transcription of both p16/p14 and senescence of human MSCs. Furthermore, Twist-1 inhibits the expression of the bHLH transcription factor E47, which is normally expressed in senescent MSCs and induces transcription of the p16 promoter. Reduced Twist-1 wild-type expression and function in bone cells derived from Saethre-Chotzen patients also revealed an increase in senescence. These studies for the first time link Twist-1 to histone methylation of the Ink4A/Arf locus by controlling the expression of histone methyltransferases as well as the expression of other bHLH factors.
Pomegranate juice (PJ) is a natural product that inhibits prostate cancer progression. A clinical trial on patients with recurrent prostate cancer resulted in none of the patients progressing to a metastatic stage during the period of the trial. We have previously found that, in addition to causing cell death of hormone-refractory prostate cancer cells, PJ also markedly increases adhesion and decreases migration of the cells that do not die. However, because PJ is a very complex mixture of components and is found in many different formulations, it is important to identify specific components that are effective in inhibiting growth and metastasis. Here, we show that the PJ components luteolin, ellagic acid, and punicic acid together inhibit growth of hormone-dependent and hormone-refractory prostate cancer cells and inhibit their migration and their chemotaxis toward stromal cell-derived factor 1α (SDF1α), a chemokine that is important in prostate cancer metastasis to the bone. These components also increase the expression of cell adhesion genes and decrease expression of genes involved in cell cycle control and cell migration. Furthermore, they increase several well-known tumor-suppression microRNAs (miRNAs), decrease several oncogenic miRNAs, and inhibit the chemokines receptor type 4 (CXCR4)/SDF1α chemotaxis axis. Our results suggest that these components may be more effective in inhibiting prostate cancer growth and metastasis than simply drinking the juice. Chemical modification of these components could further enhance their bioavailability and efficacy of treatment. Moreover, because the mechanisms of metastasis are similar for most cancers, these PJ components may also be effective in the treatment of metastasis of other cancers.
Metastasis is the primary cause of death for cancer patients. TWIST1, an evolutionarily conserved basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, is a strong promoter of metastatic spread and its expression is elevated in many advanced human carcinomas. However, the molecular events triggered by TWIST1 to motivate dissemination of cancer cells are largely unknown.
Here we show that TWIST1 induces the production of interleukin 8 (IL8), which activates matrix metalloproteinases and promotes invasion of breast epithelial and cancer cells. In this novel mechanism, TWIST1-mediated IL8 transcription is induced through the TWIST1 carboxy-terminal WR (Trp-Arg) domain instead of the classic DNA binding bHLH domain. Co-immunoprecipitation analyses revealed that the WR domain mediates the formation of a protein complex comprised of TWIST1 and the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) subunit RELA (p65/NF-κB3), which synergistically activates the transcriptional activity of NF-κB. This activation leads to increased DNA binding affinity of RELA to the IL8 promoter and thus induces the expression of the cytokine. Blockage of IL8 signaling by IL8 neutralizing antibodies or receptor inhibition reduced the invasiveness of both breast epithelial and cancer cells, indicating that TWIST1 induces autonomous cell invasion by establishing an IL8 antocrine loop.
Our data demonstrate that the TWIST1 WR domain plays a critical role in TWIST1-induced IL8 expression through interactions with and activation of NF-κB. The produced IL8 signals through an autocrine loop and promotes extracellular matrix degradation to enable cell invasion across the basement membrane.
TWIST1; WR domain; RELA; NF-κB; IL8
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive type of malignant primary brain tumors in adults. Molecular and genetic analysis has advanced our understanding of glioma biology, however mapping the cellular composition of the tumor microenvironment is crucial for understanding the pathology of this dreaded brain cancer. In this study we identified major cell populations attracted by glioma using orthotopic rodent models of human glioma xenografts. Marker-specific, anatomical and morphological analyses revealed a robust influx of host cells into the main tumor bed and tumor satellites.
Human glioma cell lines and glioma spheroid orthotopic implants were used in rodents. In both models, the xenografts recruited large numbers of host nestin-expressing cells, which formed a ‘network’ with glioma. The host nestin-expressing cells appeared to originate in the subventricular zone ipsilateral to the tumor, and were clearly distinguishable from pericytes that expressed smooth muscle actin. These distinct cell populations established close physical contact in a ‘pair-wise’ manner and migrated together to the deeper layers of tumor satellites and gave rise to tumor vasculature. The GBM biopsy xenografts displayed two different phenotypes: (a) low-generation tumors (first in vivo passage in rats) were highly invasive and non-angiogenic, and host nestin-positive cells that infiltrated into these tumors displayed astrocytic or elongated bipolar morphology; (b) high-generation xenografts (fifth passage) had pronounced cellularity, were angiogenic with ‘glomerulus-like’ microvascular proliferations that contained host nestin-positive cells. Stromal cell-derived factor-1 and its receptor CXCR4 were highly expressed in and around glioma xenografts, suggesting their role in glioma progression and invasion.
Our data demonstrate a robust migration of nestin-expressing host cells to glioma, which together with pericytes give rise to tumor vasculature. Mapping the cellular composition of glioma microenvironment and deciphering the complex ‘crosstalk’ between tumor and host may ultimately aid the development of novel anti-glioma therapies.
Cancer stem cells are responsible for sustaining the tumor and giving rise to proliferating and progressively differentiating cells. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating the process of cancer stem cell differentiation is not clearly understood. Recently, we reported the isolation of the epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) stem cells (Type I/CD44+). In this study we show that Type I/CD44+ cells are characterized by low levels of both miR-199a and miR-214, whereas mature EOC cells (Type II/CD44-) have higher levels of miR-199a and miR-214. Moreover, these two miRNAs are regulated as a cluster on pri-miR-199a2 within the human Dnm3os gene (GenBank FJ623959). This study identify Twist1 as a regulator of this unique miRNA cluster responsible for the regulation of the IKKβ/NFκB and PTEN/AKT pathways and its association of ovarian cancer stem cell differentiation. Our data suggest that Twist1 may be an important regulator of “stemness” in EOC cells. The regulation of MIR199A2/214 expression may be used as a potential therapeutic approach in EOC patients.
ovarian cancer stem cells; Twist1; miR-199a/214 cluster; IKKβ
Carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule-1 (CEACAM1) is a morphogen in an in vitro model for lumen formation and plays a similar role in breast epithelial cells implanted in humanized mammary fat pads in NOD-SCID mice. Although extra cellular matrix alone is sufficient to stimulate lumen formation in CEACAM1 transfected MCF-7 cells grown in 3D culture, there is an additional requirement for stromal or mesenchymal cells (MSCs) for these cells to form xenografts with glandular structures in an orthotopic site. We demonstrate that optimal in vitro conditions include both Matrigel and MSCs and that the inclusion of collagen I inhibits xenograft differentiation. Additionally, there is no need to remove the nascent murine mammary gland. The previously observed difference in gland development between the long and short cytoplasmic domain isoforms of CEACAM1 is no longer observed in pregnant NOD/SCID mice suggesting that stimulation of the mammary fat pad by pregnancy critically affects xenograft differentiation.
Tumor cell invasion into adjacent normal brain is a mesenchymal feature of GBM and a major factor contributing to their dismal outcomes. Therefore, better understandings of mechanisms that promote mesenchymal change in GBM are of great clinical importance to address invasion. We previously showed that the bHLH transcription factor TWIST1 which orchestrates carcinoma metastasis through an epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) is upregulated in GBM and promotes invasion of the SF767 GBM cell line in vitro.
To further define TWIST1 functions in GBM we tested the impact of TWIST1 over-expression on invasion in vivo and its impact on gene expression. We found that TWIST1 significantly increased SNB19 and T98G cell line invasion in orthotopic xenotransplants and increased expression of genes in functional categories associated with adhesion, extracellular matrix proteins, cell motility and locomotion, cell migration and actin cytoskeleton organization. Consistent with this TWIST1 reduced cell aggregation, promoted actin cytoskeletal re-organization and enhanced migration and adhesion to fibronectin substrates. Individual genes upregulated by TWIST1 known to promote EMT and/or GBM invasion included SNAI2, MMP2, HGF, FAP and FN1. Distinct from carcinoma EMT, TWIST1 did not generate an E- to N-cadherin "switch" in GBM cell lines. The clinical relevance of putative TWIST target genes SNAI2 and fibroblast activation protein alpha (FAP) identified in vitro was confirmed by their highly correlated expression with TWIST1 in 39 human tumors. The potential therapeutic importance of inhibiting TWIST1 was also shown through a decrease in cell invasion in vitro and growth of GBM stem cells.
Together these studies demonstrated that TWIST1 enhances GBM invasion in concert with mesenchymal change not involving the canonical cadherin switch of carcinoma EMT. Given the recent recognition that mesenchymal change in GBMs is associated with increased malignancy, these findings support the potential therapeutic importance of strategies to subvert TWIST1-mediated mesenchymal change.
Recombinant monoclonal antibodies have emerged as important tools for cancer therapy. Despite the promise shown by antibody-based therapies, the large molecular size of antibodies limits their ability to efficiently penetrate solid tumors and precludes efficient crossing of the blood-brain-barrier into the central nervous system (CNS). Consequently, poorly vascularized solid tumors and CNS metastases cannot be effectively treated by intravenously-injected antibodies. The inherent tumor-tropic properties of human neural stem cells (NSCs) can potentially be harnessed to overcome these obstacles and significantly improve cancer immunotherapy. Intravenously-delivered NSCs preferentially migrate to primary and metastatic tumor sites within and outside the CNS. Therefore, we hypothesized that NSCs could serve as an ideal cellular delivery platform for targeting antibodies to malignant tumors.
Methods and Findings
As proof-of-concept, we selected Herceptin™ (trastuzumab), a monoclonal antibody widely used to treat HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. HER2 overexpression in breast cancer is highly correlated with CNS metastases, which are inaccessible to trastuzumab therapy. Therefore, NSC-mediated delivery of trastuzumab may improve its therapeutic efficacy. Here we report, for the first time, that human NSCs can be genetically modified to secrete anti-HER2 immunoglobulin molecules. These NSC-secreted antibodies assemble properly, possess tumor cell-binding affinity and specificity, and can effectively inhibit the proliferation of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells in vitro. We also demonstrate that immunoglobulin-secreting NSCs exhibit preferential tropism to tumor cells in vivo, and can deliver antibodies to human breast cancer xenografts in mice.
Taken together, these results suggest that NSCs modified to secrete HER2-targeting antibodies constitute a promising novel platform for targeted cancer immunotherapy. Specifically, this NSC-mediated antibody delivery system has the potential to significantly improve clinical outcome for patients with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer.
Gene expression measurements from breast cancer (BrCa) tumors are established clinical predictive tools to identify tumor subtypes, identify patients showing poor/good prognosis, and identify patients likely to have disease recurrence. However, diverse breast cancer datasets in conjunction with diagnostic clinical arrays show little overlap in the sets of genes identified. One approach to identify a set of consistently dysregulated candidate genes in these tumors is to employ meta-analysis of multiple independent microarray datasets. This allows one to compare expression data from a diverse collection of breast tumor array datasets generated on either cDNA or oligonucleotide arrays.
We gathered expression data from 9 published microarray studies examining estrogen receptor positive (ER+) and estrogen receptor negative (ER-) BrCa tumor cases from the Oncomine database. We performed a meta-analysis and identified genes that were universally up or down regulated with respect to ER+ versus ER- tumor status. We surveyed both the proximal promoter and 3' untranslated regions (3'UTR) of our top-ranking genes in each expression group to test whether common sequence elements may contribute to the observed expression patterns. Utilizing a combination of known transcription factor binding sites (TFBS), evolutionarily conserved mammalian promoter and 3'UTR motifs, and microRNA (miRNA) seed sequences, we identified numerous motifs that were disproportionately represented between the two gene classes suggesting a common regulatory network for the observed gene expression patterns.
Some of the genes we identified distinguish key transcripts previously seen in array studies, while others are newly defined. Many of the genes identified as overexpressed in ER- tumors were previously identified as expression markers for neoplastic transformation in multiple human cancers. Moreover, our motif analysis identified a collection of specific cis-acting target sites which may collectively play a role in the differential gene expression patterns observed in ER+ versus ER- breast cancer tumors. Importantly, the gene sets and associated DNA motifs provide a starting point with which to explore the mechanistic basis for the observed expression patterns in breast tumors.
Patients diagnosed with metastatic cancer have almost uniformly poor prognoses. The treatments available for patients with disseminated disease are usually not curative and have side effects that limit the therapy that can be given. A treatment that is selectively toxic to tumors would maximize the beneficial effects of therapy and minimize side effects, potentially enabling effective treatment to be administered.
Methods and Findings
We postulated that the tumor-tropic property of stem cells or progenitor cells could be exploited to selectively deliver a therapeutic gene to metastatic solid tumors, and that expression of an appropriate transgene at tumor loci might mediate cures of metastatic disease. To test this hypothesis, we injected HB1.F3.C1 cells transduced to express an enzyme that efficiently activates the anti-cancer prodrug CPT-11 intravenously into mice bearing disseminated neuroblastoma tumors. The HB1.F3.C1 cells migrated selectively to tumor sites regardless of the size or anatomical location of the tumors. Mice were then treated systemically with CPT-11, and the efficacy of treatment was monitored. Mice treated with the combination of HB1.F3.C1 cells expressing the CPT-11-activating enzyme and this prodrug produced tumor-free survival of 100% of the mice for >6 months (P<0.001 compared to control groups).
The novel and significant finding of this study is that it may be possible to exploit the tumor-tropic property of stem or progenitor cells to mediate effective, tumor-selective therapy for metastatic tumors, for which no tolerated curative treatments are currently available.
TWIST is a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor that regulates mesodermal development, promotes tumor cell metastasis, and, in response to cytotoxic stress, enhances cell survival. Our screen for bHLH gene expression in rat C6 glioma revealed TWIST. To delineate a possible oncogenic role for TWIST in the human central nervous system (CNS), we analyzed TWIST message and protein expression in gliomas and normal brain. TWIST was detected in the large majority of human glioma-derived cell lines and human gliomas examined. Increased TWIST mRNA levels were associated with the highest grade gliomas, and increased TWIST expression accompanied transition from low grade to high grade in vivo, suggesting a role for TWIST in promoting malignant progression. In accord, elevated TWIST mRNA abundance preceded the spontaneous malignant transformation of cultured mouse astrocytes hemizygous for p53. Overexpression of TWIST protein in a human glioma cell line significantly enhanced tumor cell invasion, a hallmark of high-grade gliomas. These findings support roles for TWIST both in early glial tumorigenesis and subsequent malignant progression. TWIST was also expressed in embryonic and fetal human brain, and in neurons, but not glia, of mature brain, indicating that, in gliomas, TWIST may promote the functions also critical for CNS development or normal neuronal physiology.
cancer; brain tumor; neuron; oncogene; invasion
Understanding the molecular events that govern neural progenitor lineage commitment, mitotic arrest, and differentiation into functional progeny are germane to our understanding of neocortical development. Members of the family of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play pivotal roles in regulating neural differentiation and apoptosis during neurogenesis through combined actions involving Smad and TAK1 activation. We demonstrate that BMP signaling is required for the induction of apoptosis of neural progenitors and that NRAGE is a mandatory component of the signaling cascade. NRAGE possesses the ability to bind and function with the TAK1-TAB1-XIAP complex facilitating the activation of p38. Disruption of NRAGE or any other member of the noncanonical signaling cascaded is sufficient to block p38 activation and thus the proapoptotic signals generated through BMP exposure. The function of NRAGE is independent of Smad signaling, but the introduction of a dominant-negative Smad5 also rescues neural progenitor apoptosis, suggesting that both canonical and noncanonical pathways can converge and regulate BMP-mediated apoptosis. Collectively, these results establish NRAGE as an integral component in BMP signaling and clarify its role during neural progenitor development.
Adipocyte determination and differentiation dependent factor 1 (ADD1)/sterol regulatory element binding protein isoform (SREBP1c) is a key transcription factor in fatty acid metabolism and insulin- dependent gene expression. Although its transcriptional and post-translational regulation has been extensively studied, its regulation by interacting proteins is not well understood. To identify cellular proteins that associate with ADD1/SREBP1c, we employed the yeast two-hybrid system with an adipocyte cDNA library. Using the N-terminal domain of ADD1/SREBP1c as bait, we identified Twist2 (also known as Dermo-1), a basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) protein, as a novel ADD1/SREBP1c interacting protein. Over-expression of Twist2 strongly repressed the transcriptional activity of ADD1/SREBP1c, primarily by reducing its binding to target sequences. Inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity with HDAC inhibitors relieved this repression. Our data suggest that physical interaction between Twist2 and ADD1/SREBP1c attenuates transcriptional activation by ADD1/SREBP1c by inhibiting its binding to DNA, and that this inhibition is at least partly dependent on chromatin modification by HDACs.