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1.  Effector Kinase Coupling Enables High-Throughput Screens for Direct HIV-1 Nef Antagonists with Anti-retroviral Activity 
Chemistry & biology  2013;20(1):82-91.
HIV-1 Nef, a critical AIDS progression factor, represents an important target protein for antiretroviral drug discovery. Because Nef lacks intrinsic enzymatic activity, we developed an assay that couples Nef to the activation of Hck, a Src-family member and Nef effector protein. Using this assay, we screened a large, diverse chemical library and identified small molecules that block Nef-dependent Hck activity with low micromolar potency. Of these, a diphenylpyrazolo compound demonstrated sub-micromolar potency in HIV-1 replication assays against a broad range of primary Nef variants. This compound binds directly to Nef via a pocket formed by the Nef dimerization interface and disrupts Nef dimerization in cells. Coupling of non-enzymatic viral accessory factors to host cell effector proteins amenable to high-throughput screening may represent a general strategy for the discovery of new antimicrobial agents.
PMCID: PMC3559019  PMID: 23352142
2.  Characterization of Bone Resorption in Novel In Vitro and In Vivo Models of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Oral Oncology  2012;48(6):491-499.
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the most commonly diagnosed oral malignancy in humans and cats and frequently invades bone. The objective of this study was to determine if feline OSCC serves as a relevant model of human OSCC in terms of osteolytic behavior and expression of bone resorption agonists.
Materials and Methods
Novel feline OSCC cell lines (SCCF2 and SCCF3) were derived from spontaneous carcinomas. Gene expression and osteolytic behavior were compared to an established feline OSCC cell line (SCCF1) and three human OSCC cell lines (UMSCC-12, A253 and SCC25). Interaction of OSCC with bone and murine pre-osteoblasts (MC3T3) was investigated using in vitro co-culture techniques. In vivo bioluminescent imaging, faxitron radiography and microscopy were used to measure xenograft growth and bone invasion in nude mice.
Human and feline OSCC expressing the highest levels of parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) were associated with in vitro and in vivo bone resorption and osteoclastogenesis. MC3T3 cells had increased receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) expression and reduced osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression in conditioned medium from bone-invasive SCCF2 cells compared to minimally bone invasive SCCF3 cells, which was partially reversed with a neutralizing anti-PTHrP antibody. Human and feline OSCC cells cultured in bone-conditioned medium had increased PTHrP secretion and proliferation.
Feline OSCC-induced bone resorption was associated with tumor cell secretion of PTHrP and with increased RANKL : OPG expression ratio in mouse preosteoblasts. Bone-CM increased OSCC proliferation and secretion of PTHrP. The preclinical models of feline OSCC recapitulated the bone-invasive phenotype characteristic of spontaneous OSCC and will be useful to future preclinical and mechanistic studies of bone invasive behavior.
PMCID: PMC3350825  PMID: 22265717
3.  Effects of parathyroid hormone-related protein and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α in Jurkat T-cells on tumor formation in vivo and expression of apoptosis regulatory genes in vitro 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2012;53(4):688-698.
Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, but their effects on T-cells have not been well studied. Here we analyzed the functions of PTHrP and MIP-1α on T-cell growth and death both in vitro and in vivo by overexpressing either factor in human Jurkat T-cells. PTHrP or MIP-1α did not affect Jurkat cell growth in vitro, but PTHrP increased their sensitivity to apoptosis. Importantly, PTHrP and MIP-1α decreased both tumor incidence and growth in vivo. To investigate possible mechanisms, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) arrays and real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assays were performed. Both PTHrP and MIP-1α increased the expression of several factors including signal transducer and activator of transcription 4, tumor necrosis factor α, receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand and death-associated protein kinase 1, and decreased the expression of inhibitor of DNA binding 1, interferon γ and CD40 ligand in Jurkat cells. In addition, MIP-1α also increased the expression of transcription factor AP-2α and PTHrP increased expression of the vitamin D3 receptor. These data demonstrate that PTHrP and MIP-1α exert a profound antitumor effect presumably by increasing the sensitivity to apoptotic signals through modulation of transcription and apoptosis factors in T-cells.
PMCID: PMC3314295  PMID: 21942940
Lymphocytes; cell lines and animal models; cytokine production and paraneoplastic conditions
The Prostate  2011;71(12):1251-1263.
Prostate cancer in men has a high mortality and morbidity due to metastatic disease. The pathobiology of prostate cancer metastasis is not well understood and cell lines and animal models that recapitulate the complex nature of the disease are needed. Therefore, the goal of the study was to establish and characterize a new prostate cancer line derived from a dog with spontaneous prostate cancer.
A new cell line (Leo) was derived from a dog with spontaneous prostate cancer. Immunohistochemistry and PCR were used to characterize the primary prostate cancer and xenografts in nude mice. Subcutaneous tumor growth and metastases in nude mice were evaluated by bioluminescent imaging, radiography and histopathology. In vitro chemosensitivity of Leo cells to therapeutic agents was measured.
Leo cells expressed the secretory epithelial cytokeratins (CK) 8, 18 and ductal cell marker, CK7. The cell line grew in vitro (over 75 passages) and was tumorigenic in the subcutis of nude mice. Following intracardiac injection, Leo cells metastasized to the brain, spinal cord, bone, and adrenal gland. The incidence of metastases was greatest to the central nervous system (80%) with a lower incidence to bone (20%) and the adrenal glands (16%). In vitro chemosensitivity assays demonstrated that Leo cells were sensitive to velcade and an HDAC-42 inhibitor with IC50 concentrations of 1.9 nM and 0.95 μM respectively.
The new prostate cancer cell line (Leo) will be a valuable model to investigate the mechanisms of the brain and bone metastases.
PMCID: PMC3139788  PMID: 21321976
Prostate cancer; Brain metastasis; spinal cord metastasis; dog; canine; bone metastasis
The Prostate  2010;71(6):615-625.
Osteoblastic bone metastasis is the predominant phenotype observed in prostate cancer patients and is associated with high patient mortality and morbidity. However, the mechanisms determining the development of this phenotype are not well understood. Prostate cancer cells secrete several osteogenic factors including Wnt proteins, which are not only osteoinductive but also oncogenic. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to investigate the contribution of the Wnt signaling pathway in prostate cancer growth, incidence of bone metastases and osteoblastic phenotype of bone metastases. The strategy involved overexpressing the Wnt antagonist, DKK-1, in the mixed osteoblastic and osteolytic Ace-1 prostate cancer cells.
Ace-1 prostate cancer cells stably expressing human DKK-1 or empty vector were established and transduced with lentiviral yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-luciferase (Luc). The Ace-1/vectorYFP-LUC and Ace-1/DKK-1YFP-LUC cells were injected subcutaneously, intratibially, or in the left cardiac ventricle in athymic mice.
Unexpectedly, DKK-1 significantly increased Ace-1 subcutaneous tumor mass and the incidence of bone metastases after intracardiac injection of Ace-1 cells. DKK-1 increased Ace-1 tumor growth associated with increased phospho46 JNK by the Wnt noncanonical pathway. As expected, DKK-1 decreased the Ace-1 osteoblastic phenotype of bone metastases, as confirmed by radiographic, histopathological, and microcomputer tomographic analysis. DKK-1 decreased osteoblastic activity via the Wnt canonical pathway evidenced by an inhibition of T-cell factor (TCF) activity in murine osteoblast precursor ST2 cells.
The present study showed that DKK-1 is a potent inhibitor of bone growth in prostate cancer-induced osteoblastic metastases.
PMCID: PMC3025080  PMID: 20957670
Prostate cancer; DKK-1; metastasis
6.  HIV-1 Nef interaction influences the ATP-binding site of the Src-family kinase, Hck 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:1.
Nef is an HIV-1 accessory protein essential for viral replication and AIDS progression. Nef interacts with a multitude of host cell signaling partners, including members of the Src kinase family. Nef preferentially activates Hck, a Src-family kinase (SFK) strongly expressed in macrophages and other HIV target cells, by binding to its regulatory SH3 domain. Recently, we identified a series of kinase inhibitors that preferentially inhibit Hck in the presence of Nef. These compounds also block Nef-dependent HIV replication, validating the Nef-SFK signaling pathway as an antiretroviral drug target. Our findings also suggested that by binding to the Hck SH3 domain, Nef indirectly affects the conformation of the kinase active site to favor inhibitor association.
To test this hypothesis, we engineered a "gatekeeper" mutant of Hck with enhanced sensitivity to the pyrazolopyrimidine tyrosine kinase inhibitor, NaPP1. We also modified the RT loop of the Hck SH3 domain to enhance interaction of the kinase with Nef. This modification stabilized Nef:Hck interaction in solution-based kinase assays, as a way to mimic the more stable association that likely occurs at cellular membranes. Introduction of the modified RT loop rendered Hck remarkably more sensitive to activation by Nef, and led to a significant decrease in the Km for ATP as well as enhanced inhibitor potency.
These observations suggest that stable interaction with Nef may induce Src-family kinase active site conformations amenable to selective inhibitor targeting.
PMCID: PMC3328272  PMID: 22420777
7.  Osteolytic bone resorption in adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2010;51(4):702-714.
Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) is caused by human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Patients with ATLL frequently develop humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM) resulting from increased osteoclastic bone resorption. Our goal was to investigate the mechanisms of ATLL-induced osteoclastic bone resorption. Murine calvaria co-cultured with HTLV-1-infected cells directly or conditioned media from cell cultures had increased osteoclast activity that was dependent on RANKL, indicating that factors secreted from ATLL cells had a stimulatory effect on bone resorption. Factors released from resorbing bone stimulated proliferation of HTLV-1-infected T-cells. Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α), both osteoclast stimulators, were expressed in HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines. Interestingly, when HTLV-1-infected T-cells were co-cultured with pre-osteoblasts, the expression of osteoprotegerin (OPG), an osteoclast inhibitory factor, was significantly down-regulated in the pre-osteoblasts. When OPG was added into the ex vivo osteoclastogenesis assay induced by HTLV-1-infected T-cells, osteoclastogenesis was strongly inhibited. In addition, HTLV-1-infected T-cells inhibited expression of early osteoblast genes and induced late genes. These regulators will serve as future therapeutic targets for the treatments of HHM in ATLL.
PMCID: PMC3057200  PMID: 20214446
Osteolytic bone resorption; PTHrP; MIP-1α; RANKL; OPG; ATLL
8.  Circulating DNA Microsatellites: Molecular Determinants of Response to Biochemotherapy in Patients With Metastatic Melanoma 
Although biochemotherapy appears to be a promising treatment for metastatic melanoma, its impact remains unpredictable. Microsatellite markers for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) appear to have prognostic significance when identified in primary tumors and serum and/or plasma from cancer patients. However, their association with response to systemic therapy has yet to be assessed. To determine whether microsatellite markers are associated with response to therapy, serum from 41 patients with metastatic melanoma, drawn before the initiation of biochemotherapy, was analyzed for LOH with nine microsatellite markers. During a median follow-up of 13 months, the overall response rate for these 41 patients was 56%, including 13 (32%) complete responses and 10 (24%) partial responses. LOH was detected in sera from 12 (29%) of the 41 patients. The response rate of these 12 patients was 17% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5% to 45%), whereas that of the 29 patients without LOH was 72% (95% CI = 54% to 85%) (P = .001). All statistical tests were two-sided. The presence of LOH was statistically significant and independently associated with disease progression (multivariable analysis, P = .003). Circulating tumor DNA markers may be useful in assessing prognosis for advanced melanoma patients and their response to biochemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2938022  PMID: 14734706
9.  A Novel Bioluminescent Mouse Model and Effective Therapy for Adult T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma 
Cancer research  2007;67(24):11859-11866.
Adult T-cell /lymphomaleukemia (ATLL) is caused by human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Approximately 80% of ATLL patients develop humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM), a life-threatening complication leading to a poor prognosis. Parathyroid hormone–related protein (PTHrP) and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α) are important factors in the pathogenesis of HHM in ATLL and the expression of PTHrP can be activated by nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). NF-κB is constitutively activated in ATLL cells and is essential for leukemogenesis including transformation of lymphocytes infected by HTLV-1. Our goal was to evaluate the effects of NF-κB disruption by a proteasomal inhibitor (PS-341) and osteoclastic inhibition by zoledronic acid (Zol) on the development of ATLL and HHM using a novel bioluminescent mouse model. We found that PS-341 decreased cell viability, increased apoptosis, and down-regulated PTHrP expression in ATLL cells in vitro. To investigate the in vivo efficacy, nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice were xenografted with ATLL cells and treated with vehicle control, PS-341, Zol, or a combination of PS-341 and Zol. Bioluminescent imaging and tumor cell count showed a significant reduction in tumor burden in mice from all treatment groups. All treatments also significantly reduced the plasma calcium concentrations. Zol treatment increased trabecular bone volume and decreased osteoclast parameters. PS-341 reduced PTHrP and MIP-1A expression in tumor cells in vivo. Our results indicate that both PS-341 and Zol are effective treatments for ATLL and HHM, which are refractory to conventional therapy.
PMCID: PMC2832603  PMID: 18089816
10.  Expression of parathyroid hormone-related protein during immortalization of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells by HTLV-1: Implications for transformation 
Retrovirology  2008;5:46.
Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) is initiated by infection with human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 (HTLV-1); however, additional host factors are also required for T-cell transformation and development of ATLL. The HTLV-1 Tax protein plays an important role in the transformation of T-cells although the exact mechanisms remain unclear. Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM) that occurs in the majority of ATLL patients. However, PTHrP is also up-regulated in HTLV-1-carriers and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) patients without hypercalcemia, indicating that PTHrP is expressed before transformation of T-cells. The expression of PTHrP and the PTH/PTHrP receptor during immortalization or transformation of lymphocytes by HTLV-1 has not been investigated.
We report that PTHrP was up-regulated during immortalization of lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells by HTLV-1 infection in long-term co-culture assays. There was preferential utilization of the PTHrP-P2 promoter in the immortalized cells compared to the HTLV-1-transformed MT-2 cells. PTHrP expression did not correlate temporally with expression of HTLV-1 tax. HTLV-1 infection up-regulated the PTHrP receptor (PTH1R) in lymphocytes indicating a potential autocrine role for PTHrP. Furthermore, co-transfection of HTLV-1 expression plasmids and PTHrP P2/P3-promoter luciferase reporter plasmids demonstrated that HTLV-1 up-regulated PTHrP expression only mildly, indicating that other cellular factors and/or events are required for the very high PTHrP expression observed in ATLL cells. We also report that macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α), a cellular gene known to play an important role in the pathogenesis of HHM in ATLL patients, was highly expressed during early HTLV-1 infection indicating that, unlike PTHrP, its expression was enhanced due to activation of lymphocytes by HTLV-1 infection.
These data demonstrate that PTHrP and its receptor are up-regulated specifically during immortalization of T-lymphocytes by HTLV-1 infection and may facilitate the transformation process.
PMCID: PMC2435116  PMID: 18541021

Results 1-10 (10)