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1.  Post-translational Modifications of the Progesterone Receptors 
Progesterone plays a key role in the development, differentiation and maintenance of female reproductive tissues and has multiple non-reproductive neural functions. Depending on the cell and tissue, the hormonal environment, growth conditions and the developmental stage, progesterone can either stimulate cell growth or inhibit it while promoting differentiation. Progesterone receptors (PRs) belong to the steroid hormone receptor superfamily of ligand-dependent transcription factors. PR proteins are subject to extensive post-translational modifications that include phosphorylation, acetylation, ubiquitination and SUMOylation. The interplay among these modifications is complex with alteration of the receptors by one factor influencing the impact of another. Control over these modifications is species-, tissue- and cell-specific. They in turn regulate multiple functions including PR stability, their subcellular localization, protein-protein interactions and transcriptional activity. These complexities may explain how tissue- and gene-specific differences in regulation are achieved in the same organism, by the same receptor protein and hormone. Here we review current knowledge of PR post-translational modifications and discuss how these may influence receptor function focusing on human breast cancer cells. There is much left to be learned. However, our understanding of this may help to identify therapeutic agents that target PR activity in tissue-specific, even gene-specific ways.
PMCID: PMC3923415  PMID: 24333793
Progesterone receptor; Post-translational Modification; SUMOylation; Phosphorylation; transcriptional activity; Breast cancer
2.  Potential mechanisms of hepatitis B virus induced liver injury 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(35):12462-12472.
Chronic active hepatitis (CAH) is acknowledged as an imperative risk factor for the development of liver injury and hepatocellular carcinoma. The histological end points of CAH are chronic inflammation, fibrosis and cirrhosis which are coupled with increased DNA synthesis in cirrhotic vs healthy normal livers. The potential mechanism involved in CAH includes a combination of processes leading to liver cell necrosis, inflammation and cytokine production and liver scaring (fibrosis). The severity of liver damage is regulated by Hepatitis B virus genotypes and viral components. The viral and cellular factors that contribute to liver injury are discussed in this article. Liver injury caused by the viral infection affects many cellular processes such as cell signaling, apoptosis, transcription, DNA repair which in turn induce radical effects on cell survival, growth, transformation and maintenance. The consequence of such perturbations is resulted in the alteration of bile secretion, gluconeogenesis, glycolysis, detoxification and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fat and balance of nutrients. The identification and elucidation of the molecular pathways perturbed by the viral proteins are important in order to design effective strategy to minimize and/or restore the hepatocytes injury.
PMCID: PMC4168079  PMID: 25253946
Hepatitis B virus; Hepatitis B virus genotype; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Woodchuck hepatitis virus; Ground squirrel hepatitis virus; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells; Interferon regulatory factor 7; Interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 4; TNF receptor-associated factor 3
3.  Hepatitis B virus, HBx mutants and their role in hepatocellular carcinoma 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(30):10238-10248.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading causes of death induced by cancer in the modern world and majority of the cases are related to chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. HBV-encoded X protein (HBx) is known to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of viral induced HCC. HBx is a multifunctional protein of 17 kDa which modulates several cellular processes by direct or indirect interaction with a repertoire of host factors resulting in HCC. HBX might interfere with several cellular processes such as oxidative stress, DNA repair, signal transduction, transcription, protein degradation, cell cycle progression and apoptosis. A number of reports have indicated that HBx is one of the most common viral ORFs that is often integrated into the host genome and its sequence variants play a crucial role in HCC. By mutational or deletion analysis it was shown that carboxy terminal of HBx has a likely role in protein-protein interactions, transcriptional transactivation, DNA repair, cell, signaling and pathogenesis of HCC. The accumulated evidence thus far suggests that it is difficult to understand the mechanistic nature of HBx associated HCC, and HBx mediated transcriptional transactivation and signaling pathways may be a major determinant. This article addresses the role of HBx in the development of HCC with particular emphasis on HBx mutants and their putative targets.
PMCID: PMC4130832  PMID: 25132741
Hepatitis B virus; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Transcription factors; Apoptosis; Epigenetics; Mutants; Tumor necrosis factor; Activating protein; Transforming growth factor; Mitogen activated protein kinase
4.  Modeling luminal breast cancer heterogeneity: combination therapy to suppress a hormone receptor-negative, cytokeratin 5-positive subpopulation in luminal disease 
Many Luminal breast cancers are heterogeneous, containing substantial numbers of estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor-negative cells among the ER+ PR+ ones. One such subpopulation we call “Luminobasal” is ER-, PR- and cytokeratin 5 (CK5)-positive. It is not targeted for treatment.
To address the relationships between ER+PR+CK5– and ER–PR–CK5+ cells in Luminal cancers and tightly control their ratios we generated isogenic pure Luminal (pLUM) and pure Luminobasal (pLB) cells from the same parental Luminal human breast cancer cell line. We used high-throughput screening to identify pLB-specific drugs and examined their efficacy alone and in combination with hormone therapy in mixed-cell tumor models.
We show that pLUM and MCF7 cells suppress proliferation of pLB cells in mixed-cell 3D colonies in vitro and that pLUM cells suppress growth of pLB cells in mixed-cell xenografts in vivo. High-throughput screening of 89 FDA-approved oncology drugs shows that pLB cells are sensitive to monotherapy with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib. By exploiting mixed-cell 3D colonies and mixed-cell solid mouse tumors models we demonstrate that combination therapy with gefitinib plus the anti-estrogen fulvestrant constitutes a robust treatment strategy.
We propose that response to combination endocrine/EGFR inhibitor therapies in heterogeneous Luminal cancers may improve long-term survival in patients whose primary tumors have been preselected for appropriate biomarkers, including ER, PR, CK5 and EGFR.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-014-0418-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4187339  PMID: 25116921
5.  Control of progesterone receptor transcriptional synergy by SUMOylation and deSUMOylation 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:10.
Covalent modification of nuclear receptors by the Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO) is dynamically regulated by competing conjugation/deconjugation steps that modulate their overall transcriptional activity. SUMO conjugation of progesterone receptors (PRs) at the N-terminal lysine (K) 388 residue of PR-B is hormone-dependent and suppresses PR-dependent transcription. Mutation of the SUMOylation motif promotes transcriptional synergy.
The present studies address mechanisms underlying this transcriptional synergy by using SUMOylation deficient PR mutants and PR specifically deSUMOylated by Sentrin-specific proteases (SENPs). We show that deSUMOylation of a small pool of receptors by catalytically competent SENPs globally modulates the cooperativity-driven transcriptional synergy between PR observed on exogenous promoters containing at least two progesterone-response elements (PRE2). This occurs in part by raising PR sensitivity to ligands. The C-terminal ligand binding domain of PR is required for the transcriptional stimulatory effects of N-terminal deSUMOylation, but neither a functional PR dimerization interface, nor a DNA binding domain exhibiting PR specificity, are required.
We conclude that direct and reversible SUMOylation of a minor PR protein subpopulation tightly controls the overall transcriptional activity of the receptors at complex synthetic promoters. Transcriptional synergism controlled by SENP-dependent PR deSUMOylation is dissociable from MAPK-catalyzed receptor phosphorylation, from SRC-1 coactivation and from recruitment of histone deacetylases to promoters. This will provide more information for targeting PR as a part of hormonal therapy of breast cancer. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the SUMOylation/deSUMOylation pathway is an interesting target for therapeutic treatment of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3373386  PMID: 22439847
6.  Hepatitis B virus X protein impedes the DNA repair via its association with transcription factor, TFIIH 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:48.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections play an important role in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HBV X protein (HBx) is a multifunctional protein that can modulate various cellular processes and plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of HCC. HBx is known to interact with DNA helicase components of TFIIH, a basal transcriptional factor and an integral component of DNA excision repair.
In this study, the functional relevance of this association was further investigated in the context to DNA repair. By site-directed mutagenesis HBx's critical residues for interaction with TFIIH were identified. Similarly, TFIIH mutants lacking ATPase domain and the conserved carboxyl-terminal domain failed to interact with HBx. Yeast and mammalian cells expressing HBxwt conferred hypersensitivity to UV irradiation, which is interpreted as a basic deficiency in nucleotide excision repair. HBxmut120 (Glu to Val) was defective in binding to TFIIH and failed to respond to UV.
We conclude that HBx may act as the promoting factor by inhibiting DNA repair causing DNA damage and accumulation of errors, thereby contributing to HCC development.
PMCID: PMC3060106  PMID: 21375739

Results 1-6 (6)