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1.  Suppression of the death gene BIK is a critical factor for resistance to tamoxifen in MCF-7 breast cancer cells 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;43(6):1777-1786.
Apoptosis is controlled by the BCL-2 family of proteins, which can be divided into three different subclasses based on the conservation of BCL-2 homology domains. BIK is a founding member of the BH3-only pro-apoptotic protein family. BIK is predominantly localized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and induces apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway by mobilizing calcium from the ER to the mitochondria. In this study, we determined that suppression of the death gene Bik promotes resistance to tamoxifen (TAM) in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. We utilized small interfering (siRNA) to specifically knockdown BIK in MCF-7 cells and studied their response to tamoxifen. The levels of cell apoptosis, the potential mitochondrial membrane (ΔΨm), and the activation of total caspases were analyzed. Western blot analysis was used to determine the expression of some BCL-2 family proteins. Flow cytometry studies revealed an increase in apoptosis level in MCF-7 cells and a 2-fold increase in relative BIK messenger RNA (mRNA) expression at a concentration of 6.0 μM of TAM. BIK silencing, with a specific RNAi, blocked TAM-induced apoptosis in 45±6.78% of cells. Moreover, it decreased mitochondrial membrane potential (Ψm) and total caspase activity, and exhibited low expression of pro-apoptotic proteins BAX, BAK, PUMA and a high expression of BCl-2 and MCL-1. The above suggests resistance to TAM, regulating the intrinsic pathway and indicate that BIK comprises an important factor in the process of apoptosis, which may exert an influence the ER pathway, which regulates mitochondrial integrity. Collectively, our results show that BIK is a central component of the programmed cell death of TAM-induced MCF-7 breast cancer cells. The silencing of BIK gene will be useful for future studies to establish the mechanisms of regulation of resistance to TAM.
PMCID: PMC3833859  PMID: 24100375
breast cancer; tamoxifen; BIK; apoptosis
2.  Activation of Akt pathway by transcription-independent mechanisms of retinoic acid promotes survival and invasion in lung cancer cells 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:44.
All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is currently being used in clinical trials for cancer treatment. The use of ATRA is limited because some cancers, such as lung cancer, show resistance to treatment. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate resistance to ATRA treatment. Akt is a kinase that plays a key role in cell survival and cell invasion. Akt is often activated in lung cancer, suggesting its participation in resistance to chemotherapy. In this study, we explored the hypothesis that activation of the Akt pathway promotes resistance to ATRA treatment at the inhibition of cell survival and invasion in lung cancer. We aimed to provide guidelines for the proper use of ATRA in clinical trials and to elucidate basic biological mechanisms of resistance.
We performed experiments using the A549 human lung adenocarcinoma cell line. We found that ATRA treatment promotes PI3k-Akt pathway activation through transcription-independent mechanisms. Interestingly, ATRA treatment induces the translocation of RARα to the plasma membrane, where it colocalizes with Akt. Immunoprecipitation assays showed that ATRA promotes Akt activation mediated by RARα-Akt interaction. Activation of the PI3k-Akt pathway by ATRA promotes invasion through Rac-GTPase, whereas pretreatment with 15e (PI3k inhibitor) or over-expression of the inactive form of Akt blocks ATRA-induced invasion. We also found that treatment with ATRA induces cell survival, which is inhibited by 15e or over-expression of an inactive form of Akt, through a subsequent increase in the levels of the active form of caspase-3. Finally, we showed that over-expression of the active form of Akt significantly decreases expression levels of the tumor suppressors RARβ2 and p53. In contrast, over-expression of the inactive form of Akt restores RARβ2 expression in cells treated with ATRA, indicating that activation of the PI3k-Akt pathway inhibits the expression of ATRA target genes.
Our results demonstrate that rapid activation of Akt blocks transcription-dependent mechanism of ATRA, promotes invasion and cell survival and confers resistance to retinoic acid treatment in lung cancer cells. These findings provide an incentive for the design and clinical testing of treatment regimens that combine ATRA and PI3k inhibitors for lung cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3665688  PMID: 23693014
Lung cancer; ATRA; Resistance; PI3k/Akt pathway; RARs; RAC; Cell invasion; Apoptosis
3.  erbB expression changes in ethanol and 7, 12- dimethylbenz (a) anthracene-induced oral carcinogenesis 
Objetive: The aim of this study was to determine erbB expression in normal mucosa, oral dysplasia, and invasive carcinomas developed in the hamster’s buccal pouch chemical carcinogenesis model. Study design: Fifty Syrian golden hamsters were equally divided in five groups (A-E); two controls and three experimental group exposed to alcohol, DMBA, or both for 14 weeks. Number of tumors per cheek, volume, histological condition, erbB expression were determined and results were analyzed by the Mann–Whitney U and Dunn’s test. Results: Control groups and those exposed to alcohol (A, B and C respectively) only presented clinical and histological normal mucosa; while those exposed to DMBA or DMBA plus alcohol (D and E groups) developed dysplasia and invasive carcinomas. erbB2, erbB3, and erbB4 increased their expression in alcohol-exposed mucosa, dysplasia, and invasive carcinomas. We observed a similar expression level for erbB2 in dysplasia and carcinomas; while, erbB3 and erbB4 were similar only in carcinomas. Conclusion: The DMBA and alcohol can be considered as carcinogen and promoter for oral carcinogenesis. The erbB expression is different according to their histological condition, suggesting differential participation of the erbB family in oral carcinogenesis induced by alcohol and DMBA.
Key words:erbB, 7,12- dimethylbenz(a)anthracene, oral squamous cell carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3613887  PMID: 23229248
5.  Cancer-initiating cells derived from established cervical cell lines exhibit stem-cell markers and increased radioresistance 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:48.
Cancer-initiating cells (CICs) are proposed to be responsible for the generation of metastasis and resistance to therapy. Accumulating evidences indicates CICs are found among different human cancers and cell lines derived from them. Few studies address the characteristics of CICs in cervical cancer. We identify biological features of CICs from four of the best-know human cell lines from uterine cervix tumors. (HeLa, SiHa, Ca Ski, C-4 I).
Cells were cultured as spheres under stem-cell conditions. Flow cytometry was used to detect expression of CD34, CD49f and CD133 antigens and Hoechst 33342 staining to identify side population (SP). Magnetic and fluorescence-activated cell sorting was applied to enrich and purify populations used to evaluate tumorigenicity in nude mice. cDNA microarray analysis and in vitro radioresistance assay were carried out under standard conditions.
CICs, enriched as spheroids, were capable to generate reproducible tumor phenotypes in nu-nu mice and serial propagation. Injection of 1 × 103 dissociated spheroid cells induced tumors in the majority of animals, whereas injection of 1 × 105 monolayer cells remained nontumorigenic. Sphere-derived CICs expressed CD49f surface marker. Gene profiling analysis of HeLa and SiHa spheroid cells showed up-regulation of CICs markers characteristic of the female reproductive system. Importantly, epithelial to mesenchymal (EMT) transition-associated markers were found highly expressed in spheroid cells. More importantly, gene expression analysis indicated that genes required for radioresistance were also up-regulated, including components of the double-strand break (DSB) DNA repair machinery and the metabolism of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Dose-dependent radiation assay indicated indeed that CICs-enriched populations exhibit an increased resistance to ionizing radiation (IR).
We characterized a self-renewing subpopulation of CICs found among four well known human cancer-derived cell lines (HeLa, SiHa, Ca Ski and C-4 I) and found that they express characteristic markers of stem cell, EMT and radioresistance. The fact that CICs demonstrated a higher degree of resistance to radiation than differentiated cells suggests that specific detection and targeting of CICs could be highly valuable for the therapy of tumors from the uterine cervix.
PMCID: PMC3299592  PMID: 22284662
Cancer-initiating cells; Cervical cancer; Stem cell markers; Radioresistance; Epithelia to mesenchymal transition
6.  Human Papillomavirus Infections and Cancer Stem Cells of Tumors from the Uterine Cervix 
The Open Virology Journal  2012;6:232-240.
Different rate of development of productive infections (as low grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasias), or high grade lesions and cervical malignant tumors associated with infections of the Transformation zone (TZ) by High-Risk Human Papillomavirus (HR-HPV), could suggest that different epithelial host target cells could exist. If there is more than one target cell, their differential infection by HR-HPV may play a central role in the development of cervical cancer. Recently, the concept that cancer might arise from a rare population of cells with stem cell-like properties has received support in several solid tumors, including cervical cancer (CC). According to the cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis, CC can now be considered a disease in which stem cells of the TZ are converted to cervical cancer stem cells by the interplay between HR-HPV viral oncogenes and cellular alterations that are thought to be finally responsible for tumor initiation and maintenance. Current studies of CSC could provide novel insights regarding tumor initiation and progression, their relation with viral proteins and interplay with the tumor micro-environment. This review will focus on the biology of cervical cancer stem cells, which might contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for cervical tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3547319  PMID: 23341858
Cancer stem cells; cervical cancer; human papillomavirus; squamous cell carcinoma; transformation zone.
7.  Analysis of CpG methylation sites and CGI among human papillomavirus DNA genomes 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:580.
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) genome is divided into early and late coding sequences, including 8 open reading frames (ORFs) and a regulatory region (LCR). Viral gene expression may be regulated through epigenetic mechanisms, including cytosine methylation at CpG dinucleotides. We have analyzed the distribution of CpG sites and CpG islands/clusters (CGI) among 92 different HPV genomes grouped in function of their preferential tropism: cutaneous or mucosal. We calculated the proportion of CpG sites (PCS) for each ORF and calculated the expected CpG values for each viral type.
CpGs are underrepresented in viral genomes. We found a positive correlation between CpG observed and expected values, with mucosal high-risk (HR) virus types showing the smallest O/E ratios. The ranges of the PCS were similar for most genomic regions except E4, where the majority of CpGs are found within islands/clusters. At least one CGI belongs to each E2/E4 region. We found positive correlations between PCS for each viral ORF when compared with the others, except for the LCR against four ORFs and E6 against three other ORFs. The distribution of CpG islands/clusters among HPV groups is heterogeneous and mucosal HR-HPV types exhibit both lower number and shorter island sizes compared to cutaneous and mucosal Low-risk (LR) HPVs (all of them significantly different).
There is a difference between viral and cellular CpG underrepresentation. There are significant correlations between complete genome PCS and a lack of correlations between several genomic region pairs, especially those involving LCR and E6. L2 and L1 ORF behavior is opposite to that of oncogenes E6 and E7. The first pair possesses relatively low numbers of CpG sites clustered in CGIs while the oncogenes possess a relatively high number of CpG sites not associated to CGIs. In all HPVs, E2/E4 is the only region with at least one CGI and shows a higher content of CpG sites in every HPV type with an identified E4. The mucosal HR-HPVs show either the shortest CGI size, followed by the mucosal LR-HPVs and lastly by the cutaneous viral subgroup, and a trend to the lowest CGI number, followed by the cutaneous viral subgroup and lastly by the mucosal LR-HPVs.
PMCID: PMC3293833  PMID: 22118413
11.  Heparin (GAG-hed) inhibits LCR activity of Human Papillomavirus type 18 by decreasing AP1 binding 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:218.
High risk HPVs are causative agents of anogenital cancers. Viral E6 and E7 genes are continuously expressed and are largely responsible for the oncogenic activity of these viruses. Transcription of the E6 and E7 genes is controlled by the viral Long Control Region (LCR), plus several cellular transcription factors including AP1 and the viral protein E2. Within the LCR, the binding and activity of the transcription factor AP1 represents a key regulatory event in maintaining E6/E7 gene expression and uncontrolled cell proliferation. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as heparin, can inhibit tumour growth; they have also shown antiviral effects and inhibition of AP1 transcriptional activity. The purpose of this study was to test the heparinoid GAG-hed, as a possible antiviral and antitumoral agent in an HPV18 positive HeLa cell line.
Using in vivo and in vitro approaches we tested GAG-hed effects on HeLa tumour cell growth, cell proliferation and on the expression of HPV18 E6/E7 oncogenes. GAG-hed effects on AP1 binding to HPV18-LCR-DNA were tested by EMSA.
We were able to record the antitumoral effect of GAG-hed in vivo by using as a model tumours induced by injection of HeLa cells into athymic female mice. The antiviral effect of GAG-hed resulted in the inhibition of LCR activity and, consequently, the inhibition of E6 and E7 transcription. A specific diminishing of cell proliferation rates was observed in HeLa but not in HPV-free colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. Treated HeLa cells did not undergo apoptosis but the percentage of cells in G2/M phase of the cell cycle was increased. We also detected that GAG-hed prevents the binding of the transcription factor AP1 to the LCR.
Direct interaction of GAG-hed with the components of the AP1 complex and subsequent interference with its ability to correctly bind specific sites within the viral LCR may contribute to the inhibition of E6/E7 transcription and cell proliferation. Our data suggest that GAG-hed could have antitumoral and antiviral activity mainly by inhibiting AP1 binding to the HPV18-LCR.
PMCID: PMC1574339  PMID: 16945153
12.  High-Level Expression of NRAMP1 in Peripheral Blood Cells and Tuberculous Granulomas from Mycobacterium bovis-Infected Bovines 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(11):7165-7168.
By Western blotting, we demonstrate high-level expression of NRAMP1 proteins in peripheral blood cells and granulomas of Mycobacterium bovis-infected bovines. Immunohistochemistry of granulomatous lesions showed heavily labeled epithelioid macrophages and Langhans cells. These data suggest that M. bovis infection enhances NRAMP1 expression and that active tuberculosis can occur despite this response.
PMCID: PMC100114  PMID: 11598095

Results 1-12 (12)