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author:("mile, Lucio")
1.  Targeting the adenosine A2b receptor in the tumor microenvironment overcomes local immunosuppression by myeloid-derived suppressor cells 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e27989.
Emerging evidence suggests that the adenosine A2b receptor (ADORA2B, also known as A2bR) plays a pivotal role in tumor progression. We have recently demonstrated that blocking A2bR stimulates T cell-mediated immunosurveillance in a melanoma model by impairing the influx of myeloid-deriver suppressor cells (MDSCs) into the tumor microenvironment. This results in robust antineoplastic effects, which can be abrogated by the adoptive transfer of MDSCs.
doi:10.4161/onci.27989
PMCID: PMC4121336  PMID: 25101221
A2bR; immunosuppression; immunotherapy; MDSCs; tumor microenvironment
2.  γ-Secretase Inhibitors and Modulators 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1828(12):10.1016/j.bbamem.2013.06.005.
γ-Secretase is a fascinating, multi-subunit, intramembrane-cleaving protease that is now being considered as a therapeutic target for a number of diseases. Potent, orally bioavailable γ-secretase inhibitors (GSIs) have been developed and tested in humans with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and cancer. Preclinical studies also suggest the therapeutic potential for GSIs in other disease conditions. However, due to inherent mechanism based-toxicity of non-selective inhibition of γ-secretase, clinical development of GSIs will require empirical testing with careful evaluation of benefit versus risk. In addition to GSIs, compounds referred to as γ-secretase modulators (GSMs) remain in development as AD therapeutics. GSMs do not inhibit γ-secretase, but modulate γ-secretase processivity and thereby shift the profile of the secreted amyloid β peptides (Aβ) peptides produced. Although GSMs are thought to have an inherently safe mechanism of action, their effects on substrates other than the amyloid β protein precursor (APP) have not been extensively investigated. Herein, we will review the current state of development of GSIs and GSMs and explore pertinent biological and pharmacological questions pertaining to the use of these agents for select indications.
doi:10.1016/j.bbamem.2013.06.005
PMCID: PMC3857966  PMID: 23791707
Presenilin; γ-secretase; γ-secretase inhibitor; γ-secretase modulator; cancer; Alzheimer's disease; amyloid β protein; APP; Notch; intramembrane proteolysis
3.  Emerging roles of PDGF-D in EMT progression during tumorigenesis 
Cancer treatment reviews  2012;39(6):640-646.
Platelet-derived growth factor-D (PDGF-D) signaling pathway has been reported to be involved in regulating various cellular processes, such as cell growth, apoptotic cell death, migration, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis. Recently, multiple studies have shown that PDGF-D plays a critical role in governing Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), although the underlying mechanism of PDGF-D-mediated acquisition of EMT is largely unclear. Therefore, this mini review will discuss recent advances in our understanding of the role of PDGF-D in the acquisition of EMT during tumorigenesis. Furthermore, we will summarize the function of chemical inhibitors and natural compounds that are known to inactivate PDGF-D signaling pathway, which leads to the reversal of EMT. In summary, inactivation of PDGF-D could be a novel strategy for achieving better treatment outcome of patients inflicted with cancers.
doi:10.1016/j.ctrv.2012.11.006
PMCID: PMC3619006  PMID: 23261166
PDGF-D; EMT; migration; invasion; miRNA; natural compounds; stem cells
4.  Notch Inhibitors for Cancer Treatment 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2013;139(2):95-110.
Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved cell signaling pathway involved in cell fate during development, stem cell renewal and differentiation in postnatal tissues. Roles for Notch in carcinogenesis, in the biology of cancer stem cells and tumor angiogenesis have been reported. These features identify Notch as a potential therapeutic target in oncology. Based on the molecular structure of Notch receptor, Notch ligands and Notch activators, a set of Notch pathway inhibitors have been developed. Most of these inhibitors had shown anti-tumor effects in preclinical studies. At the same time, the combinatorial effect of these inhibitors with current chemotherapeutical drugs still under study in different clinical trials. In this review, we describe the basics of Notch signaling and the role of Notch in normal and cancer stem cells as a logic way to develop different Notch inhibitors and their current stage of progress for cancer patient’s treatment.
doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2013.02.003
PMCID: PMC3732476  PMID: 23458608
Notch signaling; Notch inhibitors; cancer; cancer stem cells
6.  OX40L/Jagged1 co-signaling by GM-CSF induced bone-marrow dendritic cells is required for the expansion of functional Tregs 
Earlier, we had demonstrated that treatment with low dose of GM-CSF can prevent the development of experimental autoimmune thyroiditis (EAT), myasthenia gravis (EAMG) and type-1 diabetes; and could also reverse ongoing EAT and EAMG. The protective effect was mediated through the induction of tolerogenic CD11C+CD8α− DCs and consequent expansion of Foxp3+ T-regulatory cells (Tregs). Subsequently, we showed that GM-CSF acted specifically on bone marrow precursors and facilitated their differentiation into tolerogenic DCs (GM-BMDCs), which directed Treg expansion in a contact dependent manner. This novel mechanism of Treg expansion was independent of TCR mediated signalling but required exogenous IL-2 and co-signalling from DC bound OX40L. In the present study, we observed that OX40L mediated signalling by GM-BMDCs although necessary was not sufficient for Treg expansion and required signalling by Jagged1. Concurrent signalling induced by OX40L and Jagged1 via OX40 and Notch3 receptors expressed on Tregs was essential for the Treg expansion with sustained FoxP3 expression. Adoptive transfer of only OX40L+Jagged1+ BMDCs led to Treg expansion, increased production of IL-4 and IL-10, and suppression of EAT in the recipient mice. These results showed a critical role for OX40L and Jagged1 induced co-signalling in GM-BMDC-induced Treg expansion.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1202298
PMCID: PMC3660466  PMID: 23630352
GM-CSF; Bone-marrow; regulatory T cells; dendritic cells; tolerance; Autoimmunity; Experimental autoimmune thyroiditis; OX40L; Jagged1
7.  Sunitinib significantly suppresses the proliferation, migration, apoptosis resistance, tumor angiogenesis and growth of triple-negative breast cancers but increases breast cancer stem cells 
Vascular Cell  2014;6:12.
The majority of triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are basal-like breast cancers. However there is no reported study on anti-tumor effects of sunitinib in xenografts of basal-like TNBC (MDA-MB-468) cells. In the present study, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, MCF-7 cells were cultured using RPMI 1640 media with 10% FBS. Vascular endothelia growth factor (VEGF) protein levels were detected using ELISA (R & D Systams). MDA-MB-468 cells were exposed to sunitinib for 18 hours for measuring proliferation (3H-thymidine incorporation), migration (BD Invasion Chamber), and apoptosis (ApopTag and ApoScreen Anuexin V Kit). The effect of sunitinib on Notch-1 expression was determined by Western blot in cultured MDA-MB-468 cells. 106 MDA-MB-468 cells were inoculated into the left fourth mammary gland fat pad in athymic nude-foxn1 mice. When the tumor volume reached 100 mm3, sunitinib was given by gavage at 80 mg/kg/2 days for 4 weeks. Tumor angiogenesis was determined by CD31 immunohistochemistry. Breast cancer stem cells (CSCs) isolated from the tumors were determined by flow cytometry analysis using CD44+/CD24- or low. ELISA indicated that VEGF was much more highly expressed in MDA-MB-468 cells than MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells. Sunitinib significantly inhibited the proliferation, invasion, and apoptosis resistance in cultured basal like breast cancer cells. Sunitinib significantly increased the expression of Notch-1 protein in cultured MDA-MB-468 or MDA-MB-231 cells. The xenograft models showed that oral sunitinib significantly reduced the tumor volume of TNBCs in association with the inhibition of tumor angiogeneisis, but increased breast CSCs. These findings support the hypothesis that the possibility should be considered of sunitinib increasing breast CSCs though it inhibits TNBC tumor angiogenesis and growth/progression, and that effects of sunitinib on Notch expression and hypoxia may increase breast cancer stem cells. This work provides the groundwork for an innovative therapeutic strategy in TNBC therapy by using sunitinib plus γ-secretase inhibitor to simultaneously target angiogenesis and CSC.
doi:10.1186/2045-824X-6-12
PMCID: PMC4049452  PMID: 24914410
Sunitinib; Basal-like triple-negative breast cancer; Xenografts; Angiogenesis; Proliferation; Migration; Apoptosis; Breast cancer stem cell; Notch-1
8.  Hyper-Activation of Notch3 Amplifies the Proliferative Potential of Rhabdomyosarcoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96238.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a pediatric myogenic-derived soft tissue sarcoma that includes two major histopathological subtypes: embryonal and alveolar. The majority of alveolar RMS expresses PAX3-FOXO1 fusion oncoprotein, associated with the worst prognosis. RMS cells show myogenic markers expression but are unable to terminally differentiate. The Notch signaling pathway is a master player during myogenesis, with Notch1 activation sustaining myoblast expansion and Notch3 activation inhibiting myoblast fusion and differentiation. Accordingly, Notch1 signaling is up-regulated and activated in embryonal RMS samples and supports the proliferation of tumor cells. However, it is unable to control their differentiation properties. We previously reported that Notch3 is activated in RMS cell lines, of both alveolar and embryonal subtype, and acts by inhibiting differentiation. Moreover, Notch3 depletion reduces PAX3-FOXO1 alveolar RMS tumor growth in vivo. However, whether Notch3 activation also sustains the proliferation of RMS cells remained unclear. To address this question, we forced the expression of the activated form of Notch3, Notch3IC, in the RH30 and RH41 PAX3-FOXO1-positive alveolar and in the RD embryonal RMS cell lines and studied the proliferation of these cells. We show that, in all three cell lines tested, Notch3IC over-expression stimulates in vitro cell proliferation and prevents the effects of pharmacological Notch inhibition. Furthermore, Notch3IC further increases RH30 cell growth in vivo. Interestingly, knockdown of Notch canonical ligands JAG1 or DLL1 in RMS cell lines decreases Notch3 activity and reduces cell proliferation. Finally, the expression of Notch3IC and its target gene HES1 correlates with that of the proliferative marker Ki67 in a small cohort of primary PAX-FOXO1 alveolar RMS samples. These results strongly suggest that high levels of Notch3 activation increase the proliferative potential of RMS cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096238
PMCID: PMC4010457  PMID: 24797362
9.  Uteroglobin, a Possible Ligand of the Lipoxin Receptor Inhibits Serum Amyloid A-Driven Inflammation 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:876395.
Serum amyloid A (SAA) production is increased by inflamed arthritic synovial tissue, where it acts as a cytokine/chemoattractant for inflammatory and immune cells and as an inducer of matrix degrading enzymes. SAA has been shown to bind lipoxin A4 receptor, a member of the formyl-peptide related 2 G-protein coupled receptor family (ALX) and elicit proinflammatory activities in human primary fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS). We report on the identification of uteroglobin, a small globular protein with potent anti-inflammatory activities, as a possible ligand of ALX. Uteroglobin-specific association with ALX was demonstrated by an enzyme immunoassay experiment employing a cell line engineered to express the human ALX receptor. Uteroglobin's interaction with ALX resulted in the inhibition of SAA responses, such as attenuation of phospholipase A2 activation and cellular chemotaxis. In FLS, uteroglobin showed an antagonism against SAA-induced interleukin-8 release and decreased cell migration. These novel roles described for uteroglobin via ALX may help elucidate genetic and clinical observations indicating that a polymorphism in the uteroglobin promoter is linked to disease outcome, specifically prediction of bone erosion in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or severity of IgA glomerulonephritis and sarcoidosis.
doi:10.1155/2014/876395
PMCID: PMC3981015  PMID: 24782597
10.  Adenosine limits the therapeutic effectiveness of anti-CTLA4 mAb in a mouse melanoma model 
Combination therapies for melanoma that target immune-regulatory networks are entering clinical practice, and more are under investigation in preclinical or clinical studies. Adenosine plays a key role in regulating melanoma progression. We investigated the effectiveness of cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) antibody (mAb) in combination with either modulators of adenosine receptors (AR) activation or an inhibitor of adenosine production in a murine model of melanoma. We found that treatment with APCP, selective inhibitor of the adenosine-generating nucleotidase CD73, enhanced the activity of anti-CTLA4 mAb, by improving tumor immune response. Blockade of the adenosine A2a receptor (A2aR), which plays a critical role in the regulation of T-cell functions, significantly reduced melanoma growth. Most importantly, combination therapy including an A2aR antagonist with anti-CTLA4 mAb markedly inhibited tumor growth and enhanced anti-tumor immune responses. Targeting A3R and CTLA4 was not as effective in limiting melanoma growth as targeting A2aR. These data suggest that the efficacy of anti-CTLA4 melanoma therapy may be improved by targeting multiple mechanisms of immune suppression within tumor tissue, including CD73 or A2a receptor.
PMCID: PMC3960454  PMID: 24660106
CD73; adenosine receptor; CTLA4; melanoma; immunotherapy
11.  Increased plasma levels of soluble vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 1 (sFlt-1) in women by moderate exercise and increased plasma levels of VEGF in overweight/obese women 
The incidence of breast cancer is increasing worldwide, and this seems to be related to an increase in lifestyle risk factors, including physical inactivity, and overweight/obesity. We previously reported that exercise induced a circulating angiostatic phenotype characterized by increased sFlt-1 and endostatin and decreased unbound-VEGF in men. However, there is no data on women. The present study determines the following: 1) whether moderate exercise increased sFlt-1 and endostatin and decreased unbound-VEGF in the circulation of adult female volunteers; 2) whether overweight/obese women have a higher plasma level of unbound-VEGF than lean women. 72 African American and Caucasian adult women volunteers aged from 18–44 were enrolled into the exercise study. All the participants walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity (55–59% heart rate reserve), and oxygen consumption (VO2) was quantified by utilizing a metabolic cart. We had the blood samples before and immediately after exercise from 63 participants. ELISA assays (R&D Systems) showed that plasma levels of sFlt-1 were 67.8±3.7 pg/ml immediately after exercise (30 minutes), significantly higher than basal levels, 54.5±3.3 pg/ml, before exercise (P < 0.01; n=63). There was no significant difference in the % increase of sFlt-1 levels after exercise between African American and Caucasian (P=0.533) or between lean and overweight/obese women (P=0.892). There was no significant difference in plasma levels of unbound VEGF (35.28±5.47 vs. 35.23±4.96 pg/ml; P=0.99) or endostatin (111.12±5.48 vs. 115.45±7.15 ng/ml; P=0.63) before and after exercise. Basal plasma levels of unbound-VEGF in overweight/obese women were 52.26±9.6 pg/ml, significantly higher than basal levels of unbound-VEGF in lean women, 27.34±4.99 pg/ml (P < 0.05). The results support our hypothesis that exercise-induced plasma levels of sFlt-1 could be an important clinical biomarker to explore the mechanisms of exercise training in reducing breast cancer progression and that VEGF is an important biomarker in obesity and obesity-related cancer progression.
doi:10.1097/CEJ.0b013e328353ed81
PMCID: PMC3449013  PMID: 22609636
Exercise; Young adult women; Overweight/obese; sFlt-1; Endostatin; VEGF
12.  Therapeutic targeting of NOTCH signaling ameliorates immune-mediated bone marrow failure of aplastic anemia 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(7):1311-1329.
Notch1 signaling sustains the proinflammatory behavior of Th1 cells, implicated in the development of aplastic anemia in humans and mice.
Severe aplastic anemia (AA) is a bone marrow (BM) failure (BMF) disease frequently caused by aberrant immune destruction of blood progenitors. Although a Th1-mediated pathology is well described for AA, molecular mechanisms driving disease progression remain ill defined. The NOTCH signaling pathway mediates Th1 cell differentiation in the presence of polarizing cytokines, an action requiring enzymatic processing of NOTCH receptors by γ-secretase. Using a mouse model of AA, we demonstrate that expression of both intracellular NOTCH1IC and T-BET, a key transcription factor regulating Th1 cell differentiation, was increased in spleen and BM-infiltrating T cells during active disease. Conditionally deleting Notch1 or administering γ-secretase inhibitors (GSIs) in vivo attenuated disease and rescued mice from lethal BMF. In peripheral T cells from patients with untreated AA, NOTCH1IC was significantly elevated and bound to the TBX21 promoter, showing NOTCH1 directly regulates the gene encoding T-BET. Treating patient cells with GSIs in vitro lowered NOTCH1IC levels, decreased NOTCH1 detectable at the TBX21 promoter, and decreased T-BET expression, indicating that NOTCH1 signaling is responsive to GSIs during active disease. Collectively, these results identify NOTCH signaling as a primary driver of Th1-mediated pathogenesis in AA and may represent a novel target for therapeutic intervention.
doi:10.1084/jem.20112615
PMCID: PMC3698520  PMID: 23733784
13.  Non-Canonical Notch Signaling Drives Activation and Differentiation of Peripheral CD4+ T Cells 
Cleavage of the Notch receptor via a γ-secretase, results in the release of the active intra-cellular domain of Notch that migrates to the nucleus and interacts with RBP-Jκ, resulting in the activation of downstream target genes. This canonical Notch signaling pathway has been documented to influence T cell development and function. However, the mechanistic details underlying this process remain obscure. In addition to RBP-Jκ, the intra-cellular domain of Notch also interacts with other proteins in the cytoplasm and nucleus, giving rise to the possibility of an alternate, RBP-Jκ independent Notch pathway. However, the contribution of such RBP-Jκ independent, “non-canonical” Notch signaling in regulating peripheral T cell responses is unknown. In this report, we specifically demonstrate the requirement of Notch1 for regulating signal strength and signaling events distal to the T cell receptor in peripheral CD4+ T cells. By using mice with a conditional deletion in Notch1 or RBP-Jκ, we show that Notch1 regulates activation and proliferation of CD4+ T cells independently of RBP-Jκ. Furthermore, differentiation to TH1 and iTreg lineages although Notch dependent, is RBP-Jκ independent. Our striking observations demonstrate that many of the cell-intrinsic functions of Notch occur independently of RBP-Jκ. Such non-canonical regulation of these processes likely occurs through NF-κ B. This reveals a previously unknown, novel role of non-canonical Notch signaling in regulating peripheral T cell responses.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00054
PMCID: PMC3921607  PMID: 24611064
Notch1; CD4+ T cell; non-canonical; activation; differentiation
14.  NOTCH1 Can Initiate NF-κB Activation via Cytosolic Interactions with Components of the T Cell Signalosome 
T cell stimulation requires the input and integration of external signals. Signaling through the T cell receptor (TCR) is known to induce formation of the membrane-tethered CBM complex, comprising CARMA1, BCL10, and MALT1, which is required for TCR-mediated NF-κB activation. TCR signaling has been shown to activate NOTCH proteins, transmembrane receptors also implicated in NF-κB activation. However, the link between TCR-mediated NOTCH signaling and early events leading to induction of NF-κB activity remains unclear. In this report, we demonstrate a novel cytosolic function for NOTCH1 and show that it is essential to CBM complex formation. Using a model of skin allograft rejection, we show in vivo that NOTCH1 acts in the same functional pathway as PKCθ, a T cell-specific kinase important for CBM assembly and classical NF-κB activation. We further demonstrate in vitro NOTCH1 associates physically with PKCθ and CARMA1 in the cytosol. Unexpectedly, when NOTCH1 expression was abrogated using RNAi approaches, interactions between CARMA1, BCL10, and MALT1 were lost. This failure in CBM assembly reduced inhibitor of kappa B alpha phosphorylation and diminished NF-κB–DNA binding. Finally, using a luciferase gene reporter assay, we show the intracellular domain of NOTCH1 can initiate robust NF-κB activity in stimulated T cells, even when NOTCH1 is excluded from the nucleus through modifications that restrict it to the cytoplasm or hold it tethered to the membrane. Collectively, these observations provide evidence that NOTCH1 may facilitate early events during T cell activation by nucleating the CBM complex and initiating NF-κB signaling.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00249
PMCID: PMC4033603  PMID: 24904593
NOTCH1; CARMA1; PKCθ; NF-κB; non-canonical; cytosolic; T cell subject category: immunology; signal transduction
15.  Blockade of A2b Adenosine Receptor Reduces Tumor Growth and Immune Suppression Mediated by Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in a Mouse Model of Melanoma12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(12):1400-1409.
The A2b receptor (A2bR) belongs to the adenosine receptor family. Emerging evidence suggest that A2bR is implicated in tumor progression in some murine tumor models, but the therapeutic potential of targeting A2bR in melanoma has not been examined. This study first shows that melanoma-bearing mice treated with Bay 60-6583, a selective A2bR agonist, had increased melanoma growth. This effect was associated with higher levels of immune regulatory mediators interleukin-10 (IL-10) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) and accumulation of tumor-associated CD11b positive Gr1 positive cells (CD11b+Gr1+) myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Depletion of CD11b+Gr1+ cells completely reversed the protumor activity of Bay 60-6583. Conversely, pharmacological blockade of A2bR with PSB1115 reversed immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment, leading to a significant melanoma growth delay. PSB1115 treatment reduced both levels of IL-10 and MCP-1 and CD11b+Gr1+ cell number in melanoma lesions. These effects were associated with higher frequency of tumor-infiltrating CD8 positive (CD8+) T cells and natural killer T (NKT) cells and increased levels of T helper 1 (Th1)-like cytokines. Adoptive transfer of CD11b+Gr1+ cells abrogated the antitumor activity of PSB1115. These data suggest that the antitumor activity of PSB1115 relies on its ability to lower accumulation of tumor-infiltrating MDSCs and restore an efficient antitumor T cell response. The antitumor effect of PSB1115 was not observed in melanoma-bearing nude mice. Furthermore, PSB1115 enhanced the antitumor efficacy of dacarbazine. These data indicate that A2bR antagonists such as PSB1115 should be investigated as adjuvants in the treatment of melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3884531  PMID: 24403862
16.  Chemoresistance to gemcitabine in hepatoma cells induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition and involves activation of PDGF-D pathway 
Oncotarget  2013;4(11):1999-2009.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the common malignances in the world and has high mortality in part due to development of acquired drug resistance. Therefore, it is urgent to investigate the molecular mechanism of drug resistance in HCC. To explore the underlying mechanism of drug resistance in HCC, we developed gemcitabine-resistant (GR) HCC cells. We used multiple methods to achieve our goal including RT-PCR, Western blotting analysis, transfection, Wound-healing assay, migration and invasion assay. We observed that gemcitabine-resistant cells acquired epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype. Moreover, we found that PDGF-D is highly expressed in GR cells. Furthermore, down-regulation of PDGF-D in GR cells led to partial reversal of the EMT phenotype. Our findings demonstrated that targeting PDGF-D could be a novel strategy to overcome gemcitabine resistance in HCC.
PMCID: PMC3875765  PMID: 24158561
Hepatocellular carcinoma; chemoresistance; PDGF-D; EMT; gemcitabine
17.  Down-Regulation of Notch-1 Is Associated With Akt and FoxM1 in Inducing Cell Growth Inhibition and Apoptosis in Prostate Cancer Cells 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2011;112(1):78-88.
Although many studies have been done to uncover the mechanisms by which down-regulation of Notch-1 exerts its anti-tumor activity against a variety of human malignancies, the precise molecular mechanisms remain unclear. In the present study, we investigated the cellular consequence of Notch-1 down-regulation and also assessed the molecular consequence of Notch-1-mediated alterations of its downstream targets on cell viability and apoptosis in prostate cancer (PCa) cells. We found that the down-regulation of Notch-1 led to the inhibition of cell growth and induction of apoptosis, which was mechanistically linked with down-regulation of Akt and FoxM1, suggesting for the first time that Akt and FoxM1 are downstream targets of Notch-1 signaling. Moreover, we found that a “natural agent” (genistein) originally discovered from soybean could cause significant reduction in cell viability and induced apoptosis of PCa cells, which was consistent with down-regulation of Notch-1, Akt, and FoxM1. These results suggest that down-regulation of Notch-1 by novel agents could become a newer approach for the prevention of tumor progression and/or treatment, which is likely to be mediated via inactivation of Akt and FoxM1 signaling pathways in PCa.
doi:10.1002/jcb.22770
PMCID: PMC3792569  PMID: 20658545
NOTCH-1; PROSTATE CANCER; CELL GROWTH; APOPTOSIS; Akt; FoxM1
18.  Notch Signaling Pathway in Pancreatic Cancer Progression 
Pancreatic disorders & therapy  2013;3(114):1000114.
PMCID: PMC3767173  PMID: 24027656
Notch; Pancreatic cancer; EMT; Stem cell; Microrna; Therapy
19.  Notch signaling: targeting cancer stem cells and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition 
OncoTargets and therapy  2013;6:1249-1259.
Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved pathway involved in cell fate control during development, stem cell self-renewal, and postnatal tissue differentiation. Roles for Notch in carcinogenesis, the biology of cancer stem cells, tumor angiogenesis, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) have been reported. This review describes the role of Notch in the “stemness” program in cancer cells and in metastases, together with a brief update on the Notch inhibitors currently under investigation in oncology. These agents may be useful in targeting cancer stem cells and to reverse the EMT process.
doi:10.2147/OTT.S36162
PMCID: PMC3772757  PMID: 24043949
Notch signaling; EMT; cancer stem cells; mesenchymal stem cells; metastases; Notch inhibitors
20.  Comprehensive Assessment and Network Analysis of the Emerging Genetic Susceptibility Landscape of Prostate Cancer 
Cancer Informatics  2013;12:175-191.
Background
Recent advances in high-throughput genotyping have made possible identification of genetic variants associated with increased risk of developing prostate cancer using genome-wide associations studies (GWAS). However, the broader context in which the identified genetic variants operate is poorly understood. Here we present a comprehensive assessment, network, and pathway analysis of the emerging genetic susceptibility landscape of prostate cancer.
Methods
We created a comprehensive catalog of genetic variants and associated genes by mining published reports and accompanying websites hosting supplementary data on GWAS. We then performed network and pathway analysis using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-containing genes to identify gene regulatory networks and pathways enriched for genetic variants.
Results
We identified multiple gene networks and pathways enriched for genetic variants including IGF-1, androgen biosynthesis and androgen signaling pathways, and the molecular mechanisms of cancer. The results provide putative functional bridges between GWAS findings and gene regulatory networks and biological pathways.
doi:10.4137/CIN.S12128
PMCID: PMC3769142  PMID: 24031161
prostate cancer GWAS network pathway analysis
21.  Analysis of Patterns of Gene Expression Variation within and between Ethnic Populations in Pediatric B-ALL 
Cancer Informatics  2013;12:155-173.
B-Precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is the most common childhood cancer. Although 80% of B-ALL patients are able to be cured, significant challenges persist. Significant disparities in clinical outcomes and mortality rates exist between racial/ethnic populations. The objective of this study was to determine whether gene expression levels significantly differ between ethnic populations. We compared gene expression levels between four ethnic populations (Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians) in the United States. Additionally, we performed network and pathway analysis to identify gene networks and pathways. Gene expression data involved 198 samples distributed as follows: 126 Whites, 51 Hispanics, 13 Blacks, and 8 Asians. We identified 300 highly significantly (P < 0.001) differentially expressed genes between the four ethnic populations. Among the identified genes included the genes PHF6, BRD3, CRLF2, and RNF135 which have been implicated in pediatric B-ALL. We identified key pathways implicated in B-ALL including the PDGF, PI3/AKT, ERBB2-ERBB3, and IL-15 signaling pathways.
doi:10.4137/CIN.S11831
PMCID: PMC3762614  PMID: 24023509
leukemia gene expression variation pediatric B-ALL
22.  17β-Estradiol Enhances Signalling Mediated by VEGF-A-Delta-Like Ligand 4-Notch1 Axis in Human Endothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71440.
Estrogens play a protective role in coronary artery disease. The mechanisms of action are still poorly understood, although a role for estrogens in stimulation of angiogenesis has been suggested. In several cell types, estrogens modulate the Notch pathway, which is involved in controlling angiogenesis downstream of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). The goal of our study was to establish whether estrogens modulate Notch activity in endothelial cells and the possible consequences on angiogenesis. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were treated with 17β-estradiol (E2) and the effects on Notch signalling were evaluated. E2 increased Notch1 processing as indicated by i) decreased levels of Notch1 transmembrane subunit ii) increased amount of Notch1 in nuclei iii) unaffected level of mRNA. Similarly, E2 increased the levels of the active form of Notch4 without altering Notch4 mRNA. Conversely, protein and mRNA levels of Notch2 were both reduced suggesting transcriptional repression of Notch2 by E2. Under conditions where Notch was activated by upregulation of Delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4) following VEGF-A treatment, E2 caused a further increase of the active form of Notch1, of the number of cells with nuclear Notch1 and of Hey2 mRNA. Estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182.780 antagonized these effects suggesting that E2 modulation of Notch1 is mediated by estrogen receptors. E2 treatment abolished the increase in endothelial cells sprouting caused by Notch inhibition in a tube formation assay on 3D Matrigel and in mouse aortic ring explants. In conclusion, E2 affects several Notch pathway components in HUVECs, leading to an activation of the VEGF-A-Dll4-Notch1 axis and to a modulation of vascular branching when Notch signalling is inhibited. These results contribute to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular protection exerted by estrogens by uncovering a novel role of E2 in the Notch signalling-mediated modulation of angiogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071440
PMCID: PMC3742772  PMID: 23967210
23.  Mitochondrial Dysfunction Promotes Breast Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion through HIF1α Accumulation via Increased Production of Reactive Oxygen Species 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69485.
Although mitochondrial dysfunction has been observed in various types of human cancer cells, the molecular mechanism underlying mitochondrial dysfunction mediated tumorigenesis remains largely elusive. To further explore the function of mitochondria and their involvement in the pathogenic mechanisms of cancer development, mitochondrial dysfunction clones of breast cancer cells were generated by rotenone treatment, a specific inhibitor of mitochondrial electron transport complex I. These clones were verified by mitochondrial respiratory defect measurement. Moreover, those clones exhibited increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), and showed higher migration and invasive behaviors compared with their parental cells. Furthermore, antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine, PEG-catalase, and mito-TEMPO effectively inhibited cell migration and invasion in these clones. Notably, ROS regulated malignant cellular behavior was in part mediated through upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 α and vascular endothelial growth factor. Our results suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction promotes cancer cell motility partly through HIF1α accumulation mediated via increased production of reactive oxygen species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069485
PMCID: PMC3726697  PMID: 23922721
24.  Novel Integrative Genomics Approach for Associating GWAS Information with Intrinsic Subtypes of Breast Cancer 
Cancer Informatics  2013;12:125-142.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have achieved great success in identifying common variants associated with increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, GWAS do not typically provide information about the broader context in which genetic variants operate in different subtypes of breast cancer. The objective of this study was to determine whether genes containing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, herein called genetic variants) are associated with different subtypes of breast cancer. Additionally, we sought to identify gene regulator networks and biological pathways enriched for these genetic variants. Using supervised analysis, we identified 201 genes that were significantly associated with the six intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer. The results demonstrate that integrative genomics analysis is a powerful approach for linking GWAS information to distinct disease states and provide insights about the broader context in which genetic variants operate in different subtypes of breast cancer.
doi:10.4137/CIN.S11452
PMCID: PMC3663490  PMID: 23761956
GWAS subtypes breast cancer
25.  EGCG, a major green tea catechin suppresses breast tumor angiogenesis and growth via inhibiting the activation of HIF-1α and NFκB, and VEGF expression 
Vascular Cell  2013;5:9.
The role of EGCG, a major green tea catechin in breast cancer therapy is poorly understood. The present study tests the hypothesis that EGCG can inhibit the activation of HIF-1α and NFκB, and VEGF expression, thereby suppressing tumor angiogenesis and breast cancer progression. Sixteen eight-wk-old female mice (C57BL/6 J) were inoculated with 10^6 E0771 (mouse breast cancer) cells in the left fourth mammary gland fat pad. Eight mice received EGCG at 50–100 mg/kg/d in drinking water for 4 weeks. 8 control mice received drinking water only. Tumor size was monitored using dial calipers. At the end of the experiment, blood samples, tumors, heart and limb muscles were collected for measuring VEGF expression using ELISA and capillary density (CD) using CD31 immunohistochemistry. EGCG treatment significantly reduced tumor weight over the control (0.37 ± 0.15 vs. 1.16 ± 0.30 g; P < 0.01), tumor CD (109 ± 20 vs. 156 ± 12 capillary #/mm^2; P < 0.01), tumor VEGF expression (45.72 ± 1.4 vs. 59.03 ± 3.8 pg/mg; P < 0.01), respectively. But, it has no effects on the body weight, heart weight, angiogenesis and VEGF expression in the heart and skeletal muscle of mice. EGCG at 50 μg/ml significantly inhibited the activation of HIF-1α and NFκB as well as VEGF expression in cultured E0771 cells, compared to the control, respectively. These findings support the hypothesis that EGCG, a major green tea catechin, directly targets both tumor cells and tumor vasculature, thereby inhibiting tumor growth, proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis of breast cancer, which is mediated by the inhibition of HIF-1α and NFκB activation as well as VEGF expression.
doi:10.1186/2045-824X-5-9
PMCID: PMC3649947  PMID: 23638734

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