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2.  Downregulation of Noxa by RAF/MEK inhibition counteracts cell death response in mutant B-RAF melanoma cells 
FDA approval of new therapies in 2011 has greatly expanded the treatment options for metastatic melanoma. Patients with V600 mutant v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (B-RAF) positive metastatic melanoma are now treated with the RAF inhibitor, vemurafenib (Zelboraf) as a first line therapy. Vemurafenib decreases tumor size by at least 30% in approximately 50% of patients and increases progression-free survival and overall patient survival compared to the previous standard-of-care, dacarbazine. However, some patients treated with vemurafenib fail to show significant tumor shrinkage, and most patients who initially respond to the drug eventually show disease progression. Therefore, there is a clinical need to improve efficacy and prevent resistance to vemurafenib. It has been previously shown that cell death resulting from RAF/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibition is largely dependent on increased expression of pro-apoptotic, Bcl-2 homology domain (BH3)-only proteins, such as Bcl-2-like 11 (Bim-EL) and Bcl-2 modifying factor (Bmf). Here, we show that contrary to expression of Bim-EL and Bmf, the pro-apoptotic, BH3-only protein, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate-induced protein 1 (Noxa), is strongly downregulated after RAF/MEK inhibition. This downregulation occurs at both the protein and mRNA level of expression and is associated with the inhibition of cell cycle progression. Restoring expression of Noxa in combination with RAF/MEK inhibition enhances cell death. Co-expression of the pro-survival, B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) family member, myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (Mcl-1), with Noxa fully mitigates the enhanced cell death associated with increased Noxa expression. These data indicate that manipulating the Noxa/Mcl-1 axis may enhance the efficacy of RAF/MEK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3512187  PMID: 23226618
Melanoma; B-RAF; Noxa; RAF/MEK inhibition
3.  Mechanisms of action of CD20 antibodies 
Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that target the CD20 antigen on B cells are successfully used in the clinic for the depletion of B cells to treat various forms of cancer and autoimmune diseases. The first CD20 mAb, approved by the FDA in 1998, was rituximab (RTX) and since then it has been widely used to treat more than one million patients thus far. The success of RTX has led to a general interest in the mechanism of action of CD20 mAbs. CD20 mAbs can induce tumor killing via various mechanisms, such as direct induction of apoptosis, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) or complement-dependent lysis (CDC). Although we now understand these mechanisms better, it is still unclear which of these mechanisms is the most important for in vivo RTX action. Not every patient respond to RTX treatment and eventually the overwhelming majority will experience a relapse. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve the efficacy of CD20 mAbs. This review aims to summarize our current understanding on the mechanism of action of CD20 mAbs.
PMCID: PMC3512181  PMID: 23226614
Antibodies; CD20; effector mechanisms; Fc receptors; complement; complement receptors; apoptosis
4.  Regulators of gene expression as biomarkers for prostate cancer 
Recent technological advancements in gene expression analysis have led to the discovery of a promising new group of prostate cancer (PCa) biomarkers that have the potential to influence diagnosis and the prediction of disease severity. The accumulation of deleterious changes in gene expression is a fundamental mechanism of prostate carcinogenesis. Aberrant gene expression can arise from changes in epigenetic regulation or mutation in the genome affecting either key regulatory elements or gene sequences themselves. At the epigenetic level, a myriad of abnormal histone modifications and changes in DNA methylation are found in PCa patients. In addition, many mutations in the genome have been associated with higher PCa risk. Finally, over- or underexpression of key genes involved in cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, cell adhesion and regulation of transcription has been observed. An interesting group of biomarkers are emerging from these studies which may prove more predictive than the standard prostate specific antigen (PSA) serum test. In this review, we discuss recent results in the field of gene expression analysis in PCa including the most promising biomarkers in the areas of epigenetics, genomics and the transcriptome, some of which are currently under investigation as clinical tests for early detection and better prognostic prediction of PCa.
PMCID: PMC3512182  PMID: 23226612
Prostate cancer; biomarker; epigenetics; methylation; acetylation; ncRNA; genomics; SNP; transcriptomics; miRNA; lncRNA
5.  Transcriptional profiling reveals elevated Sox2 in DNA polymerase ß null mouse embryonic fibroblasts 
There are over 150 human proteins that have been categorized as bona fide DNA repair proteins. These DNA repair proteins maintain the integrity of the genome, reducing the onset of cancer, disease and aging phenotypes. Variations in expression and/or function would therefore impact genome integrity as well as the cellular response to genotoxins. Global gene expression analysis is an effective approach to uncover defects in DNA repair gene expression and to discover cellular and/or organismal effects brought about by external stimuli such as environmental genotoxicants, chemotherapeutic regimens, viral infections as well as developmental and age-related stimuli. Given the significance of genome stability in cell survival and response to stimuli, we have hypothesized that cells may undergo transcriptional re-programming to accommodate defects in basal DNA repair capacity to promote survival. As a test of this hypothesis, we have compared the transcriptome in three DNA polymerase ß knockout (Polß-KO) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and the corresponding wild-type (WT) littermate control cell lines. Each Polß-KO cell line was found to have a range of genes up-regulated, when compared to its WT littermate control cell line. Interestingly, six (6) genes were commonly up regulated in all three Polß-KO cell lines, including Sox2, one of several genes associated with the induction of pluripotent stem cells. Herein, we present these findings and suggest that loss of DNA repair and the induction of cellular transcriptional re-programming may, in part, contribute to tumor formation and the cellular response to external stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3512183  PMID: 23226616
DNA polymerase ß; mouse embryonic fibroblast; Sox2; gene expression profiling; transcriptional reprogramming
6.  The role of the c-Jun N-terminal Kinase signaling pathway in skin cancer 
The c-Jun N-terminal Kinases (JNK), along with Erk and p38, constitute the principle members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family. JNK functions primarily through AP1 family transcription factors to regulate a plethora of cellular processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, survival and migration. It also cross-talks and integrates with other signaling pathways in a cell context-specific and cell type-specific manner. The current views of JNK function in various skin cancers and the need of developing JNK subunit-specific inhibitors for cancer type-specific applications have been summarized in this review.
PMCID: PMC3512184  PMID: 23226615
JNK; skin cancer; squamous cell carcinoma; basal cell carcinoma; cylindroma
7.  DREF is involved in the steroidogenesis via regulation of shadow gene 
The Drosophila DNA replication-related element-binding factor (dDREF) has been identified as a master regulator of cell proliferation-related genes via its binding to the DRE sequence, 5′-TATCGATA. However, the biological roles of DREF are still to be clarified. Here, we show that DREF mutant females have steroid hormone ecdysone-deficient phenotypes, such as the loss of vitellogenic egg chambers. Furthermore, DREF knockdown in the prothoracic gland of larva prevented pupation and this was rescued via 20-hydroxyecdysone treatment. We found a DRE-like sequence (-625 to -632) in the 5′-flanking region of the Drosophila shadow gene, which catalyzes the conversion of 2-deoxyecdysone to ecdysone, and demonstrated that shadow is a novel target gene of dDREF using quantitative RT-PCR and Chip assays. In addition, we show that the level of dDREF protein correlated with age-related changes in the level of shadow mRNA in the ovaries of wild-type flies. Taken together, our data indicate that dDREF plays a key role in steroid synthesis via regulation of the shadow gene.
PMCID: PMC3512185  PMID: 23226617
Drosophila; DRE; DREF; transcriptional regulation; ecdysone; shadow; steroidogenesis
8.  Chinese and Western prostate cancers show alternate pathogenetic pathways in association with ERG status 
We have previously reported genetic differences between Western and Chinese prostate cancers, including different frequencies of ERG rearrangements. We investigated further ERG expression and rearrangements in prostate cancers and high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) from the UK and China to determine differences between these two populations by tissue microarray based immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization. In keeping with our previous observation, that ERG was rearranged at a higher frequency in UK prostate cancer samples (38%, 58/155) than Chinese ones (8%, 7/93), ERG rearrangements were also found in 21% (4/19) and 0% (0/19) foci of HGPIN in UK and Chinese samples respectively. ERG nuclear expression in UK cancers (34%, 54/160) was significantly higher than that in Chinese ones (10%, 9/88) (p<0.001). ERG nuclear expression in UK HGPIN (28%, 11/39) was higher than that in Chinese HGPIN (0%, 0/9), but without statistical significance (p=0.193). ERG nuclear expression was correlated to ERG rearrangements in both UK (Kappa=0.686) and Chinese (Kappa=0.565) cancers. These data demonstrate that ERG rearrangement and expression frequencies are different in prostate cancers from UK and China as early as the precursor lesion, HGPIN. The nuclear expression is associated with ERG rearrangements which mainly occur in the Western samples. UK and Chinese prostate cancers may be the result of different genetic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3512186  PMID: 23226619
ERG; prostate cancer; high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia; genomic rearrangement; protein expression
9.  Non-coding RNAs in DNA damage response 
Genome-wide studies have revealed that human and other mammalian genomes are pervasively transcribed and produce thousands of regulatory non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), including miRNAs, siRNAs, piRNAs and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Emerging evidences suggest that these ncRNAs also play a pivotal role in genome integrity and stability via the regulation of DNA damage response (DDR). In this review, we discuss the recent finding on the interplay of ncRNAs with the canonical DDR signaling pathway, with a particular emphasis on miRNAs and lncRNAs. While the expression of ncRNAs is regulated in the DDR, the DDR is also subjected to regulation by those DNA damage-responsive ncRNAs. In addition, the roles of those Dicer- and Drosha-dependent small RNAs produced in the vicinity of double-strand breaks sites are also described.
PMCID: PMC3512188  PMID: 23226613
DNA damage response; ncRNAs; miRNAs; lncRNAs; crosstalk
10.  Stromal modulation of bladder cancer-initiating cells in a subcutaneous tumor model 
The development of new cancer therapeutics would benefit from incorporating efficient tumor models that mimic human disease. We have developed a subcutaneous bladder tumor regeneration system that recapitulates primary human bladder tumor architecture by recombining benign human fetal bladder stromal cells with SW780 bladder carcinoma cells. As a first step, SW780 cells were seeded in ultra low attachment cultures in order to select for sphere-forming cells, the putative cancer stem cell (CSC) phenotype. Spheroids were combined with primary human fetal stromal cells or vehicle control and injected subcutaneously with Matrigel into NSG mice. SW780 bladder tumors that formed in the presence of stroma showed accelerated growth, muscle invasion, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), decreased differentiation, and greater activation of growth pathways compared to tumors formed in the absence of fetal stroma. Tumors grown with stroma also demonstrated a greater similarity to typical malignant bladder architecture, including the formation of papillary structures. In an effort to determine if cancer cells from primary tumors could form similar structures in vivo using this recombinatorial approach, putative CSCs, sorted based on the CD44+CD49f+ antigenic profile, were collected and recombined with fetal bladder stromal cells and Matrigel prior to subcutaneous implantation. Retrieved grafts contained tumors that exhibited the same structure as the original primary human tumor. Primary bladder tumor regeneration using human fetal bladder stroma may help elucidate the influences of stroma on tumor growth and development, as well as provide an efficient and accessible system for therapeutic testing.
PMCID: PMC3512189  PMID: 23226620
Bladder cancer; cancer stem cell (CSC); subcutaneous tumor model; stroma; sphere
11.  Thyroid hormone receptor β suppresses SV40-mediated tumorigenesis via novel nongenomic actions 
Accumulated evidence suggests that thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) could function as a tumor suppressor, but the detailed mechanisms by which TRβ inhibits tumorigenesis are not fully understood. The present studies explored the mechanisms by which TRβ acted to inhibit thyroid tumor development mediated by simian virus-40 (SV40). In mouse xenograft models, SV40 large T antigen (SV40Tag)-immortalized human thyroid epithelial (HTori) cells rapidly induced tumors, but the tumor development was totally blocked by TRβ stably expressed in HTori cells. Previous studies showed that the SV40Tag oncoprotein binds to and inactivates tumor suppressors p53 and retinoblastoma protein (Rb), thereby inducing tumorigenesis. Here we showed that one of the mechanisms by which TRβ suppressed tumor development was by competing with p53 and Rb for binding to SV40Tag. The interaction of TRβ with SV40Tag led to reactivation of Rb to inhibit cell cycle progression. TRβ- SV40Tag interaction also resulted in reactivating p53 to increase the expression of Pten, thus attenuating PI3K-AKT signaling to decrease cell proliferation and to induce apoptosis. The present study uncovered a novel action of TRβ as a tumor suppressor initiated via interfering with the recruitment of Rb and p53 by SV40Tag oncoprotein through protein-protein interaction, thereby acting to block tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3433110  PMID: 22957312
Thyroid hormone receptor; tumor suppressor; tumorigenesis; thyroid hormone; xenograft models
12.  A multiplex serum protein assay for determining the probability of colorectal cancer 
Our purpose is to develop a serum assay to determine an individual’s probability of having colorectal cancer (CRC). We have discovered a protein panel yielding encouraging, clinically significant results. We evaluated 431 serum samples from donors screened for CRC by colonoscopy. We compared the concentration of seven proteins in individuals with CRC versus individuals found to be CRC free. The assay monitored a single peptide from each of seven proteins. Comparing CRC to normal samples in univariate two-sample t-tests, 6 of the 7 proteins yielded a p-value less than 0.01. Logistic regression was used to construct a model for determination of CRC probability. The model was fit on a randomly chosen training set of 321 samples. Using 6 of the 7 proteins (ORM1, GSN, C9, HABP2, SAA2, and C3) and a cut point of 0.4, an independent test set of 110 samples yielded a sensitivity of 93.75%, a specificity of 82.89% and a prevalence-adjusted negative predictive value (NPV) of 99.9775% for the assay. The results demonstrate that the assay has promise as a sensitive, non-invasive diagnostic test to provide individuals with an understanding of their own probability of having CRC.
PMCID: PMC3433100  PMID: 22957311
Colon cancer; proteomics; cancer; colon; mass spec; MRM; colorectal; CRC
13.  High levels of Hdmx promote cell growth in a subset of uveal melanomas 
The p53 tumor suppressor pathway is inactivated in cancer either via direct mutation or via deregulation of upstream regulators or downstream effectors. P53 mutations are rare in uveal melanoma. Here we investigated the role of the p53 inhibitor Hdmx in uveal melanoma. We found Hdmx over-expression in a subset of uveal melanoma cell lines and fresh-frozen tumor samples. Hdmx depletion resulted in cell-line dependent growth inhibition, apparently correlating with differential Hdm2 levels. Surprisingly, p53 knockdown hardly rescued cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction upon Hdmx knockdown, whereas it effectively prevented growth suppression induced by the potent p53 activator Nutlin-3. In addition, two compounds inhibiting Hdmx function or expression, SAH-p53-8 and XI-011, also elicited a growth inhibitory effect in a partly p53-independent manner. These findings suggest a novel, growth-promoting function of Hdmx that does not rely on its ability to inhibit p53. We provide evidence for a contribution of p27 protein induction to the observed p53-independent G1 arrest in response to Hdmx knockdown. In conclusion, our study establishes the importance of Hdmx as an oncogene in a subset of uveal melanomas and widens the spectrum of its function beyond p53 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3433101  PMID: 22957303
Uveal melanoma; Hdmx; p53; Nutlin-3; p27; SAH-p53-8; XI-011; retinoblastoma
14.  Cell cycle control in acute myeloid leukemia 
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the result of a multistep transforming process of hematopoietic precursor cells (HPCs) which enables them to proceed through limitless numbers of cell cycles and to become resistant to cell death. Increased proliferation renders these cells vulnerable to acquiring mutations and may favor leukemic transformation. Here, we review how deregulated cell cycle control contributes to increased proliferation in AML and favors genomic instability, a prerequisite to confer selective advantages to particular clones in order to adapt and independently proliferate in the presence of a changing microenvironment. We discuss the connection between differentiation and proliferation with regard to leukemogenesis and outline the impact of specific alterations on response to therapy. Finally, we present examples, how a better understanding of cell cycle regulation and deregulation has already led to new promising therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3433102  PMID: 22957304
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML); cell cycle; genetic instability; proliferation; differentiation
15.  Profiling of cytokines in human epithelial ovarian cancer ascites 
The behavior of tumor cells is influenced by the composition of the surrounding tumor environment. The importance of ascites in ovarian cancer (OC) progression is being increasingly recognized. The characterization of soluble factors in ascites is essential to understand how this environment affects OC progression. The development of cytokine arrays now allows simultaneous measurement of multiple cytokines per ascites using a single array.
We applied a multiplex cytokine array technology that simultaneously measures the level of 120 cytokines in ascites from 10 OC patients. The ascites concentration of a subset (n = 5) of cytokines that was elevated based on the multiplex array was validated by commercially available ELISA. The ascites level of these 5 cytokines was further evaluated by ELISA in a cohort of 38 patients. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to assess the association of cytokine expression with progression-free survival (PFS) in this cohort.
We observed a wide variability of expression between different cytokines and levels of specific cytokines also varied in the 10 malignant ascites tested. Fifty-three (44%) cytokines were not detected in any of the 10 ascites. The level of several factors including, among others, angiogenin, angiopoietin-2, GRO, ICAM-1, IL-6, IL-6R, IL-8, IL-10, leptin, MCP-1, MIF NAP-2, osteprotegerin (OPG), RANTES, TIMP-2 and UPAR were elevated in most malignant ascites. Higher levels of OPG, IL-10 and leptin in OC ascites were associated with shorter PFS. IL-10 was shown to promote the anti-apoptotic activity of malignant ascites whereas OPG did not.
Our data demonstrated that there is a complex network of cytokine expression in OC ascites. Characterization of cytokine profiles in malignant ascites may provide information from which to prioritize key functional cytokines and understand the mechanism by which they alter tumor cells behavior. A better understanding of the cytokine network is essential to determine the role of ascites in OC progression.
PMCID: PMC3433103  PMID: 22957308
Ascites; ovarian cancer; tumor environment; cytokines; mulitplex array; IL-10
16.  RanBPM expression regulates transcriptional pathways involved in development and tumorigenesis 
RanBPM is a ubiquitous protein that has been reported to regulate several cellular processes through interactions with various proteins. However, it is not known whether RanBPM may regulate gene expression patterns. As it has been shown that RanBPM interacts with a number of transcription factors, we hypothesized that it may have wide ranging effects on gene expression that may explain its function. To test this hypothesis, we generated stable RanBPM shRNA cell lines to analyze the effect of RanBPM on global gene expression. Microarray analyses were conducted comparing the gene expression profile of Hela and HCT116 RanBPM shRNA cells versus control shRNA cells. We identified 167 annotated genes significantly up- or down-regulated in the two cell lines. Analysis of the gene set revealed that down-regulation of RanBPM led to gene expression changes that affect regulation of cell, tissue, and organ development and morphology, as well as biological processes implicated in tumorigenesis. Analysis of Transcription Factor Binding Sites (TFBS) present in the gene set identified several significantly over-represented transcription factors of the Forkhead, HMG, and Homeodomain families of transcription factors, which have previously been demonstrated as having important roles in development and tumorigenesis. In addition, the combined results of these analyses suggested that several signaling pathways were affected by RanBPM down-regulation, including ERK1/2, Wnt, Notch, and PI3K/Akt pathways. Lastly, analysis of selected target genes by quantitative RT-qPCR confirmed the changes revealed by microarray. Several of the genes up-regulated in RanBPM shRNA cells encode proteins with known oncogenic functions, such as the RON tyrosine kinase, the adhesion molecule L1CAM, and transcription factor ELF3/ESE-1, suggesting that RanBPM functions as a tumor suppressor to prevent deregulated expression of these genes. Altogether, these results suggest that RanBPM does indeed function to regulate many genomic events that regulate embryonic, tissue, and cellular development as well as those involved in cancer development and progression.
PMCID: PMC3433104  PMID: 22957307
RanBPM; ERK; Wnt; Notch; microarray; cancer; development
17.  BRCA1 proteins regulate growth of ovarian cancer cells by tethering Ubc9 
Mutation in the BRCA1 gene is associated with increased risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. In sporadic ovarian tumors, BRCA1 dysfunction is thought to be common. BRCA1 is a nuclear-cytoplasm shuttling protein. Our group has previously reported that BRCA1 proteins, unlike K109R and cancer-predisposing mutant C61G BRCA1 proteins, bind the sole SUMO E2-conjugating enzyme Ubc9. In this study, we examined the result of altered Ubc9 binding and knockdown on the sub-cellular localization and growth inhibitory function of BRCA1 proteins in ovarian cancer cells. Using live imaging of YFP, RFP-tagged BRCA1 and BRCA1a proteins, our results show enhanced cytoplasmic localization of K109R and C61G mutant BRCA1 proteins in ES-2, NIHOVCAR3 and UWB 1.289 ovarian cancer cells. Down-regulation of Ubc9 in ovarian cancer cells using Ubc9 siRNA resulted in cytoplasmic localization of BRCA1 and BRCA1a proteins. These mutant BRCA1a proteins were impaired in their capacity to inhibit growth of ES-2 ovarian cancer cells. Several ovarian cancer cells, including a BRCA1-null ovarian cancer cell line, showed higher levels of expression of Ubc9. This is the first study demonstrating the physiological link between loss of Ubc9 binding and loss of growth suppression of disease-associated mutant BRCA1a proteins in ovarian cancer cells. BRCA1, by turning off or on Ubc9 binding, regulates growth of ovarian cancers.
PMCID: PMC3433105  PMID: 22957306
BRCA1; BRCA1a; Ubc9; Ovarian cancer; RING domain mutants; nuclear import; Growth suppression
18.  Vascular development in mouse lung metastases 
Dissemination of cancer cells is strongly associated with reduction in quality of life, worsening of prognosis, and remains the primary cause of therapeutic failure and high mortality in cancer. A crucial factor in the progression of metastases is the ability to establish a functioning blood vessel network. Consequently therapeutic strategies which selectively target tumor vasculature may hold promise for the treatment of metastatic disease. A complicating factor in the assessment of the efficacy of vascular targeting therapies is that the metastatic process can result in multiple neoplastic lesions at various stages of growth and vascularity in a single organ. The goal of this project was to utilize a rodent squamous cell carcinoma (SCCVII) model to characterize the development of metastatic lung lesions and their associated vasculature. Mice were injected with tumor cells via the tail vein to introduce a reproducible number of lung metastases. At various times after cell injection, lungs were removed and serial sections were taken throughout the lobes for morphometric analysis. Tumor volumes were calculated for each nodule using 2 hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained sections that were a known distance apart. Sections adjacent to those used for size determination were reserved for immunohistochemical staining with CD31 to identify blood vessels associated with each nodule. The results showed that although the median tumor volume increased from 0.006 to 0.51 mm3 between 7 and 18 days post SCCVII cell injection, a range of tumor sizes existed at all-times. Irrespective of the time of assessment, nodules with volumes ≤ 0.5 mm3 had a constant vessel density while those with volumes >0.5 mm3 showed increasing vessel densities with increasing size. These findings indicate that the methodology outlined in this study can identify metastases in various stages of vascular development and could therefore be applied to evaluate and distinguish therapeutic interventions that seek to prevent the initiation of blood vessel networks and those targeting already established expanding tumor vasculature. Examining the efficacy of such approaches, alone or in combination, in the treatment of metastases in a preclinical model could lead to the development of more effective therapeutic strategies for metastatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3433106  PMID: 22957309
Metastasis; vascular development; carcinoma
19.  Regulation of cancer stem cell activities by tumor-associated macrophages 
Recent studies revealed that tumor-associated macrophages play a decisive role in the regulation of tumor progression by manipulating tumor oncogenesis, angiogenesis and immune functions within tumor microenvironments. However, the role of cancer stem cells in the tumorigenic activities of tumor-associated macrophages during the course of transformation and treatment remains largely unknown. Recent studies have clarified the functional aspects of tumor-associated macrophages in the regulation of the tumorigenic activities and anticancer drug responsiveness of cancer stem cells through complex networks formed by distinct sets of cytokines, chemokines and growth factors. In this article we discuss recent advances and future perspectives regarding the molecular interplay between cancer stem cells and tumor-associated macrophages and provide future perspective about the therapeutic implication against treatment-resistant variants of cancer.
PMCID: PMC3433107  PMID: 22957305
Cancer stem cells; tumor associated macrophages; tumor microenvironments; MFG-E8; IL-6; TIM-3; M-CSF
20.  Histone modifications and cancer: biomarkers of prognosis? 
Epigenetic dysregulation is being increasingly recognized as a hallmark of cancer. Post-translational modifications of histones, in particular, are known to play important roles gene expression alterations in cancer development and progression. Given their key involvement in the various stages of carcinogenesis, histone modifications are also being explored as potential biomarkers of disease progression and prognosis. This review will therefore discuss the role of histone modifications in cancer biology and will explore their prognostic potential.
PMCID: PMC3433108  PMID: 22957310
Histone modifications; cancer; biomarkers; prognosis
21.  PAR6B is required for tight junction formation and activated PKCζ localization in breast cancer 
Dysregulation of mechanisms that govern the control of epithelial cell polarity, morphology and plasticity are emerging as key processes in tumor progression. In this study we report amplification and overexpression of PAR6B, an essential component in epithelial cell tight junction (TJ) formation and maintenance of apico-basal polarity, in breast cancer cell lines. Analysis of chromosome 20q13.13 in 11 breast cancer cell lines by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) identified a novel small amplicon centered at PARD6B in 5 cell lines, with copy number ranging from 7 to 27. The presence of the PARD6B amplicon correlated with PARD6B transcript and PAR6B protein abundance. Expression of related isoforms PARD6A and PARD6G were detectable at significantly lower levels. PARD6B overexpression correlated with TJ network formation in cultured cell monolayers. SiRNA-mediated inhibition of PAR6B in MCF7 resulted in loss of TJ assembly and membrane localization of atypical PKCζ (aPKC), but did not affect adherens junction formation. SiRNA-mediated inhibition of CDC42 in MCF7 also resulted in loss of TJ networks, confirming the requirement of a complete PAR6-aPKC-CDC42-PAR3 complex to activate and stabilize TJs. Immunohistochemical analysis of PAR6B expression on breast tumor microarrays indicated exquisite epithelial cell-specificity. Few quantitative differences in staining were observed between normal epithelium and adjacent tumor margins. However staining appeared reduced and cytoplasmic in more poorly differentiated tumors. We propose that quantitative imbalances in the components of pathways governing normal epithelial cell polarity arising from gain or loss of function may radically alter epithelial cell architecture and contribute to tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3433109  PMID: 22957302
Breast Cancer; DNA amplification; tight junction; siRNA; polarity; adhesion; PARD6B; PAR6B; CDC42; PKCζ
22.  MicroRNAs in cancer treatment and prognosis 
Disturbances in microRNA expression by epigenetic alterations and mutations may promote not only tumorigenesis but also tumor aggressiveness, invasion, metastasis, and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Several studies have profiled microRNA expression in normal and tumorigenic tissues, demonstrating a unique microRNA signature, which can be used as a marker for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. This review discusses the importance of microRNAs as regulatory biomolecules involved in cancer, focusing on microRNAs related to cancer invasion, metastasis, epigenetic alterations, chemoresistance, and radioresistance. The identification of both differentially expressed microRNAs in tumors and their target genes provides new tools for gene therapy; the re-expression of microRNAs silenced by cancer development or the silencing of oncogenic microRNAs can be effective in the blockade of cancer-related cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3410578  PMID: 22860232
MicroRNA; epigenetic modifications; metastasis; chemotherapy; radiotherapy
23.  Notch receptor inhibition reveals the importance of cyclin D1 and Wnt signaling in invasive esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most aggressive forms of squamous cell carcinomas. Common genetic lesions in ESCC include p53 mutations and EGFR overexpression, both of which have been implicated in negative regulation of Notch signaling. In addition, cyclin D1 is overexpressed in ESCC and can be activated via EGFR, Notch and Wnt signaling. To elucidate how these genetic lesions may interact during the development and progression of ESCC, we tested a panel of genetically engineered human esophageal cells (keratinocytes) in organotypic 3D culture (OTC), a form of human tissue engineering. Notch signaling was suppressed in culture and mice by dominant negative Mastermind-like1 (DNMAML1), a genetic pan-Notch inhibitor. DNMAML1 mice were subjected to 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide-induced oral-esophageal carcinogenesis. Highly invasive characteristics of primary human ESCC were recapitulated in OTC as well as DNMAML1 mice. In OTC, cyclin D1 overexpression induced squamous hyperplasia. Concurrent EGFR overexpression and mutant p53 resulted in transformation and invasive growth. Interestingly, cell proliferation appeared to be regulated differentially between those committed to squamous-cell differentiation and those invading into the stroma. Invasive cells exhibited Notch-independent activation of cyclin D1 and Wnt signaling. Within the oral-esophageal squamous epithelia, Notch signaling regulated squamous-cell differentiation to maintain epithelial integrity, and thus may act as a tumor suppressor by preventing the development of a tumor-promoting inflammatory microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3410579  PMID: 22860235
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; organotypic 3D culture; EGFR; P53; cyclin D1; Wnt; Notch; squamous-cell differentiation; invasion; 4-Nitroquinoline 1-oxide
24.  When autophagy meets cancer through p62/SQSTM1 
Although p62/SQSTM1 was initially identified as an essential mediator of NFκB signaling, several recent studies have also highlighted its important role at the crossroad between the mTOR or MAPK signaling pathways and selective autophagy. The p62 structure containing important interaction domains attests to the ability of this protein to regulate and modulate the activation of these signaling pathways during tumor formation and propagation. The second very important function of this protein is to act as a molecular adaptor between the autophagic machinery and its substrates. Consequently, p62 is degraded following an increase in autophagic flux for which this protein currently serves as an indicator. However, the measurement of p62 expression strictly as a marker of autophagic flux is still controversial and can be misinterpreted mainly because this protein is subject to complex regulation at both the transcriptional and post-translational levels. Finally, because p62 is an autophagic substrate, it acts as a molecular link between cancer and autophagy by conferring a high level of selectivity through the degradation of important signaling molecules.
PMCID: PMC3410580  PMID: 22860231
Paget’s disease; mTOR; NFκB; NRF2; MAPK; Atg; ROS; ubiquitin; protein aggregates; oxidative stress
25.  The diverse and complex roles of radiation on cancer treatment: therapeutic target and genome maintenance 
Cancer is a genetic disease, grows exponentially with the development of intrinsic and acquired treatment resistance. Past decade has witnessed a considerable progress towards the treatment and understanding of proposed hallmarks of cancer and together with advances in early detection and various treatment modalities. Radiation therapy is an integral part of cancer treatment armamentarium. In developed countries more than half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy during their course of illness. Although radiation damages both cancer and normal cells, the goal of radiation therapy is to maximize the radiation dose to abnormal cancer cells while minimizing exposure to normal cells, which is adjacent to cancer cells or in the path of radiation. In recent years, life expectancy increases among cancer patients and this increase is due to the results of early diagnosis, screening efforts, improved treatments and with less late effects mostly secondary cancer development. Therefore, cancer survivorship issues have been gaining prominence in the area of radiation oncology research. Understanding the tradeoff between the expected decreases in normal tissue toxicity resulting from an improved radiation dose distribution to the targeted site is an increasingly pertinent, yet needed attention and research in the area of radiation oncology. In recent years, a number of potential molecular targets that involve either with radiation increased tumor cell killing or protecting normal cells have been identified. For clinical benefits, translating these findings to maximize the toxicity of radiation on tumor cells while safeguarding early or late normal cell toxicities using molecular targeted radioprotectors will be useful in radiation treatment.
PMCID: PMC3410581  PMID: 22860229
Cancer; radiation therapy; radioprotectors; normal genome maintenance

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