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1.  c-MYC expression sensitizes medulloblastoma cells to radio- and chemotherapy and has no impact on response in medulloblastoma patients 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:74.
Background
To study whether and how c-MYC expression determines response to radio- and chemotherapy in childhood medulloblastoma (MB).
Methods
We used DAOY and UW228 human MB cells engineered to stably express different levels of c-MYC, and tested whether c-MYC expression has an effect on radio- and chemosensitivity using the colorimetric 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium inner salt (MTS) assay, clonogenic survival, apoptosis assays, cell cycle analysis, and western blot assessment. In an effort to validate our results, we analyzed c-MYC mRNA expression in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor samples from well-documented patients with postoperative residual tumor and compared c-MYC mRNA expression with response to radio- and chemotherapy as examined by neuroradiological imaging.
Results
In DAOY - and to a lesser extent in UW228 - cells expressing high levels of c-MYC, the cytotoxicity of cisplatin, and etoposide was significantly higher when compared with DAOY/UW228 cells expressing low levels of c-MYC. Irradiation- and chemotherapy-induced apoptotic cell death was enhanced in DAOY cells expressing high levels of c-MYC. The response of 62 of 66 residual tumors was evaluable and response to postoperative radio- (14 responders (CR, PR) vs. 5 non-responders (SD, PD)) or chemotherapy (23 CR/PR vs. 20 SD/PD) was assessed. c-MYC mRNA expression was similar in primary MB samples of responders and non-responders (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.50, ratio 0.49, 95% CI 0.008-30.0 and p = 0.67, ratio 1.8, 95% CI 0.14-23.5, respectively).
Conclusions
c-MYC sensitizes MB cells to some anti-cancer treatments in vitro. As we failed to show evidence for such an effect on postoperative residual tumors when analyzed by imaging, additional investigations in xenografts and larger MB cohorts may help to define the exact function of c-MYC in modulating response to treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-74
PMCID: PMC3050852  PMID: 21324178
2.  Regulation of sonic hedgehog-GLI1 downstream target genes PTCH1, Cyclin D2, Plakoglobin, PAX6 and NKX2.2 and their epigenetic status in medulloblastoma and astrocytoma 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:614.
Background
The Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway is critical for cell growth and differentiation. Impairment of this pathway can result in both birth defects and cancer. Despite its importance in cancer development, the Shh pathway has not been thoroughly investigated in tumorigenesis of brain tumors. In this study, we sought to understand the regulatory roles of GLI1, the immediate downstream activator of the Shh signaling pathway on its downstream target genes PTCH1, Cyclin D2, Plakoglobin, NKX2.2 and PAX6 in medulloblastoma and astrocytic tumors.
Methods
We silenced GLI1 expression in medulloblastoma and astrocytic cell lines by transfection of siRNA against GLI1. Subsequently, we performed RT-PCR and quantitative real time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) to assay the expression of downstream target genes PTCH1, Cyclin D2, Plakoglobin, NKX2.2 and PAX6. We also attempted to correlate the pattern of expression of GLI1 and its regulated genes in 14 cell lines and 41 primary medulloblastoma and astrocytoma tumor samples. We also assessed the methylation status of the Cyclin D2 and PTCH1 promoters in these 14 cell lines and 58 primary tumor samples.
Results
Silencing expression of GLI1 resulted up-regulation of all target genes in the medulloblastoma cell line, while only PTCH1 was up-regulated in astrocytoma. We also observed methylation of the cyclin D2 promoter in a significant number of astrocytoma cell lines (63%) and primary astrocytoma tumor samples (32%), but not at all in any medulloblastoma samples. PTCH1 promoter methylation was less frequently observed than Cyclin D2 promoter methylation in astrocytomas, and not at all in medulloblastomas.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate different regulatory mechanisms of Shh-GLI1 signaling. These differences vary according to the downstream target gene affected, the origin of the tissue, as well as epigenetic regulation of some of these genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-614
PMCID: PMC2989332  PMID: 21059263
3.  RNA interference-mediated c-MYC inhibition prevents cell growth and decreases sensitivity to radio- and chemotherapy in childhood medulloblastoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:10.
Background
With current treatment strategies, nearly half of all medulloblastoma (MB) patients die from progressive tumors. Accordingly, the identification of novel therapeutic strategies remains a major goal. Deregulation of c-MYC is evident in numerous human cancers. In MB, over-expression of c-MYC has been shown to cause anaplasia and correlate with unfavorable prognosis.
Methods
To study the role of c-MYC in MB biology, we down-regulated c-MYC expression by using small interfering RNA (siRNA) and investigated changes in cellular proliferation, cell cycle analysis, apoptosis, telomere maintenance, and response to ionizing radiation (IR) and chemotherapeutics in a representative panel of human MB cell lines expressing different levels of c-MYC (DAOY wild-type, DAOY transfected with the empty vector, DAOY transfected with c-MYC, D341, and D425).
Results
siRNA-mediated c-MYC down-regulation resulted in an inhibition of cellular proliferation and clonogenic growth, inhibition of G1-S phase cell cycle progression, and a decrease in human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression and telomerase activity. On the other hand, down-regulation of c-MYC reduced apoptosis and decreased the sensitivity of human MB cells to IR, cisplatin, and etoposide. This effect was more pronounced in DAOY cells expressing high levels of c-MYC when compared with DAOY wild-type or DAOY cells transfected with the empty vector.
Conclusion
In human MB cells, in addition to its roles in growth and proliferation, c-MYC is also a potent inducer of apoptosis. Therefore, targeting c-MYC might be of therapeutic benefit when used sequentially with chemo- and radiotherapy rather than concomitantly.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-10
PMCID: PMC2648994  PMID: 19134217
4.  Anti-proliferative activity of the quassinoid NBT-272 in childhood medulloblastoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:19.
Background
With current treatment strategies, nearly half of all medulloblastoma (MB) patients die from progressive tumors. Accordingly, the identification of novel therapeutic strategies remains a major goal. Deregulation of c-MYC is evident in numerous human cancers. In MB, over-expression of c-MYC has been shown to correlate with anaplasia and unfavorable prognosis. In neuroblastoma – an embryonal tumor with biological similarities to MB – the quassinoid NBT-272 has been demonstrated to inhibit cellular proliferation and to down-regulate c-MYC protein expression.
Methods
To study MB cell responses to NBT-272 and their dependence on the level of c-MYC expression, DAOY (wild-type, empty vector transfected or c-MYC transfected), D341 (c-MYC amplification) and D425 (c-MYC amplification) human MB cells were used. The cells were treated with different concentrations of NBT-272 and the impact on cell proliferation, apoptosis and c-MYC expression was analyzed.
Results
NBT-272 treatment resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of cellular proliferation (IC50 in the range of 1.7 – 9.6 ng/ml) and in a dose-dependent increase in apoptotic cell death in all human MB cell lines tested. Treatment with NBT-272 resulted in up to 90% down-regulation of c-MYC protein, as demonstrated by Western blot analysis, and in a significant inhibition of c-MYC binding activity. Anti-proliferative effects were slightly more prominent in D341 and D425 human MB cells with c-MYC amplification and slightly more pronounced in c-MYC over-expressing DAOY cells compared to DAOY wild-type cells. Moreover, treatment of synchronized cells by NBT-272 induced a marked cell arrest at the G1/S boundary.
Conclusion
In human MB cells, NBT-272 treatment inhibits cellular proliferation at nanomolar concentrations, blocks cell cycle progression, induces apoptosis, and down-regulates the expression of the oncogene c-MYC. Thus, NBT-272 may represent a novel drug candidate to inhibit proliferation of human MB cells in vivo.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-19
PMCID: PMC1794252  PMID: 17254356
5.  Increased p53 immunopositivity in anaplastic medulloblastoma and supratentorial PNET is not caused by JC virus 
BMC Cancer  2005;5:19.
Background
p53 mutations are relatively uncommon in medulloblastoma, but abnormalities in this cell cycle pathway have been associated with anaplasia and worse clinical outcomes. We correlated p53 protein expression with pathological subtype and clinical outcome in 75 embryonal brain tumors. The presence of JC virus, which results in p53 protein accumulation, was also examined.
Methods
p53 protein levels were evaluated semi-quantitatively in 64 medulloblastomas, 3 atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (ATRT), and 8 supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors (sPNET) using immunohistochemistry. JC viral sequences were analyzed in DNA extracted from 33 frozen medulloblastoma and PNET samples using quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Results
p53 expression was detected in 18% of non-anaplastic medulloblastomas, 45% of anaplastic medulloblastomas, 67% of ATRT, and 88% of sPNET. The increased p53 immunoreactivity in anaplastic medulloblastoma, ATRT, and sPNET was statistically significant. Log rank analysis of clinical outcome revealed significantly shorter survival in patients with p53 immunopositive embryonal tumors. No JC virus was identified in the embryonal brain tumor samples, while an endogenous human retrovirus (ERV-3) was readily detected.
Conclusion
Immunoreactivity for p53 protein is more common in anaplastic medulloblastomas, ATRT and sPNET than in non-anaplastic tumors, and is associated with worse clinical outcomes. However, JC virus infection is not responsible for increased levels of p53 protein.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-5-19
PMCID: PMC554768  PMID: 15717928
6.  Identification of astrocytoma associated genes including cell surface markers 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:39.
Background
Despite intense effort the treatment options for the invasive astrocytic tumors are still limited to surgery and radiation therapy, with chemotherapy showing little or no increase in survival. The generation of Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) profiles is expected to aid in the identification of astrocytoma-associated genes and highly expressed cell surface genes as molecular therapeutic targets. SAGE tag counts can be easily added to public expression databases and quickly disseminated to research efforts worldwide.
Methods
We generated and analyzed the SAGE transcription profiles of 25 primary grade II, III and IV astrocytomas [1]. These profiles were produced as part of the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project's SAGE Genie [2], and were used in an in silico search for candidate therapeutic targets by comparing astrocytoma to normal brain transcription. Real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry were used for the validation of selected candidate target genes in 2 independent sets of primary tumors.
Results
A restricted set of tumor-associated genes was identified for each grade that included genes not previously associated with astrocytomas (e.g. VCAM1, SMOC1, and thymidylate synthetase), with a high percentage of cell surface genes. Two genes with available antibodies, Aquaporin 1 and Topoisomerase 2A, showed protein expression consistent with transcript level predictions.
Conclusions
This survey of transcription in malignant and normal brain tissues reveals a small subset of human genes that are activated in malignant astrocytomas. In addition to providing insights into pathway biology, we have revealed and quantified expression for a significant portion of cell surface and extra-cellular astrocytoma genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-4-39
PMCID: PMC497045  PMID: 15265232
SAGE; astrocytoma; gene expression; bioinformatics and therapeutic targets.
7.  Expression of stabilized β-catenin in differentiated neurons of transgenic mice does not result in tumor formation 
BMC Cancer  2002;2:33.
Background
Medulloblastomas, embryonal tumors arising in the cerebellum, commonly contain mutations that activate Wnt signaling. To determine whether increased Wnt signaling in the adult CNS is sufficient to induce tumor formation, we created transgenic mice expressing either wild-type or activated β-catenin in the brain.
Methods
Wild-type and mutant human β-catenin transgenes were expressed under the control of a murine PrP promoter fragment that drives high level postnatal expression in the CNS. Mutant β-catenin was stabilized by a serine to phenylalanine alteration in codon 37.
Results
Expression of the mutant transgene resulted in an approximately two-fold increase in β-catenin protein levels in the cortex and cerebellum of adult animals. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed nuclear β-catenin in hippocampal, cortical and cerebellar neurons of transgenic animals but not in non-transgenic controls. Tail kinking was observed in some transgenic animals, but no CNS malformations or tumors were detected.
Conclusions
No tumors or morphologic alterations were detected in the brains of transgenic mice expressing stabilized β-catenin, suggesting that postnatal Wnt signaling in differentiated neurons may not be sufficient to induce CNS tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-2-33
PMCID: PMC139989  PMID: 12460454

Results 1-7 (7)