Recent gene profiling studies have identified a new breast cancer subtype, the basal-like group, which expresses genes characteristic of basal epithelial cells and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. However, the genes responsible for the aggressive behavior observed in this group are largely unknown. Here we report that the small heat shock protein α-basic–crystallin (αB-crystallin) was commonly expressed in basal-like tumors and predicted poor survival in breast cancer patients independently of other prognostic markers. We also demonstrate that overexpression of αB-crystallin transformed immortalized human mammary epithelial cells (MECs). In 3D basement membrane culture, αB-crystallin overexpression induced luminal filling and other neoplastic-like changes in mammary acini, while silencing αB-crystallin by RNA interference inhibited these abnormalities. αB-Crystallin overexpression also induced EGF- and anchorage-independent growth, increased cell migration and invasion, and constitutively activated the MAPK kinase/ERK (MEK/ERK) pathway. Moreover, the transformed phenotype conferred by αB-crystallin was suppressed by MEK inhibitors. In addition, immortalized human MECs overexpressing αB-crystallin formed invasive mammary carcinomas in nude mice that recapitulated aspects of human basal-like breast tumors. Collectively, our results indicate that αB-crystallin is a novel oncoprotein expressed in basal-like breast carcinomas that independently predicts shorter survival. Our data also implicate the MEK/ERK pathway as a potential therapeutic target for these tumors.
Jose V. Moyano, Joseph R. Evans, Feng Chen, Meiling Lu, Michael E. Werner, Fruma Yehiely, Leslie K. Diaz, Dmitry Turbin, Gamze Karaca, Elizabeth Wiley, Torsten O. Nielsen, Charles M. Perou, Vincent L. Cryns
Recent studies have established distinctive serum polypeptide patterns through mass spectrometry (MS) that reportedly correlate with clinically relevant outcomes. Wider acceptance of these signatures as valid biomarkers for disease may follow sequence characterization of the components and elucidation of the mechanisms by which they are generated. Using a highly optimized peptide extraction and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization–time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS–based approach, we now show that a limited subset of serum peptides (a signature) provides accurate class discrimination between patients with 3 types of solid tumors and controls without cancer. Targeted sequence identification of 61 signature peptides revealed that they fall into several tight clusters and that most are generated by exopeptidase activities that confer cancer type–specific differences superimposed on the proteolytic events of the ex vivo coagulation and complement degradation pathways. This small but robust set of marker peptides then enabled highly accurate class prediction for an external validation set of prostate cancer samples. In sum, this study provides a direct link between peptide marker profiles of disease and differential protease activity, and the patterns we describe may have clinical utility as surrogate markers for detection and classification of cancer. Our findings also have important implications for future peptide biomarker discovery efforts.
Josep Villanueva, David R. Shaffer, John Philip, Carlos A. Chaparro, Hediye Erdjument-Bromage, Adam B. Olshen, Martin Fleisher, Hans Lilja, Edi Brogi, Jeff Boyd, Marta Sanchez-Carbayo, Eric C. Holland, Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Howard I. Scher, Paul Tempst
The molecular anatomy of cancer cells is being explored through unbiased approaches aimed at the identification of cancer-specific transcriptional signatures. An alternative biased approach is exploitation of molecular tools capable of inducing cellular transformation. Transcriptional signatures thus identified can be readily validated in real cancers and more easily reverse-engineered into signaling pathways, given preexisting molecular knowledge. We exploited the ability of the adenovirus early region 1 A protein (E1A) oncogene to force the reentry into the cell cycle of terminally differentiated cells in order to identify and characterize genes whose expression is upregulated in this process. A subset of these genes was activated through a retinoblastoma protein/E2 viral promoter required factor–independent (pRb/E2F-independent) mechanism and was overexpressed in a fraction of human cancers. Furthermore, this overexpression correlated with tumor progression in colon cancer, and 2 of these genes predicted unfavorable prognosis in breast cancer. A proof of principle biological validation was performed on one of the genes of the signature, skeletal muscle cell reentry-induced (SKIN) gene, a previously undescribed gene. SKIN was found overexpressed in some primary tumors and tumor cell lines and was amplified in a fraction of colon adenocarcinomas. Furthermore, knockdown of SKIN caused selective growth suppression in overexpressing tumor cell lines but not in tumor lines expressing physiological levels of the transcript. Thus, SKIN is a candidate oncogene in human cancer.
Francesco Nicassio, Fabrizio Bianchi, Maria Capra, Manuela Vecchi, Stefano Confalonieri, Marco Bianchi, Deborah Pajalunga, Marco Crescenzi, Ian Marc Bonapace, Pier Paolo Di Fiore
Notch is a highly conserved transmembrane receptor that determines cell fate. Notch signaling denotes cleavage of the Notch intracellular domain, its translocation to the nucleus, and subsequent activation of target gene transcription. Involvement of Notch signaling in several cancers is well known, but its role in melanoma remains poorly characterized. Here we show that the Notch1 pathway is activated in human melanoma. Blocking Notch signaling suppressed whereas constitutive activation of the Notch1 pathway enhanced primary melanoma cell growth both in vitro and in vivo yet had little effect on metastatic melanoma cells. Activation of Notch1 signaling enabled primary melanoma cells to gain metastatic capability. Furthermore, the oncogenic effect of Notch1 on primary melanoma cells was mediated by β-catenin, which was upregulated following Notch1 activation. Inhibiting β-catenin expression reversed Notch1-enhanced tumor growth and metastasis. Our data therefore suggest a β-catenin–dependent, stage-specific role for Notch1 signaling in promoting the progression of primary melanoma.
Klara Balint, Min Xiao, Chelsea C. Pinnix, Akinobu Soma, Imre Veres, Istvan Juhasz, Eric J. Brown, Anthony J. Capobianco, Meenhard Herlyn, Zhao-Jun Liu
NKT cells have pivotal roles in immune regulation and tumor immunosurveillance. We report that the G-CSF and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt-3L) chimeric cytokine, progenipoietin-1, markedly expands the splenic and hepatic NKT cell population and enhances functional responses to α-galactosylceramide. In a murine model of allogeneic stem cell transplantation, donor NKT cells promoted host DC activation and enhanced perforin-restricted CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity against host-type antigens. Following leukemic challenge, donor treatment with progenipoietin-1 significantly improved overall survival when compared with G-CSF or control, attributable to reduced graft-versus-host disease mortality and paradoxical augmentation of graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects. Enhanced cellular cytotoxicity was dependent on donor NKT cells, and leukemia clearance was profoundly impaired in recipients of NKT cell–deficient grafts. Enhanced cytotoxicity and GVL effects were not associated with Flt-3L signaling or effects on DCs but were reproduced by prolonged G-CSF receptor engagement with pegylated G-CSF. Thus, modified G-CSF signaling during stem cell mobilization augments NKT cell–dependent CD8+ cytotoxicity, effectively separating graft-versus-host disease and GVL and greatly expanding the potential applicability of allogeneic stem cell transplantation for the therapy of malignant disease.
Edward S. Morris, Kelli P.A. MacDonald, Vanessa Rowe, Tatjana Banovic, Rachel D. Kuns, Alistair L.J. Don, Helen M. Bofinger, Angela C. Burman, Stuart D. Olver, Norbert Kienzle, Steven A. Porcelli, Daniel G. Pellicci, Dale I. Godfrey, Mark J. Smyth, Geoffrey R. Hill
We have previously published that 2 proven treatments for acute promyelocytic leukemia, As2O3 and retinoic acid, can be antagonistic in vitro. We now report that As2O3 inhibits ligand-induced transcription of the retinoic acid receptor, as well as other nuclear receptors that heterodimerize with the retinoid X receptor α (RXRα). As2O3 did not inhibit transactivation of the estrogen receptor or the glucocorticoid receptor, which do not heterodimerize with RXRα. We further show that As2O3 inhibits expression of several target genes of RXRα partners. Phosphorylation of RXRα has been reported to inhibit nuclear receptor signaling, and we show by in vivo labeling and phosphoamino acid detection that As2O3 phosphorylated RXRα in the N-terminal ABC region exclusively on serine residues. Consistent with our previous data implying a role for JNK in As2O3-induced apoptosis, we show that pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of JNK activation decreased As2O3-induced RXRα phosphorylation and blocked the effects of As2O3 on RXRα-mediated transcription. A mutational analysis indicated that phosphorylation of a specific serine residue, S32, was primarily responsible for inhibition of RXRα-mediated transcription. These data may provide some insight into the rational development of chemotherapeutic combinations involving As2O3 as well as into molecular mechanisms of arsenic-induced carcinogenesis resulting from environmental exposure.
Koren K. Mann, Alessandra M.S. Padovani, Qi Guo, April L. Colosimo, Ho-Young Lee, Jonathan M. Kurie, Wilson H. Miller Jr.
The molecular characterization of leukemia has demonstrated that genetic alterations in the leukemic clone frequently fall into 2 classes, those affecting transcription factors (e.g., AML1-ETO) and mutations affecting genes involved in signal transduction (e.g., activating mutations of FLT3 and KIT). This finding has favored a model of leukemogenesis in which the collaboration of these 2 classes of genetic alterations is necessary for the malignant transformation of hematopoietic progenitor cells. The model is supported by experimental data indicating that AML1-ETO and FLT3 length mutation (FLT3-LM), 2 of the most frequent genetic alterations in AML, are both insufficient on their own to cause leukemia in animal models. Here we report that AML1-ETO collaborates with FLT3-LM in inducing acute leukemia in a murine BM transplantation model. Moreover, in a series of 135 patients with AML1-ETO–positive AML, the most frequently identified class of additional mutations affected genes involved in signal transduction pathways including FLT3-LM or mutations of KIT and NRAS. These data support the concept of oncogenic cooperation between AML1-ETO and a class of activating mutations, recurrently found in patients with t(8;21), and provide a rationale for therapies targeting signal transduction pathways in AML1-ETO–positive leukemias.
Christina Schessl, Vijay P.S. Rawat, Monica Cusan, Aniruddha Deshpande, Tobias M. Kohl, Patricia M. Rosten, Karsten Spiekermann, R. Keith Humphries, Susanne Schnittger, Wolfgang Kern, Wolfgang Hiddemann, Leticia Quintanilla-Martinez, Stefan K. Bohlander, Michaela Feuring-Buske, Christian Buske
In the present study, we demonstrated that human skin cancers frequently overexpress TGF-β1 but exhibit decreased expression of the TGF-β type II receptor (TGF-βRII). To understand how this combination affects cancer prognosis, we generated a transgenic mouse model that allowed inducible expression of TGF-β1 in keratinocytes expressing a dominant negative TGF-βRII (ΔβRII) in the epidermis. Without ΔβRII expression, TGF-β1 transgene induction in late-stage, chemically induced papillomas failed to inhibit tumor growth but increased metastasis and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), i.e., formation of spindle cell carcinomas. Interestingly, ΔβRII expression abrogated TGF-β1–mediated EMT and was accompanied by restoration of membrane-associated E-cadherin/catenin complex in TGF-β1/ΔβRII compound tumors. Furthermore, expression of molecules thought to mediate TGF-β1–induced EMT was attenuated in TGF-β1/ΔβRII–transgenic tumors. However, TGF-β1/ΔβRII–transgenic tumors progressed to metastasis without losing expression of the membrane-associated E-cadherin/catenin complex and at a rate higher than those observed in nontransgenic, TGF-β1–transgenic, or ΔβRII-transgenic mice. Abrogation of Smad activation by ΔβRII correlated with the blockade of EMT. However, ΔβRII did not alter TGF-β1–mediated expression of RhoA/Rac and MAPK, which contributed to increased metastasis. Our study provides evidence that TGF-β1 induces EMT and invasion via distinct mechanisms. TGF-β1–mediated EMT requires functional TGF-βRII, whereas TGF-β1–mediated tumor invasion cooperates with reduced TGF-βRII signaling in tumor epithelia.
Gangwen Han, Shi-Long Lu, Allen G. Li, Wei He, Christopher L. Corless, Molly Kulesz-Martin, Xiao-Jing Wang
Disruption of the cell-cell junction with concomitant changes in the expression of junctional proteins is a hallmark of cancer cell invasion and metastasis. The role of adherent junction proteins has been studied extensively in cancer, but the roles of tight junction (TJ) proteins are less well understood. Claudins are recently identified members of the tetraspanin family of proteins, which are integral to the structure and function of TJs. Recent studies show changes in expression/cellular localization of claudins during tumorigenesis; however, a causal relationship between claudin expression/localization and cancer has not been established. Here, we report an increased expression of claudin-1 in human primary colon carcinoma and metastasis and in cell lines derived from primary and metastatic tumors. We also report frequent nuclear localization of claudin-1 in these samples. Genetic manipulations of claudin-1 expression in colon cancer cell lines induced changes in cellular phenotype, with structural and functional changes in markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, we demonstrate that changes in claudin-1 expression have significant effects on growth of xenografted tumors and metastasis in athymic mice. We further provide data suggesting that the regulation of E-cadherin expression and β-catenin/Tcf signaling is a possible mechanism underlying claudin-1–dependent changes.
Punita Dhawan, Amar B. Singh, Natasha G. Deane, YiRan No, Sheng-Ru Shiou, Carl Schmidt, John Neff, M. Kay Washington, R. Daniel Beauchamp
Overcoming resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy has been a difficult but important goal in the effort to cure cancer. We used gene-expression microarrays to identify differentially expressed genes involved in colorectal cancer resistance to chemotherapy and identified secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine (osteonectin) (SPARC) as a putative resistance-reversal gene by demonstrating low SPARC expression in refractory human MIP101 colon cancer cells. We were able to achieve restoration of their radiosensitivity and sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil and irinotecan by reexpression of SPARC in tumor xenografts. Moreover, treatment of mice with SPARC conferred increased sensitivity to chemotherapy and led to significant regression of xenografted tumors. The results show that modulation of SPARC expression affects colorectal cancer sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapy. SPARC-based gene or protein therapy may ameliorate the emergence of resistant clones and eradicate existing refractory clones and offers a novel approach to treating cancer.
Isabella T. Tai, Meiru Dai, David A. Owen, Lan Bo Chen