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
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
Activation in transformed cells of normal stem cells’ self-renewal pathways might contribute to the survival life cycle of cancer stem cells and promote tumor progression. The BMI-1 oncogene–driven gene expression pathway is essential for the self-renewal of hematopoietic and neural stem cells. We applied a mouse/human comparative translational genomics approach to identify an 11-gene signature that consistently displays a stem cell–resembling expression profile in distant metastatic lesions as revealed by the analysis of metastases and primary tumors from a transgenic mouse model of prostate cancer and cancer patients. To further validate these results, we examined the prognostic power of the 11-gene signature in several independent therapy-outcome sets of clinical samples obtained from 1,153 cancer patients diagnosed with 11 different types of cancer, including 5 epithelial malignancies (prostate, breast, lung, ovarian, and bladder cancers) and 5 nonepithelial malignancies (lymphoma, mesothelioma, medulloblastoma, glioma, and acute myeloid leukemia). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that a stem cell–like expression profile of the 11-gene signature in primary tumors is a consistent powerful predictor of a short interval to disease recurrence, distant metastasis, and death after therapy in cancer patients diagnosed with 11 distinct types of cancer. These data suggest the presence of a conserved BMI-1–driven pathway, which is similarly engaged in both normal stem cells and a highly malignant subset of human cancers diagnosed in a wide range of organs and uniformly exhibiting a marked propensity toward metastatic dissemination as well as a high probability of unfavorable therapy outcome.
Gennadi V. Glinsky, Olga Berezovska, Anna B. Glinskii
B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a disease of expanding monoclonal B cells whose B cell receptor (BCR) mutational status defines 2 subgroups; patients with mutated BCRs have a more favorable prognosis than those with unmutated BCRs. CLL B cells express a restricted BCR repertoire including antibodies with quasi-identical complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3), which suggests specific antigen recognition. The antigens recognized by CLL antibodies may include autoantigens since about half of CLL B cells produce autoreactive antibodies. However, the distribution of autoreactive antibodies between Ig heavy-chain variable–unmutated (IgV-unmutated) CLL (UM-CLL) and IgV-mutated CLL (M-CLL) is unknown. To determine the role of antibody reactivity and the impact of somatic hypermutation (SHM) on CLL antibody specificity, we cloned and expressed in vitro recombinant antibodies from M- and UM-CLL B cells and tested their reactivity by ELISA. We found that UM-CLL B cells expressed highly polyreactive antibodies whereas most M-CLL B cells did not. When mutated nonautoreactive CLL antibody sequences were reverted in vitro to their germline counterparts, they encoded polyreactive and autoreactive antibodies. We concluded that both UM-CLLs and M-CLLs originate from self-reactive B cell precursors and that SHM plays an important role in the development of the disease by altering original BCR autoreactivity.
Maxime Hervé, Kai Xu, Yen-Shing Ng, Hedda Wardemann, Emilia Albesiano, Bradley T. Messmer, Nicholas Chiorazzi, Eric Meffre
We used a proteomic approach for identifying molecules involved in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We investigated 14 patients who were completely concordant for IgVH mutational status (unmutated vs. mutated), CD38 expression (positive vs. negative), and clinical behavior (progressive vs. stable); these patients were characterized as having either poor or good prognoses. The 2 patient subsets differed in the expression of hematopoietic lineage cell-specific protein 1 (HS1). In patients with poor prognoses, most HS1 protein was constitutively phosphorylated, whereas only a fraction was phosphorylated in patients with good prognoses. This difference was investigated in a larger cohort of 26 unselected patients. The survival curve of all 40 patients analyzed revealed that patients with predominately phosphorylated HS1 experience a significantly shorter median survival time. As HS1 is a protein pivotal in the signal cascade triggered by B cell receptor (BCR) stimulation, we studied its pattern of expression following BCR engagement. Normal mature B cells stimulated by anti-IgM shifted the non- or less-phosphorylated form of HS1 toward the more phosphorylated form. Naive B cells showed both HS1 forms while memory B cells expressed mainly the phosphorylated fraction. These data indicate a central role for antigen stimulation in CLL and suggest a new therapeutic target for patients with aggressive disease.
Cristina Scielzo, Paolo Ghia, Antonio Conti, Angela Bachi, Giuseppe Guida, Massimo Geuna, Massimo Alessio, Federico Caligaris-Cappio
The interactions of transformed cells with the surrounding stromal cells are of importance for tumor progression and metastasis. The relevance of adipocyte-derived factors to breast cancer cell survival and growth is well established. However, it remains unknown which specific adipocyte-derived factors are most critical in this process. Collagen VI is abundantly expressed in adipocytes. Collagen–/– mice in the background of the mouse mammary tumor virus/polyoma virus middle T oncogene (MMTV-PyMT) mammary cancer model demonstrate dramatically reduced rates of early hyperplasia and primary tumor growth. Collagen VI promotes its growth-stimulatory and pro-survival effects in part by signaling through the NG2/chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan receptor expressed on the surface of malignant ductal epithelial cells to sequentially activate Akt and β-catenin and stabilize cyclin D1. Levels of the carboxyterminal domain of collagen VIα3, a proteolytic product of the full-length molecule, are dramatically upregulated in murine and human breast cancer lesions. The same fragment exerts potent growth-stimulatory effects on MCF-7 cells in vitro. Therefore, adipocytes play a vital role in defining the ECM environment for normal and tumor-derived ductal epithelial cells and contribute significantly to tumor growth at early stages through secretion and processing of collagen VI.
Puneeth Iyengar, Virginia Espina, Terence W. Williams, Ying Lin, David Berry, Linda A. Jelicks, Hyangkyu Lee, Karla Temple, Reed Graves, Jeffrey Pollard, Neeru Chopra, Robert G. Russell, Ram Sasisekharan, Bruce J. Trock, Marc Lippman, Valerie S. Calvert, Emanuel F. Petricoin III, Lance Liotta, Ekaterina Dadachova, Richard G. Pestell, Michael P. Lisanti, Paolo Bonaldo, Philipp E. Scherer