[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nodal is highly expressed in various human malignancies, thus supporting the rationale for exploring Nodal as a therapeutic target. Here, we describe the effects of a novel monoclonal antibody (mAb), 3D1, raised against human Nodal. In vitro treatment of C8161 human melanoma cells with 3D1 mAb shows reductions in anchorage-independent growth and vasculogenic network formation. 3D1 treated cells also show decreases of Nodal and downstream signaling molecules, P-Smad2 and PERK and of P-H3 and CyclinB1, with an increase in p27. Similar effects were previously reported in human breast cancer cells where Nodal expression was generally down-regulated; following 3D1 mAb treatment, both Nodal and P-H3 levels are reduced. Noteworthy is the reduced growth of human melanoma xenografts in Nude mice treated with 3D1 mAb, where immunostaining of representative tumor sections show diminished P-Smad2 expression. Similar effects both in vitro and in vivo were observed in 3D1 treated A375SM melanoma cells harboring the active BRAF(V600E) mutation compared to treatments with IgG control or a BRAF inhibitor, dabrafenib. Finally, we describe a 3D1-based ELISA for the detection of Nodal in serum samples from cancer patients. These data suggest the potential of 3D1 mAb for selecting and targeting Nodal expressing cancers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nodal is a potent embryonic morphogen belonging to the TGF-β superfamily. Typically, it also binds to the ALK4/ActRIIB receptor complex in the presence of the co-receptor Cripto-1. Nodal expression is physiologically restricted to embryonic tissues and human embryonic stem cells, is absent in normal cells but re-emerges in several human cancers, including melanoma, breast, and colon cancer. Our aim was to obtain mAbs able to recognize Nodal on a major CBR (Cripto-Binding-Region) site and to block the OPEN ACCESS Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16 21343 Cripto-1-mediated signalling. To achieve this, antibodies were raised against hNodal(44–67) and mAbs generated by the hybridoma technology. We have selected one mAb, named 3D1, which strongly associates with full-length rhNodal (KD 1.4 nM) and recognizes the endogenous protein in a panel of human melanoma cell lines by western blot and FACS analyses. 3D1 inhibits the Nodal-Cripto-1 binding and blocks Smad2/3 phosphorylation. Data suggest that inhibition of the Nodal-Cripto-1 axis is a valid therapeutic approach against melanoma and 3D1 is a promising and interesting agent for blocking Nodal-Cripto mediated tumor development. These findings increase the interest for Nodal as both a diagnostic and prognostic marker and as a potential new target for therapeutic intervention.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences 09/2015; 16(9):21342-21362. DOI:10.3390/ijms160921342 · 2.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cripto-1 (CR-1) is a multifunctional embryonic protein that is re-expressed during inflammation, wound repair, and malignant transformation. CR-1 can function either as a tethered co-receptor or shed as a free ligand underpinning its flexible role in cell physiology. CR-1 has been shown to mediate cell growth, migration, invasion, and induce epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). The main signaling pathways mediating CR-1 effects include Nodal-dependent (Smad2/3) and Nodal-independent (Src/p44/42/Akt) signaling transduction pathways. In addition, there are several naturally occurring binding partner proteins (BPPs) for CR-1 that can either agonize or antagonize its bioactivity. We will review the collective role of CR-1 as an extracellular protein, discuss caveats to consider in developing a quantitation assay, define possible mechanistic avenues applicable for drug discovery, and report on our experimental approaches to overcome these problematic issues.
Connective tissue research 09/2015; 56(5):1-17. DOI:10.3109/03008207.2015.1077239 · 1.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is growing evidence and a consensus in the field that most pediatric brain tumors originate from stem cells, of which radial glial cells constitute a subtype. Here we show that orthotopic transplantation of human radial glial (RG) cells to the subventricular zone of the 3rd ventricle--but not to other transplantation sites--of the brain in immunocompromised NOD-SCID mice, gives rise to tumors that have the hallmarks of CNS primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs). The resulting mouse model strikingly recapitulates the phenotype of PNETs. Importantly, the observed tumorigenic transformation was accompanied by aspects of an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like process. It is also noteworthy that the tumors are highly invasive, and that they effectively recruit mouse endothelial cells for angiogenesis. These results are significant for several reasons. First, they show that malignant transformation of radial glial cells can occur in the absence of specific mutations or inherited genomic alterations. Second, they demonstrate that the same radial glial cells may either give rise to brain tumors or differentiate normally depending upon the microenvironment of the specific region of the brain to which the cells are transplanted. In addition to providing a prospect for drug screening and development of new therapeutic strategies, the resulting mouse model of PNETs offers an unprecedented opportunity to identify the cancer driving molecular alterations and the microenvironmental factors that are responsible for committing otherwise normal radial glial cells to a malignant phenotype.
PLoS ONE 03/2015; 10(3):e0121707. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0121707 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primary uveal melanoma tumors have been shown to harbor activating mutations in the heterotrimeric G-alpha protein subunits GNAQ or GNA11 genes in approximately 85% of samples.(Van Raamsdonk et al., 2009, Van Raamsdonk et al., 2010) Mutations in GNAQ or GNA11 are mutually exclusive, and result in amino acid changes at either the R183 or Q209 sites. GNAQ or GNA11 mutations have also been identified in uveal melanoma liver metastases suggesting that the metastatic cells in the liver are derived from primary tumor cell clones with these mutations.(Carvajal et al. 2014) In addition, the many uveal melanoma cell lines derived from metastatic sites also harbor GNAQ or GNA11 mutations.(Griewank et al., 2012)This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Ras-ERK pathway is deregulated in approximately a third of human cancers, particularly those of epithelial origin. In aggressive, triple-negative, basal-like breast cancers, most tumors display increased MEK and ERK phosphorylation and exhibit a gene expression profile characteristic of Kras or EGFR mutant tumors; however, Ras family genetic mutations are uncommon in triple-negative breast cancer and EGFR mutations account for only a subset of these tumors. Therefore, the upstream events that activate MAPK signaling and promote tumor aggression in triple-negative breast cancers remain poorly defined. We have previously shown that a secreted TGF-β family signaling ligand, Nodal, is expressed in breast cancer in correlation with disease progression. Here we highlight key findings demonstrating that Nodal is required in aggressive human breast cancer cells to activate ERK signaling and downstream tumorigenic phenotypes both in vitro and in vivo. Experimental knockdown of Nodal signaling downregulates ERK activity, resulting in loss of c-myc, upregulation of p27, G1 cell cycle arrest, increased apoptosis and decreased tumorigenicity. The data suggest that ERK activation by Nodal signaling regulates c-myc and p27 proteins post-translationally and that this cascade is essential for aggressive breast tumor behavior in vivo. As the MAPK pathway is an important target for treating triple-negative breast cancers, upstream Nodal signaling may represent a promising target for breast cancer diagnosis and combined therapies aimed at blocking ERK pathway activation.
Seminars in Cancer Biology 12/2014; 29. DOI:10.1016/j.semcancer.2014.07.007 · 9.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled:
Patients with metastatic disease face high rates of mortality with a paucity of therapeutic options. Protein-based therapeutics provide advantages over traditional chemotherapy through increased specificity, decreased immune impairment, and more direct means of delivery. However, development is often hindered because of insufficient knowledge about protein processing by cells when exogenously applied. This study focuses on recombinant Maspin (rMaspin), a serine protease inhibitor (SERPINB5), which alters invasive properties when directly applied to cancer cells. Previous evidence suggests differences in the effects of rMaspin treatment when compared with endogenous reexpression, with little explanation for these discrepancies. A leading hypothesis is that exogenously applied rMaspin is subject to different regulatory and/or processing mechanisms in cancer cells when compared with endogenous expression. Therefore, a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms of internalization and subcellular trafficking of rMaspin is needed to guide future translational development. We describe the molecular trafficking of rMaspin in cytoplasmic vesicles of the endosomal/lysosomal pathway and characterize its uptake by multiple endocytic mechanisms. Time-lapse laser scanning confocal microscopy shows the uptake, in real time, of dye-labeled rMaspin in cancer cells. This study indicates that cellular processing of rMaspin plays a key role by affecting its biologic activity and highlights the need for new approaches aimed at increasing the availability of rMaspin when used to treat cancer.
Novel characterization of internalization and subcellular trafficking of rMaspin provides new insights for future therapeutic development.
Molecular Cancer Research 09/2014; 12(10). DOI:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-14-0067 · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The post-lactational regression of mammary gland is a complex multi-step process designed to conserve the biological function of the gland for next pregnancy. This developmental stage is a biological intrigue with great relevance to breast cancer research, and thus has been the subject of intensive scrutiny. Multipronged studies (microarray, proteomics profiling, animal knock-out models) have provided a repertoire of genes critical to involution. However, the caveat of these approaches remains in their failure to reveal post-translational modification(s), an emerging and critical aspect of gene regulation in developmental processes and mammary gland remodeling. The massive surge in the lysosomal enzymes concurrent with the onset of involution has been known for decades, and considered essential for "clearance" purposes. However, functional significance of these enzymes in diverse biological processes distinct from their proteolytic activity is just emerging. Studies from our laboratory had indicated specific post-translational modifications of the aspartyl endopeptidase Cathepsin D (CatD) at distinct stages mammary gland development. This study addresses the biological significance of these modifications in the involution process, and reveals that post-translational modifications drive CatD into the nucleus to cleave Histone 3. The cleavage of Histone 3 has been associated with cellular differentiation and could be critical instigator of involution process. From functional perspective, deregulated expression and increased secretion of CatD are associated with aggressive and metastatic phenotype of breast cancer. Thus unraveling CatD's physiological functions in mammary gland development will bridge the present gap in understanding its pro-tumorigenic/metastatic functions, and assist in the generation of tailored therapeutic approaches.
PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e103230. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0103230 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies have shown that cancer niche can perform an active role in the regulation of tumor cell maintenance and progression through extracellular vesicles-based intercellular communication. However, it has not been reported whether this vesicle-mediated communication affects the malignant transformation of normal stem cells/progenitors. We have previously reported that the conditioned medium derived from the mouse Lewis Lung Carcinoma (LLC) cell line can convert mouse induced pluripotent stem cells (miPSCs) into cancer stem cells (CSCs), indicating that normal stem cells when placed in an aberrant microenvironment can give rise to functionally active CSCs. Here, we focused on the contribution of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles (tEVs) that are secreted from LLC cells to induce the transformation of miPSCs into CSCs. We isolated tEVs from the conditioned medium of LLC cells, and then the differentiating miPSCs were exposed to tEVs for 4 weeks. The resultant tEV treated cells (miPS-LLCev) expressed Nanog and Oct3/4 proteins comparable to miPSCs. The frequency of sphere formation of the miPS-LLCev cells in suspension culture indicated that the self-renewal capacity of the miPS-LLCev cells was significant. When the miPS-LLCev cells were subcutaneously transplanted into Balb/c nude mice, malignant liposarcomas with extensive angiogenesis developed. miPS-LLCevPT and miPS-LLCevDT, the cells established from primary site and disseminated liposarcomas, respectively, showed their capacities to self-renew and differentiate into adipocytes and endothelial cells. Moreover, we confirmed the secondary liposarcoma development when these cells were transplanted. Taken together, these results indicate that miPS-LLCev cells possess CSC properties. Thus, our current study provides the first evidence that tEVs have the potential to induce CSC properties in normal tissue stem cells/progenitors.
Journal of Cancer 07/2014; 5(7):572-84. DOI:10.7150/jca.8865 · 3.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since its discovery as a lysosomal hydrolase, Cathepsin D (CatD) has been the subject of intensive scrutiny by numerous scientists. Those accumulated efforts have defined its biosynthetic pathway, structure, and companion proteins in the context of its perceived “house keeping” function. However, in the past two decades CatD has emerged as a multifunctional enzyme, involved in myriad biological processes beyond its original “housekeeping” role. CatD is responsible for selective and limited cleavage (quite distinct from non-specific protein degradation) of particular substrates vital to proper cellular function. These proteolytic events are critical in the control of biological processes, including cell cycle progression, differentiation and migration, morphogenesis and tissue remodeling, immunological processes, ovulation, fertilization, neuronal outgrowth, angiogenesis, and apoptosis. Consistent with the biological relevance of CatD, its deficiency, altered regulation or post-translational modification underlie important pathological conditions such as cancer, atherosclerosis, neurological and skin disorders. Specifically, deregulated synthesis, post-translational modifications and hyper-secretion of CatD, along with its mitogenic effects, are established hallmarks of cancer. More importantly, but less studied, is its significance in regulating the sensitivity to anticancer drugs.
This review outlines CatD’s post-translational modifications, cellular trafficking, secretion and protein binding partners in normal mammary gland, and restates the “site-specific” function of CatD which is most probably dictated by its post-translational modifications and binding partners. Noteworthy, CatD’s association with one of its binding partners in the context of drug sensitivity is highlighted, with the optimism that it could contribute to the development of more effective chemotherapeutic agent(s) tailored for individual patients.
Biology and Medicine 07/2014; 6(2). DOI:10.4172/0974-8369.1000206
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As the frequency of melanoma increases, current treatment strategies are struggling to significantly impact patient survival. One of the critical issues in designing efficient therapies is understanding the composition of heterogeneous melanoma tumors in order to target cancer stem cells (CSCs) and drug-resistant subpopulations. In this review, we summarize recent findings pertinent to the reemergence of the embryonic Nodal signaling pathway in melanoma and its significance as a prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target. In addition, we offer a novel molecular approach to studying the functional relevance of Nodal-expressing subpopulations and their CSC phenotype.
Seminars in Oncology 04/2014; 41(2):259-266. DOI:10.1053/j.seminoncol.2014.02.001 · 3.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exploring the re-emergence of embryonic signaling pathways may reveal important information for cancer biology. Nodal is a transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)-related morphogen that plays a critical role during embryonic development. Nodal signaling is regulated by the Cripto-1 co-receptor and another TGF-β member, Lefty. Although these molecules are poorly detected in differentiated tissues, they have been found in different human cancers. Poor prognosis of glioblastomas justifies the search for novel signaling pathways that can be exploited as potential therapeutic targets. Because our intracranial glioblastoma rat xenograft model has revealed importance of gene ontology categories related to development and differentiation, we hypothesized that increased activity of Nodal signaling could be found in glioblastomas. We examined the gene expressions of Nodal, Cripto-1, and Lefty in microarrays of invasive and angiogenic xenograft samples developed from four patients with glioblastoma. Protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 199 primary glioblastomas, and expression levels were analyzed for detection of correlations with available clinical information. Gene expression of Nodal, Lefty, and Cripto-1 was detected in the glioblastoma xenografts. Most patient samples showed significant levels of Cripto-1 detected by immunohistochemistry, whereas only weak to moderate levels were detected for Nodal and Lefty. Most importantly, the higher Cripto-1 scores were associated with shorter survival in a subset of younger patients. These findings suggest for the first time that Cripto-1, an important molecule in developmental biology, may represent a novel prognostic marker and therapeutic target in categories of younger patients with glioblastoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embryonic neural tumors are responsible for a disproportionate number of cancer deaths in children. Although dramatic improvements in survival for pediatric malignancy has been achieved in previous years advancements seem to be slowing down. For the development of new enhanced therapy and an increased understanding of the disease, pre-clinical models better capturing the neoplastic niche are essential. Tumors of early childhood present in this respect a particular challenge. Here, we explore how components of the embryonic process in stem‑cell induced mature teratoma can function as an experimental in vivo microenvironment instigating the growth of injected childhood neuroblastoma (NB) cell lines. Three human NB cell lines, IMR-32, Kelly and SK-N-BE(2), were injected into mature pluripotent stem cell‑induced teratoma (PSCT) and compared to xenografts of the same cell lines. Proliferative NB cells from all lines were readily detected in both models with a typical histology of a poorly differentiated NB tumor with a variable amount of fibrovascular stroma. Uniquely in the PSCT microenvironment, NB cells were found integrated in a non‑random fashion. Neuroblastoma cells were never observed in areas with well-differentiated somatic tissue i.e. bone, muscle, gut or areas of other easily identifiable tissue types. Instead, the three cell lines all showed initial growth exclusively occurring in the embryonic loose mesenchymal stroma, resulting in a histology recapitulating NB native presentation in vivo. Whether this reflects the 'open' nature of loose mesenchyme more easily giving space to new cells compared to other more dense tissues, the rigidity of matrix providing physical cues modulating NB characteristics, or if embryonic loose mesenchyme may supply developmental cues that attracted or promoted the integration of NB, remains to be tested. We tentatively hypothesize that mature PSCT provide an embryonic niche well suited for in vivo studies on NB.
International Journal of Oncology 09/2013; 43(3):831-8. DOI:10.3892/ijo.2013.2014 · 3.03 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vitro neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is an advantageous system for studying early neural development. The process of early neural differentiation in hESCs begins by initiation of primitive neuroectoderm, which is manifested by rosette formation, with consecutive differentiation into neural progenitors and early glial-like cells. In this study, we examined the involvement of early neural markers - OTX2, PAX6, Sox1, Nestin, NR2F1, NR2F2, and IRX2 - in the onset of rosette formation, during spontaneous neural differentiation of hESC and human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) colonies. This is in contrast to the conventional way of studying rosette formation, which involves induction of neuronal differentiation and the utilization of embryoid bodies. Here we show that OTX2 is highly expressed at the onset of rosette formation, when rosettes comprise no more than 3-5 cells, and that its expression precedes that of established markers of early neuronal differentiation. Importantly, the rise of OTX2 expression in these cells coincides with the down-regulation of the pluripotency marker OCT4. Lastly, we show that cells derived from rosettes that emerge during spontaneous differentiation of hESCs or hiPSCs are capable of differentiating into dopaminergic neurons in vitro, and into mature-appearing pyramidal and serotonergic neurons weeks after being injected into the motor cortex of NOD-SCID mice.