Wendy Kennette

London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (9)34.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Maspin (mammary serine protease inhibitor or SerpinB5) acts as a tumor suppressor when overexpressed in aggressive cancer cell lines. However, its role in human cancer is controversial. Maspin expression has been associated with a poor prognosis in some studies, whereas in others, with favorable outcome. The clinical data suggest, however, that nuclear-localized maspin is associated with improved survival. We hypothesized that the tumor suppressor activity of maspin may require nuclear localization, and that the discordance between clinical and experimental reports is a consequence of the variable subcellular distribution of maspin. Furthermore, we surmized that nuclear maspin could function as a tumor suppressor through the regulation of genes involved in tumor growth and invasion. Maspin or maspin fused to a nuclear export signal were expressed in metastatic human breast and epidermoid carcinoma cell lines. We found that pan-cellular localized maspin inhibited in vivo tumor growth and metastasis when assessed in xenograft chicken embryo and murine mammary fat pad injection models. However, when maspin was excluded from the nucleus via a nuclear exclusion signal, it no longer functioned as a metastasis suppressor. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation, we show that nuclear maspin was enriched at the promoter of colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) and associated with diminished levels of CSF-1 mRNA. Our findings demonstrate that the nuclear localization of maspin is required for its tumor and metastasis suppressor functions in vivo, and suggest that its mechanism of action involves, in part, direct association of maspin with target genes.
    Laboratory Investigation 04/2011; 91(8):1181-7. · 3.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously identified genome-wide DNA methylation changes in a cell line model of breast cancer metastasis. These complex epigenetic changes that we observed, along with concurrent karyotype analyses, have led us to hypothesize that complex genomic alterations in cancer cells (deletions, translocations and ploidy) are superimposed over promoter-specific methylation events that are responsible for gene-specific expression changes observed in breast cancer metastasis. We undertook simultaneous high-resolution, whole-genome analyses of MDA-MB-468GFP and MDA-MB-468GFP-LN human breast cancer cell lines (an isogenic, paired lymphatic metastasis cell line model) using Affymetrix gene expression (U133), promoter (1.0R), and SNP/CNV (SNP 6.0) microarray platforms to correlate data from gene expression, epigenetic (DNA methylation), and combination copy number variant/single nucleotide polymorphism microarrays. Using Partek Software and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis we integrated datasets from these three platforms and detected multiple hypomethylation and hypermethylation events. Many of these epigenetic alterations correlated with gene expression changes. In addition, gene dosage events correlated with the karyotypic differences observed between the cell lines and were reflected in specific promoter methylation patterns. Gene subsets were identified that correlated hyper (and hypo) methylation with the loss (or gain) of gene expression and in parallel, with gene dosage losses and gains, respectively. Individual gene targets from these subsets were also validated for their methylation, expression and copy number status, and susceptible gene pathways were identified that may indicate how selective advantage drives the processes of tumourigenesis and metastasis. Our approach allows more precisely profiling of functionally relevant epigenetic signatures that are associated with cancer progression and metastasis.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1):e8665. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although lymphatic dissemination is a major route for breast cancer metastasis, there has been little work to determine what factors control the ability of tumor cells to survive, establish and show progressive growth in a lymph node environment. This information is of particular relevance now, in the era of sentinel lymph node biopsy, where smaller intranodal tumor deposits are being detected earlier in the course of disease, the clinical relevance of which is uncertain. In this study, we compared differentially expressed genes in cell lines of high (468LN) vs. low (468GFP) lymphatic metastatic ability, and related these to clinical literature on genes associated with lymphatic metastatic ability and prognosis, to identify genes of potential clinical relevance. This approach revealed differential expression of a set of genes associated with 'cancer stem cell-like' properties, as well as networks of genes potentially associated with survival and autonomous growth. We explored these differences functionally and found that 468LN cells have a higher proportion of cells with a cancer stem cell-like (CD44+/CD24-) phenotype, have a higher clonogenic potential and a greater ability to survive, establish and grow in a foreign (lymph node and 3D Matrigel) microenvironment, relative to 468GFP cells. Differentially expressed genes which reflect these functions provide candidates for investigation as potential targets for therapy directed against early lymphatic metastasis.
    International Journal of Oncology 09/2009; 35(2):297-308. · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer metastasis is a complex, multi-step biological process. Genetic mutations along with epigenetic alterations in the form of DNA methylation patterns and histone modifications contribute to metastasis-related gene expression changes and genomic instability. So far, these epigenetic contributions to breast cancer metastasis have not been well characterized, and there is only a limited understanding of the functional mechanisms affected by such epigenetic alterations. Furthermore, no genome-wide assessments have been undertaken to identify altered DNA methylation patterns in the context of metastasis and their effects on specific functional pathways or gene networks. We have used a human gene promoter tiling microarray platform to analyze a cell line model of metastasis to lymph nodes composed of a poorly metastatic MDA-MB-468GFP human breast adenocarcinoma cell line and its highly metastatic variant (468LN). Gene networks and pathways associated with metastasis were identified, and target genes associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition were validated with respect to DNA methylation effects on gene expression. We integrated data from the tiling microarrays with targets identified by Ingenuity Pathways Analysis software and observed epigenetic variations in genes implicated in epithelial-mesenchymal transition and with tumor cell migration. We identified widespread genomic hypermethylation and hypomethylation events in these cells and we confirmed functional associations between methylation status and expression of the CDH1, CST6, EGFR, SNAI2 and ZEB2 genes by quantitative real-time PCR. Our data also suggest that the complex genomic reorganization present in cancer cells may be superimposed over promoter-specific methylation events that are responsible for gene-specific expression changes. This is the first whole-genome approach to identify genome-wide and gene-specific epigenetic alterations, and the functional consequences of these changes, in the context of breast cancer metastasis to lymph nodes. This approach allows the development of epigenetic signatures of metastasis to be used concurrently with genomic signatures to improve mapping of the evolving molecular landscape of metastasis and to permit translational approaches to target epigenetically regulated molecular pathways related to metastatic progression.
    Breast cancer research: BCR 01/2008; 10(4):R62. · 5.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metallothioneins (MTs) mediate resistance to metal and non-metal toxicants. To differentiate the role of MTs from other protective factors, resistance to zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), tertbutyl hydroperoxide (tBH), and cisplatin (CDDP) was compared in renal cell lines from wild type (MT-WT) and MT-1/MT-2 knockout (MT-KO) mice. MT-WT cells were more resistant to tBH than MT-KO cells but, unexpectedly, were more sensitive to Zn, Cd, and CDDP. Thus, basal expression of MT conferred resistance to tBH, but not to Cd or CDDP. Pretreatment with Zn increased MT expression and enhanced resistance to Cd and CDDP only in MT-WT cells, indicating a critical role for MT in this form of resistance. By contrast, Zn-pretreatment increased resistance to subsequent Zn exposure, but did not alter resistance to tBH, regardless of MT-status. Therefore, Zn-induced resistance to subsequent exposure to Zn (but not to Cd or CDDP) was mediated by non-MT factors, and neither Zn-induced MT nor other factors affected tBH sensitivity. Furthermore, antisense down-regulation of MT in human HeLa cells reduced basal MT levels and resistance to TBH, but not to Cd or CDDP. Therefore, basal MT alone can mediate resistance to TBH (but not to Cd or CDDP) in mouse and human cells. These data suggest that MT can mediate resistance to toxicants by different mechanisms, some of which correlate with the cellular content of MT protein. Moreover, resistance to some agents (Cd and CDDP) can be enhanced by inducing MT. Resistance to other agents (tBH) requires only basal (non-induced) MT levels.
    Toxicological Sciences 01/2006; 88(2):602-13. · 4.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The zinc-binding protein metallothionein (MT) is associated with resistance to apoptosis. We examined whether MT regulates the zinc-dependent antiapoptotic transcription factor nuclear factor KappaB (NF-KappaB), which is up-regulated under many conditions that lead to elevated MT expression. NF-KappaB protein levels and NF-KappaB-dependent reporter gene activity were examined in clonal MT(+) (MT-WT) and MT(-) (MT-KO) fibroblastic cell lines. The amount of cellular NF-KappaB p65 protein in MT-KO was less than 20% of the amount in MT-WT cells, in accord with increased sensitivity of MT-KO cells to apoptosis. NF-KappaB p65 mRNA levels, and NF-KappaB p50 subunit and IKappaBalpha protein levels, were unchanged. NF-KappaB activity assessed by expression of a transfected NF-KappaB reporter construct was less than half that observed in MT-KO cells. Decreased nuclear localization of NF-KappaB p65 in MT-KO clones was not responsible for differences in activity. In fact, MT-KO cells had higher nuclear levels of NF-KappaB p65 than did MT-WT cells, despite a lower cellular NF-KappaB level and function, suggesting that metallothionein mediated the specific activity of NF-KappaB. Reconstitution of MT by stable incorporation of an MT-1 expression vector in MT-KO cells resulted in increased NF-KappaB p65 (but not IKappaBalpha or NF-KappaB p50), increased NF-KappaB-dependent reporter activity, and increased resistance to apoptosis. These data support the hypothesis that metallothionein positively regulates the cellular level and activity of NF-KappaB.
    Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 09/2004; 310(2):589-98. · 3.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The utility of plants for the production of a wide range of recombinant proteins is now clearly established. However, the challenge remains to produce these proteins at sufficient concentrations for extraction to be economically feasible. In this paper, we have investigated the ability of plant cells to accumulate the human interleukin-10 (IL-10) protein targeted to chloroplasts and mitochondria. We found that IL-10 accumulates in chloroplasts only if a 6 x His tag is added at the C-terminus of the protein. The hexapeptide may provide protection from degradation. Conversely, the IL-10 protein does not accumulate in mitochondria. Analysis of the chloroplast-targeted IL-10 protein revealed only monomeric IL-10 and limited biological activity in in vitro cell assays.
    Journal of Biotechnology 04/2004; 108(2):179-83. · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metallothioneins (MTs) are a family of low molecular weight metal-binding proteins induced by a broad range of stress conditions, including exposure to transition metal ions. Biochemical and immunological methods to measure MT protein levels in tissues and cultured cells have been reported, but accuracy and sensitivity is impeded by high background levels, low specificity of currently available reagents, and relatively laborious and time-consuming multistep procedures. To address these difficulties, a protocol has been developed to measure MT protein levels using a competitive solid phase assay based on dissociation enhanced lanthanide fluoroimmuno (DELFIA) detection of anti-MT monoclonal antibody bound to solid phase MT. This assay allows time-resolved detection of antibody binding, based on binding and exchange of different lanthanide chelates followed by fluorescent detection, designed to reduce background fluorescence and increase sensitivity. The method allows measurement of low MT levels that are undetectable using current radioimmunoassay (RIA) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) protocols, and yields reproducible results with low background over a wide range of MT concentrations. Improved sensitivity of MT protein detection is of value in toxicological measurement of stress responses and assessment of MT expression and function.
    Journal of Immunological Methods 02/2003; 272(1-2):247-56. · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metallothioneins (MTs) are the major low molecular weight, zinc-binding proteins in mammalian cells. It has been hypothesized that they play a role in the function of zinc-dependent signal transduction proteins and transcription factors. We investigated the capacity of zinc and other metal ions and conditions to increase both Zn-associated MT levels and the receptiveness of cells to transcriptional activation mediated by the zinc-dependent glucocorticoid receptor (GR). We studied, in a GR-responsive mouse mammary-tumor cell line, the ability of dexamethasone (DEX) to stimulate transcription of a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene controlled by a mouse mammary-tumor virus promoter. In cells pretreated with 20 to 100 microM ZnCl(2), DEX-induced CAT activity correlated with zinc-induced MT levels. However, 0.05 to 0.5 microM CdCl(2) had no effect on CAT activity, despite an increase in Cd-associated MT. Copper-associated MT was detected in cells treated with 20 microM CuCl(2,) but there was no change in the level of Zn-MT, nor was CAT activity altered in cells exposed to 5 to 20 microM CuCl(2). These results may reflect a functional difference between zinc-associated MT, and MT associated with other metals. Significantly more CAT activity was observed in both heat-shocked cells and in cells exposed to 40 or 50 nM HgCl(2). Although absolute amounts of MT were unchanged by these two treatments, a higher percentage of total cellular zinc was associated with the MT protein fractions after treatment. Changes in GR levels could not account for variations in CAT activity. These data indicate that hormonal signalling can be altered by exposure to metal salts and heat shock, and the effect is correlated with the level of Zn-MT.
    Toxicological Sciences 12/2001; 64(1):67-76. · 4.33 Impact Factor