D S Hunter

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, United States

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Publications (12)62.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Eker rats carry a defect in the Tsc-2 tumor suppressor gene and female Eker rats develop uterine leiomyoma with a high frequency. The presentation, response to hormones and molecular alterations in these mesenchymal smooth muscle tumors, closely resembles their cognate human disease. Female rats and tumor-derived cell lines from Eker rat leiomyomas (ELT lines) have been developed as an in vivo/in vitro model system for preclinical studies to identify novel therapeutic agents for this disease and for studying disease pathogenesis. In addition to serving as a model for uterine leiomyoma, Eker rats have proven valuable for studying lymphangioleiomyomatosis, a related proliferative smooth muscle disease of women.
    Genes Chromosomes and Cancer 01/2004; 38(4):349-56. · 3.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mechanisms that regulate the growth response to estrogen (17beta-estradiol, E2) are poorly understood. Recently, loss of function of the tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2) gene has been associated with E2-related conditions that are characterized by benign cellular proliferation. We examined the growth response to E2 in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that possess wild-type TSC2 and compared them with ELT-3 smooth muscle cells that do not express TSC2. In TSC2-expressing VSMCs, growth inhibition in response to E2 was associated with downregulation of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), PDGF receptor (PDGFR), and limited activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). In contrast, the growth-promoting effect of E2 in TSC2-null ELT-3 cells was associated with induction of PDGF, robust phosphorylation of PDGFR, and sustained activation of ERK. Furthermore, in ELT-3 cells, cellular growth and ERK activation by E2 were inhibited by the PDGFR inhibitor tyrphostin AG 17 and by PDGF-neutralizing antibody. These results demonstrate that autocrine production of PDGF and augmentation of the ERK pathway leads to estrogen-induced cellular proliferation in TSC2-null cells, a pathway that was downregulated in cells that express TSC2. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate the diverse responses to the steroid hormone estrogen could lead to novel approaches to the treatment of estrogen-related diseases that are characterized by aberrant cell proliferation.
    AJP Cell Physiology 09/2003; 285(2):C409-18. · 3.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a tumor suppressor gene syndrome characterized by seizures, mental retardation, autism, and tumors of the brain, kidney, heart, retina, and skin. TSC is caused by mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2, both of which are tumor suppressor genes. Hamartin, the protein product of TSC1, was found to interact with the ezrin-radixin-moesin family of cytoskeletal proteins and to activate the small GTPase Rho. To determine whether tuberin, the TSC2 product, can also activate Rho, we stably expressed full-length human tuberin in two cell types: MDCK cells and ELT3 cells. ELT3 cells lack endogenous tuberin expression. We found that expression of human tuberin in both MDCK and ELT3 cells was associated with an increase in the amount of Rho-GTP, but not in Rac1-GTP or cdc42-GTP. Tuberin expression increased cell adhesion in both cell types, and decreased chemotactic cell migration in ELT3 cells. In MDCK cells, there was a decrease in the amount of total Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) and an increase in the fraction of phosphorylated FAK. These findings demonstrate for the first time that tuberin activates Rho and regulates cell adhesion and migration. Pathways involving Rho activation may have relevance to the clinical manifestations of TSC, including pulmonary lymphangioleiomyomatosis.
    Oncogene 01/2003; 21(55):8470-6. · 7.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Uterine leiomyomas develop in reproductive-age women with high frequency and are dependent on the production of ovarian hormones. While it is generally accepted that these tumors are estrogen (E(2))-responsive, the role of progesterone (P(4)) in modulating tumor growth is less clear. In the present study, an in vivo/in vitro rat model was used to characterize progesterone receptor (PR) isoform expression in uterine leiomyoma and investigate PR signaling using progestins and antiprogestins in the leiomyoma-derived cell line ELT-3. PR-A was the predominant isoform expressed in normal myometrium, leiomyomas and ELT3 cells. In the normal myometrium, PR-A and PR-B levels varied during the estrous cycle with low ratios of PR-A relative to PR-B (PR-A/PR-B) coinciding with times of cell proliferation. Although PR ligands had no effect on basal levels of uterine leiomyoma cell proliferation in vitro, both progestins and antiprogestins inhibited E(2)-stimulated cell proliferation. In addition, E(2)-stimulated transactivation of an estrogen-response-element reporter gene as well as E(2)-induced upregulation of the PR were also inhibited by PR ligands. These data indicate that PR ligands can transdominantly suppress estrogen receptor signaling and stimulation of uterine leiomyoma cell growth.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 11/2002; 196(1-2):11-20. · 4.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the cellular functions of TSC2 and its protein product, tuberin, are not known, somatic mutations in the TSC2 tumor suppressor gene are associated with tumor development in lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). We found that ribosomal protein S6 (S6), which exerts translational control of protein synthesis and is required for cell growth, is hyperphosphorylated in the smooth muscle-like cell lesions of LAM patients compared with smooth muscle cells from normal human blood vessels and trachea. Smooth muscle (SM) cells derived from these lesions (LAMD-SM) also exhibited S6 hyperphosphorylation, constitutive activation of p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), and increased basal DNA synthesis. In parallel, TSC2-/- smooth muscle cells (ELT3) and TSC2-/- epithelial cells (ERC15) also exhibited hyperphosphorylation of S6, constitutive activation of p70S6K, and increased basal DNA synthesis. Re-introduction of wild type tuberin into LAMD-SM, ELT3, and ERC15 cells abolished phosphorylation of S6 and significantly inhibited p70S6K activity and DNA synthesis. Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant, inhibited hyperphosphorylation of S6, p70S6K activation, and DNA synthesis in LAMD-SM cells. Interestingly, the basal levels of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, Akt/protein kinase B, and p42/p44 MAPK activation were unchanged in LAMD-SM and ELT3 cells relative to levels in normal human tracheal and vascular SM. These data demonstrate that tuberin negatively regulates the activity of S6 and p70S6K specifically, and suggest a potential mechanism for abnormal cell growth in LAM.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2002; 277(34):30958-67. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Unregulated proliferation of mesenchymal cells in leiomyomas, lipomas, hamartomas,and other diseases has been linked to the high mobility group (HMGA) family of DNA architectural proteins. HMGA genes are primarily expressed during embryonal development and silenced in adult tissues but can become reactivated in neoplasia as a result of chromosomal rearrangements. Although the genetic data suggesting a role for HMGA proteins in tumorigenesis are compelling, the biological role of these proteins in mesenchymal proliferation and differentiation is incompletely defined. Uterine myometria and spontaneous leiomyomas from the Eker rat, which carries a germ-line mutation in the tuberous sclerosis complex-2 (Tsc2) tumor suppressor gene, were analyzed for genetic defects in and expression of the Tsc2 and HMGA proteins. Eker leiomyomas exhibited a 50% incidence of loss of the wild-type Tsc2 allele and an almost uniform loss of protein expression, implicating loss of function of the Tsc2 gene in these tumors. Concomitantly, HMGA2 protein, which was completely absent in normal myometria, was expressed in 16 of 19 Eker leiomyomas. HMGA1 was expressed in both leiomyoma and normal myometria. No structural alterations were observed at the HMGA2 locus in either primary rat leiomyomas or leiomyoma-derived cell lines that expressed HMGA2. These data support a role for HMGA2 in the development of smooth muscle neoplasms and suggest HMGA2 expression is a point of convergence between the human disease and the Eker rat model. Furthermore, these data indicate that aberrant HMGA2 expression can result from dysfunction of the Tsc2 tumor suppressor gene, in the absence of structural alterations involving the HMGA2 locus.
    Cancer Research 08/2002; 62(13):3766-72. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The loss of function of the tumor suppressor gene TSC2 and its protein product tuberin promotes the development of benign lesions by stimulating cell growth, although the role of tuberin in regulating cell migration and metastasis has not been characterized. In addition, the role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase), an important signaling event regulating cell migration, in modulating tuberin-deficient cell motility remains unknown. Using a tuberin-deficient rat smooth muscle cell line, ELT3, we demonstrate that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) stimulates cell migration by 3.2-fold, whereas vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha, and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) increase migration by 2.1-, 2.1-, and 2.6-fold, respectively. Basal and PDGF-induced migration in tuberin-deficient ELT3, ELT4, and ERC15 cells was not significantly different from that of tuberin-positive transformed rat kidney epithelial 2, airway smooth muscle, and pulmonary arterial vascular smooth muscle cells. Expression of tuberin in tuberin-deficient ELT3 cells also had little effect on cell migration. In parallel experiments, the role of PI 3-kinase activation in ELT3 cell migration was investigated. LY-294002, a PI 3-kinase inhibitor, decreased PDGF-induced migration in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC(50) of approximately 5 microM. LY-294002 also abrogated ELT3 cell migration stimulated by bFGF and TGF-alpha but not by VEGF and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate. Furthermore, transient expression of constitutively active PI 3-kinase (p110*) was sufficient to induce ELT3 cell migration. However, the migration induced by p110* was less than that induced by growth factors, suggesting other signaling pathways are also critically important in modulating growth factor-induced cell migration. These data suggest that PI 3-kinase is required for growth factor-induced cell migration and loss of tuberin appears to have little effect on cell migration.
    AJP Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 05/2002; 282(4):L854-62. · 3.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Xenoestrogens with endocrine disrupting activity have been associated with the dysregulation of reproductive function and promotion of malignancies in experimental animals and human populations. The high incidence of uterine leiomyomas, a benign estrogen-responsive neoplasm of the uterine myometrium, calls into question the potential influence of xenoestrogens in the pathogenesis of these tumors. An in vivo/in vitro animal model, the Eker rat, that can be used to assess the estrogen-like agonist activity of potential endocrine disruptors in the uterine myometrium is discussed. Using this model, several in vitro assays are developed that demonstrate that compounds from three major classes of xenoestrogens can mimic the effect of estrogen on leiomyoma cells and act as estrogen receptor (ER) agonists: phytoestrogens, organochlorine pesticides and pharmacologic agents. These compounds can stimulate transcription via the ER and upregulate the expression of an estrogen-responsive gene in uterine leiomyoma cells. The use of these in vitro assays has also advanced our ability to predict the agonist activity of potential therapeutic agents in the uterine myometrium. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), while able to act as agonists in some tissues such as the bone and uterine endometrium, act as antagonists in vivo in the uterine myometrium and in our in vitro assays. This antagonist activity in the uterine myometrium suggests that SERMs may be useful in the treatment of uterine leiomyoma.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 01/2002; 948:100-11. · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Uterine leiomyomas, also called fibroids, are the most common reproductive tract neoplasm and the leading indication for hysterectomy in premenopausal women. The discovery and development of medicinal therapies for uterine leiomyoma have been hampered by a lack of understanding regarding the etiology and molecular mechanisms underlying the development of these lesions. Although the estrogen responsiveness of uterine leiomyoma is well established, the impact of environmental estrogens and their contribution to the development of these tumors is currently unknown. The Eker rat model of uterine leiomyoma has proven useful for addressing these issues and understanding the pathophysiology of this disease. The Eker rat is the only animal model that develops spontaneous uterine leiomyomas, and these tumors share many characteristics with those found in humans. The availability of tumor-derived cell lines from these rats has made this a valuable in vitro/in vivo model system for experimental studies to investigate molecular mechanisms of disease and to design interventional and preventative strategies for this clinically relevant tumor.
    Toxicologic Pathology 01/2001; 29(1):100-4. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The remarkable frequency of uterine leiomyoma in the human population calls into question the potential for the participation of environmental factors in tumor etiology. Having been implicated in the dramatic rise in hormone-related cancers in recent years, endocrine disruptors are salient suspects in this pathogenesis, although the mechanism by which they might participate is unclear. Investigations using the Eker rat model show that uterine leiomyoma may have an enhanced sensitivity to modulation via the estrogen receptor. This sensitivity could make these tumors a target for disruption by exogenous estrogen receptor ligands. Direct evidence for a pathogenic role of exogenous compounds in leiomyomas is lacking; however, it can be demonstrated that such diverse agents as organochlorine pesticides, dietary flavonoids, botanical extracts, and therapeutic antiestrogens have either estrogen agonist or antagonist function in myometrial tissues. The use of this model will help define the impact of exogenous estrogen receptor modulators on uterine leiomyoma and will permit the evaluation of strategies for therapeutic intervention.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 11/2000; 108 Suppl 5:829-34. · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although benign, uterine leiomyomas occur with high frequency and significant morbidity in reproductive-age women, and they present a significant health problem. Leiomyomas develop in the uterine myometrium and are sensitive to ovarian hormones, making them potential target sites for endocrine disruptors. Here we utilize cell lines derived from rat uterine leiomyomas to determine if a panel of 7 organochlorine pesticides have potential agonist activity in myometrial cells using cellular and molecular in vitro assays. The organochlorine pesticides investigated have been previously characterized as having agonist activity in other hormonally responsive tissues, but their effects have not been studied in uterine myometrial cells. In Eker rat leiomyoma-derived cells, HPTE, kepone, and the alpha isomer of endosulfan stimulated proliferation, an effect dampened by the antiestrogen ICI 182,780. In addition, these compounds stimulated transcription of the vitellogenin estrogen-response element via the ER in a transcriptional reporter gene assay and induced the expression of an endogenous estrogen-responsive gene, the progesterone receptor (PR). This contrasted with the agonist profile of methoxychlor, dieldrin, toxaphene, and endosulfan-beta. These compounds, unable to stimulate proliferation of uterine leiomyoma cells, did exhibit agonistic activity in these cells at the transcriptional level in the estrogen-sensitive reporter gene assay, and they were also able to upregulate PR message. These data demonstrate that organochlorine pesticides act as estrogen receptor agonists in Eker rat uterine myometrial cells, and they indicate a need for further investigation of the potential tissue-specific agonist activity of these pesticides and their role in the pathogenesis of uterine leiomyoma.
    Toxicological Sciences 05/2000; 54(2):355-64. · 4.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The possible contribution of endocrine disrupters to human disease, particularly those compounds that modulate the estrogen receptor (ER), has recently drawn considerable attention. The tissue specificity of effects mediated by the ER is well recognized, although the mechanism of this specificity is not understood sufficiently to predict the effects of a particular ligand in different target tissues. Although the divergence of ER-mediated effects in the breast, bone, and uterine endometrium has been described, a frequently overlooked site of estrogen action is the smooth muscle of the uterus. The uterine myometrium is the tissue of origin of an extremely common hormone-responsive tumor, uterine leiomyoma, a tumor with a significant impact on women's health and a possible environmental influence. This report describes an in vitro/in vivo system for identifying the effects of ER ligands in the myometrium and elucidating their mechanism of action. Several natural and synthetic xenoestrogens were evaluated at the cellular and molecular level for their ability to mimic estrogen action in uterine myometrial tissues. Diethylstilbestrol, coumestrol, genistein, naringenin, and endosulfan were able to activate the AF2 function of the ER in vitro and demonstrated agonist activity in estrogen-responsive myometrial cells, as determined by induction of proliferation and increased message levels of progesterone receptor. Compounds that could not activate AF2 function (4-hydroxy-tamoxifen, LY117018, and LY317783) did not act as estrogen agonists. For agonists, rank order of potency was predicted by receptor affinity; however, endosulfan displayed a surprising degree of activity, despite negligible receptor binding. Additionally, diethylstilbestrol and tamoxifen demonstrated prototypical agonist and antagonist effects, respectively, in the intact myometrium of sexually mature rats. The results presented here suggest that some exogenous ER ligands may mimic the effects of endogenous estrogens on uterine leiomyoma and may contribute to a complex hormonal milieu that impacts both normal and neoplastic myometrium.
    Cancer Research 08/1999; 59(13):3090-9. · 8.65 Impact Factor