[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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.
[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. · 4.33 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 01/2014; 9(7):e103230. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[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 01/2014; · 7.44 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.
[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. · 2.66 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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Platinum compounds display clinical activity against a wide variety of solid tumors; however, resistance to these agents is a major limitation in cancer therapy. Reduced platinum uptake and increased platinum export are examples of resistance mechanisms that limit the extent of DNA damage. Here, we report the discovery and characterization of the role of ATP11B, a P-type ATPase membrane protein, in cisplatin resistance. We found that ATP11B expression was correlated with higher tumor grade in human ovarian cancer samples and with cisplatin resistance in human ovarian cancer cell lines. ATP11B gene silencing restored the sensitivity of ovarian cancer cell lines to cisplatin in vitro. Combined therapy of cisplatin and ATP11B-targeted siRNA significantly decreased cancer growth in mice bearing ovarian tumors derived from cisplatin-sensitive and -resistant cells. In vitro mechanistic studies on cellular platinum content and cisplatin efflux kinetics indicated that ATP11B enhances the export of cisplatin from cells. The colocalization of ATP11B with fluorescent cisplatin and with vesicular trafficking proteins, such as syntaxin-6 (STX6) and vesicular-associated membrane protein 4 (VAMP4), strongly suggests that ATP11B contributes to secretory vesicular transport of cisplatin from Golgi to plasma membrane. In conclusion, inhibition of ATP11B expression could serve as a therapeutic strategy to overcome cisplatin resistance.
The Journal of clinical investigation 04/2013; · 15.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cripto-1 (CR-1) protein function differs according to cellular or extracellular expression. In this study, we explore the significance of cell surface CR-1 expression in human melanoma cells. Cell surface CR-1-expressing human melanoma cells (CR1-CS+) were selected by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) cell sorting and grown in vitro and in vivo in nude mice to study their growth characteristics. The CR1-CS+ melanoma cells were found to express increased levels of Oct4, MDR-1 and activated c-Src compared with cells lacking this subpopulation (CR1-CS-) or unsorted cells, used as control. CR1-CS+ show reduced proliferation rates and diminished spherical colony formation compared with control cells when cultured in vitro. Orthotopic injections of CR1-CS+ in nude mice formed slow growing tumors with histologic variability across different areas of the CR1-CS+ xenografts. CR-1-expressing cells from first generation CR1-CS+ tumors showed significantly increased tumor-forming rate and aggressiveness following subsequent transplants in nude mice. These data demonstrate that within a heterogeneous melanoma cell population there resides a slow proliferating, cell surface CR-1-expressing subpopulation capable of giving rise to a fast growing, aggressive progeny that may contribute to disease recurrence and progression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 1999, The American Journal of Pathology published an article entitled "Vascular Channel Formation by Human Melanoma Cells in Vivo and in Vitro: Vasculogenic Mimicry," by Maniotis and colleagues, which ignited a spirited debate for several years and earned distinction as a citation classic. Tumor cell vasculogenic mimicry (VM) refers to the plasticity of aggressive cancer cells forming de novo vascular networks, which thereby contribute to perfusion of rapidly growing tumors, transporting fluid from leaky vessels, and/or connecting with the constitutional endothelial-lined vasculature. The tumor cells capable of VM share a plastic, transendothelial phenotype, which may be induced by hypoxia. Since VM was introduced as a novel paradigm for melanoma tumor perfusion, many studies have contributed new findings illuminating the underlying molecular pathways supporting VM in a variety of tumors, including carcinomas, sarcomas, glioblastomas, astrocytomas, and melanomas. Facilitating the functional plasticity of tumor cell VM are key proteins associated with vascular, stem cell, and hypoxia-related signaling pathways, each deserving serious consideration as potential therapeutic targets and diagnostic indicators of the aggressive, metastatic phenotype.
American Journal Of Pathology 08/2012; 181(4):1115-25. · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maspin, a non-inhibitory member of the serine protease inhibitor superfamily, has been characterized as a tumor suppressor gene in multiple cancer types. Among the established anti-tumor effects of Maspin are the inhibition of cancer cell invasion, attachment to extracellular matrices, increased sensitivity to apoptosis, and inhibition of angiogenesis. However, while significant experimental data support the role of Maspin as a tumor suppressor, clinical data regarding the prognostic implications of Maspin expression have led to conflicting results. This highlights the need for a better understanding of the context dependencies of Maspin in normal biology and how these are perturbed in the context of cancer. In this review, we outline the regulation and roles of Maspin in normal and developmental biology while discussing novel evidence and emerging theories related to its functions in cancer. We provide insight into the immense therapeutic potential of Maspin and the challenges related to its successful clinical translation.
CANCER AND METASTASIS REVIEW 07/2012; 31(3-4):529-51. · 9.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nodal is a TGF-β-related embryonic morphogen that is expressed in multiple human cancers. Detection of Nodal expression in these tissues can be challenging if issues related to Nodal transcription and protein processing are not considered. Here, we discuss certain characteristics related to Nodal expression and function and how these can facilitate acquisition and interpretation of expression data, contributing to our understanding of the potential role of Nodal in human cancer. We also discuss how Nodal could be exploited clinically as a novel biomarker for cancer progression and therapeutic target.
Cancer Research 04/2012; 72(8):1915-20. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumor cell vasculogenic mimicry (VM) describes the functional plasticity of aggressive cancer cells forming de novo vascular networks, thereby providing a perfusion pathway for rapidly growing tumors, transporting fluid from leaky vessels, and/or connecting with endothelial-lined vasculature. The underlying induction of VM seems to be related to hypoxia, which may also promote the plastic, transendothelial phenotype of tumor cells capable of VM. Since its introduction in 1999 as a novel paradigm for melanoma tumor perfusion, many studies have contributed new insights into the underlying molecular pathways supporting VM in a variety of tumors, including melanoma, glioblastoma, carcinomas, and sarcomas. In particular, critical VM-modulating genes are associated with vascular (VE-cadherin, EphA2, VEGF receptor 1), embryonic and/or stem cell (Nodal, Notch4), and hypoxia-related (hypoxia-inducible factor, Twist1) signaling pathways. Each of these pathways warrants serious scrutiny as potential therapeutic, vascular targets, and diagnostic indicators of plasticity, drug resistance, and the aggressive metastatic phenotype.
Clinical Cancer Research 04/2012; 18(10):2726-32. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are capable of continuous proliferation and self-renewal and are proposed to play significant roles in oncogenesis, tumor growth, metastasis and cancer recurrence. CSCs are considered derived from normal stem cells affected by the tumor microenvironment although the mechanism of development is not clear yet. In 2007, Yamanaka's group succeeded in generating Nanog mouse induced pluripotent stem (miPS) cells, in which green fluorescent protein (GFP) has been inserted into the 5'-untranslated region of the Nanog gene. Usually, iPS cells, just like embryonic stem cells, are considered to be induced into progenitor cells, which differentiate into various normal phenotypes depending on the normal niche. We hypothesized that CSCs could be derived from Nanog miPS cells in the conditioned culture medium of cancer cell lines, which is a mimic of carcinoma microenvironment. As a result, the Nanog miPS cells treated with the conditioned medium of mouse Lewis lung carcinoma acquired characteristics of CSCs, in that they formed spheroids expressing GFP in suspension culture, and had a high tumorigenicity in Balb/c nude mice exhibiting angiogenesis in vivo. In addition, these iPS-derived CSCs had a capacity of self-renewal and expressed the marker genes, Nanog, Rex1, Eras, Esg1 and Cripto, associated with stem cell properties and an undifferentiated state. Thus we concluded that a model of CSCs was originally developed from miPS cells and proposed the conditioned culture medium of cancer cell lines might perform as niche for producing CSCs. The model of CSCs and the procedure of their establishment will help study the genetic alterations and the secreted factors in the tumor microenvironment which convert miPS cells to CSCs. Furthermore, the identification of potentially bona fide markers of CSCs, which will help the development of novel anti-cancer therapies, might be possible though the CSC model.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e33544. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chondrosarcomas are among the most malignant skeletal tumors. Dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma is a highly aggressive subtype of chondrosarcoma, with lung metastases developing within a few months of diagnosis in 90% of patients. In this paper we performed comparative analyses of the transcriptomes of five individual metastatic lung lesions that were surgically resected from a patient with dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma. We document for the first time a high heterogeneity of gene expression profiles among the individual lung metastases. Moreover, we reveal a signature of "multifunctional" genes that are expressed in all metastatic lung lesions. Also, for the first time, we document the occurrence of massive macrophage infiltration in dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma lung metastases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CRIPTO-1 (CR-1) is involved in the pathogenesis and progression of human carcinoma of different histological origin. In this study we addressed the expression and the functional role of CR-1 in cutaneous melanoma.
Expression of CR-1 protein in melanomas and melanoma cell lines was assessed by immunohistochemistry, western blotting and/or flow cytometry. Levels of mRNA were evaluated by real-time PCR. Invasion assays were performed in Matrigel-coated modified Boyden chambers.
Expression of CR-1 protein and/or mRNA was found in 16 out of 37 primary human cutaneous melanomas and in 12 out of 21 melanoma cell lines. Recombinant CR-1 protein activated in melanoma cells c-Src and, at lesser extent, Smad signalling. In addition, CR-1 significantly increased the invasive ability of melanoma cells that was prevented by treatment with either the ALK4 inhibitor SB-431542 or the c-Src inhibitor saracatinib (AZD0530). Anti-CR-1 siRNAs produced a significant inhibition of the growth and the invasive ability of melanoma cells. Finally, a close correlation was found in melanoma cells between the levels of expression of CR-1 and the effects of saracatinib on cell growth.
These data indicate that a significant fraction of cutaneous melanoma expresses CR-1 and that this growth factor is involved in the invasion and proliferation of melanoma cells.
British Journal of Cancer 08/2011; 105(7):1030-8. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The molecular events leading to human embryonic stem cell (hESC) differentiation are the subject of considerable scrutiny. Here, we characterize an in vitro model that permits analysis of the earliest steps in the transition of hESC colonies to squamous epithelium on basic fibroblast growth factor withdrawal. A set of markers (GSC, CK18, Gata4, Eomes, and Sox17) point to a mesendodermal nature of the epithelial cells with subsequent commitment to definitive endoderm (Sox17, Cdx2, nestin, and Islet1). We assayed alterations in the transcriptome in parallel with the distribution of immunohistochemical markers. Our results indicate that the alterations of tight junctions in pluripotent culture precede the beginning of differentiation. We defined this cell population as "specified," as it is committed toward differentiation. The transitional zone between "specified" pluripotent and differentiated cells displays significant up-regulation of keratin-18 (CK18) along with a decrease in the functional activity of gap junctions and the down-regulation of 2 gap junction proteins, connexin 43 (Cx43) and connexin 45 (Cx45), which is coincidental with substantial elevation of intracellular Ca2+ levels. These findings reveal a set of cellular changes that may represent the earliest markers of in vitro hESC transition to an epithelial phenotype, before the induction of gene expression networks that guide hESC differentiation. Moreover, we hypothesize that these events may be common during the primary steps of hESC commitment to functionally varied epithelial tissue derivatives of different embryological origins.
Stem cells and development 08/2011; 21(8):1250-63. · 4.15 Impact Factor