[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The restoration of pluripotency circuits by the reactivation of endogenous stemness factors, such as SOX2, may provide a new paradigm in cancer development. The tumoral stem cell reprogramming hypothesis, i.e., the ability of stemness factors to redirect normal and differentiated tumor cells toward a less-differentiated and stem-like state, adds new layers of complexity to cancer biology, because the effects of such reprogramming may remain dormant until engaged later in response to (epi)genetic and/or (micro)environmental events. To test this hypothesis, we utilized an in vitro model of a SOX2-overexpressing cancer stem cell (CSC)-like cellular state that was recently developed in our laboratory by employing Yamanaka's nuclear reprogramming technology in the estrogen receptor α (ERα)-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. Despite the acquisition of distinct molecular features that were compatible with a breast CSC-like cellular state, such as strong aldehyde dehydrogenase activity, as detected by ALDEFLUOR, and overexpression of the SSEA-4 and CD44 breast CSC markers, the tumor growth-initiating ability of SOX2-overexpressing CSC-like MCF-7 cells solely occurred in female nude mice supplemented with estradiol when compared with MCF-7 parental cells. Ser118 phosphorylation of estrogen receptor α (ERα), which is a pivotal integrator of the genomic and nongenomic E 2/ERα signaling pathways, drastically accumulated in nuclear speckles in the interphase nuclei of SOX2-driven CSC-like cell populations. Moreover, SOX2-positive CSC-like cells accumulated significantly higher numbers of actively dividing cells, and the highest levels of phospho-Ser118-ERα occurred when chromosomes lined up on a metaphase plate. The previously unrecognized link between E 2/ERα signaling and SOX2-driven stem cell circuitry may significantly impact our current understanding of breast cancer initiation and progression, i.e., SOX2 can promote non-genomic E 2 signaling that leads to nuclear phospho-Ser118-ERα, which ultimately exacerbates genomic ER signaling in response to E 2. Because E 2 stimulation has been recently shown to enhance breast tumor-initiating cell survival by downregulating miR-140, which targets SOX2, the establishment of a bidirectional cross-talk interaction between the stem cell self-renewal regulator, SOX2, and the local and systemic ability of E 2 to increase breast CSC activity may have profound implications for the development of new CSC-directed strategies for breast cancer prevention and therapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autophagy may control the de novo refractoriness of HER2 gene-amplified breast carcinomas to the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin). Tumor cells originally obtained from a patient who rapidly progressed on trastuzumab ab initio display increased cellular levels of the LC3-II protein-a finding that correlates with increased numbers of autophagosomes-and decreased levels of the autophagy receptor p62/SQSTM1, a protein selectively degraded by autophagy. Trastuzumab-refractory cells are in a state of "autophagy addiction" because genetic ablation of autophagy-specific genes (ATG8, ATG5, ATG12) notably reduces intrinsic refractoriness to trastuzumab. When the anti-malarial lysosomotropic drug chloroquine impedes autophagic resolution of the accumulation of autophagolysosomes formed in the presence of trastuzumab, cells commit to die by apoptosis. Accordingly, combination treatment with trastuzumab and chloroquine radically suppresses tumor growth by > 90% in a tumor xenograft completely refractory to trastuzumab. Adding chloroquine to trastuzumab-based regimens may therefore improve outcomes among women with autophagy-addicted HER2-positive breast cancer.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer cells expressing constitutively active phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) are proliferative regardless of the absence of insulin, and they form dietary restriction (DR)-resistant tumors in vivo. Because the binding of insulin to its receptors activates the PI3K/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling cascade, activating mutations in the PIK3CA oncogene may determine tumor response to DR-like pharmacological strategies targeting the insulin and mTOR pathways. The anti-diabetic drug metformin is a stereotypical DR mimetic that exerts its anti-cancer activity through a dual mechanism involving insulin-related (systemic) and mTOR-related (cell-autonomous) effects. However, it remains unclear whether PIK3CA-activating mutations might preclude the anti-cancer activity of metformin in vivo. To model the oncogenic PIK3CA-driven early stages of cancer, we used the clonal breast cancer cell line MCF10DCIS.com, which harbors the gain-of-function H1047R hot-spot mutation in the catalytic domain of the PI3KCA gene and has been shown to form DR-refractory xenotumors. To model PIK3CA-activating mutations in late stages of cancer, we took advantage of the isogenic conversion of a PIK3CA-wild-type tumor into a PIK3CA H1047R-mutated tumor using the highly metastatic colorectal cancer cell line SW48. MCF10DCIS.com xenotumors, although only modestly affected by treatment with oral metformin (approximately 40% tumor growth inhibition), were highly sensitive to the intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of metformin, the anti-cancer activity of which increased in a time-dependent manner and reached >80% tumor growth inhibition by the end of the treatment. Metformin treatment via the i.p. route significantly reduced the proliferation factor mitotic activity index (MAI) and decreased tumor cellularity in MCF10DCIS.com cancer tissues. Whereas SW48-wild-type (PIK3CA+/+) cells rapidly formed metformin-refractory xenotumors in mice, ad libitum access to water containing metformin significantly reduced the growth of SW48-mutated (PIK3CAH1047R/+) xenotumors by approximately 50%. Thus, metformin can no longer be considered as a bona fide DR mimetic, at least in terms of anti-cancer activity, because tumors harboring the insulin-unresponsive, DR-resistant, PIK3CA-activating mutation H1047R remain sensitive to the anti-tumoral effects of the drug. Given the high prevalence of PIK3CA mutations in human carcinomas and the emerging role of PIK3CA mutation status in the treatment selection process, these findings might have a significant impact on the design of future trials evaluating the potential of combining metformin with targeted therapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Energy metabolism plasticity enables stemness programs during the reprogramming of somatic cells to an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) state. This relationship may introduce a new era in the understanding of Warburg's theory on the metabolic origin of cancer at the level of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Here, we used Yamanaka's stem cell technology in an attempt to create stable CSC research lines in which to dissect the transcriptional control of mTOR-the master switch of cellular catabolism and anabolism-in CSC-like states. The rare colonies with iPSC-like morphology, obtained following the viral transduction of the Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc (OSKM) stemness factors into MCF-7 luminal-like breast cancer cells (MCF-7/Rep), demonstrated an intermediate state between cancer cells and bona fide iPSCs. MCF-7/Rep cells notably overexpressed SOX2 and stage-specific embryonic antigen (SSEA)-4 proteins; however, other stemness-related markers (OCT4, NANOG, SSEA-1, TRA-1-60, and TRA-1-81) were found at low to moderate levels. The transcriptional analyses of OSKM factors confirmed the strong but unique reactivation of the endogenous Sox2 stemness gene accompanied by the silencing of the exogenous Sox2 transgene in MCF-7/Rep cells. Some but not all MCF-7/Rep cells acquired strong alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity compared with MCF-7 parental cells. SOX2-overexpressing MCF-7/Rep cells contained drastically higher percentages of CD44 (+) and ALDEFLUOR-stained ALDH (bright) cells than MCF-7 parental cells. The overlap between differentially expressed mTOR signaling-related genes in 3 different SOX2-overexpressing CSC-like cell lines revealed a notable downregulation of 3 genes, PRKAA1 (which codes for the catalytic α 1 subunit of AMPK), DDIT4/REDD1 (a stress response gene that operates as a negative regulator of mTOR), and DEPTOR (a naturally occurring endogenous inhibitor of mTOR activity). The insulin-receptor gene (INSR) was differentially upregulated in MCF-7/Rep cells. Consistent with the downregulation of AMPK expression, immunoblotting procedures confirmed upregulation of p70S6K and increased phosphorylation of mTOR in Sox2-overexpressing CSC-like cell populations. Using an in vitro model of the de novo generation of CSC-like states through the nuclear reprogramming of an established breast cancer cell line, we reveal that the transcriptional suppression of mTOR repressors is an intrinsic process occurring during the acquisition of CSC-like properties by differentiated populations of luminal-like breast cancer cells. This approach may provide a new path for obtaining information about preventing the appearance of CSCs through the modulation of the AMPK/mTOR pathway.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: When fighting cancer, knowledge on metabolism has always been important. Today, it matters more than ever. The restricted cataloging of cancer genomes is quite unlikely to achieve the task of curing cancer, unless it is integrated into metabolic networks that respond to and influence the constantly evolving cancer stem cell (CSC) cellular states. Once the genomic era of carcinogenesis had pushed the 1920s Otto Warburg's metabolic cancer hypothesis into obscurity for decades, the most recent studies begin to support a new developing paradigm, in which the molecular logic behind the conversion of non-CSCs into CSCs can be better understood in terms of the "metabolic facilitators" and "metabolic impediments" that operate as proximate openings and roadblocks, respectively, for the transcriptional events and signal transduction programs that ultimately orchestrate the intrinsic and/or microenvironmental paths to CSC cellular states. Here we propose that a profound understanding of how human carcinomas install a proper "Warburg effect version 2.0" allowing them to "run" the CSCs' "software" programs should guide a new era of metabolo-genomic-personalized cancer medicine. By viewing metabolic reprogramming of CSCs as an essential characteristic that allows dynamic, multidimensional and evolving cancer populations to compete successfully for their expansion on the organism, we now argue that CSCs bioenergetics might be another cancer hallmark. A definitive understanding of metabolic reprogramming in CSCs may complement or to some extent replace, the 30-y-old paradigm of targeting oncogenes to treat human carcinomas, because it can be possible to metabolically create non-permissive or "hostile" metabotypes to prevent the occurrence of CSC cellular states with tumor- and metastasis-initiating capacity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are frequently associated with second primary malignancies (SPMs). Earlier studies have demonstrated that NETs are highly associated with synchronous or metachronous gastrointestinal and genitourinary SPMs. We report, for the first time, a case of pure NE breast carcinoma (NEBC) exhibiting all of the World Health Organization (WHO)-categorized morphological and phenotypic NE features (i.e., round solid nests of spindle cells, plasmacytoid cells, large clear or mucinous signet-ring cells with a peripheral palisading tendency and immunohistochemical positivity for the NE markers synaptophysin and chromogranin in more than 50% of the tumor cell population) along with synchronous abdominal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In the present study, we review the diagnosis, clinicopathological features and histogenetic profiling of NEBC and discuss the literature relevant to the clinical and anatomopathological management of this case. This previously unreported case of synchronous solid NEBC and abdominal lymphoma, together with earlier studies showing that primary symptoms are caused by SPMs in a significant subgroup of NET patients, strongly supports the notion that NETs should be cautiously considered to be index tumors. Therefore, risk-adapted clinicopathological follow-up with systematic investigation is strongly recommended.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aging can be viewed as a quasi-programmed phenomenon driven by the overactivation of the nutrient-sensing mTOR gerogene. mTOR-driven aging can be triggered or accelerated by a decline or loss of responsiveness to activation of the energy-sensing protein AMPK, a critical gerosuppressor of mTOR. The occurrence of age-related diseases, therefore, reflects the synergistic interaction between our evolutionary path to sedentarism, which chronically increases a number of mTOR activating gero-promoters (e.g., food, growth factors, cytokines and insulin) and the "defective design" of central metabolic integrators such as mTOR and AMPK. Our laboratories at the Bioactive Food Component Platform in Spain have initiated a systematic approach to molecularly elucidate and clinically explore whether the "xenohormesis hypothesis," which states that stress-induced synthesis of plant polyphenols and many other phytochemicals provides an environmental chemical signature that upregulates stress-resistance pathways in plant consumers, can be explained in terms of the reactivity of the AMPK/mTOR-axis to so-called xenohormetins. Here, we explore the AMPK/mTOR-xenohormetic nature of complex polyphenols naturally present in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a pivotal component of the Mediterranean style diet that has been repeatedly associated with a reduction in age-related morbid conditions and longer life expectancy. Using crude EVOO phenolic extracts highly enriched in the secoiridoids oleuropein aglycon and decarboxymethyl oleuropein aglycon, we show for the first time that (1) the anticancer activity of EVOO secoiridoids is related to the activation of anti-aging/cellular stress-like gene signatures, including endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response, spermidine and polyamine metabolism, sirtuin-1 (SIRT1) and NRF2 signaling; (2) EVOO secoiridoids activate AMPK and suppress crucial genes involved in the Warburg effect and the self-renewal capacity of "immortal" cancer stem cells; (3) EVOO secoiridoids prevent age-related changes in the cell size, morphological heterogeneity, arrayed cell arrangement and senescence-associated β-galactosidase staining of normal diploid human fibroblasts at the end of their proliferative lifespans. EVOO secoiridoids, which provide an effective defense against plant attack by herbivores and pathogens, are bona fide xenohormetins that are able to activate the gerosuppressor AMPK and trigger numerous resveratrol-like anti-aging transcriptomic signatures. As such, EVOO secoiridoids constitute a new family of plant-produced gerosuppressant agents that molecularly "repair" the aimless (and harmful) AMPK/mTOR-driven quasi-program that leads to aging and aging-related diseases, including cancer.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Energy- and nutrient-sensing proteins such as AMPK, mTOR and S6K1 are now recognized as novel regulators of mitotic completion in proliferating cells. We investigated the cellular distribution of the Ser2481 autophosphorylation of mTOR, which directly monitors mTORC-specific catalytic activity, during mammalian cell mitosis and cytokinesis. Automated immunofluorescence experiments in human carcinoma cell lines revealed that phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) exhibited profound spatial and temporal dynamics during cell division. Phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) was strikingly enriched in mitotic cells, and in prophase, bright phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) staining could be clearly observed among condensed chromosomes. Phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) then redistributes from diffuse cytosolic staining that partially colocalizes with the mitotic spindle during the early phases of mitosis to the furrow at the onset of cytokinesis. Like the bona fide chromosomal passenger proteins (CPPs) INCENP and Aurora B, phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) displayed noteworthy accumulation in the central spindle midzone and the midbody regions, which persisted during the furrowing process. Accordingly, double-staining experiments confirmed that phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) largely colocalized with CCPs in the midbodies. The CPP-like mitotic localization of phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) was fully prevented by the microtubule-depolymerizing drug nocodazole; mitotic traveling of phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) to the midbody during telophase and cytokinesis, where it appears to be integrated into the CPP-driven cytokinetic machinery, may therefore require dynamic microtubules. Although the Ser2448-phosphorylated form of mTOR was also found at high levels during M-phase in human cancer cells, we failed to observe a significant association of phospho-mTOR (Ser2448) with CCP-positive mitotic and cytokinetic structures. Our findings add phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) to the growing list of phospho-active forms of proteins belonging to the AMPK/mTOR/S6K1 signaling axis that reside at the mitotic and cytokinetic apparatus. Future studies should elucidate how the specific ability of phospho-mTOR (Ser2481) to spatially and temporally couple to the cleavage furrow and midbody region as a CPP-like protein can signal to or from adjacent signaling complexes and/or with the basic machinery of cell abscission.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The rate of inherent resistance to single-agent trastuzumab in HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast carcinomas is impressive at above 70%. Unfortunately, little is known regarding the distinctive genetic signatures that could predict trastuzumab refractoriness ab initio. The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) molecular features, HER2 expression status and primary responses to trastuzumab were explored in the public Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) Breast Cancer Collection. Lentivirus-delivered small hairpin RNAs were employed to reduce specifically and stably the expression of EMT transcription factors in trastuzumab-refractory basal/HER2 (+) cells. Cell proliferation assays and pre-clinical nude mice xenograft-based studies were performed to assess the contribution of specific EMT transcription factors to inherent trastuzumab resistance. Primary sensitivity to trastuzumab was restricted to the SLUG/SNAIL2-negative subset of luminal/HER2 (+) cell lines, whereas all of the SLUG/SNAIL2-positive basal/HER2 (+) cell lines exhibited an inherent resistance to trastuzumab. The specific knockdown of SLUG/SNAIL2 suppressed the stem-related CD44 (+) CD24 (-/low) mesenchymal immunophenotype by transcriptionally upregulating the luminal epithelial marker CD24 in basal/HER2 (+) cells. Basal/HER2 (+) cells gained sensitivity to the growth-inhibitory effects of trastuzumab following SLUG/SNAIL2 gene depletion, which induced the expression of the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) genes involved in promoting an epithelial phenotype. The isolation of CD44 (+) CD24 (-/low) mesenchymal cells by magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) confirmed their intrinsic unresponsiveness to trastuzumab. A reduction in tumor growth and dramatic gain in sensitivity to trastuzumab in vivo were confirmed when the SLUG/SNAIL2 knockdown basal/HER2 (+) cells were injected into nude mice. HER2 overexpression in a basal, rather than in a luminal molecular background, results in a basal/HER2 (+) breast cancer subtype that is intrinsically resistant to trastuzumab. EMT transcription factors might induce an enhanced phenotypic plasticity that would allow basal/HER2 (+) breast cancer cells to "enter" into and "exit" dynamically from trastuzumab-responsive stem cell-like states. The systematic determination of SLUG/SNAIL2 as a stem/CD44 (+) CD24 (-/low) cell-associated protein may improve the therapeutic management of HER2 (+) breast carcinomas.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High rates of inherent primary resistance to the humanized monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) are frequent among HER2 gene-amplified breast carcinomas in both metastatic and adjuvant settings. The clinical efficacy of trastuzumab is highly correlated with its ability to specifically and efficiently target HER2-driven populations of breast cancer stem cells (CSCs). Intriguingly, many of the possible mechanisms by which cancer cells escape trastuzumab involve many of the same biomarkers that have been implicated in the biology of CS-like tumor-initiating cells. In the traditional, one-way hierarchy of CSCs in which all cancer cells descend from special self-renewing CSCs, HER2-positive CSCs can occur solely by self-renewal. Therefore, by targeting CSC self-renewal and resistance, trastuzumab is expected to induce tumor shrinkage and further reduce breast cancer recurrence rates when used alongside traditional therapies. In a new, alternate model, more differentiated non-stem cancer cells can revert to trastuzumab-refractory, CS-like cells via the activation of intrinsic or microenvironmental paths-to-stemness, such as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Alternatively, stochastic transitions of trastuzumab-responsive CSCs might also give rise to non-CSC cellular states that lack major attributes of CSCs and, therefore, can remain "hidden" from trastuzumab activity. Here, we hypothesize that a better understanding of the CSC/non-CSC social structure within HER2-overexpressing breast carcinomas is critical for trastuzumab-based treatment decisions in the clinic. First, we decipher the biological significance of CSC features and the EMT on the molecular effects and efficacy of trastuzumab in HER2-positive breast cancer cells. Second, we reinterpret the genetic heterogeneity that differentiates trastuzumab-responders from non-responders in terms of CSC cellular states. Finally, we propose that novel predictive approaches aimed at better forecasting early tumor responses to trastuzumab should identify biological determinants that causally underlie the intrinsic flexibility of HER2-positive CSCs to "enter" into or "exit" from trastuzumab-sensitive states. An accurate integration of CSC cellular states and EMT-related biomarkers with the currently available breast cancer molecular taxonomy may significantly improve our ability to make a priori decisions about whether patients belonging to HER2 subtypes differentially enriched with a "mesenchymal transition signature" (e.g., luminal/HER2 vs. basal/HER2) would distinctly benefit from trastuzumab-based therapy ab initio.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The antidiabetic drug metformin efficiently circumvents the dilemma that in reducing the tumourigenicity of stem cells, their essence, specifically their pluripotency, must also be sacrificed. Metformin prevents the occurrence or drastically reduces the size and weight of teratoma-like masses after the transplantation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into immunodeficient mice. Yet, iPS cells implanted into metformin-treated mice retain full pluripotency, as they produce the same number of distinct tissue types derived from the three embryonic germ layers that is observed in untreated mice. Mechanistically, metformin appears to suppress the Oct4-driven compartment of malignant stem cells responsible for teratocarcinoma growth while safeguarding an intact, Oct4-independent competency to generate terminally differentiated tissues. Metformin's ability to efficiently and specifically control the tumourigenic fate of teratoma-initiating iPS cells without interfering with their pluripotency not only has implications for the clinical use of iPS cells but also in stem cell biology, cancer and ageing.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: KRAS mutation status is being used as the sole biomarker to predict therapeutic efficacy of cetuximab in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). A significant number of mCRC patients with KRAS wild-type (WT) tumors, however, do not benefit from cetuximab. We are also lacking efficacy predictors in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas with an intact KRAS signaling and in non-small cell lung cancer in which KRAS mutations do not predict cetuximab efficacy. We recently established pre-clinical models of EGFR gene-amplified KRAS WT A431 squamous carcinoma cells chronically adapted to grow in the presence of cetuximab. We employed the ingenuity pathway analysis software to functionally interpret data from Agilent's whole human genome arrays in the context of biological processes, networks, and pathways. Cetuximab-induced activation of the interferon (IFN)/STAT1 appeared to switch from 'growth inhibitory' in acutely-treated cells to 'pro-survival' in chronically-adapted cells. Cetuximab treatment appeared to negatively select initially dominant IFN-sensitive clones and promoted selection of IFN- and cetuximab-refractory tumor clones constitutively bearing an up-regulated IFN/STAT1 signaling. High-levels of mRNAs coding for the EGFR ligands amphiregulin (AREG), epiregulin (EREG), and neuregulin-1/heregulin (NRG1) predicted for acute cetuximab's functioning. Chronic cetuximab, however, appeared to negatively select initially dominant AREG/EREG/NRG1-positive clones to promote selection of cetuximab-refractory clones exhibiting a knocked-down neuregulin signaling. Our current evolutionary mapping of the transcriptomic changes that occur during cetuximab-induced chronic blockade of EGFR/KRAS WT signaling strongly suggests that mRNAs coding for IFN/STAT1- and EGFR ligands-related genes can be evaluated as novel predictors of efficacy in KRAS WT squamous cancer patients being treated with cetuximab.
International Journal of Oncology 08/2011; 39(6):1455-79. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primary resistance of HER2 gene-amplified breast carcinomas (BC) to HER-targeted therapies can be explained in terms of overactive HER2-independent downstream pro-survival pathways. We here confirm that constitutive overexpression of Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) survivin is indispensable for survival of HER2-positive BC cells with intrinsic cross-resistance to multiple HER1/2 inhibitors. The IC₅₀ values for the HER1/2 Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib, erlotinib and lapatinib were up to 40-fold higher in trastuzumab-unresponsive JIMT-1 cells than in trastuzumab-naïve SKBR3 cells. ELISA-based and immunoblotting assays demonstrated that trastuzumab-refractory JIMT-1 cells constitutively expressed ~ 4 times more survivin protein than trastuzumab-responsive SKBR3 cells. In response to trastuzumab, JIMT-1 cells accumulated ~10 times more survivin than SKBR3 cells. HER1/2 TKIs failed to down-regulate survivin expression in JIMT-1 cells whereas equimolar doses of HER1/HER2 TKIs drastically depleted survivin protein in SKBR3 cells. ELISA-based detection of histone-associated DNA fragments confirmed that trastuzumab-refractory JIMT-1 cells were intrinsically protected against the apoptotic effects of HER1/2 TKIs. Of note, when we knocked-down survivin expression using siRNA and then added trastuzumab, cell proliferation and colony formation were completely suppressed in JIMT-1 cells. Our current findings may be extremely helpful to design successful combinatorial strategies aimed to circumvent the occurrence of de novo resistance to HER2-directed drugs using survivin antagonists.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 03/2011; 407(2):412-9. · 2.41 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CD24, a mucin-like adhesion molecule that enhances the metastatic potential of malignant cells, has been suggested to be a marker of poor prognosis in breast carcinomas. The tumor-initiating potential of CD44posCD24pos cell populations has been recently recognized and, accordingly, distant metastases are largely composed of CD24-positive cells in breast cancer patients refractory to treatment. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies aimed at down-regulating CD24 may negatively regulate the dissemination of tumor cells and formation of metastasis. Here, we reveal that suppression of CD24 protein expression is a crucial event in the molecular mechanisms underlying the growth-inhibitory effects of the anti-diabetic drug metformin in MDA-MB-468 triple-negative (basal-like) breast cancer cells. First, we confirmed that, among the different molecular classes of breast cancer, basal-like breast cancer cells were significantly more sensitive to the growth-inhibitory effects of metformin. Second, we observed a positive correlation between the growth inhibitory activity of metformin and the relative enrichment in cells bearing the CD44posCD24pos immunophenotype. Third, high-content indirect immunofluorescence imaging assays revealed that CD24 protein levels were drastically decreased in the presence of growth-inhibitory concentrations of metformin. Fourth, to preliminary assess the clinical relevance of metformin's anti-CD24 effects we took advantage of the recently developed ROCK online interface (http://rock.icr.ac.uk/), a publicly accessible portal that allows rapid integration of breast cancer functional and molecular profiling datasets. When we evaluated the impact of CD24 expression on distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) in microarray gene expression breast cancer datasets, Kaplan-Meier survival analyses and log-rank tests comparing DMSF for CD24-high and CD24-low breast carcinomas revealed that patients with CD24-high tumors tended to have a shorter DMFS. These findings, altogether, suggest that the ability of metformin to suppress the oncogene, metastasis promoter and breast cancer stem cell marker CD24 may open a novel molecular avenue in the therapeutic management of highly-metastastic subgroups of triple-negative (basal-like) breast cancers naturally enriched with CD44posCD24pos tumor-initiating cell populations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pioneering clinical studies in de novo refractoriness to the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody trastuzumab have suggested that HER2 gene-amplification can take place also in a basal-like molecular background to generate basal/HER2+ tumors intrinsically resistant to trastuzumab. Here, we first investigated the unique histogenesis of the basal/HER2+ phenotype in breast carcinomas. The presence of basal CK5/CK6 cytokeratin expression in HER2+ tumors revealed a significant overlap in the histological features of HER2+/CK5/6+ and basal-like breast carcinomas. Basal/HER2+ tumors were typically poorly differentiated, high-grade invasive ductal carcinomas with large geographic necrosis, pushing margins of invasion, syncytial arrangement of tumor cells, ribbon- or festoon-like architecture, squamous metaplasia, stromal lymphocytic infiltrates, high mitotic index and strong p53 positivity. Secondly, we performed low-scale proteomic approaches in JIMT-1 cells, a unique model of HER2-gene amplified trastuzumab-resistant breast carcinoma with a basal-like phenotype, to develop biomarker signatures that may differentiate trastuzumab-responsive from non-responsive tumors. When applying antibody-based array technology to the extracellular milieu of trastuzumab-refractory JIMT-1 and trastuzumab-sensitive SKBR3 cell cultures, JIMT-1 cells were found to secrete higher amounts of several growth factors including amphiregulin, EGF, IGFBP-6, PDGF-AA, neurotrophins, TGFbeta and VEGF. Semi-quantitative signaling node multi-target sandwich ELISAs revealed that JIMT-1 cells drastically overactivate RelA, the prosurvival subunit of NF-kappaB as compared to trastuzumab-sensitive luminal/HER2+ SKBR3 cells. When simultaneously assessing the activation status of 42 receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) using a human phospho-RTK array, JIMT-1 cells were found to constitutively display hyperactivation of the insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-1R). High-content immunofluorescence imaging revealed that activated IGF-1R mainly localized at focal adhesion-like structures in JIMT-1 cells. In vitro wound healing assays suggested that this functional reorganization of the JIMT-1 cytoskeletal reorganization may account for an exacerbated trastuzumab-refractory 'migratogenic' phenotype. Forthcoming studies should validate the notion that identification of basal-like immunophenotypes and/or basal-like molecular signatures within HER2+ breast carcinomas may provide rapid means to define subgroups of breast cancer patients likely to display resistance to trastuzumab ab initio.
International Journal of Oncology 09/2010; 37(3):669-78. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evidence is mounting that the occurrence of the CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low) cell population, which contains potential breast cancer (BC) stem cells, could explain BC clinical resistance to HER2-targeted therapies. We investigated whether de novo refractoriness to the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Tzb; Herceptin) may relate to the dynamic regulation of the mesenchymal CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low) phenotype in HER2-positive BC. We observed that the subpopulation of Tzb-refractory JIMT-1 BC cells exhibiting CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low)-surface markers switched with time. Low-passage JIMT-1 cell cultures were found to spontaneously contain approximately 10% of cells bearing the CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low) immunophenotype. Late-passage (>60) JIMT-1 cultures accumulated approximately 80% of CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low) cells and closely resembled the CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low)-enriched ( approximately 85%) cell population constitutively occurring in HER2-negative MDA-MB-231 mesenchymal BC cells. Dynamic expression of mesenchymal markers was not limited to CD44/CD24 because high-passages of JIMT-1 cells exhibited also reduced expression of the HER2 protein and over-secretion of pro-invasive/metastatic chemokines and metalloproteases. Accordingly, late-passage JIMT-1 cells displayed an exacerbated migratogenic phenotype in plastic, collagen, and fibronectin substrates. Intrinsic genetic plasticity to efficiently drive the emergence of the CD44(pos)/CD24(neg/low) mesenchymal phenotype may account for de novo resistance to HER2 targeting therapies in basal-like BC carrying HER2 gene amplification.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 06/2010; 397(1):27-33. · 2.41 Impact Factor