[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Arsenic has wide-ranging effects on human health and there is evidence that it alters the immune response by influencing CD4 +/CD8 + T cell ratios, IL-2 cytokine levels, and the expression of immune-response genes. We investigated the impact of in utero environmental arsenic exposure on immune development and function in newborns participating in a pregnancy cohort in New Hampshire, U.S., where arsenic levels have exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 10 μg/L. Our results showed that maternal urinary arsenic concentrations were inversely related to absolute total CD45RA + CD4 + cord blood CD69 + T cell counts (N = 116, p = 0.04) and positively associated with CD45RA + CD69- CD294 + cell counts (p = 0.01). In placental samples (N = 70), higher in utero urinary arsenic concentrations were positively associated with expression of IL1β (p = 0.03). These data provide evidence that relatively low-level arsenic exposure in utero may alter the fetal immune system and lead to immune dysregulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic enzymes modulate signal transduction pathways in different biological contexts. We reasoned that epigenetic regulators might modulate the Hedgehog (HH) signaling pathway, a main driver of cell proliferation in various cancers including medulloblastoma. To test this hypothesis, we performed an unbiased small molecule screen utilizing a HH-dependent reporter cell line (Light2 cells). We incubated Light2 cells with small molecules targeting different epigenetic modulators, and identified four histone deacetylase inhibitors and a bromodomain and extra terminal domain (BET) protein inhibitor (I-BET151) that attenuate HH activity. I-BET151 was also able to inhibit the expression of HH target genes in Sufu-/- MEFs, in which constitutive Gli activity is activated in a Smo-independent fashion, consistent with it acting downstream of Smo. Knockdown of Brd4 (which encodes one of the BET proteins) phenocopies I-BET151 treatment, suggesting that Brd4 is a regulator of the HH signaling pathway. Consistent with this suggestion, Brd4 associates with the proximal promoter region of the Gli1 locus, and does so in a manner that can be reversed by I-BET151. Importantly, I-BET151 also suppressed the HH-activity dependent growth of medulloblastoma cells, in vitro and in vivo. These studies suggest that BET protein modulation may be an attractive therapeutic strategy for attenuating the growth of HH-dependent cancers, such as medulloblastoma.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2014; · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BRCA1 mutation carriers are predisposed to developing basal-like breast cancers with high metastasis and poor prognosis. Yet how BRCA1 suppresses formation of basal-like breast cancers is still obscure. Deletion of p18Ink4c (p18), an inhibitor of CDK4 and CDK6, functionally inactivates the RB pathway, stimulates mammary luminal stem cell proliferation, and leads to spontaneous luminal tumor development. Alternately, germline mutation of Brca1 shifts the fate of luminal cells to cause luminal-to-basal mammary tumor transformation. Here we report that disrupting Brca1 by either germline or epithelium-specific mutation in p18-deficient mice activates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and induces dedifferentiation of luminal stem cells (LSCs), which associate closely with expansion of basal and cancer stem cells and formation of basal-like tumors. Mechanistically, BRCA1 bound to the TWIST promoter, suppressing its activity and inhibiting EMT in mammary tumor cells. In human luminal cancer cells, BRCA1 silencing was sufficient to activate TWIST and EMT and increase tumor formation. In parallel, TWIST expression and EMT features correlated inversely with BRCA1 expression in human breast cancers. Together, our findings showed that BRCA1 suppressed TWIST and EMT, inhibited LSC dedifferentiation and repressed expansion of basal stem cells and basal-like tumors. Thus, our work offers the first genetic evidence that Brca1 directly suppresses EMT and LSC de-differentiation during breast tumorigenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) ranks sixth in cancer mortality in the world and its incidence has risen dramatically in the western population over the last decades. Data presented herein strongly suggest that Notch signaling is critical for EAC and underlies resistance to chemotherapy. We present evidence that Notch signaling drives a cancer stem cell phenotype by regulating genes that establish stemness. Using patient derived xenograft models we demonstrate that inhibition of Notch by gamma-secretase inhibitors (GSI) is efficacious in downsizing tumor growth. Moreover, we demonstrate that Notch activity in a patient's EUS-derived biopsy might predict outcome to chemotherapy. Therefore, this study provides a proof of concept that inhibition of Notch activity will have efficacy in treating EAC, offering a rationale to lay the foundation for a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of GSI in EAC treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Notch signaling pathway governs many distinct cellular processes by regulating transcriptional programs. The transcriptional response initiated by Notch is highly cell context dependent, indicating that multiple factors influence Notch target gene selection and activity. However, the mechanism by which Notch drives target gene transcription is not well understood. Herein, we identify and characterize a novel Notch-interacting protein, NACK, which acts as a Notch transcriptional co-activator. We show that NACK associates with the Notch transcriptional activation complex on DNA, mediates Notch transcriptional activity, and is required for Notch-mediated tumorigenesis. We demonstrate that Notch1 and NACK are co-expressed during mouse development and that homozygous loss of NACK is embryonic lethal. Finally, we show that NACK is also a Notch target gene, establishing a feed forward loop. Thus, our data indicate that NACK is a key component of the Notch transcriptional complex and is an essential regulator of Notch-mediated tumorigenesis and development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oncogenic RAS promotes production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which mediate pro-malignant signaling but can also trigger DNA damage-induced tumor suppression. Thus RAS-driven tumor cells require redox-protective mechanisms to mitigate the damaging aspects of ROS. Here, we show that MutT Homolog 1 (MTH1), the mammalian 8-oxodGTPase that sanitizes oxidative damage in the nucleotide pool, is important for maintaining several KRAS-driven pro-malignant traits in a nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) model. MTH1 suppression in KRAS-mutant NSCLC cells impairs proliferation and xenograft tumor formation. Furthermore, MTH1 levels modulate KRAS-induced transformation of immortalized lung epithelial cells. MTH1 expression is upregulated by oncogenic KRAS and correlates positively with high KRAS levels in NSCLC human tumors. At a molecular level, in p53-competent KRAS-mutant cells, MTH1 loss provokes DNA damage and induction of oncogene-induced senescence. In p53-nonfunctional KRAS-mutant cells, MTH1 suppression does not produce DNA damage but reduces proliferation and leads to an adaptive decrease in KRAS expression levels. Thus, MTH1 not only enables evasion of oxidative DNA damage and its consequences, but can also function as a molecular rheostat for maintaining oncogene expression at optimal levels. Accordingly, our results indicate MTH1 is a novel and critical component of oncogenic KRAS-associated malignancy and its inhibition is likely to yield significant tumor-suppressive outcomes in KRAS-driven tumors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the WNT-pathway regulator ADENOMATOUS POLYPOSIS COLI (APC) promote aberrant activation of the WNT pathway that is responsible for APC-associated diseases such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and 85% of spontaneous colorectal cancers (CRC). FAP is characterized by multiple intestinal adenomas, which inexorably result in CRC. Surprisingly, given their common occurrence, there are few effective chemotherapeutic drugs for FAP. Here we show that the FDA-approved, anti-helminthic drug Pyrvinium attenuates the growth of WNT-dependent CRC cells and does so via activation of CK1α. Furthermore, we show that Pyrvinium can function as an in vivo inhibitor of WNT-signaling and polyposis in a mouse model of FAP: APCmin mice. Oral administration of Pyrvinium, a CK1α agonist, attenuated the levels of WNT-driven biomarkers and inhibited adenoma formation in APCmin mice. Considering its well-documented safe use for treating enterobiasis in humans, our findings suggest that Pyrvinium could be repurposed for the clinical treatment of APC-associated polyposes.
PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e101969. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Hedgehog (HH) signaling pathway represents an important class of emerging developmental signaling pathways that play critical roles in the genesis of a large number of human cancers. The pharmaceutical industry is currently focused on developing small molecules targeting Smoothened (Smo), a key signaling effector of the HH pathway that regulates the levels and activity of the Gli family of transcription factors. Although one of these compounds vismodegib is now FDA-approved for advanced basal cell carcinoma patients, acquired mutations in Smo can result in rapid relapse. Furthermore, many cancers also exhibit a Smo-independent activation of Gli proteins, an observation that may underlie the limited efficacy of Smo inhibitors in clinical trials against other types of cancer. Thus, there remains a critical need for HH inhibitors with different mechanisms of action, in particularly those that act downstream of Smo. Recently, we identified the FDA-approved anti-pinworm compound pyrvinium as a novel, potent (IC50 ~ 10nM) Casein Kinase-1α (CK1α) agonist. We show here that pyrvinium is a potent inhibitor of HH signaling, which acts by reducing the stability of the Gli family of transcription factors. Consistent with CK1α agonists acting on these most distal components of the HH signaling pathway, pyrvinium is able to inhibit the activity of a clinically relevant, vismodegib resistant Smo mutant, as well as the Gli activity resulting from loss of the negative regulator Suppressor of fused. We go on to demonstrate the utility of this small-molecule in vivo, against the HH dependent cancer medulloblastoma, attenuating its growth and reducing the expression of HH biomarkers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dysregulation of the hedgehog signaling pathway has been linked to the development and progression of a variety of different human tumors including cancers of the skin, brain, colon, prostate, blood, and pancreas. We assessed the clinicopathological factors that are potentially related to expression of Gli1, the transcription factor that is thought to be the most reliable marker of hedgehog pathway activation in bladder cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Male germ cell tumors (GCTs) are a model for a curable solid tumor. GCTs can differentiate into mature teratomas. Embryonal carcinomas (ECs) represent the stem cell compartment of GCTs and are the malignant counterpart to embryonic stem (ES) cells. GCTs and EC cells are useful to investigate differentiation therapy and chemotherapy response. This study explored mechanistic interactions between all-trans-retinoic acid (RA), which induces differentiation of EC and ES cells, and the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway, a regulator of self-renewal and proliferation. RA was found to induce mRNA and protein expression of Patched 1 (Ptch1), the Hh ligand receptor and negative regulator of this pathway. PTCH1 is also a target gene of Hh signaling through Smoothened (Smo) activation. Yet, this observed RA-mediated Ptch1 induction was independent of Smo. It occurred despite co-treatment with RA and Smo inhibitors. Retinoid induction of Ptch1 also occurred in other RA-responsive cancer cell lines and in normal ES cells. Notably, this enhanced Ptch1 expression was preceded by induction of the homeobox transcription factor Meis1, a direct RA target. Direct interaction between Meis1 and Ptch1 was confirmed using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. To establish the translational relevance of this work, Ptch1 expression was shown to be deregulated in human ECs relative to mature teratoma and the normal seminiferous tubule. Taken together, these findings reveal a previously unrecognized mechanism through which RA can inhibit the Hh pathway via Ptch1 induction. Engaging this pathway is a new way to repress the Hh pathway that can be translated into the cancer clinic.
Cancer biology & therapy 02/2014; 15(4). · 3.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction
Dysregulation of the hedgehog signaling pathway has been linked to the development and progression of a variety of different human tumors including cancers of the skin, brain, colon, prostate, blood, and pancreas. We assessed the clinicopathological factors that are potentially related to expression of Gli1, the transcription factor that is thought to be the most reliable marker of hedgehog pathway activation in bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer cases were identified from the New Hampshire State Cancer Registry as histologically confirmed primary bladder cancer diagnosed between January 1, 2002, and July 31, 2004. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed on a tissue microarray to detect Gli1and p53 expression in these bladder tumors. We computed odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% CIs for Gli1 positivity for pathological category using T category (from TNM), invasiveness, and grade with both the World Health Organization 1973 and World Health Organization International Society of Urological Pathology criteria. We calculated hazard ratios and their 95% CI for Gli1 positivity and recurrence for both Ta-category and invasive bladder tumors (T1+).
A total of 194 men and 67 women, whose tumors were assessable for Gli1 staining, were included in the study. No appreciable differences in Gli1 staining were noted by sex, age, smoking status, or high-risk occupation. Ta-category tumors were more likely to stain for Gli1 as compared with T1-category tumors (adjusted OR = 0.38, CI: 0.17–0.87). Similarly, low-grade (grades 1–2) tumors were more likely to stain for Gli1 as compared with high-grade tumors (grade 3) (adjusted OR = 0.44, CI: 0.21–0.93). In a Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, non–muscle-invasive bladder tumors expressing Gli1 were less likely to recur (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.48; CI: 0.28–0.82; P<0.05) than those in which Gli1 was absent.
Our findings indicate that Gli1 expression may be a marker of low-stage, low-grade bladder tumors and an indicator of a reduced risk of recurrence in this group.
The Journal of Urology 01/2014; · 3.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study sought to determine whether the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway is active and regulates the cell growth of cultured malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) cells and to evaluate the efficacy of pathway blockade using smoothened (SMO) antagonists (SMO inhibitor GDC-0449 or the antifungal drug itraconazole [ITRA]) or Gli inhibitors (GANT61 or the antileukemia drug arsenic trioxide [ATO]) in suppressing MPM viability.
Selective knockdown of SMO to inhibit Hh signaling was achieved by small interfering RNA in 3 representative MPM cells. The growth inhibitory effect of GDC-0449, ITRA, GANT61, and ATO was evaluated in 8 MPM lines, with cell viability quantified using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Cell death was determined by annexinV/propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry.
SMO small interfering RNA mediated a two- to more than fivefold reduction of SMO and Gli1 gene expression as determined by real-time quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, indicating significant Hh pathway blockade. This was associated with significantly reduced cell viability (34% ± 7% to 61% ± 14% of nontarget small interfering RNA controls; P = .0024 to P = .043). Treating MPM cells with Hh inhibitors resulted in a 1.5- to 4-fold reduction of Gli1 expression. These 4 Hh antagonists strongly suppressed MPM cell viability. More importantly, ITRA, ATO, GANT61 induced significant apoptosis in the representative MPM cells.
Hh signaling is active in MPM and regulates cell viability. ATO and ITRA were as effective as the prototypic SMO inhibitor GDC-0449 and the Gli inhibitor GANT61 in suppressing Hh signaling in MPM cells. Pharmaceutical agents Food and Drug Administration-approved for other indications but recently found to have anti-Hh activity, such as ATO or ITRA, could be repurposed to treat MPM.
The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery 10/2013; · 3.41 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epidemiologic studies and animal models suggest that in utero arsenic exposure affects fetal health, with a negative association between maternal arsenic ingestion and infant birth weight often observed. However, the molecular mechanisms for this association remain elusive. In the present study, we aimed to increase our understanding of the impact of low-dose arsenic exposure on fetal health by identifying possible arsenic-associated fetal tissue biomarkers in a cohort of pregnant women exposed to arsenic at low levels.
Arsenic concentrations were determined from the urine samples of a cohort of 133 pregnant women from New Hampshire. Placental tissue samples collected from enrollees were homogenized and profiled for gene expression across a panel of candidate genes, including known arsenic regulated targets and genes involved in arsenic transport, metabolism, or disease susceptibility. Multivariable adjusted linear regression models were used to examine the relationship of candidate gene expression with arsenic exposure or with birth weight of the baby.
Placental expression of the arsenic transporter AQP9 was positively associated with maternal urinary arsenic levels during pregnancy (coefficient estimate: 0.25; 95% confidence interval: 0.05 -- 0.45). Placental expression of AQP9 related to expression of the phospholipase ENPP2 which was positively associated with infant birth weight (coefficient estimate: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.09 -- 0.47). A structural equation model indicated that these genes may mediate arsenic's effect on infant birth weight (coefficient estimate: -0.009; 95% confidence interval: -0.032 -- -0.001; 10,000 replications for bootstrapping).
We identified the expression of AQP9 as a potential fetal biomarker for arsenic exposure. Further, we identified a positive association between the placental expression of phospholipase ENPP2 and infant birth weight. These findings suggest a path by which arsenic may affect birth outcomes.
Environmental Health 07/2013; 12(1):58. · 2.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hedgehog (Hh) proteins regulate the development of a wide range of metazoan embryonic and adult structures, and disruption of Hh signaling pathways results in various human diseases. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the signaling pathways regulated by Hh, consolidating data from a diverse array of organisms in a variety of scientific disciplines. Similar to the elucidation of many other signaling pathways, our knowledge of Hh signaling developed in a sequential manner centered on its earliest discoveries. Thus, our knowledge of Hh signaling has for the most part focused on elucidating the mechanism by which Hh regulates the Gli family of transcription factors, the so-called "canonical" Hh signaling pathway. However, in the past few years, numerous studies have shown that Hh proteins can also signal through Gli-independent mechanisms collectively referred to as "noncanonical" signaling pathways. Noncanonical Hh signaling is itself subdivided into two distinct signaling modules: (i) those not requiring Smoothened (Smo) and (ii) those downstream of Smo that do not require Gli transcription factors. Thus, Hh signaling is now proposed to occur through a variety of distinct context-dependent signaling modules that have the ability to crosstalk with one another to form an interacting, dynamic Hh signaling network.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hedgehog (HH) pathway Smoothened (Smo) inhibitors are active against Gorlin syndrome-associated basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and medulloblastoma where Patched (Ptch) mutations occur. We interrogated 705 epithelial cancer cell lines for growth response to the Smo inhibitor cyclopamine and for expressed HH pathway-regulated species in a linked genetic database. Ptch and Smo mutations that respectively conferred Smo inhibitor response or resistance were undetected. Previous studies revealed HH pathway activation in lung cancers. Therefore, findings were validated using lung cancer cell lines, transgenic and transplantable murine lung cancer models, and human normal-malignant lung tissue arrays in addition to testing other Smo inhibitors. Cyclopamine sensitivity most significantly correlated with high cyclin E (P=0.000009) and low insulin-like growth factor binding protein 6 (IGFBP6) (P=0.000004) levels. Gli family members were associated with response. Cyclopamine resistance occurred with high GILZ (P=0.002) expression. Newer Smo inhibitors exhibited a pattern of sensitivity similar to cyclopamine. Gain of cyclin E or loss of IGFBP6 in lung cancer cells significantly increased Smo inhibitor response. Cyclin E-driven transgenic lung cancers expressed a gene profile implicating HH pathway activation. Cyclopamine treatment significantly reduced proliferation of murine and human lung cancers. Smo inhibition reduced lung cancer formation in a syngeneic mouse model. In human normal-malignant lung tissue arrays cyclin E, IGFBP6, Gli1 and GILZ were each differentially expressed. Together, these findings indicate that Smo inhibitors should be considered in cancers beyond those with activating HH pathway mutations. This includes tumors that express genes indicating basal HH pathway activation.
International Journal of Oncology 08/2012; 41(5):1751-61. · 2.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of Hedgehog (HH) signaling in bladder cancer remains controversial. The gene encoding the HH receptor and negative regulator PATCHED1 (PTCH1) resides on a region of chromosome 9q, one copy of which is frequently lost in bladder cancer. Inconsistent with PTCH1 functioning as a classic tumor suppressor gene, loss-of-function mutations in the remaining copy of PTCH1 are not commonly found. Here, we provide direct evidence for a critical role of HH signaling in bladder carcinogenesis. We show that transformed human urothelial cells and many urothelial carcinoma cell lines exhibit constitutive HH signaling, which is required for their growth and tumorigenic properties. Surprisingly, rather than originating from loss of PTCH1, the constitutive HH activity observed in urothelial carcinoma cell lines was HH ligand dependent. Consistent with this finding, increased levels of HH and the HH target gene product GLI1 were found in resected human primary bladder tumors. Furthermore, on the basis of the difference in intrinsic HH dependence of urothelial carcinoma cell lines, a gene expression signature was identified that correlated with bladder cancer progression. Our findings therefore indicate that therapeutic targeting of the HH signaling pathway may be beneficial in the clinical management of bladder cancer.
Cancer Research 07/2012; 72(17):4449-58. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Considerable interest has been generated from the results of recent clinical trials using smoothened (SMO) antagonists to inhibit the growth of hedgehog (HH) signaling-dependent tumors. This interest is tempered by the discovery of SMO mutations mediating resistance, underscoring the rationale for developing therapeutic strategies that interrupt HH signaling at levels distinct from those inhibiting SMO function. Here, we demonstrate that HH-dependent non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) growth is sensitive to blockade of the HH pathway upstream of SMO, at the level of HH ligand processing. Individually, the use of different lentivirally delivered shRNA constructs targeting two functionally distinct HH-processing proteins, skinny hedgehog (SKN) or dispatched-1 (DISP-1), in NSCLC cell lines produced similar decreases in cell proliferation and increased cell death. Further, providing either an exogenous source of processed HH or a SMO agonist reverses these effects. The attenuation of HH processing, by knocking down either of these gene products, also abrogated tumor growth in mouse xenografts. Finally, we extended these findings to primary clinical specimens, showing that SKN is frequently overexpressed in NSCLC and that higher DISP-1 expression is associated with an unfavorable clinical outcome. Our results show a critical role for HH processing in HH-dependent tumors, identifies two potential druggable targets in the HH pathway, and suggest that similar therapeutic strategies could be explored to treat patients harboring HH ligand-dependent cancers.Oncogene advance online publication, 25 June 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.243.