[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intratumor heterogeneity is a major clinical problem because tumor cell subtypes display variable sensitivity to therapeutics and may play different roles in progression. We previously characterized 2 cell populations in human breast tumors with distinct properties: CD44+CD24- cells that have stem cell-like characteristics, and CD44-CD24+ cells that resemble more differentiated breast cancer cells. Here we identified 15 genes required for cell growth or proliferation in CD44+CD24- human breast cancer cells in a large-scale loss-of-function screen and found that inhibition of several of these (IL6, PTGIS, HAS1, CXCL3, and PFKFB3) reduced Stat3 activation. We found that the IL-6/JAK2/Stat3 pathway was preferentially active in CD44+CD24- breast cancer cells compared with other tumor cell types, and inhibition of JAK2 decreased their number and blocked growth of xenografts. Our results highlight the differences between distinct breast cancer cell types and identify targets such as JAK2 and Stat3 that may lead to more specific and effective breast cancer therapies.
The Journal of clinical investigation 06/2011; 121(7):2723-35. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embryonic stem (ES) cells are pluripotent cells that differentiate into all cell types of the organism. In adult, multipotent tissue-specific stem cells undergo multi-lineage differentiation to preserve normal tissue homeostasis and repair potential injuries. The maintenance of stem cells and their differentiation follows defined epigenetic programs, including DNA methylation, histone modifications and small non-coding RNAs that result in gene expression, morphologic and functional changes. Recently, we reported for the first time the comprehensive characterization of the in vivo gene expression and DNA methylation profiles of four distinct populations of normal human mammary epithelial cells and the identification of cell type-specific DNA methylation patterns with clinical relevance. Our results together with other studies suggest an important role for epigenetic regulation in stem cell self-renewal, pluripotency and differentiation, and imply that abnormalities in these processes may play a role in tumor initiation and progression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular identity and differentiation are determined by epigenetic programs. The characteristics of these programs in normal human mammary epithelium and their similarity to those in stem cells are unknown. To begin investigating these issues, we analyzed the DNA methylation and gene expression profiles of distinct subpopulations of mammary epithelial cells by using MSDK (methylation-specific digital karyotyping) and SAGE (serial analysis of gene expression). We identified discrete cell-type and differentiation state-specific DNA methylation and gene expression patterns that were maintained in a subset of breast carcinomas and correlated with clinically relevant tumor subtypes. CD44+ cells were the most hypomethylated and highly expressed several transcription factors with known stem cell function including HOXA10 and TCF3. Many of these genes were also hypomethylated in BMP4-treated compared with undifferentiated human embryonic stem (ES) cells that we analyzed by MSDK for comparison. Further highlighting the similarity of epigenetic programs of embryonic and mammary epithelial cells, genes highly expressed in CD44+ relative to more differentiated CD24+ cells were significantly enriched for Suz12 targets in ES cells. The expression of FOXC1, one of the transcription factors hypomethylated and highly expressed in CD44+ cells, induced a progenitor-like phenotype in differentiated mammary epithelial cells. These data suggest that epigenetically controlled transcription factors play a key role in regulating mammary epithelial cell phenotypes and imply similarities among epigenetic programs that define progenitor cell characteristics.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2008; 105(37):14076-81. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To evaluate the expression of cathepsin K (CTSK) and CXCL14 in stromal and epithelial cells in human breast tumor progression.
We did immunohistochemical analyses of CTSK and CXCL14 expression in normal breast tissue, biopsy sites, benign lesions, ductal carcinoma in situ, and invasive breast tumors of different stages. Expression patterns were related to histopathologic characteristics of the tumors and clinical outcome. The effect of CTSK+ breast stromal fibroblasts on CTSK- breast cancer cells was assessed in coculture.
Epithelial expression of CTSK was rarely detected in any of the tissue samples analyzed, whereas CXCL14-positive epithelial cells were found in all tissue types. The expression of CXCL14 was not associated with any tumor or patient characteristics analyzed. Stromal CTSK expression was significantly higher in invasive compared with in situ carcinomas, and in one of the two data sets analyzed, it correlated with higher tumor stage. Among all samples examined, the highest stromal CTSK levels were detected in biopsy sites. Neither epithelial nor stromal expression of CTSK was significantly associated with recurrence-free or overall survival. Coculture of CTSK+ fibroblasts enhanced the invasion of CTSK- breast tumor epithelial cells and this was blocked by CTSK inhibitors.
CTSK may function as a paracrine factor in breast tumorigenesis. CTSK+ fibroblasts may play a role in tumor progression by promoting the invasiveness of tumor epithelial cells. The possibility that CTSK inhibitors may have a clinical role in decreasing the risk of tumor progression merits further investigation.
Clinical Cancer Research 10/2008; 14(17):5357-67. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cells with distinct phenotypes including stem-cell-like properties have been proposed to exist in normal human mammary epithelium and breast carcinomas, but their detailed molecular characteristics and clinical significance are unclear. We determined gene expression and genetic profiles of cells purified from cancerous and normal breast tissue using markers previously associated with stem-cell-like properties. CD24+ and CD44+ cells from individual tumors were clonally related but not always identical. CD44+ cell-specific genes included many known stem-cell markers and correlated with decreased patient survival. The TGF-beta pathway was specifically active in CD44+ cancer cells, where its inhibition induced a more epithelial phenotype. Our data suggest prognostic relevance of CD44+ cells and therapeutic targeting of distinct tumor cell populations.
Cancer Cell 04/2007; 11(3):259-73. · 24.76 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psoriasin (S100A7) was identifi;ed as a gene highly expressed in psoriatic keratinocytes and highly and more frequently expressed in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) than in invasive breast carcinomas (IBC), suggesting a potential role in tumor progression. Psoriasin expression is associated with poor prognostic factors in both DCIS and IBC. Several putative functions have been proposed for psoriasin in various disease types, but none of these can fully explain its involvement in breast tumor progression. Here, we show that down-regulation of endogenous psoriasin expression via stable short hairpin RNAs in a human IBC cell line (MDA-MB-468) increases cell migration and invasion without influencing cell proliferation and survival in vitro but inhibits tumor growth in vivo. These seemingly paradoxical results are potentially explained by the dramatic up-regulation and down-regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-13 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), respectively, observed in cells with decreased psoriasin levels compared with controls. Correlating with this, high psoriasin expression in human IBC is associated with increased angiogenesis and worse clinical outcome, and psoriasin mRNA levels are coordinately regulated with VEGF and other genes related to hypoxia and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Based on these results, we propose that psoriasin may play a role in breast tumor progression by promoting angiogenesis and enhancing the selection for cells that overcome its anti-invasive function. This hypothesis may explain why psoriasin expression is highest in high-grade and/or estrogen receptor-negative tumors, as these are associated with increased hypoxia and ROS, a setting in which the angiogenic effects of psoriasin are most important.
Cancer Research 01/2006; 65(24):11326-34. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HIN-1 gene encoding a small, secreted protein is silenced due to methylation in a substantial fraction of breast, prostate, lung, and pancreatic carcinomas, suggesting a potential tumor suppressor function. The receptor of HIN-1 is unknown, but ligand-binding studies indicate the presence of high-affinity cell surface HIN-1 binding on epithelial cells. Here, we report that HIN-1 is a potent inhibitor of anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent cell growth, cell migration, and invasion. Expression of HIN-1 in synchronized cells inhibits cell cycle reentry and the phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb), whereas in exponentially growing cells, HIN-1 induces apoptosis without apparent cell cycle arrest and effect on Rb phosphorylation. Investigation of multiple signaling pathways revealed that mitogen-induced phosphorylation and activation of AKT are inhibited in HIN-1-expressing cells. In addition, expression of constitutively activate AKT abrogates HIN-1-mediated growth arrest. Taken together, these studies provide further evidence that HIN-1 possesses tumor suppressor functions, and that these activities may be mediated through the AKT signaling pathway.
Cancer Research 12/2005; 65(21):9659-69. · 8.65 Impact Factor