[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The serine-threonine kinase AKT1 plays essential roles during normal mammary gland development as well as the initiation and progression of breast cancer. AKT1 is generally considered a ubiquitously expressed gene, and its persistent activation is transcriptionally controlled by regulatory elements characteristic of housekeeping gene promoters. We recently identified a novel Akt1 transcript in mice (Akt1m), which is induced by growth factors and their signal transducers of transcription from a previously unknown promoter. The purpose of this study was to examine whether normal and neoplastic human breast epithelial cells express an orthologous AKT1m transcript and whether its expression is deregulated in cancer cells.
Initial sequence analyses were performed using the UCSC Genome Browser and GenBank to assess the potential occurrence of an AKT1m transcript variant in human cells and to identify conserved promoter sequences that are orthologous to the murine Akt1m. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to determine the transcriptional activation of AKT1m in mouse mammary tumors as well as 41 normal and neoplastic human breast epithelial cell lines and selected primary breast cancers.
We identified four new AKT1 transcript variants in human breast cancer cells that are orthologous to the murine Akt1m and that encode the full-length kinase. These transcripts originate from an alternative promoter that is conserved between humans and mice. Akt1m is upregulated in the majority of luminal-type and basal-type mammary cancers in four different genetically engineered mouse models. Similarly, a subset of human breast cancer cell lines and primary breast cancers exhibited a higher expression of orthologous AKT1m transcripts.
The existence of an alternative promoter that drives the expression of the unique AKT1m transcript may provide a mechanism by which the levels of AKT1 can be temporally and spatially regulated at particular physiological states, such as cancer, where a heightened activity of this kinase is required.
BMC Cancer 03/2014; 14(1):195. · 3.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) is an essential mediator of cytokine receptor signaling and plays important roles in the proliferation of alveolar progenitors and the survival of functionally differentiated epithelial cells in the mammary gland. A deregulated expression and activation of Stat5 leads to precocious alveolar development in the absence of pregnancy hormones, impaired mammary gland remodeling following the cessation of lactation, and mammary tumor formation. We reported previously that Stat5 induces the transcription of the Akt1 gene from a novel promoter. In this report, we provide experimental evidence that Akt1 is an essential mediator for the biological function of Stat5 as a survival factor. Additionally, Stat5 controls the expression of the regulatory and catalytic subunits of the PI3 kinase (p85α and p110α), thereby greatly augmenting signaling through the pro-survival PI3K/Akt pathway. In agreement with this model, we observed that the constitutive activation of Stat5 cooperates with the loss-of-function of the tumor suppressor PTEN by accelerating the formation of preneoplastic lesions and mammary tumors. The mammary gland-specific ablation of Stat5 is sufficient to prevent mammary carcinogenesis in a genuine mouse model for Cowden syndrome. Therefore, targeting the Jak2/Stat5 pathway might be a suitable strategy to prevent breast cancer in patients that carry a mutant PTEN allele.
Molecular and cellular biology 01/2014; · 6.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conditional knockout mouse models are powerful tools to examine the biological and molecular function(s) of genes in specific tissues. The general procedure to generate such genetically engineered mouse models consists of three main steps. The first step is to find the appropriate genomic clone of the gene of interest and to design the cloning and Southern blot strategies. The second step is the cloning of the gene-targeting vector with all its essential components including positive and negative selection cassettes and the insertion of LoxP sites. Although conventional methods are still being widely used for DNA cloning, we describe in this book chapter the use of λ Red phage-based homologous recombination in Escherichia coli to capture the genomic DNA of the gene of interest and to assemble the gene-targeting vector. This new method provides several advantages as it does not require the presence of restriction sites within the gene of interest to insert LoxP-flanked DNA fragments. In the final step, the gene-targeting vector is transferred into embryonic stem (ES) cells, and successfully targeted ES cell clones are injected into mouse blastocysts to generate conditional knockout mice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In response to the ligand-mediated activation of cytokine receptors, cells decide whether to proliferate or to undergo differentiation. D-type Cyclins (Cyclin D1, D2, or D3) and their associated Cyclin-dependent Kinases (CDK4, CDK6) connect signals from cytokines to the cell cycle machinery, and they propel cells through the G1 restriction point and into the S phase, after which growth factor stimulation is no longer essential to complete cell division. D-type Cyclins are upregulated in many human malignancies including breast cancer to promote an uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells. After summarizing important aspects of the cytokine-mediated transcriptional regulation and the posttranslational modification of D-type Cyclins, this review will highlight the physiological significance of these cell cycle regulators during normal mammary gland development as well as the initiation and promotion of breast cancer. Although the vast majority of published reports focus almost exclusively on the role of Cyclin D1 in breast cancer, we summarize here previous and recent findings that demonstrate an important contribution of the remaining two members of this Cyclin family, in particular Cyclin D3, for the growth of ErbB2-associated breast cancer cells in humans and in mouse models. New data from genetically engineered models as well as the pharmacological inhibition of CDK4/6 suggest that targeting the combined functions of D-type Cyclins could be a suitable strategy for the treatment of ErbB2-positive and potentially other types of breast cancer.
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 04/2013; · 4.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DCs) are critical in immune responses, linking innate and adaptive immunity. We found here that DC-specific deletion of the transcription factor STAT5 was not critical for development but was required for T helper type 2 (TH2), but not TH1, allergic responses in both the skin and lungs. Loss of STAT5 in DCs led to the inability to respond to thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP). STAT5 was required for TSLP-dependent DC activation, including upregulation of the expression of costimulatory molecules and chemokine production. Furthermore, TH2 responses in mice with DC-specific loss of STAT5 resembled those seen in mice deficient in the receptor for TSLP. Our results show that the TSLP-STAT5 axis in DCs is a critical component for the promotion of type 2 immunity at barrier surfaces.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 5 (Stat5) plays a significant role in normal hematopoiesis and a variety of hematopoietic malignancies. Deficiency in Stat5 causes impaired cytokine-mediated proliferation and survival of progenitors and their differentiated descendants along major hematopoietic lineages such as erythroid, lymphoid, and myeloid cells. Overexpression and persistent activation of Stat5 are sufficient for neoplastic transformation and development of multi-lineage leukemia in a transplant model. Little is known, however, whether a continuous activation of this signal transducer is essential for the maintenance of hematopoietic malignancies. To address this issue, we developed transgenic mice that express a hyperactive mutant of Stat5 in hematopoietic progenitors and derived lineages in a ligand-controlled manner. In contrast to the transplant model, expression of mutant Stat5 did not adversely affect normal hematopoiesis in the presence of endogenous wildtype Stat5 alleles. However, the gain-of-function of this signal transducer in mice that carry Stat5a/b hypomorphic alleles resulted in abnormally high numbers of circulating granulocytes that caused severe airway obstruction. Downregulation of hyperactive Stat5 in diseased animals restored normal granulopoiesis, which also resulted in a swift clearance of granulocytes from the lung. Moreover, we demonstrate that Stat5 promotes the initiation and maintenance of severe granulophilia in a cell autonomous manner. The results of this study show that the gain-of-function of Stat5 causes excessive granulopoiesis and prolonged survival of granulocytes in circulation. Collectively, our findings underline the critical importance of Stat5 in maintaining a normal balance between myeloid and lymphoid cells during hematopoiesis, and we provide direct evidence for a function of Stat5 in granulophilia-associated pulmonary dysfunction.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(4):e60902. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a lethal malignancy primarily driven by activated Kras mutations and characterized by the deregulation of several genes including mucins. Previous studies on mucins have identified their significant role in both benign and malignant human diseases including PC progression and metastasis. However, the initiation of MUC expression during PC remains unknown because of lack of early stage tumor tissues from human PC patients. METHODS: In the present study, we have evaluated stage specific expression patterns of mucins during mouse PC progression in (KrasG12D;Pdx1-Cre (KC)) murine PC model from pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time PCR. RESULTS: In agreement with previous studies on human PC, we observed a progressive increase in the expression of mucins particularly Muc1, Muc4 and Muc5AC in the pancreas of KC (as early as PanIN I) mice with advancement of PanIN lesions and PDAC both at mRNA and protein levels. Additionally, mucin expression correlated with the increased expression of inflammatory cytokines IFN-gamma (p < 0.0062), CXCL1 (p < 0.00014) and CXCL2 (p < 0.08) in the pancreas of KC mice, which are known to induce mucin expression. Further, we also observed progressive increase in inflammation in pancreas of KC mice from 10 to 50 weeks of age as indicated by the increase in the macrophage infiltration. Overall, this study corroborates with previous human studies that indicated the aberrant overexpression of MUC1, MUC4 and MUC5AC mucins during the progression of human PC. CONCLUSIONS: Our study reinforces the potential utility of the KC murine model for determining the functional role of mucins in PC pathogenesis by crossing KC mice with corresponding mucin knockout mice and evaluating mucin based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for lethal PC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Tumor Susceptibility Gene 101 (Tsg101) encodes a multi-domain protein that mediates a variety of molecular and biological processes including the trafficking and lysosomal degradation of cell surface receptors. Conventional and conditional knockout models have demonstrated an essential requirement of this gene for cell cycle progression and cell viability, but the consequences of a complete ablation of Tsg101 on intracellular processes have not been examined to date. In this study, we employed mouse embryonic fibroblasts that carry two Tsg101 conditional knockout alleles to investigate the expression of ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases as well as stress-induced intracellular processes that are known to be associated with a defect in growth and cell survival. The conditional deletion of the Tsg101 gene in this well-controlled experimental model resulted in a significant reduction in the steady-state levels of the EGFR and ErbB2 but a stress-induced elevation in the phosphorylation of mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinases independent of growth factor stimulation. As part of an integrated stress response, Tsg101-deficient cells exhibited extensive remodeling of actin filaments and greatly enlarged lysosomes that were enriched with the autophagy-related protein LC3. The increase in the transcriptional activation and expression of LC3 and its association with Lamp1-positive lysosomes in a PI3K-dependent manner suggest that Tsg101 knockout cells utilize autophagy as a survival mechanism prior to their ultimate death. Collectively, this study shows that a knockout of the Tsg101 gene causes complex intracellular changes associated with stress response and cell death. These multifaceted alterations need to be recognized as they have an impact on defining particular functions for Tsg101 in processes such as signal transduction and lysosomal/endosomal trafficking.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e34308. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Constitutive activation of STAT5 is critical for the maintenance of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) characterized by the BCR-ABL oncoprotein. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for the STAT5-activating kinase JAK2 have been discussed as a treatment option for CML patients. Using murine leukemia models combined with inducible ablation of JAK2, we show JAK2 dependence for initial lymphoid transformation, which is lost once leukemia is established. In contrast, initial myeloid transformation and leukemia maintenance were independent of JAK2. Nevertheless, several JAK2 TKIs induced apoptosis in BCR-ABL(+) cells irrespective of the presence of JAK2. This is caused by the previously unknown direct 'off-target' inhibition of BCR-ABL. Cellular and enzymatic analyses suggest that BCR-ABL phosphorylates STAT5 directly. Our findings suggest uncoupling of the canonical JAK2-STAT5 module upon BCR-ABL expression, thereby making JAK2 targeting dispensable. Thus, attempts to pharmacologically target STAT5 in BCR-ABL(+) diseases need to focus on STAT5 itself.
Nature Chemical Biology 01/2012; 8(3):285-93. · 12.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have generated a new and improved transgenic mouse strain that permits a temporally controlled expression of transgenes throughout mammary gland development. High expression of the tetracycline-regulatible transactivator (tTA) under control of the mouse mammary tumor virus long terminal repeat (MMTV-LTR) is restricted to mammary epithelial cells and the salivary gland. The novel MMTV-tTA mouse strain induces a sustained transactivation of responder transgenes, which can be swiftly suppressed through administration of doxycycline (Dox). An important characteristic of this strain is its expression in early progenitor cells of mammary gland anlagen beginning at day 13.5 of embryonic development. We show here that the MMTV-tTA can be used in combination with GFP reporter strains to visualize CK8/CK14-dual positive progenitors in newborn females and their derived basal and luminal epithelial cell lineages in adult females. Our observations suggest that the novel MMTV-tTA can be utilized to express exogenous proteins in multipotent mammary progenitors during the earliest stages of mammary gland development to assess their biological significance throughout mammogenesis. Moreover, we demonstrate that the expression of the MMTV-tTA is sustained during mammary gland tumorigenesis in female mice expressing wildtype ErbB2. This makes this strain particular valuable to target the expression of exogenous proteins into developing mammary tumors to assess their significance in biological processes, such as tumor cell growth and survival, metabolism, and metastasis.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e43778. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiparous Stat1-/- mice spontaneously develop mammary tumors with increased incidence: at an average age of 12 months, 55% of the animals suffer from mammary cancer, although the histopathology is heterogeneous. We consistently observed mosaic expression or down-regulation of STAT1 protein in wild-type mammary cancer evolving in the control group. Transplantation experiments show that tumorigenesis in Stat1-/- mice is partially influenced by impaired CTL mediated tumor surveillance. Additionally, STAT1 exerts an intrinsic tumor suppressing role by controlling and blocking proliferation of the mammary epithelium. Loss of STAT1 in epithelial cells enhances cell growth in both transformed and primary cells. The increased proliferative capacity leads to the loss of structured acini formation in 3D-cultures. Analogous effects were observed when Irf1-/- epithelial cells were used. Accordingly, the rate of mammary intraepithelial neoplasias (MINs) is increased in Stat1-/- animals: MINs represent the first step towards mammary tumors. The experiments characterize STAT1/IRF1 as a key growth inhibitory and tumor suppressive signaling pathway that prevents mammary cancer formation by maintaining growth control. Furthermore, they define the loss of STAT1 as a predisposing event via enhanced MIN formation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cyclin D1 regulates cell proliferation and is a candidate molecular target for breast cancer therapy. This study addresses whether Cyclin D1 is indispensable for ErbB2-associated mammary tumor initiation and progression using a breast cancer model in which this cell-cycle regulator can be genetically ablated prior to or after neoplastic transformation. Deficiency in Cyclin D1 delayed tumor onset but did not prevent the occurrence of mammary cancer in mice overexpressing wild-type ErbB2. The lack of Cyclin D1 was associated with a compensatory upregulation of Cyclin D3, which explains why the targeted downregulation of Cyclin D1 in established mammary tumors had no effect on cancer cell proliferation. Cyclin D1 and D3 are overexpressed in human breast cancer cell lines and primary invasive breast cancers, and Cyclin D3 frequently exceeded the expression of Cyclin D1 in ErbB2-positive cases. The simultaneous inhibition of both cyclins in mammary tumor cells reduced cancer cell proliferation in vitro and decreased the tumor burden in vivo. Collectively, the results of this study suggest that only the combined inhibition of Cyclin D1 and D3 might be a suitable strategy for breast cancer prevention and therapy.
Cancer Research 12/2011; 71(24):7513-24. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA methyltransferase 3B (Dnmt3b) belongs to a family of enzymes responsible for methylation of cytosine residues in mammals. DNA methylation contributes to the epigenetic control of gene transcription and is deregulated in virtually all human tumors. To better understand the generation of cancer-specific methylation patterns, we genetically inactivated Dnmt3b in a mouse model of MYC-induced lymphomagenesis. Ablation of Dnmt3b function using a conditional knockout in T cells accelerated lymphomagenesis by increasing cellular proliferation, which suggests that Dnmt3b functions as a tumor suppressor. Global methylation profiling revealed numerous gene promoters as potential targets of Dnmt3b activity, the majority of which were demethylated in Dnmt3b-/- lymphomas, but not in Dnmt3b-/- pretumor thymocytes, implicating Dnmt3b in maintenance of cytosine methylation in cancer. Functional analysis identified the gene Gm128 (which we termed herein methylated in normal thymocytes [Ment]) as a target of Dnmt3b activity. We found that Ment was gradually demethylated and overexpressed during tumor progression in Dnmt3b-/- lymphomas. Similarly, MENT was overexpressed in 67% of human lymphomas, and its transcription inversely correlated with methylation and levels of DNMT3B. Importantly, knockdown of Ment inhibited growth of mouse and human cells, whereas overexpression of Ment provided Dnmt3b+/+ cells with a proliferative advantage. Our findings identify Ment as an enhancer of lymphomagenesis that contributes to the tumor suppressor function of Dnmt3b and suggest it could be a potential target for anticancer therapies.
The Journal of clinical investigation 12/2011; 122(1):163-77. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growth hormone (GH)-activated signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) and the glucocorticoid (GC)-responsive glucocorticoid receptor (GR) are important signal integrators in the liver during metabolic and physiologic stress. Their deregulation has been implicated in the development of metabolic liver diseases, such as steatosis and progression to fibrosis. Using liver-specific STAT5 and GR knockout mice, we addressed their role in metabolism and liver cancer onset. STAT5 single and STAT5/GR double mutants developed steatosis, but only double-mutant mice progressed to liver cancer. Mechanistically, STAT5 deficiency led to the up-regulation of prolipogenic sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 (SREBP-1) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) signaling. Combined loss of STAT5/GR resulted in GH resistance and hypercortisolism. The combination of both induced expression of adipose tissue lipases, adipose tissue lipid mobilization, and lipid flux to the liver, thereby aggravating STAT5-dependent steatosis. The metabolic dysfunctions in STAT5/GR compound knockout animals led to the development of hepatic dysplasia at 9 months of age. At 12 months, 35% of STAT5/GR-deficient livers harbored dysplastic nodules and ∼ 60% hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). HCC development was associated with GH and insulin resistance, enhanced tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) expression, high reactive oxygen species levels, and augmented liver and DNA damage parameters. Moreover, activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) and STAT3 was prominent. CONCLUSION: Hepatic STAT5/GR signaling is crucial for the maintenance of systemic lipid homeostasis. Impairment of both signaling cascades causes severe metabolic liver disease and promotes spontaneous hepatic tumorigenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ESCRT pathway proteins play a key role in sorting ubiquitinated membrane receptors towards lysosomes providing an important mechanism for attenuating cell surface receptor signaling. However, recent studies point to a positive role of ESCRT proteins in signal transduction in multiple species studied under physiological and pathological conditions. ESCRT components such as Tsg101 and Hrs are overexpressed in human cancers and Tsg101 depletion is detrimental for cell proliferation, survival and transformed phenotype of tumor cells. However, the mechanisms underlying the positive contributions of ESCRT pathway to surface receptor signaling have remained unclear. In a recent study, we showed that Tsg101 and Vps4 are essential for translocation of active Src from endosomes to focal adhesion and invadopodia, thereby revealing a role of ESCRT pathway in promoting Src-mediated migration and invasion. We discuss the implications of these and other recent studies which together suggest a role for the ESCRT pathway in recycling of endocytic cargo proteins, aside from its role in lysosomal targeting, potentially explaining the positive roles of ESCRT proteins in signal transduction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since its discovery as "just another kinase" more than twenty years ago, the family of JAK tyrosine kinases and their respective Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs) has been a center of attention in the areas of signal transduction, development, and cancer. The subsequent designation of JAKs as Janus kinases after the mythical two-faced Roman God of the doorways accurately portrays the analogous and sometimes contrasting molecular and biological characteristics of these tyrosine kinases. The two "faces" of JAKs are their structurally similar kinase and pseudo-kinase domains. As essential parts of various transmembrane receptor complexes, these tyrosine kinases function at cellular gateways and relay signals from growth factors to their respective intracellular targets. The multifaceted nature of JAKs becomes evident from their ability to activate specific STATs during distinct phases of normal mammary gland development. Studies in breast cancer cells and genetically engineered mouse models also show that JAK/STAT signaling possesses a "two-faced" role during breast cancer initiation and progression. This review will highlight recent findings about important biological functions of JAKs and STATs during normal mammogenesis, with particular emphasis on the Jak2/Stat5 pathway as well as Jak1/2/Stat3 signaling complexes. In addition, we will discuss how the importance of these signaling networks changes during carcinogenesis. With JAK inhibitors currently under development to treat myeloproliferative disorders, determining the essential functions of JAKs at particular stages of disease initiation and progression is of critical importance to predict the efficacy of these agents for targeted therapies against breast cancer.