Vera Piera Leoni

Università degli studi di Cagliari, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

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Publications (14)84.7 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are ligand-dependent transcription factors that mediate most of the effects elicited by the thyroid hormone 3,5,3’-L-triiodothyronine (T3). TRs have been implicated in tumorigenesis, although it is unclear whether they act as oncogenes or tumor suppressors, and at which stage of tumorigenesis their dysregulation occurs. Using the Resistant-Hepatocyte rat model (R-H model), we found down-regulation of TRβ1 and TRα1 and their target genes in early preneoplastic lesions and HCCs, suggesting that a hypothyroid status favours the onset and progression of preneoplastic lesions to HCC. Notably, TRβ1 and, to a lesser extent, TRα1 down-regulation was observed only in preneoplastic lesions positive for the progenitor cell marker cytokeratin-19 (Krt-19) and characterized by a higher proliferative activity compared to the Krt-19 negative ones. TRβ1 down-regulation was observed also in the vast majority of the analyzed human HCCs compared to the matched peritumorous liver or to normal liver. Hyperthyroidism induced by T3 treatment caused up-regulation of TRβ1 and of its target genes in Krt-19+ preneoplastic rat lesions and was associated with nodule regression. In HCC, TRβ1 down-regulation was not due to hypermethylation of its promoter, but was associated with an increased expression of TRβ1-targeting microRNAs (miR-27a, -181a and -204). An inverse correlation between TRβ1 and miR-181a was also found in human cirrhotic peritumoral tissue compared to normal liver.Conclusion: Down-regulation of TRs, especially TRβ1, is an early and relevant event in liver cancer development, species- and etiology-independent. The results also suggest that a hypothyroid status of preneoplastic lesions may contribute to their progression to HCC and that the reversion of this condition may represent a possible therapeutic goal to interfere with the development of this tumor. (Hepatology 2014;)
    Hepatology 08/2014; · 12.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Colon cancer predisposition is associated with mutations in BRCA1. BRCA1 protein stability depends on binding to BARD1. In different cancers, expression of differentially spliced BARD1 isoforms is correlated with poor prognosis and decreased patient survival. We therefore suspected a role of BARD1 isoforms in colon cancer. We performed immunohistochemistry in 168 colorectal cancers, using four antibodies directed against differentially expressed regions of BARD1. We determined structure and relative expression of BARD1 mRNA isoforms in 40 tumour and paired normal peri-tumour tissues. BARD1 expression was correlated with clinical outcome. BARD1 isoforms were expressed in 98% of cases and not correlated with BRCA1. BARD1 mRNA isoforms were upregulated in all tumours as compared with paired normal peri-tumour tissues. Non-correlated expression and localisation of different epitopes suggested insignificant expression of full-length (FL) BARD1. Expression of N- and C-terminal epitopes correlated with increased survival, but expression of epitopes mapping to the middle of BARD1 correlated with decreased survival. Middle epitopes are present in oncogenic BARD1 isoforms, which have pro-proliferative functions. Correlated upregulation of only N- and C-terminal epitopes reflects the expression of isoforms BARD1δ and BARD1φ. Our results suggest that BARD1 isoforms, but not FL BARD1, are expressed in colon cancer and affect its progression and clinical outcome.
    British Journal of Cancer 07/2012; 107(4):675-83. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: MET, the tyrosine kinase receptor for hepatocyte growth factor, is frequently overexpressed in colon cancers with high metastatic tendency. We aimed to evaluate the role of its negative regulators, miR-1 and miR-199a*, and its transcriptional activator, the metastasis-associated in colon cancer 1 (MACC1), in controlling MET expression in human colon cancer samples. The expression of MET, miR-1, miR-199a*, and MACC1 was evaluated by real-time PCR in 52 matched pairs of colorectal cancers and nontumoral surrounding tissues. The biological role of miR-1 in controlling MET expression and biological activity was assessed in colon cancer cells either by its forced expression or by AntagomiR-mediated inhibition. MiR-1 was downregulated in 84.6% of the tumors and its decrease significantly correlated with MET overexpression, particularly in metastatic tumors. We found that concurrent MACC1 upregulation and miR-1 downregulation are required to elicit the highest increase of MET expression. Consistent with a suppressive role of miR-1, its forced in vitro expression in colon cancer cells reduced MET levels and impaired MET-induced invasive growth. Finally, we identified a feedback loop between miR-1 and MET, resulting in their mutual regulation. This study identifies an oncosuppressive role of miR-1 in colorectal cancer in which it acts by controlling MET expression through a feedback loop. Concomitant downregulation of miR-1 and increase of MACC1 can thus contribute to MET overexpression and to the metastatic behavior of colon cancer cells.
    Clinical Cancer Research 12/2011; 18(3):737-47. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BRCA1 mRNA overexpression is correlated with poor survival in NSCLC. However, BRCA1 functions depend on the interaction with BARD1 for its stability, nuclear localization and ubiquitin ligase activity. Expression of alternatively spliced BARD1 isoforms that lack the BRCA1-interaction domain was found upregulated and correlated with poor prognosis in breast and ovarian cancer. These BARD1 isoforms are essential for proliferation of cancer cells in vitro. We investigated whether BARD1 isoforms are expressed in NSCLC. While in lung tissues from healthy controls BARD1 expression was undetectable on the mRNA level and protein level, we found two novel isoforms in addition to previously identified mRNAs expressed in all NSCLC samples tested. Furthermore, the pattern of BARD1 isoform expression was similar in tumor and morphologically normal peri-tumor tissues, and only one novel isoform π was specifically upregulated in tumors. Immunohistochemistry revealed that all 100 NSCLC cases tested expressed isoform-specific BARD1 epitopes, while BARD1 expression was undetectable in biopsies from healthy controls. Statistical analysis showed that the expression of epitopes PVC and WFS, present on isoform π, or epitope WFS alone, expressed on isoforms π, κ and β, were significantly correlated with decreased patient survival. These findings were corroborated in a mouse model of chemically induced lung cancer. Immunostaining of mouse tumors showed that BARD1 epitopes PVC and WFS were specifically upregulated in invasive, but not in confined lung tumors. Thus, BARD1 isoforms might be involved in tumor initiation and invasive progression and might represent a novel prognostic marker for NSCLC.
    International Journal of Cancer 08/2011; 131(1):83-94. · 6.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mice lacking c-jun in the liver display impaired regeneration after partial hepatectomy (PH), and were reported to be more resistant to chemically-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the role of c-jun in normal and preneoplastic hepatocyte proliferation induced by ligands of nuclear receptors, which cause liver hyperplasia in the absence of cell loss/death. The effect of 1,4-bis[2-(3,5-dichloropyridyloxy)]benzene (TCPOBOP) on hepatocyte proliferation was determined in c-jun conditional knockout (c-jun(Δli)) or in mouse liver where c-jun has been silenced. To study the role of c-jun in HCC development, c-jun(Δli) and WT mice were given diethylnitrosamine (DENA) followed by repeated injections of TCPOBOP. Hepatocyte proliferation induced by TCPOBOP was associated with a stronger proliferative response and earlier S phase entry in c-jun(Δli) mice, compared to WT animals. Moreover, silencing of c-jun in the liver of CD-1 mice caused increased hepatocyte proliferation. A stronger hepatocyte proliferative response of c-jun(Δli) mice was observed also following treatment with a ligand of thyroid hormone receptor. Finally, loss of c-jun did not inhibit the development of HCC induced by DENA and promoted by TCPOBOP. (i) c-jun may, under certain conditions, negatively regulate proliferation of normal hepatocytes, (ii) c-jun is not an absolute requirement for DENA/TCPOBOP-induced HCC formation, suggesting that the therapeutic potential of c-jun/JNK inhibition in liver tumors might be impaired by an increased stimulation of cell growth due to blockade of the c-jun pathway.
    Journal of Hepatology 02/2011; 55(5):1069-78. · 9.86 Impact Factor
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    Journal of Hepatology - J HEPATOL. 01/2009; 50.
  • Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases - NUTR METAB CARDIOVASC DIS. 01/2009; 19.
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide screening for genetic loci associated with risk of lung adenocarcinoma (ADCA) was carried out in pooled DNA using the Illumina 300K single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, in a joint analysis of 2 Italian case-control series matched by age, gender and smoking habit. The rare allele carrier status of 8 SNPs was associated with a decreased lung ADCA risk [odds ratios (OR): 0.6-0.8]. In a polygenic model characterized by additive and interchangeable effects, individuals carrying 2 to 6 rare alleles at these 8 SNPs showed a significant trend toward a decreased risk of lung ADCA (up to OR of 0.3). These results suggest the relevance of a polygenic model in the modulation of individual risk of lung ADCA in the general population.
    International Journal of Cancer 09/2008; 123(10):2327-30. · 6.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A genome-wide association analysis using the Affymetrix 100K SNP array was carried out in a case-control study of lung cancer. Allele frequencies were estimated initially in DNA pools. Significant differences in allele frequency detected in the SNP array analysis were first tested in the same DNA pools by pyrosequencing and then by individual genotyping. DNA pooling analysis identified rs10508266 SNP, located approximately 12.5kb from the 5'-end of the KLF6 gene, as a marker showing significant association with lung cancer risk. Since the SNP was in significant linkage disequilibrium with the KLF6 gene region, we analyzed an Italian population of 338 lung adenocarcinoma cases and 335 controls for the possible role of the reported functional rs3750861 SNP, located 15.6kb from the rs10508266 SNP. The rs3750861 affects expression of KLF6 splicing variants in prostate cancer and we found that its rare allele is associated with reduced lung cancer risk (odds ratio, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.8). A Norwegian replication series of 265 non small cell lung cancer cases, and 356 controls, however, did not confirm the association. In light of the reported functional involvement of the KLF6 gene in lung cancer and in other cancer types and to the functional nature of the rs3750861 SNP, our results suggest a potential involvement of KLF6 polymorphisms in lung cancer risk, although additional studies in large series are needed to confirm our findings and to elucidate the mechanism by which the KLF6 SNPs influence lung cancer risk.
    Cancer Letters 07/2007; 251(2):311-6. · 4.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis to refine a region associated with lung cancer progression on chromosome 1p34 identified a 106 kb LD block that includes MYCL1, TRIT1 (tRNA isopentenyltransferase 1) and MFSD2 (major facilitator superfamily domain-containing 2). Case-only association study on SNPs mapping in TRIT1 and MFSD2 indicated that the rare Leu allele (frequency: 0.04) of the TRIT1 Phe202Leu variation predicts short survival as compared to the common Phe/Phe genotype (hazard ratio (HR)=1.7; 95% CI, 1.03-2.86; P=0.039) in 335 Italian lung adenocarcinoma samples. A replication study in an independent population of 246 Norwegian lung cancer patients confirmed the significant association of the Phe202Leu polymorphism with patients' survival, but the rare allele was associated with better survival rate (HR=0.5; 95% CI, 0.26-0.91; P=0.023). The rare allele of TRIT1 Phe202Leu SNP was approximately seven-fold more frequent in Asian than in Caucasian subjects and three additional SNPs in the TRIT1 and MFSD2 genes showed ethnic differences in allelic frequencies. These results suggest that polymorphisms in the MYCL1 LD region affect lung cancer survival but that the functional element(s) may show population-specific patterns.
    Lung Cancer 04/2007; 55(3):271-7. · 3.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mouse Lrmp and Casc1 genes are candidates for the pulmonary adenoma susceptibility 1 (Pas1) locus, the major determinant of strain variation in lung tumor susceptibility. These genes contain coding and non-coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) strongly associated with lung tumor risk in mice. Analysis of LRMP and CASC1 gene SNPs in 361 lung adenocarcinoma (ADCA) patients and 327 healthy controls revealed common SNPs in LRMP (V141L and S197C) and CASC1 (R33S and three intronic variations), and none showed a significant association with lung ADCA risk. However, in the time-dependent Cox regression model, after adjustment for age, gender, smoking history and clinical stage, the carrier status of the Leu variation (V141L) of the LRMP gene was associated with higher mortality in patients with age at tumor onset < or = 65 years [hazard ratio (HR) 2.3; 95% CI 1.4-3.7; P = 0.001]. These findings suggest that the LRMP V141L polymorphism can predict survival in lung ADCA and that the role of LRMP and CASC1 in human lung cancer risk may differ from that in mice.
    Carcinogenesis 08/2006; 27(7):1386-90. · 5.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since genetic factors may play an important role in lung cancer development at low dose carcinogen exposure, non-smokers are a good model to study genetic susceptibility and its interaction with environmental factors. We evaluated the role of the metabolic gene polymorphisms CYP1A1MspI, CYP1A1Ile462Val, GSTM1, and GSTT1 in non-smoker lung cancer patients from the International Collaborative Study on Genetic Susceptibility to Environmental Carcinogens (GSEC). Non-smokers (defined as subjects who never smoked on a regular basis) were selected from the GSEC database. We pooled the raw data from 21 case-control studies for a total of 2764 Caucasians (555 cases and 2209 controls) and 383 Asians (113 cases and 270 controls). Tests of heterogeneity and of inclusion bias were performed. A significant association between lung cancer and CYP1A1Ile462Val polymorphism was observed in Caucasians (adjusted OR=2.04, 95% CI 1.17-3.54). GSTT1 deletion seems to be a risk factor for lung cancer in Caucasian non smokers only when the analysis was restricted to studies including healthy controls (adjusted OR=1.66, 95% CI 1.12-2.46). A protective effect on lung cancer was observed with the combination of CYP1A1 wild type, GSTM1 null, and GSTT1 non-null genotypes. None of the analysed polymorphisms were associated with lung cancer in Asian non-smokers. Our analysis confirms previous findings that CYP1A1Ile462Val polymorphism may play a role in lung carcinogenesis in Caucasian non-smokers.
    Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 01/2006; 592(1-2):45-57. · 3.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) is a member of a family of transmembrane receptors with ligand-induced tyrosine kinase activity. The Gly388Arg polymorphism in the FGFR4 gene was reported to modulate cancer cell migration in vitro and to be associated with breast, colon, and prostate cancer prognostic parameters. The purpose of this study was to investigate the involvement of the FGFR4 polymorphism in lung tumorigenesis. A case-control study was performed including 274 patients with histologically confirmed lung adenocarcinoma and 401 healthy control subjects from general population. mRNA expression analysis was carried out in healthy lung of cancer patients. Patients with the Arg/Arg or Gly/Arg genotype compared to those with a Gly/Gly genotype had an earlier age at cancer onset (median age, 60.2 v 63.4 years), higher proportion of poor clinical stage disease (hazard ratio [HR], 2.3; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.9; P = .002), of nodal involvement (HR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.1 to 3.2; P = .027), or of short-term survivors (HR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.3; P = .008). In healthy lungs, FGFR4 did not show allele-specific expression and mRNA levels were not associated with genotype. This study suggests that FGFR4 Gly388Arg polymorphism may predict prognosis in lung adenocarcinoma.
    Journal of Clinical Oncology 11/2005; 23(29):7307-11. · 18.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A functional Gly388Arg variation in the FGFR4 gene has been reported to be associated with breast and colorectal cancer prognostic parameters. To further examine the functional role of this genetic polymorphism at the population level, we assessed the presence of the Arg388 allele in 142 breast carcinoma patients, 179 colorectal carcinoma patients and 220 general population controls with respect to an association with cancer prognosis and/or risk. No significant association with cancer risk, survival or any other prognostic parameters was observed in either breast or colorectal cancer. A pooled analysis of the present and published data on nodal status by FGFR4 genotypes revealed no association in either breast cancer [odds ratio (OR), 1.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.7-1.4; 702 subjects] or colorectal cancer (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 0.6-3.4; 260 cases). Thus, the FGFR4 polymorphism may not be relevant in predicting nodal involvement of breast cancer or colon cancer patients.
    Oncology Reports 09/2005; 14(2):415-9. · 2.30 Impact Factor