[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have become a predominant cause of death worldwide. Although CVDs encompass a variety of pathological conditions that affect the heart and blood vasculature, they can be classified into two major groups according to their basic pathophysiologic mechanisms, namely atherosclerosis and aneurysm formation. Increasing evidence implicates micro-RNAs (miRNAs or miRs) as vital factors both in the initiation and progression processes of CVDs. Some miRs have a promoting role in CVD development, while others have a protective role. Today, miRs have been shown to be potential biomarkers for several types of CVDs, while strategies targeting miRs are under consideration as potential tools for exploitation in therapeutic approaches for CVD treatments. In this review, we present the available data on the involvement of miRs in CVDs, focusing on their role as regulators of the inflammatory process as an initiating and driving component of CVDs.
Current Medicinal Chemistry 07/2015; 22(22). · 3.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IL-15 regulates the development, survival, and proliferation of multiple innate and adaptive immune cells and plays a dual role, inducing both tumor cell growth and anti-tumor immunity. However, the role of IL-15 in inflammation-induced cancer remains unclear. To explore this, we have compared the colon carcinoma burden of Il15−/- and Il15rα−/- mice with wild type (WT) mice after induction of colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis utilizing the AOM/DSS model. Compared to WT mice, Il15−/- but not Il15rα−/- mice showed reduced survival, along with higher tumor incidence, colon weight and tumor size. This suggests that low affinity IL-15 signaling via the shared IL-2Rβ/γc decreases the risk for developing colitis-associated cancer. CD11c-Il15 mice, in which IL-15 expression is reconstituted in Il15−/- mice under the control of the CD11c-promoter, showed that selective reconstitution of IL-15 in antigen-presenting cells restored the CD8+ T and NK cell compartments, serum levels of IFN-γ, G-CSF, IL-10 and CXCL1 and reduced tumor burden. After demonstrating IL-15 expression in human colorectal cancer cells in situ, we investigated the role of this cytokine in the modulation of key colonic oncogenic pathways in the tumor. Whilst these pathways were found to be unaltered in the absence of IL-15, tumor transcriptome analysis showed that loss of IL-15 up-regulates key inflammatory mediators associated with colon cancer progression, such as IL-1β, IL-22, IL-23, Cxcl5 and Spp1. These findings provide evidence that IL-15 suppresses colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis through regulation of anti-tumor cytotoxicity, and modulation of the inflammatory tumor micromilieu.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is a major health problem and the second cause of cancer related death in western countries. Signaling pathways that control tissue homeostasis are often deregulated during tumorigenesis and contribute to tumor development. Studies in mouse models have shown that the p38 MAPK pathway regulates homeostasis in colon epithelial cells but also plays an important role in colon tumor maintenance. In this study, we have investigated the role of p38 MAPK signaling in patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) from three different human colon tumors representing clinical heterogeneity and that recapitulate the human tumor conditions both at histological and molecular levels. We have found that PH797804, a chemical inhibitor of p38 MAPK, reduces tumor growth of the three PDXs, which correlates with impaired colon tumor cell proliferation and survival. The inhibition of p38 MAPK in PDXs results in downregulation of the IL-6/STAT3 signaling pathway, which is a key regulator of colon tumorigenesis. Our results show the importance of p38 MAPK in human colon tumor growth using a preclinical model, and support that inhibition of p38 MAPK signaling may have therapeutic interest for colon cancer treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aging is the single biggest risk factor for malignant transformation. Among the most common age-associated malignancies are non-melanoma skin cancers, comprising the most common types of human cancer. Here we show that mutant H-Ras activation in mouse epidermis, a frequent event in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), elicits a differential outcome in aged versus young mice. Whereas H-Ras activation in the young skin results in hyperplasia that is mainly accompanied by rapid hair growth, H-Ras activation in the aged skin results in more dysplasia and gradual progression to in situ SCC. Progression is associated with increased inflammation, pronounced accumulation of immune cells including T cells, macrophages and mast cells as well as excessive cell senescence. We found not only an age-dependent increase in expression of several pro-inflammatory mediators, but also activation of a strong anti-inflammatory response involving enhanced IL4/IL10 expression and immune skewing toward a Th2 response. In addition, we observed an age-dependent increase in the expression of Pdl1, encoding an immune suppressive ligand that promotes cancer immune evasion. Moreover, upon switching off oncogenic H-Ras activity, young but not aged skin regenerates successfully, suggesting a failure of the aged epidermal stem cells to repair damaged tissue. Our findings support an age-dependent link between accumulation of senescent cells, immune infiltration and cancer progression, which may contribute to the increased cancer risk associated with old age.
Cell Death and Differentiation 03/2015; DOI:10.1038/cdd.2015.21 · 8.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IGF-1 is one of the key molecules in cancer biology; however, little is known about the role of the preferential expression of the premature IGF-1 isoforms in prostate cancer. We have examined the role of the cleaved COO(-) terminal peptide (PEc) of the third IGF-1 isoform, IGF-1Ec, in prostate cancer. Our evidence suggests that endogenously produced PEc induces cellular proliferation in the human prostate cancer cells (PC-3) in-vitro and in-vivo, by activating the ERK 1/2 pathway in an autocrine/paracrine manner. PEc overexpressing cells and tumors presented evidence of epithelial to mesenchymal transition, whereas the orthotopic injection of PEc overexpressing, normal prostate epithelium cells (HPrEC) in SCID mice was associated with increased metastatic rate. In humans, the IGF-1Ec expression was detected in prostate cancer biopsies, where its expression correlates with tumor stage. Our data underlies the action of PEc in prostate cancer biology and defines its potential role in tumor growth, progression and metastasis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Common fragile sites (CFSs) are regions of the genome with a predisposition to DNA double-strand breaks in response to intrinsic (oncogenic) or extrinsic replication stress. CFS breakage is a common feature in carcinogenesis from its earliest stages. Given that a number of oncogenes and tumor suppressors are located within CFSs, a question that emerges is whether fragility in these regions is only a structural "passive" incident or an event with a profound biological effect. Furthermore, there is sparse evidence that other elements, like non-coding RNAs, are positioned with them. By analyzing data from various libraries, like miRbase and ENCODE, we show a prevalence of various cancer-related genes, miRNAs, and regulatory binding sites, such as CTCF within CFSs. We propose that CFSs are not only susceptible structural domains, but highly organized "functional" entities that when targeted, severe repercussion for cell homeostasis occurs.
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 09/2014; 71(23). DOI:10.1007/s00018-014-1717-x · 5.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)+ anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) frequently carries the t(2;5)(p23;q35) resulting in expression of NPM1(NPM)-ALK oncogenic kinase. The latter is capable of activating ERK kinase, which upregulates JUNB expression through ETS1. JUNB, in turn, interacts with the TNFRSF8 (CD30) gene promoter and induces CD30 (TNFRSF8) overexpression. However, the role of CD30 overexpression in ALK+ ALCL oncogenesis remains unknown. Here we show that the JUNB gene is frequently amplified in ALK+ ALCL, suggesting gene amplification as an additional underlying mechanism for JUNB overexpression. Silencing of JUNB resulted in reduced cell growth and colony formation associated with decreased activator protein-1 activity and G1/S and G2/M cell cycle arrest. These effects were linked to decreased CD30 levels, downregulation of CCNA2 (Cyclin A), CCND2 (Cyclin D2) and CCND3 (Cyclin D3) and upregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors CDKN2A (p14) and CDKN1A (p21), but not CDKN1B (p27). Similar cell cycle changes were observed following the knock-down of TNFRSF8 gene or blockade of its function using anti-CD30 antibodies, which were associated with upregulation of CDKN2A and CDKN1A, but not CDKN1B. These findings indicate that JUNB may partly operate through CD30 signalling. Silencing of JUNB also sensitized NPM1-ALCL+ cells to standard chemotherapeutic agents. Our findings uncover the oncogenic role of the JUNB/CD30 axis and its potential as therapeutic target in ALK+ ALCL.
British Journal of Haematology 08/2014; 167(4). DOI:10.1111/bjh.13079 · 4.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative reading frame (ARF) is a tumor suppressor protein that senses oncogenic and other stressogenic signals. It can trigger p53-dependent and -independent responses with cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction being the most prominent ones. Other ARF activities, particularly p53-independent ones, that could help in understanding cancer development and provide potential therapeutic exploitation are underrated. Although ARF is generally not expressed in normal tissues, it is essential for ocular and male germ cells development. The underlying mechanism(s) in these processes, while not clearly defined, point toward a functional link between ARF, DNA damage and angiogenesis. Based on a recent study from our group demonstrating a functional interplay between ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and ARF during carcinogenesis, we discuss the role of ARF at the crossroads of cancer and developmental processes.
Frontiers in Genetics 07/2014; 5:236. DOI:10.3389/fgene.2014.00236
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oncogene-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been proposed to be signaling molecules that mediate proliferative cues. However, ROS may also cause DNA damage and proliferative arrest. How these apparently opposite roles can be reconciled, especially in the context of oncogene-induced cellular senescence, which is associated both with aberrant mitogenic signaling and DNA damage response (DDR)-mediated arrest, is unclear. Here, we show that ROS are indeed mitogenic signaling molecules that fuel oncogene-driven aberrant cell proliferation. However, by their very same ability to mediate cell hyperproliferation, ROS eventually cause DDR activation. We also show that oncogenic Ras-induced ROS are produced in a Rac1 and NADPH oxidase (Nox4)-dependent manner. In addition, we show that Ras-induced ROS can be detected and modulated in a living transparent animal: the zebrafish. Finally, in cancer we show that Nox4 is increased in both human tumors and a mouse model of pancreatic cancer and specific Nox4 small-molecule inhibitors act synergistically with existing chemotherapic agents.
Cell Death and Differentiation 06/2014; 24(6):998-1012. DOI:10.1038/cdd.2014.16 · 8.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sensing, integrating, and processing of stressogenic signals must be followed by accurate differential response(s) for a cell to survive and avoid malignant transformation. The DNA damage response (DDR) pathway is vital in this process, as it deals with genotoxic/oncogenic insults, having p53 as a nodal effector that performs most of the above tasks. Accumulating data reveal that other pathways are also involved in the same or similar processes, conveying also to p53. Emerging questions are if, how, and when these additional pathways communicate with the DDR axis. Two such stress response pathways, involving the MKK7 stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) and ARF, have been shown to be interlocked with the ATM/ATR-regulated DDR axis in a highly ordered manner. This creates a new landscape in the DDR orchestrated response to genotoxic/oncogenic insults that is currently discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is frequently associated with chronic inflammation, with the intestinal epithelial barrier playing an important protective role against the infections and injuries that cause colitis. The p38α pathway regulates inflammatory responses but can also suppress tumor initiation in epithelial cells. We have found that p38α signaling has a dual function in colorectal tumorigenesis. On one side, p38α protects intestinal epithelial cells against colitis-associated colon cancer by regulating intestinal epithelial barrier function. Accordingly, p38α downregulation results in enhanced colitis-induced epithelial damage and inflammation, which potentiates colon tumor formation. Surprisingly, inhibition of p38α in transformed colon epithelial cells reduces tumor burden. Thus, p38α suppresses inflammation-associated epithelial damage and tumorigenesis but contributes to the proliferation and survival of tumor cells.
Cancer cell 03/2014; 25(4). DOI:10.1016/j.ccr.2014.02.019 · 23.89 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ionizing radiation (IR) has been described as a double-edged sword, since it is used for diagnostic and therapeutic medical applications, and at the same time it is a well known human mutagen and carcinogen, causing wide-ranging chromosomal aberrations. It is nowadays accepted that the detrimental effects of IR are not restricted only in the irradiated cells, but also to non-irradiated bystander or even distant cells manifesting various biological effects. This review presents the role of oxidative stress in the induction of bystander effects referring to the types of the implicated oxidative DNA lesions, the contributing intercellular and intracellular stress mediators, the way they are transmitted from irradiated to bystander cells and finally, the complex role of the bystander effect in the therapeutic efficacy of radiation treatment of cancer.
Cancer letters 02/2014; 356(1). DOI:10.1016/j.canlet.2014.01.023 · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death in smokers, particularly in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) are required for endothelial homeostasis, and their dysfunction contributes to CVD. To investigate EPC dysfunction in smokers, we isolated and expanded blood outgrowth endothelial cells (BOEC) from peripheral blood samples from healthy nonsmokers, healthy smokers, and COPD patients. BOEC from smokers and COPD patients showed increased DNA double-strand breaks and senescence compared to nonsmokers. Senescence negatively correlated with the expression and activity of sirtuin-1 (SIRT1), a protein deacetylase that protects against DNA damage and cellular senescence. Inhibition of DNA damage response by silencing of ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase resulted in upregulation of SIRT1 expression and decreased senescence. Treatment of BOEC from COPD patients with the SIRT1 activator resveratrol or an ATM inhibitor (KU-55933) also rescued the senescent phenotype. Using an in vivo mouse model of angiogenesis, we demonstrated that senescent BOEC from COPD patients are dysfunctional, displaying impaired angiogenic ability and increased apoptosis compared to cells from healthy nonsmokers. Therefore, this study identifies epigenetic regulation of DNA damage and senescence as pathogenetic mechanisms linked to endothelial progenitors' dysfunction in smokers and COPD patients. These defects may contribute to vascular disease and cardiovascular events in smokers and could therefore constitute therapeutic targets for intervention. Stem Cells 2013;31:2813–2826