[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. DOI:10.1186/1471-2407-14-195 · 3.32 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; DOI:10.1128/MCB.01220-13 · 5.04 Impact Factor
[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 04/2013; 8(4):e60902. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0060902 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[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. DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-1783 · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prolactin receptor (PRLR), its associated Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) and the signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) are essential for normal mammary gland development. Owing to the upregulation of the PRLR and the local synthesis of its ligand in neoplastic cells, it has been proposed that PRL can act as a local growth factor in human breast cancers. This notion is supported by experimental evidence in transgenic mice, which showed that the mammary-specific expression of PRL contributes to carcinogenesis in vivo. To assess the importance of Jak2/Stat5 signaling during mammary cancer initiation and progression, we generated a PRL-induced mammary cancer model that allows the functional ablation of the Jak2 gene in the mammary epithelium before and after neoplastic transformation. Collectively, the results of this study show that the functional ablation of Jak2 protects against the onset of PRL-induced mammary tumorigenesis, suggesting that targeting this kinase is a relevant strategy for mammary cancer prevention. Surprisingly, Jak2 deficiency did not affect the growth and survival of PRL-induced mammary cancer cells in culture and in vivo. Consequently, Jak2 cannot be a sole therapeutic target to treat the established disease. PRL-induced mammary cancers exhibited an upregulation of ErbB2 and other ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases that may supersede the functionality of PRLR signaling through Jak2.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) plays a pivotal role in the proliferation, secretory differentiation, and survival of mammary epithelial cells. However, there is little information about Stat5 target genes that facilitate these biological processes. We provide here experimental evidence that the prolactin-mediated phosphorylation of Stat5 regulates the transcriptional activation of the Akt1 gene. Stat5 binds to consensus sequences within the Akt1 locus in a growth factor-dependent manner to initiate transcription of a unique Akt1 mRNA from a distinct promoter, which is only active in the mammary gland. Elevating the levels of active Akt1 restores the expression of cyclin D1 and proliferation of Jak2-deficient mammary epithelial cells, which provides evidence that Akt1 acts downstream of Jak/Stat signaling. The ligand-inducible expression of Stat5 in transgenic females mediates a sustained upregulation of Akt1 in mammary epithelial cells during the onset of postlactational involution. Stat5-expressing mammary glands exhibit a delay in involution despite induction of proapoptotic signaling events. Collectively, the results of the present study elucidate an underlying mechanism by which active Stat5 mediates evasion from apoptosis and self-sufficiency in growth signals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using ES cell-mediated transgenesis, we generated a novel mouse strain that permits a temporally and spatially controlled expression of responder genes in embryonic and multiple adult tissues. The transgene was constructed in a way that a CMV enhancer linked to the chicken beta-actin promoter (CAG) drives the expression of the tetracycline-controlled transactivator (tTA) in particular tissues upon Cre-mediated excision of a floxed betageo marker located between the promoter and the tTA. Based on the enzymatic activity of lacZ, the CAG-betageo-tTA construct exhibits a widespread expression and appears to be very strong in the brain, heart, muscle, pancreas, and skin. Like the embryonic stem cell line that was used to generate this strain, the CAG-betageo-tTA transgene is already highly active in preimplantation embryos. Using in vivo bioluminescence imaging on MMTV-Cre, CAG-betageo-tTA, TetO-Luciferase triple transgenic mice and their controls, we demonstrated that the expression of the tTA, which is strictly dependent on the presence of Cre recombinase, induces the activation of the reporter transgene in the absence of any ligands. The tTA-mediated transactivation can be completely ablated through administration of doxycycline, and its subsequent withdrawal lifts the transcriptional block. Based on these characteristics, this novel strain may be useful in experiments that require a sustained expression of transgenes in particular cell types over a prolonged period followed by a rapid downregulation, for example in studies that examine the therapeutic value of cancer-initiating oncogenes during disease progression.
Transgenic Research 10/2009; 19(3):499-509. DOI:10.1007/s11248-009-9329-1 · 2.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) is essential for normal mammary gland development, but this tyrosine kinase and its main effector, signal transducer and activator of transcription 5, are also active in a significant subset of human breast cancers. We have recently reported that Jak2 controls the expression and nuclear accumulation of cyclin D1. Because this particular D-type cyclin has been suggested to be a key mediator for ErbB2-associated mammary tumorigenesis, we deleted Jak2 from ErbB2-expressing mammary epithelial cells prior to tumor onset and in neoplastic cells to address whether this tyrosine kinase plays a role in the initiation as well as progression of mammary cancer. Similar to cyclin D1-deficient mice, the functional ablation of Jak2 protects against the onset of mammary tumorigenesis. In contrast, the deletion of Jak2 from neoplastic cells or the acute, ligand-inducible down-regulation of this tyrosine kinase in an orthotopic transplant model did not affect the growth and survival of cancer cells. The constitutive activation of ErbB2 signaling, which is an initial event in the formation of mammary cancer, was able to override the functional role of Jak2 in regulating the expression of Akt1 and cyclin D1. This might be a compensatory mechanism that explains why Jak2 is a relevant target for preventing the initiation but not the progression of ErbB2-associated mammary cancer.
Cancer Research 08/2009; 69(16):6642-50. DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0746 · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We generated a novel mouse model, which expresses the tetracycline-inducible transactivator under the regulation of the endogenous whey acidic protein gene. Using a tet-responsive luciferase reporter transgene, we demonstrated that the Wap-rtTA knockin allele allows a tightly controlled temporal and spatial expression of transgenes in the mammary gland in a ligand-inducible manner. The longitudinal analysis of individual females throughout their reproductive cycles using in vivo bioluminescence imaging confirmed that the expression of the Wap-rtTA knockin allele is highly upregulated during lactation. However, the extent of the transcriptional activation of the targeted Wap locus is dependent on the suckling stimulus and milk retrieval. In addition, we used WAP-rtTA/TetO-H2B-GFP double-transgenic females to monitor the presence of GFP-labeled parity-induced mammary epithelial cells (PI-MECs) during the postlactational involution period. The study shows that, unlike their progeny in mammary epithelial transplants as reported previously, PI-MECs themselves may not belong to the long-term label-retaining epithelial subtype.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We engineered a mammary-specific knockout model for Brca1 deficiency that also lacks the majority of one chromosome 11 to determine whether tumor susceptibility loci reside on this chromosome that cooperate with the loss of Brca1 during mammary cancer formation. Brca1-deficient females that are haploinsufficient in 60 cM of chromosome 11 exhibited accelerated mammary tumorigenesis in comparison to Brca1 conditional knockout mice. On the histopathologic level, these tumors were either adenocarcinomas or benign, inflammatory lesions. Like human BRCA1-associated breast cancers, mammary carcinomas in this new mouse model were ERalpha-negative and of basal epithelial origin. Brca1 deficiency and haploinsufficiency in 60 cM of chromosome 11 caused widespread genome instability as determined by spectral karyotyping analysis. In addition to the verification of the long-range deletion event, the spectral karyotyping analysis revealed that the duplication of the genome and higher degree of aneuploidy occur rather late in tumor progression. Despite chromosomal rearrangements near the Trp53 locus as determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization, the Trp53 gene was transcriptionally active. The analysis of the coding sequence and expression pattern of p53 and p21 suggests that loss-of-heterozygosity of Trp53 caused by somatic mutations contributes to accelerated mammary tumorigenesis in this model.
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 01/2009; 10(12):1325-34. DOI:10.1593/neo.08524 · 5.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using a conditional knockout approach, we previously demonstrated that the Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) is crucial for prolactin (PRL) signaling and normal mammary gland development. PRL is suggested to synchronously activate multiple signaling cascades that emerge on the PRL receptor (PRLR). This study demonstrates that Jak2 is essential for the activation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) and expression of Cish (cytokine-inducible SH2-containing protein), a Stat5-responsive negative regulator of Jak/Stat signaling. However, Jak2 is dispensable for the PRL-induced activation of c-Src, focal adhesion kinase, and the MAPK pathway. Despite activation of these kinases that are commonly associated with proliferative responses, the ablation of Jak2 reduces the multiplication of immortalized mammary epithelial cells (MECs). Our studies show that signaling through Jak2 controls not only the transcriptional activation of the Cyclin D1 gene, but, more importantly, it regulates the accumulation of the Cyclin D1 protein in the nucleus by altering the activity of signal transducers that mediate the phosphorylation and subsequent nuclear export of Cyclin D1. In particular, the levels of activated Akt (protein kinase B) and inactive glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (i.e. a kinase that regulates the nuclear export and degradation of Cyclin D1) are reduced in MECs lacking Jak2. The proliferation of Jak2-deficient MECs can be rescued by expressing of a mutant form of Cyclin D1 that cannot be phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase-3beta and therefore constitutively resides in the nucleus. Besides discriminating Jak2-dependent and Jak2-independent signaling events emerging from the PRLR, our observations provide a possible mechanism for phenotypic similarities between Cyclin D1 knockouts and females lacking individual members of the PRLR signaling cascade, in particular the PRLR, Jak2, and Stat5.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Parity-induced mammary epithelial cells (PI-MECs) are defined as a pregnancy hormone-responsive cell population that activates the promoter of late milk protein genes during the second half of pregnancy and lactation. However, unlike their terminally differentiated counterparts, these cells do not undergo programmed cell death during post-lactational remodeling of the gland. We previously demonstrated that upon transplantation into an epithelial-free mammary fat pad, PI-MECs exhibited two important features of multipotent mammary epithelial progenitors: a) self-renewal, and b) contribution to ductal and alveolar morphogenesis. In this new report, we introduce a new method to viably label PI-MECs. Using this methodology, we analyzed the requirement of ovarian hormones for the maintenance of this epithelial subtype in the involuted mammary gland. Furthermore, we examined the expression of putative stem cell markers and found that a portion of GFP-labeled PI-MECs were part of the CD24(+)/CD49f(high) mammary epithelial subtype, which has recently been suggested to contain multipotent stem cells. Subsequently, we demonstrated that isolated PI-MECs were able to form mammospheres in culture, and upon transplantation, these purified epithelial cells were capable of establishing a fully functional mammary gland. These observations suggest that PI-MECs contain multipotent progenitors that are able to self renew and generate diverse epithelial lineages present in the murine mammary gland.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Splotch (Sp/Sp) mice homozygous for a mutation in the Pax3 gene inevitably present with neural tube defects (NTDs), along with other associated congenital anomalies. The affected mutant embryos usually die by gestation days (E) 12-13. In the present study, the effect of modifier genes from a new genetic background (CXL-Sp) and periconceptional supplementation with selected micronutrients (folic acid, 5-formyltetrahydrofolate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, methionine, myoinositol, thiamine, thymidine, and alpha-tocopherol) was determined with respect to the incidence of NTDs. In order to explore how different exposure parameters (time, dose, and route of compound administration) modulate the beneficial effects of micronutrient supplementation, female mice received either short- or long-term nutrient supplements via enteral or parenteral routes. Embryos were collected on E12.5 and examined for the presence of anterior or posterior NTDs. Additionally, whole mount in situ hybridization studies were conducted in order to reveal/confirm normal expression patterns of the Pax3 gene during neurulation in the wild-type and Sp/Sp homozygous mutant mouse embryos utilized in this study. A strong Pax3 signal was demonstrated in CXL-Sp embryos during neural tube closure (E9.5 to E10.5). The intensity and spatial pattern of expression were similar to other Splotch mutant mice. Of all the micronutrients tested, only supplementation with folic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate rescued the normal phenotype in Sp/Sp embryos. When the folate supplementation dose was increased to 200 mg/kg in the diet, the incidence of rescued splotch homozygotes reached 30%; however, this was accompanied by six-fold increased resorption rate.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whey acidic protein (WAP) is the principal whey protein found in rodent milk, which contains a cysteine-rich motif identified in some protease inhibitors and proteins involved in tissue modeling. The expression of the Wap gene, which is principally restricted to the mammary gland, increases more than 1,000-fold around mid-pregnancy. To determine whether the expression of this major milk protein gene is a prerequisite for functional differentiation of mammary epithelial cells, we generated conventional knockout mice lacking two alleles of the Wap gene. Wap-deficient females gave birth to normal litter sizes and, initially, produced enough milk to sustain the offspring. The histological analysis of postpartum mammary glands from knockout dams does not reveal striking phenotypic abnormalities. This suggests that the expression of the Wap gene is not required for alveolar specification and functional differentiation. In addition, we found that Wap is dispensable as a protease inhibitor to maintain the stability of secretory proteins in the milk. Nevertheless, a significant number of litters thrived poorly on Wap-deficient dams, in particular during the second half of lactation. This observation suggests that Wap may be essential for the adequate nourishment of the growing young, which triple in size within the first 10 days of lactation. Important implications of these findings for the use of Wap as a marker for advanced differentiation of mammary epithelial cells and the biology of pluripotent progenitors are discussed in the final section.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using a Cre-lox-based genetic labeling technique, we have recently discovered a parity-induced mammary epithelial subtype that is abundant in nonlactating and nonpregnant, parous females. These mammary epithelial cells serve as alveolar progenitors in subsequent pregnancies, and transplantation studies revealed that they possess features of multipotent progenitors such as self-renewal and the capability to contribute to ductal and alveolar morphogenesis. Here, we report that these cells are the cellular targets for transformation in MMTV-neu transgenic mice that exhibit accelerated mammary tumorigenesis in multiparous animals. The selective ablation of this epithelial subtype reduces the onset of tumorigenesis in multiparous MMTV-neu transgenics. There is, however, experimental evidence to suggest that parity-induced mammary epithelial cells may not be the only cellular targets in other MMTV-promoter-based transgenic strains. In particular, the heterogeneous MMTV-wnt1 lesions predominantly express the ductal differentiation marker Nkcc1 that is absent in MMTV-neu-derived tumors. Our observations support the idea that tumors originate from distinctly different epithelial subtypes in selected MMTV-promoter-driven cancer models and that diverse oncogenes might exert discrete effects on particular mammary epithelial subtypes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our previous studies have shown that cells conditionally deficient in Tsg101 arrested at the G(1)/S cell cycle checkpoint and died. We created a series of Tsg101 conditional knock-out cell lines that lack p53, p21(Cip1), or p19(Arf) to determine the involvement of the Mdm2-p53 circuit as a regulator for G(1)/S progression and cell death. In this new report we show that the cell cycle arrest in Tsg101-deficient cells is p53-dependent, but a null mutation of the p53 gene is unable to maintain cell survival. The deletion of the Cdkn1a gene in Tsg101 conditional knock-out cells resulted in G(1)/S progression, suggesting that the p53-dependent G(1) arrest in the Tsg101 knock-out is mediated by p21(Cip1). The Cre-mediated excision of Tsg101 in immortalized fibroblasts that lack p19(Arf) seemed not to alter the ability of Mdm2 to sequester p53, and the p21-mediated G(1) arrest was not restored. Based on these findings, we propose that the p21-dependent cell cycle arrest in Tsg101-deficient cells is an indirect consequence of cellular stress and not caused by a direct effect of Tsg101 on Mdm2 function as previously suggested. Finally, the deletion of Tsg101 from primary tumor cells that express mutant p53 and that lack p21(Cip1) expression results in cell death, suggesting that additional transforming mutations during tumorigenesis do not affect the important role of Tsg101 for cell survival.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To study biologically relevant functions of the Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) in multiple cytokine and hormone receptor signal transduction pathways, we generated a conditional knockout (floxed) allele of this gene by placing loxP sites around the first coding exon of Jak2. Homozygous floxed animals developed normally and exhibited no phenotypic abnormalities. The conversion of the floxed allele into a null mutation was achieved by transmitting the targeted allele through the female germline of MMTV-Cre (line A) mice. Embryos that carry two Jak2 null alleles died around midgestation and exhibited impaired definitive erythropoiesis, which is a hallmark of Jak2 deficiency reported previously in conventional knockouts. This observation suggested that the Cre-mediated deletion of the first coding exon results in a true null mutation that is incapable of mediating signals through the erythropoietin receptor. Using mouse embryonic fibroblasts derived from Jak2 null embryos and their wildtype littermate controls, we demonstrated that Jak2-deficiency decouples growth hormone-receptor signaling from its downstream mediators, the signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat) 5a and 5b.