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Publications (7)12.23 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Despite the introduction of 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cis-RA) into the current chemotherapy, more than half of high-risk neuroblastoma patients have experienced tumor relapses driven by chemoresistant cancer stem cells (CSCs) that can be isolated by their ability to grow as spheres. Although aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) has been used to characterize CSCs in certain cancers, ALDH remains elusive in neuroblastoma. In the present study, we determined ALDH activity and expression of its 19 isoforms in spheres and parental cells of neuroblastoma. ALDH activity and several ALDH isoforms were consistently induced in spheres of different neuroblastoma cells. While ALDH1A2, ALDH1L1 and ALDH3B2 expression was consistently induced in spheres and associated with the sphere and colony formation, only ALDH1A2 expression was significantly correlated with the poor prognosis of neuroblastoma patients. ALDH1A2 expression was further associated with the growth and undifferentiation of neuroblastoma xenografts and the resistance of neuroblastoma cells to 13-cis-RA. These results suggest that ALDH1A2 is involved in the regulation of CSC properties in neuroblastoma.
    International Journal of Oncology 12/2014; · 2.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Minimal residual disease (MRD) is derived from tumor-initiating cells (TICs) and is responsible for tumor relapse. Neuroblastoma is characterized by extreme tumor heterogeneity, and more than half of high-risk patients experience tumor relapse. To overcome tumor heterogeneity and achieve more sensitive detection of MRD, several sets of real-time RT-PCR markers have been reported for MRD monitoring in neuroblastoma patients from different centers. However, these markers vary across centers and are still being validated. In the present study, we validated the ability of 14 commonly used real-time RT-PCR markers to detect MRD based on their expression in neuroblastoma TICs, and we developed a novel MRD detection protocol, which scored the samples as MRD-positive when the expression of one of the 11 real-time RT-PCR markers (CHRNA3, CRMP1, DBH, DCX, DDC, GABRB3, GAP43, ISL1, KIF1A, PHOX2B and TH) exceeded the normal range. By using this protocol, we prospectively monitored MRD in 73 bone marrow (BM), 12 peripheral blood stem cell and 8 peripheral blood samples from 14 neuroblastoma patients treated at a single center. We scored 100, 56, 56 and 57% BM cytology-positive, elevated vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), elevated homovanillic acid (HVA) and elevated neuron-specific enolase (NSE) samples as MRD-positive, respectively. MRD was also positive in 48, 45, 46 and 43% of the BM cytology-negative and normal VMA, normal HVA and normal NSE samples, respectively. These results suggest that the present MRD detection protocol based on the expression of a set of 11 real-time RT-PCR markers in neuroblastoma TICs achieves sensitive MRD monitoring in neuroblastoma patients.
    Oncology Reports 04/2013; 29(4):1629-36. · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma is an aggressive pediatric tumor that accounts for 15% of cancer-related deaths in children. More than half of high-risk neuroblastoma patients develop tumor relapse that is lethal in most cases. A small population of tumor-initiating cells (TICs), recently identified from high-risk neuroblastoma patients as spheres, is believed to be responsible for tumor relapse. Rab family small G proteins are essential in controlling membrane traffic and their misregulation results in several cancers. Rab15 was originally isolated as a brain-specific Rab protein regulating the endocytic recycling pathway and was recently identified as a downstream target of the neural transcription factor Atoh1. Previously, we identified two alternatively spliced Rab15 isoforms in neuroblastoma cells and showed a significant correlation between Rab15 expression and neuronal differentiation. As aberrant alternative splicing is intimately associated with an increasing number of cancers, its use as a new diagnostic and/or prognostic biomarker has attracted considerable attention. In the present study, we explored cancer-associated changes of Rab15 alternative splicing in neuroblastoma TICs. We found that Rab15 alternative splicing generated two novel isoforms designated as Rab15(AN2) and Rab15(AN3) in addition to two known isoforms designated as Rab15(CN) and Rab15(AN1). Although both Rab15(AN2) and Rab15(AN3) contained premature termination codons, they were detected in not only neuroblastoma cells but also in normal human tissues. One isoform was predominantly expressed in the brain and testis, while the other isoform was more specifically expressed in the brain. In neuroblastoma, Rab15 isoform balance measured by the Rab15(CN)/Rab15(AN1+AN2+AN3) ratio was significantly decreased in spheres compared to parental cells. These results suggest that Rab15 alternative splicing may serve as a biomarker to discriminate TICs from non-TICs in neuroblastoma.
    Oncology Reports 03/2012; 27(6):2045-9. · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a common autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder. It is caused by mutations in the SMN1, and its clinical severity is modified by copy number variations of the SMN2. According to previous studies, deletion of SMN1 exon 7 is the most frequently observed in patients with SMA. Therefore, molecular analyses exploiting this genetic lesion could be beneficial in the diagnosis of SMA. Unfortunately, in many geographical regions, physicians do not have the latest molecular screening technologies at their immediate disposal. Thus, to overcome this issue, we developed an SMA-diagnosing system using dried blood spots (DBS) placed on filter paper to facilitate remote diagnosis. In this study, we validate the applicability of DBS on Flinders Technology Associates (FTA) filter paper for detecting SMN1 exon 7 deletions and copy number variations of SMN1 and SMN2. To detect exon 7 deletions in SMN1, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis was conducted by using DNA extracted from the DBS on FTA filter paper that had been stored at room temperature for a period of up to 4 years. To determine the copy numbers of SMN1 and SMN2, we carried out SYBR green-based real-time PCR by using the same blood specimens. The results obtained from the DBS on FTA filter paper were in complete concordance with those analyses using fresh blood specimens. This indicates that DBS on filter papers is a reliable method for SMA patient detection and carrier screenings. The SMA-diagnosing system, combined with the mailing of DBS on filter paper, will be beneficial for patients suffering from neuromuscular disorders in areas with limited or no access to diagnostic facilities with molecular capabilities.
    Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers 09/2011; 16(2):123-9. · 1.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A growing number of epidemiological studies have demonstrated that the consumption of green tea inhibits the growth of a variety of cancers. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the most abundant catechin in green tea, has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect against many cancers. Most cancers are believed to be initiated from and maintained by a small population of tumor-initiating cells (TICs) that are responsible for chemotherapeutic resistance and tumor relapse. In neuroblastoma, an aggressive pediatric tumor that often relapses and has a poor prognosis, TICs were recently identified as spheres grown in a serum-free non-adherent culture used for neural crest stem cell growth. Although EGCG has been reported to induce growth arrest and apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells, its effect on neuroblastoma TICs remains to be defined. Gene expression was analyzed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The effects of EGCG on cell proliferation, apoptosis, and sphere formation were determined by cell counting, propidium iodide staining, and sphere (>100 μm in diameter) counting, respectively. Neuroblastoma BE(2)-C cells showed increased expression of stem cell markers (nanog homeobox [NANOG] and octamer-binding transcription factor 4 [OCT4]), as well as decreased expression of neuronal differentiation markers (Cu(2+)-transporting ATPase alpha polypeptide [ATP7A] and dickkopf homolog 2 [DKK2]) in spheres grown in serum-free non-adherent culture, compared to parental cells grown in conventional culture. Although EGCG induced growth arrest and apoptosis in the parental cells in a dose-dependent manner, it was not effective against spheres. However, EGCG potently inhibited sphere formation in the BE(2)-C cells. The present results suggest that EGCG may inhibit the development of TICs in BE(2)-C cells.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 09/2011; 17(3):246-51.
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    ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumor in children and accounts for 15% of pediatric cancer deaths. Although retinoic acid (RA) is currently used to treat high-risk neuroblastoma patients in the clinic, RA-responsiveness is variable and unpredictable. Since no alterations in the RA-signaling pathway have been found in neuroblastoma cells, molecules correlated with RA-induced differentiation will provide predictive markers of RA-responsiveness for clinical use. The Rab family of small G proteins are key regulators of membrane traffic and play a critical role in cell differentiation and cancer progression. Although an increasing number of cancer-associated alternative splicing events have been identified, alternative splicing of Rab proteins remains to be characterized in neuroblastoma. In the present study, we focused on Rab15 that was originally identified as a brain-specific Rab protein and regulates the endocytic recycling pathway. We identified alternatively spliced Rab15 isoforms designated as Rab15CN and Rab15AN in neuroblastoma cells. Rab15CN was composed of 7 exons encoding 212 amino acids and showed brain-specific expression. Alternative splicing of exon 4 generated Rab15AN that was predicted to encode 208 amino acids and was predominantly expressed in testis. RA induced neuronal differentiation of neuroblastoma BE(2)-C cells and specifically up-regulated Rab15CN expression. Reciprocally, RA-induced differentiation was observed in Rab15CN-expressing BE(2)-C cells in preference to Rab15AN-expressing BE(2)-C cells. Furthermore, Rab15CN expression was also specifically up-regulated during RA-induced differentiation of newly established neuroblastoma cells from high-risk patients. These results suggest that Rab15 expression correlates with RA-induced differentiation of neuroblastoma cells.
    Oncology Reports 07/2011; 26(1):145-51. · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a well-defined autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations in the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. The most frequently observed mutation is a deletion of exon 7, which has been documented in >95% of SMA patients. A novel technique for detecting mutations known as high-resolution melting analysis (HRMA) has rapidly become the tool of choice for screening pathogenic genetic variants. In the present study, we attempt to validate the applicability of HRMA to the detection of exon 7 deletions and other intragenic mutations in SMN1. Three primer sets were adopted in our HRMA screening for deletion of SMN1 exon 7. In screening attempts utilizing two primer sets, the results of HRMA were not compatible with those obtained by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism. Therefore, we applied a modified protocol using revised primer sets, which resulted in an absolute compatibility of results between HRMA and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism. With regard to screenings for intragenic mutations in SMN1 exon 3, two primer sets were adopted for use in HRMA. In the initial HRMA screening using the first primer set, we failed to identify any intragenic mutations; however, when using a revised primer set, HRMA successfully detected the presence of a c.275G>C mutation. HRMA is a simple but versatile tool to add to the existing arsenal of diagnostic techniques that could aid clinicians/researchers in diagnosing SMA. However, as we demonstrate in the present study, the design and selection of primers is of monumental importance in ensuring the successful application of HRMA to screening for pathogenic variants.
    Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers 06/2011; 15(10):677-84. · 1.44 Impact Factor