C D Riffkin

The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (9)53.78 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) is characterized by the presence of a fusion protein EWS/WT1, arising from the t (11;22) (p13;q12) translocation. Here we examine the oncogenic properties of two splice variants of EWS/WT1, EWS/WT1-KTS and EWS/WT1 + KTS. We over-expressed both EWS/WT1 variants in murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) of wild-type, p53+/- and p53-/- backgrounds and measured effects on cell-proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, clonogenicity after serum withdrawal, and sensitivity to cytotoxic drugs and gamma irradiation in comparison to control cells. We examined gene expression profiles in cells expressing EWS/WT1. Finally we validated our key findings in a small series of DSRCT. Neither isoform of EWS/WT1 was sufficient to transform wild-type MEFs however the oncogenic potential of both was unmasked by p53 loss. Expression of EWS/WT1 in MEFs lacking at least one allele of p53 enhanced cell-proliferation, clonogenic survival and anchorage-independent growth. EWS/WT1 expression in wild-type MEFs conferred resistance to cell-cycle arrest after irradiation and daunorubicin induced apoptosis. We show DSRCT commonly have nuclear localization of p53, and copy-number amplification of MDM2/MDMX. Expression of either isoform of EWS/WT1 induced characteristic mRNA expression profiles. Gene-set enrichment analysis demonstrated enrichment of WNT pathway signatures in MEFs expressing EWS/WT1 + KTS. Wnt-activation was validated in cell lines with over-expression of EWS/WT1 and in DSRCT. In conclusion, we show both isoforms of EWS/WT1 have oncogenic potential in MEFs with loss of p53. In addition we provide the first link between EWS/WT1 and Wnt-pathway signaling. These data provide novel insights into the function of the EWS/WT1 fusion protein which characterize DSRCT. (253 words).
    BMC Cancer 12/2013; 13(1):585. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The activation of the Akt signalling in response to cytokine receptor signalling promotes protein synthesis, cellular growth and proliferation. To determine the role of Akt in interleukin-3 (IL-3) signalling, we generated IL-3-dependent myeloid cell lines from mice lacking Akt1, Akt2 or Akt3. Akt1 deletion resulted in accelerated apoptosis at low concentrations of IL-3. Expression of constitutively active Akt1 was sufficient to delay apoptosis in response to IL-3 withdrawal, but not sufficient to induce proliferation in the absence of IL-3. Akt1 prolonged survival of Bim- or Bad-deficient cells, but not cells lacking Puma, indicating that Akt1-dependent repression of apoptosis was in part dependent on Puma and independent of Bim or Bad. Our data show that a key role of Akt1 during IL-3 signalling is to repress p53-dependent apoptosis pathways, including transcriptional upregulation of Puma. Moreover, our data indicate that regulation of BH3-only proteins by Akt is dispensable for Akt-dependent cell survival.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 21 June 2013; doi:10.1038/cdd.2013.63.
    Cell death and differentiation 06/2013; · 8.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: P53-upregulated modifier of apoptosis (PUMA), a pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, is transcriptionally activated by p53 and is a key effector of p53-dependent apoptosis. We show that PUMA protein is subject to rapid post-translational regulation by phosphorylation at a conserved residue, serine 10, following serum or interleukin-3 (IL-3) stimulation. Serine 10 is not within the Bcl-2 homology (BH3) domain, and PUMA phosphorylated at serine 10 retained the ability to co-immunoprecipitate with antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members. However, phosphorylated PUMA was targeted for proteasomal degradation indicating that it is less stable than unphosphorylated PUMA. Importantly, we identified IKK1/IKK2/Nemo as the kinase complex that interacts with and phosphorylates PUMA, thereby also demonstrating that IL-3 activates NFκB signaling. The identification and characterization of this novel survival pathway has important implications for IL-3 signaling and hematopoietic cell development.
    Cell death and differentiation 10/2011; 19(4):633-41. · 8.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: TRAIL/Apo-2L has shown promise as an anti-glioma drug, based on investigations of TRAIL sensitivity in established glioma cell lines, but it is not known how accurately TRAIL signalling pathways of glioma cells in vivo are reproduced in these cell lines in vitro. To replicate as closely as possible the in vivo behaviour of malignant glioma cells, 17 early passage glioma cell lines and 5 freshly resected gliomas were exposed to TRAIL-based agents and/or chemotherapeutic drugs. Normal human hepatocytes and astrocytes and established glioma cell lines were also tested. Cross-linked TRAIL, but not soluble TRAIL, killed both normal cell types and cells from three tumours. Cells from only one glioma were killed by soluble TRAIL, although only inefficiently. High concentrations of cisplatin were lethal to glioma cells, hepatocytes and astrocytes. Isolated combinations of TRAIL and chemotherapy drugs were more toxic to particular gliomas than normal cells, but no combination was generally selective for glioma cells. This study highlights the widespread resistance of glioma cells to TRAIL-based agents, but suggests that a minority of high-grade glioma patients may benefit from particular combinations of TRAIL and chemotherapy drugs. In vitro sensitivity assays may help identify effective drug combinations for individual glioma patients.
    British Journal of Cancer 08/2008; 99(2):294-304. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the anti-apoptotic activity of Bcl-2 has been extensively studied, its mode of action is still incompletely understood. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, 131 of 1090 somatic cells undergo programmed cell death during development. Transgenic expression of human Bcl-2 reduced cell death during nematode development, and partially complemented mutation of ced-9, indicating that Bcl-2 can functionally interact with the nematode cell death machinery. Identification of the nematode target(s) of Bcl-2 inhibition would help clarify the mechanism by which Bcl-2 suppresses apoptosis in mammalian cells. Exploiting yeast-based systems and biochemical assays, we analysed the ability of Bcl-2 to interact with and regulate the activity of nematode apoptosis proteins. Unlike CED-9, Bcl-2 could not directly associate with the caspase-activating adaptor protein CED-4, nor could it inhibit CED-4-dependent yeast death. By contrast, Bcl-2 could bind the C. elegans pro-apoptotic BH3-only Bcl-2 family member EGL-1. These data prompt us to hypothesise that Bcl-2 might suppress nematode cell death by preventing EGL-1 from antagonising CED-9, rather than by inhibiting CED-4.
    Journal of Cell Science 07/2006; 119(Pt 12):2572-82. · 5.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND Better treatments are required urgently for patients with malignant glioma, which currently is incurable. Death ligands, such as tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), may offer promise for the treatment high-grade glioma if such ligands induce apoptotic signaling in vivo in glioma cells. Caspase 8 is required for death ligand signaling, and its levels may influence the sensitivity of glioma cells to death ligands. It also may act as a tumor suppressor protein. The authors analyzed caspase 8 expression levels in ex vivo glioma specimens and explored potential mechanisms of its regulation.METHODS Eleven glioblastomas, 5 anaplastic astrocytomas, and 3 low-grade astrocytomas were studied. The levels of caspase 8, caspase 10, cellular FLICE inhibitory protein (c-FLIP), and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-1 were assayed using quantitative immunoblotting. Caspase 8 mRNA was measured by Northern blot analysis. The methylation status of the caspase 8 gene was determined by bisulfate modification of genomic DNA, cloning, and sequencing. Statistical analyses were performed using nonparametric (Spearman) correlations.RESULTSSome ex vivo glioma samples lacked detectable caspase 8, with many expressing barely detectable levels. No tumors expressed significant amounts of caspase 10 or c-FLIP. A strong association was found between caspase 8 mRNA and protein levels. Neither expression of the transcription factor STAT-1 nor caspase 8 gene methylation correlated with caspase 8 levels.CONCLUSIONS The absence of caspase 8 protein in many resected glioma samples implied that many patients with glioma may not benefit from death ligand-based treatments, unless caspase 8 (or caspase 10) protein expression can be elevated. Demethylating agents are unlikely to boost caspase 8 levels in glioma cells, but treatments that increase caspase 8 mRNA levels may up-regulate expression of the protein. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.
    Cancer 09/2005; 104(7):1487 - 1496. · 5.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fifty percent of high-grade glioma patients die within a year of diagnosis and less than two percent survive five years postdiagnosis. Elucidating apoptosis signaling pathways may assist in designing better adjuvant therapies. Preliminary characterizations suggested that glioma cells may either employ mitochondrial-independent or -dependent death receptor-induced apoptotic pathways, characteristic of cells termed type I and type II, respectively. In the present study, we generated panels of clonal transfectants overexpressing various levels of Bcl-2, in two parental glioma cell lines. These cells were used to explore molecular factors determining the necessity for mitochondrial amplification of death receptor signaling. Moderate Bcl-2 expression was sufficient to render one glioma cell line (D270) resistant to apoptosis induced by Fas ligand or TRAIL, consistent with these cells being type II. However, expression of even very high levels of Bcl-2 in a second line (D645) did not affect death ligand sensitivity, indicative of a type I phenotype. D270 cells expressed much less caspase-8 protein than D645 cells. Enforced overexpression of caspase-8 (or cytoplasmic Diablo/Smac) in D270 cells overcame Bcl-2 inhibition of death ligand-induced apoptosis, converting them from type II to type I. This indicates that caspase-8 levels can influence the requirement for mitochondrial involvement in death receptor apoptotic signaling in glioma cells.
    Molecular Carcinogenesis 04/2004; 39(3):173-82. · 4.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fas (APO-1/CD95/TNFRSF6) is a member of the tumor necrosis/nerve growth factor receptor family that signals apoptotic cell death in sensitive cells. Expression of Fas and its agonistic ligand (FasL/TNFSF6) was investigated in ex vivo pediatric brain tumor specimens of various histologic types. Fas expression was identified in all of the 18 tumors analyzed by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. FasL expression was identified in most of the 13 tumors analyzed by both Western analysis and immunohistochemistry. Nine of these tumor specimens were treated with either the agonistic anti-Fas antibody (APO-1) in combination with protein A or FasL in short-term cytotoxicity assays. Sensitivity to apoptosis induced by the topoisomerase II inhibitor, etoposide, was also assessed. Despite the presence of Fas, all the specimens analyzed demonstrated a high degree of resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis. These 9 specimens also showed a high degree of resistance to etoposide. Only 2 of the 9 specimens were susceptible to etoposide-induced cell death, whereas only 3 were sensitive to Fas-mediated apoptosis. One brain tumor was sensitive to both Fas ligation and etoposide treatment. This contrasted with the high degree of susceptibility to both etoposide- and Fas-induced apoptosis observed in the reference Jurkat cell line. The results suggest that Fas expression may be a general feature of tumors of the CNS and that a significant degree of resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis may exist in ex vivo pediatric brain tumor specimens.
    Neuro-Oncology 11/2001; 3(4):229-40. · 6.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: FasL and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) belong to a subgroup of the TNF superfamily which induce apoptosis by binding to their death domain containing receptors. In the present study we have utilized a panel of seven cell lines derived from human malignant gliomas to characterize molecular pathways through which FasL and TRAIL induce apoptosis in sensitive glioma cells and the mechanisms of resistance in cell lines which survive the death stimuli. Our findings indicate that FADD and Caspase-8 are essential for FasL and TRAIL mediated apoptosis in glioma cells. One sensitive cell line (D270) can be protected from FasL and TRAIL induced death by anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members while another (D645) cannot, implying that these lines may represent glioma examples of type II and type I cells respectively. For the first time we demonstrate resistance to FasL but not to TRAIL within the one glioma cell line. Furthermore, we report distinct mechanisms of resistance within different glioma lines, including downregulation of Caspase-8 in U373MG. Cycloheximide sensitized four of the resistant cell lines suggesting the presence of labile inhibitors. None of the known apoptosis inhibitors examined accounted for the observed resistance, suggesting novel inhibitors may exist in glioma cells.
    Oncogene 10/2001; 20(41):5789-98. · 7.36 Impact Factor