Wu Zhang

The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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Publications (3)21.93 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Activation of the stem cell transcriptional circuitry is an important event in cancer development. Although cancer cells demonstrate a stem cell-like gene expression signature, the epigenetic regulation of pluripotency-associated genes in cancers remains poorly understood. In this study, we characterized the epigenetic regulation of the pluripotency-associated genes NANOG, OCT4, c-MYC, KLF4, and SOX2 in a variety of cancer cell lines and in primary tumor samples, and investigated the re-activation of pluripotency regulatory circuits in cancer progression. Differential patterns of DNA methylation, histone modifications, and gene expression of pluripotent genes were demonstrated in different types of cancers, which may reflect their tissue origins. NANOG promoter hypomethylation and gene upregulation were found in metastatic human liver cancer cells and human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) primary tumor tissues. The upregulation of NANOG, together with p53 depletion, was significantly associated with clinical late stage of HCC. A pro-metastatic role of NANOG in colon cancer cells was also demonstrated, using a NANOG-overexpressing orthotopic tumor implantation mouse model. Demethylation of NANOG promoter was observed in CD133+(high) cancer cells. In accordance, overexpression of NANOG resulted in an increase in the population of CD133+(high) cells. In addition, we demonstrated a cross-regulation between OCT4 and NANOG in cancer cells via reprogramming of promoter methylation. Taken together, epigenetic reprogramming of NANOG can lead to the acquisition of stem cell-like properties. These results underscore the restoration of pluripotency circuits in cancer cells as a potential mechanism for cancer progression.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e72435. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Liver transplantation (LT) is a cure for many liver diseases. Blood chimerism of donor origin can develop after LT, which raises the possibility of the existence of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) in the liver. We characterized the blood chimerism in a large cohort of 249 LT patients and analyzed putative HSPCs in adult human livers. The overall incidence of chimerism was 6.43%, of which 11.11% was among short-term (1 day to 6 months) and 3.77% was among long-term (6 months to 8 years) LT patients. Hematopoietic Lin(-) CD34(+) CD38(-) CD90(+) populations have been demonstrated to generate long-term lymphomyeloid grafts in transplantations. In human adult livers, we detected Lin(-) CD34(+) CD38(-) CD90(+) populations accounting for 0.03% ± 0.017% of the total single liver cells and for 0.05% ± 0.012% of CD45(+) liver cells. Both Lin(-) CD34(+) and Lin(-) CD45(+) liver cells, from extensively perfused human liver grafts, were capable of forming hematopoietic myeloid-lineage and erythroid-lineage methylcellulose colonies. More importantly, Lin(-) CD45(+) or CD45(+) liver cells could be engrafted into hematopoietic cells in an immunodeficient mouse model. These results are the first evidence of the presence of putative HSPC populations in the adult human liver, where the liver is a good ectopic niche. The discovery of the existence of HSPCs in the adult liver have implications for the understanding of extramarrow hematopoiesis, liver regeneration, mechanisms of tolerance in organ transplantation, and de novo cancer recurrence in LT patients. Conclusion: The human adult liver contains a small population of HSPCs. In LT patients, there are two types of chimerisms: transient chimerism, resulting from mature leucocytes, and long-term chimerism, derived from putative HSPCs in the liver graft. (HEPATOLOGY 2012).
    Hepatology 04/2012; 56(4):1557-66. · 12.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Notch signaling, a critical pathway for tissue development, also contributes to tumorigenesis in many cancers, but its pathological function in liver cancer is not well defined. In our study, Notch1 expression and its clinicopathological parameters were evaluated in 82 human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Plasmid-based siNotch1 shRNA was transiently or stably transfected into metastatic HCC cells and subsequently evaluated for the effects on orthotopic liver tumor metastasis in a mouse model as well as the effects on downstream pathways. Aberrant high expression of Notch1 was significantly associated with metastatic disease parameters in HCC patients, such as tumor-node-metastasis Stages III-IV and tumor venous invasion. Knocking-down Notch1 reduced cell motility in vitro and orthotopic tumor metastasis from the liver to the lung in vivo in a mouse model. In metastatic HCC cells, abnormal expression of Notch1 was associated with increased expression of Snail1 and repressed expression of E-cadherin; the Notch1-Snail1-E-cadherin association can also be found in HCC patient tumors. Inhibition of Notch1 by shRNA abolished Snail1 expression, which further resulted in the re-establishment of repressed E-cadherin in metastatic HCC cells. Thus, abnormal Notch1 expression was strongly associated with HCC metastatic disease, which might be mediated through the Notch1-Snail1-E-cadherin pathway. Knock-down of Notch1 reversed HCC tumor metastasis in a mouse model. Therefore, these data suggest that effective targeting of Notch signaling might also inhibit tumor metastasis.
    International Journal of Cancer 11/2011; 131(3):E163-72. · 6.20 Impact Factor