Sandra Pinton

Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale, Bellinzona, Ticino, Switzerland

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Publications (8)85.86 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Aberrant activation of oncogenes or loss of tumour suppressor genes opposes malignant transformation by triggering a stable arrest in cell growth, which is termed cellular senescence. This process is finely tuned by both cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous mechanisms that regulate the entry of tumour cells to senescence. Whether tumour-infiltrating immune cells can oppose senescence is unknown. Here we show that at the onset of senescence, PTEN null prostate tumours in mice are massively infiltrated by a population of CD11b(+)Gr-1(+) myeloid cells that protect a fraction of proliferating tumour cells from senescence, thus sustaining tumour growth. Mechanistically, we found that Gr-1(+) cells antagonize senescence in a paracrine manner by interfering with the senescence-associated secretory phenotype of the tumour through the secretion of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA). Strikingly, Pten-loss-induced cellular senescence was enhanced in vivo when Il1ra knockout myeloid cells were adoptively transferred to PTEN null mice. Therapeutically, docetaxel-induced senescence and efficacy were higher in PTEN null tumours when the percentage of tumour-infiltrating CD11b(+)Gr-1(+) myeloid cells was reduced using an antagonist of CXC chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2). Taken together, our findings identify a novel non-cell-autonomous network, established by innate immunity, that controls senescence evasion and chemoresistance. Targeting this network provides novel opportunities for cancer therapy.
    Nature 08/2014; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies link disease progression, recurrence and treatment failures to the cancer stem-like cell (CSC) subpopulation within the heterogeneous tumor cell population. Myc is a transcription factor having a central function in stem cell biology and in human cancers. Hence, Myc represents an attractive target to develop CSC-specific therapies. Recent findings suggest that Myc transcription can be silenced using an RNAi-based strategy that targets noncoding promoter-associated RNA (paRNA) overlapping the transcription start site. In this study, we investigated the effects of silencing Myc transcription on prostate CSC in cell culture and xenograft models of human prostate cancer. Treatment with an effective promoter-targeting siRNA reduced the fraction of CSCs leading to reduced self-renewal, tumor-initiating and metastatic capability. Combined analysis of stem-like cells and senescence markers indicated that Myc silencing triggered a phenotypic shift and senescence in the CSC subpopulation. Notably, systemic delivery of the promoter-targeting siRNA in the xenograft model produced a striking suppression in the development of prostate tumors. Our results support a pivotal role for Myc in CSC maintenance and show that Myc targeting via RNAi-based transcriptional silencing can trigger CSC senescence and loss of their tumor-initiating capability. More generally, our findings demonstrate the efficacy of RNAi-based transcriptional strategies and the potential to target regulatory noncoding paRNAs for therapeutic applications.
    Cancer Research 09/2013; · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Testin (TES) is a putative tumour-suppressor gene downregulated in various types of cancers. Survivin is a nodal protein involved in multiple signalling pathways, tumour maintenance and inhibition of apoptosis. Previous studies indicate that TES and survivin can functionally interact and modulate cell death and proliferation in breast cancer cells. The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression and prognostic relevance of TES and survivin in breast cancer subtypes examining a large cohort of breast cancer patients. We determined the expression of TES and survivin by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in tissue samples from 242 breast cancer patients diagnosed between 1981 and 2009. The expression of these proteins was compared with clinical and pathological data. There was a significant association of nuclear survivin overexpression and TES downregulation with triple-negative tumours [P=0.009; univariate odds ratio (OR), 3.20; 95% CI, 1.34-7.66] (P=0.018; multivariate OR, 2.90; 95% CI, 1.20‑6.97). A further significant correlation was observed between TES downregulation and the luminal B subtype (P=0.019, univariate OR: 2.90; 95% CI, 1.19‑7.06) (P=0.032, multivariate OR, 2.67; 95% CI, 1.09-6.65), independent of survivin expression. Our results demonstrated a statistically significant association between TES downregulation and highly aggressive breast tumour subtypes, such as triple-negative and luminal B tumours, along with the prognostic relevance of nuclear expression of survivin. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of such an association.
    Oncology Reports 05/2013; · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chromosomal translocations leading to deregulated expression of ETS transcription factors are frequent in prostate tumors. Here, we report a novel mechanism leading to oncogenic activation of the ETS factor ESE1/ELF3 in prostate tumors. ESE1/ELF3 was overexpressed in human primary and metastatic tumors. It mediated transforming phenotypes in vitro and in vivo and induced an inflammatory transcriptome with changes in relevant oncogenic pathways. ESE1/ELF3 was induced by IL-1β through NF-κB and was a crucial mediator of the phenotypic and transcriptional changes induced by IL-1β in prostate cancer cells. This linkage was mediated by interaction of ESE1/ELF3 with the NF-κB subunits p65 and p50, acting by enhancing their nuclear translocation and transcriptional activity and by inducing p50 transcription. Supporting these findings, gene expression profiling revealed an enrichment of NF-κB effector functions in prostate cancer cells or tumors expressing high levels of ESE1/ELF3. We observed concordant upregulation of ESE1/ELF3 and NF-κB in human prostate tumors that was associated with adverse prognosis. Collectively, our results define an important new mechanistic link between inflammatory signaling and the progression of prostate cancer.
    Cancer Research 05/2013; · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: By integrating gene profiling and immunohistochemical data with functional experiments in cell lines in this study we show for the first time that doublecortin (DCX) domain containing 2 (DCDC2), a protein belonging to the DCX family and involved in neuronal cell migration, is aberrantly expressed in prostate tumors whereas absent in normal prostate. Furthermore, in patients treated with radical prostatectomy, high levels of DCDC2 RNA were significantly associated with increased biochemical relapse (LogRank Mantel-Cox=0.012). Mechanistically, we found that the ETS transcription factor ESE3/EHF, which is expressed in normal prostate and frequently lost in prostate tumors, maintained DCDC2 repressed by binding to a novel identified ETS binding site in the gene promoter. Consistently, in prostate tumors and in cellular models of gain and loss of ESE3/EHF, the expression of DCDC2 and ESE3/EHF were inversely correlated. In prostate cancer cells, DCDC2 colocalized with microtubules and promoted cell migration and resistance to the microtubule-targeting drug taxol. Collectively, this study establishes DCDC2 as a novel ESE3/EHF oncogenic target in prostate cancer. These findings may be relevant for the clinical management of prostate cancer as DCDC2 may signal tumors more prone to relapse and resistant to taxol treatment.Oncogene advance online publication, 25 June 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.245.
    Oncogene 06/2012; · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer stem cells (CSC) play a significant role in tumor progression, disease recurrence, and treatment failure. Here, we show that the endogenously expressed ETS transcription factor ESE3/EHF controls prostate epithelial cell differentiation and stem-like potential. We found that loss of ESE3/EHF induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), stem-like features, and tumor-initiating and metastatic properties in prostate epithelial cells, and reexpression of ESE3/EHF inhibited the stem-like properties and tumorigenic potential of prostate cancer cells. Mechanistically, ESE3/EHF repressed the expression of key EMT and CSC genes, including TWIST1, ZEB2, BMI1, and POU5F1. Analysis of human tissue microarrays showed that reduced ESE3/EHF expression is an early event in tumorigenesis, frequently occurring independently of other ETS gene alterations. Additional analyses linked loss of ESE3/EHF expression to a distinct group of prostate tumors with distinctive molecular and biologic characteristics, including increased expression of EMT and CSC genes. Low ESE3/EHF expression was also associated with increased biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer and reduced overall survival after prostatectomy. Collectively, our findings define a key role for ESE3/EHF in the development of a subset of prostate tumors and highlight the clinical importance of identifying molecularly defined tumor subgroups.
    Cancer Research 04/2012; 72(11):2889-900. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epigenetic silencing of tumour suppressor genes is an important mechanism involved in cell transformation and tumour progression. The Set and RING-finger-associated domain-containing protein UHRF1 might be an important link between different epigenetic pathways. Here, we report that UHRF1 is frequently overexpressed in human prostate tumours and has an important role in prostate cancer pathogenesis and progression. Analysis of human prostate cancer samples by microarrays and immunohistochemistry showed increased expression of UHRF1 in about half of the cases. Moreover, UHRF1 expression was associated with reduced overall survival after prostatectomy in patients with organ-confined prostate tumours (P<0.0001). UHRF1 expression was negatively correlated with several tumour suppressor genes and positively with the histone methyltransferase (HMT) EZH2 both in prostate tumours and cell lines. UHRF1 knockdown reduced proliferation, clonogenic capability and anchorage-independent growth of prostate cancer cells. Depletion of UHRF1 resulted in reactivation of several tumour suppressor genes. Gene reactivation upon UHRF1 depletion was associated with changes in histone H3K9 methylation, acetylation and DNA methylation, and impaired binding of the H3K9 HMT Suv39H1 to the promoter of silenced genes. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed direct interaction between UHRF1 and Suv39H1. Our data support the notion that UHRF1, along with Suv39H1 and DNA methyltransferases, contributes to epigenetic gene silencing in prostate tumours. This could represent a parallel and convergent pathway to the H3K27 methylation catalyzed by EZH2 to synergistically promote inactivation of tumour suppressor genes. Deregulated expression of UHRF1 is involved in the prostate cancer pathogenesis and might represent a useful marker to distinguish indolent cancer from those at high risk of lethal progression.Oncogene advance online publication, 13 February 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2011.641.
    Oncogene 02/2012; · 8.56 Impact Factor