[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Identifying new targeted therapies that kill tumor cells while sparing normal tissue is a major challenge of cancer research. Using a high-throughput chemical synthetic lethal screen, we sought to identify compounds that exploit the loss of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene, which occurs in about 80% of renal cell carcinomas (RCCs). RCCs, like many other cancers, are dependent on aerobic glycolysis for ATP production, a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect. The dependence of RCCs on glycolysis is in part a result of induction of glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1). Here, we report the identification of a class of compounds, the 3-series, exemplified by STF-31, which selectively kills RCCs by specifically targeting glucose uptake through GLUT1 and exploiting the unique dependence of these cells on GLUT1 for survival. Treatment with these agents inhibits the growth of RCCs by binding GLUT1 directly and impeding glucose uptake in vivo without toxicity to normal tissue. Activity of STF-31 in these experimental renal tumors can be monitored by [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose uptake by micro-positron emission tomography imaging, and therefore, these agents may be readily tested clinically in human tumors. Our results show that the Warburg effect confers distinct characteristics on tumor cells that can be selectively targeted for therapy.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Science translational medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Renal cell carcinomas (RCC) are refractory to standard therapy with advanced RCC having a poor prognosis; consequently treatment of advanced RCC represents an unmet clinical need. The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene is mutated or inactivated in a majority of RCCs. We recently identified a 4-pyridyl-2-anilinothiazole (PAT) with selective cytotoxicity against VHL-deficient renal cells mediated by induction of autophagy and increased acidification of autolysosomes. We report exploration of structure-activity relationships (SAR) around this PAT lead. Analogues with substituents on each of the three rings, and various linkers between rings, were synthesized and tested in vitro using paired RCC4 cell lines. A contour map describing the relative spatial contributions of different chemical features to potency illustrates a region, adjacent to the pyridyl ring, with potential for further development. Examples probing this domain validated this approach and may provide the opportunity to develop this novel chemotype as a targeted approach to the treatment of RCC.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sustained angiogenesis, through either local sprouting (angiogenesis) or the recruitment of bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) (vasculogenesis), is essential to the development of a tumor. How BMDCs are recruited to the tumor and their contribution to the tumor vasculature is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that both IL-8 and angiogenin contribute to the complementary pathways of angiogenesis and BMDC mobilization to increase tumor growth. These two factors are regulated by PHD2 in a HIF-independent but NF-kappaB-dependent manner. PHD2 levels are decreased in human cancers, compared with corresponding normal tissue, and correlate with an increase in mature blood vessels. Thus, PHD2 plays a critical role in regulating tumor angiogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Radiation and conventional cytotoxic chemotherapies are ineffective in treating renal cancer. Approximately 75 percent of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is associated with an inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene von Hippel-Lindau (VHL). We exploited the possibility of targeting VHL-deficient RCC through synthetic lethality using a high-throughput screening approach. In this screen, STF-62247 was identified to be selectively toxic and growth inhibitory to renal cells lacking VHL. We recently demonstrated that the cytotoxicity of STF-62247 is due to dysregulated autophagy. Furthermore, the reduction of protein levels of essential autophagy pathway components such as Atg5, Atg7 and Atg9 reduces sensitivity of VHL-deficient cells to killing by STF-62247. Loss of proteins involved in Golgi trafficking sensitized RCC with wild-type VHL to killing by STF-62247, indicating a potential role for these proteins as a target of the compound. Our study supports the concept of using synthetic lethality to selectively kill VHL-deficient cells that represents a new type of targeted therapy for the treatment of RCC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) are refractory to standard therapies. The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene is inactivated in 75% of RCCs. By screening for small molecules selectively targeting VHL-deficient RCC cells, we identified STF-62247. STF-62247 induces cytotoxicity and reduces tumor growth of VHL-deficient RCC cells compared to genetically matched cells with wild-type VHL. STF-62247-stimulated toxicity occurs in a HIF-independent manner through autophagy. Reduction of protein levels of essential autophagy pathway components reduces sensitivity of VHL-deficient cells to STF-62247. Using a yeast deletion pool, we show that loss of proteins involved in Golgi trafficking increases killing by STF-62247. Thus, we have found a small molecule that selectively induces cell death in VHL-deficient cells, representing a paradigm shift for targeted therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumor hypoxia plays a crucial role in tumorigenesis. Under hypoxia, hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha) regulates activation of genes promoting malignant progression. Under normoxia, HIF-1 alpha is hydroxylated on prolines 402 and 564 and is targeted for ubiquitin-mediated degradation by interacting with the von Hippel-Lindau protein complex (pVHL). We have developed a novel method of studying the interaction between HIF-1 alpha and pVHL using the split firefly luciferase complementation-based bioluminescence system in which HIF-1 alpha and pVHL are fused to amino-terminal and carboxy-terminal fragments of the luciferase, respectively. We demonstrate that hydroxylation-dependent interaction between the HIF-1 alpha and pVHL leads to complementation of the two luciferase fragments, resulting in bioluminescence in vitro and in vivo. Complementation-based bioluminescence is diminished when mutant pVHLs with decreased affinity for binding HIF-1 alpha are used. This method represents a new approach for studying interaction of proteins involved in the regulation of protein degradation.
No preview · Article · Jan 2008 · Molecular Imaging
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Late-stage clear cell renal carcinoma poses a formidable clinical challenge due to the high mortality rate associated with this disease. Molecular and genetic studies have identified functional loss of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene as a frequent and crucial event in the development of the malignant phenotype of clear cell renal carcinomas. Loss of VHL function thus represents a pathognomonic molecular defect for therapeutic exploitation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the possibility of targeting VHL loss through pharmacologic means. Chromomycin A3 (ChA3) was identified through in silico analysis of existing publicly available drug profiles from the National Cancer Institute as an agent that seemed to selectively target VHL-deficient clear cell renal carcinoma cells. Genotype-selective toxicity was first determined through short-term viability assays and then confirmed with clonogenic studies. Coculture of fluorescently labeled VHL-deficient and VHL-positive cells showed discriminate killing of the VHL-deficient cells with ChA3. Mechanistically, overexpression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2alpha in VHL-positive clear cell renal carcinoma cells phenocopied loss of VHL with respect to ChA3 toxicity, establishing ChA3 as a HIF-dependent cytotoxin. This study shows the feasibility of selectively targeting the loss of the VHL tumor suppressor gene in clear cell renal carcinoma for potential clinical benefit and may have greater ramifications in the development of new targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer and other genetic diseases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Otto Warburg was the first to describe the phenomena of aerobic glycolysis, whereby cancer cells are reliant on glycolysis, rather than the more efficient process of oxidative phosphorylation, for ATP production. For this discovery, Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1931. Warburg believed that the metabolic disturbance he observed was central to the process of tumorigenesis and, in fact, the origin of tumor cells. He hypothesized that cancer developed in a two-step process; first the irreversible injury to respiration, which is then followed by an increase in fermentation. Over 80 years after this initial finding, the molecular mechanisms responsible for the metabolic switch are ardently debated as the molecular basis of aerobic glycolysis has remained largely unexplained.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reporter gene techniques have been applied toward studying the physiologic phenomena associated with tumor hypoxia, a negative prognostic indicator. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential adverse effects of hypoxic conditions on the effectiveness of four commonly used reporter genes: Renilla luciferase, monomeric red fluorescent protein, thymidine kinase, and lacZ. Tumor-forming A375 cells expressing a trifusion reporter consisting of Renilla luciferase, monomeric red fluorescent protein, and thymidine kinase were subjected to decreasing oxygen tensions and assayed for reporter expression and activity. A375 cells expressing beta-galactosidase were similarly exposed to hypoxia, with activity of the reporter monitored by cleavage of the fluorescent substrate 7-hydroxy-9H-(1,3-dichloro-9,9-dimethylacridin-2-one)-beta-galactoside (DDAOG). Generation of signal in in vivo tumor models expressing bioluminescent or beta-galactosidase reporters were also examined over the course of hypoxic stresses, either by tumor clamping or the antivascular agent 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA). Our findings indicate that bioluminescent and fluorescent reporter activity are decreased under hypoxia despite minimal variations in protein production, whereas beta-galactosidase reporter activity per unit protein was unchanged. These results demonstrate that combining beta-galactosidase with the DDAOG optical probe may be a robust reporter system for the in vivo study of tumor hypoxia.
No preview · Article · Jul 2007 · Molecular Imaging
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Solid tumors frequently contain large regions with low oxygen concentrations (hypoxia). The hypoxic microenvironment induces adaptive changes to tumor cell metabolism, and this alteration can further distort the local microenvironment. The net result of these tumor-specific changes is a microenvironment that inhibits many standard cytotoxic anticancer therapies and predicts for a poor clinical outcome. Pharmacologic targeting of the unique metabolism of solid tumors could alter the tumor microenvironment to provide more favorable conditions for anti-tumor therapy. Here, we describe a strategy in which the mitochondrial metabolism of tumor cells is increased by pharmacologic inhibition of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1) or its target gene pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1). This acute increase in oxygen consumption leads to a corresponding decrease in tumor oxygenation. Whereas decreased oxygenation could reduce the effectiveness of some traditional therapies, we show that it dramatically increases the effectiveness of a hypoxia-specific cytotoxin. This treatment strategy should provide a high degree of tumor specificity for increasing the effectiveness of hypoxic cytotoxins, as it depends on the activation of HIF1 and the presence of hypoxia, conditions that are present only in the tumor, and not the normal tissue.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2007 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To confirm the relationship between plasma osteopontin (OPN) levels and treatment outcomes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients in an expanded study.
One hundred forty patients with newly diagnosed HNSCC were enrolled onto this study, 54 previously reported and 86 new patients. Pretreatment plasma OPN levels were assessed in all patients by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method. OPN levels were correlated to treatment outcomes in the new group of patients. Detailed analyses were also performed on the relationship between OPN and tumor control rate, event-free survival (EFS), and postrelapse survival for the entire group.
Using a previously defined cut off point of 450 ng/mL, there was a significant correlation between OPN and freedom-from-relapse (P = .047), overall survival (P = .019), and EFS (P = .023) in the new, independent patient cohort (n = 86). Sequence of event analyses using the entire group (N = 140) revealed that OPN was an independent prognostic factor for initial tumor control, EFS in those who have achieved tumor control, and postrelapse survival.
In this expanded study, we were able to replicate the prognostic significance of OPN using a predefined cut off point in an independent patient group and demonstrated that plasma OPN is an independent prognostic marker for HNSCC.
Preview · Article · Dec 2006 · Journal of Clinical Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pancreatic cancer is highly aggressive and refractory to most existing therapies. Past studies have shown that connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression is elevated in human pancreatic adenocarcinomas and some pancreatic cancer cell lines. To address whether and how CTGF influences tumor growth, we generated pancreatic tumor cell lines that overexpress different levels of human CTGF. The effect of CTGF overexpression on cell proliferation was measured in vitro in monolayer culture, suspension culture, or soft agar, and in vivo in tumor xenografts. Although there was no effect of CTGF expression on proliferation in two-dimensional cultures, anchorage-independent growth (AIG) was enhanced. The capacity of CTGF to enhance AIG in vitro was linked to enhanced pancreatic tumor growth in vivo when these cells were implanted s.c. in nude mice. Administration of a neutralizing CTGF-specific monoclonal antibody, FG-3019, had no effect on monolayer cell proliferation, but blocked AIG in soft agar. Consistent with this observation, anti-CTGF treatment of mice bearing established CTGF-expressing tumors abrogated CTGF-dependent tumor growth and inhibited lymph node metastases without any toxicity observed in normal tissue. Together, these studies implicate CTGF as a new target in pancreatic cancer and suggest that inhibition of CTGF with a human monoclonal antibody may control primary and metastatic tumor growth.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Osteopontin (OPN) is a secreted phosphoglycoprotein that has been linked to tumor progression and survival in several solid tumors, including head and neck cancers. Previous studies showed that OPN expression is induced by tumor hypoxia, and its plasma levels can serve as a surrogate marker for tumor hypoxia and treatment outcome in head and neck cancer patients. In this study, we investigate the transcriptional mechanism by which hypoxia enhances OPN expression. We found that OPN is induced in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines and in NIH3T3 cells by hypoxia at both mRNA and protein levels in a time-dependent manner. Actinomycin D chase experiments showed that hypoxic induction of OPN was not due to increased mRNA stability. Deletion analyses of the mouse OPN promoter regions indicated that a ras-activated enhancer (RAE) located at -731 to -712 relative to the transcription start site was essential for hypoxia-enhanced OPN transcription. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assays with the RAE DNA sequence, we found that hypoxia induced sequence-specific DNA-binding complexes. Furthermore, hypoxia and ras exposure resulted in an additive induction of OPN protein and mRNA levels that appeared to be mediated by the RAE. Induction of OPN through the RAE element by hypoxia is mediated by an Akt-kinase signaled pathway as decreasing Akt levels with dominant negative constructs resulted in inhibition of OPN induction by hypoxia. Taken together, these results have identified a new hypoxia responsive transcriptional enhancer that is regulated by Akt signaling.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oxygen-dependent proteolysis is the primary means of regulating the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family of transcription factors. The alpha-subunit of HIF factor 1 (HIF-1) contains two highly conserved oxygen-dependent degradation domains (402 ODD and 564 ODD), each of which includes a proline that is hydroxylated in the presence of oxygen, allowing the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ubiquitin ligase to interact and target HIF-1alpha to the proteasome for degradation. Mutation of either proline is sufficient to partially stabilize HIF-1alpha under conditions of normoxia, but the specific contributions of each hydroxylation event to the regulation of HIF-1alpha are unknown. Here we show that the two ODDs of HIF-1alpha have independent yet interactive roles in the regulation of HIF-1alpha protein turnover, with the relative involvement of each ODD depending on the levels of oxygen. Using hydroxylation-specific antibodies, we found that under conditions of normoxia proline 564 is hydroxylated prior to proline 402, and mutation of proline 564 results in a significant reduction in the hydroxylation of proline 402. Mutation of proline 402, however, has little effect on the hydroxylation of proline 564. To determine whether the more rapid hydroxylation of the proline 564 under conditions of normoxia is due to a preference for the particular sequence surrounding proline 564 or for that site within the protein, we exchanged the degradation domains within the full-length HIF-1alpha protein. In these domain-swapping experiments, prolyl hydroxylase domain 1 (PHD1) and PHD2 preferentially hydroxylated the proline located in the site of the original 564 ODD, while PHD3 preferred the proline 564 sequence, regardless of its location. At limiting oxygen tensions, we found that proline 402 exhibits an oxygen-dependent decrease in hydroxylation at higher oxygen tensions relative to proline 564 hydroxylation. These results indicate that hydroxylation of proline 402 is highly responsive to physiologic changes in oxygen and, therefore, plays a more important role in HIF-1alpha regulation under conditions of hypoxia than under conditions of normoxia. Together, these findings demonstrate that each hydroxylated proline of HIF-1alpha has a distinct activity in controlling HIF-1alpha stability in response to different levels of oxygenation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian oxygen homeostasis is dependent on the HIF family of transcription factors. The CSN subunit, CSN5, binds both the CODD of HIF-1 alpha and the pVHL tumor suppressor. High CSN5 expression generates a pVHL-independent form of CSN5 that stabilizes HIF-1 alpha aerobically by inhibiting HIF-1 alpha prolyl-564 hydroxylation. Aerobic CSN5 association with HIF-1 alpha occurs independently of the CSN holocomplex, leading to HIF-1 alpha stabilization independent of Cullin 2 deneddylation. CSN5 weakly associates with HIF-1 alpha under hypoxia, but is required for optimal hypoxia-mediated HIF-1 alpha stabilization. These results indicate that CSN5 regulates aerobic as well as hypoxic HIF-1 alpha stability by different mechanisms during oncogenesis.
Full-text · Article · May 2004 · Genes & Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Elimination or reduction of tumor burden is the primary goal of cancer therapy. Strategies to achieve this goal with the fewest adverse effects to the patient are an area of intense investigation. Elevated protein levels of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) are commonly found in solid tumors, while rarely found in healthy tissue. Numerous studies have suggested that HIF activity is essential for the development of solid tumors. Thus, inhibition of HIF represents an attractive therapeutic target for eradicating tumors. The search for small molecules that target and inhibit HIF activity is currently underway. We propose an alternate approach: to directly target and kill HIF-activated tumor cells. This approach is advantageous in that cells with activated HIF will be eliminated directly. Specific elimination of HIF-activated cells represents a potential mechanism for inhibiting tumor growth, with the potential advantage of sparing the patient of the normal tissue toxicity associated with current treatment options.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical evidence shows that tumor hypoxia is an independent prognostic indicator of poor patient outcome. Hypoxic tumors have altered physiologic processes, including increased regions of angiogenesis, increased local invasion, increased distant metastasis and altered apoptotic programs. Since hypoxia is a potent controller of gene expression, identifying hypoxia-regulated genes is a means to investigate the molecular response to hypoxic stress. Traditional experimental approaches have identified physiologic changes in hypoxic cells. Recent studies have identified hypoxia-responsive genes that may define the mechanism(s) underlying these physiologic changes. For example, the regulation of glycolytic genes by hypoxia can explain some characteristics of the Warburg effect. The converse of this logic is also true. By identifying new classes of hypoxia-regulated gene(s), we can infer the physiologic pressures that require the induction of these genes and their protein products. Furthermore, these physiologically driven hypoxic gene expression changes give us insight as to the poor outcome of patients with hypoxic tumors. Approximately 1-1.5% of the genome is transcriptionally responsive to hypoxia. However, there is significant heterogeneity in the transcriptional response to hypoxia between different cell types. Moreover, the coordinated change in the expression of families of genes supports the model of physiologic pressure leading to expression changes. Understanding the evolutionary pressure to develop a 'hypoxic response' provides a framework to investigate the biology of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumor hypoxia modifies treatment efficacy and promotes tumor progression. Here, we investigated the relationship between osteopontin (OPN), tumor pO(2), and prognosis in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC).
We performed linear discriminant analysis, a machine learning algorithm, on the NCI-60 cancer cell line microarray expression database to identify a gene profile that best distinguish cell lines with high Von-Hippel Lindau (VHL) gene expression, an important regulator of hypoxia-related genes, from those with low expression. Plasma OPN levels in 15 volunteers, 31 VHL patients, and 54 HNSCC patients were quantitatively measured by ELISA. The relationships between plasma OPN levels, tumor pO(2) as measured by the Eppendorf microelectrode, freedom from relapse (FFR), and survival in HNSCC patients were evaluated.
Microarray analysis indicated that OPN gene expression inversely correlated with that of VHL. These findings were confirmed by Northern blot analysis. ELISA studies and Western blot in a HNSCC cell line demonstrated that hypoxia exposure resulted in increased OPN secretion. Patients with VHL syndrome had significantly higher plasma OPN levels than healthy volunteers. Plasma OPN level inversely correlated with tumor pO(2) (P = 0.003, r = -0.42). OPN levels correlated with clinical outcomes. The 1-year FFR and survival rates were 80 and 100%, respectively, for patients with OPN levels <or=450 ng/ml and 43 and 63%, respectively, for levels >450 ng/ml (P = 0.002 and 0.0005). Multivariate analysis revealed that OPN was an independent predictor for FFR and survival.
Plasma OPN levels appeared to correlate with tumor hypoxia in HNSCC patients and may serve as noninvasive tests to identify patients at high risk for tumor recurrence.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2003 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) protein is essential for its role as a regulator of gene expression under low oxygen conditions. Here, employing a novel hydroxylation-specific antibody, we directly show that proline 564 of HIF-1alpha and proline 531 of HIF-2alpha are hydroxylated under normoxia. Importantly, HIF-1alpha Pro-564 and HIF-2alpha Pro-531 hydroxylation is diminished with the treatment of hypoxia, cobalt chloride, desferrioxamine, or dimethyloxalyglycine, regardless of the E3 ubiquitin ligase activity of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene. Furthermore, in VHL-deficient cells, HIF-1alpha Pro-564 and HIF-2alpha Pro-531 had detectable amounts of hydroxylation following transition to hypoxia, indicating that the post-translational modification is not reversible. The introduction of v-Src or RasV12 oncogenes resulted in the stabilization of normoxic HIF-1alpha and the loss of hydroxylated Pro-564, demonstrating that oncogene-induced stabilization of HIF-1alpha is signaled through the inhibition of prolyl hydroxylation. Conversely, a constitutively active Akt oncogene stabilized HIF-1alpha under normoxia independently of prolyl hydroxylation, suggesting an alternative mechanism for HIF-1alpha stabilization. Thus, these results indicate distinct pathways for HIF-1alpha stabilization by different oncogenes. More importantly, these findings link oncogenesis with normoxic HIF-1alpha expression through prolyl hydroxylation.
Preview · Article · Nov 2002 · Journal of Biological Chemistry