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Publications (18)81.22 Total impact

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Levels of Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) in tumor epithelial cells increase during prostate cancer progression. Conversely, Cav-1 expression in the stroma can decline in advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. In a large cohort of 724 prostate cancers, we observed significantly decreased levels of stromal Cav-1 in concordance with increased Gleason score (p=0.012). Importantly, reduced expression of Cav-1 in the stroma correlated with reduced relapse-free survival (p=0.009), suggesting a role for stromal Cav-1 in inhibiting advanced disease. Silencing of Cav-1 by shRNA in WPMY-1 prostate fibroblasts resulted in upregulation of Akt phosphorylation, and significantly altered expression of genes involved in angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis, including a >2.5-fold increase in TGF-β1 and γ-synuclein (SNCG) gene expression. Moreover, silencing of Cav-1 induced migration of prostate cancer cells when stromal cells were used as attractants. Pharmacological inhibition of Akt caused down-regulation of TGF-β1 and SNCG, suggesting that loss of Cav-1 in the stroma can influence Akt mediated signaling in the tumor microenvironment. Cav-1-depleted stromal cells exhibited increased levels of intracellular cholesterol, a precursor for androgen biosynthesis, steroidogenic enzymes, and testosterone. These findings suggest that loss of Cav-1 in the tumor microenvironment contributes to the metastatic behavior of tumor cells by a mechanism that involves upregulation of TGF-β1 and SNCG through Akt activation. They also suggest that intracrine production of androgens, a process relevant to castration resistance, may occur in the stroma.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · The Journal of Pathology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prostate cancer is still the second cause of cancer-related death among men. Although patients with metastatic presentation have an ominous outcome, the vast majority of PCs are diagnosed at an early stage. Nonetheless, even among patients with clinically localized disease the outcome may vary considerably. Other than androgen sensitivity, little is known about which other signaling pathways are deranged in aggressive, localized cancers. The elucidation of such pathways may help to develop innovative therapies aimed at specific molecular targets. We report that in a hormone-sensitive prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP, Notch3 was activated by hypoxia and sustained cell proliferation and colony formation in soft agar. Hypoxia also modulated cellular cholesterol content and the number and size of lipid rafts, causing a coalescence of small rafts into bigger clusters; under this experimental condition Notch3 migrated from the non-raft into the raft compartment where it co-localized with the γ-secretase complex. We also looked at human prostate cancer biopsies and found that expression of Notch3 positively correlated with Gleason score and with expression of carbonic anhydrase IX, a marker of hypoxia. In conclusion, hypoxia triggers the activation of Notch3 which, in turn, sustains proliferation of prostate cancer cells. Notch3 pathway represents a promising target for adjuvant therapy in patients with prostate cancer. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · International Journal of Cancer
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled: Prostate carcinoma is among the most common causes of cancer-related death in men, representing 15% of all male malignancies in developed countries. Neuroendocrine differentiation (NED) has been associated with tumor progression, poor prognosis, and with the androgen-independent status. Currently, no successful therapy exists for advanced, castration-resistant disease. Because hypoxia has been linked to prostate cancer progression and unfavorable outcome, we sought to determine whether hypoxia would impact the degree of neuroendocrine differentiation of prostate cancer cells in vitro. Results: Exposure of LNCaP cells to low oxygen tension induced a neuroendocrine phenotype, associated with an increased expression of the transcription factor neurogenin3 and neuroendocrine markers, such as neuron-specific enolase, chromogranin A, and β3-tubulin. Moreover, hypoxia triggered a significant decrease of Notch 1 and Notch 2 mRNA and protein expression, with subsequent downregulation of Notch-mediated signaling, as shown by reduced levels of the Notch target genes, Hes1 and Hey1. NED was promoted by attenuation of Hes1 transcription, as cells expressing a dominant-negative form of Hes1 displayed increased levels of neuroendocrine markers under normoxic conditions. Although hypoxia downregulated Notch 1 and Notch 2 mRNA transcription and receptor activation also in the androgen-independent cell lines, PC-3 and Du145, it did not change the extent of NED in these cultures, suggesting that androgen sensitivity may be required for transdifferentiation to occur. Conclusions: Hypoxia induces NED of LNCaP cells in vitro, which seems to be driven by the inhibition of Notch signaling with subsequent downregulation of Hes1 transcription.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Molecular Cancer Research
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endothelial urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) is thought to provide a regulatory mechanism in angiogenesis. Here we studied the proangiogenic role of uPAR in endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs), a cell population identified in human umbilical blood that embodies all of the properties of an endothelial progenitor cell matched with a high proliferative rate. By using caveolae-disrupting agents and by caveolin-1 silencing, we have shown that the angiogenic properties of ECFCs depend on caveolae integrity and on the presence of full-length uPAR in such specialized membrane invaginations. Inhibition of uPAR expression by antisense oligonucleotides promoted caveolae disruption, suggesting that uPAR is an inducer of caveolae organization. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) promoted accumulation of uPAR in ECFC caveolae in its undegraded form. We also demonstrated that VEGF-dependent ERK phosphorylation required integrity of caveolae as well as caveolar uPAR expression. VEGF activity depends on inhibition of ECFC MMP12 production, which results in impairment of MMP12-dependent uPAR truncation. Further, MMP12 overexpression in ECFC inhibited vascularization in vitro and in vivo. Our data suggest that intratumor homing of ECFCs suitably engineered to overexpress MMP12 could have the chance to control uPAR-dependent activities required for tumor angiogenesis and malignant cells spreading.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Blood
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurosteroids are involved in Central Nervous System development, brain functionality and neuroprotection but little is known about regulators of their biosynthesis. Recently gonadotropins, Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH) and their receptors have been localized in different brain regions, such as hippocampus and cortex. Using human neuronal-like cells we found that GnRH up-regulates the expression of key genes of cholesterol and steroid synthesis when used in a narrow range around 1.0 nM. The expression of Hydroxysterol D24-reductase (seladin-1/DHCR24), that catalyzes the last step of cholesterol biosynthesis, is increased by 50% after 90 min of incubation with GnRH. StAR protein and P450 side chain cleavage (P450scc) are up-regulated by 3.3 times after 90 min and by 3.5 times after 3 h, respectively. GnRH action is mediated by LH and 1.0 nM GnRH enhances the expression of LHβ as well. A two fold increase of cell cholesterol is induced after 90 min of GnRH incubation and 17β-estradiol (E2) production is increased after 24, 48 and 72 h. These data indicate for the first time that GnRH regulates both cholesterol and steroid biosynthesis in human neuronal-like cells and suggest a new physiological role for GnRH in the brain.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2011 · The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The molecular basis for the exquisite sensitivity of testicular germ cell tumours of adolescents and adults (TGCTs), ie seminomas and non-seminomatous germ cell tumours, to chemo/radiotherapy has not been fully clarified so far. It has been suggested that it may be dependent on factors involved in the regulation of apoptosis. Seladin-1 is a multi-functional protein involved in various biological processes, including apoptosis. The aim of our study was to assess the expression of seladin-1 in different histological types of TGCTs, known to have varying treatment sensitivity, in order to establish whether this protein may influence cisplatin responsiveness in vitro. Seladin-1 expression levels, both at the mRNA and at the protein level, were higher in the adjacent normal parenchyma than in the pathological counterparts. In tumoural tissues, the level of expression differed among TGCT histological types. The highest tumour-expression level was found in teratoma, whereas the lowest was detected in seminoma, corresponding to the different chemo/and radiosensitivities of these tumour types. In common with other cancers, in TGCT-derived cell lines seladin-1 showed anti-apoptotic properties through inhibition of caspase-3 activation. We confirmed our results using a non-seminomatous cell line model (NT2) before and after differentiation with retinoic acid. Significantly higher seladin-1 expression was observed in the differentiated derivatives (teratoma) and an inverse relationship was found between seladin-1 expression and the amount of cleaved caspase-3. Seladin-1 silencing or overexpression in this cell line supports involvement of seladin-1 in cisplatin responsiveness. Seladin-1 silencing was associated with greater cisplatin responsiveness demonstrated by decreased cell viability and increased expression of apoptotic markers. In contrast, overexpression of seladin-1 was associated with a higher survival rate and a clear anti-apoptotic effect. In conclusion, we have demonstrated for the first time an important role for seladin-1 in the biology of TGCTs and provided new insights into cisplatin responsiveness of these tumours.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2009 · The Journal of Pathology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2000 a new gene, i.e. seladin-1 (for selective Alzheimer’s disease indicator-1) was identified and found to be down regulated in vulnerable brain regions in Alzheimer’s disease. Seladin-1 was considered a novel neuroprotective factor, because of its anti-apoptotic properties. Subsequently, it has been demonstrated that seladin-1 corresponds to the gene that encodes 3-beta-hydroxysterol delta-24-reductase (DHCR24), that catalyzes the synthesis of cholesterol from desmosterol. There is evidence that cholesterol plays a fundamental role in maintaining brain homeostasis. Because of its enzymatic activity, seladin-1/DHCR24 has been considered the human homolog of the plant protein DIMINUTO/DWARF1, that is involved in the synthesis of sterol plant hormones. We have recently demonstrated that seladin-1/DHCR24 is a fundamental mediator of the protective effects of estrogens in the brain. This review describes how this protein interacts with cholesterol and estrogens, thus generating a neuroprotective network, that might open new possibilities in the prevention/treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2009 · Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prostate cancer (CaP) represents a major leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world. Elevated cholesterol levels, resulting from altered cholesterol metabolism, have been found in CaP cells. Seladin-1 (SELective Alzheimer Disease INdicator-1)/DHCR24 is a recently described gene involved in cholesterol biosynthesis. Here, we demonstrated the androgen regulation of seladin-1/DHCR24 expression, due to the presence of androgen responsive element sequences in its promoter region. In metastatic androgen receptor-negative CaP cells seladin-1/DHCR24 expression and cholesterol amount were reduced compared to androgen receptor-positive cells. In tumor samples from 61 patients who underwent radical prostatectomy the expression of seladin-1/DHCR24 was significantly higher with respect to normal tissues. In addition, in cancer tissues mRNA levels were positively related to T stage. In tumor specimens from 23 patients who received androgen ablation treatment for 3 months before surgery seladin-1/DHCR24 expression was significantly lower with respect to patients treated by surgery only. In conclusion, our study demonstrated for the first time the androgen regulation of the seladin-1/DHCR24 gene and the presence of a higher level of expression in CaP tissues, compared to the normal prostate. These findings, together with the results previously obtained in metastatic disease, suggest an involvement of this gene in CaP.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · Laboratory Investigation
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Estrogen exerts neuroprotective effects and reduces beta-amyloid accumulation in models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). A few years ago, a new neuroprotective gene, i.e. seladin-1 (for selective AD indicator-1), was identified and found to be down-regulated in AD vulnerable brain regions. Seladin-1 inhibits the activation of caspase-3, a key modulator of apoptosis. In addition, it has been demonstrated that the seladin-1 gene encodes 3beta-hydroxysterol Delta24-reductase, which catalyzes the synthesis of cholesterol from desmosterol. We have demonstrated previously that in fetal neuroepithelial cells, 17beta-estradiol (17betaE2), raloxifene, and tamoxifen exert neuroprotective effects and increase the expression of seladin-1. The aim of the present study was to elucidate whether seladin-1 is directly involved in estrogen-mediated neuroprotection. Using the small interfering RNA methodology, significantly reduced levels of seladin-1 mRNA and protein were obtained in fetal neuroepithelial cells. Seladin-1 silencing determined the loss of the protective effect of 17betaE2 against beta-amyloid and oxidative stress toxicity and caspase-3 activation. A computer-assisted analysis revealed the presence of half-palindromic estrogen responsive elements upstream from the coding region of the seladin-1 gene. A 1490-bp region was cloned in a luciferase reporter vector, which was transiently cotransfected with the estrogen receptor alpha in Chinese hamster ovarian cells. The exposure to 17betaE2, raloxifene, tamoxifen, and the soy isoflavones genistein and zearalenone increased luciferase activity, thus suggesting a functional role for the half-estrogen responsive elements of the seladin-1 gene. Our data provide for the first time a direct demonstration that seladin-1 may be considered a fundamental mediator of the neuroprotective effects of estrogen.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2008 · Endocrinology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of brain cholesterol in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is currently a matter of debate. Experimental evidence suggests that reducing circulating and brain cholesterol protects against AD, however recent data indicate that low membrane cholesterol results in neurode-generation and that the cholesterol synthesis catalyst seladin-1 is down-regulated in AD-affected brain regions. We previously reported a significant correlation between resistance to amyloid toxicity and content of membrane cholesterol in differing cultured cell types. Here we provide evidence that Aβ42 pre-fibrillar aggregates accumulate more slowly and in reduced amount at the plasma membrane of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells overexpressing seladin-1 or treated with PEG-cholesterol than at the membrane of control cells. The accumulation was significantly increased in cholesterol-depleted cells following treatment with the specific seladin-1 inhibitor 5,22E-cholestadien-3-ol or with methyl-β-cyclodextrin. The resistance to amyloid toxicity and the early cytosolic Ca2+ rise following exposure to Aβ42 aggregates were increased and prevented, respectively, by increasing membrane cholesterol whereas the opposite effects were found in cholesterol-depleted cells. These results suggest that seladin-1-dependent cholesterol synthesis reduces membrane-aggregate interaction and cell damage associated to amyloid-induced imbalance of cytosolic Ca2+. Our findings extend recently reported data indicating that seladin-1 overexpression directly enhances the resistance to Aβ toxicity featuring seladin-1/DHCR 24 as a possible new susceptibility gene for sporadic AD.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2008 · Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Seladin-1 (SELective Alzheimer's Disease INdicator-1) is an anti-apoptotic gene, which is down-regulated in brain regions affected by Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition, seladin-1 catalyzes the conversion of desmosterol into cholesterol. Disruption of cholesterol homeostasis in neurons may increase cell susceptibility to toxic agents. Because the hippocampus and the subventricular zone, which are affected in AD, are the unique regions containing stem cells with neurogenic potential in the adult brain, it might be hypothesized that this multipotent cell compartment is the predominant source of seladin-1 in normal brain. In the present study, we isolated and characterized human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) as a model of cells with the ability to differentiate into neurons. hMSC were then differentiated toward a neuronal phenotype (hMSC-n). These cells were thoroughly characterized and proved to be neurons, as assessed by molecular and electrophysiological evaluation. Seladin-1 expression was determined and found to be significantly reduced in hMSC-n compared to undifferentiated cells. Accordingly, the total content of cholesterol was decreased after differentiation. These original results demonstrate for the first time that seladin-1 is abundantly expressed by stem cells and appear to suggest that reduced expression in AD might be due to an altered pool of multipotent cells.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2006 · Experimental Cell Research
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The full-length cDNA (LeDET2) encoding a 257 amino acid protein homolog of Arabidopsis DET2 (AtDET2) was isolated in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). LeDET2 has 76% similarity with AtDET2 and structural characteristics conserved among plant and mammalian steroid 5alpha-reductases (5alphaRs). LeDET2 is ubiquitously expressed in tomato tissues with higher levels in leaf than in stem, root, seed and callus. When expressed in mammalian cells (COS-7), recombinant LeDET2 was active on substrates typical of mammalian 5alphaRs (progesterone, testosterone, androstenedione), but reduced at very low levels campestenone, the substrate described for AtDET2. Similar results were obtained with the expression in COS-7 of recombinant AtDET2 that showed 5alphaR activity for progesterone and not for campestenone. Recombinant LeDET2 was inhibited by several inhibitors of the human 5alphaRs and the application of an active inhibitor to tomato seedlings induced dwarfism and morphological changes similar to BR-deficient mutants. In tomato tissues, campestenone was 5alpha-reduced in leaf, stem and root homogenates, like progesterone and testosterone, while androstenedione was converted to testosterone, evidencing for the first time a 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in plants. Moreover, two separate 5alphaR activities with different kinetic characteristic and response to inhibitors were characterized in tomato tissues. The presence of two 5alphaR isoenzymes was demonstrated also in Arabidopsis using the det2-1 mutant, in which a residual 5alphaR activity for campestenone and progesterone was evidenced and characterized. Therefore, the existence of two isoenzymes of 5alphaR is probably characteristic of the whole plant kingdom highlighting the similarities between the animal and plant steroid biosynthetic pathways.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2005 · The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The physiological role of steroid hormones in humans is well known, and the metabolic pathway and mechanisms of action are almost completely elucidated. The role of plant steroid hormones, brassinosteroids, is less known, but an increasing amount of data on brassinosteroid biosynthesis is showing unexpected similarities between human and plant steroid metabolic pathways. Here we focus our attention on the enzyme 5alpha-reductase (5alphaR) for which a plant ortholog of the mammalian system, DET2, was recently described in Arabidopsis thaliana. We demonstrate that campestenone, the natural substrate of DET2, is reduced to 5alpha-campestanone by both human 5alphaR isozymes but with different affinities. Solanum malacoxylon, which is a calcinogenic plant very active in the biosynthesis of vitamin D-like molecules and sterols, was used to study 5alphaR activity. Leaves and calli were chosen as examples of differentiated and undifferentiated tissues, respectively. Two separate 5alphaR activities were found in calli and leaves of Solanum using campestenone as substrate. The use of progesterone allowed the detection of both activities in calli. Support for the existence of two 5alphaR isozymes in S. malacoxylon was provided by the differential actions of inhibitors of the human 5alphaR in calli and leaves. The evidence for the presence of two isozymes in different plant tissues extends the analogies between plant and mammalian steroid metabolic pathways.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2003 · Endocrinology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thiol-disulfides cause a time- and a concentration-dependent inactivation of the low-M(r) phosphotyrosine protein phosphatase (PTP). We demonstrated that six of eight enzyme cysteines have similar reactivity against 5,5'-dithiobis(nitrobenzoic acid): Their thiolation is accompanied by enzyme inactivation. The inactivation of the enzyme by glutathione disulfide also is accompanied by the thiolation of six cysteine residues. Inorganic phosphate, a competitive enzyme inhibitor, protects the enzyme from inactivation, indicating that the inactivation results from thiolation of the essential active-site cysteine of the enzyme. The inactivation is reversed by dithiothreitol. Although all PTPs have three-dimensional active-site structures very similar to each other and also have identical reaction mechanisms, the thiol group contained in the active site of low-M(r) PTP seems to have lower reactivity than that of other PTPs in the protein thiolation reaction.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 1999 · International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Life
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The two acylphosphatase isoenzymes (muscle type and common type) are differently involved in cell differentiation processes. In this paper we investigate the expression of the two isoenzymes during macrophage differentiation and activation. The U-937 human promonocytic cell line is a model for cell differentiation induced by the tumor promoter phorbol myristic acetate (PMA). Here we show that only the expression of the muscle type acylphosphatase increases during U-937 differentiation and macrophage activation, confirming that the two isoenzymes are differently regulated. Moreover, we determined, in the same conditions, the level of specific mRNA. Results show that after an initial two-fold decrease during PMA stimulation, the muscle type acylphosphatase mRNA levels remain constant also after the treatment with lipopolysaccharide and gamma-interferon, treatments that lead to macrophage activation. It is possible that post-transcription regulation is responsible for the regulation of muscle type acylphosphatase in the cell during differentiation and macrophage activation.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 1999 · Biochimie
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glutathione and GSH-related enzymes were determined in human Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) skin fibroblasts in order to relate muscular dystrophy to the redox state of the cell. The analysis of GSH, GSSG and total GSH levels in normal and dystrophic-cultured fibroblasts shows no differences in normal growth condition. However, the specific activity of two GSH-related enzymes, glutathione S-transferases (GST) and gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase (gamma-GCS), shows significant variations between normal and both types of dystrophic skin fibroblasts. These results suggest that even in normal growth condition some components of GSH metabolism may be altered. A condition of sublethal oxidation obtained by H(2)O(2) treatment was able to show a difference in the cellular response of GSH system components between normal and dystrophic cells. While in DMD cells there is a decrease of roughly 55% in GSH and of 30% in total GSH concentration, no changes are measured in normal and BMD cells. The remarkable increase in glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity and decrease in GSH-reductase (GR) activity measured in DMD cells can in part explain these changes. These results indicate a different capacity of DMD cells to support oxidative stress with respect to BMD and normal cells, and suggest a possible role of the GSH-antioxidant system in dystrophic pathology.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 1999 · Biochimie
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that affects primarily skeletal muscle. The dystrophin absence has been related to the degeneration of muscle fibres. Indirect evidences suggest that oxidative stress may play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease, but the significance and precise extent of this contribution is poorly understood. In this paper we show that Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) skin fibroblasts are more susceptible to H2O2 treatment than are fibroblasts from unaffected persons. In particular, we found that, in growing DMD skin fibroblasts, the oxidative treatment resulted in significantly reduced growing capacity. We also investigated the concentrations of intracellular calcium during H2O2 treatment. The intracellular free calcium concentration increased by 22%, 35%, and 40% in unaffected, BMD, and DMD fibroblasts, respectively. However, the increase of the intracellular free calcium concentration is not related, as previously hypothesized, to a reduction of acylphosphatase concentrations, which seem to be unaffected by the H2O2 treatment, but rather to reduced enzyme activity.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 1999 · International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Life
  • No preview · Article · Mar 1998 · The Italian journal of biochemistry