[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Environmental contaminants considered endocrine disruptors have been shown to affect testis development and function but the mechanisms of action are not clear. We now have analyzed the effects on the transcriptome in testes of mice exposed to mono-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (9.2; 46.3 or 92.7 mg/kg/d), zearalenone (1.3; 3.9 or 6.6 mg/kg/d), lindane (16.6; 32.2 or 64.4 mg/kg/d), bisphenol-A (0.16; 16 or 64 mg/kg/d) or 17β-estradiol (0.006; 0.012 or 0.048 mg/kg/d). The compounds were orally administered in the drinking water during distinct developmental periods: (A) mothers were exposed only during the two weeks before mating; (B) the exposure was continued during pregnancy until birth or (C) exposure was continued for a further four weeks after birth. Testes were studied at four weeks of age. Mono-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate and zearalenone, both produced specific alterations of gene signatures. Interestingly, this was irrespective of the concentration of the toxicant or the developmental period during which exposure occurred.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Reproductive Toxicology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously reported the in vitro spontaneous transformation of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) generating a population with tumorigenic potential, that we termed transformed mesenchymal cells (TMC).
Here we have characterized the molecular changes associated with TMC generation. Using microarrays techniques we identified a set of altered pathways and a greater number of downregulated than upregulated genes during MSC transformation, in part due to the expression of many untranslated RNAs in MSC. Microarray results were validated by qRT-PCR and protein detection.
In our model, the transformation process takes place through two sequential steps; first MSC bypass senescence by upregulating c-myc and repressing p16 levels. The cells then bypass cell crisis with acquisition of telomerase activity, Ink4a/Arf locus deletion and Rb hyperphosphorylation. Other transformation-associated changes include modulation of mitochondrial metabolism, DNA damage-repair proteins and cell cycle regulators. In this work we have characterized the molecular mechanisms implicated in TMC generation and we propose a two-stage model by which a human MSC becomes a tumor cell.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comparison of mRNA differences between pre- and post-senescence MSC and in TMC. Microarray analysis pattern of overall mRNA differences between pre- and post-senescence MSC (A), and pre-senescence MSC and TMC (B). MA plots are shown, being A: log-ratio of two expression intensities vs. M: the mean log-expression of the two. (4.09 MB TIF)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Around 25% of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The search for other genes has until now failed, probably because there is not one single BRCAX gene, but rather various genes that may each be responsible for a small number of breast cancer families and/or may interact according to a polygenic model. We have studied 50 tumors from probands belonging to non-BRCA1/2 breast cancer families (BRCAX), using 25 immunohistochemical markers. The objective was to classify these tumors and confirm that they are heterogeneous. Unsupervised cluster analysis showed the existence of the following two main groups of tumors: high-grade and estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors (50%), and low-grade and ER-positive tumors (50%). In addition we identified five subgroups, three among the high-grade and two among the low-grade groups; one overexpressing HER-2 (18%); one with a basal-like phenotype (14%); one with a normal breast-like phenotype (18%); a luminal A subgroup (36%), and a luminal B subgroup (14%). Hypermethylation of the BRCA1 gene was observed in 42% of the cases, spread across all five subgroups, but only 37% of those had loss of heterozygosity as well. These latter cases were all clustered in the high-grade group and the majority of them in the basal-like subgroup. Our results show that familial non-BRCA1/2 tumors are heterogeneous and suggest a polygenic model for explaining the majority of BRCAX families. In addition we have defined a subset of them that have somatic inactivation of the BRCA1 gene.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the seminiferous epithelium, numerous cell interactions between Sertoli cells and Sertoli-germ cells are established by specialized proteins so as to maintain the functionality of the testis. Exogenous estrogen exposure can result in alterations to these interactions and cause pathologies, including impaired spermatogenesis and tumorigenesis. In the present study, with the aim of finding markers of the action of estrogenic compounds in the mammalian testis, we focused on investigating molecules that are linked to cellular junctions. We found that the testicular vinexin (sorbin and SH3 domain-containing protein 3, encoded by the Sorbs3 gene) pattern underwent significant changes after developmental exposure to 17beta-estradiol (E(2)). Vinexin is an adaptor protein that is implicated in cell adhesion and actin-cytoskeletal reorganization. We characterized, at the protein and mRNA levels, the expression patterns of vinexin isoforms during testis development and in defined cell types from the seminiferous tubule. The protein expression patterns of vinexin-interacting proteins flotillin 1 and vinculin were also analyzed. Thus, we have identified a novel association between a vinexin isoform and germ cells, which contrasts with the predominant localization of the gamma isoform in Sertoli cells. The effects of E(2) on the testes of developmentally exposed mice were evident, with total depletion of the germ-cell-associated vinexin isoform and a noticeable decrease in Sertoli-cell-related vinexin gamma.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2007 · Biology of Reproduction
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes (PEA-15) is a 15 kDa acidic serine-phosphorylated protein expressed in different cell types, especially in the CN. We initially detected the expression of PEA-15 in primary cultures of Sertoli cells. To assess the presence and localization of PEA-15 in the mouse testis, we studied the expression pattern of the PEA-15 protein by immunohistochemistry and mRNA by in situ hybridization. Both the protein and the mRNA of PEA-15 were localized in the cytoplasm of Sertoli cells, all types of spermatogonia, and spermatocytes up till zygotene phase of the meiotic prophase. Subsequently, with ongoing development of the spermatocytes, the expression decreased and was very low in the cytoplasm of diplotene spermatocytes. To analyze the possible role of PEA-15 in the developing testis, null mutants for PEA-15 were examined. As the PEA-15 C terminus contains residues for ERK binding, we studied possible differences between the localization of the ERK2 protein in wild type (WT) and PEA-15(-/-)mice. In the WT testis, ERK2 was localized in the cytoplasm of Sertoli cells, B spermatogonia, preleptotene, leptotene, and zygotene spermatocytes, whereas in the KO testis, ERK2 was primarily localized in the nuclei of these cells and only little staining remained in the cytoplasm. Moreover, in PEA-15-deficient mice, significantly increased numbers of apoptotic spermatocytes were found, indicating an anti-apoptotic role of PEA-15 during the meiotic prophase. The increased numbers of apoptotic spermatocytes were not found at a specific step in the meiotic prophase.
Full-text · Article · May 2007 · Reproduction (Cambridge, England)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spermatogenesis is a process of terminal differentiation that results in the formation of mature sperm. In the first wave of this differentiation in the mouse testis, different cell types appear in the seminiferous epithelium at specific times. These cytological changes must be accompanied by changes in protein expression patterns. The aim of the present study was the comparative analysis of proteomic profiles of the soluble proteins expressed at different stages of mouse testis development (8, 18 and 45 postnatal days). Conspicuous variations in their accumulation (representing up or downregulation) were detected over the course of development. Using mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF), 44 proteins or variant forms were identified. Proteins with redox or antioxidant activity were identified in high proportions; others involved in lipid and carbohydrate metabolic pathways, as well as a number of proteins or isoforms not previously characterized in testis were also detected. These results contribute to identify changes in soluble protein associated to the complex process of male germ cell differentiation.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2006 · Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part D Genomics and Proteomics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is a major cause of cancer death worldwide. A number of key oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes have been proposed to drive progression from healthy colonic epithelia to malignant tumors, including members of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. Recently, CpG island promoter hypermethylation was shown to cause inactivation of two extracellular Wnt inhibitors in colon cancer: secreted frizzled-related proteins (sFRPs) and Wnt inhibitory factor-1 (WIF-1). Here, we show for the first time that another extracellular Wnt inhibitor, the DICKKOPF-1 (DKK-1) gene, is transcriptionally silenced by CpG island promoter hypermethylation in colon cancer cell lines (n=9), whereas treatment with the DNA-demethylating agent 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine restored DKK-1 expression. Restoration of DKK-1 function in non-expressing cells bearing a truncated APC (Adenomatous Polyposis Coli) gene had no effect on beta-catenin/T-cell factor-dependent transcription, but induced tumor suppressor-like features such as reduced colony formation density and tumor growth inhibition in nude mice. These results suggest additional functions for DKK-1 other than inhibiting canonical Wnt signaling. In primary colorectal tumors, DKK-1 was found hypermethylated in 17% (nine of 54) of cases. Furthermore, while for both SFRP-1 and WIF-1 methylation-associated silencing occurred across the whole spectrum of colorectal tumorigenesis, DKK-1 promoter was selectively hypermethylated in advanced colorectal neoplasms (Duke's C and D tumors).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Werner syndrome (WS) is an inherited disorder characterized by premature onset of aging, genomic instability, and increased cancer incidence. The disease is caused by loss of function mutations of the WRN gene, a RecQ family member with both helicase and exonuclease activities. However, despite its putative tumor-suppressor function, little is known about the contribution of WRN to human sporadic malignancies. Here, we report that WRN function is abrogated in human cancer cells by transcriptional silencing associated with CpG island-promoter hypermethylation. We also show that, at the biochemical and cellular levels, the epigenetic inactivation of WRN leads to the loss of WRN-associated exonuclease activity and increased chromosomal instability and apoptosis induced by topoisomerase inhibitors. The described phenotype is reversed by the use of a DNA-demethylating agent or by the reintroduction of WRN into cancer cells displaying methylation-dependent silencing of WRN. Furthermore, the restoration of WRN expression induces tumor-suppressor-like features, such as reduced colony formation density and inhibition of tumor growth in nude mouse xenograft models. Screening a large collection of human primary tumors (n = 630) from different cell types revealed that WRN CpG island hypermethylation was a common event in epithelial and mesenchymal tumorigenesis. Most importantly, WRN hypermethylation in colorectal tumors was a predictor of good clinical response to the camptothecin analogue irinotecan, a topoisomerase inhibitor commonly used in the clinical setting for the treatment of this tumor type. These findings highlight the importance of WRN epigenetic inactivation in human cancer, leading to enhanced chromosomal instability and hypersensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2006 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Disruption of histone acetylation patterns is a common feature of cancer cells, but very little is known about its genetic basis. We have identified truncating mutations in one of the primary human histone deacetylases, HDAC2, in sporadic carcinomas with microsatellite instability and in tumors arising in individuals with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome. The presence of the HDAC2 frameshift mutation causes a loss of HDAC2 protein expression and enzymatic activity and renders these cells more resistant to the usual antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects of histone deacetylase inhibitors. As such drugs may serve as therapeutic agents for cancer, our findings support the use of HDAC2 mutational status in future pharmacogenetic treatment of these individuals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Monozygous twins share a common genotype. However, most monozygotic twin pairs are not identical; several types of phenotypic discordance may be observed, such as differences in susceptibilities to disease and a wide range of anthropomorphic features. There are several possible explanations for these observations, but one is the existence of epigenetic differences. To address this issue, we examined the global and locus-specific differences in DNA methylation and histone acetylation of a large cohort of monozygotic twins. We found that, although twins are epigenetically indistinguishable during the early years of life, older monozygous twins exhibited remarkable differences in their overall content and genomic distribution of 5-methylcytosine DNA and histone acetylation, affecting their gene-expression portrait. These findings indicate how an appreciation of epigenetics is missing from our understanding of how different phenotypes can be originated from the same genotype.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2005 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of common genomic deletions in the 19q13 chromosomal region in neuroblastomas and gliomas strongly suggests the presence of a putative tumor suppressor gene for these neoplasms in this region that, despite much effort, has not yet been identified. In an attempt to address this issue, we compared the expression profile of 89 neuroblastoma tumors with that of benign ganglioneuromas by microarray analysis. Probe sets (637 of 62,839) were significantly down-regulated in neuroblastoma tumors, including, most importantly, a gene located at 19q13.3: the epithelial membrane protein 3 (EMP3), a myelin-related gene involved in cell proliferation and cell-cell interactions. We found that EMP3 undergoes hypermethylation-mediated transcriptional silencing in neuroblastoma and glioma cancer cell lines, whereas the use of the demethylating agent 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine restores EMP3 gene expression. Furthermore, the reintroduction of EMP3 into neuroblastoma cell lines displaying methylation-dependent silencing of EMP3 induces tumor suppressor-like features, such as reduced colony formation density and tumor growth in nude mouse xenograft models. Screening a large collection of human primary neuroblastomas (n = 116) and gliomas (n = 41), we observed that EMP3 CpG island hypermethylation was present in 24% and 39% of these tumor types, respectively. Furthermore, the detection of EMP3 hypermethylation in neuroblastoma could be clinically relevant because it was associated with poor survival after the first 2 years of onset of the disease (Kaplan-Meier; P = 0.03) and death of disease (Kendall tau, P = 0.03; r = 0.19). Thus, EMP3 is a good candidate for being the long-sought tumor suppressor gene located at 19q13 in gliomas and neuroblastomas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genetic changes underlying in the development and progression of familial breast cancer are poorly understood. To identify a somatic genetic signature of tumor progression for each familial group, BRCA1, BRCA2, and non-BRCA1/BRCA2 (BRCAX) tumors, by high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization, we have analyzed 77 tumors previously characterized for BRCA1 and BRCA2 germ line mutations. Based on a combination of the somatic genetic changes observed at the six most different chromosomal regions and the status of the estrogen receptor, we developed using random forests a molecular classifier, which assigns to a given tumor a probability to belong either to the BRCA1 or to the BRCA2 class. Because 76.5% (26 of 34) of the BRCAX cases were classified with our predictor to the BRCA1 class with a probability of >50%, we analyzed the BRCA1 promoter region for aberrant methylation in all the BRCAX cases. We found that 15 of the 34 BRCAX analyzed tumors had hypermethylation of the BRCA1 gene. When we considered the predictor, we observed that all the cases with this epigenetic event were assigned to the BRCA1 class with a probability of >50%. Interestingly, 84.6% of the cases (11 of 13) assigned to the BRCA1 class with a probability >80% had an aberrant methylation of the BRCA1 promoter. This fact suggests that somatic BRCA1 inactivation could modify the profile of tumor progression in most of the BRCAX cases.
No preview · Article · Mar 2005 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer cells are characterized by a generalized disruption of the DNA methylation pattern involving an overall decrease in the level of 5-methylcytosine together with regional hypermethylation of particular CpG islands. The extent of both DNA hypomethylation and hypermethylation in the tumor cell is likely to reflect distinctive biological and clinical features, although no studies have addressed its concurrent analysis until now. DNA methylation profiles in sporadic colorectal carcinomas, synchronous adenoma-carcinoma pairs and their matching normal mucosa were analyzed by using the amplification of inter-methylated sites (AIMS) method. A total of 208 AIMS generated sequences were tagged and evaluated for differential methylation. Global indices of hypermethylation and hypomethylation were calculated. All tumors displayed altered patterns of DNA methylation in reference to normal tissue. On average, 24% of the tagged sequences were differentially methylated in the tumor in regard to the normal pair with an overall prevalence of hypomethylations to hypermethylations. Carcinomas exhibited higher levels of hypermethylation than did adenomas but similar levels of hypomethylation. Indices of hypomethylation and hypermethylation showed independent correlations with patient's sex, tumor staging and specific gene hypermethylation. Hierarchical cluster analysis revealed two main patterns of DNA methylation that were associated to particular mutational spectra in the K-ras and the p53 genes and alternative correlates of hypomethylation and hypermethylation with survival. We conclude that DNA hypermethylation and hypomethylation are independent processes and appear to play different roles in colorectal tumor progression. Subgroups of colorectal tumors show specific genetic and epigenetic signatures and display distinctive correlates with overall survival.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2005 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whereas accepted models of tumorigenesis exist for genetic lesions, the timing of epigenetic alterations in cancer is not clearly understood. We have analyzed the profile of aberrations in DNA methylation occurring in cells lines and primary tumors of one of the best-characterized mouse carcinogenesis systems, the multistage skin cancer progression model. Initial analysis using high-performance capillary electrophoresis and immunolocalization revealed a loss of genomic 5-methylcytosine associated with the degree of tumor aggressiveness. Paradoxically, this occurs in the context of a growing number of hypermethylated CpG islands of tumor suppressor genes at the most malignant stages of carcinogenesis. We have observed this last phenomenon using two approaches, a candidate gene approach, studying genes with well-known methylation-associated silencing in human tumors, and a mouse cDNA microarray expression analysis after treatment with DNA demethylating drugs. The transition from epithelial to spindle cell morphology is particularly associated with major epigenetic alterations, such as E-cadherin methylation, demethylation of the Snail promoter, and a decrease of the global DNA methylation. Analysis of data obtained from the cDNA microarray strategy led to the identification of new genes that undergo methylation-associated silencing and have growth-inhibitory effects, such as the insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3. Most importantly, all of the above genes were also hypermethylated in human cancer cell lines and primary tumors, underlining the value of the mouse skin carcinogenesis model for the study of aberrant DNA methylation events in cancer cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The DNA repair enzyme O(6)-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) inhibits the killing of tumor cells by alkylating agents, and its loss in cancer cells is associated with hypermethylation of the MGMT CpG island. Thus, methylation of MGMT has been correlated with the clinical response to 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) in primary gliomas. Here, we investigate whether the presence of MGMT methylation in gliomas is also a good predictor of response to another emergent alkylating agent, temozolomide.
Using a methylation-specific PCR approach, we assessed the methylation status of the CpG island of MGMT in 92 glioma patients who received temozolomide as first-line chemotherapy or as treatment for relapses.
Methylation of the MGMT promoter positively correlated with the clinical response in the glioma patients receiving temozolomide as first-line chemotherapy (n = 40). Eight of 12 patients with MGMT-methylated tumors (66.7%) had a partial or complete response, compared with 7 of 28 patients with unmethylated tumors (25.0%; P = 0.030). We also found a positive association between MGMT methylation and clinical response in those patients receiving BCNU (n = 35, P = 0.041) or procarbazine/1-(2-chloroethyl)-3-cyclohexyl-1-nitrosourea (n = 17, P = 0.043) as first-line chemotherapy. Overall, if we analyze the clinical response of all of the first-line chemotherapy treatments with temozolomide, BCNU, and procarbazine/1-(2-chloroethyl)-3-cyclohexyl-1-nitrosourea as a group in relation to the MGMT methylation status, MGMT hypermethylation was strongly associated with the presence of partial or complete clinical response (P < 0.001). Finally, the MGMT methylation status determined in the initial glioma tumor did not correlate with the clinical response to temozolomide when this drug was administered as treatment for relapses (P = 0.729).
MGMT methylation predicts the clinical response of primary gliomas to first-line chemotherapy with the alkylating agent temozolomide. These results may open up possibilities for more customized treatments of human brain tumors.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2004 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: LKB1, a tumor-suppressor gene that codifies for a serine/threonine kinase, is mutated in the germ-line of patients affected with the Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS), which have an increased incidence of several cancers including gastrointestinal, pancreatic and lung carcinomas. Regarding tumors arising in non-PJS patients, we recently observed that at least one-third of lung adenocarcinomas (LADs) harbor somatic LKB1 gene mutations, supporting a role for LKB1 in the origin of some sporadic tumors. To characterize the pattern of LKB1 mutations in LADs further, we first screened for LKB1 gene alterations (gene mutations, promoter hypermethylation and homozygous deletions) in 19 LADs and, in agreement with our previous data, five of them (26%) were shown to harbor mutations, all of which gave rise to a truncated protein. Recent reports demonstrate that LKB1 is able to suppress cell growth, but little is known about the specific mechanism by which it functions. To further our understanding of LKB1 function, we analysed global expression in lung primary tumors using cDNA microarrays to identify LKB1-specific variations in gene expression. In all, 34 transcripts, 24 of which corresponded to known genes, differed significantly between tumors with and without LKB1 gene alterations. Among the most remarkable findings was deregulation of transcripts involved in signal transduction (e.g. FRAP1/mTOR, ARAF1 and ROCK2), cytoskeleton (e.g. MPP1), transcription factors (e.g. MEIS2, ATF5), metabolism of AMP (AMPD3 and APRT) and ubiquitinization (e.g. USP16 and UBE2L3). Real-time quantitative RT-PCR on 15 tumors confirmed the upregulation of the homeobox MEIS2 and of the AMP-metabolism AMPD3 transcripts in LKB1-mutant tumors. In addition, immunohistochemistry in 10 of the lung tumors showed the absence of phosphorylated FRAP1/mTOR protein in LKB1-mutant tumors, indicating that LKB1 mutations do not lead to FRAP1/mTOR protein kinase activation. In conclusion, our results reveal that several important factors contribute to LKB1-mediated carcinogenesis in LADs, confirming previous observations and identifying new putative pathways that should help to elucidate the biological role of LKB1.