[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Hedgehog signaling pathway is one of the most dysregulated pathways in human cancers. The glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (GLI1) transcription factor is the terminal effector of the Hedgehog pathway, frequently activated in human breast cancer and an emerging target of breast cancer therapy. While somatic mutations in the human GLI1 gene have never been reported in any cell or tumor type, we recently uncovered the existence of a novel alternatively spliced, truncated GLI1 (tGLI1) that has an in-frame deletion of 41 codons spanning the entire exon 3 and part of exon 4 of the GLI1 gene. Using glioblastoma models, we showed that tGLI1 has gained the ability to promote glioblastoma migration and invasion via its gain-of-function transcriptional activity. However, the pathological impact of tGLI1 on breast cancer remains undefined. Here, we report that tGLI1 is frequently expressed in human breast cancer cell lines and primary specimens we have examined to date, but is undetectable in normal breast tissues. We found for the first time that tGLI1, but not GLI1, binds to and enhances the human vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) gene promoter, leading to its upregulation. Consequently, tGLI1-expressing MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells secret higher levels of VEGF-A and contain a higher propensity, than the isogenic cells with control vector and GLI1, to stimulate in vitro angiogenesis of human vascular endothelial cells. We further showed that tGLI1 has gained the ability to enhance the motility and invasiveness of breast cancer cells in a proliferation-independent manner and that this functional gain is associated with increased expression of migration/invasion-associated genes, CD24, MMP-2 and MMP-9. tGLI1 has also acquired the property to facilitate anchorage-independent growth of breast cancer cells. Collectively, our results define tGLI1 as a gain-of-function GLI1 transcription factor and a novel mediator of the behavior of clinically more aggressive breast cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays an essential role in normal development, tumorigenesis and malignant biology of human cancers, and is known to undergo intracellular trafficking to subcellular organelles. Although several studies have shown that EGFR translocates into the mitochondria in cancer cells, it remains unclear whether mitochondrially localized EGFR has an impact on the cells and whether EGFRvIII, a constitutively activated variant of EGFR, undergoes mitochondrial transport similar to EGFR.
We report that both receptors translocate into the mitochondria of human glioblastoma and breast cancer cells, following treatments with the apoptosis inducers, staurosporine and anisomycin, and with an EGFR kinase inhibitor. Using mutant EGFR/EGFRvIII receptors engineered to undergo enriched intracellular trafficking into the mitochondria, we showed that glioblastoma cells expressing the mitochondrially enriched EGFRvIII were more resistant to staurosporine- and anisomycin-induced growth suppression and apoptosis and were highly resistant to EGFR kinase inhibitor-mediated growth inhibition.
These findings indicate that apoptosis inducers and EGFR-targeted inhibitors enhance mitochondrial translocalization of both EGFR and EGFRvIII and that mitochondrial accumulation of these receptors contributes to tumor drug resistance. The findings also provide evidence for a potential link between the mitochondrial EGFR pathway and apoptosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence indicates a novel mode of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling, notably, one involves EGFR nuclear translocalization and subsequent gene activation. To date, however, the significance of the nuclear EGFR pathway in glioblastoma (GBM) is unknown. Here, we report that EGFR and its constitutively activated variant EGFRvIII undergo nuclear translocalization in GBM cells, in which the former event requires EGF stimulation and the latter is constitutive. To gain insights into the effect of nuclear EGFR on gene expression in GBM, we created isogenic GBM cell lines, namely, U87MG-vector, U87MG-EGFR, and U87MG-EGFRdNLS that, respectively, express the control vector, EGFR, and nuclear entry-defective EGFR with a deletion of the nuclear localization signal (NLS). Microarray analysis shows that 19 genes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), to be activated in U87MG-EGFR cells but not in U87MG-EGFRdNLS and U87MG-vector cells. Subsequent validation studies indicate that COX-2 gene is expressed at higher levels in cells with EGFR and EGFRvIII than those with EGFRdNLS and EGFRvIIIdNLS. Nuclear EGFR and its transcriptional cofactor signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) associate with the COX-2 promoter. Increased expression of EGFR/EGFRvIII and activated STAT3 leads to the synergistic activation of the COX-2 promoter. Promoter mutational analysis identified a proximal STAT3-binding site that is required for EGFR/EGFRvIII-STAT3-mediated COX-2 gene activation. In GBM tumors, an association exists between levels of COX-2, EGFR/EGFRvIII, and activated STAT3. Together, these findings indicate the existence of the nuclear EGFR/EGFRvIII signaling pathway in GBM and its functional interaction with STAT3 to activate COX-2 gene expression, thus linking EGFR-STAT3 and EGFRvIII-STAT3 signaling axes to proinflammatory COX-2 mediated pathway.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2010 · Molecular Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: EGFR and its constitutively activated variant EGFRvIII are linked to glioblastoma resistance to therapy, the mechanisms underlying this association, however, are still unclear. We report that in glioblastoma, EGFR/EGFRvIII paradoxically co-expresses with p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), a proapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins primarily located on the mitochondria. EGFR/EGFRvIII binds to PUMA constitutively and under apoptotic stress, and subsequently sequesters PUMA in the cytoplasm. The EGFR-PUMA interaction is independent of EGFR activation and is sustained under EGFR inhibition. A Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor that mimics PUMA activity sensitizes EGFR/EGFRvIII-expressing glioblastoma cells to Iressa. Collectively, we uncovered a novel kinase-independent function of EGFR/EGFRvIII that leads to tumor drug resistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The family of GLI zinc finger transcription factors regulates the expression of genes involved in many important cellular processes, notably embryonal development and cellular differentiation. The glioma-associated oncogene homologue 1 (GLI1) isoform, in particular, has attracted much attention because of its frequent activation in many human cancers and its interactions with other signaling pathways, such as those mediated by K-RAS, transforming growth factor-beta, epidermal growth factor receptor, and protein kinase A. Here, we report the identification of a novel truncated GLI1 splice variant, tGLI1, with an in-frame deletion of 123 bases (41 codons) spanning the entire exon 3 and part of exon 4 of the GLI1 gene. Expression of tGLI1 is undetectable in normal cells but is high in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and other cancer cells. Although tGLI1 undergoes nuclear translocalization and transactivates GLI1-binding sites similar to GLI1, unlike GLI1, it is associated with increased motility and invasiveness of GBM cells. Using microarray analysis, we showed >100 genes to be differentially expressed in tGLI1-expressing compared with GLI1-expressing GBM cells, although both cell types expressed equal levels of known GLI1-regulated genes, such as PTCH1. We further showed one of the tGLI1 up-regulated genes, CD24, an invasion-associated gene, to be required for the migratory and invasive phenotype of GBM cells. These data provide conclusive evidence for a novel gain-of-function GLI1 splice variant that promotes migration and invasiveness of GBM cells and open up a new research paradigm on the role of the GLI1 pathway in malignancy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The goals of this study are to elucidate the relationship of the oncogenic transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) with glioma aggressiveness and to understand the role of high STAT3 activity in the resistance of malignant gliomas and medulloblastomas to chemotherapy.
Immunohistochemical staining and biochemical methods were used to examine the extent of STAT3 activation and EGFR expression in primary specimens and cell lines, respectively. Cellular response to drug treatments was determined using cell cytotoxicity and clonogenic growth assays.
We found STAT3 to be constitutively activated in 60% of primary high-grade/malignant gliomas and the extent of activation correlated positively with glioma grade. High levels of activated/phosphorylated STAT3 were also present in cultured human malignant glioma and medulloblastoma cells. Three STAT3-activating kinases, Janus-activated kinase 2 (JAK2), EGFR, and EGFRvIII, contributed to STAT3 activation. An inhibitor to JAK2/STAT3, JSI-124, significantly reduced expression of STAT3 target genes, suppressed cancer cell growth, and induced apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that STAT3 constitutive activation coexisted with EGFR expression in 27.2% of primary high-grade/malignant gliomas and such coexpression correlated positively with glioma grade. Combination of an anti-EGFR agent Iressa and a JAK2/STAT3 inhibitor synergistically suppressed STAT3 activation and potently killed glioblastoma cell lines that expressed EGFR or EGFRvIII. JSI-124 also sensitized malignant glioma and medulloblastoma cells to temozolomide, 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea, and cisplatin in which a synergism existed between JSI-124 and cisplatin.
STAT3 constitutive activation, alone and in concurrence with EGFR expression, plays an important role in high-grade/malignant gliomas and targeting STAT3/JAK2 sensitizes these tumors to anti-EGFR and alkylating agents.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) is involved in multiple cellular functions, including phase II metabolism, stress response, signaling, and apoptosis. The mechanisms underlying the significantly high GSTP1 expression in many human tumors are, however, currently not well understood. We report here that the GSTP1 gene is a heretofore unrecognized downstream transcriptional target of the tumor suppressor p53. We identified a p53-binding motif comprising two consecutive half-sites located in intron 4 of the GSTP1 gene and is highly homologous to consensus p53-binding motifs in other p53-responsive genes. Using a combination of electrophoretic mobility shift assay and DNase I footprinting analyses, we showed that wild-type p53 protein binds to the GSTP1 p53 motif and luciferase reporter assays showed the motif to be transcriptionally functional in human tumor cells. In a temperature-sensitive p53-mutant cells, levels of both p21/WAF1 and GSTP1 gene transcripts increased time dependently when cells were switched from the inactive mutant state to the wild-type p53 state. Small interfering RNA-mediated reduction of p53 expression resulted in a specific decrease in GSTP1 expression and in tumor cells with mutated p53; adenovirally mediated expression of wild-type p53 increased GSTP1 expression significantly. In a panel of early-passage brain tumor cultures from patients, high levels of GSTP1 transcripts and protein were associated with wild-type p53 and, conversely, low GSTP1 levels with mutant p53. p53 expression knockdown by small interfering RNA increased cisplatin sensitivity. The ability of wild-type p53 to transcriptionally activate the human GSTP1 gene defines a novel mechanism of protecting the genome and, potentially, of tumor drug resistance.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2008 · Molecular Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aberrant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling is a major cause of tumor progression and metastasis; the underlying mechanisms, however, are not well understood. In particular, it remains elusive whether deregulated EGFR pathway is involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), an early event that occurs during metastasis of cancers of an epithelial origin. Here, we show that EGF induces EGFR-expressing cancer cells to undergo a transition from the epithelial to the spindle-like mesenchymal morphology. EGF reduced E-cadherin expression and increased that of mesenchymal proteins. In search of a downstream mediator that may account for EGF-induced EMT, we focused on transcription repressors of E-cadherin, TWIST, SLUG, and Snail and found that cancer cells express high levels of TWIST and that EGF enhances its expression. EGF significantly increases TWIST transcripts and protein in EGFR-expressing lines. Forced expression of EGFR reactivates TWIST expression in EGFR-null cells. TWIST expression is suppressed by EGFR and Janus-activated kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) inhibitors, but not significantly by those targeting phosphoinositide-3 kinase and MEK/ERK. Furthermore, constitutively active STAT3 significantly activates the TWIST promoter, whereas the JAK/STAT3 inhibitor and dominant-negative STAT3 suppressed TWIST promoter. Deletion/mutation studies further show that a 26-bp promoter region contains putative STAT3 elements required for the EGF-responsiveness of the TWIST promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further show that EGF induces binding of nuclear STAT3 to the TWIST promoter. Immunohistochemical analysis of 130 primary breast carcinomas indicates positive correlations between non-nuclear EGFR and TWIST and between phosphorylated STAT3 and TWIST. Together, we report here that EGF/EGFR signaling pathways induce cancer cell EMT via STAT3-mediated TWIST gene expression.