[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein complex mainly composed of the reverse transcriptase catalytic subunit (hTERT) and the RNA component (hTR), is a key enzyme of cancer progression. That aggressive stage 4-Neuroblastoma expressed high levels of telomerase activity, whereas favourable tumors had no or little telomerase expression and activity prompted us to investigate the role of this enzyme in this tumor model of altered proliferation, neuronal differentiation and apoptosis. A human MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell line (IGR-N-91) was engineered to stably express either the normal hTERT protein (WT-hTERT) or a catalytically-inactive dominant-negative mutant of this protein (DN-hTERT). We demonstrated that DN-hTERT expression inhibited the endogenous hTERT in the malignant neuroblasts without telomere shortening nor loss of in vitro proliferative capacity. Importantly, DN-hTERT expression induced major changes in cell morphology of neuroblasts that switched them from a neuronal to a substrate adherent phenotype, which was more prone to apoptosis and lost their tumorigenic properties in nude mice. These biological effects arose from modifications in the expression of genes involved in both apoptosis and NB biology. Taken together these results highlighted the functional relevance of non-canonical functions of hTERT in the determination of neuroblast cell fate. Therefore, our results envision new therapeutic strategies for metastatic neuroblastoma therapeutic management.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imatinib mesylate has shown remarkable efficacy in the treatment of patients in the chronic phase of chronic myeloid leukemia. However, despite an overall significant hematological and cytogenetic response, imatinib therapy may favor the emergence of drug-resistant clones, ultimately leading to relapse. Some imatinib resistance mechanisms had not been fully elucidated yet. In this study we used sensitive and resistant sublines from a Bcr-Abl positive cell line to investigate the putative involvement of telomerase in the promotion of imatinib resistance. We showed that sensitivity to imatinib can be partly restored in imatinib-resistant cells by targeting telomerase expression, either by the introduction of a dominant-negative form of the catalytic protein subunit of the telomerase (hTERT) or by the treatment with all-trans-retinoic acid, a clinically used drug. Furthermore, we showed that hTERT overexpression favors the development of imatinib resistance through both its antiapoptotic and telomere maintenance functions. Therefore, combining antitelomerase strategies to imatinib treatment at the beginning of the treatment should be promoted to reduce the risk of imatinib resistance development and increase the probability of eradicating the disease.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The expression of hTERT gene, encoding the catalytic subunit of telomerase, is a feature of most cancer cells. Changes in the chromatin environment of its promoter and binding of transcriptional factors have been reported in differentiating cells when its transcription is repressed. However, it is not clear whether these changes are directly involved in this repression or only linked to differentiation. In a maturation-resistant acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) cell line (NB4-LR1), we have previously identified a new pathway of retinoid-induced hTERT repression independent of differentiation. Using a variant of this cell line (NB4-LR1(SFD)), which resists to this repression, we show that although distinct patterns of histone modifications and transcription factor binding at the proximal domain of hTERT gene promoter could concur to modulate its expression, this region is not sufficient to the on/off switch of hTERT by retinoids. DNA methylation analysis of the hTERT promoter led to the identification of two distinct functional domains, a proximal one, fully unmethylated in both cell lines, and a distal one, significantly methylated in NB4-LR1(SFD) cells, whose methylation was further re-enforced by retinoid treatment. Interestingly, we showed that the binding to this distal domain of a known hTERT repressor, WT1, was defective only in NB4-LR1(SFD) cells. We propose that epigenetic modifications targeting this distal region could modulate the binding of hTERT repressors and account either for hTERT reactivation and resistance to retinoid-induced hTERT downregulation.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · Leukemia: official journal of the Leukemia Society of America, Leukemia Research Fund, U.K
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human telomerase is a nuclear ribonucleoprotein enzyme complex that catalyzes the synthesis and extension of telomeric DNA. This enzyme is highly expressed and active in most malignant tumors while it is usually not or transiently detectable in normal somatic cells, suggesting that it plays an important role in cellular immortalization and tumorigenesis. As most leukemic cells are generally telomerase-positive and have often shortened telomeres, our understanding of how telomerase is deregulated in these diseases could help to define novel therapies targeting the telomere/telomerase complex. Nonetheless, considering that normal hematopoietic stem cells and some of their progeny do express a functional telomerase, it is tempting to consider such an activity in leukemias as a sustained stemness feature and important to understand how telomere length and telomerase activity are regulated in the various forms of leukemias.
Full-text · Article · May 2009 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the acute promyelocytic leukemia cell line, NB4, activation of the CD44 receptor triggers apoptosis. This pathway does not operate in the retinoid-maturation-resistant NB4-LR1 subclone. In this work, we show that the CD44 gene is silenced in these cells. The molecular defect involves DNA methylation of cytosine phosphate guanine (CpG) island and underacetylation of histone H3 at CD44 promoter. The methylating inhibitor 5-aza-CdR and cyclic AMP (cAMP) reverse the CD44 gene silencing. Contrary to 5-aza-CdR, cAMP does not induce DNA demethylation or histone modification at the CD44 promoter, whereas an H3pS10/AcK14 dual modification is observed on a global level. cAMP also induces the expression of c-Jun transcription factor and its recruitment at the CD44 promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further show the association of brahma (Brm), a subunit of SWI/SNF chromatin-remodelling complex involved in the crosstalk between transcription and RNA polymerase II (RNA Pol II) processing, as well as the binding of phosphorylated RNA Pol II to the proximal promoter region of CD44. Finally, our study reveals that cAMP re-establishes the CD44-mediated cell death signalling. We propose that one of the actions of cAMP in restoring normal cell phenotype of leukaemia cells may consist in a broad trans-reactivation of silenced genes, despite marked hypermethylation of their promoters, as illustrated here with CD44 re-expression.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · Leukemia: official journal of the Leukemia Society of America, Leukemia Research Fund, U.K
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The involvement of telomerase in cellular immortalization and senescence has often been assessed by means of telomerase expression at the RNA level and quantification of telomerase activity by the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay. However, these methods either neglected the existence of various telomerase splice variants, or ignored the nonconventional functions of telomerase independent of its ability to elongate and maintain telomere length. Immunodetection of telomerase is now being recognized as a necessary approach to precisely elucidate its roles in oncogenesis and senescence. A few antibodies directed against the catalytic subunit of the human telomerase (hTERT) are currently used but their specificity is not always demonstrated. A survey of the literature showed inconsistencies and led us to comparatively re-evaluate the most frequently used antibodies. Surprisingly, mass spectrometry, two-dimensional gel analysis and immunofluorescent experiments revealed that the most frequently used hTERT immunoprobe, a mouse monoclonal antibody that was claimed to be directed against an hTERT protein epitope, in fact recognizes nucleolin rather than telomerase. Our findings have interesting implications regarding the biology of nucleolin and telomerase in the context of pathophysiological investigations recently carried out.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2006 · Journal of Cell Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomeres are specialized structures at the end of human chromosomes. Telomere length decreases with each cell division, thus, reflecting the mitotic history of somatic cells. Telomerase, the ribonucleoprotein enzyme which maintains telomeres of eukaryotic chromosomes, is up-regulated in the vast majority of human neoplasia but not in normal somatic tissues. In contrast to other somatic cells, normal primitive human hematopoietic cells and some peripheral blood cells expressed low levels of telomerase activity. This activity is thought to play an important role in self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells. In malignant disorders, telomere lengths are generally shortened and telomerase expression and activity enhanced with high differences in the levels. Although it is necessary to be cautious in interpreting these data, there are indications that telomere length and telomerase expression and activity can serve as a molecular marker of the clinical progression and prognosis of most leukemias. Approaches that directly target telomerase, telomeres or telomerase regulatory mechanisms have been developed. Some of these anti-telomerase strategies in combination with conventional drugs proved to be promising in some types of leukemias.
No preview · Article · Jul 2006 · Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Numerous strategies have been proposed to specifically inhibit telomerase (human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)) but to date only a few are clinically relevant in anticancer therapy. Recently, we have shown that long-term treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), a compound clinically approved for differentiation therapy of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), represses hTERT in differentiation-resistant APL cell lines leading to telomere shortening and death. This signaling requires the co-activation of the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARalpha) and the retinoic X receptor (RXR). In contrast to differentiation-therapy, which is only successful in this subtype of leukemia, the telomerase-targeted pathway could also be of use in non-APL. Here, we demonstrate that repression of hTERT occurs in fresh blasts cells from patients with myeloid leukemias of various subtypes exposed ex vivo to ATRA or synthetic retinoids. These results support the idea that, by hTERT targeting, retinoids can induce telomere shortening and cell death and their integration in therapy protocols for myeloid leukemias refractory to maturation should be considered.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomeres are located at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. Human telomerase, a cellular reverse transcriptase, is a ribonucleoprotein enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis and extension of telomeric DNA. It is composed of at least, a template RNA component (hTR; human Telomerase RNA) and a catalytic subunit, the telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). The absence of telomerase is associated with telomere shortening and aging of somatic cells, while high telomerase activity is observed in over 85% of human cancer cells, strongly indicating its key role during tumorigenesis. Several details regarding telomere structure and telomerase regulation have already been elucidated, providing new targets for therapeutic exploitation. Further support for anti-telomerase approaches comes from recent studies indicating that telomerase is endowed of additional functions in the control of growth and survival of tumor cells that do not depend only on the ability of this enzyme to maintain telomere length. This observation suggests that inhibiting telomerase or its synthesis may have additional anti-proliferative and apoptosis inducing effect, independently of the reduction of telomere length during cell divisions. This article reviews the basic information about the biology of telomeres and telomerase and attempts to present various approaches that are currently under investigation to inhibit its expression and its activity. We summarize herein distinct anti-telomerase approaches like antisense strategies, reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and G-quadruplex interacting agents, and also review molecules targeting hTERT expression, such as retinoids and evaluate them for their therapeutic potential. "They conceive a certain theory, and everything has to fit into that theory. If one little fact will not fit it, they throw it aside. But it is always the facts that will not fit in that are significant". "Death on the Nile". Agatha Christie.
No preview · Article · Apr 2006 · Current Cancer Drug Targets
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is efficiently treated with a cell differentiation inducer, all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). However, a significant percentage of patients still develop resistance to this treatment. Recently, arsenic trioxide (As2O3), alone or in combination with ATRA, has been identified as an alternative therapy in patients with both ATRA-sensitive and ATRA-resistant APL. Previous investigations restricted the mechanism of this synergism to the modulation and/or degradation of PML-RARalpha oncoprotein through distinct pathways. In this study, using several ATRA maturation-resistant APL cell lines, we demonstrate in vitro that the success of ATRA/As2O3 treatment in APL pathology can be explained, at least in part, by a synergistic effect of these two drugs in triggering downregulation of telomerase efficient enough to cause telomere shortening and subsequent cell death. Such long-term low-dose combinatorial therapy strategies, developed also to avoid acute side effects, reinforce the notion that the antitelomerase strategy, based on a combination of active agents, should now be considered and evaluated not only in APL but also in other malignancies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is presently one of the most obvious targets for cancer treatment as its frequent inactivation in tumors contributes to carcinogenesis as well as resistance to chemotherapy. As knowledge of the apoptotic pathways and their regulation increases, it becomes obvious that this regulation is more complex than previously expected. Furthermore, there is growing evidence that alternative signalling pathways for cell death have to be considered. Understanding all the molecular events that regulate cell death may provide new opportunities for pathway-based rational therapy and for drug development. This review will focus on the emerging knowledge about these pathways and how this knowledge may be translated into more effective treatments for cancer.
No preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Bulletin du cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human telomerase has been implicated in cell immortalization and cancer. Recent works suggest that telomerase confers additional function required for tumorigenesis that does not depend on its ability to maintain telomeres. This new action may influence tumor therapy outcomes by yet unraveled mechanisms. Here, we show that overexpression of the catalytic subunit of telomerase (hTERT) protects a maturation-resistant acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) cell line from apoptosis induced by the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) or TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and not from apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic drugs such as etoposide or cisplatin. Conversely, in these cells, TRAIL-induced cell death is magnified by all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) treatment, independently of telomerase activity on telomeres. Of note, this response is subordinated neither to maturation nor to telomere shortening. This work underlines that retinoids and death receptor signaling cross-talks offer new perspectives for antitumor therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Induction and execution of apoptosis programs are generally believed to be mediated through a hierarchy of caspase activation. By using two cellular variants obtained from the L1210 cell line (L1210/S and L1210/0), we have shown previously that staurosporine induces apoptotic cell death through both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent pathways. Both pathways normally coexisted in L1210/S cells, whereas L1210/0 cells lacked the ability to activate caspases despite the confirmed presence of both procaspase-3 and -9. Here we show that this defect in caspase activation is not due to mechanisms such as an absence of cytochrome c release, the expression of non-functional caspases, or the presence of an endogenous inhibitor but results from the loss of apoptosis protease activator protein-1 (APAF-1) expression. This absence of APAF-1 protein results from multiple alterations at both genomic and transcriptional levels. However, although this lack of APAF-1 delays the apoptotic program, it does not hamper its execution. Importantly, in these cells, apoptosis develops not only in an APAF-1-independent way but also in the absence of caspase-3 and -9 activation. Altogether these findings provide evidence that apoptosis may occur through alternative signaling pathways independent of APAF-1 expression and totally dissociated from any caspase processing. Therefore, the L1210/0 variant sub-line provides a valuable tool for the elucidation of these pathways.
No preview · Article · Sep 2003 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is an essential physiological process that plays a critical role in development and cellular homeoastasis. This process is tightly regulated through multiple independent signalling pathways. Defects in apoptosis may contribute both to tumorigenesis and drug resistance. Understanding the molecular events that contribute to apoptosis enable a more rational approach to anticancer strategy development. These strategies will allow not only the development of new molecules targeting recently elucidated apoptotic signalling pathways, but also a better use of already kown drugs through new associations in so far as these target distinct signalling pathways.
No preview · Article · Feb 2003 · Bulletin du cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cellular prion protein (PrPc) is a sialoglycoprotein involved in the pathogenesis of prion diseases. It has been identified at the plasma membrane of several cell types. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is known to induce differentiation of human leukemia cell lines in vitro. PrPc messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and protein are down-regulated upon ATRA-induced differentiation of HL60 cells. In this report, we have investigated the regulation of PrPc mRNA and protein expression during ATRA-treatment of maturation-sensitive (NB4) and -resistant (NB4-R1 and NB4-R2) cell lines. In ATRA-induced maturation of NB4 cells, down-regulation of PrPc mRNA and protein were observed. We also show that down-regulation of PrPc mRNA is dependent on protein synthesis. Moreover, the same down-regulation of prion protein by ATRA was observed at the surface of maturation-resistant, ATRA-responsive NB4-R1 cells. In contrast, the maturation-resistant and ATRA-unresponsive NB4-R2 subline showed no variation in membrane prion protein expression. These results demonstrate a dissociation between the regulation of prion protein expression by ATRA and the process of granulocyte maturation. We propose that retinoids should be investigated further as a preventive strategy to slow down prion disease progression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: On their own, retinoid X receptor (RXR)-selective ligands (rexinoids) are silent in retinoic acid receptor (RAR)-RXR heterodimers, and no selective rexinoid program has been described as yet in cellular systems. We report here on the rexinoid signaling capacity that triggers apoptosis of immature promyelocytic NB4 cells as a default pathway in the absence of survival factors. Rexinoid-induced apoptosis displays all features of bona fide programmed cell death and is inhibited by RXR, but not RAR antagonists. Several types of survival signals block rexinoid-induced apoptosis. RARalpha agonists switch the cellular response toward differentiation and induce the expression of antiapoptosis factors. Activation of the protein kinase A pathway in the presence of rexinoid agonists induces maturation and blocks immature cell apoptosis. Addition of nonretinoid serum factors also blocks cell death but does not induce cell differentiation. Rexinoid-induced apoptosis is linked to neither the presence nor stability of the promyelocytic leukemia-RARalpha fusion protein and operates also in non-acute promyelocytic leukemia cells. Together our results support a model according to which rexinoids activate in certain leukemia cells a default death pathway onto which several other signaling paradigms converge. This pathway is entirely distinct from that triggered by RAR agonists, which control cell maturation and postmaturation apoptosis.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2001 · Molecular Endocrinology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sensitivity of tumor cells to anticancer therapy depends on the ability of the drug to induce apoptosis. However, multiple signaling pathways control this induction and thus determine this sensitivity. We report here that staurosporine, a well known inducer of apoptosis in a wide range of cell lines, displays distinct ability to trigger apoptosis in two different L1210 sublines (termed L1210/S and L1210/0). Staurosporine treatment resulted in an early cell death (within 3 h) in L1210/S cells, while in L1210/0 cells, death occurred only after 12 h. In both instances, death occurred by apoptosis. A broad spectrum caspase inhibitor, Z-VAD-fmk, blocked early apoptosis in L1210/S cells but did not confer any protection on late apoptosis in L1210/0 cells. Protection by Z-VAD-fmk observed in L1210/S cells was not lasting and unmasked a secondary process of cell death that also exhibited characteristics of apoptosis. Thus, staurosporine induces apoptotic cell death through at least two redundant parallel pathways. These two pathways normally coexist in L1210/S cells. However, the early cell death mechanism depending on caspase activation disguises the late caspase-independent apoptotic process. Staurosporine-induced apoptosis in L1210/0 cells develops only by the caspase-independent mechanism due to a general defect in caspase activation.