[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activation of the stem cell transcriptional circuitry is an important event in cancer development. Although cancer cells demonstrate a stem cell-like gene expression signature, the epigenetic regulation of pluripotency-associated genes in cancers remains poorly understood. In this study, we characterized the epigenetic regulation of the pluripotency-associated genes NANOG, OCT4, c-MYC, KLF4, and SOX2 in a variety of cancer cell lines and in primary tumor samples, and investigated the re-activation of pluripotency regulatory circuits in cancer progression. Differential patterns of DNA methylation, histone modifications, and gene expression of pluripotent genes were demonstrated in different types of cancers, which may reflect their tissue origins. NANOG promoter hypomethylation and gene upregulation were found in metastatic human liver cancer cells and human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) primary tumor tissues. The upregulation of NANOG, together with p53 depletion, was significantly associated with clinical late stage of HCC. A pro-metastatic role of NANOG in colon cancer cells was also demonstrated, using a NANOG-overexpressing orthotopic tumor implantation mouse model. Demethylation of NANOG promoter was observed in CD133+(high) cancer cells. In accordance, overexpression of NANOG resulted in an increase in the population of CD133+(high) cells. In addition, we demonstrated a cross-regulation between OCT4 and NANOG in cancer cells via reprogramming of promoter methylation. Taken together, epigenetic reprogramming of NANOG can lead to the acquisition of stem cell-like properties. These results underscore the restoration of pluripotency circuits in cancer cells as a potential mechanism for cancer progression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Liver transplantation (LT) is a cure for many liver diseases. Blood chimerism of donor origin can develop after LT, which raises the possibility of the existence of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) in the liver. We characterized the blood chimerism in a large cohort of 249 LT patients and analyzed putative HSPCs in adult human livers. The overall incidence of chimerism was 6.43%, of which 11.11% was among short-term (1 day to 6 months) and 3.77% was among long-term (6 months to 8 years) LT patients. Hematopoietic Lin(-) CD34(+) CD38(-) CD90(+) populations have been demonstrated to generate long-term lymphomyeloid grafts in transplantations. In human adult livers, we detected Lin(-) CD34(+) CD38(-) CD90(+) populations accounting for 0.03% ± 0.017% of the total single liver cells and for 0.05% ± 0.012% of CD45(+) liver cells. Both Lin(-) CD34(+) and Lin(-) CD45(+) liver cells, from extensively perfused human liver grafts, were capable of forming hematopoietic myeloid-lineage and erythroid-lineage methylcellulose colonies. More importantly, Lin(-) CD45(+) or CD45(+) liver cells could be engrafted into hematopoietic cells in an immunodeficient mouse model. These results are the first evidence of the presence of putative HSPC populations in the adult human liver, where the liver is a good ectopic niche. The discovery of the existence of HSPCs in the adult liver have implications for the understanding of extramarrow hematopoiesis, liver regeneration, mechanisms of tolerance in organ transplantation, and de novo cancer recurrence in LT patients. Conclusion: The human adult liver contains a small population of HSPCs. In LT patients, there are two types of chimerisms: transient chimerism, resulting from mature leucocytes, and long-term chimerism, derived from putative HSPCs in the liver graft. (HEPATOLOGY 2012).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chemoresistance presents a major obstacle to the efficacy of chemotherapeutic treatment of cancers. Using chemotherapeutic drugs to select drug-resistant cancer cells in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and several other cancer cell lines, we demonstrate that chemoresistant cells displayed cancer stem cell features, such as increased self-renewal ability, cell motility, multiple drug resistance, and tumorigenicity. Octamer 4 (Oct4) messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were dramatically increased in chemoresistant cancer cells due to DNA demethylation regulation of Oct4. By functional study, Oct4 overexpression enhanced whereas Oct4 knockdown reduced liver cancer cell resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs in vitro and in xenograft tumors. It is known that the Oct4-TCL1-AKT pathway acts on embryonic stem cells and cancer stem cells in cell proliferation through inhibition of apoptosis. We further demonstrate that Oct4 overexpression induced activation of TCL1, AKT, and ABCG2 to mediate chemoresistance, which can be overcome by addition of the PI3K/AKT inhibitor; therefore, a direct pathway of Oct4-TCL1-AKT-ABCG2 or a combination of Oct4-TCL1-AKT with the AKT-ABCG2 pathway could be a potential new mechanism involved in liver cancer cell chemoresistance. Moreover, the clinical significance of the Oct4-AKT-ABCG2 pathway can be demonstrated in HCC patients, with a strong correlation of expression patterns in human HCC tumors. The role of the Oct4-AKT-ABCG2 axis in cancer cell chemoresistant machinery suggests that AKT pathway inhibition (PI3K inhibitors) not only inhibits cancer cell proliferation, but may also enhance chemosensitivity by target potential chemoresistant cells. Conclusion: Oct4, a transcriptional factor of pluripotent cells, can mediate chemoresistance through a potential Oct4-AKT-ABCG2 pathway.