Rapidly accumulating data from large-scale cancer genomics studies have been generating important information about genes and their somatic alterations underlying cell transformation, cancer onset and tumor progression. However, these events are usually defined by using computational techniques, whereas the understanding of their actual functional roles and impact typically warrants validation by experimental means. Critical information has been obtained from targeted genetic perturbation (gene knockout) studies conducted in animals, yet these investigations are cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. In addition, the 3R principles (replacement, reduction, refinement) have been set in place to reduce animal use burden and are increasingly observed in many areas of biomedical research. Consequently, the focus has shifted to new designs of innovative cell-based experimental models of cell immortalization and transformation in which the critical cancer driver events can be introduced by mutagenic insult and studied functionally, at the level of critical phenotypic readouts. From these efforts, primary cell-based selective barrier-bypass models of cell immortalization have emerged as an attractive system that allows studies of the functional relevance of acquired mutations as well as their role as candidate cancer driver events. In this review, we provide an overview of various experimental systems linking carcinogen exposure-driven cell transformation with the study of cancer driver events. We further describe the advantages and disadvantages of the currently available cell-based models while outlining future directions for in vitro modeling and functional testing of cancer driver events.
Coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR) is a single-pass transmembrane protein that is associated with adenoviral infection. CAR is involved in the formation of epithelial tight junctions and promotes tumor growth in some cancers. Previously, we developed mouse monoclonal antibodies against human CAR and found that one, mu6G10A, significantly inhibited tumor growth in xenografts of human cancer cells. Herein, we generated and characterized a mouse-human chimeric anti-CAR antibody (ch6G10A) from mu6G10A. ch6G10A had binding activity, inducing antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and complement-dependent cytotoxicity, and in vivo anti-tumor activity against CAR-expressing prostate cancer DU-145 cells. In addition, cancer tissue array analysis confirmed that CAR is highly expressed in neuroendocrine lung cancers including small cell lung cancer, and treatment with ch6G10A effectively inhibited in vivo subcutaneous tumor growth of NCI-H69 small cell lung cancer cells in nude mice. Moreover, treatment with mu6G10A effectively inhibited both in vivo orthotopic tumor growth and distant metastatic formation in mouse xenograft models of a highly metastatic subline of human small cell lung cancer DMS273 cells. These results suggest that targeting therapy to CAR with a therapeutic antibody might be effective against several cancer types including small cell lung cancer.
Poly ADP-ribose polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) have shown promising therapeutic efficacy in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. However, resistance ultimately develops, preventing a curative effect from being attained. Extensive investigations have indicated the diversity in the mechanisms underlying the PARPi sensitivity of breast cancer. In this study, we found that DNA damage binding protein 2 (DDB2), a DNA damage-recognition factor, could protect TNBC cells from PARPi by regulating DNA double-strand break repair through the homologous recombination pathway, whereas the depletion of DDB2 sensitizes TNBC cells to PARPi. Furthermore, we found that DDB2 was able to stabilize Rad51 by physical association and disrupting its ubiquitination pathway-induced proteasomal degradation. These findings highlight an essential role of DDB2 in modulating homologous recombination pathway activity and suggest a promising therapeutic target for TNBC.
NOP2/Sun domain family, member 2 (NSUN2) is a nuclear RNA methyl-transferase catalyzing 5-methylcytosine formation. Evidence shows that NSUN2 is correlated with cell unlimited proliferation. However, its functional role in gallbladder carcinoma (GBC), which is the most common biliary tract malignancy and has a poor prognosis, remains to be determined. Here we found that NSUN2 was highly expressed in GBC tissues as well as cell lines. NSUN2 silencing repressed GBC cell proliferation and tumorigenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Conversely, upregulation of NSUN2 enhanced GBC cell growth and colony formation. We further discovered that RPL6 was a closely interacting partner with NSUN2. Silencing RPL6 resulted in insufficient NSUN2 translational level and accumulative NSUN2 transcriptional level. Exogenous expression of NSUN2 partially rescued the effect of RPL6 in gallbladder cancer progression. Taken together, our data provided novel mechanic insights into the function of NSUN2 in GBC, thus pointing to NSUN2 as a potential and effective therapeutic approach to GBC treatment.
Neddylation has been researched in many different human carcinomas. However, the roles of neural precursor cell expressed, developmentally downregulated 8 (NEDD8) in bladder cancer are still unknown. Our study was the first study which systematically investigated the possible functions of NEDD8 in bladder cancer (BC) progression. We carried out immunohistochemistry to explore associations between the expression of NEDD8 in tumor tissues and clinical outcomes of patients. RT-qPCR and western blot were used to detect the expressional levels of genes. The biological abilities of cell proliferation, migration and invasion were researched by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Results were as follows: Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database showed that NEDD8 was overexpressed in BC tissues and was associated with poor patient survival. Results of immunohistochemistry found that NEDD8 was significantly associated with poor clinical outcomes of BC patients. Suppression of NEDD8 could inhibit the proliferation, migration and invasion of tumor cells. Knocking down NEDD8 could induce apoptosis and G2 phase arrest of cell cycle progression. In vivo, suppression of NEDD8 restricted growth and metastasis of tumors in mice. In conclusion, NEDD8 has important roles in regulating the progression of BC cells and was associated with poor prognosis of patients; hence, it may become a potential therapeutic target of BC.
Despite receiving rituximab-combined chemotherapy, follicular lymphoma (FL) patients often suffer tumor recurrence and understand that the cause of relapse in FL would thus significantly ameliorate the tumor therapeutics. In the present study, we show that TRA-1-60-expressing cells are a unique population in FL, converge to the conventional stem cell marker Oct3/4 and ALDH1-positive population, and resist current B-lymphoma agents. TRA-1-60 expression was observed in scattered lymphoma cells in FL tissues only as well as in resting B-lymphocytes inside germinal centers. Retrospective comparison between recurrent and cognate primary tissues showed that the number of TRA-1-60-positive cells from rituximab, cyclophosphamide, hydroxydaunorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP)-treated FL had increased relative to primary tissue, a finding corroborated by assays on different rituximab-treated FL cell lines, FL-18 and DOHH2, wherein TRA-positive cell numbers increased over 10-fold compared to the untreated sample. Concordantly, scanty TRA-1-60-positive FL-18 cells implanted s.c. into mice evinced potent tumor-initiating capacity in vivo, where tumors were 12-fold larger in volume (P = 0.0021 < 0.005) and 13-fold heavier in weight (P = 0.0015 < 0.005) compared to those xenografted from TRA-negative cells. To explain these results, gene expression profiling and qPCR analysis indicated that TRA-1-60-positive cells defined a distinct population from that of TRA-negative cells, with upregulation of multiple drug transporters and therapeutic resistance genes. Hence, TRA-1-60-expressing cells in FL are considered to be vigorously intractable against conventional therapeutic agents, which may explain its refractory recurrence.
Accumulating evidence supports a role for exosomal protein in diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to identify the tumor-derived exosomal biomarkers in the serum that improve the diagnostic value in Chinese non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Serum exosomes were isolated from healthy donors (n = 46) and NSCLC patients (n = 125) by ultracentrifugation and were characterized using transmission electron microscopy, qNano, and immunoblotting. Proteomic profiles (by mass spectrometry) revealed multiple differentially expressed proteins in the healthy and NSCLC groups. The exosomal expression levels of alpha-2-HS-glycoprotein (AHSG) and extracellular matrix protein 1 (ECM1) increased significantly in the NSCLC patients compared to the healthy group. Alpha-2-HS-glycoprotein showed diagnostic values with a maximum area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) as 0.736 for NSCLC vs healthy individuals (P < .0001) and 0.682 for early stage NSCLC vs healthy individuals (P < .01). Extracellular matrix protein 1 showed the diagnostic capacity with AUC values of 0.683 (P < .001) and 0.656 (P < .05) in cancer and early stage NSCLC compared to healthy individuals. When AHSG was combined with ECM1, the AUCs were 0.795 and 0.739 in NSCLC and early stage patients, respectively. Taken together, the combination of AHSG, ECM1, and carcinoembryonic antigen improved the diagnostic potential of NSCLC. The diagnosis values were AUC of 0.938 for NSCLC and 0.911 for early stage NSCLC vs healthy individuals. Our results suggest that novel proteomic signatures found in serum exosomes of NSCLC patients show potential usefulness as diagnostic tools.
The prognosis of patients with advanced-stage lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSQ) is poor, and effective treatment protocols are limited. Our continuous analyses of antitumor microRNAs (miRNAs) and their oncogenic targets have revealed novel oncogenic pathways in LUSQ. Analyses of our original miRNA expression signatures indicated that both strands of miR-144 (miR-144-5p, the passenger strand; miR-144-3p, the guide strand) showed decreased expression in cancer tissues. Additionally, low expression of miR-144-5p significantly predicted a poor prognosis in patients with LUSQ by The Cancer Genome Atlas database analyses (overall survival, P = 0.026; disease-free survival, P = 0.023). Functional assays revealed that ectopic expression of miR-144-5p and miR-144-3p significantly blocked the malignant abilities of LUSQ cells, eg, cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. In LUSQ cells, 13 and 15 genes were identified as possible oncogenic targets that might be regulated by miR-144-5p and miR-144-3p, respectively. Among these targets, we identified 3 genes (SLC44A5, MARCKS, and NCS1) that might be regulated by both strands of miR-144. Interestingly, high expression of NCS1 predicted a significantly poorer prognosis in patients with LUSQ (overall survival, P = 0.013; disease-free survival, P = 0.048). By multivariate analysis, NCS1 expression was found to be an independent prognostic factor for patients with LUSQ patients. Overexpression of NCS1 was detected in LUSQ clinical specimens, and its aberrant expression enhanced malignant transformation of LUSQ cells. Our approach, involving identification of antitumor miRNAs and their targets, will contribute to improving our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of LUSQ.
Bladder cancer is the 9th leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The major problem in bladder cancer is primarily the high recurrence rate after drug treatment and resection. Although conventional screening methods, such as cystoscopy, urinary cytology and ultrasound sonography, have become widely used in clinical settings, the diagnostic performance of these modalities is unsatisfactory due to low accuracy or high invasiveness. Because circulating micro RNA (miRNA) profiles have recently been reported as an attractive tool for liquid biopsy in cancer screening, here, we performed global miRNA profiling of 392 serum samples of bladder cancer patients with 100 non-cancer samples and 480 samples of other types of cancer as controls. We randomly classified the bladder cancer and control samples into 2 cohorts, a training set (N = 486) and a validation set (N = 486). By comparing both controls, we identified specific miRNA, such as miR-6087, for diagnosing bladder cancer in the training and validation sets. Furthermore, we found that a combination of 7 miRNA (7-miRNA panel: miR-6087, miR-6724-5p, miR-3960, miR-1343-5p, miR-1185-1-3p, miR-6831-5p and miR-4695-5p) could discriminate bladder cancer from non-cancer and other types of tumors with the highest accuracy (AUC: .97; sensitivity: 95%; specificity: 87%). The diagnostic accuracy was high, regardless of the stage and grade of bladder cancer. Our data demonstrated that the 7-miRNA panel could be a biomarker for the specific and early detection of bladder cancer.
Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is a rare subtype of lymphoma that arises within the brain or the eyes. PCNSL recurs within the central nervous system (CNS) in most relapsed cases, whereas extra-CNS relapse is experienced in rare cases. The present study aimed at identifying the presence of common precursor cells (CPC) for primary intra- and relapsed extra-CNS tumors, and further assessing the initiating events in bone marrow (BM). Targeted deep sequencing was carried out for five paired primary intra- and relapsed extra-CNS tumors of PCNSL. Two to five mutations were shared by each pair of intra- and extra-CNS tumors. In particular, MYD88 mutations, L265P in three and P258L in one, were shared by four pairs. Unique somatic mutations were observed in all five intra-CNS tumors and in four out of five extra-CNS tumors. Remarkably, IgH clones in the intra- and the extra-CNS tumors in two pairs were distinct from each other, whereas one pair of tumors shared identical monoclonal IgH rearrangement. In a cohort of 23 PCNSL patients, L265P MYD88 mutations were examined in tumor-free BM mononuclear cells (MNC) in which the PCNSL tumors had L265P MYD88 mutations. L265P MYD88 mutations were detected by a droplet digital PCR method in nine out of 23 bone marrow mononuclear cells. These results suggest that intra- and extra-tumors are derived from CPC with MYD88 mutations in most PCNSL, arising either before or after IgH rearrangement. The initiating MYD88 mutations may occur during B-cell differentiation in BM.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most malignant human intracranial tumors. Temozolomide (TMZ) is the primary alkylating agent for GBM patients. However, many GBM patients are resistant to TMZ. Therefore, patients with GBM urgently need more effective therapeutic options. 20(S)-ginsenoside-Rg3 (20(S)-Rg3) is a natural chemical with anti-tumor effects, but at present there is little understanding of its functional mechanism. Several research reports have demonstrated that O-6-methylguanine DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) repairs damaged DNA and contributes to TMZ resistance in gliomas. In addition, recent studies have shown that MGMT gene expression could be regulated by the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. However, whether 20(S)-Rg3 inhibits MGMT expression and augments chemosensitivity to Temozolomide (TMZ) in glioma cells remains unclear. In this study, we explored the modulating effects of 20(S)-Rg3 on MGMT. We used glioma cell lines, primary cell strain (including T98G, U118 and GBM-XX; all of them are MGMT-positive glioma cell lines) and xenograft glioma models to examine whether 20(S)-Rg3 increased the sensitivity to TMZ and to reveal the underlying mechanisms. We found that the MGMT expression was effectively downregulated by 20(S)-Rg3 via the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in glioma cell lines, and TMZ resistance was significantly reversed by 20(S)-Rg3. Meanwhile, 20(S)-Rg3 shows no obvious cytotoxicity at its effective dose and is well tolerated in vivo. In addition, we found that 20(S)-Rg3 significantly restrains the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) progression of glioma cells. Taken together, these results indicate that 20(S)-Rg3 may be a novel agent to use in treatment of GBM, especially in TMZ-resistant GBM with high MGMT expression.
Paclitaxel is a widely used chemotherapy drug, but development of resistance leads to treatment failure. Tumor cells that are treated with a sublethal dose of paclitaxel for a long period of time show the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype, which leads to metastasis and resistance. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is always used in combination with paclitaxel and can reverse EMT in many types of cancer cells. The ability of ATRA to reverse EMT in chemoresistant cells is still unknown. In the present study, the ability of ATRA to reverse EMT in paclitaxel-resistant cells was investigated. Three colorectal cancer cell lines, HCT116, LoVo and CT26, were treated with sublethal doses of paclitaxel to create resistant cell lines. Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, and "parachute" dye-coupling assays showed that ATRA reverses EMT, inhibits nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappa Beta), and upregulates gap junctions in paclitaxel-resistant cells. Scratch wound-healing and Transwell assays showed that ATRA decreases the migration and invasion abilities of paclitaxel-resistant cells. In addition, the CT26 cell line was used in the Balb/c pulmonary metastasis model to show that ATRA reduces metastasis of paclitaxel-resistant cells in vivo. Given these data, ATRA may reverse EMT by inhibiting NF-kappa Beta and upregulating gap junctions in paclitaxel-resistant cells.
Inhibition of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling pathway is a novel therapeutic strategy to treat human cancers with constitutively active STAT3. During the screening of natural products to find STAT3 inhibitors, we identified 2 '-hydroxycinnamaldehyde (HCA) as a STAT3 inhibitor, which was isolated from the stem bark of Cinnamomum cassia. In this study, we found that HCA inhibited constitutive and inducible STAT3 activation in STAT3-activated DU145 prostate cancer cells. HCA selectively inhibited the STAT3 activity by direct binding to STAT3, which was confirmed by biochemical methods, including a pull-down assay with biotin-conjugated HCA, a drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS) experiment and a cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA). HCA inhibited STAT3 phosphorylation at the tyrosine 705 residue, dimer formation, and nuclear translocation in DU145 cells, which led to a downregulation of STAT3 target genes. The downregulation of cell cycle progression and antiapoptosis-related gene expression by HCA induced the accumulation of cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle and then induced apoptosis. We also found that reactive oxygen species (ROS) were involved in the HCA-induced inhibition of STAT3 activation and cell proliferation because the suppressed p-STAT3 level was rescued by glutathione or N-acetyl-L-cysteine treatment, which are general ROS inhibitors. These results suggest that HCA could be a potent anticancer agent targeting STAT3-activated tumor cells.
We previously identified a novel nanomagnetic particle, N,N '-bis(salicylidene)ethylenediamine iron [Fe(Salen)]. Fe(Salen) not only shows antitumor effects but also magnetic properties. We found that Fe(Salen) can be used for magnet-guided drug delivery and visualization of accumulated drug by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) because of its magnetism. In addition, Fe(Salen) can generate heat by itself when exposed to an alternating current magnetic field (AMF), resulting in a hyperthermia effect. Herein, we partly elucidated the antitumor mechanism of Fe(Salen) and carried out an i.v. repeated dose toxicity study to decide the therapeutic amount. Furthermore, we evaluated the antitumor effect of selective intra-arterial injection or i.v. injection of Fe(Salen) by catheter and the hyperthermia effect of Fe(Salen) when exposed to AMF in vivo. We used a rabbit model grafted with VX2 cells (rabbit squamous cell carcinoma) on the right leg. Intra-arterial injection of Fe(Salen) showed a greater antitumor effect than did i.v. injection. The combination of Fe(Salen) intra-arterial injection and AMF exposure showed a greater antitumor effect than did either Fe(Salen) or methotrexate (MTX) without AMF exposure, suggesting that AMF exposure greatly enhanced the antitumor effect of Fe(Salen) by arterial injection by catheter. This is the first report that the effectiveness of Fe(Salen) was evaluated in the point of administration route; that is, selective intra-arterial injection by catheter. Taken together, these results indicate a new administration route; that is, selective arterial injection of Fe(Salen) by catheter, and the development of a new strategy of simultaneous hyperthermia-chemotherapy in the future.