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RUNX1 promotes tumour metastasis by activating the Wnt/beta-catenin signalling pathway and EMT in colorectal cancer

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) plays the roles of an oncogene and an anti-oncogene in epithelial tumours, and abnormally elevated RUNX1 has been suggested to contribute to the carcinogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the mechanism remains unclear. Methods: The expression of RUNX1 in CRC and normal tissues was detected by real-time quantitative PCR and Western blotting. The effect of RUNX1 on CRC migration and invasion was conducted by functional experiments in vitro and in vivo. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation assay verified the direct regulation of RUNX1 on the promoter of the KIT, which leads to the activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. Results: RUNX1 expression is upregulated in CRC tissues. Upregulated RUNX1 promotes cell metastasis and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of CRC both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, RUNX1 can activate Wnt/beta-catenin signalling in CRC cells by directly interacting with beta-catenin and targeting the promoter and enhancer regions of KIT to promote KIT transcription. These observations demonstrate that RUNX1 upregulation is a common event in CRC specimens and is closely correlated with cancer metastasis and that RUNX1 promotes EMT of CRC cells by activating Wnt/beta-catenin signalling. Moreover, RUNX1 is regulated by Wnt/beta-catenin. Conclusion: Our findings first demonstrate that RUNX1 promotes CRC metastasis by activating the Wnt/beta-catenin signalling pathway and EMT.

JIF:5.65

AHR and GPER mediate the stimulatory effects induced by 3-methylcholanthrene in breast cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs)

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: The chemical carcinogen 3-methylcholanthrene (3MC) binds to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) that regulates the expression of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes as CYP1B1, which is involved in the oncogenic activation of environmental pollutants as well as in the estrogen biosynthesis and metabolism. 3MC was shown to induce estrogenic responses binding to the estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and stimulating a functional interaction between AHR and ER alpha. Recently, the G protein estrogen receptor (GPER) has been reported to mediate certain biological responses induced by endogenous estrogens and environmental compounds eliciting an estrogen-like activity. Methods: Molecular dynamics and docking simulations were performed to evaluate the potential of 3MC to interact with GPER. SkBr3 breast cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) derived from breast tumor patients were used as model system. Real-time PCR and western blotting analysis were performed in order to evaluate the activation of transduction mediators as well as the mRNA and protein levels of CYP1B1 and cyclin D1. Co-immunoprecipitation studies were performed in order to explore the potential of 3MC to trigger the association of GPER with AHR and EGFR. Luciferase assays were carried out to determine the activity of CYP1B1 promoter deletion constructs upon 3MC exposure, while the nuclear shuttle of AHR induced by 3MC was assessed through confocal microscopy. Cell proliferation stimulated by 3MC was determined as biological counterpart of the aforementioned experimental assays. The statistical analysis was performed by ANOVA. Results: We first ascertained by docking simulations the ability of 3MC to interact with GPER. Thereafter, we established that 3MC activates the EGFR/ERK/c-Fos transduction signaling through both AHR and GPER in SkBr3 cells and CAFs. Then, we found that these receptors are involved in the up-regulation of CYP1B1 and cyclin D1 as well as in the stimulation of growth responses induced by 3MC. Conclusions: In the present study we have provided novel insights regarding the molecular mechanisms by which 3MC may trigger a physical and functional interaction between AHR and GPER, leading to the stimulation of both SkBr3 breast cancer cells and CAFs. Altogether, our results indicate that 3MC may engage both GPER and AHR transduction pathways toward breast cancer progression.

JIF:5.65

BMP3 suppresses colon tumorigenesis via ActRIIB/SMAD2-dependent and TAK1/JNK signaling pathways

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: BMP3 gene is often found hypermethylated and hence inactivated in several types of cancers including colorectal cancer (CRC), indicating that it has a suppressor role in carcinogenesis. Though BMP3 is a reliable biomarker for screening CRC, the molecular mechanism of BMP3 in carcinogenesis remains largely unknown. Methods: The expression level of BMP3 was examined by immunohistochemistry staining and western blot. Methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and real-time quantitative MSP were used to test the hypermethylation status of BMP3 gene. Analyses of BMP3 function in colon cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion, and apoptosis were performed using HCT116 and KM12 cells. BMP3 was further knocked down or overexpressed in CRC cells, and the effects on cell growth of xenograft tumors in nude mice were assessed. Co-immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence staining were used to analyze the association between BMP3 and BMPR2 or BMP3 and ActRIIB. Microarray analysis was performed to identify most differentially expressed genes and pathways regulated by BMP3. The BMP3-regulated SMAD2-dependent signaling pathway and TAK1/JNK signal axes were further investigated by quantitative PCR and western blot. Results: BMP3 gene was hypermethylated and its expression was downregulated in both CRC tissues and cell lines. Expressing exogenous BMP3 in HCT116 inhibited cell growth, migration, and invasion and increased rate of apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo. However, shRNA-mediated attenuation of endogenous BMP3 in KM12 reversed such inhibitory and apoptotic effects. Furthermore, BMP3 could bind to ActRIIB, an activin type II receptor at the cellular membrane, thereby activating SMAD2-dependent pathway and TAK1/JNK signal axes to regulate downstream targets including caspase-7, p21, and SMAD4 that play crucial roles in cell cycle control and apoptosis. Conclusions: Our study reveals a previously unknown mechanism of BMP3 tumor suppression in CRC and provides a rationale for future investigation of BMP3 as a potential target for the development of novel therapeutic agents to fight CRC.

JIF:5.65

Recent advances in nanotheranostics for triple negative breast cancer treatment

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most complex and aggressive type of breast cancer encountered world widely in women. Absence of hormonal receptors on breast cancer cells necessitates the chemotherapy as the only treatment regime. High propensity to metastasize and relapse in addition to poor prognosis and survival motivated the oncologist, nano-medical scientist to develop novel and efficient nanotherapies to solve such a big TNBC challenge. Recently, the focus for enhanced availability, targeted cellular uptake with minimal toxicity is achieved by nano-carriers. These smart nano-carriers carrying all the necessary arsenals (drugs, tracking probe, and ligand) designed in such a way that specifically targets the TNBC cells at site. Articulating the targeted delivery system with multifunctional molecules for high specificity, tracking, diagnosis, and treatment emerged as theranostic approach. In this review, in addition to classical treatment modalities, recent advances in nanotheranostics for early and effective diagnostic and treatment is discussed. This review highlighted the recently FDA approved immunotherapy and all the ongoing clinical trials for TNBC, in addition to nanoparticle assisted immunotherapy. Futuristic but realistic advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning not only improve early diagnosis but also assist clinicians for their workup in TNBC. The novel concept of Nanoparticles induced endothelial leakiness (NanoEL) as a way of tumor invasion is also discussed in addition to classical EPR effect. This review intends to provide basic insight and understanding of the novel nano-therapeutic modalities in TNBC diagnosis and treatment and to sensitize the readers for continue designing the novel nanomedicine. This is the first time that designing nanoparticles with stoichiometric definable number of antibodies per nanoparticle now represents the next level of precision by design in nanomedicine.

JIF:5.65

Methylation-mediated silencing of miR-133a-3p promotes breast cancer cell migration and stemness via miR-133a-3p/MAML1/DNMT3A positive feedback loop

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: miR-133a-3p has been recently discovered to be down-regulated in various human malignancies, including breast cancer, and reduced miR-133a-3p levels have been significantly associated with breast cancer cell growth and invasion. However, the regulatory mechanisms leading to abnormal expression of miR-133a-3p in breast cancer remain obscure. Methods: qRT-PCR was applied to detect the expression of miR-133a-3p in breast cancer tissues and cell lines. Bisulfite sequencing was used to detect the degree of methylation of the miR-133a-3p promoter. The effects of miR-133a-3p on breast cancer in vitro were examined by cell proliferation assay, transwell assay, flow cytometry, and western blotting. Bioinformatic analysis, dual-luciferase assay and RIP assay were employed to identify the interaction between miR-133a-3p and MAML1. A xenograft model was used to show the metastasis of breast cancer cells. Results: We confirmed that miR-133a-3p was silenced by DNA hypermethylation in breast cancer cell lines and tissues, which predicted poor prognosis in breast cancer patients, and reducing miR-133a-3p expression led to a significant increase in the migration, invasion, proliferation, and stemness of breast cancer cells in vitro. Mastermind-like transcriptional coactivator 1 (MAML1) was confirmed to be a target of miR-133a-3p involved in regulating breast cancer metastasis both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, a series of investigations indicated that MAML1 initiated a positive feedback loop, which could up-regulate DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) to promote hypermethylation of the miR-133a-3p promoter. Conclusion: Taken together, our findings revealed a novel miR-133a-3p/MAML1/DNMT3A positive feedback loop in breast cancer cells, which may become a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer.

JIF:5.65

Tumor vasculature remolding by thalidomide increases delivery and efficacy of cisplatin

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: A promising strategy to overcome the chemoresistance is the tumor blood vessel normalization, which restores the physiological perfusion and oxygenation of tumor vasculature. Thalidomide (Thal) has been shown to increase the anti-tumor effect of chemotherapy agents in solid tumors. However, it is not yet known whether the synergistic effect of Thal combined with other cytotoxic drugs is attributable to tumor vascular normalization. Methods: We used two homograft mice models (4 T1 breast tumor model and CT26 colorectal tumor model) to investigate the effect of Thal on tumor growth, microvessel density, vascular physiology, vascular maturity and function, drug delivery and chemosensitivity. Immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry and scanning electron microscopy were performed to determine the vessel changes. Protein array assay, qPCR and western blotting were used to detect the molecular mechanism by which Thal regulates tumor vascular. Results: Here we report that Thal potently suppressed tumor growth, angiogenesis, hypoxia, and vascular permeability in animal models. Thal also induced a regular monolayer of endothelial cells in tumor vessels, inhibiting vascular instability, and normalized tumor vessels by increasing vascular maturity, pericyte coverage and endothelial junctions. The tumor vessel stabilization effect of Thal resulted in a decrease in tumor vessel tortuosity and leakage, and increased vessel thickness and tumor perfusion. Eventually, the delivery of cisplatin was highly enhanced through the normalized tumor vasculature, thus resulting in profound anti-tumor and anti-metastatic effects. Mechanistically, the effects of Thal on tumor vessels were caused in part by its capability to correct the imbalance between pro-angiogenic factors and anti-angiogenic factors. Conclusions: Our findings provide direct evidence that Thal remodels the abnormal tumor vessel system into a normalized vasculature. Our results may lay solid foundation for the development of Thal as a novel candidate agent to maximize the therapeutic efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs for solid tumors.

JIF:5.65

Targeting CXCR4 potentiates anti-PD-1 efficacy modifying the tumor microenvironment and inhibiting neoplastic PD-1

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: Inefficient T-cell access to the tumor microenvironment (TME) is among the causes of tumor immune-resistance. Previous evidence demonstrated that targeting CXCR4 improves anti-PD-1/ PD-L1 efficacy reshaping TME. To evaluate the role of newly developed CXCR4 antagonists (PCT/IB2011/000120/ EP2528936B1/ US2013/0079292A1) in potentiating anti-PD-1 efficacy two syngeneic murine models, the MC38 colon cancer and the B16 melanoma-human CXCR4-transduced, were employed. Methods: Mice were subcutaneously injected with MC38 (1 x 106) or B16-hCXCR4 (5 x 105). After two weeks, tumors bearing mice were intraperitoneally (ip) treated with murine anti-PD-1 [RMP1-14] (5 mg/kg, twice week for 2 weeks), Pep R (2 mg/kg, 5 days per week for 2 weeks), or both agents. The TME was evaluated through immunohistochemistry and flow-cytometry. In addition, the effects of the human- anti-PD-1 nivolumab and/or Peptide-R54 (Pep R54), were evaluated on human melanoma PES43 cells and xenografts treated. Results: The combined treatment, Pep R plus anti-PD-1, reduced the MC38 Relative Tumor Volume (RTV) by 2.67 fold (p = 0.038) while nor anti-PD-1, neither Pep R significantly impacted on tumor growth. Significant higher number of Granzyme B (GZMB) positive cells was detected in MC38 tumors from mice treated with the combined treatment (p = 0.016) while anti-PD-1 determined a modest but significant increase of tumor-infiltrating GZMB positive cells (p = 0.035). Also, a lower number of FoxP3 positive cells was detected (p = 0.022). In the B16-hCXCR4 tumors, two weeks of combined treatment reduced tumor volume by 2.27 fold while nor anti-PD-1 neither Pep R significantly impacted on tumor growth. A significant higher number of GRZB positive cells was observed in B16-hCXCR4 tumors treated with combined treatment (p = 0,0015) as compared to anti-PD-1 (p = 0.028). The combined treatment reduced CXCR4, CXCL12 and PD-L1 expression in MC38 tumors. In addition, flow cytometry on fresh B16-hCXCR4 tumors showed significantly higher Tregs number following anti-PD-1 partially reversed by the combined treatment Pep R and anti-PD-1. Combined treatment determined an increase of CD8/Tregs and CD8/MDSC ratio. To dissect the effect of anti-PD-1 and CXCR4 targeting on PD-1 expressed by human cancer cells, PES43 human melanoma xenograft model was employed. In vitro human anti-PD-1 nivolumab or pembrolizumab (10 mu M) reduced PES43 cells growth while nivolumab (10 mu M) inhibited pERK1/2, P38 MAPK, pAKT and p4EBP. PES43 xenograft mice were treated with Pep R54, a newly developed Pep R derivative (AcHN-Arg-Ala-[DCys-Arg- Nal(2')-His-Pen]- COOH), plus nivolumab. After 3 weeks of combined treatment a significant reduction in tumor growth was shown (p = 0.038). PES43 lung disseminated tumor cells (DTC) were detected in fresh lung tissues as melanoma positive MCSP-APC+ cells. Although not statistically significant, DTC-PES43 cells were reduced in mice lungs treated with combined treatment while nivolumab or Pep R54 did not affect DTC number. Conclusion: Combined treatment with the new developed CXCR4 antagonist, Pep R, plus anti-PD-1, reduced tumorgrowth in two syngeneic murine models, anti-PD-1 sensitive and resistant, potentiating Granzyme and reducing Foxp3 cells infiltration. In addition, the human specific CXCR4 antagonist, Pep R54, cooperated with nivolumab in inhibiting the growth of the PD-1 expressing human PES43 melanoma xenograft. This evidence sheds light on PD-1 targeting mechanisms and paves the way for CXCR4/PD-1 targeting combination therapy.

JIF:5.65

Role of mitochondria and cardiolipins in growth inhibition of breast cancer cells by retinoic acid

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background All-trans-retinoic-acid (ATRA) is a promising agent in the prevention/treatment of breast-cancer. There is growing evidence that reprogramming of cellular lipid metabolism contributes to malignant transformation and progression. Lipid metabolism is implicated in cell differentiation and metastatic colonization and it is involved in the mechanisms of sensitivity/resistance to different anti-tumor agents. The role played by lipids in the anti-tumor activity of ATRA has never been studied. Methods We used 16 breast cancer cell-lines whose degree of sensitivity to the anti-proliferative action of ATRA is known. We implemented a non-oriented mass-spectrometry based approach to define the lipidomic profiles of each cell-line grown under basal conditions and following treatment with ATRA. To complement the lipidomic data, untreated and retinoid treated cell-lines were also subjected to RNA-sequencing to define the perturbations afforded by ATRA on the whole-genome gene-expression profiles. The number and functional activity of mitochondria were determined in selected ATRA-sensitive and -resistant cell-lines. Bio-computing approaches were used to analyse the high-throughput lipidomic and transcriptomic data. Results ATRA perturbs the homeostasis of numerous lipids and the most relevant effects are observed on cardiolipins, which are located in the mitochondrial inner membranes and play a role in oxidative-phosphorylation. ATRA reduces the amounts of cardiolipins and the effect is associated with the growth-inhibitory activity of the retinoid. Down-regulation of cardiolipins is due to a reduction of mitochondria, which is caused by an ATRA-dependent decrease in the expression of nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins. This demonstrates that ATRA anti-tumor activity is due to a decrease in the amounts of mitochondria causing deficits in the respiration/energy-balance of breast-cancer cells. Conclusions The observation that ATRA anti-proliferative activity is caused by a reduction in the respiration and energy balance of the tumor cells has important ramifications for the therapeutic action of ATRA in breast cancer. The study may open the way to the development of rational therapeutic combinations based on the use of ATRA and anti-tumor agents targeting the mitochondria.

JIF:5.65

CircWHSC1 promotes ovarian cancer progression by regulating MUC1 and hTERT through sponging miR-145 and miR-1182

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: Circular RNAs are key regulators in human cancers, however, there is a lack of studies on circRNAs' specific functions in ovarian cancer. Methods: Our study used qRT-PCR to detect the differentially expressed circRNAs between normal ovaries and ovarian cancer tissues. Cell function experiments were performed to verify the role of overexpression and silence of circWHSC1, including MTT assay, cell apoptosis assay, wound healing and Matrigel-coated Transwell assay. In vivo tumorigenesis model was constructed by subcutaneous injection in nude mice. Bioinformatics analysis predicted the possible binding sites of circWHSC1 with miRNAs, and confirmed with dual-luciferase reporter assay and RNA pull-down assay. The exosomes were extracted with ultracentrifugation. HE staining was also used to detect morphology of nude mice peritoneum. Results: We found that circWHSC1 was up-regulated in ovarian cancer tissues, and circWHSC1 expression was higher in moderate & poor differentiation ovarian cancer tissues than in well differentiation ovarian cancer tissues. Overexpression of circWHSC1 increased cell proliferation, migration and invasion, and inhibited cell apoptosis. Silence of circWHSC1 exerted the opposite effects. Additionally, circWHSC1 could sponge miR-145 and miR-1182 and up-regulate the expression of downstream targets MUC1 and hTERT. Exosomal circWHSC1 can be transferred to peritoneal mesothelial cells and promotes peritoneal dissemination. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the highly expressed circWHSC1 in ovarian cancer promotes tumorigenesis by sponging miR-145 and miR-1182, and its exosome forms induce tumor metastasis through acting on peritoneal mesothelium.

JIF:5.65

Upregulation of ERp57 promotes clear cell renal cell carcinoma progression by initiating a STAT3/ILF3 feedback loop

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: ERp57 dysfunction has been shown to contribute to tumorigenesis in multiple malignances. However, the role of ERp57 in clear cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC) remains unclear. Methods: Cell proliferation ability was measured by MTT and colony forming assays. Western blotting and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) were performed to measure protein and mRNA expression. Co-immunoprecipitation (CoIP) and proximity ligation assay (PLA) were performed to detect protein-protein interaction. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), ribonucleoprotein immunoprecipitation (RIP), and oligo pull-down were used to confirm DNA-protein and RNA-protein interactions. Promoter luciferase analysis was used to detect transcription factor activity. Results: Here we found ERp57 was overexpressed in ccRCC tissues, and the higher levels of ERp57 were correlated with poor survival in patients with ccRCC. In vivo and in vitro experiments showed that ccRCC cell proliferation was enhanced by ERp57 overexpression and inhibited by ERp57 deletion. Importantly, we found ERp57 positively regulated ILF3 expression in ccRCC cells. Mechanically, ERp57 was shown to bind to STAT3 protein and enhance the STAT3-mediated transcriptional activity of ILF3. Furthermore, ILF3 levels were increased in ccRCC tissues and associated with poor prognosis. Interestingly, we revealed that ILF3 could bind to ERp57 and positively regulate its expression by enhancing its mRNA stability. Furthermore, ccRCC cell proliferation was moderated via the ERp57/STAT3/ILF3 feedback loop. Conclusions: In summary, our results indicate that the ERp57/STAT3/ILF3 feedback loop plays a key role in the oncogenesis of ccRCC and provides a potential therapeutic target for ccRCC treatment.

JIF:5.65

GSTZ1 deficiency promotes hepatocellular carcinoma proliferation via activation of the KEAP1/NRF2 pathway

期刊: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL & CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH, 2019; 38 (1)

Background: Glutathione S-transferase zeta 1 (GSTZ1) is the penultimate enzyme in phenylalanine/tyrosine catabolism. GSTZ1 is dysregulated in cancers; however, its role in tumorigenesis and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is largely unknown. We aimed to assess the role of GSTZ1 in HCC and to reveal the underlying mechanisms, which may contribute to finding a potential therapeutic strategy against HCC. Methods: We first analyzed GSTZ1 expression levels in paired human HCC and adjacent normal tissue specimens and the prognostic effect of GSTZ1 on HCC patients. Thereafter, we evaluated the role of GSTZ1 in aerobic glycolysis in HCC cells on the basis of the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR). Furthermore, we assessed the effect of GSTZ1 on HCC proliferation, glutathione (GSH) concentration, levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) signaling via gain- and loss- of GSTZ1 function in vitro. Moreover, we investigated the effect of GSTZ1 on diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) induced hepatocarcinogenesis in a mouse model of HCC. Results: GSTZ1 was downregulated in HCC, thus indicating a poor prognosis. GSTZ1 deficiency significantly promoted hepatoma cell proliferation and aerobic glycolysis in HCC cells. Moreover, loss of GSTZ1 function depleted GSH, increased ROS levels, and enhanced lipid peroxidation, thus activating the NRF2-mediated antioxidant pathway. Furthermore, Gstz1 knockout in mice promoted DEN/CCl4-induced hepatocarcinogenesis via activation of the NRF2 signaling pathway. Furthermore, the antioxidant agent N-acetylcysteine and NRF2 inhibitor brusatol effectively suppressed the growth of Gstz1-knockout HepG2 cells and HCC progression in Gstz1(-/-) mice. Conclusions: GSTZ1 serves as a tumor suppressor in HCC. GSH depletion caused by GSTZ1 deficiency elevates oxidative stress, thus constitutively activating the NRF2 antioxidant response pathway and accelerating HCC progression. Targeting the NRF2 signaling pathway may be a promising therapeutic approach for this subset of HCC.

JIF:5.65

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