Signal Transduction
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"The intracellular transfer of information (biological activation/inhibition) through a signal pathway. In each signal transduction system, an activation/inhibition signal from a biologically active molecule (hormone, neurotransmitter) is mediated via the coupling of a receptor/enzyme to a second messenger system or to an ion channel. Signal transduction plays an important role in activating cellular functions, cell differentiation, and cell proliferation. Examples of signal transduction systems are the GAMMA-AMINOBUTYRIC ACID-postsynaptic receptor-calcium ion channel system, the receptor-mediated T-cell activation pathway, and the receptor-mediated activation of phospholipases. Those coupled to membrane depolarization or intracellular release of calcium include the receptor-mediated activation of cytotoxic functions in granulocytes and the synaptic potentiation of protein kinase activation. Some signal transduction pathways may be part of larger signal transduction pathways; for example, protein kinase activation is part of the platelet activation signal pathway." (Source: MeSH)

An overview of major signal transduction pathways
Figure: An overview of major signal transduction pathways
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Signal_transduction_pathways.svg (License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Latest Research Publications

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Latest Research Publications

This list of publications is regularly updated (Source: PubMed).

Holmström KM, Finkel T
Cellular mechanisms and physiological consequences of redox-dependent signalling.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2014; 15(6):411-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Reactive oxygen species (ROS), which were originally characterized in terms of their harmful effects on cells and invading microorganisms, are increasingly implicated in various cell fate decisions and signal transduction pathways. The mechanism involved in ROS-dependent signalling involves the reversible oxidation and reduction of specific amino acids, with crucial reactive Cys residues being the most frequent target. In this Review, we discuss the sources of ROS within cells and what is known regarding how intracellular oxidant levels are regulated. We further discuss the recent observations that reduction-oxidation (redox)-dependent regulation has a crucial role in an ever-widening range of biological activities - from immune function to stem cell self-renewal, and from tumorigenesis to ageing.

Related: Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction


Li L, Wang M, Yu G, et al.
Overactivated neddylation pathway as a therapeutic target in lung cancer.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014; 106(6):dju083 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: A number of oncoproteins and tumor suppressors are known to be neddylated, but whether the neddylation pathway is entirely activated in human cancer remains unexplored.
METHODS: NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE) (E1) and NEDD8-conjugating enzyme (E2) expression and global-protein neddylation were examined by immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. Cell proliferation, clonogenic survival, migration, and motility in vitro, as well as tumor formation and metastasis in vivo, were determined upon neddylation inhibition by MLN4924, an investigational NEDD8-activating enzyme inhibitor. Survival was analyzed with Kaplan-Meier methods and compared by the log-rank test. All statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS: The entire neddylation pathway, including NEDD8-activating enzyme E1, NEDD8-conjugating enzyme E2, and global-protein neddylation, is overactivated in both lung adenocarcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma. Compared with lung adenocarcinoma patients with low expression, those with high expression had worse overall survival (NEDD8-activating enzyme E1 subunit 1 [NAE1]: hazard ratio [HR] = 2.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95 to 4.52, P = .07; ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme E2M (UBC12): HR = 13.26, 95% CI = 1.77 to 99.35, P = .01; global protein neddylation: HR = 3.74, 95% CI = 1.65 to 8.47, P = .002). Moreover, inhibition of neddylation by the NAE inhibitor MLN4924 statistically significantly suppressed proliferation, survival, migration, and motility of lung cancer cells in vitro and tumor formation and metastasis in vivo. At the molecular level, MLN4924 inactivated Cullin-RING E3 ligases, led to accumulation of tumor-suppressive Cullin-RING E3 ligase substrates and induced phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate-induced protein 1 (NOXA)-dependent apoptosis or cellular senescence.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the overactivated neddylation pathway in lung cancer development and as a promising therapeutic target.

Related: Lung Cancer


Grando SA
Connections of nicotine to cancer.
Nat Rev Cancer. 2014; 14(6):419-29 [PubMed] Related Publications
This Opinion article discusses emerging evidence of direct contributions of nicotine to cancer onset and growth. The list of cancers reportedly connected to nicotine is expanding and presently includes small-cell and non-small-cell lung carcinomas, as well as head and neck, gastric, pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, colon, breast, cervical, urinary bladder and kidney cancers. The mutagenic and tumour-promoting activities of nicotine may result from its ability to damage the genome, disrupt cellular metabolic processes, and facilitate growth and spreading of transformed cells. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), which are activated by nicotine, can activate several signalling pathways that can have tumorigenic effects, and these receptors might be able to be targeted for cancer therapy or prevention. There is also growing evidence that the unique genetic makeup of an individual, such as polymorphisms in genes encoding nAChR subunits, might influence the susceptibility of that individual to the pathobiological effects of nicotine. The emerging knowledge about the carcinogenic mechanisms of nicotine action should be considered during the evaluation of regulations on nicotine product manufacturing, distribution and marketing.

Related: Lung Cancer


Cao Y, Lindström S, Schumacher F, et al.
Insulin-like growth factor pathway genetic polymorphisms, circulating IGF1 and IGFBP3, and prostate cancer survival.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014; 106(6):dju085 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/06/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling pathway has been implicated in prostate cancer (PCa) initiation, but its role in progression remains unknown.
METHODS: Among 5887 PCa patients (704 PCa deaths) of European ancestry from seven cohorts in the National Cancer Institute Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium, we conducted Cox kernel machine pathway analysis to evaluate whether 530 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 26 IGF pathway-related genes were collectively associated with PCa mortality. We also conducted SNP-specific analysis using stratified Cox models adjusting for multiple testing. In 2424 patients (313 PCa deaths), we evaluated the association of prediagnostic circulating IGF1 and IGFBP3 levels and PCa mortality. All statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS: The IGF signaling pathway was associated with PCa mortality (P = .03), and IGF2-AS and SSTR2 were the main contributors (both P = .04). In SNP-specific analysis, 36 SNPs were associated with PCa mortality with P trend less than .05, but only three SNPs in the IGF2-AS remained statistically significant after gene-based corrections. Two were in linkage disequilibrium (r 2 = 1 for rs1004446 and rs3741211), whereas the third, rs4366464, was independent (r 2 = 0.03). The hazard ratios (HRs) per each additional risk allele were 1.19 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06 to 1.34; P trend = .003) for rs3741211 and 1.44 (95% CI = 1.20 to 1.73; P trend < .001) for rs4366464. rs4366464 remained statistically significant after correction for all SNPs (P trend.corr = .04). Prediagnostic IGF1 (HRhighest vs lowest quartile = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.48 to 1.04) and IGFBP3 (HR = 0.93; 95% CI = 0.65 to 1.34) levels were not associated with PCa mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: The IGF signaling pathway, primarily IGF2-AS and SSTR2 genes, may be important in PCa survival.

Related: Prostate Cancer USA


Fu HL, Ma Y, Lu LG, et al.
TET1 exerts its tumor suppressor function by interacting with p53-EZH2 pathway in gastric cancer.
J Biomed Nanotechnol. 2014; 10(7):1217-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
TET1 protein is reported to suppress cancer invasion and metastasis in prostate and breast cancer while EZH2, a polycomb group protein, has been identified as an oncogene in many types of cancers including gastric cancer. Here we report that there is an inverse relation of the expression pattern of TET1 and EZH2 in both normal gastric mucosa and gastric cancer. In gastric mucosa, EZH2 is selectively expressed in the proliferating neck cells while TET1 and 5-hydroxymethyl-cytosine (5-hmc) exhibit very low expression in the neck cells. In contrast, TET1 and 5-hmc expression is high in gastric glandular epithelium while EZH2 expression is absent in this cell population. On the other hand, in proliferating Ki67-positive gastric cancer cells, EZH2 is highly expressed while TET1 and 5-hmc expression is significantly down-regulated. When the mouse homologue of human TET1 protein Tet1 is overexpressed in a gastric cancer cell line MGC-803, we observed the dramatically down-regulation of EZH2 in one-third of the Tet1 overexpressed cells. In addition, Tet1 overexpressing cells also lost the H3K27 trimethylation mark and the cell proliferation protein Ki67. Furthermore, Tet1 overexpression induced p53 tumor suppressor protein. The increase of p53 protein level is accompanied by the phosphorylation of p53 by activated DNA-PK. Together, these results suggested a mechanism by which TET1 suppresses cancer formation by coupling DNA demethylation with DNA-PK activation of p53 and suppression of oncogenic protein EZH2. Conversely, loss of TET1 and 5-hmc expression might contribute to EZH2 up-regulation during gastric cancer development.

Related: MKI67 Stomach Cancer Gastric Cancer TP53 TET1 TET2 gene


He S, Chen CH, Chernichenko N, et al.
GFRα1 released by nerves enhances cancer cell perineural invasion through GDNF-RET signaling.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(19):E2008-17 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/11/2014 Related Publications
The ability of cancer cells to invade along nerves is associated with aggressive disease and diminished patient survival rates. Perineural invasion (PNI) may be mediated by nerve secretion of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) attracting cancer cell migration through activation of cell surface Ret proto-oncogene (RET) receptors. GDNF family receptor (GFR)α1 acts as coreceptor with RET, with both required for response to GDNF. We demonstrate that GFRα1 released by nerves enhances PNI, even in the absence of cancer cell GFRα1 expression. Cancer cell migration toward GDNF, RET phosphorylation, and MAPK pathway activity are increased with exposure to soluble GFRα1 in a dose-dependent fashion. Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) release soluble GFRα1, which potentiates RET activation and cancer cell migration. In vitro DRG coculture assays of PNI show diminished PNI with DRG from GFRα1(+/-) mice compared with GFRα1(+/+) mice. An in vivo murine model of PNI demonstrates that cancer cells lacking GFRα1 maintain an ability to invade nerves and impair nerve function, whereas those lacking RET lose this ability. A tissue microarray of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas demonstrates wide variance of cancer cell GFRα1 expression, suggesting an alternate source of GFRα1 in PNI. These findings collectively demonstrate that GFRα1 released by nerves enhances PNI through GDNF-RET signaling and that GFRα1 expression by cancer cells enhances but is not required for PNI. These results advance a mechanistic understanding of PNI and implicate the nerve itself as a key facilitator of this adverse cancer cell behavior.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer RET


Fotinos A, Nagarajan N, Martins AS, et al.
Bone morphogenetic protein-focused strategies to induce cytotoxicity in lung cancer cells.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(5):2095-104 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: High bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 expression in lung carcinoma correlates with poor patient prognosis. The present study explored strategies to repress BMP signaling.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The cytotoxicity of BMP2-knockdown, dorsomorphin derivatives, and microRNAs was tested in transformed and non-transformed lung cells. Microarray analyses of 1,145 microRNAs in A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells and two other transformed lung cell types relative to BEAS-2B bronchial epithelial cells were performed.
RESULTS: Reduced BMP2 synthesis inhibited A549 cell growth. The dorsomorphin derivative LDN-193189, but not DMH1 or DMH4, was strongly cytotoxic towards A549 cells, but not towards BEAS-2B cells. Microarray analysis revealed that 106 miRNAs were down-regulated and 69 miRNAs were up-regulated in the three transformed lines. Three down-regulated miRNAs, hsa-mir-34b, hsa-mir-34c-3p, and hsa-miR-486-3p, repressed a BMP2 reporter gene and were cytotoxic in A549 cells, but not towards BEAS-2B cells.
CONCLUSION: The observed cytotoxicity suggests that reducing BMP signaling is a useful line of attack for therapy of lung cancer.

Related: Lung Cancer


Kim JH, Lkhagvadorj S, Lee MR, et al.
Orai1 and STIM1 are critical for cell migration and proliferation of clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 448(1):76-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
The intracellular Ca(2+) regulation has been implicated in tumorigenesis and tumor progression. Notably, store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE) is a major Ca(2+) entry mechanism in non-excitable cells, being involved in cell proliferation and migration in several types of cancer. However, the expression and biological role of SOCE have not been investigated in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Here, we demonstrate that Orai1 and STIM1, not Orai3, are crucial components of SOCE in the progression of ccRCC. The expression levels of Orai1 in tumor tissues were significantly higher than those in the adjacent normal parenchymal tissues. In addition, native SOCE was blunted by inhibiting SOCE or by silencing Orai1 and STIM1. Pharmacological blockade or knockdown of Orai1 or STIM1 also significantly inhibited RCC cell migration and proliferative capability. Taken together, Orai1 is highly expressed in ccRCC tissues illuminating that Orai1-mediated SOCE may play an important role in ccRCC development. Indeed, Orai1 and STIM1 constitute a native SOCE pathway in ccRCC by promoting cell proliferation and migration.

Related: Kidney Cancer


Takahashi Y, Kohashi K, Yamada Y, et al.
Activation of the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway in myxofibrosarcomas.
Hum Pathol. 2014; 45(5):984-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway plays important roles in modulating cellular function in response to extracellular signals such as growth factors and cytokines. The Akt/mTOR signaling pathway is activated in certain kinds of sarcomas. Myxofibrosarcoma is a soft tissue sarcoma, characterized by abundant myxoid stroma and frequent local recurrence. Here, we conducted a large-scale examination of the clinicopathological and activation statuses of the Akt/mTOR pathways in myxofibrosarcoma. The phosphorylation status of Akt, mTOR, S6 ribosomal protein, and the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein, and mitogen-activated protein kinase were assessed by immunohistochemistry in 101 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples, including 68 primary tumors in myxofibrosarcoma. Immunohistochemical expressions were confirmed by Western blotting with 20 frozen samples, which were paired with normal tissue samples. PIK3CA and AKT1 gene mutations were also analyzed using 12 primary tumor frozen samples. Immunohistochemically, phosphorylations of Akt, mTOR, S6 ribosomal protein, 4E-binding protein, and mitogen-activated protein kinase 1/2 were observed in 64.7%, 45.6%, 42.6%, 63.2%, and 64.7% of samples. Phosphorylated Akt/mTOR pathway proteins were correlated with one another and were also correlated with the phosphorylation of these proteins in the concordant recurrent tumors. Immunoblotting showed a high degree of phosphorylation in tumor samples, compared with that in normal tissue samples. Activation of the Akt/mTOR pathway was correlated with histologic grade and tumor progression. Mutational analysis failed to reveal any PIK3CA or AKT1 mutations around the hot spots. Activation of the Akt/mTOR pathway was associated with histologic malignancy and tumor progression in primary and recurrent myxofibrosarcoma.

Related: Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans AKT1


Aslam MI, Abraham J, Mansoor A, et al.
PDGFRβ reverses EphB4 signaling in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(17):6383-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/11/2014 Related Publications
Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (aRMS) is an aggressive myogenic childhood malignancy, not infrequently presenting as incurable metastatic disease. To identify therapeutic targets, we performed an unbiased tyrosine kinome RNA interference screen in primary cell cultures from a genetically engineered, conditional mouse model of aRMS. We identified ephrin receptor B4 (EphB4) as a target that is widely expressed in human aRMS and that portends a poor clinical outcome in an expression level-dependent manner. We also uncovered cross-talk of this ephrin receptor with another receptor tyrosine kinase, PDGFRβ, which facilitates PDGF ligand-dependent, ephrin ligand-independent activation of EphB4 converging on the Akt and Erk1/2 pathways. Conversely, EphB4 activation by its cognate ligand, EphrinB2, did not stimulate PDGFRβ; instead, apoptosis was paradoxically induced. Finally, we showed that small-molecule inhibition of both PDGFRβ and EphB4 by dasatinib resulted in a significant decrease in tumor cell viability in vitro, as well as decreased tumor growth rate and significantly prolonged survival in vivo. To our knowledge, these results are the first to identify EphB4 and its cross-talk with PDGFRβ as unexpected vital determinants of tumor cell survival in aRMS, with EphB4 at the crux of a bivalent signaling node that is either mitogenic or proapoptotic.

Related: Apoptosis PDGFB gene Imatinib (Glivec) Dasatinib (Sprycel)


Shiota M, Itsumi M, Yokomizo A, et al.
Targeting ribosomal S6 kinases/Y-box binding protein-1 signaling improves cellular sensitivity to taxane in prostate cancer.
Prostate. 2014; 74(8):829-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Taxanes are the only cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents proved to prolong the survival in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer. However, because of intrinsic and acquired resistances to taxanes, their therapeutical efficiencies are modest, bringing only a few months of survival benefit. Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) promotes cancer cell resistance to various anticancer treatments, including taxanes. Here, we aimed to elucidate the mechanism of taxane resistance by YB-1 and examined overcoming resistance by targeting YB-1 signaling.
METHODS: Gene and protein expression levels were evaluated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis, respectively. We evaluated the sensitivity of prostate cancer cells to taxanes using cytotoxicity assays.
RESULTS: Natural taxane paclitaxel from Taxus brevifolia activated the Raf-1/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway, leading to an activation of ribosomal S6 kinases (RSK)/YB-1 signaling. Activated Raf-1/ERK pathway was blunted by YB-1 knockdown in prostate cancer cells, indicating regulation between Raf-1/ERK signaling and YB-1. In addition, ERK or RSK was activated in taxane-resistant prostate cancer cells, resulting in YB-1 activation. YB-1 knockdown as well as RSK inhibition using RSK-specific siRNA or the small molecule inhibitor SL0101 successfully blocked activation of YB-1, leading to suppression of prostate cancer growth and sensitization to paclitaxel.
CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, these findings indicate that RSK/YB-1 signaling contributes to taxane resistance, and implicate the therapeutics targeting RSK/YB-1 signaling such as RSK inhibitor as a promising novel therapy against prostate cancer, especially in combination with taxane.

Related: Paclitaxel Prostate Cancer


Brady DC, Crowe MS, Turski ML, et al.
Copper is required for oncogenic BRAF signalling and tumorigenesis.
Nature. 2014; 509(7501):492-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
The BRAF kinase is mutated, typically Val 600→Glu (V600E), to induce an active oncogenic state in a large fraction of melanomas, thyroid cancers, hairy cell leukaemias and, to a smaller extent, a wide spectrum of other cancers. BRAF(V600E) phosphorylates and activates the MEK1 and MEK2 kinases, which in turn phosphorylate and activate the ERK1 and ERK2 kinases, stimulating the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway to promote cancer. Targeting MEK1/2 is proving to be an important therapeutic strategy, given that a MEK1/2 inhibitor provides a survival advantage in metastatic melanoma, an effect that is increased when administered together with a BRAF(V600E) inhibitor. We previously found that copper (Cu) influx enhances MEK1 phosphorylation of ERK1/2 through a Cu-MEK1 interaction. Here we show decreasing the levels of CTR1 (Cu transporter 1), or mutations in MEK1 that disrupt Cu binding, decreased BRAF(V600E)-driven signalling and tumorigenesis in mice and human cell settings. Conversely, a MEK1-MEK5 chimaera that phosphorylated ERK1/2 independently of Cu or an active ERK2 restored the tumour growth of murine cells lacking Ctr1. Cu chelators used in the treatment of Wilson disease decreased tumour growth of human or murine cells transformed by BRAF(V600E) or engineered to be resistant to BRAF inhibition. Taken together, these results suggest that Cu-chelation therapy could be repurposed to treat cancers containing the BRAF(V600E) mutation.

Related: Lung Cancer BRAF gene Vemurafenib (Zelboraf)


Guo Y, Shan Q, Gong Y, et al.
Curcumin induces apoptosis via simultaneously targeting AKT/mTOR and RAF/MEK/ERK survival signaling pathways in human leukemia THP-1 cells.
Pharmazie. 2014; 69(3):229-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Curcumin is a multi-targeted anti-cancer agent. However, there are few studies on its anti-leukemia activity in human acute monocytic leukemia. Here, we study the effect and mechanisms of curcumin on acute monocytic leukemia.
METHODS: The acute monocytic leukemia cell line THP-1 was used as in vitro cell model to explore the anti-leukemia effects and mechanisms of curcumin. Cell proliferation was measured by MTT assay, cell apoptosis bodies were observed using a light microscope, cell apoptosis rate was evaluated by flow cytometry, and the expression alterations of growth-sinaling proteins were detected by Western blotting.
RESULTS: Curcumin inhibited cell proliferation and induced cell apoptosis in time- and dose- dependent manner in THP-1 cells. Curcumin significantly inhibited the activations of AKT/mTOR and RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathways simultaneously.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that curcumin inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in THP-1 cells via inhibiting the activations of AKT/mTOR and RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathways simultaneously. Our data suggest that curcumin is a promising anti-tumor agent in acute monocytic leukemia.

Related: Apoptosis Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)


Sandhu DS, Baichoo E, Roberts LR
Fibroblast growth factor signaling in liver carcinogenesis.
Hepatology. 2014; 59(3):1166-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fibroblast growth factors, or FGFs, are a large family of polypeptide cytokines exhibiting a pleiotropy of functions, from cell growth to angiogenesis, wound healing, and tissue repair. This review broadly covers the genetics and protein expression of the FGF family members and the signaling pathways involved in FGF-mediated growth regulation. We emphasize the role of FGFs in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), including their effects on regulation of the tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis. Finally, we present current views on FGF's potential role as a prognostic marker in clinical practice, as well as its potential as a therapeutic target in HCC.

Related: Liver Cancer


Chen EY, DeRan MT, Ignatius MS, et al.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3 inhibitors induce the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway to suppress growth and self-renewal in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(14):5349-54 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/10/2014 Related Publications
Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is a common pediatric malignancy of muscle, with relapse being the major clinical challenge. Self-renewing tumor-propagating cells (TPCs) drive cancer relapse and are confined to a molecularly definable subset of ERMS cells. To identify drugs that suppress ERMS self-renewal and induce differentiation of TPCs, a large-scale chemical screen was completed. Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) inhibitors were identified as potent suppressors of ERMS growth through inhibiting proliferation and inducing terminal differentiation of TPCs into myosin-expressing cells. In support of GSK3 inhibitors functioning through activation of the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway, recombinant WNT3A and stabilized β-catenin also enhanced terminal differentiation of human ERMS cells. Treatment of ERMS-bearing zebrafish with GSK3 inhibitors activated the WNT/β-catenin pathway, resulting in suppressed ERMS growth, depleted TPCs, and diminished self-renewal capacity in vivo. Activation of the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway also significantly reduced self-renewal of human ERMS, indicating a conserved function for this pathway in modulating ERMS self-renewal. In total, we have identified an unconventional tumor suppressive role for the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway in regulating self-renewal of ERMS and revealed therapeutic strategies to target differentiation of TPCs in ERMS.


Cnossen WR, te Morsche RH, Hoischen A, et al.
Whole-exome sequencing reveals LRP5 mutations and canonical Wnt signaling associated with hepatic cystogenesis.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(14):5343-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/10/2014 Related Publications
Polycystic livers are seen in the rare inherited disorder isolated polycystic liver disease (PCLD) and are recognized as the most common extrarenal manifestation in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Hepatic cystogenesis is characterized by progressive proliferation of cholangiocytes, ultimately causing hepatomegaly. Genetically, polycystic liver disease is a heterogeneous disorder with incomplete penetrance and caused by mutations in PRKCSH, SEC63, PKD1, or PKD2. Genome-wide SNP typing and Sanger sequencing revealed no pathogenic variants in hitherto genes in an extended PCLD family. We performed whole-exome sequencing of DNA samples from two members. A heterozygous variant c.3562C > T located at a highly conserved amino acid position (p.R1188W) in the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5 (LRP5) gene segregated with the disease (logarithm of odds score, 4.62) but was not observed in more than 1,000 unaffected individuals. Screening of LRP5 in a PCLD cohort identified three additional mutations in three unrelated families with polycystic livers (p.V454M, p.R1529S, and p.D1551N), again all undetected in controls. All variants were predicted to be damaging with profound structural effects on LRP5 protein domains. Liver cyst tissue and normal hepatic tissue samples from patients and controls showed abundant LRP5 expression by immunohistochemistry. Functional activity analyses indicated that mutant LRP5 led to reduced wingless signal activation. In conclusion, we demonstrate that germ-line LRP5 missense mutations are associated with hepatic cystogenesis. The findings presented in this study link the pathophysiology of PCLD to deregulation of the canonical wingless signaling pathway.


Wu G, Diaz AK, Paugh BS, et al.
The genomic landscape of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and pediatric non-brainstem high-grade glioma.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(5):444-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/11/2014 Related Publications
Pediatric high-grade glioma (HGG) is a devastating disease with a less than 20% survival rate 2 years after diagnosis. We analyzed 127 pediatric HGGs, including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) and non-brainstem HGGs (NBS-HGGs), by whole-genome, whole-exome and/or transcriptome sequencing. We identified recurrent somatic mutations in ACVR1 exclusively in DIPGs (32%), in addition to previously reported frequent somatic mutations in histone H3 genes, TP53 and ATRX, in both DIPGs and NBS-HGGs. Structural variants generating fusion genes were found in 47% of DIPGs and NBS-HGGs, with recurrent fusions involving the neurotrophin receptor genes NTRK1, NTRK2 and NTRK3 in 40% of NBS-HGGs in infants. Mutations targeting receptor tyrosine kinase-RAS-PI3K signaling, histone modification or chromatin remodeling, and cell cycle regulation were found in 68%, 73% and 59% of pediatric HGGs, respectively, including in DIPGs and NBS-HGGs. This comprehensive analysis provides insights into the unique and shared pathways driving pediatric HGG within and outside the brainstem.

Related: Brain Stem Glioma - Childhood NTRK1 gene NTRK2 NTRK3 gene


Li D, Cao W
Role of intracellular calcium and NADPH oxidase NOX5-S in acid-induced DNA damage in Barrett's cells and Barrett's esophageal adenocarcinoma cells.
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014; 306(10):G863-72 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/05/2015 Related Publications
Mechanisms whereby acid reflux may accelerate the progression from Barrett's esophagus (BE) to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) are not fully understood. Acid and reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been reported to cause DNA damage in Barrett's cells. We have previously shown that NADPH oxidase NOX5-S is responsible for acid-induced H2O2 production in Barrett's cells and in EA cells. In this study we examined the role of intracellular calcium and NADPH oxidase NOX5-S in acid-induced DNA damage in a Barrett's EA cell line FLO and a Barrett's cell line CP-A. We found that pulsed acid treatment significantly increased tail moment in FLO and CP-A cells and histone H2AX phosphorylation in FLO cells. In addition, acid treatment significantly increased intracellular Ca(2+) in FLO cells, an increase that is blocked by Ca(2+)-free medium with EGTA and thapsigargin. Acid-induced increase in tail moment was significantly decreased by NADPH oxidase inhibitor diphenylene iodonium in FLO cells, and by blockade of intracellular Ca(2+) increase or knockdown of NOX5-S with NOX5 small-interfering RNA (siRNA) in FLO and CP-A cells. Acid-induced increase in histone H2AX phosphorylation was significantly decreased by NOX5 siRNA in FLO cells. Conversely, overexpression of NOX5-S significantly increased tail moment and histone H2AX phosphorylation in FLO cells. We conclude that pulsed acid treatment causes DNA damage via increase of intracellular calcium and activation of NOX5-S. It is possible that in BE acid reflux increases intracellular calcium, activates NOX5-S, and increases ROS production, which causes DNA damage, thereby contributing to the progression from BE to EA.

Related: Cancer of the Esophagus Esophageal Cancer


Nakamura M, Ogo A, Yamura M, et al.
Metformin suppresses sonic hedgehog expression in pancreatic cancer cells.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(4):1765-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Metformin use has previously been associated with decreased cancer risk. The Hedgehog signaling pathway is a well-characterized early and late mediator of pancreatic cancer oncogenesis. The aim of the present study was to clarify the effect of metformin on factors involved in Hedgehog signaling.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: BxPC3 human pancreatic cancer cells were treated with metformin, and Sonic hedgehog (Shh) mRNA and protein levels were examined by real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting, respectively. The effect of metformin on Shh levels was also examined in three other cancer cell lines.
RESULTS: Shh protein and mRNA expression was suppressed by metformin in BxPC3 cells. This phenomenon was further confirmed in three other cancer cell lines. Shh mRNA expression was inhibited by metformin in a concentration-dependent manner in two cancer cell lines.
CONCLUSION: Metformin reduces the expression of Shh in several cancer cell lines including pancreatic cancer cell.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer


Galuppo R, Maynard E, Shah M, et al.
Synergistic inhibition of HCC and liver cancer stem cell proliferation by targeting RAS/RAF/MAPK and WNT/β-catenin pathways.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(4):1709-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The aim of this study is to find synergistic effect using FH535 and sorafenib by targeting the RAS/RAF/MAPK and WNT/β-catenin pathways.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: 3H-Thymidine incorporation assays were performed to address Huh7 and liver cancer stem cell (LCSC) inhibition using FH535 and sorafenib, alone and in combination. Calcusyn analysis was used to calculate the combination index (CI). A western blot assay was performed to check for potential targets.
RESULTS: FH535 and sorafenib caused inhibition of Huh7 and LCSC. Combination therapy was significantly better than monotherapy in inhibition of HuH7. Combination with sorafenib and FH535 was found to be synergistic in inhibition of LCSC with a CI of less than 1. The western blot assay demonstrated enhanced cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and inhibition of cyclin D1, B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl2), survivin and cellular myelocytomatosis oncogene (c-MYC).
CONCLUSION: FH535 and sorafenib combination produced synergistic effect on inhibition of HCC and LCSC. Our study demonstrated that FH535 can induce apoptosis in these two different hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines.

Related: Liver Cancer BIRC5 Sorafenib (Nexavar)


Bauer G
Targeting extracellular ROS signaling of tumor cells.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(4):1467-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Expression of membrane-associated NADPH oxidase (NOX1) represents a characteristic feature of malignant cells. NOX1-derived extracellular superoxide anions are the basis for autocrine stimulation of proliferation, but also drive the HOCl and the NO/peroxynitrite signaling pathways. This may cause the elimination of transformed cells. Tumor cells express membrane-associated catalase that efficiently protects the cells against apoptosis-inducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling. Membrane-associated superoxide dismutase (SOD) plays a co-modulatory protective role that is functionally interrelated with the protective effect mediated by catalase. Due to the co-localization of NOX1, catalase and SOD on the outer membrane of tumor cells, specific inhibition of membrane-associated SOD causes superoxide anion-dependent inhibition of catalase. This establishes a strong apoptotic signaling through the NO/peroxynitrite pathway. In parallel, it causes a drastic decrease in the concentration of proliferation-stimulating H2O2. Knowledge of the biochemical network on the surface of tumor cells should, therefore, allow development of specific novel strategies for tumor therapy, based on the specific features of tumor cell-specific extracellular ROS interactions.

Related: Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction


Liu Q, Tomei S, Ascierto ML, et al.
Melanoma NOS1 expression promotes dysfunctional IFN signaling.
J Clin Invest. 2014; 124(5):2147-59 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/05/2015 Related Publications
In multiple forms of cancer, constitutive activation of type I IFN signaling is a critical consequence of immune surveillance against cancer; however, PBMCs isolated from cancer patients exhibit depressed STAT1 phosphorylation in response to IFN-α, suggesting IFN signaling dysfunction. Here, we demonstrated in a coculture system that melanoma cells differentially impairs the IFN-α response in PBMCs and that the inhibitory potential of a particular melanoma cell correlates with NOS1 expression. Comparison of gene transcription and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) between melanoma cells from different patients indicated that suppression of IFN-α signaling correlates with an amplification of the NOS1 locus within segment 12q22-24. Evaluation of NOS1 levels in melanomas and IFN responsiveness of purified PBMCs from patients indicated a negative correlation between NOS1 expression in melanomas and the responsiveness of PBMCs to IFN-α. Furthermore, in an explorative study, NOS1 expression in melanoma metastases was negatively associated with patient response to adoptive T cell therapy. This study provides a link between cancer cell phenotype and IFN signal dysfunction in circulating immune cells.

Related: CGH Melanoma


Lin DC, Hao JJ, Nagata Y, et al.
Genomic and molecular characterization of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(5):467-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/11/2014 Related Publications
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is prevalent worldwide and particularly common in certain regions of Asia. Here we report the whole-exome or targeted deep sequencing of 139 paired ESCC cases, and analysis of somatic copy number variations (SCNV) of over 180 ESCCs. We identified previously uncharacterized mutated genes such as FAT1, FAT2, ZNF750 and KMT2D, in addition to those already known (TP53, PIK3CA and NOTCH1). Further SCNV evaluation, immunohistochemistry and biological analysis suggested their functional relevance in ESCC. Notably, RTK-MAPK-PI3K pathways, cell cycle and epigenetic regulation are frequently dysregulated by multiple molecular mechanisms in this cancer. Our approaches also uncovered many druggable candidates, and XPO1 was further explored as a therapeutic target because it showed both gene mutation and protein overexpression. Our integrated study unmasks a number of novel genetic lesions in ESCC and provides an important molecular foundation for understanding esophageal tumors and developing therapeutic targets.

Related: Cancer of the Esophagus Esophageal Cancer FISH


Zhu X, Wang K, Zhang K, et al.
Ziyuglycoside II induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis through activation of ROS/JNK pathway in human breast cancer cells.
Toxicol Lett. 2014; 227(1):65-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ziyuglycoside II, a triterpenoid saponin compound extracted from Sanguisorba officinalis L., has been reported to have a wide range of clinical applications including anti-cancer effect. In this study, the anti-proliferative effect of ziyuglycoside II in two classic human breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, was extensively investigated. Our study indicated that ziyuglycoside II could effectively induce G2/M phase arrest and apoptosis in both cell lines. Cell cycle blocking was associated with the down-regulation of Cdc25C, Cdc2, cyclin A and cyclin B1 as well as the up-regulation of p21/WAF1, phospho-Cdc25C and phospho-Cdc2. Ziyuglycoside II treatment also induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and apoptosis by activating the extrinsic/Fas/FasL pathway as well as the intrinsic/mitochondrial pathway. More importantly, the c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), a downstream target of ROS, was found to be a critical mediator of ziyuglycoside II-induced cell apoptosis. Further knockdown of JNK by siRNA could inhibit ziyuglycoside II-mediated apoptosis with attenuating the up-regulation of Bax and Fas/FasL as well as the down-regulation of Bcl-2. Taken together, the cell death of breast cancer cells in response to ziyuglycoside II was dependent upon cell cycle arrest and cell apoptosis via a ROS-dependent JNK activation pathway. Our findings may significantly contribute to the understanding of the anti-proliferative effect of ziyuglycoside II, in particular to breast carcinoma and provide novel insights into the potential application of such compound in breast cancer therapy.

Related: Apoptosis Breast Cancer


Cools J
RHOA mutations in peripheral T cell lymphoma.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(4):320-1 [PubMed] Related Publications
Peripheral T cell lymphomas are rare but aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas derived from mature T lymphocytes or natural killer (NK) cells. New studies identify recurrent dominant-negative mutation of the RHOA GTPase gene in these lymphomas.

Related: RHOA


Tai WP, Hu PJ, Wu J, Lin XC
The inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway in human colon cancer cells by sulindac.
Tumori. 2014 Jan-Feb; 100(1):97-101 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays important roles in the initial development of colon cancer. Sulindac is a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. We demonstrated the effects of sulindac on growth inhibition, apoptosis induction, and Wnt/β-catenin signaling suppression in human colon cancer cells. Sulindac significantly inhibited proliferation of HT-29 colon cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Sulindac was found to induce the apoptosis of HT-29 cells and inhibit the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. The inhibition was further confirmed by the decreased protein levels of β-catenin. The results indicate that sulindac may play a beneficial role in the comprehensive treatment of colon cancer.

Related: Apoptosis Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer


Cook AM, Li L, Ho Y, et al.
Role of altered growth factor receptor-mediated JAK2 signaling in growth and maintenance of human acute myeloid leukemia stem cells.
Blood. 2014; 123(18):2826-37 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is sustained by small populations of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) that can resist available treatments and represent important barriers to cure. Although previous studies have shown increased signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 and STAT5 phosphorylation in AML leukemic blasts, the role of Janus kinase (JAK) signaling in primary AML compared with normal stem cells has not been directly evaluated. We show here that JAK/STAT signaling is increased in LSCs, particularly from high-risk AML. JAK2 inhibition using small molecule inhibitors or interference RNA reduced growth of AML LSCs while sparing normal stem cells both in vitro and in vivo. Increased JAK/STAT activity was associated with increased expression and altered signaling through growth factor receptors in AML LSCs, including receptor tyrosine kinase c-KIT and FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3). Inhibition of c-KIT and FLT3 expression significantly inhibited JAK/STAT signaling in AML LSCs, and JAK inhibitors effectively inhibited FLT3-mutated AML LSCs. Our results indicate that JAK/STAT signaling represents an important signaling mechanism supporting AML LSC growth and survival. These studies support continued evaluation of strategies for JAK/STAT inhibition for therapeutic targeting of AML LSCs.

Related: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)


Chen Z, Sangwan V, Banerjee S, et al.
Triptolide sensitizes pancreatic cancer cells to TRAIL-induced activation of the death receptor pathway.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 348(1-2):156-66 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/06/2015 Related Publications
The tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) causes cancer cell death, but many cancers, including pancreatic cancer, are resistant to TRAIL therapy. A combination of TRAIL and the diterpene triepoxide, triptolide, is effective in inducing pancreatic cancer cell death. Triptolide increases levels of death receptor DR5 and decreases the pro-survival FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP), which contribute to the activation of caspase-8. This combination further causes both lysosomal and mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, resulting in cell death. Our study provides a mechanism by which triptolide sensitizes TRAIL resistant cells, which may become a novel therapeutic strategy against pancreatic cancer.

Related: Apoptosis BID CASP8 Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer


Wang H, Ouyang H, Lai L, et al.
Pathogenesis and regulation of cellular proliferation in acute lymphoblastic leukemia - the role of Ikaros.
J BUON. 2014 Jan-Mar; 19(1):22-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia of childhood. Over the last 50 years there have been tremendous scientific advances in understanding the pathogenesis and the mechanisms that control cellular proliferation in ALL. These discoveries led to the development of efficient therapeutic regimens that greatly improved survival of children with ALL. Recently, several genes have been demonstrated to play a key role in tumor suppression and that their deregulation leads to malignant transformation and can affect overall survival. This review summarizes the role of Ikaros (IKZF1) in tumor suppression and regulation of gene expression in leukemia. Deletions and/or mutations of Ikaros have been detected in a large percentage of pediatric and adult ALL and reduced Ikaros function has been associated with poor outcome in ALL. Ikaros function in chromatin remodeling and epigenetic regulation of gene transcription emphasizes the important role of this protein in controlling cellular proliferation. In this review, we particularly focus on the role of signaling pathways in the regulation of Ikaros activity and its transcriptional control in leukemia.

Related: Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) Childhood Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) ALL - Molecular Biology


Hansen HP, Engels HM, Dams M, et al.
Protrusion-guided extracellular vesicles mediate CD30 trans-signalling in the microenvironment of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
J Pathol. 2014; 232(4):405-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Classical Hodgkin's lymphoma (cHL)-affected lymphoid tissue contains only a few malignant Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells, which are disseminated within a massive infiltrate of reactive cells. In particular, the innate immune infiltrate is deemed to support tumour growth by direct cell-cell interaction. Since they are rarely found in close proximity to the malignant cells in situ, we investigated whether cHL-derived extracellular vesicles might substitute for a direct cell-cell contact. We studied the crosstalk of the transmembrane proteins CD30 and CD30 ligand (CD30L) because they are selectively expressed on HRS and innate immune cells, respectively. Here, we showed that HRS cells released both the ectodomain as a soluble molecule (sCD30) and the entire receptor on the surface of extracellular vesicles. The vesicle diameter was 40-800 nm, as determined by cryo- and immune electron microscopy. In addition to CD30, typical extracellular vesicle markers were detected by mass spectrometry and flow cytometry, including tetraspanins, flotillins, heat shock proteins and adhesion molecules. In contrast to sCD30, vesicles caused a CD30-dependent release of interleukin-8 in CD30L(+) eosinophil-like EoL-1 cells and primary granulocytes from healthy donors, underscoring the functionality of CD30 on vesicles. In extracellular matrix (ECM)-embedded culture of HRS cells, a network of actin and tubulin-based protrusions guided CD30(+) vesicles into the micro-environment. This network targeted CD30(+) vesicles towards distant immune cells and caused a robust polarization of CD30L. Confocal laser scanning microscopy of 30 µm sections showed a CD30 vesicle-containing network also in cHL-affected lymphoid tissue of both mixed-cellularity and nodular sclerosing subtypes. This network might facilitate the communication between distant cell types in cHL tissue and allow a functional CD30-CD30L interaction in trans. The tubulin backbone of the network may provide a target for the therapy of cHL with antitubulin-based CD30 antibody constructs.

Related: Hodgkin's Lymphoma


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