Gene Summary

Gene:AKR1C1; aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C1
Aliases: C9, DD1, DDH, DDH1, H-37, HBAB, MBAB, HAKRC, DD1/DD2, 2-ALPHA-HSD, 20-ALPHA-HSD
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the aldo/keto reductase superfamily, which consists of more than 40 known enzymes and proteins. These enzymes catalyze the conversion of aldehydes and ketones to their corresponding alcohols by utilizing NADH and/or NADPH as cofactors. The enzymes display overlapping but distinct substrate specificity. This enzyme catalyzes the reaction of progesterone to the inactive form 20-alpha-hydroxy-progesterone. This gene shares high sequence identity with three other gene members and is clustered with those three genes at chromosome 10p15-p14. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 14 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (27)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (1)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 14 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • NFE2L2
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Lung Cancer
  • U937 Cells
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1
  • Xenograft Models
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Smoking
  • Messenger RNA
  • Signal Transduction
  • Prostate Cancer
  • siRNA
  • Tobacco
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Hydroxyprostaglandin Dehydrogenases
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Promoter Regions
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Washington
  • Risk Factors
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Vitamin K 3
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Breast Cancer
  • Estradiol Dehydrogenases
  • Aldehyde Reductase
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • 20-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Testosterone
  • Genotype
  • Chromosome 10
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Tag cloud generated 14 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: AKR1C1 (cancer-related)

Nik-Zainal S, Davies H, Staaf J, et al.
Landscape of somatic mutations in 560 breast cancer whole-genome sequences.
Nature. 2016; 534(7605):47-54 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We analysed whole-genome sequences of 560 breast cancers to advance understanding of the driver mutations conferring clonal advantage and the mutational processes generating somatic mutations. We found that 93 protein-coding cancer genes carried probable driver mutations. Some non-coding regions exhibited high mutation frequencies, but most have distinctive structural features probably causing elevated mutation rates and do not contain driver mutations. Mutational signature analysis was extended to genome rearrangements and revealed twelve base substitution and six rearrangement signatures. Three rearrangement signatures, characterized by tandem duplications or deletions, appear associated with defective homologous-recombination-based DNA repair: one with deficient BRCA1 function, another with deficient BRCA1 or BRCA2 function, the cause of the third is unknown. This analysis of all classes of somatic mutation across exons, introns and intergenic regions highlights the repertoire of cancer genes and mutational processes operating, and progresses towards a comprehensive account of the somatic genetic basis of breast cancer.

Zhou Z, Tang AT, Wong WY, et al.
Cerebral cavernous malformations arise from endothelial gain of MEKK3-KLF2/4 signalling.
Nature. 2016; 532(7597):122-6 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are common inherited and sporadic vascular malformations that cause strokes and seizures in younger individuals. CCMs arise from endothelial cell loss of KRIT1, CCM2 or PDCD10, non-homologous proteins that form an adaptor complex. How disruption of the CCM complex results in disease remains controversial, with numerous signalling pathways (including Rho, SMAD and Wnt/β-catenin) and processes such as endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) proposed to have causal roles. CCM2 binds to MEKK3 (refs 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), and we have recently shown that CCM complex regulation of MEKK3 is essential during vertebrate heart development. Here we investigate this mechanism in CCM disease pathogenesis. Using a neonatal mouse model of CCM disease, we show that expression of the MEKK3 target genes Klf2 and Klf4, as well as Rho and ADAMTS protease activity, are increased in the endothelial cells of early CCM lesions. By contrast, we find no evidence of EndMT or increased SMAD or Wnt signalling during early CCM formation. Endothelial-specific loss of Map3k3 (also known as Mekk3), Klf2 or Klf4 markedly prevents lesion formation, reverses the increase in Rho activity, and rescues lethality. Consistent with these findings in mice, we show that endothelial expression of KLF2 and KLF4 is increased in human familial and sporadic CCM lesions, and that a disease-causing human CCM2 mutation abrogates the MEKK3 interaction without affecting CCM complex formation. These studies identify gain of MEKK3 signalling and KLF2/4 function as causal mechanisms for CCM pathogenesis that may be targeted to develop new CCM therapeutics.

Koyani CN, Kitz K, Rossmann C, et al.
Activation of the MAPK/Akt/Nrf2-Egr1/HO-1-GCLc axis protects MG-63 osteosarcoma cells against 15d-PGJ2-mediated cell death.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2016; 104:29-41 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Despite considerable efforts to improve treatment modalities for osteosarcoma (OS), patient survival remains poor mainly due to pro-survival pathways in OS cells. Among others, prostaglandins (PGs) are the potent regulators of bone homoeostasis and OS pathophysiology. Therefore, the present study aimed to elucidate the impact of 15-deoxy-Δ(12,14)-PGJ2 (15d-PGJ2, a stable PGD2 degradation product) on cell death/cell survival pathways in p53-deficient MG-63 OS cells. Our findings show that 15d-PGJ2 induces generation of reactive oxygen species that promote p38 MAPK activation and subsequent Akt phosphorylation. This pathway induced nuclear expression of Nrf2 and Egr1, and increased transcription of haem oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and the catalytic subunit of glutamate cysteine ligase (GCLc), catalysing the first step in GSH synthesis. Silencing of Nrf2, Egr1 and HO-1 significantly elevated 15d-PGJ2-mediated reduction of cellular metabolic activity. Activation of cell survival genes including HO-1 and GCLc inhibited 15d-PGJ2-induced cleavage of pro-caspase-3 and PARP. Annexin V/propidium iodide staining showed an increase in early/late apoptotic cells in response to 15d-PGJ2. The observed 15d-PGJ2-mediated signalling events are independent of PGD2 receptors (DP1 and DP2) and PPARγ. In addition, the electrophilic carbon atom C9 is a prerequisite for the observed activity of 15d-PGJ2. The present data show that the intracellular redox imbalance acted as a node and triggered both death and survival pathways in response to 15d-PGJ2. Pharmacological or genetic interference of the pro-survival pathway, the p38 MAPK/Akt/Nrf2-Egr1/HO-1-GCLc axis, sensitizes MG-63 cells towards 15d-PGJ2-mediated apoptosis.

Teresa Pinto A, Laranjeiro Pinto M, Patrícia Cardoso A, et al.
Ionizing radiation modulates human macrophages towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype preserving their pro-invasive and pro-angiogenic capacities.
Sci Rep. 2016; 6:18765 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
In order to improve the efficacy of conventional radiotherapy, attention has been paid to immune cells, which not only modulate cancer cell response to therapy but are also highly recruited to tumours after irradiation. Particularly, the effect of ionizing radiation on macrophages, using therapeutically relevant doses, is not well understood. To evaluate how radiotherapy affects macrophage behaviour and macrophage-mediated cancer cell activity, human monocyte derived-macrophages were subjected, for a week, to cumulative ionizing radiation doses, as used during cancer treatment (2 Gy/fraction/day). Irradiated macrophages remained viable and metabolically active, despite DNA damage. NF-kappaB transcription activation and increased Bcl-xL expression evidenced the promotion of pro-survival activity. A significant increase of pro-inflammatory macrophage markers CD80, CD86 and HLA-DR, but not CCR7, TNF and IL1B was observed after 10 Gy cumulative doses, while anti-inflammatory markers CD163, MRC1, VCAN and IL-10 expression decreased, suggesting the modulation towards a more pro-inflammatory phenotype. Moreover, ionizing radiation induced macrophage morphological alterations and increased their phagocytic rate, without affecting matrix metalloproteases (MMP)2 and MMP9 activity. Importantly, irradiated macrophages promoted cancer cell-invasion and cancer cell-induced angiogenesis. Our work highlights macrophage ability to sustain cancer cell activities as a major concern that needs to be addressed to improve radiotherapy efficacy.

Matula K, Collie-Duguid E, Murray G, et al.
Regulation of cellular sphingosine-1-phosphate by sphingosine kinase 1 and sphingosine-1-phopshate lyase determines chemotherapy resistance in gastroesophageal cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2015; 15:762 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Resistance to chemotherapy is common in gastroesophageal cancer. Mechanisms of resistance are incompletely characterised and there are no predictive biomarkers in clinical practice for cytotoxic drugs. We used new cell line models to characterise novel chemotherapy resistance mechanisms and validated them in tumour specimens to identify new targets and biomarkers for gastroesophageal cancer.
METHODS: Cell lines were selected for resistance to oxaliplatin, cisplatin and docetaxel and gene expression examined using Affymetrix Exon 1.0 ST arrays. Leads were validated by qRT-PCR and HPLC of tumour metabolites. Protein expression and pharmacological inhibition of lead target SPHK1 was evaluated in independent cell lines, and by immunohistochemistry in gastroesophageal cancer patients.
RESULTS: Genes with differential expression in drug resistant cell lines compared to the parental cell line they were derived from, were identified for each drug resistant cell line. Biological pathway analysis of these gene lists, identified over-represented pathways, and only 3 pathways - lysosome, sphingolipid metabolism and p53 signalling- were identified as over-represented in these lists for all three cytotoxic drugs investigated. The majority of genes differentially expressed in chemoresistant cell lines from these pathways, were involved in metabolism of glycosphingolipids and sphingolipids in lysosomal compartments suggesting that sphingolipids might be important mediators of cytotoxic drug resistance in gastroeosphageal cancers . On further investigation, we found that drug resistance (IC50) was correlated with increased sphingosine kinase 1(SPHK1) mRNA and also with decreased sphingosine-1-phosphate lysase 1(SGPL1) mRNA. SPHK1 and SGPL1 gene expression were inversely correlated. SPHK1:SGPL1 ratio correlated with increased cellular sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), and S1P correlated with drug resistance (IC50). High SPHK1 protein correlated with resistance to cisplatin (IC50) in an independent gastric cancer cell line panel and with survival of patients treated with chemotherapy prior to surgery but not in patients treated with surgery alone. Safingol a SPHK1 inhibitor, was cytotoxic as a single agent and acted synergistically with cisplatin in gastric cancer cell lines.
CONCLUSION: Agents that inhibit SPHK1 or S1P could overcome cytotoxic drug resistance in gastroesophageal cancer. There are several agents in early phase human trials including Safingol that could be combined with chemotherapy or used in patients progressing after chemotherapy.

Haddad SA, Lunetta KL, Ruiz-Narváez EA, et al.
Hormone-related pathways and risk of breast cancer subtypes in African American women.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015; 154(1):145-54 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We sought to investigate genetic variation in hormone pathways in relation to risk of overall and subtype-specific breast cancer in women of African ancestry (AA). Genotyping and imputation yielded data on 143,934 SNPs in 308 hormone-related genes for 3663 breast cancer cases (1098 ER-, 1983 ER+, 582 ER unknown) and 4687 controls from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium. AMBER includes data from four large studies of AA women: the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, the Women's Circle of Health Study, the Black Women's Health Study, and the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Pathway- and gene-based analyses were conducted, and single-SNP tests were run for the top genes. There were no strong associations at the pathway level. The most significantly associated genes were GHRH, CALM2, CETP, and AKR1C1 for overall breast cancer (gene-based nominal p ≤ 0.01); NR0B1, IGF2R, CALM2, CYP1B1, and GRB2 for ER+ breast cancer (p ≤ 0.02); and PGR, MAPK3, MAP3K1, and LHCGR for ER- disease (p ≤ 0.02). Single-SNP tests for SNPs with pairwise linkage disequilibrium r (2) < 0.8 in the top genes identified 12 common SNPs (in CALM2, CETP, NR0B1, IGF2R, CYP1B1, PGR, MAPK3, and MAP3K1) associated with overall or subtype-specific breast cancer after gene-level correction for multiple testing. Rs11571215 in PGR (progesterone receptor) was the SNP most strongly associated with ER- disease. We identified eight genes in hormone pathways that contain common variants associated with breast cancer in AA women after gene-level correction for multiple testing.

Periyasamy M, Patel H, Lai CF, et al.
APOBEC3B-Mediated Cytidine Deamination Is Required for Estrogen Receptor Action in Breast Cancer.
Cell Rep. 2015; 13(1):108-21 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Estrogen receptor α (ERα) is the key transcriptional driver in a large proportion of breast cancers. We report that APOBEC3B (A3B) is required for regulation of gene expression by ER and acts by causing C-to-U deamination at ER binding regions. We show that these C-to-U changes lead to the generation of DNA strand breaks through activation of base excision repair (BER) and to repair by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways. We provide evidence that transient cytidine deamination by A3B aids chromatin modification and remodelling at the regulatory regions of ER target genes that promotes their expression. A3B expression is associated with poor patient survival in ER+ breast cancer, reinforcing the physiological significance of A3B for ER action.

Liu C, Guo H, Cheng X, et al.
Exposure to airborne PM2.5 suppresses microRNA expression and deregulates target oncogenes that cause neoplastic transformation in NIH3T3 cells.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(30):29428-39 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Long-term exposure to airborne PM2.5 is associated with increased lung cancer risk but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We characterized global microRNA and mRNA expression in human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to PM2.5 organic extract and integrally analyzed microRNA-mRNA interactions. Foci formation and xenograft tumorigenesis in mice with NIH3T3 cells expressing genes targeted by microRNAs were performed to explore the oncogenic potential of these genes. We also detected plasma levels of candidate microRNAs in subjects exposed to different levels of air PM2.5 and examined the aberrant expression of genes targeted by these microRNAs in human lung cancer. Under our experimental conditions, treatment of cells with PM2.5 extract resulted in downregulation of 138 microRNAs and aberrant expression of 13 mRNAs (11 upregulation and 2 downregulation). In silico and biochemical analyses suggested SLC30A1, SERPINB2 and AKR1C1, among the upregulated genes, as target for miR-182 and miR-185, respectively. Ectopic expression of each of these genes significantly enhanced foci formation in NIH3T3 cells. Following subcutaneous injection of these cells into nude mice, fibrosarcoma were formed from SLC30A1- or SERPINB2-expressing cells. Reduced plasma levels of miR-182 were detected in subjects exposed to high level of PM2.5 than in those exposed to low level of PM2.5 (P = 0.043). Similar results were seen for miR-185 although the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.328). Increased expressions of SLC30A1, SERPINB2 and AKR1C1 were detected in human lung cancer. These results suggest that modulation of miR-182 and miR-185 and their target genes may contribute to lung carcinogenesis attributable to PM2.5 exposure.

O'Leary K, Shia A, Cavicchioli F, et al.
Identification of Endoglin as an epigenetically regulated tumour-suppressor gene in lung cancer.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 113(6):970-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF- β) pathway has been implicated in proliferation, migration and invasion of various cancers. Endoglin is a TGF-β accessory receptor that modulates signalling. We identified Endoglin as an epigenetically silenced tumour-suppressor gene in lung cancer by means of a genome-wide screening approach, then sought to characterise its effect on lung cancer progression.
METHODS: Methylation microarray and RNA sequencing were carried out on lung cancer cell lines. Epigenetic silencing of Endoglin was confirmed by methylation and expression analyses. An expression vector and a 20-gene expression panel were used to evaluate Endoglin function. Pyrosequencing was carried out on two independent cohorts comprising 112 and 202 NSCLC cases, respectively, and the impact of Endoglin methylation on overall survival (OS) was evaluated.
RESULTS: Methylation in the promoter region resulted in silencing of Endoglin, which could be reactivated by demethylation. Increased invasion coupled with altered EMT marker expression was observed in cell lines with an epithelial-like, but not those with a mesenchymal-like, profile when Endoglin was absent. Methylation was associated with decreased OS in stage I but not in stages II-III disease.
CONCLUSIONS: We show that Endoglin is a common target of epigenetic silencing in lung cancer. We reveal a link between Endoglin silencing and EMT progression that might be associated with decreased survival in stage I disease.

Cardaci S, Zheng L, MacKay G, et al.
Pyruvate carboxylation enables growth of SDH-deficient cells by supporting aspartate biosynthesis.
Nat Cell Biol. 2015; 17(10):1317-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) is a heterotetrameric nuclear-encoded complex responsible for the oxidation of succinate to fumarate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Loss-of-function mutations in any of the SDH genes are associated with cancer formation. However, the impact of SDH loss on cell metabolism and the mechanisms enabling growth of SDH-defective cells are largely unknown. Here, we generated Sdhb-ablated kidney mouse cells and used comparative metabolomics and stable-isotope-labelling approaches to identify nutritional requirements and metabolic adaptations to SDH loss. We found that lack of SDH activity commits cells to consume extracellular pyruvate, which sustains Warburg-like bioenergetic features. We further demonstrated that pyruvate carboxylation diverts glucose-derived carbons into aspartate biosynthesis, thus sustaining cell growth. By identifying pyruvate carboxylase as essential for the proliferation and tumorigenic capacity of SDH-deficient cells, this study revealed a metabolic vulnerability for potential future treatment of SDH-associated malignancies.

Meek DW
Regulation of the p53 response and its relationship to cancer.
Biochem J. 2015; 469(3):325-46 [PubMed] Related Publications
p53 has been studied intensively as a major tumour suppressor that detects oncogenic events in cancer cells and eliminates them through senescence (a permanent non-proliferative state) or apoptosis. Consistent with this role, p53 activity is compromised in a high proportion of all cancer types, either through mutation of the TP53 gene (encoding p53) or changes in the status of p53 modulators. p53 has additional roles, which may overlap with its tumour-suppressive capacity, in processes including the DNA damage response, metabolism, aging, stem cell differentiation and fertility. Moreover, many mutant p53 proteins, termed 'gain-of-function' (GOF), acquire new activities that help drive cancer aggression. p53 is regulated mainly through protein turnover and operates within a negative-feedback loop with its transcriptional target, MDM2 (murine double minute 2), an E3 ubiquitin ligase which mediates the ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation of p53. Induction of p53 is achieved largely through uncoupling the p53-MDM2 interaction, leading to elevated p53 levels. Various stress stimuli acting on p53 (such as hyperproliferation and DNA damage) use different, but overlapping, mechanisms to achieve this. Additionally, p53 activity is regulated through critical context-specific or fine-tuning events, mediated primarily through post-translational mechanisms, particularly multi-site phosphorylation and acetylation. In the present review, I broadly examine these events, highlighting their regulatory contributions, their ability to integrate signals from cellular events towards providing most appropriate response to stress conditions and their importance for tumour suppression. These are fascinating aspects of molecular oncology that hold the key to understanding the molecular pathology of cancer and the routes by which it may be tackled therapeutically.

Tebay LE, Robertson H, Durant ST, et al.
Mechanisms of activation of the transcription factor Nrf2 by redox stressors, nutrient cues, and energy status and the pathways through which it attenuates degenerative disease.
Free Radic Biol Med. 2015; 88(Pt B):108-46 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates the basal and stress-inducible expression of a battery of genes encoding key components of the glutathione-based and thioredoxin-based antioxidant systems, as well as aldo-keto reductase, glutathione S-transferase, and
NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase-1 drug-metabolizing isoenzymes along with multidrug-resistance-associated efflux pumps. It therefore plays a pivotal role in both intrinsic resistance and cellular adaptation to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and xenobiotics. Activation of Nrf2 can, however, serve as a double-edged sword because some of the genes it induces may contribute to chemical carcinogenesis by promoting futile redox cycling of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites or confer resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs by increasing the expression of efflux pumps, suggesting its cytoprotective effects will vary in a context-specific fashion. In addition to cytoprotection, Nrf2 also controls genes involved in intermediary metabolism, positively regulating those involved in NADPH generation, purine biosynthesis, and the β-oxidation of fatty acids, while suppressing those involved in lipogenesis and gluconeogenesis. Nrf2 is subject to regulation at multiple levels. Its ability to orchestrate adaptation to oxidants and electrophiles is due principally to stress-stimulated modification of thiols within one of its repressors, the Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), which is present in the cullin-3 RING ubiquitin ligase (CRL) complex CRLKeap1. Thus modification of Cys residues in Keap1 blocks CRLKeap1 activity, allowing newly translated Nrf2 to accumulate rapidly and induce its target genes. The ability of Keap1 to repress Nrf2 can be attenuated by p62/sequestosome-1 in a mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)-dependent manner, thereby allowing refeeding after fasting to increase Nrf2-target gene expression. In parallel with repression by Keap1, Nrf2 is also repressed by β-transducin repeat-containing protein (β-TrCP), present in the Skp1-cullin-1-F-box protein (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complex SCFβ-TrCP. The ability of SCFβ-TrCP to suppress Nrf2 activity is itself enhanced by prior phosphorylation of the transcription factor by glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) through formation of a DSGIS-containing phosphodegron. However, formation of the phosphodegron in Nrf2 by GSK-3 is inhibited by stimuli that activate protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt. In particular, PKB/Akt activity can be increased by phosphoinositide 3-kinase and mTORC2, thereby providing an explanation of why antioxidant-responsive element-driven genes are induced by growth factors and nutrients. Thus Nrf2 activity is tightly controlled via CRLKeap1 and SCFβ-TrCP by oxidative stress and energy-based signals, allowing it to mediate adaptive responses that restore redox homeostasis and modulate intermediary metabolism. Based on the fact that Nrf2 influences multiple biochemical pathways in both positive and negative ways, it is likely its dose-response curve, in terms of susceptibility to certain degenerative disease, is U-shaped. Specifically, too little Nrf2 activity will lead to loss of cytoprotection, diminished antioxidant capacity, and lowered β-oxidation of fatty acids, while conversely also exhibiting heightened sensitivity to ROS-based signaling that involves receptor tyrosine kinases and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase-1. By contrast, too much Nrf2 activity disturbs the homeostatic balance in favor of reduction, and so may have deleterious consequences including overproduction of reduced glutathione and NADPH, the blunting of ROS-based signal transduction, epithelial cell hyperplasia, and failure of certain cell types to differentiate correctly. We discuss the basis of a putative U-shaped Nrf2 dose-response curve in terms of potentially competing processes relevant to different stages of tumorigenesis.

House CD, Wang BD, Ceniccola K, et al.
Voltage-gated Na+ Channel Activity Increases Colon Cancer Transcriptional Activity and Invasion Via Persistent MAPK Signaling.
Sci Rep. 2015; 5:11541 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Functional expression of voltage-gated Na(+) channels (VGSCs) has been demonstrated in multiple cancer cell types where channel activity induces invasive activity. The signaling mechanisms by which VGSCs promote oncogenesis remain poorly understood. We explored the signal transduction process critical to VGSC-mediated invasion on the basis of reports linking channel activity to gene expression changes in excitable cells. Coincidentally, many genes transcriptionally regulated by the SCN5A isoform in colon cancer have an over-representation of cis-acting sites for transcription factors phosphorylated by ERK1/2 MAPK. We hypothesized that VGSC activity promotes MAPK activation to induce transcriptional changes in invasion-related genes. Using pharmacological inhibitors/activators and siRNA-mediated gene knockdowns, we correlated channel activity with Rap1-dependent persistent MAPK activation in the SW620 human colon cancer cell line. We further demonstrated that VGSC activity induces downstream changes in invasion-related gene expression via a PKA/ERK/c-JUN/ELK-1/ETS-1 transcriptional pathway. This is the first study illustrating a molecular mechanism linking functional activity of VGSCs to transcriptional activation of invasion-related genes.

Stebbing J, Zhang H, Xu Y, et al.
Characterization of the Tyrosine Kinase-Regulated Proteome in Breast Cancer by Combined use of RNA interference (RNAi) and Stable Isotope Labeling with Amino Acids in Cell Culture (SILAC) Quantitative Proteomics.
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2015; 14(9):2479-92 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tyrosine kinases (TKs) are central regulators in cellular activities and perturbations of TK signaling contribute to oncogenesis. However, less than half of the TKs have been thoroughly studied and a global functional analysis of their proteomic portrait is lacking. Here we conducted a combined approach of RNA interference (RNAi) and stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based quantitative proteomics to decode the TK-regulated proteome and associated signaling dynamics. As a result, a broad proteomic repertoire modulated by TKs was revealed, upon silencing of the 65 TKs expressed in MCF7 breast cancer cells. This yielded 10 new distinctive TK clusters according to similarity in TK-regulated proteome, each characterized by a unique signaling signature in contrast to previous classifications. We provide functional analyses and identify critical pathways for each cluster based on their common downstream targets. Analysis of different breast cancer subtypes showed distinct correlations of each cluster with clinical outcome. From the significantly up- and down-regulated proteins, we identified a number of markers of drug sensitivity and resistance. These data supports the role of TKs in regulating major aspects of cellular activity, but also reveals redundancy in signaling, explaining why kinase inhibitors alone often fail to achieve their clinical aims. The TK-SILACepedia provides a comprehensive resource for studying the global function of TKs in cancer.

Zengerle M, Chan KH, Ciulli A
Selective Small Molecule Induced Degradation of the BET Bromodomain Protein BRD4.
ACS Chem Biol. 2015; 10(8):1770-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The Bromo- and Extra-Terminal (BET) proteins BRD2, BRD3, and BRD4 play important roles in transcriptional regulation, epigenetics, and cancer and are the targets of pan-BET selective bromodomain inhibitor JQ1. However, the lack of intra-BET selectivity limits the scope of current inhibitors as probes for target validation and could lead to unwanted side effects or toxicity in a therapeutic setting. We designed Proteolysis Targeted Chimeras (PROTACs) that tether JQ1 to a ligand for the E3 ubiquitin ligase VHL, aimed at triggering the intracellular destruction of BET proteins. Compound MZ1 potently and rapidly induces reversible, long-lasting, and unexpectedly selective removal of BRD4 over BRD2 and BRD3. The activity of MZ1 is dependent on binding to VHL but is achieved at a sufficiently low concentration not to induce stabilization of HIF-1α. Gene expression profiles of selected cancer-related genes responsive to JQ1 reveal distinct and more limited transcriptional responses induced by MZ1, consistent with selective suppression of BRD4. Our discovery opens up new opportunities to elucidate the cellular phenotypes and therapeutic implications associated with selective targeting of BRD4.

Boldrup L, Coates PJ, Laurell G, et al.
Downregulation of miRNA-424: a sign of field cancerisation in clinically normal tongue adjacent to squamous cell carcinoma.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(11):1760-5 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The overall survival for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue is low and the search for early diagnostic and prognostic markers is thus essential. MicroRNAs have been suggested as potential prognostic and diagnostic candidates in squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck in general.
METHODS: On the basis of the known differences between sub-sites within the oral cavity, we investigated the expression and role of microRNA-424 in squamous cell carcinoma arising in tongue. MicroRNA levels were measured by qRT-PCR in both tissue and plasma samples.
RESULTS: Levels of microRNA-424 were upregulated in tongue squamous cell carcinoma, but not in tumours originating from gingiva or floor of the mouth. Interestingly, microRNA-424 was downregulated in clinically normal tongue tissue next to tumour compared with completely healthy tongue, indicating that microRNA-424 could be a marker of field cancerisation in this tumour type. However, expression of microRNA-424 in a tongue-derived epithelial cell line revealed no significant changes in the expression profile of proteins and genes.
CONCLUSIONS: Our patient data show that microRNA-424 alterations are a marker of field cancerisation specific for tongue tumourigenesis, which also could have a role in development of tongue squamous cell carcinoma.

Amankwatia EB, Chakravarty P, Carey FA, et al.
MicroRNA-224 is associated with colorectal cancer progression and response to 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy by KRAS-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(9):1480-90 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancers arise from benign adenomas, although not all adenomas progress to cancer and there are marked interpatient differences in disease progression. We have previously associated KRAS mutations with disease progression and reduced survival in colorectal cancer patients.
METHODS: We used TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) qRT-PCR analysis to identify miRNAs differentially expressed in normal colorectal mucosa, adenomas and cancers and in isogeneic KRAS WT and mutant HCT116 cells, and used a variety of phenotypic assays to assess the influence of miRNA expression on KRAS activity, chemosensitivity, proliferation and invasion.
RESULTS: MicroRNA-224 was differentially expressed in dysplastic colorectal disease and in isogeneic KRAS WT and mutant HCT116 cells. Antagomir-mediated miR-224 silencing in HCT116 KRAS WT cells phenocopied KRAS mutation, increased KRAS activity and ERK and AKT phosphorylation. 5-FU chemosensitivity was significantly increased in miR-224 knockdown cells, and in NIH3T3 cells expressing KRAS and BRAF mutant proteins. Bioinformatics analysis of predicted miR-224 target genes predicted altered cell proliferation, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotypes that were experimentally confirmed in miR-224 knockdown cells.
CONCLUSIONS: We describe a novel mechanism of KRAS regulation, and highlight the clinical utility of colorectal cancer-specific miRNAs as disease progression or clinical response biomarkers.

Nymoen DA, Holth A, Hetland Falkenthal TE, et al.
CIAPIN1 and ABCA13 are markers of poor survival in metastatic ovarian serous carcinoma.
Mol Cancer. 2015; 14:44 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to investigate the expression and clinical role of 14 genes previously shown to be associated with chemotherapy response and/or progression-free survival in a smaller series of ovarian serous carcinoma effusions.
METHODS: Advanced-stage serous ovarian carcinoma effusions (n = 150) were analyzed for mRNA expression of AKR1C1, ABCA4, ABCA13, ABCB10, BIRC6, CASP9, CIAPIN1, FAS, MGMT, MUTYH, POLH, SRC, TBRKB and XPA using quantitative real-time PCR. mRNA expression was studied for association with clinicopathologic parameters, including chemotherapy response and survival.
RESULTS: ABCA4 mRNA expression was significantly related to better (complete) chemotherapy response at diagnosis in the entire cohort (p = 0.018), whereas higher POLH mRNA levels were significantly related to better chemoresponse at diagnosis in analysis to 58 patients with pre-chemotherapy effusions treated with standard chemotherapy (carboplatin + paclitaxel; p = 0.023). In univariate survival analysis for patients with pre-chemotherapy effusions (n = 77), CIAPIN1 mRNA expression was significantly related to shorter overall (p = 0.007) and progression-free (p = 0.038) survival, whereas ABCA13 mRNA expression was significantly related to shorter OS (p = 0.024). Higher CIAPIN1 mRNA expression was an independent marker of poor overall survival in Cox multivariate analysis (p = 0.044).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data identify ABCA4 and POLH as markers of better chemotherapy response in metastatic serous carcinoma. CIAPIN1 and ABCA13 may be novel markers of poor outcome in pre-chemotherapy serous carcinoma effusions.

Yun H, Xie J, Olumi AF, et al.
Activation of AKR1C1/ERβ induces apoptosis by downregulation of c-FLIP in prostate cancer cells: A prospective therapeutic opportunity.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(13):11600-13 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We provide first-time evidence for ERβ-mediated transcriptional upregulation of c-FLIP as an underlying mechanism in the development of castrate-resistant cancer. While androgens inhibit apoptosis partly through transcriptional upregulation of the anti-apoptotic protein, c-FLIP in androgen-responsive cells, they downregulate c-FLIP in androgen-independent cells. We found that although Sp1 and p65 trans-activate c-FLIP, the combination of Sp1 and p65 has differential effects in a cellular context-dependent manner. We show that activation of the androgen metabolism enzyme, aldo-keto reductase, AKR1C1, relieves androgen independence through activation of 3β-Adiol-mediated upregulation of ERβ. ERβ competes with Sp1 and Sp3 to transcriptionally downregulate c-FLIP in the absence of consensus estrogen-response element in androgen-independent cells. Forced expression of AR in androgen-independent cells show that ERβ-mediated growth inhibition occurs under conditions of androgen independence. Reactivation of ERβ with the estrogenic metabolite, 2-methoxyestradiol, decreased enrichment ratio of Sp1/Sp3 at the c-FLIP promoter with concomitant effects on cell growth and death. Expression of Sp1 and c-FLIP are elevated while AKR1C1, ERβ and Sp3 are significantly low in human prostate tumor samples. ERβ is epigenetically silenced in prostate cancer patients, therefore our results suggest that combination of ERβ agonists with ADT would benefit men stratified on the basis of high estrogen levels.

Kovac M, Navas C, Horswell S, et al.
Recurrent chromosomal gains and heterogeneous driver mutations characterise papillary renal cancer evolution.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:6336 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Papillary renal cell carcinoma (pRCC) is an important subtype of kidney cancer with a problematic pathological classification and highly variable clinical behaviour. Here we sequence the genomes or exomes of 31 pRCCs, and in four tumours, multi-region sequencing is undertaken. We identify BAP1, SETD2, ARID2 and Nrf2 pathway genes (KEAP1, NHE2L2 and CUL3) as probable drivers, together with at least eight other possible drivers. However, only ~10% of tumours harbour detectable pathogenic changes in any one driver gene, and where present, the mutations are often predicted to be present within cancer sub-clones. We specifically detect parallel evolution of multiple SETD2 mutations within different sub-regions of the same tumour. By contrast, large copy number gains of chromosomes 7, 12, 16 and 17 are usually early, monoclonal changes in pRCC evolution. The predominance of large copy number variants as the major drivers for pRCC highlights an unusual mode of tumorigenesis that may challenge precision medicine approaches.

Biddlestone J, Bandarra D, Rocha S
The role of hypoxia in inflammatory disease (review).
Int J Mol Med. 2015; 35(4):859-69 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mammals have developed evolutionarily conserved programs of transcriptional response to hypoxia and inflammation. These stimuli commonly occur together in vivo and there is significant crosstalk between the transcription factors that are classically understood to respond to either hypoxia or inflammation. This crosstalk can be used to modulate the overall response to environmental stress. Several common disease processes are characterised by aberrant transcriptional programs in response to environmental stress. In this review, we discuss the current understanding of the role of the hypoxia-responsive (hypoxia-inducible factor) and inflammatory (nuclear factor-κB) transcription factor families and their crosstalk in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer, with relevance for future therapies for the management of these conditions.

Hoste E, Arwert EN, Lal R, et al.
Innate sensing of microbial products promotes wound-induced skin cancer.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:5932 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The association between tissue damage, chronic inflammation and cancer is well known. However, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Here we characterize a mouse model in which constitutive epidermal extracellular-signal-regulated kinase-MAP-kinase signalling results in epidermal inflammation, and skin wounding induces tumours. We show that tumour incidence correlates with wound size and inflammatory infiltrate. Ablation of tumour necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)-1/-2, Myeloid Differentiation primary response gene 88 or Toll-like receptor (TLR)-5, the bacterial flagellin receptor, but not other innate immune sensors, in radiosensitive leukocytes protects against tumour formation. Antibiotic treatment inhibits, whereas injection of flagellin induces, tumours in a TLR-5-dependent manner. TLR-5 is also involved in chemical-induced skin carcinogenesis in wild-type mice. Leukocytic TLR-5 signalling mediates upregulation of the alarmin HMGB1 (High Mobility Group Box 1) in wound-induced papillomas. HMGB1 is elevated in tumours of patients with Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa, a disease characterized by chronic skin damage. We conclude that in our experimental model the combination of bacteria, chronic inflammation and wounding cooperate to trigger skin cancer.

Hlaváč V, Brynychová V, Václavíková R, et al.
The role of cytochromes p450 and aldo-keto reductases in prognosis of breast carcinoma patients.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2014; 93(28):e255 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metabolism of anticancer drugs affects their antitumor effects. This study has investigated the associations of gene expression of enzymes metabolizing anticancer drugs with therapy response and survival of breast carcinoma patients. Gene expression of 13 aldo-keto reductases (AKRs), carbonyl reductase 1, and 10 cytochromes P450 (CYPs) was assessed using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in tumors and paired adjacent nonneoplastic tissues from 68 posttreatment breast carcinoma patients. Eleven candidate genes were then evaluated in an independent series of 50 pretreatment patients. Protein expression of the most significant genes was confirmed by immunoblotting. AKR1A1 was significantly overexpressed and AKR1C1-4, KCNAB1, CYP2C19, CYP3A4, and CYP3A5 downregulated in tumors compared with control nonneoplastic tissues after correction for multiple testing. Significant association of CYP2B6 transcript levels in tumors with expression of hormonal receptors was found in the posttreatment set and replicated in the pretreatment set of patients. Significantly higher intratumoral levels of AKR1C1, AKR1C2, or CYP2W1 were found in responders to neoadjuvant chemotherapy compared with nonresponders. Patients with high AKR7A3 or CYP2B6 levels in the pretreatment set had significantly longer disease-free survival than patients with low levels. Protein products of AKR1C1, AKR1C2, AKR7A3, CYP3A4, and carbonyl reductase (CBR1) were found in tumors and those of AKR1C1, AKR7A3, and CBR1 correlated with their transcript levels. Small interfering RNA-directed knockdown of AKR1C2 or vector-mediated upregulation of CYP3A4 in MDA-MB-231 model cell line had no effect on cell proliferation after paclitaxel treatment in vitro. Prognostic and predictive roles of drug-metabolizing enzymes strikingly differ between posttreatment and pretreatment breast carcinoma patients. Mechanisms of action of AKR1C2, AKR7A3, CYP2B6, CYP3A4, and CBR1 should continue to be further followed in breast carcinoma patients and models.

Sinreih M, Anko M, Zukunft S, et al.
Important roles of the AKR1C2 and SRD5A1 enzymes in progesterone metabolism in endometrial cancer model cell lines.
Chem Biol Interact. 2015; 234:297-308 [PubMed] Related Publications
Endometrial cancer is the most frequently diagnosed gynecological malignancy. It is associated with prolonged exposure to estrogens that is unopposed by progesterone, whereby enhanced metabolism of progesterone may decrease its protective effects, as it can deprive progesterone receptors of their active ligand. Furthermore, the 5α-pregnane metabolites formed can stimulate proliferation and may thus contribute to carcinogenesis. The aims of our study were to: (1) identify and quantify progesterone metabolites formed in the HEC-1A and Ishikawa model cell lines of endometrial cancer; and (2) pinpoint the enzymes involved in progesterone metabolism, and delineate their roles. Progesterone metabolism studies combined with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry enabled identification and quantification of the metabolites formed in these cells. Further quantitative PCR analysis and small-interfering-RNA-mediated gene silencing identified individual progesterone metabolizing enzymes and their relevant roles. In Ishikawa and HEC-1A cells, progesterone was metabolized mainly to 20α-hydroxy-pregn-4-ene-3-one, 20α-hydroxy-5α-pregnane-3-one, and 5α-pregnane-3α/β,20α-diol. The major difference between these cell lines was rate of progesterone metabolism, which was faster in HEC-1A cells. In the Ishikawa and HEC-1A cells, expression of AKR1C2 was 110-fold and 6800-fold greater, respectively, than expression of AKR1C1, which suggests that 20-ketosteroid reduction of 5α-pregnanes and 4-pregnenes is catalyzed mainly by AKR1C2. AKR1C1/AKR1C2 gene silencing showed decreased progesterone metabolism in both cell lines, thus further supporting the significant role of AKR1C2. SRD5A1 was also expressed in these cells, and its silencing confirmed that 5α-reduction is catalyzed by 5α-reductase type 1. Silencing of SRD5A1 also had the most pronounced effects, with decreased rate of progesterone metabolism, and consequently higher concentrations of unmetabolized progesterone. Our data confirm that in model cell lines of endometrial cancer, AKR1C2 and SRD5A1 have crucial roles in progesterone metabolism, and may represent novel targets for treatment.

Khalil HS, Goltsov A, Langdon SP, et al.
Quantitative analysis of NRF2 pathway reveals key elements of the regulatory circuits underlying antioxidant response and proliferation of ovarian cancer cells.
J Biotechnol. 2015; 202:12-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cells are constantly exposed to Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) produced both endogenously to meet physiological requirements and from exogenous sources. While endogenous ROS are considered as important signalling molecules, high uncontrollable ROS are detrimental. It is unclear how cells can achieve a balance between maintaining physiological redox homeostasis and robustly activate the antioxidant system to remove exogenous ROS. We have utilised a Systems Biology approach to understand how this robust adaptive system fulfils homeostatic requirements of maintaining steady-state ROS and growth rate, while undergoing rapid readjustment under challenged conditions. Using a panel of human ovarian and normal cell lines, we experimentally quantified and established interrelationships between key elements of ROS homeostasis. The basal levels of NRF2 and KEAP1 were cell line specific and maintained in tight correlation with their growth rates and ROS. Furthermore, perturbation of this balance triggered cell specific kinetics of NRF2 nuclear-cytoplasmic relocalisation and sequestration of exogenous ROS. Our experimental data were employed to parameterise a mathematical model of the NRF2 pathway that elucidated key response mechanisms of redox regulation and showed that the dynamics of NRF2-H2O2 regulation defines a relationship between half-life, total and nuclear NRF2 level and endogenous H2O2 that is cell line specific.

Lv L, Li Y, Deng H, et al.
MiR-193a-3p promotes the multi-chemoresistance of bladder cancer by targeting the HOXC9 gene.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 357(1):105-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chemoresistance prevents the curative cancer chemotherapy and presents a formidable challenge for both cancer researchers and clinicians. We have previously shown that miR-193a-3p promotes the multi-chemoresistance of bladder cancer cells via repressing its three target genes: SRSF2, PLAU and HIC2. Here, we showed that as a new direct target, the homeobox C9 (HOXC9) gene also executes the promoting effect of miR-193a-3p on the bladder cancer chemoresistance from a systematic study of multi-chemosensitive (5637) and resistant (H-bc) bladder cancer cell lines in both cell culture and tumor-xenograft/nude mice system. Paralleled with the changes in the drug-triggered cell death, the activities of both DNA damage response and oxidative stress pathways were drastically altered by a forced reversal of miR-193a-3p or HOXC9 levels in bladder cancer cells. In addition to a new mechanistic insight, our results provide a set of the essential genes in the miR-193a-3p/HOXC9/DNA damage response/oxidative stress pathway axis as the diagnostic targets for the guided anti-bladder cancer chemotherapy.

Drew JE, Farquharson AJ, Mayer CD, et al.
Predictive gene signatures: molecular markers distinguishing colon adenomatous polyp and carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(11):e113071 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cancers exhibit abnormal molecular signatures associated with disease initiation and progression. Molecular signatures could improve cancer screening, detection, drug development and selection of appropriate drug therapies for individual patients. Typically only very small amounts of tissue are available from patients for analysis and biopsy samples exhibit broad heterogeneity that cannot be captured using a single marker. This report details application of an in-house custom designed GenomeLab System multiplex gene expression assay, the hCellMarkerPlex, to assess predictive gene signatures of normal, adenomatous polyp and carcinoma colon tissue using archived tissue bank material. The hCellMarkerPlex incorporates twenty-one gene markers: epithelial (EZR, KRT18, NOX1, SLC9A2), proliferation (PCNA, CCND1, MS4A12), differentiation (B4GANLT2, CDX1, CDX2), apoptotic (CASP3, NOX1, NTN1), fibroblast (FSP1, COL1A1), structural (ACTG2, CNN1, DES), gene transcription (HDAC1), stem cell (LGR5), endothelial (VWF) and mucin production (MUC2). Gene signatures distinguished normal, adenomatous polyp and carcinoma. Individual gene targets significantly contributing to molecular tissue types, classifier genes, were further characterised using real-time PCR, in-situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry revealing aberrant epithelial expression of MS4A12, LGR5 CDX2, NOX1 and SLC9A2 prior to development of carcinoma. Identified gene signatures identify aberrant epithelial expression of genes prior to cancer development using in-house custom designed gene expression multiplex assays. This approach may be used to assist in objective classification of disease initiation, staging, progression and therapeutic responses using biopsy material.

Das S, Yeung KT, Mahajan MA, Samuels HH
Fas Activated Serine-Threonine Kinase Domains 2 (FASTKD2) mediates apoptosis of breast and prostate cancer cells through its novel FAST2 domain.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:852 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Expression of NRIF3 (Nuclear Receptor Interacting Factor-3) rapidly and selectively leads to apoptosis of breast cancer cells. This occurs through binding of NRIF3 or its 30 amino acid Death Domain-1 (DD1) region to the transcriptional repressor, DIF-1 (DD1 Interacting Factor-1). DIF-1 acts in a wide variety of breast cancer cells but not other cell types to repress the pro-apoptotic gene, FASTKD2. Expression of NRIF3 or DD1 inactivates the DIF-1 repressor leading to rapid derepression of FASTKD2, which initiates apoptosis within 5-8 h of expression. Although FASTKD2 is an inner mitochondrial membrane protein, it does not require mitochondrial localization to initiate apoptosis.
METHODS: Androgen dependent LNCaP cells as well as two androgen independent LNCaP cell lines (LNCaP-AI and LNCaP-abl) were studied and LNCaP-AI cells were engineered to conditionally express DD1 or the inactive DD1-S28A with 4-hydroxytamoxifen. Apoptosis was assessed by TUNEL assay. FASTKD2 is related to 4 other proteins encoded in the human genome (FASTKD1, 3, 4, 5). All contain a poorly conserved putative bipartite kinase domain designated as FAST1_FAST2. We examined whether expression of any of the other FASTKD isoforms leads to apoptosis and sought to identify the region of FASTKD2 necessary to initiate the apoptotic pathway.
RESULTS: Of the FASTKD1-5 isoforms only expression of FASTKD2 leads to apoptosis. Although, the NRIF3/DD1/DIF-1 pathway does not mediate apoptosis of a wide variety of non-breast cancer cell lines, because of certain similarities and gene signatures between breast and prostate cancer we explored whether the NRIF3/DD1/DIF-1/FASTKD2 pathway mediates apoptosis of prostate cancer cells. We found that the pathway leads to apoptosis in LNCaP cells, including the two androgen-independent LNCaP cell lines that are generally resistant to apoptosis. Lastly, we identified that FASTKD2-mediated apoptosis is initiated by the 81 amino acid FAST2 region.
CONCLUSIONS: The NRIF3/DIF-1/FASTKD2 pathway acts as a "death switch" in breast and prostate cancer cells. Deciphering how this pathway is regulated and how FASTKD2 initiates the apoptotic response will allow for the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of androgen-independent prostate cancer or Tamoxifen-unresponsive Estrogen Receptor negative tumors as well as metastatic breast or prostate cancer.

Schoenherr C, Serrels B, Proby C, et al.
Eps8 controls Src- and FAK-dependent phenotypes in squamous carcinoma cells.
J Cell Sci. 2014; 127(Pt 24):5303-16 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Eps8 is an actin regulatory scaffold protein whose expression is increased in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells. It forms a complex with both focal adhesion kinase (FAK, also known as PTK2) and Src in SCC cells derived from skin carcinomas induced by administration of the chemical DMBA followed by TPA (the DMBA/TPA model). Here, we describe two new roles for Eps8. Firstly, it controls the spatial distribution of active Src in a FAK-dependent manner. Specifically, Eps8 participates in, and regulates, a biochemical complex with Src and drives trafficking of Src to autophagic structures that SCC cells use to cope with high levels of active Src when FAK is absent. Secondly, when FAK is expressed in SCC cells, thereby meaning active Src becomes tethered at focal adhesion complexes, Eps8 is also recruited to focal adhesions and is required for FAK-dependent polarization and invasion. Therefore, Eps8 is a crucial mediator of Src- and FAK-regulated processes; it participates in specific biochemical complexes and promotes actin re-arrangements that determine the spatial localization of Src, and modulates the functions of Src and FAK during invasive migration.

Sharpe DJ, Orr KS, Moran M, et al.
POU2F1 activity regulates HOXD10 and HOXD11 promoting a proliferative and invasive phenotype in head and neck cancer.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(18):8803-15 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
HOX genes are master regulators of organ morphogenesis and cell differentiation during embryonic development, and continue to be expressed throughout post-natal life. To test the hypothesis that HOX genes are dysregulated in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) we defined their expression profile, and investigated the function, transcriptional regulation and clinical relevance of a subset of highly expressed HOXD genes. Two HOXD genes, D10 and D11, showed strikingly high levels in HNSCC cell lines, patient tumor samples and publicly available datasets. Knockdown of HOXD10 in HNSCC cells caused decreased proliferation and invasion, whereas knockdown of HOXD11 reduced only invasion. POU2F1 consensus sequences were identified in the 5' DNA of HOXD10 and D11. Knockdown of POU2F1 significantly reduced expression of HOXD10 and D11 and inhibited HNSCC proliferation. Luciferase reporter constructs of the HOXD10 and D11 promoters confirmed that POU2F1 consensus binding sites are required for optimal promoter activity. Utilizing patient tumor samples a significant association was found between immunohistochemical staining of HOXD10 and both the overall and the disease-specific survival, adding further support that HOXD10 is dysregulated in head and neck cancer. Additional studies are now warranted to fully evaluate HOXD10 as a prognostic tool in head and neck cancers.

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