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:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


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 (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 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.

  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Vitamin K 3
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1
  • Lung Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Testosterone
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • Young Adult
  • Tobacco
  • U937 Cells
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Washington
  • 20-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Hydroxyprostaglandin Dehydrogenases
  • Aldo-Keto Reductase Family 1 Member C3
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Messenger RNA
  • Genotype
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • NFE2L2
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Drug Resistance
  • Aldehyde Reductase
  • Smoking
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Aldo-Keto Reductases
  • Promoter Regions
  • Chromosome 10
  • Up-Regulation
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 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)

Smid M, Wilting SM, Uhr K, et al.
The circular RNome of primary breast cancer.
Genome Res. 2019; 29(3):356-366 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a class of RNAs that is under increasing scrutiny, although their functional roles are debated. We analyzed RNA-seq data of 348 primary breast cancers and developed a method to identify circRNAs that does not rely on unmapped reads or known splice junctions. We identified 95,843 circRNAs, of which 20,441 were found recurrently. Of the circRNAs that match exon boundaries of the same gene, 668 showed a poor or even negative (

Huebbers CU, Verhees F, Poluschkin L, et al.
Upregulation of AKR1C1 and AKR1C3 expression in OPSCC with integrated HPV16 and HPV-negative tumors is an indicator of poor prognosis.
Int J Cancer. 2019; 144(10):2465-2477 [PubMed] Related Publications
Different studies have shown that HPV16-positive OPSCC can be subdivided based on integration status (integrated, episomal and mixed forms). Because we showed that integration neither affects the levels of viral genes, nor those of virally disrupted human genes, a genome-wide screen was performed to identify human genes which expression is influenced by viral integration and have clinical relevance. Thirty-three fresh-frozen HPV-16 positive OPSCC samples with known integration status were analyzed by mRNA expression profiling. Among the genes of interest, Aldo-keto-reductases 1C1 and 1C3 (AKR1C1, AKR1C3) were upregulated in tumors with viral integration. Additionally, 141 OPSCC, including 48 HPV-positive cases, were used to validate protein expression by immunohistochemistry. Results were correlated with clinical and histopathological data. Non-hierarchical clustering resulted in two main groups differing in mRNA expression patterns, which interestingly corresponded with viral integration status. In OPSCC with integrated viral DNA, often metabolic pathways were deregulated with frequent upregulation of AKR1C1 and AKR1C3 transcripts. Survival analysis of 141 additionally immunostained OPSCC showed unfavorable survival rates for tumors with upregulation of AKR1C1 or AKR1C3 (both p <0.0001), both in HPV-positive (p ≤0.001) and -negative (p ≤0.017) tumors. OPSCC with integrated HPV16 show upregulation of AKR1C1 and AKR1C3 expression, which strongly correlates with poor survival rates. Also in HPV-negative tumors, upregulation of these proteins correlates with unfavorable outcome. Deregulated AKR1C expression has also been observed in other tumors, making these genes promising candidates to indicate prognosis. In addition, the availability of inhibitors of these gene products may be utilized for drug treatment.

Inman GJ, Wang J, Nagano A, et al.
The genomic landscape of cutaneous SCC reveals drivers and a novel azathioprine associated mutational signature.
Nat Commun. 2018; 9(1):3667 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) has a high tumour mutational burden (50 mutations per megabase DNA pair). Here, we combine whole-exome analyses from 40 primary cSCC tumours, comprising 20 well-differentiated and 20 moderately/poorly differentiated tumours, with accompanying clinical data from a longitudinal study of immunosuppressed and immunocompetent patients and integrate this analysis with independent gene expression studies. We identify commonly mutated genes, copy number changes and altered pathways and processes. Comparisons with tumour differentiation status suggest events which may drive disease progression. Mutational signature analysis reveals the presence of a novel signature (signature 32), whose incidence correlates with chronic exposure to the immunosuppressive drug azathioprine. Characterisation of a panel of 15 cSCC tumour-derived cell lines reveals that they accurately reflect the mutational signatures and genomic alterations of primary tumours and provide a valuable resource for the validation of tumour drivers and therapeutic targets.

Cha JH, Yang WH, Xia W, et al.
Metformin Promotes Antitumor Immunity via Endoplasmic-Reticulum-Associated Degradation of PD-L1.
Mol Cell. 2018; 71(4):606-620.e7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metformin has been reported to possess antitumor activity and maintain high cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) immune surveillance. However, the functions and detailed mechanisms of metformin's role in cancer immunity are not fully understood. Here, we show that metformin increases CTL activity by reducing the stability and membrane localization of programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1). Furthermore, we discover that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activated by metformin directly phosphorylates S195 of PD-L1. S195 phosphorylation induces abnormal PD-L1 glycosylation, resulting in its ER accumulation and ER-associated protein degradation (ERAD). Consistently, tumor tissues from metformin-treated breast cancer patients exhibit reduced PD-L1 levels with AMPK activation. Blocking the inhibitory signal of PD-L1 by metformin enhances CTL activity against cancer cells. Our findings identify a new regulatory mechanism of PD-L1 expression through the ERAD pathway and suggest that the metformin-CTLA4 blockade combination has the potential to increase the efficacy of immunotherapy.

Goldsmith CD, Bond DR, Jankowski H, et al.
The Olive Biophenols Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol Selectively Reduce Proliferation, Influence the Cell Cycle, and Induce Apoptosis in Pancreatic Cancer Cells.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(7) [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Current chemotherapy drugs for pancreatic cancer only offer an increase in survival of up to six months. Additionally, they are highly toxic to normal tissues, drastically affecting the quality of life of patients. Therefore, the search for novel agents, which induce apoptosis in cancer cells while displaying limited toxicity towards normal cells, is paramount. The olive biophenols, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, have displayed cytotoxicity towards cancer cells without affecting non-tumorigenic cells in cancers of the breast and prostate. However, their activity in pancreatic cancer has not been investigated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the anti-pancreatic cancer potential of oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol. Pancreatic cancer cells (MIA PaCa-2, BxPC-3, and CFPAC-1) and non-tumorigenic pancreas cells (HPDE) were treated with oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol to determine their effect on cell viability. Oleuropein displayed selective toxicity towards MIA PaCa-2 cells and hydroxytyrosol towards MIA PaCa-2 and HPDE cells. Subsequent analysis of Bcl-2 family proteins and caspase 3/7 activation determined that oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol induced apoptosis in MIA PaCa-2 cells, while oleuropein displayed a protective effect on HPDE cells. Gene expression analysis revealed putative mechanisms of action, which suggested that c-Jun and c-Fos are involved in oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol induced apoptosis of MIA PaCa-2 cells.

Meier B, Volkova NV, Hong Y, et al.
Mutational signatures of DNA mismatch repair deficiency in
Genome Res. 2018; 28(5):666-675 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Throughout their lifetime, cells are subject to extrinsic and intrinsic mutational processes leaving behind characteristic signatures in the genome. DNA mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency leads to hypermutation and is found in different cancer types. Although it is possible to associate mutational signatures extracted from human cancers with possible mutational processes, the exact causation is often unknown. Here, we use

Bortolozzi R, Bresolin S, Rampazzo E, et al.
AKR1C enzymes sustain therapy resistance in paediatric T-ALL.
Br J Cancer. 2018; 118(7):985-994 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Despite chemotherapy intensification, a subgroup of high-risk paediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients still experience treatment failure. In this context, we hypothesised that therapy resistance in T-ALL might involve aldo-keto reductase 1C (AKR1C) enzymes as previously reported for solid tumors.
METHODS: Expression of NRF2-AKR1C signaling components has been analysed in paediatric T-ALL samples endowed with different treatment outcomes as well as in patient-derived xenografts of T-ALL. The effects of AKR1C enzyme modulation has been investigated in T-ALL cell lines and primary cultures by combining AKR1C inhibition, overexpression, and gene silencing approaches.
RESULTS: We show that T-ALL cells overexpress AKR1C1-3 enzymes in therapy-resistant patients. We report that AKR1C1-3 enzymes play a role in the response to vincristine (VCR) treatment, also ex vivo in patient-derived xenografts. Moreover, we demonstrate that the modulation of AKR1C1-3 levels is sufficient to sensitise T-ALL cells to VCR. Finally, we show that T-ALL chemotherapeutics induce overactivation of AKR1C enzymes independent of therapy resistance, thus establishing a potential resistance loop during T-ALL combination treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Here, we demonstrate that expression and activity of AKR1C enzymes correlate with response to chemotherapeutics in T-ALL, posing AKR1C1-3 as potential targets for combination treatments during T-ALL therapy.

Kankia IH, Khalil HS, Langdon SP, et al.
NRF2 Regulates HER1 Signaling Pathway to Modulate the Sensitivity of Ovarian Cancer Cells to Lapatinib and Erlotinib.
Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017; 2017:1864578 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
NF-E2-related factor 2 (NRF2) regulates the transcription of a battery of metabolic and cytoprotective genes. NRF2 and epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs/HERs) are regulators of cellular proliferation and determinants of cancer initiation and progression. NRF2 and HERs confer cancers with resistance to several therapeutic agents. Nevertheless, there is limited understanding of the regulation of HER expression and activation and the link between NRF2 and HER signalling pathways. We show that NRF2 regulates both basal and inducible expression of

Zhu H, Chang LL, Yan FJ, et al.
AKR1C1 Activates STAT3 to Promote the Metastasis of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.
Theranostics. 2018; 8(3):676-692 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Metastasis is the leading cause of mortality for human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, it is difficult to target tumor metastasis because the molecular mechanisms underlying NSCLC invasion and migration remain unclear.

Shahzad MMK, Felder M, Ludwig K, et al.
Trans10,cis12 conjugated linoleic acid inhibits proliferation and migration of ovarian cancer cells by inducing ER stress, autophagy, and modulation of Src.
PLoS One. 2018; 13(1):e0189524 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
The goal of this study was to investigate the anti-cancer effects of Trans10,cis12 conjugated linoleic acid (t10,c12 CLA). MTT assays and QCM™ chemotaxis 96-wells were used to test the effect of t10,c12 CLA on the proliferation and migration and invasion of cancer cells. qPCR and Western Blotting were used to determine the expression of specific factors. RNA sequencing was conducted using the Illumina platform and apoptosis was measured using a flow cytometry assay. t10,c12 CLA (IC50, 7 μM) inhibited proliferation of ovarian cancer cell lines SKOV-3 and A2780. c9,t11 CLA did not attenuate the proliferation of these cells. Transcription of 165 genes was significantly repressed and 28 genes were elevated. Genes related to ER stress, ATF4, CHOP, and GADD34 were overexpressed whereas EDEM2 and Hsp90, genes required for proteasomal degradation of misfolded proteins, were downregulated upon treatment. While apoptosis was not detected, t10,c12 CLA treatment led to 9-fold increase in autophagolysosomes and higher levels of LC3-II. G1 cell cycle arrest in treated cells was correlated with phosphorylation of GSK3β and loss of β-catenin. microRNA miR184 and miR215 were upregulated. miR184 likely contributed to G1 arrest by downregulating E2F1. miR215 upregulation was correlated with increased expression of p27/Kip-1. t10,c12 CLA-mediated inhibition of invasion and migration correlated with decreased expression of PTP1b and decreased Src activation by inhibiting phosphorylation at Tyr416. Due to its ability to inhibit proliferation and migration, t10,c12 CLA should be considered for treatment of ovarian cancer.

Kalin JH, Wu M, Gomez AV, et al.
Targeting the CoREST complex with dual histone deacetylase and demethylase inhibitors.
Nat Commun. 2018; 9(1):53 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Here we report corin, a synthetic hybrid agent derived from the class I HDAC inhibitor (entinostat) and an LSD1 inhibitor (tranylcypromine analog). Enzymologic analysis reveals that corin potently targets the CoREST complex and shows more sustained inhibition of CoREST complex HDAC activity compared with entinostat. Cell-based experiments demonstrate that corin exhibits a superior anti-proliferative profile against several melanoma lines and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma lines compared to its parent monofunctional inhibitors but is less toxic to melanocytes and keratinocytes. CoREST knockdown, gene expression, and ChIP studies suggest that corin's favorable pharmacologic effects may rely on an intact CoREST complex. Corin was also effective in slowing tumor growth in a melanoma mouse xenograft model. These studies highlight the promise of a new class of two-pronged hybrid agents that may show preferential targeting of particular epigenetic regulatory complexes and offer unique therapeutic opportunities.

Hayes JD, Dinkova-Kostova AT
Oncogene-Stimulated Congestion at the KEAP1 Stress Signaling Hub Allows Bypass of NRF2 and Induction of NRF2-Target Genes that Promote Tumor Survival.
Cancer Cell. 2017; 32(5):539-541 [PubMed] Related Publications
In this issue of Cancer Cell, Ge et al. show that overexpression of the oncoprotein iASPP in cancer cells provokes NRF2-mediated induction of cytoprotective genes, because it logjams the ubiquitin ligase substrate adaptor function of KEAP1 by virtue of the fact that it possesses a novel DLT-containing KEAP1-interaction motif.

Sheng X, Parmentier JH, Tucci J, et al.
Adipocytes Sequester and Metabolize the Chemotherapeutic Daunorubicin.
Mol Cancer Res. 2017; 15(12):1704-1713 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Obesity is associated with poorer outcome for many cancers. Previously, we observed that adipocytes protect acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells from the anthracycline, daunorubicin. In this study, it is determined whether adipocytes clear daunorubicin from the tumor microenvironment (TME). Intracellular daunorubicin concentrations were evaluated using fluorescence. Daunorubicin and its largely inactive metabolite, daunorubicinol, were analytically measured in media, cells, and tissues using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Expression of daunorubicin-metabolizing enzymes, aldo-keto reductases (AKR1A1, AKR1B1, AKR1C1, AKR1C2, AKR1C3, and AKR7A2) and carbonyl reductases (CBR1, CBR3), in human adipose tissue, were queried using public databases and directly measured by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and immunoblot. Adipose tissue AKR activity was measured by colorimetric assay. Adipocytes absorbed and efficiently metabolized daunorubicin to daunorubicinol, reducing its antileukemia effect in the local microenvironment. Murine studies confirmed adipose tissue conversion of daunorubicin to daunorubicinol

Joshi PK, Pirastu N, Kentistou KA, et al.
Genome-wide meta-analysis associates HLA-DQA1/DRB1 and LPA and lifestyle factors with human longevity.
Nat Commun. 2017; 8(1):910 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Genomic analysis of longevity offers the potential to illuminate the biology of human aging. Here, using genome-wide association meta-analysis of 606,059 parents' survival, we discover two regions associated with longevity (HLA-DQA1/DRB1 and LPA). We also validate previous suggestions that APOE, CHRNA3/5, CDKN2A/B, SH2B3 and FOXO3A influence longevity. Next we show that giving up smoking, educational attainment, openness to new experience and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels are most positively genetically correlated with lifespan while susceptibility to coronary artery disease (CAD), cigarettes smoked per day, lung cancer, insulin resistance and body fat are most negatively correlated. We suggest that the effect of education on lifespan is principally mediated through smoking while the effect of obesity appears to act via CAD. Using instrumental variables, we suggest that an increase of one body mass index unit reduces lifespan by 7 months while 1 year of education adds 11 months to expected lifespan.Variability in human longevity is genetically influenced. Using genetic data of parental lifespan, the authors identify associations at HLA-DQA/DRB1 and LPA and find that genetic variants that increase educational attainment have a positive effect on lifespan whereas increasing BMI negatively affects lifespan.

Periyasamy M, Singh AK, Gemma C, et al.
p53 controls expression of the DNA deaminase APOBEC3B to limit its potential mutagenic activity in cancer cells.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2017; 45(19):11056-11069 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Cancer genome sequencing has implicated the cytosine deaminase activity of apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC) genes as an important source of mutations in diverse cancers, with APOBEC3B (A3B) expression especially correlated with such cancer mutations. To better understand the processes directing A3B over-expression in cancer, and possible therapeutic avenues for targeting A3B, we have investigated the regulation of A3B gene expression. Here, we show that A3B expression is inversely related to p53 status in different cancer types and demonstrate that this is due to a direct and pivotal role for p53 in repressing A3B expression. This occurs through the induction of p21 (CDKN1A) and the recruitment of the repressive DREAM complex to the A3B gene promoter, such that loss of p53 through mutation, or human papilloma virus-mediated inhibition, prevents recruitment of the complex, thereby causing elevated A3B expression and cytosine deaminase activity in cancer cells. As p53 is frequently mutated in cancer, our findings provide a mechanism by which p53 loss can promote cancer mutagenesis.

Dayalan Naidu S, Dikovskaya D, Gaurilcikaite E, et al.
Transcription factors NRF2 and HSF1 have opposing functions in autophagy.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):11023 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Autophagy plays a critical role in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis by degrading proteins, lipids and organelles. Autophagy is activated in response to stress, but its regulation in the context of other stress response pathways, such as those mediated by heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) and nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (NRF2), is not well understood. We found that the Michael acceptor bis(2-hydoxybenzylidene)acetone (HBB2), a dual activator of NRF2 and HSF1, protects against the development of UV irradiation-mediated cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in mice. We further show that HBB2 is an inducer of autophagy. In cells, HBB2 increases the levels of the autophagy-cargo protein p62/sequestosome 1, and the lipidated form of microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 isoform B. Activation of autophagy by HBB2 is impaired in NRF2-deficient cells, which have reduced autophagic flux and low basal and induced levels of p62. Conversely, HSF1-deficient cells have increased autophagic flux under both basal as well as HBB2-induced conditions, accompanied by increased p62 levels. Our findings suggest that NRF2 and HSF1 have opposing roles during autophagy, and illustrate the existence of tight mechanistic links between the cellular stress responses.

Paullin T, Powell C, Menzie C, et al.
Spheroid growth in ovarian cancer alters transcriptome responses for stress pathways and epigenetic responses.
PLoS One. 2017; 12(8):e0182930 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological cancer, with over 200,000 women diagnosed each year and over half of those cases leading to death. These poor statistics are related to a lack of early symptoms and inadequate screening techniques. This results in the cancer going undetected until later stages when the tumor has metastasized through a process that requires the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). In lieu of traditional monolayer cell culture, EMT and cancer progression in general is best characterized through the use of 3D spheroid models. In this study, we examine gene expression changes through microarray analysis in spheroid versus monolayer ovarian cancer cells treated with TGFβ to induce EMT. Transcripts that included Coiled-Coil Domain Containing 80 (CCDC80), Solute Carrier Family 6 (Neutral Amino Acid Transporter), Member 15 (SLC6A15), Semaphorin 3E (SEMA3E) and PIF1 5'-To-3' DNA Helicase (PIF1) were downregulated more than 10-fold in the 3D cells while Inhibitor Of DNA Binding 2, HLH Protein (ID2), Regulator Of Cell Cycle (RGCC), Protease, Serine 35 (PRSS35), and Aldo-Keto Reductase Family 1, Member C1 (AKR1C1) were increased more than 50-fold. Interestingly, EMT factors, stress responses and epigenetic processes were significantly affected by 3D growth. The heat shock response and the oxidative stress response were also identified as transcriptome responses that showed significant changes upon 3D growth. Subnetwork enrichment analysis revealed that DNA integrity (e.g. DNA damage, genetic instability, nucleotide excision repair, and the DNA damage checkpoint pathway) were altered in the 3D spheroid model. In addition, two epigenetic processes, DNA methylation and histone acetylation, were increased with 3D growth. These findings support the hypothesis that three dimensional ovarian cell culturing is physiologically different from its monolayer counterpart.

Toledo RA
New HIF2α inhibitors: potential implications as therapeutics for advanced pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.
Endocr Relat Cancer. 2017; 24(9):C9-C19 [PubMed] Related Publications
Two recent independent studies published in

Szymańska Z, Cytowski M, Mitchell E, et al.
Computational Modelling of Cancer Development and Growth: Modelling at Multiple Scales and Multiscale Modelling.
Bull Math Biol. 2018; 80(5):1366-1403 [PubMed] Related Publications
In this paper, we present two mathematical models related to different aspects and scales of cancer growth. The first model is a stochastic spatiotemporal model of both a synthetic gene regulatory network (the example of a three-gene repressilator is given) and an actual gene regulatory network, the NF-[Formula: see text]B pathway. The second model is a force-based individual-based model of the development of a solid avascular tumour with specific application to tumour cords, i.e. a mass of cancer cells growing around a central blood vessel. In each case, we compare our computational simulation results with experimental data. In the final discussion section, we outline how to take the work forward through the development of a multiscale model focussed at the cell level. This would incorporate key intracellular signalling pathways associated with cancer within each cell (e.g. p53-Mdm2, NF-[Formula: see text]B) and through the use of high-performance computing be capable of simulating up to [Formula: see text] cells, i.e. the tissue scale. In this way, mathematical models at multiple scales would be combined to formulate a multiscale computational model.

Leznicki P, Kulathu Y
Mechanisms of regulation and diversification of deubiquitylating enzyme function.
J Cell Sci. 2017; 130(12):1997-2006 [PubMed] Related Publications
Deubiquitylating (or deubiquitinating) enzymes (DUBs) are proteases that reverse protein ubiquitylation and therefore modulate the outcome of this post-translational modification. DUBs regulate a variety of intracellular processes, including protein turnover, signalling pathways and the DNA damage response. They have also been linked to a number of human diseases, such as cancer, and inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. Although we are beginning to better appreciate the role of DUBs in basic cell biology and their importance for human health, there are still many unknowns. Central among these is the conundrum of how the small number of ∼100 DUBs encoded in the human genome is capable of regulating the thousands of ubiquitin modification sites detected in human cells. This Commentary addresses the biological mechanisms employed to modulate and expand the functions of DUBs, and sets directions for future research aimed at elucidating the details of these fascinating processes.This article is part of a Minifocus on Ubiquitin Regulation and Function. For further reading, please see related articles: 'Exploitation of the host cell ubiquitin machinery by microbial effector proteins' by Yi-Han Lin and Matthias P. Machner (

Shiiba M, Yamagami H, Yamamoto A, et al.
Mefenamic acid enhances anticancer drug sensitivity via inhibition of aldo-keto reductase 1C enzyme activity.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 37(4):2025-2032 [PubMed] Related Publications
Resistance to anticancer medications often leads to poor outcomes. The present study explored an effective approach for enhancing chemotherapy targeted against human cancer cells. Real-time quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis revealed overexpression of members of aldo-keto reductase (AKR) 1C family, AKR1C1, AKR1C2, AKR1C3, and AKR1C4, in cisplatin, cis-diamminedichloroplatinum (II) (CDDP)-resistant human cancer cell lines, HeLa (cervical cancer cells) and Sa3 (oral squamous cell carcinoma cells). The genes were downregulated using small-interfering RNA (siRNA) transfection, and the sensitivity to CDDP or 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) was investigated. When the genes were knocked down, sensitivity to CDDP and 5-FU was restored. Furthermore, we found that administration of mefenamic acid, a widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a known inhibitor of AKR1Cs, enhanced sensitivity to CDDP and 5-FU. The present study suggests that AKR1C family is closely associated with drug resistance to CDDP and 5-FU, and mefenamic acid enhances their sensitivity through its inhibitory activity in drug-resistant human cancer cells. Thus, the use of mefenamic acid to control biological function of AKR1C may lead to effective clinical outcomes by overcoming anticancer drug resistance.

Endo A, Ly T, Pippa R, et al.
The Chromatin Assembly Factor Complex 1 (CAF1) and 5-Azacytidine (5-AzaC) Affect Cell Motility in Src-transformed Human Epithelial Cells.
J Biol Chem. 2017; 292(1):172-184 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Tumor invasion into surrounding stromal tissue is a hallmark of high grade, metastatic cancers. Oncogenic transformation of human epithelial cells in culture can be triggered by activation of v-Src kinase, resulting in increased cell motility, invasiveness, and tumorigenicity and provides a valuable model for studying how changes in gene expression cause cancer phenotypes. Here, we show that epithelial cells transformed by activated Src show increased levels of DNA methylation and that the methylation inhibitor 5-azacytidine (5-AzaC) potently blocks the increased cell motility and invasiveness induced by Src activation. A proteomic screen for chromatin regulators acting downstream of activated Src identified the replication-dependent histone chaperone CAF1 as an important factor for Src-mediated increased cell motility and invasion. We show that Src causes a 5-AzaC-sensitive decrease in both mRNA and protein levels of the p150 (CHAF1A) and p60 (CHAF1B), subunits of CAF1. Depletion of CAF1 in untransformed epithelial cells using siRNA was sufficient to recapitulate the increased motility and invasive phenotypes characteristic of transformed cells without activation of Src. Maintaining high levels of CAF1 by exogenous expression suppressed the increased cell motility and invasiveness phenotypes when Src was activated. These data identify a critical role of CAF1 in the dysregulation of cell invasion and motility phenotypes seen in transformed cells and also highlight an important role for epigenetic remodeling through DNA methylation for Src-mediated induction of cancer phenotypes.

Sánchez-Rodríguez R, Torres-Mena JE, Quintanar-Jurado V, et al.
Ptgr1 expression is regulated by NRF2 in rat hepatocarcinogenesis and promotes cell proliferation and resistance to oxidative stress.
Free Radic Biol Med. 2017; 102:87-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
Prostaglandin reductase-1 (Ptgr1) is an alkenal/one oxidoreductase that is involved in the catabolism of eicosanoids and lipid peroxidation such as 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE). Recently, we reported that Ptgr1 is overexpressed in human clinical and experimentally induced samples of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, how the expression of this gene is regulated and its role in carcinogenesis are not yet known. Here, we studied parameters associated with antioxidant responses and the mechanisms underlying the induction of Ptgr1 expression by the activation of Nuclear Factor (erythroid-derived-2)-like-2 (NRF2). For these experiments, we used two protocols of induced hepatocarcinogenesis in rats. Furthermore, we determined the effect of PTGR1 on cell proliferation and resistance to oxidative stress in cell cultures of the epithelial liver cell line, C9. Ptgr1 was overexpressed during the early phase in altered hepatocyte foci, and this high level of expression was maintained in persistent nodules until tumors developed. Ptgr1 expression was regulated by NRF2, which bound to an antioxidant response element at -653bp in the rat Ptgr1 gene. The activation of NRF2 induced the activation of an antioxidant response that included effects on proteins such as glutamate-cysteine ligase, catalytic subunit, NAD(P)H dehydrogenase quinone-1 (NQO1) and glutathione-S-transferase-P (GSTP1). These effects may have produced a reduced status that was associated with a high proliferation rate in experimental tumors. Indeed, when Ptgr1 was stably expressed, we observed a reduction in the time required for proliferation and a protective effect against hydrogen peroxide- and 4-HNE-induced cell death. These data were consistent with data showing colocalization between PTGR1 and 4-HNE protein adducts in liver nodules. These findings suggest that Ptgr1 and antioxidant responses act as a metabolic adaptation and could contribute to proliferation and cell-death evasion in liver tumor cells. Furthermore, these data indicate that Ptgr1 could be used to design early diagnostic tools or targeted therapies for HCC.

Lombardi O, Varshney D, Phillips NM, Cowling VH
c-Myc deregulation induces mRNA capping enzyme dependency.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(50):82273-82288 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
c-Myc is a potent driver of many human cancers. Since strategies for directly targeting c-Myc protein have had limited success, upstream regulators and downstream effectors of c-Myc are being investigated as alternatives for therapeutic intervention. c-Myc regulates transcription and formation of the mRNA cap, which is important for transcript maturation and translation. However, the direct mechanism by which c-Myc upregulates mRNA capping is unclear. mRNA cap formation initiates with the linkage of inverted guanosine via a triphosphate bridge to the first transcribed nucleotide, catalysed by mRNA capping enzyme (CE/RNGTT). Here we report that c-Myc increases the recruitment of catalytically active CE to RNA polymerase II and to its target genes. c-Myc-induced target gene expression, cell proliferation and cell transformation is highly dependent on CE, but only when c-Myc is deregulated. Cells retaining normal control of c-Myc expression are insensitive to repression of CE. c-Myc expression is also dependent on CE. Therefore, inhibiting CE provides an attractive route for selective therapeutic targeting of cancer cells which have acquired deregulated c-Myc.

Khalil HS, Langdon SP, Goltsov A, et al.
A novel mechanism of action of HER2 targeted immunotherapy is explained by inhibition of NRF2 function in ovarian cancer cells.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(46):75874-75901 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Nuclear erythroid related factor-2 (NRF2) is known to promote cancer therapeutic detoxification and crosstalk with growth promoting pathways. HER2 receptor tyrosine kinase is frequently overexpressed in cancers leading to uncontrolled receptor activation and signaling. A combination of HER2 targeting monoclonal antibodies shows greater anticancer efficacy than the single targeting antibodies, however, its mechanism of action is largely unclear. Here we report novel actions of anti-HER2 drugs, Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab, involving NRF2.HER2 targeting by antibodies inhibited growth in association with persistent generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), glutathione (GSH) depletion, reduction in NRF2 levels and inhibition of NRF2 function in ovarian cancer cell lines. The combination of antibodies produced more potent effects than single antibody alone; downregulated NRF2 substrates by repressing the Antioxidant Response (AR) pathway with concomitant transcriptional inhibition of NRF2. We showed the antibody combination produced increased methylation at the NRF2 promoter consistent with repression of NRF2 antioxidant function, as HDAC and methylation inhibitors reversed such produced transcriptional effects. These findings demonstrate a novel mechanism and role for NRF2 in mediating the response of cancer cells to the combination of Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab and reinforce the importance of NRF2 in drug resistance and as a key anticancer target.

El-Mokadem I, Kidd T, Pratt N, et al.
Tumour suppressor gene (CDKNA2) status on chromosome 9p in resected renal tissue improves prognosis of localised kidney cancer.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(45):73045-73054 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Genetic alterations on chromosome 9p, including inactivation of the tumour suppressor gene, CDKN2A, result in cellular proliferation and growth of tumours. Our aim was to use microsatellite analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to characterise the architecture of this region.
RESULTS: Seventy-five out of 77 clear cell renal cell cancers (tumour/normal pairs) were interpretable for LOH analysis on chromosome 9p (two tumours were excluded, as all five primers were uninformative). Twenty out of 75 (26.6%) tumours showed LOH in at least one of the five primers employed. Most allelic deletions were detected, telomeric to the CDKN2A region at D9S916, with 11 out of 52 informative tumours (21%) displaying LOH. The LOH in the coding region of CDKN2A, at D9S974 and D9S942, was associated with a higher pT-stage (p = 0.004) and metastasis (p = 0.006, both markers). The rate of chromosome 9p deletion in ccRCC was 44% (35/80 cases) according to FISH. Somatic copy number loss of chromosome 9p was associated with a larger tumour size (p = 0.002), higher pathological tumour stage (p = 0.021), presence of tumour necrosis (p = 0.019) and microvascular invasion (p = 0.032). The cases with copy number loss, loss of heterozygosity and copy number neutral (n = 42) were at a higher risk of cancer-specific death when compared to tumours in category D (n = 32) (Log-rank: p = 0.001). Seventeen patients with localised ccRCC developed recurrence, and fourteen of those showed either LOH or somatic copy number loss at CDKN2A (Log-rank: p = 0.005). Multivariate analysis showed that LOH or copy number loss at CDKN2A retained its independent prognostic effect, improving the predictive accuracy of stage and SSIGN score by concordance Index C from 0.823 to 0.878 (p = 0.001).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cytogenetics data, microsatellite analysis and FISH were acquired for a cohort of patients undergoing resection for clinically localised renal cancer between January 2001 and December 2005. Five microsatellite markers (D9S916, D9S1814, D9S974, D9S942 and D9S171) assessed loss of heterogeneity (LOH) using DNA samples and in the same cohort FISH analysis was accomplished on tissue microarray slides. The FISH data were scored by two observers blinded to the histological data of the patients. Cytogenetic aberrations were correlated with histological and clinical outcomes by univariate and multivariate analyses using different prognostic models. Disease specific and recurrence free survival based on cytogenetic changes were assessed by Kaplan Meier methods.
CONCLUSIONS: A comprehensive cytogenetic analysis using microsatellite analysis and FISH of the CDKN2A region on chromosome 9p improves the predictive accuracy of known prognostic factors in clinically localised renal cell carcinoma undergoing surgical resection.

Cammareri P, Rose AM, Vincent DF, et al.
Inactivation of TGFβ receptors in stem cells drives cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
Nat Commun. 2016; 7:12493 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Melanoma patients treated with oncogenic BRAF inhibitors can develop cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) within weeks of treatment, driven by paradoxical RAS/RAF/MAPK pathway activation. Here we identify frequent TGFBR1 and TGFBR2 mutations in human vemurafenib-induced skin lesions and in sporadic cSCC. Functional analysis reveals these mutations ablate canonical TGFβ Smad signalling, which is localized to bulge stem cells in both normal human and murine skin. MAPK pathway hyperactivation (through Braf(V600E) or Kras(G12D) knockin) and TGFβ signalling ablation (through Tgfbr1 deletion) in LGR5(+ve) stem cells enables rapid cSCC development in the mouse. Mutation of Tp53 (which is commonly mutated in sporadic cSCC) coupled with Tgfbr1 deletion in LGR5(+ve) cells also results in cSCC development. These findings indicate that LGR5(+ve) stem cells may act as cells of origin for cSCC, and that RAS/RAF/MAPK pathway hyperactivation or Tp53 mutation, coupled with loss of TGFβ signalling, are driving events of skin tumorigenesis.

Yeh CM, Chang LY, Lin SH, et al.
Epigenetic silencing of the NR4A3 tumor suppressor, by aberrant JAK/STAT signaling, predicts prognosis in gastric cancer.
Sci Rep. 2016; 6:31690 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
While aberrant JAK/STAT signaling is crucial to the development of gastric cancer (GC), its effects on epigenetic alterations of its transcriptional targets remains unclear. In this study, by expression microarrays coupled with bioinformatic analyses, we identified a putative STAT3 target gene, NR4A3 that was downregulated in MKN28 GC daughter cells overexpressing a constitutively activated STAT3 mutant (S16), as compared to an empty vector control (C9). Bisulphite pyrosequencing and demethylation treatment showed that NR4A3 was epigenetically silenced by promoter DNA methylation in S16 and other GC cell lines including AGS cells, showing constitutive activation of STAT3. Subsequent experiments revealed that NR4A3 promoter binding by STAT3 might repress its transcription. Long-term depletion of STAT3 derepressed NR4A3 expression, by promoter demethylation, in AGS GC cells. NR4A3 re-expression in GC cell lines sensitized the cells to cisplatin, and inhibited tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, in an animal model. Clinically, GC patients with high NR4A3 methylation, or lower NR4A3 protein expression, had significantly shorter overall survival. Intriguingly, STAT3 activation significantly associated only with NR4A3 methylation in low-stage patient samples. Taken together, aberrant JAK/STAT3 signaling epigenetically silences a potential tumor suppressor, NR4A3, in gastric cancer, plausibly representing a reliable biomarker for gastric cancer prognosis.

Marti N, Galván JA, Pandey AV, et al.
Genes and proteins of the alternative steroid backdoor pathway for dihydrotestosterone synthesis are expressed in the human ovary and seem enhanced in the polycystic ovary syndrome.
Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2017; 441:116-123 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recently, dihydrotestosterone biosynthesis through the backdoor pathway has been implicated for the human testis in addition to the classic pathway for testosterone (T) synthesis. In the human ovary, androgen precursors are crucial for estrogen synthesis and hyperandrogenism in pathologies such as the polycystic ovary syndrome is partially due to ovarian overproduction. However, a role for the backdoor pathway is only established for the testis and the adrenal, but not for the human ovary. To investigate whether the backdoor pathway exists in normal and PCOS ovaries, we performed specific gene and protein expression studies on ovarian tissues. We found aldo-keto reductases (AKR1C1-1C4), 5α-reductases (SRD5A1/2) and retinol dehydrogenase (RoDH) expressed in the human ovary, indicating that the ovary might produce dihydrotestosterone via the backdoor pathway. Immunohistochemical studies showed specific localization of these proteins to the theca cells. PCOS ovaries show enhanced expression, what may account for the hyperandrogenism.

El-Mokadem I, Lim A, Kidd T, et al.
Microsatellite alteration and immunohistochemical expression profile of chromosome 9p21 in patients with sporadic renal cell carcinoma following surgical resection.
BMC Cancer. 2016; 16:546 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Long-term prognostic significance of loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 9p21 for localized renal cell carcinoma following surgery remains unreported. The study assessed the frequency of deletions of different loci of chromosome 9p along with immunohistochemical profile of proteins in surgically resected renal cancer tissue and correlated this with long-term outcomes.
METHODS: DNA was extracted from renal tumours and corresponding normal kidney tissues in prospectively collected samples of 108 patients who underwent surgical resection for clinically localized disease between January 2001 and December 2005, providing a minimum of 9 years follow-up for each participant. After checking quality of DNA, amplified by PCR, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on chromosome 9p was assessed using 6 microsatellite markers in 77 clear cell carcinoma. Only 5 of the markers showed LOH (D9S1814, D9S916, D9S974, D9S942, and D9S171). Protein expression of p15(INK4b), p16(INK4a), p14(ARF), CAIX, and adipose related protein (ADFP) were demonstrated by immunostaining in normal and cancer tissues. Loss of heterozygosity for microsatellite analysis was correlated with tumour characteristics, recurrence free, cancer specific, and overall survival, including significance of immunohistochemical profile of protein expressions.
RESULTS: The main deletion was found at loci telomeric to CDKN2A region at D9S916. There was a significant correlation between frequency of LOH stage (p = 0.005) and metastases (p = 0.006) suggesting a higher LOH for advanced and aggressive renal cell carcinoma. Most commonly observed LOH in the 3 markers: D9S916, D9S974, and D9S942 were associated with poor survival, and were statistically significant on multivariate analysis. Immunohistochemical expression of p14, p15, and p16 proteins were either low or absent in cancer tissue compared to normal.
CONCLUSIONS: Loss of heterozygosity of p921 chromosome is associated with aggressive tumours, and predicts cancer specific or recurrence free survival on long-term follow-up.

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