Gene Summary

Gene:ANGPTL4; angiopoietin like 4
Aliases: NL2, ARP4, FIAF, HARP, PGAR, HFARP, TGQTL, UNQ171, pp1158
Summary:This gene encodes a glycosylated, secreted protein containing a C-terminal fibrinogen domain. The encoded protein is induced by peroxisome proliferation activators and functions as a serum hormone that regulates glucose homeostasis, lipid metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. This protein can also act as an apoptosis survival factor for vascular endothelial cells and can prevent metastasis by inhibiting vascular growth and tumor cell invasion. The C-terminal domain may be proteolytically-cleaved from the full-length secreted protein. Decreased expression of this gene has been associated with type 2 diabetes. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants. This gene was previously referred to as ANGPTL2 but has been renamed ANGPTL4. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2013]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:angiopoietin-related protein 4
Source:NCBIAccessed: 11 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (17)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (1)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 11 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.

Tag cloud generated 11 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: ANGPTL4 (cancer-related)

Jee YH, Sadowski SM, Celi FS, et al.
Increased Pleiotrophin Concentrations in Papillary Thyroid Cancer.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(2):e0149383 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Thyroid nodules are common, and approximately 5% of these nodules are malignant. Pleiotrophin (PTN) is a heparin-binding growth factor which is overexpressed in many cancers. The expression of PTN in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is unknown.
METHOD AND FINDINGS: 74 subjects (age 47 ± 12 y, 15 males) who had thyroidectomy with a histological diagnosis: 79 benign nodules and 23 PTCs (10 classic, 6 tall cell, 6 follicular variant and 1 undetermined). Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) samples were obtained ex vivo from surgically excised tissue and assayed for PTN and thyroglobulin (Tg). Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed on tissue sections. In FNA samples, PTN concentration normalized to Tg was significantly higher in PTC than in benign nodules (16 ± 6 vs 0.3 ± 0.1 ng/mg, p < 0.001). In follicular variant of PTC (n = 6), the PTN/Tg ratio was also higher than in benign nodules (1.3 ± 0.6 vs 0.3 ± 0.1 ng/mg, P < 0.001, respectively). IHC showed cytoplasmic localization of PTN in PTC cells.
CONCLUSION: In ex vivo FNA samples, the PTN to thyroglobulin ratio was higher in PTCs, including follicular variant PTC, than in benign thyroid nodules. The findings raise the possibility that measurement of the PTN to Tg ratio may provide useful diagnostic and/or prognostic information in the evaluation of thyroid nodules.

Hu K, Babapoor-Farrokhran S, Rodrigues M, et al.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 upregulation of both VEGF and ANGPTL4 is required to promote the angiogenic phenotype in uveal melanoma.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(7):7816-28 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: Expression of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1-regulated gene product, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), correlates with tumor vascularity in patients with uveal melanoma (UM). While the relationship between HIF-1 and VEGF in cancer is well-studied, their relative contribution to the angiogenic phenotype in UM has not previously been interrogated. Here we evaluate the contribution of HIF-1, VEGF, and a second HIF-1-regulated gene product, angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4), to angiogenesis in UM.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: UM cells were examined for expression of HIF-1α, VEGF, and ANGPTL4. Their contribution to the angiogenic potential of UM cells was assessed using the endothelial cell tubule formation and directed in vivo angiogenesis assays. These results were corroborated in tissue from UM animal models and in tissue from patients with UM.
RESULTS: Inhibition of VEGF partially reduced tubule formation promoted by conditioned medium from UM cells. Inhibition of ANGPTL4, which was highly expressed in hypoxic UM cells, a UM orthotopic transplant model, a UM tumor array, and vitreous samples from UM patients, inhibited the angiogenic potential of UM cells in vitro and in vivo; this effect was additive to VEGF inhibition.
CONCLUSIONS: Targeting both ANGPTL4 and VEGF may be required for the effective inhibition of angiogenesis in UM.

Karol SE, Mattano LA, Yang W, et al.
Genetic risk factors for the development of osteonecrosis in children under age 10 treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Blood. 2016; 127(5):558-64 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Osteonecrosis is a dose-limiting toxicity in the treatment of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Prior studies on the genetics of osteonecrosis have focused on patients ≥10 years of age, leaving the genetic risk factors for the larger group of children <10 years incompletely understood. Here, we perform the first evaluation of genetic risk factors for osteonecrosis in children <10 years. The discovery cohort comprised 82 cases of osteonecrosis and 287 controls treated on Children's Oncology Group (COG) standard-risk ALL protocol AALL0331 (NCT00103285,, with results tested for replication in 817 children <10 years treated on COG protocol AALL0232 (NCT00075725, The top replicated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were near bone morphogenic protein 7 [BMP7: rs75161997, P = 5.34 × 10(-8) (odds ratio [OR] 15.0) and P = .0498 (OR 8.44) in the discovery and replication cohorts, respectively] and PROX1-antisense RNA1 (PROX1-AS1: rs1891059, P = 2.28 × 10(-7) [OR 6.48] and P = .0077 [OR 3.78] for the discovery and replication cohorts, respectively). The top replicated nonsynonymous SNP, rs34144324, was in a glutamate receptor gene (GRID2, P = 8.65 × 10(-6) [OR 3.46] and P = .0136 [OR 10.8] in the discovery and replication cohorts, respectively). In a meta-analysis, the BMP7 and PROX1-AS1 variants (rs75161997 and rs1891059, respectively) met the significance threshold of <5 × 10(-8). Top replicated SNPs were enriched in enhancers active in mesenchymal stem cells, and analysis of annotated genes demonstrated enrichment in glutamate receptor and adipogenesis pathways. These data may provide new insights into the pathophysiology of osteonecrosis.

Wan J, Wen D, Dong L, et al.
Establishment of monoclonal HCC cell lines with organ site-specific tropisms.
BMC Cancer. 2015; 15:678 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Organ site-specific metastasis is an ominous feature for most poor-prognostic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Cancer cell lines and animal models are indispensable for investigating the molecular mechanisms of organ specific tropism. However, till now, little is known about the drivers in HCC metastatic tropism, and also no effective way has been developed to block the process of tropistic metastasis.
METHODS: In this study, we established several monoclonal HCC cell lines from HCCLM3-RFP together with their xenograft models, and then analyzed their metastatic potentials and tropisms using in-vitro and in-vivo assays, and finally elucidated the driving forces of HCC tropistic metastases.
RESULTS: Six monoclonal cell lines with different organ site-specific tropism were established successfully. SPARC, VCAM1 and ANGPTL4 were found positively correlated with the potentials of lung metastasis, while ITGA1 had a positive relation to lymph node metastasis of enterocoelia.
CONCLUSIONS: By our powerful platforms, HCC metastatic tropisms in clinic could be easily mimicked and recapitulated for exploring the bilateral interactions between tumor and its microenvironment, elucidating the drivers of HCC metastatic tropisms, and testing anti-cancer effects of newly developed agent in pre-clinical stage.

Li X, Chen T, Shi Q, et al.
Angiopoietin-like 4 enhances metastasis and inhibits apoptosis via inducing bone morphogenetic protein 7 in colorectal cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 467(1):128-34 [PubMed] Related Publications
Angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4), a secretory glycoprotein, plays an important role in cancer metastasis. In the present study, we aim to investigate the roles and mechanisms of ANGPTL4 in the regulation of colorectal cancer metastasis. We found that expression level of ANGPTL4 was increased in colorectal cancer tissues, compared with that in normal tissues. Moreover, liver metastasis was significantly associated with higher expression of ANGPTL4. In vitro studies further showed that overexpression of ANGPTL4 enhanced cell migration, invasion and inhibited apoptosis. At the molecular level, ANGPTL4 overexpression resulted in an up-regulation of bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7). Indeed, knockdown of BMP7 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) oligos reversed the roles of ANGPTL4 overexpression in HCT116 cells. Finally, in vivo studies further confirmed the metastatic roles of ANGPTL4 by inducing BMP7. Therefore, our study demonstrated that ANGPTL4 might promote metastasis and might inhibit apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells by up-regulation of BMP7.

Milanovic D, Sticht C, Röhrich M, et al.
Inhibition of 13-cis retinoic acid-induced gene expression of reactive-resistance genes by thalidomide in glioblastoma tumours in vivo.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(30):28938-48 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The cell differentiation potential of 13-cis retinoic acid (RA) has not succeeded in the clinical treatment of glioblastoma (GBM) so far. However, RA may also induce the expression of resistance genes such as HOXB7 which can be suppressed by Thalidomide (THAL). Therefore, we tested if combined treatment with RA+THAL may inhibit growth of glioblastoma in vivo. Treatment with RA+THAL but not RA or THAL alone significantly inhibited tumour growth. The synergistic effect of RA and THAL was corroborated by the effect on proliferation of glioblastoma cell lines in vitro. HOXB7 was not upregulated but microarray analysis validated by real-time PCR identified four potential resistance genes (IL-8, HILDPA, IGFBPA, and ANGPTL4) whose upregulation by RA was suppressed by THAL. Furthermore, genes coding for small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNA) were identified as a target for RA for the first time, and their upregulation was maintained after combined treatment. Pathway analysis showed upregulation of the Ribosome pathway and downregulation of pathways associated with proliferation and inflammation. In conclusion, combined treatment with RA + THAL delayed growth of GBM xenografts and suppressed putative resistance genes associated with hypoxia and angiogenesis. This encourages further pre-clinical and clinical studies of this drug combination in GBM.

Singleton KR, Hinz TK, Kleczko EK, et al.
Kinome RNAi Screens Reveal Synergistic Targeting of MTOR and FGFR1 Pathways for Treatment of Lung Cancer and HNSCC.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(20):4398-406 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The FGFR1 is a therapeutic target under investigation in multiple solid tumors and clinical trials of selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are underway. Treatment with a single TKI represents a logical step toward personalized cancer therapy, but intrinsic and acquired resistance mechanisms limit their long-term benefit. In this study, we deployed RNAi-based functional genomic screens to identify protein kinases controlling the intrinsic sensitivity of FGFR1-dependent lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) cells to ponatinib, a multikinase FGFR-active inhibitor. We identified and validated a synthetic lethal interaction between MTOR and ponatinib in non-small cell lung carcinoma cells. In addition, treatment with MTOR-targeting shRNAs and pharmacologic inhibitors revealed that MTOR is an essential protein kinase in other FGFR1-expressing cancer cells. The combination of FGFR inhibitors and MTOR or AKT inhibitors resulted in synergistic growth suppression in vitro. Notably, tumor xenografts generated from FGFR1-dependent lung cancer cells exhibited only modest sensitivity to monotherapy with the FGFR-specific TKI, AZD4547, but when combined with the MTOR inhibitor, AZD2014, significantly attenuated tumor growth and prolonged survival. Our findings support the existence of a signaling network wherein FGFR1-driven ERK and activated MTOR/AKT represent distinct arms required to induce full transformation. Furthermore, they suggest that clinical efficacy of treatments for FGFR1-driven lung cancers and HNSCC may be achieved by combining MTOR inhibitors and FGFR-specific TKIs.

Karol SE, Yang W, Van Driest SL, et al.
Genetics of glucocorticoid-associated osteonecrosis in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Blood. 2015; 126(15):1770-6 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Glucocorticoids are important therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and their major adverse effect is osteonecrosis. Our goal was to identify genetic and nongenetic risk factors for osteonecrosis. We performed a genome-wide association study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a discovery cohort comprising 2285 children with ALL, treated on the Children's Oncology Group AALL0232 protocol (NCT00075725), adjusting for covariates. The minor allele at SNP rs10989692 (near the glutamate receptor GRIN3A locus) was associated with osteonecrosis (hazard ratio = 2.03; P = 3.59 × 10(-7)). The association was supported by 2 replication cohorts, including 361 children with ALL on St. Jude's Total XV protocol (NCT00137111) and 309 non-ALL patients from Vanderbilt University's BioVU repository treated with glucocorticoids (odds ratio [OR] = 1.87 and 2.26; P = .063 and .0074, respectively). In a meta-analysis, rs10989692 was also highest ranked (P = 2.68 × 10(-8)), and the glutamate pathway was the top ranked pathway (P = 9.8 × 10(-4)). Osteonecrosis-associated glutamate receptor variants were also associated with other vascular phenotypes including cerebral ischemia (OR = 1.64; P = 2.5 × 10(-3)), and arterial embolism and thrombosis (OR = 1.88; P = 4.2 × 10(-3)). In conclusion, osteonecrosis was associated with inherited variations near glutamate receptor genes. Further understanding this association may allow interventions to decrease osteonecrosis. These trials are registered at as #NCT00075725 and #NCT00137111.

McEvoy LM, O'Toole SA, Spillane CD, et al.
Identifying novel hypoxia-associated markers of chemoresistance in ovarian cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2015; 15:547 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Ovarian cancer is associated with poor long-term survival due to late diagnosis and development of chemoresistance. Tumour hypoxia is associated with many features of tumour aggressiveness including increased cellular proliferation, inhibition of apoptosis, increased invasion and metastasis, and chemoresistance, mostly mediated through hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α. While HIF-1α has been associated with platinum resistance in a variety of cancers, including ovarian, relatively little is known about the importance of the duration of hypoxia. Similarly, the gene pathways activated in ovarian cancer which cause chemoresistance as a result of hypoxia are poorly understood. This study aimed to firstly investigate the effect of hypoxia duration on resistance to cisplatin in an ovarian cancer chemoresistance cell line model and to identify genes whose expression was associated with hypoxia-induced chemoresistance.
METHODS: Cisplatin-sensitive (A2780) and cisplatin-resistant (A2780cis) ovarian cancer cell lines were exposed to various combinations of hypoxia and/or chemotherapeutic drugs as part of a 'hypoxia matrix' designed to cover clinically relevant scenarios in terms of tumour hypoxia. Response to cisplatin was measured by the MTT assay. RNA was extracted from cells treated as part of the hypoxia matrix and interrogated on Affymetrix Human Gene ST 1.0 arrays. Differential gene expression analysis was performed for cells exposed to hypoxia and/or cisplatin. From this, four potential markers of chemoresistance were selected for evaluation in a cohort of ovarian tumour samples by RT-PCR.
RESULTS: Hypoxia increased resistance to cisplatin in A2780 and A2780cis cells. A plethora of genes were differentially expressed in cells exposed to hypoxia and cisplatin which could be associated with chemoresistance. In ovarian tumour samples, we found trends for upregulation of ANGPTL4 in partial responders and down-regulation in non-responders compared with responders to chemotherapy; down-regulation of HER3 in partial and non-responders compared to responders; and down-regulation of HIF-1α in non-responders compared with responders.
CONCLUSION: This study has further characterized the relationship between hypoxia and chemoresistance in an ovarian cancer model. We have also identified many potential biomarkers of hypoxia and platinum resistance and provided an initial validation of a subset of these markers in ovarian cancer tissues.

Ma T, Patel H, Babapoor-Farrokhran S, et al.
KSHV induces aerobic glycolysis and angiogenesis through HIF-1-dependent upregulation of pyruvate kinase 2 in Kaposi's sarcoma.
Angiogenesis. 2015; 18(4):477-88 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a vascular neoplasm caused by infection of endothelial or endothelial precursor cells with the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8). Research efforts have focused on defining the molecular events explaining how KSHV promotes pathological angiogenesis and KS tumor formation. mTOR/HIF-1 is a fundamental pathway driving these processes through the upregulation of angiogenic and inflammatory proteins, including VEGF, ANGPTL4, and ANGPT2. Interestingly, HIF-1 has also been implicated in the upregulation of metabolic genes associated with aerobic glycolysis and the growth of solid tumors. However, whether HIF-1 plays a role in regulating cell metabolism in KS remains unexplored. Here, we show that the HIF-1 metabolic effector, pyruvate kinase 2 (PKM2), is upregulated upon KSHV infection of endothelial cells and is necessary to maintain aerobic glycolysis in infected cells. We further demonstrate that PKM2 regulates KS angiogenic phenotype by acting as a coactivator of HIF-1 and increasing the levels of HIF-1 angiogenic factors, including VEGF. Indeed, inhibition of PKM2 expression blocked endothelial cell migration and differentiation and the angiogenic potential of KSHV-infected cells. We also investigated whether PKM2 regulates the angiogenic dysregulation induced by the KSHV-encoded G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR), a viral oncogene that promotes Kaposi's sarcomagenesis through the upregulation of HIF angiogenic factors. Interestingly, we found that PKM2 controls vGPCR-induced VEGF paracrine secretion and vGPCR oncogenesis. Our findings provide a molecular mechanism for how HIF-1 dysregulation fuels both angiogenesis and tumor metabolism in KS and support further investigations on therapeutic approaches targeting HIF-1 and PKM2 for KS treatment.

Johnson RH, Hu P, Fan C, Anders CK
Gene expression in "young adult type" breast cancer: a retrospective analysis.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(15):13688-702 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Young women with breast cancer experience inferior outcome and commonly manifest aggressive biological subtypes. Data is controversial regarding biological differences between breast tumors in young (diagnosed at <40 years of age) versus older women. We hypothesize there may be age-related expression differences in key genes for proliferation, invasion and metastasis within and across breast cancer subtypes, and that these differences correlate with outcome.
METHODS: Using clinically-annotated gene expression data from 778 breast tumors from three public databases, we compared clinico-pathologic characteristics, mRNA expression of 17 selected genes, and outcome, as a function of age (< 40 years vs. ≥ 40 years).
RESULTS: 14 of 17 genes were differentially expressed in tumors of young vs. older women, 4 of which persisted after correction for subtype and grade (p ≤0.05). BUB1, KRT5, and MYCN were overexpressed and CXCL2 underexpressed in young women. In multivariate analysis, overexpression of cytokeratin genes predicted inferior DFS only for young women. Overexpression of ANGPTL4 strongly predicted inferior DFS in basal but not HER2-enriched tumors in young women. Overexpression of cytokeratin genes and MYBL2 and low SNAI1 expression correlated with inferior DFS in HER2-enriched tumors in younger women. Kaplan-Meier analysis within the basal and HER2-enriched subgroups showed that overexpression of cytokeratin genes was associated with inferior DFS for young, but not older women.
CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary study reveals age- and subtype-related differences in expression of key breast cancer genes for proliferation, invasion and metastasis, which correlate with prognostic differences in young women and suggest targeted therapies.

Schumann T, Adhikary T, Wortmann A, et al.
Deregulation of PPARβ/δ target genes in tumor-associated macrophages by fatty acid ligands in the ovarian cancer microenvironment.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(15):13416-33 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/δ (PPARβ/δ) is a lipid ligand-inducible transcription factor associated with macrophage polarization. However, its function in tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) has not been investigated to date. Here, we report the PPARβ/δ-regulated transcriptome and cistrome for TAMs from ovarian carcinoma patients. Comparison with monocyte-derived macrophages shows that the vast majority of direct PPARβ/δ target genes are upregulated in TAMs and largely refractory to synthetic agonists, but repressible by inverse agonists. Besides genes with metabolic functions, these include cell type-selective genes associated with immune regulation and tumor progression, e.g., LRP5, CD300A, MAP3K8 and ANGPTL4. This deregulation is not due to increased expression of PPARβ/δ or its enhanced recruitment to target genes. Instead, lipidomic analysis of malignancy-associated ascites revealed high concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular linoleic acid, acting as potent PPARβ/δ agonists in macrophages. These fatty acid ligands accumulate in lipid droplets in TAMs, thereby providing a reservoir of PPARβ/δ ligands. These observations suggest that the deregulation of PPARβ/δ target genes by ligands of the tumor microenvironment contributes to the pro-tumorigenic polarization of ovarian carcinoma TAMs. This conclusion is supported by the association of high ANGPTL4 expression with a shorter relapse-free survival in serous ovarian carcinoma.

Garner JM, Ellison DW, Finkelstein D, et al.
Molecular heterogeneity in a patient-derived glioblastoma xenoline is regulated by different cancer stem cell populations.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(5):e0125838 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Malignant glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly aggressive brain tumor with a dismal prognosis and limited therapeutic options. Genomic profiling of GBM samples has identified four molecular subtypes (Proneural, Neural, Classical and Mesenchymal), which may arise from different glioblastoma stem-like cell (GSC) populations. We previously showed that adherent cultures of GSCs grown on laminin-coated plates (Ad-GSCs) and spheroid cultures of GSCs (Sp-GSCs) had high expression of stem cell markers (CD133, Sox2 and Nestin), but low expression of differentiation markers (βIII-tubulin and glial fibrillary acid protein). In the present study, we characterized GBM tumors produced by subcutaneous and intracranial injection of Ad-GSCs and Sp-GSCs isolated from a patient-derived xenoline. Although they formed tumors with identical histological features, gene expression analysis revealed that xenografts of Sp-GSCs had a Classical molecular subtype similar to that of bulk tumor cells. In contrast xenografts of Ad-GSCs expressed a Mesenchymal gene signature. Adherent GSC-derived xenografts had high STAT3 and ANGPTL4 expression, and enrichment for stem cell markers, transcriptional networks and pro-angiogenic markers characteristic of the Mesenchymal subtype. Examination of clinical samples from GBM patients showed that STAT3 expression was directly correlated with ANGPTL4 expression, and that increased expression of these genes correlated with poor patient survival and performance. A pharmacological STAT3 inhibitor abrogated STAT3 binding to the ANGPTL4 promoter and exhibited anticancer activity in vivo. Therefore, Ad-GSCs and Sp-GSCs produced histologically identical tumors with different gene expression patterns, and a STAT3/ANGPTL4 pathway is identified in glioblastoma that may serve as a target for therapeutic intervention.

Kong Q, Wu G, Han L, et al.
A transfection method of PS-asODNs targeting ANGPTL4 in multicellular structures of hepatocarcinoma cell line.
Cancer Gene Ther. 2015; 22(5):285-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
To find an efficient transfection method for metastatic cancer cells, we established a three-dimensional (3D) growth model for solid tumor cells to mimic the metastatic cancer cells in the vascular system and compared the efficiency of several transfection methods in vitro. We found that it was optimal to transfect two-dimensional cells in vitro and detach them for 3D growth 6 h later. The transfection efficiency of this method was high, and the results were reliable. This method can be used to deliver several types of small molecules into the 3D metastatic cell model. Using this method, we increased our understanding of why drugs that are effective in vitro cannot treat the disease in vivo. If this phenomenon occurs due to the resistance of the cells to the drug, other treatment agents for the disease must be identified. However, if this occurs because the agent cannot reach the cells inside the 3D aggregate, we can improve the delivery efficiency by using methods that target the agent to all cells. Briefly, the method introduced in this study will contribute to future research focusing on the 3D metastatic cell model as well as on drug development for various solid tumors.

Kanwar N, Hu P, Bedard P, et al.
Identification of genomic signatures in circulating tumor cells from breast cancer.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 137(2):332-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
Levels of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in blood have prognostic value in early and metastatic breast cancer. CTCs also show varying degrees of concordance with molecular markers of primary tumors they originate from. It is expected that individual cells reflect the heterogeneity and evolution of tumor cells as they acquire new functions and differential responses to chemotherapy. However, a degree of commonality is also plausible, highlighting alterations that allow tumor cells to perform CTC-defining activities such as invasion and intravasation. Using a matched tumor-normal approach, we performed high-resolution copy number profiling of CTCs from breast cancer to identify occult changes occurring during progression to metastasis. We identified a signature of recurrent gain in CTCs, consisting of 90 minimal common regions (MCRs) of copy number gain. These were predominantly found across chromosome 19 and were identified at low frequencies (3-4%) in 787 primary breast carcinomas examined. CTC genomic signatures clustered into two groups independent of subtype: a dormancy-related signature with 16 MCRs (AKT2, PTEN, CADM2); and a tumor-aggressiveness related signature with 358 MCRs (ANGPTL4, BSG, MIR-373). There were two MCRs in common between the groups on 19q13 and 21q21, containing genes involved in resistance to anoikis, TGFβ-signaling and metastasis (TFF3, LTBP4, NUMBL). Furthermore, a region harboring the ERBB2 gene was gained in a majority of patients. Regions 20q13 and 15q24 were associated with distant metastasis. The distinctiveness of CTC signatures highlights cell populations with different functional or metastatic potential. Such novel targets could help to specifically identify and block dissemination.

Aguirre Palma LM, Gehrke I, Kreuzer KA
Angiogenic factors in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL): Where do we stand?
Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2015; 93(3):225-36 [PubMed] Related Publications
The role of angiogenesis in haematological malignancies such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is difficult to envision, because leukaemia cells are not dependent on a network of blood vessels to support basic physiological requirements. Regardless, CLL cells secrete high levels of major angiogenic factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF). Nonetheless, it remains unclear how most angiogenic factors regulate accumulation and delayed apoptosis of CLL cells. Angiogenic factors such as leptin, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), follistatin, angiopoietin-1 (Ang1), angiogenin (ANG), midkine (MK), pleiotrophin (PTN), progranulin (PGRN), proliferin (PLF), placental growth factor (PIGF), and endothelial locus-1 (Del-1), represent novel therapeutic targets of future CLL research but have remained widely overlooked. This review aims to outline our current understanding of angiogenic growth factors and their relationship with CLL, a still uncured haematopoietic malignancy.

Sethi G, Kwon Y, Burkhalter RJ, et al.
PTN signaling: Components and mechanistic insights in human ovarian cancer.
Mol Carcinog. 2015; 54(12):1772-85 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Molecular vulnerabilities represent promising candidates for the development of targeted therapies that hold the promise to overcome the challenges encountered with non-targeted chemotherapy for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Through a synthetic lethality screen, we previously identified pleiotrophin (PTN) as a molecular vulnerability in ovarian cancer and showed that siRNA-mediated PTN knockdown induced apoptotic cell death in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cells. Although, it is well known that PTN elicits its pro-tumorigenic effects through its receptor, protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor Z1 (PTPRZ1), little is known about the potential importance of this pathway in the pathogenesis of ovarian cancer. In this study, we show that PTN is expressed, produced, and secreted in a panel of EOC cell lines. PTN levels in serous ovarian tumor tissues are on average 3.5-fold higher relative to normal tissue and PTN is detectable in serum samples of patients with EOC. PTPRZ1 is also expressed and produced by EOC cells and is found to be up-regulated in serous ovarian tumor tissue relative to normal ovarian surface epithelial tissue (P < 0.05). Gene silencing of PTPRZ1 in EOC cell lines using siRNA-mediated knockdown shows that PTPRZ1 is essential for viability and results in significant apoptosis with no effect on the cell cycle phase distribution. In order to determine how PTN mediates survival, we silenced the gene using siRNA mediated knockdown and performed expression profiling of 36 survival-related genes. Through computational mapping of the differentially expressed genes, members of the MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) family were found to be likely effectors of PTN signaling in EOC cells. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that PTN and its signaling components may be of significance in the pathogenesis of epithelial ovarian cancer and provide a rationale for clinical evaluation of MAPK inhibitors in PTN and/or PTPRZ1 expressing ovarian tumors.

Chang E, Liu H, Unterschemmann K, et al.
18F-FAZA PET imaging response tracks the reoxygenation of tumors in mice upon treatment with the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor BAY 87-2243.
Clin Cancer Res. 2015; 21(2):335-46 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: We describe a noninvasive PET imaging method that monitors early therapeutic efficacy of BAY 87-2243, a novel small-molecule inhibitor of mitochondrial complex I as a function of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1α) activity.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Four PET tracers [(18)F-FDG, (18)F-Fpp(RGD)2, (18)F-FLT, and (18)F-FAZA] were assessed for uptake into tumor xenografts of drug-responsive (H460, PC3) or drug-resistant (786-0) carcinoma cells. Mice were treated with BAY 87-2243 or vehicle. At each point, RNA from treated and vehicle H460 tumor xenografts (n = 3 each) was isolated and analyzed for target genes.
RESULTS: Significant changes in uptake of (18)F-FAZA, (18)F-FLT, and (18)F-Fpp(RGD)2 (P < 0.01) occurred with BAY 87-2243 treatment with (18)F-FAZA being the most prominent. (18)F-FDG uptake was unaffected. (18)F-FAZA tumor uptake declined by 55% to 70% (1.21% ± 0.10%ID/g to 0.35 ± 0.1%ID/g; n = 6, vehicle vs. treatment) in both H460 (P < 0.001) and PC3 (P < 0.05) xenografts 1 to 3 days after drug administration. (18)F-FAZA uptake in 786-0 xenografts was unaffected. Decline occurred before significant differences in tumor volume, thus suggesting (18)F-FAZA decrease reflected early changes in tumor metabolism. BAY 87-2243 reduced expression of hypoxia-regulated genes CA IX, ANGPTL4, and EGLN-3 by 99%, 93%, and 83%, respectively (P < 0.001 for all), which corresponds with reduced (18)F-FAZA uptake upon drug treatment. Heterogeneous expression of genes associated with glucose metabolism, vessel density, and proliferation was observed.
CONCLUSIONS: Our studies suggest suitability of (18)F-FAZA-PET as an early pharmacodynamic monitor on the efficacy of anticancer agents that target the mitochondrial complex I and intratumor oxygen levels (e.g., BAY 87-2243).

Ng KT, Xu A, Cheng Q, et al.
Clinical relevance and therapeutic potential of angiopoietin-like protein 4 in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:196 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Development of novel adjuvant therapy to eradicate tumor angiogenesis and metastasis is a pressing need for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We aimed to investigate the clinical relevance and therapeutic potential of angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) in HCC.
METHODS: ANGPTL4 mRNA levels in tumor and non-tumor liver tissues of HCC patients were analyzed to investigate its clinical relevance. The mechanisms of deregulation of ANGPTL4 in HCC were studied by copy number variation (CNV) and CpG methylation analyses. The orthotopic liver tumor nude mice model was applied using a human metastatic cell line. ANGPTL4-overexpressing adenovirus (Ad-ANGPTL4) was injected via portal vein to investigate its anti-tumorigenic and anti-metastatic potentials.
RESULTS: HCC tissues expressed significantly lower levels of ANGPTL4 mRNA than non-tumor tissues. The copy number of ANGPTL4 gene in tumor tissues was significantly lower than in non-tumor tissues of HCC patients. Higher frequency of methylation of CpG sites of ANGPTL4 promoter was detected in tumor tissues compared to non-tumor tissues. Downregulation of ANGPTL4 mRNA in HCC was significantly associated with advanced tumor stage, presence of venous infiltration, poor differentiation, higher AFP level, appearance of tumor recurrence, and poor postoperative overall and disease-free survivals of HCC patients. Treatment with Ad-ANGPTL4 significantly inhibited the in vivo tumor growth, invasiveness and metastasis by promoting tumoral apoptosis, inhibiting tumoral angiogenesis and motility, and suppressing tumor-favorable microenvironment. Moreover, administration of recombinant ANGPTL4 protein suppressed the motility of HCC cells and altered the secretion profile of cytokines from macrophages.
CONCLUSION: ANGPTL4 is a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for HCC patients and a potential therapeutic agent to suppress HCC growth, angiogenesis and metastasis.

Tanaka J, Irié T, Yamamoto G, et al.
ANGPTL4 regulates the metastatic potential of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
J Oral Pathol Med. 2015; 44(2):126-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lymph node metastasis is a major factor for poor prognosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). However, the molecular mechanisms of lymph node metastasis are unclear. We determined that angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4) mRNA and protein expression were increased in OSCC cells established from the primary site in metastatic cases. In addition, ANGPTL4 expression in biopsy specimens was correlated with the presence of lymph node metastasis. Therefore, our initial findings suggest that OSCC cells expressing ANGPTL4 may possess metastatic ability. Furthermore, cell culture supernatants from OSCC cells that metastasized to the lymph node contain ANGPTL4 and promote invasive ability. These findings suggest that secreted ANGPTL4 may affect the invasive ability of OSCC. Moreover, the rates of positive ANGPTL4 expression at the primary site were significantly higher in the lymph node metastasis group. These results demonstrate that ANGPTL4 contributes to OSCC metastasis by stimulating cell invasion. Therefore, ANGPTL4 is a potential therapeutic target for preventing cancer metastasis.

Ma J, Lang B, Wang X, et al.
Co-expression of midkine and pleiotrophin predicts poor survival in human glioma.
J Clin Neurosci. 2014; 21(11):1885-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of this study was to investigate whether co-expression of midkine (MK) and pleiotrophin (PTN) has prognostic relevance in human gliomas. Immunohistochemistry was used to investigate the expression of MK and PTN proteins in 168 patients with gliomas. The levels of MK and PTN mRNA in glioma tissues and paratumor tissues were evaluated in 45 paired cases by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was performed to assess prognostic significance. The expression levels of MK and PTN proteins in glioma tissue were both significantly higher (both p<0.001) than those in paratumor tissues on immunohistochemistry analysis, which was confirmed by qRT-PCR analysis. Additionally, the overexpression of either MK or PTN was significantly associated with the World Health Organization Grade (p=0.001 and 0.034, respectively), low Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) score (p=0.022 and 0.001, respectively), time to recurrence (p=0.043 and 0.011, respectively) and poor overall survival (p=0.018 and 0.001, respectively). Multivariate Cox proportional-hazards regression analysis revealed that increased expressions of MK and PTN were both independent prognostic factors for poor overall survival (p=0.030 and 0.022, respectively). Furthermore, the co-expression of MK and PTN was more significantly (p=0.003) associated with adverse prognosis in patients with gliomas than the respective expression of MK or PTN alone. To our knowledge, these findings are the first to indicate that the co-expression of MK and PTN is significantly correlated with prognosis in glioma patients, suggesting that the co-expression of these proteins may be used as both an early diagnostic and independent prognostic marker.

Takano N, Sarfraz Y, Gilkes DM, et al.
Decreased expression of cystathionine β-synthase promotes glioma tumorigenesis.
Mol Cancer Res. 2014; 12(10):1398-406 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) catalyzes metabolic reactions that convert homocysteine to cystathionine. To assess the role of CBS in human glioma, cells were stably transfected with lentiviral vectors encoding shRNA targeting CBS or a nontargeting control shRNA, and subclones were injected into immunodeficient mice. Interestingly, decreased CBS expression did not affect proliferation in vitro but decreased the latency period before rapid tumor xenograft growth after subcutaneous injection and increased tumor incidence and volume following orthotopic implantation into the caudate-putamen. In soft-agar colony formation assays, CBS knockdown subclones displayed increased anchorage-independent growth. Molecular analysis revealed that CBS knockdown subclones expressed higher basal levels of the transcriptional activator hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF2α/EPAS1). HIF2α knockdown counteracted the effect of CBS knockdown on anchorage-independent growth. Bioinformatic analysis of mRNA expression data from human glioma specimens revealed a significant association between low expression of CBS mRNA and high expression of angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) and VEGF transcripts, which are HIF2 target gene products that were also increased in CBS knockdown subclones. These results suggest that decreased CBS expression in glioma increases HIF2α protein levels and HIF2 target gene expression, which promotes glioma tumor formation.
IMPLICATIONS: CBS loss-of-function promotes glioma growth.

Liao Y, Lu W, Che Q, et al.
SHARP1 suppresses angiogenesis of endometrial cancer by decreasing hypoxia-inducible factor-1α level.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(6):e99907 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recent data support a role for SHARP1, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription repressor, in the regulation of malignant cell behavior in several human cancers. However, the expression and role of SHARP1 during the development of endometrial cancer (EC) remain unclear. Here we show that upregulation of SHARP1 suppressed tumor angiogenesis by decreasing hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), inhibited cell viability and tumor growth in EC. Immunohistochemical staining showed that the expression of SHARP1 was negatively correlated with tumor stage, histological grade, myometrial invasion, lymph node metastasis, blood vessel permeation in the myometrium and HIF-1α expression. Mechanistic studies showed that SHARP1 interacted with HIF-1α physically, and the protein level of HIF-1α and the mRNA level of its target genes (VEGFA, ANGPTL4 and CA9) were decreased by SHARP1 under hypoxia. Upregulation of SHARP1 in EC impeded hypoxia-induced angiogenesis by reducing VEGF secretion. Immunohistochemical analysis verified a correlation between decreased SHARP1 expression and increased microvessel density in EC tissues. Additionally, SHARP1 inhibited cell viability in EC cell lines. Overexpression of SHARP1 in vivo inhibited tumor growth and angiogenesis, and decreased HIF-1α expression. In this study, we established SHARP1 as a novel tumor suppressor of EC and shed light on the mechanisms by how SHARP1 inhibited EC progression. Therefore, SHARP1 may be a valuable prognostic biomarker for EC progression and shows promise as a new potential target for antiangiogenic therapeutics in human EC.

Evans RL, Pottala JV, Egland KA
Classifying patients for breast cancer by detection of autoantibodies against a panel of conformation-carrying antigens.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014; 7(5):545-55 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Patients with breast cancer elicit an autoantibody response against cancer proteins, which reflects and amplifies the cellular changes associated with tumorigenesis. Detection of autoantibodies in plasma may provide a minimally invasive mechanism for early detection of breast cancer. To identify cancer proteins that elicit a humoral response, we generated a cDNA library enriched for breast cancer genes that encode membrane and secreted proteins, which are more likely to induce an antibody response compared with intracellular proteins. To generate conformation-carrying antigens that are efficiently recognized by patients' antibodies, a eukaryotic expression strategy was established. Plasma from 200 patients with breast cancer and 200 age-matched healthy controls were measured for autoantibody activity against 20 different antigens designed to have conformational epitopes using ELISA. A conditional logistic regression model was used to select a combination of autoantibody responses against the 20 different antigens to classify patients with breast cancer from healthy controls. The best combination included ANGPTL4, DKK1, GAL1, MUC1, GFRA1, GRN, and LRRC15; however, autoantibody responses against GFRA1, GRN, and LRRC15 were inversely correlated with breast cancer. When the autoantibody responses against the 7 antigens were added to the base model, including age, BMI, race and current smoking status, the assay had the following diagnostic capabilities: c-stat (95% CI), 0.82 (0.78-0.86); sensitivity, 73%; specificity, 76%; and positive likelihood ratio (95% CI), 3.04 (2.34-3.94). The model was calibrated across risk deciles (Hosmer-Lemeshow, P = 0.13) and performed well in specific subtypes of breast cancer including estrogen receptor positive, HER-2 positive, invasive, in situ and tumor sizes >1 cm.

Yao J, Li WY, Li SG, et al.
Recombinant lentivirus targeting the pleotrophin gene reduces pleotrophin protein expression in pancreatic cancer cells and inhibits neurite outgrowth of dorsal root ganglion neurons.
Mol Med Rep. 2014; 9(3):999-1004 [PubMed] Related Publications
The objectives of the present study were to construct the recombinant primate lentivirus‑short hairpin RNA-pleiotrophin (pLV-shRNA-PTN) vector, to investigate the silencing effect of pLV-shRNA-PTN on PTN expression in MIA PaCa-2 cells and to observe the inhibition efficiency of pLV-shRNA‑PTN on neurite outgrowth from dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in vitro. The construction procedure for recombinant lentivirus pLV-shRNA-PTN has been described previously. In the present study, pLV-shRNA‑PTN was used to infect MIA PaCa-2 pancreatic cancer cells and the efficiency of the knockdown of the PTN gene on day 7 following infection was analyzed using western blotting. The morphological changes in the cultured DRG neurons were observed by monoculture of DRG neurons and co-culture with MIA PaCa-2 cells in vitro. The recombinant lentivirus pLV-shRNA‑PTN was successfully constructed. The western blot analysis showed that the inhibition rates of PTN expression were 46, 80, 20 and 21%, respectively, following pLV-shRNA‑PTN-A, B, C and D infection. pLV-shRNA-PTN‑B showed the highest knockdown efficiency. DRG neurons co-cultured with infected MIA PaCa-2 cells were decreased in size when compared with the control, and there was a significant decrease in the number and length of neurites. The results suggest that efficient and specific knockdown of PTN in MIA PaCa-2 pancreatic cancer cells and the subsequent reduction in PTN expression results in the inhibition of neurite outgrowth from DRG neurons.

Yao PL, Morales JL, Zhu B, et al.
Activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ (PPAR-β/δ) inhibits human breast cancer cell line tumorigenicity.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2014; 13(4):1008-17 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The effect of activation and overexpression of the nuclear receptor PPAR-β/δ in human MDA-MB-231 (estrogen receptor-negative; ER(-)) and MCF7 (estrogen-receptor-positive; ER(+)) breast cancer cell lines was examined. Target gene induction by ligand activation of PPAR-β/δ was increased by overexpression of PPAR-β/δ compared with controls. Overexpression of PPAR-β/δ caused a decrease in cell proliferation in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells compared with controls, whereas ligand activation of PPAR-β/δ further inhibited proliferation of MCF7 but not MDA-MB-231 cells. Overexpression and/or ligand activation of PPAR-β/δ in MDA-MB-231 or MCF7 cells had no effect on experimental apoptosis. Decreased clonogenicity was observed in both MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 overexpressing PPAR-β/δ in response to ligand activation of PPAR-β/δ as compared with controls. Ectopic xenografts developed from MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 cells overexpressing PPAR-β/δ were significantly smaller, and ligand activation of PPAR-β/δ caused an even greater reduction in tumor volume as compared with controls. Interestingly, the decrease in MDA-MB-231 tumor size after overexpressing PPAR-β/δ and ligand activation of PPAR-β/δ correlated with increased necrosis. These data show that ligand activation and/or overexpression of PPAR-β/δ in two human breast cancer cell lines inhibits relative breast cancer tumorigenicity and provide further support for the development of ligands for PPAR-β/δ to specifically inhibit breast carcinogenesis. These new cell-based models will be invaluable tools for delineating the role of PPAR-β/δ in breast cancer and evaluating the effects of PPAR-β/δ agonists.

Ferguson BW, Gao X, Zelazowski MJ, et al.
The cancer gene WWOX behaves as an inhibitor of SMAD3 transcriptional activity via direct binding.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:593 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The WW domain containing protein WWOX has been postulated to behave as a tumor suppressor in breast and other cancers. Expression of this protein is lost in over 70% of ER negative tumors. This prompted us to investigate the phenotypic and gene expression effects of loss of WWOX expression in breast cells.
METHODS: Gene expression microarrays and standard in vitro assays were performed on stably silenced WWOX (shRNA) normal breast cells. Bioinformatic analyses were used to identify gene networks and transcriptional regulators affected by WWOX silencing. Co-immunoprecipitations and GST-pulldowns were used to demonstrate a direct interaction between WWOX and SMAD3. Reporter assays, ChIP, confocal microscopy and in silico analyses were employed to determine the effect of WWOX silencing on TGFβ-signaling.
RESULTS: WWOX silencing affected cell proliferation, motility, attachment and deregulated expression of genes involved in cell cycle, motility and DNA damage. Interestingly, we detected an enrichment of targets activated by the SMAD3 transcription factor, including significant upregulation of ANGPTL4, FST, PTHLH and SERPINE1 transcripts. Importantly, we demonstrate that the WWOX protein physically interacts with SMAD3 via WW domain 1. Furthermore, WWOX expression dramatically decreases SMAD3 occupancy at the ANGPTL4 and SERPINE1 promoters and significantly quenches activation of a TGFβ responsive reporter. Additionally, WWOX expression leads to redistribution of SMAD3 from the nuclear to the cytoplasmic compartment. Since the TGFβ target ANGPTL4 plays a key role in lung metastasis development, we performed a meta-analysis of ANGPTL4 expression relative to WWOX in microarray datasets from breast carcinomas. We observed a significant inverse correlation between WWOX and ANGPTL4. Furthermore, the WWOX(lo)/ANGPTL4(hi) cluster of breast tumors is enriched in triple-negative and basal-like sub-types. Tumors with this gene expression signature could represent candidates for anti-TGFβ targeted therapies.
CONCLUSIONS: We show for the first time that WWOX modulates SMAD3 signaling in breast cells via direct WW-domain mediated binding and potential cytoplasmic sequestration of SMAD3 protein. Since loss of WWOX expression increases with breast cancer progression and it behaves as an inhibitor of SMAD3 transcriptional activity these observations may help explain, at least in part, the paradoxical pro-tumorigenic effects of TGFβ signaling in advanced breast cancer.

Zhang T, Niu X, Liao L, et al.
The contributions of HIF-target genes to tumor growth in RCC.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(11):e80544 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Somatic mutations or loss of expression of tumor suppressor VHL happen in the vast majority of clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma, and it's causal for kidney cancer development. Without VHL, constitutively active transcription factor HIF is strongly oncogenic and is essential for tumor growth. However, the contribution of individual HIF-responsive genes to tumor growth is not well understood. In this study we examined the contribution of important HIF-responsive genes such as VEGF, CCND1, ANGPTL4, EGLN3, ENO2, GLUT1 and IGFBP3 to tumor growth in a xenograft model using immune-compromised nude mice. We found that the suppression of VEGF or CCND1 impaired tumor growth, suggesting that they are tumor-promoting genes. We further discovered that the lack of ANGPTL4, EGLN3 or ENO2 expression did not change tumor growth. Surprisingly, depletion of GLUT1 or IGFBP3 significantly increased tumor growth, suggesting that they have tumor-inhibitory functions. Depletion of IGFBP3 did not lead to obvious activation of IGFIR. Unexpectedly, the depletion of IGFIR protein led to significant increase of IGFBP3 at both the protein and mRNA levels. Concomitantly, the tumor growth was greatly impaired, suggesting that IGFBP3 might suppress tumor growth in an IGFIR-independent manner. In summary, although the overall transcriptional activity of HIF is strongly tumor-promoting, the expression of each individual HIF-responsive gene could either enhance, reduce or do nothing to the kidney cancer tumor growth.

Khong TL, Thairu N, Larsen H, et al.
Identification of the angiogenic gene signature induced by EGF and hypoxia in colorectal cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:518 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is characterised by hypoxia, which activates gene transcription through hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF), as well as by expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and EGF receptors, targeting of which has been demonstrated to provide therapeutic benefit in CRC. Although EGF has been demonstrated to induce expression of angiogenic mediators, potential interactions in CRC between EGF-mediated signalling and the hypoxia/HIF pathway remain uncharacterised.
METHODS: PCR-based profiling was applied to identify angiogenic genes in Caco-2 CRC cells regulated by hypoxia, the hypoxia mimetic dimethyloxallylglycine (DMOG) and/or EGF. Western blotting was used to determine the role of HIF-1alpha, HIF-2alpha and MAPK cell signalling in mediating the angiogenic responses.
RESULTS: We identified a total of 9 angiogenic genes, including angiopoietin-like (ANGPTL) 4, ephrin (EFNA) 3, transforming growth factor (TGF) β1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), to be upregulated in a HIF dependent manner in Caco-2 CRC cells in response to both hypoxia and the hypoxia mimetic dimethyloxallylglycine (DMOG). Stimulation with EGF resulted in EGFR tyrosine autophosphorylation, activation of p42/p44 MAP kinases and stabilisation of HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins. However, expression of 84 angiogenic genes remained unchanged in response to EGF alone. Crucially, addition of DMOG in combination with EGF significantly increased expression of a further 11 genes (in addition to the 9 genes upregulated in response to either DMOG alone or hypoxia alone). These additional genes included chemokines (CCL-11/eotaxin-1 and interleukin-8), collagen type IV α3 chain, integrin β3 chain, TGFα and VEGF receptor KDR.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that although EGFR phosphorylation activates the MAP kinase signalling and promotes HIF stabilisation in CRC, this alone is not sufficient to induce angiogenic gene expression. In contrast, HIF activation downstream of hypoxia/DMOG drives expression of genes such as ANGPTL4, EFNA3, TGFβ1 and VEGF. Finally, HIF activation synergises with EGF-mediated signalling to additionally induce a unique sub-group of candidate angiogenic genes. Our data highlight the complex interrelationship between tumour hypoxia, EGF and angiogenesis in the pathogenesis of CRC.

Ning H, Mitsui H, Wang CQ, et al.
Identification of anaplastic lymphoma kinase as a potential therapeutic target in Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Oncotarget. 2013; 4(12):2237-48 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The pathogenesis of BCC is associated with sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling. Vismodegib, a smoothened inhibitor that targets this pathway, is now in clinical use for advanced BCC patients, but its efficacy is limited. Therefore, new therapeutic options for this cancer are required. We studied gene expression profiling of BCC tumour tissues coupled with laser capture microdissection to identify tumour specific receptor tyrosine kinase expression that can be targeted by small molecule inhibitors. We found a >250 fold increase (FDR<10-4) of the oncogene, anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) as well as its ligands, pleiotrophin and midkine in BCC compared to microdissected normal epidermis. qRT-PCR confirmed increased expression of ALK (p<0.05). Stronger expression of phosphorylated ALK in BCC tumour nests than normal skin was observed by immunohistochemistry. Crizotinib, an FDA-approved ALK inhibitor, reduced keratinocyte proliferation in culture, whereas a c-Met inhibitor did not. Crizotinib significantly reduced the expression of GLI1 and CCND2 (members of SHH-pathway) mRNA by approximately 60% and 20%, respectively (p<0.01). Our data suggest that ALK may increase GLI1 expression in parallel with the conventional SHH-pathway and promote keratinocyte proliferation. Hence, an ALK inhibitor alone or in combination with targeting SHH-pathway molecules may be a potential treatment for BCC patients.

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