Gene Summary

Gene:GHRH; growth hormone releasing hormone
Aliases: GRF, INN, GHRF
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene belongs to the glucagon family and is a preproprotein that is produced in the hypothalamus. The preproprotein is cleaved to form a 44 aa factor, also called somatocrinin, that acts to stimulate growth hormone release from the pituitary. Variant receptors for somatocrinin have been found in several types of tumors, and antagonists of these receptors can inhibit the growth of the tumors. Defects in this gene are a cause of dwarfism, while hypersecretion of the encoded protein is a cause of gigantism. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 20 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (22)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (2)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 20 August 2015 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.

  • Oncogenes
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Adenoma
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Chromosome 20
  • Heterozygote
  • Pituitary Gland
  • Alternative Splicing
  • Genetic Variation
  • Gene Expression
  • Growth Hormone
  • Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism
  • Adolescents
  • Receptors, Pituitary Hormone-Regulating Hormone
  • Acromegaly
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oral Cavity Cancer
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Breast Cancer
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • VIP
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1
  • DNA Primers
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Transcription Factors
Tag cloud generated 20 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

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: GHRH (cancer-related)

Amankwatia EB, Chakravarty P, Carey FA, et al.
MicroRNA-224 is associated with colorectal cancer progression and response to 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy by KRAS-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(9):1480-90 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/04/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancers arise from benign adenomas, although not all adenomas progress to cancer and there are marked interpatient differences in disease progression. We have previously associated KRAS mutations with disease progression and reduced survival in colorectal cancer patients.
METHODS: We used TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) qRT-PCR analysis to identify miRNAs differentially expressed in normal colorectal mucosa, adenomas and cancers and in isogeneic KRAS WT and mutant HCT116 cells, and used a variety of phenotypic assays to assess the influence of miRNA expression on KRAS activity, chemosensitivity, proliferation and invasion.
RESULTS: MicroRNA-224 was differentially expressed in dysplastic colorectal disease and in isogeneic KRAS WT and mutant HCT116 cells. Antagomir-mediated miR-224 silencing in HCT116 KRAS WT cells phenocopied KRAS mutation, increased KRAS activity and ERK and AKT phosphorylation. 5-FU chemosensitivity was significantly increased in miR-224 knockdown cells, and in NIH3T3 cells expressing KRAS and BRAF mutant proteins. Bioinformatics analysis of predicted miR-224 target genes predicted altered cell proliferation, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotypes that were experimentally confirmed in miR-224 knockdown cells.
CONCLUSIONS: We describe a novel mechanism of KRAS regulation, and highlight the clinical utility of colorectal cancer-specific miRNAs as disease progression or clinical response biomarkers.

Kovac M, Navas C, Horswell S, et al.
Recurrent chromosomal gains and heterogeneous driver mutations characterise papillary renal cancer evolution.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:6336 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/04/2016 Related Publications
Papillary renal cell carcinoma (pRCC) is an important subtype of kidney cancer with a problematic pathological classification and highly variable clinical behaviour. Here we sequence the genomes or exomes of 31 pRCCs, and in four tumours, multi-region sequencing is undertaken. We identify BAP1, SETD2, ARID2 and Nrf2 pathway genes (KEAP1, NHE2L2 and CUL3) as probable drivers, together with at least eight other possible drivers. However, only ~10% of tumours harbour detectable pathogenic changes in any one driver gene, and where present, the mutations are often predicted to be present within cancer sub-clones. We specifically detect parallel evolution of multiple SETD2 mutations within different sub-regions of the same tumour. By contrast, large copy number gains of chromosomes 7, 12, 16 and 17 are usually early, monoclonal changes in pRCC evolution. The predominance of large copy number variants as the major drivers for pRCC highlights an unusual mode of tumorigenesis that may challenge precision medicine approaches.

Schug ZT, Peck B, Jones DT, et al.
Acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 promotes acetate utilization and maintains cancer cell growth under metabolic stress.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 27(1):57-71 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/04/2016 Related Publications
A functional genomics study revealed that the activity of acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACSS2) contributes to cancer cell growth under low-oxygen and lipid-depleted conditions. Comparative metabolomics and lipidomics demonstrated that acetate is used as a nutritional source by cancer cells in an ACSS2-dependent manner, and supplied a significant fraction of the carbon within the fatty acid and phospholipid pools. ACSS2 expression is upregulated under metabolically stressed conditions and ACSS2 silencing reduced the growth of tumor xenografts. ACSS2 exhibits copy-number gain in human breast tumors, and ACSS2 expression correlates with disease progression. These results signify a critical role for acetate consumption in the production of lipid biomass within the harsh tumor microenvironment.

Szalontay L, Schally AV, Popovics P, et al.
Novel GHRH antagonists suppress the growth of human malignant melanoma by restoring nuclear p27 function.
Cell Cycle. 2014; 13(17):2790-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer; the treatment of advanced and recurrent forms remains a challenge. It has recently been reported that growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) receptor is involved in the pathogenesis of melanoma. Therefore, we investigated the effects of our new GHRH antagonists on a human melanoma cancer cell line. Antiproliferative effects of GHRH antagonists, MIA-602, MIA-606 and MIA-690, on the human melanoma cell line, A-375, were studied in vitro using the MTS assay. The effect of MIA-690 (5 μg/day 28 d) was further evaluated in vivo in nude mice bearing xenografts of A-375. Subcellular localization of p27 was detected with Western blot and immunofluorescent staining. MIA-690 inhibited the proliferation of A-375 cells in a dose-dependent manner (33% at 10 μM, and 19.2% at 5 μM, P < 0 .05 vs. control), and suppressed the growth of xenografted tumors by 70.45% (P < 0.05). Flow cytometric analysis of cell cycle effects following the administration of MIA-690 revealed a decrease in the number of cells in G2/M phase (from 19.7% to 12.9%, P < 0.001). Additionally, Western blot and immunofluorescent studies showed that exposure of A-375 cells to MIA-690 triggered the nuclear accumulation of p27. MIA-690 inhibited tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, and increased the translocation of p27 into the nucleus thus inhibiting progression of the cell cycle. Our findings indicate that patients with malignant melanoma could benefit from treatment regimens, which combine existing chemotherapy agents and novel GHRH-antagonists.

Brownlow N, Pike T, Zicha D, et al.
Mitotic catenation is monitored and resolved by a PKCε-regulated pathway.
Nat Commun. 2014; 5:5685 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/04/2016 Related Publications
Exit from mitosis is controlled by silencing of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). It is important that preceding exit, all sister chromatid pairs are correctly bioriented, and that residual catenation is resolved, permitting complete sister chromatid separation in the ensuing anaphase. Here we determine that the metaphase response to catenation in mammalian cells operates through PKCε. The PKCε-controlled pathway regulates exit from the SAC only when mitotic cells are challenged by retained catenation and this delayed exit is characterized by BubR1-high and Mad2-low kinetochores. In addition, we show that this pathway is necessary to facilitate resolution of retained catenanes in mitosis. When delayed by catenation in mitosis, inhibition of PKCε results in premature entry into anaphase with PICH-positive strands and chromosome bridging. These findings demonstrate the importance of PKCε-mediated regulation in protection from loss of chromosome integrity in cells failing to resolve catenation in G2.

Schülein-Völk C, Wolf E, Zhu J, et al.
Dual regulation of Fbw7 function and oncogenic transformation by Usp28.
Cell Rep. 2014; 9(3):1099-109 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fbw7, the substrate recognition subunit of SCF(Fbw7) ubiquitin ligase, mediates the turnover of multiple proto-oncoproteins and promotes its own degradation. Fbw7-dependent substrate ubiquitination is antagonized by the Usp28 deubiquitinase. Here, we show that Usp28 preferentially antagonizes autocatalytic ubiquitination and stabilizes Fbw7, resulting in dose-dependent effects in Usp28 knockout mice. Monoallelic deletion of Usp28 maintains stable Fbw7 but drives Fbw7 substrate degradation. In contrast, complete knockout triggers Fbw7 degradation and leads to the accumulation of Fbw7 substrates in several tissues and embryonic fibroblasts. On the other hand, overexpression of Usp28 stabilizes both Fbw7 and its substrates. Consequently, both complete loss and ectopic expression of Usp28 promote Ras-driven oncogenic transformation. We propose that dual regulation of Fbw7 activity by Usp28 is a safeguard mechanism for maintaining physiological levels of proto-oncogenic Fbw7 substrates, which is equivalently disrupted by loss or overexpression of Usp28.

Wang Y, Bu F, Royer C, et al.
ASPP2 controls epithelial plasticity and inhibits metastasis through β-catenin-dependent regulation of ZEB1.
Nat Cell Biol. 2014; 16(11):1092-104 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), and the reverse mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET), are known examples of epithelial plasticity that are important in kidney development and cancer metastasis. Here we identify ASPP2, a haploinsufficient tumour suppressor, p53 activator and PAR3 binding partner, as a molecular switch of MET and EMT. ASPP2 contributes to MET in mouse kidney in vivo. Mechanistically, ASPP2 induces MET through its PAR3-binding amino-terminus, independently of p53 binding. ASPP2 prevents β-catenin from transactivating ZEB1, directly by forming an ASPP2-β-catenin-E-cadherin ternary complex and indirectly by inhibiting β-catenin's N-terminal phosphorylation to stabilize the β-catenin-E-cadherin complex. ASPP2 limits the pro-invasive property of oncogenic RAS and inhibits tumour metastasis in vivo. Reduced ASPP2 expression results in EMT, and is associated with poor survival in hepatocellular carcinoma and breast cancer patients. Hence, ASPP2 is a key regulator of epithelial plasticity that connects cell polarity to the suppression of WNT signalling, EMT and tumour metastasis.

Fernandez P, Scaffidi P, Markert E, et al.
Transformation resistance in a premature aging disorder identifies a tumor-protective function of BRD4.
Cell Rep. 2014; 9(1):248-60 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/04/2016 Related Publications
Advanced age and DNA damage accumulation are prominent risk factors for cancer. The premature aging disorder Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) provides a unique opportunity for studying the interplay between DNA damage and aging-associated tumor mechanisms, given that HGPS patients do not develop tumors despite elevated levels of DNA damage. Here, we have used HGPS patient cells to identify a protective mechanism to oncogenesis. We find that HGPS cells are resistant to neoplastic transformation. Resistance is mediated by the bromodomain protein BRD4, which exhibits altered genome-wide binding patterns in transformation-resistant cells, leading to inhibition of oncogenic dedifferentiation. BRD4 also inhibits, albeit to a lower extent, the tumorigenic potential of transformed cells from healthy individuals. BRD4-mediated tumor protection is clinically relevant given that a BRD4 gene signature predicts positive clinical outcome in breast and lung cancer. Our results demonstrate a protective function for BRD4 and suggest tissue-specific roles for BRD4 in tumorigenesis.

Bensaad K, Favaro E, Lewis CA, et al.
Fatty acid uptake and lipid storage induced by HIF-1α contribute to cell growth and survival after hypoxia-reoxygenation.
Cell Rep. 2014; 9(1):349-65 [PubMed] Related Publications
An in vivo model of antiangiogenic therapy allowed us to identify genes upregulated by bevacizumab treatment, including Fatty Acid Binding Protein 3 (FABP3) and FABP7, both of which are involved in fatty acid uptake. In vitro, both were induced by hypoxia in a hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α)-dependent manner. There was a significant lipid droplet (LD) accumulation in hypoxia that was time and O2 concentration dependent. Knockdown of endogenous expression of FABP3, FABP7, or Adipophilin (an essential LD structural component) significantly impaired LD formation under hypoxia. We showed that LD accumulation is due to FABP3/7-dependent fatty acid uptake while de novo fatty acid synthesis is repressed in hypoxia. We also showed that ATP production occurs via β-oxidation or glycogen degradation in a cell-type-dependent manner in hypoxia-reoxygenation. Finally, inhibition of lipid storage reduced protection against reactive oxygen species toxicity, decreased the survival of cells subjected to hypoxia-reoxygenation in vitro, and strongly impaired tumorigenesis in vivo.

Zhao J, Xu H, He M, Wu Y
Glucocorticoid receptor DNA binding factor 1 expression and osteosarcoma prognosis.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(12):12449-58 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glucocorticoid receptor DNA binding factor 1 (GRF-1) is an important Rho family GTPase-activating protein, and the dysregulation of GRF-1 expression maybe involved in tumor progression. However, the role of GRF-1 expression in the osteosarcoma prognosis has been well less elaborated. Here, we conducted a hospital-based case study, including 247 patients with pathologically confirmed osteosarcoma to evaluate the associations between GRF-1 expression and osteosarcoma prognosis. We found that high GRF-1 expression was correlated with poor outcome of osteosarcoma compared with low GRF-1 expression (the median recurrence-free survival times, 11 months vs 56 months; the median overall survival times, 18 months vs 53 months). Like tumor stage, the GRF-1 expression was an independent prognostic factor influencing the survival of osteosarcoma [hazard ratio values (95 % confidence interval) were 5.39 (3.54-8.20) for recurrence-free survival (RFS) and 6.58 (4.44-9.74) for overall survival (OS), respectively]. Furthermore, the high expression of GRF-1 was significantly associated with larger tumor size, tumor dedifferentiation, and increasing metastasis risk. Functionally, the knockdown of GRF-1 expression inhibited tumor cells proliferation and induced cell apoptosis. These results indicate for the first time that GRF-1 expression may modify osteosarcoma prognosis and may be a potential tumor therapeutic target.

Kim HI, Quan FS, Kim JE, et al.
Inhibition of estrogen signaling through depletion of estrogen receptor alpha by ursolic acid and betulinic acid from Prunella vulgaris var. lilacina.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 451(2):282-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Extracts of Prunella vulgaris have been shown to exert antiestrogenic effects. To identify the compounds responsible for these actions, we isolated the constituents of P. vulgaris and tested their individual antiestrogenic effects. Rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, ursolic acid (UA), oleanolic acid, hyperoside, rutin and betulinic acid (BA) were isolated from the flower stalks of P. vulgaris var. lilacina Nakai (Labiatae). Among these constituents, UA and BA showed significant antiestrogenic effects, measured as a decrease in the mRNA level of GREB1, an estrogen-responsive protein; the effects of BA were stronger than those of UA. UA and BA were capable of suppressing estrogen response element (ERE)-dependent luciferase activity and expression of estrogen-responsive genes in response to exposure to estradiol, further supporting the suppressive role of these compounds in estrogen-induced signaling. However, neither UA nor BA was capable of suppressing estrogen signaling in cells ectopically overexpressing estrogen receptor α (ERα). Furthermore, both mRNA and protein levels of ERα were reduced by treatment with UA or BA, suggesting that UA and BA inhibit estrogen signaling by suppressing the expression of ERα. Interestingly, both compounds enhanced prostate-specific antigen promoter activity. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that UA and BA are responsible for the antiestrogenic effects of P. vulgaris and suggest their potential use as therapeutic agents against estrogen-dependent tumors.

Bao Q, Pan J, Qi H, et al.
Aging and age-related diseases--from endocrine therapy to target therapy.
Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2014; 394(1-2):115-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aging represents an important health issue not only for the individual, but also for society in general. Burdens associated with aging are expanding as longevity increases. This has led to an enhanced focus on issues related to aging and age-related diseases. Until recently, anti-aging endocrine-therapy has been largely limited to hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) that is associated with multiple side effects, including an increased risk of cancer. This has greatly limited the application of HRT in anti-aging therapy. Recently, the focus of anti-aging research has expanded from endocrine signaling pathways to effects on regulatory gene networks. In this regard, the GHRH-GH-IGF-1/Insulin, TOR-S6K1,NAD(+)-Sirtuin, P53, Klotho and APOE pathways have been linked to processes associated with age-related diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases, all of which directly influence health in aging, and represent key targets in anti-aging therapy.

Sawers L, Ferguson MJ, Ihrig BR, et al.
Glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) directly influences platinum drug chemosensitivity in ovarian tumour cell lines.
Br J Cancer. 2014; 111(6):1150-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chemotherapy response in ovarian cancer patients is frequently compromised by drug resistance, possibly due to altered drug metabolism. Platinum drugs are metabolised by glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1), which is abundantly, but variably expressed in ovarian tumours. We have created novel ovarian tumour cell line models to investigate the extent to which differential GSTP1 expression influences chemosensitivity.
METHODS: Glutathione S-transferase P1 was stably deleted in A2780 and expression significantly reduced in cisplatin-resistant A2780DPP cells using Mission shRNA constructs, and MTT assays used to compare chemosensitivity to chemotherapy drugs used to treat ovarian cancer. Differentially expressed genes in GSTP1 knockdown cells were identified by Illumina HT-12 expression arrays and qRT-PCR analysis, and altered pathways predicted by MetaCore (GeneGo) analysis. Cell cycle changes were assessed by FACS analysis of PI-labelled cells and invasion and migration compared in quantitative Boyden chamber-based assays.
RESULTS: Glutathione S-transferase P1 knockdown selectively influenced cisplatin and carboplatin chemosensitivity (2.3- and 4.83-fold change in IC50, respectively). Cell cycle progression was unaffected, but cell invasion and migration was significantly reduced. We identified several novel GSTP1 target genes and candidate platinum chemotherapy response biomarkers.
CONCLUSIONS: Glutathione S-transferase P1 has an important role in cisplatin and carboplatin metabolism in ovarian cancer cells. Inter-tumour differences in GSTP1 expression may therefore influence response to platinum-based chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients.

Mezey G, Treszl A, Schally AV, et al.
Prognosis in human glioblastoma based on expression of ligand growth hormone-releasing hormone, pituitary-type growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor, its splicing variant receptors, EGF receptor and PTEN genes.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2014; 140(10):1641-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Glioblastoma (GB) is the most frequent brain tumor. Despite recent improvement in therapeutic strategies, the prognosis of GB remains poor. Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) may act as a growth factor; antagonists of GHRH have been successfully applied for experimental treatment of different types of tumors. The expression profile of GHRH receptor, its main splice variant SV1 and GHRH have not been investigated in human GB tissue samples.
METHODS: We examined the expression of GHRH, full-length pituitary-type GHRH receptor (pGHRHR), its functional splice variant SV1 and non-functional SV2 by RT-PCR in 23 human GB specimens. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and phosphatase and tensin homolog gene (PTEN) expression levels were also evaluated by quantitative RT-PCR. Correlations between clinico-pathological parameters and gene expressions were analyzed.
RESULTS: Expression of GHRH was found to be positive in 61.9 % of samples. pGHRH receptor was not expressed in our sample set, while SV1 could be detected in 17.4 % and SV2 in 8.6 % of the GB tissues. In 65.2 and 78.3 % of samples, significant EGFR over-expression or PTEN under-representation could be detected, respectively. In 47.8 % of cases, EGFR up-regulation and PTEN down-regulation occurred together. Survival was significantly poorer in tumors lacking GHRH expression. This worse prognosis in GHRH negative group remained significant even if SV1 was also expressed.
CONCLUSION: Our study shows that GHRH and SV1 genes expressed in human GB samples and their expression patterns are associated with poorer prognosis.

Hohla F, Winder T, Greil R, et al.
Targeted therapy in advanced metastatic colorectal cancer: current concepts and perspectives.
World J Gastroenterol. 2014; 20(20):6102-12 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
The introduction of new cytotoxic substances as well as agents that target vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling has improved clinical outcome of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). In this review we summarize the most relevant clinical data on VEGF and EGFR targeting regimens in mCRC. The effects of available treatment strategies for mCRC are often temporary, with resistance and disease progression developing in most patients. Thus, new treatment strategies are urgently needed. Some GI peptides including gastrin and gastrin releasing peptide, certain growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor-I and II and neuropeptides such as growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) are implicated in the growth of CRC. Experimental investigations in CRC with antagonistic analogs of bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide, GHRH, and with cytotoxic peptides that can be targeted to peptide receptors on tumors, are summarized in the second part of the review.

Bell GP, Thompson BJ
Colorectal cancer progression: lessons from Drosophila?
Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2014; 28:70-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Human colorectal cancers arise as benign adenomas, tumours that retain their epithelial character, and then progress to malignant adenocarcinomas and carcinomas in which the epithelium becomes disrupted. Carcinomas often exhibit transcriptional downregulation of E-cadherin and other epithelial genes in an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a mechanism first discovered in Drosophila to be mediated by the transcription factors Twist and Snail. In contrast, adenocarcinomas retain expression of E-cadherin and disruption of the epithelium occurs through formation of progressively smaller epithelial cysts with apical Crumbs/CRB3, Stardust/PALS1, and Bazooka/PAR3 localised to the inner lumen. Results from Drosophila show that morphologically similar cysts form upon induction of clonal heterogeneity in Wnt, Smad, or Ras signalling levels, which causes extrusion of epithelial cells at clonal boundaries. Thus, intratumour heterogeneity might also promote formation of adenocarcinomas in humans. Finally, epithelial cysts can collectively migrate, as in the case of Drosophila border cells, a potential model system for the invasive migration of adenocarcinoma cells.

Kumar MS, Armenteros-Monterroso E, East P, et al.
HMGA2 functions as a competing endogenous RNA to promote lung cancer progression.
Nature. 2014; 505(7482):212-7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most prevalent histological cancer subtype worldwide. As the majority of patients present with invasive, metastatic disease, it is vital to understand the basis for lung cancer progression. Hmga2 is highly expressed in metastatic lung adenocarcinoma, in which it contributes to cancer progression and metastasis. Here we show that Hmga2 promotes lung cancer progression in mouse and human cells by operating as a competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) for the let-7 microRNA (miRNA) family. Hmga2 can promote the transformation of lung cancer cells independent of protein-coding function but dependent upon the presence of let-7 sites; this occurs without changes in the levels of let-7 isoforms, suggesting that Hmga2 affects let-7 activity by altering miRNA targeting. These effects are also observed in vivo, where Hmga2 ceRNA activity drives lung cancer growth, invasion and dissemination. Integrated analysis of miRNA target prediction algorithms and metastatic lung cancer gene expression data reveals the TGF-β co-receptor Tgfbr3 (ref. 12) as a putative target of Hmga2 ceRNA function. Tgfbr3 expression is regulated by the Hmga2 ceRNA through differential recruitment to Argonaute 2 (Ago2), and TGF-β signalling driven by Tgfbr3 is important for Hmga2 to promote lung cancer progression. Finally, analysis of NSCLC-patient gene-expression data reveals that HMGA2 and TGFBR3 are coordinately regulated in NSCLC-patient material, a vital corollary to ceRNA function. Taken together, these results suggest that Hmga2 promotes lung carcinogenesis both as a protein-coding gene and as a non-coding RNA; such dual-function regulation of gene-expression networks reflects a novel means by which oncogenes promote disease progression.

Parker PJ, Justilien V, Riou P, et al.
Atypical protein kinase Cι as a human oncogene and therapeutic target.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2014; 88(1):1-11 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
Protein kinase inhibitors represent a major class of targeted therapeutics that has made a positive impact on treatment of cancer and other disease indications. Among the promising kinase targets for further therapeutic development are members of the Protein Kinase C (PKC) family. The PKCs are central components of many signaling pathways that regulate diverse cellular functions including proliferation, cell cycle, differentiation, survival, cell migration, and polarity. Genetic manipulation of individual PKC isozymes has demonstrated that they often fulfill distinct, nonredundant cellular functions. Participation of PKC members in different intracellular signaling pathways reflects responses to varying extracellular stimuli, intracellular localization, tissue distribution, phosphorylation status, and intermolecular interactions. PKC activity, localization, phosphorylation, and/or expression are often altered in human tumors, and PKC isozymes have been implicated in various aspects of transformation, including uncontrolled proliferation, migration, invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, and resistance to apoptosis. Despite the strong relationship between PKC isozymes and cancer, to date only atypical PKCiota has been shown to function as a bona fide oncogene, and as such is a particularly attractive therapeutic target for cancer treatment. In this review, we discuss the role of PKCiota in transformation and describe mechanism-based approaches to therapeutically target oncogenic PKCiota signaling in cancer.

Baenke F, Peck B, Miess H, Schulze A
Hooked on fat: the role of lipid synthesis in cancer metabolism and tumour development.
Dis Model Mech. 2013; 6(6):1353-63 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
An increased rate of lipid synthesis in cancerous tissues has long been recognised as an important aspect of the rewired metabolism of transformed cells. However, the contribution of lipids to cellular transformation, tumour development and tumour progression, as well as their potential role in facilitating the spread of cancerous cells to secondary sites, are not yet fully understood. In this article, we review the recent findings that support the importance of lipid synthesis and metabolism in tumorigenesis. Specifically, we explore the role of aberrant lipid biosynthesis in cancer cell migration and invasion, and in the induction of tumour angiogenesis. These processes are crucial for the dissemination of tumour cells and formation of metastases, which constitute the main cause of cancer mortality.

Garcia EA, Trivellin G, Aflorei ED, et al.
Characterization of SNARE proteins in human pituitary adenomas: targeted secretion inhibitors as a new strategy for the treatment of acromegaly?
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013; 98(12):E1918-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Targeted secretion inhibitors (TSIs), a new class of recombinant biotherapeutic proteins engineered from botulinum toxin, represent a novel approach for treating diseases with excess secretion. They inhibit hormone secretion from targeted cell types through cleavage of SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor-activating protein receptor) proteins. qGHRH-LH(N)/D is a TSI targeting pituitary somatotroph through binding to the GHRH-receptor and cleavage of the vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP) family of SNARE proteins.
OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to study SNARE protein expression in pituitary adenomas and to inhibit GH secretion from somatotropinomas using qGHRH-LH(N)/D.
DESIGN: We analyzed human pituitary adenoma analysis for SNARE expression and response to qGHRH-LH(N)/D treatment.
SETTING: The study was conducted in University Hospitals.
PATIENTS: We used pituitary adenoma samples from 25 acromegaly and 47 nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma patients.
OUTCOME: Vesicle-SNARE (VAMP1-3), target-SNARE (syntaxin1, SNAP-23, and SNAP-25), and GHRH-receptor detection with RT-qPCR, immunocytochemistry, and immunoblotting. Assessment of TSI catalytic activity on VAMPs and release of GH from adenoma cells.
RESULTS: SNARE proteins were variably expressed in pituitary samples. In vitro evidence using recombinant GFP-VAMP2&3 or pituitary adenoma lysates suggested sufficient catalytic activity of qGHRH-LH(N)/D to degrade VAMPs, but was unable to inhibit GH secretion in somatotropinoma cell cultures.
CONCLUSIONS: SNARE proteins are present in human pituitary somatotroph adenomas that can be targeted by TSIs to inhibit GH secretion. qGHRH-LH(N)/D was unable to inhibit GH secretion from human somatotroph adenoma cells. Further studies are required to understand how the SNARE proteins drive GH secretion in human somatotrophs to allow the development of novel TSIs with a potential therapeutic benefit.

Henry NL, Chan HP, Dantzer J, et al.
Aromatase inhibitor-induced modulation of breast density: clinical and genetic effects.
Br J Cancer. 2013; 109(9):2331-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Change in breast density may predict outcome of women receiving adjuvant hormone therapy for breast cancer. We performed a prospective clinical trial to evaluate the impact of inherited variants in genes involved in oestrogen metabolism and signalling on change in mammographic percent density (MPD) with aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy.
METHODS: Postmenopausal women with breast cancer who were initiating adjuvant AI therapy were enrolled onto a multicentre, randomised clinical trial of exemestane vs letrozole, designed to identify associations between AI-induced change in MPD and single-nucleotide polymorphisms in candidate genes. Subjects underwent unilateral craniocaudal mammography before and following 24 months of treatment.
RESULTS: Of the 503 enrolled subjects, 259 had both paired mammograms at baseline and following 24 months of treatment and evaluable DNA. We observed a statistically significant decrease in mean MPD from 17.1 to 15.1% (P<0.001), more pronounced in women with baseline MPD ≥20%. No AI-specific difference in change in MPD was identified. No significant associations between change in MPD and inherited genetic variants were observed.
CONCLUSION: Subjects with higher baseline MPD had a greater average decrease in MPD with AI therapy. There does not appear to be a substantial effect of inherited variants in biologically selected candidate genes.

Wong LY, Brulois K, Toth Z, et al.
The product of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus immediate early gene K4.2 regulates immunoglobulin secretion and calcium homeostasis by interacting with and inhibiting pERP1.
J Virol. 2013; 87(22):12069-79 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
Chaperones are proteins that assist the noncovalent folding and assembly of macromolecular polypeptide chains, ultimately preventing the formation of nonfunctional or potentially toxic protein aggregates. Plasma cell-induced-endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident protein 1 (pERP1) is a cellular chaperone that is preferentially expressed in marginal-zone B cells and is highly upregulated during plasma cell differentiation. While initially identified as a dedicated factor for the assembly of secreted IgM, pERP1 has since been implicated in suppressing calcium mobilization, and its expression is misregulated in multiple tumors. A number of herpesvirus immediate early gene products play important roles in the regulation of viral gene expression and/or evasion of host immune responses. Here, we report that the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) immediate early viral gene K4.2 encodes an endoplasmic reticulum-localized protein that interacts with and inhibits pERP1. Consequently, K4.2 expression interfered with immunoglobulin secretion by delaying the kinetics of immunoglobulin assembly and also led to increased responsiveness of B-cell receptor signal transduction by enhancing phosphotyrosine signals and intracellular calcium fluxes. Furthermore, K4.2 expression also appeared to contribute to maximal lytic replication by enhancing viral glycoprotein expression levels and ultimately promoting infectious-virus production. Finally, immunohistochemistry analysis showed that pERP1 expression was readily detected in KSHV-positive cells from multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD) and Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) lesions, suggesting that pERP1 may have potential roles in the KSHV life cycle and malignancy. In conclusion, our data suggest that K4.2 participates in lytic replication by enhancing calcium flux and viral glycoprotein expression, but also by interfering with immunoglobulin assembly to potentially dampen the adaptive immune response.

Davies CC, Chakraborty A, Diefenbacher ME, et al.
Arginine methylation of the c-Jun coactivator RACO-1 is required for c-Jun/AP-1 activation.
EMBO J. 2013; 32(11):1556-67 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
c-Jun, the major component of the AP-1 transcription factor complex, has important functions in cellular proliferation and oncogenic transformation. The RING domain-containing protein RACO-1 functions as a c-Jun coactivator that molecularly links growth factor signalling to AP-1 transactivation. Here we demonstrate that RACO-1 is present as a nuclear dimer and that c-Jun specifically interacts with dimeric RACO-1. Moreover, RACO-1 is identified as a substrate of the arginine methyltransferase PRMT1, which methylates RACO-1 on two arginine residues. Arginine methylation of RACO-1 promotes a conformational change that stabilises RACO-1 by facilitating K63-linked ubiquitin chain formation, and enables RACO-1 dimerisation and c-Jun interaction. Abrogation of PRMT1 function impairs AP-1 activity and results in decreased expression of a large percentage of c-Jun target genes. These results demonstrate that arginine methylation of RACO-1 is required for efficient transcriptional activation by c-Jun/AP-1 and thus identify PRMT1 as an important regulator of c-Jun/AP-1 function.

Seitz S, Rick FG, Schally AV, et al.
Combination of GHRH antagonists and docetaxel shows experimental effectiveness for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancers.
Oncol Rep. 2013; 30(1):413-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
In preclinical studies, antagonists of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) have demonstrated inhibitory effects on the growth of various types of cancers expressing the pituitary type of GHRH receptors (pGHRH-R) and/or its active splice variant 1 (SV1). In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of the treatment of MDA-MB-231 human triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) with GHRH antagonist JMR-132 alone or in combination with docetaxel. Receptor expression in the MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell line was evaluated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Cell viability assays were performed on MDA-MB-231 cells treated with JMR-132, docetaxel or in combination. For studies in vivo, a subcutaneous nude mouse xenograft model was used. JMR-132 was administered s.c. at a dose of 10 µg/day and docetaxel at a dose of 10 mg/kg i.p. given on day 1 and 5. Similar regimens were used for the combination of both substances. At the end of the experiment, an mRNA-based human cancer pathway array including 84 major genes was performed on the tumor tissue of mice treated with JMR-132 to elucidate the mechanism of action of GHRH antagonists in vivo. The in vitro proliferation studies revealed that JMR-132 and docetaxel decreased the cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. The combination of both treatments produced a significantly greater inhibition of cell viability compared to the single agents. Treatment of nude mice bearing MDA-MB-231 xenografts with JMR-132 and docetaxel significantly (p<0.05) inhibited tumor growth by 46 and 50%, respectively. Treatment with the combination of JMR-132 and docetaxel led to an inhibition of tumor volume by 71.6% (p<0.001). Polymerase chain reaction array analysis revealed that JMR-132 interacts with signal transduction pathways involved in proliferation, apoptosis and angiogenesis. Our results suggest that GHRH antagonists in combination with taxanes may enhance the efficacy of treatment for patients with TNBC expressing the SV1 and/or the pGHRH receptor.

Zhang JH, Zhou D, You J, et al.
Differential processing of neuropeptide proprotein in human breast adenocarcinoma.
J Endocrinol Invest. 2013; 36(9):745-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The processing of proprotein convertase (PC)-mediated neuropeptide plays a very important role in carcinogenesis and tumor proliferation.
AIM: To investigate proneuropeptide processing mechanism in tumorigenesis and tumor proliferation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The expression and processing profiles of PC1, carboxypeptidase E (CPE), PC2, GHRH, or neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene and protein level were investigated between 42 human breast tumor tissues and 21 tumor-adjacent normal tissues.
RESULTS: Gene analyses indicated that the proPC1, CPE, or preproNPY gene had higher expression in the breast tumor tissues, whereas the proPC2 or preproGHRH gene showed lower expression in the tissues. Protein analyses showed that the proPC1, PC1, CPE, GHRH, and preproNPY proteins were upregulated in the tumor tissues, whereas the proPC2, PC2, preproGHRH, and NPY proteins were down-regulated in them. The tissue results were highly corroborated with the serum data from the tumor patients and healthy women.
CONCLUSIONS: The higher PC1 and CPE expressions as well as the transformation of more proGHRH into active GHRH peptide suggest stronger PC1/CPE-mediated neuropeptide processing in the tumor, whereas the lower PC2 expression as well as the transformation of less proNPY into active NPY peptide suggests a weak PC2-mediated processing in it. The alterations of the convertase expressions and processing show that there is a differential proprotein processing system in the tumor, which leads to the abnormal distributions of species, ratio, and concentration of (pro)peptide(s) in the microenvironment of cells. The latter may contribute to cancer progression.

Henry NL, Skaar TC, Dantzer J, et al.
Genetic associations with toxicity-related discontinuation of aromatase inhibitor therapy for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013; 138(3):807-16 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
Up to 25 % of patients discontinue adjuvant aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy due to intolerable symptoms. Predictors of which patients will be unable to tolerate these medications have not been defined. We hypothesized that inherited variants in candidate genes are associated with treatment discontinuation because of AI-associated toxicity. We prospectively evaluated reasons for treatment discontinuation in women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer initiating adjuvant AI through a multicenter, prospective, randomized clinical trial of exemestane versus letrozole. Using multiple genetic models, we evaluated potential associations between discontinuation of AI therapy because of toxicity and 138 variants in 24 candidate genes, selected a priori, primarily with roles in estrogen metabolism and signaling. To account for multiple comparisons, statistical significance was defined as p < 0.00036. Of the 467 enrolled patients with available germline DNA, 152 (33 %) discontinued AI therapy because of toxicity. Using a recessive statistical model, an intronic variant in ESR1 (rs9322336) was associated with increased risk of musculoskeletal toxicity-related exemestane discontinuation [HR 5.0 (95 % CI 2.1-11.8), p < 0.0002]. An inherited variant potentially affecting estrogen signaling may be associated with exemestane-associated toxicity, which could partially account for intra-patient differences in AI tolerability. Validation of this finding is required.

Sala E, Ferrante E, Verrua E, et al.
Growth hormone-releasing hormone-producing pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in a multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 family with an uncommon phenotype.
Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013; 25(7):858-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
The objective of this study was to describe a multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) family characterized by primary hyperparathyroidism, in association with acromegaly because of ectopic growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) secretion by a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in a young man and with a bronchial carcinoid in his mother. We investigate the clinical, radiological imaging, histopathologic findings, and therapy. An 18-year-old man successfully underwent subtotal parathyroidectomy for primary hyperparathyroidism. A subsequent genetic analysis showed a MEN1 gene mutation. Three years later, acromegaly because of ectopic GHRH secretion was diagnosed (pituitary MRI negative and elevated GHRH levels). A search for an ectopic tumor was unsuccessful and somatostatin analog therapy was started. Successively, scintigraphy with somatostatin analogs (68-Ga-DOTATOC-PET) showed three focal areas in the pancreatic tail. Distal pancreatectomy showed multiple pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and hormonal status was normalized. Afterwards, the evaluation of the patient's mother, carrying the same mutation, indicated a primary hyperparathyroidism and a 4 cm lung mass. The patient underwent subtotal pneumonectomy and the histological analysis was consistent with the diagnosis of a typical bronchial carcinoid. In conclusion, an atypical phenotype may be recorded in MEN1 families, thus emphasizing the importance of the new imaging and surgical techniques in the diagnosis and treatment of such a rare disease.

Briones-Orta MA, Levy L, Madsen CD, et al.
Arkadia regulates tumor metastasis by modulation of the TGF-β pathway.
Cancer Res. 2013; 73(6):1800-10 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 09/09/2015 Related Publications
TGF-β can act as a tumor suppressor at early stages of cancer progression and as a tumor promoter at later stages. The E3 ubiquitin ligase Arkadia (RNF111) is a critical component of the TGF-β signaling pathway, being required for a subset of responses, those mediated by Smad3-Smad4 complexes. It acts by mediating ligand-induced degradation of Ski and SnoN (SKIL), which are 2 potent transcriptional repressors. Here, we investigate the role of Arkadia in cancer using model systems to address both potential tumor-suppressive and tumor-promoting roles. Stable reexpression of Arkadia in lung carcinoma NCI-H460 cells, which we show contain a hemizygous nonsense mutation in the Arkadia/RNF111 gene, efficiently restored TGF-β-induced Smad3-dependent transcription, and substantially decreased the ability of these cells to grow in soft agar in vitro. However, it had no effect on tumor growth in vivo in mouse models. Moreover, loss of Arkadia in cancer cell lines and human tumors is rare, arguing against a prominent tumor-suppressive role. In contrast, we have uncovered a potent tumor-promoting function for Arkadia. Using 3 different cancer cell lines whose tumorigenic properties are driven by TGF-β signaling, we show that loss of Arkadia function, either by overexpression of dominant negative Arkadia or by siRNA-induced knockdown, substantially inhibited lung colonization in tail vein injection experiments in immunodeficient mice. Our findings indicate that Arkadia is not critical for regulating tumor growth per se, but is required for the early stages of cancer cell colonization at the sites of metastasis.

Burrell RA, McClelland SE, Endesfelder D, et al.
Replication stress links structural and numerical cancer chromosomal instability.
Nature. 2013; 494(7438):492-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer chromosomal instability (CIN) results in an increased rate of change of chromosome number and structure and generates intratumour heterogeneity. CIN is observed in most solid tumours and is associated with both poor prognosis and drug resistance. Understanding a mechanistic basis for CIN is therefore paramount. Here we find evidence for impaired replication fork progression and increased DNA replication stress in CIN(+) colorectal cancer (CRC) cells relative to CIN(-) CRC cells, with structural chromosome abnormalities precipitating chromosome missegregation in mitosis. We identify three new CIN-suppressor genes (PIGN (also known as MCD4), MEX3C (RKHD2) and ZNF516 (KIAA0222)) encoded on chromosome 18q that are subject to frequent copy number loss in CIN(+) CRC. Chromosome 18q loss was temporally associated with aneuploidy onset at the adenoma-carcinoma transition. CIN-suppressor gene silencing leads to DNA replication stress, structural chromosome abnormalities and chromosome missegregation. Supplementing cells with nucleosides, to alleviate replication-associated damage, reduces the frequency of chromosome segregation errors after CIN-suppressor gene silencing, and attenuates segregation errors and DNA damage in CIN(+) cells. These data implicate a central role for replication stress in the generation of structural and numerical CIN, which may inform new therapeutic approaches to limit intratumour heterogeneity.

Martinez-Corral I, Makinen T
Regulation of lymphatic vascular morphogenesis: Implications for pathological (tumor) lymphangiogenesis.
Exp Cell Res. 2013; 319(11):1618-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lymphatic vasculature forms the second part of our circulatory system that plays a critical role in tissue fluid homeostasis. Failure of the lymphatic system can lead to excessive accumulation of fluid within the tissue, a condition called lymphedema. Lymphatic dysfunction has also been implicated in cancer metastasis as well as pathogenesis of obesity, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Since the identification of the first lymphatic marker VEGFR-3 and growth factor VEGF-C almost 20 years ago, a great progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms of lymphangiogenesis. This has been achieved largely through characterization of animal models with specific lymphatic defects and identification of genes causative of human hereditary lymphedema syndromes. In this review we will summarize the current understanding of the regulation of lymphatic vascular morphogenesis, focusing on mechanisms that have been implicated in both developmental and pathological (tumor) lymphangiogenesis.

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