Research IndicatorsGraph generated 16 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.
Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic. Tag cloud generated 16 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex
Specific Cancers (5)
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).
OMIM, Johns Hopkin University
Referenced article focusing on the relationship between phenotype and genotype.
International Cancer Genome Consortium.
Summary of gene and mutations by cancer type from ICGC
Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, NCI
COSMIC, Sanger Institute
Somatic mutation information and related details
GEO Profiles, NCBI
Search the gene expression profiles from curated DataSets in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) repository.
Latest Publications: TLR3 (cancer-related)
Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) plays a key role in innate immunity by recognizing pathogenic, double-stranded RNAs. Thus, activation of TLR3 is a major factor in antiviral defense and tumor eradication. Although downregulation of TLR3 gene expression has been mainly reported in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), the influence of TLR3 genotype on the risk of HCV infection, HCV-related cirrhosis, and/or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains to be determined. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the TLR3 gene and their associations with HCV-related disease risk were investigated in a Saudi Arabian population in this study. Eight TLR3 SNPs were analyzed in 563 patients with HCV, which consisted of 437 patients with chronic HCV infections, 88 with HCV-induced liver cirrhosis, and 38 with HCC. A total of 599 healthy control subjects were recruited to the study. Among the eight TLR3 SNPs studied, the rs78726532 SNP was strongly associated with HCV infection when compared to that in healthy control subjects. The rs5743314 was also strongly associated with HCV-related liver disease progression (cirrhosis and HCC). In summary, these results indicate that distinct genetic variants of TLR3 SNPs are associated with HCV infection and HCV-mediated liver disease progression in the Saudi Arabian population.
McCormick KD, Ghosh A, Trivedi S, et al.Innate immune signaling through differential RIPK1 expression promote tumor progression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Carcinogenesis. 2016; 37(5):522-9 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a devastating disease for which new treatments, such as immunotherapy are needed. Synthetic double-stranded RNAs, which activate toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3), have been used as potent adjuvants in cancer immunotherapy by triggering a proapoptotic response in cancer cells. A better understanding of the mechanism of TLR3-mediated apoptosis and its potential involvement in controlling tumor metastasis could lead to improvements in current treatment. Using paired, autologous primary and metastatic HNSCC cells we previously showed that metastatic, but not primary tumor-derived cells, were unable to activate prosurvival NF-κB in response to p(I):p(C) resulting in an enhanced apoptotic response. Here, we show that transcriptional downregulation of receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) in metastatic HNSCC cells causes a loss of TLR3-mediated NF-κB signaling, resulting in enhanced apoptosis. Loss of RIPK1 strongly correlates with metastatic disease in a cohort of HNSCC patients. This downregulation of RIPK1 is possibly mediated by enhanced methylation of the RIPK1 promoter in tumor cells and enhances protumorigenic properties such as cell migration. The results described here establish a novel mechanism of TLR3-mediated apoptosis in metastatic cells and may create new opportunities for using double stranded RNA to target metastatic tumor cells.
Bock S, Murgueitio MS, Wolber G, Weindl GAcute myeloid leukaemia-derived Langerhans-like cells enhance Th1 polarization upon TLR2 engagement.
Pharmacol Res. 2016; 105:44-53 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Langerhans cells (LCs) represent a highly specialized subset of epidermal dendritic cells (DCs), yet not fully understood in their function of balancing skin immunity. Here, we investigated in vitro generated Langerhans-like cells obtained from the human acute myeloid leukaemia cell line MUTZ-3 (MUTZ-LCs) to study TLR- and cytokine-dependent activation of epidermal DCs. MUTZ-LCs revealed high TLR2 expression and responded robustly to TLR2 engagement, confirmed by increased CD83, CD86, PD-L1 and IDO expression, upregulated IL-6, IL-12p40 and IL-23p19 mRNA levels IL-8 release. TLR2 activation reduced CCR6 and elevated CCR7 mRNA expression and induced migration of MUTZ-LCs towards CCL21. Similar results were obtained by stimulation with pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β whereas ligands of TLR3 and TLR4 failed to induce a fully mature phenotype. Despite limited cytokine gene expression and production for TLR2-activated MUTZ-LCs, co-culture with naive CD4(+) T cells led to significantly increased IFN-γ and IL-22 levels indicating Th1 differentiation independent of IL-12. TLR2-mediated effects were blocked by the putative TLR2/1 antagonist CU-CPT22, however, no selectivity for either TLR2/1 or TLR2/6 was observed. Computer-aided docking studies confirmed non-selective binding of the TLR2 antagonist. Taken together, our results indicate a critical role for TLR2 signalling in MUTZ-LCs considering the leukemic origin of the generated Langerhans-like cells.
Ayari C, Besançon M, Bergeron A, et al.Poly(I:C) potentiates Bacillus Calmette-Guérin immunotherapy for bladder cancer.
Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2016; 65(2):223-34 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Non-specific immunotherapy consisting of intravesical instillation of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is currently the best available treatment to prevent non-muscle-invasive bladder tumor recurrence and progression. This treatment however is suboptimal, and more effective immunotherapeutic approaches are needed. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a major role in the activation of the immune system in response to pathogens and danger signals but also in anti-tumor responses. We previously showed that human urothelial cells express functional TLRs and respond to TLR2 and TLR3 agonists. In this study, we analyzed the potential of polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], a TLR3 agonist, to replace or complement BCG in the treatment of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. We observed that poly(I:C) had an anti-proliferative, cytotoxic, and apoptotic effect in vitro on two low-grade human bladder cancer cell lines, MGH-U3 and RT4. In MGH-U3 cells, poly(I:C) induced growth arrest at the G1-S transition. Poly(I:C) also increased the immunogenicity of MGH-U3 and RT4 cells, inducing the secretion of MHC class I molecules and of pro-inflammatory cytokines. By comparison, poly(I:C) had less in vitro impact on two high-grade human bladder cancer cell lines, 5637 and T24, and on MBT-2 murine high-grade bladder cancer cells. The latter can be used as an immunocompetent model of bladder cancer. The combination poly(I:C)/BCG was much more effective in reducing MBT-2 tumor growth in mice than either treatment alone. It completely cured 29% of mice and also induced an immunological memory response. In conclusion, our study suggests that adding poly(I:C) to BCG may enhance the therapeutic effect of BCG.
HIV-1 infection results in a chronic illness because long-term highly active antiretroviral therapy can lower viral titers to an undetectable level. However, discontinuation of therapy rapidly increases virus burden. Moreover, patients under highly active antiretroviral therapy frequently develop various metabolic disorders, neurocognitive abnormalities, and cardiovascular diseases. We have previously shown that exosomes containing trans-activating response (TAR) element RNA enhance susceptibility of undifferentiated naive cells to HIV-1 infection. This study indicates that exosomes from HIV-1-infected primary cells are highly abundant with TAR RNA as detected by RT-real time PCR. Interestingly, up to a million copies of TAR RNA/μl were also detected in the serum from HIV-1-infected humanized mice suggesting that TAR RNA may be stable in vivo. Incubation of exosomes from HIV-1-infected cells with primary macrophages resulted in a dramatic increase of proinflammatory cytokines, IL-6 and TNF-β, indicating that exosomes containing TAR RNA could play a direct role in control of cytokine gene expression. The intact TAR molecule was able to bind to PKR and TLR3 effectively, whereas the 5' and 3' stems (TAR microRNAs) bound best to TLR7 and -8 and none to PKR. Binding of TAR to PKR did not result in its phosphorylation, and therefore, TAR may be a dominant negative decoy molecule in cells. The TLR binding through either TAR RNA or TAR microRNA potentially can activate the NF-κB pathway and regulate cytokine expression. Collectively, these results imply that exosomes containing TAR RNA could directly affect the proinflammatory cytokine gene expression and may explain a possible mechanism of inflammation observed in HIV-1-infected patients under cART.
Zidi S, Sghaier I, Gazouani E, et al.Evaluation of Toll-Like Receptors 2/3/4/9 Gene Polymorphisms in Cervical Cancer Evolution.
Pathol Oncol Res. 2016; 22(2):323-30 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Accumulative epidemiological evidence suggests that polymorphisms of Toll-like receptors signaling pathway elucidated the cellular and molecular mechanisms of human diseases whose gaining a primordial importance. The aim of our study is to identify the role of TLR 2 (-196 to -174 del), TLR 3 (1377 C>T), TLR 4 (Asp299Gly) and TLR 9 (G2848A) gene polymorphisms with the evolution of cervical cancer in Tunisian women. Blood samples were collected from histopathologically confirmed patients with cervical cancer and unrelated healthy female controls of similar ethnicity. Genotyping of the analyzed polymorphisms were done using Polymerase Chain Reaction and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. For the TLR 2, Ins/Ins genotype is a protector factor [p = 0.006; OR: 0.35(0.16-0.73)] and the dominant genotype of TLR 3 increased the risk of CC in stage (III+IV); C/C versus C/T [p = 0.033; OR: 2.03(1.00-4.13)] and C/C versus C/T+T/T [p = 0.036; OR: 1.93(1.00-3.74)]. For TLR 4, the dominant genotype Asp/Asp is implicated in the occurrence of CC in stage (I+II) [p = 0.000; OR: 4.55(1.58-13.06)], [p = 0.001; OR: 3.49(1.44-8.45)] and in stage (III+IV) [p = 0.038; OR: 3.77(0.87-16.29)], [p = 0.007; OR: 5.21(1.65-16.46)] and the major allele Asp is a risk factor for the development of tumor in stage (I+II). The TLR2 Ins/Del genotype is associated with tumor evolution to stage (III+IV) [p = 0.003; OR: 3.00 (1.22-7.35)] and the genotypes Gly/Gly and Asp/Gly+Gly/Gly and Gly allele of TLR 4 are implicated in tumor evolution to the advanced stages. Further, TLR 2, TLR 3, TLR 4 and TLR 9 gene polymorphisms are implicated in the modulation of CC risk due to tobacco usage and statue of menopause among cases. Our study suggests a relationship between the incidence of the TLR2, TLR 3, TLR 4 and TLR9 mutations and the clinical progression of CC according to the FIGO classification. However, future studies with different demographic and clinical characteristics in ethnically diverse populations may provide a more comprehensive involvement of innate immunity in cervical cancer etiology in women worldwide.
Bonnefont-Rebeix C, Fournel-Fleury C, Ponce F, et al.Characterization of a novel canine T-cell line established from a spontaneously occurring aggressive T-cell lymphoma with large granular cell morphology.
Immunobiology. 2016; 221(1):12-22 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Dogs with lymphoma are established as good model for human non-Hodgkin lymphoma studies. Canine cell lines derived from lymphomas may be valuable tools for testing new therapeutic drugs. In this context, we established a canine T-cell line, PER-VAS, from a primary aggressive T-cell lymphoma with large granular morphology. Flow cytometric analysis revealed a stable immunophenotype: PER-VAS cells were positively labelled for CD5, CD45, MHC II and TLR3, and were negative for CD3, CD4 and CD8 expression. Although unstable along the culture process, IL-17 and MMP12 proteins were detectable as late as at passages 280 and 325i.e. respectively 24 and 29 months post isolation. At passage 325, PER-VAS cells maintained the expression of IL-17, CD3, CD56, IFNγ and TNFα mRNAs as shown by RT-PCR analysis. Stable rearrangement of the TCRγ gene has been evidenced by PCR. PER-VAS cells have a high proliferation index with a doubling time of 16.5h and were tumorigenic in Nude mice. Compared to the canine cell lines already reported, PER-VAS cells display an original expression pattern, close to NKT cells, which makes them valuable tools for in vitro comparative research on lymphomas.
We show that DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (DNMTis) upregulate immune signaling in cancer through the viral defense pathway. In ovarian cancer (OC), DNMTis trigger cytosolic sensing of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) causing a type I interferon response and apoptosis. Knocking down dsRNA sensors TLR3 and MAVS reduces this response 2-fold and blocking interferon beta or its receptor abrogates it. Upregulation of hypermethylated endogenous retrovirus (ERV) genes accompanies the response and ERV overexpression activates the response. Basal levels of ERV and viral defense gene expression significantly correlate in primary OC and the latter signature separates primary samples for multiple tumor types from The Cancer Genome Atlas into low versus high expression groups. In melanoma patients treated with an immune checkpoint therapy, high viral defense signature expression in tumors significantly associates with durable clinical response and DNMTi treatment sensitizes to anti-CTLA4 therapy in a pre-clinical melanoma model.
Recent studies on splenic marginal zone lymphoma identified distinct mutations in genes belonging to the B-cell receptor and Toll-like receptor signaling pathways, thus pointing to their potential implication in the biology of the disease. However, limited data is available regarding the exact role of TLRs. We aimed at characterizing the expression pattern of TLRs in splenic marginal zone lymphoma cells and their functional impact on the activation, proliferation and viability of malignant cells in vitro. Cells expressed significant levels of TLR1, TLR6, TLR7, TLR8, TLR9 and TLR10 mRNA; TLR2 and TLR4 showed a low, variable pattern of expression among patients whereas TLR3 and TLR5 mRNAs were undetectable; mRNA specific for TLR signaling molecules and adapters was also expressed. At the protein level, TLR1, TLR6, TLR7, TLR9 and TLR10 were detected. Stimulation of TLR1/2, TLR2/6 and TLR9 with their respective ligands triggered the activation of IRAK kinases, MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways, and the induction of CD86 and CD25 activation molecules, although in a heterogeneous manner among different patient samples. TLR-induced activation and cell viability were also inhibited by a specific IRAK1/4 inhibitor, thus strongly supporting the specific role of TLR signaling in these processes. Furthermore, TLR2/6 and TLR9 stimulation also significantly increased cell proliferation. In conclusion, we demonstrate that splenic marginal zone lymphoma cells are equipped with functional TLR and signaling molecules and that the stimulation of TLR1/2, TLR2/6 and TLR9 may play a role in regulating disease pathobiology, likely promoting the expansion of the neoplastic clone.
BACKGROUND: Toll-like receptors (TLRs) regulate the balance between the innate and adaptive immune responses. Missense single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in TLRs might be functional and thus influence the risks of chronic infection and cancer development. Here, we investigated the association of two missense SNPs, rs3775291 (c.1234G>A) in the TLR3 gene and rs4833095 (c.743T>C) in the TLR1 gene, with relapse-free survival (RFS) in a cohort of prospectively observed breast cancer patients.
METHODS: In this prospective observational study, rs3775291 in TLR3 and rs4833095 in TLR1 were genotyped in 715 patients with primary breast cancer in a Chinese population.
RESULTS: Univariate analysis revealed that the patients with the AA genotype of rs3775291 had a shorter RFS compared with those carrying the G allele in the recessive model (P<0.01), but this finding was not observed with the dominant model (P = 0.31). The results remained significant after adjusting for the clinical parameters in the recessive model (HR = 3.53, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.98-6.31, P<0.01). Further survival analysis indicated that this SNP was significant in the luminal-B, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive (HER2+) patients using the recessive model but that it was not significant in the luminal-A patients. The SNP rs4833095 showed a non-significant tendency toward an increased RFS rate in the patients with the TT genotype.
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the SNP rs3775291 in TLR3 may influence patient outcome. Further studies with larger sample sizes should be conducted to validate our findings.
Toll-like receptor3 (TLR3) has been confirmed to be differentially expressed in neuroblastoma (NB), and predicts a favorable prognosis with a high expression in tumor tissues. Treatment with TLR3 agonist--polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)] could induce significant but limited apoptosis in TLR3-expressing NB cells, suggesting that other viral RNA sensors, including melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 (MDA5) and retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I) in the cytosolic compartment might also be implicated in poly(I:C)-induced NB cell death. MDA5 and RIG-I were induced by poly(I:C) to express in two of six NB cell lines, SK-N-AS (AS) and SK-N-FI, which were associated with up-regulation of caspase9 and active caspase3. While knockdown of either MDA5 or RIG-I alone is ineffective to decrease caspase9 and active caspase3, simultaneously targeting MDA5 and TLR3 showed the best effect to rescue poly(I:C) induced up-regulation of mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), caspase9, active caspase3, and apoptosis in AS cells. Over-expression of MDA5 in FaDu cells resulted in significantly less colony formation and more poly(I:C)-induced cell death. Further studies in human NB tissue samples revealed that MDA5 expression in NB tissues predicted a favorable prognosis synergistically with TLR3. Our findings indicate that MDA5 may serve as a complementary role in the TLR3 activated suppression of NB.
Pathogen-induced inflammation has been one of the intensive research areas in carcinogenesis. EBV encoded RNAs (EBERs) have been suggested to play roles in anti-apoptosis and growth-promotion in lymphoid and immune disorders. However, pathological roles of EBERs in solid tumors of epithelia origin remain to be elucidated. Given their characteristic dsRNA structures, recent studies provided evidences for the activation of some pattern recognition receptors (PRR) by EBERs, which is fundamental in the process of pathogenesis. Here, we show that EBERs induce inflammatory response in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells through Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3), mainly featured by high level of TNFα production. Interestingly, EBERs and EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) form a positive regulatory loop with NF-κB as a key node that amplifies the inflammatory signals in EBV infected epithelial cells. We demonstrate in vivo that EBERs can interact with TLR3 and induce tumor cells to produce cytokines in B16 synergetic tumor and human NPC xenograft models, in which macrophages are recruited and activated, leading to a favorable microenvironment for solid tumor growth. Lastly, we verify a positive association between EBER and TNFα levels in NPC clinical samples and the combination of EBER and TNFα expressions provides a predictor of poor survival of NPC patients. In conclusion, EBERs play a pivotal role in inflammation-to-oncogenesis transition in NPC development.
BACKGROUND: MetastamiRs have momentous clinical relevance and have been correlated with disease progression in many tumors. In this study, we identified neuroblastoma metastamiRs exploiting unique mouse models of favorable and high-risk metastatic human neuroblastoma. Further, we related their deregulation to the modulation of target proteins and established their association with clinical outcomes.
RESULTS: Whole genome miRNA microarray analysis identified 74 metastamiRs across the manifold of metastatic tumors. RT-qPCR on select miRNAs validated profile expression. Results from bio-informatics across the ingenuity pathway, miRCancer, and literature data-mining endorsed the expression of these miRNAs in multiple tumor systems and showed their role in metastasis, identifying them as metastamiRs. Immunoblotting and TMA-IHC analyses revealed alterations in the expression/phosphorylation of metastamiRs' targets, including ADAMTS-1, AKT1/2/3, ASK1, AURKβ, Birc1, Birc2, Bric5, β-CATENIN, CASP8, CD54, CDK4, CREB, CTGF, CXCR4, CYCLIN-D1, EGFR, ELK1, ESR1, CFOS, FOSB, FRA, GRB10, GSK3β, IL1α, JUND, kRAS, KRTAP1, MCP1, MEGF10, MMP2, MMP3, MMP9, MMP10, MTA2, MYB, cMYC, NF2, NOS3, P21, pP38, PTPN3, CLEAVED PARP, PKC, SDF-1β, SEMA3D, SELE, STAT3, TLR3, TNFα, TNFR1, and VEGF in aggressive cells ex vivo and in a manifold of metastatic tumors in vivo. miRNA mimic (hsa-miR-125b, hsa-miR-27b, hsa-miR-93, hsa-miR-20a) and inhibitor (hsa-miR-1224-3p, hsa-miR-1260) approach for select miRNAs revealed the direct influence of the altered metastamiRs in the regulation of identified protein targets. Clinical outcome association analysis with the validated metastamiRs' targets corresponded strongly with poor overall and relapse-free survival.
CONCLUSIONS: For the first time, these results identified a comprehensive list of neuroblastoma metastamiRs, related their deregulation to altered expression of protein targets, and established their association with poor clinical outcomes. The identified set of distinctive neuroblastoma metastamiRs could serve as potential candidates for diagnostic markers for the switch from favorable to high-risk metastatic disease.
INTRODUCTION: Recent studies examining the association of Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) gene polymorphisms with the risk of developing various types of cancer have reported conflicting results. Clarifying this association could advance our knowledge of the influence of TLR3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on cancer risk.
METHODS: We systematically reviewed studies that focused on a collection of 12 SNPs located in the TLR3 gene and the details by which these SNPs influenced cancer risk. Additionally, 14 case-control studies comprising a total of 7997 cases of cancer and 8699 controls were included in a meta-analysis of 4 highly studied SNPs (rs3775290, rs3775291, rs3775292, and rs5743312).
RESULTS: The variant TLR3 genotype rs5743312 (C9948T, intron 3, C>T) was significantly associated with an increased cancer risk as compared with the wild-type allele (odds ratio [OR]=1.11, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.00-1.24, P=0.047). No such association was observed with other TLR3 SNPs. In the stratified analysis, the rs3775290 (C13766T, C>T) variant genotype was found to be significantly associated with an increased cancer risk in Asian populations. Additionally, the rs3775291 (G13909A, G>A) variant genotype was significantly associated with an increased cancer risk in Asians, subgroup with hospital-based controls, and subgroup with a small sample size.
CONCLUSION: After data integration, our findings suggest that the TLR3 rs5743312 polymorphism may contribute to an increased cancer risk.
Aggarwal R, Misra S, Guleria C, et al.Characterization of Toll-like receptor transcriptome in squamous cell carcinoma of cervix: A case-control study.
Gynecol Oncol. 2015; 138(2):358-62 [PubMed
] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a proven etiological agent for cervical cancer However, not all HPV infections result in cervical cancer. The mechanisms of host immune system to prevent/control HPV infection remain poorly understood. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a system of innate immune defense. HPV has been demonstrated to modulate TLR expression and interfere in TLR signaling pathways, leading to persistent viral infection and carcinogenesis. The aim was to study the relative gene expression of TLRs in cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
METHODS: Gene expression profile of TLRs 1 to 9 was examined in 30 cervical SCCs and an equal number of normal cervical tissue samples using a PCR array platform. Gene expression studies for TLRs 3 and 7 were validated by western blotting.
RESULTS: HPV was detected in all cases and in none of the controls (p<0.0001). HPV16 was the preponderant (83.3%) subtype. A significant downregulation in the relative gene expression of TLR3 (p<0.0001), TLR4 (p<0.0005) and TLR5 (p<0.0001) was observed in cases. A significant upregulation for TLR1 was observed (p=0.006). Although TLRs 2, 7, 8 and 9 were upregulated and TLR6 was downregulated, it was not significant. The western blot performed with antibodies against TLRs 3 and 7 confirmed the findings of the gene expression studies.
CONCLUSIONS: A significant downregulation in the gene expression of TLRs 3, 4 and 5 and upregulation of TLR1 was observed in cervical SCC as compared to controls. Study results evoke the proposition for investigating TLRs 3, 4 and 5 agonists for therapeutic exploration.
Huang X, Li H, Wang J, et al.Genetic polymorphisms in Toll-like receptor 3 gene are associated with the risk of hepatitis B virus-related liver diseases in a Chinese population.
Gene. 2015; 569(2):218-24 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are well known to play a critical role in antiviral and antitumor response. Available evidence has demonstrated that TLRs are implicated in the immunopathogenesis of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and tumor carcinogenesis. Therefore, we performed the present study to investigate the relationship with TLR3 gene polymorphisms and the risk of HBV-related liver disease in a Chinese population. A total of 623 individuals were included: 172 chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients, 91 HBV-related liver cirrhosis (LC) patients, 174 HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, and 186 healthy controls. Allelic and genotypic frequencies of TLR3 rs1879026 and rs3775290 polymorphisms were detected by PCR-RFLP and DNA sequencing analysis. Association analysis showed that the TT genotype of TLR3 rs3775290 was associated with a decreased risk for CHB, HBV-related LC, and HCC (OR=0.52, 95% CI: 0.27-0.99, P=0.048; OR=0.32, 95% CI: 0.14-0.76, P=0.010; OR=0.49, 95% CI: 0.26-0.92, P=0.027). Nevertheless, a lack of association was found between TLR3 rs1879026 and HBV-related liver diseases. In addition, haplotype analysis revealed that individuals who carried the GT haplotype might have a decreased risk of HBV-related liver diseases. The results indicated that genetic variant in TLR3 gene rs3775290 polymorphisms may be a protective factor for CHB, HBV-related LC, and HCC in the Chinese population.
Taube JM, Young GD, McMiller TL, et al.Differential Expression of Immune-Regulatory Genes Associated with PD-L1 Display in Melanoma: Implications for PD-1 Pathway Blockade.
Clin Cancer Res. 2015; 21(17):3969-76 [PubMed
] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: Blocking the immunosuppressive PD-1/PD-L1 pathway has antitumor activity in multiple cancer types, and PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and infiltrating myeloid cells correlates with the likelihood of response. We previously found that IFNG (interferon-gamma) was overexpressed by tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in PD-L1(+) versus PD-L1(-) melanomas, creating adaptive immune resistance by promoting PD-L1 display. This study was undertaken to identify additional factors in the PD-L1(+) melanoma microenvironment coordinately contributing to immunosuppression.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Archived, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded melanoma specimens were assessed for PD-L1 protein expression at the tumor cell surface with IHC. Whole-genome expression analysis, quantitative (q)RT-PCR, IHC, and functional in vitro validation studies were used to assess factors differentially expressed in PD-L1(+) versus PD-L1(-) melanomas.
RESULTS: Functional annotation clustering based on whole-genome expression profiling revealed pathways upregulated in PD-L1(+) melanomas, involving immune cell activation, inflammation, and antigen processing and presentation. Analysis by qRT-PCR demonstrated overexpression of functionally related genes in PD-L1(+) melanomas, involved in CD8(+) T-cell activation (CD8A, IFNG, PRF1, and CCL5), antigen presentation (CD163, TLR3, CXCL1, and LYZ), and immunosuppression [PDCD1 (PD-1), CD274 (PD-L1), and LAG3, IL10]. Functional studies demonstrated that some factors, including IL10 and IL32-gamma, induced PD-L1 expression on monocytes but not tumor cells.
CONCLUSIONS: These studies elucidate the complexity of immune checkpoint regulation in the tumor microenvironment, identifying multiple factors likely contributing to coordinated immunosuppression. These factors may provide tumor escape mechanisms from anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy, and should be considered for cotargeting in combinatorial immunomodulation treatment strategies.
BACKGROUND: Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) plays a key role in innate immunity. In the present study, we analyzed tissues of patients with human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) to determine the significance of the relationship between TLR3 expression and cell proliferation, apoptosis, hepatitis B virus infections, angiogenesis and prognosis.
METHODS: We collected paraffin-embedded tissues from 85 patients with HCC who had complete histories and were followed for >5 years. The expression and intracellular localization of TLR3 and downstream proteins (TRIF, NF-κB, and IRF3) were detected using immunohistochemistry. Further, we determined the expression of proteins that mediate cell proliferation (Ki67, cyclin D1), apoptosis (survivin, bcl-2, caspases 3, 8, and 9), and angiogenesis (CD34, MMP-2) as well as the HBV proteins HBsAg and HBcAg. Apoptosis in HCC tissues was detected using TUNEL. We conducted dual-labeling immunohistochemical analyses of TLR3 expression and TUNEL activity.
RESULTS: TLR3 expression was significantly lower in HCC tissues compared with adjacent tissues. TRIF, NF-κB, and IRF3 correlated positively with TLR3 expression. Survivin and Bcl-2 expression correlated negatively with TLR3. The frequencies of caspases 3, 8, and 9 expression correlated positively with TLR3 signaling proteins. Cytoplasmic TLR3 and serum levels of HBsAg correlated positively. The apoptotic index determined using the TUNEL method and correlated positively with TLR3 expression. TLR3 expression in the cytoplasm correlated positively with TUNEL-positive cells and HBsAg. Ki67 and cyclin D1 correlated negatively with TLR3 expression. MMP-2 expression, microvessel density (CD34(+)) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) correlated negatively with TLR3 expression. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis shows that TLR3 expression correlated with longer survival.
CONCLUSIONS: The expression of TLR3 in HCC tissues may exert a synergistic effect on apoptosis and inhibit the proliferation of HCC cells, MMP-2 expression, generation of EPCs, and angiogenesis. Moreover, TLR3 expression may serve as a prognostic marker of HCC.
Liu S, Wang X, Shi Y, et al.Toll-like receptor gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to Epstein-Barr virus-associated and -negative gastric carcinoma in Northern China.
Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2015 Mar-Apr; 21(2):95-103 [PubMed
] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Various polymorphisms in toll-like receptor (TLR) genes have been identified and associated with susceptibility to various malignancies, such as gastric carcinoma (GC), breast cancer, and prostate cancer. However, little is known about the polymorphisms of TLR genes and the susceptibility to GC in Northern China, especially to Epstein-Barr virus-associated GC (EBVaGC). We focused on the association with susceptibility to GC, especially to EBVaGC.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Polymorphisms of the TLR2, 3, 4, and 9 genes were measured in 52 cases of EBVaGC and 157 cases of EBV-negative GC (EBVnGC). Ninety-four peripheral blood samples from healthy individuals were also examined.
RESULTS: For the TLR2 gene (196 to 174 del), there was no significant difference between the GC group and control group in genotype, but there was a significant difference in the del allele. As for the TLR3 gene (c. 1377C/T), there were significant differences between the GC group and the control group in both genotype and allelic frequency. No SNPs single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found in the TLR4 gene at the sites Asp299Gly and Thr399Ile. As for TLR9 1486T/C (rs187084) and C2848T (rs352140), there was also no association between the GC group and control. In all of the indicators, there were no significant differences between EBVaGCs and EBVnGCs.
CONCLUSIONS: The TLR3 gene (c. 1377C/T) polymorphisms and the del allele of the TLR2 gene ( 196 to 174) were both associated with susceptibility to GC in Shangdong Province of Northern China. There was no interaction between EBV and TLR gene polymorphisms in EBVaGC.
Boes M, Meyer-Wentrup FTLR3 triggering regulates PD-L1 (CD274) expression in human neuroblastoma cells.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 361(1):49-56 [PubMed
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Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumor in children, causing 12% of all pediatric cancer mortality. Neuroblastoma specific T-cells have been detected in patients, but usually fail to attack and eradicate the tumors. Tumor immune evasion may thus play an important role in neuroblastoma pathogenicity. Recent research in adult cancer patients shows that targeting T-cell check-point molecules PD-1/PD-L1 (or CD279/CD274) may bolster immune reactivity against solid tumors. Also, infections can be associated with spontaneous neuroblastoma regression. In our current study, we therefore investigated if antibody targeting of PD-L1 and triggering of selective pathogen-receptor Toll-like receptors (TLRs) potentiates immunogenicity of neuroblastoma cells. We find this to be the case. TLR3 triggering induced strong upregulation of both MHC class I and PD-L1 on neuroblastoma cells. At the same time TGF-β levels decreased and IL-8 secretion was induced. The combined neuroblastoma cell treatment using PD-L1 blockade and TLR3 triggering using virus analog poly(I:C) moreover induced CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell activation. Thus, we propose combined treatment using PD-L1 blockade with synthetic TLR ligands as an avenue toward new immunotherapy against human neuroblastoma.
Imaizumi T, Sakashita N, Mushiga Y, et al.Desferrioxamine, an iron chelator, inhibits CXCL10 expression induced by polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid in U373MG human astrocytoma cells.
Neurosci Res. 2015; 94:10-6 [PubMed
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Although iron is essential in physiological processes, accumulation of iron in central nervous system is associated with various neurological diseases including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Innate immune reactions are involved in the pathogenesis of those diseases, but roles of iron in innate immunity are not known well. In the present study, pretreatment of U373MG human astrocytoma cells with an iron chelator desferrioxamine (DFX) inhibited the expression of CXCL10 induced by a Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) agonist polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly IC). Induction of interferon-β (IFN-β) was not affected, but phosphorylation of signal transducer and transcription 1 (STAT1) was decreased by DFX. We have previously reported that various IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) are involved in CXCL10 induction by poly IC. Pretreatment with DFX also decreased the expression of these ISGs. Pretreatment of cells with FeSO4 counteracted inhibitory effects of DFX on ISG56, retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I), CXCL10 and phosphorylation of STAT1. These results suggest that iron may positively regulate STAT1 phosphorylation and following signaling to express ISG56, RIG-I and CXCL10 in U373MG cells treated with poly IC. Iron may contribute to innate immune and inflammatory reactions elicited by the TLR3 signaling in astrocytes, and may play an important role in neuroinflammatory diseases.
Palchetti S, Starace D, De Cesaris P, et al.Transfected poly(I:C) activates different dsRNA receptors, leading to apoptosis or immunoadjuvant response in androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(9):5470-83 [PubMed
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Despite the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy for the treatment of early-stage prostate cancer (PCa), there is currently no effective strategy for late-stage disease. New therapeutic targets are emerging; in particular, dsRNA receptors Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and cytosolic helicases expressed by cancer cells, once activated, exert a pro-apoptotic effect in different tumors. We previously demonstrated that the synthetic analog of dsRNA poly(I:C) induces apoptosis in the androgen-dependent PCa cell line LNCaP in a TLR3-dependent fashion, whereas only a weak apoptotic effect is observed in the more aggressive and androgen-independent PCa cells PC3 and DU145. In this paper, we characterize the receptors and the signaling pathways involved in the remarkable apoptosis induced by poly(I:C) transfected by Lipofectamine (in-poly(I:C)) compared with the 12-fold higher free poly(I:C) concentration in PC3 and DU145 cells. By using genetic inhibition of different poly(I:C) receptors, we demonstrate the crucial role of TLR3 and Src in in-poly(I:C)-induced apoptosis. Therefore, we show that the increased in-poly(I:C) apoptotic efficacy is due to a higher binding of endosomal TLR3. On the other hand, we show that in-poly(I:C) binding to cytosolic receptors MDA5 and RIG-I triggers IRF3-mediated signaling, leading uniquely to the up-regulation of IFN-β, which likely in turn induces increased TLR3, MDA5, and RIG-I proteins. In summary, in-poly(I:C) activates two distinct antitumor pathways in PC3 and DU145 cells: one mediated by the TLR3/Src/STAT1 axis, leading to apoptosis, and the other one mediated by MDA5/RIG-I/IRF3, leading to immunoadjuvant IFN-β expression.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are germ line encoded innate immune sensors that recognize conserved microbial structures and host alarmins, and signal expression of major histocompatibility complex proteins, costimulatory molecules, and inflammatory mediators by macrophages, neutrophils, dendritic cells, and other cell types. These protein receptors are characterized by their ability to respond to invading pathogens promptly by recognizing particular TLR ligands, including flagellin and lipopolysaccharide of bacteria, nucleic acids derived from viruses, and zymosan of fungi. There are 2 major TLR pathways; one is mediated by myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MYD88) adaptor proteins, and the other is independent of MYD88. The MYD88-dependent pathway involves early-phase activation of nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells 1 (NF-κB1) and all the TLRs, except TLR3, have been shown to activate this pathway. TLR3 and TLR4 act via MYD88-independent pathways with delayed activation of NF-κB signaling. TLRs play a vital role in activating immune responses. TLRs have been shown to mediate inflammatory responses and maintain epithelial barrier homeostasis, and are highly likely to be involved in the activation of a number of pathways following cancer therapy. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers, and accounts for almost half a million deaths annually worldwide. Inflammation is considered a risk factor for many common malignancies including cancers of the colorectum. The key molecules involved in inflammation-driven carcinogenesis include TLRs. As sensors of cell death and tissue remodeling, TLRs may have a universal role in cancer; stimulation of TLRs to activate the innate immune system has been a legitimate therapeutic strategy for some years. TLRs 3/4/7/8/9 are all validated targets for cancer therapy, and a number of companies are developing agonists and vaccine adjuvants. On the other hand, antagonists may favor inhibition of signaling responsible for autoimmune responses. In this paper, we review TLR signaling in CRC from carcinogenesis to cancer therapy.
The prevalence of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) is high in the southern area of China and some other districts in the world. The pathogenesis of NPC is unclear. It is reported that some microRNAs (miR) are involved in the progression of NPC. This study aims to investigate the role of miR-21 in the induction of immune tolerance of NPC. In this study, NPC tissue was collected from patients with NPC. Assessment of miR was performed with real time quantitative RT-PCR. Western blotting was used to assess proteins of interleukin 10 and nuclear factor I-A (NFI-A). Immune cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. The results showed that NPC cell line C666-1 and surgically removed NPC tissue expressed miR-21, which was upregulated by the presence of the Toll-like receptor 3 ligand, Poly I: C. Exposure to miR-21 increased the expression of NFI-A and interleukin (IL)-10 in naive B cells. High frequency of IL-10(+) B cells was detected in the NPC tissue. The NPC- or miR-21-primed B cells suppressed cytotoxic CD8(+) T cell activities. We conclude that NPC-derived miR-21 induces IL-10(+) B cells; the latter is capable of suppressing CD8(+) T-cell activities. miR-21 may be a potential target in the treatment of NPC.
Luo Z, Wang C, Yi H, et al.Nanovaccine loaded with poly I:C and STAT3 siRNA robustly elicits anti-tumor immune responses through modulating tumor-associated dendritic cells in vivo.
Biomaterials. 2015; 38:50-60 [PubMed
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Although cancer vaccine-based immunotherapy holds great potential for cancer treatment, tumor-induced dendritic cell (DC) dysfunction remains to be the major obstacle for developing effective vaccines. Compared with normal DCs, tumor-associated DCs (TADCs) are less matured with poor responsiveness to Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulation, which has been related with STAT3 hyperactivity. In the present study, Poly I:C (PIC, a TLR3 agonist), STAT3 siRNA and OVA antigen were co-encapsulated by poly (ethylene glycol)-b-poly (L-lysine)-b-poly (L-leucine) (PEG-PLL-PLLeu) polypeptide micelles to generate PMP/OVA/siRNA nanovaccine, which was aimed to effectively overcome DC dysfunction in vivo by deleting STAT3 gene in situ. The results showed that PMP/OVA/siRNA simultaneously facilitated the cellular uptake of OVA antigen and siRNA about 3-200 folds, and decreased STAT3 expression in TADCs over 50% both in vitro and in vivo. PMP/OVA/siRNA also elevated CD86 and CD40 expression as well as IL-12 production by TADCs more effectively than PMP/OVA did, indicating its strong potency of inducing TADC maturation and activation. Moreover, the immunization of PMP/OVA/siRNA rather than PMP/OVA effectively abrogated immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment by increasing mature DCs and decreasing immunosuppressive cells in tumor-draining lymph nodes, which thereby led to potent anti-tumor immune responses and dramatic tumor regression with prolonged survival. Hence, in vivo co-delivery of immunopotentiator (PIC) and immunosuppressive gene silencer (STAT3 siRNA) by nanovaccines are expected to be a promising strategy to improve the therapeutic efficacy of cancer vaccines by modulating TADCs and overcoming tumor immunosupression.
Zidi S, Verdi H, Yilmaz-Yalcin Y, et al.Involvement of Toll-like receptors in cervical cancer susceptibility among Tunisian women.
Bull Cancer. 2014; 101(10):E31-5 [PubMed
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Previous studies underscored the importance of genetic factors in the pathogenesis of certain cancers, including cervical cancer. Epidemiological evidence supports an association between specific polymorphisms of Toll-like receptors (TLR) with several human pathological states, including cervical cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the link between specific gene variants in TLR2 (-196 to -174 del), TLR3 (c.1377 C>T), TLR4 (Asp299Gly), and TLR9 (2848 G>A) and susceptibility to cervical cancer in Tunisian women. Study subjects comprised 122 women with histopathologically-confirmed cervical cancer, and 260 unrelated age- and ethnically-matched healthy females, who served as controls. TLR genotyping was done using PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism. The C/C genotype of TLR3 (c.1377 C>T) is associated with cervical cancer susceptibility (OR: 1.71, CI: 1.08-2.70). For TLR4 (Asp299Gly), the Asp/Asp genotype and the Asp allele were associated with higher risk of developing cervical cancer (OR: 4.95, CI: 1.97-13.22) and (OR: 5.17, CI: 2.11-13.50) respectively. We demonstrated no association between the TLR2 (-196 to -174 del) and the TLR 9 (2848 G>A) polymorphisms and the susceptibility of cervical cancer among Tunisian women. However, the C/C genotype for the TLR3 (c.1377 C>T) polymorphism and the Asp/Asp genotype and the Asp allele for (Asp299Gly) TLR4 polymorphism were found to be associated with a higher risk of cervical cancer.
Bondhopadhyay B, Moirangthem A, Basu AInnate adjuvant receptor Toll-like receptor 3 can promote breast cancer through cell surface.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(2):1261-71 [PubMed
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Toll-like receptor 3 has been targeted in different cancers for adjuvant therapy. The ligand-mediated effects of TLR-3 on cancer cells are discordant. In the present work, we have addressed the hypothesis possibility of cell membrane-bound action of TLR-3 in breast cancer to justify its pro-tumor effect. TLR-3 was stimulated by Poly (I:C) on the surface of human breast cancer cells MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 for up to 72 h. To check the cell survival and growth, thiazol blue tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, apoptosis assay, and cell cycle analysis were carried out. For changes in the metastatic properties, in vitro colony formation assay, scratch-wound healing assay and adhesion assay were also done. Using real-time PCR and immunocytochemistry, expression of E-cadherin, was studied. To determine the affect of cytoplasmic stimulation, Poly (I:C) was delivered with lipid transfection reagent. The results of the aforesaid experiments showed that there was a gradual increase of cellular survivability, growth, and metastasis after the cell surface stimulation of TLR-3 with Poly (I:C). Interestingly, E-cadherin expression was increased both at transcriptional and translational level. On the other hand, when Poly (I:C) was delivered in the cytoplasm by lipid transfecting medium, the cells survivability was decreased. For the first time, in the present work, we are convincingly reporting the functional evidence that TLR-3 induces cell survivability and metastasis through cell surface. The present work may help for the proper understanding of the adjuvant therapy of breast cancer.
Sistigu A, Yamazaki T, Vacchelli E, et al.Cancer cell-autonomous contribution of type I interferon signaling to the efficacy of chemotherapy.
Nat Med. 2014; 20(11):1301-9 [PubMed
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Some of the anti-neoplastic effects of anthracyclines in mice originate from the induction of innate and T cell-mediated anticancer immune responses. Here we demonstrate that anthracyclines stimulate the rapid production of type I interferons (IFNs) by malignant cells after activation of the endosomal pattern recognition receptor Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3). By binding to IFN-α and IFN-β receptors (IFNARs) on neoplastic cells, type I IFNs trigger autocrine and paracrine circuitries that result in the release of chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 10 (CXCL10). Tumors lacking Tlr3 or Ifnar failed to respond to chemotherapy unless type I IFN or Cxcl10, respectively, was artificially supplied. Moreover, a type I IFN-related signature predicted clinical responses to anthracycline-based chemotherapy in several independent cohorts of patients with breast carcinoma characterized by poor prognosis. Our data suggest that anthracycline-mediated immune responses mimic those induced by viral pathogens. We surmise that such 'viral mimicry' constitutes a hallmark of successful chemotherapy.
Slattery ML, Lundgreen A, Torres-Mejia G, et al.Diet and lifestyle factors modify immune/inflammation response genes to alter breast cancer risk and prognosis: the Breast Cancer Health Disparities Study.
Mutat Res. 2014; 770:19-28 [PubMed
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Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF) and toll-like receptors (TLR) are important mediators of inflammation. We examined 10 of these genes with respect to breast cancer risk and mortality in a genetically admixed population of Hispanic/Native American (NA) (2111 cases, 2597 controls) and non-Hispanic white (NHW) (1481 cases, 1585 controls) women. Additionally, we explored if diet and lifestyle factors modified associations with these genes. Overall, these genes (collectively) were associated with breast cancer risk among women with >70% NA ancestry (P(ARTP) = 0.0008), with TLR1 rs7696175 being the primary risk contributor (OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.25, 2.51). Overall, TLR1 rs7696175 (HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.03, 1.91; P(adj) = 0.032), TLR4 rs5030728 (HR 1.96, 95% CI 1.30, 2.95; P(adj) = 0.014), and TNFRSF1A rs4149578 (HR 2.71, 95% CI 1.28, 5.76; P(adj) = 0.029) were associated with increased breast cancer mortality. We observed several statistically significant interactions after adjustment for multiple comparisons, including interactions between our dietary oxidative balance score and CD40LG and TNFSF1A; between cigarette smoking and TLR1, TLR4, and TNF; between body mass index (BMI) among pre-menopausal women and TRAF2; and between regular use of aspirin/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and TLR3 and TRA2. In conclusion, our findings support a contributing role of certain TNF-α and TLR genes in both breast cancer risk and survival, particularly among women with higher NA ancestry. Diet and lifestyle factors appear to be important mediators of the breast cancer risk associated with these genes.
Zhang Y, Lin A, Sui Q, et al.Phosphorothioate modification of the TLR9 ligand CpG ODN inhibits poly(I:C)-induced apoptosis of hepatocellular carcinoma by entry blockade.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 355(1):76-84 [PubMed
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Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in the innate immune response and subsequent induction of adaptive immune responses. Recently, it has been noted that TLRs on tumor cells are involved in tumor development, and several TLR agonists, such as the TLR3 agonist poly(I:C) and the TLR9 agonist CpG ODN, are being developed as vaccine adjuvants and cancer immunotherapeutics. In this study, we investigated whether combining poly(I:C) with a TLR9 agonist CpG ODN would result in a stronger anti-tumor effect on hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCCs). Surprisingly, we found that simultaneous transfection of poly(I:C) and ODN M362 exhibited a lower pro-apoptotic effect on HCCs than transfection with poly(I:C) alone. Simultaneous co-transfection was accompanied by down-regulation of poly(I:C)-related innate receptors, pro-inflammatory cytokines and apoptotic genes induced by poly(I:C), indicating that ODN M362 blocked the activation of poly(I:C)-triggered intrinsic immune responses and cellular apoptosis. Further studies indicated that these effects were partly due to the phosphorothioate-modification of CpG ODN, which blocked the entry of poly(I:C) into tumor cells. This entry blockade was avoided by administering poly(I:C) after CpG ODN. Moreover, poly(I:C)-mediated pro-apoptotic effects were enhanced in vitro and in vivo by pre-treating HCC cells with CpG ODN. Our findings thus suggest that when combining poly(I:C) and CpG ODN for cancer therapy, these agents should be used in an alternating rather than simultaneous manner to avoid the blocking effect of phosphorothioate-modified TLR9 ligands.