Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) comprise a family of cytoplasmic transcription factors that mediate intracellular signaling that is usually generated at cell surface receptors and thereby transmit it to the nucleus. Numerous studies have demonstrated constitutive activation of STAT3 in a wide variety of human tumors, including hematological malignancies (leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma) as well as diverse solid tumors (such as head and neck, breast, lung, gastric, hepatocellular, colorectal and prostate cancers). There is strong evidence to suggest that aberrant STAT3 signaling promotes initiation and progression of human cancers by either inhibiting apoptosis or inducing cell proliferation, angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. Suppression of STAT3 activation results in the induction of apoptosis in tumor cells, and accordingly its pharmacological modulation by tyrosine kinase inhibitors, antisense oligonucleotides, decoy nucleotides, dominant negative proteins. RNA interference and chemopreventive agents have been employed to suppress the proliferation of various human cancer cells in culture and tumorigenicity in vivo. However, the identification and development of novel drugs that can target deregulated STAT3 activation effectively remains an important scientific and clinical challenge. This review presents the evidence for critical roles of STAT3 in oncogenesis and discusses the potential for development of novel cancer therapies based on mechanistic understanding of STAT3 signaling cascade. (c) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Exosomes denote a class of secreted nanoparticles defined by size, surface protein and lipid composition, and the ability to carry RNA and proteins. They are important mediators of intercellular communication and regulators of the cellular niche, and their altered characteristics in many diseases, such as cancer, suggest them to be important both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, prompting the idea of using exosomes as drug delivery vehicles, especially for gene therapy. This review covers the current status of evidence presented in the field of exosome-based drug delivery systems. Components for successful exosome-based drug delivery, such as choice of donor cell, therapeutic cargo, use of targeting peptide, loading method and administration route are highlighted and discussed with a general focus pertaining to the results obtained in models of different cancer types. In addition, completed and on-going clinical trials are described, evaluating exosome-based therapies for the treatment of different cancer types. Due to their endogenous origin, exosome-based drug delivery systems may have advantages in the treatment of cancer, but their design needs further refinement to justify their usage on the clinical scale. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Since the discovery of vitamin C, the number of its known biological functions is continually expanding. Both the names ascorbic acid and vitamin C reflect its antiscorbutic properties due to its role in the synthesis of collagen in connective tissues. Ascorbate acts as an electron-donor keeping iron in the ferrous state thereby maintaining the full activity of collagen hydroxylases; parallel reactions with a variety of dioxygenases affect the expression of a wide array of genes, for example via the HIF system, as well as via the epigenetic landscape of cells and tissues. In fact, all known physiological and biochemical functions of ascorbate are due to its action as an electron donor. The ability to donate one or two electrons makes AscH(-) an excellent reducing agent and antioxidant. Ascorbate readily undergoes pH-dependent autoxidation producing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). In the presence of catalytic metals this oxidation is accelerated. In this review, we show that the chemical and biochemical nature of ascorbate contribute to its antioxidant as well as its prooxidant properties. Recent pharmacokinetic data indicate that intravenous (i.v.) administration of ascorbate bypasses the tight control of the gut producing highly elevated plasma levels; ascorbate at very high levels can act as prodrug to deliver a significant flux of H2O2 to tumors. This new knowledge has rekindled interest and spurred new research into the clinical potential of pharmacological ascorbate. Knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms of action of pharmacological ascorbate bring a rationale to its use to treat disease especially the use of i.v. delivery of pharmacological ascorbate as an adjuvant in the treatment of cancer. Published by Elsevier B.V.
With rare exceptions, spontaneous tumors originate from a single cell. Yet, at the time of clinical diagnosis, the majority of human tumors display startling heterogeneity in many morphological and physiological features, such as expression of cell surface receptors, proliferative and angiogenic potential. To a substantial extent, this heterogeneity might be attributed to morphological and epigenetic plasticity, but there is also strong evidence for the co-existence of genetically divergent tumor cell clones within tumors. In this perspective, we summarize the sources of intra-tumor phenotypic heterogeneity with emphasis on genetic heterogeneity. We review experimental evidence for the existence of both intra-tumor clonal heterogeneity as well as frequent evolutionary divergence between primary tumors and metastatic outgrowths. Furthermore, we discuss potential biological and clinical implications of intra-tumor clonal heterogeneity. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This review focuses on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-2 (gelatinase A) and -9 (gelatinase B), both of which are cancer-associated, secreted, zinc-dependent endopeptidases. Gelatinases cleave many different targets (extracellular matrix, cytokines, growth factors, chemokines and cytokine/growth factor receptors) that in turn regulate key signaling pathways in cell growth, migration, invasion, inflammation and angiogenesis. Interactions with cell surface integral membrane proteins (CD44, aV beta/a beta 1/a beta 2 integrins and Ku protein) can occur through the gelatinases' active site or hemopexin-like C-terminal domain. This review evaluates the recent literature on the non-enzymatic, signal transduction roles of surface-bound gelatinases and their subsequent effects on cell survival, migration and angiogenesis. Gelatinases have long been drug targets. The current status of gelatinase inhibitors as anticancer agents and their failure in the clinic is discussed in light of these new data on the gelatinases' roles as cell surface transducers data that may lead to the design and development of novel, gelatinase-targeting inhibitors. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Doxorubicin is one of the most important anti-cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, being widely used for the treatment of solid tumors and acute leukemias. The action of doxorubicin and other anthracydine drugs has been intensively investigated during the last several decades, but the mechanisms that have been proposed for cell killing remain disparate and controversial. In this review, we examine the proposed models for doxorubicin action from the perspective of the chromatin landscape, which is altered in many types of cancer due to recurrent mutations in chromatin modifiers. We highlight recent evidence for effects of anthracyclines on DNA torsion and chromatin dynamics that may underlie basic mechanisms of doxorubicin-mediated cell death and suggest new therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. (c) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are emerging classes of regulatory RNA that play key roles in various cellular and physiological processes such as in gene regulation, chromatin dynamics, cell differentiation, and development. NcRNAs are dysregulated in a variety of human disorders including cancers, neurological disorders, and immunological disorders. The mechanisms through which ncRNAs regulate various biological processes and human diseases still remain elusive. HOX antisense intergenic RNA (HOTAIR) is a recently discovered long non-coding RNA (IncRNA) that plays critical role in gene regulation and chromatin dynamics, appears to be misregulated in a variety of cancers. HOTAIR interacts with key epigenetic regulators such as histone methyltransferase PRO and histone demethylase LSD1 and regulates gene silencing. Here, we have reviewed recent advancements in understanding the functions and regulation of HOTAIR and its association with cancer and other diseases. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key step during embryogenesis. Accumulating evidence suggests a critical role in cancer progression, through which tissue epithelial cancers invade and metastasise. Cell characteristics are highly affected during EMT, resulting in altered cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, cell motility and invasiveness. Nevertheless, the demonstration of this process in human cancer has been proven difficult and controversial. Besides the fact that the acquisition of mesenchymal characteristics is not a prerequisite for cell migration/invasion, it is a transient event that concerns only few cells in a tumour mass. The induction of EMT depends on the tumour type and its genetic alterations as well as on its interaction with the extracellular matrix. In parallel, trials for EMT identification in clinical samples lack of a widely accepted methodology, nomenclature and reliable markers. This review summarizes the main EMT characteristics and proposes methodologies for better analysis in vitro. It also highlights recent studies identifying cells with EMT characteristics in human cancer and proposes certain markers to identify them in tumour samples. Finally, it cites the recent literature concerning the mechanisms of drug resistance related to EMT in the context of anti-tumour therapies and proposes related new targets for therapy. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
Neutrophil gelatinase associated lipocalin (NGAL), also known as oncogene 24p3, uterocalin, siderocalin or lipocalin 2, is a 24 kDa secreted glycoprotein originally purified from a culture of mouse kidney cells infected with simian virus 40 (SV-40). Subsequent investigations have revealed that it is a member of the lipocalin family of proteins that transport small, hydrophobic ligands. Since then, NGAL expression has been reported in several normal tissues where it serves to provide protection against bacterial infection and modulate oxidative stress. Its expression is also dysregulated in several benign and malignant diseases. Its small size, secreted nature and relative stability have led to it being investigated as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in numerous diseases including inflammation and cancer. Functional studies, conducted primarily on lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), the mouse homologue of human NGAL have revealed that Lcn2 has a strong affinity for iron complexed to both bacterial siderophores (iron-binding proteins) and certain human proteins like norepinephrine. By sequestering iron-laden siderophores, Lcn2 deprives bacteria of a vital nutrient and thus inhibits their growth (bacteriostatic effect). In malignant cells, its proposed functions range from inhibiting apoptosis (in thyroid cancer cells), invasion and angiogenesis (in pancreatic cancer) to increasing proliferation and metastasis (in breast and colon cancer). Ectopic expression of Lcn2 also promotes BCR-ABL induced chronic myelogenous leukemia in murine models. By transporting iron into and out of the cell, NGAL also regulates iron responsive genes. Further, it stabilizes the proteolytic enzyme matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9) by forming a complex with it, and hereby prevents its autodegradation. The factors regulating NGAL expression are numerous and range from pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukins, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interferons to vitamins like retinoic acid. The purpose of this review article is to examine the expression, structure, regulation and biological role of NGAL and critically assess its potential as a novel diagnostic and prognostic marker in both benign and malignant human diseases. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
It has been known for 80 years that cancer cell growth in an energy-related process supported by an increased glucose metabolism. This phenomenon suggests a need for a corresponding increased uptake of glucose across the plasma membrane through an enhancement in the glucose transporter proteins, SGLT proteins as well as GLUT proteins. The results of many studies have demonstrated that the expression of glucose transporters, especially GLUT1, is increased in a variety of malignancies. GLUT1 overexpression has been found to be associated with tumor progression. It was found that GLUT1 overexpression is associated with poor overall survival in various malignant tumors. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Metastasis, the spread of malignant cells from a primary tumor to distant sites, poses the biggest problem to cancer treatment and is the main cause of death of cancer patients. It occurs in a series of discrete steps, which have been modeled into a "metastatic cascade". In this review, we comprehensively describe the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the different steps, including Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), invasion, anoikis, angiogenesis, transport through vessels and outgrowth of secondary tumors. Furthermore, we implement recent findings that have broadened and challenged the classical view on the metastatic cascade, for example the establishment of a "premetastatic niche", the requirement of stem cell-like properties, the role of the tumor stroma and paracrine interactions of the tumor with cells in distant anatomical sites. A better understanding of the molecular processes underlying metastasis will conceivably present us with novel targets for therapeutic intervention. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Until recently, the intrinsically high level of cross-talk between immune cells, the complexity of immune cell development, and the pleiotropic nature of cytokine signaling have hampered progress in understanding the mechanisms of immunosuppression by which tumor cells circumvent native and adaptive immune responses. One technology that has helped to shed light on this complex signaling network is the cytokine antibody array, which facilitates simultaneous screening of dozens to hundreds of secreted signal proteins in complex biological samples. The combined applications of traditional methods of molecular and cell biology with the high-content, high-throughput screening capabilities of cytokine antibody arrays and other multiplexed immunoassays have revealed a complex mechanism that involves multiple cytoldne signals contributed not just by tumor cells but by stromal cells and a wide spectrum of immune cell types. This review will summarize the interactions among cancerous and immune cell types, as well as the key cytokine signals that are required for tumors to survive immunoediting in a dormant state or to grow and spread by escaping it. Additionally, it will present examples of how probing secreted cell-cell signal networks in the tumor microenvironment (TME) with cytokine screens have contributed to our current understanding of these processes and discuss the implications of this understanding to antitumor therapies. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
PI3K/AKT signaling leads to reduced apoptosis, stimulates cell growth and increases proliferation. Under normal conditions, PI3K/AKT activation is tightly controlled and dependent on both extracellular growth signals and the availability of amino acids and glucose. Genetic aberrations leading to PI3K/AKT hyper-activation are observed at considerable frequency in all major nodes in most tumors. In colorectal cancer the most commonly observed pathway changes are IGF2 overexpression, PIK3CA mutations and PTEN mutations and deletions. Combined, these alterations are found in about 40% of large bowel tumors. In addition, but not mutually exclusive to these, KRAS mutations are observed at a similar frequency. There are however additional, less frequent and more poorly understood events that may also push the PI3K/AKT pathway into overdrive and thus promote malignant growth. Here we discuss aberrations of components at the genetic, epigenetic, transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational and post-translational level where perturbations may drive excessive PI3K/AKT signaling. Integrating multiple molecular levels will advance our understanding of this cancer critical circuit and more importantly, improve our ability to pharmacologically target the pathway in view of clonal development, tumor heterogeneity and drug resistance mechanisms. In this review, we revisit the PI3K/AKT pathway cancer susceptibility syndromes, summarize the known aberrations at the different regulatory levels and the prognostic and predictive values of these alterations in colorectal cancer. (C) 2014 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Metastasis is a phenomenon of crucial importance in defining prognosis in patients with cancer and is often responsible for cancer-related mortality. It is known that several steps are necessary for clonal cells to disseminate from their primary tumor site and colonize distant tissues, thus originating metastatic lesions. Therefore, investigating the molecular actors regulating this process may provide helpful insights in the development of efficient therapeutic responses. Recent evidences have indicated the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in modulating the metastatic process in solid tumors. miRNAs are small regulatory non-coding RNAs that bind to specific target mRNAs, leading to translational repression. miRNAs are known to act as negative regulators of gene expression and are involved in the regulation of biological processes, including cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis, both in physiological conditions and during diseases, such as tumors. In the specific field of tumorigenesis, miRNAs play an important role in mediating oncogenesis and favoring tumor progression, as a result of their ability to modulate epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and other series of events facilitating the formation of metastasis. The role of miRNAs in cancer development has been widely studied and has helped elucidate events such as the change in expression of oncogenes, tumor-suppressors and cancer-related proteins. This review focuses on the mechanisms underlying the role of miRNAs as part of the metastatic process. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Exosomes constitute the newest mode of intercellular communication, transmitting information between cells. This exchange of molecular information is facilitated by their unique composition which is enriched with enzymes, structural proteins, adhesion molecules, lipid rafts and RNAs. Following the discovery that cancer cells secrete excessive amounts of exosomes compared to normal cells, it became evident that i) these vesicles can be used as diagnostic markers; ii) their active secretion has functional implications, albeit unknown whether they are tumor promoting or suppressing. Notably, the interplay via the exchange of exosomes between cancer cells and between cancer cells and the tumor stroma may promote the transfer of oncogenes (e.g. beta-catenin, CEA, HER2, Melan-A/Mart-1 and LMP-1) and onco-microRNAs (e.g. let7, miR1, miR15, miR16 and miR375) from one cell to another, leading to the reprogramming of the recipient cells. The molecular composition and functional role of tumor cell-derived exosomes in tumorigenesis, metastasis and response to therapy are slowly decrypted and the latest findings as well as potential therapeutic strategies are discussed in this review. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway is of central importance during embryo development in metazoans and governs a diverse array of processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, and tissue patterning. In normal adult physiology, the pathway is implicated in stem cell maintenance, tissue repair and regeneration. However, the pathway's darker side is its involvement in several types of human cancer, to which it confers growth promoting and/or survival capabilities to the cancer cell to varying degrees, and by different mechanisms. The Hh pathway is firmly linked to the etiology of basal cell carcinoma and to at least a subset of medulloblastoma. There is increasing evidence that other sporadic cancers, including those in pancreas, prostate, lung, and breast, could also be dependent on Hh pathway activity. In this review, we provide an overview of the pathway's role in various tumor types, where much of the framework for Hh-dependent malignancies has been elucidated in experimental mouse models. We discuss three different signal transduction models for the pathway's involvement in cancer: i) ligand-independent signaling, ii) ligand-dependent autocrine/juxtacrine signaling, and iii) ligand-dependent paracrine signaling. These different modes of signaling may have implications for future therapeutic interventions aimed at inhibiting the pathway during disease. In addition, crosstalk with other pathways, and indications of non-canonical Hh signaling in cancer cells may further cause complications, or perhaps possibilities, in the treatment regimen. Finally, we review the rapid progress and promising results in the development of small-molecule inhibitors of the Hh pathway. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Activation of transcription factor NF-kappa B is frequently encountered in tumor cells and contributes to aggressive tumor growth and resistance to chemotherapy and ionizing radiation during cancer treatment. Accumulating evidence over the last few years indicate that most chemotherapeutic agents and radiation therapy activate NF-kappa B in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, induction of chemoresistance and radioresistance is mediated through several genes regulated by NF-kappa B and inhibition of this transcription factor increases sensitivity of cancer cells to the apoptotic action of chemotherapeutic agents and to radiation exposure. This review explores the role of NF-kappa B and its regulated genes in resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapeutic agents and radiation and evaluates the importance of targeting NF-kappa B as a potential therapeutic approach to overcome chemoresistance and radioresistance for cancer treatment. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Autophagy is a type of cellular catabolic degradation response to nutrient starvation or metabolic stress. The main function of autophagy is to maintain intracellular metabolic homeostasis through degradation of unfolded or aggregated proteins and organelles. Although autophagic regulation is a complicated process, solid evidence demonstrates that the PI3K-Akt-mTOR, LKB1-AMPK-mTOR and p53 are the main upstream regulators of the autophagic pathway. Currently, there is a bulk of data indicating the important function of autophagy in cancer. It is noteworthy that autophagy facilitates the cancer cells' resistance to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The abrogation of autophagy potentiates the re-sensitization of therapeutic resistant cancer cells to the anticancer treatment via autophagy inhibitors, such as 3-MA, CQ and BA, or knockdown of the autophagy related molecules. In this review, we summarize the accumulation of evidence for autophagy's involvement in mediating resistance of cancer cells to anticancer therapy and suggest that autophagy might be a potential therapeutic target in anticancer drug resistance in the future. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Galectins are a family of proteins that bind to specific glycans thereby deciphering the information captured within the glycome. In the last two decades, several galectin family members have emerged as versatile modulators of tumor progression. This has initiated the development and preclinical assessment of galectin-targeting compounds. With the first compounds now entering clinical trials it is pivotal to gain insight in the diagnostic and prognostic value of galectins in cancer as this will allow a more rational selection of the patients that might benefit most from galectin-targeted therapies. Here, we present a systematic review of galectin expression in human cancer patients. Malignant transformation is frequently associated with altered galectin expression, most notably of galectin-1 and galectin-3. In most cancers, increased galectin-1 expression is associated with poor prognosis while elevated galectin-9 expression is emerging as a marker of favorable disease outcome. The prognostic value of galectin-3 appears to be tumor type dependent and the other galectins require further investigation. Regarding the latter, additional studies using larger patient cohorts are essential to fully unravel the diagnostic and prognostic value of galectin expression. Furthermore, to better compare different findings, consensus should be reached on how to assess galectin expression, not only with regard to localization within the tissue and within cellular compartments but also regarding alternative splicing and genomic variations. Finally, linking galectin expression and function to aberrant glycosylation in cancer cells will improve our understanding of how these versatile proteins can be exploited for diagnostic, prognostic and even therapeutic purposes in cancer patients. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
During the last decade, the potential of peptides for drug delivery into cells has been highlighted by the discovery of several cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). CPPs are very efficient in delivering various molecules into cells. However, except in some specific cases, their lack of cell specificity remains the major drawback for their clinical development. At the same time, various peptides with specific binding activity for a given cell line (cell-targeting peptides) have also been reported in the literature. One of the goals of the next years will be to optimize the tissue and cell delivery of therapeutic molecules by means of peptides which combine both targeting and internalization advantages. In this review, we describe the main strategies that are currently in use or likely to be employed in the near future to associate both targeting and delivery properties. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.