Background: Exosomes are nanovesicles secreted by tumour cells which have roles in paracrine signalling during tumour progression, including tumour-stromal interactions, activation of proliferative pathways and bestowing immunosuppression. Hypoxia is an important feature of solid tumours which promotes tumour progression, angiogenesis and metastasis, potentially through exosome-mediated signalling. Methods: Breast cancer cell lines were cultured under either moderate (1% O-2) or severe (0.1% O-2) hypoxia. Exosomes were isolated from conditioned media and quantitated by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) and immunoblotting for the exosomal protein CD63 in order to assess the impact of hypoxia on exosome release. Hypoxic exosome fractions were assayed for miR-210 by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and normalised to exogenous and endogenous control genes. Statistical significance was determined using the Student T test with a P value of < 0.05 considered significant. Results: Exposure of three different breast cancer cell lines to moderate (1% O-2) and severe (0.1% O-2) hypoxia resulted in significant increases in the number of exosomes present in the conditioned media as determined by NTA and CD63 immunoblotting. Activation of hypoxic signalling by dimethyloxalylglycine, a hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) hydroxylase inhibitor, resulted in significant increase in exosome release. Transfection of cells with HIF-1 alpha siRNA prior to hypoxic exposure prevented the enhancement of exosome release by hypoxia. The hypoxically regulated miR-210 was identified to be present at elevated levels in hypoxic exosome fractions. Conclusions: These data provide evidence that hypoxia promotes the release of exosomes by breast cancer cells, and that this hypoxic response may be mediated by HIF-1 alpha. Given an emerging role for tumour cell-derived exosomes in tumour progression, this has significant implications for understanding the hypoxic tumour phenotype, whereby hypoxic cancer cells may release more exosomes into their microenvironment to promote their own survival and invasion.
Background: Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and remains a major clinical challenge due to poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have emerged recently as major players in tumor biology and may be used for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and potential therapeutic targets. Although downregulation of lncRNA GAS5 (Growth Arrest-Specific Transcript) in several cancers has been studied, its role in gastric cancer remains unknown. Our studies were designed to investigate the expression, biological role and clinical significance of GAS5 in gastric cancer. Methods: Expression of GAS5 was analyzed in 89 gastric cancer tissues and five gastric cancer cell lines by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Over-expression and RNA interference (RNAi) approaches were used to investigate the biological functions of GAS5. The effect of GAS5 on proliferation was evaluated by MTT and colony formation assays, and cell apoptosis was evaluated by hochest stainning. Gastric cancer cells transfected with pCDNA3.1 -GAS5 were injected into nude mice to study the effect of GAS5 on tumorigenesis in vivo. Protein levels of GAS5 targets were determined by western blot analysis. Differences between groups were tested for significance using Student's t-test (two-tailed). Results: We found that GAS5 expression was markedly downregulated in gastric cancer tissues, and associated with larger tumor size and advanced pathologic stage. Patients with low GAS5 expression level had poorer disease-free survival (DFS; P = 0.001) and overall survival (OS; P < 0.001) than those with high GAS5 expression. Further multivariable Cox regression analysis suggested that decreased GAS5 was an independent prognostic indicator for this disease (P = 0.006, HR = 0.412; 95%CI = 2.218-0.766). Moreover, ectopic expression of GAS5 was demonstrated to decrease gastric cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in vitro and in vivo, while downregulation of endogenous GAS5 could promote cell proliferation. Finally, we found that GAS5 could influence gastric cancer cells proliferation, partly via regulating E2F1 and P21 expression. Conclusion: Our study presents that GAS5 is significantly downregulated in gastric cancer tissues and may represent a new marker of poor prognosis and a potential therapeutic target for gastric cancer intervention.
Background: Long non-coding RNAs play an important role in tumorigenesis, hence, identification of cancer-associated lncRNAs and investigation of their biological functions and molecular mechanisms are important for understanding the development and progression of cancer. Recently, the downregulation of lncRNA MEG3 has been observed in various human cancers. However, its role in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the expression pattern of MEG3 in NSCLC and to evaluate its biological role and clinical significance in tumor progression. Methods: Expression of MEG3 was analyzed in 44 NSCLC tissues and 7 NSCLC cell lines by qRT-PCR. Overexpression approaches were used to investigate the biological functions of MEG3 in NSCLC cells. Bisulfite sequencing was used to investigate DNA methylation on MEG3 expression. The effect of MEG3 on proliferation was evaluated by MTT and colony formation assays, and cell apoptosis was evaluated by Hoechst staining and Flow-cytometric analysis. NSCLC cells transfected with pCDNA-MEG3 were injection into nude mice to study the effect of MEG3 on tumorigenesis in vivo. Protein levels of MEG3 targets were determined by western blot analysis. Differences between groups were tested for significance using Student's t-test (two-tailed). Results: MEG3 expression was decreased in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumor tissues compared with normal tissues, and associated with advanced pathologic stage, and tumor size. Moreover, patients with lower levels of MEG3 expression had a relatively poor prognosis. Overexpression of MEG3 decreased NSCLC cells proliferation and induced apoptosis in vitro and impeded tumorigenesis in vivo. MDM2 and p53 protein levels were affected by MEG3 over-expression in vitro. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that MEG3 is significantly down-regulated in NSCLC tissues that could be affected by DNA methylation, and regulates NSCLC cell proliferation and apoptosis, partially via the activition of p53. Thus, MEG3 may represent a new marker of poor prognosis and is a potential therapeutic target for NSCLC intervention.
Background: Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) have shown prognostic relevance in metastatic breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancer. For further development of CTCs as a biomarker, we compared the performance of different protocols for CTC detection in murine breast cancer xenograft models (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468 and KPL-4). Blood samples were taken from tumour bearing animals (20 to 200 mm(2)) and analysed for CTCs using 1. an epithelial marker based enrichment method (AdnaTest), 2. an antibody independent technique, targeting human gene transcripts (qualitative PCR), and 3. an antibody-independent approach, targeting human DNA-sequences (quantitative PCR). Further, gene expression changes associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were determined with an EMT-specific PCR assay. Methods: We used the commercially available Adna Test, RT-PCR on human housekeeping genes and a PCR on AluJ sequences to detect CTCs in xenografts models. Phenotypic changes in CTCs were tested with the commercially available "Human Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition RT-Profiler PCR Array". Results: Although the AdnaTest detects as few as 1 tumour cell in 1 ml of mouse blood spiking experiments, no CTCs were detectable with this approach in vivo despite visible metastasis formation. The presence of CTCs could, however, be demonstrated by PCR targeting human transcripts or DNA-sequences - without epithelial pre-enrichment. The failure of CTC detection by the AdnaTest resulted from downregulation of EpCAM, whereas mesenchymal markers like Twist and EGFR were upregulated on CTCs. Such a change in the expression profile during metastatic spread of tumour cells has already been reported and was linked to a biological program termed epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Conclusions: The use of EpCAM-based enrichment techniques leads to the failure to detect CTC populations that have undergone EMT. Our findings may explain clinical results where low CTC numbers have been reported even in patients with late metastatic cancers. These results are a starting point for the identification of new markers for detection or capture of CTCs, including the mesenchymal-like subpopulations.
Background: Tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) are present in high density in solid tumors. TAMs share many characteristics with alternatively activated macrophages, also called M2. They have been shown to favor tumor development and a role in chemoresistance has also been suggested. Here, we investigated the effects of M2 in comparison to M1 macrophages on cancer cell sensitivity to etoposide. Methods: We set up a model of macrophage polarization, starting from THP-1 monocytes differentiated into macrophages using PMA (Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate). Once differentiated (M0 macrophages), they were incubated with IL-4 and IL-13 in order to obtain M2 polarized macrophages or with IFN-gamma and LPS for classical macrophage activation (M1). To mimic the communication between cancer cells and TAMs, M0, M1 or M2 macrophages and HepG2 or A549 cancer cells were co-cultured during respectively 16 (HepG2) or 24 (A549) hours, before etoposide exposure for 24 (HepG2) or 16 (A549) hours. After the incubation, the impact of etoposide on macrophage polarization was studied and cancer cell apoptosis was assessed by western-blot for cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved PARP-1 protein, caspase activity assay and FACS analysis of Annexin V and PI staining. Results: mRNA and protein expression of M1 and M2 markers confirmed the polarization of THP-1-derived macrophages, which provide a new, easy and well-characterized model of polarized human macrophages. Etoposide-induced cancer cell apoptosis was markedly reduced in the presence of THP-1 M2 macrophages, while apoptosis was increased in cells co-cultured with M1 macrophages. On the other hand, etoposide did not influence M1 or M2 polarization. Conclusions: These results evidence for the first time a clear protective effect of M2 on the contrary to M1 macrophages on etoposide-induced cancer cell apoptosis.
Background: The identification of cancer-associated long non-coding RNAs and the investigation of their molecular and biological functions are important for understanding the molecular biology and progression of cancer. HOTAIR (HOX transcript antisense intergenic RNA) has been implicated in several cancers; however, its role in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is unknown. The aim of the present study was to examine the expression pattern of HOTAIR in NSCLC and to evaluate its biological role and clinical significance in tumor progression. Methods: Expression of HOTAIR was analyzed in 42 NSCLC tissues and four NSCLC cell lines by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Over-expression and RNA interference (RNAi) approaches were used to investigate the biological functions of HOTAIR. The effect of HOTAIR on proliferation was evaluated by MTT and colony formation assays, and cell migration and invasion were evaluated by transwell assays. Tail vein injection of cells was used to study metastasis in nude mice. Protein levels of HOTAIR targets were determined by western blot analysis. Differences between groups were tested for significance using Student's t-test (two-tailed). Results: HOTAIR was highly expressed both in NSCLC samples and cell lines compared with corresponding normal counterparts. HOTAIR upregulation was correlated with NSCLC advanced pathological stage and lymph-node metastasis. Moreover, patients with high levels of HOTAIR expression had a relatively poor prognosis. Inhibition of HOTAIR by RNAi decreased the migration and invasion of NSCLC cells in vitro and impeded cell metastasis in vivo. HOXA5 levels were affected by HOTAIR knockdown or over-expression in vitro. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that HOTAIR is significantly up-regulated in NSCLC tissues, and regulates NSCLC cell invasion and metastasis, partially via the down-regulation of HOXA5. Thus, HOTAIR may represent a new marker of poor prognosis and is a potential therapeutic target for NSCLC intervention.
Background: Tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) are alternatively activated macrophages that enhance tumor progression by promoting tumor cell invasion, migration and angiogenesis. TAMs have an anti-inflammatory function resembling M2 macrophages. CD163 is regarded as a highly specific monocyte/macrophage marker for M2 macrophages. In this study we evaluated the specificity of using the M2 macrophage marker CD163 as a TAM marker and compared its prognostic value with the more frequently used pan-macrophage marker CD68. We also analyzed the prognostic value of the localization of CD163(+) and CD68(+) myeloid cells in human breast cancer. Methods: The extent of infiltrating CD163+ or CD68+ myeloid cells in tumor nest versus tumor stroma was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in tissue microarrays with tumors from 144 breast cancer cases. Spearman's Rho and chi(2) tests were used to examine the correlations between CD163(+) or CD68(+) myeloid cells and clinicopathological parameters. Kaplan Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazards modeling were used to assess the impact of CD163(+) and CD68(+) myeloid cells in tumor stroma and tumor nest, respectively, on recurrence free survival, breast cancer specific and overall survival. Results: We found that infiltration of CD163(+) and CD68(+) macrophages into tumor stroma, but not into tumor nest, were of clinical relevance. CD163(+) macrophages in tumor stroma positively correlated with higher grade, larger tumor size, Ki67 positivity, estrogen receptor negativity, progesterone receptor negativity, triple-negative/basal-like breast cancer and inversely correlated with luminal A breast cancer. Some CD163+ areas lacked CD68 expression, suggesting that CD163 could be used as a general anti-inflammatory myeloid marker with prognostic impact. CD68(+) macrophages in tumor stroma positively correlated to tumor size and inversely correlated to luminal A breast cancer. More importantly, CD68 in tumor stroma was an independent prognostic factor for reduced breast cancer specific survival. Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of analyzing the localization rather than merely the presence of TAMs as a prognostic marker for breast cancer patients.
Background: Metformin protection against cancer risk in Orientals is uncertain. We examined the possible metformin effect on total, esophageal, gastric, colorectal (CRC), hepatocellular (HCC) and pancreatic cancers in a Taiwanese cohort. Methods: A representative sample of 800,000 was drawn from the Taiwanese National Health Insurance data of 2000. A cohort of 480,984 participants 20 years or older, diabetes-cancer-free on 1st January 2000 was formed and categorized as four groups by DM and metformin usage status. Eligible incident cancer events had to occur one year after the index date until the end of 2007. The Cox proportional-hazards model evaluated relative risk of cancer for treated DM patients with or without metformin. The covariates included age, gender, other oral anti-hyperglycemic medication, Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) score and metformin exposure dosage and duration. Results: With diabetes but no anti-hyperglycemic medication, cancer incidence density increased at least 2-fold for total, CRC and HCC. On metformin, total, CRC and HCC incidences decreased to near non-diabetic levels but to varying degrees depending on gender and cancer type (CRC in women, liver in men). Adjustment for other oral anti-hyperglycemic agents usage and CCI made the benefit of metformin more evident [hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals): total 0.12 (0.08-0.19), CRC 0.36 (0.13-0.98), liver 0.06 (0.02-0.16), pancreas 0.15 (0.03-0.79)]. There was a significant gender interaction with metformin in CRC which favored women. Metformin dosage for a significant decrease in cancer incidence was <= 500 mg/day. Conclusions: Metformin can reduce the incidences of several gastroenterological cancers in treated diabetes.
Background: NanoString's Prosigna T Breast Cancer Prognostic Gene Signature Assay is based on the PAM50 gene expression signature. The test outputs a risk of recurrence (ROR) score, risk category, and intrinsic subtype (Luminal A/B, HER2-enriched, Basal-like). The studies described here were designed to validate the analytical performance of the test on the nCounter Analysis System across multiple laboratories. Methods: Analytical precision was measured by testing five breast tumor RNA samples across 3 sites. Reproducibility was measured by testing replicate tissue sections from 43 FFPE breast tumor blocks across 3 sites following independent pathology review at each site. The RNA input range was validated by comparing assay results at the extremes of the specified range to the nominal RNA input level. Interference was evaluated by including non-tumor tissue into the test. Results: The measured standard deviation (SD) was less than 1 ROR unit within the analytical precision study and the measured total SD was 2.9 ROR units within the reproducibility study. The ROR scores for RNA inputs at the extremes of the range were the same as those at the nominal input level. Assay results were stable in the presence of moderate amounts of surrounding non-tumor tissue (<70% by area). Conclusions: The analytical performance of NanoString's Prosigna assay has been validated using FFPE breast tumor specimens across multiple clinical testing laboratories.
Background: Several inflammatory response materials could be used for prediction of prognosis of cancer patients. The neutrophil lymphocyte ratio (NLR), and the platelet lymphocyte ratio (PLR) have been introduced for prognostic scoring system in various cancers. The objective of this study was to determine whether the NLR or the PLR would predict the clinical outcomes in advanced gastric cancer patients treated with oxaliplatin/ 5-fluorouracil (FOLFOX). Methods: The study population consisted of 174 advanced gastric cancer patients. Patients were treated with 85 mg/m(2) of oxaliplatin as a 2-h infusion at day 1 plus 20 mg/m(2) of leucovorin over 10 min, followed by 5-FU bolus 400 mg/m(2) and 22-h continuous infusion of 600 mg/m(2) at days 1-2. Treatment was repeated in 2-week intervals. The NLR and PLR were calculated from complete blood counts in laboratory test before and after first cycle of chemotherapy. Results: NLR was a useful prognostic biomarker for predicting inferior overall survival (OS) (p = 0.005), but was not associated with progression free survival (PFS) (p = 0.461). The normalization of NLR after one cycle of chemotherapy was found to be in association with significant improvement in PFS (5.3 months vs. 2.4 months, p < 0.001), and OS (11.9 months vs. 4.6 months, p < 0.001). The normalization of PLR was also associated with longer PFS (5.6 months vs. 3.4 months, p = 0.006), and OS (16.9 months vs. 10.9 months, p = 0.002). In multivariate analysis, changes in NLR were associated with PFS (Hazard ratio (HR): 2.297, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.429-3.693, p = 0.001). The NLR, (HR: 0.245, 95% CI: 0.092-0.633, p = 0.004), PLR (HR: 0.347, 95% CI: 0.142-0.847, p = 0.020), changes in NLR (HR: 2.468, 95% CI: 1.567-3.886, p < 0.001), and changes in PLR (HR: 1.473, 95% CI: 1.038-2.090, p = 0.030) were independent prognostic markers for OS. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that NLR, PLR, and changes in NLR or PLR are independent prognostic factor for OS in patients with advanced gastric cancer treated with chemotherapy. These specific factors may also help in identifying the patients, who are more sensitive to FOLFOX regimen.
Background: Exosomes consist of membrane vesicles that are secreted by several cell types, including tumors and have been found in biological fluids. Exosomes interact with other cells and may serve as vehicles for the transfer of protein and RNA among cells. Methods: SKOV3 exosomes were labelled with carboxyfluoresceine diacetate succinimidyl-ester and collected by ultracentrifugation. Uptake of these vesicles, under different conditions, by the same cells from where they originated was monitored by immunofluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry analysis. Lectin analysis was performed to investigate the glycosylation properties of proteins from exosomes and cellular extracts. Results: In this work, the ovarian carcinoma SKOV3 cell line has been shown to internalize exosomes from the same cells via several endocytic pathways that were strongly inhibited at 4 degrees C, indicating their energy dependence. Partial colocalization with the endosome marker EEA1 and inhibition by chlorpromazine suggested the involvement of clathrin-dependent endocytosis. Furthermore, uptake inhibition in the presence of 5-ethyl-N-isopropyl amiloride, cytochalasin D and methyl-beta-cyclodextrin suggested the involvement of additional endocytic pathways. The uptake required proteins from the exosomes and from the cells since it was inhibited after proteinase K treatments. The exosomes were found to be enriched in specific mannose-and sialic acid-containing glycoproteins. Sialic acid removal caused a small but non-significant increase in uptake. Furthermore, the monosaccharides D-galactose, alpha-L-fucose, alpha-D-mannose, D-N-acetylglucosamine and the disaccharide beta-lactose reduced exosomes uptake to a comparable extent as the control D-glucose. Conclusions: In conclusion, exosomes are internalized by ovarian tumor cells via various endocytic pathways and proteins from exosomes and cells are required for uptake. On the other hand, exosomes are enriched in specific glycoproteins that may constitute exosome markers. This work contributes to the knowledge about the properties and dynamics of exosomes in cancer.
Background: High invasion and metastasis are the primary factors causing poor prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these biological behaviors have not been completely elucidated. In this study, we investigate the molecular mechanism by which hypoxia promotes HCC invasion and metastasis through inducing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Methods: The expression of EMT markers was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Effect of hypoxia on induction of EMT and ability of cell migration and invasion were performed. Luciferase reporter system was used for evaluation of Snail regulation by hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha). Results: We found that overexpression of HIF-1 alpha was observed in HCC liver tissues and was related to poor prognosis of HCC patients. HIF-1 alpha expression profile was correlated with the expression levels of SNAI1, E-cadherin, N-cadherin and Vimentin. Hypoxia was able to induce EMT and enhance ability of invasion and migration in HCC cells. The same phenomena were also observed in CoCl2-treated cells. The shRNA-mediated HIF-1 alpha suppression abrogated CoCl2-induced EMT and reduced ability of migration and invasion in HCC cells. Luciferase assay showed that HIF-1 alpha transcriptional regulated the expression of SNAI1 based on two hypoxia response elements (HREs) in SNAI1 promoter. Conclusions: We demonstrated that hypoxia-stabilized HIF1 alpha promoted EMT through increasing SNAI1 transcription in HCC cells. This data provided a potential therapeutic target for HCC treatment.
Background: The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a molecular process through which an epithelial cell undergoes transdifferentiation into a mesenchymal phenotype. The role of EMT in embryogenesis is well-characterized and increasing evidence suggests that elements of the transition may be important in other processes, including metastasis and drug resistance in various different cancers. Methods: Agilent 4 x 44 K whole human genome arrays and selected reaction monitoring mass spectrometry were used to investigate mRNA and protein expression in A2780 cisplatin sensitive and resistant cell lines. Invasion and migration were assessed using Boyden chamber assays. Gene knockdown of snail and slug was done using targeted siRNA. Clinical relevance of the EMT pathway was assessed in a cohort of primary ovarian tumours using data from Affymetrix GeneChip Human Genome U133 plus 2.0 arrays. Results: Morphological and phenotypic hallmarks of EMT were identified in the chemoresistant cells. Subsequent gene expression profiling revealed upregulation of EMT-related transcription factors including snail, slug, twist2 and zeb2. Proteomic analysis demonstrated up regulation of Snail and Slug as well as the mesenchymal marker Vimentin, and down regulation of E-cadherin, an epithelial marker. By reducing expression of snail and slug, the mesenchymal phenotype was largely reversed and cells were resensitized to cisplatin. Finally, gene expression data from primary tumours mirrored the finding that an EMT-like pathway is activated in resistant tumours relative to sensitive tumours, suggesting that the involvement of this transition may not be limited to in vitro drug effects. Conclusions: This work strongly suggests that genes associated with EMT may play a significant role in cisplatin resistance in ovarian cancer, therefore potentially leading to the development of predictive biomarkers of drug response or novel therapeutic strategies for overcoming drug resistance.
Background: We recently published PROGgene, a tool that can be used to study prognostic implications of genes in various cancers. The first version of the tool had several areas for improvement. In this paper we present some major enhancements we have made on the existing tool in the new version, PROGgeneV2. Results: In PROGgeneV2, we have made several modifications to enhance survival analysis capability of the tool. First, we have increased the repository of public studies catalogued in our tool by almost two folds. We have also added additional functionalities to perform survival analysis in a variety of new ways. Survival analysis can now be performed on a) single genes b) multiple genes as a signature, c) ratio of expression of two genes, and d) curated/published gene signatures in new version. Users can now also adjust the survival analysis models for available covariates. Users can study prognostic implications of entire gene signatures in different cancer types, which are searchable by keywords. Also, unique to our tool, in the new version, users will be able to upload and use their own datasets to perform survival analysis on genes of interest. Conclusions: We believe, like its predecessor, PROGGeneV2 will continue to be useful for the scientific community for formulating research hypotheses and designing mechanistic studies. With added datasets PROGgeneV2 is the most comprehensive survival analysis tool available. PROGgeneV2 is available at www.compbio.iupui.edu/proggene.
Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can function as either oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes via regulation of cell proliferation and/or apoptosis. MiR-221 and miR-222 were discovered to induce cell growth and cell cycle progression via direct targeting of p27 and p57 in various human malignancies. However, the roles of miR-221 and miR-222 have not been reported in human gastric cancer. In this study, we examined the impact of miR-221 and miR-222 on human gastric cancer cells, and identified target genes for miR-221 and miR-222 that might mediate their biology. Methods: The human gastric cancer cell line SGC7901 was transfected with AS-miR-221/222 or transduced with pMSCV-miR-221/222 to knockdown or restore expression of miR-221 and miR-222, respectively. The effects of miR-221 and miR-222 were then assessed by cell viability, cell cycle analysis, apoptosis, transwell, and clonogenic assay. Potential target genes were identified by Western blot and luciferase reporter assay. Results: Upregulation of miR-221 and miR-222 induced the malignant phenotype of SGC7901 cells, whereas knockdown of miR-221 and miR-222 reversed this phenotype via induction of PTEN expression. In addition, knockdonwn of miR-221 and miR-222 inhibited cell growth and invasion and increased the radiosensitivity of SGC7901 cells. Notably, the seed sequence of miR-221 and miR-222 matched the 3'UTR of PTEN, and introducing a PTEN cDNA without the 3'UTR into SGC7901 cells abrogated the miR-221 and miR-222-induced malignant phenotype. PTEN-3'UTR luciferase reporter assay confirmed PTEN as a direct target of miR-221 and miR-222. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that miR-221 and miR-222 regulate radiosensitivity, and cell growth and invasion of SGC7901 cells, possibly via direct modulation of PTEN expression. Our study suggests that inhibition of miR-221 and miR-222 might form a novel therapeutic strategy for human gastric cancer.
Background: The approval of vemurafenib in the US 2011 and in Europe 2012 improved the therapy of not resectable or metastatic melanoma. Patients carrying a substitution of valine to glutamic acid at codon 600 (p.V600E) or a substitution of valine to leucine (p.V600K) in BRAF show complete or partial response. Therefore, the precise identification of the underlying somatic mutations is essential. Herein, we evaluate the sensitivity, specificity and feasibility of six different methods for the detection of BRAF mutations. Methods: Samples harboring p.V600E mutations as well as rare mutations in BRAF exon 15 were compared to wildtype samples. DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues by manual micro-dissection and automated extraction. BRAF mutational analysis was carried out by high resolution melting (HRM) analysis, pyrosequencing, allele specific PCR, next generation sequencing (NGS) and immunohistochemistry (IHC). All mutations were independently reassessed by Sanger sequencing. Due to the limited tumor tissue available different numbers of samples were analyzed with each method (82, 72, 60, 72, 49 and 82 respectively). Results: There was no difference in sensitivity between the HRM analysis and Sanger sequencing (98%). All mutations down to 6.6% allele frequency could be detected with 100% specificity. In contrast, pyrosequencing detected 100% of the mutations down to 5% allele frequency but exhibited only 90% specificity. The allele specific PCR failed to detect 16.3% of the mutations eligible for therapy with vemurafenib. NGS could analyze 100% of the cases with 100% specificity but exhibited 97.5% sensitivity. IHC showed once cross-reactivity with p.V600R but was a good amendment to HRM. Conclusion: Therefore, at present, a combination of HRM and IHC is recommended to increase sensitivity and specificity for routine diagnostic to fulfill the European requirements concerning vemurafenib therapy of melanoma patients.
Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth most common cause of cancer related death. It is lethal in nearly all patients, due to an almost complete chemoresistance. Most if not all drugs that pass preclinical tests successfully, fail miserably in the patient. This raises the question whether traditional 2D cell culture is the correct tool for drug screening. The objective of this study is to develop a simple, high-throughput 3D model of human PDAC cell lines, and to explore mechanisms underlying the transition from 2D to 3D that might be responsible for chemoresistance. Methods: Several established human PDAC and a KPC mouse cell lines were tested, whereby Panc-1 was studied in more detail. 3D spheroid formation was facilitated with methylcellulose. Spheroids were studied morphologically, electron microscopically and by qRT-PCR for selected matrix genes, related factors and miRNA. Metabolic studies were performed, and a panel of novel drugs was tested against gemcitabine. Results: Comparing 3D to 2D cell culture, matrix proteins were significantly increased as were lumican, SNED1, DARP32, and miR-146a. Cell metabolism in 3D was shifted towards glycolysis. All drugs tested were less effective in 3D, except for allicin, MT100 and AX, which demonstrated effect. Conclusions: We developed a high-throughput 3D cell culture drug screening system for pancreatic cancer, which displays a strongly increased chemoresistance. Features associated to the 3D cell model are increased expression of matrix proteins and miRNA as well as stromal markers such as PPP1R1B and SNED1. This is supporting the concept of cell adhesion mediated drug resistance.
Background: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) not only confers tumor cells with a distinct advantage for metastatic dissemination, but also it provides those cells with cancer stem cell-like characters for proliferation and drug resistance. However, the molecular mechanism for maintenance of these stem cell-like traits remains unclear. Methods: In this study, we induced EMT in breast cancer MCF7 and cervical cancer Hela cells with expression of Twist, a key transcriptional factor of EMT. The morphological changes associated with EMT were analyzed by immunofluorescent staining and Western blotting. The stem cell-like traits associated with EMT were determined by tumorsphere-formation and expression of ALDH1 and CD44 in these cells. The activation of beta-catenin and Akt pathways was examined by Western blotting and luciferase assays. Results: We found that expression of Twist induced a morphological change associated with EMT. We also found that the cancer stem cell-like traits, such as tumorsphere formation, expression of ALDH1 and CD44, were significantly elevated in Twist-overexpressing cells. Interestingly, we showed that beta-catenin and Akt pathways were activated in these Twist-overexpressing cells. Activation of beta-catenin correlated with the expression of CD44. Knockdown of beta-catenin expression and inhibition of the Akt pathway greatly suppressed the expression of CD44. Conclusions: Our results indicate that activation of beta-catenin and Akt pathways are required for the sustention of EMT-associated stem cell-like traits.
Background: Standard therapies for high grade glioma have failed to substantially improve survival and are associated with significant morbidity. At relapse, high grade gliomas, such as glioblastoma multiforme, are refractory to therapy and universally fatal. BRAF V600E-mutations have been described in a modest 6% to 7% of primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors, but with increased prevalence in the pediatric population and in certain brain tumor subtypes. The use of BRAF inhibitors have transformed melanoma therapy however their use in brain tumors remains unproven. Case presentation: We describe the pediatric case of a now 12 year old Caucasian male who originally presented at age 9 with a right fronto-parietal glioblastoma multiforme that recurred 2 years from diagnosis. Molecular analysis of the primary tumor revealed a BRAF V600E mutation and the patient was placed on the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib. A complete response was observed after 4 months of therapy and remains sustained at 6 months. Conclusion: This is the first report of a complete response of relapsed glioblastoma multiforme to targeted BRAF inhibitor therapy. While not a predominant mutation in glioblastoma multiforme, the increased prevalence of BRAF V600 mutations in pediatric CNS tumors and certain subtypes marks a population to whom this therapy could be applied. Response to this therapy suggests that BRAF inhibitors can affect primary CNS lesions when a documented and targetable mutation is present.
Background: Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Europe and the western world. At present, diagnosis of lung cancer very often happens late in the course of the disease since inexpensive, non-invasive and sufficiently sensitive and specific screening methods are not available. Even though the CT diagnostic methods are good, it must be assured that "screening benefit outweighs risk, across all individuals screened, not only those with lung cancer". An early non-invasive diagnosis of lung cancer would improve prognosis and enlarge treatment options. Analysis of exhaled breath would be an ideal diagnostic method, since it is non-invasive and totally painless. Methods: Exhaled breath and inhaled room air samples were analyzed using proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) and solid phase microextraction with subsequent gas chromatography mass spectrometry (SPME-GCMS). For the PTR-MS measurements, 220 lung cancer patients and 441 healthy volunteers were recruited. For the GCMS measurements, we collected samples from 65 lung cancer patients and 31 healthy volunteers. Lung cancer patients were in different disease stages and under treatment with different regimes. Mixed expiratory and indoor air samples were collected in Tedlar bags, and either analyzed directly by PTR-MS or transferred to glass vials and analyzed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS). Only those measurements of compounds were considered, which showed at least a 15% higher concentration in exhaled breath than in indoor air. Compounds related to smoking behavior such as acetonitrile and benzene were not used to differentiate between lung cancer patients and healthy volunteers. Results: Isoprene, acetone and methanol are compounds appearing in everybody's exhaled breath. These three main compounds of exhaled breath show slightly lower concentrations in lung cancer patients as compared to healthy volunteers (p < 0.01 for isoprene and acetone, p = 0.011 for methanol; PTR-MS measurements). A comparison of the GCMS-results of 65 lung cancer patients with those of 31 healthy volunteers revealed differences in concentration for more than 50 compounds. Sensitivity for detection of lung cancer patients based on presence of (one of) 4 different compounds not arising in exhaled breath of healthy volunteers was 52% with a specificity of 100%. Using 15 (or 21) different compounds for distinction, sensitivity was 71% (80%) with a specificity of 100%. Potential marker compounds are alcohols, aldehydes, ketones and hydrocarbons. Conclusion: GCMS-SPME is a relatively insensitive method. Hence compounds not appearing in exhaled breath of healthy volunteers may be below the limit of detection (LOD). PTR-MS, on the other hand, does not need preconcentration and gives much more reliable quantitative results then GCMS-SPME. The shortcoming of PTR-MS is that it cannot identify compounds with certainty. Hence SPME-GCMS and PTR-MS complement each other, each method having its particular advantages and disadvantages. Exhaled breath analysis is promising to become a future non-invasive lung cancer screening method. In order to proceed towards this goal, precise identification of compounds observed in exhaled breath of lung cancer patients is necessary. Comparison with compounds released from lung cancer cell cultures, and additional information on exhaled breath composition in other cancer forms will be important.