The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays crucial roles in the formation of the body plan and also in the tumor invasion process. In addition, EMT also causes disruption of cell-cell adherence, loss of apico-basal polarity, matrix remodeling, increased motility and invasiveness in promoting tumor metastasis. The tumor microenvironment plays an important role in facilitating cancer metastasis and may induce the occurrence of EMT in tumor cells. A large number of inflammatory cells infiltrating the tumor site, as well as hypoxia existing in a large area of tumor, in addition many stem cells present in tumor microenvironment, such as cancer stem cells (CSCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), all of these may be the inducers of EMT in tumor cells. The signaling pathways involved in EMT are various, including TGF-beta, NF-kappa B, Wnt, Notch, and others. In this review, we discuss the current knowledge about the role of the tumor microenvironment in EMT and the related signaling pathways as well as the interaction between them.
Development of a tumor is a very complex process, and invasion and metastasis of malignant tumors are hallmarks and are difficult problems to overcome. The tumor microenvironment plays an important role in controlling tumor fate and autophagy induced by the tumor microenvironment is attracting more and more attention. Autophagy can be induced by several stressors in the tumor microenvironment and autophagy modifies the tumor microenvironment, too. Autophagy has dual roles in tumor growth. In this review, we discussed the interaction between autophagy and the tumor microenvironment and the paradoxical roles of autophagy on tumor growth at different stages of tumor development.
The canonical Wnt signaling pathway (or Wnt/beta-catenin pathway) plays a pivotal role in embryonic development and adult homeostasis; deregulation of the Wnt pathway contributes to the initiation and progression of human diseases including cancer. Despite its importance in human biology and disease, how regulation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is achieved remains largely undefined. Increasing evidence suggests that post-translational modifications (PTMs) of Wnt pathway components are essential for the activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. PTMs create a highly dynamic relay system that responds to Wnt stimulation without requiring de novo protein synthesis and offer a platform for non-Wnt pathway components to be involved in the regulation of Wnt signaling, hence providing alternative opportunities for targeting the Wnt pathway. This review highlights the current status of PTM-mediated regulation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway with a focus on factors involved in Wnt-mediated stabilization of beta-catenin.
Phosphatases are important regulators of intracellular signaling events, and their functions have been implicated in many biological processes. Dual-specificity phosphatases (DUSPs), whose family currently contains 25 members, are phosphatases that can dephosphorylate both tyrosine and serine/threonine residues of their substrates. The archetypical DUSP, DUSP1/MKP1, was initially discovered to regulate the activities of MAP kinases by dephosphorylating the TXY motif in the kinase domain. However, although DUSPs were discovered more than a decade ago, only in the past few years have their various functions begun to be described. DUSPs can be categorized based on the presence or absence of a MAP kinase-interacting domain into typical DUSPs and atypical DUSPs, respectively. In this review, we discuss the current understanding of how the activities of typical DUSPs are regulated and how typical DUSPs can regulate the functions of their targets. We also summarize recent findings from several in vivo DUSP-deficient mouse models that studied the involvement of DUSPs during the development and functioning of T cells. Finally, we discuss briefly the potential roles of DUSPs in the regulation of non-MAP kinase targets, as well as in the modulation of tumorigenesis.
Background: Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular process that involves the lysosomal degradation of proteins and organelles and the recycling of cellular components to ensure cellular survival under external or internal stress. Numerous data has indicated that autophagy can be successfully targeted for the treatment of multiple cancers. We have previously demonstrated that tetrandrine, a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the broadly used Chinese medicinal herb Stephaniae tetrandrae, exhibits potent antitumor effects when used either alone or in combination with other drugs. Results: In the present study, we showed that tetrandrine is a broad-spectrum potent autophagy agonist. Although low-dose tetrandrine treatment does not affect cell viability, it can potently induce autophagy in a variety of cell lines, including cancerous cells and nontumorigenic cells. The autophagy inhibitors 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and chloroquine (CQ), effectively blocked tetrandrine-induced autophagy. Moreover, tetrandrine significantly triggered the induction of mitophagy. The underlying mechanisms are associated with the tetrandrine-induced production of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), which plays a critical role in tetrandrine-induced autophagy. Conclusions: Here, we report that tetrandrine is a potent cell autophagy agonist and may have a wide range of applications in the fields of antitumor therapy and basic scientific research.
Background: Resveratrol (RSV) has been reported to stimulate osteoblast differentiation in which Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway played a crucial role. However, whether and how RSV activated Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in osteogenic differentiation still remained elusive. Methods: In vivo polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) particle-induced osteolysis (PIO) mouse model and in vitro PMMA particle-stimulated mouse mesenchymal stem cells (mMSCs) experiments were established. Relative expression levels of lncRNA KCNQ1OT1, beta-catenin, Runx2, Osterix and osteocalcin were determined using quantitative Real-Time PCR. Western blotting was used to measure beta-catenin protein expression. In addition, the alkaline phosphatase activity and mineral deposition level using alizarin red S staining were performed to examine osteogenic differentiation status. The interaction between KCNQ1OT1 and beta-catenin was confirmed by RNA pull down assay. Results: RSV significantly attenuated PIO in vivo and PMMA-particle inhibition of osteogenic differentiation of mMSCs. Moreover, KCNQ1OT1 exerted the similar function in mMSCs by regulating beta-catenin. Further study demonstrated that RSV exerted its effect on osteoblastic differentiation by regulating KCNQ1OT1. Consequently, RSV alleviated PMMA-particle inhibition of osteoblastic differentiation via Wnt/beta-catenin pathway activation in vivo and in vitro. Conclusion: RSV accelerated osteoblast differentiation by regulating lncRNA KCNQ1OT1 via Wnt/beta-catenin pathway activation, indicating the functional role of RSV in modulating osteogenesis.
Background: Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a third member of gasotransmitter family along with nitric oxide and carbon monoxide, generated from mainly catalyzed by cystathionine-lyase, possesses important functions in the cardiovascular system. Ischemic post-conditioning (PC) strongly protects against the hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced injury and apoptosis of cardiomyocytes. However, PC protection is ineffective in the aging cardiomyocytes. Whether H2S restores PC-induced cardioprotection by decrease of reactive oxygen species (ROS) level in the aging cardiomyocytes is unknown. Methods: The aging cardiomyocytes were induced by treatment of primary cultures of neonatal cardiomyocytes using d-galactose and were exposed to H/R and PC protocols. Cell viability was observed by CCK-8 kit. Apoptosis was detected by Hoechst 33342 staining and flow cytometry. ROS level was analyzed using spectrofluorimeter. Related protein expressions were detected through Western blot. Results: Treatment of NaHS (a H2S donor) protected against H/R-induced apoptosis, cell damage, the expression of cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved caspase-9, the release of cytochrome c (Cyt c). The supplementation of NaHS also decreased the activity of LDH and CK, MDA contents, ROS levels and the phosphorylation of I kappa B alpha, NF-kappa B, JNK2 and STAT3, and increased cell viability, the expression of Bcl-2, the activity of SOD, CAT and GSH-PX. PC alone did not provide cardioprotection in H/R-treated aging cardiomyocytes, which was significantly restored by the addition of NaHS. The beneficial role of NaHS was similar to the supply of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC, an inhibitor of ROS), Ammonium pyrrolidinedithiocarbamate (PDTC, an inhibitor of NF-kappa B) and AG 490 (an inhibitor of JNK2), respectively, during PC. Conclusion: Our results suggest that exogenous H2S contributes to recovery of PC-induced cardioprotection by decrease of ROS level via down-regulation of NF-kappa B and JAK2/STAT3 pathways in the aging cardiomyocytes.
Background: Parkinson disease (PD) is the most common movement disturbance characterized by the loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in midbrain. Metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 (MALAT1) is aberrantly expressed in neurons and is involved in the dendritic and synapse development. However, the role of MALAT1 and its underlying mechanism in PD remain to be defined. Methods: The expressions of MALAT1 and miR-124 were evaluated by qRT-PCR. N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced PD mice and SH-SY5Y cells subjected to N-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) were utilized to investigate the effect of MALAT1 on PD. TUNEL assay was performed to detect apoptosis of DA neurons in PD mice. Flow cytometry analysis was carried out to measure apoptosis of SH-SY5Y cells. Caspase3 activity and Cleaved Caspase3 expression were tested by caspase3 assay kit and western blot, respectively. TargetScan software and luciferase reporter assay were used to explore the relationship between MALAT1 and miR-124. Results: MALAT1 was up-regulated and miR-124 was down-regulated in MPTP-induced PD mice and MPP+-treated SH-SY5Y cells. MALAT1 knockdown attenuated MPTP-induced apoptosis of DA neurons in MPTP-induced PD mouse model. MALAT1 interacted with miR-124 to negatively regulate its expression. MALAT1 knockdown suppressed MPP+-induced apoptosis in SH-SY5Y cells, while miR-124 downregulation abrogated this effect. Moreover, MALAT1 knockdown improved miR-124 expression in MPTP/MPP+ induced models of PD. Conclusions: MALAT1 promotes the apoptosis by sponging miR-124 in mouse models of PD and in vitro model of PD, providing a potential theoretical foundation for the clinical application of MALAT1 against PD.
Retinoic acid (RA) is a morphogen derived from retinol (vitamin A) that plays important roles in cell growth, differentiation, and organogenesis. The production of RA from retinol requires two consecutive enzymatic reactions catalyzed by different sets of dehydrogenases. The retinol is first oxidized into retinal, which is then oxidized into RA. The RA interacts with retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and retinoic acid X receptor (RXR) which then regulate the target gene expression. In this review, we have discussed the metabolism of RA and the important components of RA signaling pathway, and highlighted current understanding of the functions of RA during early embryonic development.
Background: Aedes albopictus is an important vector of Dengue virus (DENV) and it has quickly invaded the tropical and temperate environments worldwide. A few studies have shown that, microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate mosquito defense against pathogens. However, there is no systematic analysis of the impact of DENV infection on miRNA expression in Ae. albopictus. We conducted this study to investigate the miRNA expression of Ae. albopictus upon DENV-2 infection using Illumina RNA sequencing. Results: A total of 103 known and 5 novel candidate miRNAs were identified in DENV-2 infected and non-infected adult female Ae. albopictus. Comparative analysis indicated that 52 miRNAs were significantly down-regulated and 18 were up-regulated significantly after infection. Furthermore, RT-qPCR validated the expression patterns of eleven of these differentially expressed miRNAs. Targets prediction and functional analysis of these regulated miRNAs suggested that miR-34-5p and miR-87 might be involved in the anti-pathogen and immune responses. Conclusion: This is the first systematic study on the impact of DENV infection on miRNA expression in Ae. albopictus. Complex changes in miRNA expression suggest a potential role of miRNAs in antiviral responses by regulating immune-related genes. This investigation provides information concerning DENV-induced miRNAs and offers clues for identifying potential candidates for vector based antiviral strategies.
Background: Long non-coding RNA growth arrest-specific transcript 5 (lncRNA GAS5) is a well-known tumor suppressor in the pathogenesis of a variety of human cancers. The precise role of GAS5 in pancreatic cancer (PC) progression is currently unknown, so the aim of this study was to explore the functional participation of GAS5 in PC metastasis. Methods: The expression changes of GAS5, miR-32-5p and PTEN in human PC specimens and cell lines were compared by means of molecular biology methods. Transfection of the recombinant plasmid was applied to modulate the expression levels of the target genes. RIP and RNA pull-down assays were designed to investigate the interaction between GAS5 and miR-32-5p. The effect of GAS5 and miR-32-5p on PC progression was assessed with cell proliferation, migration, invasion and apoptosis in vitro. Results: GAS5 and PTEN protein were decreased in human PC tissues and cells, but miR-32-5p was increased. GAS5 induction greatly inhibited the proliferation, migration and invasion of PC cells PANC-1 and BxPC-3 in vitro and simultaneously induced cell apoptosis. Moreover, GAS5 positively regulated the expression of PTEN through miR-32-5p. Furthermore, GAS5 suppressed the proliferation, migration and invasion of PC cells through regulating miR-32-5p/PTEN axis. Additionally, this finding was further supported by the results of in vivo experiments. Conclusion: GAS5 could positively regulate PTEN-induced tumor-suppressor pathway via miR-32-5p, thereby suppressing PC metastasis.
Background: The main approach to treat HIV-1 infection is combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Although cART is effective in reducing HIV-1 viral load and controlling disease progression, it has many side effects, and is expensive for HIV-1 infected patients who must remain on lifetime treatment. HIV-1 gene therapy has drawn much attention as studies of genome editing tools have progressed. For example, zinc finger nucleases (ZFN), transcription activator like effector nucleases (TALEN) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 have been utilized to successfully disrupt the HIV-1 co-receptors CCR5 or CXCR4, thereby restricting HIV-1 infection. However, the effects of simultaneous genome editing of CXCR4 and CCR5 by CRISPR-Cas9 in blocking HIV-1 infection in primary CD4(+) T cells has been rarely reported. Furthermore, combination of different target sites of CXCR4 and CCR5 for disruption also need investigation. Results: In this report, we designed two different gRNA combinations targeting both CXCR4 and CCR5, in a single vector. The CRISPR-sgRNAs-Cas9 could successfully induce editing of CXCR4 and CCR5 genes in various cell lines and primary CD4(+) T cells. Using HIV-1 challenge assays, we demonstrated that CXCR4-tropic or CCR5-tropic HIV-1 infections were significantly reduced in CXCR4- and CCR5-modified cells, and the modified cells exhibited a selective advantage over unmodified cells during HIV-1 infection. The off-target analysis showed that no non-specific editing was identified in all predicted sites. In addition, apoptosis assays indicated that simultaneous disruption of CXCR4 and CCR5 in primary CD4(+) T cells by CRISPR-Cas9 had no obvious cytotoxic effects on cell viability. Conclusions: Our results suggest that simultaneous genome editing of CXCR4 and CCR5 by CRISPR-Cas9 can potentially provide an effective and safe strategy towards a functional cure for HIV-1 infection.
TGF-beta signaling regulates diverse cellular processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, cell plasticity and migration. Its dysfunctions can result in various kinds of diseases, such as cancer and tissue fibrosis. TGF-beta signaling is tightly regulated at different levels along the pathway, and modulation of TGF-beta receptor activity is a critical step for signaling regulation. This review focuses on our recent understanding of regulation of TGF-beta receptor activity.
Accumulating evidence suggests that various diseases, including many types of cancer, result from alteration of subcellular protein localization and compartmentalization. Therefore, it is worthwhile to expand our knowledge in subcellular trafficking of proteins, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB-2 of the receptor tyrosine kinases, which are highly expressed and activated in human malignancies and frequently correlated with poor prognosis. The well-characterized trafficking of cell surface EGFR is routed, via endocytosis and endosomal sorting, to either the lysosomes for degradation or back to the plasma membrane for recycling. A novel nuclear mode of EGFR signaling pathway has been gradually deciphered in which EGFR is shuttled from the cell surface to the nucleus after endocytosis, and there, it acts as a transcriptional regulator, transmits signals, and is involved in multiple biological functions, including cell proliferation, tumor progression, DNA repair and replication, and chemo-and radio-resistance. Internalized EGFR can also be transported from the cell surface to several intracellular compartments, such as the Golgi apparatus, the endoplasmic reticulum, and the mitochondria, in addition to the nucleus. In this review, we will summarize the functions of nuclear EGFR family and the potential pathways by which EGFR is trafficked from the cell surface to a variety of cellular organelles. A better understanding of the molecular mechanism of EGFR trafficking will shed light on both the receptor biology and potential therapeutic targets of anti-EGFR therapies for clinical application.
Invasion and metastasis are malignant phenotypes in cancer that lead to patient death. Cell motility is involved in these processes. In 1998, we identified overexpression of the actin-bundling protein actinin-4 in several types of cancer. Protein expression of actinin-4 is closely associated with the invasive phenotypes of cancers. Actinin-4 is predominantly expressed in the cellular protrusions that stimulate the invasive phenotype in cancer cells and is essential for formation of cellular protrusions such as filopodia and lamellipodia. ACTN4 (gene name encoding actinin-4 protein) is located on human chromosome 19q. ACTN4 amplification is frequently observed in patients with carcinomas of the pancreas, ovary, lung, and salivary gland, and patients with ACTN4 amplifications have worse outcomes than patients without amplification. In addition, nuclear distribution of actinin-4 is frequently observed in small cell lung, breast, and ovarian cancer. Actinin-4, when expressed in cancer cell nuclei, functions as a transcriptional co-activator. In this review, we summarize recent developments regarding the biological roles of actinin-4 in cancer invasion.
The metazoan Hippo pathway is an essential tumour suppressor signalling cascade that ensures normal tissue growth by co-ordinating cell proliferation, cell death and cell differentiation. Over the past years, various genetic and biochemical studies in Drosophila and mammals have defined a conserved core Hippo signalling module, composed of members of the Ste20-like kinase, the MOB co-activator and the AGC kinase families. In Drosophila, stimulated Hippo kinase phosphorylates and thereby activates the Mats/Warts complex, which consequently phosphorylates and inactivates the transcriptional co-activator Yorkie. In mammals, the counterparts of the Hippo/Mats/Warts/Yorkie cascade, namely MST1/2, MOB1A/B, LATS1/2 and YAP/TAZ, function in a similar fashion. These canonical Hippo pathways are so highly conserved that human MST2, hMOB1A and LATS1 can compensate for the loss of Hippo, Mats and Warts in flies. However, recent reports have shown that Hippo signalling is more diverse and complex, in particular in mammals. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of mammalian LATS1/2 kinases together with their closest relatives, the NDR1/2 kinases. The regulation of the LATS/NDR family of kinases will be discussed, followed by a summary of all currently known LATS/NDR substrates. Last, but not least, the biological roles of LATS/NDR kinases will be reviewed with specific emphasis on recent discoveries of canonical and non-canonical LATS/NDR functions in the extended Hippo pathway.
Background: The single-stranded RNA Flavivirus, Zika virus (ZIKV), has recently re-emerged and spread rapidly across the western hemisphere's equatorial countries, primarily through Aedes mosquito transmission. While symptoms in adult infections appear to be self-limiting and mild, severe birth defects, such as microcephaly, have been linked to infection during early pregnancy. Recently, Tang et al. (Cell Stem Cell 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2016.02.016) demonstrated that ZIKV efficiently infects induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs), resulting in cell cycle abnormalities and apoptosis. Consequently, hNPCs are a suggested ZIKV target. Methods: We analyzed the transcriptomic sequencing (RNA-seq) data (GEO: GSE78711) of ZIKV (Strain: MR766) infected hNPCs. For comparison to the ZIKV-infected hNPCs, the expression data from hNPCs infected with human cytomegalovirus (CMV) (Strain: AD169) was used (GEO: GSE35295). Utilizing a combination of Gene Ontology, database of human diseases, and pathway analysis, we generated a putative systemic model of infection supported by known molecular pathways of other highly related viruses. Results: We analyzed RNA-sequencing data for transcript expression alterations in ZIKV-infected hNPCs, and then compared them to expression patterns of iPSC-derived hNPCs infected with CMV, a virus that can also induce severe congenital neurological defects in developing fetuses. We demonstrate for the first time that many of cellular pathways correlate with clinical pathologies following ZIKV infection such as microcephaly, congenital nervous system disorders and epilepsy. Furthermore, ZIKV activates several inflammatory signals within infected hNPCs that are implicated in innate and acquired immune responses, while CMV-infected hNPCs showed limited representation of these pathways. Moreover, several genes related to pathogen responses are significantly upregulated upon ZIKV infection, but not perturbed in CMV-infected hNPCs. Conclusion: The presented study is the first to report enrichment of numerous pro-inflammatory pathways in ZIKV-infected hNPCs, indicating that hNPCs are capable of signaling through canonical pro-inflammatory pathways following viral infection. By defining gene expression profiles, new factors in the pathogenesis of ZIKV were identified which could help develop new therapeutic strategies.
Antibody blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway has elicited durable antitumor responses in the therapy of a broad spectrum of cancers. PD-L1 is constitutively expressed in certain tumors and host immune cells, and its expression can be induced or maintained by many factors. The expression of PD-L1 on tumor tissues has been reported to be positively correlated with the efficacy of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy in patients. However, multiple clinical trials indicate that patients with PD-L1-negative tumors also respond to this blockade therapy, which suggests the potential contribution of PD-L1 from host immune cells. Recently, six articles independently evaluated and verified the contributions of PD-L1 from tumor versus non-tumor cells in various mouse tumor models. These studies confirmed that PD-L1 on either tumor cells or host immune cells contributes to tumor escape, and the relative contributions of PD-L1 on these cells seem to be context-dependent. While both tumor- and host-derived PD-L1 can play critical roles in immune suppression, differences in tumor immunogenicity appear to underlie their relative importance. Notably, these reports highlight the essential roles of PD-L1 from host myeloid cells in negatively regulating T cell activation and limiting T cell trafficking. Therefore, comprehensive evaluating the global PD-L1 expression, rather than monitoring PD-L1 expression on tumor cells alone, should be a more accurate way for predicting responses in PD-1/PD-L1 blockade therapy in cancer patients.
As a hallmark of tumor cells, metabolic alterations play a critical role in tumor development and could be targeted for tumor therapy. Tumor suppressor p53 plays a central role in tumor prevention. As a transcription factor, p53 mainly exerts its function in tumor suppression through its transcriptional regulation of its target genes to initiate various cellular responses. Cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and senescence are most well-understood functions of p53, and are traditionally accepted as the major mechanisms for p53 in tumor suppression. Recent studies have revealed a novel function of p53 in regulation of cellular metabolism. p53 regulates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, glutamine metabolism, lipid metabolism, and antioxidant defense. Through the regulation of these metabolic processes, p53 maintains the homeostasis of cellular metabolism and redox balance in cells, which contributes significantly to the role of p53 as a tumor suppressor. Further understanding of the role and molecular mechanism of p53 in cellular metabolism could lead to the identification of novel targets and development of novel strategies for tumor therapy.