Hepatocarcinogenesis is a stepwise process. It involves several genetic and epigenetic alterations, e.g., loss of tumor suppressor gene expression (TP53, PTEN, RB) as well as activation of oncogenes (c-MYC, MET, BRAF, RAS). However, the role of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), which regulate tumor suppressor and oncogene expression at the posttranscriptional level, are not well understood in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here we analyzed RBPs induced in human liver cancer, revealing 116 RBPs with a significant and more than 2-fold higher expression in HCC compared to normal liver tissue. We focused our subsequent analyses on the Insulin-like growth factor 2 messenger RNA (mRNA)-binding protein 1 (IGF2BP1) representing the most strongly up-regulated RBP in HCC in our cohort. Depletion of IGF2BP1 from multiple liver cancer cell lines inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in vitro. Accordingly, murine xenograft assays after stable depletion of IGF2BP1 reveal that tumor growth, but not tumor initiation, strongly depends on IGF2BP1 in vivo. At the molecular level, IGF2BP1 binds to and stabilizes the c-MYC and MKI67 mRNAs and increases c-Myc and Ki-67 protein expression, two potent regulators of cell proliferation and apoptosis. These substrates likely mediate the impact of IGF2BP1 in human liver cancer, but certainly additional target genes contribute to its function.
Age-related macular degeneration is the major cause of blindness in the elderly worldwide and the risk is influenced by both environmental and genetic risk factors. One important disease-associated region in humans is located on 10q26 and includes the two candidate genes ARMS2 and HTRA1. However, determination of the causative gene has not yet been possible and examining the situation in the rhesus monkey may help understand the situation in humans. In a recent paper, we characterized the rhesus monkey 10q26-orthologue region on chromosome 9 in detail and identified the drusen-associated HTRA1 promoter SNP rs196357513 as a putative risk factor. In this study, we predicted 9 binding sites for the vitamin D-dependent transcription factor vitamin D receptor in the rhesus HTRA1 promoter, one of which is destroyed by the rs196357513-risk allele. As patients with vitamin D deficit are at increased risk for age-related macular degeneration, a luciferase assay in transiently transfected ARPE19-cells was performed to evaluate the influence of the SNP rs196357513 and of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D on the rhesus monkey HTRA1 promoter activity. This revealed that the luciferase activity of the promoter construct containing the rs196357513 wild type allele was significantly reduced after vitamin D stimulation. An in silico analysis and literature search imply that this regulation could also play a role in human HTRA1 expression. Moreover, HTRA1 promoter activity of the construct containing the rs196357513 risk allele appeared diminished in comparison to the construct with the wild type allele, albeit this difference was not significant. The lower promoter activity due to the rhesus monkey rs196357513 risk allele apparently contradicts the common hypothesis for the human HTRA1 promoter risk allele of SNP rs11200638, for which a higher promoter activity has been observed. Our data point to a yet unexpected effect of decreased HTRA1 expression on drusen pathogenesis. Thus not only a higher HTRA1 expression, but an imbalance of HTRA1 might be disease-relevant. Both findings require closer analysis, but if relevance for humans proves true, it would impact current age-related macular degeneration research and treatment.
Suv39h1 mediates heterochromatin formation in pericentric and telomeric regions by trimethylation of lysine 9 of histone 3 (H3K9me3). Yet, its role in the induction of chromosomal instability is poorly understood. We established a leukemia model by retrovirally expressing Myc in wild-type and histone methyltransferase Suv39h1-deficient hematopoietic cells and characterized the resulting leukemias for chromosomal instability. All mice that received cells overexpressing Myc developed myeloid leukemia with a median survival of 44 days posttransplantation. Myc-overexpressing wild-type leukemias demonstrated clones with numerical chromosomal aberrations (5/16). In secondary transplantations of these leukemic cells, structural changes, mostly end-to-end fusions of chromosomes, appeared (10/12). In contrast, leukemic cells overexpressing Myc with reduced or no Suv39h1 expression had a normal karyotype in primary, secondary, and tertiary transplantations (16/16). Myc-transduced Suv39h1-deficient cells showed less critically short telomeres (P < 0.05) compared with Myc-transduced wild-type bone marrow cells. Gene expression analysis showed upregulation of genes involved in the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism. Thus, we hypothesize that loss of Suv39h1 implies activation of the ALT mechanism, in turn ensuring telomere length and stability. Our data show for the first time that Suv39h1 deficiency may prevent chromosomal instability by more efficient telomere stabilization in hematopoietic bone marrow cells overexpressing Myc.
Selected long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been shown to play important roles in carcinogenesis. Although the cellular functions of these transcripts can be diverse, many lncRNAs regulate gene expression. In contrast, factors that control the expression of lncRNAs remain largely unknown. Here we investigated the impact of RNA binding proteins on the expression of the liver cancer-associated lncRNA HULC (highly up-regulated in liver cancer). First, we validated the strong up-regulation of HULC in human hepatocellular carcinoma. To elucidate posttranscriptional regulatory mechanisms governing HULC expression, we applied an RNA affinity purification approach to identify specific protein interaction partners and potential regulators. This method identified the family of IGF2BPs (IGF2 mRNA-binding proteins) as specific binding partners of HULC. Depletion of IGF2BP1, also known as IMP1, but not of IGF2BP2 or IGF2BP3, led to an increased HULC half-life and higher steady-state expression levels, indicating a posttranscriptional regulatory mechanism. Importantly, HULC represents the first IGF2BP substrate that is destabilized. To elucidate the mechanism by which IGF2BP1 destabilizes HULC, the CNOT1 protein was identified as a novel interaction partner of IGF2BP1. CNOT1 is the scaffold of the human CCR4-NOT deadenylase complex, a major component of the cytoplasmic RNA decay machinery. Indeed, depletion of CNOT1 increased HULC half-life and expression. Thus, IGF2BP1 acts as an adaptor protein that recruits the CCR4-NOT complex and thereby initiates the degradation of the lncRNA HULC. Conclusion: Our findings provide important insights into the regulation of lncRNA expression and identify a novel function for IGF2BP1 in RNA metabolism. (Hepatology 2013).
Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) are reported to display multilineage differentiation potential, including neuroectodermal pathways. The aim of the present study was to critically re-evaluate the potential neurogenic (trans-)differentiation capacity of ASCs using a neurogenic induction protocol based on the combination of isobutylmethylxanthine (IBMX), indomethacin and insulin. ASCs isolated from lipo-aspirate samples of five healthy female donors were characterized and potential neurogenic (trans-)differentiation was assessed by means of immunohistochemistry and gene expression analyses. Cell proliferation and cell cycle alterations were studied, and the expression of CREB/ATF transcription factors was analyzed. ASCs expressed CD59, CD90 and CD105, and were tested negative for CD34 and CD45. Under neurogenic induction, ASCs adopted a characteristic morphology comparable to neur(on)al progenitors and expressed musashi1, ?-III-tubulin and nestin. Gene expression analyses revealed an increased expression of ?-III-tubulin, GFAP, vimentin and BDNF, as well as SOX4 in induced ASCs. Cell proliferation was significantly reduced under neurogenic induction; cell cycle analyses showed a G2-cell cycle arrest accompanied by differential expression of key regulators of cell cycle progression. Differential expression of CREB/ATF transcription factors could be observed on neurogenic induction, pointing to a decisive role of the cAMP-CREB/ATF system. Our findings may point to a potential neurogenic (trans-)differentiation of ASCs into early neur(on)al progenitors, but do not present definite evidence for it. Especially, the adoption of a neural progenitor cell-like morphology must not automatically be misinterpreted as a specific characteristic of a respective (trans-)differentiation process, as this may as well be caused by alterations of cell cycle progression.
Array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) is an emerging high-resolution and high-throughput molecular genetic technique that allows genome-wide screening for chromosome alterations. DNA copy number alterations (CNAs) are a hallmark of somatic mutations in tumor genomes and congenital abnormalities that lead to diseases such as mental retardation. However, accurate identification of amplified or deleted regions requires a sequence of different computational analysis steps of the microarray data.
The early diagnosis of chronic organ rejection after lung transplantation (LTx) is currently hampered by the lack of reliable diagnostic markers. The present study aims to establish the procedure of gene expression profiling in bronchial epithelial cells for the identification of candidate genes that might prove useful in the early diagnosis.
Histone deacetylation regulates chromatin remodeling and transcriptional down-regulation of specific genomic regions; it is altered in many types of cancer cells. We searched for microRNAs (miRs) that are affected by histone deacetylation and investigated the effects in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells.
Integrating vectors developed on the basis of various retroviruses have demonstrated therapeutic potential following genetic modification of long-lived hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Lentiviral vectors (LV) are assumed to circumvent genotoxic events previously observed with ?-retroviral vectors, due to their integration bias to transcription units in comparison to the ?-retroviral preference for promoter regions and CpG islands. However, recently several studies have revealed the potential for gene activation by LV insertions. Here, we report a murine acute B-lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) triggered by insertional gene inactivation. LV integration occurred into the 8th intron of Ebf1, a major regulator of B-lymphopoiesis. Various aberrant splice variants could be detected that involved splice donor and acceptor sites of the lentiviral construct, inducing downregulation of Ebf1 full-length message. The transcriptome signature was compatible with loss of this major determinant of B-cell differentiation, with partial acquisition of myeloid markers, including Csf1r (macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) receptor). This was accompanied by receptor phosphorylation and STAT5 activation, both most likely contributing to leukemic progression. Our results highlight the risk of intragenic vector integration to initiate leukemia by inducing haploinsufficiency of a tumor suppressor gene. We propose to address this risk in future vector design.
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