Background: Alterations in pathways including BRAF, CDKN2A, and TERT contribute to the development of melanoma, but the sequence in which the genetic alterations occur and their prognostic significance remain unclear. To clarify the role of these pathways, we analyzed a primary melanoma and its metastasis. Methods: Immunohistochemistry for BRAF-V600E, Sanger sequencing of BRAF and the TERT promoter, fluorescence in-situ hybridization, and telomere analyses were performed on a primary melanoma and its asynchronous cerebellar metastasis. Using the log-rank test and Cox-proportional model, the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) cohort of melanomas was analyzed for the effect of BRAF mutation and CDKN2A loss on survival. Results: The primary melanoma expressed mutant BRAF-V600E and possessed a homozygous deletion of CDKN2A. In addition to these early defects, the metastatic lesion also possessed evidence of aneuploidy and an activating mutation of the TERT promoter. In the TCGA melanoma cohort, there was a non-significant trend towards poor prognosis in early stage cutaneous melanoma patients with concomitant BRAF mutation and CDKN2A loss. Conclusion: BRAF mutation and CDKN2A loss occurred early and TERT promoter mutation later in a case of lethal metastatic melanoma. The effects of these pathways on survival warrant further investigation in early stage cutaneous melanoma patients.
While global chromatin conformation studies are emerging, very little is known about the chromatin conformation of human telomeres. Most studies have focused on the role of telomeres as a tumor suppressor mechanism. Here we describe how telomere length regulates gene expression long before telomeres become short enough to produce a DNA damage response (senescence). We directly mapped the interactions adjacent to specific telomere ends using a Hi-C (chromosome capture followed by high-throughput sequencing) technique modified to enrich for specific genomic regions. We demonstrate that chromosome looping brings the telomere close to genes up to 10 Mb away from the telomere when telomeres are long and that the same loci become separated when telomeres are short. Furthermore, expression array analysis reveals that many loci, including noncoding RNAs, may be regulated by telomere length. We report three genes (ISG15 [interferon-stimulated gene 15 kd], DSP [Desmoplakin], and C1S [complement component 1s subcomplement]) located at three different subtelomeric ends (1p, 6p, and 12p) whose expressions are altered with telomere length. Additionally, we confirmed by in situ analysis (3D-FISH [three-dimensional fluorescence in situ hybridization]) that chromosomal looping occurs between the loci of those genes and their respective telomere ends. We term this process TPE-OLD for "telomere position effect over long distances." Our results suggest a potential novel mechanism for how telomere shortening could contribute to aging and disease initiation/progression in human cells long before the induction of a critical DNA damage response.
Alternative splicing affects approximately 95% of eukaryotic genes, greatly expanding the coding capacity of complex genomes. Although our understanding of alternative splicing has increased rapidly, current knowledge of splicing regulation has largely been derived from studies of highly expressed mRNAs. Telomerase is a key example of a protein that is alternatively spliced, but it is expressed at very low levels and although it is known that misregulation of telomerase splicing is a hallmark of nearly all cancers, the details of this process are unclear. Here we review work showing that hTERT expression is in part regulated by atypical alternative splicing, perhaps due to its exceptionally low expression level. We propose that these differential regulatory mechanisms may be widely applicable to other genes and may provide new opportunities for the development of cancer therapeutics.
Lung cancer stem cells (CSC) with elevated aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity are self-renewing, clonogenic, and tumorigenic. The purpose of our study is to elucidate the mechanisms by which lung CSCs are regulated.
The telomere repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) for the human reverse transcriptase, telomerase, is a PCR-based assay developed two decades ago and is still used for routine determination of telomerase activity. The TRAP assay can only reproducibly detect ? 2-fold differences and is only quantitative when compared to internal standards and reference cell lines. The method generally involves laborious radioactive gel electrophoresis and is not conducive to high-throughput analyzes. Recently droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) technologies have become available that allow for absolute quantification of input deoxyribonucleic acid molecules following PCR. We describe the reproducibility and provide several examples of a droplet digital TRAP (ddTRAP) assay for telomerase activity, including quantitation of telomerase activity in single cells, telomerase activity across several common telomerase positive cancer cells lines and in human primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells following mitogen stimulation. Adaptation of the TRAP assay to digital format allows accurate and reproducible quantification of the number of telomerase-extended products (i.e. telomerase activity; 57.8 ± 7.5) in a single HeLa cell. The tools developed in this study allow changes in telomerase enzyme activity to be monitored on a single cell basis and may have utility in designing novel therapeutic approaches that target telomerase.
A constellation of related genetic diseases are caused by defects in the telomere maintenance machinery. These disorders, often referred to as telomeropathies, share symptoms and molecular mechanisms, and mounting evidence indicates they are points along a spectrum of disease. Several new causes of these disorders have been recently discovered, and a number of related syndromes may be unrecognized telomeropathies. Progress in the clinical understanding of telomeropathies has in turn driven progress in the basic science of telomere biology. In addition, the pattern of genetic anticipation in some telomeropathies generates thought-provoking questions about the way telomere length impacts the course of these diseases.
Alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) is a telomerase-independent telomere length maintenance mechanism that enables the unlimited proliferation of a subset of cancer cells. Some neuroblastoma (NB) tumors appear to maintain telomere length by activating ALT. Of 40 NB cell lines, we identified four potential ALT cell lines (CHLA-90, SK-N-FI, LA-N-6, and COG-N-291) that were telomerase-negative and had long telomeres (a feature of ALT cells). All four cell lines lacked MYCN amplification and were p53 non-functional upon irradiation. Two of these cell lines (CHLA-90 and SK-N-FI) were positive for C-circles (telomeric DNA circles) and ALT-associated promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies, both of which are phenotypic characteristics of ALT. Mutation of ATRX (associated with ALT in tumors) was only found in CHLA-90. Thus, the ALT phenotype in NB may not be limited to tumors with ATRX mutations but is associated with a lack of MYCN amplification and alterations in the p53 pathway.
Metastasis is the main cause of breast cancer morbidity and mortality. Processes that allow for tumor cell migration and invasion are important therapeutic targets. Here we demonstrate that receptor-interacting protein kinase 2 (RIP2), a kinase known to be involved in inflammatory processes, also has novel roles in cancer cell migration and invasion.
Colorectal adenomas are cancer precursor lesions of the large bowel. A multitude of genomic and epigenomic changes have been documented in these preinvasive lesions, but their impact on the protein effectors of biological function has not been comprehensively explored. Using shotgun quantitative MS, we exhaustively investigated the proteome of 30 colorectal adenomas and paired samples of normal mucosa. Total protein extracts were prepared from these tissues (prospectively collected during colonoscopy) and from normal (HCEC) and cancerous (SW480, SW620, Caco2, HT29, CX1) colon epithelial cell lines. Peptides were labeled with isobaric tags (iTRAQ 8-plex), separated via OFFGEL electrophoresis, and analyzed by means of LC-MS/MS. Nonredundant protein families (4325 in tissues, 2017 in cell lines) were identified and quantified. Principal component analysis of the results clearly distinguished adenomas from normal mucosal samples and cancer cell lines from HCEC cells. Two hundred and twelve proteins displayed significant adenoma-related expression changes (q-value < 0.02, mean fold change versus normal mucosa ±1.4), which correlated (r = 0.74) with similar changes previously identified by our group at the transcriptome level. Fifty-one (?25%) proteins displayed directionally similar expression changes in colorectal cancer cells (versus HCEC cells) and were therefore attributed to the epithelial component of adenomas. Although benign, adenomas already exhibited cancer-associated proteomic changes: 69 (91%) of the 76 protein up-regulations identified in these lesions have already been reported in cancers. One of the most striking changes involved sorbitol dehydrogenase, a key enzyme in the polyol pathway. Validation studies revealed dramatically increased sorbitol dehydrogenase concentrations and activity in adenomas and cancer cell lines, along with important changes in the expression of other enzymes in the same (AKR1B1) and related (KHK) pathways. Dysregulated polyol metabolism might represent a novel facet of metabolome remodeling associated with tumorigenesis.
Despite evidence that kinesin family member 14 (KIF14) can serve as a prognostic biomarker in various solid tumors, how it contributes to tumorigenesis remains unclear. We observed that experimental decrease in KIF14 expression increases docetaxel chemosensitivity in estrogen receptor-negative/progesterone receptor-negative/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, "triple-negative" breast cancers (TNBC). To investigate the oncogenic role of KIF14, we used noncancerous human mammary epithelial cells and ectopically expressed KIF14 and found increased proliferative capacity, increased anchorage-independent grown in vitro, and increased resistance to docetaxel but not to doxorubicin, carboplatin, or gemcitabine. Seventeen benign breast biopsies of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers showed increased KIF14 mRNA expression by fluorescence in situ hybridization compared to controls with no known mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, suggesting increased KIF14 expression as a biomarker of high-risk breast tissue. Evaluation of 34 cases of locally advanced TNBC showed that KIF14 expression significantly correlates with chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer. KIF14 knockdown also correlates with decreased AKT phosphorylation and activity. Live-cell imaging confirmed an insulin-induced temporal colocalization of KIF14 and AKT at the plasma membrane, suggesting a potential role of KIF14 in promoting activation of AKT. An experimental small-molecule inhibitor of KIF14 was then used to evaluate the potential anticancer benefits of downregulating KIF14 activity. Inhibition of KIF14 shows a chemosensitizing effect and correlates with decreasing activation of AKT. Together, these findings show an early and critical role for KIF14 in the tumorigenic potential of TNBC, and therapeutic targeting of KIF14 is feasible and effective for TNBC.
While mouse models have contributed in our understanding of lung development, repair and regeneration, inherent differences between the murine and human airways requires the development of new models using human airway epithelial cells. In this study, we describe a three-dimensional model system using human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) cultured on reconstituted basement membrane. HBECs form complex budding and branching structures on reconstituted basement membrane when co-cultured with human lung fetal fibroblasts. These structures are reminiscent of the branching epithelia during lung development. The HBECs also retain markers indicative of epithelial cell types from both the central and distal airways suggesting their multipotent potential. In addition, we illustrate how the model can be utilized to understand respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. The 3D novel cell culture system recapitulates stromal-epithelial interactions in vitro that can be utilized to understand important aspects of lung development and diseases.
Carcinogenesis is an adaptive process between nascent tumor cells and their microenvironment, including the modification of inflammatory responses from antitumorigenic to protumorigenic. Radiation exposure can stimulate inflammatory responses that inhibit or promote carcinogenesis. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of radiation exposure on lung cancer progression in vivo and assess the relevance of this knowledge to human carcinogenesis.
Telomerase adds telomeric repeats onto chromosome ends and is almost universally upregulated in human cancers. Here we demonstrate that RNA:RNA pairing regulates splicing of the catalytic subunit of human telomerase (TERT). Human alleles contain a variable number of 38 bp repeats within TERT intron 6 (>1 kb from exon-intron junctions). At least nine repeats are required for generating the major non-functional 'minus beta' isoform, which skips exons 7 and 8. RNA:RNA pairing between the repeats and the pre-mRNA might bring exons 6 and 9 closer, thereby promoting exon skipping. To demonstrate this, we show that mutations within the repeat that abolish exon skipping are corrected by compensatory mutations in the pre-mRNA. This study thus identifies RNA:RNA pairing by repetitive sequences as a novel form of alternative splicing regulation in a gene crucial for cancer survival and sheds new light on functional roles for short repetitive sequences embedded deep within introns throughout the genome.
Diets enriched with bioactive food components trigger molecular changes in cells that may contribute to either health-promoting or adverse effects. Recent technological advances in high-throughput data generation allow for observing systems-wide molecular responses to cellular perturbations with nontoxic and dietary-relevant doses while considering the intrinsic differences between cancerous and noncancerous cells. In this chemical profile, we compared molecular responses of the colon cancer cell line HT29 and a noncancerous colon epithelial cell line (HCEC) to two widely encountered food components, sulforaphane and selenium. We conducted this comparison by generating new transcriptome data by microarray gene-expression profiling, analyzing them statistically on the single gene, network, and functional pathway levels, and integrating them with protein expression data. Sulforaphane and selenium, at doses that did not inhibit the growth of the tested cells, induced or repressed the transcription of a limited number of genes in a manner distinctly dependent on the chemical and the cell type. The genes that most strongly responded in cancer cells were observed after treatment with sulforaphane and were members of the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) superfamily. These genes were in high agreement in terms of fold change with their corresponding proteins (correlation coefficient r(2) = 0.98, p = 0.01). Conversely, selenium had little influence on the cancer cells. In contrast, in noncancerous cells, selenium induced numerous genes involved in apoptotic, angiogenic, or tumor proliferation pathways, whereas the influence of sulforaphane was very limited. These findings contribute to defining the significance of cell type in interpreting human cellular transcriptome-level responses to exposures to natural components of the diet.
Exposure to radiation and some chemotherapeutic agents is associated with an increased risk of developing second cancers. Short telomeres are almost universally associated with malignant cancer progression. An outstanding question is if inherited short telomeres or therapy related telomere shortening is a biomarker of developing second malignant neoplasms.
Definition of the molecular pathogenesis of lung cancer allows investigators an enhanced understanding of the natural history of the disease, thus fostering development of new prevention strategies. In addition to regulating epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), the transcription factor Snail exerts global effects on gene expression. Our recent studies reveal that Snail is upregulated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), is associated with poor prognosis, and promotes tumor progression in vivo. Herein, we demonstrate that overexpression of Snail leads to upregulation of Secreted Protein, Acidic and Rich in Cysteine (SPARC) in models of premalignancy and established disease, as well as in lung carcinoma tissues in situ. Snail overexpression leads to increased SPARC-dependent invasion in vitro, indicating that SPARC may play a role in lung cancer progression. Bioinformatic analysis implicates TGF-?, ERK1/2, and miR-29b as potential intermediaries in Snail-mediated upregulation of SPARC. Both the TGF-?1 ligand and TGF-?R2 are upregulated following Snail overexpression. Treatment of human bronchial epithelial cell (HBEC) lines with TGF-?1 and inhibition of TGF-?1 mRNA expression modulated SPARC expression. Inhibition of MEK phosphorylation downregulated SPARC. MiR-29b is downregulated in Snail overexpressing cell lines, while overexpression of miR-29b inhibited SPARC expression. In addition, miR-29b was upregulated following ERK inhibition, suggesting a Snail-dependent pathway by which Snail activation of TGF-? and ERK signaling results in downregulation of miR-29b and subsequent upregulation of SPARC. Our discovery of pathways responsible for Snail-induced SPARC expression contributes to the definition of NSCLC pathogenesis.
The combination of variable telomere length in cancer cells and shorter telomere length in cancer-associated stromal cells strongly correlates with progression to prostate cancer metastasis and cancer death. The implication is that telomere length measurements have potential not only as prognostic indicators of prostate cancer outcomes but also as risk stratification enrichment biomarkers for individualized therapeutic interventions.
Telomerase contributes to cell proliferation and survival through both telomere-dependent and telomere-independent mechanisms. In this report, we discovered that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress transiently activates the catalytic components of telomerase (TERT) expression in human cancer cell lines and murine primary neural cells. Importantly, we show that depletion of hTERT sensitizes cells to undergo apoptosis under ER stress, whereas increased hTERT expression reduces ER stress-induced cell death independent of catalytically active enzyme or DNA damage signaling. Our findings establish a functional link between ER stress and telomerase, both of which have important implications in the pathologies associated with aging and cancer.
Methyl-2-cyano-3,12 dioxoolean-1,9 diene-28-oate (CDDO-Me) is an antioxidative, anti-inflammatory modulator, which activates the nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)/antioxidant response element (ARE) pathway. While CDDO-Me has radioprotective activity through Nrf2 activation in vitro and in vivo, its ability to mitigate radiation-induced damage when provided after irradiation has not been studied. Here we investigated whether CDDO-Me mitigates ionizing radiation (IR)-induced DNA damage in immortalized normal human colonic epithelial cells (HCECs) and bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs). DNA damage and clonogenic survival were assessed after treatment with CDDO-Me postirradiation. We observed that treatment with CDDO-Me within 30 min after irradiation improved both DNA damage repair and clonogenic survival independently of Nrf2. CDDO-Me activates the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) related DNA repair responses. In the presence of CDDO-Me, EGFR is phosphorylated and translocates into the nucleus where it interacts with DNA-PKcs. CDDO-Me-mediated mitigation activity can be abrogated through depletion of EGFR, ectopic overexpression of mutant EGFR or inhibition of DNA-PKcs. While post-treatment of CDDO-Me protected noncancerous HCECs and HBECs against IR, cancer cells (HCT116 and MCF7) were not protected by CDDO-Me. These results suggest that targeting EGFR using CDDO-Me is a promising radiation mitigator with potential utility for first responders to nuclear accidents.
Pheochromocytomas (PCCs)/paragangliomas (PGLs) are neuroendocrine tumours that may cause arrhythmia and death if untreated. Treatment for patients with metastatic tumours is lacking. As new PCC/PGL susceptibility genes are discovered that are associated with the mTOR pathway, treatment targets focusing on this pathway are being intensively explored.
Telomeres may regulate human disease by at least two independent mechanisms. First, replicative senescence occurs once short telomeres generate DNA-damage signals that produce a barrier to tumor progression. Second, telomere position effects (TPE) could change gene expression at intermediate telomere lengths in cultured human cells. Here we report that telomere length may contribute to the pathogenesis of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). FSHD is a late-onset disease genetically residing only 25-60 kilobases from the end of chromosome 4q. We used a floxable telomerase to generate isogenic clones with different telomere lengths from affected patients and their unaffected siblings. DUX4, the primary candidate for FSHD pathogenesis, is upregulated over ten-fold in FSHD myoblasts and myotubes with short telomeres, and its expression is inversely proportional to telomere length. FSHD may be the first known human disease in which TPE contributes to age-related phenotype.
We used CDK4/hTERT-immortalized normal human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC) from several individuals to study lung cancer pathogenesis by introducing combinations of common lung cancer oncogenic changes (p53, KRAS, and MYC) and followed the stepwise transformation of HBECs to full malignancy. This model showed that: (i) the combination of five genetic alterations (CDK4, hTERT, sh-p53, KRAS(V12), and c-MYC) is sufficient for full tumorigenic conversion of HBECs; (ii) genetically identical clones of transformed HBECs exhibit pronounced differences in tumor growth, histology, and differentiation; (iii) HBECs from different individuals vary in their sensitivity to transformation by these oncogenic manipulations; (iv) high levels of KRAS(V12) are required for full malignant transformation of HBECs, however, prior loss of p53 function is required to prevent oncogene-induced senescence; (v) overexpression of c-MYC greatly enhances malignancy but only in the context of sh-p53+KRAS(V12); (vi) growth of parental HBECs in serum-containing medium induces differentiation, whereas growth of oncogenically manipulated HBECs in serum increases in vivo tumorigenicity, decreases tumor latency, produces more undifferentiated tumors, and induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); (vii) oncogenic transformation of HBECs leads to increased sensitivity to standard chemotherapy doublets; (viii) an mRNA signature derived by comparing tumorigenic versus nontumorigenic clones was predictive of outcome in patients with lung cancer. Collectively, our findings show that this HBEC model system can be used to study the effect of oncogenic mutations, their expression levels, and serum-derived environmental effects in malignant transformation, while also providing clinically translatable applications such as development of prognostic signatures and drug response phenotypes.
Polyploidy contributes to extensive intratumor genomic heterogeneity that characterizes advanced malignancies and is thought to limit the efficiency of current cancer therapies. It has been shown that telomere deprotection in p53-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts leads to high rates of polyploidization. We now show that tumor genome evolution through whole-genome duplication occurs in ?15% of the karyotyped human neoplasms and correlates with disease progression. In a panel of human cancer and transformed cell lines representing the two known types of genomic instability (chromosomal and microsatellite), as well as the two known pathways of telomere maintenance in cancer (telomerase activity and alternative lengthening of telomeres), telomere dysfunction-driven polyploidization occurred independently of the mutational status of p53. Depending on the preexisting context of telomere maintenance, telomerase activity and its major components, human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and human telomerase RNA component (hTERC), exert both reverse transcriptase-related (canonical) and noncanonical functions to affect tumor genome evolution through suppression or induction of polyploidization. These new findings provide a more complete mechanistic understanding of cancer progression that may, in the future, lead to novel therapeutic interventions.
Ataxia telangiectasia patients develop lymphoid malignancies of both B- and T-cell origin. Similarly, ataxia telangiectasia mutated (Atm)-deficient mice exhibit severe defects in T-cell maturation and eventually develop thymomas. The function of ATM is known to be influenced by the mammalian orthologue of the Drosophila MOF (males absent on the first) gene. Here, we report the effect of T-cell-specific ablation of the mouse Mof (Mof) gene on leucocyte trafficking and survival. Conditional Mof(Flox/Flox) (Mof (F/F)) mice expressing Cre recombinase under control of the T-cell-specific Lck proximal promoter (Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(+)) display a marked reduction in thymus size compared with Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(-) mice. In contrast, the spleen size of Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(+) mice was increased compared with control Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(-) mice. The thymus of Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(+) mice contained significantly reduced T cells, whereas thymic B cells were elevated. Within the T-cell population, CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive T-cell levels were reduced, whereas the immature CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative (DN) population was elevated. Defective T-cell differentiation is also evident as an increased DN3 (CD44(-)CD25(+)) population, the cell stage during which T-cell receptor rearrangement takes place. The differentiation defect in T cells and reduced thymus size were not rescued in a p53-deficient background. Splenic B-cell distributions were similar between Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(+) and Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(-) mice except for an elevation of the ? light-chain population, suggestive of an abnormal clonal expansion. T cells from Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(+) mice did not respond to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) stimulation, whereas LPS-stimulated B cells from Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(+) mice demonstrated spontaneous genomic instability. Mice with T-cell-specific loss of MOF had shorter lifespans and decreased survival following irradiation than did Mof(F/F)/Lck-Cre(-) mice. These observations suggest that Mof plays a critical role in T-cell differentiation and that depletion of Mof in T cells reduces T-cell numbers and, by an undefined mechanism, induces genomic instability in B cells through bystander mechanism. As a result, these mice have a shorter lifespan and reduced survival after irradiation.
Ionizing radiation exposure induces highly lethal DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in all phases of the cell cycle. After DSBs are detected by the cellular machinery, these breaks are repaired by either of two mechanisms: (1) nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), which re-ligates the broken ends of the DNA and (2) homologous recombination (HR), that makes use of an undamaged identical DNA sequence as a template to maintain the fidelity of DNA repair. DNA DSB repair must occur within the context of the natural cellular DNA structure. Among the major factors influencing DNA organization are specific histone and nonhistone proteins that form chromatin. The overall chromatin structure regulates DNA damage responses since chromatin status can impede DNA damage site access by repair proteins. During the process of DNA DSB repair, several chromatin alterations are required to sense damage and facilitate accessibility of the repair machinery. The DNA DSB response is also facilitated by hierarchical signaling networks that orchestrate chromatin structural changes that may coordinate cell-cycle checkpoints involving multiple enzymatic activities to repair broken DNA ends. During DNA damage sensing and repair, histones undergo posttranslational modifications (PTMs) including phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation and ubiquitylation. Such histone modifications represent a histone code that directs the recruitment of proteins involved in DNA damage sensing and repair processes. In this review, we summarize histone modifications that occur during DNA DSB repair processes.
Telomerase is present in human cancer cells but absent in most somatic tissues. The messenger RNA of human telomerase (hTERT) is alternatively spliced into mostly nonfunctional products. We sought to understand splicing so that we could decrease functional splice isoforms to reduce telomerase activity in order to complement direct enzyme inhibition. Unexpectedly, minigenes containing hTERT exons 5-10 flanked by 150-300 bp intronic sequences did not produce alternative splicing. A 1.1 kb region of 38 bp repeats ~2 kb from the exon 6/intron junction restored the exclusion of exons 7 and 8. An element within intron 8, also >1 kb from intron/exon junctions, modulated this effect. Transducing an oligonucleotide complementary to this second element increased nonfunctional hTERT messenger RNA from endogenous telomerase. These results demonstrate the potential of manipulating hTERT splicing for both chemotherapy and regenerative medicine and provide specific sequences deep within introns that regulate alternative splicing in mammalian cells by mechanisms other than the introduction of cryptic splice sites.
Telomerase is a cellular ribonucleoprotein reverse transcriptase that plays a crucial role in telomere maintenance. This enzyme is expressed in approximately 90% of human tumors, but not in the majority of normal somatic cells. imetelstat sodium (GRN163L), is a 13-mer oligonucleotide N3?P5 thio-phosphoramidate lipid conjugate, which represents the latest generation of telomerase inhibitors targeting the template region of the human functional telomerase RNA (hTR) subunit. In preclinical trials, this compound has been found to inhibit telomerase activity in multiple cancer cell lines, as well as in vivo xenograft mouse models. Currently, GRN163L is being investigated in several clinical trials, including a phase II human non?small cell lung cancer clinical trial, in a maintenance setting following standard doublet chemotherapy. In addition to the inhibition of telomerase activity in cancer cell lines, GRN163L causes morphological cell rounding changes, independent of hTR expression or telomere length. This leads to the loss of cell adhesion properties; however, the mechanism underlying this effect is not yet fully understood. In the present study, we observed that GRN163L treatment leads to the loss of adhesion in A549 lung cancer cells, due to decreased E-cadherin expression, leading to the disruption of the cytoskeleton through the alteration of actin, tubulin and intermediate filament organization. Consequently, the less adherent cancer cells initially cease to proliferate and are arrested in the G1 phase of the cell cycle, accompanied by decreased matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) expression. These effects of GRN163L are independent of its telomerase catalytic activity and may increase the therapeutic efficacy of GRN163L by decreasing the adhesion, proliferation and metastatic potential of cancer cells in vivo.
The human LMNA gene encodes the essential nuclear envelope proteins lamin A and C (lamin A/C). Mutations in LMNA result in altered nuclear morphology, but how this impacts the mechanisms that maintain genomic stability is unclear. Here, we report that lamin A/C-deficient cells have a normal response to ionizing radiation but are sensitive to agents that cause interstrand cross-links (ICLs) or replication stress. In response to treatment with ICL agents (cisplatin, camptothecin, and mitomycin), lamin A/C-deficient cells displayed normal ?-H2AX focus formation but a higher frequency of cells with delayed ?-H2AX removal, decreased recruitment of the FANCD2 repair factor, and a higher frequency of chromosome aberrations. Similarly, following hydroxyurea-induced replication stress, lamin A/C-deficient cells had an increased frequency of cells with delayed disappearance of ?-H2AX foci and defective repair factor recruitment (Mre11, CtIP, Rad51, RPA, and FANCD2). Replicative stress also resulted in a higher frequency of chromosomal aberrations as well as defective replication restart. Taken together, the data can be interpreted to suggest that lamin A/C has a role in the restart of stalled replication forks, a prerequisite for initiation of DNA damage repair by the homologous recombination pathway, which is intact in lamin A/C-deficient cells. We propose that lamin A/C is required for maintaining genomic stability following replication fork stalling, induced by either ICL damage or replicative stress, in order to facilitate fork regression prior to DNA damage repair.
Pheochromocytomas are rare tumors generally arising in the medullary region of the adrenal gland. These tumors release excessive epinephrine and norepinephrine resulting in hypertension and cardiovascular crises for which surgery is the only definitive treatment. Molecular mechanisms that control tumor development and hormone production are poorly understood, and progress has been hampered by the lack of human cellular model systems. To study pheochromocytomas, we developed a stable progenitor pheochromocytoma cell line derived from a primary human tumor.
Normal human colonic epithelial cells (HCECs) are not immortalized by telomerase alone but also require CDK4. Some human cell types growth-arrest due to stress- or aberrant signaling-induced senescence (stasis). Stasis represents the consequences of growth conditions culture that are inadequate to maintain long-term proliferation. Overexpressed CDK4 titers out p16 and allows cells to ignore the growth arrest signals produced by stasis. To identify factors contributing to the inadequate culture environment, we used a 62,000-member shRNA library to knock down factors cooperating with human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) in the immortalization of HCECs. Knockdown of Klotho gamma (KLG; also known as KLPH and LCTL) allowed hTERT to immortalize HCECs. KLG is one isoform of the Klotho family of factors that coordinate interaction between different FGF ligands and the FGF receptor. We also found that knockdown of KLG induced another member of the Klotho family, Klotho beta (KLB). Induction of KLB was maintained and could activate ERK1/2 in immortalized cells. Supplementation of the culture medium with the KLB ligand FGF19 had a similar effect on hTERT-expressing HCECs as knockdown of KLG regarding both immortalization and down-regulation of the tumor suppressor Klotho alpha. Together, these data suggest that KLB is an important regulator in the immortalization of HCECs by facilitating FGF19 growth factor signaling.
Pooled short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) library screening is a powerful tool for identifying a set of genes in biological pathways that require stable expression to produce a desired phenotype. Massive parallel sequencing of half-hairpins has proven highly variable and has not given satisfactory results concerning the relative abundance of different shRNAs before and after selection. Here, the authors describe a method for quantitative comparison of half-hairpins from pooled shRNAs in the mir30-based pGIPZ vector that is analyzed by massive parallel sequencing. Introducing a multiplexing code and refining the sample preparation scheme resulted in the predicted ability to detect twofold enrichments. These improvements should permit half-hairpin sequencing to analyze either dropout screens or selective pooled shRNA screens of limited stringency to analyze phenotypes not accessible in transient experiments.
On June 27-28, 2011, scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NASA, and academia met in Bethesda to discuss major lung cancer issues confronting each organization. For NASA, available data suggest that lung cancer is the largest potential cancer risk from space travel for both men and women and quantitative risk assessment information for mission planning is needed. In space, the radiation risk is from high energy and charge (HZE) nuclei (such as Fe) and high-energy protons from solar flares and not from gamma radiation. In contrast, the NCI is endeavoring to estimate the increased lung cancer risk from the potential widespread implementation of computed tomographic (CT) screening in individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer based on the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST). For the latter, exposure will be X-rays from CT scans from the screening (which uses "low-dose" CT scans) and also from follow-up scans used to evaluate abnormalities found during initial screening. Topics discussed included the risk of lung cancer arising after HZE particle, proton, and low-dose exposure to Earths radiation. The workshop examined preclinical models, epidemiology, molecular markers, "omics" technology, radiobiology issues, and lung stem cells that relate to the development of lung cancer.
There is mounting evidence for the existence of an important relationship between telomeres and telomerase and cellular aging and cancer. Normal human cells progressively lose telomeres with each cell division until a few short telomeres become uncapped leading to a growth arrest known as replicative aging. In the absence of genomic alterations these cells do not die but remain quiescent producing a different constellation of proteins compared to young quiescent cells. Upon specific genetic and epigenetic alterations, normal human cells bypass replicative senescence and continue to proliferate until many telomere ends become uncapped leading to a phenomenon known as crisis. In crisis cells have critically shortened telomeres but continue to attempt to divide leading to significant cell death (apoptosis) and progressive genomic instability. Rarely, a human cell escapes crisis and these cells almost universally express the ribonucleoprotein, telomerase, and maintain stable but short telomeres. The activation of telomerase may be thought of as a mechanism to slow down the rate genomic instability due to dysfunctional telomeres. While telomerase does not drive the oncogenic process, it is permissive and required for the sustain growth of most advanced cancers. Since telomerase is not expressed in most normal human cells, this has led to the development of targeted telomerase cancer therapeutic approaches that are presently in advanced clinical trials.
Progressive telomere shortening from cell division (replicative aging) provides a barrier for human tumor progression. This program is not conserved in laboratory mice, which have longer telomeres and constitutive telomerase. Wild species that do/do not use replicative aging have been reported, but the evolution of different phenotypes and a conceptual framework for understanding their uses of telomeres is lacking. We examined telomeres/telomerase in cultured cells from >?60 mammalian species to place different uses of telomeres in a broad mammalian context. Phylogeny-based statistical analysis reconstructed ancestral states. Our analysis suggested that the ancestral mammalian phenotype included short telomeres (20?kb, as we now see in humans) and repressed telomerase. We argue that the repressed telomerase was a response to a higher mutation load brought on by the evolution of homeothermy. With telomerase repressed, we then see the evolution of replicative aging. Telomere length inversely correlated with lifespan, while telomerase expression co-evolved with body size. Multiple independent times smaller, shorter-lived species changed to having longer telomeres and expressing telomerase. Trade-offs involving reducing the energetic/cellular costs of specific oxidative protection mechanisms (needed to protect 20?kb telomeres in the absence of telomerase) could explain this abandonment of replicative aging. These observations provide a conceptual framework for understanding different uses of telomeres in mammals, support a role for human-like telomeres in allowing longer lifespans to evolve, demonstrate the need to include telomere length in the analysis of comparative studies of oxidative protection in the biology of aging, and identify which mammals can be used as appropriate model organisms for the study of the role of telomeres in human cancer and aging.
The nuclear receptor pregnane X receptor (PXR) is activated by a range of xenochemicals, including chemotherapeutic drugs, and has been suggested to play a role in the development of tumor cell resistance to anticancer drugs. PXR also has been implicated as a regulator of the growth and apoptosis of colon tumors. Here, we have used a xenograft model of colon cancer to define a molecular mechanism that might underlie PXR-driven colon tumor growth and malignancy. Activation of PXR was found to be sufficient to enhance the neoplastic characteristics, including cell growth, invasion, and metastasis, of both human colon tumor cell lines and primary human colon cancer tissue xenografted into immunodeficient mice. Furthermore, we were able to show that this PXR-mediated phenotype required FGF19 signaling. PXR bound to the FGF19 promoter in both human colon tumor cells and "normal" intestinal crypt cells. However, while both cell types proliferated in response to PXR ligands, the FGF19 promoter was activated by PXR only in cancer cells. Taken together, these data indicate that colon cancer growth in the presence of a specific PXR ligand results from tumor-specific induction of FGF19. These observations may lead to improved therapeutic regimens for colon carcinomas.
Landmark cancer genome resequencing efforts are leading to the identification of mutated genes in many types of cancer. The extreme diversity of mutations being detected presents significant challenges to subdivide causal from coincidental mutations to elucidate how disrupted regulatory networks drive cancer processes. Given that a common early perturbation in solid tumor initiation is bypass of matrix-dependent proliferation restraints, we sought to functionally interrogate colorectal cancer candidate genes (CAN-genes) to identify driver tumor suppressors. We have employed an isogenic human colonic epithelial cell (HCEC) model to identify suppressors of anchorage-independent growth by conducting a soft agar-based short hairpin RNA (shRNA) screen within the cohort of CAN-genes. Remarkably, depletion of 65 of the 151 CAN-genes tested collaborated with ectopic expression of K-RAS(V12) and/or TP53 knockdown to promote anchorage-independent proliferation of HCECs. In contrast, only 5 of 362 random shRNAs (1.4%) enhanced soft agar growth. We have identified additional members of an extensive gene network specifying matrix-dependent proliferation, by constructing an interaction map of these confirmed progression suppressors with approximately 700 mutated genes that were excluded from CAN-genes, and experimentally verifying soft agar growth enhancement in response to depletion of a subset of these genes. Collectively, this study revealed a profound diversity of nodes within a fundamental tumor suppressor network that are susceptible to perturbation leading to enhanced cell-autonomous anchorage-independent proliferative fitness. Tumor suppressor network fragility as a paradigm within this and other regulatory systems perturbed in cancer could, in large part, account for the heterogeneity of somatic mutations detected in tumors.
Telomerase is present in most human cancers, and proliferative stem cells including germline cells. Telomerase plays an essential role in tumorigenesis by maintaining/elongating telomeric DNA, and thus preventing the telomere shortening that results in replicative senescence. Understanding telomerase action in vivo has important implication for both cancer and aging, but there are not robust methods for monitoring telomerase action. By combining a series of cell biological and biochemical approaches, and taking advantage of the enzyme DSN that specifically cuts double-stranded DNA and releases the telomeric overhangs, we have developed a method to monitor telomerase action during one cell cycle. Here, we describe this method using HeLa carcinoma cells as an example.
Telomeres terminate in 3 single-stranded G-overhangs that function in telomere end protection and telomerase action. An accurate measurement of overhang length is challenging due to the presence of many kilobases of double-stranded telomere DNA. Here, a simple method is described that utilizes duplex-specific nuclease (DSN) to digest all genomic DNA including telomeres, leaving the single-stranded overhangs intact. The telomere single-strand G-rich overhang length can then be determined by Southern blot-based assays.
DNA damage and consequent mutations initiate the multistep carcinogenic process. Differentiated cells have a reduced capacity to repair DNA lesions, but the biological impact of unrepaired DNA lesions in differentiated lung epithelial cells is unclear. Here, we used a novel organotypic human lung three-dimensional (3D) model to investigate the biological significance of unrepaired DNA lesions in differentiated lung epithelial cells. We showed, consistent with existing notions that the kinetics of loss of simple double-strand breaks (DSBs) were significantly reduced in organotypic 3D culture compared to kinetics of repair in two-dimensional (2D) culture. Strikingly, we found that, unlike simple DSBs, a majority of complex DNA lesions were irreparable in organotypic 3D culture. Levels of expression of multiple DNA damage repair pathway genes were significantly reduced in the organotypic 3D culture compared with those in 2D culture providing molecular evidence for the defective DNA damage repair in organotypic culture. Further, when differentiated cells with unrepaired DNA lesions re-entered the cell cycle, they manifested a spectrum of gross-chromosomal aberrations in mitosis. Our data suggest that downregulation of multiple DNA repair pathway genes in differentiated cells renders them vulnerable to DSBs, promoting genome instability that may lead to carcinogenesis.
A hallmark of muscular dystrophies is the replacement of muscle by connective tissue. Muscle biopsies from patients severely affected with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) may contain few myogenic cells. Because the chromosomal contraction at 4q35 linked to FSHD is thought to cause a defect within myogenic cells, it is important to study this particular cell type, rather than the fibroblasts and adipocytes of the endomysial fibrosis, to understand the mechanism leading to myopathy.
While the adult murine lung utilizes multiple compartmentally restricted progenitor cells during homeostasis and repair, much less is known about the progenitor cells from the human lung. Translating the murine stem cell model to humans is hindered by anatomical differences between species. Here we show that human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) display characteristics of multipotent stem cells of the lung. These HBECs express markers indicative of several epithelial types of the adult lung when experimentally tested in cell culture. When cultured in three different three-dimensional (3D) systems, subtle changes in the microenvironment result in unique responses including the ability of HBECs to differentiate into multiple central and peripheral lung cell types. These new findings indicate that the adult human lung contains a multipotent progenitor cell whose differentiation potential is primarily dictated by the microenvironment. The HBEC system is not only important in understanding mechanisms for specific cell lineage differentiation, but also for examining changes that correlate with human lung diseases including lung cancer.
The role of telomeres and telomerase as a target for cancer therapeutics is an area of continuing interest. This review is intended to provide an update on the field, pointing to areas in which our knowledge remains deficient and exploring the details of the most promising areas being advanced into clinical trials. Topics that will be covered include the role of dysfunctional telomeres in cellular aging and how replicative senescence provides an initial barrier to the emergence of immortalized cells, a hallmark of cancer. As an important translational theme, this review will consider possibilities for selectively targeting telomeres and telomerase to enhance cancer therapy. The role of telomerase as an immunotherapy, as a gene therapy approach using telomerase promoter driven oncolytic viruses and as a small oligonucleotide targeted therapy (Imetelstat) will be discussed.
The brains of ataxia telangiectasia (AT) patients display an aberrant loss of Purkinje cells (PCs) that is postulated to contribute to the observed deficits in motor coordination as well as in learning and cognitive function. AT patients have mutations in the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene [Savitsky et al. (1995) Science 268:1749-1753]. However, in Atm-deficient mice, the neurological defects are limited, and the PCs are not deformed or lost as observed in AT patients [Barlow et al. (1996) Cell 86:159-171]. Here we report that PC-specific deletion of the mouse males absent on the first (mMof) gene (Cre(-)), which encodes a protein that specifically acetylates histone H4 at lysine 16 (H4K16ac) and influences ATM function, is critical for PC longevity. Mice deficient for PC-specific Mof display impaired motor coordination, ataxia, a backward-walking phenotype, and a reduced life span. Treatment of Mof(F/F)/Pcp2-Cre(+) mice with histone deacetylase inhibitors modestly prolongs PC survival and delays death. Therefore, Mof expression and H4K16 acetylation are essential for PC survival and function, and their absence leads to PC loss and cerebellar dysfunction similar to that observed in AT patients.
Specific information about how telomerase acts in vivo is necessary for understanding telomere dynamics in human tumor cells. Our results imply that, under homeostatic telomere length-maintenance conditions, only one molecule of telomerase acts at each telomere during every cell division and processively adds ?60 nt to each end. In contrast, multiple molecules of telomerase act at each telomere when telomeres are elongating (nonequilibrium conditions). Telomerase extension is less processive during the first few weeks following the reversal of long-term treatment with the telomerase inhibitor Imetelstat (GRN163L), a time when Cajal bodies fail to deliver telomerase RNA to telomeres. This result implies that processing of telomerase by Cajal bodies may affect its processivity. Overexpressed telomerase is also less processive than the endogenously expressed telomerase. These findings reveal two major distinct extension modes adopted by telomerase in vivo.
Chromosomal instability leading to aneuploidy occurs in most sporadic colorectal cancers (CRCs) and is believed to be an early driving force in disease progression. Despite this observation, the cellular advantages conferred by these cytogenetic alterations are poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence that serum-free passage of originally diploid, immortalized human colonic epithelial cells (HCECs) gave rise to the acquisition of trisomy 7 (+7), an aneuploidy detected in more than 40% of colorectal adenomas. These cells remain diploid under long-term growth in 2% serum conditions. Analysis by GTG banding and fluorescent in situ hybridization detected no rare preexisting +7 cell in the original population, suggesting a conversion of diploid cells to an aneuploid state. The acquisition of +7 also precedes loss or truncation of the adenomatosis polyposis coli gene as both diploid and +7 cells express full-length, functional protein. Coculturing of fluorescent-labeled cells demonstrate that +7 HCECs have a growth advantage over diploid cells in serum-free conditions. Defects in cell migration and aberrant regulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor, located on chromosome 7p, are also detected in +7 HCECs. Interestingly, knockdown of TP53 and expression of K-Ras(V12) in +7 HCECs resulted in the emergence of trisomy 20, another nonrandom aneuploidy observed in ?85% of CRC. In summary, we describe isogenic colonic epithelial cells that represent cytogenetic changes occurring frequently in sporadic CRC. The emergence and characterization of trisomy 7 and 20 demonstrate that these HCECs may serve as unique human cell-based models to examine the effects of chromosomal instability in CRC progression.
Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) is a candidate marker for lung cancer cells with stem cell-like properties. Immunohistochemical staining of a large panel of primary non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples for ALDH1A1, ALDH3A1, and CD133 revealed a significant correlation between ALDH1A1 (but not ALDH3A1 or CD133) expression and poor prognosis in patients including those with stage I and N0 disease. Flow cytometric analysis of a panel of lung cancer cell lines and patient tumors revealed that most NSCLCs contain a subpopulation of cells with elevated ALDH activity, and that this activity is associated with ALDH1A1 expression. Isolated ALDH(+) lung cancer cells were observed to be highly tumorigenic and clonogenic as well as capable of self-renewal compared with their ALDH(-) counterparts. Expression analysis of sorted cells revealed elevated Notch pathway transcript expression in ALDH(+) cells. Suppression of the Notch pathway by treatment with either a ?-secretase inhibitor or stable expression of shRNA against NOTCH3 resulted in a significant decrease in ALDH(+) lung cancer cells, commensurate with a reduction in tumor cell proliferation and clonogenicity. Taken together, these findings indicate that ALDH selects for a subpopulation of self-renewing NSCLC stem-like cells with increased tumorigenic potential, that NSCLCs harboring tumor cells with ALDH1A1 expression have inferior prognosis, and that ALDH1A1 and CD133 identify different tumor subpopulations. Therapeutic targeting of the Notch pathway reduces this ALDH(+) component, implicating Notch signaling in lung cancer stem cell maintenance.
Cancer stem cells (CSC) are rare drug-resistant cancer cell subsets proposed to be responsible for the maintenance and recurrence of cancer and metastasis. Telomerase is constitutively active in both bulk tumor cell and CSC populations but has only limited expression in normal tissues. Thus, inhibition of telomerase has been shown to be a viable approach in controlling cancer growth in nonclinical studies and is currently in phase II clinical trials. In this study, we investigated the effects of imetelstat (GRN163L), a potent telomerase inhibitor, on both the bulk cancer cells and putative CSCs. When breast and pancreatic cancer cell lines were treated with imetelstat in vitro, telomerase activity in the bulk tumor cells and CSC subpopulations were inhibited. Additionally, imetelstat treatment reduced the CSC fractions present in the breast and pancreatic cell lines. In vitro treatment with imetelstat, but not control oligonucleotides, also reduced the proliferation and self-renewal potential of MCF7 mammospheres and resulted in cell death after <4 weeks of treatment. In vitro treatment of PANC1 cells showed reduced tumor engraftment in nude mice, concomitant with a reduction in the CSC levels. Differences between telomerase activity expression levels or telomere length of CSCs and bulk tumor cells in these cell lines did not correlate with the increased sensitivity of CSCs to imetelstat, suggesting a mechanism of action independent of telomere shortening for the effects of imetelstat on the CSC subpopulations. Our results suggest that imetelstat-mediated depletion of CSCs may offer an alternative mechanism by which telomerase inhibition may be exploited for cancer therapy.
Increasing evidence points to the functional importance of alternative splice variations in cancer pathophysiology. Two splice variants are derived from the CASP9 gene via the inclusion (Casp9a) or exclusion (Casp9b) of a four-exon cassette. Here we show that alternative splicing of Casp9 is dysregulated in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) regardless of their pathologic classification. Based on these findings we hypothesized that survival pathways activated by oncogenic mutation regulated this mechanism. In contrast to K-RasV12 expression, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression or mutation dramatically lowered the Casp9a/9b splice isoform ratio. Moreover, Casp9b downregulation blocked the ability of EGFR mutations to induce anchorage-independent growth. Furthermore, Casp9b expression blocked inhibition of clonogenic colony formation by erlotinib. Interrogation of oncogenic signaling pathways showed that inhibition of phosphoinositide 3-kinase or Akt dramatically increased the Casp9a/9b ratio in NSCLC cells. Finally, Akt was found to mediate exclusion of the exon 3,4,5,6 cassette of Casp9 via the phosphorylation state of the RNA splicing factor SRp30a via serines 199, 201, 227, and 234. Taken together, our findings show that oncogenic factors activating the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway can regulate alternative splicing of Casp9 via a coordinated mechanism involving the phosphorylation of SRp30a.
Radiation-induced carcinogenesis is a major concern both for astronauts on long-term space missions and for cancer patients being treated with therapeutic radiation. Exposure to radiation induces oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which are critical initiators and promoters of carcinogenesis. Many studies have demonstrated that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antioxidants can reduce the risk of radiation-induced cancer. In this study, we found that a synthetic triterpenoid, CDDO-Me (bardoxolone methyl), was able to protect human colon epithelial cells (HCECs) against radiation-induced transformation. HCECs that were immortalized by ectopic expression of hTERT and cdk4 and exhibit trisomy for chromosome 7 (a non-random chromosome change that occurs in 37% of premalignant colon adenomas) can be transformed experimentally with one combined exposure to 2 Gy of protons at 1 GeV/nucleon followed 24 h later by 50 cGy of (56)Fe ions at 1 GeV/nucleon. Transformed cells showed an increase in proliferation rate and in both anchorage-dependent and independent colony formation ability. A spectrum of chromosome aberrations was observed in transformed cells, with 40% showing loss of 17p (e.g. loss of one copy of p53). Pretreatment of cells with pharmacological doses of CDDO-Me, which has been shown to induce antioxidative as well as anti-inflammatory responses, prevented the heavy-ion-induced increase in proliferation rate and anchorage-dependent and independent colony formation efficiencies. Taken together, these results demonstrate that experimentally immortalized human colon epithelial cells with a non-random chromosome 7 trisomy are valuable premalignant cellular reagents that can be used to study radiation-induced colorectal carcinogenesis. The utility of premalignant HCECs to test novel compounds such as CDDO-Me that can be used to protect against radiation-induced neoplastic transformation is also demonstrated.
In this review we present critical overview of some of the available literature on the fundamental biology of telomeres and telomerase in Metazoan. With the exception of Nematodes and Arthropods, the (TTAGGG)(n) sequence is conserved in most Metazoa. Available data show that telomerase-based end maintenance is a very ancient mechanism in unicellular and multicellular organisms. In invertebrates, fish, amphibian, and reptiles persistent telomerase activity in somatic tissues might allow the maintenance of the extensive regenerative potentials of these species. Telomerase repression among birds and many mammals suggests that, as humans, they may use replicative aging as a tumor protection mechanism.
The majority of established human prostate cancer cell lines are derived from metastatic lesions and are already tumorigenic in vivo, therefore immortalized normal prostate cell lines may provide a more relevant model to unveil the mechanisms associated with cancer progression and metastasis.
Caspase-9 is involved in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and suggested to play a role as a tumor suppressor. Little is known about the mechanisms governing caspase-9 expression, but post-transcriptional pre-mRNA processing generates 2 splice variants from the caspase-9 gene, pro-apoptotic caspase-9a and anti-apoptotic caspase-9b. Here we demonstrate that the ratio of caspase-9 splice variants is dysregulated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. Mechanistic analysis revealed that an exonic splicing silencer (ESS) regulated caspase-9 pre-mRNA processing in NSCLC cells. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L (hnRNP L) interacted with this ESS, and downregulation of hnRNP L expression induced an increase in the caspase-9a/9b ratio. Although expression of hnRNP L lowered the caspase-9a/9b ratio in NSCLC cells, expression of hnRNP L produced the opposite effect in non-transformed cells, suggesting a post-translational modification specific for NSCLC cells. Indeed, Ser52 was identified as a critical modification regulating the caspase-9a/9b ratio. Importantly, in a mouse xenograft model, downregulation of hnRNP L in NSCLC cells induced a complete loss of tumorigenic capacity that was due to the changes in caspase-9 pre-mRNA processing. This study therefore identifies a cancer-specific mechanism of hnRNP L phosphorylation and subsequent lowering of the caspase-9a/9b ratio, which is required for the tumorigenic capacity of NSCLC cells.
Differences between normal adult tissue stem cells and cancer stem/initiating cells remain poorly defined. For example, it is controversial if cancer stem cells can become fully quiescent, require a stem cell niche, are better at repairing DNA damage than the bulk of the cancer cells, and if and how they regulate symmetric versus asymmetric cell divisions. This minireview will not only provide our personal views to address some of these outstanding questions, but also present evidence that an understanding of telomere dynamics and telomerase activity in normal and cancer stem cells may provide additional insights into how tumors are initiated, and how they should be monitored and treated.
The DNA double-strand break (DSB) damage response induced by high energy charged particles on lung fibroblast cells embedded in a 3-dimensional (3-D) collagen tissue equivalents was investigated using antibodies to the DNA damage response proteins gamma-histone 2AX (gamma-H2AX) and phosphorylated DNA-PKcs (p-DNA-PKcs).
Curcumin has shown some promise in the prevention of oral carcinogenesis by mechanism(s) that are still not completely resolved. Messenger RNA translation is mediated in eukaryotes by the eIF4F complex composed of eukaryotic translation initiation factors eIF4E, eIF4G, and eIF4A. Overexpression of some of these components or the inactivation of initiation repressor proteins (4E-BP1) has been implicated in cancer development including oral carcinogenesis by affecting cell survival, angiogenesis, and tumor growth and invasion. In this study, we examined the possibility that curcumin affects the translational machinery differently in normal, immortalized normal, leukoplakia, and malignant cells. Curcumin treatment in vitro inhibited the growth of immortalized oral mucosa epithelial cells (NOM9-CT) and the leukoplakia cells (MSK-Leuk1s) as well as in the UMSCC22B and SCC4 cells derived from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Curcumin only exerted minor effects on the growth of normal oral epithelial cells (NOM9). In the immortalized, leukoplakia, and cancer cells, curcumin inhibited cap-dependent translation by suppressing the phosphorylation of 4E-BP1, eIF4G, eIF4B, and Mnk1, and also reduced the total levels of eIF4E and Mnk1. Our findings show that immortalized normal, leukoplakia, and malignant oral cells are more sensitive to curcumin and show greater modulation of protein translation machinery than the normal oral cells, indicating that targeting this process may be an important approach to chemoprevention in general and for curcumin in particular.
The discovery of rare tumor cells with stem cell features first in leukemia and later in solid tumors has emerged as an important area in cancer research. It has been determined that these stem-like tumor cells, termed cancer stem cells, are the primary cellular component within a tumor that drives disease progression and metastasis. In addition to their stem-like ability to self-renew and differentiate, cancer stem cells are also enriched in cells resistant to conventional radiation therapy and to chemotherapy. The immediate implications of this new tumor growth paradigm not only require a re-evaluation of how tumors are initiated, but also on how tumors should be monitored and treated. However, despite the relatively rapid pace of cancer stem cell research in solid tumors such as breast, brain, and colon cancers, similar progress in lung cancer remains hampered in part due to an incomplete understanding of lung epithelial stem cell hierarchy and the complex heterogeneity of the disease. In this review, we provide a critical summary of what is known about the role of normal and malignant lung stem cells in tumor development, the progress in characterizing lung cancer stem cells and the potential for therapeutically targeting pathways of lung cancer stem cell self-renewal.
Telomerase activity is one of the hallmarks of cancer and is a highly relevant therapeutic target. The effects of a novel human telomerase antagonist, imetelstat, on primary human glioblastoma (GBM) tumor-initiating cells were investigated in vitro and in vivo.
Telomere length in humans is emerging as a biomarker of aging because its shortening is associated with aging-related diseases and early mortality. However, genetic mechanisms responsible for these associations are not known. Here, in a cohort of Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians, their offspring, and offspring-matched controls, we studied the inheritance and maintenance of telomere length and variations in two major genes associated with telomerase enzyme activity, hTERT and hTERC. We demonstrated that centenarians and their offspring maintain longer telomeres compared with controls with advancing age and that longer telomeres are associated with protection from age-related diseases, better cognitive function, and lipid profiles of healthy aging. Sequence analysis of hTERT and hTERC showed overrepresentation of synonymous and intronic mutations among centenarians relative to controls. Moreover, we identified a common hTERT haplotype that is associated with both exceptional longevity and longer telomere length. Thus, variations in human telomerase gene that are associated with better maintenance of telomere length may confer healthy aging and exceptional longevity in humans.
Ras proteins affect both proliferation and expression of collagen-degrading enzymes, two important processes in cancer progression. Normal skin architecture is dependent both on the coordinated proliferation and stratification of keratinocytes, as well as the maintenance of a collagen-rich basement membrane. In the present studies we sought to determine whether expression of H-ras in skin keratinocytes would affect these parameters during the establishment and maintenance of an in vitro skin equivalent.
The AKT pathway is an important therapeutic target for cancer drug discovery as it functions as a main point for transducing extracellular and intracellular oncogenic signals. Moreover, alternations of the AKT pathway have been found in a wide range of cancers. In the present study, we found that an Akt1 antisense oligonucleotide (Akt1 AO) significantly downregulated the expression of AKT1 at both the mRNA and protein levels and inhibited cellular growth at nanomolar concentrations in various types of human cancer cells. Combined treatment of Akt1 AO with several cytotoxic drugs resulted in an additive growth inhibition of Caki-1 cells. The in vivo effectiveness of Akt1 AO was determined using two different xenograft nude mouse models. Akt1 AO (30 mg/kg, i.v. every 48 h) significantly inhibited the tumor growth of nude mouse subcutaneously implanted with U251 human glioblastoma cells after 27 days treatment. Akt1 AO (30 mg/kg, i.p continuously via osmotic pump) also significantly inhibited the tumor formation in nude mice implanted with luciferase-expressing MIA human pancreatic cancer cells (MIA-Luc) after 14 days of treatment. The luciferase signals from MIA-Luc cells were reduced or completely abolished after 2 weeks of treatment and the implanted tumors were barely detectable. Our findings suggest that Akt1 AO alone or in combination with other clinically approved anticancer agents should be further explored and progressed into clinical studies as a potential novel therapeutic agent.
Long-term propagation of human colonic epithelial cells (HCEC) of adult origin has been a challenge; currently used HCEC lines are of malignant origin and/or contain multiple cytogenetic changes. We sought to immortalize human colon biopsy-derived cells expressing stem cell markers and retaining multilineage epithelial differentiation capability.
Endogenous genes regulated by telomere length have not previously been identified in human cells. Here we show that telomere length regulates the expression of interferon stimulated gene 15 (ISG15, 1p36.33). ISG15 expression (RNA and protein) increases in human cells with short telomeres, and decreases following the elongation of telomeres by human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). The short-telomere-dependent up-regulation of ISG15 is not mediated by replicative senescence/DNA damage signaling or type I interferons. In human skin specimens obtained from various aged individuals, ISG15 is up-regulated in a subset of cells in older individuals. Our results demonstrate that endogenous human genes can be regulated by the length of telomeres prior to the onset of DNA damage signals, and suggest the possibility that cell turnover/telomere shortening may provide a mechanism for adjusting cellular physiology. The upregulation of ISG15 with telomere shortening may contribute to chronic inflammatory states associated with human aging.
Sarcomas are distinct from carcinomas in that a substantial portion of them use the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism to maintain their telomeres. The present study clarifies the prevalence of the ALT mechanism and examines the prognostic importance of telomere factors in soft-tissue malignant fibrous histiocytomas.
Telomeres are thought to be maintained by the preferential recruitment of telomerase to the shortest telomeres. The extension of the G-rich telomeric strand by telomerase is also believed to be coordinated with the complementary synthesis of the C strand by the conventional replication machinery. However, we show that under telomere length-maintenance conditions in cancer cells, human telomerase extends most chromosome ends during each S phase and is not preferentially recruited to the shortest telomeres. Telomerase rapidly extends the G-rich strand following telomere replication but fill-in of the C strand is delayed into late S phase. This late C-strand fill-in is not executed by conventional Okazaki fragment synthesis but by a mechanism using a series of small incremental steps. These findings highlight differences between telomerase actions during steady state versus nonequilibrium conditions and reveal steps in the human telomere maintenance pathway that may provide additional targets for the development of anti-telomerase therapeutics.
The molecular distinctions between mortality stages 1 (M1; senescence) and 2 (M2; crisis) of human replicative aging are ill defined. We demonstrate a qualitative difference between telomeric end associations at M1 and the end fusions that produce dicentric chromosomes and breakage-fusion cycles. Knockdown of ligase IV sufficient to completely inhibit radiation-induced dicentric chromosome formation had no effect on the frequency of telomere associations (TAs), establishing that TAs are not covalent conventional nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) products. TAs preceded and were more numerous than dicentric chromosomes. Cells initially tolerated dicentric chromosomes without dying, but eventually, a combination of too many TAs and dicentrics/complex chromosomal rearrangements resulted in apoptosis. We propose a working model in which end associations represent abortive DNA repair intermediates when the number of telomeric repeats is too small to completely inhibit DNA damage signaling but is sufficient to prevent the final covalent ligation step of NHEJ and induces the M1 checkpoint arrest in normal human cells. Rather than being all-or-none, telomere deprotection would thus proceed first through TAs before additional shortening leads to dicentric chromosomes. M2/crisis involves both qualitative changes (a shift from TAs to TAs plus dicentric chromosomes) and quantitative changes (an increase in the number of dysfunctional telomeres).
In 1932, Bidder postulated that senescence results from "continued action of a (genetic) regulator (of development) after growth ceases (maturation occurs)." A 16-year-old girl who physically appears to be an infant has not been diagnosed with any known genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormality. The subjects anthropometric measurements are that of an 11-month-old. Coordinated development of structures for swallowing/breathing has not occurred resulting in dysfunctional digestive and respiratory systems. Brain structure, proprioception and neuroendocrine functions are infantile. Dental and bone ages are pre-teen, while telomere length and telomerase inactivity suggest a cellular age at least comparable to her chronological age. Sub-telomeric microdeletions known to be responsible for developmental delay and chromosomal imbalances are not present. Findings suggest that the subject suffers from "developmental disorganization" resulting from spontaneous mutation of Bidders putative "regulator" of development, thereby providing an opportunity to locate and identify developmental gene(s) responsible for ensuring integrated and coordinated change in form and function from conception to adulthood. If their continued expression beyond maturation erodes internal order to promote senescence then further study of her DNA and testing of homologous genes in animal models may provide clues to genetic determinants of aging and human life span.
The terms cancer-initiating or cancer stem cells have been the subject of great interest in recent years. In this review we will use pancreatic cancer as an overall theme to draw parallels with historical findings to compare to recent reports of stem-like characteristics in pancreatic cancer. We will cover such topics as label-retaining cells (side-population), ABC transporter pumps, telomerase, quiescence, cell surface stem cell markers, and epithelial-mesenchymal transitions. Finally we will integrate the available findings into a pancreatic stem cell model that also includes metastatic disease.
Astronauts may be at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer after a prolonged interplanetary mission given the potential for greater carcinogenic effects of radiation to the colon. In addition, with an increase in age, there is a greater incidence of premalignant colon adenomas with age. In the present study, we have compared the effects of radiation on human colon epithelial cells in two-dimensional (2D) monolayer culture, in three-dimensional (3D) culture, and in intact human colon tissue biopsies. Immortalized colon epithelial cells were irradiated at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) with either 1 Gy 1 GeV/nucleon (56)Fe particles or 1 Gy 1 GeV/nucleon protons and were stained at various times to assess DNA damage and repair responses. The results show more persisting damage at 24 h with iron-particle radiation compared to protons. Similar results were seen in 3D colon epithelial cell cultures in which (56)Fe-particle-irradiated specimens show more persisting damage at 24 h than those irradiated with low-LET gamma rays. We compared these results to those obtained from human colon tissue biopsies irradiated with 1 Gy gamma rays or 1 Gy 1 GeV (56)Fe particles. Observations of radiation-induced DNA damage and repair in gamma-irradiated specimens revealed more pronounced early DNA damage responses in the epithelial cell compartment compared to the stromal cell compartment. After low-LET irradiation, the damage foci mostly disappeared at 24 h. Antibodies to more than one type of DNA repair factor display this pattern of DNA damage, and staining of nonirradiated cells with nonphosphorylated DNA-PKcs shows a predominance of epithelial staining over stromal cells. Biopsy specimens irradiated with high-LET radiations also show a pattern of predominance of the DNA damage response in the highly proliferative epithelial cell compartment. Persistent unrepaired DNA damage in colon epithelial cells and the differing repair responses between the epithelial and mesenchymal compartments in tissues may enhance tumorigenesis by both stem cell transformation and alterations in the radiation-induced permissive tissue microenvironment that may potentiate cancer progression.
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JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
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In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.