Activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) triggers anti-apoptotic signaling, proliferation, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, and drug resistance, which leads to development and progression of human epithelial cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Inhibition of EGFR by tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as gefitinib and erlotinib has provided a new hope for the cure of NSCLC patients. However, acquired resistance to gefitinib and erlotinib via EGFR-mutant NSCLC has occurred through various molecular mechanisms such as T790M secondary mutation, MET amplification, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) overexpression, PTEN downregulation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and other mechanisms. This review will discuss the biology of receptor tyrosine kinase inhibition and focus on the molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors of EGFR-mutant NSCLC.
Accumulating evidence indicates that a small population of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is involved in intrinsic resistance to cancer treatment. The hypoxic microenvironment is an important stem cell niche that promotes the persistence of CSCs in tumors. Our aim here was to elucidate the role of hypoxia and CSCs in the resistance to gefitinib in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation. NSCLC cell lines, PC9 and HCC827, which express the EGFR exon 19 deletion mutations, were exposed to high concentration of gefitinib under normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Seven days after gefitinib exposure, a small fraction of viable cells were detected, and these were referred to as "gefitinib-resistant persisters" (GRPs). CD133, Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, CXCR4, and ALDH1A1-all genes involved in stemness-were highly expressed in GRPs in PC9 and HCC827 cells, and PC9 GRPs exhibited a high potential for tumorigenicity in vivo. The expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) was also upregulated and IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) was activated on GRPs. Importantly, hypoxic exposure significantly increased sphere formation, reflecting the self-renewal capability, and the population of CD133- and Oct4-positive GRPs. Additionally, hypoxia upregulated IGF1 expression through hypoxia-inducible factor 1? (HIF1?), and markedly promoted the activation of IGF1R on GRPs. Knockdown of IGF1 expression significantly reduced phosphorylated IGF1R-expressing GRPs under hypoxic conditions. Finally, inhibition of HIF1? or IGF1R by specific inhibitors significantly decreased the population of CD133- and Oct4-positive GRPs, which were increased by hypoxia in PC9 and HCC827 cells. Collectively, these findings suggest that hypoxia increased the population of lung CSCs resistant to gefitinib in EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC by activating IGF1R. Targeting the IGF1R pathway may be a promising strategy for overcoming gefitinib resistance in EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC induced by lung CSCs and microenvironment factors such as tumor hypoxia.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is thought to contribute to cancer metastasis, but its underlying mechanisms are not well understood. To define early steps in this cellular transformation, we analyzed human mammary epithelial cells with tightly regulated expression of Snail-1, a master regulator of EMT. After Snail-1 induction, epithelial markers were repressed within 6 hr, and mesenchymal genes were induced at 24 hr. Snail-1 binding to its target promoters was transient (6-48 hr) despite continued protein expression, and it was followed by both transient and long-lasting chromatin changes. Pharmacological inhibition of selected histone acetylation and demethylation pathways suppressed the induction as well as the maintenance of Snail-1-mediated EMT. Thus, EMT involves an epigenetic switch that may be prevented or reversed with the use of small-molecule inhibitors of chromatin modifiers.
Although N-ERC/mesothelin (N-ERC) is an attractive diagnostic and treatment monitoring biomarker for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), its clinical utility for predicting the prognosis has not yet been clarified. The aim of this study is to investigate whether the serum N-ERC level can accurately predict the outcome in patients with MPM.
Homeobox 9 (HOXB9), a nontransforming transcription factor overexpressed in breast cancer, alters tumor cell fate and promotes tumor progression and metastasis. Here we show that HOXB9 confers resistance to ionizing radiation by promoting DNA damage response. In nonirradiated cells, HOXB9 induces spontaneous DNA damage, phosphorylated histone 2AX and p53 binding protein 1 foci, and increases baseline ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) phosphorylation. Upon ionizing radiation, ATM is hyperactivated in HOXB9-expressing cells during the early stages of the double-stranded DNA break (DSB) response, accelerating accumulation of phosphorylated histone 2AX, mediator of DNA-damage checkpoint 1, and p53 binding protein 1, at DSBs and enhances DSB repair. The effect of HOXB9 on the response to ionizing radiation requires the baseline ATM activity before irradiation and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition induced by TGF-?, a HOXB9 transcriptional target. Our results reveal the impact of a HOXB9-TGF-?-ATM axis on checkpoint activation and DNA repair, suggesting that TGF-? may be a key factor that links tumor microenvironment, tumor cell fate, DNA damage response, and radioresistance in a subset of HOXB9-overexpressing breast tumors.
The lung is one of the sites of granulomatous responses, which are characterized by the recruitment and organization of activated macrophages and lymphocytes. There have been several reports that have shown that some pulmonary granulomatous diseases, such as sarcoidosis and nontuberculous mycobacterial disease, are likely to be characterized by a preponderance in postmenopausal females. Although sex hormones have been shown to play an important role in the regulation of the immune system, the influence of sex hormones on pulmonary granuloma formation is still unclear. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess whether sex hormones are involved in granulomatous inflammation and to evaluate how sex hormones modulate this response in the lung.
Cholinergic receptors are expressed in small cell lung cancer (SCLC); however, the distinct functions of muscarinic cholinergic receptor 3 (mAChR3) and the nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR) in SCLC have not yet been completely elucidated.
Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) is associated with advanced-stage lung cancer and is a poor prognostic sign for these patients. Osteopontin (OPN) is a multifunctional cytokine that is involved in the tumor progression and angiogenesis of lung cancer cells. The purpose of this study is to investigate and provide evidence for the role of OPN in the formation of MPE associated with lung cancer. In this study, we established an OPN knockdown murine lung cancer cell line, 3LL cells, utilizing the small interfering RNA (siRNA) technique. To reveal the effect of OPN on the formation of MPE associated with lung cancer, we directly injected OPN knockdown 3LL cells, 3LL/OPN siRNA, or control cells, 3LL/control siRNA, into the pleural space of C57BL/6 mice. OPN knockdown significantly reduced the formation of MPE, but did not inhibit in vivo tumor growth of 3LL cells in mice. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) concentration in MPE was markedly decreased in the 3LL/OPN siRNA in comparison with that of the 3LL/control siRNA. In vitro, recombinant OPN protein enhanced VEGF secretion from human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) or human mesothelial cell line, Met5A cells, in a concentration-dependent manner. These results suggest that OPN is positively involved in the formation of MPE of lung cancer presumably by promoting VEGF secretion from vascular endothelial cells or mesothelial cells. OPN could be an effective target molecule for reducing MPE in lung cancer patients.
Osteopontin (OPN) is a multi-functional cytokine involved in cell survival, migration and adhesion which is associated with tumorigenesis, progression and metastasis. However, the role of OPN in chemo-sensitivity of human lung cancer has not yet been elucidated. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of OPN in chemo-sensitivity of lung cancer cells. We developed a stable OPN transfectant (SBC-3/OPN) and a control transfectant (SBC-3/NEO) from human small cell lung cancer cell line, SBC-3. SBC-3/OPN cells were more resistant to cisplatin than SBC-3/NEO cells. Multi-drug resistance-associated protein (MRP) does not appear to be involved in the development of acquired chemo-resistance, since MRP inhibitor did not alter chemo-sensitivity. After exposure to cisplatin, the apoptotic SBC-3/OPN cells were reduced in number compared to SBC-3/NEO cells. Treatment with cisplatin revealed that the expression of anti-apoptotic protein, bcl-2, was down-regulated in SBC-3/NEO cells, while that of SBC-3/OPN cells was not altered. In contrast, pro-apoptotic protein, bax, was not altered in both SBC-3/OPN and SBC-3/NEO cells, thus bcl-2/bax ratio was decreased in SBC-3/NEO but not altered in SBC-3/OPN cells. Activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9 was increased in SBC-3/NEO cells, but not in SBC-3/OPN cells. Our results suggest that OPN enhances chemo-resistance of cisplatin in SBC-3 cells by suppressing bcl-2 protein down-regulation, thereby blocking the caspase-9- and caspase-3-dependent cell apoptosis.
Somatic mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene, such as exon 19 deletion mutations, are important factors in determining therapeutic responses to gefitinib in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, some patients have activating mutations in EGFR and show poor responses to gefitinib. In this study, we examined three NSCLC cell lines, HCC827, PC9, and HCC2935, that expressed an EGFR exon 19 deletion mutation. All cells expressed mutant EGFR, but the PC9 and HCC2935 cells also expressed wild-type EGFR. The HCC827 cells were highly sensitive to gefitinib under both normoxia and hypoxia. However, the PC9 and HCC2935 cells were more resistant to gefitinib under hypoxic conditions compared to normoxia. Phosphorylation of EGFR and ERK was suppressed with gefitinib treatment to a lesser extent under hypoxia. The expression of transforming growth factor-? (TGF?) was dramatically upregulated under hypoxia, and the knockdown of TGF? or hypoxia-inducible factor-1? (HIF1?) reversed the resistance to gefitinib in hypoxic PC9 and HCC2935 cells. Finally, introduction of the wild-type EGFR gene into the HCC827 cells caused resistance to gefitinib under hypoxia. This phenomenon was also reversed by the knockdown of TGF? or HIF1?. Our results indicate that hypoxia causes gefitinib resistance in EGFR-mutant NSCLC through the activation of wild-type EGFR mediated by the upregulation of TGF?. The presence of wild-type and mutant EGFR along with tumor hypoxia are important factors that should be considered when treating NSCLC patients with gefitinib.
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