Despite intense research efforts that have provided enormous insight, cancer continues to be a poorly understood disease. There has been much debate over whether the cancerous state can be said to originate in a single cell or whether it is a reflection of aberrant behaviour on the part of a 'society of cells'. This article presents, in the form of a debate conducted among the authors, three views of how the problem might be addressed. We do not claim that the views exhaust all possibilities. These views are (a) the tissue organization field theory (TOFT) that is based on a breakdown of tissue organization involving many cells from different embryological layers, (b) the cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis that focuses on genetic and epigenetic changes that take place within single cells, and (c) the proposition that rewiring of the cell's protein interaction networks mediated by intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) drives the tumorigenic process. The views are based on different philosophical approaches. In detail, they differ on some points and agree on others. It is left to the reader to decide whether one approach to understanding cancer appears more promising than the other.
Prostate-associated gene 4 (PAGE4) is a cancer/testis antigen that is typically restricted to the testicular germ cells but is aberrantly expressed in cancer. Furthermore, PAGE4 is developmentally regulated with dynamic expression patterns in the developing prostate and is also a stress-response protein that is upregulated in response to cellular stress. PAGE4 interacts with c-Jun, which is activated by the stress-response kinase JNK1, and plays an important role in the development and pathology of the prostate gland. Here, we have identified homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 1 (HIPK1), also a component of the stress-response pathway, as a kinase that phosphorylates PAGE4 at T51. We show that phosphorylation of PAGE4 is critical for its transcriptional activity since mutating this T residue abolishes its ability to potentiate c-Jun transactivation. In vitro single molecule FRET indicates phosphorylation results in compaction of (still) intrinsically disordered PAGE4. Interestingly, however, while our previous observations indicated that the wild-type nonphosphorylated PAGE4 protein interacted with c-Jun [Rajagopalan , K. et al. ( 2014 ) Biochim, Biophys. Acta 1842 , 154 -163], here we show that phosphorylation of PAGE4 weakens its interaction with c-Jun in vitro. These data suggest that phosphorylation induces conformational changes in natively disordered PAGE4 resulting in its decreased affinity for c-Jun to promote interaction of c-Jun with another, unidentified, partner. Alternatively, phosphorylated PAGE4 may induce transcription of a novel partner, which then potentiates c-Jun transactivation. Regardless, the present results clearly implicate PAGE4 as a component of the stress-response pathway and uncover a novel link between components of this pathway and prostatic development and disease.
The prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) is an established target for the delivery of cancer therapeutic and imaging agents due to its high expression on the surface of prostate cancer cells and within the neovasculature of other solid tumors. Here, we describe the synthesis and screening of antibody-conjugated silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles for PSMA-specific cell targeting. The humanized anti-PSMA antibody, HuJ591, was conjugated to a series of nanoparticles with varying densities of polyethylene glycol and primary amine groups. Customized assays utilizing iron spectral absorbance and enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) were developed to screen microgram quantities of nanoparticle formulations for immunoreactivity and cell targeting ability. Antibody and PSMA-specific targeting of the optimized nanoparticle was evaluated using an isogenic PSMA-positive and PSMA-negative cell line pair. Specific nanoparticle targeting was confirmed by iron quantification with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). These methods and nanoparticles support the promise of targeted theranostic agents for future treatment of prostate and other cancers.
Aim: To develop and apply a heat-responsive and secreted reporter assay for comparing cellular response to nanoparticle (NP)- and macroscopic-mediated sublethal hyperthermia. Materials & methods: Reporter cells were heated by water bath (macroscopic heating) or iron oxide NPs activated by alternating magnetic fields (nanoscopic heating). Cellular responses to these thermal stresses were measured in the conditioned media by secreted luciferase assay. Results & conclusion: Reporter activity was responsive to macroscopic and nanoparticle heating and activity correlated with measured macroscopic thermal dose. Significant cellular responses were observed with NP heating under doses that were insufficient to measurably change the temperature of the system. Under these conditions, the reporter response correlated with proximity to cells loaded with heated nanoparticles. These results suggest that NP and macroscopic hyperthermia may be distinctive under conditions of mild hyperthermia. Original submitted 10 May 2013; Revised submitted 31 October 2013.
Prostate cancer is a heterogeneous disease and thus, it is important to understand whether among the heterogeneous collection of cell types, androgen-deprivation insensitive cells exist prior to hormonal manipulation. We established several LNCaP subclones with distinct insensitivities to androgen deprivation from a parental LNCaP cell line. In the resulting clones, the sensitivity to androgen-deprivation negatively correlated with their PSA expression levels. In two of these clones, an androgen insensitive clone, LNCaP-cl1, and an androgen sensitive clone, LNCaP-cl5, the DNA copy number differed significantly, indicating that these clones contain genetically distinct cells. LNCaP-cl1 had higher PSA expression but lower invasiveness and tumor growth potential than LNCaP-cl5. The expression levels of two genes that are known to be regulated by miR-21, an androgen-regulated microRNA, Sprouty1 (SPRY1) and Jagged1 (JAG1) were significantly lower in LNCaP-cl1 than in LNCaP-cl5. Knocking down SPRY1 in LNCaP cells enhanced PSA expression and cell proliferation. JAG1 administration in LNCaP cells enhanced cell invasion and JAG1 knockdown in PC3 cells suppressed cell invasion and tumor formation. These results indicated that the expression differences in SPRY1 and JAG1 may contribute to the phenotypic differences between the LNCaP-cl1 and LNCaP-cl5 clones. In tissue samples, SPRY1 expression levels were significantly lower in prostate cancer patients with PSA recurrence after surgical treatment (P?=?0.0076) and JAG1 expression levels were significantly higher in Gleason sum (GS) 8-9 disease than in GS 5-6 (P?=?0.0121). In summary a random population of LNCaP cells comprises a heterogeneous group of cells with different androgen-deprivation sensitivities and potential for invasiveness.
The tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)-associated factor 4 (TRAF4) is a member of TRAF family proteins that act as major signal transducers of the TNF receptor and the interleukin-1 receptor/Toll-like receptor (IL-1R/TLR) superfamily. TRAF4 has been reported to be overexpressed in various human cancers. However, the exact mechanisms that regulate the expression of TRAF4 still remain elusive. The objective of the present study was to investigate the regulatory mechanism of TRAF4 expression in prostate cancer. We initially identified microRNA-29a (miR?29a) as a possible candidate to bind TRAF4 3 untranslated region (3UTR) by the algorithm, TargetScan. The expression of TRAF4 mRNA and protein was inversely associated with miR-29a expression in prostate cancer cell lines (LNCaP, DU145 and PC3). TRAF4 expression was reduced by the introduction of mimic miR-29a in LNCaP cells. Luciferase activity from the construct harboring wild-type TRAF4 3UTR was reduced by the mimic miR-29a and this reduction was diminished by introducing mutations at the predicted miR-29a binding site. On the other hand, TRAF4 was upregulated when transfected with the inhibitor of miR-29a in DU145 and PC3 cells. TRAF4 was significantly upregulated in patients with metastatic prostate cancer compared to those with localized prostate cancer. Furthermore, there was a significant inverse correlation between TRAF4 and miR-29a expression in tumor tissues from radical prostatectomy. Considered together, our results suggest that the tumor suppressor microRNA, miR-29a, is one of the regulators of TRAF4 expression in metastatic prostate cancer.
The Cancer/Testis Antigen (CTA), Prostate-associated Gene 4 (PAGE4), is a stress-response protein that is upregulated in prostate cancer (PCa) especially in precursor lesions that result from inflammatory stress. In cells under stress, translocation of PAGE4 to mitochondria increases while production of reactive oxygen species decreases. Furthermore, PAGE4 is also upregulated in human fetal prostate, underscoring its potential role in development. However, the proteins that interact with PAGE4 and the mechanisms underlying its pleiotropic functions in prostatic development and disease remain unknown. Here, we identified c-Jun as a PAGE4 interacting partner. We show that both PAGE4 and c-Jun are overexpressed in the human fetal prostate; and in cell-based assays, PAGE4 robustly potentiates c-Jun transactivation. Single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer experiments indicate that upon binding to c-Jun, PAGE4 undergoes conformational changes. However, no interaction is observed in presence of BSA or unilamellar vesicles containing the mitochondrial inner membrane diphosphatidylglycerol lipid marker cardiolipin. Together, our data indicate that PAGE4 specifically interacts with c-Jun and that, conformational dynamics may account for its observed pleiotropic functions. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating crosstalk between a CTA and a proto-oncogene. Disrupting PAGE4/c-Jun interactions using small molecules may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for PCa.
One of the striking characteristics of cancer cells is their phenotypic diversity and ability to switch phenotypes in response to environmental fluctuations. Such phenotypic changes (e.g. from drug-sensitive to drug-resistant), which are critical for survival and proliferation, are widely believed to arise due to mutations in the cancer cells genome. However, there is growing concern that such a deterministic view is not entirely consistent with multiple lines of evidence which indicate that cancer can arise in the absence of mutations and can even be reversed to normalcy despite the mutations. In this Commentary, we wish to present an alternate view that highlights how stochasticity in protein interaction networks (PINs) may play a key role in cancer initiation and progression. We highlight the potential role of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and submit that targeting IDPs can lead to new insights and treatment protocols for cancer.
Stress-response pathways play an important role in cancer. The cold-inducible RNA-binding protein RBM3 is upregulated in several types of cancer, including prostate cancer, but its pathogenic contributions are undetermined. RBM3 is expressed at low basal levels in human fetal prostate or in CD133(+) prostate epithelial cells (PrEC), compared with the adult prostate or CD133-PrEC, and RBM3 is downregulated in cells cultured in soft agar or exposed to stress. Notably, RBM3 overexpression in prostate cancer cells attenuated their stem cell-like properties in vitro as well as their tumorigenic potential in vivo. Interestingly, either overexpressing RBM3 or culturing cells at 32°C suppressed RNA splicing of the CD44 variant v8-v10 and increased expression of the standard CD44 (CD44s) isoform. Conversely, silencing RBM3 or culturing cells in soft agar (under conditions that enrich for stem cell-like cells) increased the ratio of CD44v8-v10 to CD44s mRNA. Mechanistic investigations showed that elevating CD44v8-v10 interfered with MMP9-mediated cleavage of CD44s and suppressed expression of cyclin D1, whereas siRNA-mediated silencing of CD44v8-v10 impaired the ability of prostate cancer cells to form colonies in soft agar. Together, these findings suggested that RBM3 contributed to stem cell-like character in prostate cancer by inhibiting CD44v8-v10 splicing. Our work uncovers a hitherto unappreciated role of RBM3 in linking stress-regulated RNA splicing to tumorigenesis, with potential prognostic and therapeutic implications in prostate cancer.
The Cancer Testis Antigens (CTAs) are a group of genes that are highly expressed in the normal testis and several types of cancer. Due to their restricted expression in normal adult tissues, CTAs have been attractive targets for immunotherapy and biomarker development. In this work, we discovered that Centrin 1 (CETN1) which is found in the centrosome of all eukaryotes, may be a member of this group and is highly expressed in prostate and pancreatic cancer. Three members of the centrin family of calcium binding proteins (CETN) are localized to the centrosome in all eukaryotes with CDC31 being the sole yeast homolog. CETN1 is a retrogene that probably arose from a retrotransposition of CETN2, an X-linked gene. A previous mouse study shows that CETN1 is expressed solely in the testis, while CETN2 is expressed in all organs.
Metastasis is a consequence of many biological events, during which cancer stem cells are shifted into a malignant state. Among these events, invasion of prostate cancer cells into host tissues is possible to be assessed by means of an in vitro invasion model, and is thought to be coupled to altered expression of membrane proteins. Dysregulated functions of the factors regulating organogenesis during embryogenesis are known to facilitate metastasis of many types of cancers. PAX2 (paired box 2) is a member of the PAX transcription factor family, which regulates prostatic ductal growth and branching in organogenesis of mammalian prostates. However, the role of PAX2 in prostate cancer development remains to be determined.
The Cancer/Testis Antigens (CTAs) are a heterogeneous group of proteins whose expression is typically restricted to the testis. However, they are aberrantly expressed in most cancers that have been examined to date. Broadly speaking, the CTAs can be divided into two groups: the CTX antigens that are encoded by the X-linked genes and the non-X CT antigens that are encoded by the autosomes. Unlike the non-X CTAs, the CTX antigens form clusters of closely related gene families and their expression is frequently associated with advanced disease with poorer prognosis. Regardless however, the mechanism(s) underlying their selective derepression and stage-specific expression in cancer remain poorly understood, although promoter DNA demethylation is believed to be the major driver.
Cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (Cyr61) is an extracellular matrix protein involved in the transduction of growth factor and hormone signaling. Previously, we demonstrated that Cyr61 was highly expressed in prostate cancer (PCa) but that the expression levels were associated with a lower risk of PCa recurrence. In the present study, we demonstrate that serum Cyr61 is a potential biomarker that correlates with PCa aggressiveness. Furthermore, we also explore the potential mechanism underlying the changes in Cyr61 expression during PCa progression.
The cancer/testis antigens (CTAs) are a group of heterogeneous proteins that are typically expressed in the testis but aberrantly expressed in several types of cancer. Although overexpression of CTAs is frequently associated with advanced disease and poorer prognosis, the significance of this correlation is unclear since the functions of the CTAs in the disease process remain poorly understood. Here, employing a bioinformatics approach, we show that a majority of CTAs are intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). IDPs are proteins that, under physiological conditions in vitro, lack rigid 3D structures either along their entire length or in localized regions. Despite the lack of structure, most IDPs can transition from disorder to order upon binding to biological targets and often promote highly promiscuous interactions. IDPs play important roles in transcriptional regulation and signaling via regulatory protein networks and are often associated with dosage sensitivity. Consistent with these observations, we find that several CTAs can bind DNA, and their forced expression appears to increase cell growth implying a potential dosage-sensitive function. Furthermore, the CTAs appear to occupy "hub" positions in protein regulatory networks that typically adopt a "scale-free" power law distribution. Taken together, our data provide a novel perspective on the CTAs implicating them in processing and transducing information in altered physiological states in a dosage-sensitive manner. Identifying the CTAs that occupy hub positions in protein regulatory networks would allow a better understanding of their functions as well as the development of novel therapeutics to treat cancer.
The Cancer/Testis Antigens (CTAs) are an important group of proteins that are typically restricted to the testis in the normal adult but are aberrantly expressed in several types of cancers. As a result of their restricted expression patterns, the CTAs could serve as unique biomarkers for cancer diagnosis/prognosis. The aim of this study was to identify promising CTAs that are associated with prostate cancer (PCa) recurrence following radical prostatectomy (RP).
Most proteins encoded by the nuclear genome are synthesized in the cytoplasm and fold into precise 3D structures. During synthesis, the nascent polypeptide begins to fold as it traverses the large subunit of the ribosome and is assisted by molecular chaperones in attaining its precise folded/highly ordered state efficiently and in a biologically relevant timescale. Proteins that are misfolded are culled, re-routed, and marked by mechanisms such as ubiquitinylation for degradation ensuring strict quality control (QC). In addition to the highly ordered "globular" proteins, emerging evidence indicates that a large fraction of the proteome also comprises the so-called "Intrinsically Disordered Proteins" (IDPs). IDPs are proteins that lack rigid 3D structures and instead, exist as dynamic ensembles. The dynamic structures in the IDPs have many similarities with "normal" globular proteins such as the native (ordered), and non-native (molten globule, pre-molten globule, and coil-like) states seen during folding of "normal" globular proteins. However, unlike the case of the nascent globular proteins, IDPs evade being detected as "misfolded" and degraded by the cells QC system. We refer to this paradox as the order/disorder paradox and postulate that the IDPs capitalize on their intrinsic promiscuity and ability to undergo disorder-to-order transitions upon binding to biological targets (coupled folding and binding) to escape the cells surveillance machinery. Understanding the mechanism by which the IDPs evade the quality check has wide implications from protein folding to disease biology since the aggregation of misfolded proteins underlies several debilitating illnesses such as many neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
The cancer/testis antigens (CTAs) are an important group of heterogeneous proteins that are predominantly expressed in the testis in the normal human adult but are aberrantly expressed in several types of cancers. Prostate-associated gene 4 (PAGE4) is a member of the CT-X family of CTAs that in addition to testis, is highly expressed in the fetal prostate, and may also play an important role both in benign and malignant prostate diseases. However, the function of this gene remains poorly understood. Here, we show that PAGE4 is a highly (100%) intrinsically disordered protein (IDP). The primary protein sequence conforms to the features of a typical IDP sequence and the secondary structure prediction algorithm metaPrDOS strongly supported this prediction. Furthermore, SDS-gel electrophoresis and analytical size exclusion chromatography of the recombinant protein revealed an anomalous behavior characteristic of IDPs. UV circular dichroism (CD) and NMR spectroscopy confirmed that PAGE4 is indeed a highly disordered protein. In further bioinformatic analysis, the PredictNLS algorithm uncovered a potential nuclear localization signal, whereas the algorithm DBS-Pred returned a 99.1% probability that PAGE4 is a DNA-binding protein. Consistent with this prediction, biochemical experiments showed that PAGE4 preferentially binds a GC-rich sequence. Silencing PAGE4 expression induced cell death via apoptosis and in mice carrying PCa xenografts, siRNA-mediated knockdown of the PAGE4 mRNA attenuated tumor growth in vivo. Furthermore, overexpressing PAGE4 protected cells from stress-induced death. To our knowledge, PAGE4 is the first example of a CTA that is an IDP with an anti-apoptotic function.
Creatine kinase brain (CKB) is one of three cytosolic isoforms of creatine kinase that is predominantly expressed in the brain. The enzyme is overexpressed in a wide variety of cancers, with the exception of colon cancer, where it is downregulated. The significance of this downregulation remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that overexpression of CKB-C283S, a dominant-negative construct that lacks the kinase function but retains its ability to dimerize, causes remarkable changes in cell shape, adhesion, and invasion. Furthermore, it results in increased expression of stromal cell markers such as PAGE4 and SNAIL, suggesting an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in these cells. In cells transfected with a CKB-expressing construct, CKB localizes not only to the cytosol but also to the nucleus, indicating a structural or kinase role unrelated to ATP storage. Furthermore, overexpression of CFP-tagged wild-type (WT) CKB in Caco-2 colon cancer cells dramatically increased the number of cells in G2/M but had little effect on cell proliferation. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the downregulation of CKB may play an important role in colon cancer progression by promoting EMT.
The cancer/testis antigens (CTAs) are a unique group of proteins normally expressed in germ cells but aberrantly expressed in several types of cancers including prostate cancer (PCa). However, their role in PCa has not been fully explored.
The microenvironment of the cancer cell is pivotal to its phenotypic regulation. One of the central components of the microenvironment is temperature. An elevation in environmental temperature has been shown to increase the cancer cells susceptibility to chemo- and radiation therapy. The goal of the studies described here was to identify some of the pathways that are modified by a mild increase in temperature in cancer cells. Using prostate cancer cells as a model system we found that in addition to the well described and anticipated up-regulation of the heat shock family of proteins, there is a significant down-regulation of certain members of the "cold shock" family of proteins such as, RNA binding motif protein 3 (RBM3) and cold inducible RNA binding protein (CIRBP). siRNA-mediated down-regulation of the cold shock protein (CSP) encoding mRNAs dramatically attenuates cell survival in the absence of any heat application. Furthermore, we also demonstrate that knocking down the CSPs can enhance the therapeutic response of prostate cancer cells to chemotherapy. Our findings suggest that down-regulating CSPs in cancer cells may "mimic" the stress response the cells experience when exposed to heat treatment rendering them more susceptible to therapy. Thus, the pharmacological modulation of RBM3 and CIRBP may represent novel therapeutic approaches for prostate cancer.
Following androgen ablation treatment for advanced prostate cancer, almost all men relapse after a period of initial response to therapy, which eventually is life threatening. We have previously found that purine-rich element binding protein, PURalpha, was significantly repressed in androgen-independent prostate cancer cell lines in comparison to an androgen-dependent line. Moreover, over-expressing PURalpha in androgen-independent prostate cancer cells attenuated their cell proliferation. The aim of the studies described here was to uncover some of the mechanisms by which over-expression of PURalpha attenuates cell proliferation.
Intrinsically disordered proteins, IDPs, are proteins that lack a rigid 3D structure under physiological conditions, at least in vitro. Despite the lack of structure, IDPs play important roles in biological processes and transition from disorder to order upon binding to their targets. With multiple conformational states and rapid conformational dynamics, they engage in myriad and often "promiscuous" interactions. These stochastic interactions between IDPs and their partners, defined here as conformational noise, is an inherent characteristic of IDP interactions. The collective effect of conformational noise is an ensemble of protein network configurations, from which the most suitable can be explored in response to perturbations, conferring protein networks with remarkable flexibility and resilience. Moreover, the ubiquitous presence of IDPs as transcriptional factors and, more generally, as hubs in protein networks, is indicative of their role in propagation of transcriptional (genetic) noise. As effectors of transcriptional and conformational noise, IDPs rewire protein networks and unmask latent interactions in response to perturbations. Thus, noise-driven activation of latent pathways could underlie state-switching events such as cellular transformation in cancer. To test this hypothesis, we created a model of a protein network with the topological characteristics of a cancer protein network and tested its response to a perturbation in presence of IDP hubs and conformational noise. Because numerous IDPs are found to be epigenetic modifiers and chromatin remodelers, we hypothesize that they could further channel noise into stable, heritable genotypic changes.
Cancer/testis antigens (CTAs) are a group of tumour-associated antigens (TAAs) that display normal expression in the adult testis--an immune-privileged organ--but aberrant expression in several types of cancers, particularly in advanced cancers with stem cell-like characteristics. There has been an explosion in CTA-based research since CTAs were first identified in 1991 and MAGE-1 was shown to elicit an autologous cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) response in a patient with melanoma. The resulting data have not only highlighted a role for CTAs in tumorigenesis, but have also underscored the translational potential of these antigens for detecting and treating many types of cancers. Studies that have investigated the use of CTAs for the clinical management of urological malignancies indicate that these TAAs have potential roles as novel biomarkers, with increased specificity and sensitivity compared to those currently used in the clinic, and therapeutic targets for cancer immunotherapy. Increasing evidence supports the utilization of these promising tools for urological indications.
The introduction of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the 1980s has dramatically altered and benefited the initial diagnosis of prostate cancer. However, the widespread use of PSA testing has resulted in overdetection and overtreatment of potentially indolent disease. Thus, a clinical dilemma today in the management of prostate cancer is to discern men with aggressive disease who need definitive treatment from men whose disease are not lethal. Although several serum and tissue biomarkers have been evaluated during the past decade, improved markers are still needed to enhance the accuracy, with which patients at risk can be discerned and treated more aggressively. The cancer/testis antigens (CTAs) are a group of proteins that are restricted to the testis in the normal adult, but are aberrantly expressed in several types of cancers. Because of their restricted expression pattern, the CTAs represent attractive biomarker candidates for cancer diagnosis/prognosis. Furthermore, several studies to date have reported the differential expression of CTAs in prostate cancer. Here, we review recent developments that demonstrate the potential of the CTAs as biomarkers to discern the aggressive phenotype of prostate cancer.
Cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (Cyr61) is an extracellular matrix protein involved in the transduction of growth factor and hormone signaling that is frequently altered in expression in several types of cancers. In prostate cancer (PCa), Cyr61 is highly expressed in organ-confined disease. Further, Cyr61 expression levels are associated with a lower risk of disease recurrence, and can be quantitatively measured in the serum. Considered together, these results indicate that Cyr61 is a potential and clinically useful tissue, as well as serum-based biomarker for differentiating lethal and non-lethal PCa.
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