A precise equilibrium between cellular differentiation and proliferation is fundamental for tissue homeostasis. Maintaining this balance is particularly important for the liver, a highly differentiated organ with systemic metabolic functions that is endowed with unparalleled regenerative potential. Carcinogenesis in the liver develops as the result of hepatocellular de-differentiation and uncontrolled proliferation. Here, we identified SLU7, which encodes a pre-mRNA splicing regulator that is inhibited in hepatocarcinoma, as a pivotal gene for hepatocellular homeostasis. SLU7 knockdown in human liver cells and mouse liver resulted in profound changes in pre-mRNA splicing and gene expression, leading to impaired glucose and lipid metabolism, refractoriness to key metabolic hormones, and reversion to a fetal-like gene expression pattern. Additionally, loss of SLU7 also increased hepatocellular proliferation and induced a switch to a tumor-like glycolytic phenotype. Slu7 governed the splicing and/or expression of multiple genes essential for hepatocellular differentiation, including serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 3 (Srsf3) and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4? (Hnf4?), and was critical for cAMP-regulated gene transcription. Together, out data indicate that SLU7 is central regulator of hepatocyte identity and quiescence.
The identification of molecular mechanisms involved in the maintenance of the transformed phenotype of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells is essential for the elucidation of therapeutic strategies. Here, we show that human HCC cells display an autocrine loop mediated by connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) that promotes DNA synthesis and cell survival. Expression of CTGF was stimulated by epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligands and was dependent on the expression of the transcriptional coactivator, Yes-associated protein (YAP). We identified elements in the CTGF gene proximal promoter that bound YAP-enclosing complexes and were responsible for basal and EGFR-stimulated CTGF expression. We also demonstrate that YAP expression can be up-regulated through EGFR activation not only in HCC cells, but also in primary human hepatocytes. CTGF contributed to HCC cell dedifferentiation, expression of inflammation-related genes involved in carcinogenesis, resistance toward doxorubicin, and in vivo HCC cell growth. Importantly, CTGF down-regulated tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) receptor 2 expression and was involved in the reduced sensitivity of these cells toward TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. Conclusion: We have identified autocrine CTGF as a novel determinant of HCC cells neoplastic behavior. Expression of CTGF can be stimulated through the EGFR-signaling system in HCC cells in a novel cross-talk with the oncoprotein YAP. Moreover, to our knowledge, this is the first study that identifies a signaling mechanism triggering YAP gene expression in healthy and transformed liver parenchymal cells.
Hepatocarcinogenesis is a complex multistep process in which many different molecular pathways have been implicated. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is refractory to conventional chemotherapeutic agents, and the new targeted therapies are meeting with limited success. Interreceptor crosstalk and the positive feedback between different signaling systems are emerging as mechanisms of targeted therapy resistance. The identification of such interactions is therefore of particular relevance to improve therapeutic efficacy. Among the different signaling pathways activated in hepatocarcinogenesis the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) system plays a prominent role, being recognized as a "signaling hub" where different extracellular growth and survival signals converge. EGFR can be transactivated in response to multiple heterologous ligands through the physical interaction with multiple receptors, the activity of intracellular kinases or the shedding of EGFR-ligands. In this article we review the crosstalk between the EGFR and other signaling pathways that could be relevant to liver cancer development and treatment.
Inflammation and fibrogenesis are directly related to chronic liver disease progression, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. Currently there are few therapeutic options available to inhibit liver fibrosis. We have evaluated the hepatoprotective and anti-fibrotic potential of orally-administered 5-methylthioadenosine (MTA) in Mdr2(-/-) mice, a clinically relevant model of sclerosing cholangitis and spontaneous biliary fibrosis, followed at later stages by HCC development.
Pre-mRNA splicing is an essential step in the process of gene expression in eukaryotes and consists of the removal of introns and the linking of exons to generate mature mRNAs. This is a highly regulated mechanism that allows the alternative usage of exons, the retention of intronic sequences and the generation of exonic sequences of variable length. Most human genes undergo splicing events, and disruptions of this process have been associated with a variety of diseases, including cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a molecularly heterogeneous type of tumor that usually develops in a cirrhotic liver. Alterations in pre-mRNA splicing of some genes have been observed in liver cancer, and although still scarce, the available data suggest that splicing defects may have a role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Here we briefly review the general mechanisms that regulate pre-mRNA splicing, and discuss some examples that illustrate how this process is impaired in liver tumorigenesis, and may contribute to HCC development. We believe that a more thorough examination of pre-mRNA splicing is still needed to accurately draw the molecular portrait of liver cancer. This will surely contribute to a better understanding of the disease and to the development of new effective therapies.
Epidemiological studies have established that many tumours occur in association with persistent inflammation. One clear example of inflammation-related cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC slowly unfolds on a background of chronic inflammation triggered by exposure to infectious agents (hepatotropic viruses), toxic compounds (ethanol), or metabolic impairment. The molecular links that connect inflammation and cancer are not completely known, but evidence gathered over the past few years is beginning to define the precise mechanisms. A central role for cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-1 (alpha and beta) in liver cancer has been established in experimental models. Besides these inflammatory mediators, mounting evidence points to the dysregulation of specific growth and survival-related pathways in HCC development. Among them is the pathway governed by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which can be bound and activated by a broad family of ligands. Of special relevance is the fact that the EGFR engages in extensive crosstalk with other signaling pathways, serving as a "signaling hub" for an increasing list of growth factors, cytokines, and inflammatory mediators. In this review, we summarize the most recent evidences supporting a role for the EGFR system in inflammation-related cell signaling, with special emphasis in liver inflammation and HCC. The molecular dissection of the pathways connecting the inflammatory reaction and neoplasia will facilitate the development of novel and more effective antitumor strategies.
The Wilms tumor 1 gene (WT1) encodes a transcription factor involved in cell growth and development. As we previously reported, WT1 expression is hardly detectable in normal hepatic tissue but is induced in liver cirrhosis. Although WT1 has been found to be overexpressed in a number of malignancies, the role of WT1 in hepatocarcinogenesis has not been clarified. We found that WT1 is expressed in several human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines, including PLC/PRF/5 and HepG2, and in HCC tumor tissue in 42% of patients. WT1 small interfering RNAs did not affect proliferation rate of HCC cells but abrogated their resistance to anoikis. Transcriptome analysis of PLC/PRF/5 cells after WT1 knockdown showed up-regulation of 251 genes and down-regulation of 321. Ninety percent of the former corresponded to metabolic genes, mostly those characterizing the mature hepatocyte phenotype. On the contrary, genes that decreased upon WT1 inhibition were mainly related to defense against apoptosis, cell cycle, and tumor progression. In agreement with these findings, WT1 expression increased the resistance of liver tumor cells to doxorubicin, a compound used to treat HCC. Interestingly, doxorubicin strongly enhanced WT1 expression in both HCC cells and normal human hepatocytes. Among different chemotherapeutics, induction of WT1 transcription was restricted to topoisomerase 2 inhibitors. When WT1 expression was prohibited, doxorubicin caused a marked increase in caspase-3 activation. In conclusion, WT1 is expressed in a substantial proportion of HCC contributing to tumor progression and resistance to chemotherapy, suggesting that WT1 may be an important target for HCC treatment.
Inactivation of the product of the tumor suppressor gene TP73 does not usually occur by mutation but rather through expression of truncated isoforms that have dominant-negative effects on p73 and p53. The truncated oncogenic isoform DeltaEx2p73 is expressed in hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) and is produced through the alternative splicing of p73 pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA); however, the underlying mechanisms regulating this process are unknown.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
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.