Growth hormone (GH) resistance has been associated with liver cirrhosis in humans but its contribution to the disease remains controversial. In order to elucidate whether GH resistance plays a causal role in the establishment and development of liver fibrosis, or rather represents a major consequence thereof, we challenged mice lacking the Growth hormone receptor gene (Ghr(-/-) , a model for GH resistance) by crossing them with Mdr2 knockout mice (Mdr2(-/-) ), a mouse model of inflammatory cholestasis and liver fibrosis. Ghr(-/-) ;Mdr2(-/-) mice showed elevated serum markers associated with liver damage and cholestasis, extensive bile duct proliferation and increased collagen deposition relative to Mdr2 (-/-) mice, thus suggesting a more severe liver fibrosis phenotype. Additionally, Ghr(-/-) ;Mdr2(-/-) mice had a pronounced down-regulation of hepato-protective genes Hnf6, Egfr and Igf-1, and significantly increased levels of ROS and apoptosis in hepatocytes, compared to control mice. Moreover, single knockout mice (Ghr(-/-) ) fed with a diet containing 1% cholic acid displayed an increase in hepatocyte ROS production, hepatocyte apoptosis and bile infarcts compared to their wildtype littermates, indicating that loss of Ghr renders hepatocytes more susceptible to toxic bile acid accumulation. Surprisingly, and despite their severe fibrotic phenotype, Ghr(-/-) ;Mdr2(-/-) mice displayed a significant decrease in tumour incidence compared to Mdr2(-/-) mice, indicating that loss of Ghr signaling may slow the progression from fibrosis/cirrhosis to cancer in the liver. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that GH resistance dramatically exacerbates liver fibrosis in a mouse model of inflammatory cholestasis, therefore suggesting that GH resistance plays a causal role in the disease and provides a novel target for the development of liver fibrosis treatments. (Hepatology 2014;).
In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), intrahepatic metastasis frequently correlates with epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of malignant hepatocytes. Several mechanisms have been identified to be essentially involved in hepatocellular EMT, among them transforming growth factor (TGF)-? signaling. Here we show the upregulation and activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl in EMT-transformed hepatoma cells. Knock-down of Axl expression resulted in abrogation of invasive and transendothelial migratory abilities of mesenchymal HCC cells in vitro and Axl overexpression induced metastatic colonization of epithelial hepatoma cells in vivo. Importantly, Axl knock-down severely impaired resistance to TGF-?-mediated growth inhibition. Analysis of the Axl interactome revealed binding of Axl to 14-3-3?, which is essentially required for Axl-mediated cell invasion, transendothelial migration and resistance against TGF-?. Axl/14-3-3? signaling caused phosphorylation of Smad3 linker region (Smad3L) at Ser213, resulting in the upregulation of tumor-progressive TGF-? target genes such as PAI1, MMP9 and Snail as well as augmented TGF-?1 secretion in mesenchymal HCC cells. Accordingly, high Axl expression in HCC patient samples correlated with elevated vessel invasion of HCC cells, higher risk of tumor recurrence after liver transplantation, strong phosphorylation of Smad3L and lower survival. In addition, elevated expression of both Axl and 14-3-3? showed strongly reduced survival of HCC patients. Conclusion: Our data suggest that Axl/14-3-3? signaling is central for TGF-?-mediated HCC progression and a promising target for HCC therapy. (Hepatology 2014).
Treatment options for hepatocellular carcinoma using chemotherapeutics at intermediate and advanced stages of disease are limited as patients most rapidly escape from therapy and succumb to disease progression. Mechanisms of the hepatic xenobiotic metabolism are mostly involved in providing chemoresistance to therapeutic compounds. Given the fact that the aberrant activation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK) is frequently observed in hepatocellular carcinomas, we focused on the efficacy of the novel compounds BA-12 and BP-14 that antagonize CDK1/2/5/7 and CDK9. Inhibition of those CDKs in human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines reduced the clonogenicity by arresting cells in S-G2 and G2-M phase of the cell cycle and inducing apoptosis. In contrast, primary human hepatocytes failed to show cytotoxicity and apoptosis. No loss of chemosensitivity was observed in hepatocellular carcinoma cells after long-term exposure to inhibitors. In vivo, treatment of xenografted human hepatocellular carcinomas with BA-12 or BP-14 effectively repressed tumor formation. Moreover, BA-12 or BP-14 significantly diminished diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced hepatoma development in mice. These data show that BA-12 or BP-14 exhibit strong antitumorigenic effects in the absence of chemoresistance, resulting in a superior efficacy compared with currently used chemotherapeutics in hepatocellular carcinomas.
Metastatic breast cancer is linked to an undesired prognosis. One early and crucial metastatic step is the interaction of cancer emboli with adjacent stroma or endothelial cells, and understanding the mechanisms of this interaction provides the basis to define new targets as well as drugs for therapy and disease management. A three-dimensional (3D) co-culture model allowing the examination of lymphogenic dissemination of breast cancer cells was recently developed which facilitates not only the study of metastatic processes but also the testing of therapeutic concepts. This 3D setting consists of MCF-7 breast cancer cell spheroids (representing a ductal and hormone-dependent subtype) and of hTERT-immortalised lymph endothelial cell (LEC; derived from foreskin) monolayers. Tumour spheroids repel the continuous LEC layer, thereby generating "circular chemorepellent-induced defects" (CCIDs) that are reminiscent to the entry gates through which tumour emboli intravasate lymphatics. We found that the ion channel blocker carbamazepine (which is clinically used to treat epilepsy, schizophrenia and other neurological disorders) inhibited CCID formation significantly. This effect correlated with the inhibition of the activities of NF-?B, which contributes to cell motility, and with the inactivation of the mobility proteins MLC2, MYPT1 and FAK which are necessary for LEC migration. NF-?B activity and cell movement are prerequisites of CCID formation. On the other hand, the expression of the motility protein paxillin and of the NF-?B-dependent adhesion mediator ICAM-1 was unchanged. Also the activity of ALOX12 was unaffected. ALOX12 is the main enzyme synthesising 12(S)-HETE, which then triggers CCID formation. The relevance of the inhibition of CYP1A1, which is also involved in the generation of mid-chain HETEs such as 12(S)-HETE, by carbamazepine remains to be established, because the constitutive level of 12(S)-HETE did not change upon carbamazepine treatment. Nevertheless, the effect of carbamazepine on the inhibition of CCID formation as an early step of breast cancer metastasis was significant and substantial (~30 %) and achieved at concentrations that are found in the plasma of carbamazepine-treated adults (40-60 ?M). The fact that carbamazepine is a drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration facilitates a "from-bench-to-bedside" perspective. Therefore, the here presented data should undergo scrutiny in vivo.
Metastases destroy the function of infested organs and are the main reason of cancer-related mortality. Heteronemin, a natural product derived from a marine sponge, was tested in vitro regarding its properties to prevent tumour cell intravasation through the lymph-endothelial barrier. In three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures consisting of MCF-7 breast cancer cell spheroids that were placed on lymph-endothelial cell (LEC) monolayers, tumour cell spheroids induce "circular chemorepellent-induced defects" (CCIDs) in the LEC monolayer; 12(S)-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12(S)-HETE) and NF-?B activity are major factors inducing CCIDs, which are entry gates for tumour emboli intravasating the vasculature. This 3D co-culture is a validated model for the investigation of intravasation mechanisms and of drugs preventing CCID formation and hence lymph node metastasis. Furthermore, Western blot analyses, NF-?B reporter, EROD, SELE, 12(S)-HETE, and adhesion assays were performed to investigate the properties of heteronemin. Five micromolar heteronemin inhibited the directional movement of LECs and, therefore, the formation of CCIDs, which were induced by MCF-7 spheroids. Furthermore, heteronemin reduced the adhesion of MCF-7 cells to LECs and suppressed 12(S)-HETE-induced expression of the EMT marker paxillin, which is a regulator of directional cell migration. The activity of CYP1A1, which contributed to CCID formation, was also inhibited by heteronemin. Hence, heteronemin inhibits important mechanisms contributing to tumour intravasation in vitro and should be tested in vivo.
Health beneficial effects of xanthohumol have been reported, and basic research provided evidence for anti-cancer effects. Furthermore, xanthohumol was shown to inhibit the migration of endothelial cells. Therefore, this study investigated the anti-metastatic potential of xanthohumol. MCF-7 breast cancer spheroids which are placed on lymphendothelial cells (LECs) induce "circular chemorepellent-induced defects" (CCIDs) in the LEC monolayer resembling gates for intravasating tumour bulks at an early step of lymph node colonisation. NF-?B reporter-, EROD-, SELE-, 12(S)-HETE- and adhesion assays were performed to investigate the anti-metastatic properties of xanthohumol. Western blot analyses were used to elucidate the mechanisms inhibiting CCID formation. Xanthohumol inhibited the activity of CYP, SELE and NF-kB and consequently, the formation of CCIDs at low micromolar concentrations. More specifically, xanthohumol affected ICAM-1 expression and adherence of MCF-7 cells to LECs, which is a prerequisite for CCID formation. Furthermore, markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and of cell mobility such as paxillin, MCL2 and S100A4 were suppressed by xanthohumol. Xanthohumol attenuated tumour cell-mediated defects at the lymphendothelial barrier and inhibited EMT-like effects thereby providing a mechanistic explanation for the anti-intravasative/anti-metastatic properties of xanthohumol.
Our previous studies on melanoma antigens identified two new polypeptides, named MELOE-1 and MELOE-2, that are involved in immunosurveillance. Intriguingly, these antigens are coded by distinct open reading frames (ORF) of the meloe mRNA which is significantly expressed only in the melanocytic lineage. In addition, MELOE-1 and -2 specific T cell clones recognized melanoma cells but very poorly normal melanocytes suggesting differential translation of meloe in normal vs tumor cells. This prompted us to elucidate the mechanisms of translation of these antigens in melanoma cells. We first demonstrated that no splicing event or cryptic promoter could generate shorter meloe transcripts containing only one of the two ORFs. Triggering meloe RNA degradation with a siRNA close to the ORF coding for MELOE-2 abrogated expression of both MELOE-1 and MELOE-2, thus confirming that the two ORFs are always associated. Next we showed, in a bicistronic reporter system, that IRES activities could be detected upstream of MELOE-1 and MELOE-2 and finally confirmed their translation from full length meloe cDNA in melanoma cells with eGFP constructs. In conclusion, meloe is a polycistronic mRNA that generates both MELOE-1 and MELOE-2 antigens through IRES-dependent translation in melanoma cells and that may explain their tumor specificity.
The majority of transcripts that harbor an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) are involved in cancer development via corresponding proteins. A crucial event in tumor progression referred to as epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) allows carcinoma cells to acquire invasive properties. The translational activation of the extracellular matrix component laminin B1 (LamB1) during EMT has been recently reported suggesting an IRES-mediated mechanism. In this study, the IRES activity of LamB1 was determined by independent bicistronic reporter assays. Strong evidences exclude an impact of cryptic promoter or splice sites on IRES-driven translation of LamB1. Furthermore, no other LamB1 mRNA species arising from alternative transcription start sites or polyadenylation signals were detected that account for its translational control. Mapping of the LamB1 5-untranslated region (UTR) revealed the minimal LamB1 IRES motif between -293 and -1 upstream of the start codon. Notably, RNA affinity purification showed that the La protein interacts with the LamB1 IRES. This interaction and its regulation during EMT were confirmed by ribonucleoprotein immunoprecipitation. In addition, La was able to positively modulate LamB1 IRES translation. In summary, these data indicate that the LamB1 IRES is activated by binding to La which leads to translational upregulation during hepatocellular EMT.
Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer mortality. The metastatic cascade represents a multi-step process which includes local tumor cell invasion, entry into the vasculature followed by the exit of carcinoma cells from the circulation and colonization at the distal sites. At the earliest stage of successful cancer cell dissemination, the primary cancer adapts the secondary site of tumor colonization involving the tumor-stroma crosstalk. The migration and plasticity of cancer cells as well as the surrounding environment such as stromal and endothelial cells are mandatory. Consequently, the mechanisms of cell movement are of utmost relevance for targeted intervention of which three different types have been reported. Tumor cells can migrate either collectively, in a mesenchymal or in an amoeboid type of movement and intravasate the blood or lymph vasculature. Intravasation by the interaction of tumor cells with the vascular endothelium is mechanistically poorly understood. Changes in the epithelial plasticity enable carcinoma cells to switch between these types of motility. The types of migration may change depending on the intervention thereby increasing the velocity and aggressiveness of invading cancer cells. Interference with collective or mesenchymal cell invasion by targeting integrin expression or metalloproteinase activity, respectively, resulted in an amoeboid cell phenotype as the ultimate exit strategy of cancer cells. There are little mechanistic details reported in vivo showing that the amoeboid behavior can be either reversed or efficiently inhibited. Future concepts of metastasis intervention must simultaneously address the collective, mesenchymal and amoeboid mechanisms of cell invasion in order to advance in anti-metastatic strategies as these different types of movement can coexist and cooperate. Beyond the targeting of cell movements, the adhesion of cancer cells to the stroma in heterotypic circulating tumor cell emboli is of paramount relevance for anti-metastatic therapy.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) is activated in a variety of malignancies, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Activation of Ras occurs frequently at advanced stages of HCC by aberrant signaling through growth factor receptors or inactivation of effectors negatively regulating Ras signaling. Here, we addressed the role of Stat3 in Ras-dependent HCC progression in the presence and absence of p19(ARF) /p14(ARF) . We show that constitutive active (ca) Stat3 is tumor suppressive in Ras-transformed p19(ARF-/-) hepatocytes, whereas the expression of Stat3 lacking Tyr(705) phosphorylation (U-Stat3) enhances tumor formation. Accordingly, Ras-transformed Stat3(?hc) /p19(ARF-/-) hepatocytes (lacking Stat3 and p19(ARF) ) showed increased tumor growth, compared to those expressing Stat3, demonstrating a tumor-suppressor activity of Stat3 in cells lacking p19(ARF) . Notably, endogenous expression of p19(ARF) in Ras-transformed hepatocytes conveyed oncogenic Stat3 functions, resulting in augmented or reduced HCC progression after the expression of caStat3 or U-Stat3, respectively. In accord with these data, the knockdown of p14(ARF) (the human homolog of p19(ARF) ) in Hep3B cells was associated with reduced pY-Stat3 levels during tumor growth to circumvent the tumor-suppressive effect of Stat3. Inhibition of Janus kinases (Jaks) revealed that Jak causes pY-Stat3 activation independently of p14(ARF) levels, indicating that p14(ARF) controls the oncogenic function of pY-Stat3 downstream of Jak.
The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of malignant hepatocytes is a crucial event in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression and recurrence. We aimed to establish a human model of EMT to examine drug efficacy and specificity in HCC progression. Human HCC cell populations were characterized by immunofluorescence analysis, migration and invasion assays, array comparative genomic hybridization, whole-genome expression profiling, and promoter methylation. Therapeutic agents clinically used against HCC were examined for efficacy by determination of IC(50) values. We show that liver cancer cell lines exhibited either an epithelial or mesenchymal phenotype of which the latter showed strong migratory and invasive abilities in vitro. The common cellular origin of both cell types indicated that mesenchymal HCC cells have been derived from epithelial hepatocytes through EMT in the HCC patient. Drug exposure of mesenchymal HCC cells showed higher resistance to the targeted therapeutic agents sorafenib and erlotinib as compared to epithelial HCC cells, which were slightly more resistant to cytostatic drugs. Most remarkably, combined treatment with doxorubicin and sorafenib caused increased susceptibility of both HCC cell types resulting in enhanced drug efficacy. Taken together, this EMT model of human HCC allows the identification of molecular mechanisms and the assessment of therapeutic drug efficacy during liver cancer progression in preclinical studies.
In individuals with mammary carcinoma, the most relevant prognostic predictor of distant organ metastasis and clinical outcome is the status of axillary lymph node metastasis. Metastases form initially in axillary sentinel lymph nodes and progress via connecting lymphatic vessels into postsentinel lymph nodes. However, the mechanisms of consecutive lymph node colonization are unknown. Through the analysis of human mammary carcinomas and their matching axillary lymph nodes, we show here that intrametastatic lymphatic vessels and bulk tumor cell invasion into these vessels highly correlate with formation of postsentinel metastasis. In an in vitro model of tumor bulk invasion, human mammary carcinoma cells caused circular defects in lymphatic endothelial monolayers. These circular defects were highly reminiscent of defects of the lymphovascular walls at sites of tumor invasion in vivo and were primarily generated by the tumor-derived arachidonic acid metabolite 12S-HETE following 15-lipoxygenase-1 (ALOX15) catalysis. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition and shRNA knockdown of ALOX15 each repressed formation of circular defects in vitro. Importantly, ALOX15 knockdown antagonized formation of lymph node metastasis in xenografted tumors. Furthermore, expression of lipoxygenase in human sentinel lymph node metastases correlated inversely with metastasis-free survival. These results provide evidence that lipoxygenase serves as a mediator of tumor cell invasion into lymphatic vessels and formation of lymph node metastasis in ductal mammary carcinomas.
Studying physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in the liver on a molecular basis is a challenging task. During two dimensional (2D) culture conditions hepatocytes dedifferentiate rapidly by losing metabolic functions and structural integrity. Hence, inappropriate 2D hepatocellular models hamper studies on the xenobiotic metabolism of the liver which strongly influences drug potency. Also, the lack of effective therapies against hepatocellular carcinoma shows the urgent need for robust models to investigate liver functions in a defined hepatic microenvironment. Here, we summarize and discuss three-dimensional cultures of hepatocytes, herein referred to as hepatospheres, which provide versatile tools to investigate hepatic metabolism, stemness and cancer development.
Both RAS and transforming growth factor (TGF)-? signaling cascades are central in tumorigenesis and show synergisms depending on tumor stage and tissue context. In this review we focus on the interaction of RAS subeffector proteins with signaling components of the TGF-? family including those of TGF-?s, activins and bone morphogenic proteins. Compelling evidence indicates that RAS signaling is essentially involved in the switch from tumor-suppressive to tumor-promoting functions of the TGF-? family leading to enhanced cancer growth and metastatic dissemination of primary tumors. Thus, the interface of these signaling cascades is considered as a promising target for the development of novel cancer therapeutics. The current pharmacological anti-cancer concepts combating the molecular cooperation between RAS and TGF-? family signaling during carcinoma progression are critically discussed.
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors induce cell cycle arrest, differentiation or apoptosis in tumour cells and are, therefore, promising anti-cancer reagents. However, the specific HDAC isoforms that mediate these effects are not yet identified. To explore the role of HDAC1 in tumourigenesis and tumour proliferation, we established an experimental teratoma model using wild-type and HDAC1-deficient embryonic stem cells. HDAC1-deficient teratomas showed no significant difference in size compared with wild-type teratomas. Surprisingly, loss of HDAC1 was not only linked to increased apoptosis, but also to significantly enhanced proliferation. Epithelial structures showed reduced differentiation as monitored by Oct3/4 expression and changed E-cadherin localization and displayed up-regulated expression of SNAIL1, a regulator of epithelial cell plasticity. Increased levels of the transcriptional regulator SNAIL1 are crucial for enhanced proliferation and reduced differentiation of HDAC1-deficient teratoma. Importantly, the analysis of human teratomas revealed a similar link between loss of HDAC1 and enhanced tumour malignancy. These findings reveal a novel role for HDAC1 in the control of tumour proliferation and identify HDAC1 as potential marker for benign teratomas.
The tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induces apoptosis specifically in cancer cells with little effect on normal cells. We have previously shown that TRAIL signaling is altered in most ovarian cancer patients and that resistance to TRAIL contributes to ovarian cancer progression. In this study, we investigated whether resistance to TRAIL may be overcome by a monoclonal TRAILR2 (DR5) agonistic antibody (AD5-10). We found that the joint presence of AD5-10 with TRAIL and natural killer (NK) cells expressing TRAIL resensitizes ovarian cancer cells to apoptosis in vitro and in vivo, respectively. The combination of AD5-10 with carboplatin exerts a more than additive effect in vitro, which may at least partially be explained by the fact that carboplatin triggers DR5 expression on ovarian cancer cells. Moreover, AD5-10 restores the sensitivity of platin-resistant ovarian cancer to carboplatin in vivo. In addition, we found that TRAIL expression and NK cells are abundant in the tumor microenvironment and that depletion of NK cells abolishes the antitumor activity of AD5-10. This indicates that NK-mediated immunosurveillance against ovarian cancer might be mediated by TRAIL and that apoptosis induced by AD5-10 requires the presence of NK cells. In conclusion, this study indicates a key role and strong antitumorigenic effect of DR5 and highlights a novel link between NK-mediated immunosurveillance and activation of DR5-mediated apoptosis in ovarian cancer. Mol Cancer Ther; 9(4); 1007-18. (c)2010 AACR.
Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling via Smads plays a central role in carcinogenesis. Bmp and activin membrane-bound inhibitor (BAMBI) was initially described as a pseudoreceptor antagonizing TGF-beta receptor activation, thus impairing signaling. Here we wanted to estimate the role of BAMBI in ovarian cancer.
Growth hormone (GH) resistance and low serum levels of insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are common features in human liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) controls several vital functions in the liver, including GH-mediated transcription of IGF-1. To investigate the role of STAT5 in liver fibrogenesis, we specifically deleted the Stat5a/b locus both in hepatocytes and cholangiocytes in the multidrug resistance gene 2 knockout (Mdr2(-/-)) mouse model of cholestasis. Double knockout mice develop an early and severe liver fibrosis phenotype, accompanied by perturbed expression of key regulators of bile acid homeostasis. Deletion of Stat5 resulted in GH resistance, and IGF-1 levels in serum were undetectable. We could observe reduced expression of important hepatoprotective genes, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (Egfr), hepatocyte nuclear factor 6 (Hnf6), prolactin receptor (Prlr), and leukemia inhibitory factor receptor (Lifr) as well as increased numbers of apoptotic hepatocytes. Conclusion: Our data suggest that loss of STAT5 sensitizes hepatocytes to bile acid-induced damage and apoptosis caused by disruption of GH-induced transcription of Igf-1 and down-regulation of hepatoprotective genes. These findings could contribute to the understanding of liver fibrosis and future treatment strategies for liver fibrosis.
In the current study, we aimed to investigate the role of the long isoform of cellular Fas-associated death domain-like interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme (FLICE)-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP(L)) in ovarian cancer (OC) development by using RNA interference (RNAi) in vitro and in vivo.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) is the main mediator of interleukin-6-type cytokine signaling required for hepatocyte proliferation and hepatoprotection, but its role in sclerosing cholangitis and other cholestatic liver diseases remains unresolved.
Transforming growth factor-beta cooperates with oncogenic Ras to activate nuclear beta-catenin during the epithelial to mesenchymal transition of hepatocytes, a process relevant in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study we investigated the role of beta-catenin in the differentiation of murine, oncogene-targeted hepatocytes and in 133 human HCC patients scheduled for orthotopic liver transplantation. Transforming growth factor-beta caused dissociation of plasma membrane E-cadherin/beta-catenin complexes and accumulation of nuclear beta-catenin in Ras-transformed, but otherwise normal hepatocytes in p19(ARF)-/- mice. Both processes were inhibited by Smad7-mediated disruption of transforming growth factor-beta signaling. Overexpression of constitutively active beta-catenin resulted in high levels of CK19 and M2-PK, whereas ablation of beta-catenin by axin overexpression caused strong expression of CK8 and CK18. Therefore, nuclear beta-catenin resulted in dedifferentiation of neoplastic hepatocytes to immature progenitor cells, whereas loss of nuclear beta-catenin led to a differentiated HCC phenotype. Poorly differentiated human HCC showed cytoplasmic redistribution or even loss of E-cadherin, suggesting epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Analysis of 133 HCC patient samples revealed that 58.6% of human HCC exhibited strong nuclear beta-catenin accumulation, which correlated with clinical features such as vascular invasion and recurrence of disease after orthotopic liver transplantation. These data suggest that activation of beta-catenin signaling causes dedifferentiation to malignant, immature hepatocyte progenitors and facilitates recurrence of human HCC after orthotopic liver transplantation.
The transition of epithelial cells to a mesenchymal phenotype is of paramount relevance for embryonic development and adult wound healing. During the past decade, the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been increasingly recognized to occur during the progression of various carcinomas such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we focus on EMT in both experimental liver models and human HCC, emphasizing the underlying molecular mechanisms which show partial recurrence of embryonic programs such as TGF-beta and Wnt/ beta-catenin signaling, including collaboration with hepatitis viruses. We further discuss the differentiation repertoire of malignant hepatocytes with respect to the potential acquisition of stemness, and the involvement of the mesenchymal to epithelial transition, the reversal of EMT, in cancer dissemination and metastatic colonization. The strong evidence for EMT in HCC patients demands novel strategies in pathological assessments and therapeutic concepts to efficiently combat HCC progression.
The mannose 6-phosphate/insulin-like growth factor II receptor (M6P/IGF2R) mediates biosynthetic sorting and endocytosis of various factors that impinge on the proliferation, migration and invasiveness of tumour cells. The gene encoding M6P/IGF2R is frequently lost or mutated in a wide range of malignant tumours including squamous cell carcinomas. We have previously shown that M6P/IGF2R-deficient SCC-VII murine squamous cell carcinoma cells secrete large amounts of pro-invasive lysosomal proteinases. Furthermore, the formation of mature lysosomes is impaired in SCC-VII cells. To assess the link between M6P/IGF2R status and tumour invasion, we have now generated SCC-VII lines stably transfected with human M6P/IGF2R cDNA. Reconstitution of functional M6P/IGF2R expression in SCC-VII cells strongly improves the intracellular retention of lysosomal proteinases and restores the formation of mature lysosomes. In addition, the presence of heterologous M6P/IGF2R compromises the growth of SCC-VII cells both in vitro and in vivo. Remarkably, M6P/IGF2R expression also reduces the invasive capacity of SCC-VII cells in response to various chemoattractants. These results indicate that the M6P/IGF2R status influences the metastatic propensity of squamous cell carcinomas.
Recently, we found epigenetic silencing of the Ras effector genes NORE1B and/or RASSF1A in 97% of the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) investigated. This is strong evidence that the two genes are of major significance in hepatocarcinogenesis. Although RASSF1A serves as a tumor suppressor gene, the functions of NORE1B are largely unknown. Here, we studied the role of NORE1B for growth and transformation of cells. To understand the molecular mechanisms of action of the gene, we used the wild-type form and deletion mutants without the NH(2) terminus and CENTRAL domain, the Ras association (RA) domain, or the COOH-terminal SARAH-domain. Intact RA and SARAH-domains were found to be necessary for NORE1B (a) to increase the G(0)-G(1) fraction in hepatoma cells, (b) to suppress c-Myc/Ha-Ras-induced cell transformation, and (c) to interact closely with RASSF1A, as determined with fluorescence resonance energy transfer. In further studies, cell cycle delay by NORE1B was equally effective in hepatocyte cell lines with wild-type or mutant Ras suggesting that NORE1B does not interact with either Ras. In conclusion, NORE1B suppresses replication and transformation of cells as effectively as RASSF1A and thus is a putative tumor suppressor gene. NORE1B interacts physically with RASSF1A and functional loss of one of the interacting partners may lead to uncontrolled growth and transformation of hepatocytes. This may explain the frequent epigenetic silencing of NORE1B and/or RASSF1A in HCC.
The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) represents a crucial event during cancer progression and dissemination. EMT is the conversion of carcinoma cells from an epithelial to a mesenchymal phenotype that associates with a higher cell motility as well as enhanced chemoresistance and cancer stemness. Notably, EMT has been increasingly recognized as an early event of metastasis. Numerous gene expression studies (GES) have been conducted to obtain transcriptome signatures and marker genes to understand the regulatory mechanisms underlying EMT. Yet, no meta-analysis considering the multitude of GES of EMT has been performed to comprehensively elaborate the core genes in this process. Here we report the meta-analysis of 18 independent and published GES of EMT which focused on different cell types and treatment modalities. Computational analysis revealed clustering of GES according to the type of treatment rather than to cell type. GES of EMT induced via transforming growth factor-? and tumor necrosis factor-? treatment yielded uniformly defined clusters while GES of models with alternative EMT induction clustered in a more complex fashion. In addition, we identified those up- and downregulated genes which were shared between the multitude of GES. This core gene list includes well known EMT markers as well as novel genes so far not described in this process. Furthermore, several genes of the EMT-core gene list significantly correlated with impaired pathological complete response in breast cancer patients. In conclusion, this meta-analysis provides a comprehensive survey of available EMT expression signatures and shows fundamental insights into the mechanisms that are governing carcinoma progression.
A role for the NADPH oxidases NOX1 and NOX2 in liver fibrosis has been proposed, but the implication of NOX4 is poorly understood yet. The aim of this work was to study the functional role of NOX4 in different cell populations implicated in liver fibrosis: hepatic stellate cells (HSC), myofibroblats (MFBs) and hepatocytes. Two different mice models that develop spontaneous fibrosis (Mdr2(-/-)/p19(ARF-/-), Stat3(?hc)/Mdr2(-/-)) and a model of experimental induced fibrosis (CCl(4)) were used. In addition, gene expression in biopsies from chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients or non-fibrotic liver samples was analyzed. Results have indicated that NOX4 expression was increased in the livers of all animal models, concomitantly with fibrosis development and TGF-? pathway activation. In vitro TGF-?-treated HSC increased NOX4 expression correlating with transdifferentiation to MFBs. Knockdown experiments revealed that NOX4 downstream TGF-? is necessary for HSC activation as well as for the maintenance of the MFB phenotype. NOX4 was not necessary for TGF-?-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), but was required for TGF-?-induced apoptosis in hepatocytes. Finally, NOX4 expression was elevated in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-derived fibrosis, increasing along the fibrosis degree. In summary, fibrosis progression both in vitro and in vivo (animal models and patients) is accompanied by increased NOX4 expression, which mediates acquisition and maintenance of the MFB phenotype, as well as TGF-?-induced death of hepatocytes.
The extracellular matrix protein Laminin B1 (LamB1) regulates tumor cell migration and invasion. Carcinoma cells acquire invasive properties by epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is a fundamental step in dissemination of metastatic cells from the primary tumor. Recently, we showed that enhanced translation of LamB1 upon EMT of malignant hepatocytes is mediated by an internal ribosome entry site (IRES). We demonstrated that the IRES transacting factor La binds the minimal IRES motif and positively modulates IRES activity of LamB1. Here, we show that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) enhances IRES activity of LamB1 by the increasing cytoplasmic localization of La during EMT. Accordingly, cells expressing dominant negative PDGF receptor display reduced cytoplasmic accumulation of La and show no elevation of IRES activity or endogenous LamB1 levels after stimulation with PDGF. Furthermore, La-mediated regulation of LamB1 IRES activity predominantly depends on MAPK/ERK signaling downstream of PDGF. Notably, LamB1 expression is not significantly downregulated by the impairment of the translation initiation factor eIF4E. In vivo, knockdown of La associated with decreased LamB1 expression and reduced tumor growth. Together, these data suggest that PDGF is required for the cytoplasmic accumulation of La that triggers IRES-dependent translation of LamB1 during EMT.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocellular carcinoma (CCC) represent the majority of hepatic malignancies and are among the most frequent causes of cancer deaths worldwide with a rising incidence in western countries. Upon progression of liver cancer, the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is considered a key process that drives intrahepatic metastasis. EMT is the transformation of epithelial cells to a mesenchymal phenotype exacerbating motility and invasiveness of various epithelial cell types. In this review we focus on EMT in hepatic fibrosis, HCC and CCC that is governed by the transforming growth factor (TGF)-? signaling. This cytokine has been shown to play diverse and conflicting roles in malignant development, acting as a tumor-suppressor in early cancerogenesis but enhancing tumor dissemination in later stages of tumor progression. Importantly, TGF-? can induce EMT in a variety of cancers including HCC and CCC, even though the complex molecular mechanisms underlying this process are not yet fully understood. We aim at collecting recent findings on the impact of TGF-?-induced EMT in liver carcinoma progression and at discussing new insights on promising drugable targets for future therapeutic approaches against CCC and HCC.
The mannose 6-phosphate/insulin-like growth factor II receptor (M6P/IGF2R), a multifunctional protein, plays a central role in intracellular targeting of lysosomal enzymes and control of insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) bioactivity. Importantly, the gene encoding this receptor is frequently inactivated in a wide range of malignant tumors including hepatocellular carcinomas. Thus, M6P/IGF2R is considered a putative liver tumor suppressor. The aim of this study was to establish the impact of the receptor on the invasive properties of liver cells.
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