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Free access

Ivana De Martino, Rosa Visone, Dario Palmieri, Paolo Cappabianca, Paolo Chieffi, Floriana Forzati, Antonio Barbieri, Mogens Kruhoffer, Gaetano Lombardi, Alfredo Fusco, and Monica Fedele

The high-mobility group A (HMGA) family of proteins orchestrates the assembly of nucleoprotein structures playing important roles in gene transcription, recombination, and chromatin structure through a complex network of protein–DNA and protein–protein interactions. Recently, we have generated transgenic mice carrying wild type or truncated HMGA2 genes under the transcriptional control of the cytomegalovirus promoter. These mice developed pituitary adenomas secreting prolactin and GH mainly due to an increased E2F1 activity, directly consequent to the HMGA2 overexpression. To identify other genes involved in the process of pituitary tumorigenesis induced by the HMGA2 gene, in this study we have analyzed the gene expression profile of three HMGA2-pituitary adenomas in comparison with a pool of ten normal pituitary glands from control mice, using the Affymetrix MG MU11K oligonucleotide array representing ~13 000 unique genes. We have identified 82 transcripts that increased and 72 transcripts that decreased at least four-fold in all the mice pituitary adenomas analyzed compared with normal pituitary glands. Among these genes, we focused our attention on the Mia/Cd-rap gene, whose expression was essentially suppressed in all of the pituitary adenomas tested by the microarray. We demonstrated that the HMGA proteins directly bind to the promoter of the Mia/Cd-rap gene and are able to downregulate its expression. In order to understand a possible role of Mia/Cd-rap in pituitary cell growth, we performed a colony assay in GH3 and GH4 cells. Interestingly, Mia/Cd-rap expression inhibits their proliferation, suggesting a potential tumor suppressor role of Mia/Cd-rap in pituitary cells.

Open access

Petteri Ahtiainen, Victoria Sharp, Susana B Rulli, Adolfo Rivero-Müller, Veronika Mamaeva, Matias Röyttä, and Ilpo Huhtaniemi

The etiology of pituitary adenomas remains largely unknown, with the exception of involvement of estrogens in the formation of prolactinomas. We have examined the molecular pathogenesis of prolactin-producing pituitary adenomas in transgenic female mice expressing the human choriongonadotropin (hCG) β-subunit. The LH/CG bioactivity is elevated in the mice, with consequent highly stimulated ovarian progesterone (P4) production, in the face of normal estrogen secretion. Curiously, despite normal estrogen levels, large prolactinomas developed in these mice, and we provide here several lines of evidence that the elevated P4 levels are involved in the growth of these estrogen-dependent tumors. The antiprogestin mifepristone inhibited tumor growth, and combined postgonadectomy estradiol/P4 treatment was more effective than estrogen alone in inducing tumor growth. Evidence for direct growth-promoting effect of P4 was obtained from cultures of primary mouse pituitary cells and rat somatomammotroph GH3 cells. The mouse tumors and cultured cells revealed stimulation of the cyclin D1/cyclin-dependent kinase 4/retinoblastoma protein/transcription factor E2F1 pathway in the growth response to P4. If extrapolated to humans, and given the importance of endogenous P4 and synthetic progestins in female reproductive functions and their pharmacotherapy, it is relevant to revisit the potential role of these hormones in the origin and growth of prolactinomas.

Free access

Cristina L Ronchi, Silviu Sbiera, Barbara Altieri, Sonja Steinhauer, Vanessa Wild, Michaela Bekteshi, Matthias Kroiss, Martin Fassnacht, and Bruno Allolio

Previous SNP array analyses have revealed genomic alterations of the Notch pathway as being the most frequent abnormality in adrenocortical tumors (ACTs). The aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression of components of Notch signaling in ACTs and to correlate them with clinical outcome. The mRNA expression of JAG1, NOTCH1, and selected target genes of NOTCH1 (HES1, HES5, and HEY2) was evaluated in 80 fresh frozen samples (28 normal adrenal glands (NAGs), 24 adenomas (ACAs), and 28 carcinomas (ACCs)) by quantitative RT-PCR. Immunohistochemistry was performed in 221 tissues on paraffin slides (16 NAGs, 27 ACAs, and 178 ACCs) for JAG1, activated NOTCH1 (aNOTCH1), and HEY2. An independent ACC validation cohort (n=77) was then also investigated. HEY2 mRNA expression was higher in ACCs than it was in ACAs (P<0.05). The protein expression of all of the factors was high (H-score 2–3) in a larger proportion of ACCs as compared to ACAs and NAGs (JAG1 in 27, 15, and 10%; aNOTCH1 in 13, 8, and 0%; HEY2 in 66, 61, and 33% respectively, all P<0.001). High JAG1 expression was associated with earlier tumor stages and lower numbers of metastases in ACCs (both P=0.08) and favorably impacted overall and progression-free survival (PFS) (131 vs 30 months, hazard ratio (HR) 0.45, and 37 vs 9 months, HR 0.51, both P<0.005). This impact on overall survival (OS) was confirmed in the validation cohort. No such association was observed for aNOTCH1 or HEY2. In conclusion, different components of the Notch1 signaling pathway are overexpressed in ACCs, which suggests a role for the pathway in malignant transformation. However, JAG1 is overexpressed in a subgroup of ACCs with a better clinical outcome.

Open access

Thomas Cuny, Caroline Zeiller, Martin Bidlingmaier, Céline Défilles, Catherine Roche, Marie-Pierre Blanchard, Marily Theodoropoulou, Thomas Graillon, Morgane Pertuit, Dominique Figarella-Branger, Alain Enjalbert, Thierry Brue, and Anne Barlier

Pegvisomant (PEG), an antagonist of growth hormone (GH)-receptor (GHR), normalizes insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) oversecretion in most acromegalic patients unresponsive to somatostatin analogs (SSAs) and/or uncontrolled by transsphenoidal surgery. The residual GH-secreting tumor is therefore exposed to the action of circulating PEG. However, the biological effect of PEG at the pituitary level remains unknown. To assess the impact of PEG in vitro on the hormonal secretion (GH and prolactin (PRL)), proliferation and cellular viability of eight human GH-secreting tumors in primary cultures and of the rat somatolactotroph cell line GH4C1. We found that the mRNA expression levels of GHR were characterized in 31 human GH-secreting adenomas (0.086 copy/copy β-Gus) and the GHR was identified by immunocytochemistry staining. In 5/8 adenomas, a dose-dependent inhibition of GH secretion was observed under PEG with a maximum of 38.2±17% at 1μg/mL (P<0.0001 vs control). A dose-dependent inhibition of PRL secretion occurred in three mixed GH/PRL adenomas under PEG with a maximum of 52.8±11.5% at 10μg/mL (P<0.0001 vs control). No impact on proliferation of either human primary tumors or GH4C1 cell line was observed. We conclude that PEG inhibits the secretion of GH and PRL in primary cultures of human GH(/PRL)-secreting pituitary adenomas without effect on cell viability or cell proliferation.

Free access

Hongyu Chen, Dan Liu, Zhengyan Yang, Limin Sun, Que Deng, Shuo Yang, Lu Qian, Liang Guo, Ming Yu, Meiru Hu, Ming Shi, and Ning Guo

Angiogenesis is an important factor in invasive tumor growth, progression, and metastasis. Multiple proangiogenic mechanisms are involved in tumor angiogenesis. In this study, we showed that the neurotransmitter norepinephrine upregulated VEGF (VEGFA) expression in breast cancer cells and that the culture supernatant from norepinephrine-treated breast cancer cells promoted the formation of the capillary-like network of endothelial cells. However, the effects of norepinephrine were further enhanced when the endothelial cells were cocultured with breast cancer cells, indicating a critical role of tumor cell–endothelial cell contacts in norepinephrine-induced tumor angiogenesis. Interestingly, norepinephrine dramatically induced the activation of the Notch pathway, which is a cell-contact-mediated intercellular signaling pathway and tightly linked to tumor cell–stromal cell interaction and angiogenesis, in the endothelial cells that had been cocultured with breast cancer cells. Furthermore, the expression of the Notch ligand Jagged 1 was significantly upregulated by norepinephrine at both mRNA and protein levels in breast cancer cells. Inhibitors of β2-adrenergic receptor (β2-AR), protein kinase A (PKA), and mTOR could reverse norepinephrine-induced Jagged 1 upregulation, indicating that the β2-AR–PKA–mTOR pathway participates in this process. Knockdown of Jagged 1 expression in breast cancer cells not only repressed norepinephrine-induced activation of the Notch pathway in cocultured endothelial cells but also evidently impaired the effects of norepinephrine on capillary-like sprout formation. These data demonstrate that tumor angiogenesis mediated by the Jagged 1/Notch intercellular signaling is governed by the norepinephrine-activated β2-AR–PKA–mTOR pathway.

Free access

Anne Wierinckx, Carole Auger, Pauline Devauchelle, Arlette Reynaud, Pascale Chevallier, Michel Jan, Gilles Perrin, Michelle Fèvre-Montange, Catherine Rey, Dominique Figarella-Branger, Gérald Raverot, Marie-Françoise Belin, Joël Lachuer, and Jacqueline Trouillas

Although most pituitary tumors are benign, some are invasive or aggressive. In the absence of specific markers of malignancy, only tumors with metastases are considered malignant. To identify markers of invasion and aggressiveness, we focused on prolactin (PRL) tumors in the human and rat. Using radiology and histological methods, we classified 25 human PRL tumors into three groups (non-invasive, invasive, and aggressive–invasive) and compared them with a model of transplantable rat PRL tumors with benign and malignant lineages. Combining histological(mitoses and labeling for Ki-67, P53, pituitary transforming tumor gene (PTTG), and polysialic acid neural cell adhesion molecule) and transcriptomic (microarrays and q-RTPCR) methods with clinical data (post-surgical outcome with case–control statistical analysis), we found nine genes implicated in invasion (ADAMTS6, CRMP1, and DCAMKL3) proliferation (PTTG, ASK, CCNB1, AURKB, and CENPE), or pituitary differentiation (PITX1) showing differential expression in the three groups of tumors (P = 0.015 to 0.0001). A case–control analysis, comparing patients in remission (9 controls) and patients with persistent or recurrent tumors (14 cases) revealed that eight out of the nine genes were differentially up- or downregulated (P = 0.05 to 0.002), with only PTTG showing no correlation with clinical course (P = 0.258). These combined histological and transcriptomic analyses improve the pathological diagnosis of PRL tumors, indicating a reliable procedure for predicting tumor aggressiveness and recurrence potential. The similar gene profiles found between non-invasive human and benign rat tumors, as well as between aggressive–invasive human and malignant rat tumors provide new insights into malignancy in human pituitary tumors.

Free access

Y Capodanno, F O Buishand, L Y Pang, J Kirpensteijn, J A Mol, and D J Argyle

Insulinomas (INS) are the most common neuroendocrine pancreatic tumours in humans and dogs. The long-term prognosis for malignant INS is still poor due to a low success rate of the current treatment modalities, particularly chemotherapy. A better understanding of the molecular processes underlying the development and progression of INS is required to develop novel targeted therapies. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be critical for the engraftment and chemoresistance of many tumours, including INS. This study was aimed to characterise and target INS CSCs in order to develop novel targeted therapies. Highly invasive and tumourigenic human and canine INS CSC-like cells were successfully isolated. These cells expressed stem cell markers (OCT4, SOX9, SOX2, CD133 and CD34), exhibited greater resistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and demonstrated a more invasive and tumourigenic phenotype in vivo compared to bulk INS cells. Here, we demonstrated that Notch-signalling-related genes (NOTCH2 and HES1) were overexpressed in INS CSC-like cells. Protein analysis showed an active NOTCH2-HES1 signalling in INS cell lines, especially in cells resistant to 5-FU. Inhibition of the Notch pathway, using a gamma secretase inhibitor (GSI), enhanced the sensitivity of INS CSC-like cells to 5-FU. When used in combination GSI and 5-FU, the clonogenicity in vitro and the tumourigenicity in vivo of INS CSC-like cells were significantly reduced. These findings suggested that the combined strategy of Notch signalling inhibition and 5-FU synergistically attenuated enriched INS CSC populations, providing a rationale for future therapeutic exploitation.

Free access

Brandi B Knight, Gabriela M Oprea-Ilies, Arumugam Nagalingam, Lily Yang, Cynthia Cohen, Neeraj K Saxena, and Dipali Sharma

Obese breast cancer patients exhibit a higher risk for larger tumor burden and an increased likelyhood of metastasis. The molecular effects of obesity on carcinogenesis are mediated by the autocrine and paracrine effects of the adipocytokine leptin. Leptin participates in the tumor progression and metastasis of human breast. We show that leptin induces clonogenicity and increases the migration potential of breast cancer cells. We found that survivin expression is induced in response to leptin. In this study, we examine the role and leptin-mediated regulation of survivin. Leptin treatment leads to survivin upregulation, due in part to the activation of Notch1 and the release of a transcriptionally active Notch1 intracellular domain (NICD). Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis shows that NICD gets recruited to the survivin promoter at the CSL (CBF1/RBP-Jk, Su(H), Lag-1) binding site in response to leptin treatment. Inhibition of Notch1 activity inhibits leptin-induced survivin upregulation. Leptin-induced transactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is involved in leptin-mediated Notch1 and survivin upregulation, demonstrating a novel upstream role of leptin–EGFR–Notch1 axis. We further show that leptin-induced migration of breast cancer cells requires survivin, as overexpression of survivin further increases, whereas silencing survivin abrogates leptin-induced migration. Using a pharmacological approach to inhibit survivin, we show that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme-A-reductase inhibitors, such as lovastatin, can effectively inhibit leptin-induced survivin expression and migration. Importantly, leptin increased breast tumor growth in nude mice. These data show a novel role for survivin in leptin-induced migration and put forth pharmacological survivin inhibition as a potential novel therapeutic strategy. This conclusion is supported by in vivo data showing the overexpression of leptin and survivin in epithelial cells of high-grade ductal carcinomas in situ and in high-grade invasive carcinomas.

Free access

B K Vonderhaar

Normal development and differentiation of the mammary gland are profoundly influenced by prolactin (PRL). In rodent mammary cancer PRL plays a well defined role, but its role, in human breast cancer has not been appreciated until recently. It is now clear that breast tissue, both normal and malignant, is a significant source of extrapituitary PRL. Thus an autocrine/paracrine role of PRL in human breast cancer may be invoked. Both PRL and PRL receptor mRNA are expressed in the vast majority of breast cancer biopsies independent of estrogen and progesterone receptor status. An autocrine/paracrine PRL acting in human breast cancer requires that this hormone's action be blocked at the cellular level, as opposed to suppressing the synthesis and secretion of pituitary PRL. Mutants of PRL or human growth hormone are being explored which act as selective PRL antagonists. In addition, tamoxifen has been shown to act locally at the target tissue by binding directly to the PRL receptor and thus inhibiting PRL's action. These strategies may have clinical relevance in treating PRL-responsive human breast cancer.

Open access

I Ben-Batalla, S Seoane, M Macia, T Garcia-Caballero, L O Gonzalez, F Vizoso, and R Perez-Fernandez

The transcription factor Pit-1/Pou1f1 regulates GH and prolactin (PRL) secretion in the pituitary gland. Pit-1 expression and GH regulation by Pit-1 have also been demonstrated in mammary gland. However, no data are available on the role of Pit-1 on breast PRL. To evaluate this role, several human breast cancer cell lines were transfected with either the Pit-1 expression vector or a Pit-1 small interference RNA construct, followed by PRL mRNA and protein evaluation. In addition, transient transfection of MCF-7 cells by a reporter construct containing the proximal PRL promoter, and ChIP assays were performed. Our data indicate that Pit-1 regulates mammary PRL at transcriptional level by binding to the proximal PRL promoter. We also found that Pit-1 raises cyclin D1 expression before increasing PRL levels, suggesting a PRL-independent effect of Pit-1 on cell proliferation. By using immunohistochemistry, we found a significant correlation between Pit-1 and PRL expression in 94 human breast invasive ductal carcinomas. Considering the possible role of PRL in breast cancer disorders, the function of Pit-1 in breast should be the focus of further research.