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Hira Lal Goel, Jing Li, Sophia Kogan, and Lucia R Languino

Integrins, which are transmembrane receptors for extracellular matrix proteins, play a key role in cell survival, proliferation, migration, gene expression, and activation of growth factor receptors. Their functions and expression are deregulated in several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. In this article, we review the role of integrins in prostate cancer progression and their potential as therapeutic targets.

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Li Li, Heidi L Weiss, Jing Li, Zhengyi Chen, Leslie Donato, and B Mark Evers

Emerging data supports a potential role of neurotensin (NT) in the development of obesity, obesity-associated comorbidities, and certain cancers. The association of NT with colon cancer risk has not been explicitly explored. We determined plasma levels of pro-NT, a stable NT precursor fragment, in 223 incident colon cancer patients and 223 age-, gender-, BMI-matched population controls participating in a population-based case–control study of colon cancer. On average, the cases have significantly higher levels of pro-NT than the controls (median = 205.6 pmol/L vs 183.1 pmol/L, respectively; P = 0.02). Multivariate logistic regression models, adjusted for age, gender, BMI, family history of colorectal cancer, smoking, diabetes mellitus, alcohol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs use, show statistically significant risk associations: for continuous measure of pro-NT, the OR estimate was 1.30 (95% CI =1.03–1.64; P = 0.026) for each increment of 175 pmol/L; for dichotomized measure of pro-NT, the OR estimate was 1.75 (95% CI = 1.12–2.74; P = 0.025) for those in the top quartile comparing to the other participants. Our results support circulating levels of pro-NT as a novel risk biomarker for colon cancer.

Free access

Jingqi Fu, Hongzhi Zheng, Qi Cui, Chengjie Chen, Simeng Bao, Jing Sun, Lu Li, Bei Yang, Huihui Wang, Yongyong Hou, Yuanyuan Xu, Yuanhong Xu, Qiang Zhang, and Jingbo Pi

The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 1 (NFE2L1 or NRF1) is involved in various critical cell processes such as maintenance of ubiquitin-proteasome system and regulation of the cellular antioxidant response. We previously determined that pancreatic β-cell-specific Nfe2l1-knockout mice had hyperinsulinemia and that silencing of Nfe2l1 in mouse islets or MIN6 insulinoma β-cells induced elevated basal insulin release and altered glucose metabolism. Hypoglycemia is a major issue with aggressive insulinomas, although a role of NFE2L1 in this pathology is not defined. In the present work, we studied the tumorigenicity of Nfe2l1-deficient insulinoma MIN6 cells (Nfe2l1-KD) and sensitivity to chemotherapy. Nfe2l1-KD cells grew faster and were more aggressive than Scramble cells in vitro. In a mouse allograft transplantation model, insulinomas arising from Nfe2l1-KD cells were more aggressive and chemoresistant. The conclusion was amplified using streptozotocin (STZ) administration in an allograft transplantation model in diabetic Akita background mice. Furthermore, Nfe2l1-KD cells were resistant to damage by the chemotherapeutic drugs STZ and 5-fluorouracil, which was linked to binding of hexokinase 1 with mitochondria, enhanced mitochondrial membrane potential and closed mitochondrial potential transition pore. Overall, both in vitro and in vivo data from Nfe2l1-KD insulinoma cells provided evidence of a previously un-appreciated action of NFE2L1 in suppression of tumorigenesis. Nfe2l1 silencing desensitizes insulinoma cells and derived tumors to chemotherapeutic-induced damage, likely via metabolic reprograming. These data indicate that NFE2L1 could potentially play an important role in the carcinogenic process and impact chemosensitivity, at least within a subset of pancreatic endocrine tumors.

Free access

Hung-Ming Lam, Bin Ouyang, Jing Chen, Jun Ying, Jiang Wang, Chin-Lee Wu, Li Jia, Mario Medvedovic, Robert L Vessella, and Shuk-Mei Ho

Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is an advanced-stage prostate cancer (PC) associated with high mortality. We reported that G-1, a selective agonist of G protein-coupled receptor 30 (GPR30), inhibited PC cell growth by inducing G2 cell cycle arrest and arrested PC-3 xenograft growth. However, the therapeutic actions of G-1 and their relationships with androgen in vivo are unclear. Using the LNCaP xenograft to model PC growth during the androgen-sensitive (AS) versus the castration-resistant (CR) phase, we found that G-1 inhibited growth of CR but not AS tumors with no observable toxicity to the host. Substantial necrosis (approximately 65%) accompanied by marked intratumoral infiltration of neutrophils was observed only in CR tumors. Global transcriptome profiling of human genes identified 99 differentially expressed genes with ‘interplay between innate and adaptive immune responses’ as the top pathway. Quantitative PCR confirmed upregulation of neutrophil-related chemokines and inflammation-mediated cytokines only in the G-1-treated CR tumors. Expression of murine neutrophil-related cytokines also was elevated in these tumors. GPR30 (GPER1) expression was significantly higher in CR tumors than in AS tumors. In cell-based experiments, androgen repressed GPR30 expression, a response reversible by anti-androgen or siRNA-induced androgen receptor silencing. Finally, in clinical specimens, 80% of CRPC metastases (n=123) expressed a high level of GPR30, whereas only 54% of the primary PCs (n=232) showed high GPR30 expression. Together, these results provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, that GPR30 is an androgen-repressed target and G-1 mediates the anti-tumor effect via neutrophil-infiltration-associated necrosis in CRPC. Additional studies are warranted to firmly establish GPR30 as a therapeutic target in CRPC.

Open access

Pei-Pei Xu, Su Zeng, Xiao-Tian Xia, Zi-Heng Ye, Mei-Fang Li, Ming-Yun Chen, Tian Xia, Jing-Jing Xu, Qiong Jiao, Liang Liu, Lian-Xi Li, and Ming-Gao Guo

Our aims were to uncover the role of FAM172A (Family with sequence similarity 172 member A) in the pathogenesis of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) and to evaluate its value in the differential diagnosis between malignant and benign thyroid follicular lesions. FAM172A expression was evaluated by q-PCR, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry (IHC). The ability of proliferation, migration and invasion of cells were assessed by Cell Counting Kit-8 assay (CCK8), clone-formation and Transwell assays. Nude mouse tumorigenicity assays were used to investigate the role of FAM172A in the pathogenesis of FTC in vivo. The value of FAM172A in the differential diagnosis for FTC was assessed using 120 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues after the operation and 81 fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) samples before the operation. FAM172A was highly expressed in FTC tissues and FTC cell lines. Downregulation of FAM172A inhibited the proliferation, invasion and migration of FTC cells through Erk1/2 and JNK pathways. Subcutaneous tumorigenesis in nude mice showed that knockdown of FAM172A inhibited tumor growth and progression in vivo. The FAM172A IHC scores of 3.5 had 92% sensitivity and 63% specificity to separate FTC from benign/borderline thyroid follicular lesions, and 92% sensitivity and 80% specificity to discriminate FTC from benign thyroid follicular lesions in postoperative FFPE samples. The corresponding values were 75 and 78%, and 75 and 89% in preoperative FNA samples, respectively. FAM172A plays an important role in the pathogenesis of FTC through Erk1/2 and JNK pathways. FAM172A may be a potential marker for the preoperative diagnosis of FTC based on the IHC results of thyroid FNAB samples.

Free access

Bo Chen, Guochun Zhang, Guangnan Wei, Yulei Wang, Liping Guo, Jiali Lin, Kai Li, Hsiaopei Mok, Li Cao, Chongyang Ren, Lingzhu Wen, Minghan Jia, Cheukfai Li, Ting Hou, Han Han-Zhang, Jing Liu, Charles M Balch, and Ning Liao

HER2-positive breast cancer is a biologically and clinically heterogeneous disease. Based on the expression of hormone receptors (HR), breast tumors can be further categorized into HR positive and HR negative. Here, we elucidated the comprehensive somatic mutation profile of HR+ and HR− HER2-positive breast tumors to understand their molecular heterogeneity. In this study, 64 HR+/HER2+ and 43 HR-/HER2+ stage I-III breast cancer patients were included. Capture-based targeted sequencing was performed using a panel consisting of 520 cancer-related genes, spanning 1.64 megabases of the human genome. A total of 1119 mutations were detected among the 107 HER2-positive patients. TP53, CDK12 and PIK3CA were the most frequently mutated, with mutation rates of 76, 61 and 49, respectively. HR+/HER2+ tumors had more gene amplification, splice site and frameshift mutations and a smaller number of missense, nonsense and insertion-deletion mutations than HR-/HER2+ tumors. In KEGG analysis, HR+/HER2+ tumors had more mutations in genes involved in homologous recombination (P = 0.004), TGF-beta (P = 0.007) and WNT (P = 0.002) signaling pathways than HR-/HER2+ tumors. Moreover, comparative analysis of our cohort with datasets from The Cancer Genome Atlas and Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium revealed the distinct somatic mutation profile of Chinese HER2-positive breast cancer patients. Our study revealed the heterogeneity of somatic mutations between HR+/HER2+ and HR-/HER2+ in Chinese breast cancer patients. The distinct mutation profile and related pathways are potentially relevant in the development of optimal treatment strategies for this subset of patients.