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Yu-Yu Liu, Xiaoli Zhang, Matthew D Ringel and Sissy M Jhiang

The selective increase of Na+/I symporter (NIS)-mediated active iodide uptake in thyroid cells allows the use of radioiodine I131 for diagnosis and targeted treatment of thyroid cancers. However, NIS-mediated radioiodine accumulation is often reduced in thyroid cancers due to decreased NIS expression/function. As PI3K signaling is overactivated in many thyroid tumors, we investigated the effects of inhibitors for PI3K, Akt, or mTORC1 as well as their interplay on NIS modulation in thyroid cells under chronic TSH stimulation. PI3K inhibition by LY294002 increased NIS-mediated radioiodide uptake (RAIU) mainly through upregulation of NIS expression, however, mTORC1 inhibition by Rapamycin did not increase NIS-mediated RAIU despite increased NIS protein levels. In comparison, Akt inhibition by Akti-1/2 did not increase NIS protein levels, yet markedly increased NIS-mediated RAIU by decreasing iodide efflux rate and increasing iodide transport rate and iodide affinity of NIS. The effects of Akti-1/2 on NIS-mediated RAIU are not detected in nonthyroid cells, implying that Akti-1/2 or its derivatives may represent potential pharmacological reagents to selectively increase thyroidal radioiodine accumulation and therapeutic efficacy.

Free access

Yu-Yu Liu, Michael P Brandt, Daniel H Shen, Richard T Kloos, Xiaoli Zhang and Sissy M Jhiang

Selective iodide uptake and prolonged iodine retention in the thyroid is the basis for targeted radioiodine therapy for thyroid cancer patients; however, salivary gland dysfunction is the most frequent nonthyroidal complications. In this study, we have used noninvasive single photon emission computed tomography functional imaging to quantify the temporal dynamics of thyroidal and salivary radioiodine accumulation in mice. At 60 min post radionuclide injection, radionuclide accumulation in the salivary gland was generally higher than that in thyroid due to much larger volume of the salivary gland. However, radionuclide accumulation per anatomic unit in the salivary gland was lower than that in thyroid and was comparable among mice of different age and gender. Differently, radionuclide accumulation per anatomic unit in thyroid varied greatly among mice. The extent of thyroidal radioiodine accumulation stimulated by a single dose of exogenous bovine TSH (bTSH) in triiodothyronine (T3)-supplemented mice was much less than that in mice received neither bTSH nor T3 (nontreated mice), suggesting that the duration of elevated serum TSH level is important to maximize thyroidal radioiodine accumulation. Furthermore, the extent and duration of radioiodine accumulation stimulated by bTSH was less in the thyroids of the thyroid-targeted RET/PTC1 (thyroglobulin (Tg)-PTC1) mice bearing thyroid tumors compared with the thyroids in wild-type (WT) mice. Finally, the effect of 17-allyamino-17-demothoxygeldanamycin on increasing thyroidal, but not salivary, radioiodine accumulation was validated in both WT mice and Tg-PTC1 preclinical thyroid cancer mouse model.

Free access

Biao Wan, Leheyi Dai, Li Wang, Ying Zhang, Hong Huang, Guanhua Qian and Tinghe Yu

Clinical implications of the BRCA2 expression level on treatments of ovarian cancer are controversial. Here, we demonstrated that platinum-resistant cancer had a higher percentage of high BRCA2 level (87.5% vs 43.6%, P = 0.001), and that patients with a low BRCA2 level in cancer tissues had longer progression-free survival (with a median time of 28.0 vs 12.0 months, P < 0.001) and platinum-free duration (with a median time of 19.0 vs 5.0 months, P < 0.001) compared with those with a high BRCA2 level. In human ovarian cancer cell lines CAOV-3 and ES-2, cisplatin induced an upregulation of the RAD51 protein, which was inhibited after silencing BRCA2; silencing BRCA2 enhanced the action of cisplatin in vitro and in vivo. Knockdown of BRCA2 promoted cisplatin-induced autophagy. Interestingly, the autophagy blocker chloroquine enhanced cisplatin in BRCA2-silenced cells accompanied by an increase in apoptotic cells, which did not occur in BRCA2-intact cells; chloroquine enhanced the efficacy of cisplatin against BRCA2-silenced CAOV-3 tumors in vivo, with an increase in LC3-II level in tumor tissues. Sensitization of cisplatin was also observed in BRCA2-silenced CAOV-3 cells after inhibiting ATG7, confirming that chloroquine modulated the sensitivity via the autophagy pathway. These data suggest that a low BRCA2 level can predict better platinum sensitivity and prognosis, and that the modulation of autophagy can be a chemosensitizer for certain cancers.

Free access

K Yu, L Toral-Barza, C Discafani, W G Zhang, J Skotnicki, P Frost and J J Gibbons

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a central regulator of G1 cell cycle protein synthesis that precedes commitment to normal cellular replication. We have studied the effect of cell cycle inhibitor-779 (CCI-779), a rapamycin ester that inhibits mTOR function, on the proliferation of a panel of breast cancer cell lines. Six of eight lines studied were sensitive (IC(50)< or = 50 nM) and two lines were resistant (IC(50)>1.0 microM) to CCI-779. Sensitive lines were estrogen dependent (MCF-7, BT-474, T-47D), or lacked expression of the tumor suppressor PTEN (MDA-MB-468, BT-549), and/or overexpressed the Her-2/neu oncogene (SKBR-3, BT-474). Resistant lines (MDA-MB-435, MDA-MB-231) shared none of these properties. CCI-779 (50 nM) inhibited mTOR function in both a sensitive and a resistant line. In nu/nu mouse xenografts, CCI-779 inhibited growth of MDA-MB-468 (sensitive) but not MDA-MB-435 resistant tumors. Treatment of sensitive lines with CCI-779 resulted in a decrease in D-type cyclin and c-myc levels and an increase in p27(kip-1) levels. There was good correlation between activation of the Akt pathway and sensitivity to CCI-779. Amplification of mTOR-regulated p70S6 kinase, which is downstream of Akt, may also have conferred CCI-779 sensitivity to MCF-7 cells. Taken together, the data suggest that mTOR may be a good target for breast cancer therapy, especially in tumors with Akt activation resulting from either growth factor dependency or loss of PTEN function.

Free access

Xiang Tao, Naiqing Zhao, Hongyan Jin, Zhenbo Zhang, Yintao Liu, Jian Wu, Robert C Bast Jr, Yinhua Yu and Youji Feng

Recent studies have suggested that FSH plays an important role in ovarian epithelial carcinogenesis. We demonstrated that FSH stimulates the proliferation and invasion of ovarian cancer cells, inhibits apoptosis and facilitates neovascularisation. Our previous work has shown that transient receptor potential channel C3 (TRPC3) contributes to the progression of human ovarian cancer. In this study, we further investigated the interaction between FSH and TRPC3. We found that FSH stimulation enhanced the expression of TRPC3 at both the mRNA and protein levels. siRNA-mediated silencing of TRPC3 expression inhibited the ability of FSH to stimulate proliferation and blocked apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell lines. FSH stimulation was associated with the up-regulation of TRPC3, while also facilitating the influx of Ca2 + after treatment with a TRPC-specific agonist. Knockdown of TRPC3 abrogated FSH-stimulated Akt/PKB phosphorylation, leading to decreased expression of downstream effectors including survivin, HIF1-α and VEGF. Ovarian cancer specimens were analysed for TRPC3 expression; higher TRPC3 expression levels correlated with early relapse and worse prognosis. Association with poor disease-free survival and overall survival remained after adjusting for clinical stage and grade. In conclusion, TRPC3 plays a significant role in the stimulating activity of FSH and could be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of ovarian cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women with elevated FSH levels.

Open access

Fabia De Oliveira Andrade, Wei Yu, Xiyuan Zhang, Elissa Carney, Rong Hu, Robert Clarke, Kevin FitzGerald and Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Resistance to endocrine therapy remains a clinical challenge in the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. We investigated if adding a traditional Asian herbal mixture consisting of 12 herbs, called Jaeumkanghwa-tang (JEKHT), to tamoxifen (TAM) therapy might prevent resistance and recurrence in the ER+ breast cancer model of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-exposed Sprague–Dawley rats. Rats were divided into four groups treated as follows: 15 mg/kg TAM administered via diet as TAM citrate (TAM only); 500 mg/kg JEKHT administered via drinking water (JEKHT only group); TAM + JEKHT and no treatment control group. The study was replicated using two different batches of JEKHT. In both studies, a significantly higher proportion of ER+ mammary tumors responded to TAM if animals also were treated with JEKHT (experiment 1: 47% vs 65%, P = 0.015; experiment 2: 43% vs 77%, P < 0.001). The risk of local recurrence also was reduced (31% vs 12%, P = 0.002). JEKHT alone was mostly ineffective. In addition, JEKHT prevented the development of premalignant endometrial lesions in TAM-treated rats (20% in TAM only vs 0% in TAM + JEKHT). Co-treatment of antiestrogen-resistant LCC9 human breast cancer cells with 1.6 mg/mL JEKHT reversed their TAM resistance in dose–response studies in vitro. Several traditional herbal medicine preparations can exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and may increase anti-tumor immune activities in the tumor microenvironment. In the tumors of rats treated with both JEKHT and TAM, expression of Il-6 (P = 0.03), Foxp3/T regulatory cell (Treg) marker (P = 0.033) and Tgfβ1 that activates Tregs (P < 0.001) were significantly downregulated compared with TAM only group. These findings indicate that JEKHT may prevent TAM-induced evasion of tumor immune responses.

Free access

Allison Sumis, Katherine L Cook, Fabia O Andrade, Rong Hu, Emma Kidney, Xiyuan Zhang, Dominic Kim, Elissa Carney, Nguyen Nguyen, Wei Yu, Kerrie B Bouker, Idalia Cruz, Robert Clarke and Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Social isolation is a strong predictor of early all-cause mortality and consistently increases breast cancer risk in both women and animal models. Because social isolation increases body weight, we compared its effects to those caused by a consumption of obesity-inducing diet (OID) in C57BL/6 mice. Social isolation and OID impaired insulin and glucose sensitivity. In socially isolated, OID-fed mice (I-OID), insulin resistance was linked to reduced Pparg expression and increased neuropeptide Y levels, but in group-housed OID fed mice (G-OID), it was linked to increased leptin and reduced adiponectin levels, indicating that the pathways leading to insulin resistance are different. Carcinogen-induced mammary tumorigenesis was significantly higher in I-OID mice than in the other groups, but cancer risk was also increased in socially isolated, control diet-fed mice (I-C) and G-OID mice compared with that in controls. Unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling (GRP78; IRE1) was upregulated in the mammary glands of OID-fed mice, but not in control diet-fed, socially isolated I-C mice. In contrast, expression of BECLIN1, ATG7 and LC3II were increased, and p62 was downregulated by social isolation, indicating increased autophagy. In the mammary glands of socially isolated mice, but not in G-OID mice, mRNA expressions of p53 and the p53-regulated autophagy inducer Dram1 were upregulated, and nuclear p53 staining was strong. Our findings further indicated that autophagy and tumorigenesis were not increased in Atg7+/− mice kept in social isolation and fed OID. Thus, social isolation may increase breast cancer risk by inducing autophagy, independent of changes in body weight.

Free access

Yu-fang Bi, Rui-xin Liu, Lei Ye, Hai Fang, Xiao-ying Li, Wei-qing Wang, Ji Zhang, Kan-Kan Wang, Lei Jiang, Ting-wei Su, Zhong-yuan Chen and Guang Ning

Although there has been increased knowledge about the molecular biology of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), little is known about thymic carcinoids and even less about those with excessive hormone disorders, such as ectopic ACTH syndrome. This study was designed to gain insights into the molecular networks underlying the tumorigenesis of thymic carcinoids with ACTH secretion. By an approach integrating cDNA microarray and methods of computational biology, we compare gene expression profile between ACTH-producing thymic carcinoids and the normal thymus. In total, there are 63 biological categories increased and 108 decreased in thymic carcinoids. Cell proliferation was stimulated, which may explain the relatively uncontrolled cell growth of the tumor. Dysregulation of the Notch-signaling pathway was likely to be underlying the neuroendocrine features of this type of tumors. Moreover, inhibition of immunity and increased neuropeptide signaling molecules (POMC and its sorting molecule CPE) made the clinical manifestation reasonable and thus validated the array data. In conclusion, thymic carcinoids have a distinct gene expression pattern from the normal thymus, and they are characterized by deregulations of a series of biofunctions, which may be involved in the development of NETs. Hence, this study has provided not only a detailed comprehension of the molecular pathogenesis of thymic carcinoids with ectopic ACTH syndrome, but also a road map to approach thymic NETs at the system level.

Free access

Katja Kiseljak-Vassiliades, Yu Zhang, Stacey M Bagby, Adwitiya Kar, Nikita Pozdeyev, Mei Xu, Katherine Gowan, Vibha Sharma, Christopher D Raeburn, Maria Albuja-Cruz, Kenneth L Jones, Lauren Fishbein, Rebecca E Schweppe, Hilary Somerset, Todd M Pitts, Stephen Leong and Margaret E Wierman

Adrenocortical cancer (ACC) is an orphan malignancy that results in heterogeneous clinical phenotypes and molecular genotypes. There are no curative treatments for this deadly cancer with 35% survival at five years. Our understanding of the underlying pathobiology and our ability to test novel therapeutic targets has been limited due to the lack of preclinical models. Here, we report the establishment of two new ACC cell lines and corresponding patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. CU-ACC1 cell line and PDX were derived from a perinephric metastasis in a patient whose primary tumor secreted aldosterone. CU-ACC2 cell line and PDX were derived from a liver metastasis in a patient with Lynch syndrome. Short tandem repeat profiling confirmed consistent matches between human samples and models. Both exomic and RNA sequencing profiling were performed on the patient samples and the models, and hormonal secretion was evaluated in the new cell lines. RNA sequencing and immunohistochemistry confirmed the expression of adrenal cortex markers in the PDXs and human tumors. The new cell lines replicate two of the known genetic models of ACC. CU-ACC1 cells had a mutation in CTNNB1 and secreted cortisol but not aldosterone. CU-ACC2 cells had a TP53 mutation and loss of MSH2 consistent with the patient’s known germline mutation causing Lynch syndrome. Both cell lines can be transfected and transduced with similar growth rates. These new preclinical models of ACC significantly advance the field by allowing investigation of underlying molecular mechanisms of ACC and the ability to test patient-specific therapeutic targets.

Restricted access

Adwitiya Kar, Yu Zhang, Betelehem W Yacob, Jordan Saeed, Kenneth D Tompkins, Stacey M Bagby, Todd M Pitts, Hilary Somerset, Stephen Leong, Margaret E Wierman and Katja Kiseljak-Vassiliades

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive orphan malignancy with less than 35% 5-year survival and 75% recurrence. Surgery remains the primary therapy and mitotane, an adrenolytic, is the only FDA-approved drug with wide-range toxicities and poor tolerability. There are no targeted agents available to date. For the last three decades, H295R cell line and its xenograft were the only available preclinical models. We recently developed two new ACC patient-derived xenograft mouse models and corresponding cell lines (CU-ACC1 and CU-ACC2) to advance research in the field. Here, we have utilized these novel models along with H295R cells to establish the mitotic PDZ-binding kinase (PBK) as a promising therapeutic target. PBK is overexpressed in ACC samples and correlates with poor survival. We show that PBK is regulated by FOXM1 and targeting PBK via shRNA decreased cell proliferation, clonogenicity and anchorage-independent growth in ACC cell lines. PBK silencing inhibited pAkt, pp38MAPK and pHistone H3 altering the cell cycle. Therapeutically, targeting PBK with the small-molecule inhibitor HITOPK032 phenocopied PBK-specific modulation of pAkt and pHistone H3, but also induced apoptosis via activation of JNK. Consistent with in vitro findings, treatment of CU-ACC1 PDXs with HITOPK032 significantly reduced tumor growth by 5-fold (P < 0.01). Treated tumor tissues demonstrated increased rates of apoptosis and JNK activation, with decreased pAkt and Histone H3 phosphorylation, consistent with effects observed in ACC cell lines. Together these studies elucidate the mechanism of PBK in ACC tumorigenesis and establish the potential therapeutic potential of HITOPK032 in ACC patients.