The tumour microenvironment may contribute to tumorigenesis owing to mechanical forces such as fibrotic stiffness or mechanical pressure caused by the expansion of hyper-proliferative cells. Here we explore the contribution of the mechanical pressure exerted by tumour growth onto non-tumorous adjacent epithelium. In the early stage of mouse colon tumour development in the Notch(+)Apc(+/1638N) mouse model, we observed mechanistic pressure stress in the non-tumorous epithelial cells caused by hyper-proliferative adjacent crypts overexpressing active Notch, which is associated with increased Ret and β-catenin signalling. We thus developed a method that allows the delivery of a defined mechanical pressure in vivo, by subcutaneously inserting a magnet close to the mouse colon. The implanted magnet generated a magnetic force on ultra-magnetic liposomes, stabilized in the mesenchymal cells of the connective tissue surrounding colonic crypts after intravenous injection. The magnetically induced pressure quantitatively mimicked the endogenous early tumour growth stress in the order of 1,200 Pa, without affecting tissue stiffness, as monitored by ultrasound strain imaging and shear wave elastography. The exertion of pressure mimicking that of tumour growth led to rapid Ret activation and downstream phosphorylation of β-catenin on Tyr654, imparing its interaction with the E-cadherin in adherens junctions, and which was followed by β-catenin nuclear translocation after 15 days. As a consequence, increased expression of β-catenin-target genes was observed at 1 month, together with crypt enlargement accompanying the formation of early tumorous aberrant crypt foci. Mechanical activation of the tumorigenic β-catenin pathway suggests unexplored modes of tumour propagation based on mechanical signalling pathways in healthy epithelial cells surrounding the tumour, which may contribute to tumour heterogeneity.
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is an aggressive tumor with a poor prognosis due to its late clinical presentation and the lack of effective non-surgical therapies. Unfortunately, most of the patients are not eligible for curative surgery owing to the presence of metastases at the time of diagnosis. Therefore, it is important to understand the steps leading to cell dissemination in patients with CCA. To metastasize from the primary site, cancer cells must acquire migratory and invasive properties by a cell plasticity-promoting phenomenon known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is a reversible dynamic process by which epithelial cells gradually adopt structural and functional characteristics of mesenchymal cells, and has lately become a center of attention in the field of metastatic dissemination. In the present review, we aim to provide an extensive overview of the current clinical data and the prognostic value of different EMT markers that have been analyzed in CCA. We summarize all the regulatory networks implicated in EMT from the membrane receptors to the main EMT-inducing transcription factors (SNAIL, TWIST and ZEB). Furthermore, since a tumor is a complex structure not exclusively formed by tumor cells, we also address the prominent role of the main cell types of the desmoplastic stroma that characterizes CCA in the regulation of EMT. Finally, we discuss the therapeutic considerations and difficulties faced to develop an effective anti-EMT treatment due to the redundancies and bypasses among the pathways regulating EMT. 4Key Point Box -EMT is an early event of metastasis that endows tumor cells with invasive properties enabling them to spread toward other territories.-EMT contributes to CCA progression and chemoresistance.-The three families of transcription factors that regulate epithelial and mesenchymal marker expression during EMT (SNAIL, TWIST and ZEB) contribute to CCA progression.-Cells of CCA microenvironment, and not only cancer cells, lead to the activation of EMT.
Insulin receptor (IR) exists as two isoforms resulting from the alternative splicing of IR pre-mRNA. IR-B promotes the metabolic effects of insulin, whereas IR-A rather signals proliferative effects. IR-B is predominantly expressed in the adult liver. Here, we show that the alternative splicing of IR pre-mRNA is dysregulated in a panel of 85 human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) while being normal in adjacent nontumor liver tissue. An IR-B to IR-A switch is frequently observed in HCC tumors regardless of tumor etiology. Using pharmacologic and siRNA approaches, we show that the autocrine or paracrine activation of the EGF receptor (EGFR)/mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway increases the IR-A:IR-B ratio in HCC cell lines, but not in normal hepatocytes, by upregulating the expression of the splicing factors CUGBP1, hnRNPH, hnRNPA1, hnRNPA2B1, and SF2/ASF. In HCC tumors, there is a significant correlation between the expression of IR-A and that of splicing factors. Dysregulation of IR pre-mRNA splicing was confirmed in a chemically induced model of HCC in rat but not in regenerating livers after partial hepatectomy. This study identifies a mechanism responsible for the generation of mitogenic IR-A and provides a novel interplay between IR and EGFR pathways in HCC. Increased expression of IR-A during neoplastic transformation of hepatocytes could mediate some of the adverse effects of hyperinsulinemia on HCC. Cancer Res; 73(13); 3974-86. Ó2013 AACR.
The RAS-RAF-MEK-extracellular-regulated kinase (RAS/ERK) pathway is a major intracellular route used by metazoan cells to channel to downstream targets a diverse array of signals, including those controlling cell proliferation and survival. Recent findings suggest that the pathway is assembled by specific scaffolding proteins that in turn regulate the efficiency, the location and/or the duration of signal transmission. Here, through the angle of studies conducted in Drosophila and C. elegans, we present two such proteins, the kinase suppressor of RAS (KSR) and connector enhancer of KSR (CNK) scaffolds, and highlight their implication in a novel mechanism regulating RAS-mediated RAF activation. Based on recent findings, we discuss the possibility that KSR, a RAF-like protein, does not solely act as a scaffold, but directly induces RAF catalytic function by a kinaseindependent mechanism apparently shared by RAF-like proteins.
Improving outcomes in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a major clinical challenge. Overexpression of pro-survival BCL-2 family members rendering transformed cells resistant to cytotoxic drugs is a common theme in cancer. Targeting BCL-2 with the BH3-mimetic venetoclax is active in AML when combined with low-dose chemotherapy or hypomethylating agents. We now report the pre-clinical anti-leukemic efficacy of a novel BCL-2 inhibitor S55746, which demonstrates synergistic pro-apoptotic activity in combination with the MCL1 inhibitor S63845. Activity of the combination was caspase and BAX/BAK dependent, superior to combination with standard cytotoxic AML drugs and active against a broad spectrum of poor risk genotypes, including primary samples from patients with chemoresistant AML. Co-targeting BCL-2 and MCL1 was more effective against leukemic, compared to normal hematopoietic progenitors, suggesting a therapeutic window of activity. Finally, S55746 combined with S63845 prolonged survival in xenograft models of AML and suppressed patient-derived leukemia but not normal hematopoietic cells in bone marrow of engrafted mice. In conclusion, a dual BH3-mimetic approach is feasible, highly synergistic, and active in diverse models of human AML. This approach has strong clinical potential to rapidly suppress leukemia, with reduced toxicity to normal hematopoietic precursors compared to chemotherapy.
The transmission of cellular information requires fine and subtle regulation of proteins that need to interact in a coordinated and specific way to form efficient signaling networks. The spatial and temporal coordination relies on scaffold proteins. Thanks to protein interaction domains such as PDZ domains, scaffold proteins organize multiprotein complexes enabling the proper transmission of cellular information through intracellular networks. NHERF1/EBP50 is a PDZ-scaffold protein that was initially identified as an organizer and regulator of transporters and channels at the apical side of epithelia through actin-binding ezrin-moesin-radixin proteins. Since, NHERF1/EBP50 has emerged as a major regulator of cancer signaling network by assembling cancer-related proteins. The PDZ-scaffold EBP50 carries either anti-tumor or pro-tumor functions, two antinomic functions dictated by EBP50 expression or subcellular localization. The dual function of NHERF1/EBP50 encompasses the regulation of several major signaling pathways engaged in cancer, including the receptor tyrosine kinases PDGFR and EGFR, PI3K/PTEN/AKT and Wnt-β-catenin pathways.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is characterized by an abundant desmoplastic environment. Poor prognosis of CCA has been associated with the presence of alpha‐smooth muscle actin (α‐SMA)‐positive myofibroblasts (MFs) in the stroma and with the sustained activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in tumor cells. Among EGFR ligands, heparin‐binding epidermal growth factor (HB‐EGF) has emerged as a paracrine factor that contributes to intercellular communications between MFs and tumor cells in several cancers. This study was designed to test whether hepatic MFs contributed to CCA progression through EGFR signaling. The interplay between CCA cells and hepatic MFs was examined first in vivo, using subcutaneous xenografts into immunocompromised mice. In these experiments, cotransplantation of CCA cells with human liver myofibroblasts (HLMFs) increased tumor incidence, size, and metastastic dissemination of tumors. These effects were abolished by gefitinib, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Immunohistochemical analyses of human CCA tissues showed that stromal MFs expressed HB‐EGF, whereas EGFR was detected in cancer cells. In vitro, HLMFs produced HB‐EGF and their conditioned media induced EGFR activation and promoted disruption of adherens junctions, migratory and invasive properties in CCA cells. These effects were abolished in the presence of gefitinib or HB‐EGF‐neutralizing antibody. We also showed that CCA cells produced transforming growth factor beta 1, which, in turn, induced HB‐EGF expression in HLMFs. Conclusion: A reciprocal cross‐talk between CCA cells and myofibroblasts through the HB‐EGF/EGFR axis contributes to CCA progression. (Hepatology 2013; 58:2001–2011)
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