Autophagy, as a type II programmed cell death, plays crucial roles with autophagy-related (ATG) proteins in cancer. Up to now, the dual role of autophagy both in cancer progression and inhibition remains controversial, in which the numerous ATG proteins and their core complexes including ULK1/2 kinase core complex, autophagy-specific class III PI3K complex, ATG9A trafficking system, ATG12 and LC3 ubiquitin-like conjugation systems, give multiple activities of autophagy pathway and are involved in autophagy initiation, nucleation, elongation, maturation, fusion and degradation. Autophagy plays a dynamic tumor-suppressive or tumor-promoting role in different contexts and stages of cancer development. In the early tumorigenesis, autophagy, as a survival pathway and quality-control mechanism, prevents tumor initiation and suppresses cancer progression. Once the tumors progress to late stage and are established and subjected to the environmental stresses, autophagy, as a dynamic degradation and recycling system, contributes to the survival and growth of the established tumors and promotes aggressiveness of the cancers by facilitating metastasis. This indicates that regulation of autophagy can be used as effective interventional strategies for cancer therapy.
The mammalian or mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway plays a crucial role in regulation of cell survival, metabolism, growth and protein synthesis in response to upstream signals in both normal physiological and pathological conditions, especially in cancer. Aberrant mTOR signaling resulting from genetic alterations from different levels of the signal cascade is commonly observed in various types of cancers. Upon hyperactivation, mTOR signaling promotes cell proliferation and metabolism that contribute to tumor initiation and progression. In addition, mTOR also negatively regulates autophagy via different ways. We discuss mTOR signaling and its key upstream and downstream factors, the specific genetic changes in the mTOR pathway and the inhibitors of mTOR applied as therapeutic strategies in eight solid tumors. Although monotherapy and combination therapy with mTOR inhibitors have been extensively applied in preclinical and clinical trials in various cancer types, innovative therapies with better efficacy and less drug resistance are still in great need, and new biomarkers and deep sequencing technologies will facilitate these mTOR targeting drugs benefit the cancer patients in personalized therapy.
The goal of this study was to determine if serotonergic activity, which is impaired in depression, regulates the phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase-3b (GSK3b) in mouse brain in vivo. GSK3b is inhibited by phosphorylation on serine-9 and is a target of the mood stabilizer lithium. Following administration to mice of d-fenfluramine to stimulate serotonin (5HT) release and reduce its reuptake, and clorgyline to inhibit 5HT catabolism, levels of phospho-Ser9-GSK3b were 300-400% of control levels in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and striatum. Treatment with monoamine reuptake inhibitors fluoxetine and imipramine also increased the level of phospho-Ser9-GSK3b. Using receptor selective agonists and antagonists, 5HT1A receptors were found to mediate increases, and 5HT2 receptors decreases, in phospho-Ser9-GSK3b levels. This indicates that serotonergic regulation of the phosphorylation of GSK3b is achieved by a balance between the opposing actions of these 5HT receptor subtypes. These findings demonstrate for the first time that serotonergic activity regulates the phosphorylation of GSK3b and show that this regulation occurs in mammalian brain in vivo. These results raise the possibility that impaired inhibitory control of GSK3b may occur in conditions where serotonergic activity is dysregulated, such as in mood disorders.
Bipolar disorder, characterized by extreme manic and depressive moods, is a prevalent debilitating disease of unknown etiology. Because mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood-regulating neuromodulators increase the inhibitory serine-phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3), we hypothesized that deficient GSK3 serine-phosphorylation may increase vulnerability to mood-related behavioral disturbances. This was tested by measuring behavioral characteristics of GSK3α/β21A/21A/9A/9A knockin mice with serine-to-alanine mutations to block inhibitory serine-phosphorylation of GSK3. GSK3 knockin mice displayed increased susceptibility to amphetamine-induced hyperactivity and to stress-induced depressive-like behaviors. Furthermore, serine-phosphorylation of GSK3 was reduced during both mood-related behavioral responses in wild-type mouse brain and in blood cells from patients with bipolar disorder. Therefore, proper control of GSK3 by serine-phosphorylation, which is targeted by agents therapeutic for bipolar disorder, is an important mechanism that regulates mood stabilization, and mice with disabled GSK3 serine-phosphorylation may provide a valuable model to study bipolar disorder.
Traditional research modes aim to find cancer-specific single therapeutic target. Recently, emerging evidence suggested that some micro-RNAs (miRNA) can function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors. miRNAs are singlestranded, small noncoding RNA genes that can regulate hundreds of downstream target genes. In this study, we evaluated the miRNA expression patterns in gastric carcinoma and the specific role of miR-223 in gastric cancer metastasis. miRNA expression signature was first analyzed by real-time PCR on 10 paired gastric carcinomas and confirmed in another 20 paired gastric carcinoma tissues. With the 2-fold expression difference as a cutoff level, we identified 22 differential expressed mature miRNAs. Sixteen miRNAs were upregulated in gastric carcinoma, including miR-223, miR-21, miR-23b, miR-222, miR-25, miR-23a, miR-221, miR-107, miR-103, miR-99a, miR-100, miR-125b, miR-92, miR-146a, miR-214 and miR-191, and six miRNAs were downregulated in gastric carcinoma, including let-7a, miR-126, miR-210, miR-181b, miR-197, and miR-30aa-5p. After examining these miRNAs in several human gastric originated cell lines, we found that miR-223 is overexpressed only in metastatic gastric cancer cells and stimulated nonmetastatic gastric cancer cells migration and invasion. Mechanistically, miR-223, induced by the transcription factor Twist, posttranscriptionally downregulates EPB41L3 expression by directly targeting its 3 0 -untranslated regions. Significantly, overexpression of miR-223 in primary gastric carcinomas is associated with poor metastasis-free survival. These findings indicate a new regulatory mode, namely, specific miRNA, which is activated by its upstream transcription factor, could suppress its direct targets and lead to tumor invasion and metastasis. Mol Cancer Res; 9(7); 824-33. Ó2011 AACR.
Little is known about the mechanisms underlying the complex etiology of mood disorders, represented mainly by major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. The 1996 discovery that lithium inhibits glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) raised the possibility that impaired inhibition of GSK3 is associated with mood disorders. This is now supported by evidence from animal biochemical, pharmacological, molecular, and behavioral studies and from human postmortem brain, peripheral tissue, and genetic studies that are reviewed here. Mood disorders may result in part from impairments in mechanisms controlling the activity of GSK3 or GSK3-regulated functions, and disruptions of these regulating systems at different signaling sites may contribute to the heterogeneity of mood disorders. This substantial evidence supports the conclusion that bolstering the inhibitory control of GSK3 is an important component of the therapeutic actions of drugs used to treat mood disorders and that GSK3 is a valid target for developing new therapeutic interventions.
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