BackgroundOur previous study reported that microRNA-26a (miR-26a) inhibited tumor progression by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis and intratumoral macrophage infiltration in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The direct roles of miR-26a on tumor cell invasion remain poorly understood. In this study, we aim to explore the mechanism of miR-26a in modulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in HCC.MethodsIn vitro cell morphology and cell migration were compared between the hepatoma cell lines HCCLM3 and HepG2, which were established in the previous study. Overexpression and down-regulation of miR-26a were induced in these cell lines, and Western blot and immunofluorescence assays were used to detect the expression of EMT markers. Xenograft nude mouse models were used to observe tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis. Immunohistochemical assays were conducted to study the relationships between miR-26a expression and enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) and E-cadherin expression in human HCC samples.ResultsDown-regulation of miR-26a in HCCLM3 and HepG2 cells resulted in an EMT-like cell morphology and high motility in vitro and increased in tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis in vivo. Through down-regulation of EZH2 expression and up-regulation of E-cadherin expression, miR-26a inhibited the EMT process in vitro and in vivo. Luciferase reporter assay showed that miR-26a directly interacted with EZH2 messenger RNA (mRNA). Furthermore, the expression of miR-26a was positively correlated with E-cadherin expression and inversely correlated with EZH2 expression in human HCC tissue.ConclusionsmiR-26a inhibited the EMT process in HCC by down-regulating EZH2 expression.
Colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) and its receptor, CSF-1R, regulate the differentiation and function of macrophages and play an important role in macrophage infiltration in the context of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The therapeutic effects of CSF-1R blockade in HCC remain unclear. In this study, we found that CSF-1R blockade by PLX3397, a competitive inhibitor with high specificity for CSF-1R tyrosine kinase, significantly delayed tumor growth in mouse models. PLX3397 inhibited the proliferation of macrophages in vitro, but intratumoral macrophage infiltration was not decreased by PLX3397 in vivo. Gene expression profiling of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) showed that TAMs from the PLX3397-treated tumors were polarized toward an M1-like phenotype compared with those from vehicle-treated tumors. In addition, PLX3397 treatment increased CD8 + T-cell infiltration, whereas CD4 + T-cell infiltration was decreased. Further study revealed that tumor cell-derived CSF-2 protected TAMs from being depleted by PLX3397. In conclusion, CSF-1R blockade delayed tumor growth by shifting the polarization rather than the depletion of TAMs. CSF-1R blockade warrants further investigation in the treatment of HCC.on May 9, 2018.
Endothelial cells (ECs) are critical for angiogenesis, and microRNAs play important roles in this process. We investigated the regulatory role of microRNAs in ECs of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by examining the microRNA expression profile of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in the absence or presence of human HCC cells, and identified miR-146a as the most highly upregulated microRNA. Furthermore, we revealed that miR-146a promoted the expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRA) in HUVECs, and this process was mediated by BRCA1. Overexpression of PDGFRA in the ECs of HCC tissues was associated with microvascular invasion and predicted a poorer prognosis. These results suggest that miR-146a plays a key role in regulating the angiogenic activity of ECs in HCC through miR-146a-BRCA1-PDGFRA pathway. MiR-146a and PDGFRA may emerge as potential anti-angiogenic targets on ECs for HCC therapy.
Background & AimsmicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been reported to regulate angiogenesis by down-regulating the expression of pro-angiogenic or anti-angiogenic factors. The aims of this study were to investigate whether miR-26a inhibited angiogenesis by down-regulating vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) and its clinical relevance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).MethodsThe expression of miR-26a was modified in HepG2 and HCCLM3 cell lines respectively, and a panel of angiogenic factors was measured by real-time PCR in the cells. A luciferase reporter assay was used to validate the target gene of miR-26a. Specific inhibitors of signal transduction pathway and siRNA approaches were used to explore the regulatory mechanism of miR-26a. Migration and tube forming assays were conducted to show the changes of angiogenesis induced by miR-26a and its target genes. Finally animal studies were used to further validate those findings.ResultsEctopic expression of miR-26a exhibited decreased levels of VEGFA in HepG2 cells. Migration and tube forming of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were decreased in the conditioned medium from ectopic expression of miR-26a in HepG2 cells compared to control HepG2 cells. The pro-angiogenic effects of the conditioned medium of HepG2 cells on HUVECs were specifically decreased by LY294002, YC-1, and bevacizumab. Integrated analysis disclosed PIK3C2α as a downstream target gene of miR-26a. Ectopic expression of miR-26a suppressed ectopic and orthotopic tumor growth and vascularity in nude mice. The results in HCCLM3 were consistent with those in HepG2. miR-26a expression was inversely correlated with VEGFA expression in HCC patients.ConclusionsmiR-26a modulated angiogenesis of HCC through the PIK3C2α/Akt/HIF-1α/VEGFA pathway. The expression of VEGFA was inversely correlated with miR-26a expression in HCC tumors.
Portal vein tumor thrombus (PVTT) is a significant poor prognostic factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Patients with PVTT limited to a first-order branch of the main portal vein (MPV) or above could benefit from negative margin (R0) liver resection (LR). An Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital (EHBH)/PVTT scoring system was established to predict the prognosis of HCC patients with PVTT after R0 LR and guide selection of subgroups of patients that could benefit from LR. HCC patients with PVTT limited to a first-order branch of the MPV or above who underwent R0 LR as an initial therapy were included. The EHBH-PVTT score was developed from a retrospective cohort in the training cohort using a Cox regression model and validated in a prospective internal validation cohort and three external validation cohorts. There were 432 patients in the training cohort, 285 in the prospective internal validation cohort, and 286, 189, and 135 in three external validation cohorts, respectively. The score was calculated using total bilirubin, α-fetoprotein (AFP), tumor diameter, and satellite lesions. The EHBH-PVTT score differentiated two groups of patients (≤/>3 points) with distinct long-term prognoses (median overall survival [OS], 17.0 vs. 7.9 months; P < 0.001). Predictive accuracy, as determined by the area under the time-dependent receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs; 0.680-0.721), was greater than that of the other commonly used staging systems for HCC and PVTT. Conclusion: The EHBH-PVTT scoring system was more accurate in predicting the prognosis of HCC patients with PVTT than other staging systems after LR. It selected appropriate HCC patients with PVTT limited to a first-order branch of the MPV or above for LR. It can be used to supplement the other HCC staging systems.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the most common proteins targeted by approved drugs. A complete mechanistic elucidation of large-scale conformational transitions underlying the activation mechanisms of GPCRs is of critical importance for therapeutic drug development. Here, we apply a combined computational and experimental framework integrating extensive molecular dynamics simulations, Markov state models, site-directed mutagenesis, and conformational biosensors to investigate the conformational landscape of the angiotensin II (AngII) type 1 receptor (AT1 receptor) — a prototypical class A GPCR—activation. Our findings suggest a synergistic transition mechanism for AT1 receptor activation. A key intermediate state is identified in the activation pathway, which possesses a cryptic binding site within the intracellular region of the receptor. Mutation of this cryptic site prevents activation of the downstream G protein signaling and β-arrestin-mediated pathways by the endogenous AngII octapeptide agonist, suggesting an allosteric regulatory mechanism. Together, these findings provide a deeper understanding of AT1 receptor activation at an atomic level and suggest avenues for the design of allosteric AT1 receptor modulators with a broad range of applications in GPCR biology, biophysics, and medicinal chemistry.
BackgroundmicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been reported to modulate macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) and macrophages. The aim of this study was to find whether miR-26a can suppress M-CSF expression and the recruitment of macrophages.MethodsHepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines with decreased or increased expression of miR-26a were established in a previous study. M-CSF expression by tumor cells was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and cell migration assays were used to explore the effect of HCC cell lines on macrophage recruitment in vitro. Real-time PCR measured a panel of mRNAs expressed by macrophages. Xenograft models were used to observe tumor growth. Immunohistochemistry was conducted to study the relation between miR-26a expression and M-CSF expression and macrophage recruitment in patients with HCC.ResultsEctopic expression of miR-26a reduced expression of M-CSF. The conditioned medium (CM) from HepG2 cells that overexpressed miR-26a reduced the migration ability of THP-1 cells stimulated by phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) increased expression of interleukin (IL)-12b or IL-23 mRNA and decreased expression of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand (CCL)22, CCL17, and IL-10 mRNA, in comparison to the medium from the parental HepG2 cells. These effects could be interrupted by the PI3K/Akt pathway inhibitor LY294002. Ectopic expression of miR-26a in HCC cells suppressed tumor growth, M-CSF expression, and infiltration of macrophages in tumors. Similar results were also found when using HCCLM3 cells. Furthermore, the expression of miR-26a was inversely correlated with M-CSF expression and macrophage infiltration in tumor tissues from patients with HCC.ConclusionsmiR-26a expression reduced M-CSF expression and recruitment of macrophages in HCC.
BackgroundRadiofrequency ablation (RFA) is one of the curative therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), however, accelerated progression of residual HCC after incomplete RFA has been reported more frequently. The underlying molecular mechanism of this phenomenon remains to be elucidated. In this study, we used an incomplete RFA orthotopic HCC nude mouse model to study the invasive and metastatic potential of residual cancer as well as the correlated mechanism.MethodsThe incomplete RFA orthotopic nude mouse models were established using high metastatic potential HCC cell line HCCLM3 and low metastatic potential HCC cell line HepG2, respectively. The changes in cellular morphology, motility, metastasis and epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), and HCC cell molecular markers after in vitro and in vivo incomplete RFA intervention were observed.ResultsPulmonary and intraperitoneal metastasis were observed in an in vivo study. The underlying pro-invasive mechanism of incomplete RFA appeared to be associated with promoting EMT, including down-regulation of E-cadherin and up-regulation of N-cadherin and vimentin. These results were in accordance with the in vitro response of HCC cells to heat intervention. Further studies demonstrated that β-catenin was a pivotal factor during this course and blocking β-catenin reduced metastasis and EMT phenotype changes in heat-treated HCCLM3 cells in vitro.ConclusionIncomplete RFA enhanced the invasive and metastatic potential of residual cancer, accompanying with EMT-like phenotype changes by activating β-catenin signaling in HCCLM3 cells.
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