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See detailLoss of inter-cellular cooperation by complete epithelial-mesenchymal transition supports favorable outcomes in basal breast cancer patients
Grosse-Wilde, Anne; Kuestner, Rolf E.; Skelton, Stephanie M. et al

in Oncotarget (2018), 9(28), 20018

According to the sequential metastasis model, aggressive mesenchymal (M) metastasis-initiating cells (MICs) are generated by an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which eventually is reversed by a ... [more ▼]

According to the sequential metastasis model, aggressive mesenchymal (M) metastasis-initiating cells (MICs) are generated by an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which eventually is reversed by a mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) and outgrowth of life-threatening epithelial (E) macrometastases. Paradoxically, in breast cancer M signatures are linked with more favorable outcomes than E signatures, and M cells are often dispensable for metastasis in mouse models. Here we present evidence at the cellular and patient level for the cooperation metastasis model, according to which E cells are MICs, while M cells merely support E cell persistence through cooperation. We tracked the fates of co-cultured E and M clones and of fluorescent CDH1-promoter-driven cell lines reporting the E state derived from basal breast cancer HMLER cells. Cells were placed in suspension state and allowed to reattach and select an EMT cell fate. Flow cytometry, single cell and bulk gene expression analyses revealed that only pre-existing E cells generated E cells, mixed E/M populations, or stem-like hybrid E/M cells after suspension and that complete EMT manifest in M clones and CDH1-negative reporter cells resulted in loss of cell plasticity, suggesting full transdifferentiation. Mechanistically, E-M coculture experiments supported the persistence of pre-existing E cells where M cells inhibited EMT of E cells in a mutual cooperation via direct cell-cell contact. Consistently, M signatures were associated with more favorable patient outcomes compared to E signatures in breast cancer, specifically in basal breast cancer patients. These findings suggest a potential benefit of complete EMT for basal breast cancer patients. [less ▲]

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See detailItaconic acid indicates cellular but not systemic immune system activation
Meiser, Johannes; Kraemer, Lisa; Jäger, Christian UL et al

in Oncotarget (2018), 9(63),

Itaconic acid is produced by mammalian leukocytes upon pro-inflammatory activation. It appears to inhibit bacterial growth and to rewire the metabolism of the host cell by inhibiting succinate ... [more ▼]

Itaconic acid is produced by mammalian leukocytes upon pro-inflammatory activation. It appears to inhibit bacterial growth and to rewire the metabolism of the host cell by inhibiting succinate dehydrogenase. Yet, it is unknown whether itaconic acid acts only intracellularly, locally in a paracrine fashion, or whether it is even secreted from the inflammatory cells at meaningful levels in peripheral blood of patients with severe inflammation or sepsis. The aim of this study was to determine the release rate of itaconic acid from pro-inflammatory activated macrophages in vitro and to test for the abundance of itaconic acid in bodyfluids of patients suffering from acute inflammation. We demonstrate that excretion of itaconic acid happens at a low rate and that it cannot be detected in significant amounts in plasma or urine of septic patients or in liquid from bronchial lavage of patients with pulmonary inflammation. We conclude that itaconic acid may serve as a pro-inflammatory marker in immune cells but that it does not qualify as a biomarker in the tested body fluids. [less ▲]

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See detailrapalogs can promote cancer cell stemness in vitro in a Galectin-1 and H-ras-dependent manner
Posada, IMD; Lectez, B; Sharma, M et al

in Oncotarget (2017), Vol. 8((No. 27)), 44550-44566

Currently several combination treatments of mTor- and Ras-pathway inhibitors are being tested in cancer therapy. While multiple feedback loops render these central signaling pathways robust, they ... [more ▼]

Currently several combination treatments of mTor- and Ras-pathway inhibitors are being tested in cancer therapy. While multiple feedback loops render these central signaling pathways robust, they complicate drug targeting. Here, we describe a novel H-ras specific feedback, which leads to an inadvertent rapalog induced activation of tumorigenicity in Ras transformed cells. We find that rapalogs specifically increase nanoscale clustering (nanoclustering) of oncogenic H-ras but not K-ras on the plasma membrane. This increases H-ras signaling output, promotes mammosphere numbers in a H-ras-dependent manner and tumor growth in ovo. Surprisingly, also other FKBP12 binders, but not mTor-inhibitors, robustly decrease FKBP12 levels after prolonged (>2 days) exposure. This leads to an upregulation of the nanocluster scaffold galectin-1 (Gal-1), which is responsible for the rapamycin-induced increase in H-ras nanoclustering and signaling output. We provide evidence that Gal-1 promotes stemness features in tumorigenic cells. Therefore, it may be necessary to block inadvertent induction of stemness traits in H-ras transformed cells by specific Gal-1 inhibitors that abrogate its effect on H-ras nanocluster. On a more general level, our findings may add an important mechanistic explanation to the pleiotropic physiological effects that are observed with rapalogs. [less ▲]

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See detailHypoxia-responsive miR-210 promotes self-renewal capacity of colon tumor-initiating cells by repressing ISCU and by inducing lactate production
Ullmann, Pit UL; qureshi-baig, komal; Rodriguez, Fabien UL et al

in Oncotarget (2016)

Low oxygen concentrations (hypoxia) are known to affect the cellular metabolism and have been suggested to regulate a subpopulation of cancer cells with tumorigenic properties, the so-called tumor ... [more ▼]

Low oxygen concentrations (hypoxia) are known to affect the cellular metabolism and have been suggested to regulate a subpopulation of cancer cells with tumorigenic properties, the so-called tumor-initiating cells (TICs). To better understand the mechanism of hypoxia-induced TIC activation, we set out to study the role of hypoxia-responsive miRNAs in recently established colon cancer patientderived TICs. We were able to show that low oxygen concentrations consistently lead to the upregulation of miR-210 in different primary TIC-enriched cultures. Both stable overexpression of miR-210 and knockdown of its target gene ISCU resulted in enhanced TIC self-renewal. We could validate the tumorigenic properties of miR- 210 in in vivo experiments by showing that ectopic expression of miR-210 results in increased tumor incidence. Furthermore, enhanced miR-210 expression correlated with reduced TCA cycle activity and increased lactate levels. Importantly, by blocking lactate production via inhibition of LDHA, we could reverse the promoting effect of miR-210 on self-renewal capacity, thereby emphasizing the regulatory impact of the glycolytic phenotype on colon TIC properties. Finally, by assessing expression levels in patient tissue, we could demonstrate the clinical relevance of the miR-210/ISCU signaling axis for colorectal carcinoma. Taken together, our study highlights the importance of hypoxia-induced miR-210 in the regulation of colon cancer initiation. [less ▲]

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See detailThe TAT-RasGAP317-326 anti-cancer peptide can kill in a caspase-, apoptosis-, and necroptosis-independent manner
Heulot, Mathieu; Chevalier, Nadja; Puyal, Julien et al

in Oncotarget (2016), 7(39),

Tumor cell resistance to apoptosis, which is triggered by many anti-tumor therapies, remains a major clinical problem. Therefore, development of more efficient therapies is a priority to improve cancer ... [more ▼]

Tumor cell resistance to apoptosis, which is triggered by many anti-tumor therapies, remains a major clinical problem. Therefore, development of more efficient therapies is a priority to improve cancer prognosis. We have previously shown that a cell-permeable peptide derived from the p120 Ras GTPase-activating protein (RasGAP), called TAT-RasGAP317-326, bears anti-malignant activities in vitro and in vivo, such as inhibition of metastatic progression and tumor cell sensitization to cell death induced by various anti-cancer treatments. Recently, we discovered that this RasGAP-derived peptide possesses the ability to directly kill some cancer cells. TAT-RasGAP317-326 can cause cell death in a manner that can be either partially caspase-dependent or fully caspase-independent. Indeed, TAT-RasGAP317-326-induced toxicity was not or only partially prevented when apoptosis was inhibited. Moreover, blocking other forms of cell death, such as necroptosis, parthanatos, pyroptosis and autophagy did not hamper the killing activity of the peptide. The death induced by TAT-RasGAP317-326 can therefore proceed independently from these modes of death. Our finding has potentially interesting clinical relevance because activation of a death pathway that is distinct from apoptosis and necroptosis in tumor cells could lead to the generation of anti-cancer drugs that target pathways not yet considered for cancer treatment. [less ▲]

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See detailPhosphorylation of Notch1 by Pim kinases promotes oncogenic signaling in breast and prostate cancer cells
Santio, Niina M.; Landor, Sebastian K.-J.; Vahtera, Laura et al

in Oncotarget (2016), 7(28), 43220-43238

Tumorigenesis is a multistep process involving co-operation between several deregulated oncoproteins. In this study, we unravel previously unrecognized interactions and crosstalk between Pim kinases and ... [more ▼]

Tumorigenesis is a multistep process involving co-operation between several deregulated oncoproteins. In this study, we unravel previously unrecognized interactions and crosstalk between Pim kinases and the Notch signaling pathway, with implications for both breast and prostate cancer. We identify Notch1 and Notch3, but not Notch2, as novel Pim substrates and demonstrate that for Notch1, the serine residue 2152 is phosphorylated by all three Pim family kinases. This target site is located in the second nuclear localization sequence (NLS) of the Notch1 intracellular domain (N1ICD), and is shown to be important for both nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of N1ICD. Phosphorylation-dependent stimulation of Notch1 signaling promotes migration of prostate cancer cells, balances glucose metabolism in breast cancer cells, and supports in vivo growth of both types of cancer cells on chick embryo chorioallantoic membranes. Furthermore, Pim-induced growth of orthotopic prostate xenografts in mice is associated with enhanced nuclear Notch1 activity. Finally, simultaneous inhibition of Pim and Notch abrogates the cellular responses more efficiently than individual treatments, opening up new vistas for combinatorial cancer therapy. [less ▲]

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See detailComparison of a healthy miRNome with melanoma patient miRNomes: are microRNAs suitable serum biomarkers for cancer?
Margue, Christiane UL; Reinsbach, Susanne UL; Philippidou, Demetra UL et al

in Oncotarget (2015), 6(14), 12110-27

MiRNAs are increasingly recognized as biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancers where they are profiled from tumor tissue (intracellular miRNAs) or serum/plasma samples (extracellular miRNAs). To improve ... [more ▼]

MiRNAs are increasingly recognized as biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancers where they are profiled from tumor tissue (intracellular miRNAs) or serum/plasma samples (extracellular miRNAs). To improve detection of reliable biomarkers from blood samples, we first compiled a healthy reference miRNome and established a well-controlled analysis pipeline allowing for standardized quantification of circulating miRNAs. Using whole miRNome and custom qPCR arrays, miRNA expression profiles were analyzed in 126 serum, whole blood and tissue samples of healthy volunteers and melanoma patients and in primary melanocyte and keratinocyte cell lines. We found characteristic signatures with excellent prognostic scores only in late stage but not in early stage melanoma patients. Upon comparison of melanoma tissue miRNomes with matching serum samples, several miRNAs were identified to be exclusively tissue-derived (miR-30b-5p, miR-374a-5p and others) while others had higher expression levels in serum (miR-3201 and miR-122-5p). Here we have compiled a healthy and widely applicable miRNome from serum samples and we provide strong evidence that levels of cell-free miRNAs only change significantly at later stages of melanoma progression, which has serious implications for miRNA biomarker studies in cancer. [less ▲]

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