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Open access

Silvia Ottaviani, Greg N Brooke, Ciara O'Hanlon-Brown, Jonathan Waxman, Simak Ali and Laki Buluwela

The development and growth of prostate cancer is dependent on androgens; thus, the identification of androgen-regulated genes in prostate cancer cells is vital for defining the mechanisms of prostate cancer development and progression and developing new markers and targets for prostate cancer treatment. Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is a S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methyltransferase that has been recently identified as a novel androgen-regulated gene in prostate cancer cells. Although the importance of this protein in prostate cancer progression has been extensively addressed, little is known about the mechanism of its androgen regulation. Here, we show that GNMT expression is stimulated by androgen in androgen receptor (AR) expressing cells and that the stimulation occurs at the mRNA and protein levels. We have identified an androgen response element within the first exon of the GNMT gene and demonstrated that AR binds to this element in vitro and in vivo. Together, these studies identify GNMT as a direct transcriptional target of the AR. As this is an evolutionarily conserved regulatory element, this highlights androgen regulation as an important feature of GNMT regulation.

Open access

Yan Zheng and Kevin D Houston

G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) is a seven-transmembrane receptor that mediates rapid cell signaling events stimulated by estrogens. While the role that GPER1 has in the modulation of E2-responsive tissues and cancers is well documented, the molecular mechanisms that regulate GPER1 expression are currently not well defined. The recently identified GPER1-dependent mechanism of tamoxifen action in breast cancer cells underscores the importance of identifying mechanisms that regulate GPER1 expression in this cell type. We hypothesized that GPER1 expression in breast cancer cells is sensitive to [D-glucose] and provide data showing increased GPER1 expression when cells were cultured in low [D-glucose]. To determine if the observed accumulation of GPER1 was AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-dependent, small molecule stimulation or inhibition of AMPK was performed. AMPK inhibition decreased GPER1 accumulation in cells grown in low [D-glucose] while the AMPK-activating compound AICAR increased GPER1 accumulation in cells grown in high [D-glucose] media. Additionally, transfection of cells with a plasmid expressing constitutively active AMPK resulted in increased GPER1 accumulation. To determine if [D-glucose]-dependent GPER1 accumulation altered breast cancer cell response to tamoxifen, cells grown in the presence of decreasing [D-glucose] were co-treated with tamoxifen and IGFBP-1 transcription was measured. The results from these experiments reveal that D-glucose deprivation increased GPER1-mediated and tamoxifen-induced IGFBP-1 transcription suggesting that [D-glucose] may increase breast cancer cell sensitivity to tamoxifen. Taken together, these results identify a previously unknown mechanism that regulates GPER1 expression that modifies one aspect tamoxifen action in breast cancer cells.

Open access

Oro Uchenunu, Michael Pollak, Ivan Topisirovic and Laura Hulea

Notwithstanding that metabolic perturbations and dysregulated protein synthesis are salient features of cancer, the mechanism underlying coordination of cellular energy balance with mRNA translation (which is the most energy consuming process in the cell) is poorly understood. In this review, we focus on recently emerging insights in the molecular underpinnings of the cross-talk between oncogenic kinases, translational apparatus and cellular energy metabolism. In particular, we focus on the central signaling nodes that regulate these processes (e.g. the mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin MTOR) and the potential implications of these findings on improving the anti-neoplastic efficacy of oncogenic kinase inhibitors.

Open access

Ross S Thomas, Naveed Sarwar, Fladia Phoenix, R Charles Coombes and Simak Ali

Phosphorylation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) at specific residues in transcription activation function 1 (AF-1) can stimulate ERα activity in a ligand-independent manner. This has led to the proposal that AF-1 phosphorylation and the consequent increase in ERα activity could contribute to resistance to endocrine therapies in breast cancer patients. Previous studies have shown that serine 118 (S118) in AF-1 is phosphorylated by extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in a ligand-independent manner. Here, we show that serines 104 (S104) and 106 (S106) are also phosphorylated by MAPK in vitro and upon stimulation of MAPK activity in vivo. Phosphorylation of S104 and S106 can be inhibited by the MAP-erk kinase (MEK)1/2 inhibitor U0126 and by expression of kinase-dead Raf1. Further, we show that, although S118 is important for the stimulation of ERα activity by the selective ER modulator 4-hydroxytamoxifen (OHT), S104 and S106 are also required for the agonist activity of OHT. Acidic amino acid substitution of S104 or S106 stimulates ERα activity to a greater extent than the equivalent substitution at S118, suggesting that phosphorylation at S104 and S106 is important for ERα activity. Collectively, these data indicate that the MAPK stimulation of ERα activity involves the phosphorylation not only of S118 but also of S104 and S106, and that MAPK-mediated hyperphosphorylation of ERα at these sites may contribute to resistance to tamoxifen in breast cancer.

Open access

Miguel Beato, Roni H G Wright and François Le Dily

Gene regulation by steroid hormones has been at the forefront in elucidating the intricacies of transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes ever since the discovery by Karlson and Clever that the insect steroid hormone ecdysone induces chromatin puffs in giant chromosomes. After the successful cloning of the hormone receptors toward the end of the past century, detailed mechanistic insight emerged in some model systems, in particular the MMTV provirus. With the arrival of next generation DNA sequencing and the omics techniques, we have gained even further insight into the global cellular response to steroid hormones that in the past decades also extended to the function of the 3D genome topology. More recently, advances in high resolution microcopy, single cell genomics and the new vision of liquid-liquid phase transitions in the context of nuclear space bring us closer than ever to unravelling the logic of gene regulation and its complex integration of global cellular signaling networks. Using the function of progesterone and its cellular receptor in breast cancer cells, we will briefly summarize the history and describe the present extent of our knowledge on how regulatory proteins deal with the chromatin structure to gain access to DNA sequences and interpret the genomic instructions that enable cells to respond selectively to external signals by reshaping their gene regulatory networks.

Open access

Irit Hochberg, Innocence Harvey, Quynh T Tran, Erin J Stephenson, Ariel L Barkan, Alan R Saltiel, William F Chandler and Dave Bridges

Glucocorticoids have major effects on adipose tissue metabolism. To study tissue mRNA expression changes induced by chronic elevated endogenous glucocorticoids, we performed RNA sequencing on the subcutaneous adipose tissue from patients with Cushing's disease (n=5) compared to patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (n=11). We found a higher expression of transcripts involved in several metabolic pathways, including lipogenesis, proteolysis and glucose oxidation as well as a decreased expression of transcripts involved in inflammation and protein synthesis. To further study this in a model system, we subjected mice to dexamethasone treatment for 12 weeks and analyzed their inguinal (subcutaneous) fat pads, which led to similar findings. Additionally, mice treated with dexamethasone showed drastic decreases in lean body mass as well as increased fat mass, further supporting the human transcriptomic data. These data provide insight to transcriptional changes that may be responsible for the comorbidities associated with chronic elevations of glucocorticoids.