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Free access

Ana Pestana, João Vinagre, Manuel Sobrinho-Simões and Paula Soares

Evasion of replicative senescence and proliferation without restriction, sometimes designated as immortalisation, is one of the hallmarks of cancer that may be attained through reactivation of telomerase in somatic cells. In contrast to most normal cells in which there is lack of telomerase activity, upregulation of TERT transcription/activity is detected in 80–90% of malignant tumours. In several types of cancer, there is a relationship between the presence of TERT promoter mutations, TERT mRNA expression and clinicopathological features, but the biological bridge between the occurrence of TERT promoter mutations and the aggressive/invasive features displayed by the tumours remains unidentified. We and others have associated the presence of TERT promoter mutations with metastisation/survival in several types of cancer. In follicular cell-derived thyroid cancer, such mutations are associated with worse prognostic features (age of patients, tumour size and tumour stage) as well as with distant metastases, worse response to treatment and poorer survival. In this review, we analyse the data reported in several studies that imply TERT transcription reactivation/activity with cell proliferation, tumour invasion and metastisation. A particular attention is given to the putative connections between TERT transcriptional reactivation and signalling pathways frequently altered in cancer, such as c-MYC, NF-κB and B-Catenin.

Free access

P Balanathan, EM Ball, H Wang, SE Harris, AN Shelling and GP Risbridger

Inhibin was first identified as a gonad-derived regulator of pituitary FSH; however, it has subsequently been shown to be a tumour suppressor in the gonad and adrenal glands. Whereas non-malignant regions of human primary prostate carcinomas express inhibin alpha-subunit (INHA), malignant tissues lack INHA transcript and protein, which is consistent with epigenetic regulation of the inhibin alpha-subunit gene (INHA) promoter. This study investigated whether methylation of the INHA promoter was responsible for inactivation of INHA transcription and translation in the prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP, DU145 and PC3. Methylation of the promoter was revealed by bisulphite genomic sequencing and use of inhibitors of methylation and histone deacetylation resulted in reactivation of the INHA transcription and translation. Significant (P<0.05) downregulation of a luciferase reporter gene downstream from a methylated INHA promoter compared with unmethylated INHA promoter occurred in vitro. The data demonstrate that promoter methylation is associated with downregulation of the INHA gene in prostate cancer cell lines, which is consistent with its tumour suppressive role. Therefore INHA has a significant role in prostate tumorigenesis.

Free access

D Montanaro, M Maggiolini, A G Recchia, R Sirianni, S Aquila, L Barzon, F Fallo, S Andò and V Pezzi

The molecular mechanisms involved in adrenocortical tumorigenesis are still not completely understood. In this study, using the H295R cell line as a model system, we investigated the role of estrogens and estrogen receptor (ER) α and ERβ in the growth regulation of adrenocortical tumors. We demonstrated that H295R cells are able to convert androgens to estrogens by a constitutive expression of active cytochrome P450 aromatase protein and express ERβ to a greater extent than ERα. Moreover, physiological concentrations of 17β-estradiol (E2) determined an increase of thymidine incorporation, suggesting the presence of an autocrine mechanism in maintaining H295R cell proliferation. Evaluating the response to ER antagonists like 4-hydroxytamoxifen (OHT) and ICI 182 780 (ICI), we observed an up-regulation of ERβ and a dose-dependent inhibition of H295R cell proliferation. Whereas ICI determined the growth arrest of H295R cells, OHT induced morphological changes that were characteristic of apoptosis. According to the above-mentioned observations, OHT but not ICI clearly induced a marked expression of FasL and the cleavage of both caspase-8 and caspase-3. Interestingly, the apoptotic effects of OHT in H295R cells may be consequent to the enhanced levels of ERβ which stimulate the expression of FasL interacting with activating protein (AP)-1 sites located within its promoter sequence. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that H295R cells are able to transform androgens to estrogens that activate an autocrine mechanism, mediated by their own receptors, and contribute to regulate the proliferation of these cells. Moreover, this study points towards a role for ERβ as an important mediator of the repressive effects exerted by antiestrogens on H295R cells; however, further studies are needed to clarify its role in the control of adrenocortical cell proliferation and on the potential benefits of antiestrogens for treatment of adrenocortical cancer.

Free access

Luca Mologni, Elisa Sala, Sara Cazzaniga, Roberta Rostagno, Thomas Kuoni, Miriam Puttini, Jenny Bain, Loredana Cleris, Sara Redaelli, Barbara Riva, Franca Formelli, Leonardo Scapozza and Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini

Thyroid neoplasia is frequently associated with rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene mutations that cause hyperactivation of RET kinase activity. Selective inhibition of RET-mediated signaling should lead to an efficacious therapy. SU5416 is a potent inhibitor of vascular endothelial cell growth factor receptor, c-Kit, and FLT-3 receptor tyrosine kinases presently used in clinical trials. We found that SU5416 inhibits RET with similar potency, both in cell-free assays and in cells, thus causing proliferation arrest in oncogenic RET-transfected cells and in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) cells expressing the RET/PTC1 oncogene, but not in RET-negative control cells. SU5416 inhibited RET-mediated signaling through the extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) and JNK pathways. In addition, we show that a naturally occurring MEN2 mutation at codon 804 confers resistance to SU5416, but not to the related compound SU4984. We provide a possible explanation to these results by using molecular docking. Finally, SU5416 was also assessed against an array of 52 tyrosine and serine/threonine kinases.

Free access

Ming-Qing Li, Xiao-Fan Hou, Shi-Jian Lv, Yu-Han Meng, Xiao-Qiu Wang, Chuan-Ling Tang and Da-Jin Li

Tetraspanin CD82 is a wide-spectrum tumor metastasis suppressor that inhibits motility and invasiveness of cancer cells. Endometriosis is a benign gynecological disorder, but appears malignant behaviors including invasion, ectopic implantation and recurrence. This study is to elucidate the role of CD82 expression regulation in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. The short interfering RNA silence was established to analyze the roles of CD82, chemokine CCL2, and its receptor CCR2 in the invasiveness of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs). We have found that the mRNA and protein levels of CD82 in the primary normal ESCs from endometrium without endometriosis are significantly higher than that of the primary ESCs from eutopic endometrium and ectopic tissue. CD82 inhibits the invasiveness of ESCs by downregulating CCL2 secretion and CCR2 expression via mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and integrinβ1 signal pathway, and in turn upregulating the expression of TIMP1 and TIMP2 in an autocrine manner. The combination of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) with 17β-estradiol can promote the invasion of ESCs via suppressing CD82 expression and stimulating CCL2 secretion and CCR2 expression, and the enhanced interaction of CCL2–CCR2 recruits more macrophages into the ectopic milieu in a paracrine manner, which further downregulates CD82 expression in the ectopic ESCs. Our study has demonstrated for the first time that the abnormal lower CD82 expression in ESCs induced by TCDD and estrogen may be an important molecular basis of endometriosis pathogenesis through enhancing the CCL2 secretion and CCR2 expression and the invasion of ESCs via MAPK and integrinβ1 signal pathway.

Free access

Daniela Pasquali, Valentina Rossi, Giovanni Conzo, Giuseppe Pannone, Pantaleo Bufo, Annamaria De Bellis, Andrea Renzullo, Giuseppe Bellastella, Annamaria Colao, Gianfranco Vallone, Antonio Bellastella and Antonio A Sinisi

Surgery is the primary therapy for pheochromocytoma (PHEO), a catecholamine-producing tumor. Benign and malignant PHEO could develop recurrences, and the intraoperative risk of recurrent PHEO is an important unresolved issue. Non-surgical treatments of PHEO recurrence would therefore better prepare patients for reintervention as well as provide them with palliative management. We investigated the effects of the new somatostatin analog (pasireotide) SOM230 versus octreotide (OCT) in primary PHEO cell cultures (Pheo-c). Pheo-c from six benign surgical samples were set up and characterized by immunocytochemistry. Real-time PCR, using both PHEO tissues and Pheo-c, showed different levels of somatostatin receptor1–5 mRNA expression. Cells treated with various doses of OCT or SOM230 for 48 and 72 h were analyzed to assess their effects on cell proliferation and apoptosis and catecholamine levels. Even if reduction of cell viability was observed in Pheo-c treated for 48 h with either OCT or SOM230 and this effect increased after 72 h, a more significant inhibition of cell growth as well as a significantly higher induction of apoptosis was seen in Pheo-c treated with SOM230 versus OCT. In particular, apoptosis in Pheo-c was detected after 48 h and was associated with increased expression and activation of caspase-3 and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. OCT 10−6 M and SOM230 10−7 M significantly reduced catecholamine levels. Our results indicate that while both OCT and SOM230 modulate cell growth and apoptosis and catecholamine levels in Pheo-c through specific receptors, SOM230 is more effective. This improves our knowledge on the mechanism of SOM230 action in PHEO and supports a possible therapeutic use in benign PHEO recurrence.

Free access

J G Moggs, T C Murphy, F L Lim, D J Moore, R Stuckey, K Antrobus, I Kimber and G Orphanides

Estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast carcinomas do not respond to hormone therapy, making their effective treatment very difficult. The re-expression of ERα in ER-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells has been used as a model system, in which hormone-dependent responses can be restored. Paradoxically, in contrast to the mitogenic activity of 17β-estradiol (E2) in ER-positive breast cancer cells, E2 suppresses proliferation in ER-negative breast cancer cells in which ERα has been re-expressed. We have used global gene expression profiling to investigate the mechanism by which E2 suppresses proliferation in MDA-MB-231 cells that express ERα through adenoviral infection. We show that a number of genes known to promote cell proliferation and survival are repressed by E2 in these cells. These include genes encoding the anti-apoptosis factor SURVIVIN, positive cell cycle regulators (CDC2, CYCLIN B1, CYCLIN B2, CYCLIN G1, CHK1, BUB3, STK6, SKB1, CSE1 L) and chromosome replication proteins (MCM2, MCM3, FEN1, RRM2, TOP2A, RFC1). In parallel, E2-induced the expression of the negative cell cycle regulators KIP2 and QUIESCIN Q6, and the tumour-suppressor genes E-CADHERIN and NBL1. Strikingly, the expression of several of these genes is regulated in the opposite direction by E2 compared with their regulation in ER-positive MCF-7 cells. Together, these data suggest a mechanism for the E2-dependent suppression of proliferation in ER-negative breast cancer cells into which ERα has been reintroduced.

Free access

V Vuaroqueaux, A Dutour, N Bourhim, L Ouafik, G Monges, N Briard, N Sauze, C Oliver and M Grino

Numerous studies have suggested that the antiproliferative potency of somatostatin (SS) analogues may be an efficient tool to improve the prognosis of colorectal cancer. In order to facilitate current efforts to design potent antitumour SS analogues, we studied the distribution of human SS receptors (hsst1-5) mRNAs in a large set of tumoural and normal colonic tissues. Localisation of hsst1-5 mRNAs in normal and tumoural tissues was performed by in situ hybridisation using radioactive antisense or sense riboprobes. Semi-quantitative analysis of hsst5 mRNA was performed using a computerised image analysis system. Hsst binding sites were characterised by studying the relative potency of SS14, SS28 or SS analogues in displacing [(125)I]Tyr degrees -d-Trp(8)-SS14 bound to HT29-D4 cells. Hsst5 mRNA was by far the most expressed subtype in both normal and transformed epithelial cells as well as in the HT29-D4 cell line. An increased expression of hsst5 mRNA was found in tumours. Hsst1 mRNA was expressed preferentially as clusters in immune cells in lamina propria and in stroma close to the tumour. A low expression of hsst4, hsst3 and hsst2 was seen in normal and tumoural tissue. In HT29-D4, binding experiments with SS14 demonstrated the existence of one SS binding class (K(d)=524 nM, B(max)=1fmol/10(6 )cells). In competition binding studies, SS28 and BIM23268 (an analogue that shows preferential specificity towards hsst5) effectively inhibited binding of [(125)I]Tyr degrees -d-Trp(8)-SS14 (IC(50)=15 and 157 nM respectively), while BIM23197 (an analogue that shows preferential affinity for hsst2) was ineffective. Our results show a high expression of hsst5 mRNA in human tumoural colonic tissue, while hsst5 protein is the predominant hsst protein subtype in a tumoural colonic cell line.

Free access

Ryan J O Dowling, Saroj Niraula, Vuk Stambolic and Pamela J Goodwin

The anti-diabetic drug metformin is rapidly emerging as a potential anti-cancer agent. Metformin, effective in treating type 2 diabetes and the insulin resistance syndromes, improves insulin resistance by reducing hepatic gluconeogenesis and by enhancing glucose uptake by skeletal muscle. Epidemiological studies have consistently associated metformin use with decreased cancer incidence and cancer-related mortality. Furthermore, numerous preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated anti-cancer effects of metformin, leading to an explosion of interest in evaluating this agent in human cancer. The effects of metformin on circulating insulin levels indicate a potential efficacy towards cancers associated with hyperinsulinaemia; however, metformin may also directly inhibit tumour growth. In this review, we describe the mechanism of action of metformin and summarise the epidemiological, clinical and preclinical evidence supporting a role for metformin in the treatment of cancer. In addition, the challenges associated with translating preclinical results into therapeutic benefit in the clinical setting will be discussed.

Restricted access

P Sourdaine, M G Parker, J Telford and W R Miller


Aromatase activity may be detected in most, but not all, breast cancers, and in certain tumours there appears to be decreased sensitivity to the aromatase inhibitor 4-hydroxyandrostenedione (4-OHA). The aims of the present study were to measure aromatase activity, and its sensitivity to 4-OHA, in breast tumours, and to examine the CYP19 gene encoding the aromatase cytochrome P450 (P450arom) for the presence of mutations.

In vitro aromatase activity and sensitivity to 4-OHA were measured by determining the conversion of tritiated testosterone to tritiated oestradiol in breast tumour tissue in the absence and presence of 4-OHA (10 nm). Genomic DNA was extracted from five tumours: one showing no detectable aromatase activity and four displaying evidence of aromatase activity (two sensitive and two insensitive to 4-OHA). Subsequent PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis revealed a variation in the mobility of single-stranded DNA for exons III, VII and X, corresponding, as shown by direct sequencing of PCR products, to common polymorphism of the aromatase gene. This study does not provide evidence for mutation in the coding exons of the P450arom gene which would account for either the absence of aromatase activity or its changed sensitivity to 4-OHA in breast cancers.