Τρίτη, 16 Απριλίου 2019

Cellular Oncology

Deep learning and manual assessment show that the absolute mitotic count does not contain prognostic information in triple negative breast cancer

Abstract

Purpose

The prognostic value of mitotic count for invasive breast cancer is firmly established. As yet, however, limited studies have been aimed at assessing mitotic counts as a prognostic factor for triple negative breast cancers (TNBC). Here, we assessed the prognostic value of absolute mitotic counts for TNBC, using both deep learning and manual procedures.

Methods

A retrospective TNBC cohort (n = 298) was used. The absolute manual mitotic count was assessed by averaging counts from three independent observers. Deep learning was performed using a convolutional neural network on digitized H&E slides. Multivariable Cox regression models for relapse-free survival and overall survival served as baseline models. These were expanded with dichotomized mitotic counts, attempting every possible cut-off value, and evaluated by means of the c-statistic.

Results

We found that per 2 mm2 averaged manual mitotic counts ranged from 1 to 187 (mean 37.6, SD 23.4), whereas automatic counts ranged from 1 to 269 (mean 57.6; SD 42.2). None of the cut-off values improved the models' baseline c-statistic, for both manual and automatic assessments.

Conclusions

Based on our results we conclude that the level of proliferation, as reflected by mitotic count, does not serve as a prognostic factor for TNBC. Therefore, TNBC patient management based on mitotic count should be discouraged.



Curcumin: a potent agent to reverse epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

Abstract

Background

Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is involved in tumor progression, invasion, migration and metastasis. EMT is a process by which polarized epithelial cells acquire motile mesothelial phenotypic features. This process is initiated by disassembly of cell-cell contacts through the loss of epithelial markers and replacement of these markers by mesenchymal markers. Reconstruction of the cytoskeleton and degradation of the tumor basement membrane ensures the spread of invasive malignant tumor cells to distant locations. Accumulating evidence indicates that curcumin, as a well-known phytochemical, can inhibit EMT/metastasis through various mechanisms and pathways in human tumors.

Conclusions

In this review, we summarize the mechanisms by which curcumin may affect EMT in cells under pathological conditions to understand its potential as a novel anti-tumor agent. Curcumin can exert chemo-preventive effects by inhibition and reversal of the EMT process through both TGF-β-dependent (e.g. in hepatoma and retinal pigment epithelial cancer) and -independent (e.g. in oral cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, breast cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer and lung cancer) pathways. Curcumin can also mitigate chemoresistance through EMT suppression and promotion of the antiproliferative effects of conventional chemotherapeutics. Therefore, curcumin has the potential to be used as a novel adjunctive agent to prevent tumor metastasis, which may at least partly be attributed to its hampering of the EMT process.



The tumor suppressor FOXO3a mediates the response to EGFR inhibition in glioblastoma cells

Abstract

Purpose

Although EGFR activation is a hallmark of glioblastoma (GBM), anti-EGFR therapy has so far not yielded the desired effects. Targeting PI3K/Akt has been proposed as a strategy to increase the cellular sensitivity to EGFR inhibitors. Here we evaluated the contribution of FOXO3a, a key Akt target, in the response of GBM cells to EGFR inhibition.

Methods

FOXO3a activation was assessed by immunofluorescence and gene reporter assays, and by evaluating target gene expression using Western blotting and qRT-PCR. Cellular effects were evaluated using cell viability and apoptosis assays, i.e., Annexin V/PI staining and caspase 3/7 activity measurements. Drug synergism was evaluated by performing isobolographic analyses. Gene silencing experiments were performed using stable shRNA transfections.

Results

We found that EGFR inhibition in GBM cells led to FOXO3a activation and to transcriptional modulation of its key targets, including repression of the oncogene FOXM1. In addition, we found that specific FOXO3a activation recapitulated the molecular effects of EGFR inhibition, and that the FOXO3a activator trifluoperazine, a FDA-approved antipsychotic agent, reduced GBM cell growth. Subsequent isobolographic analyses of combination experiments indicated that trifluoperazine and erlotinib cooperated synergistically and that their concomitant treatment induced a robust activation of FOXO3a, leading to apoptosis in GBM cells. Using gene silencing, we found that FOXO3a is essential for the response of GBM cells to EGFR inhibition.

Conclusions

Our data indicate that FOXO3a activation is a crucial event in the response of GBM cells to EGFR inhibition, suggesting that FOXO3a may serve as an actionable therapeutic target that can be modulated using FDA-approved drugs.



Notch pathway in small-cell lung cancer: from preclinical evidence to therapeutic challenges

Abstract

Background

Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive disease with still limited therapeutic options. Despite being both a chemo- and radiation-sensitive malignancy, SCLC recurrence occurs in most cases and negatively impacts patients' prognosis. Over the last few years, a deeper understanding of SCLC molecular aberrations has led to the identification of Notch pathway deregulation as a crucial event in SCLC tumorigenesis, disease progression and chemoresistance. In particular, the delta-like protein 3 (DLL3), a Notch inhibitory ligand whose expression is directly related to the key neuroendocrine transcription factor ASCL1, was found to be expressed in ~85% of SCLCs, while it exhibits minimal to absent surface expression in normal lungs. DLL3 thus represents an appealing novel biomarker as well as a potential target in SCLC.

Conclusions

The first DLL3-targeted antibody-drug conjugate rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T, SC16LD6.5) has shown promising results in terms of efficacy and safety for the management of extensive SCLC, supporting further studies on this novel therapeutic approach that combines specific SCLC targeting with the cell-killing ability of a pyrrolobenzodiazepine dimer. In the present review, we discuss currently available evidence on the biological role of Notch signaling in SCLC from early preclinical findings to current and future clinical implications.



IFITM3 knockdown reduces the expression of CCND1 and CDK4 and suppresses the growth of oral squamous cell carcinoma cells

Abstract

Purpose

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a challenging disease to treat. Up to 50% of OSCC patients with advanced disease develop recurrences. Elucidation of key molecular mechanisms underlying OSCC development may provide opportunities to target specific genes and, thus, to improve patient survival. In this study, we examined the expression and functional role of interferon transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) in OSCC development.

Methods

The expression of IFITM3 in OSCC and normal oral mucosal tissues was assessed by qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. The role of IFITM3 in driving OSCC cell proliferation and survival was examined using siRNA-mediated gene knockdown, and the role of IFITM3 in driving cell cycle regulators was examined using Western blotting.

Results

We found that IFITM3 is overexpressed in more than 79% of primary OSCCs. We also found that IFITM3 knockdown led to impaired OSCC cell growth through inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of cell cycle arrest, senescence and apoptosis. In addition, we found that IFITM3 knockdown led to reduced expressions of CCND1 and CDK4 and reduced RB phosphorylation, leading to inhibition of OSCC cell growth. This information may be instrumental for the design of novel targeted therapeutic strategies.

Conclusions

From our data we conclude that IFITM3 is overexpressed in OSCC and may regulate the CCND1-CDK4/6-pRB axis to mediate OSCC cell growth.



Secretome profiling of heterotypic spheroids suggests a role of fibroblasts in HIF-1 pathway modulation and colorectal cancer photodynamic resistance

Abstract

Purpose

Previous analyses of the tumor microenvironment (TME) have resulted in a concept that tumor progression may depend on interactions between cancer cells and its surrounding stroma. An important aspect of these interactions is the ability of cancer cells to modulate stroma behavior, and vice versa, through the action of a variety of soluble mediators. Here, we aimed to identify soluble factors present in the TME of colorectal cancer cells that may affect relevant pathways through secretome profiling.

Methods

To partially recapitulate the TME and its architecture, we co-cultured colorectal cancer cells (SW480, TC) with stromal fibroblasts (MRC-5, F) as 3D-spheroids. Subsequent characterization of both homotypic (TC) and heterotypic (TC + F) spheroid secretomes was performed using label-free liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS).

Results

Through bioinformatic analysis using the NCI-Pathway Interaction Database (NCI-PID) we found that the HIF-1 signaling pathway was most highly enriched among the proteins whose secretion was enhanced in the heterotypic spheroids. Previously, we found that HIF-1 may be associated with resistance of colorectal cancer cells to photodynamic therapy (PDT), an antitumor therapy that combines photosensitizing agents, O2 and light to create a harmful photochemical reaction. Here, we found that the presence of fibroblasts considerably diminished the sensitivity of colorectal cancer cells to photodynamic activity. Although the biological significance of the HIF-1 pathway of secretomes was decreased after photosensitization, this decrease was partially reversed in heterotypic 3D-spheroids. HIF-1 pathway modulation by both PDT and stromal fibroblasts was confirmed through expression assessment of the HIF-target VEGF, as well as through HIF transcriptional activity assessment.

Conclusion

Collectively, our results delineate a potential mechanism by which stromal fibroblasts may enhance colorectal cancer cell survival and photodynamic treatment resistance via HIF-1 pathway modulation.



Nuclear localization of PD-L1: artifact or reality?

Abstract

Background

The levels of expression and membrane localization of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), an immune checkpoint type I transmembrane glycoprotein, are related to the clinical response of anti-PD-L1/PD-1 therapy. Although the biologically relevant localization of PD-L1 is on the plasma membrane of cancer cells, it has also been reported to be in the cytoplasm and sometimes in the nucleus. Furthermore, it has been claimed that chemotherapeutics can modify PD-L1 expression and/or its nuclear localization.

Results

Data from our group suggest that the nuclear localization of PD-L1, and other plasma membrane proteins as well, could be an artifact resulting from inadequate experimental conditions during immunocytochemical studies. Mild detergent and rigorous fixation conditions should be used in order to preserve the membrane localization and to prevent an erroneous translocation of PD-L1 and other non-interconnected membrane proteins, such as CD24, into other cellular compartments including the nucleus, of untreated and chemotherapeutically treated breast cancer cells.

Conclusion

We propose that well-specified and rigorously followed protocols should be applied to immunocytochemical diagnostic techniques, especially to those related to individualized diagnosis and treatment.



Interfering with bromodomain epigenome readers as therapeutic option in mucoepidermoid carcinoma

Abstract

Purpose

Emerging evidence indicates that bromodomains comprise a conserved class of epigenome readers involved in cancer development and inflammation. Bromodomains are associated with epigenetic modifications of gene transcription through interactions with lysine residues of histone tails. Particularly, the bromodomain and extra-terminal domain (BET) family member BRD4 has been found to be involved in the control over oncogenes, including c-MYC, and in the maintenance of downstream inflammatory processes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of pharmacologically displacing BRD4 in mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) cells.

Methods

We assessed the presence of BRD4 levels in a panel of human MEC tissue samples in conjunction with histological grading and clinical information. In vitro studies were carried out using human MEC-derived cell lines. The BET inhibitor iBET762 was administered to MEC cells to assess the impact of disrupted BRD4 signaling on colony forming capacities and cell cycle status. The activation of cellular senescence induced by iBET762 was determined by immunohistochemical staining for p16ink4. Flow cytometry was used to identify populations of cancer stem cells in MEC-derived cell lines.

Results

We found that primary human MECs and MEC-derived cell lines are endowed with high BRD4 expression levels compared to those in normal salivary glands. We also found that, by displacing BRD4 from chromatin using the BET inhibitor iBET762, MEC cells lose their colony forming capacities and undergo G1 cell cycle arrest and senescence. Finally, we found that targeted displacement of BRD4 from chromatin results in depletion of cancer stem cells from the overall MEC cell populations.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that bromodomain-mediated gene regulation constitutes an epigenetic mechanism that is deregulated in MEC cells and that the use of BET inhibitors may serve as a feasible therapeutic strategy to manage MECs.



MicroRNA-mediated redox regulation modulates therapy resistance in cancer cells: clinical perspectives

Abstract

Background

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common types of cancer therapy. The development of chemo/radio-resistance remains, however, a major obstacle. Altered redox balances are among of the main factors mediating therapy resistance. Therefore, redox regulatory strategies are urgently needed to overcome this problem. Recently, microRNAs have been found to act as major redox regulatory factors affecting chemo/radio-resistance. MicroRNAs play critical roles in regulating therapeutic resistance through the regulation of antioxidant enzymes, redox-sensitive signaling pathways, cancer stem cells, DNA repair mechanisms and autophagy.

Conclusions

Here, we summarize current knowledge on microRNA-mediated redox regulatory mechanisms underlying chemo/radio-resistance. This knowledge may form a basis for a better clinical management of cancer patients.



SNHG6 is upregulated in primary breast cancers and promotes cell cycle progression in breast cancer-derived cell lines

Abstract

Background

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known as RNAs that do not encode proteins and that are more than 200 nucleotides in size. Previously, it has been found that LncRNAs play crucial roles in normal cellular processes, including proliferation and apoptosis. A growing body of evidence suggests that lncRNAs may also play regulatory roles in the initiation, progression and metastasis of various malignancies, including breast cancer. SNHG6 is a lncRNA that has previously been found to contribute to the initiation and progression of hepatocellular and gastric carcinomas. In this study, the clinical significance of SNHG6 expression in breast cancer was investigated.

Methods

SNHG6 expression in primary breast cancer tissues was assessed using RT-qPCR. The functional role of SNHG6 was investigated using RNAi-mediated silencing and exogenous overexpression in breast cancer-derived cells. MTT, colony formation, cell cycle, apoptosis and senescence assays were used to determine the impact of SNHG6 expression on breast cancer-derived cells. The effect of SNHG6 on the migration and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of breast cancer-derived cells was determined using scratch wound healing and immunofluorescence assays, respectively.

Results

We found that the expression of SNHG6 was significantly upregulated in primary high-grade and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast tumours. Additional siRNA-based experiments revealed that SNHG6 silencing led to G1 cell cycle arrest in SK-BR-3 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer-derived cells. Moreover, we found that SNHG6 silencing led to suppressed breast cancer cell proliferation by inducing apoptosis and senescence. Our data also indicate that SNHG6 may contribute to the migration and EMT of breast cancer cells.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that lncRNA SNHG6 is involved in breast cancer development and may be considered as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of breast cancer.



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