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  • 1
    Abstract: Purpose: Constitutively active WNT signaling is a hallmark of colorectal cancers and a driver of malignant tumor progression. Therapeutic targeting of WNT signaling is difficult due to high pathway complexity and its role in tissue homeostasis. Here, we identify the transcription factor ADNP as a pharmacologically inducible repressor of WNT signaling in colon cancer.Experimental Design: We used transcriptomic, proteomic, and in situ analyses to identify ADNP expression in colorectal cancer and cell biology approaches to determine its function. We induced ADNP expression in colon cancer xenografts by low-dose ketamine in vivo Clinical associations were determined in a cohort of 221 human colorectal cancer cases.Results: ADNP was overexpressed in colon cancer cells with high WNT activity, where it acted as a WNT repressor. Silencing ADNP expression increased migration, invasion, and proliferation of colon cancer cells and accelerated tumor growth in xenografts in vivo Treatment with subnarcotic doses of ketamine induced ADNP expression, significantly inhibited tumor growth, and prolonged survival of tumor-bearing animals. In human patients with colon cancer, high ADNP expression was linked to good prognosis.Conclusions: Our findings indicate that ADNP is a tumor suppressor and promising prognostic marker, and that ketamine treatment with ADNP induction is a potential therapeutic approach that may add benefit to current treatment protocols for patients with colorectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res; 23(11); 2769-80. (c)2016 AACR.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 27903678
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  • 2
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    Oncotarget 5 (17), 7316-7327 
    Keywords: EXPRESSION ; TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR ; BINDING ; TARGET ; COLORECTAL-CANCER ; TRANSFORMATION ; OVEREXPRESSION ; cdk4 ; EPITHELIAL-MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION ; CENTROSOME AMPLIFICATION
    Abstract: AP4 represents a c-MYC-inducible bHLH-LZ transcription factor, which displays elevated expression in many types of tumors. We found that serum-starved AP4-deficient mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) were unable to resume proliferation and showed a delayed S-phase entry after restimulation. Furthermore, they accumulated as tetraploid cells due to a cytokinesis defect. In addition, AP4 was required for c-MYC-induced cell cycle re-entry. AP4-deficient MEFs displayed decreased expression of CDK2 (cyclin-dependent kinase 2), which we characterized as a conserved and direct AP4 target. Activation of an AP4 estrogen receptor fusion protein (AP4-ER) enhanced proliferation of human diploid fibroblasts in a CDK2-dependent manner. However, in contrast to c-MYC-ER, AP4-ER activation was not sufficient to induce cell cycle re-entry or apoptosis in serum-starved MEFs. AP4-deficiency was accompanied by increased spontaneous and c-MYC-induced DNA damage in MEFs. Furthermore, c-MYC-induced apoptosis was decreased in AP4-deficient MEFs, suggesting that induction of apoptosis by c-MYC is linked to its ability to activate AP4 and thereby cell cycle progression. Taken together, these results indicate that AP4 is a central mediator and coordinator of cell cycle progression in response to mitogenic signals and c-MYC activation. Therefore, inhibition of AP4 function may represent a therapeutic approach to block tumor cell proliferation.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25261373
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  • 3
    Keywords: GENES ; TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR ; fibroblasts ; INDUCED APOPTOSIS ; C-MYC ; PREMATURE SENESCENCE ; CELLULAR SENESCENCE ; EPITHELIAL-MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION ; FEEDBACK LOOP ; MYC TRANSGENIC MICE
    Abstract: Here we analyzed the function of the c-MYC-inducible basic helix-loop-helix leucine-zipper transcription factor AP4 in AP4-deficient mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs). Loss of AP4 resulted in premature senescence and resistance towards immortalization. Senescence was accompanied by induction of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor-encoding genes p16, a known tumor suppressor, and p21, a previously described target for repression by AP4. Notably, AP4 directly repressed p16 expression via conserved E-box motifs in MEFs and human diploid fibroblasts. Senescence caused by AP4-deficiency was prevented by depletion of p16 and/or p21, demonstrating that these factors mediate senescence caused by AP4 loss. As senescence induced by the loss of AP4 was rescued by ectopic AP4, secondary lesions were not involved in causing premature senescence. Activation of c-MYC resulted in repression of p21 and p16 in AP4(+/+), but not in AP4(-/-) MEFs. Furthermore, after combined expression of c-MYC and mutant RAS in MEFs, AP4 was required for colony formation, anchorage-independent growth and tumor formation in mice. In addition, combined ectopic expression of AP4 and mutant RAS in MEFs resulted in colony formation. However, additional loss of the p53 tumor suppressor was necessary for anchorage-independent growth and tumor formation of MEFs by combined AP4 and mutant RAS expression. In conclusion, this study identified AP4 as an oncogenic antagonist of cellular senescence. AP4 achieves this effect by direct repression of p16 and p21, and may thereby critically contribute to c-MYC function and tumor progression.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23949224
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  • 4
    Keywords: GENE-EXPRESSION ; TUMOR PROGRESSION ; METASTASIS ; COLORECTAL-CANCER ; beta-catenin ; EMBRYONIC STEM-CELLS ; TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR SNAIL ; WNT/BETA-CATENIN ; miR-200 family ; NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOP
    Abstract: Here, we show that expression of ZNF281/ZBP-99 is controlled by SNAIL and miR-34a/b/c in a coherent feed-forward loop: the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) inducing factor SNAIL directly induces ZNF281 transcription and represses miR-34a/b/c, thereby alleviating ZNF281 mRNA from direct down-regulation by miR-34. Furthermore, p53 activation resulted in a miR-34a-dependent repression of ZNF281. Ectopic ZNF281 expression in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells induced EMT by directly activating SNAIL, and was associated with increased migration/invasion and enhanced beta-catenin activity. Furthermore, ZNF281 induced the stemness markers LGR5 and CD133, and increased sphere formation. Conversely, experimental down-regulation of ZNF281 resulted in mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) and inhibition of migration/invasion, sphere formation and lung metastases in mice. Ectopic c-MYC induced ZNF281 protein expression in a SNAIL-dependent manner. Experimental inactivation of ZNF281 prevented EMT induced by c-MYC or SNAIL. In primary CRC samples, expression of ZNF281 increased during tumour progression and correlated with recurrence. Taken together, these results identify ZNF281 as a component of EMT-regulating networks, which contribute to metastasis formation in CRC.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24185900
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  • 5
    Keywords: TYROSINE KINASE ; LUNG-CANCER ; HEPATOCELLULAR-CARCINOMA ; GASTROINTESTINAL STROMAL TUMORS ; ACUTE MYELOID-LEUKEMIA ; ACUTE MYELOBLASTIC-LEUKEMIA ; BREAST-CANCER CELLS ; COLORECTAL-CARCINOMA CELLS ; KINASE INHIBITOR STI571 ; FACTOR RECEPTOR/C-KIT
    Abstract: The c-Kit receptor tyrosine kinase is commonly over-expressed in different types of cancer. p53 activation is known to result in the down-regulation of c-Kit. However, the underlying mechanism has remained unknown. Here, we show that the p53-induced miR-34 microRNA family mediates repression of c-Kit by p53 via a conserved seed-matching sequence in the c-Kit 3'-UTR. Ectopic miR-34a resulted in a decrease in Erk signaling and transformation, which was dependent on the down-regulation of c-Kit expression. Furthermore, ectopic expression of c-Kit conferred resistance of colorectal cancer (CRC) cells to treatment with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), whereas ectopic miR-34a sensitized the cells to 5-FU. After stimulation with c-Kit ligand/stem cell factor (SCF) Colo320 CRC cells displayed increased migration/invasion, whereas ectopic miR-34a inhibited SCF-induced migration/invasion. Activation of a conditional c-Kit allele induced several stemness markers in DLD-1 CRC cells. In primary CRC samples elevated c-Kit expression also showed a positive correlation with markers of stemness, such as Lgr5, CD44, OLFM4, BMI-1 and beta-catenin. On the contrary, activation of a conditional miR-34a allele in DLD-1 cells diminished the expression of c-Kit and several stemness markers (CD44, Lgr5 and BMI-1) and suppressed sphere formation. MiR-34a also suppressed enhanced sphere-formation after exposure to SCF. Taken together, our data establish c-Kit as a new direct target of miR-34 and demonstrate that this regulation interferes with several c-Kit-mediated effects on cancer cells. Therefore, this regulation may be potentially relevant for future diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24009080
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  • 6
    Keywords: BREAST-CANCER ; WILD-TYPE ; C-MYC ; GASTRIC-CANCER ; GENOME-WIDE ANALYSIS ; TUMOR-SUPPRESSOR ; EPITHELIAL-MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION ; TRANSCRIPTION-FACTOR ; LARGE GENE LISTS ; DIFFERENTIAL REGULATION
    Abstract: We determined the effect of p53 activation on de novo protein synthesis using quantitative proteomics (pulsed stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture/pSILAC) in the colorectal cancer cell line SW480. This was combined with mRNA and noncoding RNA expression analyses by next generation sequencing (RNA-, miR-Seq). Furthermore, genome-wide DNA binding of p53 was analyzed by chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP-Seq). Thereby, we identified differentially regulated proteins (542 up, 569 down), mRNAs (1258 up, 415 down), miRNAs (111 up, 95 down) and lncRNAs (270 up, 123 down). Changes in protein and mRNA expression levels showed a positive correlation (r = 0.50, p 〈 0.0001). In total, we detected 133 direct p53 target genes that were differentially expressed and displayed p53 occupancy in the vicinity of their promoter. More transcriptionally induced genes displayed occupied p53 binding sites (4.3% mRNAs, 7.2% miRNAs, 6.3% lncRNAs, 5.9% proteins) than repressed genes (2.4% mRNAs, 3.2% miRNAs, 0.8% lncRNAs, 1.9% proteins), suggesting indirect mechanisms of repression. Around 50% of the down-regulated proteins displayed seed-matching sequences of p53-induced miRNAs in the corresponding 3'-UTRs. Moreover, proteins repressed by p53 significantly overlapped with those previously shown to be repressed by miR-34a. We confirmed up-regulation of the novel direct p53 target genes LINC01021, MDFI, ST14 and miR-486 and showed that ectopic LINC01021 expression inhibits proliferation in SW480 cells. Furthermore, KLF12, HMGB1 and CIT mRNAs were confirmed as direct targets of the p53-induced miR-34a, miR-205 and miR-486-5p, respectively. In line with the loss of p53 function during tumor progression, elevated expression of KLF12, HMGB1 and CIT was detected in advanced stages of cancer. In conclusion, the integration of multiple omics methods allowed the comprehensive identification of direct and indirect effectors of p53 that provide new insights and leads into the mechanisms of p53-mediated tumor suppression.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 26183718
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  • 7
    Abstract: Colorectal cancers show significant tumor cell heterogeneity within the same core genetic background. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important functional aspect of this heterogeneity and hallmark of colorectal cancer progression. Here, we identify CYB5R1, an enzyme involved in oxidative stress protection and drug metabolism, as an indicator of EMT in colon cancer. We demonstrate high CYB5R1 expression in colorectal cancer cells undergoing EMT at the infiltrative tumor edge and reveal an extraordinarily strong association of CYB5R1 expression with two core EMT gene expression signatures in a large independent colon cancer data set from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Furthermore, we demonstrate that CYB5R1 is required for an infiltrative tumor cell phenotype, and robustly linked with poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. Our findings have important implications for colon cancer cells undergoing EMT and may be exploited for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 27120783
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  • 8
    Keywords: CELL LUNG-CANCER ; DNA ; MARKER ; UP-REGULATION ; MUTATION ; COLORECTAL-CANCER ; p53 ; HOMOLOG ; TUMOR-SUPPRESSOR ; MicroRNAs
    Abstract: PURPOSE: Here, we determined whether epigenetic inactivation of miR-34a and miR-34b/c genes may serve as a prognostic marker for distant metastases in colon cancer. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Using a case-control study design of 94 primary colon cancer samples with and without liver metastases, we determined CpG methylation frequencies of miR-34a and miR-34b/c promoters, expression of miR-34a, and its targets c-Met, Snail, and beta-catenin and their prognostic value. RESULTS: miR-34a methylation was detected in 45.1% (n = 42 of 93) of the samples and strongly associated with metastases to the liver (P = 0.003) and lymph nodes (P = 0.006). miR-34b/c methylation was detected in 91.9% of the samples (n = 79/86). A significant inverse correlation between miR-34a methylation and expression of mature miR-34a (P = 0.018) was detected. Decreased miR-34a expression was associated with upregulation of c-Met, Snail, and beta-catenin protein levels (P = 0.031, 0.132, and 0.004), which were associated with distant metastases (P = 0.001, 0.017, and 0.005). In a confounder-adjusted multivariate regression model miR-34a methylation, high c-Met and beta-catenin levels provided the most significant prognostic information about metastases to the liver (P = 0.014, 0.031, and 0.058) and matched pairs showed a higher prevalence of these risk factors in the samples with distant spread (P = 0.029). Finally, we obtained statistical evidence indicating that the simultaneous detection of these three markers has the highest prognostic value. CONCLUSIONS: Silencing of miR-34a and upregulation of c-Met, Snail, and beta-catenin expression is associated with liver metastases of colon cancer. Detection of miR-34a silencing in resected primary colon cancer may be of prognostic value, especially in combination with detection of c-Met and beta-catenin expression.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23243217
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  • 9
    Keywords: GROWTH ; proliferation ; MODEL ; NETWORK ; DIFFERENTIATION ; MOUSE ; senescence ; PC3 CELLS
    Abstract: The miR-34 family was originally found to be a direct target of p53 and is a group of putative tumor suppressors. Surprisingly, mice lacking all mir-34 genes show no increase in cancer formation by 18 months of age, hence placing the physiological relevance of previous studies in doubt. Here, we report that mice with prostate epithelium-specific inactivation of mir-34 and p53 show expansion of the prostate stem cell compartment and develop early invasive adenocarcinomas and high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, whereas no such lesions are observed after inactivation of either the mir-34 or p53 genes alone by 15 months of age. Consistently, combined deficiency of p53 and miR-34 leads to acceleration of MET-dependent growth, self-renewal, and motility of prostate stem/progenitor cells. Our study provides direct genetic evidence that mir-34 genes are bona fide tumor suppressors and identifies joint control of MET expression by p53 and miR-34 as a key component of prostate stem cell compartment regulation, aberrations in which may lead to cancer.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24630988
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  • 10
    Keywords: CELL LUNG-CANCER ; COLORECTAL-CANCER ; COLON-CANCER ; STEM-CELLS ; EPITHELIAL-MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION ; MICRORNA EXPRESSION ; TUMOR-INITIATING CELLS ; NONALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER ; NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOP ; INHIBITS PROSTATE-CANCER
    Abstract: The tumor suppressor p53 is one of the most frequently mutated genes in human cancers. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-protein coding RNAs that regulate gene expression on the post-transcriptional level. Recently, it was shown that p53 regulates the expression of several miRNAs, thereby representing an important mechanism of p53 signaling. Several independent studies identified the members of the miR-34 family as the most prevalent p53-induced miRNAs. miR-34s are frequently silenced in variety of tumor entities, suggesting that they are important tumor suppressors. Indeed, ectopic expression of miR-34s inhibits proliferation, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, migration, invasion, and metastasis of various cancer cell entities. Moreover, delivery or re-expression of miR-34 leads to notable repression of tumor growth and metastasis in cancer mouse models, and may therefore represent an efficient strategy for future cancer therapeutics. Besides their crucial functions in cancer, members of the miR-34 family also play important roles in spermatogenesis, stem cell differentiation, neuronal development, aging, and cardiovascular functions. Consequently, miR-34 has also been implicated in various non-cancerous diseases, such as brain disorders, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular complications.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24815299
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