Oncogenic ras alleles are among the most common mutations found in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Previously, the role of oncogenic ras in cancer was assessed in model systems overexpressing oncogenic ras from heterologous promoters. However, there is increasing evidence that subtle differences in gene dosage and regulation of gene expression from endogenous promoters play critical roles in cancer pathogenesis. We characterized the role of oncogenic K-ras expressed from its endogenous promoter in the hematopoietic system using a conditional allele and IFN-inducible, Cre-mediated recombination. Mice developed a completely penetrant myeloproliferative syndrome characterized by leukocytosis with normal maturation of myeloid lineage cells; myeloid hyperplasia in bone marrow; and extramedullary hematopoiesis in the spleen and liver. Flow cytometry confirmed the myeloproliferative phenotype. Genotypic and Western blot analysis demonstrated Cre-mediated excision and expression, respectively, of the oncogenic K-ras allele. Bone marrow cells formed growth factor–independent colonies in methylcellulose cultures, but the myeloproliferative disease was not transplantable into secondary recipients. Thus, oncogenic K-ras induces a myeloproliferative disorder but not AML, indicating that additional mutations are required for AML development. This model system will be useful for assessing the contribution of cooperating mutations in AML and testing ras inhibitors in vivo.
Iris T. Chan, Jeffery L. Kutok, Ifor R. Williams, Sarah Cohen, Lauren Kelly, Hirokazu Shigematsu, Leisa Johnson, Koichi Akashi, David A. Tuveson, Tyler Jacks, D. Gary Gilliland
Avicins are proapoptotic and anti-inflammatory triterpene electrophiles isolated from an Australian desert tree, Acacia victoriae. The presence of two α,β unsaturated carbonyl groups (Michael reaction sites) in the side chain of the avicin molecule prompted us to study its effects on NF-E2–related factor 2 (Nrf2), a redox-regulated transcription factor that controls the expression of a battery of detoxification and antioxidant proteins via its binding to antioxidant response element (ARE). Avicin D–treated Hep G2 cells showed translocation of Nrf2 into the nucleus and a time-dependent increase in ARE activity. These properties were sensitive to DTT, suggesting that avicins affect one or more critical cysteine residues, probably on the Keap1 molecule. Downstream of ARE, an activation of a battery of stress-induced proteins occurred. The implications of these findings were evaluated in vivo in mouse skin exposed to an ancient stressor, UV light. Avicins inhibited epidermal hyperplasia, reduced p53 mutation, enhanced apoptosis, decreased generation of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine, and enhanced expression of NADPH:quinone oxidoreductase 1 and heme oxygenase-1. These data, combined with our earlier published work, demonstrate that avicins represent a new class of plant stress metabolites capable of activating stress adaptation and suppressing proinflammatory components of the innate immune system in human cells by redox regulation. The relevance for treatment of clinical diseases in which stress responses are dysfunctional or deficient is discussed.
Valsala Haridas, Margaret Hanausek, Goshi Nishimura, Holly Soehnge, Amos Gaikwad, Maciej Narog, Erick Spears, Robert Zoltaszek, Zbigniew Walaszek, Jordan U. Gutterman
The NF1 tumor suppressor gene encodes a GTPase-activating protein called neurofibromin that negatively regulates Ras signaling. Mutations in NF1 cause neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). The development of neurofibromas, which are complex tumors composed of multiple cell types, is a hallmark of NF1. Somatic inactivation of murine Nf1 in Schwann cells is necessary, but not sufficient, to initiate neurofibroma formation. Neurofibromas occur with high penetrance in mice in which Nf1 is ablated in Schwann cells in the context of a heterozygous mutant (Nf1+/–) microenvironment. Mast cells infiltrate neurofibromas, where they secrete proteins that can remodel the ECM and initiate angiogenesis. Thus, identification of mechanisms responsible for mast cell migration to tumor microenvironments is important for understanding tumorigenesis and for designing potential therapies. Here, we show that homozygous Nf1 mutant (Nf1–/–) Schwann cells secrete Kit ligand (KitL), which stimulates mast cell migration, and that Nf1+/– mast cells are hypermotile in response to KitL. Furthermore, we link hyperactivation of the Ras-class IA-PI3K-Rac2 pathway to increased Nf1+/– mast cell migration. Thus, these studies identify a novel interaction between Nf1–/– Schwann cells and Nf1+/– mast cells that is likely to be important in neurofibroma formation.
Yang Feng-Chun, David A. Ingram, Shi Chen, Cynthia M. Hingtgen, Nancy Ratner, Kelly R. Monk, Travis Clegg, Hilary White, Laura Mead, Mary Jo Wenning, David A. Williams, Reuben Kapur, Simon J. Atkinson, D. Wade Clapp
Chronic infection and associated inflammation are key contributors to human carcinogenesis. Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an oxyradical overload disease and is characterized by free radical stress and colon cancer proneness. Here we examined tissues from noncancerous colons of ulcerative colitis patients to determine (a) the activity of two base excision–repair enzymes , AAG, the major 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase, and APE1, the major apurinic site endonuclease; and (b) the prevalence of microsatellite instability (MSI). AAG and APE1 were significantly increased in UC colon epithelium undergoing elevated inflammation and MSI was positively correlated with their imbalanced enzymatic activities. These latter results were supported by mechanistic studies using yeast and human cell models in which overexpression of AAG and/or APE1 was associated with frameshift mutations and MSI. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the adaptive and imbalanced increase in AAG and APE1 is a novel mechanism contributing to MSI in patients with UC and may extend to chronic inflammatory or other diseases with MSI of unknown etiology.
Lorne J. Hofseth, Mohammed A. Khan, Mark Ambrose, Olga Nikolayeva, Meng Xu-Welliver, Maria Kartalou, S. Perwez Hussain, Richard B. Roth, Xiaoling Zhou, Leah E. Mechanic, Irit Zurer, Varda Rotter, Leona D. Samson, Curtis C. Harris
Malignant cells often display defects in autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved pathway for degrading long-lived proteins and cytoplasmic organelles. However, as yet, there is no genetic evidence for a role of autophagy genes in tumor suppression. The beclin 1 autophagy gene is monoallelically deleted in 40–75% of cases of human sporadic breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Therefore, we used a targeted mutant mouse model to test the hypothesis that monoallelic deletion of beclin 1 promotes tumorigenesis. Here we show that heterozygous disruption of beclin 1 increases the frequency of spontaneous malignancies and accelerates the development of hepatitis B virus–induced premalignant lesions. Molecular analyses of tumors in beclin 1 heterozygous mice show that the remaining wild-type allele is neither mutated nor silenced. Furthermore, beclin 1 heterozygous disruption results in increased cellular proliferation and reduced autophagy in vivo. These findings demonstrate that beclin 1 is a haplo-insufficient tumor-suppressor gene and provide genetic evidence that autophagy is a novel mechanism of cell-growth control and tumor suppression. Thus, mutation of beclin 1 or other autophagy genes may contribute to the pathogenesis of human cancers.
Xueping Qu, Jie Yu, Govind Bhagat, Norihiko Furuya, Hanina Hibshoosh, Andrea Troxel, Jeffrey Rosen, Eeva-Liisa Eskelinen, Noboru Mizushima, Yoshinori Ohsumi, Giorgio Cattoretti, Beth Levine
Prostate cancer is one of the most diagnosed and mortal cancers in western countries. A major clinical problem is the development of androgen-independent prostate cancer (AIPC) during antihormonal treatment. The molecular mechanisms underlying the change from androgen dependence to independence of these tumors are poorly understood and represent a challenge to develop new therapies. Based on genetic data showing amplification of the c-myc gene in AIPC, we studied the ability of c-myc to confer AIPC cell growth. Human androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells overexpressing c-myc grew independently of androgens and presented tumorigenic properties in androgen-depleted conditions. Analysis of signalling pathways by pharmacological inhibitors of the androgen receptor (AR) or by RNA interference directed against AR or c-myc showed that c-myc acted downstream of AR through multiple growth effectors. Thus c-myc is required for androgen-dependent growth and following ectopic expression can induce androgen-independent growth. Moreover, RNA interference directed against c-myc showed that growth of human AIPC cells, AR-positive or -negative, required c-myc expression. Furthermore, we showed that c-myc–overexpressing cells retain a functional p53 pathway and thus respond to etoposide.
David Bernard, Albin Pourtier-Manzanedo, Jesús Gil, David H. Beach
Tuberous sclerosis (TSC) is a familial tumor syndrome due to mutations in TSC1 or TSC2, in which progression to malignancy is rare. Primary Tsc2–/– murine embryo fibroblast cultures display early senescence with overexpression of p21CIP1/WAF1 that is rescued by loss of TP53. Tsc2–/–TP53–/– cells, as well as tumors from Tsc2+/– mice, display an mTOR-activation signature with constitutive activation of S6K, which is reverted by treatment with rapamycin. Rapamycin also reverts a growth advantage of Tsc2–/–TP53–/– cells. Tsc1/Tsc2 does not bind directly to mTOR, however, nor does it directly influence mTOR kinase activity or cellular phosphatase activity. There is a marked reduction in Akt activation in Tsc2–/–TP53–/– and Tsc1–/– cells in response to serum and PDGF, along with a reduction in cell ruffling. PDGFRα and PDGFRβ expression is markedly reduced in both the cell lines and Tsc mouse renal cystadenomas, and ectopic expression of PDGFRβ in Tsc2-null cells restores Akt phosphorylation in response to serum, PDGF, EGF, and insulin. This activation of mTOR along with downregulation of PDGFR PI3K-Akt signaling in cells lacking Tsc1 or Tsc2 may explain why these genes are rarely involved in human cancer. This is in contrast to PTEN, which is a negative upstream regulator of this pathway.
Hongbing Zhang, Gregor Cicchetti, Hiroaki Onda, Henry B. Koon, Kirsten Asrican, Natalia Bajraszewski, Francisca Vazquez, Christopher L. Carpenter, David J. Kwiatkowski
Tumor-infiltrating blood vessels deviate morphologically and biochemically from normal vessels, raising the prospect of selective pharmacological targeting. Current antiangiogenic approaches focus mainly on endothelial cells, but recent data imply that targeting pericytes may provide additional benefits. Further development of these concepts will require deeper insight into mechanisms of pericyte recruitment and function in tumors. Here, we applied genetic tools to decipher the function of PDGF-B and PDGF-Rβ in pericyte recruitment in a mouse fibrosarcoma model. In tumors transplanted into PDGF-B retention motif–deficient (pdgf-bret/ret) mice, pericytes were fewer and were partially detached from the vessel wall, coinciding with increased tumor vessel diameter and hemorrhaging. Transgenic PDGF-B expression in tumor cells was able to increase the pericyte density in both WT and pdgf-bret/ret mice but failed to correct the pericyte detachment in pdgf-bret/ret mice. Coinjection of exogenous pericytes and tumor cells showed that pericytes require PDGF-Rβ for recruitment to tumor vessels, whereas endothelial PDGF-B retention is indispensable for proper integration of pericytes in the vessel wall. Our data support the notion that pericytes serve an important function in tumor vessels and highlight PDGF-B and PDGF-Rβ as promising molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.
Alexandra Abramsson, Per Lindblom, Christer Betsholtz
The TGF-β signaling network plays a complex role in carcinogenesis because it has the potential to act as either a tumor suppressor or a pro-oncogenic pathway. Currently, it is not known whether TGF-β can switch from tumor suppressor to pro-oncogenic factor during the course of carcinogenic progression in a single cell lineage with a defined initiating oncogenic event or whether the specific nature of the response is determined by cell type and molecular etiology. To address this question, we have introduced a dominant negative type II TGF-β receptor into a series of genetically related human breast–derived cell lines representing different stages in the progression process. We show that decreased TGF-β responsiveness alone cannot initiate tumorigenesis but that it can cooperate with an initiating oncogenic lesion to make a premalignant breast cell tumorigenic and a low-grade tumorigenic cell line histologically and proliferatively more aggressive. In a high-grade tumorigenic cell line, however, reduced TGF-β responsiveness has no effect on primary tumorigenesis but significantly decreases metastasis. Our results demonstrate a causal role for loss of TGF-β responsiveness in promoting breast cancer progression up to the stage of advanced, histologically aggressive, but nonmetastatic disease and suggest that at that point TGF-β switches from tumor suppressor to prometastatic factor.
Binwu Tang, Mary Vu, Timberly Booker, Steven J. Santner, Fred R. Miller, Miriam R. Anver, Lalage M. Wakefield
Cripto, a cell surface–associated protein belonging to the EGF-CFC family of growth factor–like molecules, is overexpressed in many human solid tumors, including 70–80% of breast and colon tumors, yet how it promotes cell transformation is unclear. During embryogenesis, Cripto complexes with Alk4 via its unique cysteine-rich CFC domain to facilitate signaling by the TGF-β ligand Nodal. We report, for the first time to our knowledge, that Cripto can directly bind to another TGF-β ligand, Activin B, and that Cripto overexpression blocks Activin B growth inhibition of breast cancer cells. This result suggests a novel mechanism for antagonizing Activin signaling that could promote tumorigenesis by deregulating growth homeostasis. We show that an anti–CFC domain antibody, A8.G3.5, both disrupts Cripto-Nodal signaling and reverses Cripto blockade of Activin B–induced growth suppression by blocking Cripto’s association with either Alk4 or Activin B. In two xenograft models, testicular and colon cancer, A8.G3.5 inhibited tumor cell growth by up to 70%. Both Nodal and Activin B expression was found in the xenograft tumor, suggesting that either ligand could be promoting tumorigenesis. These data validate that functional blockade of Cripto inhibits tumor growth and highlight antibodies that block Cripto signaling mediated through its CFC domain as an important class of antibodies for further therapeutic development.
Heather B. Adkins, Caterina Bianco, Susan G. Schiffer, Paul Rayhorn, Mohammad Zafari, Anne E. Cheung, Olivia Orozco, Dian Olson, Antonella De Luca, Ling Ling Chen, Konrad Miatkowski, Chris Benjamin, Nicola Normanno, Kevin P. Williams, Matthew Jarpe, Doreen LePage, David Salomon, Michele Sanicola
IFN-α activates the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) family of proteins; however, it is unknown whether IFN-α exerts its antitumor actions primarily through a direct effect on malignant cells or by stimulating the immune system. To investigate the contribution of STAT1 signaling within the tumor, we generated a STAT1-deficient melanoma cell line, AGS-1. We reconstituted STAT1 into AGS-1 cells by retroviral gene transfer. The resulting cell line (AGS-1STAT1) showed normal regulation of IFN-α–stimulated genes (e.g., H2k, ISG-54) as compared with AGS-1 cells infected with the empty vector (AGS-1MSCV). However, mice challenged with the AGS-1, AGS-1STAT1, and AGS-1MSCV cell lines exhibited nearly identical survival in response to IFN-α treatment, indicating that restored STAT1 signaling within the tumor did not augment the antitumor activity of IFN-α. In contrast, STAT1–/– mice could not utilize exogenous IFN-α to inhibit the growth of STAT1+/+ melanoma cells in either an intraperitoneal tumor model or in the adjuvant setting. The survival of tumor-bearing STAT1–/– mice was identical regardless of treatment (IFN-α or PBS). Additional cell depletion studies demonstrated that NK cells mediated the antitumor effects of IFN-α. Thus, STAT1-mediated gene regulation within immune effectors was necessary for mediating the antitumor effects of IFN-α in this experimental system.
Gregory B. Lesinski, Mirela Anghelina, Jason Zimmerer, Timothy Bakalakos, Brian Badgwell, Robin Parihar, Yan Hu, Brian Becknell, Gerard Abood, Abhik Ray Chaudhury, Cynthia Magro, Joan Durbin, William E. Carson III
The present study evaluates the potential of third-generation lentivirus vectors with respect to their use as in vivo–administered T cell vaccines. We demonstrate that lentivector injection into the footpad of mice transduces DCs that appear in the draining lymph node and in the spleen. In addition, a lentivector vaccine bearing a T cell antigen induced very strong systemic antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses in mice. Comparative vaccination performed in two different antigen models demonstrated that in vivo administration of lentivector was superior to transfer of transduced DCs or peptide/adjuvant vaccination in terms of both amplitude and longevity of the CTL response. Our data suggest that a decisive factor for efficient T cell priming by lentivector might be the targeting of DCs in situ and their subsequent migration to secondary lymphoid organs. The combination of performance, ease of application, and absence of pre-existing immunity in humans make lentivector-based vaccines an attractive candidate for cancer immunotherapy.
Christoph Esslinger, Laurence Chapatte, Daniela Finke, Isabelle Miconnet, Philippe Guillaume, Frédéric Lévy, H. Robson MacDonald
The secretory factor VEGF-C has been directly implicated in various physiological processes during embryogenesis and human cancers. However, the importance of the conversion of its precursor proVEGF-C to mature VEGF-C in tumorigenesis, and vessel formation and the identity of the protease(s) that regulate these processes is/are not known. The intracellular processing of proVEGF-C that occurs within the dibasic motif HSIIRR227SL suggests the involvement of the proprotein convertases (PCs) in this process. In addition, furin and VEGF-C were found to be coordinately expressed in adult mouse tissues. Cotransfection of the furin-deficient colon carcinoma cell line LoVo with proVEGF-C and different PC members revealed that furin, PC5, and PC7 are candidate VEGF-C convertases. This finding is consistent with the in vitro digestions of an internally quenched synthetic fluorogenic peptide mimicking the cleavage site of proVEGF-C (220Q-VHSIIRR↓SLP230). The processing of proVEGF-C is blocked by the inhibitory prosegments of furin, PC5, and PACE4, as well as by furin-motif variants of α2-macroglobulin and α1-antitrypsin. Subcutaneous injection of CHO cells stably expressing VEGF-C into nude mice enhanced angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, but not tumor growth. In contrast, expression of proVEGF-C obtained following mutation of the cleavage site (HSIIRR227SL to HSIISS227SL) inhibits angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis as well as tumor growth. Our findings demonstrate the processing of proVEGF-C by PCs and highlight the potential use of PC inhibitors as agents for inhibiting malignancies induced by VEGF-C.
Geraldine Siegfried, Ajoy Basak, James A. Cromlish, Suzanne Benjannet, Jadwiga Marcinkiewicz, Michel Chrétien, Nabil G. Seidah, Abdel-Majid Khatib
It is established that mutations in viral antigenic epitopes, or antigenic drifts, allow viruses to escape recognition by both Ab’s and T lymphocytes. It is unclear, however, whether tumor cells can escape immune recognition via antigenic drift. Here we show that adoptive therapy with both monoclonal and polyclonal transgenic CTLs, specific for a natural tumor antigen, P1A, selects for multiple mutations in the P1A antigenic epitope. These mutations severely diminish T cell recognition of the tumor antigen by a variety of mechanisms, including modulation of MHC:peptide interaction and TCR binding to MHC:peptide complex. These results provide the first evidence for tumor evasion of T cell recognition by antigenic drift, and thus have important implications for the strategy of tumor immunotherapy.
Xue-Feng Bai, Jinqing Liu, Ou Li, Pan Zheng, Yang Liu
Functions of receptor tyrosine kinases implicated in angiogenesis were pharmacologically impaired in a mouse model of pancreatic islet cancer. An inhibitor targeting VEGFRs in endothelial cells (SU5416) is effective against early-stage angiogenic lesions, but not large, well-vascularized tumors. In contrast, a kinase inhibitor incorporating selectivity for PDGFRs (SU6668) is shown to block further growth of end-stage tumors, eliciting detachment of pericytes and disruption of tumor vascularity. Importantly, PDGFRs were expressed only in perivascular cells of this tumor type, suggesting that PDGFR+ pericytes in tumors present a complimentary target to endothelial cells for efficacious antiangiogenic therapy. Therapeutic regimes combining the two kinase inhibitors (SU5416 and SU6668) were more efficacious against all stages of islet carcinogenesis than either single agent. Combination of the VEGFR inhibitor with another distinctive kinase inhibitor targeting PDGFR activity (Gleevec) was also able to regress late-stage tumors. Thus, combinatorial targeting of receptor tyrosine kinases shows promise for treating multiple stages in tumorigenesis, most notably the often-intractable late-stage solid tumor.
Gabriele Bergers, Steven Song, Nicole Meyer-Morse, Emily Bergsland, Douglas Hanahan
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a major COX metabolite, plays important roles in several facets of tumor biology. We characterized the contribution of the PGE2 EP2 receptor to cancer-associated immune deficiency using EP2–/– mice. EP2–/– mice exhibited significantly attenuated tumor growth and longer survival times when challenged with MC26 or Lewis lung carcinoma cell lines as compared with their wild-type littermates. While no differences in T cell function were observed, PGE2 suppressed differentiation of DCs from wild-type bone marrow progenitors, whereas EP2-null cells were refractory to this effect. Stimulation of cells in mixed lymphocyte reactions by wild-type DCs was suppressed by treatment with PGE2, while EP2–/–-derived DCs were resistant to this effect. In vivo, DCs, CD4+, and CD8+ T cells were significantly more abundant in draining lymph nodes of tumor-bearing EP2–/– mice than in tumor-bearing wild-type mice, and a significant antitumor cytotoxic T lymphocyte response could be observed only in the EP2–/– animals. Our data demonstrate an important role for the EP2 receptor in PGE2-induced inhibition of DC differentiation and function and the diminished antitumor cellular immune responses in vivo.
Li Yang, Noboru Yamagata, Rajwardhan Yadav, Suzanne Brandon, Regina L. Courtney, Jason D. Morrow, Yu Shyr, Mark Boothby, Sebastian Joyce, David P. Carbone, Richard M. Breyer
Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is a malignancy of unknown pathogenesis. The malignant Hodgkin and Reed/Sternberg (HRS) cells derive from germinal center B cells (or rarely, T cells) but have a heterogeneous and largely uncharacterized phenotype. Using microarrays, we compared the gene expression profile of four HL cell lines with profiles of the main B cell subsets and B cell non-HLs to find out whether HRS cells, despite their described heterogeneity, show a distinct gene expression, to study their relationship to other normal and malignant B cells, and to identify genes aberrantly or overexpressed by HRS cells. The HL lines indeed clustered as a distinct entity, irrespective of their B or T cell derivation, and their gene expression was most similar to that of EBV-transformed B cells and cell lines derived from diffuse large cell lymphomas showing features of in vitro–activated B cells. Twenty-seven genes, most of which were previously unknown to be expressed by HRS cells, showed aberrant expression specifically in these cells, e.g., the transcription factors GATA-3, ABF1, EAR3, and Nrf3. For five genes, expression in primary HRS cells was confirmed. The newly identified HL-specific genes may play important roles in the pathogenesis of HL, potentially represent novel diagnostic markers, and can be considered for therapeutic targeting.
Ralf Küppers, Ulf Klein, Ines Schwering, Verena Distler, Andreas Bräuninger, Giorgio Cattoretti, Yuhai Tu, Gustavo A. Stolovitzky, Andrea Califano, Martin-Leo Hansmann, Riccardo Dalla-Favera
SPARC, a 32-kDa glycoprotein, participates in the regulation of morphogenesis and cellular differentiation through its modulation of cell-matrix interactions. Major functions defined for SPARC in vitro are de-adhesion and antiproliferation. In vivo, SPARC is restricted in its expression to remodeling tissues, including pathologies such as cancer. However, the function of endogenous SPARC in tumor growth and progression is not known. Here, we report that implanted tumors grew more rapidly in mice lacking SPARC. We observed that tumors grown in SPARC null mice showed alterations in the production and organization of ECM components and a decrease in the infiltration of macrophages. However, there was no change in the levels of angiogenic growth factors in comparison to tumors grown in wild-type mice, although there was a statistically significant difference in total vascular area. Whereas SPARC did inhibit the growth of tumor cells in vitro, it did not have a demonstrable effect on the proliferation or apoptosis of tumor cells in vivo. These data indicate that host-derived SPARC is important for the appropriate organization of the ECM in response to implanted tumors and highlight the importance of the ECM in regulating tumor growth.
Rolf A. Brekken, Pauli Puolakkainen, David C. Graves, Gail Workman, Sharon R. Lubkin, E. Helene Sage
Nonmelanoma skin cancer is one of the most common malignancies in humans. Different therapeutic strategies for the treatment of these tumors are currently being investigated. Given the growth-inhibiting effects of cannabinoids on gliomas and the wide tissue distribution of the two subtypes of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), we studied the potential utility of these compounds in anti–skin tumor therapy. Here we show that the CB1 and the CB2 receptor are expressed in normal skin and skin tumors of mice and humans. In cell culture experiments pharmacological activation of cannabinoid receptors induced the apoptotic death of tumorigenic epidermal cells, whereas the viability of nontransformed epidermal cells remained unaffected. Local administration of the mixed CB1/CB2 agonist WIN-55,212-2 or the selective CB2 agonist JWH-133 induced a considerable growth inhibition of malignant tumors generated by inoculation of epidermal tumor cells into nude mice. Cannabinoid-treated tumors showed an increased number of apoptotic cells. This was accompanied by impairment of tumor vascularization, as determined by altered blood vessel morphology and decreased expression of proangiogenic factors (VEGF, placental growth factor, and angiopoietin 2). Abrogation of EGF-R function was also observed in cannabinoid-treated tumors. These results support a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of skin tumors.
M. Llanos Casanova, Cristina Blázquez, Jesús Martínez-Palacio, Concepción Villanueva, M. Jesús Fernández-Aceñero, John W. Huffman, José L. Jorcano, Manuel Guzmán
Tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer cause over 4.2 million deaths annually, with approximately 400,000 deaths per year occurring in the US. Genotoxic effects of tobacco components have been described, but effects on signaling pathways in normal cells have not been described. Here, we show activation of the serine/threonine kinase Akt in nonimmortalized human airway epithelial cells in vitro by two components of cigarette smoke, nicotine and the tobacco-specific carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK). Activation of Akt by nicotine or NNK occurred within minutes at concentrations achievable by smokers and depended upon α3-/α4-containing or α7-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, respectively. Activated Akt increased phosphorylation of downstream substrates such as GSK-3, p70S6K, 4EBP-1, and FKHR. Treatment with nicotine or NNK attenuated apoptosis caused by etoposide, ultraviolet irradiation, or hydrogen peroxide and partially induced a transformed phenotype manifest as loss of contact inhibition and loss of dependence on exogenous growth factors or adherence to ECM. In vivo, active Akt was detected in airway epithelial cells and lung tumors from NNK-treated A/J mice, and in human lung cancers derived from smokers. Redundant Akt activation by nicotine and NNK could contribute to tobacco-related carcinogenesis by regulating two processes critical for tumorigenesis, cell growth and apoptosis.
Kip A. West, John Brognard, Amy S. Clark, Ilona R. Linnoila, Xiaowei Yang, Sandra M. Swain, Curtis Harris, Steven Belinsky, Phillip A. Dennis