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Li H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Cui M.-L.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Chen T.-Y.,Qidong Liver Cancer Institute | Xie H.-Y.,Zhejiang University | And 5 more authors.
Tumor Biology | Year: 2015

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the sixth most prevalent cancer and the third most frequent cause of cancer-related death in developing countries, especially in East Asia and South Africa, and the identification of new biomarkers for early diagnosis and prognosis is needed. Delta-like 1 homologue (Drosophila) (DLK1) is expressed in malignancies and promotes cancer cell stemness and tumourigenicity, which makes this molecule a potential target for therapies directed against cancer stem/progenitor cells. Here, we aimed to assess the predictive value of DLK1 as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in HCC. With this purpose, serum DLK1 levels were detected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in serum specimens from 397 HCC patients, 114 healthy individuals, 43 patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and 24 cirrhotic liver patients with HBV infection, and the correlation between DLK1 levels and clinical features was evaluated. Our data showed that the serum DLK1 level was significantly higher in HCC patients than in healthy individuals or patients with chronic HBV infection (HBV carriers) (P < 0.05). Moreover, the serum DLK1 levels were positively correlated with tumour size and α-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, but not with gender, age, histological grade, HBV infection, intrahepatic metastasis or cirrhosis in HCC patients. Kaplan–Meier analysis indicated that higher DLK1 levels were associated with shorter survival in HCC patients. These results suggest that the serum levels of DLK1 may serve as a prognostic biomarker for HCC patients. © 2015, International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM). Source

Yan M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Zhu M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Zhao F.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a prevalent disease worldwide, and the majority of HCC-related deaths occur due to local invasion and distant metastasis. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small subpopulation of cancer cells that have been hypothesized to be responsible for metastatic disease. Recently, we and others have identified a CSC population from human HCC cell lines and xenograft tumors characterized by their expression of CD133. However, the precise molecular mechanisms by which CD133+ cancer stem-like cells mediate HCC metastasis have not been sufficiently analyzed. Here, we have sorted HCC cells using CD133 as a cancer stem cell (CSC) marker by magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) and demonstrated that the CD133+ HCC cells not only possess greater migratory and invasive capacity in vitro but are also endowed with enhanced metastatic capacity in vivo and in human HCC specimens when compared to CD133- HCC cells. Gene expression analysis of the CD133+ and CD133- cells of the HCC line SMMC-7721 revealed that G protein-coupled receptor 87 (GPR87) is highly expressed in CD133+ HCC cells. In this study, we explored the role of GPR87 in the regulation of CD133 expression. We demonstrated that the overexpression of GPR87 up-regulated CD133 expression, promoted CSC-associated migratory and invasive properties in vitro, and increased tumor initiation in vivo. Conversely, silencing of GPR87 expression reduced the levels of CD133 expression. Conclusion: GPR87 promotes the growth and metastasis of CD133+ cancer stem-like cells, and our findings may reveal new targets for HCC prevention or therapy. © 2013 Yan et al. Source

Koh W.-P.,National University of Singapore | Yuan J.-M.,University of Minnesota | Wang R.,University of Minnesota | Govindarajan S.,University of Southern California | And 4 more authors.
Cancer | Year: 2011

BACKGROUND: Experimental studies suggest that sex hormones may induce or promote the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Androgens are converted to estrogens by the CYP19 gene product, aromatase. Hepatic aromatase level and activity have been shown to be markedly elevated in HCC. Aromatase expression in liver tumors is driven by a promoter upstream of CYP19 exon I.6. METHODS: First, the authors identified an A/C polymorphism in the exon I.6 promoter of the CYP19 gene. To determine whether allelic variants in the CYP19 I.6 promoter differ in their ability to drive gene expression, we carried out an in vitro reporter gene assay. Then, the authors studied the association between this polymorphism and HCC risk in 2 complementary case-control studies: 1 in high-risk southern Guangxi, China, and another in low-risk US non-Asians of Los Angeles County. RESULTS: Transcriptional activity was 60% higher for promoter vectors carrying the rs10459592 C allele compared with those carrying an A allele (P =.007). In both study populations, among subjects negative for at-risk serologic markers of hepatitis B or C, there was a dose-dependent association between number of high activity C allele and risk of HCC (Ptrend =.014). Risk of HCC was significantly higher (odds ratio [OR], 2.25; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.18-4.31) in subjects homozygous for the C allele compared with those homozygous for the A allele. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides epidemiologic evidence for the role of hepatic aromatization of androgen into estrogen in the development of nonviral hepatitis-related HCC. © 2011 American Cancer Society. Source

Zhang L.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Zhao F.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Lu P.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 12 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2012

CD133+ cancer stem cells (CSC) contribute to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression and resistance to therapy. Bone morphogenetic protein BMP4 plays an important role in hepatogenesis and hepatic stem cell differentiation, but little is known about its function in hepatic CSCs. In this study, we showed that high-dose exogenous BMP4 promotes CD133+ HCC CSC differentiation and inhibits the self-renewal, chemotherapeutic resistance, and tumorigenic capacity of these cells. Interestingly, we found that low-dose exogenous BMP4 upregulated CD133 protein expression in vitro, and endogenous BMP4 was preferentially expressed in CD133+HCC CSCs, suggesting that low doses of BMP4 may facilitate CSC maintenance. A reduction in endogenous BMP4 levels decreased CD133 protein expression in vitro. In HCC tissues, expression of the BMP4 signaling target gene SMAD6 was positively correlated with CD133 expression. Activation of the Erk1/2 signaling pathway led to BMP4-mediated reduction in CD133 expression, which was reversed by treatment with MEK inhibitors. Taken together, our findings indicated that BMP4 might be a potent therapeutic agent in HCC that targets CSCs. © 2012 AACR. Source

Zhang L.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Ge C.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 11 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2014

CD133 is a cellular surface glycoprotein that has been reported as a marker for the enrichment of cancer stem cells (CSCs). However, the regulatory mechanism of CD133 remains unknown. CSCs have been proposed to contribute to radioresistance and multi-drug resistance. The elucidation of key regulators of CD133 and CSCs is critical for the development of CSC-targeted therapy. In this study, we showed that Ikaros inhibited the expression of CD133 via direct binding to the CD133 P1 promoter and repressed the tumorigenic and self-renewal capacity of CD133+ cancer stem-like cells in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We found that Ikaros interacted with CtBP as a transcription repressor complex, which inhibited CD133 expression in HCC. We also demonstrated that Ikaros expression was up-regulated by ETS1 which activity was regulated by MAPKs pathway. Furthermore, decreased expression of Ikaros was significantly associated with poor survival in HCC patients. Overall, our study identifies that Ikaros plays a role as a transcription repressor in HCC and is a new reactivated therapeutic target for the treatment of HCC. Meanwhile, our findings provide evidence that Ikaros could be an attractive inhibitor of the target gene CD133, which reactivates anticancer mechanisms in targeted CSC therapy. Source

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