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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.

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.

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.

Tian H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Ge C.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Zhao F.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 7 more authors.
Hepatology | Year: 2014

Ribonucleotide reductase (RR)M2B is an enzyme belonging to the ribonucleotide reductase enzyme family, which is essential for DNA synthesis and repair. RRM2B plays an important role in tumor progression and metastasis; however, little is known about the expression and underlying molecular mechanisms of RRM2B in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the present study, we report that down-regulation of RRM2B in HCC is negatively associated with intrahepatic metastasis, regardless of p53 status. Moreover, the ectopic overexpression of RRM2B decreased HCC cell migration and invasion in vitro, whereas silencing RRM2B expression resulted in increased migration and invasion in vitro and intrahepatic and lung metastasis in vivo. Additionally, knockdown of RRM2B by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) in HCC cells was associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), including the down-regulation of E-cadherin, and the concomitant up-regulation of N-cadherin and slug. A further experiment showed that RRM2B inhibited cell migration and spreading through regulation of the early growth response protein 1 (Egr-1) / phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) / Akt1 pathway. Consistently, we also detected a significant correlation between RRM2B and E-cadherin protein expression in HCC tissues. Furthermore, Egr-1 also directly bound to the RRM2B promoter and repressed RRM2B transcription, thereby establishing a negative regulatory feedback loop. Conclusion: These findings indicate that RRM2B suppresses cell migration and spreading by way of modulation of the Egr-1/PTEN/Akt1 pathway. © 2014 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

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.

Li H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Ge C.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Zhao F.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yan M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 14 more authors.
Hepatology | Year: 2011

Angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4) plays complex and often contradictory roles in vascular biology and tumor metastasis, but little is known about its function in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) metastasis. In the present study, we showed that hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) directly up-regulates ANGPTL4, and its stableness positively correlates with ANGPTL4 expression in HCC tissue. Overexpression of ANGPTL4 significantly increased HCC cell transendothelial migration in vitro and intrahepatic and distal pulmonary metastasis in vivo, whereas silencing ANGPTL4 expression or treatment with a neutralizing antibody specific for ANGPTL4 protein resulted in a reduced transendothelial migration. We also found that serum ANGPTL4 is higher in HCC patients, compared to healthy control, and correlates with intrahepatic metastasis and histological grade. Further, secreted ANGPTL4 promotes transendothelial migration and metastasis of HCC cells in vitro and in vivo through the up-regulation of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) of human umbilical vein endothelial cells and the activation of the VCAM-1/integrin β1 axis. Conclusion: ANGPTL4 is a target gene of HIF-1α and acts as an important regulator in the metastasis of HCC. Serum ANGPTL4 correlates with tumor progression and metastasis and might be used to indicate prognosis in HCC patients. © 2011 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

PubMed | Qidong Liver Cancer Institute, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Cancer Institute of Guangxi and Zhejiang University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine | 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 -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.

PubMed | Qi Dong Liver Cancer Institute, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Cancer Institute of Guangxi and Zhejiang University
Type: | Journal: Carcinogenesis | Year: 2016

Increasing evidence has shown that Zinc-alpha2-glycoprotein (AZGP1) is associated with the progression and prognosis of several tumor types. However, little is known regarding the underlying molecular mechanisms of AZGP1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the present study, we report that transcription factor Ikaros bound to the AZGP1 promoter and increased its expression in HCC cells. The downregulation of AZGP1 was associated with histone deacetylation in HCC. In addition, the positive feedback regulation via acetylation of histone H4-mediated transactivation of the Ikaros promoter and the Ikaros-mediated transactivation of the acetylation of histone H4 were crucial for regulating AZGP1 expression in HCC cells. Moreover, low serum AZGP1 level in HCC patients was associated with poor prognosis. The ectopic overexpression of AZGP1 or recombinant AZGP1 protein inhibited HCC cell proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro and in vivo, whereas silencing AZGP1 expression resulted in increased cell proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro. In addition, we found that AZGP1 inhibited cell migration and invasion through the regulation of the PTEN/Akt and CD44s pathways. Collectively, our findings revealed the molecular mechanism of AZGP1 expression in HCC, providing new insights into the mechanisms underlying tumor progression.

PubMed | Qi Dong Liver Cancer Institute, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Cancer Institute of Guangxi and Zhejiang University
Type: | Journal: Scientific reports | Year: 2016

Although the chemotactic cytokine CXCL3 is thought to play an important role in tumor initiation and invasion, little is known about its function in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In our previous study, we found that Ikaros inhibited CD133 expression via the MAPK pathway in HCC. Here, we showed that Ikaros may indirectly down-regulate CXCL3 expression in HCC cells, which leads to better outcomes in patients with CD133(+) cancer stem cell (CSC) populations. CD133 overexpression induced CXCL3 expression, and silencing of CD133 down-regulated CXCL3 in HCC cells. Knockdown of CXCL3 inhibited CD133(+) HCC CSCs self-renewal and tumorigenesis. The serum CXCL3 level was higher in HCC patients samples than that in healthy individual. HCC patients with higher CXCL3 expression displayed a poor prognosis, and a high level of CXCL3 was significantly associated with vascular invasion and tumor capsule formation. Exogenous CXCL3 induced Erk1/2 and ETS1 phosphorylation and promoted CD133 expression, indicating a positive feedback loop between CXCL3 and CD133 gene expression in HCC cells via Erk1/2 activation. Together, our findings indicated that CXCL3 might be a potent therapeutic target for HCC.

PubMed | Fudan University, Qi Dong Liver Cancer Institute, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Cancer Institute of Guangxi and Zhejiang University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine | Year: 2016

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidence continues to increase. However, the mechanism underlying the development and progression of HCC remains unknown. The suppressor of cytokine signaling 2 (SOCS2) is a member of the SOCS family and influences the carcinogenesis of multiple types of tumors, but the biological roles of SOCS2 in HCC remain unclear. In this study, we found that SOCS2 expression was reduced in HCC tissues compared with matched noncancerous liver tissues. Moreover, decreased SOCS2 expression was significantly associated with the presence of intrahepatic metastasis and high histological grade in HCC patients. Colony formation assays and 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays demonstrated that overexpression of SOCS2 or knockdown of endogenous SOCS2 did not significantly affect cell proliferation and tumorigenicity in HCC cells in vitro and in vivo. However, SOCS2 overexpression significantly inhibited the migration and invasion of HCC cells in vitro and inhibited metastasis in vivo. Consistent with these findings, the knockdown of endogenous SOCS2 enhanced migration and invasion in HCC cells in vitro. Our study demonstrated that SOCS2 inhibited human HCC metastasis, and SOCS2 might provide a new potential therapeutic strategy for treating HCC.

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