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Wu F.,University of Alberta | Ye X.,University of Alberta | Wang P.,University of Alberta | Jung K.,University of Alberta | And 7 more authors.
BMC Cancer | Year: 2013

Background: Sox2, an embryonic stem cell marker, is aberrantly expressed in a subset of breast cancer (BC). While the aberrant expression of Sox2 has been shown to significantly correlate with a number of clinicopathologic parameters in BC, its biological significance in BC is incompletely understood. Methods: In-vitro invasion assay was used to evaluate whether the expression of Sox2 is linked to the invasiveness of MCF7 and ZR751 cells. Quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and/or Western blots were used to assess if Sox2 modulates the expression of factors known to regulate epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), such as Twist1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) was used to assess the binding of Sox2 to the promoter region of Twist1. Results: We found that siRNA knockdown of Sox2 expression significantly increased the invasiveness of MCF7 and ZR751 cells. However, when MCF7 cells were separated into two distinct subsets based on their differential responsiveness to the Sox2 reporter, the Sox2-mediated effects on invasiveness was observed only in 'reporter un-responsive' cells (RU cells) but not 'reporter responsive' cells (RR cells). Correlating with these findings, siRNA knockdown of Sox2 in RU cells, but not RR cells, dramatically increased the expression of Twist1. Accordingly, using ChIP, we found evidence that Sox2 binds to the promoter region of Twist1 in RU cells only. Lastly, siRNA knockdown of Twist1 largely abrogated the regulatory effect of Sox2 on the invasiveness in RU cells, suggesting that the observed Sox2-mediated effects are Twist1-dependent. Conclusion: Sox2 regulates the invasiveness of BC cells via a mechanism that is dependent on Twist1 and the transcriptional status of Sox2. Our results have further highlighted a new level of biological complexity and heterogeneity of BC cells that may carry significant clinical implications. © 2013 Wu et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Gelebart P.,University of Alberta | Hegazy S.A.,University of Alberta | Wang P.,University of Alberta | Bone K.M.,University of Alberta | And 8 more authors.
Blood Cancer Journal | Year: 2012

Sox2 (sex-determining region Y-Box) is one of the master transcriptional factors that are important in maintaining the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). In line with this function, Sox2 expression is largely restricted to ESCs and somatic stem cells. We report that Sox2 is expressed in cell lines and tumor samples derived from ALK +-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK +ALCL), for which the normal cellular counterpart is believed to be mature T-cells. The expression of Sox2 in ALK +ALCL can be attributed to nucleophosmin-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (NPM-ALK), the oncogenic fusion protein carrying a central pathogenetic role in these tumors. By confocal microscopy, Sox2 protein was detectable in virtually all cells in ALK +ALCL cell lines. However, the transcriptional activity of Sox2, as assessed using a Sox2-responsive reporter construct, was detectable only in a small proportion of cells. Importantly, downregulation of Sox2 using short interfering RNA in isolated Sox2active cells, but not Sox2inactive cells, resulted in a significant decrease in cell growth, invasiveness and tumorigenicity. To conclude, ALK +ALCL represents the first example of a hematologic malignancy that aberrantly expresses Sox2, which represents a novel mechanism by which NPM-ALK mediates tumorigenesis. We also found that the transcriptional activity and oncogenic effects of Sox2 can be heterogeneous in cancer cells. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Jung K.,University of Alberta | Sabri S.,University of Alberta | Sabri S.,McGill University | Hanson J.,Cross Cancer Institute | And 7 more authors.
Cancer Biology and Therapy | Year: 2015

Radiation therapy (RT) the front-line treatment after surgery for early breast cancer patients is associated with acute skin toxicities in at least 40% of treated patients. Monocyte-derived macrophages are polarized into functionally distinct (M1 or M2) activated phenotypes at injury sites by specific systemic cytokines known to play a key role in the transition between damage and repair in irradiated tissues. The role of M1 and M2 macrophages in RT-induced acute skin toxicities remains to be defined. We investigated the potential value of M1 and M2 macrophages as predictive factors of RT-induced skin toxicities in early breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant RT after lumpectomy. Blood samples collected from patients enrolled in a prospective clinical study (n = 49) were analyzed at baseline and after the first delivered 2Gy RT dose. We designed an ex vivo culture system to differentiate patient blood monocytes into macrophages and treated them with M1 or M2-inducing cytokines before quantitative analysis of their “M1/M2” activation markers, iNOS, Arg1, and TGFß1. Statistical analysis was performed to correlate experimental data to clinical assessment of acute skin toxicity using Common Toxicity Criteria (CTC) grade for objective evaluation of skin reactions. Increased ARG1 mRNA significantly correlated with higher grades of erythema, moist desquamation, and CTC grade. Multivariate analysis revealed that increased ARG1 expression in macrophages after a single RT dose was an independent prognostic factor of erythema (p = 0.032), moist desquamation (p = 0.027), and CTC grade (p = 0.056). Interestingly, multivariate analysis of ARG1 mRNA expression in macrophages stimulated with IL-4 also revealed independent prognostic value for predicting acute RT-induced toxicity factors, erythema (p = 0.069), moist desquamation (p = 0.037), and CTC grade (p = 0.046). To conclude, our findings underline for the first time the biological significance of increased ARG1 mRNA levels as an early independent predictive biomarker of RT-induced acute skin toxicities. © 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Hegazy S.A.,University of Alberta | Hegazy S.A.,Taibah University | Alshareef A.,University of Alberta | Alshareef A.,Taibah University | And 10 more authors.
Cellular Signalling | Year: 2013

Our previous oligonucleotide array studies revealed that ALK-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK+ALCL) express high levels of the disheveled proteins (Dvls), a family of proteins that is integral to the Wnt signaling pathways. In this study, we assessed whether the Dvls are important in the pathogenesis of ALK+ALCL. By Western blotting, Dvl-2 and Dvl-3 were found to be highly expressed in ALK+ALCL cell lines and patient samples. The higher molecular weight forms, consistent with phosphorylated/active Dvl proteins, were observed in these lysates. siRNA knock-down of Dvls did not affect the Wnt canonical pathway, as assessed by the β-catenin protein levels and nuclear localization. In contrast, the same treatment led to changes in the transcriptional activity of NFAT and the phosphorylation status of Src, both of which are known to be regulated by the Wnt non-canonical signaling pathways in other cell types.Coupled with these biochemical changes, there was a significant decrease in cell growth and soft agar colony formation. NPM-ALK, the oncogenic tyrosine kinase characteristic of ALK+ALCL, was found to bind to the Dvls and enhance their tyrosine phosphorylation. In conclusion, our data suggest that the Dvls contribute to the pathogenesis of ALK+ALCL via signaling in the Wnt non-canonical pathways. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating a physical and functional interaction between the Dvls and an oncogenic tyrosine kinase. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Jung K.,University of Alberta | Wang P.,University of Alberta | Gupta N.,University of Alberta | Gopal K.,University of Alberta | And 8 more authors.
Breast Cancer Research | Year: 2014

Introduction: Aberrant expression of the embryonic stem cell marker Sox2 has been reported in breast cancer (BC). We previously identified two phenotypically distinct BC cell subsets separated based on their differential response to a Sox2 transcription activity reporter, namely the reporter-unresponsive (RU) and the more tumorigenic reporter-responsive (RR) cells. We hypothesized that Sox2, as a transcription factor, contributes to their phenotypic differences by mediating differential gene expression in these two cell subsets. Methods: We used chromatin immunoprecipitation and a human genome-wide promoter microarray (ChIP-chip) to determine the promoter occupancies of Sox2 in the MCF7 RU and RR breast cancer cell populations. We validated our findings with conventional chromatin immunoprecipitation, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), and western blotting using cell lines, and also performed qPCR using patient RU and RR samples. Results: We found a largely mutually exclusive profile of gene promoters bound by Sox2 between RU and RR cells derived from MCF7 (1830 and 456 genes, respectively, with only 62 overlapping genes). Sox2 was bound to stem cell- and cancer-associated genes in RR cells. Using quantitative RT-PCR, we confirmed that 15 such genes, including PROM1 (CD133), BMI1, GPR49 (LGR5), and MUC15, were expressed significantly higher in RR cells. Using siRNA knockdown or enforced expression of Sox2, we found that Sox2 directly contributes to the higher expression of these genes in RR cells. Mucin-15, a novel Sox2 downstream target in BC, contributes to the mammosphere formation of BC cells. Parallel findings were observed in the RU and RR cells derived from patient samples. Conclusions: In conclusion, our data supports the model that the Sox2 induces differential gene expression in the two distinct cell subsets in BC, and contributes to their phenotypic differences. © 2014 Jung et al.


Jung K.,University of Alberta | Gupta N.,University of Alberta | Wang P.,University of Alberta | Lewis J.T.,University of Alberta | And 9 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2015

We have recently described a novel phenotypic dichotomy within estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells; the cell subset responsive to a Sox2 regulatory region (SRR2) reporter (RR cells) are significantly more tumorigenic than the reporter unresponsive (RU) cells. Here, we report that a similar phenomenon also exists in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), with RR cells more tumorigenic than RU cells. First, examination of all 3 TNBC cell lines stably infected with the SRR2 reporter revealed the presence of a cell subset exhibiting reporter activity. Second, RU and RR cells purified by flow cytometry showed that RR cells expressed higher levels of CD44, generated more spheres in a limiting dilution mammosphere formation assay, and formed larger and more complex structures in Matrigel. Third, within the CD44High/CD24- tumor-initiating cell population derived from MDA-MB-231, RR cells were significantly more tumorigenic than RU cells in an in vivo SCID/Beige xenograft mouse model. Examination of 4 TNBC tumors from patients also revealed the presence of a RR cell subset, ranging from 1.1-3.8%. To conclude, we described a novel phenotypic heterogeneity within TNBC, and the SRR2 reporter responsiveness is a useful marker for identifying a highly tumorigenic cell subset within the CD44High/ CD24-tumor-initiating cell population.


Armanious H.,University of Alberta | Gelebart P.,University of Alberta | Anand M.,University of Alberta | Belch A.,University of Alberta | And 2 more authors.
Blood | Year: 2011

One of the main functions of A Disintegrin and Metalloproteinase 10 (ADAM10) is to regulate the bioavailability of adhesion molecules and ligands to various cellular-signaling receptors. Constitutive activation of ADAM10 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several types of solid tumors. In this study, we found that mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) cell lines and all 12 patient samples examined expressed the active/mature form of ADAM10. In contrast, PBMCs from healthy donors (n = 5) were negative. Using immunohistochemistry, ADAM10 was readily detectable in 20 of 23 (87%) MCL tumors, but absent in 5 reactive tonsils. Knockdown of ADAM10 using short interfering RNA (siRNA) in MCL cells significantly induced growth inhibition and cell-cycle arrest, and these changes were correlated with down-regulation of cyclin D1, up-regulation of p21 waf1, and significant reductions in the TNFα production/transcriptional activity of NFκBp65. The addition of recombinant ADAM10 to MCL cells led to the opposite biologic effects. Lastly, down-regulation of ADAM10 using siRNA enhanced the growth-suppressing effects mediated by the proteasome inhibitors MG132 and bortezomib. We conclude that constitutive activation of ADAM10 contributes to the growth of MCL and therefore inhibition of ADAM10 may be a useful strategy to enhance the response of MCL to other therapeutic agents. © 2011 by The American Society of Hematology.


Young L.C.,University of Alberta | Bone K.M.,University of Alberta | Wang P.,University of Alberta | Wu F.,University of Alberta | And 8 more authors.
American Journal of Pathology | Year: 2011

The fusion tyrosine kinase NPM-ALK is central to the pathogenesis of ALK-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK+ALCL). We recently identified that MSH2, a key DNA mismatch repair (MMR) protein integral to the suppression of tumorigenesis, is an NPM-ALKinteracting protein. In this study, we found in vitro evidence that enforced expression of NPM-ALK in HEK293 cells suppressed MMR function. Correlating with these findings, six of nine ALK +ALCL tumors displayed evidence of microsatellite instability, as opposed to none of the eight normal DNA control samples (P = 0.007, Student's t-test). Using co-immunoprecipitation, we found that increasing levels of NPM-ALK expression in HEK293 cells resulted in decreased levels of MSH6 bound to MSH2, whereas MSH2·NPM-ALK binding was increased. The NPM-ALK·MSH2 interaction was dependent on the activation/ autophosphorylation of NPM-ALK, and the Y191 residue of NPM-ALK was a crucial site for this interaction and NPM-ALKmediated MMR suppression. MSH2 was found to be tyrosine phosphorylated in the presence of NPM-ALK. Finally, NPM-ALK impeded the expected DNA damage-induced translocation of MSH2 out of the cytoplasm. To conclude, our data support a model in which the suppression of MMR by NPM-ALK is attributed to its ability to interfere with normal MSH2 biochemistry and function. © 2011 American Society for Investigative Pathology.


Bone K.M.,University of Alberta | Wang P.,University of Alberta | Wu F.,University of Alberta | Wu C.,University of Alberta | And 5 more authors.
Blood Cancer Journal | Year: 2015

The vast majority of anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK+ALCL) tumors express the characteristic oncogenic fusion protein NPM-ALK, which mediates tumorigenesis by exerting its constitutive tyrosine kinase activity on various substrates. We recently identified MSH2, a protein central to DNA mismatch repair (MMR), as a novel binding partner and phosphorylation substrate of NPM-ALK. Here, using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, we report for the first time that MSH2 is phosphorylated by NPM-ALK at a specific residue, tyrosine 238. Using GP293 cells transfected with NPM-ALK, we confirmed that the MSH2Y238F mutant is not tyrosine phosphorylated. Furthermore, transfection of MSH2Y238F into these cells substantially decreased the tyrosine phosphorylation of endogenous MSH2. Importantly, gene transfection of MSH2Y238F abrogated the binding of NPM-ALK with endogenous MSH2, re-established the dimerization of MSH2:MSH6 and restored the sensitivity to DNA mismatchinducing drugs, indicative of MMR return. Parallel findings were observed in two ALK+ALCL cell lines, Karpas 299 and SUP-M2. In addition, we found that enforced expression of MSH2Y238F into ALK+ALCL cells alone was sufficient to induce spontaneous apoptosis. In conclusion, our findings have identified NPM-ALK-induced phosphorylation of MSH2 at Y238 as a crucial event in suppressing MMR. Our studies have provided novel insights into the mechanism by which oncogenic tyrosine kinases disrupt MMR.

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