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Mestdagh P.,Ghent University | Fredlund E.,Ghent University | Fredlund E.,Lund University | Pattyn F.,Ghent University | And 19 more authors.
Oncogene | Year: 2010

Different classes of non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs, have recently been implicated in the process of tumourigenesis. In this study, we examined the expression and putative functions of a novel class of non-coding RNAs known as transcribed ultraconserved regions (T-UCRs) in neuroblastoma. Genome-wide expression profiling revealed correlations between specific T-UCR expression levels and important clinicogenetic parameters such as MYCN amplification status. A functional genomics approach based on the integration of multi-level transcriptome data was adapted to gain insights into T-UCR functions. Assignments of T-UCRs to cellular processes such as TP53 response, differentiation and proliferation were verified using various cellular model systems. For the first time, our results define a T-UCR expression landscape in neuroblastoma and suggest widespread T-UCR involvement in diverse cellular processes that are deregulated in the process of tumourigenesis. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

Wynendaele J.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | Wynendaele J.,Catholic University of Leuven | Bohnke A.,Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenberg | Leucci E.,Copenhagen University | And 19 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2010

Overexpression of MDM4 (also known as MDMX or HDMX) is thought to promote tumorigenesis by decreasing p53 tumor suppressor function. Even modest decrease in Mdm4 levels affects tumorigenesis in mice, suggesting that genetic variants of MDM4 might have similar effects in humans. We sequenced the MDM4 gene in a series of ovarian cancer cell lines and carcinomas to identify mutations and/or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We identified an SNP (SNP34091) in the 3′-UTR of MDM4 that creates a putative target site for hsa-miR-191, a microRNA that is highly expressed in normal and tumor tissues. Biochemical evidence supports specific miR-191-dependent regulation of the MDM4-C, but not MDM4-A, variant. Consistently, the A-allele was associated with statistically significant increased expression of MDM4 mRNA and protein levels in ovarian carcinomas. Importantly, the wild-type genotype (A/A) is more frequent (57.8% vs. 42.2% for A/C and C/C, respectively) in patients with high-grade carcinomas than in patients with low-grade carcinomas (47.2% vs. 52.5% for A/A and A/C + C/C, respectively). Moreover, A/A patients who do not express the estrogen receptor had a 4.2-fold [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.2-13.5; P = 0.02] increased risk of recurrence and 5.5-fold (95% CI = 1.5-20.5; P = 0.01) increased risk of tumor-related death. Unexpectedly, the frequency of p53 mutations was not significantly lower in A/A patients. We conclude that acquisition of an illegitimate miR-191 target site causes downregulation of MDM4 expression, thereby significantly delaying ovarian carcinoma progression and tumor-related death. Importantly, these effects appear to be, at least partly, independent of p53. ©2010 AACR.

Migliorini D.,Catholic University of Leuven | Migliorini D.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | Bogaerts S.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | Defever D.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Investigation | Year: 2011

Biochemical studies have suggested conflicting roles for the E3 ubiquitin ligase constitutive photomorphogenesis protein 1 (Cop1; also known as Rfwd2) in tumorigenesis, providing evidence for both the oncoprotein c-Jun and the tumor suppressor p53 as its targets. Here we present what we believe to be the first in vivo investigation of the role of Cop1 in cancer etiology. Using an innovative genetic approach to generate an allelic series of Cop1, we found that Cop1 hypomorphic mice spontaneously developed malignancy at a high frequency in the first year of life and were highly susceptible to radiation-induced lymphomagenesis. Further analysis revealed that c-Jun was a key physiological target for Cop1 and that Cop1 constitutively kept c-Jun at low levels in vivo and thereby modulated c-Jun/AP-1 transcriptional activity. Importantly, Cop1 deficiency stimulated cell proliferation in a c-Jun-dependent manner. Focal deletions of COP1 were observed at significant frequency across several cancer types, and COP1 loss was determined to be one of the mechanisms leading to c-Jun upregulation in human cancer. We therefore conclude that Cop1 is a tumor suppressor that functions, at least in part, by antagonizing c-Jun oncogenic activity. In the absence of evidence for a genetic interaction between Cop1 and p53, our data strongly argue against the use of Cop1-inhibitory drugs for cancer therapy. Copyright © 2011, American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Van Maerken T.,Ghent University | Rihani A.,Ghent University | Dreidax D.,German Cancer Research Center | De Clercq S.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | And 6 more authors.
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics | Year: 2011

Suppression of p53 activity is essential for proliferation and survival of tumor cells. A direct p53-activating compound, nutlin-3, was used in this study, together with p53 mutation analysis, to characterize p53 pathway defects in a set of 34 human neuroblastoma cell lines. We identified 9 cell lines (26%) with a p53 loss-of-function mutation, including 6 missense mutations, 1 nonsense mutation, 1 in-frame deletion, and 1 homozygous deletion of the 3′ end of the p53 gene. Sensitivity to nutlin-3 was highly predictive of absence of p53 mutation. Signaling pathways downstream of p53 were functionally intact in 23 of 25 cell lines with wild-type p53. Knockdown and overexpression experiments revealed a potentiating effect of p14ARF expression on the response of neuroblastoma cells to nutlin-3. Our findings shed light on the spectrum of p53 pathway lesions in neuroblastoma cells, indicate that defects in effector molecules downstream of p53 are remarkably rare in neuroblastoma, and identify p14ARF as a determinant of the outcome of the response to MDM2 inhibition. These insights may prove useful for the clinical translation of evolving strategies aimed at p53 reactivation and for the development of new therapeutic approaches. ©2011 AACR.

Lambertz I.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | Nittner D.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | Mestdagh P.,Ghent University | Denecker G.,Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology | And 3 more authors.
Cell Death and Differentiation | Year: 2010

Human tumors are characterized by widespread reduction in microRNA (miRNA) expression, although it is unclear how such changes come about and whether they have an etiological role in the disease. Importantly, miRNA knockdown has been shown to enhance the tumorigenic potential of human lung adenocarcinoma cells. A defect in miRNA processing is one possible mechanism for global downregulation. To explore this possibility in more detail in vivo, we have manipulated Dicer1 gene dosage in a mouse model of retinoblastoma. We show that although monoallelic loss of Dicer1 does not affect normal retinal development, it dramatically accelerates tumor formation on a retinoblastoma-sensitized background. Importantly, these tumors retain one wild-type Dicer1 allele and exhibit only a partial decrease in miRNA processing. Accordingly, in silico analysis of human cancer genome data reveals frequent hemizygous, but not homozygous, deletions of DICER1. Strikingly, complete loss of Dicer1 function in mice did not accelerate retinoblastoma formation. miRNA profiling of these tumors identified members of the let-7 and miR-34 families as candidate tumor suppressors in retinoblastoma. We conclude that Dicer1 functions as a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor. This finding has implications for cancer etiology and cancer therapy. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

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