Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory

Bologna, Italy

Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory

Bologna, Italy
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Buontempo F.,University of Bologna | Orsini E.,University of Bologna | Lonetti A.,University of Bologna | Cappellini A.,University of Cassino and Southern Lazio | And 13 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2016

The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib is a new targeted treatment option for refractory or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients. However, a limited efficacy of bortezomib alone has been reported. A terminal pro-apoptotic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress/unfolded protein response (UPR) is one of the several mechanisms of bortezomib-induced apoptosis. Recently, it has been documented that UPR disruption could be considered a selective anti-leukemia therapy. CX- 4945, a potent casein kinase (CK) 2 inhibitor, has been found to induce apoptotic cell death in T-ALL preclinical models, via perturbation of ER/UPR pathway. In this study, we analyzed in T- and B-ALL preclinical settings, the molecular mechanisms of synergistic apoptotic effects observed after bortezomib/CX-4945 combined treatment. We demonstrated that, adding CX-4945 after bortezomib treatment, prevented leukemic cells from engaging a functional UPR in order to buffer the bortezomibmediated proteotoxic stress in ER lumen. We documented that the combined treatment decreased pro-survival ER chaperon BIP/Grp78 expression, via reduction of chaperoning activity of Hsp90. Bortezomib/CX-4945 treatment inhibited NF-κB signaling in T-ALL cell lines and primary cells from T-ALL patients, but, intriguingly, in B-ALL cells the drug combination activated NF-κB p65 pro-apoptotic functions. In fact in B-cells, the combined treatment induced p65-HDAC1 association with consequent repression of the anti-apoptotic target genes, Bcl-xL and XIAP. Exposure to NEMO (IKKγ)-binding domain inhibitor peptide reduced the cytotoxic effects of bortezomib/CX-4945 treatment. Overall, our findings demonstrated that CK2 inhibition could be useful in combination with bortezomib as a novel therapeutic strategy in both T- and B-ALL.


Simioni C.,University of Ferrara | Martelli A.M.,University of Bologna | Martelli A.M.,National Research Council Italy | Martelli A.M.,Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory | And 5 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2013

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common potentially lethal human malignancies worldwide. Advanced or recurrent HCC is frequently resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. Therefore, targeted agents with tolerable toxicity are mandatory to improve HCC therapy and prognosis. In this neoplasia, the PI3K/Akt signaling network has been frequently shown to be aberrantly up-regulated. To evaluate whether Akt could represent a target for treatment of HCC, we studied the effects of the allosteric Akt inhibitor, MK-2206, on a panel of HCC cell lines characterized by different levels of Akt-1 activation. The inhibitor decreased cell viability and induced cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle, with a higher efficacy in cells with hyperphosphorylated Akt-1. Moreover, MK-2206 induced apoptosis, as documented by Annexin V labeling, and also caused autophagy, as evidenced by increased levels of the autophagy marker LC3A/B. Autophagy was shown to be a protective mechanism against MK-2206 cytotoxicity. MK-2206 down-regulated, in a concentration-dependent manner, the phosphorylation levels of Akt-1 and its downstream targets, GSK3 α/β and FOXO3A. MK-2206 synergized with doxorubicin, a chemotherapeutic drug widely used for HCC treatment. Our findings suggest that the use of Akt inhibitors, either alone or in combination with doxorubicin, may be considered as an attractive therapeutic regimen for the treatment of HCC.


Sparta A.M.,University of Bologna | Bressanin D.,University of Bologna | Chiarini F.,National Research Council Italy | Chiarini F.,Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory | And 11 more authors.
Cell Cycle | Year: 2014

Polo-like kinases (PLKs) and Aurora kinases (AKs) act as key cell cycle regulators in healthy human cells. In cancer, these protein kinases are often overexpressed and dysregulated, thus contributing to uncontrolled cell proliferation and growth. T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a heterogeneous malignancy arising in the thymus from T-cell progenitors. Primary chemoresistant and relapsed T-ALL patients have yet a poor outcome, therefore novel therapies, targeting signaling pathways important for leukemic cell proliferation, are required. Here, we demonstrate the potential therapeutic effects of BI6727, MK-5108, and GSK1070916, three selective inhibitors of PLK1, AK-A, and AK-B/C, respectively, in a panel of T-ALL cell lines and primary cells from T-ALL patients. The drugs were both cytostatic and cytotoxic to T-ALL cells by inducing G2/M-phase arrest and apoptosis. The drugs retained part of their pro-apoptotic activity in the presence of MS-5 bone marrow stromal cells. Moreover, we document for the first time that BI6727 perturbed both the PI3K/Akt/mTORC2 and the MEK/ERK/mTORC1 signaling pathways, and that a combination of BI6727 with specific inhibitors of the aforementioned pathways (MK-2206, CCI-779) displayed significantly synergistic cytotoxic effects. Taken together, our findings indicate that PLK1 and AK inhibitors display the potential for being employed in innovative therapeutic strategies for improving T-ALL patient outcome. © 2014 Landes Bioscience.


Buontempo F.,University of Bologna | Orsini E.,University of Bologna | Martins L.R.,University of Lisbon | Antunes I.,University of Lisbon | And 17 more authors.
Leukemia | Year: 2014

Constitutively active casein kinase 2 (CK2) signaling is a common feature of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). CK2 phosphorylates PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) tumor suppressor, resulting in PTEN stabilization and functional inactivation. Downregulation of PTEN activity has an impact on PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, which is of fundamental importance for T-ALL cell survival. These observations lend compelling weight to the application of CK2 inhibitors in the therapy of T-ALL. Here, we have analyzed the therapeutic potential of CX-4945 - a novel, highly specific, orally available, ATP-competitive inhibitor of CK2α. We show that CX-4945 treatment induced apoptosis in T-ALL cell lines and patient T lymphoblasts. CX-4945 downregulated PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling in leukemic cells. Notably, CX-4945 affected the unfolded protein response (UPR), as demonstrated by a significant decrease in the levels of the main UPR regulator GRP78/BIP, and led to apoptosis via upregulation of the ER stress/UPR cell death mediators IRE1α and CHOP. In vivo administration of CX-4945 to a subcutaneous xenotransplant model of human T-ALL significantly delayed tumor growth. Our findings indicate that modulation of the ER stress/UPR signaling through CK2 inhibition could be exploited for inducing apoptosis in T-ALL cells and that CX-4945 may be an efficient treatment for those T-ALLs displaying upregulation of CK2α/PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Evangelisti C.,University of Bologna | Evangelisti C.,National Research Council Italy | Evangelisti C.,Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory | Teti G.,University of Bologna | And 13 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2014

Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a bioactive lipid that is formed by the phosphorylation of sphingosine and catalysed by sphingosine kinase 1 (SK1) or sphingosine kinase 2 (SK2). Sphingosine kinases play a fundamental role in many signaling pathways associated with cancer, suggesting that proteins belonging to this signaling network represent potential therapeutic targets. Over the last years, many improvements have been made in the treatment of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL); however, novel and less toxic therapies are still needed, especially for relapsing and chemo-resistant patients. Here, we analyzed the therapeutic potential of SKi and ROMe, a sphingosine kinase 1 and 2 inhibitor and SK2-selective inhibitor, respectively. While SKi induced apoptosis, ROMe initiated an autophagic cell death in our in vitro cell models. SKi treatment induced an increase in SK1 protein levels in Molt-4 cells, whereas it activated the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress/unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway in Jurkat and CEM-R cells as protective mechanisms in a sub-population of T-ALL cells. Interestingly, we observed a synergistic effect of SKi with the classical chemotherapeutic drug vincristine. In addition, we reported that SKi affected signaling cascades implicated in survival, proliferation and stress response of cells. These findings indicate that SK1 or SK2 represent potential targets for treating T-ALL.


Lonetti A.,University of Bologna | Antunes I.L.,University of Lisbon | Chiarini F.,National Research Council Italy | Chiarini F.,Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory | And 14 more authors.
Leukemia | Year: 2014

Constitutively active phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling is a common feature of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), where it upregulates cell proliferation, survival and drug resistance. These observations lend compelling weight to the application of PI3K inhibitors in the therapy of T-ALL. Here, we have analyzed the therapeutic potential of the pan-PI3K inhibitor NVP-BKM120 (BKM120), an orally bioavailable 2,6-dimorpholino pyrimidine derivative, which has entered clinical trials for solid tumors, on both T-ALL cell lines and patient samples. BKM120 treatment resulted in G 2 /M phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, being cytotoxic to a panel of T-ALL cell lines and patient T lymphoblasts, and promoting a dose- and time-dependent dephosphorylation of Akt and S6RP. BKM120 maintained its pro-apoptotic activity against Jurkat cells even when cocultured with MS-5 stromal cells, which mimic the bone marrow microenvironment. Remarkably, BKM120 synergized with chemotherapeutic agents currently used for treating T-ALL patients. Moreover, in vivo administration of BKM120 to a subcutaneous xenotransplant model of human T-ALL significantly delayed tumor growth, thus prolonging survival time. Taken together, our findings indicate that BKM120, either alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs, may be an efficient treatment for T-ALLs that have aberrant upregulation of the PI3K signaling pathway. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Lonetti A.,University of Bologna | Cappellini A.,University of Cassino and Southern Lazio | Sparta A.M.,University of Bologna | Chiarini F.,Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory | And 8 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2015

Class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are frequently activated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), mainly due to the loss of PTEN function. Therefore, targeting PI3Ks is a promising innovative approach for T-ALL treatment, however at present no definitive evidence indicated which is the better therapeutic strategy between pan or selective isoform inhibition, as all the four catalytic subunits might participate in leukemogenesis. Here, we demonstrated that in both PTEN deleted and PTEN non deleted T-ALL cell lines, PI3K pan-inhibition exerted the highest cytotoxic effects when compared to both selective isoform inhibition or dual p110γ/δ inhibition. Intriguingly, the dual p110γ/δ inhibitor IPI-145 was effective in Loucy cells, which are representative of early T-precursor (ETP)-ALL, a T-ALL subtype associated with a poor outcome. PTEN gene deletion did not confer a peculiar reliance of T-ALL cells on PI3K activity for their proliferation/survival, as PTEN was inactivated in PTEN non deleted cells, due to posttranslational mechanisms. PI3K pan-inhibition suppressed Akt activation and induced caspase-independent apoptosis. We further demonstrated that in some T-ALL cell lines, autophagy could exert a protective role against PI3K inhibition. Our findings strongly support clinical application of class I PI3K pan-inhibitors in T-ALL treatment, with the possible exception of ETP-ALL cases.


Chiarini F.,National Research Council Italy | Chiarini F.,Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory | Lonetti A.,University of Bologna | Teti G.,University of Bologna | And 14 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2012

Signaling through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway and its downstream effectors, Akt and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), is aberrantly activated in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, where it contributes to leukemic cell proliferation, survival, and drug-resistance. Thus, inhibiting mTOR signaling in AML blasts could enhance their sensitivity to cytotoxic agents. Preclinical data also suggest that allosteric mTOR inhibition with rapamycin impaired leukemia initiating cells (LICs) function. In this study, we assessed the therapeutic potential of a combination consisting of temsirolimus [an allosteric mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibitor] with clofarabine, a nucleoside analogue with potent inhibitory effects on both ribonucleotide reductase and DNA polymerase. The drug combination (CLO-TOR) displayed synergistic cytotoxic effects against a panel of AML cell lines and primary cells from AML patients. Treatment with CLO-TOR induced a G0/G1-phase cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and autophagy. CLO-TOR was pro-apoptotic in an AML patient blast subset (CD34+/CD38-/CD123+), which is enriched in putative leukemia initiating cells (LICs). In summary, the CLO-TOR combination could represent a novel valuable treatment for AML patients, also in light of its efficacy against LICs. © Chiarini et al.


PubMed | Muscoloskeletal Cell Biology Laboratory, University of Bologna, East Carolina University and University of Cassino and Southern Lazio
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Oncotarget | Year: 2015

Class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are frequently activated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), mainly due to the loss of PTEN function. Therefore, targeting PI3Ks is a promising innovative approach for T-ALL treatment, however at present no definitive evidence indicated which is the better therapeutic strategy between pan or selective isoform inhibition, as all the four catalytic subunits might participate in leukemogenesis. Here, we demonstrated that in both PTEN deleted and PTEN non deleted T-ALL cell lines, PI3K pan-inhibition exerted the highest cytotoxic effects when compared to both selective isoform inhibition or dual p110/ inhibition. Intriguingly, the dual p110/ inhibitor IPI-145 was effective in Loucy cells, which are representative of early T-precursor (ETP)-ALL, a T-ALL subtype associated with a poor outcome. PTEN gene deletion did not confer a peculiar reliance of T-ALL cells on PI3K activity for their proliferation/survival, as PTEN was inactivated in PTEN non deleted cells, due to posttranslational mechanisms. PI3K pan-inhibition suppressed Akt activation and induced caspase-independent apoptosis. We further demonstrated that in some T-ALL cell lines, autophagy could exert a protective role against PI3K inhibition. Our findings strongly support clinical application of class I PI3K pan-inhibitors in T-ALL treatment, with the possible exception of ETP-ALL cases.


PubMed | University of Ferrara, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, University of Bologna, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and 3 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Oncotarget | Year: 2016

The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib is a new targeted treatment option for refractory or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients. However, a limited efficacy of bortezomib alone has been reported. A terminal pro-apoptotic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress/unfolded protein response (UPR) is one of the several mechanisms of bortezomib-induced apoptosis. Recently, it has been documented that UPR disruption could be considered a selective anti-leukemia therapy. CX-4945, a potent casein kinase (CK) 2 inhibitor, has been found to induce apoptotic cell death in T-ALL preclinical models, via perturbation of ER/UPR pathway. In this study, we analyzed in T- and B-ALL preclinical settings, the molecular mechanisms of synergistic apoptotic effects observed after bortezomib/CX-4945 combined treatment. We demonstrated that, adding CX-4945 after bortezomib treatment, prevented leukemic cells from engaging a functional UPR in order to buffer the bortezomib-mediated proteotoxic stress in ER lumen. We documented that the combined treatment decreased pro-survival ER chaperon BIP/Grp78 expression, via reduction of chaperoning activity of Hsp90. Bortezomib/CX-4945 treatment inhibited NF-B signaling in T-ALL cell lines and primary cells from T-ALL patients, but, intriguingly, in B-ALL cells the drug combination activated NF-B p65 pro-apoptotic functions. In fact in B-cells, the combined treatment induced p65-HDAC1 association with consequent repression of the anti-apoptotic target genes, Bcl-xL and XIAP. Exposure to NEMO (IKK)-binding domain inhibitor peptide reduced the cytotoxic effects of bortezomib/CX-4945 treatment. Overall, our findings demonstrated that CK2 inhibition could be useful in combination with bortezomib as a novel therapeutic strategy in both T- and B-ALL.

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