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Li L.,International Medical University | Li L.,National Center for Liver Cancer | Tang J.,International Medical University | Tang J.,National Center for Liver Cancer | And 32 more authors.
Gut | Year: 2015

Objective: Liver tumour-initiating cells (T-ICs) are critical for hepatocarcinogenesis. However, the underlying mechanism regulating the function of liver T-ICs remains unclear.Methods: Tissue microarrays containing 242 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples were used for prognostic analysis. Magnetically activated cell sorting was used to isolate epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EPCAM)-positive cells. The gene expressions affected by miR-429 were determined by arrays. Co-immunoprecipitation was used to study interactions among retinoblastoma protein (RB1), Rb binding protein 4 (RBBP4) and E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1). The DNA methylation status in CpG islands was detected by quantitative methylation analysis. miRNAs in microvesicles were isolated by a syringe filter system.Results: The significant prognosis factor miR-429 was upregulated in HCC tissues and also in primary liver T-ICs isolated from clinical samples. The enrichment of miR-429 in EPCAM+T-ICs contributed to hepatocyte self-renewal, malignant proliferation, chemoresistance and tumorigenicity. A novel functional axis involving miR-429, RBBP4, E2F1 and POU class 5 homeobox 1 (POU5F1 or OCT4) governing the regulation of liver EPCAM+T-ICs was established in vitro and in vivo. The molecular mechanism regulating miR-429 expression, involving four abnormal hypomethylated sites upstream of the miR-200b/miR-200a/miR-429 cluster, was first defined in both EPCAM+ liver T-ICs and very early-stage HCC tissues. miR-429 secreted by high-expressing cells has the potential to become a proactive signalling molecule to mediate intercellular communication.Conclusions: Epigenetic modification of miR-429 can manipulate liver T-ICs by targeting the RBBP4/E2F1/OCT4 axis. This miRNA might be targeted to inactivate T-ICs, thus providing a novel strategy for HCC prevention and treatment.


Wang X.,University for International Cooperation | Sun W.,University for International Cooperation | Shen W.,Shanghai University | Xia M.,University for International Cooperation | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Hepatology | Year: 2016

Background & Aims Emerging evidence has demonstrated the aberrant expression of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in various malignancies including HCC. However, the knowledge of cancer stem cell-related lncRNAs remains limited. Methods lnc-DILC (lncRNA downregulated in liver cancer stem cells (LCSCs)) was identified by microarray and validated by real-time PCR. The role of lnc-DILC in LCSCs was assessed both in vitro and in vivo. Pull down assay and oligoribonucleotides or oligodeoxynucleotides treatment were conducted to evaluate the interaction between lnc-DILC and interleukin-6 (IL-6) promoter. Results Depletion of lnc-DILC markedly enhanced LCSC expansion and facilitated HCC initiation and progression, whereas ectopic expression of lnc-DILC dramatically inhibited LCSC expansion. Mechanistically, lnc-DILC inhibited the autocrine IL-6/STAT3 signaling. The putative binding locus of lnc-DILC within IL-6 promoter was confirmed by pull down assay. Consistently, the oligoribonucleotide mimics and an oligodeoxynucleotide decoy of lnc-DILC abrogated the effects on IL-6 transcription, STAT3 activation and LCSC expansion triggered by lnc-DILC depletion and lnc-DILC overexpression. Moreover, our data suggested that lnc-DILC mediated the crosstalk between TNF-α/NF-κB signaling and IL-6/STAT3 cascade. Clinical investigation demonstrated the reduction of lnc-DILC in patient HCCs, and suggested the correlation between lnc-DILC levels and IL-6, EpCAM or CD24 expression. Decreased lnc-DILC expression in HCCs predicts early recurrence and short survival of patients, highlighting its prognostic value. Conclusions lnc-DILC mediates the crosstalk between TNF-α/NF-κB signaling and autocrine IL-6/STAT3 cascade and connects hepatic inflammation with LCSC expansion, suggesting that lnc-DILC could be not only a potential prognostic biomarker, but also a possible therapeutic target against LCSCs. © 2016 European Association for the Study of the Liver.


Wang R.-Y.,International Co operation Laboratory on Signal Transduction | Wang R.-Y.,Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital | Chen L.,International Co operation Laboratory on Signal Transduction | Chen H.-Y.,International Co operation Laboratory on Signal Transduction | And 23 more authors.
Gastroenterology | Year: 2013

Background & Aims Aberrant expression of MUC15 correlates with development of colorectal adenocarcinoma, and MUC15 has been reported to prevent trophoblast invasion of human placenta. However, little is known about the role of MUC15 in pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods We analyzed HCC samples and matched nontumor liver tissues (controls) collected from 313 patients who underwent hepatectomy in Shanghai, China, from January 2006 through September 2009. Levels of messenger RNAs and proteins were determined by immunohistochemical, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, and immunoblot analyses. Statistical analyses were used to associate levels of MUC15 with tumor features and patient outcomes. Results Levels of MUC15 messenger RNA and protein were reduced in a greater percentage of HCC samples than control tissues. Tumors with reduced levels of MUC15 were more likely to have aggressive characteristics (eg, high levels of α-fetoprotein, vascular invasion, lack of encapsulation, and poor differentiation) than those with low levels. Patients whose tumors had reduced levels of MUC15 had shorter overall survival times (24 months vs 46 months for patients with tumors with high levels of MUC15) and time to disease recurrence. Stable expression of MUC15 in HCC cell lines (SMMC-7721 and HCC-LM3) reduced their proliferation and invasive features in vitro, and ability to form metastatic tumors in mice. MUC15 reduced transcription of the matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 7 increased expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2, which required phosphoinositide 3-kinase-v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog signaling. Physical interaction between MUC15 and epidermal growth factor receptor led to its relocation and degradation within early endosomes and was required for inactivation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase-v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog signaling. Conclusions Reduced levels of MUC15 in HCCs are associated with shorter survival times of patients and reduced time to disease recurrence. Expression of MUC15 in HCC cells reduces their aggressive behavior in vitro and in mice by inducing dimerization of epidermal growth factor receptor and decreasing phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling via v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog. © 2013 by the AGA Institute.


Li S.-X.,University for International Cooperation | Li S.-X.,National Center for Liver Cancer | Li S.-X.,Shanghai University | Tang G.-S.,Shanghai University | And 21 more authors.
Cancer | Year: 2014

BACKGROUND The functions of cytoskeleton-associated membrane protein 4 (CKAP4), one kind of type II transmembrane protein, are associated with the palmitoyl acyltransferase DHHC2. The objective of the current study was to investigate CKAP4/DHHC2 expression and its prognostic significance in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). METHODS Two independent cohorts of 416 patients with HCC were enrolled. All the patients included had defined clinicopathologic and follow-up data. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical assay, CKAP4 and DHHC2 expression were evaluated. The association between CKAP4/DHHC2 expression and HCC-specific disease-free survival and overall survival was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier curves, the log-rank test, and Multivariate Cox regression analyses. RESULTS The data documented that CKAP4 expression was much higher in HCC tumor tissues compared with adjacent normal tissues and its expression was significantly correlated with tumor size, intrahepatic metastases, portal venous invasion, and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage of disease in 2 cohorts of patients. On survival analysis, patients with high CKAP4 expression appeared to have a favorable overall survival and a longer disease-free survival compared with those with low expression. DHHC2 expression was also examined in tissue microarray analysis by immunohistochemistry and the results demonstrated that 87.6% of the cases had low expression of DHHC2. Kaplan-Meier analysis indicated that a high level of DHHC2 expression predicted favorable overall survival and disease-free survival rates in both the training cohort and validation set. Furthermore, the combination of CKAP4 and DHHC2 was found to have a more powerful efficiency in prognosis prediction than either one alone. CONCLUSIONS To the best of our knowledge, the current study is the first to demonstrate that the expression of CKAP4 and its palmitoyl acyltransferase DHHC2 correlates with disease progression and metastasis in patients with HCC and may provide prognostic and therapeutic value. © 2014 American Cancer Society.


Tu Q.-Q.,International Medical University | Zheng R.-Y.,Shanghai University | Li J.,Shanghai University | Hu L.,International Medical University | And 12 more authors.
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica | Year: 2014

Aim: Free fatty acid-induced lipotoxicity plays a crucial role in the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In the present study we investigated the effects of a high-fat diet and free fatty acids on the autophagic process in hepatocytes in vivo and in vitro and the underlying mechanisms.Methods:LC3-II expression, a hallmark of autophagic flux, was detected in liver specimens from patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as well as in the livers of C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) up to 16 weeks. LC3-II expression was also analyzed in human SMMC-7721 and HepG2 hepatoma cells exposed to palmitic acid (PA), a saturated fatty acid. PA-induced apoptosis was detected by Annexin V staining and specific cleavage of PARP in the presence and absence of different agents. Results: LC3-II expression was markedly increased in human NASH and in liver tissues of HFD-fed mice. Treatment of SMMC-7721 cells with PA increased LC3-II expression in time- and dose-dependent manners, whereas the unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid had no effect. Inhibition of autophagy with 3MA sensitized SMMC-7721 cells to PA-induced apoptosis, whereas activation of autophagy by rapamycin attenuated PA-induced PARP cleavage. The autophagy-associated proteins Beclin1 and Atg5 were essential for PA-induced autophagy in SMMC-7721 cells. Moreover, pretreatment with SP600125, an inhibitor of JNK, effectively abrogated PA-mediated autophagy and apoptosis. Specific knockdown of JNK2, but not JNK1, in SMMC-7721 cells significantly suppressed PA-induced autophagy and enhanced its pro-apoptotic activity; whereas specific knockdown of JNK1 had the converse effect. Similar results were obtained when HepG2 cells were tested. Conclusion: JNK1 promotes PA-induced lipoapoptosis, whereas JNK2 activates pro-survival autophagy and inhibits PA lipotoxicity. Our results suggest that modulation of autophagy may have therapeutic benefits in the treatment of lipid-related metabolic diseases. © 2014 CPS and SIMM.


Su B.,Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Institute Hospital | Su B.,Tongji University | Luo T.,Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Institute Hospital | Zhu J.,Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Institute Hospital | And 16 more authors.
Hepatology | Year: 2015

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a prototype of inflammation-associated cancer. Oncoprotein Gankyrin, which mostly increases in HCC, plays a critical role in HCC development and metastasis. However, the exact mechanism of Gankyrin up-regulation in HCC remains unclear. A Gankyrin luciferase reporter was developed to screen a potential regulator for Gankyrin from a list of proinflammatory cytokines, and interleukin (IL)-1β was found as one of its activators. In clinical premalignant and malignant liver disease samples, enhanced IL-1β/interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK-1) signaling accompanied by increased Gankyrin was observed. Lower expression of Gankyrin and phospho-IRAK-1 are favorable prognostic markers for HCC. A similar correlation was observed in the diethylnitrosamine (DEN) model of rat hepatocarcinogenesis. The results from Gankyrin reporter activity, real-time polymerase chain reaction, or immunoblotting further confirmed the up-regulation of Gankyrin by IL-1β/IRAK-1 inflammatory signaling. Moreover, a series of Gankyrin's truncated reporters were constructed, and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) were performed to analyze the properties of Gankyrin promoter. Mechanistically, the core promoter of Gankyrin contains the binding site of nuclear factor Y (NF-Y) family members, which can recruit histone acetyltransferase coactivator E1A-binding protein p300 (p300) or CREB-binding protein (CBP) to promote Gankyrin transcription. Conversely, knockdown of NF-Y, p300, or CBP inhibits Gankyrin expression. IL-1β stimulation causes sequential phosphorylation of IRAK-1, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and p300 and enhances recruitment of the p300/CBP/NF-Y complex to Gankyrin promoter. Inhibition of phospho-JNK impairs IL-1β/IRAK-1 signaling-mediated up-regulation of Gankyrin. Conclusion: The finding of IL-1β/IRAK-1 signaling promoting Gankyrin expression through JNK and NF-Y/p300/CBP complex provides a fresh view on inflammation-enhanced hepatocarcinogenesis. © 2014 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.


Li L.,International Medical University | Li L.,National Center for Liver Cancer | Wang H.,International Medical University | Wang H.,National Center for Liver Cancer | Wang H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University
Cancer Letters | Year: 2015

Liver cancer is an extraordinarily heterogeneous malignant disease among the tumors that have so far been identified. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) arises most frequently in the setting of chronic liver inflammation and fibrosis, and takes a variety of course in individual patients to process to tumor. The risk factors such as HBV and/or HCV infections, aflatoxin infection, abuse alcohol intake, metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes are closely related to the environmental and genetic susceptibilities to HCC. The consequent resulting genomic instability, molecular and signal transduction network disorders and microenvironmental discrepancies are characterized by the extraordinary heterogeneity of liver cancer. The histology-based definition of the morphological heterogeneity of liver cancer has been modified and refined to treat patients with targeted therapies, but this still cannot solve all the problems. Lack of consistent outcome for anticancer agents and conventional therapies in liver cancer treatment calls for assessing the benefits of new molecularly targeted drugs and combined therapy, under the heterogeneity condition of tumor. The present review article will provide the complex mechanism and phenotype of liver cancer heterogeneity, and help us to execute precision medicine in a really personalized manner. © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Gao H.,Fudan University | Gao H.,Renji Hospital | Li K.,Renji Hospital | Tu H.,Renji Hospital | And 10 more authors.
Clinical Cancer Research | Year: 2014

Purpose: The aim of our study is to elucidate whether T cells expressing GPC3-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) can efficiently eliminate GPC3-positive HCC cells and their potential in the treatment of HCC.Experimental Design: T cells expressing a first-generation and third-generation GPC3-targeted CAR were prepared using lentiviral vector transduction. The in vitro and in vivo cytotoxic activities of the genetically engineered CAR T cells were evaluated against various HCC cell lines.Results: GPC3-targeted CAR T cells could efficiently kill GPC3-positive HCC cells but not GPC3-negative cells in vitro. These cytotoxic activities seemed to be positively correlated with GPC3 expression levels in the target cells. In addition, T cells expressing the third-generation GPC3-targeted CAR could eradicate HCC xenografts with high level of GPC3 expression and efficiently suppress the growth of HCC xenografts with low GPC3 expression level in vivo. The survival of the mice bearing established orthotopic Huh-7 xenografts was significantly prolonged by the treatment with the third-generation GPC3-targeted CAR T cells.Conclusions: GPC3-targeted CAR T cells could potently eliminate GPC3-positive HCC cells, thereby providing a promising therapeutic intervention for GPC3-positive HCC. © 2014 AACR.


Han T.,University for International Cooperation | Xiang D.-M.,University for International Cooperation | Sun W.,University for International Cooperation | Liu N.,University for International Cooperation | And 15 more authors.
Journal of Hepatology | Year: 2015

Background & Aims We have previously reported that Shp2, a tyrosine phosphatase previously known as a pro-leukemogenic molecule, suppresses the initiation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the role of Shp2 in HCC progression remains obscure. Methods Shp2 expression was determined in human HCC using real-time PCR, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Clinical significance of Shp2 expression was analyzed in 301 HCC tissues with clinico-pathological characteristics and follow-up information. Short hairpin RNA was utilized to investigate the function of Shp2 in hepatoma cell behavior. Role of Shp2 in HCC progression was monitored through nude mice xenograft assay. Kinase activity assay and co-immunoprecipitation were used for mechanism analysis. Results Elevated expression of Shp2 was detected in 65.9% (394/598) of human HCCs, and its levels were even higher in metastasized foci. Overexpression of Shp2 correlated well with the malignant clinico-pathological characteristics of HCC and predicted the poor prognosis of patients. Interference of Shp2 expression suppressed the proliferation of hepatoma cells in vitro and inhibited the growth of HCC xenografts in vivo. Down-regulation of Shp2 attenuated the adhesion and migration of hepatoma cells and diminished metastasized HCC formation in mice. Our data demonstrated that Shp2 promotes HCC growth and metastasis by coordinately activating Ras/Raf/Erk pathway and PI3-K/Akt/mTOR cascade. Moreover, down-regulation of Shp2 enhanced the sensitivity of hepatoma cells upon sorafenib treatment, and patients with low Shp2 expression exhibited superior prognosis to sorafenib. Conclusions Shp2 promotes the progression of HCC and may serve as a prognostic biomarker for patients. © 2015 European Association for the Study of the Liver.


Jiang F.,International Medical University | Jiang F.,Nanjing Medical University | Jiang F.,Cancer Hospital of Jiangsu Province | Chen L.,International Medical University | And 15 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2015

CYP3A5 is a cytochrome P450 protein that functions in the liver metabolism of many carcinogens and cancer drugs. However, it has not been thought to directly affect cancer progression. In this study, we challenge this perspective by demonstrating that CYP3A5 is downregulated in many hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), where it has an important role as a tumor suppressor that antagonizes the malignant phenotype. CYP3A5 was downregulated in multiple cohorts of human HCC examined. Lower CYP3A5 levels were associated with more aggressive vascular invasion, poor differentiation, shorter time to disease recurrence after treatment, and worse overall patient survival. Mechanistic investigations showed that CYP3A5 over-expression limited MMP2/9 function and suppressed HCC migration and invasion in vitro and in vivo by inhibiting AKT signaling. Notably, AKT phosphorylation at Ser473 was inhibited in CYP3A5-overexpressing HCC cells, an event requiring mTORC2 but not Rictor/mTOR complex formation. CYP3A5-induced ROS accumulation was found to be a critical upstream regulator of mTORC2 activity, consistent with evidence of reduced GSH redox activity in most clinical HCC specimens with reduced metastatic capacity. Taken together, our results defined CYP3A5 as a suppressor of HCC pathogenesis and metastasis with potential utility a prognostic biomarker. © 2015 American Association for Cancer Research.

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