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Journal: Oncotarget


Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) arise within the interstitial cell of Cajal (ICC) lineage due to activating KIT/PDGFRA mutations. Both ICC and GIST possess primary cilia (PC), which coordinate PDGFRA and Hedgehog signaling, regulators of gastrointestinal mesenchymal development. Therefore, we hypothesized that Hedgehog signaling may be altered in human GIST and controls KIT expression. Quantitative RT-PCR, microarrays, and next generation sequencing were used to describe Hedgehog/PC-related genes in purified human ICC and GIST. Genetic and pharmacologic approaches were employed to investigate the effects of GLI manipulation on KIT expression and GIST cell viability. We report that Hedgehog pathway and PC components are expressed in ICC and GIST and subject to dysregulation during GIST oncogenesis, irrespective of KIT/PDGFRA mutation status. Using genomic profiling, 10.2% of 186 GIST studied had potentially deleterious genomic alterations in 5 Hedgehog-related genes analyzed, including in the PTCH1 tumor suppressor (1.6%). Expression of the predominantly repressive GLI isoform, GLI3, was inversely correlated with KIT mRNA levels in GIST cells and non-KIT/non-PDGFRA mutant GIST. Overexpression of the 83-kDa repressive form of GLI3 or small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of the activating isoforms GLI1/2 reduced KIT mRNA. Treatment with GLI1/2 inhibitors, including arsenic trioxide, significantly increased GLI3 binding to the KIT promoter, decreased KIT expression, and reduced viability in imatinib-sensitive and imatinib-resistant GIST cells. These data offer new evidence that genes necessary for Hedgehog signaling and PC function in ICC are dysregulated in GIST. Hedgehog signaling activates KIT expression irrespective of mutation status, offering a novel approach to treat imatinib-resistant GIST.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cell, Cancer, Gastrointestinal stromal tumor


It is generally accepted that the success of immunotherapy depends on the presence of tumor-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and the modulation of the tumor environment. In this study, we validated mRNA encoding soluble factors as a tool to modulate the tumor microenvironment to potentiate infiltration of tumor-specific T cells. Intratumoral delivery of mRNA encoding a fusion protein consisting of interferon-β and the ectodomain of the transforming growth factor-β receptor II, referred to as Fβ2, showed therapeutic potential. The treatment efficacy was dependent on CD8+ T cells and could be improved through blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 interactions. In vitro studies revealed that administration of Fβ2 to tumor cells resulted in a reduced proliferation and increased expression of MHC I but also PD-L1. Importantly, Fβ2 enhanced the antigen presenting capacity of dendritic cells, whilst reducing the suppressive activity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. In conclusion, these data suggest that intratumoral delivery of mRNA encoding soluble proteins, such as Fβ2, can modulate the tumor microenvironment, leading to effective antitumor T cell responses, which can be further potentiated through combination therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Cancer, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, Cytotoxic T cell, MHC class I


Immune tolerance to tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs) has severely restricted the usefulness of most TACAs. To overcome this problem, we selected a sialylated trisaccharide TACA, GM3, as a target antigen, and tested a new immunotherapeutic strategy by combining metabolic bioengineering with dendritic cell (DC) vaccination. We engineered cancer cells to express an artificial structure, N-phenylacetyl-D-neuraminic acid, in place of the natural N-acetyl-D-neuraminic acid of GM3 by using N-phenylacetyl-D-mannosamine (ManNPhAc) as a biosynthetic precursor. Next, we selectively targeted the bioengineered cancer cells by vaccination with DCs pulsed with the GM3 N-phenylacetyl derivative. Vaccination with GM3NPhAc-KLH-loaded DCs elicited robust GM3NPhAc-specific T cell-dependent immunity. The results showed that this strategy could significantly inhibit FBL3 tumor growth and prolong the survival of tumor-bearing mice; B16F10 lung metastases could also be reduced. These findings lay out a new strategy for overcoming immune tolerance to TACAs, such as GM3, for the development of effective tumor immunotherapies.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Cancer, Oncology, Lung cancer, Immunology, Immunotherapy


Asbestos is a harmful and exceptionally persistent natural material. Malignant mesothelioma (MM), an asbestos-related disease, is an insidious, lethal cancer that is poorly responsive to current treatments. Minimally invasive, specific, and sensitive biomarkers providing early and effective diagnosis in high-risk patients are urgently needed. MicroRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) are endogenous, non-coding, small RNAs with established diagnostic value in cancer and pollution exposure. A systematic review and a qualitative meta-analysis were conducted to identify high-confidence miRNAs that can serve as biomarkers of asbestos exposure and MM.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Medical terms, MicroRNA, Mesothelioma, Asbestos, Asbestos and the law, Wittenoom, Western Australia


In cancer, upregulated Ras promotes cellular transformation and proliferation in part through activation of oncogenic Ras-MAPK signaling. While directly inhibiting Ras has proven challenging, new insights into Ras regulation through protein-protein interactions may offer unique opportunities for therapeutic intervention. Here we report the identification and validation of Aurora kinase A (Aurora A) as a novel Ras binding protein. We demonstrate that the kinase domain of Aurora A mediates the interaction with the N-terminal domain of H-Ras. Further more, the interaction of Aurora A and H-Ras exists in a protein complex with Raf-1. We show that binding of H-Ras to Raf-1 and subsequent MAPK signaling is enhanced by Aurora A, and requires active H-Ras. Thus, the functional linkage between Aurora A and the H-Ras/Raf-1 protein complex may provide a mechanism for Aurora A’s oncogenic activity through direct activation of the Ras/MAPK pathway.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Signal transduction, MAPK/ERK pathway, Aurora kinase, Aurora A kinase, C-terminus, N-terminus


We assess the efficacy and safety of canaloplasty and trabeculectomy for treatment of glaucoma. We searched the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, PubMed, Web of Science, and WanFang databases for potentially eligible studies. Pooled risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated using random- or fixed-effect models if appropriate. Eight studies were included for meta-analysis. There was no difference in intraocular pressure at 6 months (WMD = 0.97, 95%CI: -0.48-2.41). Intraocular pressure in canaloplasty group 12 months after operation was higher than in trabeculectomy group (WMD = 1.90, 95%CI: 0.12-3.69), P < 0.05). The canaloplasty group showed higher success rate than trabeculectomy group (RR = 0.86, 95%CI: 0.77-0.97). The canaloplasty group was more likely to have hyphema (RR = 2.96, 95%CI: 1.51-5.83), P < 0.05) than trabeculectomy group (RR = 0.24, 95, CI(0.06-0.89), P < 0.05]. The incidence of and hypotony and postoperative choroid abnormalities in canaloplasty group was significantly lower than that in trabeculectomy group (RR = 0.30, 95%CI: 0.11-0.83; RR = 0.24, 95%CI: 0.09-0.66), P < 0.05). Both trabeculectomy and canaloplasty can significantly reduce the intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients at 12 months after operation, trabeculectomy leads a more marked IOP decrease than canaloplasty at the cost of a higher complication rate and more demanding for postoperative care.

Concepts: Medical statistics, Intraocular pressure, Glaucoma, Ophthalmology, Confidence interval, Trabecular meshwork, Trabeculectomy


Suppressed adaptive immune function is one of the major concerns responsible for the development of opportunistic infections and subsequent sepsis with high mortality in severe burns. Endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) is the endogenous self-protective mechanism, and it plays an important role in almost every process of living by regulating the balance between homeostasis and apoptosis. The current study investigated the involvement of ERS in the pathogenesis of dysfunction of dendritic cells (DCs) in burn mice. Our results show a significant ERS response in splenic DC after burn injury. Treatment with salubrinal (Sal, reported to protect cells against ERS-induced apoptosis.) decrease the apoptotic rate of DC induced by burns, and promote maturation and activation of DC, as well as the ability to promote T cell proliferation and polarization towards Th1 immunity (all P<0.05). Gene silence of XBP-1 (key molecular in ERS response) results in the increased apoptosis and suppressed phenotypical maturation of splenic DC in burn mice. These results show that the excessive ERS is essential for immunosuppression during severe thermal injury. XBP-1 plays a pivotal role in DC functional immunomodulation in burn mice. Inhibition of apoptotic ERS response benefits mice from major burns.

Concepts: AIDS, Immune system, Gene, Bacteria, Endoplasmic reticulum, Apoptosis, Immunology, Dendritic cell


Obesity is involved in tumor progression. However, the corresponding mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here, we report that adipocytes increase the invasive ability of tumor cells by producing exosomes with a high level of MMP3. Compared with 3T3-L1 cells, 3T3-L1 adipocytes are enriched in MMP3 protein and can transfer MMP3 to 3LL lung cancer cells. Then, MMP3 activates MMP9 activity in 3LL cells and promotes invasion in vitro and in vivo via MMP9. Furthermore, MMP3 protein levels in lung tumor tissues from obese patients are increased compared with those of non-obese patients. In addition, MMP3 protein levels are positively correlated with MMP9 activity in tumor tissues. Therefore, our results reveal a novel mechanism in the adipocyte-derived exosome-mediated promotion of lung tumor metastasis, which extends our knowledge regarding obesity and tumor progression.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Obesity, Prostate cancer, Neoplasm


BRCA1 and BRCA2 are essential for the repair of double-strand DNA breaks, and alterations in these genes are a hallmark of breast and ovarian carcinomas. Other functionally related genes may also play important roles in carcinogenesis. Amplification of EMSY, a putative BRCAness gene, has been suggested to impair DNA damage repair by suppressing BRCA2 function. We employed direct repeat GFP (DR-GFP) and RAD51 foci formation assays to show that EMSY overexpression impairs the repair of damaged DNA, suggesting that EMSY belongs to the family of BRCAness proteins. We also identified a novel phospho-site at threonine 207 (T207) and demonstrated its role in EMSY-driven suppression of DNA damage repair. In vitro kinase assays established that protein kinase A (PKA) directly phosphorylates the T207 phospho-site. Immunoprecipitation experiments suggest that EMSY-driven suppression of DNA damage repair is a BRCA2-independent process. The data also suggest that EMSY amplification is a BRCAness feature, and may help to expand the population of patients who could benefit from targeted therapies that are also effective in BRCA1/2-mutant cancers.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, DNA repair, Protein kinase, BRCA2, BRCA1


The results of clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of HER2 inhibitors in patients with breast cancer indicate that the correlation between HER2 receptor levels and patient outcomes is as low as 50%. The relatively weak correlation between HER2 status and response to HER2-targeting drugs suggests that measurement of HER2 signaling activity, rather than absolute HER2 levels, may more accurately diagnose HER2-driven breast cancer. A new diagnostic test, the CELx HER2 Signaling Profile (CELx HSP) test, is demonstrated to measure real-time HER2 signaling function in live primary cells. In the present study, epithelial cells extracted fresh from breast cancer patient tumors classified as HER2 negative (HER2-, n = 34 of which 33 were estrogen receptor positive) and healthy subjects (n = 16) were evaluated along with reference breast cancer cell lines (n = 19). Live cell response to specific HER2 agonists (NRG1b and EGF) and antagonist (pertuzumab) was measured. Of the HER2- breast tumor cell samples tested, 7 of 34 patients (20.5%; 95% CI = 10%-37%) had HER2 signaling activity that was characterized as abnormally high. Amongst the tumor samples there was no correlation between HER2 protein status (by cell cytometry) and HER2 signaling activity (hyperactive or normal) (Regression analysis P = 0.144, R2 = 0.068). One conclusion is that measurement of HER2 signaling activity can identify a subset of breast cancers with normal HER2 receptor levels with abnormally high levels of HER2 signaling. This result constitutes a new subtype of breast cancer that should be considered for treatment with HER2 pathway inhibitors.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Cancer staging, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm