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Ewing sarcomas are rare mesenchymal-derived bone and soft tissue tumors in children. Afflicted children with distant metastases have poor survival despite aggressive therapeutics. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in epithelial carcinomas is associated with loss of E-cadherin and resistance to apoptosis. ML327 is a novel small molecule that we have previously shown to reverse epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition features in both epithelial and neural crest-derived cancers. Herein, we sought to evaluate the effects of ML327 on mesenchymal-derived Ewing sarcoma cells, hypothesizing that ML327 initiates growth arrest and sensitizes to TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. ML327 induced protein expression changes, increased E-cadherin and decreased vimentin, consistent with partial induction of mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition in multiple Ewing Sarcoma cell lines (SK-N-MC, TC71, and ES-5838). Induction of epithelial features was associated with apoptosis, as demonstrated by PARP and Caspase 3 cleavage by immunoblotting. Cell cycle analysis validated these findings by marked induction of the subG cell population. In vitro combination treatment with TRAIL demonstrated additive induction of apoptotic markers. Taken together, these findings establish a rationale for further in vivo trials of ML327 in cells of mesenchymal origin both alone and in combination with TRAIL.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Basal-like/triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are among the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, and disproportionally affects young premenopausal women and women of African descent. Patients with TNBC suffer a poor prognosis due in part to a lack of molecularly targeted therapies, which represents a critical barrier for effective treatment. Here, we identify EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase as a clinically relevant target for TNBC. EphA2 expression is enriched in the basal-like molecular subtype in human breast cancers. Loss of EphA2 function in both human and genetically engineered mouse models of TNBC reduced tumor growth in culture and in vivo. Mechanistically, targeting EphA2 impaired cell cycle progression through S-phase via downregulation of c-Myc and stabilization of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27/KIP1. A small molecule kinase inhibitor of EphA2 effectively suppressed tumor cell growth in vivo, including TNBC patient-derived xenografts. Thus, our data identify EphA2 as a novel molecular target for TNBC.
BACKGROUND - Development of treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is hampered by a lack of mechanistic understanding about this prevalent neuropsychiatric condition. Although circuit changes such as elevated frontostriatal activity are linked to OCD, the underlying molecular signaling that drives OCD-related behaviors remains largely unknown. Here, we examine the significance of type 5 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR5s) for behavioral and circuit abnormalities relevant to OCD.
METHODS - Sapap3 knockout (KO) mice treated acutely with an mGluR5 antagonist were evaluated for OCD-relevant phenotypes of self-grooming, anxiety-like behaviors, and increased striatal activity. The role of mGluR5 in the striatal circuit abnormalities of Sapap3 KO mice was further explored using two-photon calcium imaging to monitor striatal output from the direct and indirect pathways. A contribution of constitutive signaling to increased striatal mGluR5 activity in Sapap3 KO mice was investigated using pharmacologic and biochemical approaches. Finally, sufficiency of mGluR5 to drive OCD-like behavior in wild-type mice was tested by potentiating mGluR5 with a positive allosteric modulator.
RESULTS - Excessive mGluR5 signaling underlies OCD-like behaviors and striatal circuit abnormalities in Sapap3 KO mice. Accordingly, enhancing mGluR5 activity acutely recapitulates these behavioral phenotypes in wild-type mice. In Sapap3 KO mice, elevated mGluR5 signaling is associated with constitutively active receptors and increased and imbalanced striatal output that is acutely corrected by antagonizing striatal mGluR5.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings demonstrate a causal role for increased mGluR5 signaling in driving striatal output abnormalities and behaviors with relevance to OCD and show the tractability of acute mGluR5 inhibition to remedy circuit and behavioral abnormalities.
Copyright © 2016 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Despite the success of treating EGFR-mutant lung cancer patients with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), all patients eventually acquire resistance to these therapies. Although various resistance mechanisms have been described, there are currently no FDA-approved therapies that target alternative mechanisms to treat lung tumors with acquired resistance to first-line EGFR TKI agents. Here we found that EPHA2 is overexpressed in EGFR TKI-resistant tumor cells. Loss of EPHA2 reduced the viability of erlotinib-resistant tumor cells harboring EGFR(T790M) mutations in vitro and inhibited tumor growth and progression in an inducible EGFR(L858R+T790M)-mutant lung cancer model in vivo. Targeting EPHA2 in erlotinib-resistant cells decreased S6K1-mediated phosphorylation of cell death agonist BAD, resulting in reduced tumor cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. Furthermore, pharmacologic inhibition of EPHA2 by the small-molecule inhibitor ALW-II-41-27 decreased both survival and proliferation of erlotinib-resistant tumor cells and inhibited tumor growth in vivo. ALW-II-41-27 was also effective in decreasing viability of cells with acquired resistance to the third-generation EGFR TKI AZD9291. Collectively, these data define a role for EPHA2 in the maintenance of cell survival of TKI-resistant, EGFR-mutant lung cancer and indicate that EPHA2 may serve as a useful therapeutic target in TKI-resistant tumors.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.
Transcriptional repression of E-cadherin is a hallmark of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and is associated with cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Understanding the mechanisms underlying E-cadherin repression during EMT may provide insights into the development of novel targeted therapeutics for cancer. Here, we report on the chemical probe, ML327, which de-represses E-cadherin transcription, partially reverses EMT, and inhibits cancer cell invasiveness and tumor cell migration in vitro and in vivo. Induction of E-cadherin mRNA expression by ML327 treatment does not require de novo protein synthesis. RNA sequencing analysis revealed that ML327 treatment significantly alters expression of over 2,500 genes within three hours in the presence of the translational inhibitor, cycloheximide. Network analysis reveals Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4-alpha (HNF4α) as the most significant upstream transcriptional regulator of multiple genes whose expressions were altered by ML327 treatment. Further, small interfering RNA-mediated depletion of HNF4α markedly attenuates the E-cadherin expression response to ML327. In summary, ML327 represents a valuable tool to understand mechanisms of EMT and may provide the basis for a novel targeted therapeutic strategy for carcinomas.
INTRODUCTION - A combination of cetuximab and sorafenib in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) were assessed for potential benefit.
MATERIAL AND METHODS - In a randomized phase II study, R/M HNSCC patients were treated with cetuximab 400mg/m(2) IV on day 1 followed by 250mg/m(2) IV weekly (Arm A), or cetuximab at the same dose/schedule plus sorafenib 400mg PO twice-a-day (Arm B). Each cycle was 21days. Tumor p16 and HPV status, and plasma immunomodulatory cytokine levels were assessed.
RESULTS - Of 55 patients enrolled (Arm A-27, Arm B-28), 52 patients received assigned treatments and 43 were evaluable for response. Overall response rate was 8% for both arms. Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were 9.0 and 3.0months in Arm A, and 5.7 and 3.2months in Arm B, respectively. Forty-four patients had tumors available for p16 staining (35-negative, 9-positive). Three of nine p16-positive tumors were also HPV positive. The p16-negative patients had significantly better PFS compared to the p16-positive patients (3.7 vs. 1.6months; p-value: 0.03), regardless of study arms. Twenty-four plasma samples were tested for 12 cytokine levels and patients with higher TGFβ1 levels had inferior PFS compared to lower levels (1.9 vs. 4.7months; adjusted p-value: 0.015), regardless of study arms.
CONCLUSIONS - A subset of R/M patients with p16-negative tumors or lower plasma TGFβ1 levels had longer PFS given the cetuximab-based therapy. However, both arms showed only modest response and sorafenib given with cetuximab did not demonstrate clinical benefit.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Activation of a catalyst [IrCl(COD)(IMes)] (IMes = 1,3-bis(2,4,6-trimethylphenyl)imidazol-2-ylidene; COD = cyclooctadiene)] for signal amplification by reversible exchange (SABRE) was monitored by in situ hyperpolarized proton NMR at 9.4 T. During the catalyst-activation process, the COD moiety undergoes hydrogenation that leads to its complete removal from the Ir complex. A transient hydride intermediate of the catalyst is observed via its hyperpolarized signatures, which could not be detected using conventional nonhyperpolarized solution NMR. SABRE enhancement of the pyridine substrate can be fully rendered only after removal of the COD moiety; failure to properly activate the catalyst in the presence of sufficient substrate can lead to irreversible deactivation consistent with oligomerization of the catalyst molecules. Following catalyst activation, results from selective RF-saturation studies support the hypothesis that substrate polarization at high field arises from nuclear cross-relaxation with hyperpolarized (1)H spins of the hydride/orthohydrogen spin bath. Importantly, the chemical changes that accompanied the catalyst's full activation were also found to endow the catalyst with water solubility, here used to demonstrate SABRE hyperpolarization of nicotinamide in water without the need for any organic cosolvent--paving the way to various biomedical applications of SABRE hyperpolarization methods.
Allosteric modulators of the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGlu5) have exciting potential as therapeutic agents for multiple brain disorders. Translational studies with mGlu5 modulators have relied on mGlu5 allosteric site positron emission tomography (PET) radioligands to assess receptor occupancy in the brain. However, recent structural and modeling studies suggest that closely related mGlu5 allosteric modulators can bind to overlapping but not identical sites, which could complicate interpretation of in vivo occupancy data, even when PET ligands and drug leads are developed from the same chemical scaffold. We now report that systemic administration of the novel mGlu5 positive allosteric modulator VU0092273 displaced the structurally related mGlu5 PET ligand, [(18)F]FPEB, with measures of in vivo occupancy that closely aligned with its in vivo efficacy. In contrast, a close analog of VU0092273 and [(18)F]FPEB, VU0360172, provided robust efficacy in rodent models in the absence of detectable occupancy. Furthermore, a structurally unrelated mGlu5 negative allosteric modulator, VU0409106, displayed measures of in vivo occupancy that correlated well with behavioral effects, despite the fact that VU0409106 is structurally unrelated to [(18)F]FPEB. Interestingly, all three compounds inhibit radioligand binding to the prototypical MPEP/FPEB allosteric site in vitro. However, VU0092273 and VU0409106 bind to this site in a fully competitive manner, whereas the interaction of VU0360172 is noncompetitive. Thus, while close structural similarity between PET ligands and drug leads does not circumvent issues associated with differential binding to a given target, detailed molecular pharmacology analysis accurately predicts utility of ligand pairs for in vivo occupancy studies.
Acute treatment with positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of mGlu1 and mGlu5 metabotropic glutamate receptors (RO0711401 and VU0360172, respectively) reduces the incidence of spike-and wave discharges in the WAG/Rij rat model of absence epilepsy. However, from the therapeutic standpoint, it was important to establish whether tolerance developed to the action of these drugs. We administered either VU0360172 (3 mg/kg, s.c.) or RO0711401 (10 mg/kg, s.c.) to WAG/Rij rats twice daily for ten days. VU0360172 maintained its activity during the treatment, whereas rats developed tolerance to RO0711401 since the 3rd day of treatment and were still refractory to the drug two days after treatment withdrawal. In response to VU0360172, expression of mGlu5 receptors increased in the thalamus of WAG/Rij rats after 1 day of treatment, and remained elevated afterwards. VU0360172 also enhanced mGlu5 receptor expression in the cortex after 8 days of treatment without changing the expression of mGlu1a receptors. Treatment with RO0711401 enhanced the expression of both mGlu1a and mGlu5 receptors in the thalamus and cortex of WAG/Rij rats after 3-8 days of treatment. These data were different from those obtained in non-epileptic rats, in which repeated injections of RO0711401 and VU0360172 down-regulated the expression of mGlu1a and mGlu5 receptors. Levels of VU0360172 in the thalamus and cortex remained unaltered during the treatment, whereas levels of RO0711401 were reduced in the cortex at day 8 of treatment. These findings suggest that mGlu5 receptor PAMs are potential candidates for the treatment of absence epilepsy in humans.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This trial was designed to assess efficacy and safety of erlotinib with sorafenib in the treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. An exploratory correlative study analyzing pretreatment serum samples using a multivariate protein mass spectrometry-based test (VeriStrat®), previously shown to correlate with outcomes in lung cancer patients treated with erlotinib, was performed. Patients received sorafenib 400 mg daily along with erlotinib 150 mg daily with a primary endpoint of 8-week progression free survival (PFS) rate. Pretreatment serum sample analysis by VeriStrat was done blinded to clinical and outcome data; the endpoints were PFS and overall survival (OS). Difference between groups (by VeriStrat classification) was assessed using log-rank P values; hazard ratios (HR) were obtained from Cox proportional hazards model. Thirty-six patients received study drug and were included in the survival analysis. Eight-week PFS rate of 46% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.32-0.67) did not meet the primary endpoint of a rate ≥70%. Thirty-two patients were included in the correlative analysis, and VeriStrat "Good" patients had superior PFS (HR = 0.18, 95% CI: 0.06-0.57; P = 0.001) and OS (HR = 0.31 95% CI: 0.13-0.77, P = 0.008) compared to VeriStrat "Poor" patients. Grade 3 toxicities of this regimen included fever, anemia, diarrhea, dehydration, rash, and altered liver function. This study did not meet the primary endpoint, and this combination will not be further pursued. In this small retrospective analysis, the proteomic classification was significantly associated with clinical outcomes and is being further evaluated in ongoing studies.
© 2014 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.