Publications by authors named "James R Vasselli"

12 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Lack of a functional VHL gene product sensitizes renal cell carcinoma cells to the apoptotic effects of the protein synthesis inhibitor verrucarin A.

Neoplasia 2012 Aug;14(8):771-7

Basic Science Program, SAIC-Frederick, Inc, Molecular Targets Laboratory, Frederick National Lab, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.

Verrucarin A (VA) is a small molecule derived from the fungal plant pathogen Myrothecium verrucaria and was identified as a selective inhibitor of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC) cell proliferation in a high-throughput screen of a library of naturally occurring small molecules. CCRCC arises as a result of loss-of-function mutations in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene. Here we show that VA inhibits protein translation initiation culminating in apoptosis through the extrinsic signaling pathway. Reintroduction of the VHL gene in CCRCC cells afforded resistance to VA's apoptotic effects. This resistance is mediated in part by the formation of stress granules that entrap signaling molecules that initiate the apoptotic signaling cascade. The VHL gene product was found to be a component of stress granules that develop as result of VA treatment. These findings reveal an important role for the VHL gene product in cytotoxic stress response and have important implications for the rational development of VA-related compounds in chemotherapeutic targeting of CCRCC.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3431183PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1593/neo.12852DOI Listing
August 2012

Vandetanib in patients with locally advanced or metastatic medullary thyroid cancer: a randomized, double-blind phase III trial.

J Clin Oncol 2012 Jan 24;30(2):134-41. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Medical Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 13N-240E MSC 1206, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Purpose: There is no effective therapy for patients with advanced medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). Vandetanib, a once-daily oral inhibitor of RET kinase, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, and epidermal growth factor receptor signaling, has previously shown antitumor activity in a phase II study of patients with advanced hereditary MTC.

Patients And Methods: Patients with advanced MTC were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive vandetanib 300 mg/d or placebo. On objective disease progression, patients could elect to receive open-label vandetanib. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS), determined by independent central Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) assessments.

Results: Between December 2006 and November 2007, 331 patients (mean age, 52 years; 90% sporadic; 95% metastatic) were randomly assigned to receive vandetanib (231) or placebo (100). At data cutoff (July 2009; median follow-up, 24 months), 37% of patients had progressed and 15% had died. The study met its primary objective of PFS prolongation with vandetanib versus placebo (hazard ratio [HR], 0.46; 95% CI, 0.31 to 0.69; P < .001). Statistically significant advantages for vandetanib were also seen for objective response rate (P < .001), disease control rate (P = .001), and biochemical response (P < .001). Overall survival data were immature at data cutoff (HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.48 to 1.65). A final survival analysis will take place when 50% of the patients have died. Common adverse events (any grade) occurred more frequently with vandetanib compared with placebo, including diarrhea (56% v 26%), rash (45% v 11%), nausea (33% v 16%), hypertension (32% v 5%), and headache (26% v 9%).

Conclusion: Vandetanib demonstrated therapeutic efficacy in a phase III trial of patients with advanced MTC (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00410761).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2011.35.5040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3675689PMC
January 2012

Von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene loss in renal cell carcinoma promotes oncogenic epidermal growth factor receptor signaling via Akt-1 and MEK-1.

Eur Urol 2008 Oct 16;54(4):845-53. Epub 2008 Jan 16.

Urologic Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Objectives: Clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most prevalent form of kidney cancer and is frequently associated with loss of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene function, resulting in the aberrant transcriptional activation of genes that contribute to tumor growth and metastasis, including transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), a ligand of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase. To determine the functional impact of EGFR activation on RCC, we suppressed critical components of this pathway: EGFR, Akt-1, and MEK-1.

Methods: Stable transfection of RCC cells with plasmids bearing shRNA directed against each of these genes was used to individually suppress their expression. Transfectants were characterized for growth and invasiveness in vitro and tumorigenesis in vivo.

Results: RCC cell transfectants displayed significantly reduced growth rate and matrix invasion in vitro and RCC tumor xenograft growth rate in vivo. Analysis of tumor cells that emerged after extended periods in each model showed that significant EGFR suppression was sustained, whereas Akt-1 and MEK-1 knock-down cells had escaped shRNA suppression.

Conclusions: EGFR, Akt-1, and MEK-1 are individually critical for RCC cell invasiveness in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo, and even partial suppression of each can have a significant impact on tumor progression. The emergence of transfectants that had escaped Akt-1 and MEK-1 suppression during tumorigenicity experiments suggests that these effectors may each be more critical than EGFR for RCC tumorigenesis, consistent with results from clinical trials of EGFR inhibitors for RCC, where durable clinical responses have not been seen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2008.01.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2596938PMC
October 2008

Inhibition of tumor metastasis by a growth factor receptor bound protein 2 Src homology 2 domain-binding antagonist.

Cancer Res 2007 Jul;67(13):6012-6

Urologic Oncology Branch, Medical Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1107, USA.

Metastasis, the primary cause of death in most forms of cancer, is a multistep process whereby cells from the primary tumor spread systemically and colonize distant new sites. Blocking critical steps in this process could potentially inhibit tumor metastasis and dramatically improve cancer survival rates; however, our understanding of metastasis at the molecular level is still rudimentary. Growth factor receptor binding protein 2 (Grb2) is a widely expressed adapter protein with roles in epithelial cell growth and morphogenesis, as well as angiogenesis, making it a logical target for anticancer drug development. We have previously shown that a potent antagonist of Grb2 Src homology-2 domain-binding, C90, blocks growth factor-driven cell motility in vitro and angiogenesis in vivo. We now report that C90 inhibits metastasis in vivo in two aggressive tumor models, without affecting primary tumor growth rate. These results support the potential efficacy of this compound in reducing the metastatic spread of primary solid tumors and establish a critical role for Grb2 Src homology-2 domain-mediated interactions in this process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-0022DOI Listing
July 2007

Development of a cell-based reporter assay for screening of inhibitors of hypoxia-inducible factor 2-induced gene expression.

J Biomol Screen 2006 Sep 20;11(6):678-87. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

National Cancer Institute, Molecular Targets Development Program, Center for Cancer Research, Frederick, Maryland 21702, USA.

Reporter cell lines have been developed for the identification of inhibitors of gene expression enhanced by hypoxia-inducible factor 2, which has been implicated as a transcription factor involved in the tumorigenesis of clear cell renal carcinoma. Stably transformed reporter clones of the human renal clear cell carcinoma cell line 786-O were generated by transfection or retroviral infection. Luciferase reporter expression in the vectors used was driven by either the natural human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) promoter-enhancer or by the VEGF and the human endothelial nitric oxide synthase enhancers modulating minimal human cytomegalovirus promoter. Utility of the generated reporter cell lines was validated by introducing the von Hippel-Lindau protein complex and testing for reporter inducibility by hypoxia. The dynamic range in reporter activity under hypoxic stress was found to be at least 30- to 40-fold, with a signal-to-noise ratio of 60:1. Properties of the cell lines such as tolerance to up to 3% DMSO, signal stability with multiple in vitro passages, and utility in both 96- and 384-well plate formats indicated their suitability for use in a high-throughput screen. In addition, the potential use of these reporter lines in the evaluation of high-throughput screening hits in vivo in various mice models has been demonstrated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087057106289234DOI Listing
September 2006

Cancers as wounds that do not heal: differences and similarities between renal regeneration/repair and renal cell carcinoma.

Cancer Res 2006 Jul;66(14):7216-24

Laboratory of Biosystems and Cancer, Comparative Oncology Program, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

Cancers have been described as wounds that do not heal, suggesting that the two share common features. By comparing microarray data from a model of renal regeneration and repair (RRR) with reported gene expression in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), we asked whether those two processes do, in fact, share molecular features and regulatory mechanisms. The majority (77%) of the genes expressed in RRR and RCC were concordantly regulated, whereas only 23% were discordant (i.e., changed in opposite directions). The orchestrated processes of regeneration, involving cell proliferation and immune response, were reflected in the concordant genes. The discordant gene signature revealed processes (e.g., morphogenesis and glycolysis) and pathways (e.g., hypoxia-inducible factor and insulin-like growth factor-I) that reflect the intrinsic pathologic nature of RCC. This is the first study that compares gene expression patterns in RCC and RRR. It does so, in particular, with relation to the hypothesis that RCC resembles the wound healing processes seen in RRR. However, careful attention to the genes that are regulated in the discordant direction provides new insights into the critical differences between renal carcinogenesis and wound healing. The observations reported here provide a conceptual framework for further efforts to understand the biology and to develop more effective diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic strategies for renal tumors and renal ischemia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-0040DOI Listing
July 2006

The in vitro and in vivo effects of re-expressing methylated von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene in clear cell renal carcinoma with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine.

Clin Cancer Res 2004 Oct;10(20):7011-21

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD, USA.

Purpose: Clear cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC) is strongly associated with loss of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene. The VHL gene is functionally lost through hypermethylation in up to 19% of sporadic ccRCC cases. We theorized that re-expressing VHL silenced by methylation in ccRCC cells, using a hypo-methylating agent, may be an approach to treatment in patients with this type of cancer. We test the ability of two hypo-methylating agents to re-express VHL in cell culture and in mice bearing human ccRCC and evaluate the effects of re-expressed VHL in these models.

Experimental Design: Real-time reverse transcription-PCR was used to evaluate the ability of zebularine and 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dCyd) to re-express VHL in four ccRCC cell lines with documented VHL gene silencing through hypermethylation. We evaluated if the VHL re-expressed after hypo-methylating agent treatment could recreate similar phenotypic changes in ccRCC cells observed when the VHL gene is re-expressed via transfection in cell culture and in a xenograft mouse model. Finally we evaluate global gene expression changes occurring in our cells, using microarray analysis.

Results: 5-Aza-dCyd was able to re-express VHL in our cell lines both in culture and in xenografted murine tumors. Well described phenotypic changes of VHL expression including decreased invasiveness into Matrigel, and decreased vascular endothelial growth factor and glucose transporter-1 expression were observed in the treated lines. VHL methylated ccRCC xenografted tumors were significantly reduced in size in mice treated with 5-aza-dCyd. Mice bearing nonmethylated but VHL-mutated tumors showed no tumor shrinkage with 5-aza-dCyd treatment.

Conclusion: Hypo-methylating agents may be useful in the treatment of patients having ccRCC tumors consisting of cells with methylated VHL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-04-0516DOI Listing
October 2004

Regulation of HIF prolyl hydroxylases by hypoxia-inducible factors.

J Cell Biochem 2004 Jun;92(3):491-501

Laboratory of Biosystems and Cancer, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

Hypoxia and induction of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha) is a hallmark of many tumors. Under normal oxygen tension HIF-alpha subunits are rapidly degraded through prolyl hydroxylase dependent interaction with the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein, a component of E3 ubuiquitin ligase complex. Using microarray analysis of VHL mutated and re-introduced cells, we found that one of the prolyl hydroxylases (PHD3) is coordinately expressed with known HIF target genes, while the other two family members (PHD1 and 2) did not respond to VHL. We further tested the regulation of these genes by HIF-1 and HIF-2 and found that siRNA targeted degradation of HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha results in decreased hypoxia-induced PHD3 expression. Ectopic overexpression of HIF-2alpha in two different cell lines provided a much better induction of PHD3 gene than HIF-1alpha. In contrast, we demonstrate that PHD2 is not affected by overexpression or downregulation of HIF-2alpha. However, induction of PHD2 by hypoxia has HIF-1-independent and -dependent components. Short-term hypoxia (4 h) results in induction of PHD2 independent of HIF-1, while PHD2 accumulation by prolonged hypoxia (16 h) was decreased by siRNA-mediated degradation of HIF-1alpha subunit. These data further advance our understanding of the differential role of HIF factors and putative feedback loop in HIF regulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcb.20067DOI Listing
June 2004

Solid renal tumor severity in von Hippel Lindau disease is related to germline deletion length and location.

Hum Mutat 2004 Jan;23(1):40-6

Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

von Hippel Lindau disease (VHL) is an autosomal dominant familial cancer syndrome linked to alteration of the VHL tumor suppressor gene. Affected patients are predisposed to develop pheochromocytomas and cystic and solid tumors of the kidney, CNS, pancreas, retina, and epididymis. However, organ involvement varies considerably among families and has been shown to correlate with the underlying germline alteration. Clinically, we observed a paradoxically lower prevalence of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in patients with complete germline deletion of VHL. To determine if a relationship existed between the type of VHL deletion and disease, we retrospectively evaluated 123 patients from 55 families with large germline VHL deletions, including 42 intragenic partial deletions and 13 complete VHL deletions, by history and radiographic imaging. Each individual and family was scored for cystic or solid involvement of CNS, pancreas, and kidney, and for pheochromocytoma. Germline deletions were mapped using a combination of fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and quantitative Southern and Southern blot analysis. An age-adjusted comparison demonstrated a higher prevalence of RCC in patients with partial germline VHL deletions relative to complete deletions (48.9 vs. 22.6%, p=0.007). This striking phenotypic dichotomy was not seen for cystic renal lesions or for CNS (p=0.22), pancreas (p=0.72), or pheochromocytoma (p=0.34). Deletion mapping revealed that development of RCC had an even greater correlation with retention of HSPC300 (C3orf10), located within the 30-kb region of chromosome 3p, immediately telomeric to VHL (52.3 vs. 18.9%, p <0.001), suggesting the presence of a neighboring gene or genes critical to the development and maintenance of RCC. Careful correlation of genotypic data with objective phenotypic measures will provide further insight into the mechanisms of tumor formation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.10302DOI Listing
January 2004

Predicting survival in patients with metastatic kidney cancer by gene-expression profiling in the primary tumor.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2003 Jun 30;100(12):6958-63. Epub 2003 May 30.

Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

To identify potential molecular determinants of tumor biology and possible clinical outcomes, global gene-expression patterns were analyzed in the primary tumors of patients with metastatic renal cell cancer by using cDNA microarrays. We used grossly dissected tumor masses that included tumor, blood vessels, connective tissue, and infiltrating immune cells to obtain a gene-expression "profile" from each primary tumor. Two patterns of gene expression were found within this uniformly staged patient population, which correlated with a significant difference in overall survival between the two patient groups. Subsets of genes most significantly associated with survival were defined, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) was the gene most predictive for survival. Therefore, despite the complex biological nature of metastatic cancer, basic clinical behavior as defined by survival may be determined by the gene-expression patterns expressed within the compilation of primary gross tumor cells. We conclude that survival in patients with metastatic renal cell cancer can be correlated with the expression of various genes based solely on the expression profile in the primary kidney tumor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1131754100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC165812PMC
June 2003

The contribution of VHL substrate binding and HIF1-alpha to the phenotype of VHL loss in renal cell carcinoma.

Cancer Cell 2002 Apr;1(3):247-55

Urologic Oncology Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Clear-cell renal carcinoma is associated with inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene. VHL is the substrate recognition subunit of an E3 ligase, known to target the alpha subunits of the HIF heterodimeric transcription factor for ubiquitin-mediated degradation under normoxic conditions. We demonstrate that competitive inhibition of the VHL substrate recognition site with a peptide derived from the oxygen degradation domain of HIF1alpha recapitulates the tumorigenic phenotype of VHL-deficient tumor cells. These studies prove that VHL substrate recognition is essential to the tumor suppressor function of VHL. We further demonstrate that normoxic stabilization of HIF1alpha alone, while capable of mimicking some aspects of VHL loss, is not sufficient to reproduce tumorigenesis, indicating that it is not the critical oncogenic substrate of VHL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1535-6108(02)00044-2DOI Listing
April 2002

VHL-mediated hypoxia regulation of cyclin D1 in renal carcinoma cells.

Cancer Res 2002 Jun;62(11):3014-9

Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Renal cell carcinoma is associated with mutation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene. Cell lines derived from these tumors cannot exit the cell cycle when deprived of growth factors, and the ability to exit the cell cycle can be restored by the reintroduction of wild-type protein VHL (pVHL). Here, we report that cyclin D1 is overexpressed and remains inappropriately high in during contact inhibition in pVHL-deficient cell lines. In addition, hypoxia increased the expression of cyclin D1 specifically in pVHL-negative cell lines into which pVHL expression was restored. Hypoxic-induction of cyclin D1 was not observed in other pVHL-positive cell lines. This suggests a model whereby in some kidney cell types, pVHL may regulate a proliferative response to hypoxia, whereas the loss of pVHL leads to constitutively elevated cyclin D1 and abnormal proliferation under normal growth conditions.
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June 2002