Publications by authors named "Kevin W Harris"

23 Publications

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Lower frequency of TLR9 variant associated with protection from breast cancer among African Americans.

PLoS One 2017 8;12(9):e0183832. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, United States of America.

Introduction: Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is an innate immune system DNA-receptor that regulates tumor invasion and immunity in vitro. Low tumor TLR9 expression has been associated with poor survival in Caucasian patients with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). African American (AA) patients with TNBC have worse prognosis than Caucasians but whether this is due to differences in tumor biology remains controversial. We studied the prognostic significance of tumor Toll like receptor-9 (TLR9) protein expression among African American (AA) triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. Germline TLR9 variants in European Americans (EAs) and AAs were investigated, to determine their contribution to AA breast cancer risk.

Methods: TLR9 expression was studied with immunohistochemistry in archival tumors. Exome Variant Server and The Cancer Genome Atlas were used to determine the genetic variation in the general EA and AA populations, and AA breast cancer cases. Minor allele frequencies (MAFs) were compared between EAs (n = 4300), AAs (n = 2203), and/or AA breast cancer cases (n = 131).

Results: Thirty-two TLR9 variants had a statistically significant MAF difference between general EAs and AAs. Twenty-one of them affect a CpG site. Rs352140, a variant previously associated with protection from breast cancer, is more common in EAs than AAs (p = 2.20E-16). EAs had more synonymous alleles, while AAs had more rare coding alleles. Similar analyses comparing AA breast cancer cases with AA controls did not reveal any variant class differences; however, three previously unreported TLR9 variants were associated with late onset breast cancer. Although not statistically significant, rs352140 was observed less frequently in AA cases compared to controls. Tumor TLR9 protein expression was not associated with prognosis.

Conclusions: Tumor TLR9 expression is not associated with prognosis in AA TNBC. Significant differences were detected in TLR9 variant MAFs between EAs and AAs. They may affect TLR9 expression and function. Rs352140, which may protect from breast cancer, is 1.6 X more common among EAs. These findings call for a detailed analysis of the contribution of TLR9 to breast cancer pathophysiology and health disparities.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0183832PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590816PMC
October 2017

Toll-like receptor 9 expression is associated with breast cancer sensitivity to the growth inhibitory effects of bisphosphonates in vitro and in vivo.

Oncotarget 2016 Dec;7(52):87373-87389

Department of Chemistry, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, U.S.A.

Bisphosphonates are standard treatments for bone metastases. When given in the adjuvant setting, they reduce breast cancer mortality and recurrence in bone but only among post-menopausal patients. Optimal drug use would require biomarker-based patient selection. Such biomarkers are not yet in clinical use. Based on the similarities in inflammatory responses to bisphosphonates and Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists, we hypothesized that TLR9 expression may affect bisphosphonate responses in cells. We compared bisphosphonate effects in breast cancer cell lines with low or high TLR9 expression. We discovered that cells with decreased TLR9 expression are significantly more sensitive to the growth-inhibitory effects of bisphosphonates in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, cancer growth-promoting effects seen with some bisphosphonates in some control shRNA cells were not detected in TLR9 shRNA cells. These differences were not associated with inhibition of Rap1A prenylation or p38 phosphorylation, which are known markers for bisphosphonate activity. However, TLR9 shRNA cells exhibited increased sensitivity to ApppI, a metabolite that accumulates in cells after bisphosphonate treatment. We conclude that decreased TLR9-expression sensitizes breast cancer cells to the growth inhibitory effects of bisphosphonates. Our results suggest that TLR9 should be studied as a potential biomarker for adjuvant bisphosphonate sensitivity among breast cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13570DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5349995PMC
December 2016

Telomeric G-quadruplex-forming DNA fragments induce TLR9-mediated and LL-37-regulated invasion in breast cancer cells in vitro.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2016 Jan 18;155(2):261-71. Epub 2016 Jan 18.

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.

Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is a cellular DNA-receptor widely expressed in cancers. We previously showed that synthetic and self-derived DNA fragments induce TLR9-mediated breast cancer cell invasion in vitro. We investigated here the invasive effects of two nuclease-resistant DNA fragments, a 9-mer hairpin, and a G-quadruplex DNA based on the human telomere sequence, both having native phosphodiester backbone. Cellular uptake of DNAs was investigated with immunofluorescence, invasion was studied with Matrigel-assays, and mRNA and protein expression were studied with qPCR and Western blotting and protease activity with zymograms. TLR9 expression was suppressed through siRNA. Although both DNAs induced TLR9-mediated changes in pro-invasive mRNA expression, only the telomeric G-quadruplex DNA significantly increased cellular invasion. This was inhibited with GM6001 and aprotinin, suggesting MMP- and serine protease mediation. Furthermore, complexing with LL-37, a cathelicidin-peptide present in breast cancers, increased 9-mer hairpin and G-quadruplex DNA uptake into the cancer cells. However, DNA/LL-37 complexes decreased invasion, as compared with DNA-treatment alone. Invasion studies were conducted also with DNA fragments isolated from neoadjuvant chemotherapy-treated breast tumors. Also such DNA induced breast cancer cell invasion in vitro. As with the synthetic DNAs, this invasive effect was reduced by complexing the neoadjuvant tumor-derived DNAs with LL-37. We conclude that 9-mer hairpin and G-quadruplex DNA fragments are nuclease-resistant DNA structures that can act as invasion-inducing TLR9 ligands. Their cellular uptake and the invasive effects are regulated via LL-37. Although such structures may be present in chemotherapy-treated tumors, the clinical significance of this finding requires further studying.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-016-3683-5DOI Listing
January 2016

Hypoxia regulates Toll-like receptor-9 expression and invasive function in human brain cancer cells in vitro.

Oncol Lett 2014 Jul 25;8(1):266-274. Epub 2014 Apr 25.

Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.

Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is a cellular DNA sensor of the innate immune system. TLR9 is widely expressed in a number of tumors, including brain cancer; however, little is known regarding its regulation and involvement in cancer pathophysiology. The present study demonstrated that hypoxia upregulates and downregulates TLR9 expression in human brain cancer cells , in a cell-specific manner. In addition, hypoxia-induced TLR9 upregulation was associated with hypoxia-induced invasion; however, such invasion was not detected in cells where hypoxia had suppressed TLR9 expression. Furthermore, suppression of TLR9 expression through TLR9 siRNA resulted in an upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, -9 and -13 and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-3 (TIMP-3) mRNA, and a decreased invasion of cells in normoxia, in a cell-specific manner. In cells where hypoxia induced TLR9 expression, TLR9 expression and invasion were reduced by TLR9 siRNA. The decreased invasion observed in hypoxia was associated with the decreased expression of the MMPs and a concomitant increase in TIMP-3 expression. In conclusion, hypoxia regulates the invasion of brain cancer cells in a TLR9-dependent manner, which is considered to be associated with a complex expression pattern of TLR9-regulated mediators and inhibitors of invasion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ol.2014.2095DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4063648PMC
July 2014

Chloroquine has tumor-inhibitory and tumor-promoting effects in triple-negative breast cancer.

Oncol Lett 2013 Dec 4;6(6):1665-1672. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA ; MediCity/PET Preclinical Imaging, Turku PET Centre, University of Turku, Turku 20521, Finland.

Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is an intracellular DNA receptor that is widely expressed in breast and other cancers. We previously demonstrated that low tumor TLR9 expression upon diagnosis is associated with significantly shortened disease-specific survival times in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). There are no targeted therapies for this subgroup of patients whose prognosis is among the worst in breast cancer. Due to the previously detected anti-invasive effects of chloroquine in these cell lines, the present study aimed to investigate the effects of chloroquine against two clinical subtypes of TNBC that differ in TLR9 expression. Chloroquine suppressed matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 mRNA expression and protein activity, whereas MMP-13 mRNA expression and proteolytic activity were increased. Despite enhancing TLR9 mRNA expression, chloroquine suppressed TLR9 protein expression . Daily treatment of mice with intraperitoneal (i.p.) chloroquine (80 mg/kg/day) for 22 days, did not inhibit the growth of control siRNA or TLR9 siRNA MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. In conclusion, despite the favorable effects on TNBC invasion and viability, particularly in hypoxic conditions, chloroquine does not prevent the growth of the triple-negative MDA-MB-231 cells with high or low TLR9 expression levels . This may be explained by the activating effects of chloroquine on MMP-13 expression or by the fact that chloroquine, by suppressing TLR9 expression, permits the activation of currently unknown molecular pathways, which allow the aggressive behavior of TNBC cells with low TLR9 expression in hypoxia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ol.2013.1602DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835157PMC
December 2013

DNA from dead cancer cells induces TLR9-mediated invasion and inflammation in living cancer cells.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2013 Dec 10;142(3):477-87. Epub 2013 Nov 10.

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, SHEL 514, 1825 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL, 35294-3300, USA.

TLR9 is a cellular DNA-receptor, which is widely expressed in breast and other cancers. Although synthetic TLR9-ligands induce cancer cell invasion in vitro, the role of TLR9 in cancer pathophysiology has remained unclear. We show here that living cancer cells uptake DNA from chemotherapy-killed cancer cells. We discovered that such DNA induces TLR9- and cathepsin-mediated invasion in living cancer cells. To study whether this phenomenon contributes to treatment responses, triple-negative, human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells stably expressing control, or TLR9 siRNA were inoculated orthotopically into nude mice. The mice were treated with vehicle or doxorubicin. The tumor groups exhibited equal decreases in size in response to doxorubicin. However, while the weights of vehicle-treated mice were similar, mice bearing control siRNA tumors became significantly more cachectic in response to doxorubicin, as compared with similarly treated mice bearing TLR9 siRNA tumors, suggesting a TLR9-mediated inflammation at the site of the tumor. In conclusion, our findings propose that DNA released from chemotherapy-killed cancer cells has significant influence on TLR9-mediated biological effects in living cancer cells. Through these mechanisms, tumor TLR9 expression may affect treatment responses to chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-013-2762-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4238912PMC
December 2013

Low TLR9 expression defines an aggressive subtype of triple-negative breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012 Sep 31;135(2):481-93. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, SHEL 514, 1825 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35294-3300, USA.

Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is a DNA receptor widely expressed in cancers. Although synthetic TLR9 ligands induce cancer cell invasion in vitro, the role of TLR9 in cancer pathophysiology is unclear. We discovered that low tumor TLR9 expression is associated with significantly shortened disease-specific survival in patients with triple negative but not with ER+ breast cancers. A likely mechanism of this clinical finding involves differential responses to hypoxia. Our pre-clinical studies indicate that while TLR9 expression is hypoxia-regulated, low TLR9 expression has different effects on triple negative and ER+ breast cancer invasion in hypoxia. Hypoxia-induced invasion is augmented by TLR9 siRNA in triple negative, but not in ER+ breast cancer cells. This is possibly due to differential TLR9-regulated TIMP-3 expression, which remains detectable in ER+ cells but disappears from triple-negative TLR9 siRNA cells in hypoxia. Our results demonstrate a novel role for this innate immunity receptor in cancer biology and suggest that TLR9 expression may be a novel marker for triple-negative breast cancer patients who are at a high risk of relapse. Furthermore, these results suggest that interventions or events, which induce hypoxia or down-regulate TLR9 expression in triple-negative breast cancer cells may actually induce their spread.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-012-2181-7DOI Listing
September 2012

Distinct classes of c-Kit-activating mutations differ in their ability to promote RUNX1-ETO-associated acute myeloid leukemia.

Blood 2012 Feb 21;119(6):1522-31. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.

The t(8;21) RUNX1-ETO translocation is one of the most frequent cytogenetic abnormalities in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In RUNX1-ETO(+) patient samples, differing classes of activating c-KIT receptor tyrosine kinase mutations have been observed. The most common (12%-48%) involves mutations, such as D816V, which occur in the tyrosine kinase domain, whereas another involves mutations within exon 8 in a region mediating receptor dimerization (2%-13% of cases). To test whether distinct subtypes of activating c-KIT mutations differ in their leukemogenic potential in association with RUNX1-ETO, we used a retroviral transduction/transplantation model to coexpress RUNX1-ETO with either c-Kit(D814V) or c-Kit(T417IΔ418-419) in murine hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells used to reconstitute lethally irradiated mice. Analysis of reconstituted animals showed that RUNX1-ETO;c-Kit(D814V) coexpression resulted in 3 nonoverlapping phenotypes. In 45% of animals, a transplantable AML of relatively short latency and frequent granulocytic sarcoma was noted. Other mice exhibited a rapidly fatal myeloproliferative phenotype (35%) or a lethal, short-latency pre-B-cell leukemia (20%). In contrast, RUNX1-ETO;c-Kit(T417IΔ418-419) coexpression promoted exclusively AML in a fraction (51%) of reconstituted mice. These observations indicate that c-Kit(D814V) promotes a more varied and aggressive leukemic phenotype than c-Kit(T417IΔ418-419), which may be the result of differing potencies of the activating c-Kit alleles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2011-02-338228DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3286215PMC
February 2012

Estrogen receptor-α and sex steroid hormones regulate Toll-like receptor-9 expression and invasive function in human breast cancer cells.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012 Apr 24;132(2):411-9. Epub 2011 May 24.

Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.

Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is a cellular DNA-receptor, which is widely expressed in cancer. Synthetic TLR9-ligands induce cancer cell invasion in vitro, but the role of TLR9 in cancer pathophysiology remains unclear. Increased TLR9 expression has been, however, detected in estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancers. In this study, we investigated the effects of ERα expression and sex steroid hormones on TLR9 expression in human ER+ (MCF-7, T47-D) and ER- (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cell lines in vitro. We also studied TLR9 mRNA expression in archival breast cancer specimens (n = 12) with qRT-PCR, using primer sets that detect only the TLR9A isoform or the isoforms A and B (TLR9A/B). The TLR9 mRNA expression was detected in 10/12 specimens with both primer sets, and in 1/12 with only the TLR9A or the TLR9A/B primer sets. The basal TLR9 mRNA expression levels were significantly lower in the ER+ cell lines as compared with the ER- MDA-MB-231 cells. The transfection of ERα cDNA into MDA-MB-231 cells also resulted in down-regulation of TLR9 expression. While sex steroids had no effect on TLR9 expression in MCF-7 cells, testosterone (10(-8) M) induced TLR9 expression in MDA-MB-231 and T47-D cells. Although bicalutamide blocked this testosterone effect in MDA-MB-231 cells, in T47-D cells bicalutamide increased TLR9 expression and only partially blocked the testosterone effects. Estradiol (10(-8) M) induced TLR9 expression in T47-D cells. The invasive effects of synthetic TLR9-ligands were augmented by testosterone in vitro. This effect was lost in TLR9 siRNA MDA-MB-231 cells and also decreased by over-expression of ERα, which also inhibited NF-κB activation by TLR9-ligands. In conclusion, expression of TLR9 isoforms A and B can be detected in clinical breast cancer specimens. The ERα and sex steroid hormones regulate TLR9 expression and invasive effects in the breast cancer cells. Also, the commonly used hormonal cancer therapy bicalutamide affects TLR9 expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-011-1590-3DOI Listing
April 2012

Expression of macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 in prostate cancer bone metastases induces osteoclast activation and weight loss.

Prostate 2009 May;69(6):652-61

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-3300, USA.

Background: Macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1) belongs to the bone morphogenic protein/transforming growth factor-beta (BMP/TGF-beta) superfamily. Serum MIC-1 concentrations are elevated in patients with advanced prostate cancer. The effects of MIC-1 on prostate cancer bone metastases are unknown.

Methods: In vitro effects of MIC-1 on osteoblast differentiation and activity were analyzed with alkaline phosphatase and mineralization assays; osteoclast numbers were counted microscopically. MIC-1 effects on TLR9 expression were studied with Western blotting. Human Du-145 prostate cancer cells were stably transfected with a cDNA encoding for mature MIC-1 or with an empty vector. The in vivo growth characteristics of the characterized cells were studied with the intra-tibial model of bone metastasis. Tumor associated bone changes were viewed with X-rays, histology, and histomorphometry. Bone formation was assayed by measuring serum PINP.

Results: MIC-1 induced osteoblast differentiation and activity and osteoclast formation in vitro. These effects were independent of TLR9 expression, which was promoted by MIC-1. Both MIC-1 and control tumors induced mixed sclerotic/lytic bone lesions, but MIC-1 increased the osteolytic component of tumors. Osteoclast formation at the tumor-bone interface was significantly higher in the MIC-1 tumors, whereas bone formation was significantly higher in the control mice. At sacrifice, the mice bearing MIC-1 tumors were significantly lighter with significantly smaller tumors.

Conclusions: MIC-1 up-regulates TLR9 expression in various cells. MIC-1 stimulates both osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation in vitro, independently of TLR9. MIC-1 over-expressing prostate cancer cells that grow in bone induce osteoclast formation and cachexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pros.20913DOI Listing
May 2009

Toll-like receptor-9 expression is inversely correlated with estrogen receptor status in breast cancer.

J Innate Immun 2009 28;1(1):59-68. Epub 2008 Aug 28.

Department of Oncology, University Hospital of Oulu, Finland.

Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) recognizes microbial and vertebrate DNA. We previously demonstrated TLR9 expression in human breast cancer cell lines and showed that TLR9 ligands stimulate their in vitro invasion. The aim of this study was to characterize TLR9 expression in clinical breast cancer specimens. Immunohistochemical staining intensity was compared with known baseline prognostic factors and distant metastasis-free survival. TLR9 expression was detected in 98% of the tumors studied (n = 141). The mean TLR9 staining intensity was higher in ER- than in the highly ER+ breast cancers (p = 0.039). High-grade tumors had significantly increased TLR9 expression (p = 0.027) compared with lower-grade tumors. The highest TLR9 expression was detected in the mucinous and the lowest in the tubular breast cancers (p = 0.034). Distant metastasis-free survival was higher in the lower TLR9-expressing half of the cohort than in the higher TLR9-expressing group (p = 0.118). TLR9 expression did not correlate with menopausal, PgR or Her2 status, patient age, tumor proliferative or invasive characteristics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000151602DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312844PMC
August 2010

Toll-like receptor 9 mediates CpG oligonucleotide-induced cellular invasion.

Mol Cancer Res 2008 Oct;6(10):1534-43

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-3300, USA.

Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) belongs to the innate immune system and recognizes microbial and vertebrate DNA. We showed previously that treatment with the TLR9-agonistic ODN M362 (a CpG sequence containing oligonucleotide) induces matrix metalloproteinase-13-mediated invasion in TLR9-expressing human cancer cell lines. Here, we further characterized the role of the TLR9 pathway in this process. We show that CpG oligonucleotides induce invasion in macrophages from wild-type C57/B6 and MyD88 knockout mice and in human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells lacking MyD88 expression. This effect was significantly inhibited in macrophages from TLR9 knockout mice and in human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells stably expressing TLR9 small interfering RNA or dominant-negative tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6). Sequence modifications to the CpG oligonucleotides that targeted the stem loop and other secondary structures were shown to influence the invasion-inducing effect in MDA-MB-231 cells. In contrast, methylation of the cytosine residues of the parent CpG oligonucleotide did not affect the TLR9-mediated invasion compared with the unmethylated parent CpG oligonucleotide. Finally, expression of TLR9 was studied in clinical breast cancer samples and normal breast epithelium with immunohistochemistry. TLR9 staining localized in epithelial cells in both cancer and normal samples. The mean TLR9 staining intensity was significantly increased in the breast cancer cells compared with normal breast epithelial cells. In conclusion, our results suggest that TLR9 expression is increased in breast cancer and CpG oligonucleotide-induced cellular invasion is mediated via TLR9 and TRAF6, independent of MyD88. Further, our findings suggest that the structure and/or stability of DNA may influence the induction of TLR9-mediated invasion in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-07-2005DOI Listing
October 2008

Inhibition of the mevalonate pathway and activation of p38 MAP kinase are independently regulated by nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates in breast cancer cells.

Eur J Pharmacol 2007 Sep 16;570(1-3):27-37. Epub 2007 Jun 16.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.

Bisphosphonates are widely used inhibitors of bone resorption. They also inhibit the growth of various cancer cells in vitro, but the clinical significance of this effect is unclear. The cancer growth inhibitory effects of nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates, (i.e. zoledronate) have been attributed to their ability to inhibit the mevalonate pathway. We have shown that bisphosphonates also induce p38 activation, which signals resistance against the drug-induced growth inhibition through an unknown mechanism. We show here that zoledronate induces a G1/S cell cycle arrest in human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Furthermore, p38 inhibitor augments bisphosphonate-induced growth inhibition by inducing an additional G2-phase cell cycle arrest. We also show that the nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate-induced effects on p38 phosphorylation occur before accumulation of unprenylated Rap1A or Rac1 activation. Geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, an end-product of the mevalonate pathway, reversed the accumulation of unprenylated Rap1A but not phosphorylation of p38. Geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate also reversed n-BP induced growth inhibition, but the completeness of this reversal was nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate concentration dependent. Also mevastatin induced the accumulation of unprenylated Rap1A, but it did not induce p38 phosphorylation. In conclusion, our results suggest that in addition to the previously reported effects on apoptosis, nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates also inhibit the growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells by inducing G1/S cell cycle arrest. The bisphosphonate-induced p38 activation signals for resistance against these drugs, by promoting progression through the G2/M-checkpoint. Of these pathways only growth inhibition is mediated via inhibition of the mevalonate pathway in MDA-MB-231 cells. Combining p38 inhibitors with bisphosphonates may result in increased anti-cancer efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.05.075DOI Listing
September 2007

Toll like receptor-9 agonists stimulate prostate cancer invasion in vitro.

Prostate 2007 May;67(7):774-81

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-3300, USA.

Background: Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) recognizes microbial DNA. In addition to immune cells, TLR9 expression has been detected in various cancer cells. We showed recently that TLR9 agonistic CpG-oligonucleotides (CpG-ODNs) induce matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13)-mediated invasion in TLR9-expressing (TLR9(+)) breast cancer cells. We investigated here TLR9 expression and function in human prostate cancer (CaP) cells.

Methods: TLR9 expression was detected with Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Invasion was studied with Matrigel-assays. MMP-13 was assayed with ELISA.

Results: Human CaP cell lines and clinical samples exhibit various levels of TLR9 expression. Treatment of TLR9(+), but not TLR9(-) CaP cells with CpG-ODNs or bacterial DNA increased their invasion, which was inhibited with chloroquine. CpG-ODN-treatment also increased MMP-13 activity and neutralizing anti-MMP-13 antibody prevented CpG-ODN-induced invasion in TLR9(+) CaP cells. Estradiol up-regulated TLR9 expression in LnCaP cells.

Conclusions: TLR9-mediated invasion may represent a novel mechanism through which infections promote prostate cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pros.20562DOI Listing
May 2007

An essential role for gp130 in neointima formation following arterial injury.

Circ Res 2007 Mar 22;100(6):807-16. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Department of Physiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.

Interleukin (IL)-6 induced vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) motility in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, IL-6 stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of gp130, resulting in the recruitment and activation of STAT-3. IL-6-induced VSMC motility was found to be dependent on activation of gp130/STAT-3 signaling. IL-6 also induced cyclin D1 expression in a time- and gp130/STAT-3-dependent manner in VSMCs. Suppression of cyclin D1 levels via the use of its small interfering RNA molecules inhibited IL-6-induced VSMC motility. Furthermore, balloon injury induced IL-6 expression both at mRNA and protein levels in rat carotid artery. Balloon injury also caused increased STAT-3 phosphorylation and cyclin D1 expression, leading to smooth muscle cell migration from the media to the intimal region. Blockade of gp130/STAT-3 signaling via adenovirus-mediated expression of dngp130 or dnSTAT-3 attenuated balloon injury-induced STAT-3 phosphorylation and cyclin D1 induction, resulting in reduced smooth muscle cell migration from media to intima and decreased neointima formation. Together, these observations for the first time suggest that IL-6/gp130/STAT-3 signaling plays an important role in vascular wall remodeling particularly in the settings of postangioplasty and thereby in neointima formation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/01.RES.0000261350.61711.9eDOI Listing
March 2007

Differential effects of Ca(2+) on bisphosphonate-induced growth inhibition in breast cancer and mesothelioma cells.

Eur J Pharmacol 2007 Mar 9;559(1):21-31. Epub 2006 Dec 9.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, WTI T558, 1824 6th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-3300, USA.

Bisphosphonates are widely clinically used inhibitors of bone resorption. Pre-clinical studies indicate that bisphosphonates also inhibit the growth of various cancer cells in vitro, but their in vivo anti-cancer activity varies greatly, depending on the tumor type. We compared the various cellular effects of bisphosphonates in breast cancer and mesothelioma cells, with differences in growth inhibition responses to bisphosphonate-treatment in vivo. We show that the growth inhibitory effects of nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates are significantly affected by excess Ca(2+) in a cell- and bisphosphonate-specific fashion. Furthermore, excess pyrophosphate-resembling bisphosphonates prevent nitrogen-containing-bisphosphonate-induced accumulation of unprenylated Rap1A, p38 phosphorylation and growth inhibition in human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer and mouse AB-12 mesothelioma cells. For some, but not all tested, pyrophosphate-resembling bisphosphonate: nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate combinations these results may be partially explained by the ability of the excess pyrophosphate-resembling bisphosphonates to chelate Ca(2+). In mice, subcutaneous AB-12 and MDA-MB-231 tumors exhibit positive staining for Ca(2+) minerals, as revealed with Von Kossa stainings. We further show that the AB-12 tumors accumulate significantly more of the bone scanning bisphosphonate, Tc99m-medronate, as compared with MDA-MB-231 tumors. In conclusion, our results suggest that Ca(2+) regulates the growth inhibitory effects of bisphosphonates in a target cell and drug-specific fashion. These findings may be of physiological relevance since many tumor types are calcified. They further suggest that bisphosphonates can accumulate in tumors that are growing at the visceral sites and that differences in tumor accumulation of bisphosphonates may regulate their in vivo sensitivity to these drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2006.11.064DOI Listing
March 2007

Toll-like receptor 9 agonists promote cellular invasion by increasing matrix metalloproteinase activity.

Mol Cancer Res 2006 Jul;4(7):437-47

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294-3300, USA.

Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) recognizes microbial DNA. We show here that TLR9 protein is expressed in human breast cancer cells and clinical breast cancer samples. Stimulation of TLR9-expressing breast cancer cells with the TLR9 agonistic CpG oligonucleotides (1-10 mumol/L) dramatically increased their in vitro invasion in both Matrigel assays and three-dimensional collagen cultures. Similar effects on invasion were seen in TLR9-expressing astrocytoma and glioblastoma cells and in the immortalized human breast epithelial cell line MCF-10A. This effect was not, however, dependent on the CpG content of the TLR9 ligands because the non-CpG oligonucleotides induced invasion of TLR9-expressing cells. CpG or non-CpG oligonucleotide-induced invasion in MDA-MB-231 cells was blunted by chloroquine and they did not induce invasion of TLR9(-) breast cancer cells. Treatment of MDA-MB-231 cells with CpG or non-CpG oligonucleotides induced the formation of approximately 50-kDa gelatinolytic band in zymograms. This band and the increased invasion were abolished by a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitor GM6001 but not by a serine proteinase inhibitor aprotinin. Furthermore, CpG oligonucleotide treatment decreased tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 expression and increased levels of active MMP-13 in TLR9-expressing but not TLR9(-) breast cancer cells without affecting MMP-8. Neutralizing anti-MMP-13 antibodies inhibited the CpG oligonucleotide-induced invasion. These findings suggest that infections may promote cancer progression through a novel TLR9-mediated mechanism. They also propose a new molecular target for cancer therapy, because TLR9 has not been associated with cancer invasiveness previously.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-06-0007DOI Listing
July 2006

Bisphosphonates inhibit the growth of mesothelioma cells in vitro and in vivo.

Clin Cancer Res 2006 May;12(9):2862-8

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-3300, USA.

Purpose: Bisphosphonates (such as risedronate and zoledronate) are widely used inhibitors of bone resorption. Despite their in vitro antiproliferative effects in various cancer cells, bisphosphonates have not exhibited significant antitumor efficacy in animal models of visceral cancer, which may be due to their poor bioavailability. The diagnostic use of radioactive bisphosphonates has revealed the accumulation of bisphosphonates in mesothelioma, which prompted us to test the antitumor efficacy of bisphosphonates in this disease.

Experimental Design And Results: Treatment with either risedronate or zoledronate (2 x 10(-4) to 2 x 10(-6) mol/L) inhibited the growth of AB12 and AC29 mouse mesothelioma cells and induced the accumulation of unprenylated Rap1A in these cells. Both these in vitro effects were reversed by geranygeraniol, an end product of the mevalonate pathway that these bisphosphonates inhibit. Both bisphosphonates also induced the phosphorylation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in AB12 and AC29 cells. The inhibition of p38 augmented bisphosphonate-induced growth inhibition in these cells. Bisphosphonate-induced p38 phosphorylation was not reversible by geranylgeraniol. Risedronate (15 mg/kg) and zoledronate (0.5 mg/kg) inhibited the growth of s.c. tumors and increased the median survival of mice with i.p. mesothelioma tumors in vivo.

Discussion: In conclusion, risedronate and zoledronate inhibit the mevalonate pathway and induce p38 activation in mesothelioma cells in vitro. The effects on the mevalonate pathway dominate because the net result is growth inhibition. Both bisphosphonates also inhibit mesothelioma tumor growth in vivo and prolong the survival of mesothelioma-bearing mice. These results support further study of bisphosphonates in the management of mesothelioma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-05-2766DOI Listing
May 2006

Breast cancer cells with inhibition of p38alpha have decreased MMP-9 activity and exhibit decreased bone metastasis in mice.

Clin Exp Metastasis 2004 ;21(6):525-33

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.

p38 belongs to a family of mitogen-activated protein kinases, which transfer extracellular signals into intracellular responses. p38 is also frequently detected in clinical breast cancer specimens, but its role as a prognostic factor is not known. Of the various p38 isoforms, p38alpha has been shown to mediate the in vitro invasiveness of breast cancer cells through up-regulation of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA). We studied the role of p38alpha in breast cancer bone metastases, using dominant negative blockade approach. Human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer clones stably expressing dominant negative p38alpha (p38/AF) exhibited decreased basal MMP-9 activity. TGF-beta1-induced MMP-9 activity was also blunted in these clones, as compared with controls in which TGF-betal up-regulated MMP-9 activity. Consistent with these findings, SB202190, a specific p38 inhibitor, also inhibited TGF-beta1-induced MMP-9 activity in parental cells. The p38/AF clones exhibited also reduced uPA production after growth on vitronectin and decreased cell motility, as compared with controls. VEGF production levels in all the studied clones were similar. The p38/AF clone, which had similar in vitro growth rate as the control pcDNA3 clone, formed significantly less bone metastases in a mouse model, as compared with the control clone. In conclusion, inhibition of the p38alpha pathway results in decreased MMP-9 activity, impaired uPA expression and decreased motility, all of which may contribute to the decreased formation of bone metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10585-004-3503-xDOI Listing
March 2005

Inhibition of gp130 signaling in breast cancer blocks constitutive activation of Stat3 and inhibits in vivo malignancy.

Cancer Res 2004 Oct;64(19):6924-33

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-3300, USA.

The cytokine receptor gp130 is the common signaling subunit of receptors used by the interleukin (IL)-6 cytokine family. gp130 is widely expressed in breast cancer cell lines and primary tumors. The role of gp130 in breast cancer in vivo is unknown. To study the effect of gp130 inhibition in breast cancer, endogenous gp130 signaling in breast cancer cell lines was blocked with a dominant-negative gp130 protein (DN gp130). DN gp130 inhibited constitutive Stat3 activation in breast cancer cells. Both gp130 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have been implicated in constitutive Stat3 activation in breast cancer. There are known physical and functional interactions between gp130 and EGFR. Consistent with this, we show that DN gp130 inhibits signaling downstream of the EGFR in breast cancer cells. The effect of DN gp130 on breast cancer in vivo was assessed with an orthotopic nude mouse model. DN gp130 MDA-231 cells had markedly decreased engraftment, size, and metastasis compared with control cells. These results are particularly striking considering that DN gp130-expressing breast cancer cells grow faster in vitro. We hypothesized that DN gp130 expression results in inhibition of invasion and metastasis in vivo. Marked angiogenesis was present in tumors from control animals and was absent in tumors from DN gp130 animals. We additionally show that tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3, an inhibitor of tumor invasion and angiogenesis, is up-regulated in both MDA-231 DN gp130 cells and tumors. These results, in light of the availability of several potential pharmacological inhibitors of gp130, suggest novel approaches to breast cancer therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-03-2516DOI Listing
October 2004

Bisphosphonate induced growth inhibition of breast cancer cells is augmented by p38 inhibition.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2003 Oct;81(3):231-41

Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294-3300, USA.

Bisphosphonates (BPs) inhibit osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. They also protect from cancer-induced osteolysis and inhibit breast cancer growth in vitro. Some breast cancer cell lines, however, are relatively resistant to the growth inhibitory effects of BPs. We studied the mechanism of BP resistance in human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. We show that both pyrophosphate-resembling (p-) and nitrogen-containing (n-) BPs induce activation of p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway in MDA-MB-231 cells in vitro. MDA-MB-231 cells stably expressing a dominant negative form of the p38 MAP kinase (p38/AF) exhibited a dramatic increase in growth inhibition in response to BPs in vitro, compared to control cells. SB203580, a specific inhibitor of the p38 MAP kinase, also augmented BP-induced growth inhibition of parental MDA-MB-231 cells. Similar results were obtained also in murine macrophage-like J774 cells in vitro. Finally, no BP-induced phosphorylation of p38, or augmentation of BP-induced growth inhibition by SB203580 were detected in MCF-7 or HCC38 breast cancer cells, which are more sensitive than MDA-MB-231 cells especially to n-BP induced growth inhibition. In conclusion, these results suggest that BPs activate the p38 pathway in MDA-MB-231 and J774 cells. This activation may be associated with increased survival or proliferation because inhibition of p38 augments BP-induced growth inhibition. These findings may apply to the development of novel approaches for the treatment of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/a:1026126430905DOI Listing
October 2003

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha induces interleukin-6 production via extracellular-regulated kinase 1 activation in breast cancer cells.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2003 Jul;80(1):71-8

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University ofAlabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-3300, USA.

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-11 (IL-11) are frequently produced by breast cancer cells. These interleukins promote osteoclast formation and may mediate osteolysis at the site of breast cancer bone metastases. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) up-regulate IL-6 and IL-11 production in a cytokine-dependent fashion in breast cancer cells, but very little is known about their intracellular signaling pathways in breast cancer cells. To study TGF-beta, TNF-alpha and IL-1beta regulation of IL-6 and IL-11 production in human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, we established single cell clones stably expressing dominant negative (DN) forms of the mitogen-activated protein kinases p38 (p38/AF) or ERK1 (ERK1K71R). We show here, that while basal, TGF-beta and IL-1beta induced IL-6 production was similar in parental cells and in pcDNA3 control, ERK1K71R and p38/AF clones, TNF-alpha induced IL-6 production was blunted in the ERK1K71R clones. TGF-beta and IL-1beta, but not TNF-alpha, induced IL-11 production in parental MDA-MB-231 cells. Similar findings were detected in clones stably expressing p38/AF and ERK1K71R, which did not change basal IL-11 production either. In conclusion, TNF-alpha induced IL-6 production is mediated via ERK1 activation in MDA-MB-231 cells. These observations may be helpful in designing new anti-osteolytic therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/a:1024443303436DOI Listing
July 2003

Purification and characterization of the yeast-expressed erythropoietin mutant Epo (R103A), a specific inhibitor of human primary hematopoietic cell erythropoiesis.

Blood 2002 Jun;99(12):4400-5

South Texas Veterans Health Care System, and Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.

A drug that specifically inhibits erythropoiesis would be clinically useful. The erythropoietin (Epo) mutant Epo (R103A) could potentially be used for this purpose. Epo (R103A) has a single amino acid substitution of alanine for arginine at position 103. Because of this mutation, Epo (R103A) is only able to bind to one of the 2 subunits of the erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) homodimer and is thus a competitive inhibitor of Epo activity. To produce large quantities of Epo (R103A) to test in animal models of thalassemia and sickle cell disease, we expressed and purified recombinant Epo (R103A) from the yeast Pichia pastoris. Using this method milligram quantities of highly purified Epo (R103A) are obtained. The yeast-expressed Epo (R103A) is properly processed and glycosylated and specifically inhibits Epo-dependent cell growth and (125)I-Epo binding. Epo (R103A) does not, however, directly induce apoptosis in 32D cells expressing EpoR. Epo (R103A) inhibits erythropoiesis of human CD34(+) hematopoietic cells and completely blocks erythroid burst-forming unit formation in normal human bone marrow colony assays. Yeast-expressed Epo (R103A) is a specific inhibitor of primary erythropoiesis suitable for testing in animal models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.v99.12.4400DOI Listing
June 2002