Publications by authors named "Teresa K Becker"

2 Publications

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The signal transducer CD24 suppresses the germ cell program and promotes an ectodermal rather than mesodermal cell fate in embryonal carcinomas.

Mol Oncol 2021 Jul 22. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Department of Urology, Urological Research Laboratory, Translational UroOncology, Medical Faculty and University Hospital Düsseldorf, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany.

Testicular germ cell tumors (GCTs) are stratified into seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas share many histological and molecular features with primordial germ cells, whereas the nonseminoma stem cell population-embryonal carcinoma (EC)-is pluripotent and thus able to differentiate into cells of all three germ layers (teratomas). Furthermore, ECs are capable of differentiating into extra-embryonic lineages (yolk sac tumors, choriocarcinomas). In this study, we deciphered the molecular and (epi)genetic mechanisms regulating expression of CD24, a highly glycosylated signaling molecule upregulated in many cancers. CD24 is overexpressed in ECs compared with other GCT entities and can be associated with an undifferentiated pluripotent cell fate. We demonstrate that CD24 can be transactivated by the pluripotency factor SOX2, which binds in proximity to the CD24 promoter. In GCTs, CD24 expression is controlled by epigenetic mechanisms, that is, histone acetylation, since CD24 can be induced by the application histone deacetylase inhibitors. Vice versa, CD24 expression is downregulated upon inhibition of histone methyltransferases, E3 ubiquitin ligases, or bromodomain (BRD) proteins. Additionally, three-dimensional (3D) co-cultivation of EC cells with microenvironmental cells, such as fibroblasts, and endothelial or immune cells, reduced CD24 expression, suggesting that crosstalk with the somatic microenvironment influences CD24 expression. In a CRISPR/Cas9 deficiency model, we demonstrate that CD24 fulfills a bivalent role in differentiation via regulation of homeobox, and phospho- and glycoproteins; that is, it is involved in suppressing the germ cell/spermatogenesis program and mesodermal/endodermal differentiation, while poising the cells for ectodermal differentiation. Finally, blocking CD24 by a monoclonal antibody enhanced sensitivity toward cisplatin in EC cells, including cisplatin-resistant subclones, highlighting CD24 as a putative target in combination with cisplatin.
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July 2021

CDK4/6 inhibition presents as a therapeutic option for paediatric and adult germ cell tumours and induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis via canonical and non-canonical mechanisms.

Br J Cancer 2020 08 18;123(3):378-391. Epub 2020 May 18.

Department of Urology, Urological Research Lab, Translational UroOncology, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Background: Germ cell tumours (GCTs) are the most common solid malignancies in young men. Although high cure rates can be achieved, metastases, resistance to cisplatin-based therapy and late toxicities still represent a lethal threat, arguing for the need of new therapeutic options. In this study, we analysed the potential of cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors palbociclib and ribociclib (PaRi) as molecular drugs to treat cisplatin-resistant and -sensitive paediatric and adult GCTs.

Methods: Ten GCT cell lines, including cisplatin-resistant subclones and non-malignant controls, were treated with PaRi and screened for changes in viability (triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (XTT) assay), apoptosis rates (flow cytometry, caspase assay), the cell cycle (flow cytometry), the transcriptome (RNA-sequencing, quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and on protein level (western blot). Expression profiling was performed on paediatric and adult GCT tissues (expression microarrays, qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, 'The Cancer Genome Atlas' database).

Results: We demonstrate that adult GCTs highly express CDK4, while paediatric GCTs strongly express CDK6 instead. Thus, both GCT types are potentially treatable by PaRi. GCTs presented as highly sensitive towards PaRi, which caused a decrease in viability, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Although GCTs mainly arrested in the G1/G0 phase, some embryonal carcinoma cell lines were able to bypass the G1/S checkpoint and progressed to the G2/M phase. We found that upregulation of CDK3 and downregulation of many mitosis regulation factors, like the HAUS genes, might be responsible for bypassing the G1/S checkpoint and termination of mitosis, respectively. We postulate that GCT cells do not tolerate these alterations in the cell cycle and eventually induce apoptosis.

Conclusion: Our study highlights PaRi as therapeutic options for cisplatin-resistant and -sensitive paediatric and adult GCTs.
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August 2020