Publications by authors named "Vincent Castronovo"

95 Publications

Metastatic colorectal cancer cells maintain the TGFβ program and use TGFBI to fuel angiogenesis.

Theranostics 2021 1;11(4):1626-1640. Epub 2021 Jan 1.

Cancer Research Institute of Montpellier, Tumor Microenvironment and Resistance to Treatment Laboratory, INSERM U1194, Montpellier, France.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) cells are traditionally considered unresponsive to TGFβ due to mutations in the receptors and/or downstream signaling molecules. TGFβ influences CRC cells only indirectly via stromal cells, such as cancer-associated fibroblasts. However, CRC cell ability to directly respond to TGFβ currently remains unexplored. This represents a missed opportunity for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. We examined whether cancer cells from primary CRC and liver metastases respond to TGFβ by inducing TGFβ-induced protein ig-h3 (TGFBI) expression, and the contribution of canonical and non-canonical TGFβ signaling pathways to this effect. We then investigated and TGFBI impact on metastasis formation and angiogenesis. Using patient serum samples and an orthotopic mouse model of CRC liver metastases we assessed the diagnostic/tumor targeting value of novel antibodies against TGFBI. Metastatic CRC cells, such as circulating tumor cells, directly respond to TGFβ. These cells were characterized by the absence of TGFβ receptor mutations and the frequent presence of p53 mutations. The pro-tumorigenic program orchestrated by TGFβ in CRC cells was mediated through TGFBI, the expression of which was positively regulated by non-canonical TGFβ signaling cascades. TGFBI inhibition was sufficient to significantly reduce liver metastasis formation . Moreover, TGFBI pro-tumorigenic function was linked to its ability to stimulate angiogenesis. TGFBI levels were higher in serum samples from untreated patients with CRC than in patients who were receiving chemotherapy. A radiolabeled anti-TGFBI antibody selectively targeted metastatic lesions , underscoring its diagnostic and therapeutic potential. TGFβ signaling in CRC cells directly contributes to their metastatic potential and stromal cell-independence. Proteins downstream of activated TGFβ, such as TGFBI, represent novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets for more specific anti-metastatic therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/thno.51507DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7778592PMC
January 2021

Myoferlin Is a Yet Unknown Interactor of the Mitochondrial Dynamics' Machinery in Pancreas Cancer Cells.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Jun 21;12(6). Epub 2020 Jun 21.

Metastasis Research Laboratory (MRL), GIGA-Cancer, Pathology Institute B23, University of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.

Pancreas ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the deadliest cancers where surgery remains the main survival factor. Mitochondria were described to be involved in tumor aggressiveness in several cancer types including pancreas cancer. We have previously reported that myoferlin controls mitochondrial structure and function, and demonstrated that myoferlin depletion disturbs the mitochondrial dynamics culminating in a mitochondrial fission. In order to unravel the mechanism underlying this observation, we explored the myoferlin localization in pancreatic cancer cells and showed a colocalization with the mitochondrial dynamic machinery element: mitofusin. This colocalization was confirmed in several pancreas cancer cell lines and in normal cell lines as well. Moreover, in pancreas cancer cell lines, it appeared that myoferlin interacted with mitofusin. These discoveries open-up new research avenues aiming at modulating mitofusin function in pancreas cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12061643DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352660PMC
June 2020

Methylglyoxal Scavengers Resensitize KRAS-Mutated Colorectal Tumors to Cetuximab.

Cell Rep 2020 02;30(5):1400-1416.e6

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium. Electronic address:

The use of cetuximab anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) antibodies has opened the era of targeted and personalized therapy in colorectal cancer (CRC). Poor response rates have been unequivocally shown in mutant KRAS and are even observed in a majority of wild-type KRAS tumors. Therefore, patient selection based on mutational profiling remains problematic. We previously identified methylglyoxal (MGO), a by-product of glycolysis, as a metabolite promoting tumor growth and metastasis. Mutant KRAS cells under MGO stress show AKT-dependent survival when compared with wild-type KRAS isogenic CRC cells. MGO induces AKT activation through phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin 2 (mTORC2) and Hsp27 regulation. Importantly, the sole induction of MGO stress in sensitive wild-type KRAS cells renders them resistant to cetuximab. MGO scavengers inhibit AKT and resensitize KRAS-mutated CRC cells to cetuximab in vivo. This study establishes a link between MGO and AKT activation and pinpoints this oncometabolite as a potential target to tackle EGFR-targeted therapy resistance in CRC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.012DOI Listing
February 2020

Ferlin Overview: From Membrane to Cancer Biology.

Cells 2019 08 22;8(9). Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, Giga Cancer, University of Liège, B4000 Liège, Belgium.

In mammal myocytes, endothelial cells and inner ear cells, ferlins are proteins involved in membrane processes such as fusion, recycling, endo- and exocytosis. They harbour several C2 domains allowing their interaction with phospholipids. The expression of several Ferlin genes was described as altered in several tumoural tissues. Intriguingly, beyond a simple alteration, myoferlin, otoferlin and Fer1L4 expressions were negatively correlated with patient survival in some cancer types. Therefore, it can be assumed that membrane biology is of extreme importance for cell survival and signalling, making Ferlin proteins core machinery indispensable for cancer cell adaptation to hostile environments. The evidences suggest that myoferlin, when overexpressed, enhances cancer cell proliferation, migration and metabolism by affecting various aspects of membrane biology. Targeting myoferlin using pharmacological compounds, gene transfer technology, or interfering RNA is now considered as an emerging therapeutic strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells8090954DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770723PMC
August 2019

Human colon cancer cells highly express myoferlin to maintain a fit mitochondrial network and escape p53-driven apoptosis.

Oncogenesis 2019 Mar 8;8(3):21. Epub 2019 Mar 8.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Colon adenocarcinoma is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second deadliest one. Metabolic reprogramming, described as an emerging hallmark of malignant cells, includes the predominant use of glycolysis to produce energy. Recent studies demonstrated that mitochondrial electron transport chain inhibitor reduced colon cancer tumour growth. Accumulating evidence show that myoferlin, a member of the ferlin family, is highly expressed in several cancer types, where it acts as a tumour promoter and participates in the metabolic rewiring towards oxidative metabolism. In this study, we showed that myoferlin expression in colon cancer lesions is associated with low patient survival and is higher than in non-tumoural adjacent tissue. Human colon cancer cells silenced for myoferlin exhibit a reduced oxidative phosphorylation activity associated with mitochondrial fission leading, ROS accumulation, decreased cell growth, and increased apoptosis. We observed the triggering of a DNA damage response culminating to a cell cycle arrest in wild-type p53 cells. The use of a p53 null cell line or a compound able to restore p53 activity (Prima-1) reverted the effects induced by myoferlin silencing, confirming the involvement of p53. The recent identification of a compound interacting with a myoferlin C2 domain and bearing anticancer potency identifies, together with our demonstration, this protein as a suitable new therapeutic target in colon cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41389-019-0130-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408501PMC
March 2019

Transforming growth factor beta-induced, an extracellular matrix interacting protein, enhances glycolysis and promotes pancreatic cancer cell migration.

Int J Cancer 2019 09 28;145(6):1570-1584. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains a deadly malignancy with no efficient therapy available up-to-date. Glycolysis is the main provider of energetic substrates to sustain cancer dissemination of PDAC. Accordingly, altering the glycolytic pathway is foreseen as a sound approach to trigger pancreatic cancer regression. Here, we show for the first time that high transforming growth factor beta-induced (TGFBI) expression in PDAC patients is associated with a poor outcome. We demonstrate that, although usually secreted by stromal cells, PDAC cells synthesize and secrete TGFBI in quantity correlated with their migratory capacity. Mechanistically, we show that TGFBI activates focal adhesion kinase signaling pathway through its binding to integrin αVβ5, leading to a significant enhancement of glycolysis and to the acquisition of an invasive phenotype. Finally, we show that TGFBI silencing significantly inhibits PDAC tumor development in a chick chorioallantoic membrane assay model. Our study highlights TGFBI as an oncogenic extracellular matrix interacting protein that bears the potential to serve as a target for new anti-PDAC therapeutic strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32247DOI Listing
September 2019

Methylglyoxal, a glycolysis metabolite, triggers metastasis through MEK/ERK/SMAD1 pathway activation in breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Res 2019 01 23;21(1):11. Epub 2019 Jan 23.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège (ULiège), Pathology Tour, +4 level, Building 23, Avenue Hippocrate 13, 4000, Liège, Belgium.

Background: Elevated aerobic glycolysis rate is a biochemical alteration associated with malignant transformation and cancer progression. This metabolic shift unavoidably generates methylglyoxal (MG), a potent inducer of dicarbonyl stress through the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). We have previously shown that the silencing of glyoxalase 1 (GLO1), the main MG detoxifying enzyme, generates endogenous dicarbonyl stress resulting in enhanced growth and metastasis in vivo. However, the molecular mechanisms through which MG stress promotes metastasis development remain to be unveiled.

Methods: In this study, we used RNA sequencing analysis to investigate gene-expression profiling of GLO1-depleted breast cancer cells and we validated the regulated expression of selected genes of interest by RT-qPCR. Using in vitro and in vivo assays, we demonstrated the acquisition of a pro-metastatic phenotype related to dicarbonyl stress in MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468 and MCF7 breast cancer cellular models. Hyperactivation of MEK/ERK/SMAD1 pathway was evidenced using western blotting upon endogenous MG stress and exogenous MG treatment conditions. MEK and SMAD1 regulation of MG pro-metastatic signature genes in breast cancer cells was demonstrated by RT-qPCR.

Results: High-throughput transcriptome profiling of GLO1-depleted breast cancer cells highlighted a pro-metastatic signature that establishes novel connections between MG dicarbonyl stress, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling by neoplastic cells and enhanced cell migration. Mechanistically, we showed that these metastasis-related processes are functionally linked to MEK/ERK/SMAD1 cascade activation in breast cancer cells. We showed that sustained MEK/ERK activation in GLO1-depleted cells notably occurred through the down-regulation of the expression of dual specificity phosphatases in MG-stressed breast cancer cells. The use of carnosine and aminoguanidine, two potent MG scavengers, reversed MG stress effects in in vitro and in vivo experimental settings.

Conclusions: These results uncover for the first time the key role of MG dicarbonyl stress in the induction of ECM remodeling and the activation of migratory signaling pathways, both in favor of enhanced metastatic dissemination of breast cancer cells. Importantly, the efficient inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling using MG scavengers further emphasizes the need to investigate their therapeutic potential across different malignancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-018-1095-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343302PMC
January 2019

Methylglyoxal, a potent inducer of AGEs, connects between diabetes and cancer.

Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2019 Feb 18;148:200-211. Epub 2019 Jan 18.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, Belgium. Electronic address:

Diabetes is one of the most frequent diseases throughout the world and its incidence is predicted to exponentially progress in the future. This metabolic disorder is associated with major complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, atherosclerosis, and diabetic nephropathy, the severity of which correlates with hyperglycemia, suggesting that they are triggered by high glucose condition. Reducing sugars and reactive carbonyl species such as methylglyoxal (MGO) lead to glycation of proteins, lipids and DNA and the gradual accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in cells and tissues. While AGEs are clearly implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes complications, their potential involvement during malignant tumor development, progression and resistance to therapy is an emerging concept. Meta-analysis studies established that patients with diabetes are at higher risk of developing cancer and show a higher mortality rate than cancer patients free of diabetes. In this review, we highlight the potential connection between hyperglycemia-associated AGEs formation on the one hand and the recent evidence of pro-tumoral effects of MGO stress on the other hand. We also discuss the marked interest in anti-glycation compounds in view of their strategic use to treat diabetic complications but also to protect against augmented cancer risk in patients with diabetes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2019.01.002DOI Listing
February 2019

Human peroxidasin 1 promotes angiogenesis through ERK1/2, Akt, and FAK pathways.

Cardiovasc Res 2019 02;115(2):463-475

Laboratory of Experimental Medicine (ULB 222 Unit), Faculté de Médecine, CHU de Charleroi, A. Vésale Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Hôpital André Vésale, 706, Rue de Gozée, 6110 Montigny-le-Tilleul, Charleroi, Belgium.

Aims: The term angiogenesis refers to sprouting of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones. The angiogenic process involves cell migration and tubulogenesis requiring interaction between endothelial cells and the extracellular matrix. Human peroxidasin 1 (hsPxd01) is a multidomain heme peroxidase found embedded in the basement membranes. As it promotes the stabilization of extracellular matrix, we investigated its possible role in angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo.

Methods And Results: We analysed the effects of peroxidasin 1 gene silencing and supplementation by recombinant hsPxd01 in TeloHAEC endothelial cells on cell migration, tubulogenesis in matrigel, and intracellular signal transduction as assessed by kinase phosphorylation and expression of pro-angiogenic genes as measured by qRT-PCR. We further evaluated the angiogenic potential of recombinant peroxidasin in a chicken chorioallantoic membrane model. RNA silencing of endogenous hsPxd01 significantly reduced tube formation and cell migration, whereas supplementation by the recombinant peroxidase promoted tube formation in vitro and stimulated vascularization in vivo through its catalytic activity. Moreover, recombinant hsPxd01 promoted phosphorylation of Extracellular signal-Regulated Kinases (ERK1/2), Protein kinase B (Akt), and Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK), and induced the expression of pro-angiogenic downstream genes: Platelet Derived Growth Factor Subunit B (PDGFB), endothelial-derived Heparin Binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), CXCL-1, Hairy-Related Transcription Factor 1 (HEY-1), DNA-binding protein inhibitor (ID-2), Snail Family Zinc Finger 1 (SNAI-1), as well as endogenous hsPxd01. However, peroxidasin silencing significantly reduced Akt and FAK phosphorylation but induced ERK1/2 activation after supplementation by recombinant hsPxd01. While hsPxd01 silencing significantly reduced expression of HEY-1, ID-2, and PDGFB, it did not affect expression of SNAI-1, HB-EGF, and CXCL-1 after supplementation by recombinant hsPxd01.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest a role of enzymatically active peroxidasin 1 as a pro-angiogenic peroxidase and a modulator of ERK1/2, Akt and FAK signalling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvy179DOI Listing
February 2019

Propranolol sensitizes prostate cancer cells to glucose metabolism inhibition and prevents cancer progression.

Sci Rep 2018 05 4;8(1):7050. Epub 2018 May 4.

Laboratory of Connective Tissues Biology, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, 4000, Liège, Belgium.

Propranolol, a widely used non-selective beta-adrenergic receptor blocker, was recently shown to display anticancer properties. Its potential to synergize with certain drugs has been also outlined. However, it is necessary to take into account all the properties of propranolol to select a drug that could be efficiently combined with. Propranolol was reported to block the late phase of autophagy. Hence, we hypothesized that in condition enhancing autophagy flux, cancer cells should be especially sensitive to propranolol. 2DG, a glycolysis inhibitor, is an anti-tumor agent having limited effect in monotherapy notably due to induction of pro-survival autophagy. Here, we report that treatment of cancer cells with propranolol in combination with the glycolysis inhibitor 2DG induced a massive accumulation of autophagosome due to autophagy blockade. The propranolol +2DG treatment efficiently prevents prostate cancer cell proliferation, induces cell apoptosis, alters mitochondrial morphology, inhibits mitochondrial bioenergetics and aggravates ER stress in vitro and also suppresses tumor growth in vivo. Our study underlines for the first time the interest to take advantage of the ability of propranolol to inhibit autophagy to design new anti-cancer therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-25340-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5935740PMC
May 2018

Myoferlin controls mitochondrial structure and activity in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, and affects tumor aggressiveness.

Oncogene 2018 08 3;37(32):4398-4412. Epub 2018 May 3.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related death. Therapeutic options remain very limited and are based on classical chemotherapies. Energy metabolism reprogramming appears as an emerging hallmark of cancer and is considered a therapeutic target with considerable potential. Myoferlin, a ferlin family member protein overexpressed in PDAC, is involved in plasma membrane biology and has a tumor-promoting function. In the continuity of our previous studies, we investigated the role of myoferlin in the context of energy metabolism in PDAC. We used selected PDAC tumor samples and PDAC cell lines together with small interfering RNA technology to study the role of myoferlin in energetic metabolism. In PDAC patients, we showed that myoferlin expression is negatively correlated with overall survival and with glycolytic activity evaluated by F-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography. We found out that myoferlin is more abundant in lipogenic pancreatic cancer cell lines and is required to maintain a branched mitochondrial structure and a high oxidative phosphorylation activity. The observed mitochondrial fission induced by myoferlin depletion led to a decrease of cell proliferation, ATP production, and autophagy induction, thus indicating an essential role of myoferlin for PDAC cell fitness. The metabolic phenotype switch generated by myoferlin silencing could open up a new perspective in the development of therapeutic strategies, especially in the context of energy metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-018-0287-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085282PMC
August 2018

Innovative methodology for the identification of soluble biomarkers in fresh tissues.

Oncotarget 2018 Feb 31;9(12):10665-10680. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

The identification of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers from early lesions, measurable in liquid biopsies remains a major challenge, particularly in oncology. Fresh human material of high quality is required for biomarker discovery but is often not available when it is totally required for clinical pathology investigation. Hence, all OMICs studies are done on residual and less clinically relevant biological samples. Here after, we present an innovative, simple, and non-destructive, procedure named EXPEL that uses rapid, pressure-assisted, interstitial fluid extrusion, preserving the specimen for full routine clinical pathology investigation. In the meantime, the technique allows a comprehensive OMICs analysis (proteins, metabolites, miRNAs and DNA). As proof of concept, we have applied EXPEL on freshly collected human colorectal cancer and liver metastases tissues. We demonstrate that the procedure efficiently allows the extraction, within a few minutes, of a wide variety of biomolecules holding diagnostic and prognostic potential while keeping both tissue morphology and antigenicity unaltered. Our method enables, for the first time, both clinicians and scientists to explore identical clinical material regardless of its origin and size, which has a major positive impact on translation to the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24366DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5828218PMC
February 2018

Innovative methods for biomarker discovery in the evaluation and development of cancer precision therapies.

Cancer Metastasis Rev 2018 03;37(1):125-145

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, Bât. B23, avenue de l'Hôpital 3, B-4000, Liège, Belgium.

The discovery of biomarkers able to detect cancer at an early stage, to evaluate its aggressiveness, and to predict the response to therapy remains a major challenge in clinical oncology and precision medicine. In this review, we summarize recent achievements in the discovery and development of cancer biomarkers. We also highlight emerging innovative methods in biomarker discovery and provide insights into the challenges faced in their evaluation and validation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10555-017-9710-0DOI Listing
March 2018

Murine stroma adopts a human-like metabolic phenotype in the PDX model of colorectal cancer and liver metastases.

Oncogene 2018 03 15;37(9):1237-1250. Epub 2017 Dec 15.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Cancer research is increasingly dependent of patient-derived xenograft model (PDX). However, a major point of concern regarding the PDX model remains the replacement of the human stroma with murine counterpart. In the present work we aimed at clarifying the significance of the human-to-murine stromal replacement for the fidelity of colorectal cancer (CRC) and liver metastasis (CRC-LM) PDX model. We have conducted a comparative metabolic analysis between 6 patient tumors and corresponding PDX across 4 generations. Metabolic signatures of cancer cells and stroma were measured separately by MALDI-imaging, while metabolite changes in entire tumors were quantified using mass spectrometry approach. Measurement of glucose metabolism was also conducted in vivo using [F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and positron emission tomography (PET). In CRC/CRC-LM PDX model, human stroma was entirely replaced at the second generation. Despite this change, MALDI-imaging demonstrated that the metabolic profiles of both stromal and cancer cells remained stable for at least four generations in comparison to the original patient material. On the tumor level, profiles of 86 water-soluble metabolites as well as 93 lipid mediators underlined the functional stability of the PDX model. In vivo PET measurement of glucose uptake (reflecting tumor glucose metabolism) supported the ex vivo observations. Our data show for the first time that CRC/CRC-LM PDX model maintains the functional stability at the metabolic level despite the early replacement of the human stroma by murine cells. The findings demonstrate that human cancer cells actively educate murine stromal cells during PDX development to adopt the human-like phenotype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-017-0018-xDOI Listing
March 2018

Hormetic potential of methylglyoxal, a side-product of glycolysis, in switching tumours from growth to death.

Sci Rep 2017 09 15;7(1):11722. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-CANCER, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Metabolic reprogramming toward aerobic glycolysis unavoidably favours methylglyoxal (MG) and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formation in cancer cells. MG was initially considered a highly cytotoxic molecule with potential anti-cancer value. However, we have recently demonstrated that MG enhanced tumour growth and metastasis. In an attempt to understand this dual role, we explored MG-mediated dicarbonyl stress status in four breast and glioblastoma cancer cell lines in relation with their glycolytic phenotype and MG detoxifying capacity. In glycolytic cancer cells cultured in high glucose, we observed a significant increase of the conversion of MG to D-lactate through the glyoxalase system. Moreover, upon exogenous MG challenge, glycolytic cells showed elevated amounts of intracellular MG and induced de novo GLO1 detoxifying enzyme and Nrf2 expression. Thus, supporting the adaptive nature of glycolytic cancer cells to MG dicarbonyl stress when compared to non-glycolytic ones. Finally and consistent with the pro-tumoural role of MG, we showed that low doses of MG induced AGEs formation and tumour growth in vivo, both of which can be reversed using a MG scavenger. Our study represents the first demonstration of a hormetic effect of MG defined by a low-dose stimulation and a high-dose inhibition of tumour growth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12119-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5600983PMC
September 2017

Methylglyoxal-derived stress: An emerging biological factor involved in the onset and progression of cancer.

Semin Cancer Biol 2018 04 7;49:64-74. Epub 2017 Jun 7.

Laboratory for Metabolism and Vascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands; Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Cancer is a disease characterised by uncontrolled growth and proliferation of cells. Tumours primarily show a higher rate of glucose uptake for lactate production even in the presence of functional mitochondria. An important metabolic consequence is intracellular formation of glucose-derived carbonyl reactive species such as methylglyoxal (MG). It has become clear that MG is the most potent glycation agent in our body, leading to alterations of proteins and DNA, and cellular dysfunction. In recent years, emerging evidence indicates that MG plays a role in the development of cancer. This review will examine studies regarding the effects of MG on cancer onset and progression and discuss their controversies. Finally, the utilisation of inhibitors and MG scavengers will be addressed in the context of MG-mediated stress blockade for cancer therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcancer.2017.05.010DOI Listing
April 2018

Methylglyoxal-Mediated Stress Correlates with High Metabolic Activity and Promotes Tumor Growth in Colorectal Cancer.

Int J Mol Sci 2017 Jan 21;18(1). Epub 2017 Jan 21.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium.

Cancer cells generally rely on aerobic glycolysis as a major source of energy. Methylglyoxal (MG), a dicarbonyl compound that is produced as a side product during glycolysis, is highly reactive and induces the formation of advanced glycation end-products that are implicated in several pathologies including cancer. All mammalian cells have an enzymatic defense against MG composed by glyoxalases GLO1 and GLO2 that converts MG to d-lactate. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most frequently occurring cancers with high morbidity and mortality. In this study, we used immunohistochemistry to examine the level of MG protein adducts, in a series of 102 CRC human tumors divided into four clinical stages. We consistently detected a high level of MG adducts and low GLO1 activity in high stage tumors compared to low stage ones suggesting a pro-tumor role for dicarbonyl stress. Accordingly, GLO1 depletion in CRC cells promoted tumor growth in vivo that was efficiently reversed using carnosine, a potent MG scavenger. Our study represents the first demonstration that MG adducts accumulation is a consistent feature of high stage CRC tumors. Our data point to MG production and detoxification levels as an important molecular link between exacerbated glycolytic activity and CRC progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms18010213DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5297842PMC
January 2017

Stromal Modulators of TGF-β in Cancer.

J Clin Med 2017 Jan 6;6(1). Epub 2017 Jan 6.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liege, 4000 Liege, Belgium.

Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is an intriguing cytokine exhibiting dual activities in malignant disease. It is an important mediator of cancer invasion, metastasis and angiogenesis, on the one hand, while it exhibits anti-tumor functions on the other hand. Elucidating the precise role of TGF-β in malignant development and progression requires a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in its tumor suppressor to tumor promoter switch. One important aspect of TGF-β function is its interaction with proteins within the tumor microenvironment. Several stromal proteins have the natural ability to interact and modulate TGF-β function. Understanding the complex interplay between the TGF-β signaling network and these stromal proteins may provide greater insight into the development of novel therapeutic strategies that target the TGF-β axis. The present review highlights our present understanding of how stroma modulates TGF-β activity in human cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm6010007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5294960PMC
January 2017

[Asporin: the protective wall against triple-negative breast cancer].

Med Sci (Paris) 2016 Nov 23;32(11):1019-1022. Epub 2016 Dec 23.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liege, avenue de l'Hôpital 3, 4000 Liege, Belgique - Institut de Recherche en Cancérologie de Montpellier ; Inserm U1194, Montpellier F-34298, France.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/medsci/20163211020DOI Listing
November 2016

Myoferlin is a novel exosomal protein and functional regulator of cancer-derived exosomes.

Oncotarget 2016 Dec;7(50):83669-83683

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, 4000, Belgium.

Exosomes are communication mediators participating in the intercellular exchange of proteins, metabolites and nucleic acids. Recent studies have demonstrated that exosomes are characterized by a unique proteomic composition that is distinct from the cellular one. The mechanisms responsible for determining the proteome content of the exosomes remain however obscure. In the current study we employ ultrastructural approach to validate a novel exosomal protein myoferlin. This is a multiple C2-domain containing protein, known for its conserved physiological function in endocytosis and vesicle fusion biology. Emerging studies demonstrate that myoferlin is frequently overexpressed in cancer, where it promotes cancer cell migration and invasion. Our data expand these findings by showing that myoferlin is a general component of cancer cell derived exosomes from different breast and pancreatic cancer cell lines. Using proteomic analysis, we demonstrate for the first time that myoferlin depletion in cancer cells leads to a significantly modulated exosomal protein load. Such myoferlin-depleted exosomes were also functionally deficient as shown by their reduced capacity to transfer nucleic acids to human endothelial cells (HUVEC). Beyond this, myoferlin-depleted cancer exosomes also had a significantly reduced ability to induce migration and proliferation of HUVEC. The present study highlights myoferlin as a new functional player in exosome biology, calling for novel strategies to target this emerging oncogene in human cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13276DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347796PMC
December 2016

Dual Roles for CXCL4 Chemokines and CXCR3 in Angiogenesis and Invasion of Pancreatic Cancer.

Cancer Res 2016 11 9;76(22):6507-6519. Epub 2016 Sep 9.

INSERM U1029, Pessac, France.

The CXCL4 paralog CXCL4L1 is a less studied chemokine that has been suggested to exert an antiangiogenic function. However, CXCL4L1 is also expressed in patient tumors, tumor cell lines, and murine xenografts, prompting a more detailed analysis of its role in cancer pathogenesis. We used genetic and antibody-based approaches to attenuate CXCL4L1 in models of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Mechanisms of expression were assessed in cell coculture experiments, murine, and avian xenotransplants, including through an evaluation of CpG methylation and mutation of critical CpG residues. CXCL4L1 gene expression was increased greatly in primary and metastatic PDAC. We found that myofibroblasts triggered cues in the tumor microenvironment, which led to induction of CXCL4L1 in tumor cells. CXCL4L1 expression was also controlled by epigenetic modifications at critical CpG islands, which were mapped. CXCL4L1 inhibited angiogenesis but also affected tumor development more directly, depending on the tumor cell type. In vivo administration of an mAb against CXCL4L1 demonstrated a blockade in the growth of tumors positive for CXCR3, a critical receptor for CXCL4 ligands. Our findings define a protumorigenic role in PDAC development for endogenous CXCL4L1, which is independent of its antiangiogenic function. Cancer Res; 76(22); 6507-19. ©2016 AACR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-2864DOI Listing
November 2016

Methylglyoxal, a glycolysis side-product, induces Hsp90 glycation and YAP-mediated tumor growth and metastasis.

Elife 2016 10 19;5. Epub 2016 Oct 19.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-CANCER, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Metabolic reprogramming toward aerobic glycolysis unavoidably induces methylglyoxal (MG) formation in cancer cells. MG mediates the glycation of proteins to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). We have recently demonstrated that MG-induced AGEs are a common feature of breast cancer. Little is known regarding the impact of MG-mediated carbonyl stress on tumor progression. Breast tumors with MG stress presented with high nuclear YAP, a key transcriptional co-activator regulating tumor growth and invasion. Elevated MG levels resulted in sustained YAP nuclear localization/activity that could be reverted using Carnosine, a scavenger for MG. MG treatment affected Hsp90 chaperone activity and decreased its binding to LATS1, a key kinase of the Hippo pathway. Cancer cells with high MG stress showed enhanced growth and metastatic potential in vivo. These findings reinforce the cumulative evidence pointing to hyperglycemia as a risk factor for cancer incidence and bring renewed interest in MG scavengers for cancer treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.19375DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5081250PMC
October 2016

Estrogen related receptor alpha in castration-resistant prostate cancer cells promotes tumor progression in bone.

Oncotarget 2016 11;7(47):77071-77086

InsermUMR1033, F-69372 Lyon, France.

Bone metastases are one of the main complications of prostate cancer and they are incurable. We investigated whether and how estrogen receptor-related receptor alpha (ERRα) is involved in bone tumor progression associated with advanced prostate cancer. By meta-analysis, we first found that ERRα expression is correlated with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), the hallmark of progressive disease. We then analyzed tumor cell progression and the associated signaling pathways in gain-of-function/loss-of-function CRPC models in vivo and in vitro. Increased levels of ERRα in tumor cells led to rapid tumor progression, with both bone destruction and formation, and direct impacts on osteoclasts and osteoblasts. VEGF-A, WNT5A and TGFβ1 were upregulated by ERRα in tumor cells and all of these factors also significantly and positively correlated withERRα expression in CRPC patient specimens. Finally, high levels of ERRα in tumor cells stimulated the pro-metastatic factor periostin expression in the stroma, suggesting that ERRα regulates the tumor stromal cell microenvironment to enhance tumor progression. Taken together, our data demonstrate that ERRα is a regulator of CRPC cell progression in bone. Therefore, inhibiting ERRα may constitute a new therapeutic strategy for prostate cancer skeletal-related events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12787DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363569PMC
November 2016

New role of osteopontin in DNA repair and impact on human glioblastoma radiosensitivity.

Oncotarget 2016 Sep;7(39):63708-63721

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Glioblastoma (GBM) represents the most aggressive and common solid human brain tumor. We have recently demonstrated the importance of osteopontin (OPN) in the acquisition/maintenance of stemness characters and tumorigenicity of glioma initiating cells. Consultation of publicly available TCGA database indicated that high OPN expression correlated with poor survival in GBM patients. In this study, we explored the role of OPN in GBM radioresistance using an OPN-depletion strategy in U87-MG, U87-MG vIII and U251-MG human GBM cell lines. Clonogenic experiments showed that OPN-depleted GBM cells were sensitized to irradiation. In comet assays, these cells displayed higher amounts of unrepaired DNA fragments post-irradiation when compared to control. We next evaluated the phosphorylation of key markers of DNA double-strand break repair pathway. Activating phosphorylation of H2AX, ATM and 53BP1 was significantly decreased in OPN-deficient cells. The addition of recombinant OPN prior to irradiation rescued phospho-H2AX foci formation thus establishing a new link between DNA repair and OPN expression in GBM cells. Finally, OPN knockdown improved mice survival and induced a significant reduction of heterotopic human GBM xenograft when combined with radiotherapy. This study reveals a new function of OPN in DNA damage repair process post-irradiation thus further confirming its major role in GBM aggressive disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11483DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5325397PMC
September 2016

Asporin Is a Fibroblast-Derived TGF-β1 Inhibitor and a Tumor Suppressor Associated with Good Prognosis in Breast Cancer.

PLoS Med 2015 Sep 1;12(9):e1001871. Epub 2015 Sep 1.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Background: Breast cancer is a leading malignancy affecting the female population worldwide. Most morbidity is caused by metastases that remain incurable to date. TGF-β1 has been identified as a key driving force behind metastatic breast cancer, with promising therapeutic implications.

Methods And Findings: Employing immunohistochemistry (IHC) analysis, we report, to our knowledge for the first time, that asporin is overexpressed in the stroma of most human breast cancers and is not expressed in normal breast tissue. In vitro, asporin is secreted by breast fibroblasts upon exposure to conditioned medium from some but not all human breast cancer cells. While hormone receptor (HR) positive cells cause strong asporin expression, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells suppress it. Further, our findings show that soluble IL-1β, secreted by TNBC cells, is responsible for inhibiting asporin in normal and cancer-associated fibroblasts. Using recombinant protein, as well as a synthetic peptide fragment, we demonstrate the ability of asporin to inhibit TGF-β1-mediated SMAD2 phosphorylation, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, and stemness in breast cancer cells. In two in vivo murine models of TNBC, we observed that tumors expressing asporin exhibit significantly reduced growth (2-fold; p = 0.01) and metastatic properties (3-fold; p = 0.045). A retrospective IHC study performed on human breast carcinoma (n = 180) demonstrates that asporin expression is lowest in TNBC and HER2+ tumors, while HR+ tumors have significantly higher asporin expression (4-fold; p = 0.001). Assessment of asporin expression and patient outcome (n = 60; 10-y follow-up) shows that low protein levels in the primary breast lesion significantly delineate patients with bad outcome regardless of the tumor HR status (area under the curve = 0.87; 95% CI 0.78-0.96; p = 0.0001). Survival analysis, based on gene expression (n = 375; 25-y follow-up), confirmed that low asporin levels are associated with a reduced likelihood of survival (hazard ratio = 0.58; 95% CI 0.37-0.91; p = 0.017). Although these data highlight the potential of asporin to serve as a prognostic marker, confirmation of the clinical value would require a prospective study on a much larger patient cohort.

Conclusions: Our data show that asporin is a stroma-derived inhibitor of TGF-β1 and a tumor suppressor in breast cancer. High asporin expression is significantly associated with less aggressive tumors, stratifying patients according to the clinical outcome. Future pre-clinical studies should consider options for increasing asporin expression in TNBC as a promising strategy for targeted therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001871DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556693PMC
September 2015

Myoferlin plays a key role in VEGFA secretion and impacts tumor-associated angiogenesis in human pancreas cancer.

Int J Cancer 2016 Feb 8;138(3):652-63. Epub 2015 Sep 8.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the most deadly forms of cancers with no satisfactory treatment to date. Recent studies have identified myoferlin, a ferlin family member, in human pancreas adenocarcinoma where its expression was associated to a bad prognosis. However, the function of myoferlin in pancreas adenocarcinoma has not been reported. In other cell types, myoferlin is involved in several key plasma membrane processes such as fusion, repair, endocytosis and tyrosine kinase receptor activity. In this study, we showed that myoferlin silencing in BxPC-3 human pancreatic cancer cells resulted in the inhibition of cell proliferation in vitro and in a significant reduction of the tumor volume in chick chorioallantoic membrane assay. In addition to be smaller, the tumors formed by the myoferlin-silenced cells showed a marked absence of functional blood vessels. We further demonstrated that this effect was due, at least in part, to an inhibition of VEGFA secretion by BxPC-3 myoferlin-silenced cells. Using immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, we linked the decreased VEGFA secretion to an impairment of VEGFA exocytosis. The clinical relevance of our results was further strengthened by a significant correlation between myoferlin expression in a series of human pancreatic malignant lesions and their angiogenic status evaluated by the determination of the blood vessel density.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.29820DOI Listing
February 2016

Histone deacetylases and cancer-associated angiogenesis: current understanding of the biology and clinical perspectives.

Crit Rev Oncog 2015 ;20(1-2):119-37

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA Cancer, University of Liege, 4000 Liege, Belgium.

Histone deacetylase enzymes (HDACs) have been shown to be important to the development and progression of human cancers. Angiogenesis is a vital process that facilitates tumor growth and survival. More than a dozen of different activators and inhibitors are involved in at least as many diverse mechanisms to control angiogenesis. HDACs directly or indirectly control many of these regulators. In the current review, we give a brief overview of molecular mechanisms of HDAC actions and link these to the current knowledge concerning HDAC-mediated regulation of tumor-associated angiogenesis. HDAC specific knockdown studies and the use of pan-HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) contributed to the identification of: (i) HDACs that are key to angiogenesis and (ii) their multiple protein targets essential for angiogenic process. The clinical development of HDACi is an active area of investigation. In the scope of this review, we highlight several preclinical studies that examine the anti-angiogenic role of HDACi. Certainly, there is still much to be learned about the use of HDACi to inhibit tumoral angiogenesis. Recent efforts in the clinics aiming to combine broad HDACi (mainly vorinostat, which is FDA approved for T-cell lymphoma) with other anti-angiogenic therapies could, however, bring the proof that the lack of specificity of pan-HDACi may not be a major issue as compared with (long-time idealized) selective inhibitors targeting one particular HDAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1615/critrevoncog.2014012423DOI Listing
September 2015

Targeting osteopontin suppresses glioblastoma stem-like cell character and tumorigenicity in vivo.

Int J Cancer 2015 Sep 21;137(5):1047-57. Epub 2015 May 21.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liège, Belgium.

Osteopontin (OPN) is a secreted protein involved in most aspects of tumor progression and metastasis development. Elevated OPN expression has been reported in multiple types of cancer including glioblastoma (GBM), the highest grade and most aggressive brain tumor. GBMs contain a subpopulation of glioma-initiating cells (GICs) implicated in progression, therapeutic resistance and recurrence. We have previously demonstrated that OPN silencing inhibited GBM cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, activation of CD44 signaling upon OPN ligation has been recently implicated in the acquisition of a stem cell phenotype by GBM cells. The present study is aimed to explore OPN autocrine function using shRNA silencing strategy in GICs enriched from GBM cell lines and a human primary GBM grown in EGF and bFGF defined medium. The removal of these growth factors and addition of serum induced a significant loss of OPN expression in GICs. We showed that OPN-silenced GICs were unable to grow as spheres and this capacity was restored by exogenous OPN. Importantly, the expression of Sox2, Oct3/4 and Nanog, key stemness transcription factors, was significantly decreased in GICs upon OPN targeting. We identified Akt/mTOR/p70S6K as the main signaling pathway triggered following OPN-mediated EGFR activation in GICs. Finally, in an orthotopic xenograft mouse model, the tumorigenic potential of U87-MG sphere cells was completely abrogated upon OPN silencing. Our demonstration of endogenous OPN major regulatory effects on GICs stemness phenotype and tumorigenicity implies a greater role than anticipated for OPN in GBM pathogenesis from initiation and progression to probable recurrence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.29454DOI Listing
September 2015

Intratumoral heterogeneity and consequences for targeted therapies.

Bull Cancer 2015 Jan 2;102(1):17-23. Epub 2015 Jan 2.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liege, Liège, Belgium.

According to the clonal model and Darwinian evolution, cancer cell evolves through new mutations helping it to proliferate, migrate, invade and metastasize. Recent genetic studies have clearly shown that tumors, when diagnosed, consist of a large number of mutations distributed in different cells. This heterogeneity translates in substantial genetic plasticity enabling cancer cells to adapt to any hostile environment. As targeted therapy focuses only on one pathway or protein, there will always be a cell with the "right" genetic background to survive the treatment and cause tumor relapse. Because today's targeted therapies never took tumor heterogeneity into account, nearly all novel drugs fail to provide patients with a considerable improvement of the survival. However, emerging proteomic studies guided by the idea that Darwinian selection is governed by the phenotype and not genotype, show that heterogeneity at the protein level is much less complex, then it could be expected from genetic studies. This information together with the recent trend to switch from functional to cytotoxic targeting may offer an entirely new strategy to efficiently combat cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bulcan.2014.12.006DOI Listing
January 2015

Accessibilome of human glioblastoma: collagen-VI-alpha-1 is a new target and a marker of poor outcome.

J Proteome Res 2014 Dec 3;13(12):5660-9. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Metastasis Research Laboratory, GIGA-Cancer and ‡Department of Pathology, University of Liege , Bat. B23, Liege 4000, Belgium.

Functional targeted therapy has unfortunately failed to improve the outcome of glioblastoma patients. Success stories evidenced by the use of antibody-drug conjugates in other tumor types are encouraging, but targets specific to glioblastoma and accessible through the bloodstream remain scarce. In the current work, we have identified and characterized novel and accessible proteins using an innovative proteomic approach on six human glioblastomas; the corresponding data have been deposited in the PRIDE database identifier PXD001398. Among several clusters of uniquely expressed proteins, we highlight collagen-VI-alpha-1 (COL6A1) as a highly expressed tumor biomarker with low levels in most normal tissues. Immunohistochemical analysis of glioma samples from 61 patients demonstrated that COL6A1 is a significant and consistent feature of high-grade glioma. Deposits of COL6A1 were evidenced in the perivascular regions of the tumor-associated vasculature and in glioma cells found in pseudopalisade structures. Retrospective analysis of public gene-expression data sets from over 300 glioma patients demonstrated a significant correlation of poor patient outcome and high COL6A1 expression. In a proof-of-concept study, we use chicken chorioallantoic membrane in vivo model to show that COL6A1 is a reachable target for IV-injected antibodies. The present data warrant further development of human COL6A1 antibodies for assessing the quantitative biodistribution in the preclinical tumor models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/pr500657wDOI Listing
December 2014