Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
The Dynamic Relationship of Breast Cancer Cells and Fibroblasts in Fibronectin Accumulation at Primary and Metastatic Tumor Sites
Cancers 2020, 12(5), 1270; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12051270 - 17 May 2020
Cited by 34
Abstract
In breast cancer (BC), tissue stiffening via fibronectin (FN) and collagen accumulation is associated with advanced disease progression at both the primary tumor and metastatic sites. Here, we evaluate FN production in 15 BC cell lines, representing a variety of subtypes, phenotypes, metastatic [...] Read more.
In breast cancer (BC), tissue stiffening via fibronectin (FN) and collagen accumulation is associated with advanced disease progression at both the primary tumor and metastatic sites. Here, we evaluate FN production in 15 BC cell lines, representing a variety of subtypes, phenotypes, metastatic potentials, and chemotherapeutic sensitivities. We demonstrate that intracellular and soluble FN is initially lost during tumorigenic transformation but is rescued in all lines with epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity (EMP). Importantly, we establish that no BC cell line was able to independently organize a robust FN matrix. Non-transformed mammary epithelial cells were also unable to deposit FN matrices unless transglutaminase 2, a FN crosslinking enzyme, was overexpressed. Instead, BC cells manipulated the FN matrix production of fibroblasts in a phenotypic-dependent manner. In addition, varied accumulation levels were seen depending if the fibroblasts were conditioned to model paracrine signaling or endocrine signaling of the metastatic niche. In the former, fibroblasts conditioned by BC cultures with high EMP resulted in the largest FN matrix accumulation. In contrast, mesenchymal BC cells produced extracellular vesicles (EV) that resulted in the highest levels of matrix formation by conditioned fibroblasts. Overall, we demonstrate a dynamic relationship between tumor and stromal cells within the tumor microenvironment, in which the levels and fibrillarization of FN in the extracellular matrix are modulated during the particular stages of disease progression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Special Issue on Tumor Stroma )
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Article
Mir526b and Mir655 Promote Tumour Associated Angiogenesis and Lymphangiogenesis in Breast Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(7), 938; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11070938 - 04 Jul 2019
Cited by 18
Abstract
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenously produced RNAs, which regulate growth and development, and oncogenic miRNA regulate tumor growth and metastasis. Tumour-associated angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are processes involving the release of growth factors from tumour cells into the microenvioronemnt to communicate with endothelial cells [...] Read more.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenously produced RNAs, which regulate growth and development, and oncogenic miRNA regulate tumor growth and metastasis. Tumour-associated angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are processes involving the release of growth factors from tumour cells into the microenvioronemnt to communicate with endothelial cells to induce vascular propagation. Here, we examined the roles of cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 induced miR526b and miR655 in tumour-associated angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. Ectopic overexpression of miR526b and miR655 in poorly metastatic estrogen receptor (ER) positive MCF7 breast cancer cells resulted in upregulation of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis markers vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA); VEGFC; VEGFD; COX-2; lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1 (LYVE1); and receptors VEGFR1, VEGFR2, and EP4. Further, miRNA-high cell free conditioned media promoted migration and tube formation by human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), and upregulated VEGFR1, VEGFR2, and EP4 expression, showing paracrine stimulation of miRNA in the tumor microenvironment. The miRNA-induced migration and tube formation phenotypes were abrogated with EP4 antagonist or PI3K/Akt inhibitor treatments, confirming the involvement of the EP4 and PI3K/Akt pathway. Tumour supressor gene PTEN was found to be downregulated in miRNA high cells, confirming that it is a target of both miRNAs. PTEN inhibits hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF1α) and the PI3K/Akt pathway, and loss of regulation of these pathways through PTEN results in upregulation of VEGF expression. Moreover, in breast tumors, angiogenesis marker VEGFA and lymphangiogenesis marker VEGFD expression was found to be significantly higher compared with non-adjacent control, and expression of miR526b and miR655 was positively correlated with VEGFA, VEGFC, VEGFD, CD31, and LYVE1 expression in breast tumour samples. These findings further strengthen the role of miRNAs as breast cancer biomarkers and EP4 as a potential therapeutic target to abrogate miRNA-induced angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in breast cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Role of miRNAs in Cancer—Analysis of Their Targetome)
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Article
Gene Expression Comparison between the Lymph Node-Positive and -Negative Reveals a Peculiar Immune Microenvironment Signature and a Theranostic Role for WNT Targeting in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma: A Pilot Study
Cancers 2019, 11(7), 942; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11070942 - 04 Jul 2019
Cited by 44
Abstract
Over the past several years there has been much debate with regards to the prognostic and clinical significance of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with lymph nodes metastasis. The PDAC gene expression knowledge and the biologic alterations underlying the lymph node involvement convey a [...] Read more.
Over the past several years there has been much debate with regards to the prognostic and clinical significance of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with lymph nodes metastasis. The PDAC gene expression knowledge and the biologic alterations underlying the lymph node involvement convey a clinical implication in dealing with the theranostic window. To this end, we provide an original bioinformatic dissection of the gene expression differences of PDAC according to the nodal involvement from a large public available dataset. Comprehensive transcriptomic analysis from 143 RNA-seq patient’s derived samples indicated that WNT increased activation and a peculiar immune microenvironment identify subjects with nodal involvement. In frame of this thinking, we validated the WNT pathway role in increasing the likelihood of lymphatic dissemination in vitro. Moreover, we demonstrated for the first time in a PDAC model the potential therapeutic window that XAV-939—a specific WNT pathway inhibitor—has in re-educating a tumor-permissive immune system. Finally, we outline the potential implication on bystander molecular drivers exerted by WNT molecular inhibition, providing a picture of the proteomic oncogenic landscape changes elicited by XAV-939 on PDAC cells and their clinical implication. Our findings hold the promise to identify novel immune-based therapeutic strategies targeting WNT to enhance PDAC cytotoxicity and restore anti-PDAC immunity in node-positive disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research)
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Article
Determination of PD-L1 Expression in Circulating Tumor Cells of NSCLC Patients and Correlation with Response to PD-1/PD-L1 Inhibitors
Cancers 2019, 11(6), 835; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11060835 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 41
Abstract
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) hold great potential to answer key questions of how non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) evolves and develops resistance upon anti-PD-1/PD-L1 treatment. Currently, their clinical utility in NSCLC is compromised by a low detection rate with the established, Food and [...] Read more.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) hold great potential to answer key questions of how non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) evolves and develops resistance upon anti-PD-1/PD-L1 treatment. Currently, their clinical utility in NSCLC is compromised by a low detection rate with the established, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, EpCAM-based CellSearch® System. We tested an epitope-independent method (ParsortixTM system) and utilized it to assess PD-L1 expression of CTCs from NSCLC patients. We prospectively collected 127 samples, 97 of which were analyzed with the epitope-independent system in comparison to the CellSearch system. CTCs were determined by immunocytochemistry as intact, nucleated, CD45, pankeratins (K)+ cells. PD-L1 status of CTCs was evaluated from 89 samples. With the epitope-independent system, ≥1 CTC per blood sample was detected in 59 samples (61%) compared to 31 samples (32%) with the EpCAM-based system. Upon PD-L1 staining, 47% of patients harbored only PD-L1+CTCs, 47% had PD-L1+ and PD-L1CTCs, and only 7% displayed exclusively PD-L1CTCs. The percentage of PD-L1+CTCs did not correlate with the percentage of PD-L1+ in biopsies determined by immunohistochemistry (p = 0.179). Upon disease progression, all patients showed an increase in PD-L1+CTCs, while no change or a decrease in PD-L1+CTCs was observed in responding patients (n = 11; p = 0.001). Our data show a considerable heterogeneity in the PD-L1 status of CTCs from NSCLC patients. An increase of PD-L1+CTCs holds potential to predict resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Liquid Biopsy for Cancer)
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Article
Taxol-Loaded MSC-Derived Exosomes Provide a Therapeutic Vehicle to Target Metastatic Breast Cancer and Other Carcinoma Cells
Cancers 2019, 11(6), 798; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11060798 - 09 Jun 2019
Cited by 49
Abstract
MSC-derived exosomes display, among others, an efficient biocompatibility and a reduced intrinsic immunogenicity, representing a valuable vehicle for drug delivery in a tumor-therapeutic approach. Following treatment of several human mesenchymal stroma/stem-like cell (MSC) populations with sub-lethal concentrations of taxol for 24 h, exosomes [...] Read more.
MSC-derived exosomes display, among others, an efficient biocompatibility and a reduced intrinsic immunogenicity, representing a valuable vehicle for drug delivery in a tumor-therapeutic approach. Following treatment of several human mesenchymal stroma/stem-like cell (MSC) populations with sub-lethal concentrations of taxol for 24 h, exosomes were isolated and applied to different human cancer populations including A549 lung cancer, SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer, and MDA-hyb1 breast cancer cells. While MSC control exosomes revealed little if any growth inhibition on the tumor cells, exposure to taxol-loaded MSC-derived exosomes was associated with 80–90% cytotoxicity. A similar application of taxol-loaded exosomes from HuVEC displayed much fewer effects. Quantification by LC-MS/MS analysis demonstrated a 7.6-fold reduced taxol concentration in MSC exosomes when compared to equivalent cytotoxic in vitro effects achieved with taxol substances, indicating a specific and more efficient tumor-targeting property. Consequently, MSC-derived taxol exosomes were tested in vivo. Highly metastatic MDA-hyb1 breast tumors were induced in NODscid mice, and systemic intravenous application of MSC-derived taxol exosomes revealed a more than 60% reduction of subcutaneous primary tumors. Moreover, the amount of distant organ metastases observed at least in lung, liver, spleen, and kidney was reduced by 50% with MSC taxol exosomes, similar to the effects observed with taxol, although the concentration of taxol in exosomes was about 1000-fold reduced. Together, these findings in different cancer cell populations and in vivo provide promising future perspectives for drug-loaded MSC-derived exosomes in efficiently targeting primary tumors and metastases by reducing side effects. Full article
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Article
CAR T-Cells Targeting the Integrin αvβ6 and Co-Expressing the Chemokine Receptor CXCR2 Demonstrate Enhanced Homing and Efficacy against Several Solid Malignancies
Cancers 2019, 11(5), 674; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11050674 - 14 May 2019
Cited by 41
Abstract
Despite the unprecedented clinical success of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) T-cells against haematological malignancy, solid tumors impose a far greater challenge to success. Largely, this stems from an inadequate capacity of CAR T-cells that can traffic and maintain function within a hostile microenvironment. [...] Read more.
Despite the unprecedented clinical success of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) T-cells against haematological malignancy, solid tumors impose a far greater challenge to success. Largely, this stems from an inadequate capacity of CAR T-cells that can traffic and maintain function within a hostile microenvironment. To enhance tumor-directed T-cell trafficking, we have engineered CAR T-cells to acquire heightened responsiveness to interleukin (IL)-8. Circulating IL-8 levels correlate with disease burden and prognosis in multiple solid tumors in which it exerts diverse pathological functions including angiogenesis, support of cancer stem cell survival, and recruitment of immunosuppressive myeloid cells. To harness tumor-derived IL-8 for therapeutic benefit, we have co-expressed either of its cognate receptors (CXCR1 or CXCR2) in CAR T-cells that target the tumor-associated αvβ6 integrin. We demonstrate here that CXCR2-expressing CAR T-cells migrate more efficiently towards IL-8 and towards tumor conditioned media that contains this cytokine. As a result, these CAR T-cells elicit superior anti-tumor activity against established αvβ6-expressing ovarian or pancreatic tumor xenografts, with a more favorable toxicity profile. These data support the further engineering of CAR T-cells to acquire responsiveness to cancer-derived chemokines in order to improve their therapeutic activity against solid tumors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Integrins in Cancer)
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Article
Head and Body/Tail Pancreatic Carcinomas Are Not the Same Tumors
Cancers 2019, 11(4), 497; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11040497 - 08 Apr 2019
Cited by 29
Abstract
The association between pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) location (head vs. Body/Tail (B/T)) and clinical outcome remains controversial. We collected clinicopathological and gene expression data from 249 resected PDAC samples from public data sets, and we compared data between 208 head and 41 B/T [...] Read more.
The association between pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) location (head vs. Body/Tail (B/T)) and clinical outcome remains controversial. We collected clinicopathological and gene expression data from 249 resected PDAC samples from public data sets, and we compared data between 208 head and 41 B/T samples. The 2-year overall survival (OS) was better for the head than for the B/T PDACs (44 vs. 27%, p = 0.043), especially when comparing tumors with similar TNM classification (T3/4N0M0: 67% vs. 17%, p = 0.002) or from the same molecular class (squamous subtype: 31% vs. 0%, p < 0.0001). Bailey’s molecular subtypes were differentially distributed within the two groups, with the immunogenic subtype being underrepresented in the “B/T” group (p = 0.005). Uni- and multivariate analyses indicated that PDAC anatomic location was an independent prognostic factor. Finally, the supervised analysis identified 334 genes differentially expressed. Genes upregulated in the “head” group suggested lymphocyte activation and pancreas exocrine functions. Genes upregulated in the “B/T” group were related to keratinocyte differentiation, in line with the enrichment for squamous phenotype. We identified a robust gene expression signature (GES) associated with B/T PDAC location, suggesting that head and B/T PDAC are different. This GES could serve as an indicator for differential therapeutic management based on PDAC location. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research)
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Article
The Flavonoid Metabolite 2,4,6-Trihydroxybenzoic Acid Is a CDK Inhibitor and an Anti-Proliferative Agent: A Potential Role in Cancer Prevention
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030427 - 26 Mar 2019
Cited by 22
Abstract
Flavonoids have emerged as promising compounds capable of preventing colorectal cancer (CRC) due to their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is hypothesized that the metabolites of flavonoids are primarily responsible for the observed anti-cancer effects owing to the unstable nature of the parent [...] Read more.
Flavonoids have emerged as promising compounds capable of preventing colorectal cancer (CRC) due to their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is hypothesized that the metabolites of flavonoids are primarily responsible for the observed anti-cancer effects owing to the unstable nature of the parent compounds and their degradation by colonic microflora. In this study, we investigated the ability of one metabolite, 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4,6-THBA) to inhibit Cyclin Dependent Kinase (CDK) activity and cancer cell proliferation. Using in vitro kinase assays, we demonstrated that 2,4,6-THBA dose-dependently inhibited CDKs 1, 2 and 4 and in silico studies identified key amino acids involved in these interactions. Interestingly, no significant CDK inhibition was observed with the structurally related compounds 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4,5-THBA) and phloroglucinol, suggesting that orientation of the functional groups and specific amino acid interactions may play a role in inhibition. We showed that cellular uptake of 2,4,6-THBA required the expression of functional SLC5A8, a monocarboxylic acid transporter. Consistent with this, in cells expressing functional SLC5A8, 2,4,6-THBA induced CDK inhibitory proteins p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 and inhibited cell proliferation. These findings, for the first time, suggest that the flavonoid metabolite 2,4,6-THBA may mediate its effects through a CDK- and SLC5A8-dependent pathway contributing to the prevention of CRC. Full article
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Article
The Small Molecule Ephrin Receptor Inhibitor, GLPG1790, Reduces Renewal Capabilities of Cancer Stem Cells, Showing Anti-Tumour Efficacy on Preclinical Glioblastoma Models
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 359; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030359 - 13 Mar 2019
Cited by 19
Abstract
Therapies against glioblastoma (GBM) show a high percentage of failure associated with the survival of glioma stem cells (GSCs) that repopulate treated tumours. Forced differentiation of GSCs is a promising new approach in cancer treatment. Erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular (Eph) receptors drive tumourigenicity and stemness [...] Read more.
Therapies against glioblastoma (GBM) show a high percentage of failure associated with the survival of glioma stem cells (GSCs) that repopulate treated tumours. Forced differentiation of GSCs is a promising new approach in cancer treatment. Erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular (Eph) receptors drive tumourigenicity and stemness in GBM. We tested GLPG1790, a first small molecule with inhibition activity versus inhibitor of various Eph receptor kinases, in preclinical GBM models using in vitro and in vivo assays. GLPG1790 rapidly and persistently inhibited Ephrin-A1-mediated phosphorylation of Tyr588 and Ser897, completely blocking EphA2 receptor signalling. Similarly, this compound blocks the ephrin B2-mediated EphA3 and EphB4 tyrosine phosphorylation. This resulted in anti-glioma effects. GLPG1790 down-modulated the expression of mesenchymal markers CD44, Sox2, nestin, octamer-binding transcription factor 3/4 (Oct3/4), Nanog, CD90, and CD105, and up-regulated that of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and pro-neural/neuronal markers, βIII tubulin, and neurofilaments. GLPG1790 reduced tumour growth in vivo. These effects were larger compared to radiation therapy (RT; U251 and T98G xenografts) and smaller than those of temozolomide (TMZ; U251 and U87MG cell models). By contrast, GLPG1790 showed effects that were higher than Radiotherapy (RT) and similar to Temozolomide (TMZ) in orthotopic U87MG and CSCs-5 models in terms of disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). Further experiments were necessary to study possible interactions with radio- and chemotherapy. GLPG1790 demonstrated anti-tumor effects regulating both the differentiative status of Glioma Initiating Cells (GICs) and the quality of tumor microenvironment, translating into efficacy in aggressive GBM mouse models. Significant common molecular targets to radio and chemo therapy supported the combination use of GLPG1790 in ameliorative antiglioma therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glioblastoma: State of the Art and Future Perspectives)
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Article
CAFs and TGF-β Signaling Activation by Mast Cells Contribute to Resistance to Gemcitabine/Nabpaclitaxel in Pancreatic Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030330 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 44
Abstract
Tumor–stroma interactions are of key importance for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) progression. Our aim was to investigate whether cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and mast cells (MC) affected the sensitivity of PDAC cells to gemcitabine/nabpaclitaxel (GEM/NAB). For this purpose, the combination cytotoxicity and the [...] Read more.
Tumor–stroma interactions are of key importance for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) progression. Our aim was to investigate whether cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and mast cells (MC) affected the sensitivity of PDAC cells to gemcitabine/nabpaclitaxel (GEM/NAB). For this purpose, the combination cytotoxicity and the effect on tumor invasion and angiogenesis were evaluated with or without a conditioned medium from the mast cell line HMC-1 (human mast cell line-1 cells) and CAFs. Beside the clinical outcome of a homogenous population of PDAC patients, receiving GEM/NAB, was correlated to the circulating levels of mast cell tryptase and to a panel of inflammatory and immunosuppressive cytokines. CAFs neither affected drugs’ cytotoxicity nor the inhibition of angiogenesis, but promoted tumor cell invasion. The MC instead, caused resistance to drugs by reducing apoptosis, by activating the TGF-β signalling and by promoting tumor invasion. Indeed, the inhibition of TβRI serine/threonine kinase activity by galunisertib restored drugs cytotoxicity. Moreover, MC induced the release of TGF-β1, and increased expression of PAR-2, ERK1/2 and Akt activation. Accordingly, TGF-β1, tryptase and other pro-inflammatory and immunosuppressive cytokines increased in the unresponsive patients. In conclusion, MC play a pivotal role in the resistance to GEM/NAB. A correlation between high level of circulating pro-inflammatory/ immunosuppressive cytokines and unresponsiveness was found in PDAC patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research)
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Article
Pan-Cancer Analyses Reveal Genomic Features of FOXM1 Overexpression in Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(2), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11020251 - 21 Feb 2019
Cited by 43
Abstract
FOXM1 is frequently overexpressed in cancer, but this has not been studied in a comprehensive manner. We utilized genotype-tissue expression (GTEx) normal and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) tumor data to define FOXM1 expression, including its isoforms, and to determine the genetic alterations [...] Read more.
FOXM1 is frequently overexpressed in cancer, but this has not been studied in a comprehensive manner. We utilized genotype-tissue expression (GTEx) normal and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) tumor data to define FOXM1 expression, including its isoforms, and to determine the genetic alterations that promote FOXM1 expression in cancer. Additionally, we used human fallopian tube epithelial (FTE) cells to dissect the role of Retinoblastoma (Rb)-E2F and Cyclin E1 in FOXM1 regulation, and a novel human embryonic kidney cell (HEK293T) CRISPR FOXM1 knockout model to define isoform-specific transcriptional programs. FOXM1 expression, at the mRNA and protein level, was significantly elevated in tumors with FOXM1 amplification, p53 inactivation, and Rb-E2F deregulation. FOXM1 expression was remarkably high in testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT), high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC), and basal breast cancer (BBC). FOXM1 expression in cancer was associated with genomic instability, as measured using aneuploidy signatures. FTE models confirmed a role for Rb-E2F signaling in FOXM1 regulation and in particular identified Cyclin E1 as a novel inducer of FOXM1 expression. Among the three FOXM1 isoforms, FOXM1c showed the highest expression in normal and tumor tissues and cancer cell lines. The CRISPR knockout model demonstrated that FOXM1b and FOXM1c are transcriptionally active, while FOXM1a is not. Finally, we were unable to confirm the existence of a FOXM1 auto-regulatory loop. This study provides significant and novel information regarding the frequency, causes, and consequences of elevated FOXM1 expression in human cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fox Proteins and Cancers: Old Proteins with Emerging New Tales)
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Article
Capture of Circulating Tumour Cell Clusters Using Straight Microfluidic Chips
Cancers 2019, 11(1), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11010089 - 14 Jan 2019
Cited by 40
Abstract
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are the metastatic precursors to distant disease in head and neck cancers (HNCs). Whilst the prognostic and predictive value of single CTCs have been well documented, the role of CTC clusters, which potentially have a higher metastatic capacity are [...] Read more.
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are the metastatic precursors to distant disease in head and neck cancers (HNCs). Whilst the prognostic and predictive value of single CTCs have been well documented, the role of CTC clusters, which potentially have a higher metastatic capacity are limited. In this study, the authors used a novel straight microfluidic chip to focus and capture CTCs. The chip offers high cell recoveries with clinically relevant numbers (10–500 cells/mL) without the need for further purification. Single CTCs were identified in 10/21 patient samples (range 2–24 CTCs/mL), CTC clusters in 9/21 patient samples (range 1–6 CTC clusters/mL) and circulating tumour microemboli (CTM) in 2/21 samples. This study demonstrated that CTC clusters contain EGFR amplified single CTCs within the cluster volume. This novel microfluidic chip demonstrates the efficient sorting and preservation of single CTCs, CTC clusters and CTMs. The authors intend to expand this study to a larger cohort to determine the clinical implication of the CTC subsets in HNC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Liquid Biopsy for Cancer)
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Article
Spectrum of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition Phenotypes in Circulating Tumour Cells from Early Breast Cancer Patients
Cancers 2019, 11(1), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11010059 - 09 Jan 2019
Cited by 25
Abstract
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) can provide valuable prognostic information in a number of epithelial cancers. However, their detection is hampered due to their molecular heterogeneity, which can be induced by the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process. Therefore, current knowledge about CTCs from clinical samples [...] Read more.
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) can provide valuable prognostic information in a number of epithelial cancers. However, their detection is hampered due to their molecular heterogeneity, which can be induced by the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process. Therefore, current knowledge about CTCs from clinical samples is often limited due to an inability to isolate wide spectrum of CTCs phenotypes. In the current work, we aimed at isolation and molecular characterization of CTCs with different EMT status in order to establish their clinical significance in early breast cancer patients. We have obtained CTCs-enriched blood fraction from 83 breast cancer patients in which we have tested the expression of epithelial, mesenchymal and general breast cancer CTCs markers (MGB1/HER2/CK19/CDH1/CDH2/VIM/PLS3), cancer stem cell markers (CD44, NANOG, ALDH1, OCT-4, CD133) and cluster formation gene (plakoglobin). We have shown that in the CTCs-positive patients, epithelial, epithelial-mesenchymal and mesenchymal CTCs markers were detected at a similar rate (in 28%, 24% and 24%, respectively). Mesenchymal CTCs were characterized by the most aggressive phenotype (significantly higher expression of CXCR4, uPAR, CD44, NANOG, p < 0.05 for all), presence of lymph node metastases (p = 0.043), larger tumour size (p = 0.023) and 7.33 higher risk of death in the multivariate analysis (95% CI 1.06–50.41, p = 0.04). Epithelial-mesenchymal subtype, believed to correspond to highly plastic and aggressive state, did not show significant impact on survival. Gene expression profile of samples with epithelial-mesenchymal CTCs group resembled pure epithelial or pure mesenchymal phenotypes, possibly underlining degree of EMT activation in particular patient’s sample. Molecular profiling of CTCs EMT phenotype provides more detailed and clinically informative results, proving the role of EMT in malignant cancer progression in early breast cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs))
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Article
Oxymatrine Attenuates Tumor Growth and Deactivates STAT5 Signaling in a Lung Cancer Xenograft Model
Cancers 2019, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11010049 - 07 Jan 2019
Cited by 38
Abstract
Oxymatrine (OMT) is a major alkaloid found in radix Sophorae flavescentis extract and has been reported to exhibit various pharmacological activities. We elucidated the detailed molecular mechanism(s) underlying the therapeutic actions of OMT in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and a xenograft [...] Read more.
Oxymatrine (OMT) is a major alkaloid found in radix Sophorae flavescentis extract and has been reported to exhibit various pharmacological activities. We elucidated the detailed molecular mechanism(s) underlying the therapeutic actions of OMT in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and a xenograft mouse model. Because the STAT5 signaling cascade has a significant role in regulating cell proliferation and survival in tumor cells, we hypothesized that OMT may disrupt this signaling cascade to exert its anticancer effects. We found that OMT can inhibit the constitutive activation of STAT5 by suppressing the activation of JAK1/2 and c-Src, nuclear localization, as well as STAT5 binding to DNA in A549 cells and abrogated IL-6-induced STAT5 phosphorylation in H1299 cells. We also report that a sub-optimal concentration of OMT when used in combination with a low dose of paclitaxel produced significant anti-cancer effects by inhibiting cell proliferation and causing substantial apoptosis. In a preclinical lung cancer mouse model, OMT when used in combination with paclitaxel produced a significant reduction in tumor volume. These results suggest that OMT in combination with paclitaxel can cause an attenuation of lung cancer growth both in vitro and in vivo. Full article
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Article
Effects of SAHA and EGCG on Growth Potentiation of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells
Cancers 2019, 11(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11010023 - 27 Dec 2018
Cited by 25
Abstract
Triple-negative breast cancer comprises approximately 15–20% of all breast cancers diagnosed and is nearly twice as common in black women than white women in the United States. We evaluated the effects of two epigenetic-modifying compounds on markers of growth potential in several triple-negative [...] Read more.
Triple-negative breast cancer comprises approximately 15–20% of all breast cancers diagnosed and is nearly twice as common in black women than white women in the United States. We evaluated the effects of two epigenetic-modifying compounds on markers of growth potential in several triple-negative breast cancer cell lines. Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor currently used in the treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphoma, was administered to triple-negative breast cancer cells alone or in combination with epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor isolated from green tea. The compounds affected the expression of oncogenic miR-221/222 and tumor suppressors, p27 and PTEN, in addition to estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). E-cadherin expression was increased while N-cadherin was decreased, indicating a more epithelial phenotype. In addition, the activity of DNMTs was diminished with the treatments, and there was a significant enrichment of AcH3 within the promoter of p27 and PTEN, suggesting a role of epigenetic mechanisms for the aforementioned changes. These results translated to reduced migration of the triple-negative breast cancer cells with the treatments. Together, these findings support the role of SAHA and EGCG in limiting growth and proliferation of breast cancer cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epigenetic Influence on Cancer Metastasis and/or Treatment Resistance)
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Article
Immune Gene Signature Delineates a Subclass of Papillary Thyroid Cancer with Unfavorable Clinical Outcomes
Cancers 2018, 10(12), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10120494 - 05 Dec 2018
Cited by 31
Abstract
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) represents a heterogeneous disease with diverse clinical outcomes highlighting a need to identify robust biomarkers with clinical relevance. We applied non-negative matrix factorization-based deconvolution to publicly available gene expression profiles of thyroid cancers in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) [...] Read more.
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) represents a heterogeneous disease with diverse clinical outcomes highlighting a need to identify robust biomarkers with clinical relevance. We applied non-negative matrix factorization-based deconvolution to publicly available gene expression profiles of thyroid cancers in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) consortium. Among three metagene signatures identified, two signatures were enriched in canonical BRAF-like and RAS-like thyroid cancers with up-regulation of genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and cell adhesions, respectively. The third metagene signature representing up-regulation of immune-related genes further segregated BRAF-like and RAS-like PTCs into their respective subgroups of immunoreactive (IR) and immunodeficient (ID), respectively. BRAF-IR PTCs showed enrichment of tumor infiltrating immune cells, tall cell variant PTC, and shorter recurrence-free survival compared to BRAF-ID PTCs. RAS-IR and RAS-ID PTC subtypes included majority of normal thyroid tissues and follicular variant PTC, respectively. Immunopathological features of PTC subtypes such as immune cell fraction, repertoire of T cell receptors, cytolytic activity, and expression level of immune checkpoints such as and PD-L1 and CTLA-4 were consistently observed in two different cohorts. Taken together, an immune-related metagene signature can classify PTCs into four molecular subtypes, featuring the distinct histologic type, genetic and transcriptional alterations, and potential clinical significance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thyroid Cancer)
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Network Pharmacology to Unveil the Biological Basis of Health-Strengthening Herbal Medicine in Cancer Treatment
Cancers 2018, 10(11), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10110461 - 21 Nov 2018
Cited by 48
Abstract
Health-strengthening (Fu-Zheng) herbs is a representative type of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) widely used for cancer treatment in China, which is in contrast to pathogen eliminating (Qu-Xie) herbs. However, the commonness in the biological basis of health-strengthening herbs remains [...] Read more.
Health-strengthening (Fu-Zheng) herbs is a representative type of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) widely used for cancer treatment in China, which is in contrast to pathogen eliminating (Qu-Xie) herbs. However, the commonness in the biological basis of health-strengthening herbs remains to be holistically elucidated. In this study, an innovative high-throughput research strategy integrating computational and experimental methods of network pharmacology was proposed, and 22 health-strengthening herbs were selected for the investigation. Additionally, 25 pathogen-eliminating herbs were included for comparison. First, based on network-based, large-scale target prediction, we analyzed the target profiles of 1446 TCM compounds. Next, the actions of 166 compounds on 420 antitumor or immune-related genes were measured using a unique high-throughput screening strategy by high-throughput sequencing, referred to as HTS2. Furthermore, the structural information and the antitumor activity of the compounds in health-strengthening and pathogen-eliminating herbs were compared. Using network pharmacology analysis, we discovered that: (1) Functionally, the predicted targets of compounds from health strengthening herbs were enriched in both immune-related and antitumor pathways, similar to those of pathogen eliminating herbs. As a case study, galloylpaeoniflorin, a compound in a health strengthening herb Radix Paeoniae Alba (Bai Shao), was found to exert antitumor effects both in vivo and in vitro. Yet the inhibitory effects of the compounds from pathogen eliminating herbs on tumor cells proliferation as a whole were significantly stronger than those in health-strengthening herbs (p < 0.001). Moreover, the percentage of assay compounds in health-strengthening herbs with the predicted targets enriched in the immune-related pathways (e.g., natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity and antigen processing and presentation) were significantly higher than that in pathogen-eliminating herbs (p < 0.05). This finding was supported by the immune-enhancing effects of a group of compounds from health-strengthening herbs indicated by differentially expressed genes in the HTS2 results. (2) Compounds in the same herb may exhibit the same or distinguished mechanisms in cancer treatment, which was demonstrated as the compounds influence pathway gene expressions in the same or opposite directions. For example, acetyl ursolic acid and specnuezhenide in a health-strengthening herb Fructus Ligustri lucidi (Nv Zhen Zi) both upregulated gene expressions in T cell receptor signaling pathway. Together, this study suggested greater potentials in tumor immune microenvironment regulation and tumor prevention than in direct killing tumor cells of health-strengthening herbs generally, and provided a systematic strategy for unveiling the commonness in the biological basis of health-strengthening herbs in cancer treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Bioinformatics in Cancers)
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Article
Ophiopogonin D, a Steroidal Glycoside Abrogates STAT3 Signaling Cascade and Exhibits Anti-Cancer Activity by Causing GSH/GSSG Imbalance in Lung Carcinoma
Cancers 2018, 10(11), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10110427 - 08 Nov 2018
Cited by 34
Abstract
Natural medicinal plants are multi-targeted in nature and their anti-cancer activities are also complex and varied, thus requiring a more systematic analysis of their modes of action. Since the activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is often deregulated in [...] Read more.
Natural medicinal plants are multi-targeted in nature and their anti-cancer activities are also complex and varied, thus requiring a more systematic analysis of their modes of action. Since the activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is often deregulated in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells and tissue specimens, its negative regulation can form the basis for identification of targeted therapy. In this report, we analyzed the possible anti-cancer effects of ophiopogonin D (OP-D) and the underlying mechanisms by which OP-D exerts its actions in NSCLC. OP-D exhibited substantial suppressive activity on STAT3 signaling and this effect was found to be mediated via oxidative stress phenomena caused by disturbance in GSH/GSSG ratio. In addition, OP-D induced apoptosis, activated caspase mediated apoptotic cascade and decreased expression of various oncogenic genes. Consistently, OP-D treatment significantly reduced NSCLC tumor growth in preclinical mouse model with via decreasing levels of p-STAT3. OP-D was also found to attenuate the expression of STAT3-regulated anti-apoptosis, cell cycle regulator, and angiogenesis biomarkers. Our findings suggest that OP-D can induce apoptosis and exert anti-tumor effects by inhibition of STAT3 signaling pathways in NSCLC. Full article
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Article
Prolonged Idasanutlin (RG7388) Treatment Leads to the Generation of p53-Mutated Cells
Cancers 2018, 10(11), 396; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10110396 - 24 Oct 2018
Cited by 20
Abstract
The protein p53 protects the organism against carcinogenic events by the induction of cell cycle arrest and DNA repair program upon DNA damage. Virtually all cancers inactivate p53 either by mutations/deletions of the TP53 gene or by boosting negative regulation of p53 activity. [...] Read more.
The protein p53 protects the organism against carcinogenic events by the induction of cell cycle arrest and DNA repair program upon DNA damage. Virtually all cancers inactivate p53 either by mutations/deletions of the TP53 gene or by boosting negative regulation of p53 activity. The overexpression of MDM2 protein is one of the most common mechanisms utilized by p53wt cancers to keep p53 inactive. Inhibition of MDM2 action by its antagonists has proved its anticancer potential in vitro and is now tested in clinical trials. However, the prolonged treatment of p53wt cells with MDM2 antagonists leads to the development of secondary resistance, as shown first for Nutlin-3a, and later for three other small molecules. In the present study, we show that secondary resistance occurs also after treatment of p53wt cells with idasanutlin (RG7388, RO5503781), which is the only MDM2 antagonist that has passed phase II and entered phase III clinical trials, so far. Idasanutlin strongly activates p53, as evidenced by the induction of p21 expression and potent cell cycle arrest in all the three cell lines tested, i.e., MCF-7, U-2 OS, and SJSA-1. Notably, apoptosis was induced only in SJSA-1 cells, while MCF-7 and U-2 OS cells were able to restore the proliferation upon the removal of idasanutlin. Moreover, idasanutlin-treated U-2 OS cells could be cultured for long time periods in the presence of the drug. This prolonged treatment led to the generation of p53-mutated resistant cell populations. This resistance was generated de novo, as evidenced by the utilization of monoclonal U-2 OS subpopulations. Thus, although idasanutlin presents much improved activities compared to its precursor, it displays the similar weaknesses, which are limited elimination of cancer cells and the generation of p53-mutated drug-resistant subpopulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Chemoresistance)
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Article
Reduction of Human Glioblastoma Spheroids Using Cold Atmospheric Plasma: The Combined Effect of Short- and Long-Lived Reactive Species
Cancers 2018, 10(11), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10110394 - 23 Oct 2018
Cited by 38
Abstract
Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) is a promising technology against multiple types of cancer. However, the current findings on the effect of CAP on two-dimensional glioblastoma cultures do not consider the role of the tumour microenvironment. The aim of this study was to determine [...] Read more.
Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) is a promising technology against multiple types of cancer. However, the current findings on the effect of CAP on two-dimensional glioblastoma cultures do not consider the role of the tumour microenvironment. The aim of this study was to determine the ability of CAP to reduce and control glioblastoma spheroid tumours in vitro. Three-dimensional glioblastoma spheroid tumours (U87-Red, U251-Red) were consecutively treated directly and indirectly with a CAP using dry He, He + 5% H2O or He + 20% H2O. The cytotoxicity and spheroid shrinkage were monitored using live imaging. The reactive oxygen and nitrogen species produced in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) were measured by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and colourimetry. Cell migration was also assessed. Our results demonstrate that consecutive CAP treatments (He + 20% H2O) substantially shrank U87-Red spheroids and to a lesser degree, U251-Red spheroids. The cytotoxic effect was due to the short- and long-lived species delivered by CAP: they inhibited spheroid growth, reduced cell migration and decreased proliferation in CAP-treated spheroids. Direct treatments were more effective than indirect treatments, suggesting the importance of CAP-generated, short-lived species for the growth inhibition and cell cytotoxicity of solid glioblastoma tumours. We concluded that CAP treatment can effectively reduce glioblastoma tumour size and restrict cell migration, thus demonstrating the potential of CAP therapies for glioblastoma. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glioblastoma: State of the Art and Future Perspectives)
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Article
Microenvironmental pH and Exosome Levels Interplay in Human Cancer Cell Lines of Different Histotypes
Cancers 2018, 10(10), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10100370 - 05 Oct 2018
Cited by 61
Abstract
Exosomes are extracellular nanovesicles primarily involved in the pathogenesis of many diseases including cancer. This study was set out from recent evidence that extracellular acidity may increase the exosome release by cancer cells. However, this preliminary evidence did not provide solid information on [...] Read more.
Exosomes are extracellular nanovesicles primarily involved in the pathogenesis of many diseases including cancer. This study was set out from recent evidence that extracellular acidity may increase the exosome release by cancer cells. However, this preliminary evidence did not provide solid information on whether the pH-dependent exosome over-release represents a common feature of all cancers. To the purpose of demonstrating that cancer acidity is a major determinant in inducing an increased exosome release by human cancer cells, we evaluated human tumor cell lines deriving from either colon, breast, prostate cancers, melanoma, or osteosarcoma. All cell lines were cultured in either the current 7.4 pH or the typical pH of cancer that is 6.5. The levels of released extracellular vesicles were measured by protein counts, nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), and nanoscale flow cytometry. The results showed that pH 6.5 induced a remarkable increase in exosome release, and buffering the medium significantly reduced the exosome release in all cancers. With these results, we provide, for the first time, evidence that tumor acidity and exosome levels represent common cancer phenotypes. Full article
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Article
Cell-Free DNA Methylation of Selected Genes Allows for Early Detection of the Major Cancers in Women
Cancers 2018, 10(10), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10100357 - 26 Sep 2018
Cited by 20
Abstract
Background: Breast (BrC), colorectal (CRC) and lung (LC) cancers are the three most common and deadly cancers in women. Cancer screening entails an increase in early stage disease detection but is hampered by high false-positive rates and overdiagnosis/overtreatment. Aberrant DNA methylation occurs early [...] Read more.
Background: Breast (BrC), colorectal (CRC) and lung (LC) cancers are the three most common and deadly cancers in women. Cancer screening entails an increase in early stage disease detection but is hampered by high false-positive rates and overdiagnosis/overtreatment. Aberrant DNA methylation occurs early in cancer and may be detected in circulating cell-free DNA (ccfDNA), constituting a valuable biomarker and enabling non-invasive testing for cancer detection. We aimed to develop a ccfDNA methylation-based test for simultaneous detection of BrC, CRC and LC. Methods: CcfDNA from BrC, CRC and LC patients and asymptomatic controls were extracted from plasma, sodium-bisulfite modified and whole-genome amplified. APC, FOXA1, MGMT, RARβ2, RASSF1A, SCGB3A1, SEPT9, SHOX2 and SOX17 promoter methylation levels were determined by multiplex quantitative methylation-specific PCR. Associations between methylation and standard clinicopathological parameters were assessed. Biomarkers’ diagnostic performance was also evaluated. Results: A “PanCancer” panel (APC, FOXA1, RASSF1A) detected the three major cancers with 72% sensitivity and 74% specificity, whereas a “CancerType” panel (SCGB3A1, SEPT9 and SOX17) indicated the most likely cancer topography, with over 80% specificity, although with limited sensitivity. Conclusions: CcfDNA’s methylation assessment allows for simultaneous screening of BrC, CRC and LC, complementing current modalities, perfecting cancer suspects’ triage, increasing compliance and cost-effectiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Biomarkers)
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Article
TRPC6 Channels Are Required for Proliferation, Migration and Invasion of Breast Cancer Cell Lines by Modulation of Orai1 and Orai3 Surface Exposure
Cancers 2018, 10(9), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10090331 - 14 Sep 2018
Cited by 31
Abstract
Transient receptor potential channels convey signaling information from a number of stimuli to a wide variety of cellular functions, mainly by inducing changes in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration. Different members of the TRPC, TRPM and TRPV subfamilies have been reported to play a [...] Read more.
Transient receptor potential channels convey signaling information from a number of stimuli to a wide variety of cellular functions, mainly by inducing changes in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration. Different members of the TRPC, TRPM and TRPV subfamilies have been reported to play a role in tumorigenesis. Here we show that the estrogen receptor positive and triple negative breast cancer cell lines, MCF7 and MDA-MB-231, respectively, exhibit enhanced expression of the TRPC6 channel as compared to the non-tumoral MCF10A cell line. In vitro TRPC6 knockdown using shRNA impaired MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cell proliferation, migration and invasion detected by BrdU incorporation, wound healing and Boyden chamber assays, respectively. Using RNAi-mediated TRPC6 silencing as well as overexpression of the pore-dead dominant-negative TRPC6 mutant we have found that TRPC6 plays a relevant role in the activation of store-operated Ca2+ entry in the breast cancer cell lines but not in non-tumoral breast cells. Finally, we have found that TRPC6 interacts with Orai1 and Orai3 in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells and is required for the translocation of Orai1 and Orai3 to the plasma membrane in MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 cells, respectively, upon Ca2+ store depletion. These findings introduce a novel mechanism for the modulation of Ca2+ influx and the development of different cancer hallmarks in breast cancer cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ion Channels in Cancer)
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Article
miR-1246 Targets CCNG2 to Enhance Cancer Stemness and Chemoresistance in Oral Carcinomas
Cancers 2018, 10(8), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10080272 - 16 Aug 2018
Cited by 30
Abstract
MiRNAs have been recognized as crucial components in carcinogenesis, but whether miR-1246 affects the cancer stemness and drug resistance in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has not been fully understood and its downstream targets still need to be unraveled. In the present work, [...] Read more.
MiRNAs have been recognized as crucial components in carcinogenesis, but whether miR-1246 affects the cancer stemness and drug resistance in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has not been fully understood and its downstream targets still need to be unraveled. In the present work, we employed miRNAs RT-PCR analysis to evaluate the expression of miR-1246 in tumor tissues and oral cancer stem cells (OCSC). Stemness phenotypes, including self-renewal, migration, invasion, colony formation capacities, and in vivo oncogenicity of oral cancer cells following transfected with miR-1246 inhibitors or mimics were examined. Our results suggested that the expression level of miR-1246 was significantly upregulated in the tumor tissues and OCSC. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of OSCC patients with high levels of miR-1246 had the worst survival rate compared to their low-expression counterparts. Inhibition of miR-1246 in OCSC significantly reduced the stemness hallmarks, while overexpression of miR-1246 enhanced these characteristics. Moreover, we showed that downregulation of miR-1246 decreased chemoresistance. In addition, we verified that miR-1246-inhibited CCNG2 contributed to the cancer stemness of OSCC. These results demonstrated the significance of miR-1246 in the regulation of OSCC stemness. Targeting miR-1246-CCNG2 axis may be beneficial to suppress cancer relapse and metastasis in OSCC patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Chemoresistance)
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Article
Multimodal Radiomic Features for the Predicting Gleason Score of Prostate Cancer
Cancers 2018, 10(8), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10080249 - 28 Jul 2018
Cited by 41
Abstract
Background: Novel radiomic features are enabling the extraction of biological data from routine sequences of MRI images. This study’s purpose was to establish a new model, based on the joint intensity matrix (JIM), to predict the Gleason score (GS) of prostate cancer (PCa) [...] Read more.
Background: Novel radiomic features are enabling the extraction of biological data from routine sequences of MRI images. This study’s purpose was to establish a new model, based on the joint intensity matrix (JIM), to predict the Gleason score (GS) of prostate cancer (PCa) patients. Methods: A retrospective dataset comprised of the diagnostic imaging data of 99 PCa patients was used, extracted from The Cancer Imaging Archive’s (TCIA) T2-Weighted (T2-WI) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) images. Radiomic features derived from JIM and the grey level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM) were extracted from the reported tumor locations. The Kruskal-Wallis test and Spearman’s rank correlation identified features related to the GS. The Random Forest classifier model was implemented to identify the best performing signature of JIM and GLCM radiomic features to predict for GS. Results: Five JIM-derived features: contrast, homogeneity, difference variance, dissimilarity, and inverse difference were independent predictors of GS (p < 0.05). Combined JIM and GLCM analysis provided the best performing area-under-the-curve, with values of 78.40% for GS ≤ 6, 82.35% for GS = 3 + 4, and 64.76% for GS ≥ 4 + 3. Conclusion: This retrospective study produced a novel predictive model for GS by the incorporation of JIM data from standard diagnostic MRI images. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Biomarkers)
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Article
Factors Influencing the Clinical Presentation of Breakthrough Pain in Cancer Patients
Cancers 2018, 10(6), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10060175 - 01 Jun 2018
Cited by 24
Abstract
Background: The aim of this study was to identify potential variables influencing the clinical presentation of breakthrough cancer pain (BTP). Methods: Cancer patients with a diagnosis of BTP were enrolled. Demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as background pain and BTP characteristics were [...] Read more.
Background: The aim of this study was to identify potential variables influencing the clinical presentation of breakthrough cancer pain (BTP). Methods: Cancer patients with a diagnosis of BTP were enrolled. Demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as background pain and BTP characteristics were collected. Multivariate analyses were conducted to assess the correlation between BTP characteristics and the variables examined. Results: Data of 4016 patients were analysed. Average daily number of BTP episodes was 2.4, mean intensity was 7.5, and a mean duration was 43.3 min. A short onset BTP was observed in 68.9% of patients. In 30.5% of patients BTP was predictable. There were 86.0% of participants who reported a marked interference of BTP with their daily activities. Furthermore, 86.8% of patients were receiving opioids for the management of BTP. The average time to meaningful pain relief was 16.5 min and 70.9% of patients were satisfied with their BTP medications. Age, head and neck cancer, Karnofsky, background pain intensity, predictable and fast onset BTP were independently associated with the number of BTP episodes. BTP pain intensity was independently associated with background pain intensity, fast onset BTP, and Karnofsky. Neuropathic pain mechanism was independently associated with unpredictable BTP. Variables independently associated with a longer duration of BTP were age, place of visit, cancer diagnosis, disease-oriented therapy, background pain intensity and mechanism, and unpredictable BTP. Age, Karnofsky, background pain intensity, fast onset, and long duration of BTP were independently associated with interference with daily activity. Conclusions: BTP has a variable presentation depending on interdependent relationships among its different characteristics. Full article
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Article
A Phase II Study of Pelareorep (REOLYSIN®) in Combination with Gemcitabine for Patients with Advanced Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma
Cancers 2018, 10(6), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10060160 - 25 May 2018
Cited by 39
Abstract
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a poor prognosis, with 1 and 5-year survival rates of ~18% and 7% respectively. FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine in combination with nab-paclitaxel are standard treatment options for metastatic disease. However, both regimens are more toxic than gemcitabine alone. Pelareorep [...] Read more.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a poor prognosis, with 1 and 5-year survival rates of ~18% and 7% respectively. FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine in combination with nab-paclitaxel are standard treatment options for metastatic disease. However, both regimens are more toxic than gemcitabine alone. Pelareorep (REOLYSIN®), a proprietary isolate of reovirus Type 3 Dearing, has shown antitumor activity in clinical and preclinical models. In addition to direct cytotoxic effects, pelareorep can trigger antitumor immune responses. Due to the high frequency of RAS mutations in PDAC, we hypothesized that pelareorep would promote selective reovirus replication in pancreatic tumors and enhance the anticancer activity of gemcitabine. Chemotherapy-naïve patients with advanced PDAC were eligible for the study. The primary objective was Clinical Benefit Rate (complete response (CR) + partial response (PR) + stable disease (SD) ≥ 12 weeks) and secondary objectives include overall survival (OS), toxicity, and pharmacodynamics (PD) analysis. The study enrolled 34 patients; results included one partial response, 23 stable disease, and 5 progressive disease. The median OS was 10.2 months, with a 1- and 2-year survival rate of 45% and 24%, respectively. The treatment was well tolerated with manageable nonhematological toxicities. PD analysis revealed reovirus replication within pancreatic tumor and associated apoptosis. Upregulation of immune checkpoint marker PD-L1 suggests future consideration of combining oncolytic virus therapy with anti-PD-L1 inhibitors. We conclude that pelareorep complements single agent gemcitabine in PDAC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oncolytic Virotherapy)
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Article
AZD1775 Increases Sensitivity to Olaparib and Gemcitabine in Cancer Cells with p53 Mutations
Cancers 2018, 10(5), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10050149 - 19 May 2018
Cited by 23
Abstract
Tumor suppressor p53 is responsible for enforcing cell cycle checkpoints at G1/S and G2/M in response to DNA damage, thereby allowing both normal and tumor cells to repair DNA before entering S and M. However, tumor cells with absent or mutated p53 are [...] Read more.
Tumor suppressor p53 is responsible for enforcing cell cycle checkpoints at G1/S and G2/M in response to DNA damage, thereby allowing both normal and tumor cells to repair DNA before entering S and M. However, tumor cells with absent or mutated p53 are able to activate alternative signaling pathways that maintain the G2/M checkpoint, which becomes uniquely critical for the survival of such tumor cells. We hypothesized that abrogation of the G2 checkpoint might preferentially sensitize p53-defective tumor cells to DNA-damaging agents and spare normal cells with intact p53 function. The tyrosine kinase WEE1 regulates cdc2 activity at the G2/M checkpoint and prevents entry into mitosis in response to DNA damage or stalled DNA replication. AZD1775 is a WEE1 inhibitor that overrides and opens the G2/M checkpoint by preventing WEE1-mediated phosphorylation of cdc2 at tyrosine 15. In this study, we assessed the effect of AZD1775 on endometrial and ovarian cancer cells in the presence of two DNA damaging agents, the PARP1 inhibitor, olaparib, and the chemotherapeutic agent, gemcitabine. We show that AZD1775 alone is effective as a therapeutic agent against some p53 mutated cell models. Moreover, the combination of AZD1775 with olaparib or gemcitabine is synergistic in cells with mutant p53 and constitutes a new approach that should be considered in the treatment of advanced and recurrent gynecologic cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue p53 Signaling in Cancers)
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Article
Hypoxia-Induced Cisplatin Resistance in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells Is Mediated by HIF-1α and Mutant p53 and Can Be Overcome by Induction of Oxidative Stress
Cancers 2018, 10(4), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10040126 - 21 Apr 2018
Cited by 28
Abstract
The compound APR-246 (PRIMA-1MET) is a known reactivator of (mutant) p53 and inducer of oxidative stress which can sensitize cancer cells to platinum-based chemotherapeutics. However, the effect of a hypoxic tumor environment has been largely overlooked in this interaction. This study [...] Read more.
The compound APR-246 (PRIMA-1MET) is a known reactivator of (mutant) p53 and inducer of oxidative stress which can sensitize cancer cells to platinum-based chemotherapeutics. However, the effect of a hypoxic tumor environment has been largely overlooked in this interaction. This study focusses on the role of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and the p53 tumor suppressor protein in hypoxia-induced cisplatin resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and the potential of APR-246 to overcome this resistance. We observed that hypoxia-induced cisplatin resistance only occurred in the p53 mutant NCI-H2228Q331* cell line, and not in the wild type A549 and mutant NCI-H1975R273H cell lines. Cisplatin reduced HIF-1α protein levels in NCI-H2228Q331* cells, leading to a shift in expression from HIF-1α-dependent to p53-dependent transcription targets under hypoxia. APR-246 was able to overcome hypoxia-induced cisplatin resistance in NCI-H2228Q331* cells in a synergistic manner without affecting mutant p53Q331* transcriptional activity, but significantly depleting total glutathione levels more efficiently under hypoxic conditions. Synergism was dependent on the presence of mutant p53Q331* and the induction of reactive oxygen species, with depletion of one or the other leading to loss of synergism. Our data further support the rationale of combining APR-246 with cisplatin in NSCLC, since their synergistic interaction is retained or enforced under hypoxic conditions in the presence of mutant p53. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue p53 Signaling in Cancers)
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Article
Elevated Polyamines in Saliva of Pancreatic Cancer
Cancers 2018, 10(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers10020043 - 05 Feb 2018
Cited by 21
Abstract
Detection of pancreatic cancer (PC) at a resectable stage is still difficult because of the lack of accurate detection tests. The development of accurate biomarkers in low or non-invasive biofluids is essential to enable frequent tests, which would help increase the opportunity of [...] Read more.
Detection of pancreatic cancer (PC) at a resectable stage is still difficult because of the lack of accurate detection tests. The development of accurate biomarkers in low or non-invasive biofluids is essential to enable frequent tests, which would help increase the opportunity of PC detection in early stages. Polyamines have been reported as possible biomarkers in urine and saliva samples in various cancers. Here, we analyzed salivary metabolites, including polyamines, using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry. Salivary samples were collected from patients with PC (n = 39), those with chronic pancreatitis (CP, n = 14), and controls (C, n = 26). Polyamines, such as spermine, N1-acetylspermidine, and N1-acetylspermine, showed a significant difference between patients with PC and those with C, and the combination of four metabolites including N1-acetylspermidine showed high accuracy in discriminating PC from the other two groups. These data show the potential of saliva as a source for tests screening for PC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Latest Development in Pancreatic Cancer)
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Review

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Review
Evolution of the Experimental Models of Cholangiocarcinoma
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2308; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082308 - 17 Aug 2020
Cited by 35
Abstract
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a rare, aggressive disease with poor overall survival. In advanced cases, surgery is often not possible or fails; in addition, there is a lack of effective and specific therapies. Multidisciplinary approaches and advanced technologies have improved the knowledge of CCA [...] Read more.
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a rare, aggressive disease with poor overall survival. In advanced cases, surgery is often not possible or fails; in addition, there is a lack of effective and specific therapies. Multidisciplinary approaches and advanced technologies have improved the knowledge of CCA molecular pathogenesis, highlighting its extreme heterogeneity and high frequency of genetic and molecular aberrations. Effective preclinical models, therefore, should be based on a comparable level of complexity. In the past years, there has been a consistent increase in the number of available CCA models. The exploitation of even more complex CCA models is rising. Examples are the use of CRISPR/Cas9 or stabilized organoids for in vitro studies, as well as patient-derived xenografts or transgenic mouse models for in vivo applications. Here, we examine the available preclinical CCA models exploited to investigate: (i) carcinogenesis processes from initiation to progression; and (ii) tools for personalized therapy and innovative therapeutic approaches, including chemotherapy and immune/targeted therapies. For each model, we describe the potential applications, highlighting both its advantages and limits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Immunotherapy and Targeted Agents for Biliary Tract Cancer)
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Review
Warburg and Beyond: The Power of Mitochondrial Metabolism to Collaborate or Replace Fermentative Glycolysis in Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(5), 1119; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12051119 - 30 Apr 2020
Cited by 28
Abstract
A defining hallmark of tumor phenotypes is uncontrolled cell proliferation, while fermentative glycolysis has long been considered as one of the major metabolic pathways that allows energy production and provides intermediates for the anabolic growth of cancer cells. Although such a vision has [...] Read more.
A defining hallmark of tumor phenotypes is uncontrolled cell proliferation, while fermentative glycolysis has long been considered as one of the major metabolic pathways that allows energy production and provides intermediates for the anabolic growth of cancer cells. Although such a vision has been crucial for the development of clinical imaging modalities, it has become now evident that in contrast to prior beliefs, mitochondria play a key role in tumorigenesis. Recent findings demonstrated that a full genetic disruption of the Warburg effect of aggressive cancers does not suppress but instead reduces tumor growth. Tumor growth then relies exclusively on functional mitochondria. Besides having fundamental bioenergetic functions, mitochondrial metabolism indeed provides appropriate building blocks for tumor anabolism, controls redox balance, and coordinates cell death. Hence, mitochondria represent promising targets for the development of novel anti-cancer agents. Here, after revisiting the long-standing Warburg effect from a historic and dynamic perspective, we review the role of mitochondria in cancer with particular attention to the cancer cell-intrinsic/extrinsic mechanisms through which mitochondria influence all steps of tumorigenesis, and briefly discuss the therapeutic potential of targeting mitochondrial metabolism for cancer therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Pathways and Redox Homeostasis in Cancer)
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Review
Therapy-Induced Senescence: An “Old” Friend Becomes the Enemy
Cancers 2020, 12(4), 822; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12040822 - 29 Mar 2020
Cited by 39
Abstract
For the past two decades, cellular senescence has been recognized as a central component of the tumor cell response to chemotherapy and radiation. Traditionally, this form of senescence, termed Therapy-Induced Senescence (TIS), was linked to extensive nuclear damage precipitated by classical genotoxic chemotherapy. [...] Read more.
For the past two decades, cellular senescence has been recognized as a central component of the tumor cell response to chemotherapy and radiation. Traditionally, this form of senescence, termed Therapy-Induced Senescence (TIS), was linked to extensive nuclear damage precipitated by classical genotoxic chemotherapy. However, a number of other forms of therapy have also been shown to induce senescence in tumor cells independently of direct genomic damage. This review attempts to provide a comprehensive summary of both conventional and targeted anticancer therapeutics that have been shown to induce senescence in vitro and in vivo. Still, the utility of promoting senescence as a therapeutic endpoint remains under debate. Since senescence represents a durable form of growth arrest, it might be argued that senescence is a desirable outcome of cancer therapy. However, accumulating evidence suggesting that cells have the capacity to escape from TIS would support an alternative conclusion, that senescence provides an avenue whereby tumor cells can evade the potentially lethal action of anticancer drugs, allowing the cells to enter a temporary state of dormancy that eventually facilitates disease recurrence, often in a more aggressive state. Furthermore, TIS is now strongly connected to tumor cell remodeling, potentially to tumor dormancy, acquiring more ominous malignant phenotypes and accounts for several untoward adverse effects of cancer therapy. Here, we argue that senescence represents a barrier to effective anticancer treatment, and discuss the emerging efforts to identify and exploit agents with senolytic properties as a strategy for elimination of the persistent residual surviving tumor cell population, with the goal of mitigating the tumor-promoting influence of the senescent cells and to thereby reduce the likelihood of cancer relapse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Senescence and Cancer)
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Review
Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors in Cancer: Breakthrough and Challenges of Targeted Therapy
Cancers 2020, 12(3), 731; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12030731 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 40
Abstract
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are key regulatory signaling proteins governing cancer cell growth and metastasis. During the last two decades, several molecules targeting RTKs were used in oncology as a first or second line therapy in different types of cancer. However, their effectiveness [...] Read more.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are key regulatory signaling proteins governing cancer cell growth and metastasis. During the last two decades, several molecules targeting RTKs were used in oncology as a first or second line therapy in different types of cancer. However, their effectiveness is limited by the appearance of resistance or adverse effects. In this review, we summarize the main features of RTKs and their inhibitors (RTKIs), their current use in oncology, and mechanisms of resistance. We also describe the technological advances of artificial intelligence, chemoproteomics, and microfluidics in elaborating powerful strategies that could be used in providing more efficient and selective small molecules inhibitors of RTKs. Finally, we discuss the interest of therapeutic combination of different RTKIs or with other molecules for personalized treatments, and the challenge for effective combination with less toxic and off-target effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-canonical Kinases and Substrates in Cancer Progression)
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Review
The Application of Deep Learning in Cancer Prognosis Prediction
Cancers 2020, 12(3), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12030603 - 05 Mar 2020
Cited by 31
Abstract
Deep learning has been applied to many areas in health care, including imaging diagnosis, digital pathology, prediction of hospital admission, drug design, classification of cancer and stromal cells, doctor assistance, etc. Cancer prognosis is to estimate the fate of cancer, probabilities of cancer [...] Read more.
Deep learning has been applied to many areas in health care, including imaging diagnosis, digital pathology, prediction of hospital admission, drug design, classification of cancer and stromal cells, doctor assistance, etc. Cancer prognosis is to estimate the fate of cancer, probabilities of cancer recurrence and progression, and to provide survival estimation to the patients. The accuracy of cancer prognosis prediction will greatly benefit clinical management of cancer patients. The improvement of biomedical translational research and the application of advanced statistical analysis and machine learning methods are the driving forces to improve cancer prognosis prediction. Recent years, there is a significant increase of computational power and rapid advancement in the technology of artificial intelligence, particularly in deep learning. In addition, the cost reduction in large scale next-generation sequencing, and the availability of such data through open source databases (e.g., TCGA and GEO databases) offer us opportunities to possibly build more powerful and accurate models to predict cancer prognosis more accurately. In this review, we reviewed the most recent published works that used deep learning to build models for cancer prognosis prediction. Deep learning has been suggested to be a more generic model, requires less data engineering, and achieves more accurate prediction when working with large amounts of data. The application of deep learning in cancer prognosis has been shown to be equivalent or better than current approaches, such as Cox-PH. With the burst of multi-omics data, including genomics data, transcriptomics data and clinical information in cancer studies, we believe that deep learning would potentially improve cancer prognosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Application of Bioinformatics in Cancers)
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Review
Association of Steroids Use with Survival in Patients Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Cancers 2020, 12(3), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12030546 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 31
Abstract
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can elicit toxicities by inhibiting negative regulators of adaptive immunity. Sometimes, management of toxicities may require systemic glucocorticoids. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to evaluate the correlation between steroids use, overall survival (OS), and [...] Read more.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can elicit toxicities by inhibiting negative regulators of adaptive immunity. Sometimes, management of toxicities may require systemic glucocorticoids. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to evaluate the correlation between steroids use, overall survival (OS), and progression-free survival (PFS) in cancer patients treated with ICIs. Publications that compared steroids with non-steroid users in cancer patients treated with ICIs from inception to June 2019 were identified by searching the EMBASE, PubMed, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases. The pooled hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model. Patients (studies, n = 16; patients, n = 4045) taking steroids were at increased risk of death and progression compared to those not taking steroids (HR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.24–1.91; p = 0.01 and HR = 1.34, 95% CI: 1.02–1.76; p = 0.03, respectively). The main negative effect on OS was associated with patients taking steroids for supportive care (HR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.41–4.43; p < 0.01) or brain metastases (HR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.22–1.87; p < 0.01). In contrast, steroids used to mitigate adverse events did not negatively affect OS. In conclusion, caution is needed when steroids are used for symptom control. In these patients, a negative impact of steroid use was observed for both OS and PFS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism of Immunotherapy in Cancers)
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Review
Multiple Myeloma: Available Therapies and Causes of Drug Resistance
Cancers 2020, 12(2), 407; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12020407 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 35
Abstract
Multiple myeloma (MM) is the second most common blood cancer. Treatments for MM include corticosteroids, alkylating agents, anthracyclines, proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory drugs, histone deacetylase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. Survival outcomes have improved substantially due to the introduction of many of these drugs allied [...] Read more.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is the second most common blood cancer. Treatments for MM include corticosteroids, alkylating agents, anthracyclines, proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory drugs, histone deacetylase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. Survival outcomes have improved substantially due to the introduction of many of these drugs allied with their rational use. Nonetheless, MM patients successively relapse after one or more treatment regimens or become refractory, mostly due to drug resistance. This review focuses on the main drugs used in MM treatment and on causes of drug resistance, including cytogenetic, genetic and epigenetic alterations, abnormal drug transport and metabolism, dysregulation of apoptosis, autophagy activation and other intracellular signaling pathways, the presence of cancer stem cells, and the tumor microenvironment. Furthermore, we highlight the areas that need to be further clarified in an attempt to identify novel therapeutic targets to counteract drug resistance in MM patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Latest Development in Multiple Myeloma)
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Review
PARP Inhibitors as Therapeutics: Beyond Modulation of PARylation
Cancers 2020, 12(2), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12020394 - 08 Feb 2020
Cited by 25
Abstract
Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) 1 is an essential molecule in DNA damage response by sensing DNA damage and docking DNA repair proteins on the damaged DNA site through a type of posttranslational modification, poly (ADP-Ribosyl)ation (PARylation). PARP inhibitors, which inhibit PARylation through competitively [...] Read more.
Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) 1 is an essential molecule in DNA damage response by sensing DNA damage and docking DNA repair proteins on the damaged DNA site through a type of posttranslational modification, poly (ADP-Ribosyl)ation (PARylation). PARP inhibitors, which inhibit PARylation through competitively binding to NAD+ binding site of PARP1 and PARP2, have improved clinical benefits for BRCA mutated tumors, leading to their accelerated clinical application. However, the antitumor activities of PARP inhibitors in clinical development are different, due to PARP trapping activity beyond blocking PARylation reactions. In this review, we comprehensively address the current state of knowledge regarding the mechanisms of action of PARP inhibitors. We will also discuss the different effects of PARP inhibitors in combination with cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents regarding the mechanism of regulating PARylation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue PARPs, PAR and NAD Metabolism and Their Inhibitors in Cancer)
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Review
Vimentin Intermediate Filaments as Potential Target for Cancer Treatment
Cancers 2020, 12(1), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12010184 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 32
Abstract
Intermediate filaments constitute the third component of the cellular skeleton. Unlike actin and microtubule cytoskeletons, the intermediate filaments are composed of a wide variety of structurally related proteins showing distinct expression patterns in tissues and cell types. Changes in the expression patterns of [...] Read more.
Intermediate filaments constitute the third component of the cellular skeleton. Unlike actin and microtubule cytoskeletons, the intermediate filaments are composed of a wide variety of structurally related proteins showing distinct expression patterns in tissues and cell types. Changes in the expression patterns of intermediate filaments are often associated with cancer progression; in particular with phenotypes leading to increased cellular migration and invasion. In this review we will describe the role of vimentin intermediate filaments in cancer cell migration, cell adhesion structures, and metastasis formation. The potential for targeting vimentin in cancer treatment and the development of drugs targeting vimentin will be reviewed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Solid Tumors)
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Review
Ferroptosis in Cancer Cell Biology
Cancers 2020, 12(1), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12010164 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 54
Abstract
A major hallmark of cancer is successful evasion of regulated forms of cell death. Ferroptosis is a recently discovered type of regulated necrosis which, unlike apoptosis or necroptosis, is independent of caspase activity and receptor-interacting protein 1 (RIPK1) kinase activity. Instead, ferroptotic cells [...] Read more.
A major hallmark of cancer is successful evasion of regulated forms of cell death. Ferroptosis is a recently discovered type of regulated necrosis which, unlike apoptosis or necroptosis, is independent of caspase activity and receptor-interacting protein 1 (RIPK1) kinase activity. Instead, ferroptotic cells die following iron-dependent lipid peroxidation, a process which is antagonised by glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) and ferroptosis suppressor protein 1 (FSP1). Importantly, tumour cells escaping other forms of cell death have been suggested to maintain or acquire sensitivity to ferroptosis. Therefore, therapeutic exploitation of ferroptosis in cancer has received increasing attention. Here, we systematically review current literature on ferroptosis signalling, cross-signalling to cellular metabolism in cancer and a potential role for ferroptosis in tumour suppression and tumour immunology. By summarising current findings on cell biology relevant to ferroptosis in cancer, we aim to point out new conceptual avenues for utilising ferroptosis in systemic treatment approaches for cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell Death in Cancer)
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Review
Long Noncoding RNAs in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Functional Characterization and Clinical Relevance
Cancers 2019, 11(11), 1638; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11111638 - 24 Oct 2019
Cited by 21
Abstract
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is the most common form of leukemia in adults with an incidence of 4.3 per 100,000 cases per year. Historically, the identification of genetic alterations in AML focused on protein-coding genes to provide biomarkers and to understand the molecular [...] Read more.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is the most common form of leukemia in adults with an incidence of 4.3 per 100,000 cases per year. Historically, the identification of genetic alterations in AML focused on protein-coding genes to provide biomarkers and to understand the molecular complexity of AML. Despite these findings and because of the heterogeneity of this disease, questions as to the molecular mechanisms underlying AML development and progression remained unsolved. Recently, transcriptome-wide profiling approaches have uncovered a large family of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Larger than 200 nucleotides and with no apparent protein coding potential, lncRNAs could unveil a new set of players in AML development. Originally considered as dark matter, lncRNAs have critical roles to play in the different steps of gene expression and thus affect cellular homeostasis including proliferation, survival, differentiation, migration or genomic stability. Consequently, lncRNAs are found to be differentially expressed in tumors, notably in AML, and linked to the transformation of healthy cells into leukemic cells. In this review, we aim to summarize the knowledge concerning lncRNAs functions and implications in AML, with a particular emphasis on their prognostic and therapeutic potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
A Comprehensive Review on MAPK: A Promising Therapeutic Target in Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(10), 1618; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11101618 - 22 Oct 2019
Cited by 101
Abstract
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway is an important bridge in the switch from extracellular signals to intracellular responses. Alterations of signaling cascades are found in various diseases, including cancer, as a result of genetic and epigenetic changes. Numerous studies focused on both [...] Read more.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway is an important bridge in the switch from extracellular signals to intracellular responses. Alterations of signaling cascades are found in various diseases, including cancer, as a result of genetic and epigenetic changes. Numerous studies focused on both the homeostatic and the pathologic conduct of MAPK signaling; however, there is still much to be deciphered in terms of regulation and action models in both preclinical and clinical research. MAPK has implications in the response to cancer therapy, particularly the activation of the compensatory pathways in response to experimental MAPK inhibition. The present paper discusses new insights into MAPK as a complex cell signaling pathway with roles in the sustenance of cellular normal conduit, response to cancer therapy, and activation of compensatory pathways. Unfortunately, most MAPK inhibitors trigger resistance due to the activation of compensatory feed-back loops in tumor cells and tumor microenvironment components. Therefore, novel combinatorial therapies have to be implemented for cancer management in order to restrict the possibility of alternative pathway activation, as a perspective for developing novel therapies based on integration in translational studies. Full article
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Review
Targeting Autophagy for Cancer Treatment and Tumor Chemosensitization
Cancers 2019, 11(10), 1599; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11101599 - 19 Oct 2019
Cited by 46
Abstract
Autophagy is a tightly regulated catabolic process that facilitates nutrient recycling from damaged organelles and other cellular components through lysosomal degradation. Deregulation of this process has been associated with the development of several pathophysiological processes, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In cancer, [...] Read more.
Autophagy is a tightly regulated catabolic process that facilitates nutrient recycling from damaged organelles and other cellular components through lysosomal degradation. Deregulation of this process has been associated with the development of several pathophysiological processes, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In cancer, autophagy has opposing roles, being either cytoprotective or cytotoxic. Thus, deciphering the role of autophagy in each tumor context is crucial. Moreover, autophagy has been shown to contribute to chemoresistance in some patients. In this regard, autophagy modulation has recently emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment and chemosensitization of tumors, and has already demonstrated positive clinical results in patients. In this review, the dual role of autophagy during carcinogenesis is discussed and current therapeutic strategies aimed at targeting autophagy for the treatment of cancer, both under preclinical and clinical development, are presented. The use of autophagy modulators in combination therapies, in order to overcome drug resistance during cancer treatment, is also discussed as well as the potential challenges and limitations for the use of these novel therapeutic strategies in the clinic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Autophagy in Cancer Progression and Drug Resistance)
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Review
Current Perspectives in Cancer Immunotherapy
Cancers 2019, 11(10), 1472; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11101472 - 30 Sep 2019
Cited by 57
Abstract
Different immunotherapeutic approaches have proved to be of significant clinical value to many patients with different types of advanced cancer. However, we need more precise immunotherapies and predictive biomarkers to increase the successful response rates. The advent of next generation sequencing technologies and [...] Read more.
Different immunotherapeutic approaches have proved to be of significant clinical value to many patients with different types of advanced cancer. However, we need more precise immunotherapies and predictive biomarkers to increase the successful response rates. The advent of next generation sequencing technologies and their applications in immuno-oncology has helped us tremendously towards this aim. We are now moving towards the realization of personalized medicine, thus, significantly increasing our expectations for a more successful management of the disease. Here, we discuss the current immunotherapeutic approaches against cancer, including immune checkpoint blockade with an emphasis on anti-PD-L1 and anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibodies. We also analyze a growing list of other co-inhibitory and co-stimulatory markers and emphasize the mechanism of action of the principal pathway for each of these, as well as on drugs that either have been FDA-approved or are under clinical investigation. We further discuss recent advances in other immunotherapies, including cytokine therapy, adoptive cell transfer therapy and therapeutic vaccines. We finally discuss the modulation of gut microbiota composition and response to immunotherapy, as well as how tumor-intrinsic factors and immunological processes influence the mutational and epigenetic landscape of progressing tumors and response to immunotherapy but also how immunotherapeutic intervention influences the landscape of cancer neoepitopes and tumor immunoediting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights into Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapy)
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Review
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Current Understanding and Future Therapeutic Breakthrough Targeting Cancer Stemness
Cancers 2019, 11(9), 1334; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11091334 - 09 Sep 2019
Cited by 43
Abstract
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is cancer that tested as negative for estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and excess human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein which accounts for 15%–20% of all breast cancer cases. TNBC is considered to be a poorer [...] Read more.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is cancer that tested as negative for estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and excess human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein which accounts for 15%–20% of all breast cancer cases. TNBC is considered to be a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer, mainly because it involves more aggressive phenotypes that are similar to stem cell–like cancer cells (cancer stem cell, CSC). Thus, targeted treatment of TNBC remains a major challenge in clinical practice. This review article surveys the latest evidence concerning the role of genomic alteration in current TNBC treatment responses, current clinical trials and potential targeting sites, CSC and drug resistance, and potential strategies targeting CSCs in TNBC. Furthermore, the role of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in stemness expression, chemoresistance, and metastasis in TNBC and their relevance to potential treatments are also discussed and highlighted. Full article
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Review
Reactive Oxygen Species in the Tumor Microenvironment: An Overview
Cancers 2019, 11(8), 1191; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11081191 - 16 Aug 2019
Cited by 83
Abstract
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are important signaling molecules in cancer. The level of ROS will determine physiological effects. While high levels of ROS can cause damage to tissues and cell death, low levels of ROS can have a proliferative effect. ROS are produced [...] Read more.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are important signaling molecules in cancer. The level of ROS will determine physiological effects. While high levels of ROS can cause damage to tissues and cell death, low levels of ROS can have a proliferative effect. ROS are produced by tumor cells but also cellular components that make up the tumor microenvironment (TME). In this review, we discuss the mechanisms by which ROS can affect the TME with particular emphasis on tumor-infiltrating leukocytes. Greater insight into ROS biology in this setting may allow for therapeutic manipulation of ROS levels in order to remodel the tumor microenvironment and increase anti-tumor activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Reprogramming and Vulnerabilities in Cancer)
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Review
Noncoding RNAs in Extracellular Fluids as Cancer Biomarkers: The New Frontier of Liquid Biopsies
Cancers 2019, 11(8), 1170; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11081170 - 14 Aug 2019
Cited by 57
Abstract
The last two decades of cancer research have been devoted in two directions: (1) understanding the mechanism of carcinogenesis for an effective treatment, and (2) improving cancer prevention and screening for early detection of the disease. This last aspect has been developed, especially [...] Read more.
The last two decades of cancer research have been devoted in two directions: (1) understanding the mechanism of carcinogenesis for an effective treatment, and (2) improving cancer prevention and screening for early detection of the disease. This last aspect has been developed, especially for certain types of cancers, thanks also to the introduction of new concepts such as liquid biopsies and precision medicine. In this context, there is a growing interest in the application of alternative and noninvasive methodologies to search for cancer biomarkers. The new frontiers of the research lead to a search for RNA molecules circulating in body fluids. Searching for biomarkers in extracellular body fluids represents a better option for patients because they are easier to access, less painful, and potentially more economical. Moreover, the possibility for these types of samples to be taken repeatedly, allows a better monitoring of the disease progression or treatment efficacy for a better intervention and dynamic treatment of the patient, which is the fundamental basis of personalized medicine. RNA molecules, freely circulating in body fluids or packed in microvesicles, have all the characteristics of the ideal biomarkers owing to their high stability under storage and handling conditions and being able to be sampled several times for monitoring. Moreover, as demonstrated for many cancers, their plasma/serum levels mirror those in the primary tumor. There are a large variety of RNA species noncoding for proteins that could be used as cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsies. Among them, the most studied are microRNAs, but recently the attention of the researcher has been also directed towards Piwi-interacting RNAs, circular RNAs, and other small noncoding RNAs. Another class of RNA species, the long noncoding RNAs, is larger than microRNAs and represents a very versatile and promising group of molecules which, apart from their use as biomarkers, have also a possible therapeutic role. In this review, we will give an overview of the most common noncoding RNA species detectable in extracellular fluids and will provide an update concerning the situation of the research on these molecules as cancer biomarkers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Liquid Biopsy for Cancer)
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Review
Cancer Metabolism and the Evasion of Apoptotic Cell Death
Cancers 2019, 11(8), 1144; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11081144 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 31
Abstract
Cellular growth and proliferation depend upon the acquisition and synthesis of specific metabolites. These metabolites fuel the bioenergy, biosynthesis, and redox potential required for duplication of cellular biomass. Multicellular organisms maintain tissue homeostasis by balancing signals promoting proliferation and removal of cells via [...] Read more.
Cellular growth and proliferation depend upon the acquisition and synthesis of specific metabolites. These metabolites fuel the bioenergy, biosynthesis, and redox potential required for duplication of cellular biomass. Multicellular organisms maintain tissue homeostasis by balancing signals promoting proliferation and removal of cells via apoptosis. While apoptosis is in itself an energy dependent process activated by intrinsic and extrinsic signals, whether specific nutrient acquisition (elevated or suppressed) and their metabolism regulates apoptosis is less well investigated. Normal cellular metabolism is regulated by lineage specific intrinsic features and microenvironment driven extrinsic features. In the context of cancer, genetic abnormalities, unconventional microenvironments and/or therapy engage constitutive pro-survival signaling to re-program and rewire metabolism to maintain survival, growth, and proliferation. It thus becomes particularly relevant to understand whether altered nutrient acquisition and metabolism in cancer can also contribute to the evasion of apoptosis and consequently therapy resistance. Our review attempts to dissect a causal relationship between two cancer hallmarks, i.e., deregulated cellular energetics and the evasion of programmed cell death with primary focus on the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Reprogramming and Vulnerabilities in Cancer)
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Review
Targeting Cancer Stem Cells in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(7), 965; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11070965 - 09 Jul 2019
Cited by 44
Abstract
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a highly aggressive form of breast cancer that lacks targeted therapy options, and patients diagnosed with TNBC have poorer outcomes than patients with other breast cancer subtypes. Emerging evidence suggests that breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which have [...] Read more.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a highly aggressive form of breast cancer that lacks targeted therapy options, and patients diagnosed with TNBC have poorer outcomes than patients with other breast cancer subtypes. Emerging evidence suggests that breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which have tumor-initiating potential and possess self-renewal capacity, may be responsible for this poor outcome by promoting therapy resistance, metastasis, and recurrence. TNBC cells have been consistently reported to display cancer stem cell (CSC) signatures at functional, molecular, and transcriptional levels. In recent decades, CSC-targeting strategies have shown therapeutic effects on TNBC in multiple preclinical studies, and some of these strategies are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. Therefore, understanding CSC biology in TNBC has the potential to guide the discovery of novel therapeutic agents in the future. In this review, we focus on the self-renewal signaling pathways (SRSPs) that are aberrantly activated in TNBC cells and discuss the specific signaling components that are involved in the tumor-initiating potential of TNBC cells. Additionally, we describe the molecular mechanisms shared by both TNBC cells and CSCs, including metabolic plasticity, which enables TNBC cells to switch between metabolic pathways according to substrate availability to meet the energetic and biosynthetic demands for rapid growth and survival under harsh conditions. We highlight CSCs as potential key regulators driving the aggressiveness of TNBC. Thus, the manipulation of CSCs in TNBC can be a targeted therapeutic strategy for TNBC in the future. Full article
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Review
Metabolic Regulation of Redox Balance in Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(7), 955; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11070955 - 08 Jul 2019
Cited by 28
Abstract
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are chemically active free radicals produced by partial reduction of oxygen that can activate discrete signaling pathways or disrupt redox homeostasis depending on their concentration. ROS interacts with biomolecules, including DNA, and can cause mutations that can transform normal [...] Read more.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are chemically active free radicals produced by partial reduction of oxygen that can activate discrete signaling pathways or disrupt redox homeostasis depending on their concentration. ROS interacts with biomolecules, including DNA, and can cause mutations that can transform normal cells into cancer cells. Furthermore, certain cancer-causing mutations trigger alterations in cellular metabolism that can increase ROS production, resulting in genomic instability, additional DNA mutations, and tumor evolution. To prevent excess ROS-mediated toxicity, cancer-causing mutations concurrently activate pathways that manage this oxidative burden. Hence, an understanding of the metabolic pathways that regulate ROS levels is imperative for devising therapies that target tumor cells. In this review, we summarize the dual role of metabolism as a generator and inhibitor of ROS in cancer and discuss current strategies to target the ROS axis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Reprogramming and Vulnerabilities in Cancer)
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Review
DNAM-1 and the TIGIT/PVRIG/TACTILE Axis: Novel Immune Checkpoints for Natural Killer Cell-Based Cancer Immunotherapy
Cancers 2019, 11(6), 877; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11060877 - 23 Jun 2019
Cited by 48
Abstract
Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune response characterized by their role in the destruction of tumor cells. Activation of NK cells depend on a fine balance between activating and inhibitory signals mediated by different receptors. In recent years, a [...] Read more.
Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune response characterized by their role in the destruction of tumor cells. Activation of NK cells depend on a fine balance between activating and inhibitory signals mediated by different receptors. In recent years, a family of paired receptors that interact with ligands of the Nectin/Nectin-like (Necl) family has attracted great interest. Two of these ligands, Necl-5 (usually termed CD155 or PVR) and Nectin-2 (CD112), frequently expressed on different types of tumor cells, are recognized by a group of receptors expressed on T and NK cells that exert opposite functions after interacting with their ligands. These receptors include DNAM-1 (CD226), TIGIT, TACTILE (CD96) and the recently described PVRIG. Whereas activation through DNAM-1 after recognition of CD155 or CD112 enhances NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity against a wide range of tumor cells, TIGIT recognition of these ligands exerts an inhibitory effect on NK cells by diminishing IFN-γ production, as well as NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. PVRIG has also been identified as an inhibitory receptor that recognizes CD112 but not CD155. However, little is known about the role of TACTILE as modulator of immune responses in humans. TACTILE control of tumor growth and metastases has been reported in murine models, and it has been suggested that it negatively regulates the anti-tumor functions mediated by DNAM-1. In NK cells from patients with solid cancer and leukemia, it has been observed a decreased expression of DNAM-1 that may shift the balance in favor to the inhibitory receptors TIGIT or PVRIG, further contributing to the diminished NK cell-mediated cytotoxic capacity observed in these patients. Analysis of DNAM-1, TIGIT, TACTILE and PVRIG on human NK cells from solid cancer or leukemia patients will clarify the role of these receptors in cancer surveillance. Overall, it can be speculated that in cancer patients the TIGIT/PVRIG pathways are upregulated and represent novel targets for checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Killer Cells and Cancer Therapy)
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Review
Cancer Stem Cells and Radioresistance: DNA Repair and Beyond
Cancers 2019, 11(6), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11060862 - 21 Jun 2019
Cited by 57
Abstract
The current preclinical and clinical findings demonstrate that, in addition to the conventional clinical and pathological indicators that have a prognostic value in radiation oncology, the number of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and their inherent radioresistance are important parameters for local control after [...] Read more.
The current preclinical and clinical findings demonstrate that, in addition to the conventional clinical and pathological indicators that have a prognostic value in radiation oncology, the number of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and their inherent radioresistance are important parameters for local control after radiotherapy. In this review, we discuss the molecular mechanisms of CSC radioresistance attributable to DNA repair mechanisms and the development of CSC-targeted therapies for tumor radiosensitization. We also discuss the current challenges in preclinical and translational CSC research including the high inter- and intratumoral heterogeneity, plasticity of CSCs, and microenvironment-stimulated tumor cell reprogramming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tumor Radioresistance)
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Review
The Role of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Plasticity in Ovarian Cancer Progression and Therapy Resistance
Cancers 2019, 11(6), 838; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11060838 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 52
Abstract
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all gynecologic malignancies and the eighth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. The main reasons for this poor prognosis are late diagnosis; when the disease is already in an advanced stage, and the frequent [...] Read more.
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all gynecologic malignancies and the eighth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. The main reasons for this poor prognosis are late diagnosis; when the disease is already in an advanced stage, and the frequent development of resistance to current chemotherapeutic regimens. Growing evidence demonstrates that apart from its role in ovarian cancer progression, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) can promote chemotherapy resistance. In this review, we will highlight the contribution of EMT to the distinct steps of ovarian cancer progression. In addition, we will review the different types of ovarian cancer resistance to therapy with particular attention to EMT-mediated mechanisms such as cell fate transitions, enhancement of cancer cell survival, and upregulation of genes related to drug resistance. Preclinical studies of anti-EMT therapies have yielded promising results. However, before anti-EMT therapies can be effectively implemented in clinical trials, more research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms leading to EMT-induced therapy resistance. Full article
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Review
The Pleiotropic Effects of Glutamine Metabolism in Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(6), 770; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11060770 - 04 Jun 2019
Cited by 30
Abstract
Metabolic programs are known to be altered in cancers arising from various tissues. Malignant transformation can alter signaling pathways related to metabolism and increase the demand for both energy and biomass for the proliferating cancerous cells. This scenario is further complexed by the [...] Read more.
Metabolic programs are known to be altered in cancers arising from various tissues. Malignant transformation can alter signaling pathways related to metabolism and increase the demand for both energy and biomass for the proliferating cancerous cells. This scenario is further complexed by the crosstalk between transformed cells and the microenvironment. One of the most common metabolic alterations, which occurs in many tissues and in the context of multiple oncogenic drivers, is the increased demand for the amino acid glutamine. Many studies have attributed this increased demand for glutamine to the carbon backbone and its role in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle anaplerosis. However, an increasing number of studies are now emphasizing the importance of glutamine functioning as a proteogenic building block, a nitrogen donor and carrier, an exchanger for import of other amino acids, and a signaling molecule. Herein, we highlight the recent literature on glutamine’s versatile role in cancer, with a focus on nitrogen metabolism, and therapeutic implications of glutamine metabolism in cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Reprogramming and Vulnerabilities in Cancer)
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Review
Integrins, CAFs and Mechanical Forces in the Progression of Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(5), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11050721 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 38
Abstract
Cells respond to both chemical and mechanical cues present within their microenvironment. Various mechanical signals are detected by and transmitted to the cells through mechanoreceptors. These receptors often contact with the extracellular matrix (ECM), where the external signals are converted into a physiological [...] Read more.
Cells respond to both chemical and mechanical cues present within their microenvironment. Various mechanical signals are detected by and transmitted to the cells through mechanoreceptors. These receptors often contact with the extracellular matrix (ECM), where the external signals are converted into a physiological response. Integrins are well-defined mechanoreceptors that physically connect the actomyosin cytoskeleton to the surrounding matrix and transduce signals. Families of α and β subunits can form a variety of heterodimers that have been implicated in cancer progression and differ among types of cancer. These heterodimers serve as the nexus of communication between the cells and the tumor microenvironment (TME). The TME is dynamic and composed of stromal cells, ECM and associated soluble factors. The most abundant stromal cells within the TME are cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Accumulating studies implicate CAFs in cancer development and metastasis through their remodeling of the ECM and release of large amounts of ECM proteins and soluble factors. Considering that the communication between cancer cells and CAFs, in large part, takes place through the ECM, the involvement of integrins in the crosstalk is significant. This review discusses the role of integrins, as the primary cell-ECM mechanoreceptors, in cancer progression, highlighting integrin-mediated mechanical communication between cancer cells and CAFs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Integrins in Cancer)
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Review
The Non-Essential Amino Acid Cysteine Becomes Essential for Tumor Proliferation and Survival
Cancers 2019, 11(5), 678; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11050678 - 16 May 2019
Cited by 47
Abstract
The non-essential amino acid cysteine is used within cells for multiple processes that rely on the chemistry of its thiol group. Under physiological conditions, many non-transformed tissues rely on glutathione, circulating cysteine, and the de novo cysteine synthesis (transsulfuration) pathway as sources of [...] Read more.
The non-essential amino acid cysteine is used within cells for multiple processes that rely on the chemistry of its thiol group. Under physiological conditions, many non-transformed tissues rely on glutathione, circulating cysteine, and the de novo cysteine synthesis (transsulfuration) pathway as sources of intracellular cysteine to support cellular processes. In contrast, many cancers require exogeneous cystine for proliferation and viability. Herein, we review how the cystine transporter, xCT, and exogenous cystine fuel cancer cell proliferation and the mechanisms that regulate xCT expression and activity. Further, we discuss the potential contribution of additional sources of cysteine to the cysteine pool and what is known about the essentiality of these processes in cancer cells. Finally, we discuss whether cyst(e)ine dependency and associated metabolic alterations represent therapeutically targetable metabolic vulnerabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Reprogramming and Vulnerabilities in Cancer)
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Review
The Diverse Functions of Non-Essential Amino Acids in Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(5), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11050675 - 15 May 2019
Cited by 37
Abstract
Far beyond simply being 11 of the 20 amino acids needed for protein synthesis, non-essential amino acids play numerous important roles in tumor metabolism. These diverse functions include providing precursors for the biosynthesis of macromolecules, controlling redox status and antioxidant systems, and serving [...] Read more.
Far beyond simply being 11 of the 20 amino acids needed for protein synthesis, non-essential amino acids play numerous important roles in tumor metabolism. These diverse functions include providing precursors for the biosynthesis of macromolecules, controlling redox status and antioxidant systems, and serving as substrates for post-translational and epigenetic modifications. This functional diversity has sparked great interest in targeting non-essential amino acid metabolism for cancer therapy and has motivated the development of several therapies that are either already used in the clinic or are currently in clinical trials. In this review, we will discuss the important roles that each of the 11 non-essential amino acids play in cancer, how their metabolic pathways are linked, and how researchers are working to overcome the unique challenges of targeting non-essential amino acid metabolism for cancer therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolic Reprogramming and Vulnerabilities in Cancer)
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Review
Breast Cancer Tumor Stroma: Cellular Components, Phenotypic Heterogeneity, Intercellular Communication, Prognostic Implications and Therapeutic Opportunities
Cancers 2019, 11(5), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11050664 - 13 May 2019
Cited by 31
Abstract
Although the mechanisms underlying the genesis and progression of breast cancer are better understood than ever, it is still the most frequent malignant tumor in women and one of the leading causes of cancer death. Therefore, we need to establish new approaches that [...] Read more.
Although the mechanisms underlying the genesis and progression of breast cancer are better understood than ever, it is still the most frequent malignant tumor in women and one of the leading causes of cancer death. Therefore, we need to establish new approaches that lead us to better understand the prognosis of this heterogeneous systemic disease and to propose new therapeutic strategies. Cancer is not only a malignant transformation of the epithelial cells merely based on their autonomous or acquired proliferative capacity. Today, data support the concept of cancer as an ecosystem based on a cellular sociology, with diverse components and complex interactions between them. Among the different cell types that make up the stroma, which have a relevant role in the dynamics of tumor/stromal cell interactions, the main ones are cancer associated fibroblasts, endothelial cells, immune cells and mesenchymal stromal cells. Several factors expressed by the stroma of breast carcinomas are associated with the development of metastasis, such as matrix metalloproteases, their tissular inhibitors or some of their regulators like integrins, cytokines or toll-like receptors. Based on the expression of these factors, two types of breast cancer stroma can be proposed with significantly different influence on the prognosis of patients. In addition, there is evidence about the existence of bi-directional signals between cancer cells and tumor stroma cells with prognostic implications, suggesting new therapeutic strategies in breast cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Integrins in Cancer)
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Review
Active Targeting Strategies Using Biological Ligands for Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Systems
Cancers 2019, 11(5), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11050640 - 08 May 2019
Cited by 105
Abstract
Targeting nanoparticle (NP) carriers to sites of disease is critical for their successful use as drug delivery systems. Along with optimization of physicochemical properties, researchers have focused on surface modification of NPs with biological ligands. Such ligands can bind specific receptors on the [...] Read more.
Targeting nanoparticle (NP) carriers to sites of disease is critical for their successful use as drug delivery systems. Along with optimization of physicochemical properties, researchers have focused on surface modification of NPs with biological ligands. Such ligands can bind specific receptors on the surface of target cells. Furthermore, biological ligands can facilitate uptake of modified NPs, which is referred to as ‘active targeting’ of NPs. In this review, we discuss recent applications of biological ligands including proteins, polysaccharides, aptamers, peptides, and small molecules for NP-mediated drug delivery. We prioritized studies that have demonstrated targeting in animals over in vitro studies. We expect that this review will assist biomedical researchers working with NPs for drug delivery and imaging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Nanomedicine)
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Review
Emerging Roles of the Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated Unfolded Protein Response in Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion