Special Issue "Apoptosis in Cancer"

A special issue of Cancers (ISSN 2072-6694).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Arun Dharmarajan

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI), Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: wnt signaling, secreted frizzled related protein 4, cancer, cancer stem cells, angiogenesis, apoptosis, redox signaling, molecular modelling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last decade, basic cancer research has produced remarkable advances in our understanding of cancer biology and cancer genetics. Among the most important of these advances is the realization that apoptosis and the genes that control it have a profound effect on the malignant phenotype. For example, it is now clear some oncogenic mutations disrupt the apoptotic process leading to tumor initiation, progression, and finally metastasis. It is now well documented that most cytotoxic anticancer agents induce apoptosis, raising the intriguing possibility that deregulation in apoptotic programs contributes to treatment failure. Apoptosis is mechanistically governed through two main pathways; the extrinsic (death receptor-mediated) and the intrinsic, or the mitochondrial pathway which is activated in response to cellular damage induced through radiation, hypoxia, and some anti-cancer agents. Dysregulation of these apoptotic pathways can result in the resistance of cell death, and is a hallmark of cancer. Consequently, targeting key regulatory proteins within these pathways has been a primary focus of many cancer studies. A prototypical example of this is the targeting of B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) family of proteins. The primary focus of this topic will be cell signaling in apoptosis, mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis, novel compounds to target apoptosis and cancer. In addition, the reviews and research articles will explore the mechanisms of apoptosis and the ways in which tumor cells modulate these processes to induce their survival and examine current clinical modalities aimed at exploiting these defects to selectively induce apoptosis in tumor cells.

Prof. Arun Dharmarajan
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Cancers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • Redox signaling
  • Wnt
  • Oncogenes
  • Frizzled

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Epsilon-Globin HBE1 Enhances Radiotherapy Resistance by Down-Regulating BCL11A in Colorectal Cancer Cells
Cancers 2019, 11(4), 498; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11040498
Received: 12 February 2019 / Revised: 27 March 2019 / Accepted: 2 April 2019 / Published: 8 April 2019
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Abstract
Resistance to radiotherapy is considered an important obstacle in the treatment of colorectal cancer. However, the mechanisms that enable tumor cells to tolerate the effects of radiation remain unclear. Moreover, radiotherapy causes accumulated mutations in transcription factors, which can lead to changes in [...] Read more.
Resistance to radiotherapy is considered an important obstacle in the treatment of colorectal cancer. However, the mechanisms that enable tumor cells to tolerate the effects of radiation remain unclear. Moreover, radiotherapy causes accumulated mutations in transcription factors, which can lead to changes in gene expression and radiosensitivity. This phenomenon reduces the effectiveness of radiation therapy towards cancer cells. In the present study, radiation-resistant (RR) cancer cells were established by sequential radiation exposure, and hemoglobin subunit epsilon 1 (HBE1) was identified as a candidate radiation resistance-associated protein based on RNA-sequencing analysis. Then, compared to radiosensitive (RS) cell lines, the overexpression of HBE1 in RR cell lines was used to measure various forms of radiation-induced cellular damage. Consequently, HBE1-overexpressing cell lines were found to exhibit decreased radiation-induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and cell mortality. Conversely, HBE1 deficiency in RR cell lines increased intracellular ROS production, G2/M arrest, and apoptosis, and decreased clonogenic survival rate. These effects were reversed by the ROS scavenger N-acetyl cysteine. Moreover, HBE1 overexpression was found to attenuate radiation-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis via an inositol-requiring enzyme 1(IRE1)—Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway. In addition, increased HBE1 expression induced by γ-irradiation in RS cells attenuated expression of the transcriptional regulator BCL11A, whereas its depletion in RR cells increased BCL11A expression. Collectively, these observations indicate that the expression of HBE1 during radiotherapy might potentiate the survival of radiation-exposed colorectal cancer cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoproteins A1 and A2 Function in Telomerase-Dependent Maintenance of Telomeres
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030334
Received: 26 January 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
The A/B subfamily of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs A/B), which includes hnRNP A1, A2/B1, and A3, plays an important role in cell proliferation. The simultaneous suppression of hnRNP A1/A2, but not the suppression of hnRNP A1 or A2 alone, has been shown to [...] Read more.
The A/B subfamily of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs A/B), which includes hnRNP A1, A2/B1, and A3, plays an important role in cell proliferation. The simultaneous suppression of hnRNP A1/A2, but not the suppression of hnRNP A1 or A2 alone, has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in cancer cells, but not in mortal normal cells. However, the molecular basis for such a differential inhibition of cell proliferation remains unknown. Here, we show that the simultaneous suppression of hnRNP A1 and hnRNP A2 resulted in dysfunctional telomeres and induced DNA damage responses in cancer cells. The inhibition of apoptosis did not alleviate the inhibition of cell proliferation nor the formation of dysfunctional telomeres in cancer cells depleted of hnRNP A1/A2. Moreover, while proliferation of mortal normal fibroblasts was not sensitive to the depletion of hnRNP A1/A2, the ectopic expression of hTERT in normal fibroblasts rendered these cells sensitive to proliferation inhibition, which was associated with the production of dysfunctional telomeres. Our study demonstrates that hnRNP A1 and A2 function to maintain telomeres in telomerase-expressing cells only, suggesting that the maintenance of functional telomeres in telomerase-expressing cancer cells employs factors that differ from those used in the telomerase-negative normal cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle The Novel Mnk1/2 Degrader and Apoptosis Inducer VNLG-152 Potently Inhibits TNBC Tumor Growth and Metastasis
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030299
Received: 30 January 2019 / Revised: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 26 February 2019 / Published: 3 March 2019
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Abstract
Currently, there are no effective therapies for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive and highly metastatic disease. Activation of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) by mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-interacting kinases 1 and 2 (Mnk1/2) play a critical role in the development, [...] Read more.
Currently, there are no effective therapies for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive and highly metastatic disease. Activation of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) by mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-interacting kinases 1 and 2 (Mnk1/2) play a critical role in the development, progression and metastasis of TNBC. Herein, we undertook a comprehensive study to evaluate the activity of a first-in-class Mnk1/2 protein degraders, racemic VNLG-152R and its two enantiomers (VNLG-152E1 and VNLG-152E2) in in vitro and in vivo models of TNBC. These studies enabled us to identify racemic VNLG-152R as the most efficacious Mnk1/2 degrader, superior to its pure enantiomers. By targeting Mnk1/2 protein degradation (activity), VNLG-152R potently inhibited both Mnk-eIF4E and mTORC1 signaling pathways and strongly regulated downstream factors involved in cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines secretion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastasis. Most importantly, orally bioavailable VNLG-152R exhibited remarkable antitumor (91 to 100% growth inhibition) and antimetastatic (~80% inhibition) activities against cell line and patient-derived TNBC xenograft models, with no apparent host toxicity. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that targeting Mnk-eIF4E/mTORC1 signaling with a potent Mnk1/2 degrader, VNLG-152R, is a novel therapeutic strategy that can be developed as monotherapy for the effective treatment of patients with primary/metastatic TNBC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle Casticin-Induced Inhibition of Cell Growth and Survival Are Mediated through the Dual Modulation of Akt/mTOR Signaling Cascade
Cancers 2019, 11(2), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11020254
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 18 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
The Akt/mTOR signaling cascade is a critical pathway involved in various physiological and pathological conditions, including regulation of cell proliferation, survival, invasion, and angiogenesis. In the present study, we investigated the anti-neoplastic effects of casticin (CTC), identified from the plant Vitex rotundifolia L., [...] Read more.
The Akt/mTOR signaling cascade is a critical pathway involved in various physiological and pathological conditions, including regulation of cell proliferation, survival, invasion, and angiogenesis. In the present study, we investigated the anti-neoplastic effects of casticin (CTC), identified from the plant Vitex rotundifolia L., alone and/or in combination with BEZ-235, a dual Akt/mTOR inhibitor in human tumor cells. We found that CTC exerted a significant dose-dependent cytotoxicity and reduced cell proliferation in a variety of human tumor cells. Also, CTC effectively blocked the phosphorylation levels of Akt (Ser473) and mTOR (Ser2448) proteins as well as induced substantial apoptosis. Additionally treatment with CTC and BEZ-235 in conjunction resulted in a greater apoptotic effect than caused by either agent alone thus implicating the anti-neoplastic effects of this novel combination. Overall, the findings suggest that CTC can interfere with Akt/mTOR signaling cascade involved in tumorigenesis and can be used together with pharmacological agents targeting Akt/mTOR pathway. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle A H2AX–CARP-1 Interaction Regulates Apoptosis Signaling Following DNA Damage
Cancers 2019, 11(2), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11020221
Received: 26 December 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract
Cell Cycle and Apoptosis Regulatory Protein (CARP-1/CCAR1) is a peri-nuclear phosphoprotein that regulates apoptosis via chemotherapeutic Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and a novel class of CARP-1 functional mimetic (CFM) compounds. Although Adriamycin causes DNA damage, data from Comet assays revealed that CFM-4.16 also induced DNA [...] Read more.
Cell Cycle and Apoptosis Regulatory Protein (CARP-1/CCAR1) is a peri-nuclear phosphoprotein that regulates apoptosis via chemotherapeutic Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and a novel class of CARP-1 functional mimetic (CFM) compounds. Although Adriamycin causes DNA damage, data from Comet assays revealed that CFM-4.16 also induced DNA damage. Phosphorylation of histone 2AX (γH2AX) protein is involved in regulating DNA damage repair and apoptosis signaling. Adriamycin or CFM-4.16 treatments inhibited cell growth and caused elevated CARP-1 and γH2AX in human breast (HBC) and cervical cancer (HeLa) cells. In fact, a robust nuclear or peri-nuclear co-localization of CARP-1 and γH2AX occurred in cells undergoing apoptosis. Knock-down of CARP-1 diminished γH2AX, their co-localization, and apoptosis in CFM-4.16- or Adriamycin-treated cells. We found that CARP-1 directly binds with H2AX, and H2AX interacted with CARP-1, but not CARP-1 (Δ600–652) mutant. Moreover, cells expressing CARP-1 (Δ600–652) mutant were resistant to apoptosis, and had diminished levels of γH2AX, when compared with cells expressing wild-type CARP-1. Mutagenesis studies revealed that H2AX residues 1–35 harbored a CARP-1-binding epitope, while CARP-1 amino acids 636–650 contained an H2AX-interacting epitope. Surface plasmon resonance studies revealed that CARP-1 (636–650) peptide bound with H2AX (1–35) peptide with a dissociation constant (Kd) of 127 nM. Cells expressing enhanced GFP (EGFP)-tagged H2AX (1–35) peptide or EGFP-tagged CARP-1 (636–650) peptide were resistant to inhibition by Adriamycin or CFM-4.16. Treatment of cells with transactivator of transcription (TAT)-tagged CARP-1 (636–650) peptide resulted in a moderate, statistically significant abrogation of Adriamycin-induced growth inhibition of cancer cells. Our studies provide evidence for requirement of CARP-1 interaction with H2AX in apoptosis signaling by Adriamycin and CFM compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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Review

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Open AccessReview ADRB2-Targeting Therapies for Prostate Cancer
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030358
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
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Abstract
There is accumulating evidence that β-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) signaling contributes to the progression and therapy resistance of prostate cancer, whereas availability of clinically tested β-blocker propranolol makes this pathway especially attractive as potential therapeutic target. Yet even in tumors with active ADRB2 [...] Read more.
There is accumulating evidence that β-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) signaling contributes to the progression and therapy resistance of prostate cancer, whereas availability of clinically tested β-blocker propranolol makes this pathway especially attractive as potential therapeutic target. Yet even in tumors with active ADRB2 signaling propranolol may be ineffective. Inhibition of apoptosis is one of the major mechanisms by which activation of ADRB2 contributes to prostate cancer pathophysiology. The signaling network that controls apoptosis in prostate tumors is highly redundant, with several signaling pathways targeting a few critical apoptosis regulatory molecules. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of ADRB2 signaling in the context of other signaling mechanisms is necessary to identify patients who will benefit from propranolol therapy. This review discusses how information on the antiapoptotic mechanisms activated by ADRB2 can guide clinical trials of ADRB2 antagonist propranolol as potential life-extending therapy for prostate cancer. To select patients for clinical trials of propranolol three classes of biomarkers are proposed. First, biomarkers of ADRB2/cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) pathway activation; second, biomarkers that inform about activation of other signaling pathways unrelated to ADRB2; third, apoptosis regulatory molecules controlled by ADRB2 signaling and other survival signaling pathways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview Chemotherapy Resistance Explained through Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Dependent Signaling
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030338
Received: 4 February 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
Cancers cells have the ability to develop chemotherapy resistance, which is a persistent problem during cancer treatment. Chemotherapy resistance develops through different molecular mechanisms, which lead to modification of the cancer cells signals needed for cellular proliferation or for stimulating an immune response. [...] Read more.
Cancers cells have the ability to develop chemotherapy resistance, which is a persistent problem during cancer treatment. Chemotherapy resistance develops through different molecular mechanisms, which lead to modification of the cancer cells signals needed for cellular proliferation or for stimulating an immune response. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an important organelle involved in protein quality control, by promoting the correct folding of protein and ER-mediated degradation of unfolded or misfolded protein, namely, ER-associated degradation. Disturbances of the normal ER functions causes an accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the ER lumen, resulting in a condition called “ER stress (ERS).” ERS triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR)—also called the ERS response (ERSR)—to restore homeostasis or activate cell death. Although the ERSR is one emerging potential target for chemotherapeutics to treat cancer, it is also critical for chemotherapeutics resistance, as well. However, the detailed molecular mechanism of the relationship between the ERSR and tumor survival or drug resistance remains to be fully understood. In this review, we aim to describe the most vital molecular mechanism of the relationship between the ERSR and chemotherapy resistance. Moreover, the review also discusses the molecular mechanism of ER stress-mediated apoptosis on cancer treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apoptosis in Cancer)
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