BBA - Reviews on Cancer (v.1471, #3)

Function of the c-Myc oncoprotein in chromatin remodeling and transcription by Bruno Amati; Scott R. Frank; Dubravka Donjerkovic; Stefan Taubert (M135-M145).
Deregulated expression of the c-myc proto-oncogene contributes to malignant progression of a variety of tumors. The c-Myc protein (or Myc) is a transcription factor that positively or negatively regulates expression of distinct sets of target genes. Transcriptional activation by Myc is mediated through dimerization with Max and binding to the DNA consensus sequence CA(C/T)GTG (the E-box). Transcriptional inhibition is mediated through distinct DNA elements, and may be due to functional interference with factors that transactivate via these sequences. We review here our current knowledge on these transcriptional activities of Myc and their relationship to its biological function. The findings that Myc interacts with subunits of histone acetyl-transferase (HAT) complexes and of the ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complex, SWI/SNF, suggest that localized changes in chromatin structure may mediate Myc function. We present a working hypothesis for the concerted action of HAT and SWI/SNF complexes in Myc-activated transcription and argue that this model should prompt re-thinking of the experimental strategies and criteria used to identify Myc target genes.
Keywords: Myc; Chromatin remodeling; Histone acetylation; SWI/SNF; GCN5; Tip60; TRRAP;

The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRB) is a paradigm for understanding cell cycle- and proliferation-dependent transcription and how deregulation of this process contributes to the neoplastic process in humans. The ability of pRB to regulate transcription, and consequently cell proliferation and differentiation, is regulated by the activity of cyclin/cdks. In general, phosphorylation of pRB by cyclin/cdks inactivates pRB-mediated transcriptional inhibition and growth suppression. However, it is apparent that pRB is a multi-functional protein that can inhibit transcription through various mechanisms. This review focuses on recent data to suggest that different pRB functions are progressively and cooperatively inactivated by multiple cyclin/cdk complexes during G1- and S-phase. The implications of such a model for pRB-mediated tumor suppression are discussed.
Keywords: Retinoblastoma; Phosphorylation; Cyclin; Cdk;

Heparanase: a key enzyme involved in cell invasion by Christopher R. Parish; Craig Freeman; Mark D. Hulett (M99-M108).
Keywords: Heparanase; Endoglycosidase; Heparan sulfate; Extracellular matrix; Cell invasion; Metastasis; Angiogenesis;

Homologous recombination as a mechanism of carcinogenesis by Alexander J.R Bishop; Robert H Schiestl (M109-M121).
Cancer develops when cells no longer follow their normal pattern of controlled growth. In the absence or disregard of such regulation, resulting from changes in their genetic makeup, these errant cells acquire a growth advantage, expanding into pre-cancerous clones. Over the last decade many studies have revealed the relevance of genomic mutation in this process, be it by misreplication, environmental damage or a deficiency in repairing endogenous and exogenous damage. Here we discuss homologous recombination as another mechanism that can result in loss of heterozygosity or genetic rearrangements. Some of these genetic alterations may play a primary role in carcinogenesis, but they are more likely to be involved in secondary and subsequent steps of carcinogenesis by which recessive oncogenic mutations are revealed. Patients whose cells display an increased frequency of recombination also have an elevated frequency of cancer, further supporting the link between recombination and carcinogenesis. In addition, homologous recombination is induced by a wide variety of carcinogens, many of which are classically considered to be efficiently repaired by other repair pathways. Overall, homologous recombination is a process that has been widely overlooked but may be more central to the process of carcinogenesis than previously described.
Keywords: Cancer; Homologous recombination; Loss of heterozygosity; Genomic instability disease; Carcinogen-induced deletion;

‘Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’Winston Churchill in a speech to the Canadian Senate and House of Commons, December 30, 1941In laboratory models of cancer, dose of cytotoxic chemotherapy correlates with curative therapy, while cumulative dose is associated with longer survival for those who are not cured . These observations suggests a strategy of using high doses when cure is the objective but smaller doses over a prolonged period when palliation and survival are the goal. A strategy combining repetitive cycles of higher doses of cytotoxic therapy, followed by the optimal combination of hormonal and biological agents based on the tumor’s receptors might contribute to both the highest possible cure rate and the longest survival.The development of bone marrow transplant (BMT) for leukemias, and its subsequent modification for support after high dose therapy for other malignancies, has a long, complex and emotional history in medicine. At least partly because of firmly held opinions and the way large randomized trials are funded in the United States, few American randomized trials of BMT or high dose therapy strategies have been completed. The vast majority of published randomized BMT and high dose studies are European.Interestingly, in contrast, two large American randomized trials of high dose chemotherapy for breast cancer had actually completed accrual. Accrual on a third was on target until the presentation of five very small or very early randomized trials at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in May of 1999. Results from some of these trials, which were analyzed after a relatively brief follow-up, are too premature to allow definitive conclusions. Nevertheless, these data have been over and misinterpreted within the scientific and lay communities. The remaining studies included a limited number of patients, thus restricting the statistical power of the observations.The desire for quick answers impeded dispassionate analysis of the available data. The opportunity for collegial review of the data further deteriorated with another round of press coverage when the data from the South African adjuvant study were found to be unreliable. Rather than increasing commitment to accrual on randomized and appropriate pilot trials, accrual to the only large American study in existence at that time tricked to a halt.In response to press coverage, Susan Edmonds from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center observed that ‘the NYT article tends to cast shadows generally on the therapy and those providing the therapy rather than pointing out early in the article (where the public will readily see it) that there are a number of very credible research institutions conducting research directed at breast cancer, some looking at high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation.’ Dr. Rodenhuis, presenting the large positive Dutch Randomized study (funded by the Dutch insurance industry) at ASCO in 2000, commented on the ‘unreasonably high expectations until 1999’ and ‘unreasonably negative [opinion-ed] since 1999’ for high dose adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Keywords: Breast cancer; High dose chemotherapy;