BBA - Reviews on Cancer (v.1653, #2)

Biochemical modulation has played an important role in the development of cancer chemotherapy. The combined effects of theanine, a specific amino acid in green tea, and glutamate transporter inhibitors on the antitumor activity of doxorubicin (DOX), were investigated and we clarified the biochemical mechanisms of action of these modulators.In M5076 ovarian sarcoma-bearing mice, theanine significantly enhanced the inhibitory effect of DOX on tumor growth and increased the DOX concentration in the tumor, compared to DOX-alone group. Furthermore, the oral administration of theanine or green tea similarly enhanced the antitumor activity of DOX. Moreover, the combination of theanine with DOX suppressed the hepatic metastasis of ovarian sarcoma. In contrast, an increase in DOX concentration was not observed in normal tissues, such as liver and heart. Namely, theanine did not enhance, rather it tended to normalize the increase of lipid peroxide (LPO) levels and reduction of glutathione peroxidase activity as indicators of the DOX-induced side toxicity.On the other hand, in vitro experiments proved that theanine inhibited the efflux of DOX from tumor cells, supporting a theanine-induced increase in the DOX concentration in tumors in vivo. Moreover, theanine significantly inhibited the glutamate uptake by M5076 cells similar to specific inhibitors. Two astrocytic high-affinity glutamate transporters, GLAST and GLT-1, were expressed in M5076 cells. These results suggested that the inhibition of DOX efflux was induced by theanine-mediated inhibition of glutamate transporters. The reduction in the concentration of glutamate in tumor cells caused by theanine induced decreases in the intracellular glutathione (GSH) and GS-DOX conjugate levels. As the expression of MRP5 in M5076 cells was confirmed, it is suggested that the GS-DOX conjugate was transported extracellularly via the MRP5/GS-X pump in M5076 cells and that theanine affected this route. Namely, theanine increases the concentration of DOX in a tumor in vivo through inhibition of the glutamate transporter via the GS-X pump. Similarly, dihydrokainate (DHK) and l-serine-O-sulfate (SOS), specific glutamate transporter inhibitors, indicated the enhancement of the DOX antitumor activity via inhibition of glutamate uptake. Therefore, we revealed the novel mechanism of enhancement of antitumor efficacy of DOX via the inhibition of glutamate transporters.Similarly, theanine enhanced the antitumor activities of other anthracyclines, cisplatin and irinotecan. Consequently, the modulating effect of theanine on the efficacy of antitumor agents is expected to be applicable in clinical cancer chemotherapy.
Keywords: Theanine; Doxorubicin; Glutamate transporter; GS-X pump; Cancer chemotherapy;

Dissecting tumor responsiveness to immunotherapy: the experience of peptide-based melanoma vaccines by Simone Mocellin; Carlo Riccardo Rossi; Donato Nitti; Mario Lise; Francesco M. Marincola (61-71).
Recent years have witnessed important breakthroughs in our understanding of tumor immunology. A variety of immunotherapeutic strategies has shown that immune manipulation can induce the regression of established cancer in humans. The identification of the genes encoding tumor-associated antigens (TAA) and the development of means for immunizing against these antigens have opened new avenues for the development of an effective anticancer immunotherapy. However, an efficient immune response against tumor requires an intricate cross-talk between cancer and immune system cells, which is still poorly understood. Only when the molecular basis underlying tumor susceptibility to an immune response is deciphered could new therapeutic strategies be designed to fit biologically defined mechanisms of cancer immune rejection.In this article, we address some of the critical issues that have been identified in cancer immunotherapy, in part from our own studies on immune therapies in melanoma patients treated with peptide-based vaccination regimens. This is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of the immunological phenomena accompanying cancer patient vaccination but rather emphasizes some emergent findings, puzzling controversies and unanswered questions that characterize this complex field of oncology. In addition to reviewing the main immunological concepts underlying peptide-based vaccination, we also review the available data regarding naturally occurring and therapeutically induced anticancer immune response, both at the peripheral and intratumoral level. The hypothesized role of innate immunity in predetermining tumor responsiveness to immunotherapeutic manipulation is also discussed.
Keywords: Anticancer immune response; Melanoma; Peptide; Vaccine; Immunotherapy;

Sam68, the KH domain-containing superSTAR by Kiven E Lukong; Stéphane Richard (73-86).
Sam68 is one of the most studied members of the STAR family of RNA-binding proteins since its identification over a decade ago. Since its ascension into prominence, enormous progress has been made to unmask the link between the RNA-binding properties of Sam68 and the regulation of cellular processes including signal transduction, cell cycle regulation and tumorigenesis and RNA biogenesis in general. In this review we provide a detailed description of the functional domains of Sam68 and the possible biological roles that justify its superSTAR status.
Keywords: Sam68; Signaling; RNA binding; KH domain;