BBA - Reviews on Cancer (v.1835, #1)

Normal hematopoiesis and hematologic malignancies: Role of canonical Wnt signaling pathway and stromal microenvironment by Paul Faustin Seke Etet; Lorella Vecchio; Patrice Bogne Kamga; Elias Nchiwan Nukenine; Mauro Krampera; Armel Hervé Nwabo Kamdje (1-10).
Wnts are a family of evolutionary-conserved secreted signaling molecules critically involved in a variety of developmental processes and in cell fate determination. A growing body of evidence suggests that Wnt signaling plays a crucial role in the influence of bone marrow stromal microenvironment on the balance between hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Emerging clinical and experimental evidence also indicates Wnt signaling involvement in the disruption of the latter balance in hematologic malignancies, where the stromal microenvironment favors the homing of cancer cells to the bone marrow, as well as leukemia stem cell development and chemoresistance. In the present review, we summarize and discuss the role of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in normal hematopoiesis and hematologic malignancies, with regard to recent findings on the stromal microenvironment involvement in these process and diseases.
Keywords: Canonical Wnt signaling pathway; β-catenin; Hematopoiesis; Hematologic malignancy; Chemoresistance; Blood cancer;

Topoisomerase I (TOP1) inhibitors applied in cancer therapy such as topotecan and irinotecan are derivatives of the natural alkaloid camptothecin (CPT). The mechanism of CPT poisoning of TOP1 rests on inhibition of the re-ligation function of the enzyme resulting in the stabilization of the TOP1-cleavable complex. In the presence of CPTs this enzyme–DNA complex impairs transcription and DNA replication, resulting in fork stalling and the formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) in proliferating cells. As with most chemotherapeutics, intrinsic and acquired drug resistance represents a hurdle that limits the success of CPT therapy. Preclinical data indicate that resistance to CPT-based drugs might be caused by factors such as (a) poor drug accumulation in the tumor, (b) high rate of drug efflux, (c) mutations in TOP1 leading to failure in CPT docking, or (d) altered signaling triggered by the drug–TOP1–DNA complex, (e) expression of DNA repair proteins, and (f) failure to activate cell death pathways. This review will focus on the issues (d–f). We discuss degradation of TOP1 as part of the repair pathway in the processing of TOP1 associated DNA damage, give a summary of proteins involved in repair of CPT-induced replication mediated DSB, and highlight the role of p53 and inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), particularly XIAP and survivin, in cancer cell resistance to CPT-like chemotherapeutics.
Keywords: Topoisomerase I inhibitors; DSB repair; p53; XIAP; Survivin; Cancer cell resistance;

Transposable elements are present in almost all genomes including that of humans. These mobile DNA sequences are capable of invading genomes and their impact on genome evolution is substantial as they contribute to the genetic diversity of organisms. The mobility of transposable elements can cause deleterious mutations, gene disruption and chromosome rearrangements that may lead to several pathologies including cancer. This mini-review aims to give a brief overview of the relationship that transposons and retrotransposons may have in the genetic cause of human cancer onset, or conversely creating protection against cancer. Finally, the cause of TE mobility may also be the cancer cell environment itself.
Keywords: Cancer; Chromatin methylation; Chromosomal rearrangement; Gene expression; Retrotransposon; Transposon;

Direct and indirect photodynamic therapy effects on the cellular and molecular components of the tumor microenvironment by Laura Milla Sanabria; Matías Exequiel Rodríguez; Ingrid Sol Cogno; Natalia Belén Rumie Vittar; María Florencia Pansa; María Julia Lamberti; Viviana Alicia Rivarola (36-45).
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a novel cancer treatment. It involves the activation of a photosensitizer (PS) with light of specific wavelength, which interacts with molecular oxygen to generate singlet oxygen and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) that lead to tumor cell death. When a tumor is treated with PDT, in addition to affect cancer cells, the extracellular matrix and the other cellular components of the microenvironment are altered and finally this had effects on the tumor cells survival. Furthermore, the heterogeneity in the availability of nutrients and oxygen in the different regions of a tridimensional tumor has a strong impact on the sensitivity of cells to PDT. In this review, we summarize how PDT affects indirectly to the tumor cells, by the alterations on the extracellular matrix, the cell adhesion and the effects over the immune response. Also, we describe direct PDT effects on cancer cells, considering the intratumoral role that autophagy mediated by hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) has on the efficiency of the treatment.
Keywords: Photodynamic therapy; Cancer; Extracellular matrix; Cell adhesion; Immune system; Autophagy;

Potential role of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 signaling pathway in inflammation, survival, proliferation and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma by Aruljothi Subramaniam; Muthu K. Shanmugam; Ekambaram Perumal; Feng Li; Alamelu Nachiyappan; Xiaoyun Dai; Shivananju Nanjunda Swamy; Kwang Seok Ahn; Alan Prem Kumar; Benny K.H. Tan; Kam Man Hui; Gautam Sethi (46-60).
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most lethal malignancies, and is also the fourth most common cancer worldwide with around 700,000 new cases each year. Currently, first line chemotherapeutic drugs used for HCC include fluorouracil, cisplatin, doxorubicin, paclitaxel and mitomycin, but most of these are non-selective cytotoxic molecules with significant side effects. Sorafenib is the only approved targeted therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for HCC treatment, but patients suffer from various kinds of adverse effects, including hypertension. The signal-transducer-and-activator-of-transcription 3 (STAT3) protein, one of the members of STATs transcription factor family, has been implicated in signal transduction by different cytokines, growth factors and oncogenes. In normal cells, STAT3 activation is tightly controlled to prevent dysregulated gene transcription, whereas constitutively activated STAT3 plays an important role in tumorigenesis through the upregulation of genes involved in anti-apoptosis, proliferation and angiogenesis. Thus, pharmacologically safe and effective agents that can block STAT3 activation have the potential both for the prevention and treatment of HCC. In the present review, we discuss the possible role of STAT3 signaling cascade and its interacting partners in the initiation of HCC and also analyze the role of various STAT3 regulated genes in HCC progression, inflammation, survival, invasion and angiogenesis.
Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma; STAT3; JAKs; Proliferation; Apoptosis; Invasion;

Biology of brain metastases and novel targeted therapies: Time to translate the research by Emmanouil Fokas; Joachim P. Steinbach; Claus Rödel (61-75).
Brain metastases (BM) occur in 20% to 40% of patients with cancer and result in significant morbidity and poor survival. The main therapeutic options include surgery, whole brain radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery and chemotherapy. Although significant progress has been made in diagnostic and therapeutic methods, the prognosis in these patients remains poor. Furthermore, the poor penetrability of chemotherapy agents through the blood brain barrier (BBB) continues to pose a challenge in the management of this disease. Preclinical evidence suggests that new targeted treatments can improve local tumor control but our clinical experience with these agents remains limited. In addition, several clinical studies with these novel agents have produced disappointing results. This review will examine the knowledge of targeted therapies in BM. The preclinical and clinical evidence of their use in BM induced by breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma will be presented. In addition, we will discuss the role of antiangiogenic and radiosensitising agents in the treatment of BM and the current strategies available to increase BBB permeability. A better understanding of the mechanism of action of these agents will help us to identify the best targets for testing in future clinical studies.
Keywords: Brain metastases; Targeted therapies; Angiogenesis; Radiotherapy; Blood–brain barrier;

Drugging the undruggable: Transcription therapy for cancer by Chunhong Yan; Paul J. Higgins (76-85).
Transcriptional regulation is often the convergence point of oncogenic signaling. It is not surprising, therefore, that aberrant gene expression is a hallmark of cancer. Transformed cells often develop a dependency on such a reprogramming highlighting the therapeutic potential of rectifying cancer-associated transcriptional abnormalities in malignant cells. Although transcription is traditionally considered as undruggable, agents have been developed that target various levels of transcriptional regulation including DNA binding by transcription factors, protein–protein interactions, and epigenetic alterations. Some of these agents have been approved for clinical use or entered clinical trials. While artificial transcription factors have been developed that can theoretically modulate expression of any given gene, the emergence of reliable reporter assays greatly facilitates the search for transcription-targeted agents. This review provides a comprehensive overview of these developments, and discusses various strategies applicable for developing transcription-targeted therapeutic agents.
Keywords: Cancer; Targeted therapy; Transcription; Transcriptional regulation; Transcription therapy; Drug development;

Ecological photodynamic therapy: New trend to disrupt the intricate networks within tumor ecosystem by N. Belén Rumie Vittar; María Julia Lamberti; María Florencia Pansa; Renzo E. Vera; M. Exequiel Rodriguez; I. Sol Cogno; Laura N. Milla Sanabria; Viviana A. Rivarola (86-99).
As with natural ecosystems, species within the tumor microenvironment are connected by pairwise interactions (e.g. mutualism, predation) leading to a strong interdependence of different populations on each other. In this review we have identified the ecological roles played by each non-neoplastic population (macrophages, endothelial cells, fibroblasts) and other abiotic components (oxygen, extracellular matrix) directly involved with neoplastic development. A way to alter an ecosystem is to affect other species within the environment that are supporting the growth and survival of the species of interest, here the tumor cells; thus, some features of ecological systems could be exploited for cancer therapy. We propose a well-known antitumor therapy called photodynamic therapy (PDT) as a novel modulator of ecological interactions. We refer to this as “ecological photodynamic therapy.” The main goal of this new strategy is the improvement of therapeutic efficiency through the disruption of ecological networks with the aim of destroying the tumor ecosystem. It is therefore necessary to identify those interactions from which tumor cells get benefit and those by which it is impaired, and then design multitargeted combined photodynamic regimes in order to orchestrate non-neoplastic populations against their neoplastic counterpart. Thus, conceiving the tumor as an ecological system opens avenues for novel approaches on treatment strategies.
Keywords: Photodynamic therapy; Tumor microenvironment; Hypoxia; Angiogenesis; Stroma; Ecosystem;

Review of S100A9 biology and its role in cancer by Joseph Markowitz; William E. Carson (100-109).
S100A9 is a calcium binding protein with multiple ligands and post-translation modifications that is involved in inflammatory events and the initial development of the cancer cell through to the development of metastatic disease. This review has a threefold purpose: 1) describe the S100A9 structural elements important for its biological activity, 2) describe the S100A9 biology in the context of the immune system, and 3) illustrate the role of S100A9 in the development of malignancy via interactions with the immune system and other cellular processes.
Keywords: S100A9; Calgranulin B; Cancer; MRP-14;

Study human pancreatic cancer in mice: How close are they? by Yuqing Zhang; Leon Chen; Jingxuan Yang; Jason B. Fleming; Paul J. Chiao; Craig D. Logsdon; Min Li (110-118).
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths and is characterized by dismal prognosis. Xenograft and genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models have recapitulated critical elements of human pancreatic cancer, providing useful tools to probe the underlying cause of cancer etiology. In this review, we provide a brief description of the common genetic lesions that occur during the development of pancreatic cancer. Next, we describe the strengths and weaknesses of these two models and highlight key discoveries each has made. Although the relative merits of GEM and xenograft pancreatic cancer mouse models are subject to debate, both systems have and will continue to yield essential insights in understanding pancreatic cancer etiology. This information is critical for the development of new methods to screen, treat, and prevent pancreatic cancer.
Keywords: Pancreatic cancer; Animal model; Gene function; Tumor microenvironment;

Smurf E3 ubiquitin ligases at the cross roads of oncogenesis and tumor suppression by Diana David; S. Asha Nair; M. Radhakrishna Pillai (119-128).
Smad ubiquitin regulatory factors (Smurfs) belong to the HECT- family of E3 ubiquitin ligases and comprise mainly of two members, Smurf1 and Smurf2. Initially, Smurfs have been implicated in determining the competence of cells to respond to TGF-β/BMP signaling pathway. Nevertheless, the intrinsic catalytic activity has extended the repertoire of Smurf substrates beyond the TGF-β/BMP super family expanding its realm further to epigenetic modifications of histones governing the chromatin landscape. Through regulation of a large number of proteins in multiple cellular compartments, Smurfs regulate diverse cellular processes, including cell-cycle progression, cell proliferation, differentiation, DNA damage response, maintenance of genomic stability, and metastasis. As the genomic ablation of Smurfs leads to global changes in histone modifications and predisposition to a wide spectrum of tumors, Smurfs are also considered to have a novel tumor suppressor function. This review focuses on regulation network and biological functions of Smurfs in connection with its role in cancer progression. By providing a portrait of their protein targets, we intend to link the substrate specificity of Smurfs with their contribution to tumorigenesis. Since the regulation and biological functions of Smurfs are quite complex, understanding the oncogenic potential of these E3 ubiquitin ligases may facilitate the development of mechanism-based drugs in cancer treatment.
Keywords: HECT E3 ligase; Smurf1; Smurf2; Carcinogenesis; Tumor suppressor;