Current Genomics (v.18, #2)

Natural Compounds as Modulators of Cell Cycle Arrest: Application for Anticancer Chemotherapies by Natalia Bailon-Moscoso, Gabriela Cevallos-Solorzano, Juan Carlos Romero-Benavides, Maria Isabel Ramirez Orellana (106-131).
Natural compounds from various plants, microorganisms and marine species play an important role in the discovery novel components that can be successfully used in numerous biomedical applications, including anticancer therapeutics. Since uncontrolled and rapid cell division is a hallmark of cancer, unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying mitosis is key to understanding how various natural compounds might function as inhibitors of cell cycle progression. A number of natural compounds that inhibit the cell cycle arrest have proven effective for killing cancer cells in vitro, in vivo and in clinical settings. Significant advances that have been recently made in the understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying the cell cycle regulation using the chemotherapeutic agents is of great importance for improving the efficacy of targeted therapeutics and overcoming resistance to anticancer drugs, especially of natural origin, which inhibit the activities of cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases, as well as other proteins and enzymes involved in proper regulation of cell cycle leading to controlled cell proliferation.

Natural Compounds As Modulators of Non-apoptotic Cell Death in Cancer Cells by Luis Miguel Guaman-Ortiz, Maria Isabel Ramirez Orellana, Edward A. Ratovitski (132-155).
Cell death is an innate capability of cells to be removed from microenvironment, if and when they are damaged by multiple stresses. Cell death is often regulated by multiple molecular pathways and mechanism, including apoptosis, autophagy, and necroptosis. The molecular network underlying these processes is often intertwined and one pathway can dynamically shift to another one acquiring certain protein components, in particular upon treatment with various drugs. The strategy to treat human cancer ultimately relies on the ability of anticancer therapeutics to induce tumor-specific cell death, while leaving normal adjacent cells undamaged. However, tumor cells often develop the resistance to the druginduced cell death, thus representing a great challenge for the anticancer approaches. Numerous compounds originated from the natural sources and biopharmaceutical industries are applied today in clinics showing advantageous results. However, some exhibit serious toxic side effects. Thus, novel effective therapeutic approaches in treating cancers are continued to be developed. Natural compounds with anticancer activity have gained a great interest among researchers and clinicians alike since they have shown more favorable safety and efficacy then the synthetic marketed drugs. Numerous studies in vitro and in vivo have found that several natural compounds display promising anticancer potentials. This review underlines certain information regarding the role of natural compounds from plants, microorganisms and sea life forms, which are able to induce non-apoptotic cell death in tumor cells, namely autophagy and necroptosis.

Anti-Cancer Phytometabolites Targeting Cancer Stem Cells by Heron F.V. Torquato, Marcia I. Goettert, Giselle Z. Justo, Edgar J. Paredes-Gamero (156-174).
Medicinal plants are a plentiful source of bioactive molecules with much structural diversity. In cancer treatment, molecules obtained from plants represent an attractive alternative to other treatments because several plant-derived compounds have exhibited lower toxicity and higher selectivity against cancer cells. In this review, we focus on the possible application of bioactive molecules obtained from plants against more primitive cell populations in cancers, cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are present in several kinds of tumors and are responsible for recurrences and metastases. Common anticancer drugs exhibit lower effectiveness against cancer stem cells because of their biological features. However, recently discovered natural phytometabolites exert cytotoxic effects on this rare population of cells in cancers. Therefore, this review presents the latest research on promising compounds from plants that can act as antitumor drugs and that mainly affect stem cell populations in cancers.

Accumulating evidence shows that hallmarks of cancer include: “genetic and epigenetic alterations leading to inactivation of cancer suppressors, overexpression of oncogenes, deregulation of intracellular signaling cascades, alterations of cancer cell metabolism, failure to undergo cancer cell death, induction of epithelial to mesenchymal transition, invasiveness, metastasis, deregulation of immune response and changes in cancer microenvironment, which underpin cancer development”. Natural compounds as bioactive ingredients isolated from natural sources (plants, fungi, marine life forms) have revolutionized the field of anticancer therapeutics and rapid developments in preclinical studies are encouraging. Natural compounds could affect the epigenetic molecular mechanisms that modulate gene expression, as well as DNA damage and repair mechanisms. The current review will describe the latest achievements in using naturally produced compounds targeting epigenetic regulators and modulators of gene transcription in vitro and in vivo to generate novel anticancer therapeutics.

Genetic Imbalance in Patients with Cervical Artery Dissection by Caspar Grond-Ginsbach, Bowang Chen, Michael Krawczak, Rastislav Pjontek, Philip Ginsbach, Yanxiang Jiang, Sherine Abboud, Marie-Luise Arnold, Anna Bersano, Tobias Brandt, Valeria Caso, Stephanie Debette, Martin Dichgans, Andreas Geschwendtner, Giacomo Giacalone, Juan-Jose Martin, Antti J. Metso, Tiina M. Metso, Armin J. Grau, Manja Kloss, Christoph Lichy, Alessandro Pezzini, Christopher Traenka, Stefan Schreiber, Vincent Thijs, Emmanuel Touze, Elisabetta Del Zotto, Turgut Tatlisumak, Didier Leys, Philippe A. Lyrer, Stefan T. Engelter, for the CADISP group (206-213).
Background: Genetic and environmental risk factors are assumed to contribute to the susceptibility to cervical artery dissection (CeAD). To explore the role of genetic imbalance in the etiology of CeAD, copy number variants (CNVs) were identified in high-density microarrays samples from the multicenter CADISP (Cervical Artery Dissection and Ischemic Stroke Patients) study and from control subjects from the CADISP study and the German PopGen biobank. Microarray data from 833 CeAD patients and 2040 control subjects (565 subjects with ischemic stroke due to causes different from CeAD and 1475 disease-free individuals) were analyzed. Rare genic CNVs were equally frequent in CeAD-patients (16.4%; n=137) and in control subjects (17.0%; n=346) but differed with respect to their genetic content. Compared to control subjects, CNVs from CeAD patients were enriched for genes associated with muscle organ development and cell differentiation, which suggests a possible association with arterial development. CNVs affecting cardiovascular system development were more common in CeAD patients than in control subjects (p=0.003; odds ratio (OR) =2.5; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) =1.4-4.5) and more common in patients with a familial history of CeAD than in those with sporadic CeAD (p=0.036; OR=11.2; 95% CI=1.2-107).

Conclusion: The findings suggest that rare genetic imbalance affecting cardiovascular system development may contribute to the risk of CeAD. Validation of these findings in independent study populations is warranted.

Protein and Genetic Composition of Four Chromatin Types in Drosophila melanogaster Cell Lines by Lidiya V. Boldyreva, Fyodor P. Goncharov, Olga V. Demakova, Tatyana Yu. Zykova, Victor G. Levitsky, Nikolay N. Kolesnikov, Alexey V. Pindyurin, Valeriy F. Semeshin, Igor F. Zhimulev (214-226).
Background: Recently, we analyzed genome-wide protein binding data for the Drosophila cell lines S2, Kc, BG3 and Cl.8 (modENCODE Consortium) and identified a set of 12 proteins enriched in the regions corresponding to interbands of salivary gland polytene chromosomes. Using these data, we developed a bioinformatic pipeline that partitioned the Drosophila genome into four chromatin types that we hereby refer to as aquamarine, lazurite, malachite and ruby.

Results: Here, we describe the properties of these chromatin types across different cell lines. We show that aquamarine chromatin tends to harbor transcription start sites (TSSs) and 5' untranslated regions (5'UTRs) of the genes, is enriched in diverse “open” chromatin proteins, histone modifications, nucleosome remodeling complexes and transcription factors. It encompasses most of the tRNA genes and shows enrichment for non-coding RNAs and miRNA genes. Lazurite chromatin typically encompasses gene bodies. It is rich in proteins involved in transcription elongation. Frequency of both point mutations and natural deletion breakpoints is elevated within lazurite chromatin. Malachite chromatin shows higher frequency of insertions of natural transposons. Finally, ruby chromatin is enriched for proteins and histone modifications typical for the “closed” chromatin. Ruby chromatin has a relatively low frequency of point mutations and is essentially devoid of miRNA and tRNA genes. Aquamarine and ruby chromatin types are highly stable across cell lines and have contrasting properties. Lazurite and malachite chromatin types also display characteristic protein composition, as well as enrichment for specific genomic features. We found that two types of chromatin, aquamarine and ruby, retain their complementary protein patterns in four Drosophila cell lines.