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- Role of sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 and downstream heme oxygenase-1 induction in alternative macrophage activation induced by apoptotic cells (2009)
- Macrophages show a remarkable functional plasticity, which enables them to change their phenotype in response to environmental signals. They are key players during infection by initiating inflammation through the release of proinflammatory mediators. Furthermore, macrophages contribute to the resolution of inflammation by phagocytosis of apoptotic granulocytes. Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells (AC) induces an anti-inflammatory phenotype in macrophages and protects them against apoptosis. However, mechanistic details provoking these phenotype alterations are incompletely understood. Therefore, the aim of my Ph.D. thesis was to investigate the molecular basis of anti-inflammatory macrophage polarization. In the first part of my studies, I investigated the expression of heme oxygenase (HO)-1 in macrophages following treatment with supernatants from AC. HO-1 catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step of heme degradation and potentially bears anti-inflammatory as well as anti-apoptotic potential. I was able to show biphasic upregulation of HO-1 by AC supernatants. The first phase of HO-1 induction at 6 h required activation of p38 MAPK and was accomplished by the bioactive lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) engaging S1P receptor 1 (S1P1). However, the second wave of HO-1 induction at 24 h was attributed to autocrine signaling of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A, whose expression was facilitated by S1P. The release of VEGFA from macrophages was STAT1-dependent, whereas VEGFA itself acted on the macrophage HO-1 promoter via STAT1/STAT3 heterodimer binding. Knockdown of HO-1 revealed its relevance in promoting enhanced expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins B cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) and B cell leukaemia/lymphoma-x long (Bcl-XL), as well as the anti-inflammatory adenosine receptor A2A. MHC II and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase expression were also affected by ACsupernanatants, but were not HO-1 dependent. Unexpectedly, S1P1 was also upregulated following treatment with AC supernatants. Thus, I considered whether S1P1 induction could specifically be mediated by alternative macrophage activating factors. The expression of S1P1 was enhanced in the presence of the alternative activation stimuli IL-4 as well as IL-10, whereas it was unchanged following incubations with LPS, interferon-g or S1P. My next aim was to investigate the expression of the different S1P receptor isoforms in macrophages following treatment with supernatants form AC. While the expressions of S1P1 as well as S1P3 were induced by exposure to supernatants from AC, S1P2 expression was unaffected. As S1P1/3 and S1P2 are conflictively involved in the regulation of cell migration, I asked for a correlation between increased S1P receptor expression and enhanced migration rate. Indeed, macrophages showed enhanced motility following treatment with supernatants form AC, which was inhibited in S1P1 knockout macrophages. In summary, my findings indicate that HO-1, which is induced by AC-derived S1P, is critically involved in macrophage polarization towards an alternatively activated macrophage phenotype. S1P1 seems to represent a central checkpoint during macrophage activation. On the one hand, S1P1 is induced by supernatants form AC and promotes migration of macrophages. On the other hand, it mediates the induction of HO-1, which is accompanied by antiinflammatory as well as anti-apoptotic signaling. Furthermore, my studies provide evidence that upregulation of HO-1 and S1P1 in macrophages may contribute to the resolution of inflammation by establishing an anti-inflammatory macrophage phenotype and provoking macrophage migration along the vascular S1P gradient out of an inflammatory environment into the lymph.
- Impact of tumour microenvironmental factors on dendritic cell differentiation and function (2012)
- Um der Erkennung durch das körpereigene Immunsystem entkommen, weisen Tumore Modifikationen in ihrer Mikroumgebung auf. Zu diesen gehören u. a. veränderte Sauerstoffkonzentrationen im Tumorkern und die Freisetzung biochemischer Faktoren aus Tumorzellen, welche die Funktion von Tumor-assoziierten Phagozyten, wie z.B. Dendritischen Zellen (DC) beeinflussen. DC sind professionelle Antigen-präsentierende Zellen, die eine Spezialisierung in verschiedene funktionale Subtypen aufweisen. Myeloische DC (mDC) sind besonders effizient in Hinsicht auf die Präsentation von Antigenen, wohingegen plasmazytoide DC (pDC) regulatorisch auf das Immunsystem einwirken. Beide Subtypen spielen eine wichtige Rolle bei der Karzinogenese. Während humane mDC, zur therapeutischen Verwendung, ex vivo aus Monozyten hergestellt werden können, war dies für humane pDC bisher nicht möglich. Ein war deshalb ein erstes Ziel dieser Arbeit, ein Protokoll zur Generierung humaner pDC aus humanen Monozyten zu entwickeln. Diese wurden mittels des Wachstumsfaktors Fms-related tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3-L) zu pDC-Äquivalenten differenziert, welche als monocyte-derived pDC (mo-pDC) bezeichnet wurden. In der Tat zeigten mo-pDC ein für humane pDC charakteristisches Oberflächenmarkerprofil und wiesen, im Vergleich zu mDC, eine geringe Kapazität zur Induktion der Proliferation autologer T Zellen und zur Phagozytose apoptotischer Zellen auf. Mo-pDC erwarben im Verlauf ihrer Differenzierung aus Monozyten eine kontinuierlich erhöhte Expression des pDC-spezifischen Transkriptionfaktors E2-2 und seiner spezifischen Zielgene. Der wichtigste funktionale Parameter von pDC ist die Produktion großer Mengen von Interferon-α (IFN-α). Mo-pDC sezernierten, nach vorheriger Aktivierung mit Tumornekrosefaktor-α (TNF-α) oder wenn zu ihrer Differenzierung neben Flt3-L auch Vitamin D3 oder all-trans-Retinolsäure verwendet wurde, ebenfalls große Mengen IFN-α. Wurden mo-pDC unter Hypoxie, einem prominenten Faktor der Tumormikroumgebung, generiert, so waren die Expression des spezifischen Transkriptionsfaktors E2-2 und die Freisetzung von IFN-α stark vermindert. Diese Daten zeigten zunächst, dass mo-pDC für das Studium von Differenzierung und Funktion humaner pDC eingesetzt werden können. Weiterhin lieferten sie Hinweise auf eine veränderte Differenzierung humaner pDC unter Hypoxie. In einem nächsten Schritt wurde folglich untersucht, ob Hypoxie auch die Differenzierung von pDC aus deren physiologischen Vorläufern beeinflusst. Wurden Knochenmarkszellen der Maus mit Flt3-L unter Normoxie oder Hypoxie kultiviert, so war die Differenzierung zu pDC unter Hypoxie in der Tat unterdrückt. Dies war abhängig von der Hypoxie-induzierten Aktivität des Hypoxie-induzierten Faktors 1 (HIF-1), da die Flt3-Linduzierte Differenzierung von murinen Knochenmarkszellen, in denen die Expression von HIF-1 in pDC-Vorläuferzellen ausgeschaltet war, unter Hypoxie normal verlief. Zusammenfassend kann also gesagt werden, dass Hypoxie, durch Aktivierung von HIF-1, Differenzierung und Funktion von pDC unterdrückt. Dieser Mechanismus könnte zu ihrer beschriebenen Dysfunktion in humanen Tumoren beitragen. Neben Hypoxie sind viele andere Faktoren an der Immunsuppression in Tumoren beteiligt. Eine Komponente der Mikroumgebung in Tumoren ist das Vorhandensein apoptotischer Tumorzellen. Apoptose von Tumorzellen findet, im Kontrast zur generellen Sicht von Tumoren als Apoptose-resistente Entitäten, auch in unbehandelten Tumoren im Überfluss statt. Apoptotische körpereigene Zellen unterdrücken unter physiologischen Bedingungen das Immunsystem. Deshalb könnte das Freisetzen von apoptotischem Material oder die Sekretion von Faktoren aus sterbenden Tumorzellen einen starken Einfluss auf die Funktion von Tumor-assoziierten DC und die damit verbundene Aktivierung von tumoriziden Lymphozyten haben. Eine diesbezügliche Studie war das zweite Ziel der vorliegenden Arbeit. Humane mDC wurden zu diesem Zweck mit Überständen lebender, apoptotischer oder nekrotischer humaner Brustkrebszellen aktiviert und anschließend mit autologen T Zellen ko-kultiviert. Danach wurde das zytotoxische Potential der ko-kultivierten T Zellen analysiert. Interessanterweise unterdrückte die Aktivierung mit Überständen apoptotischer Tumorzellen die DC-vermittelte Generierung tumorizider T Zellen durch die Ausprägung einer Population von regulatorischen T Zellen (Treg), die durch die gleichzeitige Expression der Oberflächenmoleküle CD39 und CD69 charakterisiert war. Die Ausprägung der CD39-und CD69-exprimierenden Treg Zell-Population war abhängig von der Freisetzung des bioaktiven Lipids Sphingosin-1-Phosphat (S1P) aus apoptotischen Zellen, welches durch den S1P-Rezeptor 4 zur Freisetzung des immunregulatorischen Zytokins IL-27 aus mDC führte. Neutralisierung von IL-27 in AC-aktivierten Ko-Kulturen von mDC und T Zellen blockierte die Generierung von CD39- und CD69-exprimierenden Treg Zellen und resultierte folglich in der Aktivierung zytotoxischer T Zellen. Weiterhin war die Bildung von Adenosin in den Ko-Kulturen für die Unterdrückung zytotoxischer T Zellen vonnöten. Erste Experimente lieferten Hinweise auf eine direkte Interaktion von CD69- und CD39-exprimierenden Treg Zellen mit CD73-exprimierenden zytotoxischen T Zellen. CD39 und CD73 werden für die Bildung von Adenosin aus ATP benötigt, weswegen die Interaktion von Treg Zellen und zytotoxischen T Zellen die Adenosin-Produktion fördern könnte. Zusammenfassend zeigen die hier präsentierten Befunde wie Faktoren der Tumormikroumgebung die Funktion von humanen DC Subtypen beeinflussen können. Ein Verständnis der zugrundeliegenden Mechanismen kann wertvolle Informationen für die Wahl effektiver Immuntherapien oder Chemotherapien liefern und so die Therapie humaner Tumore unterstützen.
- Macrophage polarization by apoptotic cancer cells - a RNAi high-throughput screen and validation of interleukin 10 regulation (2012)
- Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) are a major supportive component within neoplasms and by their plasticity promote all phases of tumor development. Mechanisms of macrophage (M Phi) attraction and differentiation to a tumor-promoting phenotype, defined among others by distinct cytokine patterns such as pronounced immunosuppressive interleukin 10 (IL-10) production, are largely unknown. However, a high apoptosis index within tumors and strong M Phi infiltration correlate with poor prognosis. Thus, I aimed at identifying signaling pathways contributing to generation of TAM-like M Phi by using supernatant of apoptotic cancer cells (ACM) as stimulus. To distinguish novel factors involved in generating TAM-like M Phi, I used an adenoviral RNAi-based approach. The primary read-out was production of IL-10. However, mediators modulating IL-10 were re-validated for their impact on regulation of the cytokines IL-6, IL-8 and IL-12. Following assay development, optimization and down-scaling to a 384-well format, primary human M Phi were transduced with 8495 constructs of the adenoviral shRNA SilenceSelect® library of Galapagos BV, followed by activation to a TAM-like phenotype using ACM. I identified 96 genes involved in IL-10 production in response to ACM and observed a pronounced cluster of 22 targets regulating IL-10 and IL-6. Principal validation of five targets of the IL-10/IL-6 cluster was performed using siRNA or pharmacological inhibitors. Among those, IL-4 receptor-alpha and cannabinoid receptor 2 were confirmed as regulators of IL-10 and IL-6 secretion. One protein identified in the screen, the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor TRKA was chosen for in-depth validation, based on its involvement in IL-10, IL-6 and IL-12 secretion from ACM-stimulated human M Phi. TRKA possesses a cardinal role in neuronal development, but compelling evidence emerges suggesting participation of TRKA in cancer development. First experiments using pharmacological inhibitors principally confirmed the involvement of TRKA in IL-10 secretion by ACM-stimulated M Phi and revealed PI3K/AKT and to a lesser extend MAPK p38 as important signaling molecules downstream of TRKA activation. Signaling through TRKA required the presence of its ligand NGF, as indicated by NGF neutralization experiments. NGF was not induced by or present in ACM, but was constitutively secreted by M Phi. Interestingly, M Phi responded to authentic NGF with neither AKT and p38 phosphorylation nor IL-10 production. TRKA is well known to be transactivated by other receptors and in neurons its cellular localization is decisive for its function. Inhibitors of common transactivation partners did not influence IL-10 production by human M Phi. Rather, ACM-treatment provoked pronounced translocation of TRKA to the plasma membrane within 10 minutes as observed by immunofluorescence staining. Consequently, I was intrigued to clarify mechanisms of TRKA trafficking in response to ACM. The bioactive lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) has been previously identified as important apoptotic cell-derived mediator involved in TAM-like M Phi polarization. Indeed, I observed S1P and src kinase involvement in ACM-mediated IL-10 induction. Furthermore, inhibition of S1P receptor (S1PR) signaling or src kinase activity prevented TRKA translocation, whereas a TRKA inhibitor or anti-NGF did not block TRKA trafficking to the plasma membrane in response to ACM. Thus, autocrine secreted NGF activated TRKA to promote IL-10 secretion, which required previous S1PR/src-dependent translocation of TRKA to the plasma membrane. Following the detailed analysis of IL-10 regulation, I was interested whether other TAM phenotype markers were influenced by ACM and whether their expression was regulated through TRKA-dependent signaling. Five of six markers were up-regulated on mRNA level by ACM, and secretion of IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-alpha was triggered. S1PR-signaling was essential for induction of all but one marker, whereas TRKA signaling was only required for cytokine secretion. Interestingly, none of the investigated TAM markers was regulated identically to IL-10, emphasizing a tight and exclusive regulation machinery of this potent immunosuppressive cytokine. Finally, I aimed to validate the in vitro findings in human ACM-stimulated M Phi. Therefore, I isolated murine TAM as well as other major mononuclear phagocyte populations from primary oncogene-induced breast cancer tissue. Indeed, TRKA-dependent signaling was required for spontaneous cytokine production selectively by primary murine TAM. Besides IL-10, the TRKA pathway was decisive for secretion of IL-6, TNF-alpha and monocyte chemotactic protein-1, indicating its relevance in cancer-associated inflammation. In summary, my findings highlight a fine-tuned regulatory system of S1P-dependent TRKA trafficking and autocrine NGF signaling in TAM biology. Both factors, S1P as well as NGF, might be interesting targets for future cancer therapy.
- Identification of erioflorin as a stabilizer of Pdcd4 by a HTS of natural products and discovery of its mechanism of action (2012)
- The tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4 (Pdcd4) exerts its function by inhibiting protein translation initiation. Specifically, it displaces the scaffold protein eukaryotic initiation factor 4G (eIF4G) from its binding to the eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A). Thereby, Pdcd4 inhibits the helicase activity of eIF4A, which is necessary for the unwinding of highly structured 5’ untranslated regions (UTRs) of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) often found in oncogenes like c-myc to make them accessible for the translation machinery and subsequent protein production. Overexpression of Pdcd4 inhibits tumorigenesis in vitro and in vivo and inversely, Pdcd4 knockout mice show enhanced tumor formation. In line, Pdcd4 is lost in various tumor types and proposed as prognostic factor in colon carcinomas. Unlike most other tumor suppressors that are rendered nonfunctional by mutations (e.g., p53), Pdcd4 loss is not attributable to mutational inactivation. It is regulated via translational repression by microRNAs and increased degradation of the protein under tumor promoting, inflammatory conditions and mitogens. Specifically, proteasomal degradation of Pdcd4 is controlled by p70 S6 Kinase (p70S6K)-mediated phosphorylation in its degron sequence (serines 67, 71 and 76). Stimulation of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway by growth factors, hormones and cytokines initiates p70S6K activity. Phosphorylated Pdcd4 is subsequently recognized by the E3 ubiquitin ligase beta-transducin repeats-containing protein (β-TrCP) and marked with a polyubiquitin tail to be detected by the 26S proteasome for degradation. β-TrCP represents the substrate specific recognition subunit of the ubiquitin ligase complex responsible for protein-protein interaction with Pdcd4 as substrate for ubiquitin transfer and subsequent proteasomal disassembly. The first part of the present work aimed at identifying novel stabilizers of the tumor suppressor Pdcd4 in a high throughput screen (HTS). As assay design, a fragment of Pdcd4 from amino acid 39 to 91, containing the phosphorylation sensitive degron sequence, was fused to a luciferase reporter gene construct. Stable expression of this Pdcd4(39-91)luciferase (Pdcd4(39-91)luc) fusion protein in HEK 293 cells served as read-out for the Pdcd4 protein amount to be detected in a high throughput compatible cell-based assay. Loss of Pdcd4(39-91)luc was induced by treatment with 12-O- tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), a phorbolester, which activates the PI3K signaling cascade leading to degradation of Pdcd4. The cut-off for hit definition was set at >50% activity in rescuing the Pdcd4(39-91)luc signal from TPA-induced degradation. Activity was calculated relative to the difference of DMSO- and TPA-treated cells (ΔDMSO-TPA = RLUDMSO-RLUTPA). Initial screening of a protein kinase inhibitor library (PKI) revealed hit substances expected to show Pdcd4 stabilizing activity by inhibition of kinases involved in Pdcd4 downregulation, e.g., the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, the PI3K inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 and the PKC inhibitors GF 109203X and Ro 31-8220. The Molecular Targets Laboratory (MTL) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, USA, hosts one of the largest collections of crude natural product extracts as well as a big substance libraries from pure synthetic sources. Screening of over 15 000 pure compounds and over 135 000 natural product extracts identified 46 pure and 42 extract hits as Pdcd4 stabilizers. For nine synthetic and six natural product derived compounds (after bioassay-guided fractionation), dose-dependent activities for recovering the TPA-induced Pdcd4(39-91)luc loss defined IC50s in the low micromolar range. Most importantly, these compounds were confirmed to stabilize endogenous Pdcd4 protein levels from forced degradation as well. This result proved the assay design to be highly representative for endogenous cellular mechanisms regulating Pdcd4 protein stability. The next step was to stratify the hit substances according to their likely mechanism of action to be located either up- or downstream of the p70S6K-mediated phosphorylation of Pdcd4. Therefore, phosphorylation of S6, as proto-typical p70S6K target, was analyzed and uncovered two natural derived compounds to influence p70S6K activity. Four substances did not affect p70S6K phosphorylation activity and were therefore considered to stabilize Pdcd4 by acting downstream, i.e. on the β-TrCP-mediated proteasomal degradation. In the second part of this work, one of these compounds, namely the sesquiterpene lactone erioflorin, isolated by bioassay-guided fraction from the active extract of Eriophyllum lanatum, Asteraceae, was further characterized in detail with respect to its molecular mechanism of action. Erioflorin dose-dependently protected both Pdcd4(39-91)luc and endogenous Pdcd4 protein from TPA-induced degradation with IC50s of 1.28 and 2.64 μM, respectively. Pdcd4 stabilizing activity was maximal at 5 μM erioflorin. Up to this concentration, erioflorin was verified not to inhibit p70S6K activity. In addition, it was observed that erioflorin rescued Pdcd4(39-91)luc from both, wild type and constitutively active p70S6K-mediated downregulation. Only wild type p70S6K was inhibitable by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin which served as an upstream acting control. To study the next section of Pdcd4 regulation, i.e. recognition by the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, Pdcd4(39-91)luc and endogenous Pdcd4 were immunoprecipitated from whole cell extracts with the corresponding antibodies. In this key experiment, treatment with TPA increased overexpressed β-TrCP binding to both and this coimmunoprecipitation could be strongly reduced by erioflorin treatment. This result strongly pointed to an inhibitory mechanism of the β-TrCP specific binding to Pdcd4 by erioflorin. In addition, erioflorin disrupted the binding of in vitro transcribed/translated β-TrCP to Pdcd4 in an in vitro interaction assay to exclude nonspecific intracellular signals. Furthermore, polyubiquitination of Pdcd4 was decreased by erioflorin treatment as well. To clarify questions regarding specificity of erioflorin for the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, stability of another important β-TrCP target was explored, i.e. the tumor suppressor inhibitor of kappa B alpha (IκBα). Indeed, the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα)-mediated loss of IκBα could be prevented by erioflorin cotreatment. On the other hand, the E3 ubiquitin ligase von Hippel Lindau protein (pVHL) was left unaffected as its target hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α) could not be stabilized from oxygen-dependent degradation by erioflorin treatment. These results argued strongly for erioflorin being a specific inhibitor of β-TrCP-mediated protein degradation. Functional consequences of erioflorin treatment were investigated by observing its influence on the transcriptional activities of the transformation marker activator protein 1 (AP-1, an indirect downstream target of Pdcd4) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB which is directly inhibited by IκBα). Indeed, erioflorin showed significant inhibition of AP-1 and NF-κB reporter constructs at 5 μM, a concentration for which an impact on cell viability was excluded. Finally to characterize the significance of erioflorin in a cell-based tumorigenesis assay, the highly invasive colon carcinoma cell line RKO was tested in a two dimensional migration assay. Erioflorin was discovered to significantly lower cell migration in a wound closure assay. In conclusion, development of a high throughput compatible cell-based reporter assay successfully identified novel substances from pure synthetic and natural product derived background as potent stabilizers of the tumor suppressor Pdcd4. In addition, this work aimed at elucidating the detailed mechanism of action of the sesquiterpene lactone erioflorin from Eriophyllum lanatum, Asteraceae. Erioflorin was discovered to inhibit the E3 ubiquitin ligase β-TrCP, thereby preventing protein degradation of tumor suppressors like Pdcd4 and IκBα. This may offer the possibility to more specifically target protein degradation and generate less adverse side effects by blocking a particular E3 ubiquitin ligase compared to general proteasome inhibition.
- Regulation of arginase II expression in macrophages by supernatants of apoptotic cells (2010)
- Apoptotic cell (AC)-derived factors alter the physiology of macrophages (M Phi s) towards a regulatory phenotype that is characterized by enhanced production of anti-inflammatory mediators, an attenuated pro-inflammatory cytokine profile and reduced nitric oxide (NO) formation. Impaired NO production in response to ACs or AC-conditioned medium (CM) is facilitated by arginase II (ARG II) expression, which competes with inducible NO synthase for L-arginine. In this study, I investigated the signaling pathway that allowed CM to upregulate ARG II in M Phi s. A sphingolipid, further identified as sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), was required but authentic S1P alone only produced small effects. S1P acted synergistically with a so far unidentified factor to elicit high ARG II expression. S1P signaled through S1P receptor 2 (S1P2), since the S1P2-antagonist JTE013 and siRNA knock-down of S1P2 prevented ARG II upregulation. Further, inhibition and knock-down of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) attenuated CM-mediated ARG II protein induction. Exploring ERK5-dependent transcriptional regulation, promoter deletion and luciferase reporter analysis of the murine ARG II promoter (mpARG II) suggested the involvement of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) responsive element binding protein (CREB). This was confirmed by EMSA analysis and decoyoligonucleotides scavenging CREB, thereby preventing it from activating target genes and thus, blocking ARG II expression. I concluded that AC-derived S1P binds to S1P2 and acts synergistically with other factors to activate ERK5 and concomitantly CREB. This signaling cascade shapes an anti-inflammatory M Phi phenotype by ARG II induction. Further investigations of ERK5-dependent CREB activation suggested an indirect mechanism implying that ERK5 inhibited phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) and thus, prevented hydrolysis of cAMP. Since S1P-dependent ERK5 activation presumably inhibited PDE4, subsequent cAMP accumulation led to enhanced PKA activity and CREB-mediated transcription. The unidentified factor(s) besides S1P probably provoked the required elevation of cAMP production in M Phi s. Indeed, pharmacological inhibition of cAMP-producing adenylyl cyclase with SQ22536 as well as cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) with KT5720 suggested cAMP to be involved in CM-mediated ARG II up-regulation. Furthermore, forskolin-dependent activation of adenyly cyclase and simultaneous rolipram-mediated inhibition of PDE4 mimicked CM-induced ARG II expression. Considering these findings, I propose that one or several unidentified factors in CM provoke cAMP production in M Phi s. In parallel, AC-derived S1P activates ERK5, which inhibits PDE4-dependent cAMP hydrolysis, further raising intracellular cAMP levels. Thus, unrestricted continuous cAMP signaling via PKA/CREB, results in a time-dependent and sustained ARG II induction.
- Identification of translationally deregulated proteins during inflammation-associated tumorigenesis (2012)
- The translation of mRNAs into proteins is an elaborate and highly regulated process. Translational regulation primarily takes place at the level of initiation. During initation the eukaryotic initiation factors (eIFs) form a complex that binds to the 5’end of the mRNA to scan for a start codon. Once recognized, the ribosome is recruited to the mRNA and protein synthesis starts. Initiation of translation can basically occur via two distinct mechanisms, i.e. cap-dependent and cap-independent that is mediated via internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs). The former is mediated by a 5’cap structure composed of a 7-methylguanylate which is added to every mRNA during transcription and recruits the initiation complex. IRES-dependent translation involves elements within the 5’untranslated region (UTR) of the mRNA that mostly bind IRES trans-acting factors (ITAFs) which associate either with the initiation complex or with the ribosome itself and consequently allow for internal initiation of translation. During tumorigenesis the demand for proteins is increased due to rapid cell growth, which consequently requires enhanced translation. Many factors that regulate translation are overexpressed in tumors. Moreover, signaling pathways that trigger translation or further hyperactivated by the surrounding tumor microenvironment. This environment is largely generated by infiltration of immune cells such as macrophages that secrete cytokines and other mediators to promote tumorigenesis. As the effects of inflammatory conditions on the translation of specific targets are only poorly characterized, my study aimed at identifying translationally deregulated targets during inflammation-associated tumorigenesis. For this purpose, I cocultured MCF7 breast tumor cells with conditioned medium of activated monocyte-derived U937 macrophages (CM). Polysome profiling and microarray analysis identified 42 targets to be regulated at the level of translation. The results were validated by quantitative PCR and one target - early growth response 2 (EGR2) - was chosen for in depth analysis of the mechanism leading to its enhanced translation. In order to identify upstream signaling molecules causing enhanced EGR2 protein synthesis the cytokine profile of CM was analyzed and the impact of several cytokines on EGR2 translation was examined. Preincubation of CM with neutralizing antibodies revealed that lowering interleukin 6 (IL-6) had only little effect, whereas depletion of IL 1β significantly reduced EGR2 translation. This finding was corroborated by the fact that treatment with recombinant IL-1β enhanced EGR2 translation to virtually the same extend as CM. Further experiments revealed that this effect was mediated via the p38-MAPK signaling cascade. Interestingly, I observed that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, which reduces cap-dependent translation, specifically stimulated EGR2 translation. This result argued for an IRES-dependent mechanism that might account for EGR2 translation. The use of bicistronic reporter assays verified this hypothesis. In line with the above mentioned results, CM, IL-1β and p38-MAPK induced EGR2-IRES activity. Since IRESs commonly require ITAFs to mediate translation initiation, the binding of proteins to the 5’UTR was analyzed using mass spectrometry. Among others, several previously described ITAFs, such as polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP-A1) were identified to directly bind to the EGR2-5’UTR. Furthermore, overexpression of hnRNP-A1 enhanced EGR2-IRES activity whereas a dominant negative form of hnRNP-A1 significantly decreased it, thus, showing its importance for EGR2 translation. In summary, my data provide evidence that EGR2 expression can be controlled by IRES-dependent translational regulation, which is responsive to an inflammatory environment. The identified mechanism may not be exclusive for one target but might be representative for gene expression regulation mechanisms during tumorigenesis. This is of special interest for the treatment of cancer patients and development of more specific therapies to reduce tumor outcome.
- Antinociceptive effects of reactive oxygen species scavengers in animal models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain (2011)
- Recent data indicate that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced in the nociceptive system during persistent pain and contribute to pain sensitization. Aim of this study was to investigate potential antinociceptive effects of ROS scavengers in different animal models of pain. Intrathecal injection of ROS scavengers 1-Oxyl-2,2,6,6-tetramethyl -4-hydroxypiperidine (TEMPOL) or Phenyl-N-tert-butylnitrone (PBN) significantly inhibited formalin-induced nociceptive behavior in mice, suggesting that ROS released in the spinal cord are involved in nociceptive processing. Formalin-induced nociceptive behavior was also inhibited by intraperitoneal injection of a combination of vitamin C and vitamin E, but not of vitamin C or vitamin E alone. Moreover, the combination of vitamin C and E dose-dependently attenuated mechanical allodynia in the spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathic pain. The SNI-induced mechanical allodynia was also reduced after intrathecal injection of the combination of vitamin C and E, and western blot analyses revealed that vitamin C and E treatment can ameliorate the activation of p38 MAPK in the spinal cord and in DRGs. These data suggest that a combination of vitamin C and E can inhibit the nociceptive behavior in animal models of pain, and points to a role of the spinal cord as an important area of ROS production during nociceptive processing.
- HuR promotes tumorigenic characteristics in hepatocellular carcinoma (2013)
- In the absence of apparent mutations, alteration of gene expression patterns represents the key mechanism by which normal cells evolve to cancer cells. Gene expression is tightly regulated by posttranscriptional processes. Within this context, RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) represent fundamental factors, since they control mechanisms, such as mRNA-stabilization, -translation and -degradation. Human antigen R (HuR) was among the first RBPs that have been directly associated to carcinogenesis. HuR modulates the stability and translation of mRNAs which encode proteins facilitating various ‘hallmarks of cancer’, namely proliferation, evasion of growth suppression, angiogenesis, cell death resistance, invasion and metastasis. Furthermore, it is well established that tumor-promoting inflammation contributes to tumorigenesis. In this process, monocytes are attracted to the site of the tumor and educated towards a tumor-promoting macrophage phenotype. While HuR has been extensively studied in various tumor cell types, little is known about HuR in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Thus, the aim of my work was to characterize the contribution of HuR to the development of cancer characteristics in HCC. I was particularly interested to investigate if HuR facilitates tumor-promoting inflammation, since a role for HuR has not been described in this context. To this end, I depleted HuR in HepG2 cells (HuR k/d) and used a co-culture model of HepG2 tumor spheroids and infiltrating monocytes to study the impact of HuR on the tumor microenvironment. I could show that depletion of HuR resulted in the reduction of cell numbers. Additionally, the expression of proliferation marker KI-67 and proto-oncogene c-Myc was reduced, supporting a proliferative role of HuR. Furthermore, exposure to cytotoxic staurosporine elevated apoptosis in HuR k/d cells compared to control cells. Concomitantly, the expression of the anti-apoptotic mediator B-cell lymphoma protein-2 (Bcl-2) was markedly reduced in the HuR k/d cells, pointing to an involvement of HuR in cell survival processes. Accordingly, a pro-survival function of HuR was also observed in tumor spheroids, since HuR k/d spheroids exhibited a larger necrotic core region at earlier time points and showed elevated numbers of dead cells compared to control (Ctr.) spheroids. Interestingly, HuR k/d spheroids isplayed reduced numbers of infiltrated macrophages, suggesting that HuR contributes to a tumor-promoting, inflammatory microenvironment by recruiting monocytes/macrophages to the tumor site. Aiming at identifying HuR-regulated factors responsible for the recruitment of monocytes, I found reduced levels of the chemokine interleukin 8 (IL-8) in supernatants of HuR k/d spheroids, supporting a critical involvement of HuR in the chemoattraction of monocytes. Analyzing supernatants of co-cultures of macrophages and HuR k/d or Ctr. spheroids revealed additional differences in chemokine secretion patterns. Interestingly, protein levels of many chemokines were elevated in co-cultures of HuR k/d spheroids compared to control co-cultures. Albeit enhanced chemokine secretion was observed, less monocytes are recruited into HuR k/d spheroids, further underlining the necessity of HuR in cancer related monocyte/macrophage attraction and infiltration. Differences between chemokine profiles of mono- and co-cultured spheroids could be attributable to changes in spheroid-derived chemokines as a result of the crosstalk with the immune cells. Provided the chemokines originate from monocytes/macrophages, the different secretion patterns suggest that HuR contributes to the modulation of the functional phenotype of infiltrated macrophages, since the tumorenvironment is critically involved in the shaping of macrophage phenotypes. Regions of low-oxygen (hypoxia) represent another critical feature of tumors. Therefore, I next analyzed the impact of HuR on the hypoxic response. Loss of HuR attenuated hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) 2α expression after exposure to hypoxia, while HIF-1α protein levels remained unaltered. Considering previous results of our group, showing that HIF-2α depletion (HIF-2α k/d) resulted in the enhanced expression of HIF-1α protein, I aimed to determine the involvement of HuR in the compensatory upregulation of HIF-1α protein in HIF-2α k/d cells. I could demonstrate that not only total HuR protein levels, but specifically cytoplasmic HuR was elevated in HIF-2α depleted cells pointing to enhanced HuR activity. Silencing HuR in HIF-2α deficient cells attenuated enhanced HIF-1α protein expression, thus confirming a direct role of HuR in the compensatory upregulation of HIF-1α. This as also reflected on HIF-1α target gene expression. I further investigated the mechanism underlying the compensatory HIF-1α expression in HIF-2α deficient cells. Analyzing HIF-1α mRNA expression, I excluded enhanced HIF1-α transcription and stability to account for elevated HIF-1α expression in HIF-2α k/d cells. HIF-1α promoter activity assays confirmed the mRNA data. Furthermore, HIF-1α protein half-life was not elevated in HIF-2α k/d cells compared to control cells, indicating that HIF-1α protein stability is not altered in HIF-2α k/d cells. Analysis of the association of HIF-1α with the translational machinery using polysomal fractionation finally revealed an increased istribution of HIF-1α mRNA in the heavier polysomal fractions in HIF-2α k/d cells compared to control cells. Since augmented ribosome occupancy is an indicator for more efficient translation, I propose enhanced HIF-1α translation as underlying principle of the compensatory increase in HIF-1α protein levels in HIF-2α k/d cells. In summary, my results demonstrate that HuR is critical for the development of cancer characteristics in HCC. Future work analyzing the impact of HuR on tumor-promoting inflammation, specifically macrophage attraction and activation could provide new trategies to inhibit macrophage-driven tumor progression. Furthermore, I provide evidence that HuR contributes to the hypoxic response by regulating the expression of HIF-1α and HIF-2α. Targeting single HIF-isoforms for tumor therapy should be carefully considered, because of their compensatory regulation when one α-subunit is depleted. Thus, therapeutic strategies targeting factors such as HuR that control both α-subunits and at the same time prevent compensation might be more promising.