Gene Summary

Gene:ATF4; activating transcription factor 4
Summary:This gene encodes a transcription factor that was originally identified as a widely expressed mammalian DNA binding protein that could bind a tax-responsive enhancer element in the LTR of HTLV-1. The encoded protein was also isolated and characterized as the cAMP-response element binding protein 2 (CREB-2). The protein encoded by this gene belongs to a family of DNA-binding proteins that includes the AP-1 family of transcription factors, cAMP-response element binding proteins (CREBs) and CREB-like proteins. These transcription factors share a leucine zipper region that is involved in protein-protein interactions, located C-terminal to a stretch of basic amino acids that functions as a DNA binding domain. Two alternative transcripts encoding the same protein have been described. Two pseudogenes are located on the X chromosome at q28 in a region containing a large inverted duplication. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2011]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cyclic AMP-dependent transcription factor ATF-4
Source:NCBIAccessed: 20 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (22)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (3)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 21 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Autophagy
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Zinc Fingers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
  • Apoptosis
  • Drug Resistance
  • Phosphorylation
  • Breast Cancer
  • HeLa Cells
  • Promoter Regions
  • Cell Survival
  • Base Sequence
  • Western Blotting
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Transcription Factor CHOP
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Activating Transcription Factor 4
  • siRNA
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Young Adult
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Tumor Burden
  • p53 Protein
  • Transcription Factors
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • Chromosome 22
  • Cell Proliferation
  • RNA Interference
  • Tumor Microenvironment
Tag cloud generated 20 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (1)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: ATF4 (cancer-related)

Nam S, Chang HR, Jung HR, et al.
A pathway-based approach for identifying biomarkers of tumor progression to trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 356(2 Pt B):880-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although trastuzumab is a successful targeted therapy for breast cancer patients with tumors expressing HER2 (ERBB2), many patients eventually progress to drug resistance. Here, we identified subpathways differentially expressed between trastuzumab-resistant vs. -sensitive breast cancer cells, in conjunction with additional transcriptomic preclinical and clinical gene datasets, to rigorously identify overexpressed, resistance-associated genes. From this approach, we identified 32 genes reproducibly upregulated in trastuzumab resistance. 25 genes were upregulated in drug-resistant JIMT-1 cells, which also downregulated HER2 protein by >80% in the presence of trastuzumab. 24 genes were downregulated in trastuzumab-sensitive SKBR3 cells. Trastuzumab sensitivity was restored by siRNA knockdown of these genes in the resistant cells, and overexpression of 5 of the 25 genes was found in at least one of five refractory HER2 + breast cancer. In summary, our rigorous computational approach, followed by experimental validation, significantly implicate ATF4, CHEK2, ENAH, ICOSLG, and RAD51 as potential biomarkers of trastuzumab resistance. These results provide further proof-of-concept of our methodology for successfully identifying potential biomarkers and druggable signal pathways involved in tumor progression to drug resistance.

Xi Y, Garshott DM, Brownell AL, et al.
Cantharidins induce ER stress and a terminal unfolded protein response in OSCC.
J Dent Res. 2015; 94(2):320-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Mortality and morbidity associated with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) remain unacceptably high with disfiguring treatment options and a death rate of 1 per hour in the United States. The approval of cituximab for advanced OSCC has been the only new treatment for these patients since the 1970s, although it has not significantly increased overall survival. To address the paucity of effective new therapies, we undertook a high-throughput screen to discover small molecules and natural products that could induce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and enforce a terminal unfolded protein response (UPR) in OSCC. The terpenoid cantharidin (CNT), previously used to treat various malignancies in culture-specific medical practices for over 2,000 y, emerged as a hit. CNT and its analog, cantharidic acid, potently induced protein and gene expression profiles consistent with the activation of ER stress, the UPR, and apoptosis in OSCC cells. Murine embryonic fibroblasts null for the UPR-associated transcription factors Atf4 or Chop were significantly protected from CNT, implicating a key role for the UPR in the death response. These data validate that our high-throughput screen can identify novel modulators of UPR signaling and that such compounds might provide a new therapeutic approach to treating patients with OSCC.

Jiang X, Kanda T, Nakamoto S, et al.
Knockdown of glucose-regulated protein 78 enhances poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage in human pancreatic cancer cells exposed to endoplasmic reticulum stress.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 32(6):2343-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
The present study examined the expression of glucose‑regulated protein 78 (GRP78/Bip) in human pancreatic cancer cell lines and the effect of knockdown of GRP78 on the cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Human pancreatic cancer cell lines (KP-2, MIAPaCa-2, Panc-1 and SUIT-2), constitutively expressed GRP78. We also demonstrated that ER stress induced by thapsigargin upregulated protein levels of GRP78. In the presence of thapsigargin, knockdown of GRP78 enhanced the PARP cleavage in the human pancreatic cancer cells. These results provide evidence that GRP78 is a potential therapeutic target for 'difficult-to-treat' pancreatic cancer, in which ER stress signaling in part falls into disorder.

Ren P, Yue M, Xiao D, et al.
ATF4 and N-Myc coordinate glutamine metabolism in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells through ASCT2 activation.
J Pathol. 2015; 235(1):90-100 [PubMed] Related Publications
Amplification of the MYCN gene in human neuroblastoma predicts poor prognosis and resistance to therapy. We previously showed that MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells constantly require large amounts of glutamine to support their unabated growth. However, the identity and regulation of the transporter(s) that capture glutamine in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells and the clinical significance of the transporter(s) in neuroblastoma diagnosis remain largely unknown. Here, we performed a systemic glutamine influx analysis and identified that MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells predominantly rely on activation of ASCT2 (solute carrier family 1 member 5, SLC1A5) to maintain sufficient levels of glutamine essential for the TCA cycle anaplerosis. Consequently, ASCT2 depletion profoundly inhibited glutaminolysis, concomitant with a substantial decrease in cell proliferation and viability in vitro and inhibition of tumourigenesis in vivo. Mechanistically, we identified ATF4 as a novel regulator which coordinates with N-Myc to directly activate ASCT2 expression. Of note, ASCT2 expression, which correlates with that of N-Myc and ATF4, is markedly elevated in high-stage neuroblastoma tumour samples compared with low-stage ones. More importantly, high ASCT2 expression is significantly associated with poor prognosis and survival of neuroblastoma patients. In aggregate, these findings elucidate a novel mechanism depicting how cell autonomous insults (MYCN amplification) and microenvironmental stresses (ATF4 induction) in concert coordinate ASCT2 activation to promote aggressive neuroblastoma progression, and establish ASCT2 as a novel biomarker in patient prognosis and stratification.

Zhu H, Chen X, Chen B, et al.
Activating transcription factor 4 mediates a multidrug resistance phenotype of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cells through transactivation of STAT3 expression.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 354(1):142-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major challenge to the clinical treatment of esophageal cancer. The stress response gene activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) is involved in homeostasis and cellular protection. However, relatively little is known about the expression and function of ATF4 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) MDR. In this study, we investigate the potential role and mechanisms of ATF4 in ESCC MDR. We demonstrated that overexpression of ATF4 promotes the MDR phenotype in ESCC cells, while depletion of ATF4 in the MDR ESCC cell line induces drug re-sensitization. We also demonstrated that ATF4 transactivates STAT3 expression by directly binding to the signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) promoter, resulting in MDR in ESCC cells. Significantly, inhibition of STAT3 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or a selective inhibitor (JSI-124) reintroduces therapeutic sensitivity. In addition, increased Bcl-2, survivin, and MRP1 expression levels were observed in ATF4-overexpressing cells. In conclusion, ATF4 may promote MDR in ESCC cells through the up-regulation of STAT3 expression, and thus is an attractive therapeutic target to combat therapeutic resistance in ESCC.

Lin L, Yao Z, Bhuvaneshwar K, et al.
Transcriptional regulation of STAT3 by SPTBN1 and SMAD3 in HCC through cAMP-response element-binding proteins ATF3 and CREB2.
Carcinogenesis. 2014; 35(11):2393-403 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cytoskeletal protein Spectrin, beta, non-erythrocytic 1 (SPTBN1), an adapter protein to SMAD3 in TGF-β signaling, may prevent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development by downregulating the expression of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). To elucidate the as yet undefined mechanisms that regulate this process, we demonstrate that higher levels of STAT3 transcription are found in livers of heterozygous SPTBN1(+/-) mice as compared to that of wild type mice. We also found increased levels of STAT3 mRNA, STAT3 protein, and p-STAT3 in human HCC cell-lines after knockdown of SPTBN1 or SMAD3, which promoted cell colony formation. Inhibition of STAT3 overrode the increase in cell colony formation due to knockdown of SPTBN1 or SMAD3. We also found that inhibition of SPTBN1 or SMAD3 upregulated STAT3 promoter activity in HCC cell-lines, which is dependent upon the cAMP-response element (CRE) and STAT-binding element (SBE) sites of the STAT3 promoter. Mechanistically, suppression of SPTBN1 and SMAD3 augmented the transcription of STAT3 by upregulating the CRE-binding proteins ATF3 and CREB2 and augmented the binding of those proteins to the regions within or upstream of the CRE site of the STAT3 promoter. Finally, in human HCC tissues, SPTBN1 expression correlated negatively with expression levels of STAT3, ATF3, and CREB2; SMAD3 expression correlated negatively with STAT3 expression; and the level of phosphorylated SMAD3 (p-SMAD3) correlated negatively with ATF3 and CREB2 protein levels. SPTBN1 and SMAD3 collaborate with CRE-binding transcription factors to inhibit STAT3, thereby preventing HCC development.

Ye P, Mimura J, Okada T, et al.
Nrf2- and ATF4-dependent upregulation of xCT modulates the sensitivity of T24 bladder carcinoma cells to proteasome inhibition.
Mol Cell Biol. 2014; 34(18):3421-34 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway degrades ubiquitinated proteins to remove damaged or misfolded protein and thus plays an important role in the maintenance of many important cellular processes. Because the pathway is also crucial for tumor cell growth and survival, proteasome inhibition by specific inhibitors exhibits potent antitumor effects in many cancer cells. xCT, a subunit of the cystine antiporter system xc (-), plays an important role in cellular cysteine and glutathione homeostasis. Several recent reports have revealed that xCT is involved in cancer cell survival; however, it was unknown whether xCT affects the cytotoxic effects of proteasome inhibitors. In this study, we found that two stress-inducible transcription factors, Nrf2 and ATF4, were upregulated by proteasome inhibition and cooperatively enhance human xCT gene expression upon proteasome inhibition. In addition, we demonstrated that the knockdown of xCT by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or pharmacological inhibition of xCT by sulfasalazine (SASP) or (S)-4-carboxyphenylglycine (CPG) significantly increased the sensitivity of T24 cells to proteasome inhibition. These results suggest that the simultaneous inhibition of both the proteasome and xCT could have therapeutic benefits in the treatment of bladder tumors.

AbuAli G, Grimm S
Isolation and characterization of the anticancer gene organic cation transporter like-3 (ORCTL3).
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014; 818:213-27 [PubMed] Related Publications
ORCTL3, an organic cation/anion transporter expressed in various tissue types, was isolated in a genome-wide cDNA screen as a gene with a tumor-specific apoptosis activity. When overexpressed it elicits an apoptosis response in many transformed cells, while normal cells remain unaffected. It can be activated for apoptosis induction by individual tumorigenic mutations in renal cells. This effect is independent of the tumor cells' proliferation status and mediated by an incomplete ER stress response, characterized by the accumulation of the endoplasmic reticulum-stress marker ATF4, but not BiP. Recent studies show that for its apoptosis induction activity ORCTL3 targets the enzyme stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD-1) that is involved in the fatty acid metabolism. This is evidenced by the inhibition of apoptosis induced through ORCTL3 when the SCD-1 product oleic acid is exogenously supplemented or when SCD-1 is co-transfected in the transformed cells. ORCTL3's activity to specifically target tumor cells is caused by the transmembrane domains 3 and 4 of the mouse, but not the human, gene. In an in vivo model ORCTL3 shows a significant shrinkage in the size of xenograft tumors when injected with an adenoviral carrier carrying the mouse ORCTL3 gene. An ex vivo study using human renal cancer cells confirmed the promising tumor-specific apoptosis effect of ORCTL3. Since ORCTL3 targets fatty acid metabolism in transformed cells and induces an ER stress specifically in these cells, it reveals a novel therapeutic interference option for tumor cells.

Yan J, Zhong N, Liu G, et al.
Usp9x- and Noxa-mediated Mcl-1 downregulation contributes to pemetrexed-induced apoptosis in human non-small-cell lung cancer cells.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1316 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Pemetrexed, a folate antimetabolite, combined with cisplatin is used as a first-line therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Pemetrexed arrests cell cycle by inhibiting three enzymes in purine and pyrimidine synthesis that are necessary for DNA synthesis. Pemetrexed also promotes apoptosis in target cells, but little is known about its mechanism in cancer cells. We have previously shown that pemetrexed can result in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and it can lead to downstream apoptosis. In this study, we further elucidate this mechanism. Our data show that pemetrexed increases Noxa expression through activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) upregulation. Furthermore, pemetrexed induces apoptosis by activating the Noxa-Usp9x-Mcl-1 pathway. Inhibition of Noxa by small interfering RNA (siRNA) promotes Usp9x (ubiquitin-specific peptidase 9, X-linked) expression. Moreover, downregulation of the deubiquitinase Usp9x by pemetrexed results in downstream reduction of myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1) expression. Mechanistically, Noxa upregulation likely reduces the availability of Usp9x to Mcl-1, thereby promoting its ubiquitination and degradation, leading to the apoptosis of neoplastic cells. Thus, our findings demonstrate that Noxa-Usp9x-Mcl-1 axis may contribute to pemetrexed-induced apoptosis in human lung cancer cells.

Méndez-Lucas A, Hyroššová P, Novellasdemunt L, et al.
Mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK-M) is a pro-survival, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response gene involved in tumor cell adaptation to nutrient availability.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(32):22090-102 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK-M), encoded by the nuclear PCK2 gene, links TCA cycle intermediates and glycolytic pools through the conversion of mitochondrial oxaloacetate into phosphoenolpyruvate. In the liver PEPCK-M adjoins its profusely studied cytosolic isoform (PEPCK-C) potentiating gluconeogenesis and TCA flux. However, PEPCK-M is present in a variety of non-gluconeogenic tissues, including tumors of several origins. Despite its potential relevance to cancer metabolism, the mechanisms responsible for PCK2 gene regulation have not been elucidated. The present study demonstrates PEPCK-M overexpression in tumorigenic cells as well as the mechanism for the modulation of PCK2 abundance under several stress conditions. Amino acid limitation and ER stress inducers, conditions that activate the amino acid response (AAR) and the unfolded protein response (UPR), stimulate PCK2 gene transcription. Both the AAR and UPR lead to increased synthesis of ATF4, which mediates PCK2 transcriptional up-regulation through its binding to a putative ATF/CRE composite site within the PCK2 promoter functioning as an amino acid response element. In addition, activation of the GCN2-eIF2α-ATF4 and PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 signaling pathways are responsible for increased PEPCK-M levels. Finally, PEPCK-M knockdown using either siRNA or shRNA were sufficient to reduce MCF7 mammary carcinoma cell growth and increase cell death under glutamine deprivation or ER stress conditions. Our data demonstrate that this enzyme has a critical role in the survival program initiated upon stress and shed light on an unexpected and important role of mitochondrial PEPCK in cancer metabolism.

Edagawa M, Kawauchi J, Hirata M, et al.
Role of activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced sensitization of p53-deficient human colon cancer cells to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis through up-regulation of death receptor 5 (DR5) by zerumbone and celecoxib.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(31):21544-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Death receptor 5 (DR5) is a death domain-containing transmembrane receptor that triggers cell death upon binding to its ligand, TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), and a combination of TRAIL and agents that increase the expression of DR5 is expected to be a novel anticancer therapy. In this report, we demonstrate that the stress response gene ATF3 is required for endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated DR5 induction upon zerumbone (ZER) and celecoxib (CCB) in human p53-deficient colorectal cancer cells. Both agents activated PERK-eIF2α kinases and induced the expression of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4)-CCAAT enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) homologous protein, which were remarkably suppressed by reactive oxygen species scavengers. In the absence of ATF3, the induction of DR5 mRNA and protein was abrogated significantly, and this was associated with reduced cell death by cotreatment of TRAIL with ZER or CCB. By contrast, exogenous expression of ATF3 caused a more rapid and elevated expression of DR5, resulting in enhanced sensitivity to apoptotic cell death by TRAIL/ZER or TRAIL/CCB. A reporter assay demonstrated that at least two ATF/cAMP response element motifs as well as C/EBP homologous protein motif at the proximal region of the human DR5 gene promoter were required for ZER-induced DR5 gene transcription. Taken together, our results provide novel insights into the role of ATF3 as an essential transcription factor for p53-independent DR5 induction upon both ZER and CCB treatment, and this may be a useful biomarker for TRAIL-based anticancer therapy.

Zhu B, Ferry CH, Markell LK, et al.
The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ (PPARβ/δ) promotes oncogene-induced cellular senescence through repression of endoplasmic reticulum stress.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(29):20102-19 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and ER stress-associated unfolded protein response (UPR) can promote cancer cell survival, but it remains unclear whether they can influence oncogene-induced senescence. The present study examined the role of ER stress in senescence using oncogene-dependent models. Increased ER stress attenuated senescence in part by up-regulating phosphorylated protein kinase B (p-AKT) and decreasing phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p-ERK). A positive feed forward loop between p-AKT, ER stress, and UPR was discovered whereby a transient increase of ER stress caused reduced senescence and promotion of tumorigenesis. Decreased ER stress was further correlated with increased senescence in both mouse and human tumors. Interestingly, H-RAS-expressing Pparβ/δ null cells and tumors having increased cell proliferation exhibited enhanced ER stress, decreased cellular senescence, and/or enhanced tumorigenicity. Collectively, these results demonstrate a new role for ER stress and UPR that attenuates H-RAS-induced senescence and suggest that PPARβ/δ can repress this oncogene-induced ER stress to promote senescence in accordance with its role as a tumor modifier that suppresses carcinogenesis.

Saglar E, Unlu S, Babalioglu I, et al.
Assessment of ER Stress and autophagy induced by ionizing radiation in both radiotherapy patients and ex vivo irradiated samples.
J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2014; 28(9):413-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acute radiation leads to several toxic clinical states and triggers some molecular pathways. To shed light on molecular mechanisms triggered by ionizing radiation (IR), we examined the expression profiles of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and autophagy-related genes in individuals who were exposed to IR. Blood samples were collected from 50 cancer patients before radiotherapy and on the 5th, 15th, and 25th days of the treatment. Peripheral blood samples from 10 healthy volunteers were also obtained for ex vivo irradiation, divided into five and irradiated at a rate of 373 kGy/h to 0, 0.1, 0.5, 1, and 3Gy γ-rays using a constant gamma source. GRP78, ATG5, LC3, ATF4, XBP1, and GADD153 genes were analyzed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR) using beta 2 microglobulin (B2M) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) as references. In both groups, expressions of the selected genes have increased. It can be concluded that IR induces ER stress and related authophagy pathway in the peripheral lymphocyte cells proportionally by dose.

Jiang Q, Li F, Shi K, et al.
Involvement of p38 in signal switching from autophagy to apoptosis via the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 axis in selenite-treated NB4 cells.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1270 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Selenite has emerged as an optional chemotherapeutic agent for hematological malignancies. Autophagy and apoptosis are both engaged in selenite-induced cell death. In a previous report, we have identified heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) as a critical modulator of the balance between autophagy and apoptosis in selenite-treated leukemia cells. However, the mechanisms by which selenite mediates the crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis remain largely unknown. Herein, we demonstrate that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-related PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 pathway and p38 are core modules for the selenite-induced switch to apoptosis from autophagy. We found that selenite activated PERK and eIF2α/ATF4 downstream to promote apoptosis. During this progression, p38 was dissociated from PERK-inhibiting Hsp90 and became autophosphorylated. Then, activated p38 further enhanced the docking of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) onto the CHOP (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein) promoter via eIF2α to enhance apoptosis. We also found that activated p38 suppressed the phosphorylation of eIF4E that directed ATF4 to bind to the MAP1LC3B (microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3B) promoter. Because of the deactivation of eIF4E, the association of ATF4 with the MAP1LC3B promoter was inhibited, and autophagy was compromised. Intriguingly, p53 played important roles in mediating the p38-mediated regulation of eIF2α and eIF4E. When activated by p38, p53 induced the phosphorylation of eIF2α and the dephosphorylation of eIF4E, particularly in the nucleus where the ATF4 transcription factor was modulated, ultimately resulting in differential expression of CHOP and LC3. Moreover, selenite exhibited potent antitumor effects in vivo. In an NB4 cell xenograft model, selenite induced apoptosis and hampered autophagy. In addition, related signaling proteins demonstrated similar changes to those observed in vitro. These data suggest that selenite may be a candidate drug for leukemia therapy.

Kosakowska-Cholody T, Lin J, Srideshikan SM, et al.
HKH40A downregulates GRP78/BiP expression in cancer cells.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1240 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
HKH40A, the 8-methoxy analog of WMC79, is a synthetic agent with promising in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity, especially against solid tumors. However, molecular mechanisms underlying its antitumor effects are poorly understood. Here, we report that HKH40A markedly reduces the level of GRP78/BiP protein in cancer cell lines of various origin. In this study, we show that HKH40A not only downregulates transcription of GRP78 but also directly binds to the isolated protein and induces its proteosomal degradation. Knockdown of BiP increased the efficacy of the drug and overexpression of BiP diminished its activity. BiP is generally highly elevated in solid tumors having a pivotal role in cancer cell survival and chemoresistance, and has been suggested as a novel target for therapeutic intervention. We show that reduction of BiP level by HKH40A impairs its function and induces unfolded protein response as evidenced by the activation of IRE1α, ATF6 and PERK. This leads to a series of downstream events, including sustained eIF2α phosphorylation, increased abundance of spliced XBP1 mRNA and protein levels of ATF4 and CHOP. We also demonstrate that HKH40A inhibited tumor formation in an in vivo xenograft tumor model. Collectively, our data show that HKH40A reduces BiP levels and this could have an important role in the activity of HKH40A against cancer cells.

Wu TS, Tan CT, Chang CC, et al.
B-cell lymphoma/leukemia 10 promotes oral cancer progression through STAT1/ATF4/S100P signaling pathway.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(10):1207-19 [PubMed] Related Publications
B-cell lymphoma/leukemia 10 (BCL10) is an apoptotic regulatory protein related to advanced TNM stage and disease recurrence in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). However, the regulatory mechanism of BCL10 in OSCC progression is still unknown. Here, we showed that knockdown of endogenous BCL10 could significantly reduce cell migration and invasion abilities, retard cell proliferation by G0/G1 phase accumulation and inhibit tumorigenicity in vivo. In molecular level, we identified S100P as a crucial downstream effector of BCL10-inhibited OSCC progression by high-throughput microarray analysis. S100P messenger RNA and protein expression levels were significantly diminished in silenced-BCL10 clones, and transfected S100P expression plasmids restored migration, invasion, proliferation abilities and tumorigenicity in shBCL10 transfectants. Furthermore, we provided evidence that BCL10 regulated S100P expression through signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 (STAT1) and activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4). Knockdown of BCL10 decreased S100P promoter activity, but showed no effect in truncated STAT1/ATF4 S100P promoter.  In addition, we also found that the P50/P65 signaling pathway was involved in BCL10-enhanced OSCC progression. Restored S100P in silenced-BCL10 clones could markedly reverse P65 activation via outside-in signaling. Taken together, we discovered a novel axis of BCL10-regulated OSCC progression via STAT1/ATF4/S100P/P65 signaling, which could predict the prognosis of OSCC and will be beneficial for developing therapeutic strategy against advanced OSCC.

Richards M, Phoon CW, Goh GT, et al.
A new class of pluripotent stem cell cytotoxic small molecules.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(3):e85039 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
A major concern in Pluripotent Stem Cell (PSC)-derived cell replacement therapy is the risk of teratoma formation from contaminating undifferentiated cells. Removal of undifferentiated cells from differentiated cultures is an essential step before PSC-based cell therapies can be safely deployed in a clinical setting. We report a group of novel small molecules that are cytotoxic to PSCs. Our data indicates that these molecules are specific and potent in their activity allowing rapid eradication of undifferentiated cells. Experiments utilizing mixed PSC and primary human neuronal and cardiomyocyte cultures demonstrate that up to a 6-fold enrichment for specialized cells can be obtained without adversely affecting cell viability and function. Several structural variants were synthesized to identify key functional groups and to improve specificity and efficacy. Comparative microarray analysis and ensuing RNA knockdown studies revealed involvement of the PERK/ATF4/DDIT3 ER stress pathway. Surprisingly, cell death following ER stress induction was associated with a concomitant decrease in endogenous ROS levels in PSCs. Undifferentiated cells treated with these molecules preceding transplantation fail to form teratomas in SCID mice. Furthermore, these molecules remain non-toxic and non-teratogenic to zebrafish embryos suggesting that they may be safely used in vivo.

Zheng Q, Ye J, Cao J
Translational regulator eIF2α in tumor.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(7):6255-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
The eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) is the regulatory subunit of eIF2 which can be inactivated by phosphorylation. In the adaptive response to various microenvironmental stresses, phosphorylation of eIF2α (p-eIF2α) by specific kinases significantly downregulates global protein synthesis while selectively upregulates the activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) translation. The ATF4 is a transcription activator that can translocate into nucleus and upregulate genes involved in amino acid synthesis, redox balance, protein maturation, and degradation which lead to the activation of both autophagy and apoptosis. During tumor progression, adaptive response facilitates tumor cell survival and growth under severe stresses. Therefore, eIF2α phosphorylation significantly promotes tumor progression and resistance to therapy. However, there is also evidence showing that p-eIF2α exerts suppressive effects on tumorigenesis. Current understanding of the roles eIF2α plays in tumor is still incomplete and needs further investigation. This review addresses on the past and current efforts to delineate the molecular mechanisms of eIF2α in tumorigenesis, tumor progression, resistance to therapy, and tumor cachexia as well as the translational promise of therapeutic applications targeting eIF2α-related signaling pathway.

Feng C, He K, Zhang C, et al.
JNK contributes to the tumorigenic potential of human cholangiocarcinoma cells through the mTOR pathway regulated GRP78 induction.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e90388 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Less is known about the roles of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Here, we report that JNK exerts its oncogenic action in human CCA cells, partially due to the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway regulated glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) induction. In human CCA cells, the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor alpha (eIF2α) results in the accumulation of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and GRP78 independent of unfolded protein response (UPR). Suppression of GRP78 expression decreases the proliferation and invasion of human CCA cells. It's notable that mTOR is required for eIF2α phosphorylation-induced ATF4 and GRP78 expression. Importantly, JNK promotes eIF2α/ATF4-mediated GRP78 induction through regulating the activity of mTOR. Thus, our study implicates JNK/mTOR signaling plays an important role in cholangiocarcinogenesis, partially through promoting the eIF2α/ATF4/GRP78 pathway.

Liu J, Edagawa M, Goshima H, et al.
Role of ATF3 in synergistic cancer cell killing by a combination of HDAC inhibitors and agonistic anti-DR5 antibody through ER stress in human colon cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 445(2):320-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) are promising agents for cancer therapy. However, the mechanism(s) responsible for the efficacy of HDACIs have not yet to be fully elucidated. Death receptor 5 (DR5) is a transmembrane receptor containing death domain that triggers cell death upon binding to TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) or agonistic anti-DR5 monoclonal antibody, and the combination of TRAIL/agonistic anti-DR5 monoclonal antibody and agents that increase the expression of DR5 is expected as a novel anticancer therapeutic strategy. Here we report that six different HDACIs activated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress sensor PERK and eIF2α and induced the ATF4/ATF3/CHOP pathway in p53-deficient human colon cancer cells. This resulted in an increased expression of DR5 on the cell surface and sensitized cells to apoptosis by agonistic anti-DR5 monoclonal antibody. Stress response gene ATF3 was required for efficient DR5 induction by HDACIs, and DR5 reporter assay showed that ATF3 play crucial role for the HDACIs-induced activation of DR5 gene transcription. These provide important mechanistic insight into how HDACIs exhibit pro-apoptotic activity in clinical anti-cancer treatments when they are used in combination with other therapeutic strategies.

Zhao X, Liu X, Su L
Parthenolide induces apoptosis via TNFRSF10B and PMAIP1 pathways in human lung cancer cells.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 33:3 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Parthenolide (PTL) is a sesquiterpene lactone which can induce apoptosis in cancer cells and eradicate cancer stem cells such as leukemia stem cells, prostate tumor-initiating cells and so on. However, the mechanism remains largely unclear.
METHODS: Lung cancer cells were treated with parthenolide and the cell lysates were prepared to detect the given proteins by Western Blot analysis, and the cell survival was assayed by SRB and MTT assay. Cell cycle was evaluated by DNA flow cytometry analysis. TNFRSF10B, PMAIP1, ATF4 and DDIT3 genes were knocked down by siRNA technique. Apoptosis was evaluated by using Annexin V-FITC/PI staining and flow cytometry analysis.
RESULTS: Parthenolide (PTL) induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human lung cancer cells. Moreover, PTL treatment in NSCLC cells increases expression of TNFRSF10B/DR5 and PMAIP1/NOXA. Silencing of TNFRSF10B or PMAIP1 or overexpression of CFLAR /c-FLIP (long form) could protect cells from PTL-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, PTL could increase the levels of endoplasmic reticulum stress hallmarks such as ERN1, HSPA5, p-EIF2A, ATF4 and DDIT3. Knockdown of ATF4 and DDIT3 abrogated PTL-induced apoptosis, which suggested that PTL induced apoptosis in NSCLC cells through activation of endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway. More importantly, we found that ATF4, DDIT3, TNFRSF10B and PMAIP1 were up-regulated more intensively, while CFLAR and MCL1 were down-regulated more dramatically by PTL in A549/shCDH1 cells than that in control cells, suggesting that PTL preferred to kill cancer stem cell-like cells by activating more intensive ER stress response in cancer stem cell-like cells.
CONCLUSION: We showed that parthenolide not only triggered extrinsic apoptosis by up-regulating TNFRSF10B and down-regulating CFLAR, but also induced intrinsic apoptosis through increasing the expression of PMAIP1 and decreasing the level of MCL1 in NSCLC cells. In addition, parthenolide triggered stronger ER stress response in cancer stem cell-like cells which leads to its preference in apoptotic induction. In summary, PTL induces apoptosis in NSCLC cells by activating endoplasmic reticulum stress response.

Trondl R, Flocke LS, Kowol CR, et al.
Triapine and a more potent dimethyl derivative induce endoplasmic reticulum stress in cancer cells.
Mol Pharmacol. 2014; 85(3):451-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Triapine (3-AP; 3-aminopyridine-2-carboxaldehyde thiosemicarbazone), a ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor, has been extensively evaluated in clinical trials in the last decade. This study addresses the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the anticancer activity of 3-AP and the derivative N(4),N(4)-dimethyl-triapine (3-AP-Me), differing from 3-AP only by dimethylation of the terminal nitrogen. Treatment of colon cancer cells with 3-AP or 3-AP-Me activated all three ER stress pathways (PERK, IRE1a, ATF6) by phosphorylation of eIF2α and upregulation of gene expression of activating transcription factors ATF4 and ATF6. In particular, 3-AP-Me led to an upregulation of the alternatively spliced mRNA variant XBP1 (16-fold). Moreover, 3-AP and 3-AP-Me activated the cellular stress kinases c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases, and inhibition of JNK activity antagonized the cytotoxic effect of both compounds. Subsequent to induction of the unfolded protein response, a significant upregulation of proapoptotic proteins was detected, including the transcription factor CHOP and Bim, an essential factor for ER stress-related apoptosis. In correlation with the higher degree of ER stress after 3-AP-Me treatment, also a more potent depolarization of mitochondrial membranes was found. These data suggest that 3-AP and 3-AP-Me induce apoptosis via ER stress. This was further corroborated by showing that inhibition of protein biosynthesis with cycloheximide prior to 3-AP and 3-AP-Me treatment leads to a significant reduction of the antiproliferative properties of both compounds. Taken together, this study demonstrates that induction of ER stress contributes to the mode of action of 3-AP and that terminal dimethylation leads to an even more pronounced manifestation of this effect.

Pereira ER, Frudd K, Awad W, Hendershot LM
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and hypoxia response pathways interact to potentiate hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) transcriptional activity on targets like vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(6):3352-64 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Cells respond to suboptimal microenvironments by activating stress signaling pathways, like the unfolded protein response and hypoxia-induced transcription factors HIF-1/2, to restore homeostasis. Both cytoprotective pathways have been well studied in isolation at the biochemical and molecular levels. Mounting evidence reveals that they can be activated simultaneously in tumor cells and, likely, in other tissues experiencing inadequate microenvironments and that they share some transcriptional targets, like the proangiogenic factor VEGFA. However, the potential interaction between these pathways is poorly understood. Cell culture experiments revealed that as a consequence of unfolded protein response activation, ATF4 bound to the human VEGFA promoter and activated its transcription, whereas HIF-1 did so in response to hypoxia. When both pathways were activated together, VEGFA transcripts were induced to a higher level than when either stress was applied alone. Surprisingly, this was not due to the combined actions of the stress pathway-specific transcription factors. Instead, we found that endoplasmic reticulum stress potentiated HIF-1 activity to transactivate VEGF expression as well as another well characterized target, BNIP3. These data reveal an unexpected interaction between two important cytoprotective responses that are likely to have significant consequences in environmentally compromised tissues and tumor cells.

Vaughn LS, Snee B, Patel RC
Inhibition of PKR protects against tunicamycin-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells.
Gene. 2014; 536(1):90-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysfunction is thought to play a significant role in several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral ischemia, and the prion diseases. ER dysfunction can be mimicked by cellular stress signals such as disruption of calcium homeostasis, inhibition of protein glycosylation, and reduction of disulfide bonds, which results in accumulation of misfolded proteins in the ER and leads to cell death by apoptosis. Tunicamycin, which is an inhibitor of protein glycosylation, induces ER stress and apoptosis. In this study, we examined the involvement of double stranded (ds) RNA-activated protein kinase PKR in tunicamycin-induced apoptosis. We used overexpression of the trans-dominant negative, catalytically inactive mutant K296R to inhibit PKR activity in neuroblastoma cells. We demonstrate that inhibition of PKR activation in response to tunicamycin protects neuronal cells from undergoing apoptosis. Furthermore, K296R overexpressing cells show defective PKR activation, delayed eIF2α phosphorylation, dramatically delayed ATF4 expression. In addition, both caspase-3 activation and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP, also known as GADD153) induction, which are markers of apoptotic cells, are absent from K296R overexpression cells in response to tunicamycin. These results establish that PKR activation plays a major regulatory role in induction of apoptosis in response to ER stress and indicates the potential of PKR as possible target for neuroprotective therapeutics.

Terashima J, Tachikawa C, Kudo K, et al.
An aryl hydrocarbon receptor induces VEGF expression through ATF4 under glucose deprivation in HepG2.
BMC Mol Biol. 2013; 14:27 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) not only regulates drug-metabolizing enzyme expression but also regulates cancer malignancy. The steps to the development of malignancy include angiogenesis that is induced by tumor microenvironments, hypoxia, and nutrient deprivation. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a central role in the angiogenesis of cancer cells, and it is induced by activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4).
RESULTS: Recently, we identified that glucose deprivation induces AhR translocation into the nucleus and increases CYP1A1 and 1A2 expression in HepG2 cells. Here, we report that the AhR pathway induces VEGF expression in human hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells under glucose deprivation, which involves ATF4. ATF4 knockdown suppressed VEGF expression under glucose deprivation. Moreover, AhR knockdown suppressed VEGF and ATF4 expression under glucose deprivation at genetic and protein levels.
CONCLUSIONS: The AhR-VEGF pathway through ATF4 is a novel pathway in glucose-deprived liver cancer cells that is related to the microenvironment within a cancer tissue affecting liver cancer malignancy.

Matassa DS, Amoroso MR, Agliarulo I, et al.
Translational control in the stress adaptive response of cancer cells: a novel role for the heat shock protein TRAP1.
Cell Death Dis. 2013; 4:e851 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
TNF receptor-associated protein 1 (TRAP1), the main mitochondrial member of the heat shock protein (HSP) 90 family, is induced in most tumor types and is involved in the regulation of proteostasis in the mitochondria of tumor cells through the control of folding and stability of selective proteins, such as Cyclophilin D and Sorcin. Notably, we have recently demonstrated that TRAP1 also interacts with the regulatory protein particle TBP7 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where it is involved in a further extra-mitochondrial quality control of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins through the regulation of their ubiquitination/degradation. Here we show that TRAP1 is involved in the translational control of cancer cells through an attenuation of global protein synthesis, as evidenced by an inverse correlation between TRAP1 expression and ubiquitination/degradation of nascent stress-protective client proteins. This study demonstrates for the first time that TRAP1 is associated with ribosomes and with several translation factors in colon carcinoma cells and, remarkably, is found co-upregulated with some components of the translational apparatus (eIF4A, eIF4E, eEF1A and eEF1G) in human colorectal cancers, with potential new opportunities for therapeutic intervention in humans. Moreover, TRAP1 regulates the rate of protein synthesis through the eIF2α pathway either under basal conditions or under stress, favoring the activation of GCN2 and PERK kinases, with consequent phosphorylation of eIF2α and attenuation of cap-dependent translation. This enhances the synthesis of selective stress-responsive proteins, such as the transcription factor ATF4 and its downstream effectors BiP/Grp78, and the cystine antiporter system xCT, thereby providing protection against ER stress, oxidative damage and nutrient deprivation. Accordingly, TRAP1 silencing sensitizes cells to apoptosis induced by novel antitumoral drugs that inhibit cap-dependent translation, such as ribavirin or 4EGI-1, and reduces the ability of cells to migrate through the pores of transwell filters. These new findings target the TRAP1 network in the development of novel anti-cancer strategies.

Zhang X, Lee SH, Min KW, et al.
The involvement of endoplasmic reticulum stress in the suppression of colorectal tumorigenesis by tolfenamic acid.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013; 6(12):1337-47 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug tolfenamic acid has been shown to suppress cancer cell growth and tumorigenesis in different cancer models. However, the underlying mechanism by which tolfenamic acid exerts its antitumorigenic effect remains unclear. Previous data from our group and others indicate that tolfenamic acid alters expression of apoptosis- and cell-cycle arrest-related genes in colorectal cancer cells. Here, we show that tolfenamic acid markedly reduced the number of polyps and tumor load in APC(min)(/+) mice, accompanied with cyclin D1 downregulation in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, tolfenamic acid promotes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, resulting in activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling pathway, of which PERK-mediated phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) induces the repression of cyclin D1 translation. Moreover, the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4 branch of the UPR pathway plays a role in tolfenamic acid-induced apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells, as silencing ATF4 attenuates tolfenamic acid-induced apoptosis. Taken together, these results suggest ER stress is involved in tolfenamic acid-induced inhibition of colorectal cancer cell growth, which could contribute to antitumorigenesis in a mouse model.

Lacunza E, Rabassa ME, Canzoneri R, et al.
Identification of signaling pathways modulated by RHBDD2 in breast cancer cells: a link to the unfolded protein response.
Cell Stress Chaperones. 2014; 19(3):379-88 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Rhomboid domain containing 2 (RHBDD2) was previously observed overexpressed and amplified in breast cancer samples. In order to identify biological pathways modulated by RHBDD2, gene expression profiles of RHBDD2 silenced breast cancer cells were analyzed using whole genome human microarray. Among the statistically significant overrepresented biological processes, we found protein metabolism—with the associated ontological terms folding , ubiquitination, and proteosomal degradation—cell death, cell cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. In addition, we performed an in silico analysis searching for RHBDD2 co-expressed genes in several human tissues. Interestingly, the functional analysis of these genes showed similar results to those obtained with the microarray data, with negative regulation of protein metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation as the most enriched gene ontology terms. These data led us to hypothesize that RHBDD2 might be involved in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response. Thus, we specifically analyzed the unfolding protein response (UPR) of the ER stress process. We used a lentivirus-based approach for stable silencing of RHBDD2 mRNA in the T47D breast cancer cell line, and we examined the transcriptional consequences on UPR genes as well as the phenotypic effects on migration and proliferation processes. By employing dithiothreitol as an UPR inducer, we observed that cells with silenced RHBDD2 showed increased expression of ATF6, IRE1, PERK, CRT, BiP, ATF4, and CHOP (p <0.01). We also observed that RHBDD2 silencing inhibited colony formation and decreased cell migration. Based on these studies, we hypothesize that RHBDD2 overexpression in breast cancer could represent an adaptive phenotype to the stressful tumor microenvironment by modulating the ER stress response.

Wang Q, Tiffen J, Bailey CG, et al.
Targeting amino acid transport in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: effects on cell cycle, cell growth, and tumor development.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013; 105(19):1463-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: L-type amino acid transporters (LATs) uptake neutral amino acids including L-leucine into cells, stimulating mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 signaling and protein synthesis. LAT1 and LAT3 are overexpressed at different stages of prostate cancer, and they are responsible for increasing nutrients and stimulating cell growth.
METHODS: We examined LAT3 protein expression in human prostate cancer tissue microarrays. LAT function was inhibited using a leucine analog (BCH) in androgen-dependent and -independent environments, with gene expression analyzed by microarray. A PC-3 xenograft mouse model was used to study the effects of inhibiting LAT1 and LAT3 expression. Results were analyzed with the Mann-Whitney U or Fisher exact tests. All statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS: LAT3 protein was expressed at all stages of prostate cancer, with a statistically significant decrease in expression after 4-7 months of neoadjuvant hormone therapy (4-7 month mean = 1.571; 95% confidence interval = 1.155 to 1.987 vs 0 month = 2.098; 95% confidence interval = 1.962 to 2.235; P = .0187). Inhibition of LAT function led to activating transcription factor 4-mediated upregulation of amino acid transporters including ASCT1, ASCT2, and 4F2hc, all of which were also regulated via the androgen receptor. LAT inhibition suppressed M-phase cell cycle genes regulated by E2F family transcription factors including critical castration-resistant prostate cancer regulatory genes UBE2C, CDC20, and CDK1. In silico analysis of BCH-downregulated genes showed that 90.9% are statistically significantly upregulated in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Finally, LAT1 or LAT3 knockdown in xenografts inhibited tumor growth, cell cycle progression, and spontaneous metastasis in vivo.
CONCLUSION: Inhibition of LAT transporters may provide a novel therapeutic target in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, via suppression of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 activity and M-phase cell cycle genes.

Cao H, Zhu K, Qiu L, et al.
Critical role of AKT protein in myeloma-induced osteoclast formation and osteolysis.
J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(42):30399-410 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Abnormal osteoclast formation and osteolysis are the hallmarks of multiple myeloma (MM) bone disease, yet the underlying molecular mechanisms are incompletely understood. Here, we show that the AKT pathway was up-regulated in primary bone marrow monocytes (BMM) from patients with MM, which resulted in sustained high expression of the receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) in osteoclast precursors. The up-regulation of RANK expression and osteoclast formation in the MM BMM cultures was blocked by AKT inhibition. Conditioned media from MM cell cultures activated AKT and increased RANK expression and osteoclast formation in BMM cultures. Inhibiting AKT in cultured MM cells decreased their growth and ability to promote osteoclast formation. Of clinical significance, systemic administration of the AKT inhibitor LY294002 blocked the formation of tumor tissues in the bone marrow cavity and essentially abolished the MM-induced osteoclast formation and osteolysis in SCID mice. The level of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) protein was up-regulated in the BMM cultures from multiple myeloma patients. Adenoviral overexpression of ATF4 activated RANK expression in osteoclast precursors. These results demonstrate a new role of AKT in the MM promotion of osteoclast formation and bone osteolysis through, at least in part, the ATF4-dependent up-regulation of RANK expression in osteoclast precursors.

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