Gene Summary

Gene:MCC; mutated in colorectal cancers
Aliases: MCC1
Summary:This gene is a candidate colorectal tumor suppressor gene that is thought to negatively regulate cell cycle progression. The orthologous gene in the mouse expresses a phosphoprotein associated with the plasma membrane and membrane organelles, and overexpression of the mouse protein inhibits entry into S phase. Multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:colorectal mutant cancer protein
Source:NCBIAccessed: 06 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 06 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.

Tag cloud generated 06 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

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: MCC (cancer-related)

Netter J, Lehmann-Che J, Lambert J, et al.
Functional TP53 mutations have no impact on response to cytotoxic agents in metastatic colon cancer.
Bull Cancer. 2015; 102(2):117-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Survival of metastatic colon cancer (mCC) patients has considerably improved with optimization of new drugs regimen. Inactivation of TP53 pathway by TP53 mutations is observed in nearly half of colorectal tumors. The impact of such mutations has been poorly studied in the metastatic setting.
METHODS: The files of 254 mCC treated in a single institution at Saint-Louis hospital between January 1999 and April 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Tissue samples for analysis of TP53 mutations were available for 68 patients, performed using FASAY. The prognostic value of TP53 status was evaluated by comparing progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in the group of TP53-mutated and wild type patients.
RESULTS: PFS was 6.9 months and OS 21.7 months in the whole population. There was no statistical difference in TP53-mutated and wild type groups in term of PFS (HR=1.04; IC 95%=0.6-1.79) and OS (HR=0.99; IC 95%=0.53-1.55) whatever the chemotherapy regimen (oxaliplatin- or irinotecan-based). Only BRAF V600 mutation was demonstrated to be a poor prognostic factor for PFS and OS, and CEA level for OS.
CONCLUSIONS: Routine determination of TP53 mutations, even with a highly sensitive method, cannot be recommended to predict chemotherapy response in mCC.

Daily K, Coxon A, Williams JS, et al.
Assessment of cancer cell line representativeness using microarrays for Merkel cell carcinoma.
J Invest Dermatol. 2015; 135(4):1138-46 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
When using cell lines to study cancer, phenotypic similarity to the original tumor is paramount. Yet, little has been done to characterize how closely Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) cell lines model native tumors. To determine their similarity to MCC tumor samples, we characterized MCC cell lines via gene expression microarrays. Using whole transcriptome gene expression signatures and a computational bioinformatic approach, we identified significant differences between variant cell lines (UISO, MCC13, and MCC26) and fresh frozen MCC tumors. Conversely, the classic WaGa and Mkl-1 cell lines more closely represented the global transcriptome of MCC tumors. When compared with publicly available cancer lines, WaGa and Mkl-1 cells were similar to other neuroendocrine tumors, but the variant cell lines were not. WaGa and Mkl-1 cells grown as xenografts in mice had histological and immunophenotypical features consistent with MCC, whereas UISO xenograft tumors were atypical for MCC. Spectral karyotyping and short tandem repeat analysis of the UISO cells matched the original cell line's description, ruling out contamination. Our results validate the use of transcriptome analysis to assess the cancer cell line representativeness and indicate that UISO, MCC13, and MCC26 cell lines are not representative of MCC tumors, whereas WaGa and Mkl-1 more closely model MCC.

Chen CJ, Cox JE, Azarm KD, et al.
Identification of a polyomavirus microRNA highly expressed in tumors.
Virology. 2015; 476:43-53 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Polyomaviruses (PyVs) are associated with tumors including Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Several PyVs encode microRNAs (miRNAs) but to date no abundant PyV miRNAs have been reported in tumors. To better understand the function of the Merkel cell PyV (MCPyV) miRNA, we examined phylogenetically-related viruses for miRNA expression. We show that two primate PyVs and the more distantly-related raccoon PyV (RacPyV) encode miRNAs that share genomic position and partial sequence identity with MCPyV miRNAs. Unlike MCPyV miRNA in MCC, RacPyV miRNA is highly abundant in raccoon tumors. RacPyV miRNA negatively regulates reporters of early viral (T antigen) transcripts, yet robust viral miRNA expression is tolerated in tumors. We also identify raccoon miRNAs expressed in RacPyV-associated neuroglial brain tumors, including several likely oncogenic miRNAs (oncomiRs). This work describes the first PyV miRNA abundantly expressed in tumors and is consistent with a possible role for both host and viral miRNAs in RacPyV-associated tumors.

Veija T, Sahi H, Koljonen V, et al.
miRNA-34a underexpressed in Merkel cell polyomavirus-negative Merkel cell carcinoma.
Virchows Arch. 2015; 466(3):289-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is frequently detectable in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) tumors, but the significance of MCV infection is not yet totally understood. Thus far, no key regulatory miRNA has been identified for MCC tumorigenesis. However, distinct miRNA expression profiles have been suggested for MCV-positive and MCV-negative tumors. We used microarray hybridization to identify miRNA expression differences in MCC tumor samples according to MCV status and further validated these results by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). When compared with MCV-negative tumors, we detected overexpression of miR-34a, miR-30a, miR-142-3p, and miR-1539 in those MCV positives. In addition, slight underexpression was detectable in MCV-positive tumors of miR-181d. We confirmed the distinct expression of miRNAs in MCV-positive and MCV-negative tumors and confirmed statistically significant underexpression of miR-34a in MCV-negative tumors by both array analysis and qRT-PCR. Neither tumor location nor development of metastases affected miRNA expression.

Murakami I, Takata K, Matsushita M, et al.
Immunoglobulin expressions are only associated with MCPyV-positive Merkel cell carcinomas but not with MCPyV-negative ones: comparison of prognosis.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2014; 38(12):1627-35 [PubMed] Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer, often associated with Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Recently, immunoglobulin (Ig) expression was reported in MCC, thereby suggesting that B cells might be their cellular ancestors. We tested 30 MCCs (20 MCPyV-positive and 10 MCPyV-negative) using immunohistochemistry for the expressions of IgG, IgA, IgM, Igκ, Igλ, terminal desoxynucleotidyl transferase, paired box gene 5 (PAX5), octamer transcription factor-2 (Oct-2), and sex-determining region Y-box 11 (SOX11). We performed in situ hybridization for Igκ-mRNA or Igλ-mRNA and Ig heavy chain (IgH) gene rearrangement (IgH-R) analyses. The expressions of PAX5, TdT, Oct-2, and SOX11 were not significantly different between MCPyV-positive and MCPyV-negative MCCs. At least 1 of IgG, IgA, IgM, or Igκ was expressed in MCPyV-positive (14/20, 70%) and none in MCPyV-negative MCCs (P=0.0003). There was a higher tendency for Igκ-mRNA expression (7/19, using in situ hybridization) and IgH-R (10/20, using polymerase chain reaction) in MCPyV-positive than in MCPyV-negative MCCs (0/10 and 2/10, respectively), thus suggesting a different Ig production pattern and pathogenesis between the 2 types of MCC. Ig expression or IgH-R in MCPyV-positive MCCs might be associated with MCPyV gene integration or expression in cancer cells but do not necessarily suggest a B-cell origin for MCCs. IgH expression or IgH-R nonsignificantly correlated with improved prognosis. However, these might be important factors that influence the survival of neoplastic cells and might allow the development of novel therapies for patients with MCPyV-positive MCCs.

Xie H, Liu T, Wang N, et al.
TERT promoter mutations and gene amplification: promoting TERT expression in Merkel cell carcinoma.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(20):10048-57 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2016 Related Publications
Telomerase activation through the induction of its catalytic component TERT is essential in carcinogenesis. The regulatory mechanism and clinical significance underlying cancer-specific TERT expression have been extensively investigated in various human malignancies, but little is known about these in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), an aggressive neuroendocrine skin tumor. Here we addressed these issues by determining TERT promoter mutations, gene amplification, mRNA expression and association with clinical variables in MCC. TERT mRNA was expressed in 6/6 MCC cell lines and 41 of 43 tumors derived from 35 MCC patients. Telomerase activity was detectable in all 6 cell lines and 11 tumors analyzed. TERT promoter mutations were identified in 1/6 cell lines and 4/35 (11.4%) MCC cases. The mutation exhibited UV signature and occurred in sun-exposed areas. Increased TERT gene copy numbers were observed in 1/6 cell lines and 11/14 (79%) tumors, and highly correlated with its mRNA expression (r = 0.7419, P = 0.0024). Shorter overall survival was significantly associated with higher TERT mRNA levels in MCC patients (P = 0.032). Collectively, TERT expression and telomerase activity is widespread in MCC, and may be attributable to TERT promoter mutations and gene amplification. Higher TERT expression predicts poor patient outcomes.

Shao Q, Kannan A, Lin Z, et al.
BET protein inhibitor JQ1 attenuates Myc-amplified MCC tumor growth in vivo.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(23):7090-102 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine tumor of the skin currently with no cure. In this study, we have first demonstrated that c-Myc overexpression is common in MCC. By targeting c-Myc, bromodomain inhibitors have demonstrated antitumor efficacy in several preclinical human cancer models. Thus, we interrogated the role of c-Myc inhibition in MCC with c-Myc amplification by using the BET inhibitor JQ1. We have uncovered that c-Myc can be regulated by JQ1 in MCC cells with pathologic c-Myc activation. Moreover, JQ1 potently abrogates c-Myc expression in MCC cells and causes marked G1 cell-cycle arrest. Mechanistically, JQ1-induced cell-cycle arrest coincides with downregulation of cyclin D1 and upregulation of p21, p27, and p57, whereas JQ1 exerts no effect on apoptosis in MCC cells. Further knockdown of p21, p27, or p57 by shRNA partially protects cells from JQ1-induced cell-cycle arrest. In addition, c-Myc knockdown by shRNA generates significant cell-cycle arrest, suggesting that c-Myc overexpression plays a role in MCC pathogenesis. Most importantly, JQ1 significantly attenuates tumor growth in xenograft MCC mouse models. Our results provide initial evidence, indicating the potential clinical utility of BET protein inhibitors in the treatment of MCC with pathologic activation of c-Myc.

Freze Baez C, Cirauqui Diaz N, Baeta Cavalcanti SM, Brandão Varella R
Genetic and structural analysis of Merkel cell polyomavirus large T antigen from diverse biological samples.
Intervirology. 2014; 57(6):331-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) large T antigen (LT-ag) is frequently found truncated in Merkel cell carcinomas (MCC) and it is considered a major tumor-specific signature. Nonetheless, the biological role of LT-ag nontruncated mutations is largely unknown. In this study, MCPyV LT-ag second exon from 11 non-MCC oral samples and NCBI sequences derived from different anatomical sites were studied from the genetic and structural standpoint. As expected, the LT-ag mutation profile was influenced by the geographical origin of the sample, although nonsynonymous mutations were more frequent in lesional tissues. Our in silico study suggests that the mutations found would not significantly affect protein functions, regardless of sample category. This work presents a thorough investigation of the structural and functional properties of LT-ag nontruncated mutations in MCPyV. Our results sustain the geographical influence of the MCPyV genetic profile, but do not discard genetic tissue specificities. Further investigation involving other genetic segments in healthy and lesional tissues are necessary to improve our knowledge on MCPyV pathogenesis.

Houben R, Angermeyer S, Haferkamp S, et al.
Characterization of functional domains in the Merkel cell polyoma virus Large T antigen.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(5):E290-300 [PubMed] Related Publications
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV)--positive Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) tumor cell growth is dependent on the expression of a viral Large T antigen (LT) with an intact retinoblastoma protein (RB)-binding site. This RB-binding domain in MCPyV-LT is--in contrast to other polyomavirus LTs (e.g., SV40)--embedded between two large MCPyV unique regions (MUR1 and MUR2). To identify elements of the MCPyV-LT necessary for tumor cell growth, we analyzed the rescue activity of LT variants following knockdown of the endogenous LT in MCC cells. These experiments demonstrate that nuclear localization is essential for LT function, but that a motif previously described to be a nuclear localization sequence is neither required for nuclear accumulation of truncated MCPyV-LT nor for promotion of MCC cell proliferation. Furthermore, large parts of the MURs distal to the RB binding domain as well as ALTO--a second protein encoded by an alternative reading frame in the MCPyV-LT mRNA--are completely dispensable for MCPyV-driven tumor cell proliferation. Notably, even MCPyV-LTs in which the entire MURs have been removed are still able to promote MCC cellular growth although rescue activity is reduced which may be due to MUR1 being required for stable LT expression in MCC cells. Finally, we provide evidence implying that--while binding to Vam6p is not essential--HSC-70 interaction is significantly involved in mediating MCPyV-LT function in MCC cells including growth promotion and induction of E2F target genes.

Edwards SK, Baron J, Moore CR, et al.
Mutated in colorectal cancer (MCC) is a novel oncogene in B lymphocytes.
J Hematol Oncol. 2014; 7:56 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Identification of novel genetic risk factors is imperative for a better understanding of B lymphomagenesis and for the development of novel therapeutic strategies. TRAF3, a critical regulator of B cell survival, was recently recognized as a tumor suppressor gene in B lymphocytes. The present study aimed to identify novel oncogenes involved in malignant transformation of TRAF3-deficient B cells.
METHODS: We used microarray analysis to identify genes differentially expressed in TRAF3-/- mouse splenic B lymphomas. We employed lentiviral vector-mediated knockdown or overexpression to manipulate gene expression in human multiple myeloma (MM) cell lines. We analyzed cell apoptosis and proliferation using flow cytometry, and performed biochemical studies to investigate signaling mechanisms. To delineate protein-protein interactions, we applied affinity purification followed by mass spectrometry-based sequencing.
RESULTS: We identified mutated in colorectal cancer (MCC) as a gene strikingly up-regulated in TRAF3-deficient mouse B lymphomas and human MM cell lines. Aberrant up-regulation of MCC also occurs in a variety of primary human B cell malignancies, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and MM. In contrast, MCC expression was not detected in normal or premalignant TRAF3-/- B cells even after treatment with B cell stimuli, suggesting that aberrant up-regulation of MCC is specifically associated with malignant transformation of B cells. In elucidating the functional roles of MCC in malignant B cells, we found that lentiviral shRNA vector-mediated knockdown of MCC induced apoptosis and inhibited proliferation in human MM cells. Experiments of knockdown and overexpression of MCC allowed us to identify several downstream targets of MCC in human MM cells, including phospho-ERK, c-Myc, p27, cyclin B1, Mcl-1, caspases 8 and 3. Furthermore, we identified 365 proteins (including 326 novel MCC-interactors) in the MCC interactome, among which PARP1 and PHB2 were two hubs of MCC signaling pathways in human MM cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that in sharp contrast to its tumor suppressive role in colorectal cancer, MCC functions as an oncogene in B cells. Our findings suggest that MCC may serve as a diagnostic marker and therapeutic target in B cell malignancies, including NHL and MM.

Lezcano C, Kleffel S, Lee N, et al.
Merkel cell carcinoma expresses vasculogenic mimicry: demonstration in patients and experimental manipulation in xenografts.
Lab Invest. 2014; 94(10):1092-102 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a highly virulent cutaneous neoplasm that, like melanoma, is a frequent cause of patient morbidity and mortality. The cellular mechanisms responsible for the aggressive behavior of MCC remain unknown. Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) is a phenomenon associated with cancer virulence, including in melanoma, whereby anastomosing laminin networks form in association with tumor cells that express certain endothelial genes. To determine whether VM is a factor in MCC, we employed a relevant xenograft model using two independent human MCC lines. Experimentally induced tumors were remarkably similar histologically to patient MCC, and both contained laminin networks associated with vascular endothelial-cadherin (CD144) and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1, as well as Nodal expression typical of VM in melanoma. Moreover, two established chemotherapeutic agents utilized for human MCC, etoposide and carboplatin, induced necrosis in xenografts on systemic administration while enriching for laminin networks in apparently resistant viable tumor regions that persisted. These findings for the first time establish VM-like laminin networks as a biomarker in MCC, demonstrate the experimental utility of the MCC xenograft model, and suggest that VM-rich regions of MCC may be refractory to conventional chemotherapeutic agents.

Zhang J, Le TD, Liu L, et al.
Inferring condition-specific miRNA activity from matched miRNA and mRNA expression data.
Bioinformatics. 2014; 30(21):3070-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
MOTIVATION: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play crucial roles in complex cellular networks by binding to the messenger RNAs (mRNAs) of protein coding genes. It has been found that miRNA regulation is often condition-specific. A number of computational approaches have been developed to identify miRNA activity specific to a condition of interest using gene expression data. However, most of the methods only use the data in a single condition, and thus, the activity discovered may not be unique to the condition of interest. Additionally, these methods are based on statistical associations between the gene expression levels of miRNAs and mRNAs, so they may not be able to reveal real gene regulatory relationships, which are causal relationships.
RESULTS: We propose a novel method to infer condition-specific miRNA activity by considering (i) the difference between the regulatory behavior that an miRNA has in the condition of interest and its behavior in the other conditions; (ii) the causal semantics of miRNA-mRNA relationships. The method is applied to the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and multi-class cancer (MCC) datasets. The validation by the results of transfection experiments shows that our approach is effective in discovering significant miRNA-mRNA interactions. Functional and pathway analysis and literature validation indicate that the identified active miRNAs are closely associated with the specific biological processes, diseases and pathways. More detailed analysis of the activity of the active miRNAs implies that some active miRNAs show different regulation types in different conditions, but some have the same regulation types and their activity only differs in different conditions in the strengths of regulation.
AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The R and Matlab scripts are in the Supplementary materials.

Jankowski M, Kopinski P, Schwartz R, Czajkowski R
Merkel cell carcinoma: is this a true carcinoma?
Exp Dermatol. 2014; 23(11):792-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recent years have brought an enhanced understanding of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) biology, especially with regard to the Merkel cell polyoma virus as a causative agent. Differences between Merkel cell polyomavirus-positive and Merkel cell polyomavirus-negative MCC in morphology; gene expression, miRNA profiles and prognosis have been reported. Origin of MCC is controversial. Presence of neurosecretory granules has suggested that these carcinomas originate from one of the neurocrest derivatives, most probably Merkel cells; the name Merkel cell carcinoma is now widely accepted. Expression of PGP 9.5, chromogranin A and several neuropeptides, initially regarded as specific markers for neural and neuroendocrine cells, has recently been shown in a subset of lymphomas. MCC commonly expresses terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase and PAX5. Their co-expression under physiologic circumstances is restricted to pro/pre-B cells and pre-B cells. These findings lead to the hypothesis by zur Hausen et al. that MCC originates from early B cells. This review was intended to critically appraise zur Hausen's hypothesis and discuss the possibility that MCC is a heterogenous entity with distinct subtypes.

Rajabpour FV, Raoofian R, Youssefian L, et al.
BMI1 and TWIST1 downregulated mRNA expression in basal cell carcinoma.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(8):3797-800 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: BMI1, TWIST1 and SNAI2/SLUG have been implicated in aggressive behavior of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma and BMI1 expression could identify subtypes of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). However, BMI1, TWIST1 and SNAI2 expression levels in basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) have not been elucidated. We hypothesized BCC could be a good model system to decipher mechanisms which inhibit processes that drive tumor metastasis. The aim of this study was to examine the mRNA expression level of BMI1, TWIST1, and SNAI2 in BCCs.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty-five fresh non-metastatic BCC tissue samples and seven fresh normal skin tissue samples were evaluated by real-time RT-PCR.
RESULTS: BMI1 and TWIST1 demonstrated marked down-regulation (p<0.00l, p=0.00l respectively), but SNAI2 showed no significant change (p=0.12).
CONCLUSIONS: Previous literature has clearly demonstrated a positive association between BMI1 and TWIST1 expression and metastatic BCC, aggressive SCC and melanoma. Here, we demonstrated a negative association between BMI1 and TWIST1 mRNA expression level and BCC.

Pangon L, Mladenova D, Watkins L, et al.
MCC inhibits beta-catenin transcriptional activity by sequestering DBC1 in the cytoplasm.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(1):55-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
The mutated in colorectal cancer (MCC) is a multifunctional gene showing loss of expression in colorectal and liver cancers. MCC mutations can drive colon carcinogenesis in the mouse and in vitro experiments suggest that loss of MCC function promotes cancer through several important cellular pathways. In particular, the MCC protein is known to regulate beta-catenin (β-cat) signaling, but the mechanism is poorly understood. Here we show that the β-cat repressor function of MCC is strongly impaired by the presence of a disease-associated mutation. We also identify deleted in breast cancer 1 (DBC1) as a new MCC interacting partner and regulator of β-cat signaling. RNA interference experiments show that DBC1 promotes β-cat transcriptional activity and that the presence of DBC1 is required for MCC-mediated β-cat repression. In contrast to all other DBC1 interacting partners, MCC does not interact through the DBC1 Leucine Zipper domain but with a glutamic-acid rich region located between the Nudix and EF-hand domains. Furthermore, MCC overexpression relocalizes DBC1 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and reduces β-cat K49 acetylation. Treatment of cells with the SIRT1 inhibitor Nicotinamide reverses MCC-induced deacetylation of β-cat K49. These data suggest that the cytoplasmic MCC-DBC1 interaction sequesters DBC1 away from the nucleus, thereby removing a brake on DBC1 nuclear targets, such as SIRT1. This study provides new mechanistic insights into the DBC1-MCC axis as a new APC independent β-cat inhibitory pathway.

Haugg AM, Rennspiess D, zur Hausen A, et al.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization and qPCR to detect Merkel cell polyomavirus physical status and load in Merkel cell carcinomas.
Int J Cancer. 2014; 135(12):2804-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is detected in 80% of Merkel cell carcinomas (MCC). Clonal integration and tumor-specific mutations in the large T antigen are strong arguments that MCPyV is a human tumor virus. However, the relationship between viral presence and cancer induction remains discussed controversially. Since almost all studies on virus prevalence are based on PCR techniques, we performed MCPyV fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on MCC to gain information about the quality of the viral presence on the single cell level. MCPyV-FISH was performed on tissue microarrays containing 62 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue samples including all tumor grades of 42 patients. The hybridization patterns were correlated to the qPCR data determined on corresponding whole tissue sections. Indeed, MCPyV-FISH and qPCR data were highly correlated, i.e. 83% for FISH-positive and 93% for FISH-negative cores. Accordingly, the mean of the qPCR values of all MCPyV-positive cores differed significantly from the mean of the negative cores (p = 0.0076). Importantly, two hybridization patterns were definable in the MCPyV-FISH: a punctate pattern (85%) indicating viral integration, which correlated with a moderate viral abundance and a combination of the punctate with a diffuse pattern (15%), suggesting a possible coexistence of integrated and episomal virus which was associated with very high viral load and VP1 expression. Thus, MCPyV-FISH adds important information on the single cell level within the histomorphological context and could therefore be an important tool to further elucidate MCPyV related carcinogenesis.

Buder K, Lapa C, Kreissl MC, et al.
Somatostatin receptor expression in Merkel cell carcinoma as target for molecular imaging.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:268 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare cutaneous neoplasm with increasing incidence, aggressive behavior and poor prognosis. Somatostatin receptors (SSTR) are expressed in MCC and represent a potential target for both imaging and treatment.
METHODS: To non-invasively assess SSTR expression in MCC using PET and the radiotracers [68Ga]DOTA-D-Phe1-Tyr3-octreotide (DOTATOC) or -octreotate (DOTATATE) as surrogate for tumor burden. In 24 patients with histologically proven MCC SSTR-PET was performed and compared to results of computed tomography (CT).
RESULTS: SSTR-PET detected primary and metastatic MCC lesions. On a patient-based analysis, sensitivity of SSTR-PET was 73% for nodal metastases, 100% for bone, and 67% for soft-tissue metastases, respectively. Notably, brain metastases were initially detected by SSTR-PET in 2 patients, whereas liver and lung metastases were diagnosed exclusively by CT. SSTR-PET showed concordance to CT results in 20 out of 24 patients. Four patients (17%) were up-staged due to SSTR-PET and patient management was changed in 3 patients (13%).
CONCLUSION: SSTR-PET showed high sensitivity for imaging bone, soft tissue and brain metastases, and particularly in combination with CT had a significant impact on clinical stage and patient management.

Sahi H, Savola S, Sihto H, et al.
RB1 gene in Merkel cell carcinoma: hypermethylation in all tumors and concurrent heterozygous deletions in the polyomavirus-negative subgroup.
APMIS. 2014; 122(12):1157-66 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sequestration of the tumor suppressor retinoblastoma protein (RB) by the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is a crucial step in the pathogenesis of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). RB expression is frequently lost, particularly in MCV-negative MCC tumors, through yet unknown mechanisms. We compared the genomic copy number changes of 13 MCV-positive and 13 -negative MCC tumors by array comparative genomic hybridization. The analysis revealed increased genomic instability, amplification of 1p34.3-1p34.2, and losses of 11p in the absence of MCV infection. Deletions of the RB1 locus were also detected at high rates in MCV-negative tumors. None of the tumors with heterozygous RB1 losses expressed RB in immunohistochemistry. RB1 promoter hypermethylation was studied with a methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification technique. The RB1 promoter was methylated in all tumor specimens at CpG islands located close to the ATG start codon, albeit at low levels. The pattern of hypermethylation was similar in all MCC samples, despite RB expression, survival or MCV status. In conclusion, the frequent heterozygous losses of the RB1 locus could partly explain the decreased RB expression in MCV-negative MCC tumors, although the effects of RB1 mutations, coinciding promoter hypermethylation and, for example, miRNA regulation, cannot be excluded.

Adam C, Baeurle A, Brodsky JL, et al.
The HSP70 modulator MAL3-101 inhibits Merkel cell carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(4):e92041 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a rare and highly aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer for which no effective treatment is available. MCC represents a human cancer with the best experimental evidence for a causal role of a polyoma virus. Large T antigens (LTA) encoded by polyoma viruses are oncoproteins, which are thought to require support of cellular heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) to exert their transforming activity. Here we evaluated the capability of MAL3-101, a synthetic HSP70 inhibitor, to limit proliferation and survival of various MCC cell lines. Remarkably, MAL3-101 treatment resulted in considerable apoptosis in 5 out of 7 MCC cell lines. While this effect was not associated with the viral status of the MCC cells, quantitative mRNA expression analysis of the known HSP70 isoforms revealed a significant correlation between MAL3-101 sensitivity and HSC70 expression, the most prominent isoform in all cell lines. Moreover, MAL3-101 also exhibited in vivo antitumor activity in an MCC xenograft model suggesting that this substance or related compounds are potential therapeutics for the treatment of MCC in the future.

Wu ML, Li H, Yu LJ, et al.
Short-term resveratrol exposure causes in vitro and in vivo growth inhibition and apoptosis of bladder cancer cells.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e89806 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Conventional adjuvant chemotherapies for bladder transitional cell carcinomas (TCCs) may cause strong systemic toxicity and local irritation. Non-toxic resveratrol inhibits TCC cell growth but its feasibility in clinical management of TCCs remains obscure. This study aimed to evaluate the safety and anti-TCC efficacy of resveratrol, using the experimental models closer to the clinical treatment condition. Human TCC EJ cells were exposed to 100 µM, 150 µM and 200 µM resveratrol respectively for 1 hour and 2 hours to mimic intravesical drug instillation and the cell responses were analyzed by multiple experimental approaches. An orthotopic TCC nude mouse model was established by injecting EJ cells into the sub-urothelial layer and used for short-term intravesical resveratrol instillation. The safety of resveratrol instillation was evaluated and compared with that of MCC. The results revealed that 2 h 150 µM or 200 µM resveratrol treatment leaded to remarkable S phase arrest and apoptosis at 72 h time-point, accompanied with attenuated phosphorylation, nuclear translocation and transcription of STAT3, down-regulation of STAT3 downstream genes (survivin, cyclinD1, c-Myc and VEGF) and nuclear translocations of Sirt1 and p53. The importance of STAT3 signaling in cell growth was confirmed by treating EJ cells with JAK2 inhibitor tyrphostin AG490. The efficacy and safety of resveratrol instillation were proved by the findings from nude mouse orthotopic xenograft models, because this treatment caused growth suppression, distinctive apoptosis and STAT3 inactivation of the transplanted tumors without affecting normal urothelium. Our results thus suggest for the first time the practical values of resveratrol as a safe and effective agent in the post-operative treatment of TCCs.

Huber GF
Modern management of Merkel cell carcinoma.
Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014; 22(2):109-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive malignancy. Worldwide incidence is increasing and roughly 50% of patients present with a primary lesion in the head and neck. This article discusses recent advances and treatment recommendations.
RECENT FINDINGS: Recent research has focused on the carcinogenesis of MCC, in particular the role of Merkel cell polyoma virus (MCPyV) and its surrogate marker large T-antigen. Together with cytokeratin 20 (CK20), other biomarkers like human insulin gene enhancer-binding protein islet-1 (ISL1) and transcription factor OCT4 may provide improved methods for diagnosis and ultimately, therapy.
SUMMARY: This review summarizes recent findings on MCC pathogenesis with a special emphasis on the impact of MCPyV. It further presents an overview of clinical aspects, and discusses treatment standards and emerging perspectives.

Borchert S, Czech-Sioli M, Neumann F, et al.
High-affinity Rb binding, p53 inhibition, subcellular localization, and transformation by wild-type or tumor-derived shortened Merkel cell polyomavirus large T antigens.
J Virol. 2014; 88(6):3144-60 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Interference with tumor suppressor pathways by polyomavirus-encoded tumor antigens (T-Ags) can result in transformation. Consequently, it is thought that T-Ags encoded by Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), a virus integrated in ∼90% of all Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) cases, are major contributors to tumorigenesis. The MCPyV large T-Ag (LT-Ag) has preserved the key functional domains present in all family members but has also acquired unique regions that flank the LxCxE motif. As these regions may mediate unique functions, or may modulate those shared with T-Ags of other polyomaviruses, functional studies of MCPyV T-Ags are required. Here, we have performed a comparative study of full-length or MCC-derived truncated LT-Ags with regard to their biochemical characteristics, their ability to bind to retinoblastoma (Rb) and p53 proteins, and their transforming potential. We provide evidence that full-length MCPyV LT-Ag may not directly bind to p53 but nevertheless can significantly reduce p53-dependent transcription in reporter assays. Although early region expression constructs harboring either full-length or MCC-derived truncated LT-Ag genes can transform primary baby rat kidney cells, truncated LT-Ags do not bind to p53 or reduce p53-dependent transcription. Interestingly, shortened LT-Ags exhibit a very high binding affinity for Rb, as shown by coimmunoprecipitation and in vitro binding studies. Additionally, we show that truncated MCPyV LT-Ag proteins are expressed at higher levels than those for the wild-type protein and are able to partially relocalize Rb to the cytoplasm, indicating that truncated LT proteins may have gained additional features that distinguish them from the full-length protein.
IMPORTANCE: MCPyV is one of the 12 known polyomaviruses that naturally infect humans. Among these, it is of particular interest since it is the only human polyomavirus known to be involved in tumorigenesis. MCPyV is thought to be causally linked to MCC, a rare skin tumor. In these tumors, viral DNA is monoclonally integrated into the genome of the tumor cells in up to 90% of all MCC cases, and the integrated MCV genomes, furthermore, harbor signature mutations in the so-called early region that selectively abrogate viral replication while preserving cell cycle deregulating functions of the virus. This study describes comparative studies of early region T-Ag protein characteristics, their ability to bind to Rb and p53, and their transforming potential.

Matsushita M, Iwasaki T, Kuwamoto S, et al.
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) strains in Japanese merkel cell carcinomas (MCC) are distinct from Caucasian type MCPyVs: genetic variability and phylogeny of MCPyV genomes obtained from Japanese MCPyV-infected MCCs.
Virus Genes. 2014; 48(2):233-42 [PubMed] Related Publications
Most of merkel cell carcinomas (MCC), a rare, aggressive skin cancer with neuroendocrine features, harbor merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Seroepidemiological studies suggested high prevalence of MCPyV in the human population. More than ten sequence data on MCPyV strains in Japan have been available, whereas most sequence data were detected from patients living in Europe or European ancestry. Analysis of nine almost complete and 19 partial sequences from two oncogenes, small T antigen (ST) and large T antigen (LT) genomes obtained from 32 Japanese MCPyV-infected MCC revealed that each Japanese MCPyV-infected MCC harbored a specific MCPyV strain with some synonymous or, silent mutations and stop codons or deletions, but functional domains of T antigen had no amino acid changes. All stop codons were localized after retinoblastoma protein-binding domain. These Japanese MCPyV strains were very closely interrelated to themselves and a consensus sequence of Japanese strain was generated. Phylogenetic analysis of our nine sequences and 70 other sequences for ST and LT gene registered in GenBank indicated that Japanese or Asian MCPyV strains formed distinct clades from Caucasian clade, and phylogenetic tree of our nine and 75 other sequences for ST gene formed characteristic three clades and showed that all Japanese or Asian strains were included in the dominant clade. These suggested the possibility of geographically related genotypes of MCPyV. The genomic characterization of MCPyV variants will provide an important database and insights for illuminating their evolutional and biological differences.

Leitz M, Stieler K, Grundhoff A, et al.
Merkel cell polyomavirus detection in Merkel cell cancer tumors in Northern Germany using PCR and protein expression.
J Med Virol. 2014; 86(10):1813-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma is a highly malignant skin cancer which predominantly occurs in elderly and immunocompromised persons. The identification of the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) has inaugurated a new understanding of Merkel cell carcinoma pathogenesis. The frequent detection of the virus in Merkel cell carcinoma tissue (70-90%), its monoclonal integration in the tumor cells and the expression of viral oncogenes highly suggest that MCPyV is causally linked to the pathogenesis of the majority of Merkel cell cancer (MCC) cases. Using qualitative and quantitative PCR together with immunohistochemical staining this study aimed at characterizing the presence of MCPyV sequences and viral early gene expression in a cohort of MCC cases (n = 32) selected in Northern Germany. 40-57% of the cases were identified as MCPyV positive with 40.6% of the cases positive by immunohistochemical staining and 51.6-57.6% positive by PCR. Interestingly, in the majority (64%) of LT-Antigen positive tumors only 25-50% of tumor cells express LT-Antigen. These data are in accord with published studies describing heterogeneity in MCPyV viral loads and suggest that detection of MCPyV in Merkel cell carcinoma by PCR should be undertaken using multiple primer pairs.

Heiduschka G, Lill C, Seemann R, et al.
The effect of resveratrol in combination with irradiation and chemotherapy: study using Merkel cell carcinoma cell lines.
Strahlenther Onkol. 2014; 190(1):75-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, but highly malignant tumor of the skin. In case of systemic disease, possible therapeutic options include irradiation or chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the flavonoid resveratrol enhances the effect of radiotherapy or chemotherapy in MCC cell lines.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The two MCC cell lines MCC13 and MCC26 were treated with increasing doses of resveratrol. Combination experiments were conducted with cisplatin and etoposide. Colony forming assays were performed after sequential irradiation with 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 Gy and apoptosis was assessed with flow cytometry. Expression of cancer drug targets was analyzed by real-time PCR array.
RESULTS: Resveratrol is cytotoxic in MCC cell lines. Cell growth is inhibited by induction of apoptosis. The combination with cisplatin and etoposide resulted in a partially synergistic inhibition of cell proliferation. Resveratrol and irradiation led to a synergistic reduction in colony formation compared to irradiation alone. Evaluation of gene expression did not show significant difference between the cell lines.
CONCLUSION: Due to its radiosensitizing effect, resveratrol seems to be a promising agent in combination with radiation therapy. The amount of chemosensitizing depends on the cell lines tested.

Shahzad N, Shuda M, Gheit T, et al.
The T antigen locus of Merkel cell polyomavirus downregulates human Toll-like receptor 9 expression.
J Virol. 2013; 87(23):13009-19 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Establishment of a chronic infection is a key event in virus-mediated carcinogenesis. Several cancer-associated, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses act via their oncoproteins to downregulate Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), a key receptor in the host innate immune response that senses viral or bacterial dsDNA. A novel oncogenic virus, Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), has been recently identified that causes up to 80% of Merkel cell carcinomas (MCCs). However, it is not yet known whether this oncogenic virus also disrupts immune-related pathways. We find that MCPyV large T antigen (LT) expression downregulates TLR9 expression in epithelial and MCC-derived cells. Accordingly, silencing of LT expression results in upregulation of mRNA TLR9 levels. In addition, small T antigen (sT) also appears to inhibit TLR9 expression, since inhibition of its expression also resulted in an increase of TLR9 mRNA levels. LT inhibits TLR9 expression by decreasing the mRNA levels of the C/EBPβ transactivator, a positive regulator of the TLR9 promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation reveals that C/EBPβ binding at a C/EBPβ response element (RE) in the TLR9 promoter is strongly inhibited by expression of MCPyV early genes and that mutation of the C/EBP RE prevents MCPyV downregulation of TLR9. A survey of BK polyomavirus (BKPyV), JC polyomavirus (JCPyV), KI polyomavirus (KIPyV), MCPyV, simian virus 40 (SV40), and WU polyomavirus (WUPyV) early genes revealed that only BKPyV and MCPyV are potent inhibitors of TLR9 gene expression. MCPyV LT targeting of C/EBP transactivators is likely to play an important role in viral persistence and potentially inhibit host cell immune responses during MCPyV tumorigenesis.

Wagenseller AG, Shada A, D'Auria KM, et al.
MicroRNAs induced in melanoma treated with combination targeted therapy of Temsirolimus and Bevacizumab.
J Transl Med. 2013; 11:218 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Targeted therapies directed at commonly overexpressed pathways in melanoma have clinical activity in numerous trials. Little is known about how these therapies influence microRNA (miRNA) expression, particularly with combination regimens. Knowledge of miRNAs altered with treatment may contribute to understanding mechanisms of therapeutic effects, as well as mechanisms of tumor escape from therapy. We analyzed miRNA expression in metastatic melanoma tissue samples treated with a novel combination regimen of Temsirolimus and Bevacizumab. Given the preliminary clinical activity observed with this combination regimen, we hypothesized that we would see significant changes in miRNA expression with combination treatment.
METHODS: Using microarray analysis we analyzed miRNA expression levels in melanoma samples from a Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program-sponsored phase II trial of combination Temsirolimus and Bevacizumab in advanced melanoma, which elicited clinical benefit in a subset of patients. Pre-treatment and post-treatment miRNA levels were compared using paired t-tests between sample groups (patients), using a p-value < 0.01 for significance.
RESULTS: microRNA expression remained unchanged with Temsirolimus alone; however, expression of 15 microRNAs was significantly upregulated (1.4 to 2.5-fold) with combination treatment, compared to pre-treatment levels. Interestingly, twelve of these fifteen miRNAs possess tumor suppressor capabilities. We identified 15 putative oncogenes as potential targets of the 12 tumor suppressor miRNAs, based on published experimental evidence. For 15 of 25 miRNA-target mRNA pairings, changes in gene expression from pre-treatment to post-combination treatment samples were inversely correlated with changes in miRNA expression, supporting a functional effect of those miRNA changes. Clustering analyses based on selected miRNAs suggest preliminary signatures characteristic of clinical response to combination treatment and of tumor BRAF mutational status.
CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first study analyzing miRNA expression in pre-treatment and post-treatment human metastatic melanoma tissue samples. This preliminary investigation suggests miRNAs that may be involved in the mechanism of action of combination Temsirolimus and Bevacizumab in metastatic melanoma, possibly through inhibition of oncogenic pathways, and provides the preliminary basis for further functional studies of these miRNAs.

Xie H, Lee L, Caramuta S, et al.
MicroRNA expression patterns related to merkel cell polyomavirus infection in human merkel cell carcinoma.
J Invest Dermatol. 2014; 134(2):507-17 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive and lethal type of neuroendocrine skin cancer. Mutated Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is commonly found in MCC, and leads to upregulation of the survivin oncogene. However, ∼20% of MCC tumors do not have detectable MCV, suggesting alternative etiologies for this tumor type. In this study, our aim was to evaluate microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles and their associations with MCV status and clinical outcomes in MCC. We showed that miRNA expression profiles were distinct between MCV-positive (MCV+) and MCV-negative (MCV-) MCCs and further validated that miR-203, miR-30a-3p, miR-769-5p, miR-34a, miR-30a-5p, and miR-375 were significantly different. We also identified a subset of miRNAs associated with tumor metastasis and MCC-specific survival. Functionally, overexpression of miR-203 was found to inhibit cell growth, induce cell cycle arrest, and regulate survivin expression in MCV- MCC cells, but not in MCV+ MCC cells. Our findings reveal a mechanism of survivin expression regulation in MCC cells, and provide insights into the role of miRNAs in MCC tumorigenesis.

Lill C, Schneider S, Ghanim B, et al.
Expression of β-catenin and cyclin D1 in Merkel cell carcinomas of the head and neck.
Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2013; 125(17-18):501-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Merkel cell carcinomas (MCC) are very aggressive tumors of the sun-exposed skin with a high potential to metastasize. Little is known about the genesis of MCC and very few prognostic markers have been detected so far. The Wnt pathway protein β-catenin and the cell cycle protein cyclin D1 are two promotors of tumor growth and are expressed in a variety of malignant neoplasms such as lymphomas, thyroid, breast cancer, and many others.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Tissue samples of 27 patients with MCC were immunohistochemically stained for β-catenin and cyclin D1 and correlated with overall survival of patients. In addition, western blot analysis was carried out in the two MCC cell lines MCC-13 and MCC-26.
RESULTS: β-catenin showed a cytoplasmatic expression of 10-30 % in 11 samples and an expression lower than 10 % in eight samples. Nuclear staining was visible in two samples. None of the 27 samples expressed cyclin D1.
CONCLUSION: Neither cyclin D1 nor β-catenin was expressed in a statistically significant manner, concluding that the development of MCCs is independent of β-catenin and cyclin D1 expression and these proteins are not suitable as prognostic markers. We could describe the expression pattern of cyclin D1 for the first time.

Lim L, Balakrishnan A, Huskey N, et al.
MicroRNA-494 within an oncogenic microRNA megacluster regulates G1/S transition in liver tumorigenesis through suppression of mutated in colorectal cancer.
Hepatology. 2014; 59(1):202-15 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is associated with poor survival for patients and few effective treatment options, raising the need for novel therapeutic strategies. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in tumor development and show deregulated patterns of expression in HCC. Because of the liver's unique affinity for small nucleic acids, miRNA-based therapy has been proposed in the treatment of liver disease. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify and characterize aberrantly expressed miRNAs in HCC. In our study, we profiled miRNA expression changes in de novo liver tumors driven by MYC and/or RAS, two canonical oncogenes activated in a majority of human HCCs. We identified an up-regulated miRNA megacluster comprised of 53 miRNAs on mouse chromosome 12qF1 (human homolog 14q32). This miRNA megacluster is up-regulated in all three transgenic liver models and in a subset of human HCCs. An unbiased functional analysis of all miRNAs within this cluster was performed. We found that miR-494 is overexpressed in human HCC and aids in transformation by regulating the G1 /S cell cycle transition through targeting of the Mutated in Colorectal Cancer tumor suppressor. miR-494 inhibition in human HCC cell lines decreases cellular transformation, and anti-miR-494 treatment of primary MYC-driven liver tumor formation significantly diminishes tumor size.
CONCLUSION: Our findings identify a new therapeutic target (miR-494) for the treatment of HCC.

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