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      Anti-Tumor Activity of a Novel Compound-CDF Is Mediated by Regulating miR-21, miR-200, and PTEN in Pancreatic Cancer


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          The existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) or cancer stem-like cells in a tumor mass is believed to be responsible for tumor recurrence because of their intrinsic and extrinsic drug-resistance characteristics. Therefore, targeted killing of CSCs would be a newer strategy for the prevention of tumor recurrence and/or treatment by overcoming drug-resistance. We have developed a novel synthetic compound-CDF, which showed greater bioavailability in animal tissues such as pancreas, and also induced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis, which was mediated by inactivation of NF-κB, COX-2, and VEGF in pancreatic cancer (PC) cells.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          In the current study we showed, for the first time, that CDF could significantly inhibit the sphere-forming ability (pancreatospheres) of PC cells consistent with increased disintegration of pancreatospheres, which was associated with attenuation of CSC markers (CD44 and EpCAM), especially in gemcitabine-resistant (MIAPaCa-2) PC cells containing high proportion of CSCs consistent with increased miR-21 and decreased miR-200. In a xenograft mouse model of human PC, CDF treatment significantly inhibited tumor growth, which was associated with decreased NF-κB DNA binding activity, COX-2, and miR-21 expression, and increased PTEN and miR-200 expression in tumor remnants.


          These results strongly suggest that the anti-tumor activity of CDF is associated with inhibition of CSC function via down-regulation of CSC-associated signaling pathways. Therefore, CDF could be useful for the prevention of tumor recurrence and/or treatment of PC with better treatment outcome in the future.

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          Most cited references28

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          Quantitative analysis of dose-effect relationships: the combined effects of multiple drugs or enzyme inhibitors.

          A generalized method for analyzing the effects of multiple drugs and for determining summation, synergism and antagonism has been proposed. The derived, generalized equations are based on kinetic principles. The method is relatively simple and is not limited by whether the dose-effect relationships are hyperbolic or sigmoidal, whether the effects of the drugs are mutually exclusive or nonexclusive, whether the ligand interactions are competitive, noncompetitive or uncompetitive, whether the drugs are agonists or antagonists, or the number of drugs involved. The equations for the two most widely used methods for analyzing synergism, antagonism and summation of effects of multiple drugs, the isobologram and fractional product concepts, have been derived and been shown to have limitations in their applications. These two methods cannot be used indiscriminately. The equations underlying these two methods can be derived from a more generalized equation previously developed by us (59). It can be shown that the isobologram is valid only for drugs whose effects are mutually exclusive, whereas the fractional product method is valid only for mutually nonexclusive drugs which have hyperbolic dose-effect curves. Furthermore, in the isobol method, it is laborious to find proper combinations of drugs that would produce an iso-effective curve, and the fractional product method tends to give indication of synergism, since it underestimates the summation of the effect of mutually nonexclusive drugs that have sigmoidal dose-effect curves. The method described herein is devoid of these deficiencies and limitations. The simplified experimental design proposed for multiple drug-effect analysis has the following advantages: It provides a simple diagnostic plot (i.e., the median-effect plot) for evaluating the applicability of the data, and provides parameters that can be directly used to obtain a general equation for the dose-effect relation; the analysis which involves logarithmic conversion and linear regression can be readily carried out with a simple programmable electronic calculator and does not require special graph paper or tables; and the simplicity of the equation allows flexibility of application and the use of a minimum number of data points. This method has been used to analyze experimental data obtained from enzymatic, cellular and animal systems.
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            MicroRNA-21 is an antiapoptotic factor in human glioblastoma cells.

            MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNA molecules that regulate protein expression by targeting the mRNA of protein-coding genes for either cleavage or repression of translation. The roles of miRNAs in lineage determination and proliferation as well as the location of several miRNA genes at sites of translocation breakpoints or deletions has led to the speculation that miRNAs could be important factors in the development or maintenance of the neoplastic state. Here we show that the highly malignant human brain tumor, glioblastoma, strongly over-expresses a specific miRNA, miR-21. Our studies show markedly elevated miR-21 levels in human glioblastoma tumor tissues, early-passage glioblastoma cultures, and in six established glioblastoma cell lines (A172, U87, U373, LN229, LN428, and LN308) compared with nonneoplastic fetal and adult brain tissues and compared with cultured nonneoplastic glial cells. Knockdown of miR-21 in cultured glioblastoma cells triggers activation of caspases and leads to increased apoptotic cell death. Our data suggest that aberrantly expressed miR-21 may contribute to the malignant phenotype by blocking expression of critical apoptosis-related genes.
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              Up-regulation of miR-200 and let-7 by natural agents leads to the reversal of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells.

              Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States, and the aggressiveness of pancreatic cancer is in part due to its intrinsic and extrinsic drug resistance characteristics, which are also associated with the acquisition of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Emerging evidence also suggests that the processes of EMT are regulated by the expression status of many microRNAs (miRNA), which are believed to function as key regulators of various biological and pathologic processes during tumor development and progression. In the present study, we compared the expression of miRNAs between gemcitabine-sensitive and gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells and investigated whether the treatment of cells with "natural agents" [3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) or isoflavone] could affect the expression of miRNAs. We found that the expression of miR-200b, miR-200c, let-7b, let-7c, let-7d, and let-7e was significantly down-regulated in gemcitabine-resistant cells, which showed EMT characteristics such as elongated fibroblastoid morphology, lower expression of epithelial marker E-cadherin, and higher expression of mesenchymal markers such as vimentin and ZEB1. Moreover, we found that reexpression of miR-200 by transfection studies or treatment of gemcitabine-resistant cells with either DIM or isoflavone resulted in the down-regulation of ZEB1, slug, and vimentin, which was consistent with morphologic reversal of EMT phenotype leading to epithelial morphology. These results provide experimental evidence, for the first time, that DIM and isoflavone could function as miRNA regulators leading to the reversal of EMT phenotype, which is likely to be important for designing novel therapies for pancreatic cancer.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                9 March 2011
                : 6
                : 3
                : e17850
                [1 ]Department of Pathology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
                [2 ]Division of Hematology/Oncology Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
                [3 ]Dr. D. Y. Patil University, Pimpri, Pune, India
                University of Pennsylvania, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: BB SA DK SHS ZW SB AA SP PAP FHS. Performed the experiments: BB SA DK SHS ZW AA. Analyzed the data: BB SA ZW AA FHS. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: PAP SP FHS. Wrote the paper: BB SA FHS.

                Bao et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                : 13 December 2010
                : 10 February 2011
                Page count
                Pages: 12
                Research Article
                Molecular Cell Biology
                Drugs and Devices
                Drug Research and Development
                Drug Discovery
                Basic Cancer Research
                Cancer Prevention
                Cancer Treatment



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