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  • Sonnenblick, Amir; Brohee, Sylvain; Fumagalli, Debora; Vincent, Delphine; Venet, David; Ignatiadis, Michail; Salgado, Roberto; Van den Eynden, Gert; Rothe, Francoise; Desmedt, Christine; Neven, Patrick; Loibl, Sibylle; Denkert, Carsten; Joensuu, Heikki; Loi, Sherene; Sirtaine, Nicolas; Kellokumpu-Lehtinen, Pirkko-Liisa; Piccart, Martine; Sotiriou, Christos (2015)
    Background: The likelihood of recurrence in patients with breast cancer who have HER2-positive tumors is relatively high, although trastuzumab is a remarkably effective drug in this setting. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 protein (STAT3), a transcription factor that is persistently tyrosine-705 phosphorylated (pSTAT3) in response to numerous oncogenic signaling pathways, activates downstream proliferative and anti-apoptotic pathways. We hypothesized that pSTAT3 expression in HER2-positive breast cancer will confer trastuzumab resistance. Methods: We integrated reverse phase protein array (RPPA) and gene expression data from patients with HER2-positive breast cancer treated with trastuzumab in the adjuvant setting. Results: We show that a pSTAT3-associated gene signature (pSTAT3-GS) is able to predict pSTAT3 status in an independent dataset (TCGA; AUC = 0.77, P = 0.02). This suggests that STAT3 induces a characteristic set of gene expression changes in HER2-positive cancers. Tumors characterized as high pSTAT3-GS were associated with trastuzumab resistance (log rank P = 0.049). These results were confirmed using data from the prospective, randomized controlled FinHer study, where the effect was especially prominent in HER2-positive estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors (interaction test P = 0.02). Of interest, constitutively activated pSTAT3 tumors were associated with loss of PTEN, elevated IL6, and stromal reactivation. Conclusions: This study provides compelling evidence for a link between pSTAT3 and trastuzumab resistance in HER2-positive primary breast cancers. Our results suggest that it may be valuable to add agents targeting the STAT3 pathway to trastuzumab for treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer.
  • Bulanova, Daria R.; Akimov, Yevhen A.; Rokka, Anne; Laajala, Teemu D.; Aittokallio, Tero; Kouvonen, Petri; Pellinen, Teijo; Kuznetsov, Sergey G. (2017)
    G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR), Class C, Group 5, Member A (GPRC5A) has been implicated in several malignancies. The underlying mechanisms, however, remain poorly understood. Using a panel of human cell lines, we demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout and RNAi-mediated depletion of GPRC5A impairs cell adhesion to integrin substrates: collagens I and IV, fibronectin, as well as to extracellular matrix proteins derived from the Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) mouse sarcoma (Matrigel). Consistent with the phenotype, knock-out of GPRC5A correlated with a reduced integrin beta 1 (ITGB1) protein expression, impaired phosphorylation of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK), and lower activity of small GTPases RhoA and Rac1. Furthermore, we provide the first evidence for a direct interaction between GPRC5A and a receptor tyrosine kinase EphA2, an upstream regulator of FAK, although its contribution to the observed adhesion phenotype is unclear. Our findings reveal an unprecedented role for GPRC5A in regulation of the ITGB1-mediated cell adhesion and it's downstream signaling, thus indicating a potential novel role for GPRC5A in human epithelial cancers.
  • Bjorkgren, Ida; Alvarez, Luis; Blank, Nelli; Balbach, Melanie; Turunen, Heikki; Laajala, Teemu Daniel; Toivanen, Jussi; Krutskikh, Anton; Wahlberg, Niklas; Huhtaniemi, Ilpo; Poutanen, Matti; Wachten, Dagmar; Sipila, Petra (2016)
    During epididymal maturation, sperm acquire the ability to swim progressively by interacting with proteins secreted by the epididymal epithelium. Beta-defensin proteins, expressed in the epididymis, continue to regulate sperm motility during capacitation and hyperactivation in the female reproductive tract. We characterized the mouse beta-defensin 41 (DEFB41), by generating a mouse model with iCre recombinase inserted into the first exon of the gene. The homozygous Defb41(iCre/iCre) knock-in mice lacked Defb41 expression and displayed iCre recombinase activity in the principal cells of the proximal epididymis. Heterozygous Defb41(iCre/+) mice can be used to generate epididymis specific conditional knock-out mouse models. Homozygous Defb41(iCre/iCre) sperm displayed a defect in sperm motility with the flagella primarily bending in the pro-hook conformation while capacitated wild-type sperm more often displayed the anti-hook conformation. This led to a reduced straight line motility of Defb41(iCre/liCre) sperm and weaker binding to the oocyte. Thus, DEFB41 is required for proper sperm maturation. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Neumann, Janine R.; Dash-Wagh, Suvarna; Jack, Alexander; Raek, Andrea; Juengling, Kay; Hamad, Mohammad I. K.; Pape, Hans-Christian; Kreutz, Michael R.; Puskarjov, Martin; Wahle, Petra (2019)
    The 30-amino acid peptide Y-P30 corresponds to the N-terminus of the primate-specific, sweat gland-derived dermcidin prepropeptide. Previous work has revealed that Y-P30 enhances the interaction of pleiotrophin and syndecans-2/3, and thus represents a natural ligand to study this signaling pathway. In immature neurons, Y-P30 activates the c-Src and p42/44 ERK kinase pathway, increases the amount of F-actin in axonal growth cones, and promotes neuronal survival, cell migration and axonal elongation. The action of Y-P30 on axonal growth requires syndecan-3 and heparan sulfate side chains. Whether Y-P30 has the potential to influence dendrites and dendritic protrusions has not been explored. The latter is suggested by the observations that syndecan-2 expression increases during postnatal development, that syndecan-2 becomes enriched in dendritic spines, and that overexpression of syndecan-2 in immature neurons results in a premature morphological maturation of dendritic spines. Here, analysing rat cortical pyramidal and non-pyramidal neurons in organotypic cultures, we show that Y-P30 does not alter the development of the dendritic arborization patterns. However, Y-P30 treatment decreases the density of apical, but not basal dendritic protrusions at the expense of the filopodia. Analysis of spine morphology revealed an unchanged mushroom/stubby-to-thin spine ratio and a shortening of the longest decile of dendritic protrusions. Whole-cell recordings from cortical principal neurons in dissociated cultures grown in the presence of Y-P30 demonstrated a decrease in the frequency of glutamatergic mEPSCs. Despite these differences in protrusion morphology and synaptic transmission, the latter likely attributable to presynaptic effects, calcium event rate and amplitude recorded in pyramidal neurons in organotypic cultures were not altered by Y-P30 treatment. Together, our data suggest that Y-P30 has the capacity to decelerate spinogenesis and to promote morphological, but not synaptic, maturation of dendritic protrusions.