The T-Cell Oncogene Tal2 Is a Target of PU.1 and Upregulated during Osteoclastogenesis
- Transcription factors play a crucial role in regulating differentiation processes during human life and are important in disease. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors Tal1 and Lyl1 play a major role in the regulation of gene expression in the hematopoietic system and are involved in human leukemia. Tal2, which belongs to the same family of transcription factors as Tal1 and Lyl1, is also involved in human leukaemia. However, little is known regarding the expression and regulation of Tal2 in hematopoietic cells. Here we show that Tal2 is expressed in hematopoietic cells of the myeloid lineage. Interestingly, we found that usage of the Tal2 promoter is different in human and mouse cells. Two promoters, hP1 and hP2 drive Tal2 expression in human erythroleukemia K562 cells, however in mouse RAW cells only the mP1 promoter is used. Furthermore, we found that Tal2 expression is upregulated during oesteoclastogenesis. We show that Tal2 is a direct target gene of the myeloid transcription factor PU.1, which is a key transcription factor for osteoclast gene expression. Strikingly, PU.1 binding to the P1 promoter is conserved between mouse and human, but PU.1 binding to P2 was only detected in human K562 cells. Additionally, we provide evidence that Tal2 influences the expression of the osteoclastic differentiation gene TRACP. These findings provide novel insight into the expression control of Tal2 in hematopoietic cells and reveal a function of Tal2 as a regulator of gene expression during osteoclast differentiation.
A functional yeast survival screen of tumor-derived cDNA libraries designed to identify anti-apoptotic mammalian oncogenes
Inga Maria Melzer
Ralf Joachim Rieker
David Lukas Wachter
- Yeast cells can be killed upon expression of pro-apoptotic mammalian proteins. We have established a functional yeast survival screen that was used to isolate novel human anti-apoptotic genes overexpressed in treatment-resistant tumors. The screening of three different cDNA libraries prepared from metastatic melanoma, glioblastomas and leukemic blasts allowed for the identification of many yeast cell death-repressing cDNAs, including 28% of genes that are already known to inhibit apoptosis, 35% of genes upregulated in at least one tumor entity and 16% of genes described as both anti-apoptotic in function and upregulated in tumors. These results confirm the great potential of this screening tool to identify novel anti-apoptotic and tumor-relevant molecules. Three of the isolated candidate genes were further analyzed regarding their anti-apoptotic function in cell culture and their potential as a therapeutic target for molecular therapy. PAICS, an enzyme required for de novo purine biosynthesis, the long non-coding RNA MALAT1 and the MAST2 kinase are overexpressed in certain tumor entities and capable of suppressing apoptosis in human cells. Using a subcutaneous xenograft mouse model, we also demonstrated that glioblastoma tumor growth requires MAST2 expression. An additional advantage of the yeast survival screen is its universal applicability. By using various inducible pro-apoptotic killer proteins and screening the appropriate cDNA library prepared from normal or pathologic tissue of interest, the survival screen can be used to identify apoptosis inhibitors in many different systems.
Vaccination Directed against the Human Endogenous Retrovirus-K Envelope Protein Inhibits Tumor Growth in a Murine Model System
Sarah M. Büchner
Winfried S. Wels
Barbara S. Schnierle
- Human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) genomes are chromosomally integrated in all cells of an individual. They are normally transcriptionally silenced and transmitted only vertically. Enhanced expression of HERV-K accompanied by the emergence of anti-HERV-K-directed immune responses has been observed in tumor patients and HIV-infected individuals. As HERV-K is usually not expressed and immunological tolerance development is unlikely, it is an appropriate target for the development of immunotherapies. We generated a recombinant vaccinia virus (MVA-HKenv) expressing the HERV-K envelope glycoprotein (ENV), based on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), and established an animal model to test its vaccination efficacy. Murine renal carcinoma cells (Renca) were genetically altered to express E. coli beta-galactosidase (RLZ cells) or the HERV-K ENV gene (RLZ-HKenv cells). Intravenous injection of RLZ-HKenv cells into syngenic BALB/c mice led to the formation of pulmonary metastases, which were detectable by X-gal staining. A single vaccination of tumor-bearing mice with MVA-HKenv drastically reduced the number of pulmonary RLZ-HKenv tumor nodules compared to vaccination with wild-type MVA. Prophylactic vaccination of mice with MVA-HKenv precluded the formation of RLZ-HKenv tumor nodules, whereas wild-type MVA-vaccinated animals succumbed to metastasis. Protection from tumor formation correlated with enhanced HERV-K ENV-specific killing activity of splenocytes. These data demonstrate for the first time that HERV-K ENV is a useful target for vaccine development and might offer new treatment opportunities for diverse types of cancer.
Recombinant DNA-carrier proteins with improved intracellular trafficking capabilities for nonviral gene delivery
- Safety concerns associated with the use of viral vectors in gene therapy applications have attracted considerable attention towards the development of nonviral vectors as alternatives for DNA delivery. While nonviral vectors are commonly not associated with safety problems, they are still very inefficient compared to viral vectors, and require significant improvements to approach the efficiency of their viral counterparts. Meanwhile ligands or single-chain antibody fragments that bind to cell surface receptors for increased and/or specific cellular uptake, endosome escape activities, and nuclear localization sequences (NLSs) to enhance transport of plasmid DNA into the nucleus, have become available that can be incorporated into nonviral vectors to improve their efficacy. However, as gene delivery is a multistep process, the challenge is to incorporate multiple of these functional elements into a single nonviral vector system, while retaining their specific activities. A promising method to attach such entities to plasmid DNA is the use of multifunctional fusion proteins that bind to DNA through a DNA-binding domain. In principle, two types of DNA-binding domains/proteins can be used to anchor additional functional domains or peptides to a plasmid, namely sequence-specific DNA-binding domains, described in the first part of this thesis, or those that bind DNA independent of its sequence, exemplified in the second part of this work by a derivative of the human HMGB2 protein. The first fusion protein constructed and analyzed contained the E. coli LexA repressor as a sequence-specific DNA-binding domain. In addition, this DNA-carrier protein, termed TEL, included a bacterial translocation domain as an integrated endosome escape activity, and human TGF-a for specific targeting to the EGF-receptor (EGFR). TEL was expressed in E. coli and purified under both native and denaturing conditions. Purified, denatured TEL was refolded and subsequently shown to bind specifically to EGFR-expressing cells. However, inclusion of TEL in complexes of plasmid DNA and poly-L-lysine (pL) did not lead to increased gene delivery into EGFR-expressing COS-1 cells. Most likely this was due to the absence of DNA-binding activity of the LexA moiety in TEL. In contrast, native TEL was able to interact specifically with DNA. Nevertheless, since this interaction was rather weak, and refolding of denatured TEL had not resulted in functional activity of all of its protein domains, it seemed unlikely that fusion proteins containing LexA would exhibit gene transfer capabilities superior to those of similar DNA-carrier proteins previously constructed in our group. Further work therefore focused on the use of the E2C-Sp1C protein as an alternative sequencespecific DNA-binding domain. This artificial zinc-finger protein was fused to the single-chain antibody fragment scFv(FRP5), directed against the human ErbB2 growth factor receptor. The resulting 5-E2C fusion protein was expressed in E. coli and purified under native and denaturing conditions. Refolded and native 5-E2C were found to bind specifically to ErbB2-expressing cells, indicating that scFv(FRP5) in 5-E2C was functional in both preparations. In contrast, whereas refolded 5-E2C bound DNA only weakly, significant DNA binding was observed for native 5-E2C. In addition, it could not only be shown that the interaction of native 5-E2C with DNA containing its recognition sequence was specific, but also that this protein was able to bind DNA and recombinant ErbB2 simultaneously, demonstrating the functionality of both domains in native 5-E2C. Despite these encouraging results, the inclusion of native 5-E2C in pL- or polyethyleneimine (PEI)-DNA complexes did not lead to an (5-E2C-specific) enhancement of gene transfer efficiency, irrespective of the presence of the endosome-disruptive reagent chloroquine during transfection. In the second part of this thesis an alternative approach for the development of DNA-carrier proteins for nonviral gene delivery is described, based on human HMGB2, a DNA-binding protein without sequence specificity. HMGB2 contains an acidic C-terminus that has been found to decrease the affinity of the protein for DNA. Therefore, this C-terminal tail was deleted, resulting in an HMGB2-variant consisting of amino acids 1-186. HMGB2186, purified under native conditions from E. coli lysates, was able to interact with DNA and bound to the surface of different cell lines. Importantly, after binding to plasmid DNA HMGB2186 mediated gene delivery into COS-7 cells with higher efficiency than pL. In addition, HMGB2186-mediated gene transfer was strongly enhanced in the presence of chloroquine, indicating that the endocytic pathway was involved in cellular uptake. To improve internalization and intracellular routing of HMGB2186 as a DNA-carrier, a derivative containing the TAT47-57 cell-penetrating peptide (CPP), reported to facilitate cell entry independent of endocytosis, was constructed. Since this peptide also contains an NLS, in addition an HGMB2186-variant containing the SV40-NLS was constructed to investigate the effect of a peptide that has only nuclear localizing properties. Interestingly, the resulting TAT-HMGB2186 and SV40-HMGB2186 fusion proteins displayed DNA-binding activities similar to HMGB2186, but mediated gene delivery into different cell lines clearly more efficiently than the parental molecule. Furthermore, the efficacy of both fusion proteins was enhanced markedly in the presence of chloroquine, an indication that endocytosis was involved in the transfection process mediated by these proteins. This suggests that the increased transfection efficiency observed for TAT-HMGB2186 was more likely due to the NLS function present in the TAT47-57 peptide, rather than to its ‘cell penetrating properties’. Finally, the incorporation of functional peptides derived from human proteins into HMGB2186 was investigated. An uncharged CPP originating from Kaposi-FGF, reported to facilitate efficient cellular uptake of fused protein domains in an endocytosis-independent manner, was fused to HMGB2186 together with the SV40-NLS. Interestingly, the resulting KSV40-HMGB2186 fusion protein bound DNA similarly as previously tested DNA-carrier proteins, but did not mediate enhanced transfection compared to HMGB2186. In addition, the importin-b-binding (IBB) domain derived from human importin-a2 was investigated as a component of a DNA-carrier protein. Since the IBB domain can function as an NLS, it was fused to HMGB2186 resulting in the DNA-carrier protein IBBHMGB2186. Although IBB-HMGB2186 bound DNA in a similar manner as the other HMGB2186-derivatives, gene delivery mediated by IBB-HMGB2186 was only as effective as HMGB2186 mediated transfection, suggesting no significant role of the IBB domain. However, addition of chloroquine resulted in a remarkable enhancement of IBB-HMGB2186-mediated gene transfer, which was now more efficient than with any other HMGB2186-variant tested, and not much lower than gene transfer mediated by PEI, one of the most efficient transfection reagents available to date. To enhance nonviral gene delivery even further, the HMGB2186-based DNA-carrier proteins described in this thesis might now serve as building blocks for novel fusion proteins that include additional complementing activities. In this respect it seems particularly promising that, under conditions of effective end some escape, IBB-HMGB2186, which consists entirely of protein domains of human origin, was the most efficient of all proteins tested in this work.
Target-specific glioma therapy in an immunocompetent mouse model : meeting abstract
- Objective: Establishment of an immunocompetent mouse model representing the typical progressive stages observed in malignant human gliomas for the in vivo evaluation of novel target-specific regimens. Methods: Isolated clones from tumours that arose spontaneously in GFAP-v-src transgenic mice were used to develop a transplantable brain tumour model in syngeneic B6C3F1 mice. STAT3 protein was knocked down by infection of tumour cells with replication-defective lentivirus encoding STAT3-siRNA. Apoptosis is designed to be induced by soluble recombinant TRAIL + chemical Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitors. Results: Striatal implantation of 105 mouse tumour cells resulted in the robust development of microscopically (2 – 3 mm) infiltrating malignant gliomas. Immunohistochemically, the gliomas displayed the astroglial marker GFAP and the oncogenic form of STAT3 (Tyr-705-phosphorylated) which is found in many malignancies including gliomas. Phosphorylated STAT3 was particularly prominent in the nucleus but was also found at the plasma membrane of peripherally infiltrating glioma cells. To evaluate the role of STAT3 in tumour progression, we stably expressed siRNA against STAT3 in several murine glioma cell lines. The effect of STAT3 depletion on proliferation, invasion and survival will be first assessed in vitro and subsequently after transplantation in vivo. Upstream and downstream components of the STAT3 signalling pathway as well as possible non-specific side effects of STAT3-siRNA expression after lentiviral infection will be examined, too. Conclusions: Its high rate of engraftment, its similarity to the malignant glioma of origin, and its rapid locally invasive growth should make this murine model useful in testing novel therapies for malignant gliomas.
Chimeric carrier proteins for targeted delivery of tumor antigens to professional antigen presenting cells
Winfried S. Wels
- Tumor-specific T lymphocytes can be regarded as a highly effective mechanism for tumor rejection. A substantial number of T-cell defined tumor antigens including mutated oncoproteins and differentiation antigens have been identified. However, while most spontaneous tumors appear to be antigenic, few are immunogenic. Activation of tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTL) requires presentation of tumor antigens by professional antigen presenting cells (APCs) via MHC I molecules. Due to their crucial role in T-cell activation, APCs are being exploited for active cancer immunotherapy. Present experimental strategies include the incubation of dendritic cells with synthetic, tumor specific peptides to achieve uptake of tumor antigens and presentation in the context of MHC molecules. Alternatively, gene therapeutic approaches are aimed at the endogenous expression of tumor antigens in APCs upon transfer of suitable vector constructs. Our strategy for the presentation of tumor antigens by APCs is based on the intracellular delivery of tumor antigens as part of a fusion protein specifically targeted to APC cell surface receptors. We have constructed prototype molecules that contain a soluble fragment of CTLA-4 for cell binding via interaction with B7 molecules, genetically fused to a protein fragment derived from the tumor-associated antigen ErbB2. To improve uptake and direct the antigenic determinant preferentially to the MHC class I pathway, in one of these protein vaccines also the translocation domain of the bacterial Pseudomonas exotoxin A has been included. In the parental toxin this protein domain facilitates escape from the endosomal compartment to the cytosol upon receptor mediated endocytosis. Here we have investigated the in vitro cell binding activity of such reagents and their antitumoral activity in immunocompetent murine model systems. Specific binding to B7 molecules and uptake of bacterially expressed protein vaccines could be demonstrated. Ex vivo restimulation with an ErbB2-derived peptide of splenocytes from Balb/c mice injected with the fusion proteins resulted in enhanced IFN-gamma production by T cells. Protective and therapeutic effects of ErbB2 protein vaccines were also investigated. Vaccinated animals were protected against subsequent challenge with syngeneic ErbB2 expressing tumor cells. Likewise, s.c. injection of ErbB2 protein vaccines in the vicinity of established tumors resulted in tumor rejection and long lasting protection indicating that immunological memory was induced. Our results suggest that chimeric proteins combining a tumor antigen and specific recognition of APCs in a single molecule are suitable for targeted delivery of antigens to professional APCs and might become valuable tools for cancer immunotherapy.
Phage display selection of HIV specific conserved mimotopes with IgG from long-term non-progressors
- Poster presentation Background The aim of this study is to identify conserved epitopes of HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies in polyclonal plasma from LTNP to finally derive vaccine candidates. Materials and methods The presence of neutralizing antibodies in 9 LTNP sera was proved by in vitro neutralization assays. Phage displayed peptide libraries were screened with LTNP IgG. HIV-specific mimotopes were analyzed for homology to the gp120 structure by a software (3DEX) especially developed for this purpose. Mice were immunized with interesting phages and their sera were analyzed for neutralizing activities against HIV-1. Results After biopannings, between 19% and 75% HIV-specific phage clones were identified by ELISA. Mimotope sequences were identified and could be aligned by 3DEX to linear or conformational epitopes on gp120. A peptide specific immune response was detected in sera of immunized mice. The first mice sera analyzed showed neutralizing activities against HIV-1. Conclusion Mimotopes could be selected from LTNP sera that represent conformational epitopes on gp120. Those ones inducing neutralizing antibodies upon immunization potentially are suited to derive vaccine candidates.
Gunter von Minckwitz
Alexander B. Maurer
Winfried S. Wels
- Following publication of the data presented by von Minckwitz and colleagues  it has been brought to our attention that some patients should be scored differently. Stable disease was seen in three of the eighteen patients instead of two of the eighteen patients: one patient with transitional cell carcinoma treated at 4 micro g/kg scFv(FRP5)-ETA per day, and two breast cancer patients treated at 4 and 12.5 micro g/kg scFv(FRP5)-ETA per day. Disease progression occured in 9 of the eighteen patients evaluated (see corrected Table 2 overleaf). This does not affect the conclusions of our study. In addition we would like to correct the following errors: patient IDs for patients U01 and U02 in the original Table 2 were interchanged. In addition, patient N03 had a grade 3 elevation of gamma-glutamyl transferase, and not grade 2 (see corrected Table 2 overleaf). http://publikationen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/volltexte/2005/1156/
Optimization and antiviral analysis of peptide ligands for the HIV-1 packaging signal PSI
- Oral presentations Background: We selected peptide ligands for the HIV-1 packaging signal PSI by screening phage displayed peptide libraries. Peptide ligands were optimized by screening spot synthesis peptide membranes. The aim of this study is the functional characterization of these peptide ligands with respect to inhibition of HIV-1 replication. Methods: Phage displayed peptide libraries were screened with PSI-RNA structures. The Trp-rich peptide motifs were optimized for specific binding on spot synthesis peptide membranes. The best binding peptide was expressed intracellularly in fusion with RFP or linked to a protein transduction domain (PTD) for intracellular delivery. The effects on virion production were analyzed using pseudotyped lentiviral particles. Results: After positive and negative selection rounds, phages binding specifically to PSI-RNA were identified by ELISA. Peptide inserts contained conserved motifs of aromatic amino acids known to be implicated in binding of PSI-RNA by the natural Gag ligand. The filter assay identified HKWPWW as the best binding ligand for PSI-RNA, which is delivered into several cell lines by addition of a PTD. Compared to a control peptide, the HKWPWW peptide inhibited HIV-1 replication as deduced from reduced titers of culture supernatants. As HKWPWW also binds to the TAR-RNA like the natural nucleocapsid PSI-RNA ligand, the effect on Tat-TAR inhibition will also be analyzed. Currently T-cell lines are established which stably express HKWPWW as well as a control peptide, which will be infected with HIV-1 to monitor the ability of HKWPWW to inhibit wild type HIV-1 replication. Conclusion: The selection of a peptide ligand for PSI-RNA able to inhibit HIV-1 replication proves the suitability of the phage display technology for the selection of peptides binding to RNA-structures. This enables the indentification of peptides serving as leads to interfere with additional targets in the HIV-1 replication cycle.
Epigenetic aberrations and cancer
Mark A. Brown
- The correlation between epigenetic aberrations and disease underscores the importance of epigenetic mechanisms. Here, we review recent findings regarding chromatin modifications and their relevance to cancer.