Metastasis is responsible for most cancer-related deaths, and, among common tumor types, melanoma is one with great potential to metastasize. Here we study the contribution of epigenetic changes to the dissemination process by analyzing the changes that occur at the DNA methylation level between primary cancer cells and metastases. We found a hypomethylation event that reactivates a cryptic transcript of the Rab GTPase activating protein TBC1D16 (TBC1D16-47 kDa; referred to hereafter as TBC1D16-47KD) to be a characteristic feature of the metastatic cascade. This short isoform of TBC1D16 exacerbates melanoma growth and metastasis both in vitro and in vivo. By combining immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry, we identified RAB5C as a new TBC1D16 target and showed that it regulates EGFR in melanoma cells. We also found that epigenetic reactivation of TBC1D16-47KD is associated with poor clinical outcome in melanoma, while conferring greater sensitivity to BRAF and MEK inhibitors.

 

The mechanisms used by antisense transcripts to regulate their corresponding sense mRNAs are not fully understood. Herein, we have addressed this issue for the vimentin (VIM) gene, a member of the intermediate filament family involved in cell and tissue integrity that is deregulated in different types of cancer. VIM mRNA levels are positively correlated with the expression of a previously uncharacterized head-to-head antisense transcript, both transcripts being silenced in colon primary tumors concomitant with promoter hypermethylation. Furthermore, antisense transcription promotes formation of an R-loop structure that can be disfavored in vitro and in vivo by ribonuclease H1 overexpression, resulting in VIM down-regulation. Antisense knockdown and R-loop destabilization both result in chromatin compaction around the VIM promoter and a reduction in the binding of transcriptional activators of the NF-κB pathway. These results are the first examples to our knowledge of R-loop–mediated enhancement of gene expression involving head-to-head antisense transcription at a cancer-related locus.

 

Monocyte-to-osteoclast conversion is a unique terminal differentiation process that is exacerbated in rheumatoid arthritis and bone metastasis. The mechanisms implicated in upregulating osteoclast-specific genes involve transcription factors, epigenetic regulators and microRNAs (miRNAs). It is less well known how downregulation of osteoclast-inappropriate genes is achieved.

In this study, analysis of miRNA expression changes in osteoclast differentiation from human primary monocytes revealed the rapid upregulation of two miRNA clusters, miR-212/132 and miR-99b/let-7e/125a. We demonstrate that they negatively target monocyte-specific and immunomodulatory genes like TNFAIP3, IGF1R and IL15. Depletion of these miRNAs inhibits osteoclast differentiation and upregulates their targets. These miRNAs are also upregulated in other inflammatory monocytic differentiation processes. Most importantly, we demonstrate for the first time the direct involvement of Nuclear Factor kappa B (NF-?B) in the regulation of these miRNAs, as well as with their targets, whereby NF-?B p65 binds the promoters of these two miRNA clusters and NF-?B inhibition or depletion results in impaired upregulation of their expression.

Vasculogenesis, the establishment of the vascular plexus and angiogenesis, branching of new vessels from the preexisting vasculature, involves coordinated endothelial differentiation, proliferation and migration. Disturbances in these coordinated processes may accompany diseases such as cancer. We hypothesized that the p53 family member p73, which regulates cell differentiation in several contexts, may be important in vascular development. We demonstrate that p73 deficiency perturbed vascular development in the mouse retina, decreasing vascular branching, density and stability. Furthermore, p73 deficiency could affect non endothelial cells (ECs) resulting in reduced in vivo proangiogenic milieu. Moreover, p73 functional inhibition, as well as p73 deficiency, hindered vessel sprouting, tubulogenesis and the assembly of vascular structures in mouse embryonic stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell cultures. Therefore, p73 is necessary for EC biology and vasculogenesis and, in particular, that DNp73 regulates EC migration and tube formation capacity by regulation of expression of pro-angiogenic factors such as transforming growth factor-β and vascular endothelial growth factors. DNp73 expression is upregulated in the tumor environment, resulting in enhanced angiogenic potential of B16-F10 melanoma cells. Our results demonstrate, by the first time, that differential p73-isoform regulation is necessary for physiological vasculogenesis and angiogenesis and DNp73 overexpression becomes a positive advantage for tumor progression due to its pro-angiogenic capacity.

 Ortiz-Marchena MI1, Albi T, Lucas-Reina E, Said FE, Romero- Campero FJ, Cano B, Ruiz MT, Romero JM, Valverde F.

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