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Results from studies with animal models suggest that, in many cancers, CXCR4 is an important therapeutic target and that CXCR4 antagonists may be promising treatments for primary cancers and for metastases. The Nef protein effectively competes with CXCR4’s natural ligand, SDF-1α, and induces apoptosis. As described in this report, the Nef-M1 peptide (Nef protein amino acids 50 - 60) inhibits primary tumor growth and metastasis of breast cancer (BC). Four BC cell lines (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, MCF 7, and DU4475) and primary human mammary epithelium (HME) cells were evaluated for their response to the Nef protein and to the Nef-M1 peptide. The presence of CXCR4 receptors in these cells was determined by RT-PCR, Western blot (WB), and immunohistochemical analyses. The apoptotic effect of Nef-M1 was assessed by terminal transferase dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL). WBs was used to assess caspase 3 activation. BC xenografts grown in SCID mice were evaluated for the presence of CXCR4 and for their metastatic potential. CXCR4 was presented in MDA-MB-231, MCF 7, and DU 4475 BC cells but not in MDA-MB-468 BC or HME cells. Cells expressing CXCR4 and treated with Nef-M1 peptide or the Nef protein had higher rates of apoptosis than untreated cells. Caspase-3 activation increased in MDA-MB 231 cells treated with the Nef protein, the Nef 41 - 60 peptide, or Nef-M1. Nef-M1, administered to mice starting at the time of xenograft implantation, inhibited growth of primary tumors and metastatic spread. Untreated mice developed diffuse intraperitoneal metastases. We conclude that, in BCs, Nef-M1, through interaction with CXCR4, inhibits primary tumor growth and metastasis by causing apoptosis.
Small RNAs are found in eukaryotes and are responsible for regulation of chromatin structure, RNA processing and stability, translation and transcription. 24-nt small interfering RNA (siRNA) are known to mediate gene inactivation via the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway (RdDM) and are important for natural heritable changes in plant species. DNA cytosine methylation can be maintained between generations and this may be important for accelerated adaption to stress conditions. Research is currently focused toward the epigenetic response to disease, the stability of DNA methylation over generations, the elucidation of newly discovered pathways for de novo DNA methylation, and the application of epigenetic variation to breeding programs. This review aims to give a brief but comprehensive examination on small RNAs and transgenerational epigenetic variation.