Cancer Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 2188 Views Feb 5, 2022

Chemoresistance, the ability of cancer cells to overcome therapeutic interventions, is an area of active research. Studies on intrinsic and acquired chemoresistance have partly succeeded in elucidating some of the molecular mechanisms in this elusive phenomenon. Hence, drug-resistant cellular models are routinely developed and used to mimic the clinical scenario in-vitro. In an attempt to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms that allow ovarian cancer cells to gradually acquire chemoresistance, we have developed isogenic cellular models of cisplatin and paclitaxel resistance (singularly and in combination) over six months, using a clinically relevant modified pulse method. These models serve as important tools to investigate the underlying molecular players, modulation in genetics, epigenetics, and relevant signaling pathways, as well as to understand the role of drug detoxification and drug influx-efflux pathways in development of resistance. These models can also be used as screening tools for new therapeutic molecules. Additionally, repurposing therapeutic agents approved for diseases other than cancer have gained significant attention in improving cancer therapy. To investigate the effect of metformin on acquirement of chemoresistance, we have also developed a combinatorial model of metformin and platinum-taxol, using two different strategies. All these models were subsequently used to study modulation in receptor tyrosine kinase pathways, cancer stem cell functionalities, autophagy, metastasis, metabolic signatures, and various biological processes during development of chemoresistance. Herein, we outline the protocols used for developing these intricate resistant cellular models.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic of the step-wise development of cellular chemoresistant model.

Schema illustrating the modified pulse method for the development of individual and combinatorial resistant models. Two different cell lines (A2780 and OAW42) were exposed to drug treatment (either alone or in various combinations) of one concentration for three consecutive cycles (3×). Furthermore, the surviving cells were sub-cultured subsequently with increasing drug concentrations. After every treatment cycle, 50% of the cells were cryo-preserved for further experiments. Additionally, to check for the development of chemoresistance and to assess the changes in cell cycle during resistance development, cell viability assays and flow cytometry were performed.

0 Q&A 2646 Views Jul 20, 2021

This protocol illustrates a pipeline for modeling the nonlinear behavior of intracellular signaling pathways. At fixed spatial points, nonlinear signaling dynamics are described by ordinary differential equations (ODEs). At constant parameters, these ODEs may have multiple attractors, such as multiple steady states or limit cycles. Standard optimization procedures fine-tune the parameters for the system trajectories localized within the basin of attraction of only one attractor, usually a stable steady state. The suggested protocol samples the parameter space and captures the overall dynamic behavior by analyzing the number and stability of steady states and the shapes of the assembly of nullclines, which are determined as projections of quasi-steady-state trajectories into different 2D spaces of system variables. Our pipeline allows identifying main qualitative features of the model behavior, perform bifurcation analysis, and determine the borders separating the different dynamical regimes within the assembly of 2D parametric planes. Partial differential equation (PDE) systems describing the nonlinear spatiotemporal behavior are derived by coupling fixed point dynamics with species diffusion.

0 Q&A 4375 Views Apr 5, 2021

We have demonstrated that a specific population of ginger-derived nanoparticles (GDNP-2) could effectively target the colon, reduce colitis, and alleviate colitis-associated colon cancer. Naturally occurring GDNP-2 contains complex bioactive components, including lipids, proteins, miRNAs, and ginger secondary metabolites (gingerols and shogaols). To construct a nanocarrier that is more clearly defined than GDNP-2, we isolated lipids from GDNP-2 and demonstrated that they could self-assemble into ginger lipid-derived nanoparticles (GLDNP) in an aqueous solution. GLDNP can be used as a nanocarrier to deliver drug candidates such as 6-shogaol or its metabolites (M2 and M13) to the colon. To characterize the nanostructure of GLDNP, our lab extensively used atomic force microscopy (AFM) technique as a tool for visualizing the morphology of the drug-loaded GLDNP. Herein, we provide a detailed protocol for demonstrating such a process.

0 Q&A 5261 Views Oct 20, 2019
This protocol was designed to quantitatively measure small-molecule displacement of proteins in live mammalian cells using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy–Förster resonance energy transfer (FLIM-FRET). Tumour cell survival is often dependent on anti-apoptotic proteins, which bind to and inhibit pro-apoptotic proteins, thus preventing apoptosis. Small-molecule inhibitors that selectively target these proteins (termed BH3-mimetics) are therefore a promising avenue for the treatment of several cancers. Previous techniques used to study the efficacy of these drugs often use truncated versions of both pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins, as they are membrane bound and hydrophobic in nature. As a result, the true efficacy of these drugs to displace full-length pro-apoptotic proteins in their native environment within a cell is poorly understood. This protocol describes FLIM-FRET methods to directly measure the displacement (or lack of displacement) of full-length Bcl-2 family proteins in live mammalian cells.
0 Q&A 4949 Views Jun 20, 2019
Almost all functions of cells or organs rely on the activities of cellular enzymes. Indeed, the in-vivo activities that directly represent the cellular effects of enzymes in live organs are critical importance to appreciate the roles enzymes play in modulating physiological or pathological processes, although assessments of such in-vivo enzyme activity are more difficult than typical test-tube assays. Recently, we, for the first time, developed a direct and easy-handling method for HPLC analyzing the in-vivo activity of glucosylceramide synthase (GCS). GCS that converts ceramide into glucosylceramide is a limiting-enzyme in the syntheses of glycosphingolipids and is one cause of cancer drug resistance. In our method developed, rubusoside nanomicelles delivers fluorescence N-[6-[(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl)amino]hexanoyl]-D-erythro-sphingosine (NBD C6-ceramide) into mice, tissues uptake the cell-permeable substrate, and GCS converts it into NBD C6-glucosylceramide in all organs simultaneously. Further, HPLC analyzes the extracted NBD C6-glucosylceramide to assess alterations of the in-vivo GCS activities in tissues. This method can be broadly used to assess the in-vivo GCS activities in any kind of animal models to appreciate either the role GCS plays in diseases or the therapeutic efficacies of GCS inhibitors.
0 Q&A 5350 Views May 20, 2019
Macropinocytosis has emerged as an important mechanism for non-selective route to internalize extracellular fluids and dissolved molecules in eukaryotic cell. As fundamental cellular behavior, macropinocytosis plays specific and distinct roles in many physiological and pathological processes, such as nutrients uptake, antigen presentation, pathogen capture, and tumorigenesis. It supports tumorigenesis by providing metabolic needs to dividing cells in Ras driven cancer. In recent years, macropinocytosis has gained considerable interest in physiology and various diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and atherosclerosis, which in turn has led to the discovery of new endocytic recycling systems. Approaches to assess macropinocytosis will provide insight into its underlying regulatory molecular mechanisms and enable the physiological control of macropinocytosis for controlled drug delivery and targeted cancer therapy. Macropinocytosis is an important phenomenon in Ras-expressing cancer cells and, recently, we have revealed a functional role for macropinocytosis in cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) fueling cancer cell growth. Here, we describe a protocol for detection of macropinocytosis in prostatic fibroblasts in vitro by utilizing fluorescently-labeled, lysine-fixable, 70 kDa high molecular weight dextran. Macropinosomes are visualized as fluorescent intracellular puncta either by confocal or fluorescent microscopy. To follow, subsequent intracellular events and their underlying mechanisms after macropinosomes formation, we perform co-localization of quenched BSA (DQTM-BSA) along with dextran labeling in cancer associated fibroblasts. Our protocol provides a consistent way to understand macropinocytosis in wild type or genetic manipulated prostatic fibroblast.
0 Q&A 5005 Views Nov 20, 2018
Drug resistance is a major obstacle in cancer treatment: A case in point is the failure of cancer patients to respond to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) of EGFR, a receptor that is highly expressed in many cancers. Identification of the targets and delineation of mechanisms of drug resistance remain major challenges. Traditional pharmacological assays of drug resistance measure the response of tumor cells using cell proliferation or cell death as readouts. These assays performed using traditional plastic tissue culture plates (2D) do not translate to in vivo realities. Here, we describe a genetic screen based on phenotypic changes that can be completed over a period of 1-1½ months using functional endpoints in physiologically relevant 3D culture models. This phenotype-based assay could lead to the discovery of previously unknown therapeutic targets and could explain the source of the resistance and relapse. As a proof of principle, we performed our 3D culture assay with a small cDNA library in that yielded five unknown intermediates in EGFR and PI3K signaling pathways. Here, we describe the screening method and the characterization of one of the five molecules, but this approach could be easily expanded for a high-throughput screening to identify or evaluate many more unknown intermediates in oncogenic signaling pathways.

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