Chester Medical School run research programmes jointly with the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (COCH) and other hospital trusts that are relevant at regional, national and international level.

Recent Submissions

  • Two independent proteomic approaches provide a comprehensive analysis of the synovial fluid proteome response to Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation

    Hulme, Charlotte H.; Wilson, Emma L.; Fuller, Heidi R.; Roberts, Sally; Richardson, James B.; Gallacher, Pete; Peffers, Mandy J.; Shirran, Sally L.; Botting, Catherine H.; Wright, Karina T.; Keele University; Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital; University of Chester; University of Liverpool; University of St Andrews (BioMed Central, 2018-05-02)
    Background: Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) has a failure rate of approximately 20%, but it is yet to be fully understood why. Biomarkers are needed that can pre-operatively predict in which patients it is likely to fail, so that alternative or individualised therapies can be offered. We previously used label-free quantitation (LF) with a dynamic range compression proteomic approach to assess the synovial fluid (SF) of ACI responders and non-responders. However, we were able to identify only a few differentially abundant proteins at baseline. In the present study, we built upon these previous findings by assessing higher-abundance proteins within this SF, providing a more global proteomic analysis on the basis of which more of the biology underlying ACI success or failure can be understood. Methods: Isobaric tagging for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) proteomic analysis was used to assess SF from ACI responders (mean Lysholm improvement of 33; n = 14) and non-responders (mean Lysholm decrease of 14; n = 13) at the two stages of surgery (cartilage harvest and chondrocyte implantation). Differentially abundant proteins in iTRAQ and combined iTRAQ and LF datasets were investigated using pathway and network analyses. Results: iTRAQ proteomic analysis confirmed our previous finding that there is a marked proteomic shift in response to cartilage harvest (70 and 54 proteins demonstrating ≥ 2.0-fold change and p < 0.05 between stages I and II in responders and non-responders, respectively). Further, it highlighted 28 proteins that were differentially abundant between responders and non-responders to ACI, which were not found in the LF study, 16 of which were altered at baseline. The differential expression of two proteins (complement C1s subcomponent and matrix metalloproteinase 3) was confirmed biochemically. Combination of the iTRAQ and LF proteomic datasets generated in-depth SF proteome information that was used to generate interactome networks representing ACI success or failure. Functional pathways that are dysregulated in ACI non-responders were identified, including acute-phase response signalling. Conclusions: Several candidate biomarkers for baseline prediction of ACI outcome were identified. A holistic overview of the SF proteome in responders and non-responders to ACI  has been profiled, providing a better understanding of the biological pathways underlying clinical outcome, particularly the differential response to cartilage harvest in non-responders.
  • The experience of stigma in inflammatory bowel disease: an interpretive (hermeneutic) phenomenological study

    Dibley, Lesley; Norton, Christine; Whitehead, Elizabeth; University of Chester (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2017-12-05)
    Aim to explore experiences of stigma in people with inflammatory bowel disease. Background Diarrhoea, urgency and incontinence are common symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease. Social rules stipulate full control of bodily functions in adulthood: poor control may lead to stigmatisation, affecting patients’ adjustment to disease. Disease-related stigma is associated with poorer clinical outcomes but qualitative evidence is minimal. Design An interpretive (hermeneutic) phenomenological study of the lived experience of stigma in inflammatory bowel disease. Methods Forty community-dwelling adults with a self-reported diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease were recruited purposively. Participants reported feeling stigmatised or not and experiencing faecal incontinence or not. Unstructured interviews took place in participants’ homes in the United Kingdom (September 2012 – May 2013). Data were analysed using Diekelmann's interpretive method. Findings Three constitutive patterns - Being in and out of control, Relationships and social Support and Mastery and mediation - reveal the experience of disease-related stigma, occurring regardless of continence status and because of name and type of disease. Stigma recedes when mastery over disease is achieved through development of resilience - influenced by humour, perspective, mental wellbeing and upbringing (childhood socialisation about bodily functions). People travel in and out of stigma, dependent on social relationships with others including clinicians and tend to feel less stigmatised over time. Conclusion Emotional control, social support and mastery over disease are key to stigma reduction. By identifying less resilient patients, clinicians can offer appropriate support, accelerating the patient's path towards disease acceptance and stigma reduction.
  • Nicotinamide alone accelerates the conversion of mouse embryonic stem cells into mature neuronal populations.

    Griffin, Sile M.; Pickard, Mark R.; Orme, Rowan P.; Hawkins, Clive P.; Williams, Adrian C.; Fricker, Rosemary A.; Keele University; University of Chester; University Hospital of North Staffordshire; University of Birmingham (Public Library of Science, 2017-08-17)
    Vitamin B3 has been shown to play an important role during embryogenesis. Specifically, there is growing evidence that nicotinamide, the biologically active form of vitamin B3, plays a critical role as a morphogen in the differentiation of stem cells to mature cell phenotypes, including those of the central nervous system (CNS). Detailed knowledge of the action of small molecules during neuronal differentiation is not only critical for uncovering mechanisms underlying lineage-specification, but also to establish more effective differentiation protocols to obtain clinically relevant cells for regenerative therapies for neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington's disease (HD). Thus, this study aimed to investigate the potential of nicotinamide to promote the conversion of stem cells to mature CNS neurons. METHODS: Nicotinamide was applied to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC; Sox1GFP knock-in 46C cell line) during their conversion towards a neural fate. Cells were assessed for changes in their proliferation, differentiation and maturation; using immunocytochemistry and morphometric analysis methods. RESULTS: Results presented indicate that 10 mM nicotinamide, when added at the initial stages of differentiation, promoted accelerated progression of ESCs to a neural lineage in adherent monolayer cultures. By 14 days in vitro (DIV), early exposure to nicotinamide was shown to increase the numbers of differentiated βIII-tubulin-positive neurons. Nicotinamide decreased the proportion of pluripotent stem cells, concomitantly increasing numbers of neural progenitors at 4 DIV. These progenitors then underwent rapid conversion to neurons, observed by a reduction in Sox 1 expression and decreased numbers of neural progenitors in the cultures at 14 DIV. Furthermore, GABAergic neurons generated in the presence of nicotinamide showed increased maturity and complexity of neurites at 14 DIV. Therefore, addition of nicotinamide alone caused an accelerated passage of pluripotent cells through lineage specification and further to non-dividing mature neurons. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that, within an optimal dose range, nicotinamide is able to singly and selectively direct the conversion of embryonic stem cells to mature neurons, and therefore may be a critical factor for normal brain development, thus supporting previous evidence of the fundamental role of vitamins and their metabolites during early CNS development. In addition, nicotinamide may offer a simple effective supplement to enhance the conversion of stem cells to clinically relevant neurons.
  • Retroviral insertional mutagenesis implicates E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF168 in the control of cell proliferation and survival

    Kizilors, Aytug; Pickard, Mark R.; Schulte, Cathleen E.; Yacqub-Usman, Kiren; McCarthy, Nicola J.; Gan, Shu-Uin; Darling, David; Gäken, Joop; Williams, Gwyn T.; Farzaneh, Farzin; Kings College London; Keele University; University of Chester; University of Nottingham; National University of Singapore (Portland Press, 2017-08-14)
    The E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF168 is a ring finger protein that has previously been identified to play an important regulatory role in the repair of double-strand DNA breaks. In the present study, an unbiased forward genetics functional screen in mouse granulocyte/ macrophage progenitor cell line FDCP1 has identified E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF168 as a key regulator of cell survival and proliferation. Our data indicate that RNF168 is an important component of the mechanisms controlling cell fate, not only in human and mouse haematopoietic growth factor-dependent cells, but also in the human breast epithelial cell line MCF-7. These observations therefore suggest that RNF168 provides a connection to key pathways controlling cell fate, potentially through interaction with PML nuclear bodies and/or epigenetic control of gene expression. Our study is the first to demonstrate a critical role for RNF168 in the in the mechanisms regulating cell proliferation and survival, in addition to its well-established role in DNA repair.
  • PWE-055 Stigma in inflammatory bowel disease: building resilience

    Dibley, L.; Norton, C.; Mason-Whitehead, Elizabeth; Kings College; University of Chester (BMJ Publishing Group, 2015-06-01)
    qualitative study aimed to: a) understand the experience of stigma in people with IBD and whether stigma derives from the bowel disorder diagnosis or from related FI; b) understand how stigma affects social, personal and emotional wellbeing, and how people with IBD manage these issues. Using purposive stratified sampling, 40 members of a UK IBD charity were recruited. Participants self-identified as having FI or not, and feeling stigmatised or not.
  • Autologous chondrocyte implantation-derived synovial fluids display distinct responder and non-responder proteomic profiles

    Hulme, Charlotte H.; Wilson, Emma L.; Peffers, Mandy J.; Roberts, Sally; Simpson, Deborah M.; Richardson, James B.; Gallacher, Pete; Wright, Karina T.; Keele University; Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital; University of Chester; University of Liverpool (BioMed Central, 2017-06-30)
    Background Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) can be used in the treatment of focal cartilage injuries to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis (OA). However, we are yet to understand fully why some individuals do not respond well to this intervention. Identification of a reliable and accurate biomarker panel that can predict which patients are likely to respond well to ACI is needed in order to assign the patient to the most appropriate therapy. This study aimed to compare the baseline and mid-treatment proteomic profiles of synovial fluids (SFs) obtained from responders and non-responders to ACI. Methods SFs were derived from 14 ACI responders (mean Lysholm improvement of 33 (17–54)) and 13 non-responders (mean Lysholm decrease of 14 (4–46)) at the two stages of surgery (cartilage harvest and chondrocyte implantation). Label-free proteome profiling of dynamically compressed SFs was used to identify predictive markers of ACI success or failure and to investigate the biological pathways involved in the clinical response to ACI. Results Only 1 protein displayed a ≥2.0-fold differential abundance in the preclinical SF of ACI responders versus non-responders. However, there is a marked difference between these two groups with regard to their proteome shift in response to cartilage harvest, with 24 and 92 proteins showing ≥2.0-fold differential abundance between Stages I and II in responders and non-responders, respectively. Proteomic data has been uploaded to ProteomeXchange (identifier: PXD005220). We have validated two biologically relevant protein changes associated with this response, demonstrating that matrix metalloproteinase 1 was prominently elevated and S100 calcium binding protein A13 was reduced in response to cartilage harvest in non-responders. Conclusions The differential proteomic response to cartilage harvest noted in responders versus non-responders is completely novel. Our analyses suggest several pathways which appear to be altered in non-responders that are worthy of further investigation to elucidate the mechanisms of ACI failure. These protein changes highlight many putative biomarkers that may have potential for prediction of ACI treatment success.
  • Magnetic nanoparticle-mediated gene delivery to two- and three-dimensional neural stem cell cultures: magnet-assisted transfection and multifection approaches to enhance outcomes

    Pickard, Mark R.; Adams, Christopher F.; Chari, Divya M.; University of Chester; Keele University (Wiley, 2017-02-02)
    Neural stem cells (NSCs) have high translational potential in transplantation therapies for neural repair. Enhancement of their therapeutic capacity by genetic engineering is an important goal for regenerative neurology. Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) are major non-viral vectors for safe bioengineering of NSCs, offering critical translational benefits over viral vectors, including safety, scalability, and ease of use. This unit describes protocols for the production of suspension (neurosphere) and adherent (monolayer) murine NSC cultures. Genetic engineering of NSCs with MNPs and the application of 'magnetofection' (magnetic fields) or 'multifection' (repeat transfection) approaches to enhance gene delivery are described. Magnetofection of monolayer cultures achieves optimal transfection, but neurospheres offer key advantages for neural graft survival post-transplantation. A protocol is presented which allows the advantageous features of each approach to be combined into a single procedure for transplantation. The adaptation of these protocols for other MNP preparations is considered, with emphasis on the evaluation of procedural safety.
  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms following metal-on-metal implant failure with cobalt and chromium toxicity

    Green, Ben; Griffiths, Emily; Almond, Solomon; University of Chester; Public Health England (BioMed Central, 2016-01-24)
    Background: There were at least 31,171 metal-on-metal (MoM) hip implants in the UK between 2003 and 2011. Some of these were subject to failure and widescale recalls and revisions followed. Method This is a presentation of ten cases (mean age 60 years) where we evaluated neuropsychiatric morbidity following metal-on-metal hip implant failure and revision. Implants were ASR total hip replacement (acetabular implant, taper sleeve adaptor and unipolar femoral implants) performed between 2005 and 2009. This case series describes, for the first time, neuropsychiatric complications after revision where there has been cobalt and chromium toxicity. Results Pre-revision surgery, nine patients had toxic levels of chromium and cobalt (mean level chromium 338 nmol/l, mean cobalt 669.4 nmol/l). Depression assessment showed 9 of 9 respondents fulfilled the BDI criteria for depression and 3 of these were being treated. 7 of 9 patients showing short term memory deficit with mean mini mental state examination score of 24.2. The normal population mean MMSE for this group would be expected to be 28 with <25 indicating possible dementia. Conclusions We found neurocognitive and depressive deficits after cobalt and chromium metallosis following MoM implant failure. Larger studies of neurocognitive effects are indicated in this group. There may be implications for public health.
  • Targeting long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) with oligonucleotides in cancer therapy

    Pickard, Mark R.; Williams, Gwyn T.; University of Chester; Keele University (AME Publishing Company, 2016-10)
    No abstract
  • Long non-coding RNAs: new opportunities and old challenges in cancer therapy

    Williams, Gwyn T.; Pickard, Mark R.; Keele University; University of Chester (AME Publishing Company, 2016-09)
    No abstract - invited commentary
  • Accelerated and efficient neuronal differentiation of Sox1GFP mouse embryonic stem cells in vitro using nicotinamide

    Griffin, Sile; Pickard, Mark R.; Fricker, Rosemary; Keele University, United Kingdom (NECTAR (Network of European CNS Transplantation and Restoration) 24th Annual Meeting, 27/28th November 2014, Galway, Ireland, 2014)
    A major challenge for advancement of clinical neuronal replacement therapies is the production of high yields of purified neuronal populations of appropriate phenotype with control over proliferation to prevent tumorigenesis. We previously reported that treatment of mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC;46CSox1GFP reporter cell line) monolayer cultures with the vitamin B3 metabolite nicotinamide at the early onset of development not only increased the efficiency of neuronal generation by two-fold but also enriched the ratio of purified neurons to non-neuronal cells in culture. This study aimed to investigate if nicotinamide enhances neural induction in this model and whether it also promotes the production/differentiation of specific neuronal subtypes. To address these aims, monolayer mESC cultures were treated with nicotinamide (10 mM) for different durations and immunocytochemistry/fluorescence microscopy was performed to assess the expression of stem cell, neural progenitor (NP) and neuronal subtype markers. Morphometric analyses were also performed to assess the extent of differentiation. Nicotinamide treatment significantly decreased Oct4+ pluripotent cells and concomitantly increased GFP+ cells at day 4, suggesting enhanced neural lineage commitment. By day 14, nicotinamide treatment (from day 0-7) reduced both Oct4+ and GFP expression concomitant with enhanced expression of neuron-specific β-tubulin, indicative of accelerated neuronal differentiation. Nicotinamide selectively enhanced the production of catecholaminergic, serotonergic and GABAergic neurons and, moreover, enhanced various aspects of neuronal morphology and maturation. Collectively, these data demonstrate a direct effect of nicotinamide at the initial stages of embryonic stem cell differentiation which could be critical for rapidly andefficiently promoting neural commitment to highly enriched neuronal lineages. The strong clinical potential of nicotinamide could successfully be applied to future neural cell-based therapies including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, both to eradicate proliferating cells and for a more enhanced and specific differentiation
  • Regulation of the cell cycle and cell death by protein phosphatase 4 in breast cancer cell lines

    Mohammed, Hiba N.; Pickard, Mark R.; Williams, Gwyn T.; Mourtada-Maarabouni, Mirna; Keele University, United Kingdom (NCRI Cancer Conference 2014 Abstracts, 2014)
    Background At the molecular level, cell death is often regulated by the level of phosphorylation of particular proteins, i.e. by the balance of between opposing kinase and phosphatase activities on those proteins. Protein phosphatase 4 (PP4) is a PP2A-related serine/threonine phosphatase. PP2A has already been implicated in the control of cell proliferation, cell cycle and tumorigenesis. Using a functional expression cloning strategy, we have previously identified the catalytic subunit of PP4 (PP4c) as an important gene influencing the regulation of both apoptosis and cell proliferation in human leukaemic cell lines and in normal lymphocytes. The aims of this study were to examine the effects of PP4c overexpression and silencing on the cell death and survival of breast cancer cell lines. Method MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells were transfected with pcDNA3.1 encoding PP4c (pcDNA3-PP4c) or siRNAs to different PP4c sequences. Cells transfected with scrambled siRNA or empty vector were considered as controls. Culture viability, apoptosis and cell cycle were assessed post transfection. Results In MCF7 and metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells, PP4c over-expression exerted an inhibitory effect on cell proliferation, enhanced spontaneous apoptosis and decreased their colony forming ability. Conversely, siRNA mediated silencing of PP4 enhanced the proliferation and survival of MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, affected cell cycle kinetics by enhancing the proportion of cells in S and G2/M phases, increased the colony forming ability and stimulated the anchorage independent growth. Conclusion PP4c promotes cell death and inhibits proliferation in breast cells, suggestive of a role of PP4c as tumour suppressor gene. Down regulation of PP4c expression increases cell survival, proliferation and anchorage independent growth of breast cancer cells, indicating a potential link between the PP4c expression levels, tumorigenesis and metastasis.
  • The hormone response element mimic sequence of GAS5 lncRNA is sufficient to induce apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines – towards oligonucleotide therapies?

    Pickard, Mark R.; Williams, Gwyn T.; Keele University, United Kingdom (NCRI Cancer Conference 2014 Abstracts, 2014)
    Background Growth arrest-specific 5 (GAS5), a non-protein coding gene, encodes snoRNAs and lncRNA; transcript levels are controlled by the mTOR and nonsense-mediated decay pathways. GAS5 lncRNA promotes the apoptosis of breast cells, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells, but its expression is down-regulated in breast cancer. Rapalogues enhance GAS5 levels in oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells but not in TNBC cells, so that mTOR inhibitor-independent induction of GAS5 may be more productive in enhancing apoptotic responses to therapies. Notably, GAS5 lncRNA acts by riborepression of glucocorticoid/related receptors; a stem-loop sequence constitutes the GAS5 hormone response element mimic (HREM). The aim of this study was to determine if the GAS5 HREM sequence alone is sufficient to promote the apoptosis of breast cancer cells. Method Cells were nucleofected with a DNA oligonucleotide corresponding to the GAS5 lncRNA HREM; controls received oligonucleotides either with scrambled GAS5 sequence or retaining stem-loop structure but lacking the GAS5 HRE consensus; mock-transfected cells were also studied. Cells were irradiated with ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light at 20 h post-transfection to induce apoptosis. Culture viability and apoptosis were assessed and cellular GAS5 levels were determined by RT-qPCR. Results The basal apoptotic rate almost doubled in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells transfected with the HREM oligonucleotide compared with controls. This effect was apparent at 20 h post­-transfection, and a corresponding decrease was observed in culture viability. The HREM sequence also enhanced UV-C-induced apoptosis in an additive manner in both cell lines. Endogenous GAS5 lncRNA expression was unaffected by transfection of the HREM sequence. Conclusion The GAS5 lncRNA HREM is sufficient to induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells, including TNBC cells. This study serves as an exemplar of how emerging knowledge of biologically important lncRNAs may be exploited towards the development of novel oncotherapeutic agents.
  • GAS5 lncRNA Modulates the Action of mTOR Inhibitors in Prostate Cancer Cells

    Yacqub-Usman, Kiren; Pickard, Mark R.; Williams, Gwyn T.; Keele University, United Kingdom (NCRI Cancer Conference 2014 Abstracts, 2014)
    Background There is a need to develop new therapies for castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and growth arrest-specific 5 (GAS5) long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), which riborepresses androgen receptor action, may offer novel opportunities in this regard. GAS5 lncRNA expression declines as prostate cancer cells acquire castrate-resistance, and decreased GAS5 expression attenuates the responses of prostate cancer cells to apoptotic stimuli. Enhancing GAS5 lncRNA expression may therefore offer a strategy to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents. GAS5 is a member of the 5' terminal oligopyrimidine gene family, and we have therefore examined if mTOR inhibition can enhance cellular GAS5 levels in prostate cancer cells. In addition, we have determined if GAS5 lncRNA itself is required for mTOR inhibitor action in prostate cancer cells, as recently demonstrated in lymphoid cells. Method The effects of mTOR inhibitors on GAS5 lncRNA expression and cell proliferation were determined in a range of prostate cancer cell lines. Transfection of cells with GAS5 siRNA and plasmid constructs was performed to determine the involvement of GAS5 lncRNA in mTOR inhibitor action. Results Treatment with rapamycin and rapalogues increased cellular GAS5 levels and inhibited culture growth in both androgen-dependent (LNCaP) and androgen-sensitive (22Rv1) cell lines, but not in androgen-independent (PC-3 and DU145) cells. GAS5 silencing in both LNCaP and 22Rv1 cells decreased their sensitivity to growth inhibition by mTOR inhibitors. Moreover, transfection of GAS5 lncRNA sensitized PC-3 and DU145 cells to mTOR inhibitors, resulting in inhibition of culture growth. Conclusion mTOR inhibition enhances GAS5 transcript levels in some, but not all, prostate cancer cell lines. This may in part be related to endogenous levels of GAS5 expression, which tend to be lower in prostate cancer cells representative of advanced disease, particularly since current findings demonstrate a role for GAS5 lncRNA in mTOR inhibitor action in prostate cancer cells.
  • Interactions between PP4 and PEA-15 in the regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis of breast cancer cells

    Mohammed, Hiba N.; Pickard, Mark R.; Mourtada-Maarabouni, Mirna; Keele University, United Kingdom (NCRI Cancer Conference 2015 Abstracts, 2015)
    Background The serine/threonine protein phosphatase 4 (PP4) is recognised to regulate a variety of cellular functions. Our previous work has shown that the catalytic subunit of PP4 (PP4c) promotes cell death and inhibits proliferation in breast cancer cells, suggestive of a role of PP4c as tumour suppressor gene. Phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes 15 (PEA-15), a member of the death effector domain protein family known to control cell survival, is reported to be regulated by PP4c. The aims of this study were to investigate the involvement of PEA-15 in mediating the effects of PP4c on breast cancer cells. Method PEA-15 phosphorylation was examined by western blot analysis on proteins extracted from MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells over-expressing PP4 and PP4 knock down cells. To investigate the role of PEA-15 in mediating the effects of PP4c, MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 were transfected with control (-) siRNA or with three different PEA-15 specific siRNAs. 48 h post-transfection, control cells (transfected with negative control siRNA) and cells transfected with PEA-15 siRNAs were transiently transfected with pcDNA3.1-PP4c expression construct or pcDNA3.1. Cell viability and apoptosis level were assessed post transfection. Results In MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, the phosphorylation state of PEA-15 increased when PP4c expression was suppressed and decreased when PP4c was over-expressed. Over-expression of PP4c in cells transfected with (-) siRNA caused 50% reduction in viability compared to cells transfected with empty vector. Cells transfected with PEA-15 siRNAs showed a decrease in viable cell number and long term survival. However, over-expression of PP4c in these cells did not have any additional effect on the decrease in cell viability. Conclusion These observations suggest that the induction of apoptosis by over-expression of PP4c is mediated, at least in part, by the dephosphorylation of PEA-15. The interactions between PEA-15 and PP4c may therefore be critical in breast cancer tumorigenesis.
  • The long non-coding RNA NEAT1 regulates cell survival in breast cancer cell lines

    Almnaseer, Zainab; Pickard, Mark R.; Mourtada-Maarabouni, Mirna; Keele University, United Kingdom (NCRI Cancer Conference 2015 Abstracts, 2015)
    Background Nuclear long non-coding RNAs (LncRNAs) regulate various cellular processes including the organization of nuclear sub-structures, the alteration of chromatin state, and the regulation of gene expression. Nuclear Enriched Abundant Transcript 1 (NEAT1) is a nuclear lncRNA transcribed from chromosome 11q13. Two transcripts are produced from the NEAT1 gene, 3.7-kb NEAT1_v1 and 23-kb NEAT1_v2. Both isoforms participate in the formation of the nuclear paraspeckles . NEAT1 is reported to be overexpressed in prostate cancer and a direct transcriptional target of hypoxia-inducible factor in many breast cancer cell lines. The aims of this study were to determine the effects of silencing NEAT1 on breast cancer cell survival. Method MCF7 and MDA-MB 231 cells were transfected with siRNAs to different NEAT1 sequences or NEAT1 antisense oligonucleotides (ASO). Controls received scrambled siRNA or scrambled oligonucleotide, as appropriate. In some experiments, cells were exposed to ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light post-transfection to induce apoptosis, and then culture viability and apoptosis were assessed. NEAT1 expression was evaluated by qRT-PCR TaqMan® analysis. Results In MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, siRNA-mediated silencing of NEAT1 reduced basal survival and after UV-C irradiation and decreased their colony forming ability. NEAT1 ASOs were more effective in silencing NEAT1 and caused a greater reduction in cell viability. NEAT1 silencing also affected cell cycle profile by enhancing the proportion of cells in G0/G1 phase. Conclusion NEAT1 regulates the survival of Breast cells. Down regulation of NEAT1 expression decreased cell survival, proliferation and modulated cell cycle progression of breast cancer cells, indicating a link between the NEAT1 expression levels and carcinogenesis of breast cancer.
  • The influence of nicotinamide on the development of neurons

    Griffin, Sile; Pickard, Mark R.; Orme, Rowan; Hawkins, Clive; Williams, Adrian; Chari, Divya M.; Fricker, Rosemary; Keele University, University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom (2014-10)
    A major challenge in translating the promise of stem cell therapies to treat a myriad of neurodegenerative disorders is to rapidly and efficiently direct pluripotent stem cells to generate differentiated neurons. The application of active vitamin metabolites known to function in embryonic development and maintenance in the adult brain such as retinoic acid (vitamin A), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and calcitriol (vitamin D3) have proven effective in current in-vitro differentiation protocols. Therefore, in this study we investigated whether the biologically active vitamin B3 metabolite, nicotinamide could enhance the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells, cultured as monolayers, into mature neurons at either early or late stages of development. Interestingly, nicotinamide elicited a dose-responsive increase in the percentage of neurons when added at an early developmental stage to the cells undergoing differentiation (days 0–7). Nicotinamide (10 mM) increased the proportion of β-III tubulin positive neurons by two fold and concomitantly decreased the total number of cells in culture, measured by quantification of 4′, 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole positive cells. This effect could result from induction of cell-cycle exit and/or selective cell death in non-neural populations. Higher levels of nicotinamide (20 mM) induced cytoxicity and cell death. This study supports previous evidence that vitamins and their metabolites can efficiently direct stem cells into neurons. Current work is focusing on the effect of nicotinamide on the process of neural induction and whether nicotinamide influences the generation of particular neuronal subtypes implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, specifically focusing on midbrain dopamine neurons; towards a therapy for Parkinson's disease.
  • The protein phosphatase 4 - PEA15 axis regulates the survival of breast cancer cells

    Mohammed, Hiba N.; Pickard, Mark R.; Mourtada-Maarabouni, Mirna; Keele University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2016-06-15)
    BACKGROUND: The control of breast cell survival is of critical importance for preventing breast cancer initiation and progression. The activity of many proteins which regulate cell survival is controlled by reversible phosphorylation, so that the relevant kinases and phosphatases play crucial roles in determining cell fate. Several protein kinases act as oncoproteins in breast cancer and changes in their activities contribute to the process of transformation. Through counteracting the activity of oncogenic kinases, the protein phosphatases are also likely to be important players in breast cancer development, but this class of molecules is relatively poorly understood. Here we have investigated the role of the serine/threonine protein phosphatase 4 in the control of cell survival of breast cancer cells. METHODS: The breast cancer cell lines, MCF7 and MDA-MB-231, were transfected with expression vectors encoding the catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 4 (PP4c) or with PP4c siRNAs. Culture viability, apoptosis, cell migration and cell cycle were assessed. The involvement of phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes 15kDa (PEA15) in PP4c action was investigated by immunoblotting approaches and by siRNA-mediated silencing of PEA15. RESULTS: In this study we showed that PP4c over-expression inhibited cell proliferation, enhanced spontaneous apoptosis and decreased the migratory and colony forming abilities of breast cancer cells. Moreover, PP4c down-regulation produced complementary effects. PP4c is demonstrated to regulate the phosphorylation of PEA15, and PEA15 itself regulates the apoptosis of breast cancer cells. The inhibitory effects of PP4c on breast cancer cell survival and growth were lost in PEA15 knockdown cells, confirming that PP4c action is mediated, at least in part, through the de-phosphorylation of apoptosis regulator PEA15. CONCLUSION: Our work shows that PP4 regulates breast cancer cell survival and identifies a novel PP4c-PEA15 signalling axis in the control of breast cancer cell survival. The dysfunction of this axis may be important in the development and progression of breast cancer.
  • The Hormone Response Element Mimic Sequence of GAS5 LncRNA is Sufficient to Induce Apoptosis in Breast Cancer Cell Lines

    Pickard, Mark R.; Williams, Gwyn T.; Keele University, United Kingdom (2015)
    Growth arrest-specific 5 (GAS5) encodes snoRNAs and lncRNA. The latter promotes apoptosis, but its expression is down-regulated in breast cancer. The mTOR and nonsense-mediated decay pathways together regulate GAS5 transcript levels but rapalogues fail to enhance GAS5 levels in triple-negative breast cancer cells, so that mTOR inhibitor-independent induction of GAS5 may be more productive in enhancing apoptotic responses to therapies in breast cancer. Notably, GAS5 lncRNA acts by riborepression of glucocorticoid/related receptors; a stem-loop sequence constitutes the GAS5 hormone response element mimic (HREM). The aim of this study was to determine if the GAS5 HREM sequence alone is sufficient to promote the apoptosis of breast cancer cells. Cells were nucleofected with a DNA oligonucleotide corresponding to the GAS5 lncRNA HREM; controls received oligonucleotides either with scrambled GAS5 sequence or with stem complementarity present but lacking the GAS5 HRE consensus. Cells were irradiated with ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light at 20 h post-transfection to induce apoptosis. The basal apoptotic rate almost doubled in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells transfected with the HREM oligonucleotide compared with controls. This effect was apparent at 20 h post¬-transfection, and a corresponding decrease was observed in culture viability; clonogenic activity was also impaired. The HREM sequence also enhanced UV-C-induced apoptosis in an additive manner in both cell lines. Endogenous GAS5 lncRNA expression was unaffected by transfection of the HREM sequence. Thus the GAS5 lncRNA HREM is sufficient to induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells, including TNBC cells and this may serve as the basis for the development of novel oligonucleotide cancer therapies. Funded by the Breast Cancer Campaign.
  • Anti-epileptic drugs and bone loss: phenytoin reduces pro-collagen I and alters the electrophoretic mobility of osteonectin in cultured bone cells.

    Wilson, Emma L.; Garton, Mark; Fuller, Heidi R.; RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital; RJAH Orthopaedic NHS Foundation Trust; Keele University (Elsevier, 2016-05)
    Phenytoin is an antiepileptic drug used in the management of partial and tonic-clonic seizures. In previous studies we have shown that valproate, another antiepileptic drug, reduced the amount of two key bone proteins, pro-collagen I and osteonectin (SPARC, BM-40), in both skin fibroblasts and cultured osteoblast-like cells. Here we show that phenytoin also reduces pro-collagen I production in osteoblast-like cells, but does not appear to cause a decrease in osteonectin message or protein production. Instead, a 24h exposure to a clinically relevant concentration of phenytoin resulted in a dose-dependent change in electrophoretic mobility of osteonectin, which was suggestive of a change in post-translational modification status. The perturbation of these important bone proteins could be one of the mechanisms to explain the bone loss that has been reported following long-term treatment with phenytoin.

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