Nuclear Receptors in Lung Cancer



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Lung Cancer is a fatal disease with new diagnoses of more than 150,000 Americans every year. Although it has a relatively well-known etiology (e.g. smoking) and has been widely researched, clinical tools and markers for early diagnosis, prognostic prediction, and therapeutic interventions remain limited. Here, for the first time, I propose a novel translational approach for providing diagnostic, prognostic, mechanistic, and therapeutic information by studying of the expression of the nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily in lung cancer. Using quantitative real-time PCR, mRNA expression levels for the 48 members of the NR superfamily were profiled in 56 lung cell lines. Based on the resulting dataset, further analysis was performed to show the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of the NR profile using both an in vitro cell response assay and an in vivo mouse xenograft model with cognate ligand treatment for selected nuclear receptors. In addition, the NR profiles of 30 microdissected and pair-matched patient tissue samples provided a subset of NRs showing dramatic differences in expression and subgroupings that demonstrate individual variations between the normal and corresponding tumor. Furthermore, I identified several individual NRs as well as a subgroup of NRs with prognostic power. The relevance of NRs to disease pathogenesis was then studied in genetically manipulated human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC3) and in transgenic K-rasV12 mice, a well-known genetic model for lung adenocarcinoma. In the HBEC3 panel, the induced expression of peroxisome proliferator activating receptor gamma (PPARγ) in the parental HBEC3 introduced by oncogenic K-rasV12 is decreased in a subset of tumorigenic clones derived from the parental cells. It appears to be strongly correlated to the expression of cylooxygenase 2 (COX2), which is shown to be decreased with PPARγ ligand treatment. In the transgenic model, I demonstrated that expression of a subgroup of NRs in wild type mice becomes altered in histologically normal tissues that harbor the K-ras mutation, and become further altered in tumor tissues of the mutant. This observation suggests that NR profiling also provides a valuable tool for understanding disease pathogenesis in lung cancer.