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Special Issue "Breast Cancer: From Pathophysiology to Novel Therapeutic Approaches 2.0"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Oncology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Antonella Zannetti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Biostructures and Bioimaging, National Research Council (IBB-CNR), 80145 Naples, Italy
Interests: molecular oncology; signal transduction; tumor microenvironment; molecular imaging in cancer; theranostic
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Breast cancer remains the most frequent cancer in women and has different patterns of disease progression and response to treatments. The wide variation in patient prognosis and outcomes is due to the high heterogeneity of this disease. Current studies are focusing on the identification of novel biomarkers and the elucidation of the altered molecular mechanisms underlying the behavior of different subtypes of breast cancer. The results of these investigations are allowing for the development of novel targeted therapies that, either alone or in combination with conventional radio- and chemotherapy, could be promising management strategies for more effective and personalized therapies.

This Special Issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences will focus on the pathophysiology and novel therapeutic approaches of breast cancer, with the aim of providing an updated overview of pre-clinical and clinical knowledge on the pathophysiology and molecular profiling of breast cancer as well as on the development of innovative targeted therapeutic approaches while taking into account promises and pitfalls.

Dr. Antonella Zannetti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • breast cancer
  • molecular heterogeneity
  • biomarkers
  • signaling pathways
  • targeted therapies
  • development of novel drugs

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Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Transcriptome Profile Analysis of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells in Response to a Novel Cytostatic Tetrahydroisoquinoline Compared to Paclitaxel
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(14), 7694; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22147694 - 19 Jul 2021
Viewed by 406
Abstract
The absence of chemotherapeutic target hormone receptors in breast cancer is descriptive of the commonly known triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype. TNBC remains one of the most aggressive invasive breast cancers, with the highest mortality rates in African American women. Therefore, new drug [...] Read more.
The absence of chemotherapeutic target hormone receptors in breast cancer is descriptive of the commonly known triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype. TNBC remains one of the most aggressive invasive breast cancers, with the highest mortality rates in African American women. Therefore, new drug therapies are continually being explored. Microtubule-targeting agents such as paclitaxel (Taxol) interfere with microtubules dynamics, induce mitotic arrest, and remain a first-in-class adjunct drug to treat TNBC. Recently, we synthesized a series of small molecules of substituted tetrahydroisoquinolines (THIQs). The lead compound of this series, with the most potent cytostatic effect, was identified as 4-Ethyl-N-(7-hydroxy-3,4-dihydroisoquinolin-2(1H)-yl) benzamide (GM-4-53). In our previous work, GM-4-53 was similar to paclitaxel in its capacity to completely abrogate cell cycle in MDA-MB-231 TNBC cells, with the former not impairing tubulin depolymerization. Given that GM-4-53 is a cytostatic agent, and little is known about its mechanism of action, here, we elucidate differences and similarities to paclitaxel by evaluating whole-transcriptome microarray data in MDA-MB-231 cells. The data obtained show that both drugs were cytostatic at non-toxic concentrations and caused deformed morphological cytoskeletal enlargement in 2D cultures. In 3D cultures, the data show greater core penetration, observed by GM-4-53, than paclitaxel. In concentrations where the drugs entirely blocked the cell cycle, the transcriptome profile of the 48,226 genes analyzed (selection criteria: (p-value, FDR p-value < 0.05, fold change −2< and >2)), paclitaxel evoked 153 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), GM-4-53 evoked 243 DEGs, and, of these changes, 52/153 paclitaxel DEGs were also observed by GM-4-53, constituting a 34% overlap. The 52 DEGS analysis by String database indicates that these changes involve transcripts that influence microtubule spindle formation, chromosome segregation, mitosis/cell cycle, and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling. Of interest, both drugs effectively downregulated “inhibitor of DNA binding, dominant negative helix-loop-helix” (ID) transcripts; ID1, ID3 and ID4, and amphiregulin (AREG) and epiregulin (EREG) transcripts, which play a formidable role in cell division. Given the efficient solubility of GM-4-53, its low molecular weight (MW; 296), and capacity to penetrate a small solid tumor mass and effectively block the cell cycle, this drug may have future therapeutic value in treating TNBC or other cancers. Future studies will be required to evaluate this drug in preclinical models. Full article
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Article
Mechanism of Anticancer Action of Novel Imidazole Platinum(II) Complex Conjugated with G2 PAMAM-OH Dendrimer in Breast Cancer Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5581; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22115581 - 25 May 2021
Viewed by 878
Abstract
Transition metal coordination compounds play an important role in the treatment of neoplastic diseases. However, due to their low selectivity and bioavailability, as well as the frequently occurring phenomenon of drug resistance, new chemical compounds that could overcome these phenomena are still being [...] Read more.
Transition metal coordination compounds play an important role in the treatment of neoplastic diseases. However, due to their low selectivity and bioavailability, as well as the frequently occurring phenomenon of drug resistance, new chemical compounds that could overcome these phenomena are still being sought. The solution seems to be the synthesis of new metal complexes conjugated with drug carriers, e.g., dendrimers. Numerous literature data have shown that dendrimers improve the bioavailability of the obtained metal complexes, solving the problem of their poor solubility and stability in an aqueous environment and also breaking down inborn and acquired drug resistance. Therefore, the aim of this study was to synthesize a novel imidazole platinum(II) complex conjugated with and without the second-generation PAMAM dendrimer (PtMet2–PAMAM and PtMet2, respectively) and to evaluate its antitumor activity. Cell viability studies indicated that PtMet2–PAMAM exhibited higher cytotoxic activity than PtMet2 in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells at relatively low concentrations. Moreover, our results indicated that PtMet2–PAMAM exerted antiproliferative effects in a zebrafish embryo model. Treatment with PtMet2–PAMAM substantially increased apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner via caspase-9 (intrinsic pathway) and caspase-8 (extrinsic pathway) activation along with pro-apoptotic protein expression modulation. Additionally, we showed that apoptosis can be induced by activating POX, which induces ROS production. Furthermore, our results also clearly showed that the tested compounds trigger autophagy through p38 pathway activation and increase Beclin-1, LC3, AMPK, and mTOR inhibition. The high pro-apoptotic activity and the ability to activate autophagy by the imidazole platinum(II) complex conjugated with a dendrimer may be due to its demonstrated ability to reverse multidrug resistance (MDR) and thereby increase cellular accumulation in breast cancer cells. Full article
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Article
MAT2A Localization and Its Independently Prognostic Relevance in Breast Cancer Patients
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(10), 5382; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22105382 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 776
Abstract
(1) Background: methionine cycle is not only essential for cancer cell proliferation but is also critical for metabolic reprogramming, a cancer hallmark. Hepatic and extrahepatic tissues methionine adenosyltransferases (MATs) are products of two genes, MAT1A and MAT2A that catalyze the formation of S [...] Read more.
(1) Background: methionine cycle is not only essential for cancer cell proliferation but is also critical for metabolic reprogramming, a cancer hallmark. Hepatic and extrahepatic tissues methionine adenosyltransferases (MATs) are products of two genes, MAT1A and MAT2A that catalyze the formation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), the principal biological methyl donor. Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) further utilizes SAM for sarcosine formation, thus it regulates the ratio of SAM:S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH). (2) Methods: by analyzing the TCGA/GTEx datasets available within GEPIA2, we discovered that breast cancer patients with higher MAT2A had worse survival rate (p = 0.0057). Protein expression pattern of MAT1AA, MAT2A and GNMT were investigated in the tissue microarray in our own cohort (n = 252) by immunohistochemistry. MAT2A C/N expression ratio and cell invasion activity were further investigated in a panel of breast cancer cell lines. (3) Results: GNMT and MAT1A were detected in the cytoplasm, whereas MAT2A showed both cytoplasmic and nuclear immunoreactivity. Neither GNMT nor MAT1A protein expression was associated with patient survival rate in our cohort. Kaplan–Meier survival curves showed that a higher cytoplasmic/nuclear (C/N) MAT2A protein expression ratio correlated with poor overall survival (5 year survival rate: 93.7% vs. 83.3%, C/N ratio ≥ 1.0 vs. C/N ratio < 1.0, log-rank p = 0.004). Accordingly, a MAT2A C/N expression ratio ≥ 1.0 was determined as an independent risk factor by Cox regression analysis (hazard ratio = 2.771, p = 0.018, n = 252). In vitro studies found that breast cancer cell lines with a higher MAT2A C/N ratio were more invasive. (4) Conclusions: the subcellular localization of MAT2A may affect its functions, and elevated MAT2A C/N ratio in breast cancer cells is associated with increased invasiveness. MAT2A C/N expression ratio determined by IHC staining could serve as a novel independent prognostic marker for breast cancer. Full article
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