Eugene Gerner

Eugene Gerner, PhD, has special interests in the roles of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumor suppressor gene, which is mutated in most sporadic colonic neoplasia, and the K-ras oncogene, which is mutated in a large fraction of colonic and pancreatic neoplasia. Dr. Gerner and his team are working to define the normal functions of specific genes in signaling pathways, influenced by APC, leading to cell birth (mitosis) or cell death (apoptosis), and to understand how these functions are altered by mutations. Recent work from his lab has shown that genes involved in arachidonic and amino acid metabolism are downstream effectors of APC and K-ras. He is studying the regulation of enzymes and proteins involved in these metabolic pathways, which produce polyamines and prostaglandins.

He is currently collaborating with physicians at the Arizona Cancer Center and elsewhere to determine whether these strategies can be effectively employed in selected human populations. One current clinical trial involves the treatment of otherwise healthy individuals with precancerous colon polyps, using inhibitors of polyamine synthesis and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

 

Of Timing And Surrogates: A Way Forward For Cancer Chemoprevention. Source: Clinical Cancer Research : An Official Journal Of The American Association For Cancer Research
April 15th, 2011 PMID: 21498391 Eugene Gerner
Cancer chemoprevention strategies are not widely implemented in clinical practice. Targeting biomarkers in patients with elevated risk of developing cancer by means of short-term administration of certain agents may be a strategy to minimize toxicities while maintaining efficacy in clinical trials that can be completed in years rather than decades.<br><br>
Polyamine Transport Systems In Mammalian Cells And Tissues. Source: Methods In Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.)
February 14th, 2011 PMID: 21318884 Eugene Gerner
Polyamine transport plays an important role in the homeostatic regulation of the polyamine levels. In animals, dietary polyamines are absorbed efficiently in the intestinal tract. In the colon, luminal bacterial derived polyamines are important contributors to cellular polyamine contents. Polyamine transport involves unique uptake and export mechanisms. The amino acid transporter SLC3A2 acts as a polyamine exporter in colon cancer-derived cells. Polyamine uptake is mediated by caveolin-1 dependent -endocytosis. The K-RAS oncogene signals increased polyamine uptake and decreased polyamine export. Here, we describe the methods of polyamine transport analysis in the colon and the small intestine using -membrane vesicles, culture cells, and mouse models.<br><br>
Targeting Polyamines And Inflammation For Cancer Prevention. Source: Recent Results In Cancer Research. Fortschritte Der Krebsforschung. Progrès Dans Les Recherches Sur Le Cancer
January 21st, 2011 PMID: 21253788 Eugene Gerner
Increased polyamine synthesis and inflammation have long been associated with intraepithelial neoplasia, which are risk factors for cancer development in humans. Targeting polyamine metabolism (by use of polyamine synthesis inhibitors or polyamine catabolism activators) and inflammation (by use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) has been studied for many cancers, including colon, prostate, and skin. Genetic epidemiology results indicate that a genetic variant associated with the expression of a polyamine biosynthetic gene is associated with risk of colon and prostate cancers. A clinical trial of difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a selective inhibitor of polyamine synthesis, showed that the 1 year treatment duration reduced prostate volume and serum prostate-specific antigen doubling time in men with a family history of prostate cancer. A second, clinical trial of DFMO in combination with sulindac, a NSAID in patients with prior colon polyps found that the 3-year treatment was associated with a 70% reduction of all, and over a 90% reduction of advanced and/or multiple metachronous colon adenomas. In this chapter, we discuss that similar combination prevention strategies of targeting polyamines and inflammation can be effective in reducing risk factors associated with the development of human cancers.<br><br>
Ornithine Decarboxylase 1 Polymorphism, Chemoprevention With Eflornithine And Sulindac, And Outcomes Among Colorectal Adenoma Patients. Source: Journal Of The National Cancer Institute
August 26th, 2010 PMID: 20798393 Eugene Gerner
The ornithine decarboxylase-1 (ODC1) polymorphism at position +316 affects binding by transcriptional activators and repressors and modulates the risk of metachronous colorectal adenomas, particularly in association with aspirin use. We investigated the effects of ODC1 after treatment with difluoromethylornithine (eflornithine)/sulindac or placebo. Two hundred twenty-eight colorectal adenoma patients in a randomized phase III trial were genotyped for ODC1. We used Wilcoxon rank sums tests on non-normally distributed continuous variables across two genotype groups, χ(2) or Fisher exact test to assess the association between baseline categorical variables and genotype group, and log binomial regression for the primary (adenoma recurrence) and secondary outcomes (tissue polyamine response, cardiovascular toxicity, gastrointestinal toxicity, and ototoxicity). All statistical tests were two-sided. In binomial regression models with variables age, sex, race, aspirin use, treatment, and ODC1 genotype, treatment was the only statistically significant factor associated with differences in adenoma recurrence or tissue polyamine response. A statistically significant interaction was detected between ODC1 genotype and treatment with respect to adenoma recurrence (placebo group: GG, 50%, AA/GA: 34%; treatment group: GG, 11%, AA/GA, 21%; P(interaction) = .038). Excess ototoxicity was observed among ODC1 AA patients receiving treatment, but the interaction of genotype and treatment on ototoxicity was not statistically significant (P = .45).<br><br>
Levels Of Rectal Mucosal Polyamines And Prostaglandin E2 Predict Ability Of Dfmo And Sulindac To Prevent Colorectal Adenoma. Source: Gastroenterology
BACKGROUND &#38; AIMS:<br>Combination of polyamine and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)-synthesis inhibitors reduced the risk of colorectal adenoma (CRA) by 70% in patients who received polypectomies. We studied effects of the combination of difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) and sulindac on biomarkers and investigated factors that modify their efficacy.<br><br>METHODS:<br>We analyzed rectal mucosal levels of polyamines (spermidine, spermine, and putrescine) and PGE2, treatment regimens, and risk of CRA in 267 participants of a phase IIb/III chemoprevention trial of DFMO/sulindac.<br><br>RESULTS:<br>In the group that received DFMO/sulindac, spermidine-to-spermine ratio (Spd:Spm) in rectal mucosa decreased between baseline and 12- and 36-month follow-up examinations (0.30, 0.23, and 0.24, respectively; P < .001 for both comparisons to baseline). Putrescine levels decreased between baseline and 12 months (0.46 vs 0.15 nmol/mg protein; P < .001) but rebounded between 12 and 36 months (0.15 vs 0.36 nmol/mg protein; P = .001). PGE2 levels did not change, although aspirin use was significantly associated with lower baseline levels of PGE2. No significant associations were observed between changes in biomarker levels and efficacy. However, drug efficacy was greatest in subjects with low Spd:Spm and high PGE2 at baseline; none of these subjects, versus 39% of those given placebo, developed CRA (P < .001). Efficacy was lowest in subjects with high Spd:Spm and low PGE2 at baseline; 28% developed CRA, compared with 36% of patients given placebo (P = .563).<br><br>CONCLUSIONS:<br>A combination of DFMO and sulindac significantly suppressed production of rectal mucosal polyamines but not PGE2. No relationship was found between changes in biomarker levels and response. However, baseline biomarker levels modified the effect of DFMO/sulindac for CRA prevention.<br><br>
Polyamine Transport Is Mediated By Both Endocytic And Solute Carrier Transport Mechanisms In The Gastrointestinal Tract. Source: American Journal Of Physiology. Gastrointestinal And Liver Physiology
June 3rd, 2010 PMID: 20522643 Eugene Gerner
The polyamines spermidine and spermine, and their precursor putrescine, are required for cell growth and cellular functions. The high levels of tissue polyamines are implicated in carcinogenesis. The major sources of exogenous polyamines are diet and intestinal luminal bacteria in gastrointestinal (GI) tissues. Both endocytic and solute carrier-dependent mechanisms have been described for polyamine uptake. Knocking down of caveolin-1 protein increased polyamine uptake in colon cancer-derived HCT116 cells. Dietary supplied putrescine was accumulated in GI tissues and liver in caveolin-1 knockout mice more than wild-type mice. Knocking out of nitric oxide synthase (NOS2), which has been implicated in the release of exogenous polyamines from internalized vesicles, abolished the accumulation of dietary putrescine in GI tissues. Under conditions of reduced endogenous tissue putrescine contents, caused by treatment with the polyamine synthesis inhibitor difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), small intestinal and colonic mucosal polyamine contents increased with dietary putrescine levels, even in mice lacking NOS2. Knocking down the solute carrier transporter SLC3A2 in HCT116-derived Hkh2 cells reduced the accumulation of exogenous putrescine and total polyamine contents in DFMO treated cells, relative to non-DFMO-treated cells. These data demonstrate that exogenous putrescine is transported into GI tissues by caveolin-1- and NOS2-dependent mechanisms, but that the solute carrier transporter SLC3A2 can function bidirectionally to import putrescine under conditions of low tissue polyamines.<br><br>
Vitamin D Receptor Ligands, Adenomatous Polyposis Coli, And The Vitamin D Receptor Fok I Polymorphism Collectively Modulate Beta Catenin Activity In Colon Cancer Cells. Source: Molecular Carcinogenesis
April 1st, 2010 PMID: 20043299 Eugene Gerner
The activity of beta-catenin, commonly dysregulated in human colon cancers, is inhibited by the vitamin D receptor (VDR), and this mechanism is postulated to explain the putative anti-cancer activity of vitamin D metabolites in the colon. We investigated the effect of a common FokI restriction site polymorphism (F/f) in the human VDR gene as well as the effect of anti-tumorigenic 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25D) and pro-tumorigenic lithocholic acid (LCA) VDR ligands on beta-catenin transcriptional activity. Furthermore, the influence of a major regulatory protein of beta-catenin, the APC tumor suppressor gene, on VDR-dependent inhibition of beta-catenin activity was examined. We report herein that beta-catenin-mediated transcription is most effectively suppressed by the VDR FokI variant F/M4 when 1,25D is limiting. Using Caco-2 colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, it was observed that VDR ligands, 1,25D and LCA, both suppress beta-catenin transcriptional activity, though 1,25D exhibited significantly greater inhibition. Moreover, 1,25D, but not LCA, suppressed endogenous expression of the beta-catenin target gene DKK-4 independent of VDR DNA-binding activity. These results support beta-catenin sequestration away from endogenous gene targets by 1,25D-VDR. This activity is most efficiently mediated by the FokI gene variant F/M4, a VDR allele previously associated with protection against CRC. Interestingly, we found the inhibition of beta-catenin activity by 1,25D-VDR was significantly enhanced by wild-type APC. These results reveal a previously unrecognized role for 1,25D-VDR in APC/beta-catenin cross talk. Collectively, these findings strengthen evidence favoring a direct effect on the Wnt-signaling molecule beta-catenin as one anti-cancer target of 1,25D-VDR action in the colorectum.<br><br>
Cancer Chemoprevention Locks Onto A New Polyamine Metabolic Target. Source: Cancer Prevention Research (Philadelphia, Pa.)
January 26th, 2010 PMID: 20103728 Eugene Gerner
Ornithine decarboxylase has a relatively long history as a target for cancer chemoprevention and chemotherapy. Plym Forshell et al. report new evidence (beginning on p. 140 in this issue of the journal) indicating that spermidine synthase, a fellow enzyme of ornithine decarboxylase in polyamine metabolism, is transactivated in part by the MYC gene and is a potential target for chemoprevention of B-cell lymphomas.<br><br>
Polyamines As Mediators Of Apc Dependent Intestinal Carcinogenesis And Cancer Chemoprevention. Source: Essays In Biochemistry
November 4th, 2009 PMID: 20095973 Eugene Gerner
Combination chemoprevention for cancer was proposed a quarter of a century ago, but has not been implemented in standard medical practice owing to limited efficacy and toxicity. Recent trials have targeted inflammation and polyamine biosynthesis, both of which are increased in carcinogenesis. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that DFMO (difluoromethylornithine), an irreversible inhibitor of ODC (ornithine decarboxylase) which is the first enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis, combined with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) suppresses colorectal carcinogenesis in murine models. The preclinical rationale for combination chemoprevention with DFMO and the NSAID sulindac, was strengthened by the observation that a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) in the ODC promoter was prognostic for adenoma recurrence in patients with prior sporadic colon polyps and predicted reduced risk of adenoma in those patients taking aspirin. Recent results from a phase III clinical trial showed a dramatic reduction in metachronous adenoma number, size and grade. Combination chemoprevention with DFMO and sulindac was not associated with any serious toxicity. A non-significant trend in subclinical ototoxicity was detected by quantitative audiology in a subset of patients identified by a genetic marker. These preclinical, translational and clinical data provide compelling evidence for the efficacy of combination chemoprevention. DFMO and sulindac is a rational strategy for the prevention of metachronous adenomas, especially in patients with significant risk for colorectal cancer. Toxicities from this combination may be limited to subsets of patients identified by either past medical history or clinical tests.<br><br>
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