Kovalchuk, Olga

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    Growth of malignant extracranial tumors alters microRNAome in the prefrontal cortext of TumorGraft mice
    (Impact Journals, 2017) Kovalchuk, Anna; Ilnytskyy, Yaroslav; Rodriquez-Juarez, Rocio; Katz, Amanda; Sidransky, David; Kolb, Bryan; Kovalchuk, Olga
    A wide array of central nervous system complications, neurological deficits, and cognitive impairments occur and persist as a result of systemic cancer and cancer treatments. This condition is known as chemo brain and it affects over half of cancer survivors. Recent studies reported that cognitive impairments manifest before chemotherapy and are much broader than chemo brain alone, thereby adding in tumor brain as a component. The molecular mechanisms of chemo brain are underinvestigated, and the mechanisms of tumor brain have not been analyzed at all. The frequency and timing, as well as the long-term persistence, of chemo brain and tumor brain suggest they may be epigenetic in nature. MicroRNAs, small, single-stranded non-coding RNAs, constitute an important part of the cellular epigenome and are potent regulators of gene expression. miRNAs are crucial for brain development and function, and are affected by a variety of different stresses, diseases and conditions. However, nothing is known about the effects of extracranial tumor growth or chemotherapy agents on the brain microRNAome. We used the well-established TumorGraft TM mouse models of triple negative (TNBC) and progesterone receptor positive (PR+BC) breast cancer, and profiled global microRNAome changes in tumor-bearing mice upon chemotherapy, as compared to untreated tumor-bearing mice and intact mice. Our analysis focused on the prefrontal cortex (PFC), based on its roles in memory, learning, and executive functions, and on published data showing the PFC is a target in chemo brain. This is the first study showing that tumor presence alone significantly impacted the small RNAome of PFC tissues. Both tumor growth and chemotherapy treatment affected the small RNAome and altered levels of miRNAs, piRNAs, tRNAs, tRNA fragments and other molecules involved in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Amongst those, miRNA changes were the most pronounced, involving several miRNA families, such as the miR-200 family and miR-183/96/182 cluster; both were deregulated in tumor-bearing and chemotherapy-treated animals. We saw that miRNA deregulation was associated with altered levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays an important role in cognition and memory and is one of the known miRNA targets. BDNF downregulation has been associated with an array of neurological conditions and could be one of the mechanisms underlying tumor brain and chemo brain. In the future our study could serve as a roadmap for further analysis of cancer and chemotherapy’s neural side effects, and differentially expressed miRNAs should be explored as potential tumor brain and chemo brain biomarkers.
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    A suppressive role of ionizing radiation-responsive miR-29c in the development of liver carcinoma via targeting WIP1
    (Impact Journals, 2015) Wang, Bo; Li, Dongping; Sidler, Corinne; Rodriquez-Juarez, Rocio; Singh, Natasha; Heyns, Mieke; Ilnytskyy, Yaroslav; Bronson, Roderick T.; Kovalchuk, Olga
    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and it has been linked to radiation exposure. As a well-defined oncogene, wild-type p53-induced phosphatase 1 (WIP1) plays an inhibitory role in several tumor suppressor pathways, including p53. WIP1 is amplified and overexpressed in many malignancies, including HCC. However, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here, we show that low-dose ionizing radiation (IR) induces miR-29c expression in female mouse liver, while inhibiting its expression in HepG2, a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line which is used as a model system in this study. miR29c expression is downregulated in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells, which is inversely correlated with WIP1 expression. miR-29c attenuates luciferase activity of a reporter harboring the 3’UTR binding motif of WIP1 mRNA. Ectopic expression of miR-29c significantly represses cell proliferation and induces apoptosis and G1 arrest in HepG2. In contrast, the knockdown of miR-29c greatly enhances HepG2 cell proliferation and suppresses apoptosis. The biological effects of miR-29c may be mediated by its target WIP1 which regulates p53 activity via dephosphorylation at Ser-15. Finally, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunohistochemical analyses indicate that miR-29c is downregulated in 50.6% of liver carcinoma tissues examined, whereas WIP1 is upregulated in 45.4% of these tissues. The expression of miR-29c inversely correlates with that of WIP1 in HCC. Our results suggest that the IR-responsive miR-29c may function as a tumor suppressor that plays a crucial role in the development of liver carcinoma via targeting WIP1, therefore possibly representing a target molecule for therapeutic intervention for this disease.
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    Circadian disruption and breast cancer: an epigenetic link?
    (Impact Journals, 2015) Kochan, David Z.; Kovalchuk, Olga
    Breast cancer is already the most common malignancy affecting women worldwide, and evidence is mounting that breast cancer induced by circadian disruption (CD) is a warranted concern. Numerous studies have investigated various aspects of the circadian clock in relation to breast cancer, and evidence from these studies indicates that melatonin and the core clock genes can play a crucial role in breast cancer development. Even though epigenetics has been increasingly recognized as a key player in the etiology of breast cancer and linked to circadian rhythms, and there is evidence of overlap between epigenetic deregulation and breast cancer induced by circadian disruption, only a handful of studies have directly investigated the role of epigenetics in CD-induced breast cancer. This review explores the circadian clock and breast cancer, and the growing role of epigenetics in breast cancer development and circadian rhythms. We also summarize the current knowledge and next steps for the investigation of the epigenetic link in CD-induced breast cancer.
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    Altered radiation responses of breast cancer cells resistant to hormonal therapy
    (Impact Journals, 2015) Luzhna, Lidiya; Lykkesfeldt, Anne E.; Kovalchuk, Olga
    Endocrine therapy agents (the selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulators such as tamoxifen or the selective ER down-regulators such as ICI 182,780) are key treatment regimens for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. While these drugs are very effective in controlling ER-positive breast cancer, many tumors that initially respond well to treatment often acquire drug resistance, which is a major clinical problem. In clinical practice, hormonal therapy agents are commonly used in combination or sequence with radiation therapy. Tamoxifen treatment and radiotherapy improve both local tumor control and patient survival. However, tamoxifen treatment may render cancer cells less responsive to radiation therapy. Only a handful of data exist on the effects of radiation on cells resistant to hormonal therapy agents. These scarce data show that cells that were resistant to tamoxifen were also resistant to radiation. Yet, the existence and mechanisms of cross-resistance to endocrine therapy and radiation therapy need to be established. Here, we for the first time examined and compared radiation responses of MCF-7 breast adenocarcinoma cells (MCF-7/S0.5) and two antiestrogen resistant cell lines derived from MCF-7/S0.5: the tamoxifen resistant MCF-7/TAMR-1 and ICI 182,780 resistant MCF-7/182R-6 cell lines. Specifically, we analyzed the radiation-induced changes in the expression of genes involved in DNA damage, apoptosis, and cell cycle regulation. We found that the tamoxifen-resistant cell line in contrast to the parental and ICI 182,780-resistant cell lines displayed a significantly less radiationinduced decrease in the expression of genes involved in DNA repair. Furthermore, we show that MCF-7/TAMR-1 and MCF-7/182R-6 cells were less susceptible to radiation-induced apoptosis as compared to the parental line. These data indicate that tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells have a reduced sensitivity to radiation treatment. The current study may therefore serve as a roadmap to the future analysis of the mechanisms of cross-resistance between hormonal therapy and radiation.
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    Liver irradiation causes distal bystander effects in the rat brain and affects animal behavior
    (Impact Journals, 2016) Kovalchuk, Anna; Mychasiuk, Richelle; Muhammad, Arif; Hossain, Shakhawat; Ilnytskyy, Slava; Ghose, Abhijit; Kirby, Charles; Ghasroddashti3, Esmaeel; Kovalchuk, Olga; Kolb, Bryan
    Radiation therapy can not only produce effects on targeted organs, but can also influence shielded bystander organs, such as the brain in targeted liver irradiation. The brain is sensitive to radiation exposure, and irradiation causes significant neurocognitive deficits, including deficits in attention, concentration, memory, and executive and visuospatial functions. The mechanisms of their occurrence are not understood, although they may be related to the bystander effects. We analyzed the induction, mechanisms, and behavioural repercussions of bystander effects in the brain upon liver irradiation in a well-established rat model. Here, we show for the first time that bystander effects occur in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus regions upon liver irradiation, where they manifest as altered gene expression and somewhat increased levels of fH2AX. We also report that bystander effects in the brain are associated with neuroanatomical and behavioural changes, and are more pronounced in females than in males.