Roehl FW, Poehlmann-Nitsche A, Silver A, Roessner A, Guenther T, Jechorek D, Lessel W, Kalinski T
We recently reported that dysregulated c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) activity causes defective cell cycle checkpoint control, inducing neoplastic transformation in a cellular ulcerative colitis (UC) model. In the quiescent chronic phase of UC, p-p54 JNK was down-regulated and p-p46 JNK was up-regulated. Both were up-regulated in the acute phase. Consequently, increased p21WAF1 and γ-H2AX, two JNK-regulated proteins, induced cell cycle arrest. Their down-regulation led to checkpoint override, causing increased proliferation and undetected DNA damage in quiescent chronic phase, all characteristics of tumorigenesis. We investigated expression of p-JNK2, p-JNK1-3, p21WAF1, γ-H2AX and Ki67 by immunohistochemistry in cases of quiescent UC (QUC), active UC (AUC), UC-dysplasia and UC-related colorectal carcinoma (UC-CRC). Comparison was made to normal healthy colorectal mucosa, sporadic adenoma and colorectal carcinoma (CRC), diverticulitis and Crohns disease (CD). We found p-JNK2 up-regulation in AUC and its early down-regulation in UC-CRC and CRC carcinogenesis. With down-regulated p-JNK2, p21WAF1 was also decreased. Ki67 was inversely expressed, showing increased proliferation early in UC-CRC and CRC carcinogenesis. p-JNK1-3 was increased in AUC and QUC. Less increased γ-H2AX in UC-CRC compared to CRC gave evidence that colitis-triggered inflammation masks DNA damage, thus contributing to neoplastic transformation. We hypothesize that JNK-dependent cell cycle arrest is important in AUC, while chronic inflammation causes dysregulated JNK activity in quiescent phase that may contribute to checkpoint override, promoting UC carcinogenesis. We suggest restoring p-JNK2 expression as a novel therapeutic strategy to early prevent the development of UC-related cancer.