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1.  PDEF Promotes Luminal Differentiation and Acts as a Survival Factor for ER-Positive Breast Cancer Cells 
Cancer cell  2013;23(6):753-767.
Summary
Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease and can be classified based on gene expression profiles that reflect distinct epithelial subtypes. We identify prostate derived ETS factor (PDEF) as a mediator of mammary luminal epithelial lineage-specific gene expression and as a factor required for tumorigenesis in a subset of breast cancers. PDEF levels strongly correlate with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive luminal breast cancer, and PDEF transcription is inversely regulated by ER and GATA3. Furthermore, PDEF is essential for luminal breast cancer cell survival, and is required in models of endocrine-resistance. These results offer insights into the function of this ETS factor that are clinically relevant and may be of therapeutic value for breast cancer patients treated with endocrine therapy.
Significance
ER is the defining transcription factor of luminal breast tumors, and endocrine agents that target ER are well-established standards of care in breast cancer. However, intrinsic and acquired resistance limits the success of this therapeutic strategy, highlighting the need to identify additional pathways critical for luminal tumor growth and recurrence. Our findings provide evidence that prostate derived ETS factor (PDEF) can drive luminal differentiation of basal mammary epithelial cells, regulate the survival of luminal tumor cells, and contribute to endocrine resistance. These findings suggest that increased PDEF expression may play a role in tumor recurrence following endocrine therapy and may be a clinically useful target for the treatment of patients with luminal breast cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2013.04.026
PMCID: PMC3711136  PMID: 23764000
2.  Mesenchymal gene program–expressing ovarian cancer spheroids exhibit enhanced mesothelial clearance 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(6):2611-2625.
Metastatic dissemination of ovarian tumors involves the invasion of tumor cell clusters into the mesothelial cell lining of peritoneal cavity organs; however, the tumor-specific factors that allow ovarian cancer cells to spread are unclear. We used an in vitro assay that models the initial step of ovarian cancer metastasis, clearance of the mesothelial cell layer, to examine the clearance ability of a large panel of both established and primary ovarian tumor cells. Comparison of the gene and protein expression profiles of clearance-competent and clearance-incompetent cells revealed that mesenchymal genes are enriched in tumor populations that display strong clearance activity, while epithelial genes are enriched in those with weak or undetectable activity. Overexpression of transcription factors SNAI1, TWIST1, and ZEB1, which regulate the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), promoted mesothelial clearance in cell lines with weak activity, while knockdown of the EMT-regulatory transcription factors TWIST1 and ZEB1 attenuated mesothelial clearance in ovarian cancer cell lines with strong activity. These findings provide important insights into the mechanisms associated with metastatic progression of ovarian cancer and suggest that inhibiting pathways that drive mesenchymal programs may suppress tumor cell invasion of peritoneal tissues.
doi:10.1172/JCI69815
PMCID: PMC4038562  PMID: 24762435
3.  Differential Remodeling of Actin Cytoskeleton Architecture by Profilin Isoforms Leads to Distinct Effects on Cell Migration and Invasion 
Cancer cell  2012;22(5):615-630.
SUMMARY
Dynamic actin cytoskeletal reorganization is integral to cell motility. Profilins are well-characterized regulators of actin polymerization; however, functional differences among co-expressed profilin isoforms are not well defined. Here, we demonstrate that profilin-1 and profilin-2 differentially regulate membrane protrusion, motility, and invasion; these processes are promoted by profilin-1 and suppressed by profilin-2. Compared to profilin-1, profilin-2 preferentially drives actin polymerization by the Ena/VASP protein, EVL. Profilin-2 and EVL suppress protrusive activity and cell motility by an actomyosin contractility-dependent mechanism. Importantly, EVL or profilin-2 downregulation enhances invasion in vitro and in vivo. In human breast cancer, lower EVL expression correlates with high invasiveness and poor patient outcome. We propose that profilin-2/EVL-mediated actin polymerization enhances actin bundling and suppresses breast cancer cell invasion.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2012.09.027
PMCID: PMC3500527  PMID: 23153535
4.  Evidence for a multipotent mammary progenitor with pregnancy-specific activity 
Introduction
The mouse mammary gland provides a powerful model system for studying processes involved in epithelial tissue development. Although markers that enrich for mammary stem cells and progenitors have been identified, our understanding of the mammary developmental hierarchy remains incomplete.
Methods
We used the MMTV promoter linked to the reverse tetracycline transactivator to induce H2BGFP expression in the mouse mammary gland. Mammary epithelial cells (MECs) from virgin mice were sorted by flow cytometry for expression of the mammary stem cell/progenitor markers CD24 and CD29, and H2BGFP. Sorted populations were analyzed for in vivo repopulation ability, expression of mammary lineage markers, and differential gene expression.
Results
The reconstituting activity of CD24+/CD29+ cells in cleared fat pad transplantation assays was not distinguished in GFP+ compared to GFP- subpopulations. However, within the CD24+/CD29lo luminal progenitor-enriched population, H2BGFP+, but not H2BGFP-, MECs formed mammary structures in transplantation assays; moreover, this activity was dramatically enhanced in pregnant recipients. These outgrowths contained luminal and myoepithelial mammary lineages and produced milk, but lacked the capacity for serial transplantation. Transcriptional microarray analysis revealed that H2BGFP+/CD24+/CD29lo MECs are distinct from H2BGFP-/CD24+/CD29lo MECs and enriched for gene expression signatures with both the stem cell (CD24+/CD29+) and luminal progenitor (CD24+/CD29lo/CD61+) compartments.
Conclusions
We have identified a population of MECs containing pregnancy-activated multipotent progenitors that are present in the virgin mammary gland and contribute to the expansion of the mammary gland during pregnancy.
doi:10.1186/bcr3459
PMCID: PMC3979108  PMID: 23947835
Mammary progenitors; Mammary stem cells; Pregnancy; MMTVrtTA; H2BGFP
5.  Inhibition of PI3K/mTOR Leads to Adaptive Resistance in Matrix-Attached Cancer Cells 
Cancer Cell  2012;21(2):227-239.
Summary
The PI3K/mTOR-pathway is the most commonly dysregulated pathway in epithelial cancers and represents an important target for cancer therapeutics. Here we show that dual inhibition of PI3K/mTOR in ovarian cancer-spheroids leads to death of inner matrix-deprived cells, whereas matrix-attached cells are resistant. This matrix-associated resistance is mediated by drug-induced upregulation of cellular survival programs that involve both FOXO-regulated transcription and cap-independent translation. Inhibition of any one of several upregulated proteins, including Bcl-2, EGFR, or IGF1R, abrogates resistance to PI3K/mTOR inhibition. These results demonstrate that acute adaptive responses to PI3K/mTOR inhibition in matrix-attached cells resemble well-conserved stress responses to nutrient and growth factor deprivation. Bypass of this resistance mechanism through rational design of drug combinations could significantly enhance PI3K-targeted drug efficacy.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2011.12.024
PMCID: PMC3297962  PMID: 22340595
6.  Profiling Y561-Dependent and -Independent Substrates of CSF-1R in Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13587.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) activate multiple downstream cytosolic tyrosine kinases following ligand stimulation. SRC family kinases (SFKs), which are recruited to activated RTKs through SH2 domain interactions with RTK autophosphorylation sites, are targets of many subfamilies of RTKs. To date, there has not been a systematic analysis of the downstream substrates of such receptor-activated SFKs. Here, we conducted quantitative mass spectrometry utilizing stable isotope labeling (SILAC) analysis to profile candidate SRC-substrates induced by the CSF-1R tyrosine kinase by comparing the phosphotyrosine-containing peptides from cells expressing either CSF-1R or a mutant form of this RTK that is unable to bind to SFKs. This analysis identified previously uncharacterized changes in tyrosine phosphorylation induced by CSF-1R in mammary epithelial cells as well as a set of candidate substrates dependent on SRC recruitment to CSF-1R. Many of these candidates may be direct SRC targets as the amino acids flanking the phosphorylation sites in these proteins are similar to known SRC kinase phosphorylation motifs. The putative SRC-dependent proteins include known SRC substrates as well as previously unrecognized SRC targets. The collection of substrates includes proteins involved in multiple cellular processes including cell-cell adhesion, endocytosis, and signal transduction. Analyses of phosphoproteomic data from breast and lung cancer patient samples identified a subset of the SRC-dependent phosphorylation sites as being strongly correlated with SRC activation, which represent candidate markers of SRC activation downstream of receptor tyrosine kinases in human tumors. In summary, our data reveal quantitative site-specific changes in tyrosine phosphorylation induced by CSF-1R activation in epithelial cells and identify many candidate SRC-dependent substrates phosphorylated downstream of an RTK.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013587
PMCID: PMC2964295  PMID: 21049007
7.  PTK6 Regulates IGF-1-Induced Anchorage-Independent Survival 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11729.
Background
Proteins that are required for anchorage-independent survival of tumor cells represent attractive targets for therapeutic intervention since this property is believed to be critical for survival of tumor cells displaced from their natural niches. Anchorage-independent survival is induced by growth factor receptor hyperactivation in many cell types. We aimed to identify molecules that critically regulate IGF-1-induced anchorage-independent survival.
Methods and Results
We conducted a high-throughput siRNA screen and identified PTK6 as a critical component of IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R)-induced anchorage-independent survival of mammary epithelial cells. PTK6 downregulation induces apoptosis of breast and ovarian cancer cells deprived of matrix attachment, whereas its overexpression enhances survival. Reverse-phase protein arrays and subsequent analyses revealed that PTK6 forms a complex with IGF-1R and the adaptor protein IRS-1, and modulates anchorage-independent survival by regulating IGF-1R expression and phosphorylation. PTK6 is highly expressed not only in the previously reported Her2+ breast cancer subtype, but also in high grade ER+, Luminal B tumors and high expression is associated with adverse outcomes.
Conclusions
These findings highlight PTK6 as a critical regulator of anchorage-independent survival of breast and ovarian tumor cells via modulation of IGF-1 receptor signaling, thus supporting PTK6 as a potential therapeutic target for multiple tumor types. The combined genomic and proteomic approaches in this report provide an effective strategy for identifying oncogenes and their mechanism of action.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011729
PMCID: PMC2909213  PMID: 20668531
8.  Screensaver: an open source lab information management system (LIMS) for high throughput screening facilities 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:260.
Background
Shared-usage high throughput screening (HTS) facilities are becoming more common in academe as large-scale small molecule and genome-scale RNAi screening strategies are adopted for basic research purposes. These shared facilities require a unique informatics infrastructure that must not only provide access to and analysis of screening data, but must also manage the administrative and technical challenges associated with conducting numerous, interleaved screening efforts run by multiple independent research groups.
Results
We have developed Screensaver, a free, open source, web-based lab information management system (LIMS), to address the informatics needs of our small molecule and RNAi screening facility. Screensaver supports the storage and comparison of screening data sets, as well as the management of information about screens, screeners, libraries, and laboratory work requests. To our knowledge, Screensaver is one of the first applications to support the storage and analysis of data from both genome-scale RNAi screening projects and small molecule screening projects.
Conclusions
The informatics and administrative needs of an HTS facility may be best managed by a single, integrated, web-accessible application such as Screensaver. Screensaver has proven useful in meeting the requirements of the ICCB-Longwood/NSRB Screening Facility at Harvard Medical School, and has provided similar benefits to other HTS facilities.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-260
PMCID: PMC3001403  PMID: 20482787
9.  Statistical Methods for Analysis of High-Throughput RNA Interference Screens 
Nature methods  2009;6(8):569-575.
RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful technique for reverse genetics and drug discovery and, in both of these areas, large-scale high-throughput RNAi screens are commonly performed. The statistical techniques used to analyze these screens are frequently borrowed directly from small-molecule screening; however small-molecule and RNAi data characteristics differ in meaningful ways. We examine the similarities and differences between RNAi and small-molecule screens, highlighting particular characteristics of RNAi screen data that must be addressed during analysis. Additionally, we provide guidance on selection of analysis techniques in the context of a sample workflow.
doi:10.1038/nmeth.1351
PMCID: PMC2789971  PMID: 19644458
10.  Vav Family Proteins Couple to Diverse Cell Surface Receptors 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(17):6364-6373.
Vav proteins are guanine nucleotide exchange factors for Rho family GTPases which activate pathways leading to actin cytoskeletal rearrangements and transcriptional alterations. Vav proteins contain several protein binding domains which can link cell surface receptors to downstream signaling proteins. Vav1 is expressed exclusively in hematopoietic cells and tyrosine phosphorylated in response to activation of multiple cell surface receptors. However, it is not known whether the recently identified isoforms Vav2 and Vav3, which are broadly expressed, can couple with similar classes of receptors, nor is it known whether all Vav isoforms possess identical functional activities. We expressed Vav1, Vav2, and Vav3 at equivalent levels to directly compare the responses of the Vav proteins to receptor activation. Although each Vav isoform was tyrosine phosphorylated upon activation of representative receptor tyrosine kinases, integrin, and lymphocyte antigen receptors, we found unique aspects of Vav protein coupling in each receptor pathway. Each Vav protein coprecipitated with activated epidermal growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors, and multiple phosphorylated tyrosine residues on the PDGF receptor were able to mediate Vav2 tyrosine phosphorylation. Integrin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of Vav proteins was not detected in nonhematopoietic cells unless the protein tyrosine kinase Syk was also expressed, suggesting that integrin activation of Vav proteins may be restricted to cell types that express particular tyrosine kinases. In addition, we found that Vav1, but not Vav2 or Vav3, can efficiently cooperate with T-cell receptor signaling to enhance NFAT-dependent transcription, while Vav1 and Vav3, but not Vav2, can enhance NFκB-dependent transcription. Thus, although each Vav isoform can respond to similar cell surface receptors, there are isoform-specific differences in their activation of downstream signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC86111  PMID: 10938113

Results 1-10 (10)