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1.  FOXM1b, which is present at elevated levels in cancer cells, has a greater transforming potential than FOXM1c 
The forkhead box (FOX) M1 transcription factor is required to maintain the proliferation of cancer cells. Two transcriptionally active isoforms of FOXM1, FOXM1b and FOXM1c, have been identified, but their functional differences remain unclear. FOXM1c is distinguished from FOXM1b by an extra exon (exon Va) that contains an ERK1/2 target sequence. Based on a literature search and quantitative PCR analysis, we concluded that FOXM1b is the predominant isoform that is overexpressed in cancers. The further characterization of FOXM1b and FOXM1c revealed two interesting differences. First, FOXM1b exhibited a higher transforming ability than FOXM1c in a soft agar assay. Second, the transactivating activity of FOXM1c, but not that of FOXM1b, was sensitive to activation by RAF/MEK/MAPK signaling. Importantly, the MEK1 activation of FOXM1c was associated with proteolytic processing to generate short forms that might represent constitutively active forms missing the N-terminal inhibitory domain; in contrast, the proteolytic processing of FOXM1b did not require MEK1 activation. Our findings suggest that FOXM1b is functionally more active. These results provide novel insights into the regulation of FOXM1 activity and its role in tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3560383  PMID: 23386997
FOXM1b; FOXM1c; transforming potential; MEK1; proteolytic processing
2.  Targeted Inactivation of Kinesin-1 in Pancreatic β-Cells In Vivo Leads to Insulin Secretory Deficiency 
Diabetes  2010;60(1):320-330.
Suppression of Kinesin-1 by antisense oligonucleotides, or overexpression of dominant-negative acting kinesin heavy chain, has been reported to affect the sustained phase of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in β-cells in vitro. In this study, we examined the in vivo physiological role of Kinesin-1 in β-cell development and function.
A Cre-LoxP strategy was used to generate conditional knockout mice in which the Kif5b gene is specifically inactivated in pancreatic β-cells. Physiological and histological analyses were carried out in Kif5b knockout mice as well as littermate controls.
Mice with β-cell specific deletion of Kif5b (Kif5bfl/−:RIP2-Cre) displayed significantly retarded growth as well as slight hyperglycemia in both nonfasting and 16-h fasting conditions compared with control littermates. In addition, Kif5bfl/−:RIP2-Cre mice displayed significant glucose intolerance, which was not due to insulin resistance but was related to an insulin secretory defect in response to glucose challenge. These defects of β-cell function in mutant mice were not coupled with observable changes in islet morphology, islet cell composition, or β-cell size. However, compared with controls, pancreas of Kif5bfl/−:RIP2-Cre mice exhibited both reduced islet size and increased islet number, concomitant with an increased insulin vesicle density in β-cells.
In addition to being essential for maintaining glucose homeostasis and regulating β-cell function, Kif5b may be involved in β-cell development by regulating β-cell proliferation and insulin vesicle synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3012189  PMID: 20870970
3.  Elevated TAK1 augments tumor growth and metastatic capacities of ovarian cancer cells through activation of NF-κB signaling 
Oncotarget  2014;5(17):7549-7562.
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-activating kinase 1 (TAK1) is a serine/threonine kinase which is frequently associated with human cancer progression. However, its functional role in tumorigenesis is still controversial. Here, we report that TAK1 enhances the oncogenic capacity of ovarian cancer cells through the activation of NF-κB signaling. We found that TAK1 is frequently upregulated and significantly associated with high-grade and metastatic ovarian cancers. Mechanistic studies showed that Ser412 phosphorylation is required for TAK1 in activating NF-κB signaling and promotes aggressiveness of ovarian cancer cells. Conversely, suppression of TAK1 activity by point mutation at Ser412, RNAi mediated gene knockdown or TAK1 specific inhibitor ((5Z) -7-Oxozeaenol) remarkably impairs tumor growth and metastasis in ovarian cancer in vitro and in vivo. Our study underscores the importance of targeting TAK1 as a promising therapeutic approach to counteract the ovarian cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC4202143  PMID: 25277189
TAK1; NF-κB signaling; ovarian cancer; high-grade tumor
5.  Reduced expression of AMPK-β1 during tumor progression enhances the oncogenic capacity of advanced ovarian cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:49.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key energy sensor that is involved in regulating cell metabolism. Our previous study revealed that the subunits of the heterotimeric AMPK enzyme are diversely expressed during ovarian cancer progression. However, the impact of the variable expression of these AMPK subunits in ovarian cancer oncogenesis remains obscure. Here, we provide evidence to show that reduced expression of the AMPK-β1 subunit during tumor progression is associated with the increased oncogenic capacity of advanced ovarian cancer cells. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that AMPK-β1 levels were reduced in advanced-stage (P = 0.008), high-grade (P = 0.013) and metastatic ovarian cancers (P = 0.008). Intriguingly, down-regulation of AMPK-β1 was progressively reduced from tumor stages 1 to 3 of ovarian cancer. Functionally, enforced expression of AMPK-β1 inhibited ovarian-cancer-cell proliferation, anchorage-independent cell growth, cell migration and invasion. Conversely, depletion of AMPK-β1 by siRNA enhanced the oncogenic capacities of ovarian cancer cells, suggesting that the loss of AMPK-β1 favors the aggressiveness of ovarian cancer. Mechanistically, enforced expression of AMPK-β1 increased AMPK activity, which, in turn, induced cell-cycle arrest via inhibition of AKT/ERK signaling activity as well as impaired cell migration/invasion through the suppression of JNK signaling in ovarian cancer cells. Taken together, these findings suggest that the reduced expression of AMPK-β1 confers lower AMPK activity, which enhances the oncogenic capacity of advanced-stage ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC4016028  PMID: 24602453
AMPK-β1; AMPK activation; AKT; ERK; JNK; Ovarian cancer
6.  Activation of AMPK inhibits cervical cancer cell growth through AKT/FOXO3a/FOXM1 signaling cascade 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:327.
Although advanced-stage cervical cancer can benefit from current treatments, approximately 30% patients may fail after definitive treatment eventually. Therefore, exploring alternative molecular therapeutic approaches is imperatively needed for this disease. We have recently shown that activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a metabolic sensor, hampers cervical cancer cell growth through blocking the Wnt/β-catenin signaling activity. Here, we report that activated AMPK (p-AMPK) also inhibits cervical cancer cell growth by counteracting FOXM1 function.
Effect of the activation of AMPK on FOXM1 expression was examined by hypoxia and glucose deprivation, as well as pharmacological AMPK activators such as A23187, AICAR and metformin. RT Q-PCR and Western blot analysis were employed to investigate the activities of AMPK, FOXM1 and AKT/FOXO3a signaling.
Consistent with our previous findings, the activation of AMPK by either AMPK activators such as AICAR, A23187, metformin, glucose deprivation or hypoxia significantly inhibited the cervical cancer cell growth. Importantly, we found that activated AMPK activity was concomitantly associated with the reduction of both the mRNA and protein levels of FOXM1. Mechanistically, we showed that activated AMPK was able to reduce AKT mediated phosphorylation of p-FOXO3a (Ser253). Interestingly, activated AMPK could not cause any significant changes in FOXM1 in cervical cancer cells in which endogenous FOXO3a levels were knocked down using siRNAs, suggesting that FOXO3a is involved in the suppression of FOXM1.
Taken together, our results suggest the activated AMPK impedes cervical cancer cell growth through reducing the expression of FOXM1.
PMCID: PMC3702529  PMID: 23819460
AMPK; FOXM1; FOXO3a; Cervical cancer
7.  A multi PDZ-domain protein Pdzd2 contributes to functional expression of sensory neuron-specific sodium channel NaV1.8 
The voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.8 is expressed exclusively in nociceptive sensory neurons and plays an important role in pain pathways. NaV1.8 cannot be functionally expressed in non-neuronal cells even in the presence of β-subunits. We have previously identified Pdzd2, a multi PDZ-domain protein, as a potential interactor for NaV1.8. Here we report that Pdzd2 binds directly to the intracellular loops of NaV1.8 and NaV1.7. The endogenous NaV1.8 current in sensory neurons is inhibited by antisense- and siRNA-mediated downregulation of Pdzd2. However, no marked change in pain behaviours is observed in Pdzd2-decificent mice. This may be due to compensatory upregulation of p11, another regulatory factor for NaV1.8, in dorsal root ganglia of Pdzd2-deficient mice. These findings reveal that Pdzd2 and p11 play collaborative roles in regulation of NaV1.8 expression in sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC2764382  PMID: 19607921
8.  Bridge-1, a Novel PDZ-Domain Coactivator of E2A-Mediated Regulation of Insulin Gene Transcription 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(12):8492-8504.
Proteins in the E2A family of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors are important in a wide spectrum of physiologic processes as diverse as neurogenesis, myogenesis, lymphopoeisis, and sex determination. In the pancreatic β cell, E2A proteins, in combination with tissue-specific transcription factors, regulate expression of the insulin gene and other genes critical for β-cell function. By yeast two-hybrid screening of a cDNA library prepared from rat insulinoma (INS-1) cells, we identified a novel protein, Bridge-1, that interacts with E2A proteins and functions as a coactivator of gene transcription mediated by E12 and E47. Bridge-1 contains a PDZ-like domain, a domain known to be involved in protein-protein interactions. Bridge-1 is highly expressed in pancreatic islets and islet cell lines and the expression pattern is primarily nuclear. The interaction of Bridge-1 with E2A proteins is further demonstrated by coimmunoprecipitation of in vitro-translated Bridge-1 with E12 or E47 and by mammalian two-hybrid studies. The PDZ-like domain of Bridge-1 is required for interaction with the carboxy terminus of E12. In both yeast and mammalian two-hybrid interaction studies, Bridge-1 mutants lacking an intact PDZ-like domain interact poorly with E12. An E12 mutant (E12ΔC) lacking the carboxy-terminal nine amino acids shows impaired interaction with Bridge-1. Bridge-1 has direct transactivational activity, since a Gal4 DNA-binding domain–Bridge-1 fusion protein transactivates a Gal4CAT reporter. Bridge-1 also functions as a coactivator by enhancing E12- or E47-mediated activation of a rat insulin I gene minienhancer promoter-reporter construct in transient-transfection experiments. Substitution of the mutant E12ΔC for E12 reduces the coactivation of the rat insulin I minienhancer by Bridge-1. Inactivation of endogenous Bridge-1 in insulinoma (INS-1) cells by expression of a Bridge-1 antisense RNA diminishes rat insulin I promoter activity. Bridge-1, by utilizing its PDZ-like domain to interact with E12, may provide a new mechanism for the coactivation and regulation of transcription of the insulin gene.
PMCID: PMC84960  PMID: 10567574

Results 1-8 (8)