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1.  Cholesterol biosynthesis pathway as a novel mechanism of resistance to estrogen deprivation in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer 
Therapies targeting estrogenic stimulation in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer (BC) reduce mortality, but resistance remains a major clinical problem. Molecular studies have shown few high-frequency mutations to be associated with endocrine resistance. In contrast, expression profiling of primary ER+ BC samples has identified several promising signatures/networks for targeting.
To identify common adaptive mechanisms associated with resistance to aromatase inhibitors (AIs), we assessed changes in global gene expression during adaptation to long-term estrogen deprivation (LTED) in a panel of ER+ BC cell lines cultured in 2D on plastic (MCF7, T47D, HCC1428, SUM44 and ZR75.1) or in 3D on collagen (MCF7) to model the stromal compartment. Furthermore, dimethyl labelling followed by LC-MS/MS was used to assess global changes in protein abundance. The role of target genes/proteins on proliferation, ER-mediated transcription and recruitment of ER to target gene promoters was analysed.
The cholesterol biosynthesis pathway was the common upregulated pathway in the ER+ LTED but not the ER– LTED cell lines, suggesting a potential mechanism dependent on continued ER expression. Targeting the individual genes of the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway with siRNAs caused a 30–50 % drop in proliferation. Further analysis showed increased expression of 25-hydroxycholesterol (HC) in the MCF7 LTED cells. Exogenous 25-HC or 27-HC increased ER-mediated transcription and expression of the endogenous estrogen-regulated gene TFF1 in ER+ LTED cells but not in the ER– LTED cells. Additionally, recruitment of the ER and CREB-binding protein (CBP) to the TFF1 and GREB1 promoters was increased upon treatment with 25-HC and 27-HC. In-silico analysis of two independent studies of primary ER+ BC patients treated with neoadjuvant AIs showed that increased expression of MSMO1, EBP, LBR and SQLE enzymes, required for cholesterol synthesis and increased in our in-vitro models, was significantly associated with poor response to endocrine therapy.
Taken together, these data provide support for the role of cholesterol biosynthesis enzymes and the cholesterol metabolites, 25-HC and 27-HC, in a novel mechanism of resistance to endocrine therapy in ER+ BC that has potential as a therapeutic target.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-016-0713-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4888666  PMID: 27246191
Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor; Cholesterol biosynthesis; Oxysterol; Transcriptomics; Proteomics
2.  Mouse mammary stem cells express prognostic markers for triple-negative breast cancer 
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a heterogeneous group of tumours in which chemotherapy, the current mainstay of systemic treatment, is often initially beneficial but with a high risk of relapse and metastasis. There is currently no means of predicting which TNBC will relapse. We tested the hypothesis that the biological properties of normal stem cells are re-activated in tumour metastasis and that, therefore, the activation of normal mammary stem cell-associated gene sets in primary TNBC would be highly prognostic for relapse and metastasis.
Mammary basal stem and myoepithelial cells were isolated by flow cytometry and tested in low-dose transplant assays. Gene expression microarrays were used to establish expression profiles of the stem and myoepithelial populations; these were compared to each other and to our previously established mammary epithelial gene expression profiles. Stem cell genes were classified by Gene Ontology (GO) analysis and the expression of a subset analysed in the stem cell population at single cell resolution. Activation of stem cell genes was interrogated across different breast cancer cohorts and within specific subtypes and tested for clinical prognostic power.
A set of 323 genes was identified that was expressed significantly more highly in the purified basal stem cells compared to all other cells of the mammary epithelium. A total of 109 out of 323 genes had been associated with stem cell features in at least one other study in addition to our own, providing further support for their involvement in the biology of this cell type. GO analysis demonstrated an enrichment of these genes for an association with cell migration, cytoskeletal regulation and tissue morphogenesis, consistent with a role in invasion and metastasis. Single cell resolution analysis showed that individual cells co-expressed both epithelial- and mesenchymal-associated genes/proteins. Most strikingly, we demonstrated that strong activity of this stem cell gene set in TNBCs identified those tumours most likely to rapidly progress to metastasis.
Our findings support the hypothesis that the biological properties of normal stem cells are drivers of metastasis and that these properties can be used to stratify patients with a highly heterogeneous disease such as TNBC.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-015-0539-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4381533  PMID: 25849541
3.  Deriving a Mutation Index of Carcinogenicity Using Protein Structure and Protein Interfaces 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84598.
With the advent of Next Generation Sequencing the identification of mutations in the genomes of healthy and diseased tissues has become commonplace. While much progress has been made to elucidate the aetiology of disease processes in cancer, the contributions to disease that many individual mutations make remain to be characterised and their downstream consequences on cancer phenotypes remain to be understood. Missense mutations commonly occur in cancers and their consequences remain challenging to predict. However, this knowledge is becoming more vital, for both assessing disease progression and for stratifying drug treatment regimes. Coupled with structural data, comprehensive genomic databases of mutations such as the 1000 Genomes project and COSMIC give an opportunity to investigate general principles of how cancer mutations disrupt proteins and their interactions at the molecular and network level. We describe a comprehensive comparison of cancer and neutral missense mutations; by combining features derived from structural and interface properties we have developed a carcinogenicity predictor, InCa (Index of Carcinogenicity). Upon comparison with other methods, we observe that InCa can predict mutations that might not be detected by other methods. We also discuss general limitations shared by all predictors that attempt to predict driver mutations and discuss how this could impact high-throughput predictions. A web interface to a server implementation is publicly available at
PMCID: PMC3893166  PMID: 24454733
4.  GDNF-RET signaling in ER-positive breast cancers is a key determinant of response and resistance to aromatase inhibitors 
Cancer research  2013;73(12):3783-3795.
Most breast cancers at diagnosis are estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and depend on estrogen for growth and survival. Blocking estrogen biosynthesis by aromatase inhibitors (AI) has therefore become a first-line endocrine therapy for post-menopausal women with ER-positive breast cancers. Despite providing substantial improvements in patient outcome, AI resistance remains a major clinical challenge. The receptor tyrosine kinase RET and its co-receptor GFRα1 are upregulated in a subset of ER-positive breast cancers, and the RET ligand, glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is upregulated by inflammatory cytokines. Here we report the findings of a multidisciplinary strategy to address the impact of GDNF-RET signaling in the response to AI treatment. In breast cancer cells in 2D and 3D culture, GDNF-mediated RET signaling is enhanced in a model of AI resistance. Further, GDNF-RET signaling promoted the survival of AI-resistant cells and elicited resistance in AI-sensitive cells. Both these effects were selectively reverted by the RET kinase inhibitor NVP-BBT594. Gene expression profiling in ER-positive cancers defined a proliferation-independent GDNF-response signature that prognosed poor patient outcome and, more importantly, predicted poor response to AI treatment with the development of resistance. We validated these findings by demonstrating increased RET protein expression levels in an independent cohort of AI-resistant patient specimens. Together, our results establish GDNF-RET signaling as a rational therapeutic target to combat or delay the onset of AI resistance in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3686594  PMID: 23650283
aromatase inhibitor; breast cancer; GDNF; resistance; RET
5.  Genome-wide association study identifies a novel variant in RAD51B associated with male breast cancer risk 
Nature genetics  2012;44(11):1182-1184.
We conducted a genome-wide association study of male breast cancer using 823 cases and 2,795 controls of European ancestry with validation in independent sample sets totalling 438 cases and 474 controls. A novel variant in RAD51B (14q24.1) was significantly associated with male breast cancer risk (P = 3.02 ×10−13, odds ratio (OR) = 1.57). TOX3 (16q12.1) was also a susceptibility locus (P = 3.87 ×10−15, OR = 1.50).
PMCID: PMC3722904  PMID: 23001122
6.  Embryonic mammary signature subsets are activated in Brca1-/- and basal-like breast cancers 
Cancer is often suggested to result from development gone awry. Links between normal embryonic development and cancer biology have been postulated, but no defined genetic basis has been established. We recently published the first transcriptomic analysis of embryonic mammary cell populations. Embryonic mammary epithelial cells are an immature progenitor cell population, lacking differentiation markers, which is reflected in their very distinct genetic profiles when compared with those of their postnatal descendents.
We defined an embryonic mammary epithelial signature that incorporates the most highly expressed genes from embryonic mammary epithelium when compared with the postnatal mammary epithelial cells. We looked for activation of the embryonic mammary epithelial signature in mouse mammary tumors that formed in mice in which Brca1 had been conditionally deleted from the mammary epithelium and in human breast cancers to determine whether any genetic links exist between embryonic mammary cells and breast cancers.
Small subsets of the embryonic mammary epithelial signature were consistently activated in mouse Brca1-/- tumors and human basal-like breast cancers, which encoded predominantly transcriptional regulators, cell-cycle, and actin cytoskeleton components. Other embryonic gene subsets were found activated in non-basal-like tumor subtypes and repressed in basal-like tumors, including regulators of neuronal differentiation, transcription, and cell biosynthesis. Several embryonic genes showed significant upregulation in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative, progesterone receptor (PR)-negative, and/or grade 3 breast cancers. Among them, the transcription factor, SOX11, a progenitor cell and lineage regulator of nonmammary cell types, is found highly expressed in some Brca1-/- mammary tumors. By using RNA interference to silence SOX11 expression in breast cancer cells, we found evidence that SOX11 regulates breast cancer cell proliferation and cell survival.
Specific subsets of embryonic mammary genes, rather than the entire embryonic development transcriptomic program, are activated in tumorigenesis. Genes involved in embryonic mammary development are consistently upregulated in some breast cancers and warrant further investigation, potentially in drug-discovery research endeavors.
PMCID: PMC3672751  PMID: 23506684
7.  Genome-wide analysis of p63 binding sites identifies AP-2 factors as co-regulators of epidermal differentiation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(15):7190-7206.
The p63 transcription factor (TP63) is critical in development, growth and differentiation of stratifying epithelia. This is highlighted by the severity of congenital abnormalities caused by TP63 mutations in humans, the dramatic phenotypes in knockout mice and de-regulation of TP63 expression in neoplasia altering the tumour suppressive roles of the TP53 family. In order to define the normal role played by TP63 and provide the basis for better understanding how this network is perturbed in disease, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) to identify >7500 high-confidence TP63-binding regions across the entire genome, in primary human neonatal foreskin keratinocytes (HFKs). Using integrative strategies, we demonstrate that only a subset of these sites are bound by TP53 in response to DNA damage. We identify a role for TP63 in transcriptional regulation of multiple genes genetically linked to cleft palate and identify AP-2alpha (TFAP2A) as a co-regulator of a subset of these genes. We further demonstrate that AP-2gamma (TFAP2C) can bind a subset of these regions and that acute depletion of either TFAP2A or TFAP2C alone is sufficient to reduce terminal differentiation of organotypic epidermal skin equivalents, indicating overlapping physiological functions with TP63.
PMCID: PMC3424553  PMID: 22573176
9.  A Modified Method for Whole Exome Resequencing from Minimal Amounts of Starting DNA 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32617.
Next generation DNA sequencing (NGS) technologies have revolutionized the pace at which whole genome and exome sequences can be generated. However, despite these advances, many of the methods for targeted resequencing, such as the generation of high-depth exome sequences, are somewhat limited by the relatively large amounts of starting DNA that are normally required. In the case of tumour analysis this is particularly pertinent as many tumour biopsies often return submicrogram quantities of DNA, especially when tumours are microdissected prior to analysis. Here, we present a method for exome capture and resequencing using as little as 50 ng of starting DNA. The sequencing libraries generated by this minimal starting amount (MSA-Cap) method generate datasets that are comparable to standard amount (SA) whole exome libraries that use three micrograms of starting DNA. This method, which can be performed in most laboratories using commonly available reagents, has the potential to enhance large scale profiling efforts such as the resequencing of tumour exomes.
PMCID: PMC3293839  PMID: 22403682
10.  High-throughput RNA interference screening using pooled shRNA libraries and next generation sequencing 
Genome Biology  2011;12(10):R104.
RNA interference (RNAi) screening is a state-of-the-art technology that enables the dissection of biological processes and disease-related phenotypes. The commercial availability of genome-wide, short hairpin RNA (shRNA) libraries has fueled interest in this area but the generation and analysis of these complex data remain a challenge. Here, we describe complete experimental protocols and novel open source computational methodologies, shALIGN and shRNAseq, that allow RNAi screens to be rapidly deconvoluted using next generation sequencing. Our computational pipeline offers efficient screen analysis and the flexibility and scalability to quickly incorporate future developments in shRNA library technology.
PMCID: PMC3333774  PMID: 22018332
11.  Transcriptome analysis of embryonic mammary cells reveals insights into mammary lineage establishment 
The mammary primordium forms during embryogenesis as a result of inductive interactions between its constitutive tissues, the mesenchyme and epithelium, and represents the earliest evidence of commitment to the mammary lineage. Previous studies of embryonic mouse mammary epithelium indicated that, by mid-gestation, these cells are determined to a mammary cell fate and that a stem cell population has been delimited. Mammary mesenchyme can induce mammary development from simple epithelium even across species and classes, and can partially restore features of differentiated tissue to mouse mammary tumours in co-culture experiments. Despite these exciting properties, the molecular identity of embryonic mammary cells remains to be fully characterised.
Here, we define the transcriptome of the mammary primordium and the two distinct cellular compartments that comprise it, the mammary primordial bud epithelium and mammary mesenchyme. Pathway and network analysis was performed and comparisons of embryonic mammary gene expression profiles to those of both postnatal mouse and human mammary epithelial cell sub-populations and stroma were made.
Several of the genes we have detected in our embryonic mammary cell signatures were previously shown to regulate mammary cell fate and development, but we also identified a large number of novel candidates. Additionally, we determined genes that were expressed by both embryonic and postnatal mammary cells, which represent candidate regulators of mammary cell fate, differentiation and progenitor cell function that could signal from mammary lineage inception during embryogenesis through postnatal development. Comparison of embryonic mammary cell signatures with those of human breast cells identified potential regulators of mammary progenitor cell functions conserved across species.
These results provide new insights into genetic regulatory mechanisms of mammary development, particularly identification of novel potential regulators of mammary fate and mesenchymal-epithelial cross-talk. Since cancers may represent diseases of mesenchymal-epithelial communications, we anticipate these results will provide foundations for further studies into the fundamental links between developmental, stem cell and breast cancer biology.
PMCID: PMC3236343  PMID: 21834968
12.  Comprehensive Genomic Analysis of a BRCA2 Deficient Human Pancreatic Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21639.
Capan-1 is a well-characterised BRCA2-deficient human cell line isolated from a liver metastasis of a pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Here we report a genome-wide assessment of structural variations and high-depth exome characterization of single nucleotide variants and small insertion/deletions in Capan-1. To identify potential somatic and tumour-associated variations in the absence of a matched-normal cell line, we devised a novel method based on the analysis of HapMap samples. We demonstrate that Capan-1 has one of the most rearranged genomes sequenced to date. Furthermore, small insertions and deletions are detected more frequently in the context of short sequence repeats than in other genomes. We also identify a number of novel mutations that may represent genetic changes that have contributed to tumour progression. These data provide insight into the genomic effects of loss of BRCA2 function.
PMCID: PMC3130048  PMID: 21750719
13.  The FLIGHT Drosophila RNAi database 
Fly  2010;4(4):344-348.
FLIGHT ( is an online resource compiling data from high-throughput Drosophila in vivo and in vitro RNAi screens. FLIGHT includes details of RNAi reagents and their predicted off-target effects, alongside RNAi screen hits, scores and phenotypes, including images from high-content screens. The latest release of FLIGHT is designed to enable users to upload, analyze, integrate and share their own RNAi screens. Users can perform multiple normalizations, view quality control plots, detect and assign screen hits and compare hits from multiple screens using a variety of methods including hierarchical clustering. FLIGHT integrates RNAi screen data with microarray gene expression as well as genomic annotations and genetic/physical interaction datasets to provide a single interface for RNAi screen analysis and datamining in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC3174485  PMID: 20855970
RNAi; database; integration; bioinformatics; phenotype
14.  Genomic distance entrained clustering and regression modelling highlights interacting genomic regions contributing to proliferation in breast cancer 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:127.
Genomic copy number changes and regional alterations in epigenetic states have been linked to grade in breast cancer. However, the relative contribution of specific alterations to the pathology of different breast cancer subtypes remains unclear. The heterogeneity and interplay of genomic and epigenetic variations means that large datasets and statistical data mining methods are required to uncover recurrent patterns that are likely to be important in cancer progression.
We employed ridge regression to model the relationship between regional changes in gene expression and proliferation. Regional features were extracted from tumour gene expression data using a novel clustering method, called genomic distance entrained agglomerative (GDEC) clustering. Using gene expression data in this way provides a simple means of integrating the phenotypic effects of both copy number aberrations and alterations in chromatin state. We show that regional metagenes derived from GDEC clustering are representative of recurrent regions of epigenetic regulation or copy number aberrations in breast cancer. Furthermore, detected patterns of genomic alterations are conserved across independent oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer datasets. Sequential competitive metagene selection was used to reveal the relative importance of genomic regions in predicting proliferation rate. The predictive model suggested additive interactions between the most informative regions such as 8p22-12 and 8q13-22.
Data-mining of large-scale microarray gene expression datasets can reveal regional clusters of co-ordinate gene expression, independent of cause. By correlating these clusters with tumour proliferation we have identified a number of genomic regions that act together to promote proliferation in ER+ breast cancer. Identification of such regions should enable prioritisation of genomic regions for combinatorial functional studies to pinpoint the key genes and interactions contributing to tumourigenicity.
PMCID: PMC2946304  PMID: 20825665
15.  IAPs contain an evolutionarily conserved ubiquitin-binding domain that regulates NF-κB as well as cell survival and oncogenesis 
Nature cell biology  2008;10(11):1309.
The covalent attachment of ubiquitin to target proteins influences various cellular processes, including DNA repair, NF-κB signalling and cell survival1. The most common mode of regulation by ubiquitin-conjugation involves specialized ubiquitin-binding proteins that bind to ubiquitylated proteins and link them to downstream biochemical processes. Unravelling how the ubiquitin-message is recognized is essential because aberrant ubiquitin-mediated signalling contributes to tumour formation2. Recent evidence indicates that inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins are frequently overexpressed in cancer and their expression level is implicated in contributing to tumorigenesis, chemoresistance, disease progression and poor patient-survival3. Here, we have identified an evolutionarily conserved ubiquitin-associated (UBA) domain in IAPs, which enables them to bind to Lys 63-linked polyubiquitin. We found that the UBA domain is essential for the oncogenic potential of cIAP1, to maintain endothelial cell survival and to protect cells from TNF-α-induced apoptosis. Moreover, the UBA domain is required for XIAP and cIAP2–MALT1 to activate NF-κB. Our data suggest that the UBA domain of cIAP2–MALT1 stimulates NF-κB signalling by binding to polyubiquitylated NEMO. Significantly, 98% of all cIAP2–MALT1 fusion proteins retain the UBA domain, suggesting that ubiquitin-binding contributes to the oncogenic potential of cIAP2–MALT1 in MALT lymphoma. Our data identify IAPs as ubiquitin-binding proteins that contribute to ubiquitin-mediated cell survival, NF-κB signalling and oncogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2818601  PMID: 18931663
16.  Inactivation of Effector Caspases through Nondegradative Polyubiquitylation 
Molecular cell  2008;32(4):540-553.
Ubiquitin-mediated inactivation of caspases has long been postulated to contribute to the regulation of apoptosis. However, detailed mechanisms and functional consequences of caspase ubiquitylation have not been demonstrated. Here we show that the Drosophila Inhibitor of Apoptosis 1, DIAP1, blocks effector caspases by targeting them for polyubiquitylation and nonproteasomal inactivation. We demonstrate that the conjugation of ubiquitin to drICE suppresses its catalytic potential in cleaving caspase substrates. Our data suggest that ubiquitin conjugation sterically interferes with substrate entry and reduces the caspase’s proteolytic velocity. Disruption of drICE ubiquitylation, either by mutation of DIAP1’s E3 activity or drICE’s ubiquitin-acceptor lysines, abrogates DIAP1’s ability to neutralize drICE and suppress apoptosis in vivo. We also show that DIAP1 rests in an “inactive” conformation that requires caspase-mediated cleavage to subsequently ubiquitylate caspases. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that effector caspases regulate their own inhibition through a negative feedback mechanism involving DIAP1 “activation” and nondegradative polyubiquitylation.
PMCID: PMC2713662  PMID: 19026784
17.  In Vitro and in Vivo Characterization of Molecular Interactions between Calmodulin, Ezrin/Radixin/Moesin, and L-selectin*S⃞ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;284(13):8833-8845.
L-selectin is a cell adhesion molecule that tethers leukocytes to the luminal walls of venules during inflammation and enables them to roll under the force of blood flow. Clustering of L-selectin during rolling is thought to promote outside-in signals that lead to integrin activation and chemokine receptor expression, ultimately contributing to leukocyte arrest. Several studies have underscored the importance of the L-selectin cytoplasmic tail in functionally regulating adhesion and signaling. Interestingly, the L-selectin tail comprises only 17 amino acids, and yet it is thought to bind simultaneously to several proteins. For example, constitutive association of calmodulin (CaM) and ezrin/radixin/moesin (ERM) to L-selectin confers resistance to proteolysis and microvillar positioning, respectively. In this report we found that recombinant purified CaM and ERM bound non-competitively to the same tail of L-selectin. Furthermore, molecular modeling supported the possibility that CaM, L-selectin, and moesin could form a heterotrimeric complex. Finally, using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy to measure fluorescence resonance energy transfer, it was shown that CaM, L-selectin, and ERM could interact simultaneously in vivo. Moreover, L-selectin clustering promoted CaM/ERM interaction in cis (i.e. derived from neighboring L-selectin tails). These results highlight a novel intracellular event that occurs as a consequence of L-selectin clustering, which could participate in transducing signals that promote the transition from rolling to arrest.
PMCID: PMC2659241  PMID: 19129194
18.  Transcriptome analysis of mammary epithelial subpopulations identifies novel determinants of lineage commitment and cell fate 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:591.
Understanding the molecular control of cell lineages and fate determination in complex tissues is key to not only understanding the developmental biology and cellular homeostasis of such tissues but also for our understanding and interpretation of the molecular pathology of diseases such as cancer. The prerequisite for such an understanding is detailed knowledge of the cell types that make up such tissues, including their comprehensive molecular characterisation. In the mammary epithelium, the bulk of the tissue is composed of three cell lineages, namely the basal/myoepithelial, luminal epithelial estrogen receptor positive and luminal epithelial estrogen receptor negative cells. However, a detailed molecular characterisation of the transcriptomic differences between these three populations has not been carried out.
A whole transcriptome analysis of basal/myoepithelial cells, luminal estrogen receptor negative cells and luminal estrogen receptor positive cells isolated from the virgin mouse mammary epithelium identified 861, 326 and 488 genes as highly differentially expressed in the three cell types, respectively. Network analysis of the transcriptomic data identified a subpopulation of luminal estrogen receptor negative cells with a novel potential role as non-professional immune cells. Analysis of the data for potential paracrine interacting factors showed that the basal/myoepithelial cells, remarkably, expressed over twice as many ligands and cell surface receptors as the other two populations combined. A number of transcriptional regulators were also identified that were differentially expressed between the cell lineages. One of these, Sox6, was specifically expressed in luminal estrogen receptor negative cells and functional assays confirmed that it maintained mammary epithelial cells in a differentiated luminal cell lineage.
The mouse mammary epithelium is composed of three main cell types with distinct gene expression patterns. These suggest the existence of a novel functional cell type within the gland, that the basal/myoepithelial cells are key regulators of paracrine signalling and that there is a complex network of differentially expressed transcription factors controlling mammary epithelial cell fate. These data will form the basis for understanding not only cell fate determination and cellular homeostasis in the normal mammary epithelium but also the contribution of different mammary epithelial cell types to the etiology and molecular pathology of breast disease.
PMCID: PMC2629782  PMID: 19063729
19.  MoKCa database—mutations of kinases in cancer 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D824-D831.
Members of the protein kinase family are amongst the most commonly mutated genes in human cancer, and both mutated and activated protein kinases have proved to be tractable targets for the development of new anticancer therapies The MoKCa database (Mutations of Kinases in Cancer, has been developed to structurally and functionally annotate, and where possible predict, the phenotypic consequences of mutations in protein kinases implicated in cancer. Somatic mutation data from tumours and tumour cell lines have been mapped onto the crystal structures of the affected protein domains. Positions of the mutated amino-acids are highlighted on a sequence-based domain pictogram, as well as a 3D-image of the protein structure, and in a molecular graphics package, integrated for interactive viewing. The data associated with each mutation is presented in the Web interface, along with expert annotation of the detailed molecular functional implications of the mutation. Proteins are linked to functional annotation resources and are annotated with structural and functional features such as domains and phosphorylation sites. MoKCa aims to provide assessments available from multiple sources and algorithms for each potential cancer-associated mutation, and present these together in a consistent and coherent fashion to facilitate authoritative annotation by cancer biologists and structural biologists, directly involved in the generation and analysis of new mutational data.
PMCID: PMC2686448  PMID: 18986996
20.  pSTIING: a ‘systems’ approach towards integrating signalling pathways, interaction and transcriptional regulatory networks in inflammation and cancer 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;34(Database issue):D527-D534.
pSTIING () is a new publicly accessible web-based application and knowledgebase featuring 65 228 distinct molecular associations (comprising protein–protein, protein–lipid, protein–small molecule interactions and transcriptional regulatory associations), ligand–receptor–cell type information and signal transduction modules. It has a particular major focus on regulatory networks relevant to chronic inflammation, cell migration and cancer. The web application and interface provide graphical representations of networks allowing users to combine and extend transcriptional regulatory and signalling modules, infer molecular interactions across species and explore networks via protein domains/motifs, gene ontology annotations and human diseases. pSTIING also supports the direct cross-correlation of experimental results with interaction information in the knowledgebase via the CLADIST tool associated with pSTIING, which currently analyses and clusters gene expression, proteomic and phenotypic datasets. This allows the contextual projection of co-expression patterns onto prior network information, facilitating the identification of functional modules in physiologically relevant systems.
PMCID: PMC1347407  PMID: 16381926
21.  FLIGHT: database and tools for the integration and cross-correlation of large-scale RNAi phenotypic datasets 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;34(Database issue):D479-D483.
FLIGHT () is a new database designed to help researchers browse and cross-correlate data from large-scale RNAi studies. To date, the majority of these functional genomic screens have been carried out using Drosophila cell lines. These RNAi screens follow 100 years of classical Drosophila genetics, but have already revealed their potential by ascribing an impressive number of functions to known and novel genes. This has in turn given rise to a pressing need for tools to simplify the analysis of the large amount of phenotypic information generated. FLIGHT aims to do this by providing users with a gene-centric view of screen results and by making it possible to cluster phenotypic data to identify genes with related functions. Additionally, FLIGHT provides microarray expression data for many of the Drosophila cell lines commonly used in RNAi screens. This, together with information about cell lines, protocols and dsRNA primer sequences, is intended to help researchers design their own cell-based screens. Finally, although the current focus of FLIGHT is Drosophila, the database has been designed to facilitate the comparison of functional data across species and to help researchers working with other systems navigate their way through the fly genome.
PMCID: PMC1347401  PMID: 16381916
22.  Class II Phosphoinositide 3-Kinases Are Downstream Targets of Activated Polypeptide Growth Factor Receptors 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(11):3817-3830.
The class II phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K) PI3K-C2α and PI3K-C2β are two recently identified members of the large PI3K family. Both enzymes are characterized by the presence of a C2 domain at the carboxy terminus and, in vitro, preferentially utilize phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidylinositol 4-monophosphate as lipid substrates. Little is understood about how the catalytic activity of either enzyme is regulated in vivo. In this study, we demonstrate that PI3K-C2α and PI3K-C2β represent two downstream targets of the activated epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor in human carcinoma-derived A431 cells. Stimulation of quiescent cultures with EGF resulted in the rapid recruitment of both enzymes to a phosphotyrosine signaling complex that contained the EGF receptor and Erb-B2. Ligand addition also induced the appearance of a second, more slowly migrating band of PI3K-C2α and PI3K-C2β immunoreactivity on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Since both PI3K enzymes can utilize Ca2+ as an essential divalent cation in lipid kinase assays and since the catalytic activity of PI3K-C2α is refractory to the inhibitor wortmannin, these properties were used to confirm the recruitment of each PI3K isozyme to the activated EGF receptor complex. To examine this interaction in greater detail, PI3K-C2β was chosen for further investigation. EGF and platelet-derived growth factor also stimulated the association of PI3K-C2β with their respective receptors in other cells, including epithelial cells and fibroblasts. The use of EGF receptor mutants and phosphopeptides derived from the EGF receptor and Erb-B2 demonstrated that the interaction with recombinant PI3K-C2β occurs through E(p)YL/I phosphotyrosine motifs. The N-terminal region of PI3K-C2β was found to selectively interact with the EGF receptor in vitro, suggesting that it mediates the association of this PI3K with the receptor. However, the mechanism of this interaction remains unclear. We conclude that class II PI3K enzymes may contribute to the generation of 3′ phosphoinositides following the activation of polypeptide growth factor receptors in vivo and thus mediate certain aspects of their biological activity.
PMCID: PMC85707  PMID: 10805725

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