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1.  Vitamin C selectively kills KRAS and BRAF mutant colorectal cancer cells by targeting GAPDH 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2015;350(6266):1391-1396.
More than half of human colorectal cancers (CRCs) carry either KRAS or BRAF mutations, and are often refractory to approved targeted therapies. We report that cultured CRC cells harboring KRAS or BRAF mutations are selectively killed when exposed to high levels of vitamin C. This effect is due to increased uptake of the oxidized form of vitamin C, dehydroascorbate (DHA), via the GLUT1 glucose transporter. Increased DHA uptake causes oxidative stress as intracellular DHA is reduced to vitamin C depleting glutathione. Thus, ROS accumulates and inactivates glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH). Inhibiting GAPDH in highly glycolytic KRAS or BRAF mutant cells leads to an energetic crisis and cell death not seen in KRAS and BRAF wild-type cells. In vivo studies indicate that high-dose vitamin C can impair tumor growth in Apc/KrasG12D mutant mouse intestinal cancers. While it is unclear whether human tumors will respond similarly, our results provide a mechanistic rationale for exploring the therapeutic use of vitamin C to treat CRCs with KRAS or BRAF mutations.
PMCID: PMC4778961  PMID: 26541605
2.  Signal Transduction: From the Atomic Age to the Post-Genomic Era 
We have come a long way in the 55 years since Edmond Fischer and the late Edwin Krebs discovered that the activity of glycogen phosphorylase is regulated by reversible protein phosphorylation. Many of the fundamental molecular mechanisms that operate in biological signaling have since been characterized and the vast web of interconnected pathways that make up the cellular signaling network has been mapped in considerable detail. Nonetheless, it is important to consider how fast this field is still moving and the issues at the current boundaries of our understanding. One must also appreciate what experimental strategies have allowed us to attain our present level of knowledge. We summarize here some key issues (both conceptual and methodological), raise unresolved questions, discuss potential pitfalls, and highlight areas in which our understanding is still rudimentary. We hope these wide-ranging ruminations will be useful to investigators who carry studies of signal transduction forward during the rest of the 21st century.
Sophisticated technologies in many fields (e.g., structural biology and imaging) have provided unprecedented insights into signaling processes in cells. And, with many lingering questions, research in this area continues at a brisk pace.
PMCID: PMC4292159  PMID: 25359498
3.  Cancer’s fuel choice: new flavors for a picky eater 
Molecular cell  2015;60(4):514-523.
Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells exhibit a high rate of glycolysis in the presence of ample oxygen, a process termed aerobic glycolysis, in 1924 (Warburg et al., 1924). Since then we have significantly advanced our understanding of cancers’ fuel choice to meet their demands for energy and for the production of biosynthetic precursors. In this review, we will discuss the preferred nutrients of cancer cells and how they are utilized to satisfy their bioenergetic and biosynthetic needs. In addition, we will describe how cell intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as oncogene mutations, nutrient and oxygen availability and other microenvironmental factors influence fuel choice.
PMCID: PMC4676726  PMID: 26590711
4.  Glutathione biosynthesis is a metabolic vulnerability in PI3K/Akt-driven breast cancer 
Nature cell biology  2016;18(5):572-578.
Cancer cells often select for mutations that enhance signaling through pathways that promote anabolic metabolism1. Although the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, which is frequently dysregulated in breast cancer2, is a well-established regulator of central glucose metabolism and aerobic glycolysis3,4, its regulation of other metabolic processes required for tumor growth is not well defined. Here we report that in mammary epithelial cells, oncogenic PI3K/Akt stimulates glutathione (GSH) biosynthesis by stabilizing and activating Nrf2 to up-regulate the GSH biosynthetic genes. Increased Nrf2 stability is dependent on the Akt-mediated accumulation of p21Cip1/WAF1 and GSK-3 inhibition. Consistently, in human breast tumors, up-regulation of Nrf2 targets is associated with PI3K pathway mutation status and oncogenic Akt activation. Elevated GSH biosynthesis is required for PI3K/Akt-driven resistance to oxidative stress, initiation of tumor spheroids, and anchorage-independent growth. Furthermore, inhibition of GSH biosynthesis with buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) synergizes with cisplatin (CDDP) to selectively induce tumor regression in PI3K pathway mutant breast cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Our findings provide insight into GSH biosynthesis as a metabolic vulnerability associated with PI3K pathway mutant breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC4848114  PMID: 27088857
5.  PTEN loss is a context-dependent outcome determinant in obese and non-obese endometrioid endometrial cancer patients 
Molecular oncology  2015;9(8):1694-1703.
Endometrial cancer incidence is increasing, due in part to a strong association with obesity. Mutations in the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, the central relay pathway of insulin signals, occur in the majority of endometrioid adenocarcinomas, the most common form of endometrial cancer. We sought to determine the impact of PI3K pathway alterations on progression free survival in a cohort of endometrioid endometrial cancers. Prognostic utility of PIK3CA, PIK3R1, and PTEN mutations, as well as PTEN protein loss by immunohistochemistry, was explored in the context of patient body mass index. Reverse-phase protein arrays were utilized to assess protein expression based on PTEN status. Among 187 endometrioid endometrial cancers, there were no statistically significant associations between PFS and PIK3CA, PIK3R1, PTEN mutation or loss. When stratified by body mass index, PTEN loss was associated with improved progression free survival (P<0.006) in obese (body mass index ≥ 30) patients. PTEN loss resulted in distinct protein changes: Canonical PI3K pathway activation was observed only in the non-obese population while decreased expression of β-CATENIN and phosphorylated FOXO3A was observed in obese patients. These data suggest the impact of PTEN loss on tumor biology and clinical outcomes must be interpreted in the context of body mass index, and provide a potential explanation for discrepant reports on the effect of PTEN status and obesity on prognosis in endometrial cancer. This reveals a clinically important interaction between metabolic state and tumor genetics that may unveil the biologic underpinning of obesity-related cancers and impact ongoing clinical trials with PI3K pathway inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC4584169  PMID: 26045339
Endometrial Cancer; PTEN loss; obesity; survival; PI3K/AKT pathway
6.  Adaptive changes in amino acid metabolism permit normal longevity in mice consuming a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2015;1852(10 Pt A):2056-2065.
Ingestion of very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets (KD) is associated with weight loss, lowering of glucose and insulin levels and improved systemic insulin sensitivity. However, the beneficial effects of long-term feeding have been the subject of debate. We therefore studied the effects of lifelong consumption of this diet in mice. Complete metabolic analyses were performed after 8 and 80 weeks on the diet. In addition we performed a serum metabolomic analysis and examined hepatic gene expression. Lifelong consumption of KD had no effect on morbidity or mortality (KD vs. Chow, 676 vs. 630 days) despite hepatic steatosis and inflammation in KD mice. The KD fed mice lost weight initially as previously reported (Kennnedy et al., 2007) and remained lighter and had less fat mass; KD consuming mice had higher levels of energy expenditure, improved glucose homeostasis and higher circulating levels of β-hydroxybutyrate and triglycerides than chow-fed controls. Hepatic expression of the critical metabolic regulators including fibroblast growth factor 21 were also higher in KD-fed mice while expression levels of lipogenic enzymes such as stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 was reduced. Metabolomic analysis revealed compensatory changes in amino acid metabolism, primarily involving down-regulation of catabolic processes, demonstrating that mice eating KD can shift amino acid metabolism to conserve amino acid levels. Long-term KD feeding caused profound and persistent metabolic changes, the majority of which are seen as health promoting, and had no adverse effects on survival in mice.
PMCID: PMC4862866  PMID: 26170063
Ketogenic diet; Liver; Ketogenesis; Hepatic steatosis; Free fatty acid metabolism; Metabolomics; Mass spectrometry
7.  Signal Transduction: From the Atomic Age to the Post-Genomic Era 
We have come a long way in the 55 years since Edmond Fischer and the late Edwin Krebs discovered that the activity of glycogen phosphorylase is regulated by reversible protein phosphorylation. Many of the fundamental molecular mechanisms that operate in biological signaling have since been characterized and the vast web of interconnected pathways that make up the cellular signaling network has been mapped in considerable detail. Nonetheless, it is important to consider how fast this field is still moving and the issues at the current boundaries of our understanding. One must also appreciate what experimental strategies have allowed us to attain our present level of knowledge. We summarize here some key issues (both conceptual and methodological), raise unresolved questions, discuss potential pitfalls, and highlight areas in which our understanding is still rudimentary. We hope these wide-ranging ruminations will be useful to investigators who carry studies of signal transduction forward during the rest of the 21st century.
PMCID: PMC4292159  PMID: 25359498
8.  Regulation of mTORC1 by PI3K Signaling 
Trends in cell biology  2015;25(9):545-555.
The class I phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) - mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling network directs cellular metabolism and growth. Activation of mTORC1, which is composed of mTOR, Raptor, mLST8, PRAS40, and DEPTOR, depends on the Rag and Rheb GTPases, and requires signals from amino acids, glucose, oxygen, energy (ATP), and growth factors (including cytokines and hormones such as insulin). Here we discuss the signal transduction mechanisms through which growth factor-responsive PI3K signaling activates mTORC1. We focus on how PI3K-dependent activation of Akt and spatial regulation of the TSC complex (composed of TSC1, TSC2, and TBC1D7) switches on Rheb at the lysosome, where mTORC1 is activated. Integration of PI3K- and amino acid-dependent signals upstream of mTORC1 at the lysosome is detailed in a working model. A coherent understanding of the PI3K-mTORC1 network is imperative as its dysregulation has been implicated in diverse pathologies including cancer, diabetes, autism, and aging.
PMCID: PMC4734635  PMID: 26159692
Insulin; TSC2; Rheb; Rag; Raptor; Lysosome
9.  A Cross-Species Analysis in Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors Reveals Molecular Subtypes with Distinctive Clinical, Metastatic, Developmental, and Metabolic Characteristics 
Cancer discovery  2015;5(12):1296-1313.
Seeking to assess the representative and instructive value of an engineered mouse model of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNET) for its cognate human cancer, we profiled and compared mRNA and miRNA transcriptomes of tumors from both. Mouse PanNET tumors could be classified into two distinctive subtypes, well-differentiated islet/insulinoma tumors (IT) and poorly differentiated tumors associated with liver metastases, dubbed metastasis-like primary (MLP). Human PanNETs were independently classified into these same two subtypes, along with a third, specific gene mutation–enriched subtype. The MLP subtypes in human and mouse were similar to liver metastases in terms of miRNA and mRNA transcriptome profiles and signature genes. The human/mouse MLP subtypes also similarly expressed genes known to regulate early pancreas development, whereas the IT subtypes expressed genes characteristic of mature islet cells, suggesting different tumorigenesis pathways. In addition, these subtypes exhibit distinct metabolic profiles marked by differential pyruvate metabolism, substantiating the significance of their separate identities.
This study involves a comprehensive cross-species integrated analysis of multi-omics profiles and histology to stratify PanNETs into subtypes with distinctive characteristics. We provide support for the RIP1-TAG2 mouse model as representative of its cognate human cancer with prospects to better understand PanNET heterogeneity and consider future applications of personalized cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC4946251  PMID: 26446169
10.  EGF receptor specificity for phosphotyrosine-primed substrates provides signal integration with Src 
Aberrant activation of the EGF receptor (EGFR) contributes to many human cancers by activating the Ras-MAPK and other pathways. EGFR signaling is augmented by Src-family kinases, but the mechanism is poorly understood. Here, we show that human EGFR preferentially phosphorylates peptide substrates that are primed by a prior phosphorylation. Utilizing peptides based on the sequence of the adaptor protein Shc1, we show that Src mediates the priming phosphorylation, promoting subsequent phosphorylation by EGFR. Importantly, the doubly phosphorylated Shc1 peptide binds more tightly to the Ras activator Grb2, a key step in activating the Ras-MAPK pathway, than singly phosphorylated peptides. Finally, a crystal structure of EGFR in complex with a primed Shc1 peptide reveals the structural basis for EGFR substrate specificity. These results provide a molecular explanation for the integration of Src and EGFR signaling with downstream effectors such as Ras.
PMCID: PMC4824005  PMID: 26551075
12.  PtdIns(3,4,5)P3-dependent Activation of the mTORC2 Kinase Complex 
Cancer discovery  2015;5(11):1194-1209.
mTOR serves as a central regulator of cell growth and metabolism by forming two distinct complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2. Although mechanisms of mTORC1 activation by growth factors and amino acids have been extensively studied, the upstream regulatory mechanisms leading to mTORC2 activation remain largely elusive. Here, we report that the PH domain of Sin1, an essential and unique component of mTORC2, interacts with the mTOR kinase domain to suppress mTOR activity. More importantly, PtdIns(3,4,5)P3, but not other PtdInsPn species, interacts with Sin1-PH to release its inhibition on the mTOR kinase domain, thereby triggering mTORC2 activation. Mutating critical Sin1 residues that mediate PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 interaction inactivates mTORC2, whereas mTORC2 activity is pathologically increased by patient-derived mutations in the Sin1-PH domain, promoting cell growth and tumor formation. Together, our study unravels a PI3K-dependent mechanism for mTORC2 activation, allowing mTORC2 to activate Akt in a manner that is regulated temporally and spatially by PtdIns(3,4,5)P3.
PMCID: PMC4631654  PMID: 26293922
Sin1; PH domain; mTORC2; PtdIns(3,4,5)P3, tumorigenesis
13.  Suppression of Nkx3.2 by phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase signaling regulates cartilage development by modulating chondrocyte hypertrophy 
Cellular signalling  2015;27(12):2389-2400.
Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) is a key regulator of diverse biological processes including cell proliferation, migration, survival, and differentiation. While a role of PI3K in chondrocyte differentiation has been suggested, its precise mechanisms of action are poorly understood. Here we show that PI3K signaling can down-regulate Nkx3.2 at both mRNA and protein levels in various chondrocyte cultures in vitro. In addition, we have intriguingly found that p85β, not p85α, is specifically employed as a regulatory subunit for PI3K-mediated Nkx3.2 suppression. Furthermore, we found that regulation of Nkx3.2 by PI3K requires Rac1–PAK1, but not Akt, signaling downstream of PI3K. Finally, using embryonic limb bud cultures, ex vivo long bone cultures, and p85β knockout mice, we demonstrated that PI3K-mediated suppression of Nkx3.2 in chondrocytes plays a role in the control of cartilage hypertrophy during skeletal development in vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC4847727  PMID: 26363466
Nkx3.2 (Bapx1); PI-3-Kinase; Chondrocyte differentiation; Cartilage development
14.  A Cross-Species Study of PI3K Protein-Protein Interactions Reveals the Direct Interaction of P85 and SHP2 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:20471.
Using a series of immunoprecipitation (IP) – tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) experiments and reciprocal BLAST, we conducted a fly-human cross-species comparison of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) interactome in a drosophila S2R+ cell line and several NSCLC and human multiple myeloma cell lines to identify conserved interacting proteins to PI3K, a critical signaling regulator of the AKT pathway. Using H929 human cancer cells and drosophila S2R+ cells, our data revealed an unexpected direct binding of Corkscrew, the drosophila ortholog of the non-receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase type II (SHP2) to the Pi3k21B (p60) regulatory subunit of PI3K (p50/p85 human ortholog) but no association with Pi3k92e, the human ortholog of the p110 catalytic subunit. The p85-SHP2 association was validated in human cell lines, and formed a ternary regulatory complex with GRB2-associated-binding protein 2 (GAB2). Validation experiments with knockdown of GAB2 and Far-Western blots proved the direct interaction of SHP2 with p85, independent of adaptor proteins and transfected FLAG-p85 provided evidence that SHP2 binding on p85 occurred on the SH2 domains. A disruption of the SHP2-p85 complex took place after insulin/IGF1 stimulation or imatinib treatment, suggesting that the direct SHP2-p85 interaction was both independent of AKT activation and positively regulates the ERK signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC4738311  PMID: 26839216
15.  Gain of glucose-independent growth upon metastasis of breast cancer cells to the brain 
Cancer research  2014;75(3):554-565.
Breast cancer brain metastasis is resistant to therapy and a particularly poor prognostic feature in patient survival. Altered metabolism is a common feature of cancer cells but little is known as to what metabolic changes benefit breast cancer brain metastases. We found that brain-metastatic breast cancer cells evolved the ability to survive and proliferate independent of glucose due to enhanced gluconeogenesis and oxidations of glutamine and branched chain amino acids, which together sustain the non-oxidative pentose pathway for purine synthesis. Silencing expression of fructose-1,6-bisphosphatases (FBPs) in brain metastatic cells reduced their viability and improved the survival of metastasis-bearing immunocompetent hosts. Clinically, we showed that brain metastases from human breast cancer patients expressed higher levels of FBP and glycogen than the corresponding primary tumors. Together, our findings identify a critical metabolic condition required to sustain brain metastasis, and suggest that targeting gluconeogenesis may help eradicate this deadly feature in advanced breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4315743  PMID: 25511375
Breast cancer; brain metastasis; glucose; gluconeogenesis; fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase
16.  Stand Up to Cancer Phase Ib Study of Pan-Phosphoinositide-3-Kinase Inhibitor Buparlisib With Letrozole in Estrogen Receptor-Positive/Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2-Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2014;32(12):1202-1209.
Buparlisib, an oral reversible inhibitor of all class I phosphoinositide-3-kinases, has shown antitumoral activity against estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer cell lines and xenografts, alone and with endocrine therapy. This phase Ib study evaluated buparlisib plus letrozole's safety, tolerability, and preliminary activity in patients with metastatic ER-positive breast cancer refractory to endocrine therapy.
Patients and Methods
Patients received letrozole and buparlisib in two different administration schedules. Outcomes were assessed by standard solid-tumor phase I methods. [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose–positron emission tomography/computed tomography ([18F]FDG-PET/CT) scans were done at baseline and 2 weeks after treatment initiation. Tumor blocks were collected for phosphoinositide-3-kinase pathway mutation analysis.
Fifty-one patients were allocated sequentially to continuous or intermittent (five on/two off days) buparlisib administration on an every-4-week schedule. Buparlisib's maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) was 100 mg/d. Common drug-related adverse events included ≤ grade 2 hyperglycemia, nausea, fatigue, transaminitis, and mood disorders. The clinical benefit rate (lack of progression ≥ 6 months) among all patients treated at the MTD was 31%, including two objective responses in the continuous dose arm. Of seven patients remaining on treatment ≥ 12 months, three had tumors with PIK3CA hot-spot mutation. Patients exhibiting metabolic disease progression by [18F]FDG-PET/CT scan at 2 weeks progressed rapidly on therapy.
The letrozole and buparlisib combination was safe, with reversible toxicities regardless of schedule administration. Clinical activity was observed independent of PIK3CA mutation status. No metabolic response by [18F]FDG-PET/CT scan at 2 weeks was associated with rapid disease progression. Phase III trials of buparlisib and endocrine therapy in patients with ER-positive breast cancer are ongoing.
PMCID: PMC3986383  PMID: 24663045
17.  Computational Prediction of Protein-Protein Interactions 
The prediction of protein-protein interactions and kinase-specific phosphorylation sites on individual proteins is critical for correctly placing proteins within signaling pathways and networks. The importance of this type of annotation continues to increase with the continued explosion of genomic and proteomic data, particularly with emerging data categorizing posttranslational modifications on a large scale. A variety of computational tools are available for this purpose. In this chapter, we review the general methodologies for these types of computational predictions and present a detailed user-focused tutorial of one such method and computational tool, Scansite, which is freely available to the entire scientific community over the Internet.
PMCID: PMC4435844  PMID: 25859943
Scansite; Protein-protein interaction prediction; Sequence motif; PSSM; Binding motif; Phosphorylation sites; Bioinformatics
18.  Targeting glutamine metabolism sensitizes pancreatic cancer to PARP-driven metabolic catastrophe induced by ß-lapachone 
Cancer & Metabolism  2015;3:12.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDA) activate a glutamine-dependent pathway of cytosolic nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) production to maintain redox homeostasis and support proliferation. Enzymes involved in this pathway (GLS1 (mitochondrial glutaminase 1), GOT1 (cytoplasmic glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase 1), and GOT2 (mitochondrial glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase 2)) are highly upregulated in PDA, and among these, inhibitors of GLS1 were recently deployed in clinical trials to target anabolic glutamine metabolism. However, single-agent inhibition of this pathway is cytostatic and unlikely to provide durable benefit in controlling advanced disease.
Here, we report that reducing NADPH pools by genetically or pharmacologically (bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,2,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl sulfide (BPTES) or CB-839) inhibiting glutamine metabolism in mutant Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) PDA sensitizes cell lines and tumors to ß-lapachone (ß-lap, clinical form ARQ761). ß-Lap is an NADPH:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1)-bioactivatable drug that leads to NADPH depletion through high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the futile redox cycling of the drug and subsequently nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)+ depletion through poly(ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP) hyperactivation. NQO1 expression is highly activated by mutant KRAS signaling. As such, ß-lap treatment concurrent with inhibition of glutamine metabolism in mutant KRAS, NQO1 overexpressing PDA leads to massive redox imbalance, extensive DNA damage, rapid PARP-mediated NAD+ consumption, and PDA cell death—features not observed in NQO1-low, wild-type KRAS expressing cells.
This treatment strategy illustrates proof of principle that simultaneously decreasing glutamine metabolism-dependent tumor anti-oxidant defenses and inducing supra-physiological ROS formation are tumoricidal and that this rationally designed combination strategy lowers the required doses of both agents in vitro and in vivo. The non-overlapping specificities of GLS1 inhibitors and ß-lap for PDA tumors afford high tumor selectivity, while sparing normal tissue.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40170-015-0137-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4601138  PMID: 26462257
Metabolic cancer therapy; Glutamine metabolism; Transamination; NQO1-bioactivated drugs
19.  Cell state-specific metabolic dependency in hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis 
Cell  2014;158(6):1309-1323.
The balance between oxidative and non-oxidative glucose metabolism is essential for a number of pathophysiological processes. By deleting enzymes that affect aerobic glycolysis with different potencies, we examine how modulating glucose metabolism specifically affects hematopoietic and leukemic cell populations. We find that deficiency in the M2 pyruvate kinase isoform (PKM2) reduces levels of metabolic intermediates important for biosynthesis and impairs progenitor function without perturbing hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), whereas lactate dehydrogenase-A (LDHA) deletion significantly inhibits the function of both HSC and progenitors during hematopoiesis. In contrast, leukemia initiation by transforming alleles putatively affecting either HSC or progenitors is inhibited in the absence of either PKM2 or LDHA, indicating that the cell state-specific responses to metabolic manipulation in hematopoiesis do not apply to the setting of leukemia. This finding suggests that fine-tuning the level of glycolysis may be therapeutically explored for treating leukemia while preserving HSC function.
PMCID: PMC4197056  PMID: 25215489
20.  What a Tangled Web We Weave: Emerging Resistance Mechanisms to Inhibition of the Phosphoinositide 3-kinase Pathway 
Cancer discovery  2013;3(12):10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0063.
The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is one of the most frequently mutated pathways in cancer, and is actively being pursued as a therapeutic target. Despite the importance of the PI3K pathway in cancer, durable responses to PI3K-pathway targeted therapies are uncommon with monotherapy. Several in vitro and xenograft models have elucidated compensatory signaling and genomic changes which may limit the therapeutic effectiveness of PI3K inhibitors in the clinic. Future clinical trials with prospective evaluation of tumor signaling and genomic changes are likely to identify novel resistance mechanisms as well as subsets of patients who may derive maximal benefit from PI3K pathway inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3864542  PMID: 24265156
phosphoinositide 3-kinase; resistance; mTOR; cancer; signaling
21.  BRD7 regulates XBP1s' activity and glucose homeostasis through its interaction with the regulatory subunits of PI3K 
Cell metabolism  2014;20(1):73-84.
Bromodomain-containing protein 7 (BRD7) is a member of the bromodomain-containing protein family that is known to play role as tumor suppressors. Here, we show that BRD7 is a component of the unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling through its ability to regulate X-box binding protein1 (XBP1) nuclear translocation. BRD7 interacts with the regulatory subunits of phosphatidyl-inositol3-kinase (PI3K) and increases the nuclear translocation of both p85α/β and XBP1s. Deficiency of BRD7 blocks the nuclear translocation of XBP1s. Furthermore, our in vivo studies have shown that BRD7 protein levels are reduced in the liver of obese mice, and reinstating BRD7 levels in the liver restores XBP1s nuclear translocation, improves glucose homeostasis, and ultimately reduces the blood glucose levels in the obese and diabetic mouse models.
PMCID: PMC4079724  PMID: 24836559
Bromodomain-containing protein 7 (BRD7); X-box binding protein1 (XBP1); Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress; Unfolded protein response (UPR); Diabetes
22.  Decoding key nodes in the metabolism of cancer cells: sugar & spice and all things nice 
In the past 5 years, a convergence of studies has resulted in a broad appreciation in the cancer research community that reprogramming of cellular metabolism may be more central to cancer than appreciated in the past 30 years. The re-emergence of cancer metabolism stems in part from discoveries that a number of common oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes more directly control cell metabolism than previously thought. In addition, a number of what would previously have been called “card-carrying” metabolic enzymes have been identified as human tumor suppressors or oncogenes, causally mutated in a variety of human cancers. This growing appreciation of the role of altered cell metabolism has led to further investigation into the rate-limiting proteins involved in different aspects of the unique metabolism of tumor cells. Targeting cancer metabolism with drugs requires a therapeutic window in which tumor cells, compared to normal tissues, have a greater dependence on specific metabolic enzymes. Themes that have emerged in the past decade of developing oncogene-targeted cancer therapeutics suggest that tumors with distinct oncogenic lesions are likely to require drugs that target distinct metabolic pathways. Ultimately, the hope is that detailed knowledge of oncogene and tumor suppressor gene functions and their effects on metabolism will lead to drug combinations that will be far more effective in treating cancers.
PMCID: PMC3255319  PMID: 22242042
24.  BRD7, a tumor suppressor, interacts with p85alpha and regulates PI3K activity 
Molecular cell  2014;54(1):193-202.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity is important for regulating cell growth, survival and motility. We report here the identification of bromodomain-containing protein 7 (BRD7) as a p85α-interacting protein that negatively regulates PI3K signaling. BRD7 binds to the inter-SH2 (iSH2) domain of p85 through an evolutionarily conserved region located at the C-terminus of BRD7. Via this interaction, BRD7 facilitates nuclear translocation of p85α. The BRD7-dependent depletion of p85 from the cytosol impairs formation of p85/p110 complexes in the cytosol, leading to a decrease in p110 proteins and in PI3K pathway signaling. In contrast, silencing of endogenous BRD7 expression by RNAi increases the steady state level of p110 proteins and enhances Akt phosphorylation after stimulation. These data suggest that BRD7 and p110 compete for the interaction to p85. The unbound p110 protein is unstable, leading to the attenuation of PI3K activity. Therefore, BRD7 functions as a potential tumor suppressor to regulate cell growth.
PMCID: PMC4004185  PMID: 24657164
25.  Pancreatic cancers rely on a novel glutamine metabolism pathway to maintain redox balance 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(13):1987-1988.
PMCID: PMC3737294  PMID: 23759579
cancer metabolism; NADPH; aspartate aminotransferase; malic enzyme; glutamate dehydrogenase

Results 1-25 (154)