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1.  Idiopathic basal ganglia calcification-associated PDGFRB mutations impair the receptor signalling 
Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF) bind to two related receptor tyrosine kinases, which are encoded by the PDGFRA and PDGFRB genes. Recently, heterozygous PDGFRB mutations have been described in patients diagnosed with idiopathic basal ganglia calcification (IBGC or Fahr disease), a rare inherited neurological disorder. The goal of the present study was to determine whether these mutations had a positive or negative impact on the PDGFRB activity. We first showed that the E1071V mutant behaved like wild-type PDGFRB and may represent a polymorphism unrelated to IBGC. In contrast, the L658P mutant had no kinase activity and failed to activate any of the pathways normally stimulated by PDGF. The R987W mutant activated Akt and MAP kinases but did not induce the phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) after PDGF stimulation. Phosphorylation of phospholipase Cγ was also decreased. Finally, we showed that the R987W mutant was more rapidly degraded upon PDGF binding compared to wild-type PDGFRB. In conclusion, PDGFRB mutations associated with IBGC impair the receptor signalling. PDGFRB loss of function in IBGC is consistent with recently described inactivating mutations in the PDGF-B ligand. These results raise concerns about the long-term safety of PDGF receptor inhibition by drugs such as imatinib.
PMCID: PMC4288366  PMID: 25292412
PDGFRB; Fahr disease; STAT3; receptor degradation; imatinib; brain calcification
2.  Platelet-derived growth factors and their receptors in normal and malignant hematopoiesis 
Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF) bind to two closely related receptor tyrosine kinases, PDGF receptor α and β, which are encoded by the PDGFRA and PDGFRB genes. Aberrant activation of PDGF receptors occurs in myeloid malignancies associated with hypereosinophilia, due to chromosomal alterations that produce fusion genes, such as ETV6-PDGFRB or FIP1L1-PDGFRA. Most patients are males and respond to low dose imatinib, which is particularly effective against PDGF receptor kinase activity. Recently, activating point mutations in PDGFRA were also described in hypereosinophilia. In addition, autocrine loops have been identified in large granular lymphocyte leukemia and HTLV-transformed lymphocytes, suggesting new possible indications for tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. Although PDGF was initially purified from platelets more than 30 years ago, its physiological role in the hematopoietic system remains unclear. Hematopoietic defects in PDGF-deficient mice have been reported but appear to be secondary to cardiovascular and placental abnormalities. Nevertheless, PDGF acts directly on several hematopoietic cell types in vitro, such as megakaryocytes, platelets, activated macrophages and, possibly, certain lymphocyte subsets and eosinophils. The relevance of these observations for normal human hematopoiesis remains to be established.
PMCID: PMC3301440  PMID: 22432087
Receptor tyrosine kinase; hypereosinophilia; signal transduction; imatinib; myeloproliferative disorders; myeloid neoplasms; chronic eosinophilic leukemia; hypereosinophilic syndrome
3.  Transcription factor regulation can be accurately predicted from the presence of target gene signatures in microarray gene expression data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(11):e120.
Deciphering transcription factor networks from microarray data remains difficult. This study presents a simple method to infer the regulation of transcription factors from microarray data based on well-characterized target genes. We generated a catalog containing transcription factors associated with 2720 target genes and 6401 experimentally validated regulations. When it was available, a distinction between transcriptional activation and inhibition was included for each regulation. Next, we built a tool ( that compares submitted gene lists with target genes in the catalog to detect regulated transcription factors. TFactS was validated with published lists of regulated genes in various models and compared to tools based on in silico promoter analysis. We next analyzed the NCI60 cancer microarray data set and showed the regulation of SOX10, MITF and JUN in melanomas. We then performed microarray experiments comparing gene expression response of human fibroblasts stimulated by different growth factors. TFactS predicted the specific activation of Signal transducer and activator of transcription factors by PDGF-BB, which was confirmed experimentally. Our results show that the expression levels of transcription factor target genes constitute a robust signature for transcription factor regulation, and can be efficiently used for microarray data mining.
PMCID: PMC2887972  PMID: 20215436
4.  Adipose tissue NAPE-PLD controls fat mass development by altering the browning process and gut microbiota 
Nature Communications  2015;6:6495.
Obesity is a pandemic disease associated with many metabolic alterations and involves several organs and systems. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) appears to be a key regulator of energy homeostasis and metabolism. Here we show that specific deletion of the ECS synthesizing enzyme, NAPE-PLD, in adipocytes induces obesity, glucose intolerance, adipose tissue inflammation and altered lipid metabolism. We report that Napepld-deleted mice present an altered browning programme and are less responsive to cold-induced browning, highlighting the essential role of NAPE-PLD in regulating energy homeostasis and metabolism in the physiological state. Our results indicate that these alterations are mediated by a shift in gut microbiota composition that can partially transfer the phenotype to germ-free mice. Together, our findings uncover a role of adipose tissue NAPE-PLD on whole-body metabolism and provide support for targeting NAPE-PLD-derived bioactive lipids to treat obesity and related metabolic disorders.
Endocannabinoids are bioactive lipid molecules produced in the body. Here, Geurts et al. create mice lacking the endocannabinoid-producing enzyme NAPE-PLD in adipocytes and report defects in adipose-induced browning, which are mediated by alterations in the gut microbiome.
PMCID: PMC4382707  PMID: 25757720
5.  PDGF-D Expression Is Down-Regulated by TGFβ in Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108656.
Transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) is a key mediator of fibrogenesis. TGFβ is overexpressed and activated in fibrotic diseases, regulates fibroblast differentiation into myofibroblasts and induces extracellular matrix deposition. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is also a regulator of fibrogenesis. Some studies showed a link between TGFβ and PDGF in certain fibrotic diseases. TGFβ induces PDGF receptor alpha expression in scleroderma fibroblasts. PDGF-C and -D are the most recently discovered ligands and also play a role in fibrosis. In this study, we report the first link between TGFβ and PDGF-D and -C ligands. In normal fibroblasts, TGFβ down-regulated PDGF-D expression and up-regulated PDGF-C expression at the mRNA and protein levels. This phenomenon is not limited to TGFβ since other growth factors implicated in fibrosis, such as FGF, EGF and PDGF-B, also regulated PDGF-D and PDGF-C expression. Among different kinase inhibitors, only TGFβ receptor inhibitors and the IκB kinase (IKK) inhibitor BMS-345541 blocked the effect of TGFβ. However, activation of the classical NF-κB pathway was not involved. Interestingly, in a model of lung fibrosis induced by either bleomycin or silica, PDGF-D was down-regulated, which correlates with the production of TGFβ and other fibrotic growth factors. In conclusion, the down-regulation of PDGF-D by TGFβ and other growth factors may serve as a negative feedback in the network of cytokines that control fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC4184810  PMID: 25280005
6.  ABCB1 1199G>A Genetic Polymorphism (Rs2229109) Influences the Intracellular Accumulation of Tacrolimus in HEK293 and K562 Recombinant Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91555.
ATP-binding cassette, subfamily B, member 1 (ABCB1) transporter, or P-glycoprotein, is an efflux protein implicated in the absorption and the distribution of various compounds, including tacrolimus and cyclosporine A. In vivo studies suggest an association between the ABCB1 1199G>A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and tacrolimus intracellular accumulation. The aim of the present experimental study was to clarify in vitro the impact of the coding ABCB1 1199G>A SNP on ABCB1 transport activity towards both immunosuppressive drugs.
Two recombinant cell lines, i.e. Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK293) and Human Myelogenous Leukemia (K562) cells, overexpressing ABCB1 carrying either the wild-type allele (1199G) or its mutated counterpart (1199A), were generated. The impact of the 1199G>A SNP on ABCB1 activity towards rhodamine (Rh123), doxorubicin, vinblastine, tacrolimus and cyclosporine A was assessed by accumulation, cytotoxicity and/or kinetic experiments.
Tacrolimus accumulation was strongly decreased in cells overexpressing the wild-type protein (1199G) compared to control cells, confirming the ability of ABCB1 to transport tacrolimus. By contrast, overexpression of the variant protein (1199A) had nearly no effect on tacrolimus intracellular accumulation whatever the model used and the concentration tested. Unlike tacrolimus, our results also indicate that cyclosporine A, Rh123 and doxorubicin are transported in a similar extent by the wild-type and variant ABCB1 proteins while the variant protein seems to be more efficient for the transport of vinblastine.
ABCB1 encoded by the 1199G wild-type allele transports more efficiently tacrolimus in comparison to the 1199A variant protein. This observation indicates that the amino-acid substitution (Ser400Asn) encoded by the 1199A allele drastically decreases the ability of ABCB1 to drive the efflux of tacrolimus in a substrate-specific manner, in agreement with our previously published clinical data. Our study emphasizes the importance of the ABCB1 1199G>A polymorphism for ABCB1 activity and its potential to explain differences in drug response.
PMCID: PMC3951418  PMID: 24621983
7.  Therapy targets in glioblastoma and cancer stem cells: lessons from haematopoietic neoplasms 
Despite intense efforts to identify cancer-initiating cells in malignant brain tumours, markers linked to the function of these cells have only very recently begun to be uncovered. The notion of cancer stem cell gained prominence, several molecules and signalling pathways becoming relevant for diagnosis and treatment. Whether a substantial fraction or only a tiny minority of cells in a tumor can initiate and perpetuate cancer, is still debated. The paradigm of cancer-initiating stem cells has initially been developed with respect to blood cancers where chronic conditions such as myeloproliferative neoplasms are due to mutations acquired in a haematopoietic stem cell (HSC), which maintains the normal hierarchy to neoplastic haematopoiesis. In contrast, acute leukaemia transformation of such blood neoplasms appears to derive not only from HSCs but also from committed progenitors that cannot differentiate. This review will focus on putative novel therapy targets represented by markers described to define cancer stem/initiating cells in malignant gliomas, which have been called ‘leukaemia of the brain’, given their rapid migration and evolution. Parallels are drawn with other cancers, especially haematopoietic, given the similar rampant proliferation and treatment resistance of glioblastoma multiforme and secondary acute leukaemias. Genes associated with the malignant conditions and especially expressed in glioma cancer stem cells are intensively searched. Although many such molecules might only coincidentally be expressed in cancer-initiating cells, some may function in the oncogenic process, and those would be the prime candidates for diagnostic and targeted therapy. For the latter, combination therapies are likely to be envisaged, given the robust and plastic signalling networks supporting malignant proliferation.
PMCID: PMC4159024  PMID: 23998913
glioblastoma cancer stem cell; cell surface markers; signalling pathways; haematopoietic stem cells; leukaemia
8.  Review of current classification, molecular alterations, and tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapies in myeloproliferative disorders with hypereosinophilia 
Journal of Blood Medicine  2013;4:111-121.
Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying hypereosinophilia have led to the development of a ‘molecular’ classification of myeloproliferative disorders with eosinophilia. The revised 2008 World Health Organization classification of myeloid neoplasms included a new category called “myeloid and lymphoid neoplasms with eosinophilia and abnormalities of PDGFRA, PDGFRB or FGFR1.” Despite the molecular heterogeneity of PDGFR (platelet-derived growth factor receptor) rearrangements, tyrosine kinase inhibitors at low dose induce rapid and complete hematological remission in the majority of these patients. Other kinase inhibitors are promising. Further discoveries of new molecular alterations will direct the development of new specific inhibitors. In this review, an update of the classifications of myeloproliferative disorders associated with hypereosinophilia is discussed together with open and controversial questions. Molecular mechanisms and promising results of tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatments are reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3747024  PMID: 23976869
hypereosinophilia; classification; myeloproliferative disorders; molecular alterations; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
9.  Amyloid precursor protein controls cholesterol turnover needed for neuronal activity 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2013;5(4):608-625.
Perturbation of lipid metabolism favours progression of Alzheimer disease, in which processing of Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) has important implications. APP cleavage is tightly regulated by cholesterol and APP fragments regulate lipid homeostasis. Here, we investigated whether up or down regulation of full-length APP expression affected neuronal lipid metabolism. Expression of APP decreased HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR)-mediated cholesterol biosynthesis and SREBP mRNA levels, while its down regulation had opposite effects. APP and SREBP1 co-immunoprecipitated and co-localized in the Golgi. This interaction prevented Site-2 protease-mediated processing of SREBP1, leading to inhibition of transcription of its target genes. A GXXXG motif in APP sequence was critical for regulation of HMGCR expression. In astrocytes, APP and SREBP1 did not interact nor did APP affect cholesterol biosynthesis. Neuronal expression of APP decreased both HMGCR and cholesterol 24-hydroxylase mRNA levels and consequently cholesterol turnover, leading to inhibition of neuronal activity, which was rescued by geranylgeraniol, generated in the mevalonate pathway, in both APP expressing and mevastatin treated neurons. We conclude that APP controls cholesterol turnover needed for neuronal activity.
PMCID: PMC3628100  PMID: 23554170
Alzheimer's disease; calcium oscillations; cholesterol turnover; neuron; SREBP-1
10.  The Somatostatin Analogue Octreotide Inhibits Growth of Small Intestine Neuroendocrine Tumour Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48411.
Octreotide is a widely used synthetic somatostatin analogue that significantly improves the management of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Octreotide acts through somatostatin receptors (SSTRs). However, the molecular mechanisms leading to successful disease control or symptom management, especially when SSTRs levels are low, are largely unknown. We provide novel insights into how octreotide controls NET cells. CNDT2.5 cells were treated from 1 day up to 16 months with octreotide and then were profiled using Affymetrix microarray analysis. Quantitative real-time PCR and western blot analyses were used to validate microarray profiling in silico data. WST-1 cell proliferation assay was applied to evaluate cell growth of CNDT2.5 cells in the presence or absence of 1 µM octreotide at different time points. Moreover, laser capture microdissected tumour cells and paraffin embedded tissue slides from SI-NETs at different stages of disease were used to identify transcriptional and translational expression. Microarrays analyses did not reveal relevant changes in SSTR expression levels. Unexpectedly, six novel genes were found to be upregulated by octreotide: annexin A1 (ANXA1), rho GTPase-activating protein 18 (ARHGAP18), epithelial membrane protein 1 (EMP1), growth/differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), TGF-beta type II receptor (TGFBR2) and tumour necrosis factor (ligand) superfamily member 15 (TNFSF15). Furthermore, these novel genes were expressed in tumour tissues at transcript and protein levels. We suggest that octreotide may use a potential novel framework to exert its beneficial effect as a drug and to convey its action on neuroendocrine cells. Thus, six novel genes may regulate cell growth and differentiation in normal and tumour neuroendocrine cells and have a role in a novel octreotide mechanism system.
PMCID: PMC3485222  PMID: 23119007
11.  A Minimal Connected Network of Transcription Factors Regulated in Human Tumors and Its Application to the Quest for Universal Cancer Biomarkers 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39666.
A universal cancer biomarker candidate for diagnosis is supposed to distinguish, within a broad range of tumors, between healthy and diseased patients. Recently published studies have explored the universal usefulness of some biomarkers in human tumors. In this study, we present an integrative approach to search for potential common cancer biomarkers. Using the TFactS web-tool with a catalogue of experimentally established gene regulations, we could predict transcription factors (TFs) regulated in 305 different human cancer cell lines covering a large panel of tumor types. We also identified chromosomal regions having significant copy number variation (CNV) in these cell lines. Within the scope of TFactS catalogue, 88 TFs whose activity status were explained by their gene expressions and CNVs were identified. Their minimal connected network (MCN) of protein-protein interactions forms a significant module within the human curated TF proteome. Functional analysis of the proteins included in this MCN revealed enrichment in cancer pathways as well as inflammation. The ten most central proteins in MCN are TFs that trans-regulate 157 known genes encoding secreted and transmembrane proteins. In publicly available collections of gene expression data from 8,525 patient tissues, 86 genes were differentially regulated in cancer compared to inflammatory diseases and controls. From TCGA cancer gene expression data sets, 50 genes were significantly associated to patient survival in at least one tumor type. Enrichment analysis shows that these genes mechanistically interact in common cancer pathways. Among these cancer biomarker candidates, TFRC, MET and VEGFA are commonly amplified genes in tumors and their encoded proteins stained positive in more than 80% of malignancies from public databases. They are linked to angiogenesis and hypoxia, which are common in cancer. They could be interesting for further investigations in cancer diagnostic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3382591  PMID: 22761861
12.  Tyrosine kinase gene fusions in cancer: translating mechanisms into targeted therapies 
Tyrosine kinase fusion genes represent an important class of oncogenes associated with leukaemia and solid tumours. They are produced by translocations and other chromosomal rearrangements of a subset of tyrosine kinase genes, including ABL, PDGFRA, PDGFRB, FGFR1, SYK, RET, JAK2 and ALK. Based on recent findings, this review discusses the common mechanisms of activation of these fusion genes. Enforced oligomerization and inactivation of inhibitory domains are the two key processes that switch on the kinase domain. Activated tyrosine kinase fusions then signal via an array of transduction cascades, which are largely shared. In addition, the fusion partner provides a scaffold for the recruitment of proteins that contribute to signalling, protein stability, cellular localization and oligomerization. The expression level of the fusion protein is another critical parameter. Its transcription is controlled by the partner gene promoter, while translation may be regulated by miRNA. Several mechanisms also prevent the degradation of the oncoprotein by proteasomes and lysosomes, leading to its accumulation in cells. The selective inhibition of the tyrosine kinase activity by adenosine-5′-triphosphate competitors, such as imatinib, is a major therapeutic success. Imatinib induces remission in leukaemia patients that are positive for BCR-ABL or PDGFR fusions. Recently, crizotinib produced promising results in a subtype of lung cancers with ALK fusion. However, resistance was reported in both cases, partially due to mutations. To tackle this problem, additional levels of therapeutic interventions are suggested by the complex mechanisms of fusion tyrosine kinase activation. New approaches include allosteric inhibition and interfering with oligomerization or chaperones.
PMCID: PMC3823288  PMID: 21854543
receptor tyrosine kinase; BCR-ABL; kinase inhibitors; chromosomal translocations
13.  Hepatic n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Depletion Promotes Steatosis and Insulin Resistance in Mice: Genomic Analysis of Cellular Targets 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23365.
Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are characterised by a decreased n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratio in hepatic phospholipids. The metabolic consequences of n-3 PUFA depletion in the liver are poorly understood. We have reproduced a drastic drop in n-3 PUFA among hepatic phospholipids by feeding C57Bl/6J mice for 3 months with an n-3 PUFA depleted diet (DEF) versus a control diet (CT), which only differed in the PUFA content. DEF mice exhibited hepatic insulin resistance (assessed by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp) and steatosis that was associated with a decrease in fatty acid oxidation and occurred despite a higher capacity for triglyceride secretion. Microarray and qPCR analysis of the liver tissue revealed higher expression of all the enzymes involved in lipogenesis in DEF mice compared to CT mice, as well as increased expression and activation of sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c). Our data suggest that the activation of the liver X receptor pathway is involved in the overexpression of SREBP-1c, and this phenomenon cannot be attributed to insulin or to endoplasmic reticulum stress responses. In conclusion, n-3 PUFA depletion in liver phospholipids leads to activation of SREBP-1c and lipogenesis, which contributes to hepatic steatosis.
PMCID: PMC3154437  PMID: 21853118
14.  Paraneoplastic Antigen Ma2 Autoantibodies as Specific Blood Biomarkers for Detection of Early Recurrence of Small Intestine Neuroendocrine Tumors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e16010.
Small intestine neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) belong to a rare group of cancers. Most patients have developed metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis, for which there is currently no cure. The delay in diagnosis is a major issue in the clinical management of the patients and new markers are urgently needed. We have previously identified paraneoplastic antigen Ma2 (PNMA2) as a novel SI-NET tissue biomarker. Therefore, we evaluated whether Ma2 autoantibodies detection in the blood stream is useful for the clinical diagnosis and recurrence of SI-NETs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A novel indirect ELISA was set up to detect Ma2 autoantibodies in blood samples of patients with SI-NET at different stages of disease. The analysis was extended to include typical and atypical lung carcinoids (TLC and ALC), to evaluate whether Ma2 autoantibodies in the blood stream become a general biomarker for NETs. In total, 124 blood samples of SI-NET patients at different stages of disease were included in the study. The novel Ma2 autoantibody ELISA showed high sensitivity, specificity and accuracy with ROC curve analysis underlying an area between 0.734 and 0.816. Ma2 autoantibodies in the blood from SI-NET patients were verified by western blot and sequential immunoprecipitation. Serum antibodies of patients stain Ma2 in the tumor tissue and neurons. We observed that SI-NET patients expressing Ma2 autoantibody levels below the cutoff had a longer progression and recurrence-free survival compared to those with higher titer. We also detected higher levels of Ma2 autoantibodies in blood samples from TLC and ALC patients than from healthy controls, as previously shown in small cell lung carcinoma samples.
Here we show that high Ma2 autoantibody titer in the blood of SI-NET patients is a sensitive and specific biomarker, superior to chromogranin A (CgA) for the risk of recurrence after radical operation of these tumors.
PMCID: PMC3012732  PMID: 21209860
15.  Global microRNA profiling of well-differentiated small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors 
Modern Pathology  2013;26(5):685-696.
Well-differentiated small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors are rare malignancies. They arise from enterochromaffin cells and very little is known about differential microRNA (miRNA) expression. The aim of this study was to identify the miRNA profile of well-differentiated small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors, which may have a critical role in tumor development, progression and potentially develop miRNAs as novel clinical biomarkers. Specimens from two test groups, 24 small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor specimens at different stages of malignancy, are included in this study. Total RNA from the first test group, five primary tumors, five mesentery metastases and five liver metastases was hybridized onto the Affymetrix Genechip miRNA arrays to perform a genome-wide profile. The results were validated by using quantitative real-time PCR (QRT-PCR) and northern blot analyses. We then expanded the investigation to laser capture microdissected small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor cells and immuno-laser capture microdissected normal enterochromaffin cells of the first test group. Furthermore, a second test group, three primary tumors, three mesentery metastases and three liver metastases, was included in the study. Thus, two independent test groups validated the data by QRT-PCR. Moreover, we characterized nine miRNAs, five (miR-96, -182, -183, -196a and -200a), which are upregulated during tumor progression, whereas four (miR-31, -129-5p, -133a and -215) are downregulated. Several online software programs were used to predict potential miRNA target genes to map a number of putative target genes for the aberrantly regulated miRNAs, through an advanced and novel bioinformatics analysis. Our findings provide information about pivotal miRNAs, which may lead to further insights into tumorigenesis, progression mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets recognition.
PMCID: PMC3647117  PMID: 23328977
laser-microdissection; microRNA profile; neuroendocrine tumor specimens

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