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1.  SYK Is a Critical Regulator of FLT3 In Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Cancer cell  2014;25(2):226-242.
Cooperative dependencies between mutant oncoproteins and wild-type proteins are critical in cancer pathogenesis and therapy resistance. Although spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) has been implicated in hematologic malignancies, it is rarely mutated. We used kinase activity profiling to identify collaborators of SYK in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and determined that FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is transactivated by SYK via direct binding. Highly activated SYK is predominantly found in FLT3-ITD positive AML and cooperates with FLT3-ITD to activate MYC transcriptional programs. FLT3-ITD AML cells are more vulnerable to SYK suppression than FLT3 wild-type counterparts. In a FLT3-ITD in vivo model, SYK is indispensable for myeloproliferative disease (MPD) development, and SYK overexpression promotes overt transformation to AML and resistance to FLT3-ITD-targeted therapy.
Although imatinib therapy has been paradigm shifting for treating patients with BCR-ABL-rearranged chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), the application of targeted kinase inhibitors to treating AML has been a more complex undertaking. In this study, we identified an oncogenic partnership between the most commonly mutated kinase in AML, FLT3, and the cytoplasmic kinase SYK. SYK transactivates FLT3 by a direct physical interaction, is critical for the development of FLT3-ITD-induced myeloid neoplasia, and is more highly activated in primary human FLT3-ITD-positive AML. These studies also raise the possibility of SYK activation as a mechanism of resistance to FLT3 inhibitors, suggest FLT3 mutant AML as a subtype for SYK inhibitor testing, and nominate the clinical testing of SYK and FLT3 inhibitor combinations.
PMCID: PMC4106711  PMID: 24525236
SYK; FLT3-ITD; AML; MYC; MPD; tyrosine kinase
2.  The Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) Regulatory Factor SLUG (SNAI2) Is a Downstream Target of SPARC and AKT in Promoting Melanoma Cell Invasion 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40378.
During progression of melanoma, malignant melanocytes can be reprogrammed into mesenchymal-like cells through a process similar to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is associated with downregulation of the junctional protein E-cadherin and acquisition of a migratory phenotype. Recent evidence supports a role for SLUG, a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin, as a melanocyte lineage transcription factor that predisposes to melanoma metastasis. However, the signals responsible for SLUG expression in melanoma are unclear and its role in the invasive phenotype is not fully elucidated. Here, we report that SLUG expression and activation is driven by SPARC (also known as osteonectin), a secreted extracellular matrix-associated factor that promotes EMT-like changes. Ectopic expression or knockdown of SPARC resulted in increased or reduced expression of SLUG, respectively. SLUG increase occurred concomitantly with SPARC-mediated downregulation of E-cadherin and P-cadherin, and induction of mesenchymal traits in human melanocytes and melanoma cells. Pharmacological blockade of PI3 kinase/AKT signaling impeded SPARC-induced SLUG levels and cell migration, whereas adenoviral introduction of constitutively active AKT allowed rescue of SLUG and migratory capabilities of SPARC knockdown cells. We also observed that pharmacological inhibition of oncogenic BRAFV600E using PLX4720 did not influence SLUG expression in melanoma cells harboring BRAFV600E. Furthermore, SLUG is a bona fide transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin as well as a regulator of P-cadherin in melanoma cells and its knockdown attenuated invasive behavior and blocked SPARC-enhanced cell migration. Notably, inhibition of cell migration in SPARC-depleted cells was rescued by expression of a SLUG transgene. In freshly isolated metastatic melanoma cells, a positive association between SPARC and SLUG mRNA levels was also found. These findings reveal that autocrine SPARC maintains heightened SLUG expression in melanoma cells and indicate that SPARC may promote EMT-associated tumor invasion by supporting AKT-dependent upregulation of SLUG.
PMCID: PMC3401237  PMID: 22911700
3.  When autophagy meets cancer through p62/SQSTM1 
Although p62/SQSTM1 was initially identified as an essential mediator of NFκB signaling, several recent studies have also highlighted its important role at the crossroad between the mTOR or MAPK signaling pathways and selective autophagy. The p62 structure containing important interaction domains attests to the ability of this protein to regulate and modulate the activation of these signaling pathways during tumor formation and propagation. The second very important function of this protein is to act as a molecular adaptor between the autophagic machinery and its substrates. Consequently, p62 is degraded following an increase in autophagic flux for which this protein currently serves as an indicator. However, the measurement of p62 expression strictly as a marker of autophagic flux is still controversial and can be misinterpreted mainly because this protein is subject to complex regulation at both the transcriptional and post-translational levels. Finally, because p62 is an autophagic substrate, it acts as a molecular link between cancer and autophagy by conferring a high level of selectivity through the degradation of important signaling molecules.
PMCID: PMC3410580  PMID: 22860231
Paget’s disease; mTOR; NFκB; NRF2; MAPK; Atg; ROS; ubiquitin; protein aggregates; oxidative stress
4.  Spleen tyrosine kinase functions as a tumor suppressor in melanoma cells by inducing senescence-like growth arrest 
Cancer Research  2009;69(7):2748-2756.
Loss of tumor suppressive pathways that control cellular senescence is a crucial step in malignant transformation. Spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) is a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase that has been recently implicated in tumor suppression of melanoma, a deadly skin cancer deriving from pigments-producing melanocytes. However, the mechanism by which Syk suppresses melanoma growth remains unclear. Here we report that re-expression of Syk in melanoma cells induces a p53-dependent expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) inhibitor p21 and a senescence program. We first observed that Syk expression is lost in a subset of melanoma cell lines, primarily by DNA methylation–mediated gene silencing and restored after treatment with the demethylating agent 5-Aza-2-deoxycytidine. We analyzed the significance of epigenetic inactivation of Syk and found that reintroduction of Syk in melanoma cells dramatically reduces clonogenic survival and three-dimensional tumor spheroid growth and invasion. Remarkably, melanoma cells re-expressing Syk display hallmarks of senescent cells, including reduction of proliferative activity and DNA synthesis, large and flattened morphology, senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity and heterochromatic foci. This phenotype is accompanied with hypophosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (Rb) and accumulation of p21, which depends on functional p53. Our results highlight a new role for Syk tyrosine kinase in regulating cellular senescence and identify Syk-mediated senescence as a novel tumor suppressor pathway whose inactivation may contribute to melanoma tumorigenicity.
PMCID: PMC2855343  PMID: 19293188
Cell Aging; physiology; Cell Growth Processes; physiology; Chemotaxis; Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21; biosynthesis; genetics; DNA Methylation; Humans; Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins; genetics; metabolism; physiology; Melanoma; enzymology; genetics; pathology; Neoplastic Stem Cells; pathology; Promoter Regions, Genetic; Protein-Tyrosine Kinases; biosynthesis; genetics; metabolism; physiology; RNA, Small Interfering; genetics; Signal Transduction; Spheroids, Cellular; Transfection; Tumor Suppressor Protein p53; metabolism; Up-Regulation; src Homology Domains; Melanoma; tumor suppressor; senescence

Results 1-4 (4)