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1.  BAP1 and Cancer 
Nature reviews. Cancer  2013;13(3):153-159.
BAP1 is a deubiquitylase that is found associated with multi-protein complexes that regulate key cellular pathways, including the cell cycle, cellular differentiation, cell death, gluconeogenesis and the DNA damage response (DDR). Recent findings indicate that germline BAP1 mutations cause a novel cancer syndrome, characterized, at least in the affected families studied so far, by the onset at an early age of benign melanocytic skin tumours with mutated BAP1, and later in life by a high incidence of mesothelioma, uveal melanoma, cutaneous melanoma and possibly additional cancers.
PMCID: PMC3792854  PMID: 23550303
2.  Group I p21-Activated Kinases (PAKs) Promote Tumor Cell Proliferation and Survival Through the AKT1 and Raf-MAPK Pathways 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2012;10(9):1178-1188.
Group I p21-activated kinases (PAKs) are important effectors of the small GTPases Rac and Cdc42, which regulate cell motility/migration, survival, proliferation and gene transcription. Hyperactivation of these kinases have been reported in many tumor types, making PAKs attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. PAKs are activated by growth factor-mediated signaling and are negatively regulated by the tumor suppressor NF2/Merlin. Thus, tumors characterized by NF2 inactivation would be expected to show hyperactivated PAK signaling. Based on this rationale, we evaluated the status of PAK signaling in malignant mesothelioma (MM), an aggressive neoplasm that is resistant to current therapies and shows frequent inactivation of NF2. We demonstrate that group I PAKs are activated in most MMs and MM cell lines and that genetic or pharmacological inhibition of PAKs is sufficient to inhibit MM cell proliferation and survival. We also identify downstream effectors and signaling pathways that may contribute mechanistically to PAK-related tumorigenesis. Specifically, we show that inhibition of PAK results in attenuation of AKT and Raf-MAPK signaling and decreased tumor cell viability. Collectively, these data suggest that pharmacological inhibition of group I PAKs may have therapeutic efficacy in tumors characterized by PAK activation.
PMCID: PMC3447107  PMID: 22798428
p21-activated kinase (PAK); malignant mesothelioma; small molecule inhibitor; targeted therapy; NF2/Merlin; AKT; mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK); Raf-1
3.  Chromothripsis in a Case of TP53-Deficient Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Leukemia research reports  2012;1(1):4-6.
We describe genomic findings in a case of CLL with del(17p13.1) by FISH, in which SNP array analysis revealed chromothripsis, a phenomenon by which regions of the cancer genome are shattered and recombined to generate frequent oscillations between two DNA copy number states. The findings illustrate the value of SNP arrays for precise whole genome profiling in CLL and for the detection of alterations that would be overlooked with a standard FISH panel. This second report of chromothripsis in CLL indicates that this phenomenon is a recurrent change in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3735199  PMID: 23930239
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; chromothripsis; p53; chromosome microarray analysis; genomic imbalances
4.  Diverse mechanisms of AKT pathway activation in human malignancy 
Current cancer drug targets  2013;13(3):234-244.
AKT/PKB (Protein Kinase B) are central proteins mediating signals from receptor tyrosine kinases and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. AKT kinases are involved in a number of important cellular processes including cell proliferation and survival, cell size in response to nutrient availability, tumor invasion/metastasis, and angiogenesis. Various components of the AKT signaling pathway are encoded by tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes whose loss or activation, respectively, plays an important role in tumorigenesis. The growing body of evidence connecting deregulated AKT signaling with sporadic human cancers and inherited cancer predisposition syndromes is discussed. We also highlight new findings regarding the involvement of activating mutations of AKT1, AKT2, and AKT3 in somatic overgrowth disorders: Proteus syndrome, hypoglycemia with hypertrophy, and hemimegalencephaly, respectively. In addition, we review recent literature documenting the various ways the AKT signaling pathway is activated in human cancers and consequences for molecularly targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3678724  PMID: 23297823
AKT/PKB kinases; tumor suppressor genes; oncogenes; human malignancy; targeted therapies; Proteus syndrome; hypoglycemia; hemimegalencephaly
5.  Increasing the therapeutic index of 5-fluorouracil and 6-thioguanine by targeting loss of MTAP in tumor cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(11):1082-1090.
Methylthioadenosine phosphorylase (MTAP), a key enzyme in the catabolism of 5′-deoxy-5′-methylthioadenosine (MTA), catalyzes the formation of adenine and 5-methylthioribose-1-phosphate. MTAP is expressed in all cells throughout the body, but a significant percentage of human tumors have lost MTAP expression, thereby making MTAP-loss a potential therapeutic target. Here, we have tested an MTAP-targeting strategy based on the idea that MTAP-expressing cells can be protected from toxic purine and uracil analogs by addition of MTA, but MTAP-deleted tumor cells cannot. Addition of as little as 10 μM MTA could entirely protect isogenic MTAP+, but not MTAP-, HT1080 cells from toxicity caused by the chemotherapy agents 6-thioguanine (6TG) or 5-fluorouracil (5FU). Inhibitor studies showed that MTA protection requires functional MTAP activity. Addition of adenine protected both MTAP+ and MTAP- cells from 6TG and 5FU, consistent with the idea that adenine produced from the MTAP reaction competes with 6TG and 5FU for a rate limiting pool of phosphoribosyl-1-pyrophosphate (PRPP), which is required for the conversion of purine and uracil bases into nucleotides. Extracellular MTA can also protect mouse mesothelioma cells from killing by 6-TG or the drug L-alanosine in an MTAP-dependent manner. In addition, MTA can protect non-transformed MTAP+ mouse embryo fibroblasts from 6TG toxicity. Taken together, our data suggest that the addition of MTA to anti-purine-based chemotherapy may greatly increase the therapeutic index of this class of drugs if used specifically to treat MTAP- tumors.
PMCID: PMC3461815  PMID: 22825330
chemotherapy; mesothelioma; methionine; osteosarcoma; purine
6.  Up Regulation of DLX5 Promotes Ovarian Cancer Cell Proliferation by Enhancing IRS-2-AKT Signaling 
Cancer research  2010;70(22):9197-9206.
The distal-less homeobox gene (dlx) 5 encodes a transcription factor that controls jaw formation and appendage differentiation during embryonic development. We previously found that Dlx5 is overexpressed in an Akt2 transgenic model of T-cell lymphoma. To investigate if DLX5 is involved in human cancer, we screened its expression in the NCI 60 cancer cell line panel. DLX5 was frequently up regulated in cell lines derived from several tumor types, including ovarian cancer. We next validated its up regulation in primary ovarian cancer specimens. Stable knockdown of DLX5 by lentivirus-mediated transduction of short hairpin RNAi (shRNA) resulted in reduced proliferation of ovarian cancer cells due to inhibition of cell cycle progression in connection with down regulation of cyclins A, B1, D1, D2 and E and decreased phosphorylation of AKT. Cell proliferation resumed following introduction of a DLX5 cDNA harboring wobbled mutations at the shRNA-targeting sites. Cell proliferation was also rescued by transduction of a constitutively active form of AKT. Intriguingly, down regulation of IRS-2 and MET contributed to the suppression of AKT signaling. Moreover, DLX5 was found to directly bind to the IRS-2 promoter and augmented its transcription. Knockdown of DLX5 in xenografts of human ovarian cancer cells resulted in markedly diminished tumor size. In addition, DLX5 was found to cooperate with HRAS in the transformation of human ovarian surface epithelial cells. Together, these data suggest that DLX5 plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of some ovarian cancers.
PMCID: PMC3018149  PMID: 21045156
Ovarian Cancer; DLX5; AKT; IRS-2; MET
7.  Combined Classical Cytogenetics and Microarray-based Genomic Copy Number Analysis Reveal Frequent 3;5 Rearrangements in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2010;49(7):610-619.
Karyotypic analysis and genomic copy number analysis with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based microarrays were compared with regard to the detection of recurrent genomic imbalances in 20 clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCCs). Genomic imbalances were identified in 19 of 20 tumors by DNA copy number analysis and in 15 tumors by classical cytogenetics. A statistically significant correlation was observed between the number of genomic imbalances and tumor stage. The most common genomic imbalances were loss of 3p and gain of 5q. Other recurrent genomic imbalances seen in at least 15% of tumors included losses of 1p32.3-p33, 6q23.1-qter and 14q and gain of chromosome 7. The SNP-based arrays revealed losses of 3p in 16 of 20 tumors, with the highest frequency being at 3p21.31-p22.1 and 3p24.3-p25.3, the latter encompassing the VHL locus. One other tumor showed uniparental disomy of chromosome 3. Thus, altogether loss of 3p was identified in 17 of 20 (85%) cases. Fourteen tumors showed both overlapping losses of 3p and overlapping gains of 5q, and the karyotypic assessment performed in parallel revealed that these imbalances arose via unbalanced 3;5 translocations. Among the latter, there were common regions of loss at 3p21.3-pter and gain at 5q34-qter. These data suggest that DNA copy number analysis will supplant karyotypic analysis of tumor types such as ccRCC that are characterized by recurrent genomic imbalances, rather than balanced rearrangements. These findings also suggest that the 5q duplication/3p deficiency resulting from unbalanced 3;5 translocations conveys a proliferative advantage of particular importance in ccRCC tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC2953940  PMID: 20461753
8.  The promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger gene, PLZF, is frequently downregulated in malignant mesothelioma cells and contributes to cell survival 
Oncogene  2009;29(11):1633-1640.
DNA copy number analysis was performed, using SNP mapping arrays, to fine map genomic imbalances in human malignant mesothelioma (MM) cell lines derived from primary tumors. Chromosomal losses accounted for the majority of genomic imbalances. All 22 cell lines examined showed homozygous deletions of 9p21.3, centering at the CDKN2A/ARF and CDKN2B loci. Other commonly underrepresented segments included 1p36, 1p22, 3p21-22, 4q13, 4q34, 11q23, 13q12-13, 14q32, 15q15, 18q12 and 22q12, each observed in 55%–90% of cell lines. Focal deletions of 11q23 encompassed the transcriptional repressor gene PLZF (promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger), which was validated by analysis of genomic DNA using real-time PCR. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR and immunoblot analysis revealed that PLZF is greatly downregulated in MM cell lines compared to non-malignant mesothelial cells. Ectopic expression of PLZF in PLZF-deficient MM cells resulted in decreased cell viability, reduced colony formation, as well as increased apoptosis, the latter based on results of various cell death assays and the observation of increased cleavage of caspase 3, PARP and Mcl-1. These data indicate that deletions of PLZF are a common occurrence in MM and that downregulation of PLZF may contribute to MM pathogenesis by promoting cell survival.
PMCID: PMC2842080  PMID: 20010871
mesothelioma; PLZF; genomic imbalances; tumor suppressors; transcription factor
9.  FAS-Associated Factor 1 (FAF1): diverse functions and implications for oncogenesis 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2009;8(16):2528-2534.
FAS-associated factor 1, FAF1, is an evolutionarily conserved protein that has several protein interaction domains. Although FAF1 was initially identified as a member of the FAS death-inducing signaling complex, subsequent work has revealed that FAF1 functions in diverse biological processes. FAF1 has been shown to play an important role in normal development and neuronal cell survival, whereas FAF1 down regulation may contribute to multiple aspects of tumorigenesis. In particular, there is compelling evidence implicating FAF1 as a tumor suppressor involved in the regulation of apoptosis and NF-κB activity, as well as in ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Here, we highlight FAF1's role in NF-κB signaling and postulate that this pathway has critical connotations for the pathogenesis and treatment of human cancers.
PMCID: PMC2739729  PMID: 19597341
TNF-α; NF-κB; anti-apoptosis; proteasomal degradation; ubiquitination; tumor suppressor gene; mesothelioma
10.  Chromothripsis in a case of TP53-deficient chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Leukemia Research Reports  2012;1(1):4-6.
We describe genomic findings in a case of CLL with del(17p13.1) by FISH, in which SNP array analysis revealed chromothripsis, a phenomenon by which regions of the cancer genome are shattered and recombined to generate frequent oscillations between two DNA copy number states. The findings illustrate the value of SNP arrays for precise whole genome profiling in CLL and for the detection of alterations that would be overlooked with a standard FISH panel. This second report of chromothripsis in CLL indicates that this phenomenon is a recurrent change in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3735199  PMID: 23930239
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Chromothripsis; p53; Chromosome microarray analysis; Genomic imbalances
11.  An Extracellular Signal–Regulated Kinase 2 Survival Pathway Mediates Resistance of Human Mesothelioma Cells to Asbestos-Induced Injury 
We hypothesized that normal human mesothelial cells acquire resistance to asbestos-induced toxicity via induction of one or more epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)–linked survival pathways (phosphoinositol-3-kinase/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin and extracellular signal–regulated kinase [ERK] 1/2) during simian virus 40 (SV40) transformation and carcinogenesis. Both isolated HKNM-2 mesothelial cells and a telomerase-immortalized mesothelial line (LP9/TERT-1) were more sensitive to crocidolite asbestos toxicity than an SV40 Tag-immortalized mesothelial line (MET5A) and malignant mesothelioma cell lines (HMESO and PPM Mill). Whereas increases in phosphorylation of AKT (pAKT) were observed in MET5A cells in response to asbestos, LP9/TERT-1 cells exhibited dose-related decreases in pAKT levels. Pretreatment with an EGFR phosphorylation or mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 inhibitor abrogated asbestos-induced phosphorylated ERK (pERK) 1/2 levels in both LP9/TERT-1 and MET5A cells as well as increases in pAKT levels in MET5A cells. Transient transfection of small interfering RNAs targeting ERK1, ERK2, or AKT revealed that ERK1/2 pathways were involved in cell death by asbestos in both cell lines. Asbestos-resistant HMESO or PPM Mill cells with high endogenous levels of ERKs or AKT did not show dose-responsive increases in pERK1/ERK1, pERK2/ERK2, or pAKT/AKT levels by asbestos. However, small hairpin ERK2 stable cell lines created from both malignant mesothelioma lines were more sensitive to asbestos toxicity than shERK1 and shControl lines, and exhibited unique, tumor-specific changes in endogenous cell death–related gene expression. Our results suggest that EGFR phosphorylation is causally linked to pERK and pAKT activation by asbestos in normal and SV40 Tag–immortalized human mesothelial cells. They also indicate that ERK2 plays a role in modulating asbestos toxicity by regulating genes critical to cell injury and survival that are differentially expressed in human mesotheliomas.
PMCID: PMC3262687  PMID: 21454801
mesothelioma; asbestos; toxicity; epidermal growth factor receptor; protein kinase B/AKT
12.  Frequent genetic abnormalities of the PI3K/AKT pathway in primary ovarian cancer predict patient outcome 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2011;50(8):606-618.
Identification and characterization of underlying genetic aberrations could facilitate diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. Copy number analysis using array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH) on 93 primary ovarian tumors identified PI3K/AKT pathway as the most frequently altered cancer related pathway. Furthermore, survival analyses to correlate gene copy number and mutation data with patient outcome showed that copy number gains of PIK3CA, PIK3CB and PIK3R4 in these tumors were associated with decreased survival. To confirm these findings at the protein level, immunohistochemistry (IHC) for PIK3CA product p110α and p-Akt was performed on tissue microarrays from 522 independent serous ovarian cancers. Overexpression of either of these two proteins was found to be associated with decreased survival. Multivariant analysis from these samples further showed that overexpression of p-AKT and /or p110α is an independent prognostic factor for these tumors. siRNAs targeting altered PI3K/AKT pathway genes inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell lines. In addition, the effect of the siRNAs in different cell lines seemed to correlate with the particular genetic alterations that the cell line carries. These results strongly support the utilization of PI3K pathway inhibitors in ovarian cancer. They also suggest identifying the specific component in the PI3K pathway that is genetically altered has the potential to help select the most effective therapy. Both mutation as well as copy number changes can be used as predictive markers for this purpose.
PMCID: PMC3110626  PMID: 21563232
13.  Philadelphia Chromosome Symposium: commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Ph chromosome 
Cancer genetics  2011;204(4):171-179.
This report summarizes highlights of the ‘Philadelphia Chromosome Symposium: Past, Present and Future’, held September 28, 2010, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Philadelphia chromosome. The symposium sessions included presentations by investigators who made seminal contributions concerning the discovery and molecular characterization of the Ph chromosome and others who developed a highly successful therapy based on the specific molecular alteration observed in chronic myelogenous leukemia. Additional presentations highlighted future opportunities for the design of molecularly targeted therapies for various types of cancer. Also included here are reminiscences connected with the discovery of the Ph chromosome by David Hungerford and Peter Nowell, the discovery that the abnormality arises from a chromosomal translocation, by Janet Rowley, and the cloning of the 9;22 translocation breakpoints by Nora Heisterkamp, John Groffen and colleagues.
PMCID: PMC3092778  PMID: 21536234
BCR; ABL; translocation; imatinib; targeted therapies
14.  Germline BAP1 mutations predispose to malignant mesothelioma 
Nature genetics  2011;43(10):1022-1025.
Because only a small fraction of asbestos-exposed individuals develop malignant mesothelioma1, and because mesothelioma clustering is observed in some families1, we searched for genetic predisposing factors. We discovered germline mutations in BAP1 (BRCA1-associated protein 1) in two families with a high incidence of mesothelioma. Somatic alterations affecting BAP1 were observed in familial mesotheliomas, indicating biallelic inactivation. Besides mesothelioma, some BAP1 mutation carriers developed uveal melanoma. Germline BAP1 mutations were also found in two of 26 sporadic mesotheliomas: both patients with mutant BAP1 were previously diagnosed with uveal melanoma. Truncating mutations and aberrant BAP1 expression were common in sporadic mesotheliomas without germline mutations. These results reveal a BAP1-related cancer syndrome characterized by mesothelioma and uveal melanoma. We hypothesize that other cancers may also be involved, and that mesothelioma predominates upon asbestos exposure. These findings will help identify individuals at high risk of mesothelioma who could be targeted for early intervention.
PMCID: PMC3184199  PMID: 21874000
15.  ERK2 is Essential for the Growth of Human Epithelioid Malignant Mesotheliomas 
Members of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) family may have distinct roles in the development of cell injury and repair, differentiation and carcinogenesis. Here we show, using a synthetic small molecule MEK1/2 inhibitor (U0126) and RNA silencing of ERK1 and 2, comparatively, that ERK2 is critical to transformation and homeostasis of human epithelioid malignant mesotheliomas (MMs), asbestos-induced tumors with a poor prognosis. Whereas MM cell (HMESO) lines stably transfected with shERK1 or shERK2 both exhibited significant decreases in cell proliferation in vitro, injection of shERK2 cells, and not shERK1 cells, into immunocompromised SCID mice showed significant attenuated tumor growth in comparison to shControl cells. Inhibition of migration, invasion, and colony formation occurred in shERK2 MM cells in vitro, suggesting multiple roles of ERK2 in neoplasia. Microarray and qRT-PCR analyses revealed gene expression that was significantly increased (CASP1, TRAF1, FAS) or decreased (SEMA3E, RPS6KA2, EGF, BCL2L1) in shERK2-transfected MM cells in contrast to shControl-transfected MM cells. Most striking decreases were observed in mRNA levels of Semaphorin 3 (SEMA3E), a candidate tumor suppressor gene linked to inhibition of angiogenesis. These studies demonstrate a key role of ERK2 in novel gene expression critical to the development of epithelioid MMs. After injection of sarcomatoid human MM (PPMMill) cells into SCID mice, both shERK1 and shERK2 lines showed significant decreased tumor growth, suggesting heterogeneous effects of ERKs in individual MMs.
PMCID: PMC3071888  PMID: 21710492
Asbestos; mesothelioma; extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK1/2); Mitogen activated protein kinases; gene expression
16.  Pten mediates Myc oncogene dependence in a conditional zebrafish model of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2011;208(8):1595-1603.
Loss-of-function mutations in pten genes, or expression of a constitutively active version of Akt2, render T-ALL cell survival and disease progression independent of Myc.
The MYC oncogenic transcription factor is overexpressed in most human cases of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), often downstream of mutational NOTCH1 activation. Genetic alterations in the PTEN–PI3K–AKT pathway are also common in T-ALL. We generated a conditional zebrafish model of T-ALL in which 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4HT) treatment induces MYC activation and disease, and withdrawal of 4HT results in T-ALL apoptosis and tumor regression. However, we found that loss-of-function mutations in zebrafish pten genes, or expression of a constitutively active Akt2 transgene, rendered tumors independent of the MYC oncogene and promoted disease progression after 4HT withdrawal. Moreover, MYC suppresses pten mRNA levels, suggesting that Akt pathway activation downstream of MYC promotes tumor progression. Our findings indicate that Akt pathway activation is sufficient for tumor maintenance in this model, even after loss of survival signals driven by the MYC oncogene.
PMCID: PMC3149218  PMID: 21727187
17.  T-Lymphoblastic Lymphoma Cells Express High Levels of BCL2, S1P1 and ICAM1 Leading to a Blockade of Tumor Cell Intravasation 
Cancer cell  2010;18(4):353-366.
The molecular events underlying the progression of T-lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-LBL) to acute T-lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) remain elusive. In our zebrafish model, concomitant overexpression of bcl-2 with Myc accelerated T-LBL onset while inhibiting progression to T-ALL. The T-LBL cells failed to invade the vasculature and showed evidence of increased homotypic cell-cell adhesion and autophagy. Further analysis using clinical biopsy specimens revealed autophagy and increased levels of BCL2, S1P1 and ICAM1 in human T-LBL compared to T-ALL. Inhibition of S1P1 signaling in T-LBL cells led to decreased homotypic adhesion in vitro and increased tumor cell intravasation in vivo. Thus, blockade of intravasation and hematologic dissemination in T-LBL is due to elevated S1P1 signaling, increased expression of ICAM1 and augmented homotypic cell-cell adhesion.
PMCID: PMC3003429  PMID: 20951945
18.  Appl1 is Dispensable for Akt Signaling in vivo and Mouse T Cell Development 
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2010;48(9):531-539.
Appl1 (Adaptor protein containing pleckstrin homology [PH], phosphotyrosine binding [PTB], and Leucine zipper motifs) is an adaptor that participates in cell signaling by interacting with various signaling molecules including Akt, PI3-kinase (PI3K), Rab5, adiponectin receptor and TrkA. By using RNA knockdown technology, Appl1 has been implicated in zebrafish development and murine glucose metabolism. To investigate the unambiguous role of Appl1 in vivo, we generated a knockout mouse in which exon1 of the Appl1 gene was disrupted using gene trap methodology. However, homozygous Appl1 knockout mice with ubiquitous loss of Appl1 protein expression were viable, grossly normal, and born at expected Mendelian ratios. Moreover, activation of Akt and the downstream effecter Gsk3β were unaffected in vivo. We next performed glucose and insulin tolerance tests and found the glucose metabolism is normal in Appl1-null mice. We also tested the effect of Appl1 loss on Akt signaling in T cells, because we have discovered that Appl1 strongly interacts with the p110β subunit of PI3K in T lymphocytes. However, such interaction was found to be dispensable for Akt signaling in thymic T cells and T cell development. Moreover, Appl1 loss did not affect DNA synthesis in cultured thymocytes, although loss of Appl1 was associated with a slight increase in ConA-stimulated splenic T cell viability/proliferation. Collectively, our findings indicate that Appl1 is dispensable for Akt signaling in vivo and T cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2944914  PMID: 20665729
PI3 kinase; Akt signaling; T cell development; Glucose metabolism; knockout mouse model
19.  VEGF is a Promising Therapeutic Target for the Treatment of Clear Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(8):2411-2422.
This study examined the role of VEGF as a therapeutic target in clear cell carcinoma (CCC) of the ovary, which has been regarded as a chemoresistant histological subtype. Immunohistochemical analysis using tissue microarrays of 98 primary ovarian cancers revealed that VEGF was strongly expressed both in early stage and advanced stage CCC of the ovary. In early stage CCCs, patients who had tumors with high levels of VEGF had significantly shorter survival than those with low levels of VEGF. In vitro experiments revealed that VEGF expression was significantly higher in cisplatin-refractory human clear cell carcinoma cells (RMG1-CR and KOC7C-CR), compared to the respective parental cells (RMG1 and KOC7C) in the presence of cisplatin. In vivo treatment with bevacizumab markedly inhibited the growth of both parental CCC cells-derived (RMG1 and KOC7C) and cisplatin-refractory CCC cells-derived (RMG1-CR and KOC7C-CR) tumors as a result of inhibition of tumor angiogenesis. The results of the current study indicate that VEGF is frequently expressed and can be a promising therapeutic target in the management of CCC. Bevacizumab may be efficacious not only as a first-line treatment but also as a second-line treatment of recurrent disease in patients previously treated with cisplatin.
PMCID: PMC2941981  PMID: 20663925
VEGF; survival; bevacizumab; cisplatin; clear cell carcinoma
20.  Factors that Impact Susceptibility to Fiber-Induced Health Effects 
Asbestos and related fibers are associated with a number of adverse health effects, including malignant mesothelioma (MM), an aggressive cancer that generally develops in the surface serosal cells of the pleural, pericardial, and peritoneal cavities. Although approximately 80% of individuals with MM are exposed to asbestos, fewer than 5% of asbestos workers develop MM. In addition to asbestos, other mineralogical, environmental, genetic, and possibly viral factors might contribute to MM susceptibility. Given this complex etiology of MM, understanding susceptibility to MM needs to be a priority for investigators in order to reduce exposure of those most at risk to known environmental carcinogens. In this review, the current body of literature related to fiber-associated disease susceptibility including age, sex, nutrition, genetics, asbestos, and other mineral exposure is addressed with a focus on MM, and critical areas for further study are recommended.
PMCID: PMC3118508  PMID: 21534090
21.  GSK690693 Delays Tumor Onset and Progression in Genetically-Defined Mouse Models Expressing Activated Akt 
AKT plays a central role in regulating tumor cell survival and cell cycle progression, and is regarded as a promising therapeutic target. We used genetically-defined mouse models that develop spontaneous tumors exhibiting activated Akt to determine if Akt inhibition by GSK690693 is effective in the treatment of cancer. The broad, long-term objective of this project was to use preclinical cancer models with precisely defined genetic lesions to elucidate the efficacy of targeting Akt with GSK690693.
Experimental Design
We tested the in vivo effects of GSK690693 in Lck-MyrAkt2 transgenic mice that develop lymphomas, heterozygous Pten+/− knockout mice that exhibit endometrial tumors, and TgMISIIR-TAg-DR26 mice that develop ovarian carcinomas, all of which exhibit hyperactivation of Akt. In addition to standard disease onset and histology, tumors arising in treated animals were examined by immunohistochemistry to verify down regulated Akt signaling relative to placebo-treated mice. When possible, drug response was evaluated in tumor cell cultures by standard proliferation and apoptosis assays and by immunoblotting with various phospho-specific antibodies.
GSK690693 exhibited efficacy irrespective of the mechanism of Akt activation involved. Interestingly, GSK690693 was most effective in delaying tumor progression in Lck-MyrAkt2 mice expressing a membrane-bound, constitutively active form of Akt. Both tumors and primary cell cultures displayed down regulation of the Akt pathway, increased apoptosis and primarily decreased cell proliferation.
These results suggest that GSK690693 or other AKT inhibitors might have therapeutic efficacy in human cancers with hyperactivated AKT and/or a dependence on AKT signaling for tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC2807995  PMID: 20075391
AKT; PTEN; SV40 T antigens; small molecule inhibitors
22.  High Density DNA Array Analysis Reveals Distinct Genomic Profiles in a Subset of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2009;48(10):886-896.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) generally harbor activating mutations in KIT or PDGFRA. Mutations in these receptor tyrosine kinases lead to dysregulation of downstream signaling pathways that contribute to GIST pathogenesis. GISTs with KIT or PDGFRA mutations also undergo secondary cytogenetic alterations that may indicate the involvement of additional genes important in tumor progression. Approximately 10–15% of adult and 85% of pediatric GISTs do not have mutations in KIT or in PDGFRA. Most mutant adult GISTs display large-scale genomic alterations, but little is know about the mutation-negative tumors. Using genome-wide DNA arrays, we investigated genomic imbalances in a set of 31 GISTs, including 10 KIT/PDGFRA mutation-negative tumors from 9 adults and 1 pediatric case and 21 mutant tumors. While all 21 mutant GISTs exhibited multiple copy number aberrations, notably losses, 8 of the 10 KIT/PDGFRA mutation-negative GISTs exhibited few or no genomic alterations. One KIT/PDGFRA mutation-negative tumor exhibiting numerous genomic changes was found to harbor an alternate activating mutation, in the serine-threonine kinase BRAF. The only other mutation-negative GIST with significant chromosomal imbalances was a recurrent metastatic tumor found to harbor a homozygous deletion in chromosome 9p. Similar findings in several KIT-mutant GISTs identified a minimal overlapping region of deletion of ~0.28 Mbp in 9p21.3 that includes only the CDKN2A/2B genes, which encode inhibitors of cell-cycle kinases. These results suggest that GISTs without activating kinase mutations, whether pediatric or adult, generally exhibit a much lower level of cytogenetic progression than that observed in mutant GISTs.
PMCID: PMC2830286  PMID: 19585585
GISTs; KIT; PDGFRA; BRAF; imatinib mesylate; DNA copy number analysis
23.  Inflammation precedes the development of human malignant mesotheliomas in a SCID mouse xenograft model 
Asbestos fibers cause chronic inflammation that may be critical to the development of malignant mesothelioma (MM). Two human MM cell lines (Hmeso, PPM Mill) were used in a SCID mouse xenograft model to assess time-dependent patterns of inflammation and tumor formation. After intraperitoneal (IP) injection of MM cells, mice were euthanized at 7, 14, and 30 days, and peritoneal lavage fluid (PLF) was examined for immune cell profiles and human and mouse cytokines. Increases in human MM-derived IL-6, IL-8, bFGF, and VEGF were observed in mice at 7 days postinjection of either MM line, and a striking neutrophilia was observed at all time points. Free-floating tumor spheroids developed in mice at 14 days, and both spheroids and adherent MM tumor masses occurred in all mice at 30 days. Results suggest that inflammation and cytokine production precede and may be critical to the development of MMs.
PMCID: PMC2936775  PMID: 20716277
cytokines; chemokines; asbestos; inflammation; mesothelioma
24.  Genomic events associated with progression of pleural malignant mesothelioma 
Pleural malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive cancer with a very long latency and a very short median survival. Little is known about the genetic events that trigger MM and their relation to poor outcome. The goal of our study was to characterize major genomic gains and losses associated with MM origin and progression and assess their clinical significance. We performed Representative Oligonucleotide Microarray Analysis (ROMA) on DNA isolated from tumors of 22 patients who recurred at variable interval with the disease after surgery. The total number of copy number alterations (CNA) and frequent imbalances for patients with short time (<12 months from surgery) and long time to recurrence were recorded and mapped using the Analysis of Copy Errors (ACE) algorithm. We report a profound increase in CNA in the short-time recurrence group with most chromosomes affected, which can be explained by chromosomal instability associated with MM. Deletions in chromosomes 22q12.2, 19q13.32, and 17p13.1 appeared to be the most frequent events (55-74%) shared between MM patients followed by deletions in 1p, 9p, 9q, 4p, 3p and gains in 5p, 18q, 8q, and 17q (23-55%). Deletions in 9p21.3 encompassing CDKN2A/ARF and CDKN2B were characterized as specific for the short-term recurrence group. Analysis of the minimal common areas of frequent gains and losses identified candidate genes that may be involved in different stages of MM: OSM (22q12.2), FUS1 and PL6 (3p21.3), DNAJA1 (9p21.1), and CDH2 (18q11.2-q12.3). Imbalances seen by ROMA were confirmed by Affymetrix genome analysis in a subset of samples.
PMCID: PMC2933144  PMID: 18973227
mesothelioma; ROMA; CGH; copy number alterations; tumor suppressors; oncogenes
25.  Recurrent Chromosomal Rearrangements Implicate Oncogenes Contributing to T-Cell Lymphomagenesis in Lck-MyrAkt2 Transgenic Mice 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2009;48(9):786-794.
The oncogene v-akt was isolated from a retrovirus that induced naturally occurring thymic lymphomas in AKR mice. We hypothesized that constitutive activation of Akt2 could serve as a first hit for the clonal expansion of malignant T-cells by promoting cell survival and genomic instability, leading to chromosome alterations. Furthermore, genes that cooperate with Akt2 to promote malignant transformation may reside at translocation/inversion junctions found in spontaneous thymic lymphomas from transgenic mice expressing constitutively active Akt2 specifically in T cells. Cytogenetic analysis revealed that thymic tumors from multiple founder lines exhibited either of two recurrent chromosomal rearrangements, inv(6)(A2B1) or t(14;15)(C2;D1). Fluorescence in situ hybridization, array-CGH, and PCR analysis was used to delineate the inv(6) and t(14;15) breakpoints. Both rearrangements involved T-cell receptor loci. The inv(6) results in robust up regulation of the homeobox/transcription factor gene Dlx5 due to its relocation near the Tcrb enhancer. The t(14;15) places the Tcra enhancer in the vicinity of the Myc proto-oncogene, resulting in up regulated Myc expression. These findings suggest that activation of the Akt pathway can act as the initial hit to promote cell survival and genomic instability, while the acquisition of T-cell-specific overexpression of Dlx5 or Myc leads to lymphomagenesis.
PMCID: PMC2739734  PMID: 19530243

Results 1-25 (46)