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1.  Pulse-shaping based two-photon FRET stoichiometry 
Optics Express  2015;23(3):3353-3372.
Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) based measurements that calculate the stoichiometry of intermolecular interactions in living cells have recently been demonstrated, where the technique utilizes selective one-photon excitation of donor and acceptor fluorophores to isolate the pure FRET signal. Here, we present work towards extending this FRET stoichiometry method to employ two-photon excitation using a pulse-shaping methodology. In pulse-shaping, frequency-dependent phases are applied to a broadband femtosecond laser pulse to tailor the two-photon excitation conditions to preferentially excite donor and acceptor fluorophores. We have also generalized the existing stoichiometry theory to account for additional cross-talk terms that are non-vanishing under two-photon excitation conditions. Using the generalized theory we demonstrate two-photon FRET stoichiometry in live COS-7 cells expressing fluorescent proteins mAmetrine as the donor and tdTomato as the acceptor.
PMCID: PMC4394757  PMID: 25836193
(180.4315) Nonlinear microscopy; (180.2520) Fluorescence microscopy; (320.5540) Pulse shaping; (100.2960) Image analysis; (170.1530) Cell analysis; (190.4180) Multiphoton processes
2.  Actin filament-associated protein 1 is required for cSrc activity and secretory activation in the lactating mammary gland 
Oncogene  2014;34(20):2640-2649.
Actin filament-associated protein 1 (AFAP1) is an adaptor protein of cSrc that binds to filamentous actin and regulates the activity of this tyrosine kinase to affect changes to the organization of the actin cytoskeleton. In breast and prostate cancer cells, AFAP1 has been shown to regulate cellular responses requiring actin cytoskeletal changes such as adhesion, invadopodia formation and invasion. However, a normal physiological role for AFAP1 has remained elusive. In this study, we generated an AFAP1 knockout mouse model that establishes a novel physiological role for AFAP1 in lactation. Specifically, these animals displayed a defect in lactation that resulted in an inability to efficiently nurse. Histologically, the mammary glands of the lactating knockout mice were distinguished by the accumulation of large cytoplasmic lipid droplets in the alveolar epithelial cells. There was a reduction in lipid synthesis and the expression of lipogenic genes without a corresponding reduction in the production of beta-casein, a milk protein. Furthermore, these defects were associated with histological and biochemical signs of precocious involution. This study also demonstrated that AFAP1 responds to prolactin, a lactogenic hormone, by forming a complex with cSrc and becoming tyrosine phosphorylated. Together, these observations pointed to a defect in secretory activation. Certain characteristics of this phenotype mirrored the defect in secretory activation in the cSrc knockout mouse, but most importantly, the activity of cSrc in the mammary gland was reduced during early lactation in the AFAP1 null mouse and the localization of active cSrc at the apical surface of luminal epithelial cells during lactation was selectively lost in the absence of AFAP1. These data define, for the first time, the requirement of AFAP1 for the spatial and temporal regulation of cSrc activity in the normal breast, specifically for milk production.
PMCID: PMC4302073  PMID: 25043309
Actin filament associated protein (AFAP); cSrc; prolactin; mammary gland; secretory activation; lactation
Neuro-Oncology  2014;16(Suppl 5):v6.
Glioblastoma with acquired resistance to bevacizumab therapy overexpresses c-MET which mediates tumor growth, EMT, invasion, and metastasis. We evaluated the expression level of total and phosphorylated c-MET (p-c-MET) and the inhibitory activity of altiratinib (DCC-2701), a novel c-MET/TIE2/VEGFR inhibitor (Deciphera Pharmaceuticals) that has demonstrated significant BBB penetration into the CNS. Four of 12 (30%) mesenchymal glioma stem cell lines (GSCs) highly expressed c-Met and were sensitive to altiratinib treatment in vitro for blocking cell viability. After HGF stimulation, the expression level of p-cMET was significantly increased in these 4 cell lines. Altiratinib markedly suppressed HGF stimulated p-c-MET expression in both paracrine (MET+) and autocrine (MET + /HGF+) GSC cell lines. In an intracranial glioma mouse model, animals were treated with bevacizumab (Bev) alone, altiratinib alone or the combination. Mice were euthanized at 3, 4 and 5 weeks. H&E staining revealed a significant reduction in tumor size in the combination group compared with the tumors treated with either agent alone. Altiratinib alone or combination with Bev treatment dramatically suppressed EMT and tumor invasion in vivo. This anti-invasive effect correlated with decreased N-cadherin and vimentin levels. In vivo, microvascular density was significantly inhibited in the groups treated with altiratinib and altiratinib plus Bev compared with control or the group treated with Bev alone. Similarly, F4/80+ BMDC cell infiltration was significantly suppressed in the groups treated with altiratinib and altiratinib plus Bev combination compared to control Bev-treated groups. In summary, our data indicated that altiratinib inhibited tumor growth, EMT and invasion both in vitro and in vivo. The combination of altiratinib and anti-VEGF therapy may provide a new strategy to overcome Bev resistance and prolong overall survival in patients with glioblastoma.
PMCID: PMC4217864
4.  Novel nonadride, heptadride and maleic acid metabolites from the byssochlamic acid producer Byssochlamys fulva IMI 40021 – an insight into the biosynthesis of maleidrides† †Electronic supplementary information (ESI) available: Details of any supplementary information available should be included here. See DOI: 10.1039/c5cc06988b Click here for additional data file.  
Byssochlamic acid and the novel heptadride, agnestadride A are biosynthesised via alternative dimerisations of a maleic acid monomer.
The filamentous fungus Byssochlamys fulva strain IMI 40021 produces (+)-byssochlamic acid 1, its novel dihydroanalogue 2 and four related secondary metabolites. Agnestadrides A, 17 and B, 18 constitute a novel class of seven-membered ring, maleic anhydride-containing (hence termed heptadride) natural products. The putative maleic anhydride precursor 5 for both nonadride and heptadride biosynthesis was isolated as a fermentation product for the first time and its structure confirmed by synthesis. Acid 5 undergoes facile decarboxylation to anhydride 6. The generic term maleidrides is proposed to encompass biosynthetically-related compounds containing maleic anhydride moieties fused to an alicyclic ring, varying in size and substituents.
PMCID: PMC4766579  PMID: 26452099
5.  Cascading Adjacent Level Vertebral Compression Fractures Necessitating a Series of Eleven Kyphoplasties 
Case Reports in Orthopedics  2015;2015:395875.
Vertebral kyphoplasty is a procedure used for the treatment of compression fractures. While early randomized-controlled trials were equivocal regarding its benefits, more recent RCTs have shown favorable results for kyphoplasty with regard to pain relief, functional recovery, and health-care related quality of life compared to control patients. Risks of kyphoplasty include but are not limited to cement extrusion, infection, hematoma, and vertebral body fracture of adjacent levels. We describe a case of a 66-year-old male attorney who underwent eleven kyphoplasties in an approximately one-year period, the majority of which were for fractures of vertebrae adjacent to those previously treated with kyphoplasty. Information on treatment was gathered from the patient's hospital chart and outpatient office notes. Following the last of the eleven kyphoplasties (two at T8, one each at all vertebrae from T9 to L5), the patient was able to function without pain and return to work. His physiologic thoracic kyphosis of 40 degrees prior to the first procedure was maintained, as were his lung and abdominal volumes. We conclude that kyphoplasty is an appropriate procedure for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures and can be used repeatedly to address fractures of levels adjacent to a previous kyphoplasty.
PMCID: PMC4609812  PMID: 26509091
6.  Wound Healing and Cancer Stem Cells: Inflammation as a Driver of Treatment Resistance in Breast Cancer 
The relationship between wound healing and cancer has long been recognized. The mechanisms that regulate wound healing have been shown to promote transformation and growth of malignant cells. In addition, chronic inflammation has been associated with malignant transformation in many tissues. Recently, pathways involved in inflammation and wound healing have been reported to enhance cancer stem cell (CSC) populations. These cells, which are highly resistant to current treatments, are capable of repopulating the tumor after treatment, causing local and systemic recurrences. In this review, we highlight proinflammatory cytokines and developmental pathways involved in tissue repair, whose deregulation in the tumor microenvironment may promote growth and survival of CSCs. We propose that the addition of anti-inflammatory agents to current treatment regimens may slow the growth of CSCs and improve therapeutic outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4315129  PMID: 25674014
cancer stem cells; inflammation; tumor microenvironment; developmental pathways
7.  Individualized Survival and Treatment Response Predictions in Breast Cancer Patients: Involvements of Phospho-EGFR and Phospho-Her2/neu Proteins 
Our robust prediction system for individual breast cancer patients combines three well-known machine-learning classifiers to provide stable and accurate clinical outcome prediction (N=269). The average performance of the selected classifiers is used as the evaluation criterion in breast cancer outcome predictions. A profile (incorporating histology, lymph node status, tumor grade, tumor stage, ER, PR, Her2/neu, patient’s age and smoking status) generated over 95% accuracy in individualized disease-free survival and treatment response predictions. Furthermore, our analysis demonstrated that the measurement of phospho-EGFR and phospho-Her2/neu is more powerful in breast cancer survival prediction than that of total EGFR and total Her2/neu (p < 0.05). The incorporation of hormone receptor status, Her2/neu, patient’s age and smoking status into the traditional pathologic markers creates a powerful standard to perform individualized survival and treatment outcome predictions for breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4282131  PMID: 25558292
prognosis; antibody; breast cancer; EGFR; Her2/neu; molecular pathogenesis
8.  Immunohistochemical analysis of aldehyde dehydrogenase isoforms and their association with estrogen-receptor status and disease progression in breast cancer 
In many types of tumors, especially breast tumors, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity has been used to identify cancer stem-like cells within the tumor. The presence and quantity of these cells are believed to predict the response of tumors to chemotherapy. Therefore, identification and eradication of these cells would be necessary to cure the patient. However, there are 19 different ALDH isoforms that could contribute to the enzyme activity. ALDH1A1 and ALDH1A3 are among the isoforms mostly responsible for the increased ALDH activity observed in these stem-like cells, although the main isoforms vary in different tissues and tumor types. In the study reported here, we attempted to determine if ALDH1A1 or ALDH1A3, specifically, correlate with tumor stage, grade, and hormone-receptor status in breast-cancer patients. While there was no significant correlation between ALDH1A1 and any of the parameters tested, we were able to identify a positive correlation between ALDH1A3 and tumor stage in triple-negative cancers. In addition, ALDH1A3 was negatively correlated with estrogen-receptor status. Our data suggest that ALDH1A3 could be utilized as a marker to identify stem-like cells within triple-negative tumors.
PMCID: PMC4270298  PMID: 25540596
breast tumor; ALDH; ALDH1A1; ALDH1A3; stem-like cells; triple-negative cancer
9.  A Shope Fibroma virus PYRIN-only protein modulates the host immune response 
Virus genes  2007;35(3):685-694.
PYRIN domain (PYD) proteins have recently emerged as important signaling molecules involved in the development of innate immunity to intracellular pathogens through activation of inflammatory mediator pathways. ASC is the central adaptor protein, which links pathogen recognition by PYD-containing pathogen recognition receptors to the activation of downstream effectors, including activation of Caspase-1 and NF-κB. The cellular PYD-only protein 1 (cPOP1) can block the recruitment of ASC to activated PAN receptors and thereby functions as an endogenous inhibitor of the PYD-mediated signal transduction pathway. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a Shope Fibroma homolog to cPOP1. Like cPOP1, a Shope Fibroma virus-encoded POP (vPOP), co-localizes and directly associates with ASC and inhibits PYD-mediated signal transduction. Poxviruses are known to encode immune evasive proteins to promote host cell infection and suppression of the host immune response. Poxvirus-encoded vPOPs represent a novel class of immune evasive proteins and impair the host response by blocking Cryopyrin and ASC inflammasome-mediated activation of pro-Caspase-1 and subsequent processing of pro-interleukin (IL)-1β, and expression of vPOPs causes activation of NF-κB.
PMCID: PMC4257706  PMID: 17676277
caspase-1; IL-1β; inflammasome; NF-κB; PYRIN domain; poxvirus
10.  Genitourinary Defects Associated with Genomic Deletions in 2p15 Encompassing OTX1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107028.
Normal development of the genitourinary (GU) tract is a complex process that frequently goes awry. In male children the most frequent congenital GU anomalies are cryptorchidism (1–4%), hypospadias (1%) and micropenis (0.35%). Bladder exstrophy and epispadias complex (BEEC) (1∶47000) occurs less frequently but significantly impacts patients' lives. Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) identified seven individuals with overlapping deletions in the 2p15 region (66.0 kb-5.6 Mb). Six of these patients have GU defects, while the remaining patient has no GU defect. These deletions encompass the transcription factor OTX1. Subjects 2–7 had large de novo CNVs (2.39–6.31 Mb) and exhibited features similar to those associated with the 2p15p16.1 and 2p15p14 microdeletion syndromes, including developmental delay, short stature, and variable GU defects. Subject-1 with BEEC had the smallest deletion (66 kb), which deleted only one copy of OTX1. Otx1-null mice have seizures, prepubescent transient growth retardation and gonadal defects. Two subjects have short stature, two have seizures, and six have GU defects, mainly affecting the external genitalia. The presence of GU defects in six patients in our cohort and eight of thirteen patients reported with deletions within 2p14p16.1 (two with deletion of OTX1) suggest that genes in 2p15 are important for GU development. Genitalia defects in these patients could result from the effect of OTX1 on pituitary hormone secretion or on the regulation of SHH signaling, which is crucial for development of the bladder and genitalia.
PMCID: PMC4159299  PMID: 25203062
11.  Targeting the KIT Activating Switch Control Pocket: A Novel Mechanism to Inhibit Neoplastic Mast Cell Proliferation and Mast Cell Activation 
Leukemia  2012;27(2):278-285.
Activating mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinase KIT, most notably KIT D816V, are commonly observed in patients with systemic mastocytosis. Thus, inhibition of KIT has been a major focus for treatment of this disorder. Here we investigated a novel approach to such inhibition. Utilizing rational drug design, we targeted the switch pocket (SP) of KIT which regulates its catalytic conformation. Two SP inhibitors thus identified, DP-2976 and DP-4851, were examined for effects on neoplastic mast cell proliferation and mast cell activation. Autophosphorylation of both wild type (WT) and, where also examined, KIT D816V was blocked by these compounds in transfected 293T cells, HMC 1.1 and 1.2 human mast cell lines; and in CD34+-derived human mast cells activated by stem cell factor (SCF). Both inhibitors induced apoptosis in the neoplastic mast cell lines and reduced survival of primary bone marrow mast cells from patients with mastocytosis. Moreover, the SP inhibitors more selectively blocked SCF potentiation of FcεRI-mediated degranulation. Overall, SP inhibitors represent an innovative mechanism of KIT inhibition whose dual suppression of KIT D816V neoplastic mast cell proliferation and SCF enhanced mast cell activation may provide significant therapeutic benefits.
PMCID: PMC3529859  PMID: 22907049
mastocytosis; switch pocket; KIT; KIT D816V; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; mast cell
12.  Translation validation of a new back pain screening questionnaire (the STarT Back Screening Tool) in French 
Archives of Public Health  2012;70(1):12.
Low back pain (LBP) is a major public health problem and the identification of individuals at risk of persistent LBP poses substantial challenges to clinical management. The STarT Back questionnaire is a validated nine-item patient self-report questionnaire that classifies patients with LBP at low, medium or high-risk of poor prognosis for persistent non-specific LBP. The objective of this study was to translate and cross-culturally adapt the English version of the STarT Back questionnaire into French.
The translation was performed using best practice translation guidelines. The following phases were performed: contact with the STarT Back questionnaire developers, initial translations (English into French), synthesis, back translations, expert committee review, test of the pre-final version on 44 individuals with LBP, final version.
The linguistic translation required minor semantic alterations. The participants interviewed indicated that all items of the questionnaire were globally clear and comprehensible. However, 6 subjects (14%) wondered if two questions were related to back pain or general health. After discussion within the expert committee and with the developer of the STarT Back tool, it was decided to modify the questionnaire and to add a reference to back pain in these two questions.
The French version of the STarT Back questionnaire has been shown to be comprehensible and adapted to the French speaking general population. Investigations are now required to test the psychometric properties (reliability, internal and external validity, responsiveness) of this translated version of the questionnaire.
PMCID: PMC3436683  PMID: 22958224
Low back pain; Questionnaire; Translation
13.  AFAP1L1 is a novel adaptor protein of the AFAP family that interacts with cortactin and localizes to invadosomes 
European journal of cell biology  2011;90(5):376-389.
The actin-filament associated protein (AFAP) family of adaptor proteins consists of three members: AFAP1, AFAP1L1, and AFAP1L2/XB130 with AFAP1 being the best described as a cSrc binding partner and actin cross-linking protein. A homology search of AFAP1 recently identified AFAP1L1 which has a similar sequence, domain structure and cellular localization; however, based upon sequence variations, AFAP1L1 is hypothesized to have unique functions that are distinct from AFAP1. While AFAP1 has the ability to bind to the SH3 domain of the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase cSrc via an N-terminal SH3 binding motif, it was unable to bind cortactin. However, the SH3 binding motif of AFAP1L1 was more efficient at interacting with the SH3 domain of cortactin and not cSrc. AFAP1L1 was shown by fluorescence microscopy to decorate actin filaments and move to punctate actin structures and colocalize with cortactin, consistent with localization to invadosomes. Upon overexpression in A7r5 cells, AFAP1L1 had the ability to induce podosome formation and move to podosomes without stimulation. Immunohistochemical analysis of AFAP1L1 in human tissues shows differential expression when contrasted with AFAP1 with localization of AFAP1L1 to unique sites in muscle and the dentate nucleus of the brain where AFAP1 was not detectable. We hypothesize AFAP1L1 may play a similar role to AFAP1 in affecting changes in actin filaments and bridging interactions with binding partners, but we hypothesize that AFAP1L1 may forge unique protein interactions in which AFAP1 is less efficient, and these interactions may allow AFAP1L1 to affect invadosome formation.
PMCID: PMC3085893  PMID: 21333378
AFAP1L1; AFAP1; XB130; podosome; cortactin; dentate nucleus; actin
14.  Conformational control inhibition of the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase, including the gatekeeper T315I mutant, by the switch-control inhibitor DCC-2036 
Cancer cell  2011;19(4):556-568.
Acquired resistance to ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) through ABL1 kinase domain mutations, particularly the gatekeeper mutant T315I, is a significant problem for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients. Using structure-based drug design, we developed compounds that bind to residues (Arg386/Glu282) ABL1 uses to switch between inactive and active conformations. The lead “switch-control” inhibitor, DCC-2036, potently inhibits both unphosphorylated and phosphorylated ABL1 by inducing a type II inactive conformation, and retains efficacy against the majority of clinically relevant CML resistance mutants, including T315I. DCC-2036 inhibits BCR-ABL1T315I-expressing cell lines, prolongs survival in mouse models of T315I-mutant CML and B-lymphoblastic leukemia, and inhibits primary patient leukemia cells expressing T315I in vitro and in vivo, supporting its clinical development in TKI-resistant Ph+ leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3077923  PMID: 21481795
15.  Monomer-on-Monomer (MoM) Mitsunobu Reaction: Facile Purification Utilizing Surface-Initiated Sequestration 
Organic Letters  2010;13(1):8-10.
A monomer-on-monomer (MoM) Mitsunobu reaction utilizing norbornenyl-tagged (Nb-tagged) reagents is reported, whereby purification was rapidly achieved by employing ring-opening metathesis polymerization which is initiated by any of three methods utilizing Grubbs catalyst (i) free catalyst in solution, (ii) surface-initiated catalyst-armed silica or (iii) surface-initiated catalyst-armed Co/C magnetic nanoparticles.
PMCID: PMC3271942  PMID: 21121636
16.  High-load, oligomeric dichlorotriazine (ODCT): A versatile ROMP-derived reagent and scavenger 
The Journal of Organic Chemistry  2008;73(22):8785-8790.
A new high-load, soluble oligomeric dichlorotriazine (ODCT) reagent derived from ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) is reported as an effective coupling reagent, scavenger of nucleophilic species and activator of DMSO for the classic Swern oxidations. Two variants of this reagent 2GODCT 4 and 1GODCT 16, possessing theoretical loads of 5.3 mmol/g and 7.3 mmol/g, respectively, have been synthesized. Preparation was accomplished via simple synthetic protocols affording free flowing powders, amenable for large-scale production. Removal of the spent oligomeric reagent was achieved via either precipitation of the spent reagent or simple filtration utilizing a silica SPE, followed by solvent removal, to deliver products in excellent yield and purity. In addition, the corresponding norbornenyl monomer 3 was successfully demonstrated in a couple-ROMP-filter protocol utilizing in-situ polymerization, achieving comparable results versus the corresponding oligomeric variant.
PMCID: PMC3271944  PMID: 18937412
Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization (ROMP); Dichlorotriazine (DCT); Trichlorotriazine (TCT); Oligomer; High-Load; Scavenger; Coupling Reagent; Swern Oxidation
17.  The ABL switch control inhibitor DCC-2036 is active against the chronic myeloid leukemia mutant BCR-ABLT315I and exhibits a narrow resistance profile 
Cancer research  2011;71(9):3189-3195.
Acquired point mutations within the BCR-ABL kinase domain represent a common mechanism of resistance to ABL inhibitor therapy in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The BCR-ABLT315I mutant is highly resistant to imatinib, nilotinib, and dasatinib and is frequently detected in relapsed patients. This critical gap in resistance coverage drove development of DCC-2036, an ABL inhibitor which binds the switch control pocket involved in conformational regulation of the kinase domain. We evaluated the efficacy of DCC-2036 against BCR-ABLT315I and other mutants in cellular and biochemical assays and conducted cell-based mutagenesis screens. DCC-2036 inhibited autophosphorylation of ABL and ABLT315I enzymes, and this activity was consistent with selective efficacy against Ba/F3 cells expressing BCR-ABL (IC50: 19 nmol/L), BCR-ABLT315I (IC50: 63 nmol/L), and most kinase domain mutants. Ex vivo exposure of CML cells from patients harboring BCR-ABL or BCR-ABLT315I to DCC-2036 revealed marked inhibition of colony formation and reduced phosphorylation of the direct BCR-ABL target CrkL. Cell-based mutagenesis screens identified a resistance profile for DCC-2036 centered around select P-loop mutations (G250E, Q252H, Y253H, E255K/V), although a concentration of 750 nmol/L DCC-2036 suppressed the emergence of all resistant clones. A decreased concentration of DCC-2036 (160 nmol/L) in dual-combination with either nilotinib or dasatinib achieved the same zero outgrowth result. Further screens for resistance due to BCR-ABL compound mutations (two mutations in the same clone) identified BCR-ABLE255V / T315I as the most resistant mutant. Taken together, these findings support continued evaluation of DCC-2036 as an important new agent for treatment-refractory CML.
PMCID: PMC3206627  PMID: 21505103
BCR-ABL; imatinib resistance; DCC-2036
18.  Targeted Inhibition of Multiple Receptor Tyrosine Kinases in Mesothelioma12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2011;13(1):12-22.
The receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and MET are activated in subsets of mesothelioma, suggesting that these kinases might represent novel therapeutic targets in this notoriously chemotherapy-resistant cancer. However, clinical trials have shown little activity for EGFR inhibitors in mesothelioma. Despite the evidence for RTK activation in mesothelioma pathogenesis, it is unclear whether transforming activity is dependent on an individual kinase oncoprotein or the coordinated activity of multiple kinases. Using phospho-RTK and immunoblot assays, we herein demonstrate activation of multiple RTKs (EGFR, MET, AXL, and ERBB3) in individual mesothelioma cell lines but not in normal mesothelioma cells. Inhibition of mesothelioma multi-RTK signaling was accomplished using combinations of RTK direct inhibitors or by inhibition of the RTK chaperone, heat shock protein 90 (HSP90). Multi-RTK inhibition by the HSP90 inhibitor 17-allyloamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) had a substantially greater effect on mesothelioma proliferation and survival compared with inhibition of individual activated RTKs. HSP90 inhibition also suppressed phosphorylation of downstream signaling intermediates (AKT, mitogen-activated protein kinase, and S6); upregulated the p53, p21, and p27 cell cycle checkpoints; induced G2 phase arrest; induced caspase 3/7 activity; and led to an increase in the sub-G1 apoptotic population. These compelling proapoptotic and antiproliferative responses indicate that HSP90 inhibition warrants clinical evaluation as a novel therapeutic strategy in mesothelioma.
PMCID: PMC3022424  PMID: 21245936
19.  A Polymorphic Variant of AFAP-110 Enhances cSrc Activity12 
Translational Oncology  2010;3(4):276-285.
Enhanced expression and activity of cSrc are associated with ovarian cancer progression. Generally, cSrc does not contain activating mutations; rather, its activity is increased in response to signals that affect a conformational change that releases its autoinhibition. In this report, we analyzed ovarian cancer tissues for the expression of a cSrc-activating protein, AFAP-110. AFAP-110 activates cSrc through a direct interaction that releases it from its autoinhibited conformation. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a concomitant increase of AFAP-110 and cSrc in ovarian cancer tissues. An analysis of the AFAP-110 coding sequence revealed the presence of a nonsynonymous, single-nucleotide polymorphism that resulted in a change of Ser403 to Cys403. In cells that express enhanced levels of cSrc, AFAP-110403C directed the activation of cSrc and the formation of podosomes independently of input signals, in contrast to wild-type AFAP-110. We therefore propose that, under conditions of cSrc overexpression, the polymorphic variant of AFAP-110 promotes cSrc activation. Further, these data indicate amechanismby which an inherited genetic variation could influence ovarian cancer progression and could be used to predict the response to targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC2915419  PMID: 20689769
20.  Confirmation of gene expression-based prediction of survival in non-small cell lung cancer 
Clinical Relevance
It remains a critical issue to reliably identify specific patients at high risk for recurrence and metastasis of lung cancer. To date, there has been no clinically applied gene test for predicting lung cancer recurrence. This study validated a 35-gene prognostic signature in various cell types of non-small cell lung cancer. The analysis showed that the 35-gene signature could further stratify patients at stage 1A into distinct prognostic subgroups. This lung cancer prognostic signature is independent of traditional clinicopathological factors, including patient age, clinical stage, tumor differentiation, and tumor grade. This signature had better prognostic performance than other lung cancer signatures, including the 5-gene signature and the 133-gene signature in the studied cohorts. The gene expression and protein expression of the identified biomarkers were validated in real-time RT-PCR and Western blots analysis of clinical specimens. This study indicates that the 35-gene signature could be applied in clinics for patient stratification.
It remains a critical challenge to determine the risk for recurrence in early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Accurate gene expression signatures are needed to classify patients into high- and low-risk groups to improve the selection of patients for adjuvant therapy.
Experimental Design
Multiple published microarray datasets were used to evaluate our previously identified lung cancer prognostic gene signature. Expression of the signature genes was further validated with real-time RT-PCR and Western blot assays of snap frozen lung cancer tumor tissues.
Our previously identified 35-gene signature stratified 264 patients with non-small cell lung cancer into high- and low-risk groups with distinct overall survival rates (P < 0.05, Kaplan-Meier analysis, log-rank tests). The 35-gene signature further stratified patients with clinical stage 1A diseases into poor prognostic and good prognostic subgroups (P = 0.0007, Kaplan-Meier analysis, log-rank tests). This signature is independent of other prognostic factors for non-small cell lung cancer, including age, sex, tumor differentiation, tumor grade, and tumor stage. The expression of the signature genes was validated with real-time RT-PCR analysis of lung cancer tumor specimens. Protein expression of two signature genes, TAL2 and ILF3, was confirmed in lung adenocarcinoma tumors by using Western blot analysis. These two biomarkers showed correlated mRNA and protein over-expression in lung cancer development and progression.
The results indicate that the identified 35-gene signature is an accurate predictor of survival in non-small cell lung cancer. It provides independent prognostic information in addition to traditional clinicopathological criteria.
PMCID: PMC2605664  PMID: 19088038
molecular signature; non-small cell lung cancer; prognosis; microarray analysis; protein expression; Western blots
21.  AFAP120 regulates actin organization during neuronal differentiation 
During development, dynamic changes in the actin cytoskeleton determine both cell motility and morphological differentiation. In most mature tissues, cells are generally minimally motile and have morphologies specialized to their functions. In metastatic cancer, cells generally loose their specialized morphology and become motile. Therefore, proteins that regulate the transition between the motile and morphologically differentiated states can play important roles in determining cancer outcomes. AFAP120 is a neuronal specific protein that binds Src Kinase and Protein Kinase C (PKC) and cross-links actin filaments. Here we report that expression and tyrosine phosphorylation of AFAP120 are developmentally regulated in the cerebellum. In cerebellar cultures, PKC activation induces Src-kinase dependent phosphorylation of AFAP120, indicating that AFAP120 may be a downstream effector of Src. In neuroblastoma cells induced to differentiate by treatment with a PKC activator, tyrosine phosphorylation of AFAP120 appears to regulate the formation of the lamellar actin structures and subsequent neurite initiation. Together, these results indicate that AFAP120 plays a role in organizing dynamic actin structures during neuronal differentiation and suggest that AFAP120 may help regulate the transition from motile precursor to morphologically differentiated neurons.
PMCID: PMC2664250  PMID: 19281763
actin; AFAP; neuroblastoma; Src; neurite elongation
22.  Iron oxide nanoparticles induce human microvascular endothelial cell permeability through reactive oxygen species production and microtubule remodeling 
Engineered iron nanoparticles are being explored for the development of biomedical applications and many other industry purposes. However, to date little is known concerning the precise mechanisms of translocation of iron nanoparticles into targeted tissues and organs from blood circulation, as well as the underlying implications of potential harmful health effects in human.
The confocal microscopy imaging analysis demonstrates that exposure to engineered iron nanoparticles induces an increase in cell permeability in human microvascular endothelial cells. Our studies further reveal iron nanoparticles enhance the permeability through the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the stabilization of microtubules. We also showed Akt/GSK-3β signaling pathways are involved in iron nanoparticle-induced cell permeability. The inhibition of ROS demonstrate ROS play a major role in regulating Akt/GSK-3β – mediated cell permeability upon iron nanoparticle exposure. These results provide new insights into the bioreactivity of engineered iron nanoparticles which can inform potential applications in medical imaging or drug delivery.
Our results indicate that exposure to iron nanoparticles induces an increase in endothelial cell permeability through ROS oxidative stress-modulated microtubule remodeling. The findings from this study provide new understandings on the effects of nanoparticles on vascular transport of macromolecules and drugs.
PMCID: PMC2632982  PMID: 19134195
23.  Podosomes and Invadopodia: Related structures with Common Protein Components that May Promote Breast Cancer Cellular Invasion 
A rate-limiting step in breast cancer progression is acquisition of the invasive phenotype, which can precede metastasis. Expression of cell-surface proteases at the leading edge of a migrating cell provides cells with a mechanism to cross tissue barriers. A newly appreciated mechanism that may be relevant for breast cancer cell invasion is the formation of invadopodia, well-defined structures that project from the ventral membrane and promote degradation of the extracellular matrix, allowing the cell to cross a tissue barrier. Recently, there has been some controversy and discussion as to whether invadopodia, which are associated with carcinoma cells, are related to a similar structure called podosomes, which are associated with normal cells. Invadopodia and podosomes share many common characteristics, including a similar size, shape, subcellular localization and an ability to promote invasion. These two structures also share many common protein components, which we outline herein. It has been speculated that podosomes may be precursors to invadopodia and by extension both structures may be relevant to cancer cell invasion. Here, we compare and contrast the protein components of invadopodia and podosomes and discuss a potential role for these proteins and the evidence that supports a role for invadopodia and podosomes in breast cancer invasion.
PMCID: PMC3085414  PMID: 21655365
invadopodia; podosomes; invasion; breast cancer
24.  AFAP-110 is overexpressed in prostate cancer and contributes to tumorigenic growth by regulating focal contacts 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(10):2962-2973.
The actin filament–associated protein AFAP-110 is an actin cross-linking protein first identified as a substrate of the viral oncogene v-Src. AFAP-110 regulates actin cytoskeleton integrity but also functions as an adaptor protein that affects crosstalk between Src and PKC. Here we investigated the roles of AFAP-110 in the tumorigenic process of prostate carcinoma. Using immunohistochemistry of human tissue arrays, we found that AFAP-110 was absent or expressed at very low levels in normal prostatic epithelium and benign prostatic hyperplasia but significantly increased in prostate carcinomas. The level of AFAP-110 in carcinomas correlated with the Gleason scores. Downregulation of AFAP-110 in PC3 prostate cancer cells inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and tumorigenicity and growth in orthotopic nude mouse models. Furthermore, downmodulation of AFAP-110 resulted in decreased cell-matrix adhesion and cell migration, defective focal adhesions, and reduced integrin β1 expression. Reintroduction of avian AFAP-110 or a mutant disabling its interaction with Src restored these properties. However, expression of an AFAP-110 lacking the PKC-interacting domain failed to restore properties of parental cells. Thus, increased expression of AFAP-110 is associated with progressive stages of prostate cancer and is critical for tumorigenic growth, in part by regulating focal contacts in a PKC-dependent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC1978423  PMID: 17885682
25.  Cellular Pyrin Domain-Only Protein 2 Is a Candidate Regulator of Inflammasome Activation▿  
Infection and Immunity  2006;75(3):1484-1492.
Pyrin domain (PYD) proteins have recently emerged as important signaling molecules involved in the development of innate immunity against intracellular pathogens through activation of inflammatory mediator pathways. ASC is the central adaptor protein, which links pathogen recognition by PYD-containing pathogen recognition receptors, known as PYD-Nod-like receptors (NLR), PAN, PYPAF, NALP, Nod, and Caterpiller proteins, to the activation of downstream effectors, including activation of caspase-1 and NF-κB. Activation of these effectors occurs when specific protein complexes, known as inflammasomes, are formed. PYD signal transduction leads to inflammasome assembly and activation of specific effector proteins. It is modulated by a cellular PYD-only protein (cPOP1), which binds to ASC and interferes with the recruitment of ASC to activated PYD-NLRs. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a second cellular POP (cPOP2), which shows highest homology to the PYD of PAN1. cPOP2 binds to ASC and PAN1, thereby blocking formation of cryopyrin and PAN1-containing inflammasomes, activation of caspase-1, and subsequent processing and secretion of bioactive interleukin-1β. Existence of a second cPOP provides additional insights into inflammasome formation and suggests that POPs might be a common regulatory mechanism to “fine-tune” the activity of specific PYD-NLR family protein-containing inflammasomes.
PMCID: PMC1828547  PMID: 17178784

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