Publications by authors named "Deniz A Ucar"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Dual inhibition of MEK1/2 and MEK5 suppresses the EMT/migration axis in triple-negative breast cancer through FRA-1 regulation.

J Cell Biochem 2021 08 20;122(8):835-850. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) presents a clinical challenge due to the aggressive nature of the disease and a lack of targeted therapies. Constitutive activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway has been linked to chemoresistance and metastatic progression through distinct mechanisms, including activation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) when cells adopt a motile and invasive phenotype through loss of epithelial markers (CDH1), and acquisition of mesenchymal markers (VIM, CDH2). Although MAPK/ERK1/2 kinase inhibitors (MEKi) are useful antitumor agents in a clinical setting, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved MEK1,2 dual inhibitors cobimetinib and trametinib, there are limitations to their clinical utility, primarily adaptation of the BRAF pathway and ocular toxicities. The MEK5 (HGNC: MAP2K5) pathway has important roles in metastatic progression of various cancer types, including those of the prostate, colon, bone and breast, and elevated levels of ERK5 expression in breast carcinomas are linked to a worse prognoses in TNBC patients. The purpose of this study is to explore MEK5 regulation of the EMT axis and to evaluate a novel pan-MEK inhibitor on clinically aggressive TNBC cells. Our results show a distinction between the MEK1/2 and MEK5 cascades in maintenance of the mesenchymal phenotype, suggesting that the MEK5 pathway may be necessary and sufficient in EMT regulation while MEK1/2 signaling further sustains the mesenchymal state of TNBC cells. Furthermore, additive effects on MET induction are evident through the inhibition of both MEK1/2 and MEK5. Taken together, these data demonstrate the need for a better understanding of the individual roles of MEK1/2 and MEK5 signaling in breast cancer and provide a rationale for the combined targeting of these pathways to circumvent compensatory signaling and subsequent therapeutic resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcb.29916DOI Listing
August 2021

Diverse and converging roles of ERK1/2 and ERK5 pathways on mesenchymal to epithelial transition in breast cancer.

Transl Oncol 2021 Jun 21;14(6):101046. Epub 2021 Mar 21.

Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA. Electronic address:

The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is characterized by a loss of cell polarity, a decrease in the epithelial cell marker E-cadherin, and an increase in mesenchymal markers including the zinc-finger E-box binding homeobox (ZEB1). The EMT is also associated with an increase in cell migration and anchorage-independent growth. Induction of a reversal of the EMT, a mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET), is an emerging strategy being explored to attenuate the metastatic potential of aggressive cancer types, such as triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) and tamoxifen-resistant (TAMR) ER-positive breast cancers, which have a mesenchymal phenotype. Patients with these aggressive cancers have poor prognoses, quick relapse, and resistance to most chemotherapeutic drugs. Overexpression of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and ERK5 is associated with poor patient survival in breast cancer. Moreover, TNBC and tamoxifen resistant cancers are unresponsive to most targeted clinical therapies and there is a dire need for alternative therapies. In the current study, we found that MAPK3, MAPK1, and MAPK7 gene expression correlated with EMT markers and poor overall survival in breast cancer patients using publicly available datasets. The effect of ERK1/2 and ERK5 pathway inhibition on MET was evaluated in MDA-MB-231, BT-549 TNBC cells, and tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Moreover, TU-BcX-4IC patient-derived primary TNBC cells were included to enhance the translational relevance of our study. We evaluated the effect of pharmacological inhibitors and lentivirus-induced activation or inhibition of the MEK1/2-ERK1/2 and MEK5-ERK5 pathways on cell morphology, E-cadherin, vimentin and ZEB1 expression. Additionally, the effects of pharmacological inhibition of trametinib and XMD8-92 on nuclear localization of ERK1/2 and ERK5, cell migration, proliferation, and spheroid formation were evaluated. Novel compounds that target the MEK1/2 and MEK5 pathways were used in combination with the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib to understand cell-specific responses to kinase inhibition. The results from this study will aid in the design of innovative therapeutic strategies that target cancer metastases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tranon.2021.101046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8020482PMC
June 2021

Molecular Mechanisms of Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition Regulated by ERK5 Signaling.

Biomolecules 2021 01 29;11(2). Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA.

Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK5) is an essential regulator of cancer progression, tumor relapse, and poor patient survival. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a complex oncogenic process, which drives cell invasion, stemness, and metastases. Activators of ERK5, including mitogen-activated protein kinase 5 (MEK5), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), are known to induce EMT and metastases in breast, lung, colorectal, and other cancers. Several downstream targets of the ERK5 pathway, such as myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2c (MEF2C), activator protein-1 (AP-1), focal adhesion kinase (FAK), and c-Myc, play a critical role in the regulation of EMT transcription factors SNAIL, SLUG, and β-catenin. Moreover, ERK5 activation increases the release of extracellular matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), facilitating breakdown of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and local tumor invasion. Targeting the ERK5 signaling pathway using small molecule inhibitors, microRNAs, and knockdown approaches decreases EMT, cell invasion, and metastases via several mechanisms. The focus of the current review is to highlight the mechanisms which are known to mediate cancer EMT via ERK5 signaling. Several therapeutic approaches that can be undertaken to target the ERK5 pathway and inhibit or reverse EMT and metastases are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/biom11020183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7911413PMC
January 2021

Evaluation of deacetylase inhibition in metaplastic breast carcinoma using multiple derivations of preclinical models of a new patient-derived tumor.

PLoS One 2020 9;15(10):e0226464. Epub 2020 Oct 9.

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.

Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is a clinically aggressive and rare subtype of breast cancer, with similar features to basal-like breast cancers. Due to rapid growth rates and characteristic heterogeneity, MBC is often unresponsive to standard chemotherapies; and novel targeted therapeutic discovery is urgently needed. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (DACi) suppress tumor growth and metastasis through regulation of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition axis in various cancers, including basal-like breast cancers. We utilized a new MBC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) to examine the effect of DACi therapy on MBC. Cell morphology, cell cycle-associated gene expressions, transwell migration, and metastasis were evaluated in patient-derived cells and tumors after treatment with romidepsin and panobinostat. Derivations of our PDX model, including cells, spheres, organoids, explants, and in vivo implanted tumors were treated. Finally, we tested the effects of combining DACi with approved chemotherapeutics on relative cell biomass. DACi significantly suppressed the total number of lung metastasis in vivo using our PDX model, suggesting a role for DACi in preventing circulating tumor cells from seeding distal tissue sites. These data were supported by our findings that DACi reduced cell migration, populations, and expression of mesenchymal-associated genes. While DACi treatment did affect cell cycle-regulating genes in vitro, tumor growth was not affected compared to controls. Importantly, gene expression results varied depending on the cellular or tumor system used, emphasizing the importance of using multiple derivations of cancer models in preclinical therapeutic discovery research. Furthermore, DACi sensitized and produced a synergistic effect with approved oncology therapeutics on inherently resistant MBC. This study introduced a role for DACi in suppressing the migratory and mesenchymal phenotype of MBC cells through regulation of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition axis and suppression of the CTC population. Preliminary evidence that DACi treatment in combination with MEK1/2 inhibitors exerts a synergistic effect on MBC cells was also demonstrated.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0226464PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7546483PMC
November 2020

ERK5 Is Required for Tumor Growth and Maintenance Through Regulation of the Extracellular Matrix in Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Front Oncol 2020 3;10:1164. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Section of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Conventional mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family members regulate diverse cellular processes involved in tumor initiation and progression, yet the role of ERK5 in cancer biology is not fully understood. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) presents a clinical challenge due to the aggressive nature of the disease and a lack of targeted therapies. ERK5 signaling contributes to drug resistance and metastatic progression through distinct mechanisms, including activation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). More recently a role for ERK5 in regulation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) has been proposed, and here we investigated the necessity of ERK5 in TNBC tumor formation. Depletion of ERK5 expression using the CRISPR/Cas9 system in MDA-MB-231 and Hs-578T cells resulted in loss of mesenchymal features, as observed through gene expression profile and cell morphology, and suppressed TNBC cell migration. xenograft experiments revealed ERK5 knockout disrupted tumor growth kinetics, which was restored using high concentration Matrigel™ and ERK5-ko reduced expression of the angiogenesis marker CD31. These findings implicated a role for ERK5 in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and matrix integrity. RNA-sequencing analyses demonstrated downregulation of matrix-associated genes, integrins, and pro-angiogenic factors in ERK5-ko cells. Tissue decellularization combined with cryo-SEM and interrogation of biomechanical properties revealed that ERK5-ko resulted in loss of key ECM fiber alignment and mechanosensing capabilities in breast cancer xenografts compared to parental wild-type cells. In this study, we identified a novel role for ERK5 in tumor growth kinetics through modulation of the ECM and angiogenesis axis in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.01164DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7416559PMC
August 2020

A novel screening approach comparing kinase activity of small molecule inhibitors with similar molecular structures and distinct biologic effects in triple-negative breast cancer to identify targetable signaling pathways.

Anticancer Drugs 2020 09;31(8):759-775

Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Breast cancer affects women globally; the majority of breast cancer-related mortalities are due to metastasis. Acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype has been implicated in the progression of breast cancer cells to an invasive, metastatic state. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes have high rates of metastases, recurrence, and have poorer prognoses compared to other breast cancer types, partially due to lack of commonly targeted receptors. Kinases have diverse and pivotal functions in metastasis in TNBC, and discovery of new kinase targets for TNBC is warranted. We previously used a screening approach to identify intermediate-synthesis nonpotent, nonselective small-molecule inhibitors from the Published Kinase Inhibitor Set that reversed the mesenchymal phenotype in TNBC cells. Two of these inhibitors (GSK346294A and GSK448459A) are structurally similar, but have unique kinase activity profiles and exhibited differential biologic effects on TNBC cells, specifically on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we further interrogate these effects and compare activity of these inhibitors on transwell migration, gene (qRT-PCR) and protein (western blot) expressions, and cancer stem cell-like behavior. We incorporated translational patient-derived xenograft models in these studies, and we focused on the lead inhibitor hit, GSK346294A, to demonstrate the utility of our comparative analysis as a screening modality to identify novel kinase targets and signaling pathways to pursue in TNBC. This study introduces a new method for discovering novel kinase targets that reverse the EMT phenotype; this screening approach can be applied to all cancer types and is not limited to breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CAD.0000000000000962DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8092417PMC
September 2020

Notch Signaling Regulates Mitochondrial Metabolism and NF-κB Activity in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells via IKKα-Dependent Non-canonical Pathways.

Front Oncol 2018 4;8:575. Epub 2018 Dec 4.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients have high risk of recurrence and metastasis, and current treatment options remain limited. Cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) have been linked to cancer initiation, progression and chemotherapy resistance. Notch signaling is a key pathway regulating TNBC CSC survival. Treatment of TNBC with PI3K or mTORC1/2 inhibitors results in drug-resistant, Notch-dependent CSC. However, downstream mechanisms and potentially druggable Notch effectors in TNBC CSCs are largely unknown. We studied the role of the AKT pathway and mitochondrial metabolism downstream of Notch signaling in TNBC CSC from cell lines representative of different TNBC molecular subtypes as well as a novel patient-derived model. We demonstrate that exposure of TNBC cells to recombinant Notch ligand Jagged1 leads to rapid AKT phosphorylation in a Notch1-dependent but RBP-Jκ independent fashion. This requires mTOR and IKKα. Jagged1 also stimulates mitochondrial respiration and fermentation in an AKT- and IKK-dependent fashion. Notch1 co-localizes with mitochondria in TNBC cells. Pharmacological inhibition of Notch cleavage by gamma secretase inhibitor PF-03084014 in combination with AKT inhibitor MK-2206 or IKK-targeted NF-κB inhibitor Bay11-7082 blocks secondary mammosphere formation from sorted CD90 or CD44CD24 (CSCs) cells. A TNBC patient-derived model gave comparable results. Besides mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, Jagged1 also triggers nuclear, NF-κB-dependent transcription of anti-apoptotic gene cIAP-2. This requires recruitment of Notch1, IKKα and NF-κB to the cIAP-2 promoter. Our observations support a model where Jagged1 triggers IKKα-dependent, mitochondrial and nuclear Notch1 signals that stimulate AKT phosphorylation, oxidative metabolism and transcription of survival genes in PTEN wild-type TNBC cells. These data suggest that combination treatments targeting the intersection of the Notch, AKT and NF-κB pathways have potential therapeutic applications against CSCs in TNBC cases with Notch1 and wild-type PTEN expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00575DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6289043PMC
December 2018

Notch Signaling in Myeloid Cells as a Regulator of Tumor Immune Responses.

Front Immunol 2018 4;9:1288. Epub 2018 Jun 4.

Department of Genetics, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Cancer immunotherapy, which stimulates or augments host immune responses to treat malignancies, is the latest development in the rapidly advancing field of cancer immunology. The basic principles of immunotherapies are either to enhance the functions of specific components of the immune system or to neutralize immune-suppressive signals produced by cancer cells or tumor microenvironment cells. When successful, these approaches translate into long-term survival for patients. However, durable responses are only seen in a subset of patients and so far, only in some cancer types. As for other cancer treatments, resistance to immunotherapy can also develop. Numerous research groups are trying to understand why immunotherapy is effective in some patients but not others and to develop strategies to enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapy. The Notch signaling pathway is involved in many aspects of tumor biology, from angiogenesis to cancer stem cell maintenance to tumor immunity. The role of Notch in the development and modulation of the immune response is complex, involving an intricate crosstalk between antigen-presenting cells, T-cell subpopulations, cancer cells, and other components of the tumor microenvironment. Elegant studies have shown that Notch is a central mediator of tumor-induced T-cell anergy and that activation of Notch1 in CD8 T-cells enhances cancer immunotherapy. Tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells, including myeloid-derived suppressor cells, altered dendritic cells, and tumor-associated macrophages along with regulatory T cells, are major obstacles to the development of successful cancer immunotherapies. In this article, we focus on the roles of Notch signaling in modulating tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells and discuss implications for therapeutic strategies that modulate Notch signaling to enhance cancer immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01288DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5994797PMC
August 2019

Inhibiting the interaction of cMET and IGF-1R with FAK effectively reduces growth of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.

Anticancer Agents Med Chem 2013 May;13(4):595-602

Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal diseases with no effective treatment. Previously, we have shown that FAK is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer and plays a key role in cancer cell survival and proliferation. FAK has been shown to interact with growth factor receptors including cMET and IGF-1R. As a novel therapeutic approach, we targeted the protein interaction of FAK with growth factor receptors to block tumor growth, alter signaling pathways and sensitize cells to chemotherapy. We have selected a small molecule compound (INT2-31) that decreases phosphorylation of AKT via disrupting interaction of FAK with cMET and IGF-1R. Our results demonstrate that interaction of a small molecule compound with FAK decreases phosphorylation of FAK Y397 while increasing FAK Y407 phosphorylation, without inhibiting the kinase activity of FAK and dramatically reduces downstream signaling to AKT. Our lead compound, INT2-31, demonstrates significant inhibition of tumor cell growth in two orthotopic models of pancreatic cancer. In addition, INT2-31 increases sensitivity to gemcitabine chemotherapy in a direct fresh biopsy xenograft model of pancreatic cancer growth.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4052463PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1871520611313040009DOI Listing
May 2013

Disruption of the protein interaction between FAK and IGF-1R inhibits melanoma tumor growth.

Cell Cycle 2012 Sep 16;11(17):3250-9. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA.

FAK (focal adhesion kinase) and IGF-1R (insulin-like growth factor receptor-1) directly interact with each other and thereby activate crucial signaling pathways that benefit cancer cells. Inhibition of FAK and IGF-1R function has been shown to significantly decrease cancer cell proliferation and increase sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. As a novel approach in human melanoma, we evaluated the effect of a small-molecule compound that disrupts the protein interaction of FAK and IGF-1R. Previously, using virtual screening and functional testing, we identified a lead compound (INT2-31) that targets the known FAK-IGF-1R protein interaction site. We studied the ability of this compound to disrupt FAK-IGF-1R protein interactions, inhibit downstream signaling, decrease human melanoma cell proliferation, alter cell cycle progression, induce apoptosis and decrease tumor growth in vivo. INT2-31 blocked the interaction of FAK and IGF-1R in vitro and in vivo in melanoma cells and tumor xenografts through precluding the activation of IRS-1, leading to reduced phosphorylation of AKT upon IGF-1 stimulation. As a result, INT2-31 significantly inhibited cell proliferation and viability (range 0.05-10 μM). More importantly, 15 mg/kg of INT2-31 given for 21 d via intraperitoneal injection disrupted the interaction of FAK and IGF-1R and effectively decreased phosphorylation of tumor AKT, resulting in significant melanoma tumor regression in vivo. Our data suggest that the FAK-IGF-1R protein interaction is an important target, and disruption of this interaction with a novel small molecule (INT2-31) has potential anti-neoplastic therapeutic effects in human melanoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cc.21611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466524PMC
September 2012

Elevated expression of IRS2 in the progression from neurofibroma to malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor.

Anticancer Res 2012 Feb;32(2):439-43

Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, 1600 SW Archer Road, P.O. Box 100109, Gainesville, FL 32610-0109, USA.

Background/aim: Novel drugs to inhibit insulin receptor substrate (IRS) and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) pathways are emerging and will be sarcoma subtype-specific. As a result, defining expression of proteins in these pathways; in select tumors is important in order to formulate therapeutic approaches to malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs).

Materials And Methods: Fifty-three patients with MPNSTs or neurofibromas (NFs), who were treated at our institution from 1994-2005, were identified. Tumor immonohistochemical staining for multiple key oncogenic proteins was performed and the sections were evaluated in a blinded fashion by a sarcoma pathologist (JDR) and correlated with survival.

Results: A total of 88% of MPNSTs expressed IRS2 compared to 48% of NFs. IRS2 expression was significantly higher in MPNSTs than in NFs (p=0.0009). However, IRS1 expression was significantly higher in NFs than MPNSTs (p=0.03). A trend toward an increase in FAK expression in MPNSTs was seen (p=0.11). No difference was seen between MPNSTs and NFs when evaluating the expression of phosphorylated focal adhesions kinase, vascular endothelial growth factor 3, insulin like growth factor receptor 1, neurofibromatosis 1. Univariate analysis of survival indicated that IRS2 and NF1 protein expression, patient age and tumor size were significantly correlated with outcome.

Conclusion: MPNSTs have an elevated level of IRS2 and FAK and lower level of IRS1 compared to NFs These data demonstrate for the first time that IRS2 and FAK may be associated with malignant transformation of neurofibromas.
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February 2012

A novel small molecule inhibitor of FAK and IGF-1R protein interactions decreases growth of human esophageal carcinoma.

Anticancer Agents Med Chem 2011 Sep;11(7):629-37

Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.

Introduction: Esophageal cancer remains an aggressive disease with poor survival rates. FAK and IGF-1R are two important tyrosine kinases important for cell survival signaling and found to be upregulated in esophageal cancer. Our hypothesis is that a novel small molecule compound that disrupts FAK and IGF-1R protein-protein interactions (PPIs) would decrease the growth of human esophageal cancer.

Methods: The compound INT2-31 (NSC344553) was identified from a virtual high throughput screen to bind to FAK and disrupt PPIs. The in vitro effects of this compound, +/- 5-FU chemotherapy, on cell signaling, viability and apoptosis in human esophageal cancer cells (KYSE 70, 140) and a direct esophageal cancer xenograft was evaluated.

Results: INT2-31 caused a disruption of PPIs between FAK and IGF-1R starting at a concentration of 1μM. It also caused a dose dependent inhibition of cell viability and induction of apoptosis at low micromolar doses. These effects were associated with decreased AKT and ERK1/ERK2 phosphorylation. INT2-31 treatment, when administered via IP injection, at 50mg/kg, resulted in an in vivo decrease in tumor growth in a direct xenograft. Furthermore, treatment with 5-FU chemotherapy combined with INT2-31 resulted in a synergistic increase in apoptosis and decrease in tumor growth compared to 5-FU or INT2-31 alone.

Conclusions: A novel compound that disrupts the PPIs of FAK and IGF-1R results in decreased tumor proliferation and increased apoptosis. These effects appear to be mediated through downregulation of p-AKT and p-ERK. This compound deserves further study as a novel treatment strategy in patients with esophageal cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/187152011796817718DOI Listing
September 2011

FAK and interacting proteins as therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.

Anticancer Agents Med Chem 2010 Dec;10(10):742-6

Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, 32610, USA.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy have had minimal ability to alter the natural course of the disease. Clearly, additional agents are needed to improve outcomes in this aggressive cancer. Pancreatic cancer has been found to have several genetic alterations including activation of K-ras and inactivation of p53, p16, and DPC4. Other alterations include upregulation of angiogenic factors and matrix metalloproteinases, dysregulation of growth factor receptors, and cytoplasmic kinases including focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and src. Clinicians must translate the available knowledge of the molecular basis of this disease into rationale and effective therapeutic strategies for treatment. The role of FAK in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer is discussed below and efforts aimed at the development of inhibitors of FAK for this disease are reviewed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/187152010794728675DOI Listing
December 2010

Focal adhesion kinase signaling and function in pancreatic cancer.

Front Biosci (Elite Ed) 2011 Jan 1;3:750-6. Epub 2011 Jan 1.

Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.

In the United States and the European Union, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy have had little impact on survival, prompting the National Cancer Institute to declare that survival for pancreatic cancer has remained unchanged for three decades and its treatment has consistently been identified as an area of unmet medical need. Clearly, additional agents are needed to improve outcomes in this aggressive disease. Clinicians must translate the available knowledge of the molecular basis of this disease into rationale and effective therapeutic strategies for treatment. Pancreatic cancer has been found to have several genetic alterations and is, in fact, one of the tumors with the highest number of genetic mutations of any solid malignancy. These mutations include activation of K-ras and inactivation of p53, p16, and DPC4. Other alterations include upregulation of angiogenic factors and matrix metalloproteinases, dysregulation of growth factor receptors, and cytoplasmic kinases including focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and Src. The role of FAK in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer is discussed below and efforts aimed at the development of inhibitors of FAK for this disease are reviewed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2741/e283DOI Listing
January 2011

Epilepsy in phenylketonuria: a complex dependence on serum phenylalanine levels.

Epilepsia 2007 Jun 1;48(6):1143-50. Epub 2007 May 1.

Department of Anesthesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0254, USA.

Purpose: Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a disorder of phenylalanine (Phe) metabolism that frequently results in epilepsy if a low Phe diet was not implemented at birth. The mechanisms by which Phe affects the brain are poorly understood.

Methods: Audiogenic seizures (AGS) were studied in female homozygous Pah(enu2) BTBR (PKU) mice.

Results: Adult PKU mice, 18-20 weeks of age, in contrast to wild-type and heterozygous counterparts, exhibited a full range of AGS. Younger PKU mice, 5-7 weeks of age, had higher serum Phe levels (2.22 +/- 0.20 mM) in comparison with the adult animals (1.72 +/- 0.05 mM) and were not susceptible to AGS. Among adult mice, animals susceptible to AGS had significantly lower serum Phe levels (1.62 +/- 0.06 mM) in comparison with those resistant to AGS (1.86 +/- 0.07 mM). Susceptibility to AGS tended to increase in the afternoon when serum Phe concentration decreased in comparison to evening and morning. Normalization of serum Phe level by instituting a low Phe diet generally prevented susceptibility to AGS within 12 h. Although return to a standard diet raised Phe levels to hyperphenylalaninemic within 12 h in animals treated with a low Phe diet for 2 weeks, more than 7 weeks were needed for a complete resumption of AGS.

Conclusions: Transient decrease in Phe levels within hyperphenylalaninemic range may be a necessary condition for PKU-related seizures to occur. A low Phe diet prevents susceptibility to seizures, which can resume with the significant delay after termination of dietary treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2007.01115.xDOI Listing
June 2007
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