Publications by authors named "Dennis Liang Fei"

20 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Regulation of GSK3 cellular location by FRAT modulates mTORC1-dependent cell growth and sensitivity to rapamycin.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 09 6;116(39):19523-19529. Epub 2019 Sep 6.

Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10021;

The mTORC1 pathway regulates cell growth and proliferation by properly coupling critical processes such as gene expression, protein translation, and metabolism to the availability of growth factors and hormones, nutrients, cellular energetics, oxygen status, and cell stress. Although multiple cytoplasmic substrates of mTORC1 have been identified, how mTORC1 signals within the nucleus remains incompletely understood. Here, we report a mechanism by which mTORC1 modulates the phosphorylation of multiple nuclear events. We observed a significant nuclear enrichment of GSK3 when mTORC1 was suppressed, which promotes phosphorylation of several proteins such as GTF2F1 and FOXK1. Importantly, nuclear localization of GSK3 is sufficient to suppress cell proliferation. Additionally, expression of a nuclear exporter of GSK3, FRAT, restricts the nuclear localization of GSK3, represses nuclear protein phosphorylation, and prevents rapamycin-induced cytostasis. Finally, we observe a correlation between rapamycin resistance and FRAT expression in multiple-cancer cell lines. Resistance to Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved rapamycin analogs (rapalogs) is observed in many tumor settings, but the underling mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Given that FRAT expression levels are frequently elevated in various cancers, our observations provide a potential biomarker and strategy for overcoming rapamycin resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1902397116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6765302PMC
September 2019

The splicing factor U2AF1 contributes to cancer progression through a noncanonical role in translation regulation.

Genes Dev 2019 05 6;33(9-10):482-497. Epub 2019 Mar 6.

Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression, National Cancer Insitute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

Somatic mutations in the genes encoding components of the spliceosome occur frequently in human neoplasms, including myeloid dysplasias and leukemias, and less often in solid tumors. One of the affected factors, U2AF1, is involved in splice site selection, and the most common change, S34F, alters a conserved nucleic acid-binding domain, recognition of the 3' splice site, and alternative splicing of many mRNAs. However, the role that this mutation plays in oncogenesis is still unknown. Here, we uncovered a noncanonical function of U2AF1, showing that it directly binds mature mRNA in the cytoplasm and negatively regulates mRNA translation. This splicing-independent role of U2AF1 is altered by the S34F mutation, and polysome profiling indicates that the mutation affects translation of hundreds of mRNA. One functional consequence is increased synthesis of the secreted chemokine interleukin 8, which contributes to metastasis, inflammation, and cancer progression in mice and humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gad.319590.118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6499322PMC
May 2019

Impaired hematopoiesis and leukemia development in mice with a conditional knock-in allele of a mutant splicing factor gene .

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 10 15;115(44):E10437-E10446. Epub 2018 Oct 15.

Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY 10065;

Mutations affecting the spliceosomal protein U2AF1 are commonly found in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and secondary acute myeloid leukemia (sAML). We have generated mice that carry Cre-dependent knock-in alleles of (S34F), the murine version of the most common mutant allele of encountered in human cancers. Cre-mediated recombination in murine hematopoietic lineages caused changes in RNA splicing, as well as multilineage cytopenia, macrocytic anemia, decreased hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, low-grade dysplasias, and impaired transplantability, but without lifespan shortening or leukemia development. In an attempt to identify (S34F)-cooperating changes that promote leukemogenesis, we combined (S34F) with deficiency in mice and further treated the mice with a mutagen, -ethyl--nitrosourea (ENU). Overall, 3 of 16 ENU-treated compound transgenic mice developed AML. However, AML did not arise in mice with other genotypes or without ENU treatment. Sequencing DNA from the three AMLs revealed somatic mutations homologous to those considered to be drivers of human AML, including predicted loss- or gain-of-function mutations in , , , and However, the engineered (S34F) missense mutation reverted to WT in two of the three AML cases, implying that (S34F) is dispensable, or even selected against, once leukemia is established.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1812669115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6217397PMC
October 2018

Differential abundance of CK1α provides selectivity for pharmacological CK1α activators to target WNT-dependent tumors.

Sci Signal 2017 Jun 27;10(485). Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Molecular Oncology Program, Department of Surgery, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33136, USA.

Constitutive WNT activity drives the growth of various human tumors, including nearly all colorectal cancers (CRCs). Despite this prominence in cancer, no WNT inhibitor is currently approved for use in the clinic largely due to the small number of druggable signaling components in the WNT pathway and the substantial toxicity to normal gastrointestinal tissue. We have shown that pyrvinium, which activates casein kinase 1α (CK1α), is a potent inhibitor of WNT signaling. However, its poor bioavailability limited the ability to test this first-in-class WNT inhibitor in vivo. We characterized a novel small-molecule CK1α activator called SSTC3, which has better pharmacokinetic properties than pyrvinium, and found that it inhibited the growth of CRC xenografts in mice. SSTC3 also attenuated the growth of a patient-derived metastatic CRC xenograft, for which few therapies exist. SSTC3 exhibited minimal gastrointestinal toxicity compared to other classes of WNT inhibitors. Consistent with this observation, we showed that the abundance of the SSTC3 target, CK1α, was decreased in WNT-driven tumors relative to normal gastrointestinal tissue, and knocking down CK1α increased cellular sensitivity to SSTC3. Thus, we propose that distinct CK1α abundance provides an enhanced therapeutic index for pharmacological CK1α activators to target WNT-driven tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.aak9916DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5555225PMC
June 2017

The aquaglyceroporin AQP9 contributes to the sex-specific effects of in utero arsenic exposure on placental gene expression.

Environ Health 2017 06 14;16(1):59. Epub 2017 Jun 14.

Molecular Oncology Program, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, 33136, USA.

Background: Sex-specific factors play a major role in human health and disease, including responses to environmental stresses such as toxicant exposure. Increasing evidence suggests that such sex differences also exist during fetal development. In a previous report using the resources of the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS), we found that low-to-moderate in utero exposure to arsenic, a highly toxic and widespread pollutant, was associated with altered expression of several key developmental genes in the fetal portion of the placenta. These associations were sex-dependent, suggesting that in utero arsenic exposure differentially impacts male and female fetuses. In the present study, we investigated the molecular basis for these sex-specific responses to arsenic.

Methods: Using NanoString technology, we further analyzed the fetal placenta samples from the NHBCS for the expression of genes encoding arsenic transporters and metabolic enzymes. Multivariable linear regression analysis was used to examine their relationship with arsenic exposure and with key developmental genes, after stratification by fetal sex.

Results: We found that maternal arsenic exposure was strongly associated with expression of the AQP9 gene, encoding an aquaglyceroporin transporter, in female but not male fetal placenta. Moreover, AQP9 expression associated with that of a subset of female-specific arsenic-responsive genes.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that AQP9 is upregulated in response to arsenic exposure in female, but not male, fetal placenta. Based on these results and prior studies, increased AQP9 expression may lead to increased arsenic transport in the female fetal placenta, which in turn may alter the expression patterns of key developmental genes that we have previously shown to be associated with arsenic exposure. Thus, this study suggests that AQP9 may play a role in the sex-specific effects of in utero arsenic exposure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12940-017-0267-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5471920PMC
June 2017

Wild-Type U2AF1 Antagonizes the Splicing Program Characteristic of U2AF1-Mutant Tumors and Is Required for Cell Survival.

PLoS Genet 2016 Oct 24;12(10):e1006384. Epub 2016 Oct 24.

Cancer Biology Section, Cancer Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, United States Of America.

We have asked how the common S34F mutation in the splicing factor U2AF1 regulates alternative splicing in lung cancer, and why wild-type U2AF1 is retained in cancers with this mutation. A human lung epithelial cell line was genetically modified so that U2AF1S34F is expressed from one of the two endogenous U2AF1 loci. By altering levels of mutant or wild-type U2AF1 in this cell line and by analyzing published data on human lung adenocarcinomas, we show that S34F-associated changes in alternative splicing are proportional to the ratio of S34F:wild-type gene products and not to absolute levels of either the mutant or wild-type factor. Preferential recognition of specific 3' splice sites in S34F-expressing cells is largely explained by differential in vitro RNA-binding affinities of mutant versus wild-type U2AF1 for those same 3' splice sites. Finally, we show that lung adenocarcinoma cell lines bearing U2AF1 mutations do not require the mutant protein for growth in vitro or in vivo. In contrast, wild-type U2AF1 is required for survival, regardless of whether cells carry the U2AF1S34F allele. Our results provide mechanistic explanations of the magnitude of splicing changes observed in U2AF1-mutant cells and why tumors harboring U2AF1 mutations always retain an expressed copy of the wild-type allele.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006384DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5077151PMC
October 2016

Arsenic Attenuates GLI Signaling, Increasing or Decreasing its Transcriptional Program in a Context-Dependent Manner.

Mol Pharmacol 2016 Feb 16;89(2):226-32. Epub 2015 Nov 16.

Molecular Oncology Program, Department of Surgery, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida (B.L., C.G., E.W., J.L., K.J., Z.W., D.L.F., D.M.N., A.J.C., D.J.R.); General Surgery Center of PLA, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China (B.T.); Sheila and David Fuente Graduate Program in Cancer Biology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida (J.L.); Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire (D.L.F.); Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida (D.M.N., P.R.S., P.R., B.A., A.J.C., D.J.R.); Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama (M.A.); Department of Genetic Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York (B.W.); Division of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health Sciences, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida (L. W.); Departments of Medicine (P.R.S., P.R., B.A.) and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (A.J.C., D.J.R.), Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida; and Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida (P.R.)

The metalloid arsenic is a worldwide environmental toxicant, exposure to which is associated with many adverse outcomes. Arsenic is also an effective therapeutic agent in certain disease settings. Arsenic was recently shown to regulate the activity of the Hedgehog (HH) signal transduction pathway, and this regulation of HH signaling was proposed to be responsible for a subset of arsenic's biologic effects. Surprisingly, these separate reports proposed contradictory activities for arsenic, as either an agonist or antagonist of HH signaling. Here we provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that arsenic acts as a modulator of the activity of the HH effector protein glioma-associated oncogene family zinc finger (GLI), activating or inhibiting GLI activity in a context-dependent manner. This arsenic-induced modulation of HH signaling is observed in cultured cells, patients with colorectal cancer who have received arsenic-based therapy, and a mouse colorectal cancer xenograft model. Our results show that arsenic activates GLI signaling when the intrinsic GLI activity is low but inhibits signaling in the presence of high-level GLI activity. Furthermore, we show that this modulation occurs downstream of primary cilia, evidenced by experiments in suppressor of fused homolog (SUFU) deficient cells. Combining our findings with previous reports, we present an inclusive model in which arsenic plays dual roles in GLI signaling modulation: when GLIs are primarily in their repressor form, arsenic antagonizes their repression capacity, leading to low-level GLI activation, but when GLIs are primarily in their activator form, arsenic attenuates their activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/mol.115.100867DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4727125PMC
February 2016

In utero arsenic exposure and fetal immune repertoire in a US pregnancy cohort.

Clin Immunol 2014 Dec 16;155(2):188-97. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, 1 Rope Ferry Road, Hanover, NH 03755, USA. Electronic address:

Arsenic has wide-ranging effects on human health and there is evidence that it alters the immune response by influencing CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratios, IL-2 cytokine levels, and the expression of immune-response genes. We investigated the impact of in utero environmental arsenic exposure on immune development and function in newborns participating in a pregnancy cohort in New Hampshire, U.S., where arsenic levels have exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 10 μg/L. Our results showed that maternal urinary arsenic concentrations were inversely related to absolute total CD45RA+ CD4+ cord blood CD69+ T cell counts (N=116, p=0.04) and positively associated with CD45RA+ CD69- CD294+ cell counts (p=0.01). In placental samples (N=70), higher in utero urinary arsenic concentrations were positively associated with the expression of IL1β (p=0.03). These data provide evidence that relatively low-level arsenic exposure in utero may alter the fetal immune system and lead to immune dysregulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clim.2014.09.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4309995PMC
December 2014

Notch signaling drives stemness and tumorigenicity of esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Cancer Res 2014 Nov 27;74(21):6364-74. Epub 2014 Aug 27.

Molecular Oncology Program, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Division of Surgical Oncology, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Esophageal adenocarcinoma ranks sixth in cancer mortality in the world and its incidence has risen dramatically in the Western population over the last decades. Data presented herein strongly suggest that Notch signaling is critical for esophageal adenocarcinoma and underlies resistance to chemotherapy. We present evidence that Notch signaling drives a cancer stem cell phenotype by regulating genes that establish stemness. Using patient-derived xenograft models, we demonstrate that inhibition of Notch by gamma-secretase inhibitors (GSI) is efficacious in downsizing tumor growth. Moreover, we demonstrate that Notch activity in a patient's ultrasound-assisted endoscopic-derived biopsy might predict outcome to chemotherapy. Therefore, this study provides a proof of concept that inhibition of Notch activity will have efficacy in treating esophageal adenocarcinoma, offering a rationale to lay the foundation for a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of GSI in esophageal adenocarcinoma treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-2051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4527315PMC
November 2014

Repurposing the FDA-approved pinworm drug pyrvinium as a novel chemotherapeutic agent for intestinal polyposis.

PLoS One 2014 8;9(7):e101969. Epub 2014 Jul 8.

Molecular Oncology Program, Department of Surgery, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, United States of America; Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, United States of America; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, United States of America.

Mutations in the WNT-pathway regulator ADENOMATOUS POLYPOSIS COLI (APC) promote aberrant activation of the WNT pathway that is responsible for APC-associated diseases such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and 85% of spontaneous colorectal cancers (CRC). FAP is characterized by multiple intestinal adenomas, which inexorably result in CRC. Surprisingly, given their common occurrence, there are few effective chemotherapeutic drugs for FAP. Here we show that the FDA-approved, anti-helminthic drug Pyrvinium attenuates the growth of WNT-dependent CRC cells and does so via activation of CK1α. Furthermore, we show that Pyrvinium can function as an in vivo inhibitor of WNT-signaling and polyposis in a mouse model of FAP: APCmin mice. Oral administration of Pyrvinium, a CK1α agonist, attenuated the levels of WNT-driven biomarkers and inhibited adenoma formation in APCmin mice. Considering its well-documented safe use for treating enterobiasis in humans, our findings suggest that Pyrvinium could be repurposed for the clinical treatment of APC-associated polyposes.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101969PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4086981PMC
October 2015

Pyrvinium attenuates Hedgehog signaling downstream of smoothened.

Cancer Res 2014 Sep 3;74(17):4811-21. Epub 2014 Jul 3.

Molecular Oncology Program, Department of Surgery, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Sylvester Cancer Center, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

The Hedgehog (HH) signaling pathway represents an important class of emerging developmental signaling pathways that play critical roles in the genesis of a large number of human cancers. The pharmaceutical industry is currently focused on developing small molecules targeting Smoothened (Smo), a key signaling effector of the HH pathway that regulates the levels and activity of the Gli family of transcription factors. Although one of these compounds, vismodegib, is now FDA-approved for patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma, acquired mutations in Smo can result in rapid relapse. Furthermore, many cancers also exhibit a Smo-independent activation of Gli proteins, an observation that may underlie the limited efficacy of Smo inhibitors in clinical trials against other types of cancer. Thus, there remains a critical need for HH inhibitors with different mechanisms of action, particularly those that act downstream of Smo. Recently, we identified the FDA-approved anti-pinworm compound pyrvinium as a novel, potent (IC50, 10 nmol/L) casein kinase-1α (CK1α) agonist. We show here that pyrvinium is a potent inhibitor of HH signaling, which acts by reducing the stability of the Gli family of transcription factors. Consistent with CK1α agonists acting on these most distal components of the HH signaling pathway, pyrvinium is able to inhibit the activity of a clinically relevant, vismodegib -resistant Smo mutant, as well as the Gli activity resulting from loss of the negative regulator suppressor of fused. We go on to demonstrate the utility of this small molecule in vivo, against the HH-dependent cancer medulloblastoma, attenuating its growth and reducing the expression of HH biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-0317DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321822PMC
September 2014

Clinicopathological correlates of Gli1 expression in a population-based cohort of patients with newly diagnosed bladder cancer.

Urol Oncol 2014 Jul 22;32(5):539-45. Epub 2014 May 22.

Department of Surgery (Urology), Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH. Electronic address:

Introduction: Dysregulation of the hedgehog signaling pathway has been linked to the development and progression of a variety of different human tumors including cancers of the skin, brain, colon, prostate, blood, and pancreas. We assessed the clinicopathological factors that are potentially related to expression of Gli1, the transcription factor that is thought to be the most reliable marker of hedgehog pathway activation in bladder cancer.

Methods: Bladder cancer cases were identified from the New Hampshire State Cancer Registry as histologically confirmed primary bladder cancer diagnosed between January 1, 2002, and July 31, 2004. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed on a tissue microarray to detect Gli1 and p53 expression in these bladder tumors. We computed odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% CIs for Gli1 positivity for pathological category using T category (from TNM), invasiveness, and grade with both the World Health Organization 1973 and World Health Organization International Society of Urological Pathology criteria. We calculated hazard ratios and their 95% CI for Gli1 positivity and recurrence for both Ta-category and invasive bladder tumors (T1+).

Results: A total of 194 men and 67 women, whose tumors were assessable for Gli1 staining, were included in the study. No appreciable differences in Gli1 staining were noted by sex, age, smoking status, or high-risk occupation. Ta-category tumors were more likely to stain for Gli1 as compared with T1-category tumors (adjusted OR = 0.38, CI: 0.17-0.87). Similarly, low-grade (grades 1-2) tumors were more likely to stain for Gli1 as compared with high-grade tumors (grade 3) (adjusted OR = 0.44, CI: 0.21-0.93). In a Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, non-muscle-invasive bladder tumors expressing Gli1 were less likely to recur (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.48; CI: 0.28-0.82; P<0.05) than those in which Gli1 was absent.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that Gli1 expression may be a marker of low-stage, low-grade bladder tumors and an indicator of a reduced risk of recurrence in this group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.urolonc.2014.03.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4243987PMC
July 2014

Association between In Utero arsenic exposure, placental gene expression, and infant birth weight: a US birth cohort study.

Environ Health 2013 Jul 16;12:58. Epub 2013 Jul 16.

Department of Surgery, Molecular Oncology Program, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33136, USA.

Background: Epidemiologic studies and animal models suggest that in utero arsenic exposure affects fetal health, with a negative association between maternal arsenic ingestion and infant birth weight often observed. However, the molecular mechanisms for this association remain elusive. In the present study, we aimed to increase our understanding of the impact of low-dose arsenic exposure on fetal health by identifying possible arsenic-associated fetal tissue biomarkers in a cohort of pregnant women exposed to arsenic at low levels.

Methods: Arsenic concentrations were determined from the urine samples of a cohort of 133 pregnant women from New Hampshire. Placental tissue samples collected from enrollees were homogenized and profiled for gene expression across a panel of candidate genes, including known arsenic regulated targets and genes involved in arsenic transport, metabolism, or disease susceptibility. Multivariable adjusted linear regression models were used to examine the relationship of candidate gene expression with arsenic exposure or with birth weight of the baby.

Results: Placental expression of the arsenic transporter AQP9 was positively associated with maternal urinary arsenic levels during pregnancy (coefficient estimate: 0.25; 95% confidence interval: 0.05 - 0.45). Placental expression of AQP9 related to expression of the phospholipase ENPP2 which was positively associated with infant birth weight (coefficient estimate: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.09 - 0.47). A structural equation model indicated that these genes may mediate arsenic's effect on infant birth weight (coefficient estimate: -0.009; 95% confidence interval: -0.032 - -0.001; 10,000 replications for bootstrapping).

Conclusions: We identified the expression of AQP9 as a potential fetal biomarker for arsenic exposure. Further, we identified a positive association between the placental expression of phospholipase ENPP2 and infant birth weight. These findings suggest a path by which arsenic may affect birth outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-12-58DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3733767PMC
July 2013

Repression of exogenous gene expression by the retinoic acid target gene G0S2.

Int J Oncol 2013 May 28;42(5):1743-53. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.

The G0/G1 switch gene 2 (G0S2) is rapidly induced by all-trans-retinoic acid (RA)-treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and other cells. G0S2 regulates lipolysis via inhibition of adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL). This study found that retinoic acid receptor (RAR), but not retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonists induced G0S2 expression in APL cells. Novel G0S2 functions were uncovered that included repression of exogenous gene expression and transcriptional activity. Transient G0S2 transfection repressed the activities of multiple reporter constructs (including the retinoid-regulated species RARβ, UBE1L and G0S2); this occurred in diverse cell contexts. This inhibition was antagonized by siRNA-mediated G0S2 knockdown. To determine the inhibitory effects were not due to transient G0S2 expression, G0S2 was stably overexpressed in cells without appreciable basal G0S2 expression. As expected, this repressed transcriptional activities. Intriguingly, transfection of G0S2 did not affect endogenous RARβ, UBE1L or G0S2 expression. Hence, only exogenously expressed genes were affected by G0S2. The domain responsible for this repression was localized to the G0S2 hydrophobic domain (HD). This was the same region responsible for the ability of G0S2 to inhibit ATGL activity. Whether an interaction with ATGL accounted for this new G0S2 activity was studied. Mimicking the inhibition of ATGL by oleic acid treatment that increased lipid droplet size or ATGL siRNA knockdown did not recapitulate G0S2 repressive effects. Engineered gain of ATGL expression did not rescue G0S2 transcriptional repression either. Thus, transcriptional repression by G0S2 did not depend on the ability of G0S2 to inhibit ATGL. Subcellular localization studies revealed that endogenous and exogenously-expressed G0S2 proteins were localized to the cytoplasm, particularly in the perinuclear region. Expression of a mutant G0S2 species that lacked the HD domain altered cytosolic G0S2 localization. This linked G0S2 subcellular localization to G0S2 transcriptional repression. The potential mechanisms responsible for this G0S2 repression are examined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2013.1876DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661193PMC
May 2013

The Hedgehog signal transduction network.

Sci Signal 2012 Oct 16;5(246):re6. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Molecular Oncology Program, Department of Surgery, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33136, USA.

Hedgehog (Hh) proteins regulate the development of a wide range of metazoan embryonic and adult structures, and disruption of Hh signaling pathways results in various human diseases. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the signaling pathways regulated by Hh, consolidating data from a diverse array of organisms in a variety of scientific disciplines. Similar to the elucidation of many other signaling pathways, our knowledge of Hh signaling developed in a sequential manner centered on its earliest discoveries. Thus, our knowledge of Hh signaling has for the most part focused on elucidating the mechanism by which Hh regulates the Gli family of transcription factors, the so-called "canonical" Hh signaling pathway. However, in the past few years, numerous studies have shown that Hh proteins can also signal through Gli-independent mechanisms collectively referred to as "noncanonical" signaling pathways. Noncanonical Hh signaling is itself subdivided into two distinct signaling modules: (i) those not requiring Smoothened (Smo) and (ii) those downstream of Smo that do not require Gli transcription factors. Thus, Hh signaling is now proposed to occur through a variety of distinct context-dependent signaling modules that have the ability to crosstalk with one another to form an interacting, dynamic Hh signaling network.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.2002906DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705708PMC
October 2012

Hedgehog signaling regulates bladder cancer growth and tumorigenicity.

Cancer Res 2012 Sep 19;72(17):4449-58. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Molecular Oncology Program, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, 1600 NW 10th Avenue, Miami, FL 33136, USA.

The role of Hedgehog (HH) signaling in bladder cancer remains controversial. The gene encoding the HH receptor and negative regulator PATCHED1 (PTCH1) resides on a region of chromosome 9q, one copy of which is frequently lost in bladder cancer. Inconsistent with PTCH1 functioning as a classic tumor suppressor gene, loss-of-function mutations in the remaining copy of PTCH1 are not commonly found. Here, we provide direct evidence for a critical role of HH signaling in bladder carcinogenesis. We show that transformed human urothelial cells and many urothelial carcinoma cell lines exhibit constitutive HH signaling, which is required for their growth and tumorigenic properties. Surprisingly, rather than originating from loss of PTCH1, the constitutive HH activity observed in urothelial carcinoma cell lines was HH ligand dependent. Consistent with this finding, increased levels of HH and the HH target gene product GLI1 were found in resected human primary bladder tumors. Furthermore, on the basis of the difference in intrinsic HH dependence of urothelial carcinoma cell lines, a gene expression signature was identified that correlated with bladder cancer progression. Our findings therefore indicate that therapeutic targeting of the HH signaling pathway may be beneficial in the clinical management of bladder cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-4123DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3809830PMC
September 2012

Hedgehog-producing cancer cells respond to and require autocrine Hedgehog activity.

Cancer Res 2011 Jul 12;71(13):4454-63. Epub 2011 May 12.

Department of Surgery; Sylvester Cancer Center; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute, Miller School of Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.

A number of Smoothened (SMO) pathway antagonists are currently undergoing clinical trials as anticancer agents. These drugs are proposed to attenuate tumor growth solely through inhibition of Hedgehog (HH), which is produced in tumor cells but acts on tumor stromal cells. The pivotal argument underlying this model is that the growth-inhibitory properties of SMO antagonists on HH-producing cancer cells are due to their off-target effects. Here, we show that the tumorigenic properties of such lung cancer cells depend on their intrinsic level of HH activity. Notably, reducing HH signaling in these tumor cells decreases HH target gene expression. Taken together, these results question the dogma that autocrine HH signaling plays no role in HH-dependent cancers, and does so without using SMO antagonists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2313DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3809996PMC
July 2011

Activation of Hedgehog signaling by the environmental toxicant arsenic may contribute to the etiology of arsenic-induced tumors.

Cancer Res 2010 Mar 23;70(5):1981-8. Epub 2010 Feb 23.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA.

Exposure to the environmental toxicant arsenic, through both contaminated water and food, contributes to significant health problems worldwide. In particular, arsenic exposure is thought to function as a carcinogen for lung, skin, and bladder cancer via mechanisms that remain largely unknown. More recently, the Hedgehog signaling pathway has also been implicated in the progression and maintenance of these same cancers. Based on these similarities, we tested the hypothesis that arsenic may act in part through activating Hedgehog signaling. Here, we show that arsenic is able to activate Hedgehog signaling in several primary and established tissue culture cells as well as in vivo. Arsenic activates Hedgehog signaling by decreasing the stability of the repressor form of GLI3, one of the transcription factors that ultimately regulate Hedgehog activity. We also show, using tumor samples from a cohort of bladder cancer patients, that high levels of arsenic exposure are associated with high levels of Hedgehog activity. Given the important role Hedgehog signaling plays in the maintenance and progression of a variety of tumors, including bladder cancer, these results suggest that arsenic exposure may in part promote cancer through the activation of Hedgehog signaling. Thus, we provide an important insight into the etiology of arsenic-induced human carcinogenesis, which may be relevant to millions of people exposed to high levels of arsenic worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2898DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831120PMC
March 2010

G protein Galphai functions immediately downstream of Smoothened in Hedgehog signalling.

Nature 2008 Dec;456(7224):967-70

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.

The hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway has an evolutionarily conserved role in patterning fields of cells during metazoan development, and is inappropriately activated in cancer. Hh pathway activity is absolutely dependent on signalling by the seven-transmembrane protein smoothened (Smo), which is regulated by the Hh receptor patched (Ptc). Smo signals to an intracellular multi-protein complex containing the Kinesin related protein Costal2 (Cos2), the protein kinase Fused (Fu) and the transcription factor Cubitus interruptus (Ci). In the absence of Hh, this complex regulates the cleavage of full-length Ci to a truncated repressor protein, Ci75, in a process that is dependent on the proteasome and priming phosphorylations by Protein kinase A (PKA). Binding of Hh to Ptc blocks Ptc-mediated Smo inhibition, allowing Smo to signal to the intracellular components to attenuate Ci cleavage. Because of its homology with the Frizzled family of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), a likely candidate for an immediate Smo effector would be a heterotrimeric G protein. However, the role that G proteins may have in Hh signal transduction is unclear and quite controversial, which has led to widespread speculation that Smo signals through a variety of novel G-protein-independent mechanisms. Here we present in vitro and in vivo evidence in Drosophila that Smo activates a G protein to modulate intracellular cyclic AMP levels in response to Hh. Our results demonstrate that Smo functions as a canonical GPCR, which signals through Galphai to regulate Hh pathway activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07459DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2744466PMC
December 2008