Publications by authors named "Emily S Bell"

10 Publications

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LC3C mediates selective autophagy of the MET RTK, inhibiting cancer cell invasion.

Autophagy 2020 05 16;16(5):959-961. Epub 2020 Feb 16.

Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Macroautophagy/autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved degradative process with a central role in maintaining cellular homeostasis under conditions of stress, and recent evidence suggests this may occur in part through direct modification of cell signaling. The MET/HGF receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling axis is an important mediator of cell motility and invasion in normal cell functions and in cancer. We discovered a role for autophagy in regulating ligand-activated MET signaling and cellular responses. When autophagy is induced by starvation, the HGF-activated and internalized MET RTK is selectively recruited for autophagic degradation through complex formation with the MAP1LC3C autophagy protein. Decreased LC3C expression in cancer results in loss of autophagic degradation of MET and enhanced HGF-stimulated cell invasion implicated in metastatic progression. This emerging role for autophagy in selectively regulating signaling proteins has implications for understanding cellular adaptations to stress and the functions of autophagy at different stages of cancer progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2020.1728099DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7144864PMC
May 2020

LC3C-Mediated Autophagy Selectively Regulates the Met RTK and HGF-Stimulated Migration and Invasion.

Cell Rep 2019 12;29(12):4053-4068.e6

Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1A3, Canada; Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1A3, Canada; Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1A3, Canada; Department of Oncology, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1A3, Canada. Electronic address:

The Met/hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) is deregulated in many cancers and is a recognized target for cancer therapies. Following HGF stimulation, the signaling output of Met is tightly controlled by receptor internalization and sorting for degradation or recycling. Here, we uncover a role for autophagy in selective degradation of Met and regulation of Met-dependent cell migration and invasion. Met engagement with the autophagic pathway is dependent on complex formation with the mammalian ATG8 family member MAP1LC3C. LC3C deletion abrogates Met entry into the autophagy-dependent degradative pathway, allowing identification of LC3C domains required for rescue. Cancer cells with low LC3C levels show enhanced Met stability, signaling, and cell invasion. These findings provide mechanistic insight into RTK recruitment to autophagosomes and establish distinct roles for ATG8 proteins in this process, supporting that differential expression of ATG8 proteins can shape the functional consequences of autophagy in cancer development and progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.11.063DOI Listing
December 2019

High-throughput microfluidic micropipette aspiration device to probe time-scale dependent nuclear mechanics in intact cells.

Lab Chip 2019 11 27;19(21):3652-3663. Epub 2019 Sep 27.

Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, Cornell University, USA.

The mechanical properties of the cell nucleus are increasingly recognized as critical in many biological processes. The deformability of the nucleus determines the ability of immune and cancer cells to migrate through tissues and across endothelial cell layers, and changes to the mechanical properties of the nucleus can serve as novel biomarkers in processes such as cancer progression and stem cell differentiation. However, current techniques to measure the viscoelastic nuclear mechanical properties are often time consuming, limited to probing one cell at a time, or require expensive, highly specialized equipment. Furthermore, many current assays do not measure time-dependent properties, which are characteristic of viscoelastic materials. Here, we present an easy-to-use microfluidic device that applies the well-established approach of micropipette aspiration, adapted to measure many cells in parallel. The device design allows rapid loading and purging of cells for measurements, and minimizes clogging by large particles or clusters of cells. Combined with a semi-automated image analysis pipeline, the microfluidic device approach enables significantly increased experimental throughput. We validated the experimental platform by comparing computational models of the fluid mechanics in the device with experimental measurements of fluid flow. In addition, we conducted experiments on cells lacking the nuclear envelope protein lamin A/C and wild-type controls, which have well-characterized nuclear mechanical properties. Fitting time-dependent nuclear deformation data to power law and different viscoelastic models revealed that loss of lamin A/C significantly altered the elastic and viscous properties of the nucleus, resulting in substantially increased nuclear deformability. Lastly, to demonstrate the versatility of the devices, we characterized the viscoelastic nuclear mechanical properties in a variety of cell lines and experimental model systems, including human skin fibroblasts from an individual with a mutation in the lamin gene associated with dilated cardiomyopathy, healthy control fibroblasts, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and human tumor cells. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate the ability of the microfluidic device and automated image analysis platform to provide robust, high throughput measurements of nuclear mechanical properties, including time-dependent elastic and viscous behavior, in a broad range of applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c9lc00444kDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6810812PMC
November 2019

Myosin IIA suppresses glioblastoma development in a mechanically sensitive manner.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 07 24;116(31):15550-15559. Epub 2019 Jun 24.

Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL 32224;

The ability of glioblastoma to disperse through the brain contributes to its lethality, and blocking this behavior has been an appealing therapeutic approach. Although a number of proinvasive signaling pathways are active in glioblastoma, many are redundant, so targeting one can be overcome by activating another. However, these pathways converge on nonredundant components of the cytoskeleton, and we have shown that inhibiting one of these-the myosin II family of cytoskeletal motors-blocks glioblastoma invasion even with simultaneous activation of multiple upstream promigratory pathways. Myosin IIA and IIB are the most prevalent isoforms of myosin II in glioblastoma, and we now show that codeleting these myosins markedly impairs tumorigenesis and significantly prolongs survival in a rodent model of this disease. However, while targeting just myosin IIA also impairs tumor invasion, it surprisingly increases tumor proliferation in a manner that depends on environmental mechanics. On soft surfaces myosin IIA deletion enhances ERK1/2 activity, while on stiff surfaces it enhances the activity of NFκB, not only in glioblastoma but in triple-negative breast carcinoma and normal keratinocytes as well. We conclude myosin IIA suppresses tumorigenesis in at least two ways that are modulated by the mechanics of the tumor and its stroma. Our results also suggest that inhibiting tumor invasion can enhance tumor proliferation and that effective therapy requires targeting cellular components that drive both proliferation and invasion simultaneously.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1902847116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6681735PMC
July 2019

Integrin-mediated traction force enhances paxillin molecular associations and adhesion dynamics that increase the invasiveness of tumor cells into a three-dimensional extracellular matrix.

Mol Biol Cell 2017 Jun 5;28(11):1467-1488. Epub 2017 Apr 5.

Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration, Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143

Metastasis requires tumor cells to navigate through a stiff stroma and squeeze through confined microenvironments. Whether tumors exploit unique biophysical properties to metastasize remains unclear. Data show that invading mammary tumor cells, when cultured in a stiffened three-dimensional extracellular matrix that recapitulates the primary tumor stroma, adopt a basal-like phenotype. Metastatic tumor cells and basal-like tumor cells exert higher integrin-mediated traction forces at the bulk and molecular levels, consistent with a motor-clutch model in which motors and clutches are both increased. Basal-like nonmalignant mammary epithelial cells also display an altered integrin adhesion molecular organization at the nanoscale and recruit a suite of paxillin-associated proteins implicated in invasion and metastasis. Phosphorylation of paxillin by Src family kinases, which regulates adhesion turnover, is similarly enhanced in the metastatic and basal-like tumor cells, fostered by a stiff matrix, and critical for tumor cell invasion in our assays. Bioinformatics reveals an unappreciated relationship between Src kinases, paxillin, and survival of breast cancer patients. Thus adoption of the basal-like adhesion phenotype may favor the recruitment of molecules that facilitate tumor metastasis to integrin-based adhesions. Analysis of the physical properties of tumor cells and integrin adhesion composition in biopsies may be predictive of patient outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E16-09-0654DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449147PMC
June 2017

Causes and consequences of nuclear envelope alterations in tumour progression.

Eur J Cell Biol 2016 Nov 25;95(11):449-464. Epub 2016 Jun 25.

Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering & Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States. Electronic address:

Morphological changes in the size and shape of the nucleus are highly prevalent in cancer, but the underlying molecular mechanisms and the functional relevance remain poorly understood. Nuclear envelope proteins, which can modulate nuclear shape and organization, have emerged as key components in a variety of signalling pathways long implicated in tumourigenesis and metastasis. The expression of nuclear envelope proteins is altered in many cancers, and changes in levels of nuclear envelope proteins lamins A and C are associated with poor prognosis in multiple human cancers. In this review we highlight the role of the nuclear envelope in different processes important for tumour initiation and cancer progression, with a focus on lamins A and C. Lamin A/C controls many cellular processes with key roles in cancer, including cell invasion, stemness, genomic stability, signal transduction, transcriptional regulation, and resistance to mechanical stress. In addition, we discuss potential mechanisms mediating the changes in lamin levels observed in many cancers. A better understanding of cause-and-effect relationships between lamin expression and tumour progression could reveal important mechanisms for coordinated regulation of oncogenic processes, and indicate therapeutic vulnerabilities that could be exploited for improved patient outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcb.2016.06.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110382PMC
November 2016

DENND2B activates Rab13 at the leading edge of migrating cells and promotes metastatic behavior.

J Cell Biol 2015 Mar 23;208(5):629-48. Epub 2015 Feb 23.

Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute; and Department of Biochemistry, Goodman Cancer Centre; McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 0G4, Canada

The small guanosine triphosphatase Rab13 functions in exocytic vesicle trafficking in epithelial cells. Alterations in Rab13 activity have been observed in human cancers, yet the mechanism of Rab13 activation and its role in cancer progression remain unclear. In this paper, we identify the DENN domain protein DENND2B as the guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rab13 and develop a novel Förster resonance energy transfer-based Rab biosensor to reveal activation of Rab13 by DENND2B at the leading edge of migrating cells. DENND2B interacts with the Rab13 effector MICAL-L2 at the cell periphery, and this interaction is required for the dynamic remodeling of the cell's leading edge. Disruption of Rab13-mediated trafficking dramatically limits the invasive behavior of epithelial cells in vitro and the growth and migration of highly invasive cancer cells in vivo. Thus, blocking Rab13 activation by DENND2B may provide a novel target to limit the spread of epithelial cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201407068DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4347646PMC
March 2015

Dynamic reprogramming of signaling upon met inhibition reveals a mechanism of drug resistance in gastric cancer.

Sci Signal 2014 Apr 22;7(322):ra38. Epub 2014 Apr 22.

1Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montréal, Québec H3A 0G4, Canada.

The Met receptor tyrosine kinase is activated or genetically amplified in some gastric cancers, but resistance to small-molecule inhibitors of Met often emerges in patients. We found that Met abundance correlated with a proliferation marker in patient gastric tumor sections, and gastric cancer cell lines that have MET amplifications depended on Met for proliferation and anchorage-independent growth in culture. Inhibition of Met induced temporal changes in gene expression in the cell lines, initiated by a rapid decrease in the expression of genes encoding transcription factors, followed by those encoding proteins involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and finally those encoding cell cycle-related proteins. In the gastric cancer cell lines, microarray and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed considerable overlap between genes regulated in response to Met stimulation and those regulated by signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). The activity of STAT3, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and the kinase Akt was decreased by Met inhibition, but only inhibitors of STAT3 were as effective as the Met inhibitor in decreasing tumor cell proliferation in culture and in xenografts, suggesting that STAT3 mediates the pro-proliferative program induced by Met. However, the phosphorylation of ERK increased after prolonged Met inhibition in culture, correlating with decreased abundance of the phosphatases DUSP4 and DUSP6, which inhibit ERK. Combined inhibition of Met and the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)-ERK pathway induced greater cell death in cultured gastric cancer cells than did either inhibitor alone. These findings indicate combination therapies that may counteract resistance to Met inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.2004839DOI Listing
April 2014

Models of crk adaptor proteins in cancer.

Genes Cancer 2012 May;3(5-6):341-52

McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada.

The Crk family of adaptor proteins (CrkI, CrkII, and CrkL), originally discovered as the oncogene fusion product, v-Crk, of the CT10 chicken retrovirus, lacks catalytic activity but engages with multiple signaling pathways through their SH2 and SH3 domains. Crk proteins link upstream tyrosine kinase and integrin-dependent signals to downstream effectors, acting as adaptors in diverse signaling pathways and cellular processes. Crk proteins are now recognized to play a role in the malignancy of many human cancers, stimulating renewed interest in their mechanism of action in cancer progression. The contribution of Crk signaling to malignancy has been predominantly studied in fibroblasts and in hematopoietic models and more recently in epithelial models. A mechanistic understanding of Crk proteins in cancer progression in vivo is still poorly understood in part due to the highly pleiotropic nature of Crk signaling. Recent advances in the structural organization of Crk domains, new roles in kinase regulation, and increased knowledge of the mechanisms and frequency of Crk overexpression in human cancers have provided an incentive for further study in in vivo models. An understanding of the mechanisms through which Crk proteins act as oncogenic drivers could have important implications in therapeutic targeting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1947601912459951DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513787PMC
May 2012

Crk adaptor proteins act as key signaling integrators for breast tumorigenesis.

Breast Cancer Res 2012 May 8;14(3):R74. Epub 2012 May 8.

Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montréal, QC H3G 1Y6, Canada.

Introduction: CT10 regulator of kinase (Crk) adaptor proteins (CrkI, CrkII and CrkL) play a role in integrating signals for migration and invasion of highly malignant breast cancer cell lines. This has important implications, as elevated CrkI/II protein levels were observed in a small cohort of breast cancer patients, which identified a potential role for Crk proteins in breast cancer progression. Numerous in vitro studies identified a role for Crk proteins in cell motility, but little is known about how Crk proteins contribute to breast cancer progression in vivo.

Methods: The clinical significance of Crk proteins in human breast cancer was assessed by analyzing published breast cancer datasets using a gene expression signature that was generated following CrkII over-expression and by examining Crk protein expression in tissue microarrays of breast tumors (n = 254). Stable knockdown of Crk (CrkI/CrkII/CrkL) proteins was accomplished using a short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated approach in two basal breast cancer cell lines, MDA-231 1833TR and SUM1315, where the former have a high affinity to form bone metastases. Both in vitro assays (cell migration, invasion, soft agar growth) and in vivo experiments (intra-cardiac, tibial and mammary fat pad injections) were performed to assess the functional significance of Crk proteins in breast cancer.

Results: A gene signature derived following CrkII over-expression correlated significantly with basal breast cancers and with high grade and poor outcome in general. Moreover, elevated Crk immunostaining on tissue microarrays revealed a significant association with highly proliferative tumors within the basal subtype. RNAi-mediated knockdown of all three Crk proteins in metastatic basal breast cancer cells established a continued requirement for Crk in cell migration and invasion in vitro and metastatic growth in vivo. Furthermore, Crk ablation suppressed anchorage independent growth and in vivo orthotopic tumor growth. This was associated with diminished cell proliferation and was rescued by expression of non-shRNA targeted CrkI/II. Perturbations in tumor progression correlated with altered integrin signaling, including decreased cell spreading, diminished p130Cas phosphorylation, and Cdc42 activation.

Conclusions: These data highlight the physiological importance of Crk proteins in regulating growth of aggressive basal breast cancer cells and identify Crk-dependent signaling networks as promising therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/bcr3183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3446336PMC
May 2012
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