Publications by authors named "Hayley D Cullen"

3 Publications

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Disease-associated missense variants in ZBTB18 disrupt DNA binding and impair the development of neurons within the embryonic cerebral cortex.

Hum Mutat 2019 10 3;40(10):1841-1855. Epub 2019 Jul 3.

Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Bentley, Australia.

The activities of DNA-binding transcription factors, such as the multi-zinc-finger protein ZBTB18 (also known as RP58, or ZNF238), are essential to coordinate mammalian neurodevelopment, including the birth and radial migration of newborn neurons within the fetal brain. In humans, the majority of disease-associated missense mutations in ZBTB18 lie within the DNA-binding zinc-finger domain and are associated with brain developmental disorder, yet the molecular mechanisms explaining their role in disease remain unclear. To address this, we developed in silico models of ZBTB18, bound to DNA, and discovered that half of the missense variants map to residues (Asn461, Arg464, Glu486) predicted to be essential to sequence-specific DNA contact, whereas others map to residues (Leu434, Tyr447, Arg495) with limited contributions to DNA binding. We studied pathogenic variants to residues with close (N461S) and limited (R495G) DNA contact and found that each bound DNA promiscuously, displayed altered transcriptional regulatory activity in vitro, and influenced the radial migration of newborn neurons in vivo in different ways. Taken together, our results suggest that altered transcriptional regulation could represent an important pathological mechanism for ZBTB18 missense variants in brain developmental disease.
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October 2019

MCL-1 inhibition provides a new way to suppress breast cancer metastasis and increase sensitivity to dasatinib.

Breast Cancer Res 2016 12 8;18(1):125. Epub 2016 Dec 8.

Cancer Research Division, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, 384 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW, 2010, Australia.

Background: Metastatic disease is largely resistant to therapy and accounts for almost all cancer deaths. Myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1) is an important regulator of cell survival and chemo-resistance in a wide range of malignancies, and thus its inhibition may prove to be therapeutically useful.

Methods: To examine whether targeting MCL-1 may provide an effective treatment for breast cancer, we constructed inducible models of BIMs2A expression (a specific MCL-1 inhibitor) in MDA-MB-468 (MDA-MB-468-2A) and MDA-MB-231 (MDA-MB-231-2A) cells.

Results: MCL-1 inhibition caused apoptosis of basal-like MDA-MB-468-2A cells grown as monolayers, and sensitized them to the BCL-2/BCL-XL inhibitor ABT-263, demonstrating that MCL-1 regulated cell survival. In MDA-MB-231-2A cells, grown in an organotypic model, induction of BIMs2A produced an almost complete suppression of invasion. Apoptosis was induced in such a small proportion of these cells that it could not account for the large decrease in invasion, suggesting that MCL-1 was operating via a previously undetected mechanism. MCL-1 antagonism also suppressed local invasion and distant metastasis to the lung in mouse mammary intraductal xenografts. Kinomic profiling revealed that MCL-1 antagonism modulated Src family kinases and their targets, which suggested that MCL-1 might act as an upstream modulator of invasion via this pathway. Inhibition of MCL-1 in combination with dasatinib suppressed invasion in 3D models of invasion and inhibited the establishment of tumors in vivo.

Conclusion: These data provide the first evidence that MCL-1 drives breast cancer cell invasion and suggests that MCL-1 antagonists could be used alone or in combination with drugs targeting Src kinases such as dasatinib to suppress metastasis.
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December 2016

De Novo Mutations in DENR Disrupt Neuronal Development and Link Congenital Neurological Disorders to Faulty mRNA Translation Re-initiation.

Cell Rep 2016 06 26;15(10):2251-2265. Epub 2016 May 26.

EMBL Australia, The Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia; The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, QEII Medical Centre and Centre for Medical Research, the University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. Electronic address:

Disruptions to neuronal mRNA translation are hypothesized to underlie human neurodevelopmental syndromes. Notably, the mRNA translation re-initiation factor DENR is a regulator of eukaryotic translation and cell growth, but its mammalian functions are unknown. Here, we report that Denr influences the migration of murine cerebral cortical neurons in vivo with its binding partner Mcts1, whereas perturbations to Denr impair the long-term positioning, dendritic arborization, and dendritic spine characteristics of postnatal projection neurons. We characterized de novo missense mutations in DENR (p.C37Y and p.P121L) detected in two unrelated human subjects diagnosed with brain developmental disorder to find that each variant impairs the function of DENR in mRNA translation re-initiation and disrupts the migration and terminal branching of cortical neurons in different ways. Thus, our findings link human brain disorders to impaired mRNA translation re-initiation through perturbations in DENR (OMIM: 604550) function in neurons.
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June 2016