Publications by authors named "Saadia A Karim"

30 Publications

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Suppression of tumor-associated neutrophils by lorlatinib attenuates pancreatic cancer growth and improves treatment with immune checkpoint blockade.

Nat Commun 2021 06 7;12(1):3414. Epub 2021 Jun 7.

Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Copenhagen, Denmark.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients have a 5-year survival rate of only 8% largely due to late diagnosis and insufficient therapeutic options. Neutrophils are among the most abundant immune cell type within the PDAC tumor microenvironment (TME), and are associated with a poor clinical prognosis. However, despite recent advances in understanding neutrophil biology in cancer, therapies targeting tumor-associated neutrophils are lacking. Here, we demonstrate, using pre-clinical mouse models of PDAC, that lorlatinib attenuates PDAC progression by suppressing neutrophil development and mobilization, and by modulating tumor-promoting neutrophil functions within the TME. When combined, lorlatinib also improves the response to anti-PD-1 blockade resulting in more activated CD8 + T cells in PDAC tumors. In summary, this study identifies an effect of lorlatinib in modulating tumor-associated neutrophils, and demonstrates the potential of lorlatinib to treat PDAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23731-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8184753PMC
June 2021

Asymmetrically Substituted Quadruplex-Binding Naphthalene Diimide Showing Potent Activity in Pancreatic Cancer Models.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2020 Aug 16;11(8):1634-1644. Epub 2020 Jul 16.

School of Pharmacy, University College London, London WC1N 1AX, United Kingdom.

Targeting of genomic quadruplexes is an approach to treating complex human cancers. We describe a series of tetra-substituted naphthalene diimide (ND) derivatives with a phenyl substituent directly attached to the ND core. The lead compound (SOP1812) has 10 times superior cellular and activity compared with previous ND compounds and nanomolar binding to human quadruplexes. The pharmacological properties of SOP1812 indicate good bioavailability, which is consistent with the activity in xenograft and genetic models for pancreatic cancer. Transcriptome analysis shows that it down-regulates several cancer gene pathways, including Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.0c00317DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429975PMC
August 2020

Repression of the Type I Interferon Pathway Underlies MYC- and KRAS-Dependent Evasion of NK and B Cells in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.

Cancer Discov 2020 06 21;10(6):872-887. Epub 2020 Mar 21.

CRUK Beatson Institute, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.

MYC is implicated in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer, yet the precise level of MYC deregulation required to contribute to tumor development has been difficult to define. We used modestly elevated expression of human MYC, driven from the locus, to investigate the pancreatic phenotypes arising in mice from an approximation of trisomy. We show that this level of MYC alone suffices to drive pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, and to accelerate progression of KRAS-initiated precursor lesions to metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Our phenotype exposed suppression of the type I interferon (IFN) pathway by the combined actions of MYC and KRAS, and we present evidence of repressive MYC-MIZ1 complexes binding directly to the promoters of the genes encodiing the type I IFN regulators IRF5, IRF7, STAT1, and STAT2. Derepression of IFN regulator genes allows pancreatic tumor infiltration by B and natural killer (NK) cells, resulting in increased survival. SIGNIFICANCE: We define herein a novel mechanism of evasion of NK cell-mediated immunity through the combined actions of endogenously expressed mutant KRAS and modestly deregulated expression of MYC, via suppression of the type I IFN pathway. Restoration of IFN signaling may improve outcomes for patients with PDAC..
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2159-8290.CD-19-0620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611248PMC
June 2020

Macropinocytosis Renders a Subset of Pancreatic Tumor Cells Resistant to mTOR Inhibition.

Cell Rep 2020 02;30(8):2729-2742.e4

Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK; Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK. Electronic address:

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) features a near-universal mutation in KRAS. Additionally, the tumor suppressor PTEN is lost in ∼10% of patients, and in mouse models, this dramatically accelerates tumor progression. While oncogenic KRAS and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) cause divergent metabolic phenotypes individually, how they synergize to promote tumor metabolic alterations and dependencies remains unknown. We show that in KRAS-driven murine PDAC cells, loss of Pten strongly enhances both mTOR signaling and macropinocytosis. Protein scavenging alleviates sensitivity to mTOR inhibition by rescuing AKT phosphorylation at serine 473 and consequently cell proliferation. Combined inhibition of mTOR and lysosomal processing of internalized protein eliminates the macropinocytosis-mediated resistance. Our results indicate that mTORC2, rather than mTORC1, is an important regulator of protein scavenging and that protein-mediated resistance could explain the lack of effectiveness of mTOR inhibitors in certain genetic backgrounds. Concurrent inhibition of mTOR and protein scavenging might be a valuable therapeutic approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.080DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7043007PMC
February 2020

Publisher Correction: Genomic instability in mutant p53 cancer cells upon entotic engulfment.

Nat Commun 2018 08 28;9(1):3540. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

MRC Toxicology Unit, Lancaster Road, LE1 9HN, Leicester, UK.

The original version of this article incorrectly omitted an affiliation of Patricia A. J. Muller: 'Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, The University of Manchester | Alderley Park, Manchester, SK10 4TG, UK'. This has been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06026-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6113285PMC
August 2018

Genomic instability in mutant p53 cancer cells upon entotic engulfment.

Nat Commun 2018 08 3;9(1):3070. Epub 2018 Aug 3.

MRC Toxicology Unit, Lancaster Road, Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK.

Cell-in-cell (CIC) structures are commonly seen in tumours. Their biological significance remains unclear, although they have been associated with more aggressive tumours. Here we report that mutant p53 promotes CIC via live cell engulfment. Engulfed cells physically interfere in cell divisions of host cells and for cells without p53 this leads to host cell death. In contrast, mutant p53 host cells survive, display aberrant divisions, multinucleation and tripolar mitoses. In xenograft studies, CIC-rich p53 mutant/null co-cultures show enhanced tumour growth. Furthermore, our results show that CIC is common within lung adenocarcinomas, is an independent predictor of poor outcome and disease recurrence, is associated with mutant p53 expression and correlated to measures of heterogeneity and genomic instability. These findings suggest that pro-tumorigenic entotic engulfment activity is associated with mutant p53 expression, and the two combined are a key factor in genomic instability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05368-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6076230PMC
August 2018

CSF1R Macrophages Sustain Pancreatic Tumor Growth through T Cell Suppression and Maintenance of Key Gene Programs that Define the Squamous Subtype.

Cell Rep 2018 05;23(5):1448-1460

Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK; Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK. Electronic address:

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is resistant to most therapies including single-agent immunotherapy and has a dense desmoplastic stroma, and most patients present with advanced metastatic disease. We reveal that macrophages are the dominant leukocyte population both in human PDAC stroma and autochthonous models, with an important functional contribution to the squamous subtype of human PDAC. We targeted macrophages in a genetic PDAC model using AZD7507, a potent selective inhibitor of CSF1R. AZD7507 caused shrinkage of established tumors and increased mouse survival in this difficult-to-treat model. Malignant cell proliferation diminished, with increased cell death and an enhanced T cell immune response. Loss of macrophages rewired other features of the TME, with global changes in gene expression akin to switching PDAC subtypes. These changes were markedly different to those elicited when neutrophils were targeted via CXCR2. These results suggest targeting the myeloid cell axis may be particularly efficacious in PDAC, especially with CSF1R inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.131DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946718PMC
May 2018

Mutant p53R270H drives altered metabolism and increased invasion in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

JCI Insight 2018 01 25;3(2). Epub 2018 Jan 25.

Department of Surgery.

Pancreatic cancer is characterized by nearly universal activating mutations in KRAS. Among other somatic mutations, TP53 is mutated in more than 75% of human pancreatic tumors. Genetically engineered mice have proven instrumental in studies of the contribution of individual genes to carcinogenesis. Oncogenic Kras mutations occur early during pancreatic carcinogenesis and are considered an initiating event. In contrast, mutations in p53 occur later during tumor progression. In our model, we recapitulated the order of mutations of the human disease, with p53 mutation following expression of oncogenic Kras. Further, using an inducible and reversible expression allele for mutant p53, we inactivated its expression at different stages of carcinogenesis. Notably, the function of mutant p53 changes at different stages of carcinogenesis. Our work establishes a requirement for mutant p53 for the formation and maintenance of pancreatic cancer precursor lesions. In tumors, mutant p53 becomes dispensable for growth. However, it maintains the altered metabolism that characterizes pancreatic cancer and mediates its malignant potential. Further, mutant p53 promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer cell invasion. This work generates new mouse models that mimic human pancreatic cancer and expands our understanding of the role of p53 mutation, common in the majority of human malignancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.97422DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5821189PMC
January 2018

Substrate Rigidity Controls Activation and Durotaxis in Pancreatic Stellate Cells.

Sci Rep 2017 05 31;7(1):2506. Epub 2017 May 31.

Cellular and Molecular Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.

Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive malignancy characterised by the presence of extensive desmoplasia, thought to be responsible for the poor response of patients to systemic therapies. Pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) are key mediators in the production of this fibrotic stroma, upon activation transitioning to a myofibroblast-like, high matrix secreting phenotype. Given their importance in disease progression, characterisation of PSC activation has been extensive, however one aspect that has been overlooked is the mechano-sensing properties of the cell. Here, through the use of a physiomimetic system that recapitulates the mechanical microenvironment found within healthy and fibrotic pancreas, we demonstrate that matrix stiffness regulates activation and mechanotaxis in PSCs. We show the ability of PSCs to undergo phenotypic transition solely as a result of changes in extracellular matrix stiffness, whilst observing the ability of PSCs to durotactically respond to stiffness variations within their local environment. Our findings implicate the mechanical microenvironment as a potent contributor to PDAC progression and survival via induction of PSC activation and fibrosis, suggesting that direct mechanical reprogramming of PSCs may be a viable alternative in the treatment of this lethal disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-02689-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5451433PMC
May 2017

mTORC2 Signaling Drives the Development and Progression of Pancreatic Cancer.

Cancer Res 2016 12 6;76(23):6911-6923. Epub 2016 Oct 6.

CRUK Beatson Institute, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

mTOR signaling controls several critical cellular functions and is deregulated in many cancers, including pancreatic cancer. To date, most efforts have focused on inhibiting the mTORC1 complex. However, clinical trials of mTORC1 inhibitors in pancreatic cancer have failed, raising questions about this therapeutic approach. We employed a genetic approach to delete the obligate mTORC2 subunit Rictor and identified the critical times during which tumorigenesis requires mTORC2 signaling. Rictor deletion resulted in profoundly delayed tumorigenesis. Whereas previous studies showed most pancreatic tumors were insensitive to rapamycin, treatment with a dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor strongly suppressed tumorigenesis. In late-stage tumor-bearing mice, combined mTORC1/2 and PI3K inhibition significantly increased survival. Thus, targeting mTOR may be a potential therapeutic strategy in pancreatic cancer. Cancer Res; 76(23); 6911-23. ©2016 AACR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-0810DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5135633PMC
December 2016

CXCR2 Inhibition Profoundly Suppresses Metastases and Augments Immunotherapy in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.

Cancer Cell 2016 06 2;29(6):832-845. Epub 2016 Jun 2.

Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK; Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK.

CXCR2 has been suggested to have both tumor-promoting and tumor-suppressive properties. Here we show that CXCR2 signaling is upregulated in human pancreatic cancer, predominantly in neutrophil/myeloid-derived suppressor cells, but rarely in tumor cells. Genetic ablation or inhibition of CXCR2 abrogated metastasis, but only inhibition slowed tumorigenesis. Depletion of neutrophils/myeloid-derived suppressor cells also suppressed metastasis suggesting a key role for CXCR2 in establishing and maintaining the metastatic niche. Importantly, loss or inhibition of CXCR2 improved T cell entry, and combined inhibition of CXCR2 and PD1 in mice with established disease significantly extended survival. We show that CXCR2 signaling in the myeloid compartment can promote pancreatic tumorigenesis and is required for pancreatic cancer metastasis, making it an excellent therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2016.04.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4912354PMC
June 2016

Genomic analyses identify molecular subtypes of pancreatic cancer.

Nature 2016 Mar 24;531(7592):47-52. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.

Integrated genomic analysis of 456 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas identified 32 recurrently mutated genes that aggregate into 10 pathways: KRAS, TGF-β, WNT, NOTCH, ROBO/SLIT signalling, G1/S transition, SWI-SNF, chromatin modification, DNA repair and RNA processing. Expression analysis defined 4 subtypes: (1) squamous; (2) pancreatic progenitor; (3) immunogenic; and (4) aberrantly differentiated endocrine exocrine (ADEX) that correlate with histopathological characteristics. Squamous tumours are enriched for TP53 and KDM6A mutations, upregulation of the TP63∆N transcriptional network, hypermethylation of pancreatic endodermal cell-fate determining genes and have a poor prognosis. Pancreatic progenitor tumours preferentially express genes involved in early pancreatic development (FOXA2/3, PDX1 and MNX1). ADEX tumours displayed upregulation of genes that regulate networks involved in KRAS activation, exocrine (NR5A2 and RBPJL), and endocrine differentiation (NEUROD1 and NKX2-2). Immunogenic tumours contained upregulated immune networks including pathways involved in acquired immune suppression. These data infer differences in the molecular evolution of pancreatic cancer subtypes and identify opportunities for therapeutic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature16965DOI Listing
March 2016

Intravital FRAP Imaging using an E-cadherin-GFP Mouse Reveals Disease- and Drug-Dependent Dynamic Regulation of Cell-Cell Junctions in Live Tissue.

Cell Rep 2016 Jan 24;14(1):152-167. Epub 2015 Dec 24.

Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK.

E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell junctions play a prominent role in maintaining the epithelial architecture. The disruption or deregulation of these adhesions in cancer can lead to the collapse of tumor epithelia that precedes invasion and subsequent metastasis. Here we generated an E-cadherin-GFP mouse that enables intravital photobleaching and quantification of E-cadherin mobility in live tissue without affecting normal biology. We demonstrate the broad applications of this mouse by examining E-cadherin regulation in multiple tissues, including mammary, brain, liver, and kidney tissue, while specifically monitoring E-cadherin mobility during disease progression in the pancreas. We assess E-cadherin stability in native pancreatic tissue upon genetic manipulation involving Kras and p53 or in response to anti-invasive drug treatment and gain insights into the dynamic remodeling of E-cadherin during in situ cancer progression. FRAP in the E-cadherin-GFP mouse, therefore, promises to be a valuable tool to fundamentally expand our understanding of E-cadherin-mediated events in native microenvironments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.12.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4709331PMC
January 2016

Mitotic Stress Is an Integral Part of the Oncogene-Induced Senescence Program that Promotes Multinucleation and Cell Cycle Arrest.

Cell Rep 2015 Sep 20;12(9):1483-96. Epub 2015 Aug 20.

Institute of Cancer Sciences, CR-UK Beatson Laboratories, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK. Electronic address:

Oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) is a tumor suppression mechanism that blocks cell proliferation in response to oncogenic signaling. OIS is frequently accompanied by multinucleation; however, the origin of this is unknown. Here, we show that multinucleate OIS cells originate mostly from failed mitosis. Prior to senescence, mutant H-RasV12 activation in primary human fibroblasts compromised mitosis, concordant with abnormal expression of mitotic genes functionally linked to the observed mitotic spindle and chromatin defects. Simultaneously, H-RasV12 activation enhanced survival of cells with damaged mitoses, culminating in extended mitotic arrest and aberrant exit from mitosis via mitotic slippage. ERK-dependent transcriptional upregulation of Mcl1 was, at least in part, responsible for enhanced survival and slippage of cells with mitotic defects. Importantly, mitotic slippage and oncogene signaling cooperatively induced senescence and key senescence effectors p21 and p16. In summary, activated Ras coordinately triggers mitotic disruption and enhanced cell survival to promote formation of multinucleate senescent cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.07.055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562906PMC
September 2015

CXCR2 inhibition suppresses acute and chronic pancreatic inflammation.

J Pathol 2015 Sep 4;237(1):85-97. Epub 2015 Jun 4.

Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Glasgow, UK.

Pancreatitis is a significant clinical problem and the lack of effective therapeutic options means that treatment is often palliative rather than curative. A deeper understanding of the pathogenesis of both acute and chronic pancreatitis is necessary to develop new therapies. Pathological changes in pancreatitis are dependent on innate immune cell recruitment to the site of initial tissue damage, and on the coordination of downstream inflammatory pathways. The chemokine receptor CXCR2 drives neutrophil recruitment during inflammation, and to investigate its role in pancreatic inflammation, we induced acute and chronic pancreatitis in wild-type and Cxcr2(-/-) mice. Strikingly, Cxcr2(-/-) mice were strongly protected from tissue damage in models of acute pancreatitis, and this could be recapitulated by neutrophil depletion or by the specific deletion of Cxcr2 from myeloid cells. The pancreata of Cxcr2(-/-) mice were also substantially protected from damage during chronic pancreatitis. Neutrophil depletion was less effective in this model, suggesting that CXCR2 on non-neutrophils contributes to the development of chronic pancreatitis. Importantly, pharmacological inhibition of CXCR2 in wild-type mice replicated the protection seen in Cxcr2(-/-) mice in acute and chronic models of pancreatitis. Moreover, acute pancreatic inflammation was reversible by inhibition of CXCR2. Thus, CXCR2 is critically involved in the development of acute and chronic pancreatitis in mice, and its inhibition or loss protects against pancreatic damage. CXCR2 may therefore be a viable therapeutic target in the treatment of pancreatitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.4555DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4833178PMC
September 2015

mTORC1-mediated translational elongation limits intestinal tumour initiation and growth.

Nature 2015 Jan 5;517(7535):497-500. Epub 2014 Nov 5.

Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Glasgow, G61 1BD, UK.

Inactivation of APC is a strongly predisposing event in the development of colorectal cancer, prompting the search for vulnerabilities specific to cells that have lost APC function. Signalling through the mTOR pathway is known to be required for epithelial cell proliferation and tumour growth, and the current paradigm suggests that a critical function of mTOR activity is to upregulate translational initiation through phosphorylation of 4EBP1 (refs 6, 7). This model predicts that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, which does not efficiently inhibit 4EBP1 (ref. 8), would be ineffective in limiting cancer progression in APC-deficient lesions. Here we show in mice that mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) activity is absolutely required for the proliferation of Apc-deficient (but not wild-type) enterocytes, revealing an unexpected opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Although APC-deficient cells show the expected increases in protein synthesis, our study reveals that it is translation elongation, and not initiation, which is the rate-limiting component. Mechanistically, mTORC1-mediated inhibition of eEF2 kinase is required for the proliferation of APC-deficient cells. Importantly, treatment of established APC-deficient adenomas with rapamycin (which can target eEF2 through the mTORC1-S6K-eEF2K axis) causes tumour cells to undergo growth arrest and differentiation. Taken together, our data suggest that inhibition of translation elongation using existing, clinically approved drugs, such as the rapalogs, would provide clear therapeutic benefit for patients at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13896DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4304784PMC
January 2015

Targeting mTOR dependency in pancreatic cancer.

Gut 2014 Sep 9;63(9):1481-9. Epub 2014 Apr 9.

CRUK Beatson Institute, Glasgow, UK.

Objective: Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. Current chemotherapy regimens have modest survival benefit. Thus, novel, effective therapies are required for treatment of this disease.

Design: Activating KRAS mutation almost always drives pancreatic tumour initiation, however, deregulation of other potentially druggable pathways promotes tumour progression. PTEN loss leads to acceleration of Kras(G12D)-driven pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in mice and these tumours have high levels of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling. To test whether these KRAS PTEN pancreatic tumours show mTOR dependence, we compared response to mTOR inhibition in this model, to the response in another established model of pancreatic cancer, KRAS P53. We also assessed whether there was a subset of pancreatic cancer patients who may respond to mTOR inhibition.

Results: We found that tumours in KRAS PTEN mice exhibit a remarkable dependence on mTOR signalling. In these tumours, mTOR inhibition leads to proliferative arrest and even tumour regression. Further, we could measure response using clinically applicable positron emission tomography imaging. Importantly, pancreatic tumours driven by activated KRAS and mutant p53 did not respond to treatment. In human tumours, approximately 20% of cases demonstrated low PTEN expression and a gene expression signature that overlaps with murine KRAS PTEN tumours.

Conclusions: KRAS PTEN tumours are uniquely responsive to mTOR inhibition. Targeted anti-mTOR therapies may offer clinical benefit in subsets of human PDAC selected based on genotype, that are dependent on mTOR signalling. Thus, the genetic signatures of human tumours could be used to direct pancreatic cancer treatment in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306202DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145424PMC
September 2014

Fascin is regulated by slug, promotes progression of pancreatic cancer in mice, and is associated with patient outcomes.

Gastroenterology 2014 May 23;146(5):1386-96.e1-17. Epub 2014 Jan 23.

CRUK Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is often lethal because it is highly invasive and metastasizes rapidly. The actin-bundling protein fascin has been identified as a biomarker of invasive and advanced PDAC and regulates cell migration and invasion in vitro. We investigated fascin expression and its role in PDAC progression in mice.

Methods: We used KRas(G12D) p53(R172H) Pdx1-Cre (KPC) mice to investigate the effects of fascin deficiency on development of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIn), PDAC, and metastasis. We measured levels of fascin in PDAC cell lines and 122 human resected PDAC samples, along with normal ductal and acinar tissues; we associated levels with patient outcomes.

Results: Pancreatic ducts and acini from control mice and early-stage PanINs from KPC mice were negative for fascin, but approximately 6% of PanIN3 and 100% of PDAC expressed fascin. Fascin-deficient KRas(G12D) p53(R172H) Pdx1-Cre mice had longer survival times, delayed onset of PDAC, and a lower PDAC tumor burdens than KPC mice; loss of fascin did not affect invasion of PDAC into bowel or peritoneum in mice. Levels of slug and fascin correlated in PDAC cells; slug was found to regulate transcription of Fascin along with the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. In PDAC cell lines and cells from mice, fascin concentrated in filopodia and was required for their assembly and turnover. Fascin promoted intercalation of filopodia into mesothelial cell layers and cell invasion. Nearly all human PDAC samples expressed fascin, and higher fascin histoscores correlated with poor outcomes, vascular invasion, and time to recurrence.

Conclusions: The actin-bundling protein fascin is regulated by slug and involved in late-stage PanIN and PDAC formation in mice. Fascin appears to promote formation of filopodia and invasive activities of PDAC cells. Its levels in human PDAC correlate with outcomes and time to recurrence, indicating it might be a marker or therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2014.01.046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000441PMC
May 2014

Reversed argininosuccinate lyase activity in fumarate hydratase-deficient cancer cells.

Cancer Metab 2013 Mar 21;1(1):12. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Cancer Research UK, Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Switchback Road, Glasgow, G61 1BD, UK.

Background: Loss of function of fumarate hydratase (FH), the mitochondrial tumor suppressor and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzyme, is associated with a highly malignant form of papillary and collecting duct renal cell cancer. The accumulation of fumarate in these cells has been linked to the tumorigenic process. However, little is known about the overall effects of the loss of FH on cellular metabolism.

Methods: We performed comprehensive metabolomic analyses of urine from Fh1-deficient mice and stable isotopologue tracing from human and mouse FH-deficient cell lines to investigate the biochemical signature of the loss of FH.

Results: The metabolomics analysis revealed that the urea cycle metabolite argininosuccinate is a common metabolic biomarker of FH deficiency. Argininosuccinate was found to be produced from arginine and fumarate by the reverse activity of the urea cycle enzyme argininosuccinate lyase (ASL), making these cells auxotrophic for arginine. Depleting arginine from the growth media by the addition of pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG 20) decreased the production of argininosuccinate in FH-deficient cells and reduced cell survival and proliferation.

Conclusions: These results unravel a previously unidentified correlation between fumarate accumulation and the urea cycle enzyme ASL in FH-deficient cells. The finding that FH-deficient cells become auxotrophic for arginine opens a new therapeutic perspective for the cure of hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2049-3002-1-12DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4108060PMC
March 2013

Intravital FLIM-FRET imaging reveals dasatinib-induced spatial control of src in pancreatic cancer.

Cancer Res 2013 Aug 7;73(15):4674-86. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow; Section of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

Cancer invasion and metastasis occur in a complex three-dimensional (3D) environment, with reciprocal feedback from the surrounding host tissue and vasculature-governing behavior. In this study, we used a novel intravital method that revealed spatiotemporal regulation of Src activity in response to the anti-invasive Src inhibitor dasatinib. A fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy-fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FLIM-FRET) Src biosensor was used to monitor drug-targeting efficacy in a transgenic p53-mutant mouse model of pancreatic cancer. In contrast to conventional techniques, FLIM-FRET analysis allowed for accurate, time-dependent, live monitoring of drug efficacy and clearance in live tumors. In 3D organotypic cultures, we showed that a spatially distinct gradient of Src activity exists within invading tumor cells, governed by the depth of penetration into complex matrices. In parallel, this gradient was also found to exist within live tumors, where Src activity is enhanced at the invasive border relative to the tumor cortex. Upon treatment with dasatinib, we observed a switch in activity at the invasive borders, correlating with impaired metastatic capacity in vivo. Src regulation was governed by the proximity of cells to the host vasculature, as cells distal to the vasculature were regulated differentially in response to drug treatment compared with cells proximal to the vasculature. Overall, our results in live tumors revealed that a threshold of drug penetrance exists in vivo and that this can be used to map areas of poor drug-targeting efficiency within specific tumor microenvironments. We propose that using FLIM-FRET in this capacity could provide a useful preclinical tool in animal models before clinical translation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4545DOI Listing
August 2013

Dasatinib inhibits mammary tumour development in a genetically engineered mouse model.

J Pathol 2013 Aug;230(4):430-40

Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK.

Src family kinase activity is elevated in a number of human cancers including breast cancer. This increased activity has been associated with aggressive disease and poor prognosis. Src inhibitors are currently in clinical development with a number of trials currently assessing their activity in breast cancer. However, the results to date have been disappointing and a further evaluation of the preclinical effects of Src inhibitors is required to help establish whether these agents will be useful in the treatment of breast cancer. In this study we investigate the effects of dasatinib, which is a potent inhibitor of Src family kinases, on the initiation and development of breast cancer in a genetically engineered model of the disease. The mouse model utilized is driven by expression of activated ErbB-2 under the transcriptional control of its endogenous promoter coupled with conditional loss of Pten under the control of Cre recombinase expressed by the BLG promoter. We show that daily oral administration of dasatinib delays tumour onset and increases overall survival but does not inhibit the proliferation of established tumours. The striking difference between the dasatinib-treated group of tumours and the vehicle controls was the prominent squamous metaplasia that was seen in six out of 11 dasatinib-treated tumours. This was accompanied by a dramatic up-regulation of both E-cadherin and β-catenin and down-regulation of ErbB-2 in the dasatinib-treated tumours. Dasatinib also inhibited both the migration and the invasion of tumour-derived cell lines in vitro. Together these data support the argument that benefits of Src inhibitors may predominate in early or even pre-invasive disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.4202DOI Listing
August 2013

FLIM-FRET imaging in vivo reveals 3D-environment spatially regulates RhoGTPase activity during cancer cell invasion.

Small GTPases 2011 Jul 1;2(4):239-244. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research; Glasgow; Edinburgh, UK.

Many conceptual advances in biology have been achieved by experimental studies using planar two-dimensional cell culture systems. Recent adaptations of molecular techniques to three-dimensional model systems are bridging the gap in our understanding of biological events in vitro and in vivo in the study of disease progression. Recently, in vitro studies using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) have shown that the prototypical RhoGTPases Cdc42, Rac and RhoA are temporally and spatially synchronized during cell migration, with initial RhoA activity inducing protrusion prior to activation of Rac. This simultaneous FRET approach illustrates the tight control and dynamic regulation of RhoGTPase activity necessary for coordinated cell migration in vitro. Here, we discuss our recent work using FLIM-FRET analysis in a three-dimensional setting to reveal another layer of regulation in which RhoA activity is governed by the extracellular microenvironment. We demonstrate that RhoA is spatially regulated into discrete fractions of activity at the leading edge and rear of cells during invasion in vivo or within three-dimensional matrices. Significantly, this spatial regulation of RhoA was absent in two-dimensional in vitro settings. This distinct sub-cellular regulation of RhoA at the poles of invading cells in three-dimensions sets a precedent that other RhoGTPases or signaling proteins may also be differentially regulated in a con-text-dependent manner during key biological processes such as invasion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/sgtp.2.4.17275DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225915PMC
July 2011

Spatial regulation of RhoA activity during pancreatic cancer cell invasion driven by mutant p53.

Cancer Res 2011 Feb 25;71(3):747-57. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Garscube Estate, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

The ability to observe changes in molecular behavior during cancer cell invasion in vivo remains a major challenge to our understanding of the metastatic process. Here, we demonstrate for the first time, an analysis of RhoA activity at a subcellular level using FLIM-FRET (fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy-fluorescence resonance energy transfer) imaging in a live animal model of pancreatic cancer. In invasive mouse pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells driven by mutant p53 (p53(R172H)), we observed a discrete fraction of high RhoA activity at both the leading edge and rear of cells in vivo which was absent in two-dimensional in vitro cultures. Notably, this pool of active RhoA was absent in noninvasive p53(fl) knockout PDAC cells, correlating with their poor invasive potential in vivo. We used dasatanib, a clinically approved anti-invasive agent that is active in this model, to illustrate the functional importance of spatially regulated RhoA. Dasatanib inhibited the activity of RhoA at the poles of p53(R172H) cells in vivo and this effect was independent of basal RhoA activity within the cell body. Taken together, quantitative in vivo fluorescence lifetime imaging illustrated that RhoA is not only necessary for invasion, but also that subcellular spatial regulation of RhoA activity, as opposed to its global activity, is likely to govern invasion efficiency in vivo. Our findings reveal the utility of FLIM-FRET in analyzing dynamic biomarkers during drug treatment in living animals, and they also show how discrete intracellular molecular pools might be differentially manipulated by future anti-invasive therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2267DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033324PMC
February 2011

PLP/DM20 expression and turnover in a transgenic mouse model of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease.

Glia 2010 Nov;58(14):1727-38

The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow, G61 1BD, Scotland.

The most common cause of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher (PMD) is due to duplication of the PLP1 gene but it is unclear how increased gene dosage affects PLP turnover and causes dysmyelination. We have studied the dynamics of PLP/DM20 in a transgenic mouse model of PMD with increased gene dosage of the proteolipid protein gene (Plp1). The turnover of PLP/DM20 were investigated using an ex-vivo brain slice system and cultured oligodendrocytes. Homozygous mice have reduced PLP translation, markedly enhanced PLP degradation, and markedly reduced incorporation of PLP into myelin. Proteasome inhibition (MG132) prevented the enhanced degradation. Numerous autophagic vesicles are present in homozygous transgenic mice that may influence protein dynamics. Surprisingly, promoting autophagy with rapamycin decreases the degradation of nascent PLP suggesting autophagic vacuoles serve as a cellular storage compartment. We suggest that there are multiple subcellular fates of PLP/DM20 when overexpressed: the vast majority being degraded by the proteasome, a proportion sequestered into autophagic vacuoles, probably fused with endolysosomes, and only a small proportion entering the myelin sheath, where its association with lipid rafts is perturbed. Transgenic oligodendrocytes have fewer membrane sheets and this phenotype is improved with siRNA-mediated knockdown of PLP expression that promotes the formation of MBP+ myelin-like sheets. This finding suggests that RNAi technology is in principle applicable to improve CNS myelination when compromised by PLP/DM20 overexpression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/glia.21043DOI Listing
November 2010

LKB1 haploinsufficiency cooperates with Kras to promote pancreatic cancer through suppression of p21-dependent growth arrest.

Gastroenterology 2010 Aug 6;139(2):586-97, 597.e1-6. Epub 2010 May 6.

Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Garscube Estate, Glasgow, UK.

Background & Aims: Patients carrying germline mutations of LKB1 have an increased risk of pancreatic cancer; however, it is unclear whether down-regulation of LKB1 is an important event in sporadic pancreatic cancer. In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of LKB1 down-regulation for pancreatic cancer in mouse and human and to elucidate the mechanism by which Lkb1 deregulation contributes to this disease.

Methods: We first investigated the consequences of Lkb1 deficiency in a genetically modified mouse model of pancreatic cancer, both in terms of disease progression and at the molecular level. To test the relevance of our findings to human pancreatic cancer, we investigated levels of LKB1 and its potential targets in human pancreatic cancer.

Results: We definitively show that Lkb1 haploinsufficiency can cooperate with oncogenic KrasG12D to cause pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in the mouse. Mechanistically, this was associated with decreased p53/p21-dependent growth arrest. Haploinsufficiency for p21 (Cdkn1a) also synergizes with KrasG12D to drive PDAC in the mouse. We also found that levels of LKB1 expression were decreased in around 20% of human PDAC and significantly correlated with low levels of p21 and a poor prognosis. Remarkably, all tumors that had low levels of LKB1 had low levels of p21, and these tumors did not express mutant p53.

Conclusions: We have identified a novel LKB1-p21 axis that suppresses PDAC following Kras mutation in vivo. Down-regulation of LKB1 may therefore serve as an alternative to p53 mutation to drive pancreatic cancer in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2010.04.055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3770904PMC
August 2010

Dasatinib inhibits the development of metastases in a mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Gastroenterology 2010 Jul 17;139(1):292-303. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Background & Aims: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly invasive and metastatic disease for which conventional treatments are of limited efficacy. A number of agents in development are potential anti-invasive and antimetastatic agents, including the Src kinase inhibitor dasatinib. The aim of this study was to assess the importance of Src in human PDAC and to use a genetically engineered mouse model of PDAC to determine the effects of dasatinib on PDAC progression.

Methods: Src expression and activity was measured by immunohistochemistry in 114 human PDACs. Targeting expression of Trp53(R172H) and Kras(G12D) to the mouse pancreas results in the formation of invasive and metastatic PDAC. These mice were treated with dasatinib, and disease progression monitored. Cell lines were derived from mouse PDACs, and in vitro effects of dasatinib assessed.

Results: Src expression and activity were up-regulated in human PDAC and this correlated with reduced survival. Dasatinib inhibited the migration and invasion of PDAC cell lines, although no effects on proliferation were seen at concentrations that inhibited Src kinase activity. In addition, dasatinib significantly inhibited the development of metastases in Pdx1-Cre, Z/EGFP, LSL-Kras(G12D/+), LSL-Trp53(R172H/+) mice. However, there was no survival advantage in the dasatinib-treated animals owing to continued growth of the primary tumor.

Conclusions: This study confirms the importance of Src in human PDAC and shows the usefulness of a genetically engineered mouse model of PDAC for assessing the activity of potential antimetastatic agents and suggests that dasatinib should be evaluated further as monotherapy after resection of localized invasive PDAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2010.03.034DOI Listing
July 2010

Mutant p53 drives metastasis and overcomes growth arrest/senescence in pancreatic cancer.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Jan 14;107(1):246-51. Epub 2009 Dec 14.

Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow G61 1BD, United Kingdom.

TP53 mutation occurs in 50-75% of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) following an initiating activating mutation in the KRAS gene. These p53 mutations frequently result in expression of a stable protein, p53(R175H), rather than complete loss of protein expression. In this study we elucidate the functions of mutant p53 (Trp53(R172H)), compared to knockout p53 (Trp53(fl)), in a mouse model of PDAC. First we find that although Kras(G12D) is one of the major oncogenic drivers of PDAC, most Kras(G12D)-expressing pancreatic cells are selectively lost from the tissue, and those that remain form premalignant lesions. Loss, or mutation, of Trp53 allows retention of the Kras(G12D)-expressing cells and drives rapid progression of these premalignant lesions to PDAC. This progression is consistent with failed growth arrest and/or senescence of premalignant lesions, since a mutant of p53, p53(R172P), which can still induce p21 and cell cycle arrest, is resistant to PDAC formation. Second, we find that despite similar kinetics of primary tumor formation, mutant p53(R172H), as compared with genetic loss of p53, specifically promotes metastasis. Moreover, only mutant p53(R172H)-expressing tumor cells exhibit invasive activity in an in vitro assay. Importantly, in human PDAC, p53 accumulation significantly correlates with lymph node metastasis. In summary, by using 'knock-in' mutations of Trp53 we have identified two critical acquired functions of a stably expressed mutant form of p53 that drive PDAC; first, an escape from Kras(G12D)-induced senescence/growth arrest and second, the promotion of metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0908428107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2806749PMC
January 2010

PLP overexpression perturbs myelin protein composition and myelination in a mouse model of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease.

Glia 2007 Mar;55(4):341-51

Applied Neurobiology Group, Institute of Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Bearsden, Glasgow, Scotland.

Duplication of PLP1, an X-linked gene encoding the major myelin membrane protein of the human CNS, is the most frequent cause of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD). Transgenic mice with extra copies of the wild type Plp1 gene, a valid model of PMD, also develop a dysmyelinating phenotype dependant on gene dosage. In this study we have examined the effect of increasing Plp1 gene dosage on levels of PLP/DM20 and on other representative myelin proteins. In cultured oligodendrocytes and early myelinating oligodendrocytes in vivo, increased gene dosage leads to elevated levels of PLP/DM20 in the cell body. During myelination, small increases in Plp1 gene dosage (mice hemizygous for the transgene) elevate the level of PLP/DM20 in oligodendrocyte soma but cause only minimal and transient effects on the protein composition and structure of myelin suggesting that cells can regulate the incorporation of proteins into myelin. However, larger increases in dosage (mice homozygous for the transgene) are not well tolerated, leading to hypomyelination and alteration in the cellular distribution of PLP/DM20. A disproportionate amount of PLP/DM20 is retained in the cell soma, probably in autophagic vacuoles and lysosomes whereas the level in myelin is reduced. Increased Plp1 gene dosage affects other myelin proteins, particularly MBP, which is transitorily reduced in hemizygous mice but consistently and markedly lower in homozygotes in both myelin and naïve or early myelinating oligodendrocytes. Whether the reduced MBP is implicated in the pathogenesis of dysmyelination is yet to be established.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/glia.20465DOI Listing
March 2007

A physical map of the genomic region on mouse chromosome 3 containing the hindshaker (hsh) mutation.

Genomics 2004 Feb;83(2):225-30

Applied Neurobiology Group, Institute of Comparative Medicine, Veterinary School, United Kingdom.

Hindshaker (hsh), a spontaneous, autosomal recessive mouse mutation, displays a developmentally dependent tremor of the hindquarters due to hypomyelination in the CNS. This myelin deficit is followed by progressive, but incomplete, recovery by postnatal day 42. Herein we describe the construction of a genomic contig spanning the interval between the markers D3Mit187 (42.4 cM) and D3Mit232 (45.2 cM) on mouse chromosome 3, which we have previously shown to contain the hsh mutation. A physical map, covering approximately 3.5 Mb, was constructed from a series of overlapping yeast and bacterial artificial chromosomes. A 1.2- to 1.4-Mb segment central to the contig was compared extensively with the syntenic regions in human (chromosome 1q21-q23) and rat (chromosome 2). We present new data on 10 genes erroneously assigned to this area and on another 6 genes previously assigned elsewhere. For absent genes, our work suggests that they are telomeric to the region encompassed in our map. Accordingly, our findings both map the area surrounding the hsh mutation and present important corrections to the current maps in an area rich in genes related to the nervous system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ygeno.2003.08.014DOI Listing
February 2004

Mapping of the dysmyelinating murine Hindshaker mutation to a 1.2-cM interval on chromosome 3.

Genomics 2002 Aug;80(2):126-8

Applied Neurobiology Group, Institute of Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Road, Glasgow, UK.

Hindshaker (hsh) is a novel, spontaneous, autosomal recessive mouse mutation displaying a myelin deficit, predominantly in the spinal cord. It is characterized by developmentally dependent hypomyelination, first evident at postnatal day (P) 10, followed by progressive but incomplete recovery by P42. Hypomyelination is associated with a decreased number of mature oligodendrocytes, which fail to form complete myelin sheaths. Heterozygotes are phenotypically normal, and the hsh mutation shows considerable variation in penetrance and expression depending on genetic background, indicating the influence of modifying loci. Here, we followed an outcross/backcross breeding strategy in conjunction with genotyping for microsatellites and a novel marker for the gene S100a4. We describe the genomic mapping of the hsh mutation to within a 1.2-cM region near the centromere of mouse chromosome 3. We found that hsh is flanked between D3Mit187 proximally and S100a4 distally. The area containing hsh is gene-rich, with a high proportion of the genes specific to nervous tissue. Identification of the hsh mutation will aid our understanding of processes important in regional control of oligodendrocyte development and myelination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/geno.2002.6811DOI Listing
August 2002
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