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WD repeat domain 5 (WDR5) is a member of the WD40-repeat protein family that plays a critical role in multiple chromatin-centric processes. Overexpression of WDR5 correlates with a poor clinical outcome in many human cancers, and WDR5 itself has emerged as an attractive target for therapy. Most drug-discovery efforts center on the WIN site of WDR5 that is responsible for the recruitment of WDR5 to chromatin. Here, we describe discovery of a novel WDR5 WIN site antagonists containing a dihydroisoquinolinone bicyclic core using a structure-based design. These compounds exhibit picomolar binding affinity and selective concentration-dependent antiproliferative activities in sensitive MLL-fusion cell lines. Furthermore, these WDR5 WIN site binders inhibit proliferation in MYC-driven cancer cells and reduce MYC recruitment to chromatin at MYC/WDR5 co-bound genes. Thus, these molecules are useful probes to study the implication of WDR5 inhibition in cancers and serve as a potential starting point toward the discovery of anti-WDR5 therapeutics.
Thyroid cancer has the fastest growing incidence of any cancer in the United States, as measured by the number of new cases per year. Despite advances in tissue culture techniques, a robust model for thyroid cancer spheroid culture is yet to be developed. Using eight established thyroid cancer cell lines, we created an efficient and cost-effective 3D culture system that can enhance our understanding of in vivo treatment response. We found that all eight cell lines readily form spheroids in culture with unique morphology, size, and cytoskeletal organization. In addition, we developed a high-throughput workflow that allows for drug screening of spheroids. Using this approach, we found that spheroids from K1 and TPC1 cells demonstrate significant differences in their sensitivities to dabrafenib treatment that closely model expected patient drug response. In addition, K1 spheroids have increased sensitivity to dabrafenib when compared to monolayer K1 cultures. Utilizing traditional 2D cultures of these cell lines, we evaluated the mechanisms of this drug response, showing dramatic and acute changes in their actin cytoskeleton as well as inhibition of migratory behavior in response to dabrafenib treatment. Our study is the first to describe the development of a robust spheroid system from established cultured thyroid cancer cell lines and adaptation to a high-throughput format. We show that combining 3D culture with traditional 2D methods provides a complementary and powerful approach to uncover drug sensitivity and mechanisms of inhibition in thyroid cancer.
Juxtaglomerular (JG) cells, major sources of renin, differentiate from metanephric mesenchymal cells that give rise to JG cells or a subset of smooth muscle cells of the renal afferent arteriole. During periods of dehydration and salt deprivation, renal mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) differentiate from JG cells. JG cells undergo expansion and smooth muscle cells redifferentiate to express renin along the afferent arteriole. Gene expression profiling comparing resident renal MSCs with JG cells indicates that the transcription factor Sox6 is highly expressed in JG cells in the adult kidney. In vitro, loss of Sox6 expression reduces differentiation of renal MSCs to renin-producing cells. In vivo, Sox6 expression is upregulated after a low-Na diet and furosemide. Importantly, knockout of Sox6 in Ren1d+ cells halts the increase in renin-expressing cells normally seen during a low-Na diet and furosemide as well as the typical increase in renin. Furthermore, Sox6 ablation in renin-expressing cells halts the recruitment of smooth muscle cells along the afferent arteriole, which normally express renin under these conditions. These results support a previously undefined role for Sox6 in renin expression.
The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) is a potentially novel and promising anticancer target due to its critical roles in proliferation, apoptosis, and metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells. However, the activity and function of mTORC2 in distinct cells within malignant tissue in vivo is insufficiently explored. Surprisingly, in primary human and mouse colorectal cancer (CRC) samples, mTORC2 signaling could not be detected in tumor cells. In contrast, only macrophages in tumor-adjacent areas showed mTORC2 activity, which was downregulated in stromal macrophages residing within human and mouse tumor tissues. Functionally, inhibition of mTORC2 by specific deletion of Rictor in macrophages stimulated tumorigenesis in a colitis-associated CRC mouse model. This phenotype was driven by a proinflammatory reprogramming of mTORC2-deficient macrophages that promoted colitis via the cytokine SPP1/osteopontin to stimulate tumor growth. In human CRC patients, high SPP1 levels and low mTORC2 activity in tumor-associated macrophages correlated with a worsened clinical prognosis. Treatment of mice with a second-generation mTOR inhibitor that inhibits mTORC2 and mTORC1 exacerbated experimental colorectal tumorigenesis in vivo. In conclusion, mTORC2 activity is confined to macrophages in CRC and limits tumorigenesis. These results suggest activation but not inhibition of mTORC2 as a therapeutic strategy for colitis-associated CRC.
Solid tumors frequently metastasize to bone and induce bone destruction leading to severe pain, fractures, and other skeletal-related events (SREs). Osteoclast inhibitors such as bisphosphonates delay SREs but do not prevent skeletal complications or improve overall survival. Because bisphosphonates can cause adverse side effects and are contraindicated for some patients, we sought an alternative therapy to reduce tumor-associated bone destruction. Our previous studies identified the transcription factor Gli2 as a key regulator of parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), which is produced by bone metastatic tumor cells to promote osteoclast-mediated bone destruction. In this study, we tested the treatment effect of a Gli antagonist GANT58, which inhibits Gli2 nuclear translocation and PTHrP expression in tumor cells. In initial testing, GANT58 did not have efficacy in vivo due to its low water solubility and poor bioavailability. We therefore developed a micellar nanoparticle (NP) to encapsulate and colloidally stabilize GANT58, providing a fully aqueous, intravenously injectable formulation based on the polymer poly(propylene sulfide)-b-poly[(oligoethylene glycol) methyl ether acrylate] (PPS-b-POEGA). POEGA forms the hydrophilic NP surface while PPS forms the hydrophobic NP core that sequesters GANT58. In response to reactive oxygen species (ROS), PPS becomes hydrophilic and degrades to enable drug release. In an intratibial model of breast cancer bone metastasis, treatment with GANT58-NPs decreased bone lesion area by 49% (p<.01) and lesion number by 38% (p<.05) and resulted in a 2.5-fold increase in trabecular bone volume (p<.001). Similar results were observed in intracardiac and intratibial models of breast and lung cancer bone metastasis, respectively. Importantly, GANT58-NPs reduced tumor cell proliferation but did not alter mesenchymal stem cell proliferation or osteoblast mineralization in vitro, nor was there evidence of cytotoxicity after repeated in vivo treatment. Thus, inhibition of Gli2 using GANT58-NPs is a potential therapy to reduce bone destruction that should be considered for further testing and development toward clinical translation.
Published by Elsevier B.V.
Activating mutations in Kras are nearly ubiquitous in human pancreatic cancer and initiate precancerous pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) when induced in mouse acinar cells. PanINs normally take months to form but are accelerated by deletion of acinar cell differentiation factors such as Ptf1a, suggesting that loss of cell identity is rate limiting for pancreatic tumor initiation. Using a genetic mouse model that allows for independent control of oncogenic Kras and Ptf1a expression, we demonstrate that sustained Ptf1a is sufficient to prevent Kras-driven tumorigenesis, even in the presence of tumor-promoting inflammation. Furthermore, reintroducing Ptf1a into established PanINs reverts them to quiescent acinar cells in vivo. Similarly, Ptf1a re-expression in human pancreatic cancer cells inhibits their growth and colony-forming ability. Our results suggest that reactivation of an endogenous differentiation program can prevent and reverse oncogene-driven transformation in cells harboring tumor-driving mutations, introducing a potential paradigm for solid tumor prevention and treatment.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
p63 is a transcriptional regulator of ectodermal development that is required for basal cell proliferation and stem cell maintenance. p73 is a closely related p53 family member that is expressed in select p63-positive basal cells and can heterodimerize with p63. p73-/- mice lack multiciliated cells and have reduced numbers of basal epithelial cells in select tissues; however, the role of p73 in basal epithelial cells is unknown. Herein, we show that p73-deficient mice exhibit delayed wound healing despite morphologically normal-appearing skin. The delay in wound healing is accompanied by decreased proliferation and increased levels of biomarkers of the DNA damage response in basal keratinocytes at the epidermal wound edge. In wild-type mice, this same cell population exhibited increased p73 expression after wounding. Analyzing single-cell transcriptomic data, we found that p73 was expressed by epidermal and hair follicle stem cells, cell types required for wound healing. Moreover, we discovered that p73 isoforms expressed in the skin (ΔNp73) enhance p63-mediated expression of keratinocyte genes during cellular reprogramming from a mesenchymal to basal keratinocyte-like cell. We identified a set of 44 genes directly or indirectly regulated by ΔNp73 that are involved in skin development, cell junctions, cornification, proliferation, and wound healing. Our results establish a role for p73 in cutaneous wound healing through regulation of basal keratinocyte function.
Transcription factors positively and/or negatively impact gene expression by recruiting coregulatory factors, which interact through protein-protein binding. Here we demonstrate that mouse pancreas size and islet β-cell function are controlled by the ATP-dependent Swi/Snf chromatin remodeling coregulatory complex that physically associates with Pdx1, a diabetes-linked transcription factor essential to pancreatic morphogenesis and adult islet cell function and maintenance. Early embryonic deletion of just the Swi/Snf Brg1 ATPase subunit reduced multipotent pancreatic progenitor cell proliferation and resulted in pancreas hypoplasia. In contrast, removal of both Swi/Snf ATPase subunits, Brg1 and Brm, was necessary to compromise adult islet β-cell activity, which included whole-animal glucose intolerance, hyperglycemia, and impaired insulin secretion. Notably, lineage-tracing analysis revealed Swi/Snf-deficient β-cells lost the ability to produce the mRNAs for and other key metabolic genes without effecting the expression of many essential islet-enriched transcription factors. Swi/Snf was necessary for Pdx1 to bind to the gene enhancer, demonstrating the importance of this association in mediating chromatin accessibility. These results illustrate how fundamental the Pdx1:Swi/Snf coregulator complex is in the pancreas, and we discuss how disrupting their association could influence type 1 and type 2 diabetes susceptibility.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.
Imatinib (Gleevec) reverses type 1 diabetes (T1D) in NOD mice and is currently in clinical trials in individuals with recent-onset disease. While research has demonstrated that imatinib protects islet β cells from the harmful effects of ER stress, the role the immune system plays in its reversal of T1D has been less well understood, and specific cellular immune targets have not been identified. In this study, we demonstrate that B lymphocytes, an immune subset that normally drives diabetes pathology, are unexpectedly required for reversal of hyperglycemia in NOD mice treated with imatinib. In the presence of B lymphocytes, reversal was linked to an increase in serum insulin concentration, but not an increase in islet β cell mass or proliferation. However, improved β cell function was reflected by a partial recovery of MafA transcription factor expression, a sensitive marker of islet β cell stress that is important to adult β cell function. Imatinib treatment was found to increase the antioxidant capacity of B lymphocytes, improving reactive oxygen species (ROS) handling in NOD islets. This study reveals a novel mechanism through which imatinib enables B lymphocytes to orchestrate functional recovery of T1D β cells.
Radiation therapy is often combined with androgen deprivation therapy in the treatment of aggressive localized prostate cancer. However, castration-resistant disease may not respond to testosterone deprivation approaches. Enzalutamide is a second-generation anti-androgen with high affinity and activity that is used for the treatment of metastatic disease. Although radiosensitization mechanisms are known to be mediated through androgen receptor activity, this project aims to uncover the detailed DNA damage repair factors influenced by enzalutamide using multiple models of androgen-sensitive (LNCaP) and castration-resistant human prostate cancer (22Rv1 and DU145). Enzalutamide is able to radiosensitize both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent human prostate cancer models in cell culture and xenografts in mice, as well as a treatment-resistant patient-derived xenograft. The enzalutamide-mediated mechanism of radiosensitization includes delay of DNA repair through temporal prolongation of the repair factor complexes and halting the cell cycle, which results in decreased colony survival. Altogether, these findings support the use of enzalutamide concurrently with radiotherapy to enhance the treatment efficacy for prostate cancer.