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Constitutive WNT activity drives the growth of various human tumors, including nearly all colorectal cancers (CRCs). Despite this prominence in cancer, no WNT inhibitor is currently approved for use in the clinic largely due to the small number of druggable signaling components in the WNT pathway and the substantial toxicity to normal gastrointestinal tissue. We have shown that pyrvinium, which activates casein kinase 1α (CK1α), is a potent inhibitor of WNT signaling. However, its poor bioavailability limited the ability to test this first-in-class WNT inhibitor in vivo. We characterized a novel small-molecule CK1α activator called SSTC3, which has better pharmacokinetic properties than pyrvinium, and found that it inhibited the growth of CRC xenografts in mice. SSTC3 also attenuated the growth of a patient-derived metastatic CRC xenograft, for which few therapies exist. SSTC3 exhibited minimal gastrointestinal toxicity compared to other classes of WNT inhibitors. Consistent with this observation, we showed that the abundance of the SSTC3 target, CK1α, was decreased in WNT-driven tumors relative to normal gastrointestinal tissue, and knocking down CK1α increased cellular sensitivity to SSTC3. Thus, we propose that distinct CK1α abundance provides an enhanced therapeutic index for pharmacological CK1α activators to target WNT-driven tumors.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
Pulmonary vascular disease is characterized by remodeling and loss of microvessels and is typically attributed to pathological responses in vascular endothelium or abnormal smooth muscle cell phenotypes. We have challenged this understanding by defining an adult pulmonary mesenchymal progenitor cell (MPC) that regulates both microvascular function and angiogenesis. The current understanding of adult MPCs and their roles in homeostasis versus disease has been limited by a lack of genetic markers with which to lineage label multipotent mesenchyme and trace the differentiation of these MPCs into vascular lineages. Here, we have shown that lineage-labeled lung MPCs expressing the ATP-binding cassette protein ABCG2 (ABCG2+) are pericyte progenitors that participate in microvascular homeostasis as well as adaptive angiogenesis. Activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, either autonomously or downstream of decreased BMP receptor signaling, enhanced ABCG2+ MPC proliferation but suppressed MPC differentiation into a functional pericyte lineage. Thus, enhanced Wnt/β-catenin signaling in ABCG2+ MPCs drives a phenotype of persistent microvascular dysfunction, abnormal angiogenesis, and subsequent exacerbation of bleomycin-induced fibrosis. ABCG2+ MPCs may, therefore, account in part for the aberrant microvessel function and remodeling that are associated with chronic lung diseases.
OBJECTIVE - Blood vessel epicardial substance (BVES) is a tight junction-associated protein that regulates epithelial-mesenchymal states and is underexpressed in epithelial malignancy. However, the functional impact of BVES loss on tumourigenesis is unknown. Here we define the in vivo role of BVES in colitis-associated cancer (CAC), its cellular function and its relevance to patients with IBD.
DESIGN - We determined promoter methylation status using an Infinium HumanMethylation450 array screen of patients with UC with and without CAC. We also measured mRNA levels in a tissue microarray consisting of normal colons and CAC samples. and wild-type mice (controls) were administered azoxymethane (AOM) and dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) to induce tumour formation. Last, we used a yeast two-hybrid screen to identify BVES interactors and performed mechanistic studies in multiple cell lines to define how BVES reduces c-Myc levels.
RESULTS - mRNA was reduced in tumours from patients with CAC via promoter hypermethylation. Importantly, promoter hypermethylation was concurrently present in distant non-malignant-appearing mucosa. As seen in human patients, was underexpressed in experimental inflammatory carcinogenesis, and mice had increased tumour multiplicity and degree of dysplasia after AOM/DSS administration. Molecular analysis of tumours revealed Wnt activation and increased c-Myc levels. Mechanistically, we identified a new signalling pathway whereby BVES interacts with PR61α, a protein phosphatase 2A regulatory subunit, to mediate c-Myc destruction.
CONCLUSION - Loss of BVES promotes inflammatory tumourigenesis through dysregulation of Wnt signalling and the oncogene c-Myc. promoter methylation status may serve as a CAC biomarker.
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Although intestinal homeostasis is maintained by intestinal stem cells (ISCs), regeneration is impaired upon aging. Here, we first uncover changes in intestinal architecture, cell number, and cell composition upon aging. Second, we identify a decline in the regenerative capacity of ISCs upon aging because of a decline in canonical Wnt signaling in ISCs. Changes in expression of Wnts are found in stem cells themselves and in their niche, including Paneth cells and mesenchyme. Third, reactivating canonical Wnt signaling enhances the function of both murine and human ISCs and, thus, ameliorates aging-associated phenotypes of ISCs in an organoid assay. Our data demonstrate a role for impaired Wnt signaling in physiological aging of ISCs and further identify potential therapeutic avenues to improve ISC regenerative potential upon aging.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The comprehensive understanding of cellular signaling pathways remains a challenge due to multiple layers of regulation that may become evident only when the pathway is probed at different levels or critical nodes are eliminated. To discover regulatory mechanisms in canonical WNT signaling, we conducted a systematic forward genetic analysis through reporter-based screens in haploid human cells. Comparison of screens for negative, attenuating and positive regulators of WNT signaling, mediators of R-spondin-dependent signaling and suppressors of constitutive signaling induced by loss of the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli or casein kinase 1α uncovered new regulatory features at most levels of the pathway. These include a requirement for the transcription factor AP-4, a role for the DAX domain of AXIN2 in controlling β-catenin transcriptional activity, a contribution of glycophosphatidylinositol anchor biosynthesis and glypicans to R-spondin-potentiated WNT signaling, and two different mechanisms that regulate signaling when distinct components of the β-catenin destruction complex are lost. The conceptual and methodological framework we describe should enable the comprehensive understanding of other signaling systems.
Purpose - The scaffold protein Axin2 is an antagonist and universal target of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Disruption of Axin2 may lead to developmental eye defects; however, this has not been examined. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of Axin2 during ocular and extraocular development in mouse.
Methods - Animals heterozygous and homozygous for a Axin2lacZ knock-in allele were analyzed at different developmental stages for reporter expression, morphology as well as for the presence of ocular and extraocular markers using histologic and immunohistochemical techniques.
Results - During early eye development, the Axin2lacZ reporter was expressed in the periocular mesenchyme, RPE, and optic stalk. In the developing retina, Axin2lacZ reporter expression was initiated in ganglion cells at late embryonic stages and robustly expressed in subpopulations of amacrine and horizontal cells postnatally. Activation of the Axin2lacZ reporter overlapped with labeling of POU4F1, PAX6, and Calbindin. Germline deletion of Axin2 led to variable ocular phenotypes ranging from normal to severely defective eyes exhibiting microphthalmia, coloboma, lens defects, and expanded ciliary margin. These defects were correlated with abnormal tissue patterning in individual affected tissues, such as the optic fissure margins in the ventral optic cup and in the expanded ciliary margin.
Conclusions - Our results reveal a critical role for Axin2 during ocular development, likely by restricting the activity of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.
The regulation of β-catenin turnover is the central mechanism governing activation of the Wnt signaling pathway. All components of the pathway are present in the early embryo of Xenopus laevis, and Xenopus egg extracts have been used to recapitulate complex biological reactions such as microtubule dynamics, DNA replication, chromatin assembly, and phases of the cell cycle. Herein, we describe a biochemical method for analyzing β-catenin degradation using radiolabeled and luciferase-fusion proteins in Xenopus egg extracts. We show that in such a biochemical system, cytoplasmic β-catenin degradation is regulated by soluble components of the Wnt pathway as well as small molecules.
The multiple galactosemia disease states manifest long-term neurological symptoms. Galactosemia I results from loss of galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase (GALT), which converts galactose-1-phosphate + UDP-glucose to glucose-1-phosphate + UDP-galactose. Galactosemia II results from loss of galactokinase (GALK), phosphorylating galactose to galactose-1-phosphate. Galactosemia III results from the loss of UDP-galactose 4'-epimerase (GALE), which interconverts UDP-galactose and UDP-glucose, as well as UDP-N-acetylgalactosamine and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGP) alternatively makes UDP-galactose from uridine triphosphate and galactose-1-phosphate. All four UDP-sugars are essential donors for glycoprotein biosynthesis with critical roles at the developing neuromuscular synapse. Drosophila galactosemia I (dGALT) and II (dGALK) disease models genetically interact; manifesting deficits in coordinated movement, neuromuscular junction (NMJ) development, synaptic glycosylation, and Wnt trans-synaptic signalling. Similarly, dGALE and dUGP mutants display striking locomotor and NMJ formation defects, including expanded synaptic arbours, glycosylation losses, and differential changes in Wnt trans-synaptic signalling. In combination with dGALT loss, both dGALE and dUGP mutants compromise the synaptomatrix glycan environment that regulates Wnt trans-synaptic signalling that drives 1) presynaptic Futsch/MAP1b microtubule dynamics and 2) postsynaptic Frizzled nuclear import (FNI). Taken together, these findings indicate UDP-sugar balance is a key modifier of neurological outcomes in all three interacting galactosemia disease models, suggest that Futsch homolog MAP1B and the Wnt Frizzled receptor may be disease-relevant targets in epimerase and transferase galactosemias, and identify UGP as promising new potential therapeutic target for galactosemia neuropathology.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com.
Wnt/β-catenin signalling directs fundamental processes during metazoan development and can be aberrantly activated in cancer. Wnt stimulation induces the recruitment of the scaffold protein Axin from an inhibitory destruction complex to a stimulatory signalosome. Here we analyse the early effects of Wnt on Axin and find that the ADP-ribose polymerase Tankyrase (Tnks)--known to target Axin for proteolysis-regulates Axin's rapid transition following Wnt stimulation. We demonstrate that the pool of ADP-ribosylated Axin, which is degraded under basal conditions, increases immediately following Wnt stimulation in both Drosophila and human cells. ADP-ribosylation of Axin enhances its interaction with the Wnt co-receptor LRP6, an essential step in signalosome assembly. We suggest that in addition to controlling Axin levels, Tnks-dependent ADP-ribosylation promotes the reprogramming of Axin following Wnt stimulation; and propose that Tnks inhibition blocks Wnt signalling not only by increasing destruction complex activity, but also by impeding signalosome assembly.
Wnt/β-catenin signal transduction directs metazoan development and is deregulated in numerous human congenital disorders and cancers. In the absence of Wnt stimulation, a multiprotein "destruction complex," assembled by the scaffold protein Axin, targets the key transcriptional activator β-catenin for proteolysis. Axin is maintained at very low levels that limit destruction complex activity, a property that is currently being exploited in the development of novel therapeutics for Wnt-driven cancers. Here, we use an in vivo approach in Drosophila to determine how tightly basal Axin levels must be controlled for Wnt/Wingless pathway activation, and how Axin stability is regulated. We find that for nearly all Wingless-driven developmental processes, a three- to fourfold increase in Axin is insufficient to inhibit signaling, setting a lower-limit for the threshold level of Axin in the majority of in vivo contexts. Further, we find that both the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and the ADP-ribose polymerase Tankyrase (Tnks) have evolutionarily conserved roles in maintaining basal Axin levels below this in vivo threshold, and we define separable domains in Axin that are important for APC- or Tnks-dependent destabilization. Together, these findings reveal that both APC and Tnks maintain basal Axin levels below a critical in vivo threshold to promote robust pathway activation following Wnt stimulation.
Copyright © 2016 by the Genetics Society of America.