Now showing items 21-40 of 2971

    • Rationally designed inhibitors of the Musashi protein-RNA interaction by hotspot mimicry

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2023-01-10)
      RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are key post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression, and thus underlie many important biological processes. Here, we developed a strategy that entails extracting a “hotspot pharmacophore” from the structure of a protein-RNA complex, to create a template for designing small-molecule inhibitors and for exploring the selectivity of the resulting inhibitors. We demonstrate this approach by designing inhibitors of Musashi proteins MSI1 and MSI2, key regulators of mRNA stability and translation that are upregulated in many cancers. We report this novel series of MSI1/MSI2 inhibitors is specific and active in biochemical, biophysical, and cellular assays. This study extends the paradigm of “hotspots” from protein-protein complexes to protein-RNA complexes, supports the “druggability” of RNA-binding protein surfaces, and represents one of the first rationally-designed inhibitors of non-enzymatic RNA-binding proteins. Owing to its simplicity and generality, we anticipate that this approach may also be used to develop inhibitors of many other RNA-binding proteins; we also consider the prospects of identifying potential off-target interactions by searching for other RBPs that recognize their cognate RNAs using similar interaction geometries. Beyond inhibitors, we also expect that compounds designed using this approach can serve as warheads for new PROTACs that selectively degrade RNA-binding proteins.
    • Intrapancreatic fat, pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2023-07-15)
      Pancreatic cancer is typically detected at an advanced stage, and is refractory to most forms of treatment, contributing to poor survival outcomes. The incidence of pancreatic cancer is gradually increasing, linked to an aging population and increasing rates of obesity and pancreatitis, which are risk factors for this cancer. Sources of risk include adipokine signaling from fat cells throughout the body, elevated levels of intrapancreatic intrapancreatic adipocytes (IPAs), inflammatory signals arising from pancreas-infiltrating immune cells and a fibrotic environment induced by recurring cycles of pancreatic obstruction and acinar cell lysis. Once cancers become established, reorganization of pancreatic tissue typically excludes IPAs from the tumor microenvironment, which instead consists of cancer cells embedded in a specialized microenvironment derived from cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). While cancer cell interactions with CAFs and immune cells have been the topic of much investigation, mechanistic studies of the source and function of IPAs in the pre-cancerous niche are much less developed. Intriguingly, an extensive review of studies addressing the accumulation and activity of IPAs in the pancreas reveals that unexpectedly diverse group of factors cause replacement of acinar tissue with IPAs, particularly in the mouse models that are essential tools for research into pancreatic cancer. Genes implicated in regulation of IPA accumulation include KRAS, MYC, TGF-β, periostin, HNF1, and regulators of ductal ciliation and ER stress, among others. These findings emphasize the importance of studying pancreas-damaging factors in the pre-cancerous environment, and have significant implications for the interpretation of data from mouse models for pancreatic cancer.
    • Candidate variants in DNA replication and repair genes in early-onset renal cell carcinoma patients referred for germline testing

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2023-04-23)
      Background: Early-onset renal cell carcinoma (eoRCC) is typically associated with pathogenic germline variants (PGVs) in RCC familial syndrome genes. However, most eoRCC patients lack PGVs in familial RCC genes and their genetic risk remains undefined. Methods: Here, we analyzed biospecimens from 22 eoRCC patients that were seen at our institution for genetic counseling and tested negative for PGVs in RCC familial syndrome genes. Results: Analysis of whole-exome sequencing (WES) data found enrichment of candidate pathogenic germline variants in DNA repair and replication genes, including multiple DNA polymerases. Induction of DNA damage in peripheral blood monocytes (PBMCs) significantly elevated numbers of H2AX foci, a marker of double-stranded breaks, in PBMCs from eoRCC patients versus PBMCs from matched cancer-free controls. Knockdown of candidate variant genes in Caki RCC cells increased H2AX foci. Immortalized patient-derived B cell lines bearing the candidate variants in DNA polymerase genes (POLD1, POLH, POLE, POLK) had DNA replication defects compared to control cells. Renal tumors carrying these DNA polymerase variants were microsatellite stable but had a high mutational burden. Direct biochemical analysis of the variant Pol δ and Pol η polymerases revealed defective enzymatic activities. Conclusions: Together, these results suggest that constitutional defects in DNA repair underlie a subset of eoRCC cases. Screening patient lymphocytes to identify these defects may provide insight into mechanisms of carcinogenesis in a subset of genetically undefined eoRCCs. Evaluation of DNA repair defects may also provide insight into the cancer initiation mechanisms for subsets of eoRCCs and lay the foundation for targeting DNA repair vulnerabilities in eoRCC.
    • Approaches to Detecting False Positives in Yeast Two-Hybrid Systems

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2000-02)
      While many novel associations predicted by two-hybrid library screens reflect actual biological associations of two proteins in vivo, at times the functional co-relevance of two proteins scored as interacting in the two-hybrid system is unlikely. The reason for this positive score remains obscure, which leads to designating such clones as false positives. After investigating the effect of overexpressing a series of putative false positives in yeast, we determined that expression of some of these clones induces an array of biological effects in yeast, including altered growth rate and cell permeability, that bias perceived activity of LacZ reporters. Based on these observations, we identify four simple strategies that can assist in determining whether a protein is likely to have been selected in a two-hybrid screen because of indirect metabolic effects.
    • The Yeast Two-hybrid System: Criteria for Detecting Physiologically Significant Protein-Protein Interactions

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (1999)
      In vivo transcription-based assays for protein-protein interactions such as the two-hybrid system are powerful methods for identifying novel proteins based on their physical association with known proteins of biological interest, or for characterizing the degree and nature of interactions between sets of proteins. Because of the complexity inherent in assays taking place within a living organism, a key issue for the effective use of two-hybrid approaches is the ability to determine whether apparent interactions are likely to be physiologically relevant. In this article, a number of the different two-hybrid systems currently available for use will be reviewed. Then, taking as a model one such system, the Interaction Trap, examples of different reagents for use in varying the affinity range of detectable interactions will be outlined. Also set forth are a number of protocols to establish an appropriate set of conditions for either screening a library or analysing the interaction phenotype between protein sets. Finally, a number of general guidelines are suggested for trouble-shooting two-hybrid results, and for eliminating falsely positive interactions.
    • Streamlined Yeast Colorimetric Reporter Activity Assays Using Scanners and Plate Readers

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2000-08)
      Two-hybrid systems have become favored tools for detection and analysis of protein interactions because of their low cost and ease of use compared to biochemical or biophysical interaction technologies. It is possible to augment the utility of two-hybrid systems and derivative systems such as dual-bait two-hybrid systems by adapting strategies that speed the analysis of the relative strength of a series of protein-protein associations. This report describes two simple techniques that employ either a flatbed scanner or a plate reader to quantitate the activity of colorimetric reporters such as LacZ or GusA commonly used in two-hybrid approaches.
    • Vectors to Target Protein Domains to Different Cellular Compartments

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (1998-04)
      The pcDNA3 mammalian expression vector uses the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter to express proteins cloned into an adjacent polylinker. We have modified this vector to create three different targeting constructs: Go to Plasma Membrane (pGTM), Go to Nucleus (pGTN) and Go to Nucleus, Activate Transcription (pGTNAT). pGTM expresses a protein as a fusion to a myristic acid attachment signal, which targets proteins to the cell membranes. pGTN expresses an inserted protein as a fusion to a nuclear localization sequence (NLS), targeting it to the nucleus. pGTNAT incorporates an NLS (directing proteins to the nuclear compartment), an acid blob (a transcriptional activation domain) and a hemagglutinin epitope tag, creating a 107-amino acid fusion domain. We then cloned green fluorescent protein (GFP) into the three novel vectors and pcDNA3, and we transfected HeLa cells to test the new targeting constructs. Immunofluorescence analysis showed that the GFP protein localizes to the nucleus when over-expressed in pGTN and pGTNAT, localizes to the plasma membrane and perinuclear membrane when in pGTM and is ubiquitous through the cell in pcDNA3. We anticipate that these new vectors will prove very useful in future expression studies to examine the function of particular proteins when they are localized to specific cellular compartments.
    • From Correlation to Causality: Microarrays, Cancer, and Cancer Treatment

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2003-03)
      The clinical treatment of cancer is in the process of a great leap forward, with the use of microarray-based technologies holding the promise to derive previously unobtainable insights into many aspects of disease pathogenesis. In surveying the past five years of progress, it is apparent that use of microarrays to query tumor samples and matching model systems can provide useful information concerning tumor classification, prognosis, and response to drug treatment. Further uses of microarrays in cancer biology have been proposed, with particular interest in prospects of this technology to elucidate cancer etiology and identify critical signal transduction pathways relevant to cancer drug development. In this review, we summarize the status of these fields and use insights gleaned from the extensive use of microarrays in studies of gene function versus gene expression profiles in model organisms such as yeast to identify critical issues for ongoing application development.
    • A gene expression system offering multiple levels of regulation: the Dual Drug Control (DDC) system

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2004-04-29)
      Background: Whether for cell culture studies of protein function, construction of mouse models to enable in vivo analysis of disease epidemiology, or ultimately gene therapy of human diseases, a critical enabling step is the ability to achieve finely controlled regulation of gene expression. Previous efforts to achieve this goal have explored inducible drug regulation of gene expression, and construction of synthetic promoters based on two-hybrid paradigms, among others. Results: In this report, we describe the combination of dimerizer-regulated two-hybrid and tetracycline regulatory elements in an ordered cascade, placing expression of endpoint reporters under the control of two distinct drugs. In this Dual Drug Control (DDC) system, a first plasmid expresses fusion proteins to DBD and AD, which interact only in the presence of a small molecule dimerizer; a second plasmid encodes a cassette transcriptionally responsive to the first DBD, directing expression of the Tet-OFF protein; and a third plasmid encodes a reporter gene transcriptionally responsive to binding by Tet-OFF. We evaluate the dynamic range and specificity of this system in comparison to other available systems. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of combining two discrete drug-regulated expression systems in a temporally sequential cascade, without loss of dynamic range of signal induction. The efficient layering of control levels allowed by this combination of elements provides the potential for the generation of complex control circuitry that may advance ability to regulate gene expression in vivo.
    • Protein Interaction-Targeted Drug Discovery: Evaluating Critical Issues

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2002-03)
      The goal of drug discovery is to develop novel small-molecule compounds that ameliorate, cure, and (optimal-ly) prevent clinically significant diseases. It has been much asserted that the resources of genome and proteome projects will contribute significantly towards this goal. The volume of information generated through these projects is by any objective standard impressive and overwhelming, providing a great impetus to the development of a bioinformatics community that will be able to make sense of the data onslaught (issues discussed in References 12 and 13). From an intellectual perspective, this work has the potential to add a new level of rigorous mathematical modeling to the common conceptions of cell, tissue, and organism over the next decade or so. However, from a pragmatic perspective focused on drug discovery over the window of the next three to five years, an essential topic of debate is how best to garner information from “-omics” resources as they become available and how to exploit this information to generate useful compounds. In this context, one idea has been to develop novel drugs that have improved specificity of action, and reduced undesirable side effects, by targeting specific proteins or protein-protein interactions (PPIs). The purpose of this review is to discuss what such a strategy entails, how screening for such targeted agents might be practically accomplished, and to raise issues concerning the validation of results.
    • Redefinition of the Yeast Two-Hybrid System in Dialogue with Changing Priorities in Biological Research

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2001-03)
      Examination of the pattern of reagent creation and application in the two-hybrid system since 1989 reveals the expansion of a simple core technology to address increasingly sophisticated problems in protein interaction. As the technology has matured, its clear suitability for large-scale proteomic projects has made a major focus of its application the generation of global organismal protein interaction networks. In an inversion of emphasis, the increasing availability of such information now provides a master plan with the potential to specify the most promising directions for biological investigations (i.e., by directing the physiological validation of predicted critical protein-protein interactions). Recent derivatives of the two-hybrid system enable the targeting of such key interactions by facilitating the identification of essential amino acids conferring protein interaction specificity and of small molecules that selectively disrupt defined interaction pairs. Finally, the creation of mammalian expression systems based on two-hybrid principles became a new tool to create and probe novel biological systems. Taken in sum, this trajectory emphasizes the point that the creation of tools and the evolution of the idea of what is an interesting biological problem are in intimate dialogue.
    • Resolving the network of cell signaling pathways using the evolving yeast two-hybrid system

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2018-05-16)
      In 1983, while investigators had identified a few human proteins as important regulators of specific biological outcomes, how these proteins acted in the cell was essentially unknown in almost all cases. Twenty-five years later, our knowledge of the mechanistic basis of protein action has been transformed by our increasingly detailed understanding of protein-protein interactions, which have allowed us to define cellular machines. The advent of the yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) system in 1989 marked a milestone in the field of proteomics. Exploiting the modular nature of transcription factors, the Y2H system allows facile measurement of the activation of reporter genes based on interactions between two chimeric or “hybrid” proteins of interest. After a decade of service as a leading platform for individual investigators to use in exploring the interaction properties of interesting target proteins, the Y2H system has increasingly been applied in high-throughput applications intended to map genome-scale protein-protein interactions for model organisms and humans. Although some significant technical limitations apply, Y2H has made a great contribution to our general understanding of the topology of cellular signaling networks.
    • Dcas Supports Cell Polarization and Cell-Cell Adhesion Complexes in Development

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2010-08-24)
      Mammalian Cas proteins regulate cell migration, division and survival, and are often deregulated in cancer. However, the presence of four paralogous Cas family members in mammals (BCAR1/p130Cas, EFS/Sin1, NEDD9/HEF1/Cas-L, and CASS4/HEPL) has limited their analysis in development. We deleted the single Drosophila Cas gene, Dcas, to probe the developmental function of Dcas. Loss of Dcas had limited effect on embryonal development. However, we found that Dcas is an important modulator of the severity of the developmental phenotypes of mutations affecting integrins (If and mew) and their downstream effectors Fak56D or Src42A. Strikingly, embryonic lethal Fak56D-Dcas double mutant embryos had extensive cell polarity defects, including mislocalization and reduced expression of E-cadherin. Further genetic analysis established that loss of Dcas modified the embryonal lethal phenotypes of embryos with mutations in E-cadherin (Shg) or its signaling partners p120- and β-catenin (Arm). These results support an important role for Cas proteins in cell-cell adhesion signaling in development.
    • Aurora A kinase activity influences calcium signaling in kidney cells

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2011-06-13)
      Most studies of Aurora A (AurA) describe it as a mitotic centrosomal kinase. However, we and others have recently identified AurA functions as diverse as control of ciliary resorption, cell differentiation, and cell polarity control in interphase cells. In these activities, AurA is transiently activated by noncanonical signals, including Ca2+-dependent calmodulin binding. These and other observations suggested that AurA might be involved in pathological conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD). In this paper, we show that AurA is abundant in normal kidney tissue but is also abnormally expressed and activated in cells lining PKD-associated renal cysts. PKD arises from mutations in the PKD1 or PKD2 genes, encoding polycystins 1 and 2 (PC1 and PC2). AurA binds, phosphorylates, and reduces the activity of PC2, a Ca2+-permeable nonselective cation channel and, thus, limits the amplitude of Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum. These and other findings suggest AurA may be a relevant new biomarker or target in the therapy of PKD.
    • Rapid calcium-dependent activation of Aurora-A kinase

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2010-09-07)
      Oncogenic hyperactivation of the mitotic kinase Aurora-A (AurA) in cancer is associated with genomic instability. Increasing evidence indicates that AurA also regulates critical processes in normal interphase cells, but the source of such activity has been obscure. We report here that multiple stimuli causing release of Ca2+ from intracellular endoplasmic reticulum stores rapidly and transiently activate AurA, without requirement for second messengers. This activation is mediated by direct Ca2+-dependent calmodulin (CaM) binding to multiple motifs on AurA. On the basis of structure–function analysis and molecular modelling, we map two primary regions of CaM-AurA interaction to unfolded sequences in the AurA N- and C-termini. This unexpected mechanism for AurA activation provides a new context for evaluating the function of AurA and its inhibitors in normal and cancerous cells.
    • The WW-HECT protein Smurf2 interacts with the Docking Protein NEDD9/HEF1 for Aurora A activation

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2010-09-08)
      The multi-functional adaptor protein NEDD9/HEF1/Cas-L regulates cell motility, invasion and cell cycle progression, and plays key roles in cancer progression and metastasis. NEDD9 is localized to the centrosome and is required for activation of Aurora A kinase in mitosis. Here we demonstrate that the HECT-WW protein Smurf2 physically associates with NEDD9 and is required for the stability of NEDD9 protein. Smurf2 depletion results in a marked decrease in NEDD9 protein levels, by facilitating polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of NEDD9. Conversely, forced overexpression of Smurf2 results in upregulation of endogenous NEDD9 protein, confirming the role for Smurf2 in NEDD9 stability. Cells with Smurf2 depletion fail to activate Aurora A at the G2/M boundary, leading to a marked delay in mitotic entry. These observations suggest that the stable complex of Smurf2 and NEDD9 is required for timely entry into mitosis via Aurora A activation.
    • Calmodulin activation of Aurora-A kinase (AURKA) is required during ciliary disassembly and in mitosis

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2012-05-23)
      The centrosomal Aurora-A kinase (AURKA) regulates mitotic progression, and overexpression and hyperactivation of AURKA commonly promotes genomic instability in many tumors. Although most studies of AURKA focus on its role in mitosis, some recent work identified unexpected nonmitotic activities of AURKA. Among these, a role for basal body–localized AURKA in regulating ciliary disassembly in interphase cells has highlighted a role in regulating cellular responsiveness to growth factors and mechanical cues. The mechanism of AURKA activation involves interactions with multiple partner proteins and is not well understood, particularly in interphase cells. We show here that AURKA activation at the basal body in ciliary disassembly requires interactions with Ca2+ and calmodulin (CaM) and that Ca2+/CaM are important mediators of the ciliary disassembly process. We also show that Ca2+/CaM binding is required for AURKA activation in mitosis and that inhibition of CaM activity reduces interaction between AURKA and its activator, NEDD9. Finally, mutated derivatives of AURKA impaired for CaM binding and/or CaM-dependent activation cause defects in mitotic progression, cytokinesis, and ciliary resorption. These results define Ca2+/CaM as important regulators of AURKA activation in mitotic and nonmitotic signaling.
    • NEDD9 and BCAR1 Negatively Regulate E-Cadherin Membrane Localization, and Promote E-Cadherin Degradation

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2012-07-12)
      The Cas scaffolding proteins (NEDD9/HEF1/CAS-L, BCAR1/p130Cas, EFSSIN, and HEPL/CASS4) regulate cell migration, division and survival, and are often deregulated in cancer. High BCAR1 expression is linked to poor prognosis in breast cancer patients, while upregulation of NEDD9 contributes to the metastatic behavior of melanoma and glioblastoma cells. Our recent work knocking out the single Drosophila Cas protein, Dcas, identified a genetic interaction with E-cadherin. As E-cadherin is often downregulated during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) prior to metastasis, if such an activity was conserved in mammals it might partially explain how Cas proteins promote aggressive tumor behavior. We here establish that Cas proteins negatively regulate E-cadherin expression in human mammary cells. Cas proteins do not affect E-cadherin transcription, but rather, BCAR1 and NEDD9 signal through SRC to promote E-cadherin removal from the cell membrane and lysosomal degradation. We also find mammary tumors arising in MMTV-polyoma virus T-antigen mice have enhanced junctional E-cadherin in a Nedd9−/− background. Cumulatively, these results suggest a new role for Cas proteins in cell-cell adhesion signaling in cancer.
    • The Centrosomal Kinase Plk1 Localizes to the Transition Zone of Primary Cilia and Induces Phosphorylation of Nephrocystin-1

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2012-06-11)
      Polo-like kinase (Plk1) plays a central role in regulating the cell cycle. Plk1-mediated phosphorylation is essential for centrosome maturation, and for numerous mitotic events. Although Plk1 localizes to multiple subcellular sites, a major site of action is the centrosomes, which supports mitotic functions in control of bipolar spindle formation. In G0 or G1 untransformed cells, the centriolar core of the centrosome differentiates into the basal body of the primary cilium. Primary cilia are antenna-like sensory organelles dynamically regulated during the cell cycle. Whether Plk1 has a role in ciliary biology has never been studied. Nephrocystin-1 (NPHP1) is a ciliary protein; loss of NPHP1 in humans causes nephronophthisis (NPH), an autosomal-recessive cystic kidney disease. We here demonstrate that Plk1 colocalizes with nephrocystin-1 to the transition zone of primary cilia in epithelial cells. Plk1 co-immunoprecipitates with NPHP1, suggesting it is part of the nephrocystin protein complex. We identified a candidate Plk1 phosphorylation motif (D/E-X-S/T-φ-X-D/E) in nephrocystin-1, and demonstrated in vitro that Plk1 phosphorylates the nephrocystin N-terminus, which includes the specific PLK1 phosphorylation motif. Further, induced disassembly of primary cilia rapidly evoked Plk1 kinase activity, while small molecule inhibition of Plk1 activity or RNAi-mediated downregulation of Plk1 limited the first and second phase of ciliary disassembly. These data identify Plk1 as a novel transition zone signaling protein, suggest a function of Plk1 in cilia dynamics, and link Plk1 to the pathogenesis of NPH and potentially other cystic kidney diseases.
    • Inhibiting Heat Shock Protein 90 (HSP90) Limits the Formation of Liver Cysts Induced by Conditional Deletion of Pkd1 in Mice

      Fox Chase Cancer Center (Temple University) (2014-12-04)
      Polycystic liver disease (PLD) occurs in 75–90% of patients affected by autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), which affects 1∶400–1,000 adults and arises from inherited mutations in the PKD1 or PKD2 genes. PLD can lead to bile duct obstructions, infected or bleeding cysts, and hepatomegaly, which can diminish quality of life. At present, no effective, approved therapy exists for ADPKD or PLD. We recently showed that inhibition of the molecular chaperone heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) with a small molecule inhibitor, STA-2842, induced the degradation of multiple HSP90-dependent client proteins that contribute to ADPKD pathogenesis and slowed the progression of renal cystogenesis in mice with conditional deletion of Pkd1. Here, we analyzed the effects of STA-2842 on liver size and cystic burden in Pkd-/- mice with established PLD. Using magnetic resonance imaging over time, we demonstrate that ten weeks of STA-2842 treatment significantly reduced both liver mass and cystic index suggesting selective elimination of cystic tissue. Pre-treatment cystic epithelia contain abundant HSP90; the degree of reduction in cysts was accompanied by inhibition of proliferation-associated signaling proteins EGFR and others, and induced cleavage of caspase 8 and PARP1, and correlated with degree of HSP90 inhibition and with inactivation of ERK1/2. Our results suggest that HSP90 inhibition is worth further evaluation as a therapeutic approach for patients with PLD.