Now showing 1 - 10 of 48
  • Publication
    A dynamic model of the MYCN regulated DNA damage response in Neuroblastoma
    Neuroblastoma is the most common the most common cancer in infancy with an extremely heterogeneous phenotype that is mainly driven by the MYCN oncogene. The MYCN transcription factor and its amplification is commonly associated with poor prognosis in patients, although it has also been shown that elevated MYCN levels correlates with apoptosis sensitization in cells. HMGA1 is one of MYCN target genes and is involved in triggering apoptosis through a DNA Damage Response (DDR) by inducing ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) gene expression. But HMGA1 is also involved in preventing apoptosis by directly binding HIPK2 and decreasing its presence in the nucleus, therefore decreasing phosphorylation of p53 at serine 46 which is required for the activation of p53 apoptotic targets. In this article, we propose a model in which MYCN protein regulates the HMGA1-ATM-p53 and HMGA1-HIPK2-p53 subsystems. Because the molecular details concerning the HMGA1-HMGA1 interaction are uncertain several possibilities were explored in simulations. Our model points towards an important role of MYCN-dependent regulation of HMGA1 expression levels and the subsequent HIPK2 nuclear/cytoplasmic re-localization and led to experimentally testable predictions that can discern between alternative model structures.  
  • Publication
    Extensive rewiring of the EGFR network in colorectal cancer cells expressing transforming levels of KRAS G13D
    Protein-protein-interaction networks (PPINs) organize fundamental biological processes, but how oncogenic mutations impact these interactions and their functions at a network-level scale is poorly understood. Here, we analyze how a common oncogenic KRAS mutation (KRASG13D) affects PPIN structure and function of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) network in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells. Mapping >6000 PPIs shows that this network is extensively rewired in cells expressing transforming levels of KRASG13D (mtKRAS). The factors driving PPIN rewiring are multifactorial including changes in protein expression and phosphorylation. Mathematical modelling also suggests that the binding dynamics of low and high affinity KRAS interactors contribute to rewiring. PPIN rewiring substantially alters the composition of protein complexes, signal flow, transcriptional regulation, and cellular phenotype. These changes are validated by targeted and global experimental analysis. Importantly, genetic alterations in the most extensively rewired PPIN nodes occur frequently in CRC and are prognostic of poor patient outcomes.
  • Publication
    It takes two to tango—signalling by dimeric Raf kinases
    (The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013) ; ;
    Raf kinases function downstream of Ras proteins to activate the MEK–ERK pathway which is deregulated in a large number of human cancers. Raf inhibitors are clinically highly effective for the treatment of cancer and melanoma in particular, but have unexpected side effects that include a paradoxical activation of the ERK pathway. These effects seem to be related to the heterodimerization of Raf-1 and B-Raf kinases. Here, we discuss the role of Raf dimerization as part of the physiological activation mechanism of Raf kinases, the mechanism of Raf dimerization induced by drugs, and the implications of dimerization for drug therapies targeting Raf kinases.
      712Scopus© Citations 32
  • Publication
    Formation of Intracellular Concentration Landscapes by Multisite Protein Modification
    Multiple cellular proteins are covalently modified (e.g., phosphorylated/dephosphorylated) at several sites, which leads to diverse signaling activities. Here, we consider a signaling cascade that is activated at the plasma membrane and composed of two-site protein modification cycles, and we focus on the radial profile of the concentration landscapes created by different protein forms in the cytoplasm. We show that under proper conditions, the concentrations of modified proteins generate a series of peaks that propagate into the cell interior. Proteins modified at both sites form activity gradients with long plateaus that abruptly decay at successive locations along the path from the membrane to the nucleus. We demonstrate under what conditions signals generated at the membrane stall in the vicinity of that membrane or propagate into the cell. We derive analytical approximations for the main characteristics of the protein concentration profiles and demonstrate what we believe to be a novel steady-state pattern formation mechanism capable of generating precise spatial guidance for diverse cellular processes.
      196Scopus© Citations 2
  • Publication
    Protein-protein interactions generate hidden feedback and feed-forward loops to trigger bistable switches, oscillations and biphasic dose-responses
    Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) defined as reversible association of two proteins to form a complex, are undoubtedly among the most common interaction motifs featured in cells. Recent large-scale proteomic studies have revealed an enormously complex interactome of the cell, consisting of tens of thousands of PPIs with numerous signalling hubs. PPIs have functional roles in regulating a wide range of cellular processes including signal transduction and post-translational modifications, and de-regulation of PPIs is implicated in many diseases including cancers and neuro-degenerative disorders. Despite the ubiquitous appearance and physiological significance of PPIs, our understanding of the dynamic and functional consequences of these simple motifs remains incomplete, particularly when PPIs occur within large biochemical networks. We employ quantitative, dynamic modelling to computationally analyse salient dynamic features of the PPI motifs and PPI-containing signalling networks varying in topological architecture. Our analyses surprisingly reveal that simple reversible PPI motifs, when being embedded into signalling cascades, could give rise to extremely rich and complex regulatory dynamics in the absence of explicit positive and negative feedback loops. Our work represents a systematic investigation of the dynamic properties of PPIs in signalling networks, and the results shed light on how this simple event may potentiate diverse and intricate behaviours in vivo.
      309Scopus© Citations 18
  • Publication
    Signalling mechanisms regulating phenotypic changes in breast cancer cells
    In MCF-7 breast cancer cells epidermal growth factor (EGF) induces cell proliferation, whereas heregulin (HRG)/neuregulin (NRG) induces irreversible phenotypic changes accompanied by lipid accumulation. Although these changes in breast cancer cells resemble processes that take place in the tissue, there is no understanding of signalling mechanisms regulating it. To identify molecular mechanisms mediating this cell-fate decision process, we applied different perturbations to pathways activated by these growth factors. The results demonstrate that phosphoinositide 3 (PI3) kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex (mTORC)1 activation is necessary for lipid accumulation that can also be induced by insulin, whereas stimulation of the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway is surprisingly dispensable. Interestingly, insulin exposure, as short as 4 h, was sufficient for triggering the lipid accumulation, whereas much longer treatment with HRG was required for achieving similar cellular response. Further, activation patterns of ATP citratelyase (ACLY), an enzyme playing a central role in linking glycolytic and lipogenic pathways, suggest that lipids accumulated within cells are produced de novo rather than absorbed from the environment. In the present study, we demonstrate that PI3K pathway regulates phenotypic changes in breast cancer cells, whereas signal intensity and duration is crucial for cell fate decisions and commitment. Our findings reveal that MCF-7 cell fate decisions are controlled by a network of positive and negative regulators of both signalling and metabolic pathways.
      327Scopus© Citations 9
  • Publication
    The complexities and versatility of the RAS-to-ERK signalling system in normal and cancer cells
    The intricate dynamic control and plasticity of RAS to ERK mitogenic, survival and apoptotic signalling has mystified researches for more than 30 years. Therapeutics targeting the oncogenic aberrations within this pathway often yield unsatisfactory, even undesired results, as in the case of paradoxical ERK activation in response to RAF inhibition. A direct approach of inhibiting single oncogenic proteins misses the dynamic network context governing the network signal processing. In this review, we discuss the signalling behaviour of RAS and RAF proteins in normal and in cancer cells, and the emerging systems-level properties of the RAS-to-ERK signalling network. We argue that to understand the dynamic complexities of this control system, mathematical models including mechanistic detail are required. Looking into the future, these dynamic models will build the foundation upon which more effective, rational approaches to cancer therapy will be developed.
  • Publication
    Bistability in the Rac1, PAK, and RhoA Signaling Network Drives Actin Cytoskeleton Dynamics and Cell Motility Switches
    Dynamic interactions between RhoA and Rac1, members of the Rho small GTPase family, play a vital role in the control of cell migration. Using predictive mathematical modeling, mass spectrometry-based quantitation of network components, and experimental validation in MDA-MB-231 mesenchymal breast cancer cells, we show that a network containing Rac1, RhoA, and PAK family kinases can produce bistable, switch-like responses to a graded PAK inhibition. Using a small chemical inhibitor of PAK, we demonstrate that cellular RhoA and Rac1 activation levels respond in a history-dependent, bistable manner to PAK inhibition. Consequently, we show that downstream signaling, actin dynamics, and cell migration also behave in a bistable fashion, displaying switches and hysteresis in response to PAK inhibition. Our results demonstrate that PAK is a critical component in the Rac1-RhoA inhibitory crosstalk that governs bistable GTPase activity, cell morphology, and cell migration switches.
      314Scopus© Citations 108
  • Publication
    Endocytosis and signalling: A meeting with mathematics
    Although endocytosis has traditionally been understood as a signal attenuation mechanism, an emerging view considers endocytosis as an integral part of signal propagation and processing. On the short time scale, trafficking of endocytic vesicles contributes to signal propagation from the surface to distant targets, with bi-directional communication between signalling and trafficking. Mathematical modelling helps combine the mechanistic, molecular knowledge with rigorous analysis of the complex output dynamics of endocytosis in time and space. Simulations reveal novel roles for endocytosis, including the control of cell polarity, enhancing the spatial signal propagation, and controlling the signal magnitudes, kinetics, and synchronization with stimulus dynamics.
      278Scopus© Citations 27
  • Publication
    Integrating network reconstruction with mechanistic modeling to predict cancer therapies
    (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2016-11-22) ; ; ;
    Signal transduction networks (STNs) are often rewired in cancerous cells. Effective cancer treatment requires identifying and repairing these harmful alterations. We developed a computational framework which can identify these aberrations and predict potential targets for intervention. It reconstructs network models of STNs from noisy and incomplete perturbation response data, and then uses the reconstructed networks to develop mechanistic models of STNs for predicting potential treatments. As a proof of principle, we analysed a perturbation dataset targeting Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) and Insulin like 2 Growth Factor 1 Receptor (IGF1R) pathways in a panel of colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, revealing cell line specific STN rewiring. Specifically, we found that the feedback inhibition of IRS1 by p70S6K is associated with resistance to EGF receptor (EGFR) inhibition, and disrupting this feedback may restore sensitivity to EGFR inhibitors in CRC cells. These findings were experimentally validated in vitro and in zebrafish (Danio rerio) xenografts.
      470Scopus© Citations 43