Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • Publication
    Proteasomal down-regulation of the proapoptotic MST2 pathway contributes to BRAF inhibitor resistance in melanoma
    The RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK pathway is hyperactivated in most malignant melanomas, and mutations in BRAF or NRAS account for most of these cases. BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) are highly efficient for treating patients with BRAFV600E mutations, but tumours frequently acquire resistance within a few months. Multiple resistance mechanisms have been identified, due to mutations or network adaptations that revive ERK signalling. We have previously shown that RAF proteins inhibit the MST2 proapoptotic pathway in a kinase-independent fashion. Here, we have investigated the role of the MST2 pathway in mediating resistance to BRAFi. We show that the BRAFV600E mutant protein, but not the wild-type BRAF protein, binds to MST2 inhibiting its proapoptotic signalling. Down-regulation of MST2 reduces BRAFi-induced apoptosis. In BRAFi-resistant cell lines, MST2 pathway proteins are down-regulated by ubiquitination and subsequent proteasomal degradation rendering cells refractory to MST2 pathway–induced apoptosis. Restoration of apoptosis can be achieved by increasing MST2 pathway protein expression using proteasome inhibitors. In summary, we show that the MST2 pathway plays a role in the acquisition of BRAFi resistance in melanoma.
      36Scopus© Citations 2
  • Publication
    Wnt signalling is a bi-directional vulnerability of cancer cells
    Wnt signalling is involved in the formation, metastasis and relapse of a wide array of cancers. However, there is ongoing debate as to whether activation or inhibition of the pathway holds the most promise as a therapeutic treatment for cancer, with conflicting evidence from a variety of tumour types. We show that Wnt/β-catenin signalling is a bi-directional vulnerability of neuroblastoma, malignant melanoma and colorectal cancer, with hyper-activation or repression of the pathway both representing a promising therapeutic strategy, even within the same cancer type. Hyper-activation directs cancer cells to undergo apoptosis, even in cells oncogenically driven by β-catenin. Wnt inhibition blocks proliferation of cancer cells and promotes neuroblastoma differentiation. Wnt and retinoic acid co-treatments synergise, representing a promising combination treatment for MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. Additionally, we report novel cross-talks between MYCN and β-catenin signalling, which repress normal β-catenin mediated transcriptional regulation. A β-catenin target gene signature could predict patient outcome, as could the expression level of its DNA binding partners, the TCF/LEFs. This β-catenin signature provides a tool to identify neuroblastoma patients likely to benefit from Wnt-directed therapy. Taken together, we show that Wnt/β-catenin signalling is a bi-directional vulnerability of a number of cancer entities, and potentially a more broadly conserved feature of malignant cells.
      451Scopus© Citations 27
  • Publication
    A heat shock protein and Wnt signaling crosstalk during axial patterning and stem cell proliferation
    Both Wnt signaling and heat shock proteins play important roles in development and disease. As such, they have been widely, though separately, studied. Here we show a link between a heat shock protein and Wnt signaling in a member of the basal phylum, Cnidaria. A heat shock at late gastrulation in the clonal marine hydrozoan, Hydractinia, interferes with axis development, specifically inhibiting head development, while aboral structures remain unaffected. The heat treatment upregulated Hsc71, a constitutive Hsp70 related gene, followed by a transient upregulation, and long-term downregulation, of Wnt signaling components. Downregulating Hsc71 by RNAi in heat-shocked animals rescued these defects, resulting in normal head development. Transgenic animals, ectopically expressing Hsc71, had similar developmental abnormalities as heat-shocked animals in terms of both morphology and Wnt3 expression. We also found that Hsc71 is upregulated in response to ectopic Wnt activation, but only in the context of stem cell proliferation and not in head development. Hsc71's normal expression is consistent with a conserved role in mitosis and apoptosis inhibition. Our results demonstrate a hitherto unknown crosstalk between heat shock proteins and Wnt/β-catenin signaling. This link likely has important implications in understanding normal development, congenital defects and cancer biology.
      383Scopus© Citations 22
  • Publication
    Advances in dynamic modeling of colorectal cancer signaling-network regions, a path toward targeted therapies
    The interconnected network of pathways downstream of the TGFβ, WNT and EGF-families of receptor ligands play an important role in colorectal cancer pathogenesis. We studied and implemented dynamic simulations of multiple downstream pathways and described the section of the signaling network considered as a Molecular Interaction Map (MIM). Our simulations used Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs), which involved 447 reactants and their interactions. Starting from an initial "physiologic condition", the model can be adapted to simulate individual pathologic cancer conditions implementing alterations/mutations in relevant onco-proteins. We verified some salient model predictions using the mutated colorectal cancer lines HCT116 and HT29. We measured the amount of MYC and CCND1 mRNAs and AKT and ERK phosphorylated proteins, in response to individual or combination onco-protein inhibitor treatments. Experimental and simulation results were well correlated. Recent independently published results were also predicted by our model. Even in the presence of an approximate and incomplete signaling network information, a predictive dynamic modeling seems already possible. An important long term road seems to be open and can be pursued further, by incremental steps, toward even larger and better parameterized MIMs. Personalized treatment strategies with rational associations of signaling-proteins inhibitors, could become a realistic goal.
      323Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    A brain-derived neurotrophic factor mimetic is sufficient to restore cone photoreceptor visual function in an inherited blindness model
    Controversially, histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) are in clinical trial for the treatment of inherited retinal degeneration. Utilizing the zebrafish dyeucd6 model, we determined if treatment with HDACi can rescue cone photoreceptor-mediated visual function. dye exhibit defective visual behaviour and retinal morphology including ciliary marginal zone (CMZ) cell death and decreased photoreceptor outer segment (OS) length, as well as gross morphological defects including hypopigmentation and pericardial oedema. HDACi treatment of dye results in significantly improved optokinetic (OKR) (~43 fold, p < 0.001) and visualmotor (VMR) (~3 fold, p < 0.05) responses. HDACi treatment rescued gross morphological defects and reduced CMZ cell death by 80%. Proteomic analysis of dye eye extracts suggested BDNF-TrkB and Akt signaling as mediators of HDACi rescue inour dataset. Cotreatment with the TrkB antagonist ANA-12 blocked HDACi rescue of visual function and associated Akt phosphorylation. Notably, sole treatment with a BDNF mimetic, 7,8-dihydroxyflavone hydrate, significantly rescued dye visual function (~58 fold increase in OKR, p < 0.001, ~3 fold increase in VMR, p < 0.05). In summary, HDACi and a BDNF mimetic are sufficient to rescue retinal cell death and visual function in a vertebrate model of inherited blindness.
      653Scopus© Citations 30
  • Publication
    GSK3 inhibitors regulate MYCN mRNA levels and reduce neuroblastoma cell viability through multiple mechanisms including p53 and Wnt signalling
    Neuroblastoma is an embryonal tumor accounting for approximately 15% of childhood cancer deaths. There exists a clinical need to identify novel therapeutic targets, particularly for treatment-resistant forms of neuroblastoma. Therefore, we investigated the role of the neuronal master regulator GSK3 in controlling neuroblastoma cell fate. We identified novel GSK3-mediated regulation of MYC (c-MYC and MYCN) mRNA levels, which may have implications for numerous MYC-driven cancers. In addition, we showed that certain GSK3 inhibitors induced large-scale cell death in neuroblastoma cells, primarily through activating apoptosis. mRNA-seq of GSK3 inhibitor–treated cells was performed and subsequent pathway analysis revealed that multiple signaling pathways contributed to the loss of neuroblastoma cell viability. The contribution of two of the signaling pathways highlighted by the mRNA-seq analysis was functionally validated. Inhibition of the p53 tumor suppressor partly rescued the cell death phenotype, whereas activation of canonical Wnt signaling contributed to the loss of viability, in a p53-independent manner. Two GSK3 inhibitors (BIO-acetoxime and LiCl) and one small-molecule Wnt agonist (Wnt Agonist 1) demonstrated therapeutic potential for neuroblastoma treatment. These inhibitors reduced the viability of numerous neuroblastoma cell lines, even those derived from high-risk MYCN-amplified metastatic tumors, for which effective therapeutics are currently lacking. Furthermore, although LiCl was lethal to neuroblastoma cells, it did not reduce the viability of differentiated neurons. Taken together our data suggest that these small molecules may hold potential as effective therapeutic agents for the treatment of neuroblastoma and other MYC-driven cancers.
      1945Scopus© Citations 69
  • Publication
      361Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    Problems, challenges and promises: perspectives on precision medicine
    (Oxford University Press, 2015-08)
    The 'precision medicine (systems medicine)' concept promises to achieve a shift to future healthcare systems with a more proactive and predictive approach to medicine, where the emphasis is on disease prevention rather than the treatment of symptoms. The individualization of treatment for each patient will be at the centre of this approach, with all of a patient’s medical data being computationally integrated and accessible. Precision medicine is being rapidly embraced by biomedical researchers, pioneering clinicians and scientific funding programmes in both the European Union (EU) and USA. Precision medicine is a key component of both Horizon 2020 (the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation) and the White House’s Precision Medicine Initiative. Precision medicine promises to revolutionize patient care and treatment decisions. However, the participants in precision medicine are faced with a considerable central challenge. Greater volumes of data from a wider variety of sources are being generated and analysed than ever before; yet, this heterogeneous information must be integrated and incorporated into personalized predictive models, the output of which must be intelligible to non-computationally trained clinicians. Drawing primarily from the field of ‘oncology’, this article will introduce key concepts and challenges of precision medicine and some of the approaches currently being implemented to overcome these challenges. Finally, this article also covers the criticisms of precision medicine overpromising on its potential to transform patient care.
      629Scopus© Citations 95
  • Publication
    Integrative omics reveals MYCN as a global suppressor of cellular signalling and enables network-based therapeutic target discovery in neuroblastoma
    Despite intensive study, many mysteries remain about the MYCN oncogene's functions. Here we focus on MYCN's role in neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial childhood cancer. MYCN gene amplification occurs in 20% of cases, but other recurrent somatic mutations are rare. This scarcity of tractable targets has hampered efforts to develop new therapeutic options. We employed a multi-level omics approach to examine MYCN functioning and identify novel therapeutic targets for this largely un-druggable oncogene. We used systems medicine based computational network reconstruction and analysis to integrate a range of omic techniques: sequencing-based transcriptomics, genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation, siRNA screening and interaction proteomics, revealing that MYCN controls highly connected networks, with MYCN primarily supressing the activity of network components. MYCN's oncogenic functions are likely independent of its classical heterodimerisation partner, MAX. In particular, MYCN controls its own protein interaction network by transcriptionally regulating its binding partners.Our network-based approach identified vulnerable therapeutically targetable nodes that function as critical regulators or effectors of MYCN in neuroblastoma. These were validated by siRNA knockdown screens, functional studies and patient data. We identified β-estradiol and MAPK/ERK as having functional cross-talk with MYCN and being novel targetable vulnerabilities of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. These results reveal surprising differences between the functioning of endogenous, overexpressed and amplified MYCN, and rationalise how different MYCN dosages can orchestrate cell fate decisions and cancerous outcomes. Importantly, this work describes a systems-level approach to systematically uncovering network based vulnerabilities and therapeutic targets for multifactorial diseases by integrating disparate omic data types.
      394Scopus© Citations 29