Sean E Egan

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (55)335.8 Total impact

  • Keli Xu, Darius J Bägli, Sean E Egan
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    ABSTRACT: Human bladder cancers harbor deletions and point mutations in genes coding for Notch receptors and proteins involved in Notch signaling. This leads to elevated MAPK pathway activation, as direct Notch-mediated transcription of MAPK phosphatase DUSP is lost. These bladder tumors, with impaired Notch signaling, also show basal differentiation.
    Cancer cell. 10/2014; 26(4):452-454.
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    ABSTRACT: The tumor suppressors Pten and p53 are frequently lost in breast cancer, yet the consequences of their combined inactivation are poorly understood. Here, we show that mammary-specific deletion of Pten via WAP-Cre, which targets alveolar progenitors, induced tumors with shortened latency compared to those induced by MMTV-Cre, which targets basal/luminal progenitors. Combined Pten-p53 mutations accelerated formation of claudin-low, triple-negative-like breast cancer (TNBC) that exhibited hyper-activated AKT signaling and more mesenchymal features relative to Pten or p53 single-mutant tumors. Twenty-four genes that were significantly and differentially expressed between WAP-Cre:Pten/p53 and MMTV-Cre:Pten/p53 tumors predicted poor survival for claudin-low patients. Kinome screens identified eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF2K) inhibitors as more potent than PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors on both mouse and human Pten/p53-deficient TNBC cells. Sensitivity to eEF2K inhibition correlated with AKT pathway activity. eEF2K monotherapy suppressed growth of Pten/p53-deficient TNBC xenografts in vivo and cooperated with doxorubicin to efficiently kill tumor cells in vitro. Our results identify a prognostic signature for claudin-low patients and provide a rationale for using eEF2K inhibitors for treatment of TNBC with elevated AKT signaling.
    EMBO Molecular Medicine 10/2014; 6(12):1542-1560. · 7.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The multidrug resistance efflux transporter ATP-binding cassette subfamily G member 2 (ABCG2) is not only overexpressed in certain drug resistant cancers but is also highly expressed in the mammary gland during lactation, carrying xenobiotics and nutrients into milk. We sought to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in the upregulation of ABCG2 during lactation. Expression profiling of different mouse Abcg2 mRNA isoforms (E1a, E1b, and E1c) revealed that E1b is predominantly expressed and induced in the lactating mouse mammary gland. Despite this induction, analysis of CpG methylation status and published ChIP-seq datasets reveal that E1b promoter sequences in the virgin gland are already hypomethylated and marked with the open chromatin histone mark H3K4me2. Using a forced-weaning model to shutdown lactation, we found that within 24 h there was a significant reduction in Abcg2 mRNA expression and a loss of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription-5 (STAT5) occupancy at the mouse Abcg2 gene. Luciferase reporter assays further show that some of these STAT5-binding regions that contained interferon gamma-activated sequence (GAS) motifs function as an enhancer after prolactin treatment. We conclude that Abcg2 is already poised for expression in the virgin mammary gland and that STAT5 plays an important role in Abcg2 expression during lactation.
    American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Elevated Notch ligand and receptor expression has been associated with aggressive forms of prostate cancer, suggesting a role for Notch signaling in regulation of prostate tumor initiation and progression. Here, we report a critical role for Lunatic Fringe (Lfng), which encodes an O-fucosylpeptide 3-ß-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase known to modify epidermal growth factor repeats of Notch receptor proteins, in regulation of prostate epithelial differentiation and proliferation, as well as in prostate tumor suppression. Deletion of Lfng in mice caused altered Notch activation in the prostate, associated with elevated accumulation of Notch1, Notch2, and Notch4 intracellular domains, decreased levels of the putative Notch3 intracellular fragment, as well as increased expression of Hes1, Hes5, and Hey2. Loss of Lfng resulted in expansion of the basal layer, increased proliferation of both luminal and basal cells, and ultimately, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia. The Lfng-null prostate showed down-regulation of prostatic tumor suppressor gene NKX3.1 and increased androgen receptor expression. Interestingly, expression of LFNG and NKX3.1 were positively correlated in publically available human prostate cancer data sets. Knockdown of LFNG in DU-145 prostate cancer cells led to expansion of CD44(+)CD24(-) and CD49f(+)CD24(-) stem/progenitor-like cell population associated with enhanced prostatosphere-forming capacity. Taken together, these data revealed a tumor-suppressive role for Lfng in the prostate through differential regulation of Notch signaling.
    Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 02/2014; 16(2):158-67. · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: HER2+ breast cancer (BC) is currently treated with chemotherapy plus anti-HER2 inhibitors. Many patients do not respond or relapse with aggressive metastatic disease. As a result, there is an urgent need for new therapeutics that can target HER2+ BC and potentiate the effect of anti-HER2 inhibitors, in particular those that can target tumor-initiating cells (TICs). Here we show that MMTV-Her2/Neu mammary tumor cells cultured as non-adherent spheres or as adherent monolayer cells select for stabilizing mutations in p53 that "immortalize" the cultures, and that after serial passages, sphere conditions maintain TICs whereas monolayer cells gradually lose these tumorigenic cells. Using tumorsphere formation as surrogate for TICs, we screened p53-mutant Her2/Neu+ tumorsphere versus monolayer cells with a lenti-virus shRNA kinome library. We identified kinases such as MAPK and TGFβR protein family, previously implicated in HER2+ BC, as well as autophagy factor Atg1/Ulk1 and the non-canonical IκB kinase, TBK1, which have not been previously linked to HER2+ BC. Knock-down of TBK1 or pharmacological inhibition of TBK1 and the related protein, IKKε, suppressed growth of both mouse and human HER2+ BC cells. TBK1/IKKε inhibition promoted cellular senescence by suppressing p65-NFκB and inducing p16Ink4a. In addition, TBK1/IKKε inhibition cooperated with lapatinib, a HER2/EGFR1 targeted drug, to accelerate apoptosis and kill HER2+ BC cells both in culture and in xenografts. Our results suggest that patients with HER2+ BC may benefit from anti-TBK1/IKKε plus anti-HER2 combination therapies, and establish conditions that can be used to screen for additional TIC-specific inhibitors of HER2+ BC.
    Cancer Research 01/2014; · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease consisting of multiple molecular subtypes. Genetically engineered mouse models are a useful resource for studying mammary cancers in vivo under genetically controlled and immune competent conditions. Identifying murine models with conserved human tumor features will facilitate etiology determinations, highlight the effects of mutations on pathway activation, and should improve preclinical drug testing. Transcriptomic profiles of 27 murine models of mammary carcinoma and normal mammary tissue were determined using gene expression microarrays. Hierarchical clustering analysis identified 17 distinct murine subtypes. Cross-species analyses using three independent human breast cancer datasets identified eight murine classes that resemble specific human breast cancer subtypes. Multiple models were associated with human basal-like tumors including TgC3(1)-Tag, TgWap-Myc and Trp53-/-. Interestingly, the TgWAPCre-Etv6 model mimicked the HER2-enriched subtype, a group of human tumors without a murine counterpart in previous comparative studies. Gene signature analysis identified hundreds of commonly expressed pathway signatures between linked mouse and human subtypes, highlighting potentially common genetic drivers of tumorigenesis. This study of murine models of breast carcinoma encompasses the largest comprehensive genomic dataset to date to identify human-to-mouse disease subtype counterparts. Our approach illustrates the value of comparisons between species to identify murine models that faithfully mimic the human condition and indicates that multiple genetically engineered mouse models are needed to represent the diversity of human breast cancers. The reported trans-species associations should guide model selection during preclinical study design to ensure appropriate representatives of human disease subtypes are used.
    Genome biology 11/2013; 14(11):R125. · 10.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents an aggressive subtype, for which radiation and chemotherapy are the only options. Here we describe the identification of disulfiram, an FDA-approved drug used to treat alcoholism, as well as the related compound thiram, as the most potent growth inhibitors following high-throughput screens of 3185 compounds against multiple TNBC cell lines. The average IC 50 for disulfiram was ~300 nM. Drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS) analysis identified IQ motif-containing factors IQGAP1 and MYH9 as direct binding targets of disulfiram. Indeed, knockdown of these factors reduced, though did not completely abolish, cell growth. Combination treatment with 4 different drugs commonly used to treat TNBC revealed that disulfiram synergizes most effectively with doxorubicin to inhibit cell growth of TNBC cells. Disulfiram and doxorubicin cooperated to induce cell death as well as cellular senescence, and targeted the ESA (+) /CD24 (-/low) /CD44 (+) cancer stem cell population. Our results suggest that disulfiram may be repurposed to treat TNBC in combination with doxorubicin.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 08/2013; 12(18). · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The high intra- and inter-tumor heterogeneity of many types of cancers, including breast cancer (BC), poses great challenge to development of subtype-specific prognosis. In BC, the classification of tumors as either ERα+ (Luminal A and Luminal B), HER2+ (ERα+ or ERα-) or triple-negative (TNBC)(Basal-like, claudin-low) guides both prognostication and therapy. Indeed, prognostic signatures for ERα+ BC are being incorporated into clinical use. However, these signatures distinguish between luminal A (low risk) and Luminal B (high risk) BC; signatures that identify low/high risk patients with luminal B BC are yet to be developed. Likewise, no signature is in clinical use for HER2+ or TNBC. The major obstacles to development of robust signatures stem from diversity of BC, clonal evolution and heterogeneity within each subtype. We have recently generated a prognostic signature for HER2+:ERα- BC based on the identification of genes that were differentially expressed in a tumor-initiating cell (TIC)-enriched fraction versus non-TIC fraction from a mouse model of HER2+ BC (MMTV-Hers/Neu). Here we describe the rationale behind development of this prognosticator, and present new features of the signature, including elevated PI3K pathway activity and low TNFalpha and IFNgamma signaling in high-risk tumors. In addition, we address controversies in the field such as whether random gene expression signatures significantly associate with cancer outcome. Finally, we suggest a guideline for development of prognostic signatures and discuss future directions.
    Oncotarget 07/2013; · 6.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is well-known that Notch signaling plays a critical role in brain development and growing evidence implicates this signaling pathway in adult synaptic plasticity and memory formation. The Notch1 receptor is activated by two subclasses of ligands, Delta-like (including Dll1 and Dll4) and Jagged (including Jag1 and Jag2). Ligand-induced Notch1 receptor signaling is modulated by a family of Fringe proteins, including Lunatic fringe (Lfng). Although Dll1, Jag1 and Lfng are critical regulators of Notch signaling, their relative contribution to memory formation in the adult brain is unknown. To investigate the roles of these important components of Notch signaling in memory formation, we examined spatial and fear memory formation in adult mice with reduced expression of Dll1, Jag1, Lfng and Dll1 plus Lfng. We also examined motor activity, anxiety-like behavior and sensorimotor gating using the acoustic startle response in these mice. Of the lines of mutant mice tested, we found that only mice with reduced Jag1 expression (mice heterozygous for a null mutation in Jag1, Jag1(+/-)) showed a selective impairment in spatial memory formation. Importantly, all other behavior including open field activity, conditioned fear memory (both context and discrete cue), acoustic startle response and prepulse inhibition, was normal in this line of mice. These results provide the first in vivo evidence that Jag1-Notch signaling is critical for memory formation in the adult brain.
    Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 07/2013; · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is well-known that Notch signaling plays a critical role in brain development and growing evidence implicates this signaling pathway in adult synaptic plasticity and memory formation. The Notch1 receptor is activated by two subclasses of ligands, Delta-like (including Dll1 and Dll4) and Jagged (including Jag1 and Jag2). Ligand-induced Notch1 receptor signaling is modulated by a family of Fringe proteins, including Lunatic fringe (Lfng). Although Dll1, Jag1 and Lfng are critical regulators of Notch signaling, their relative contribution to memory formation in the adult brain is unknown. To investigate the roles of these important components of Notch signaling in memory formation, we examined spatial and fear memory formation in adult mice with reduced expression of Dll1, Jag1, Lfng and Dll1 plus Lfng. We also examined motor activity, anxiety-like behavior and sensorimotor gating using the acoustic startle response in these mice. Of the lines of mutant mice tested, we found that only mice with reduced Jag1 expression (mice heterozygous for a null mutation in Jag1, Jag1(+/-)) showed a selective impairment in spatial memory formation. Importantly, all other behavior including open field activity, conditioned fear memory (both context and discrete cue), acoustic startle response and prepulse inhibition, was normal in this line of mice. These results provide the first in vivo evidence that Jag1-Notch signaling is critical for memory formation in the adult brain.
    Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 04/2013; · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The Notch signaling pathway plays complex roles in developing lungs, including regulation of proximodistal fates, airway cell specification and differentiation. However, the specific Notch-mediated signals involved in lung development remain unclear. Results: Here we report that Jagged1 is expressed in a subset of bronchial and bronchiolar epithelial cells, where it controls proximal airway cell fate and differentiation. In agreement with previous studies involving disruption of all Notch signaling, we found that deletion of Jagged1 in airway epithelium increased the number of ciliated cells at the expense of Clara cells, a phenotype associated with downregulation of Hes1. Deletion of Jagged1 also led to an increased number of pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNEC), suggesting that Jagged1/Notch signaling inhibits PNEC cell fate. As expected, Jagged1 deletion did not affect alveolar cell differentiation, although alveolar septation was impaired, likely an indirect effect of proximal airway defects. Finally, in the postnatal lung, Jagged1 deletion induced mucous metaplasia, accompanied by downregulation of Hes1 and Hes5. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that Jagged1-mediated Notch signaling regulates multiple cell fate decisions as well as differentiation in the respiratory system to coordinate lung development and to maintain a balance of airway cell types in adult life. Developmental Dynamics, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals,Inc.
    Developmental Dynamics 03/2013; · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Invertebrate studies have highlighted a role for EH and SH3 domain Intersectin (Itsn) proteins in synaptic vesicle recycling and morphology. Mammals have two Itsn genes (Itsn1 and Itsn2), both of which can undergo alternative splicing to include DBL/PH and C2 domains not present in invertebrate Itsn proteins. To probe for specific and redundant functions of vertebrate Itsn genes, we generated Itsn1, Itsn2, and double mutant mice. While invertebrate mutants showed severe synaptic abnormalities, basal synaptic transmission and plasticity were unaffected at Schaffer CA1 synapses in mutant mice. Surprisingly, intercortical tracts-corpus callosum, ventral hippocampal, and anterior commissures-failed to cross the midline in mice lacking Itsn1, but not Itsn2. In contrast, tracts extending within hemispheres and those that decussate to more caudal brain segments appeared normal. Itsn1 mutant mice showed severe deficits in Morris water maze and contextual fear memory tasks, whereas mice lacking Itsn2 showed normal learning and memory. Thus, coincident with the acquisition of additional signaling domains, vertebrate Itsn1 has been functionally repurposed to also facilitate interhemispheric connectivity essential for high order cognitive functions.
    Journal of Neuroscience 02/2013; 33(9):4055-65. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) includes basal-like and claudin-low subtypes for which only chemotherapy and radiation therapy are currently available. The retinoblastoma (RB1) tumor suppressor is frequently lost in human TNBC. Knockdown of RB1 in luminal BC cells was shown to affect response to endocrine, radiation and several antineoplastic drugs. However, the effect of RB1 status on radiation and chemo-sensitivity in TNBC cells and whether RB1 status affects response to divergent or specific treatment are unknown. Using multiple basal-like and claudin-low cell lines, we hereby demonstrate that RB-negative TNBC cell lines are highly sensitive to gamma-irradiation, and moderately more sensitive to doxorubicin and methotrexate compared to RB-positive TNBC cell lines. In contrast, RB1 status did not affect sensitivity of TNBC cells to multiple other drugs including cisplatin (CDDP), 5-fluorouracil, idarubicin, epirubicin, PRIMA-1(met), fludarabine and PD-0332991, some of which are used to treat TNBC patients. Moreover, a non-biased screen of ∼3400 compounds, including FDA-approved drugs, revealed similar sensitivity of RB-proficient and -deficient TNBC cells. Finally, ESA(+)/CD24(-/low)/CD44(+) cancer stem cells from RB-negative TNBC lines were consistently more sensitive to gamma-irradiation than RB-positive lines, whereas the effect of chemotherapy on the cancer stem cell fraction varied irrespective of RB1 expression. Our results suggest that patients carrying RB-deficient TNBCs would benefit from gamma-irradiation as well as doxorubicin and methotrexate therapy, but not necessarily from many other anti-neoplastic drugs.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e78641. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Basal-like breast cancers (BLBC) express a luminal progenitor gene signature. Notch receptor signaling promotes luminal cell fate specification in the mammary gland, while suppressing stem cell self-renewal. Here we show that deletion of Lfng, a sugar transferase that prevents Notch activation by Jagged ligands, enhances stem/progenitor cell proliferation. Mammary-specific deletion of Lfng induces basal-like and claudin-low tumors with accumulation of Notch intracellular domain fragments, increased expression of proliferation-associated Notch targets, amplification of the Met/Caveolin locus, and elevated Met and Igf-1R signaling. Human BL breast tumors, commonly associated with JAGGED expression, elevated MET signaling, and CAVEOLIN accumulation, express low levels of LFNG. Thus, reduced LFNG expression facilitates JAG/NOTCH luminal progenitor signaling and cooperates with MET/CAVEOLIN basal-type signaling to promote BLBC.
    Cancer cell 05/2012; 21(5):626-41. · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2-positive (HER2(+)) breast cancer (BC) is a highly aggressive disease commonly treated with chemotherapy and anti-HER2 drugs, including trastuzumab. There is currently no way to predict which HER2(+) BC patients will benefit from these treatments. Previous prognostic signatures for HER2(+) BC were developed irrespective of the subtype or the hierarchical organization of cancer in which only a fraction of cells, tumor-initiating cells (TICs), can sustain tumor growth. Here, we used serial dilution and single-cell transplantation assays to identify MMTV-Her2/Neu mouse mammary TICs as CD24(+):JAG1(-) at a frequency of 2-4.5%. A 17-gene Her2-TIC-enriched signature (HTICS), generated on the basis of differentially expressed genes in TIC versus non-TIC fractions and trained on one HER2(+) BC cohort, predicted clinical outcome on multiple independent HER2(+) cohorts. HTICS included up-regulated genes involved in S/G2/M transition and down-regulated genes involved in immune response. Its prognostic power was independent of other predictors, stratified lymph node(+) HER2(+) BC into low and high-risk subgroups, and was specific for HER2(+):estrogen receptor alpha-negative (ERα(-)) patients (10-y overall survival of 83.6% for HTICS(-) and 24.0% for HTICS(+) tumors; hazard ratio = 5.57; P = 0.002). Whereas HTICS was specific to HER2(+):ERα(-) tumors, a previously reported stroma-derived signature was predictive for HER2(+):ERα(+) BC. Retrospective analyses revealed that patients with HTICS(+) HER2(+):ERα(-) tumors resisted chemotherapy but responded to chemotherapy plus trastuzumab. HTICS is, therefore, a powerful prognostic signature for HER2(+):ERα(-) BC that can be used to identify high risk patients that would benefit from anti-HER2 therapy.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2012; 109(15):5832-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The miR-17-92 cluster and its 6 encoded miRNAs are frequently amplified and aberrantly expressed in various malignancies. This study demonstrates that retroviral-mediated miR-17-92 overexpression promotes expansion of multipotent hematopoietic progenitors in mice. Cell lines derived from these miR-17-92-overexpressing mice are capable of myeloid and lymphoid lineage differentiation, and recapitulate the normal lymphoid phenotype when transplanted to nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency mice. However, overexpression of individual miRNAs from this locus, miR-19a or miR-92a, results in B-cell hyperplasia and erythroleukemia, respectively. Coexpression of another member of this cluster miR-17, with miR-92a, abrogates miR-92a-induced erythroleukemogenesis. Accordingly, we identified several novel miR-92a and miR-17 target genes regulating erythroid survival and proliferation, including p53. Expression of this critical target results in marked growth inhibition of miR-92a erythroleukemic cells. In both murine and human leukemias, p53 inactivation contributed to the selective overexpression of oncogenic miR-92a and miR-19a, and down-regulation of tumor-suppressive miR-17. This miR-17-92 expression signature was also detected in p53- B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients displaying an aggressive clinical phenotype. These results revealed that imbalanced miR-17-92 expression, also mediated by p53, directly transforms the hematopoietic compartment. Thus examination of such miRNA expression signatures should aid in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers displaying miR-17-92 gene amplification.
    Blood 03/2012; 119(19):4486-98. · 9.78 Impact Factor
  • Keli Xu, Nadeem Moghal, Sean E Egan
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    ABSTRACT: Notch signaling plays an essential role in development and homeostasis of multiple organs including the lung. Dysregulation of Notch signaling has been implicated in various lung diseases including lung cancer. Here we review functions of Notch signaling in coordinating events during lung development, such as early proximodistal fate generation and branching, airway epithelial cell fate specification, alveogenesis and pulmonary vascular development. We also discuss roles of Notch in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, progressive pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, asthma and lung cancer.
    Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2012; 727:89-98. · 1.83 Impact Factor
  • Chapter: ITSN
    Encyclopedia of Signaling Molecules, Edited by Choi, Sangdun, 01/2012: pages 990-997; Springer New York.
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    ABSTRACT: Notch signaling in podocytes causes proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis in humans and rodents, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here, we analyzed morphologic, molecular, and cellular events before the onset of proteinuria in newborn transgenic mice that express activated Notch in podocytes. Immunohistochemistry revealed a loss of the slit diaphragm protein nephrin exclusively in podocytes expressing activated Notch. Podocyte-specific deletion of Rbpj, which is essential for canonical Notch signaling, prevented this loss of nephrin. Overexpression of activated Notch decreased cell surface nephrin and increased cytoplasmic nephrin in transfected HEK293T cells; pharmacologic inhibition of dynamin, but not depletion of cholesterol, blocked these effects on nephrin, suggesting that Notch promotes dynamin-dependent, raft-independent endocytosis of nephrin. Supporting an association between Notch signaling and nephrin trafficking, electron microscopy revealed shortened podocyte foot processes and fewer slit diaphragms among the transgenic mice compared with controls. These data suggest that Notch signaling induces endocytosis of nephrin, thereby triggering the onset of proteinuria.
    Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 11/2011; 23(1):27-35. · 8.99 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
335.80 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1999–2014
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Molecular Genetics
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1997–2014
    • SickKids
      • • Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Research
      • • Department of Surgery
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2005–2012
    • University Health Network
      • Division of Cell and Molecular Biology
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2004
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      Maryland, United States
  • 1998
    • McGill University
      • Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada