Wan Seok Yang

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Maryland, United States

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Publications (8)130.37 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Ferroptosis is a form of nonapoptotic cell death for which key regulators remain unknown. We sought a common mediator for the lethality of 12 ferroptosis-inducing small molecules. We used targeted metabolomic profiling to discover that depletion of glutathione causes inactivation of glutathione peroxidases (GPXs) in response to one class of compounds and a chemoproteomics strategy to discover that GPX4 is directly inhibited by a second class of compounds. GPX4 overexpression and knockdown modulated the lethality of 12 ferroptosis inducers, but not of 11 compounds with other lethal mechanisms. In addition, two representative ferroptosis inducers prevented tumor growth in xenograft mouse tumor models. Sensitivity profiling in 177 cancer cell lines revealed that diffuse large B cell lymphomas and renal cell carcinomas are particularly susceptible to GPX4-regulated ferroptosis. Thus, GPX4 is an essential regulator of ferroptotic cancer cell death.
    Cell 01/2014; 156(1-2):317-31. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Small molecule modulators of protein activity have proven invaluable in the study of protein function and regulation. While inhibitors of protein activity are relatively common, small molecules that can increase protein abundance are rare. Small molecule protein upregulators with targeted activities would be of value in the study of the mechanisms underlying loss-of-function diseases. We developed a high-throughput screening approach to identify small molecule upregulators of the Survival of Motor Neuron protein (SMN), whose decreased levels cause the neurodegenerative disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). We screened 69,189 compounds for SMN upregulators and performed mechanistic studies on the most active compound, a bromobenzophenone analog designated cuspin-1. Mechanistic studies of cuspin-1 revealed that increasing Ras signaling upregulates SMN protein abundance via an increase in translation rate. These findings suggest that controlled modulation of the Ras signaling pathway may benefit patients with SMA.
    ACS Chemical Biology 03/2013; · 5.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nonapoptotic forms of cell death may facilitate the selective elimination of some tumor cells or be activated in specific pathological states. The oncogenic RAS-selective lethal small molecule erastin triggers a unique iron-dependent form of nonapoptotic cell death that we term ferroptosis. Ferroptosis is dependent upon intracellular iron, but not other metals, and is morphologically, biochemically, and genetically distinct from apoptosis, necrosis, and autophagy. We identify the small molecule ferrostatin-1 as a potent inhibitor of ferroptosis in cancer cells and glutamate-induced cell death in organotypic rat brain slices, suggesting similarities between these two processes. Indeed, erastin, like glutamate, inhibits cystine uptake by the cystine/glutamate antiporter (system x(c)(-)), creating a void in the antioxidant defenses of the cell and ultimately leading to iron-dependent, oxidative death. Thus, activation of ferroptosis results in the nonapoptotic destruction of certain cancer cells, whereas inhibition of this process may protect organisms from neurodegeneration.
    Cell 05/2012; 149(5):1060-72. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Synthetic lethal screening is a chemical biology approach to identify small molecules that selectively kill oncogene-expressing cell lines with the goal of identifying pathways that provide specific targets against cancer cells. We performed a high-throughput screen of 303,282 compounds from the National Institutes of Health-Molecular Libraries Small Molecule Repository (NIH-MLSMR) against immortalized BJ fibroblasts expressing HRAS(G12V) followed by a counterscreen of lethal compounds in a series of isogenic cells lacking the HRAS(G12V) oncogene. This effort led to the identification of two novel molecular probes (PubChem CID 3689413, ML162 and CID 49766530, ML210) with nanomolar potencies and 4-23-fold selectivities, which can potentially be used for identifying oncogene-specific pathways and targets in cancer cells.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 02/2012; 22(4):1822-6. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyzed more than 1 million small molecules with the goal of finding simple synthetic compounds that potently inhibit cancer cell growth. We identified three such compounds with unknown mechanisms of action. Subsequent studies revealed that all three of these small molecules target microtubules. These three scaffolds can serve as templates for developing new microtubule-targeted agents, overcoming the limits of existing microtubule-inhibiting drugs derived from complex natural products.
    ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters 01/2012; 3(1):35-38. · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    Wan Seok Yang, Brent R Stockwell
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    ABSTRACT: We screened small molecules to identify two compounds, which we named RSL3 and RSL5, that have increased lethality in the presence of oncogenic RAS. Counter screening with biologically active compounds defined aspects of the mechanism of action for RSL3 and RSL5, such as a nonapoptotic, MEK-dependent, and iron-dependent oxidative cell death. Erastin, a previously reported compound with RAS-selective lethality, showed similar properties. RNA interference experiments targeting voltage-dependent anion channel 3 (VDAC3), a target of erastin, demonstrated that RSL5 is a scaffold that acts through VDACs to activate the observed pathway. RSL3 activated a similar death mechanism but in a VDAC-independent manner. We found that cells transformed with oncogenic RAS have increased iron content relative to their normal cell counterparts through upregulation of transferrin receptor 1 and downregulation of ferritin heavy chain 1 and ferritin light chain.
    Chemistry & Biology 04/2008; 15(3):234-45. · 6.16 Impact Factor
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    Wan Seok Yang, Brent R Stockwell
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    ABSTRACT: Kinases are under extensive investigation as targets for drug development. Discovering novel kinases whose inhibition induces cancer-cell-selective lethality would be of value. Recent advances in RNA interference have enabled the realization of this goal. We screened 5,760 short hairpin RNA clones targeting the human kinome to detect human kinases on which cancer cells are more dependent than normal cells. We employed a two-step screening strategy using human sarcoma cell lines and human fibroblast-derived isogenic cell lines, and found that short hairpin RNAs targeting CSNK1E, a clock gene that regulates circadian rhythms, can induce selective growth inhibition in engineered tumor cells. Analysis of gene-expression data revealed that CSNK1E is overexpressed in several cancer tissue samples examined compared to non-tumorigenic normal tissue, suggesting a positive role of CSNK1E in neogenesis or maintenance. Treatment with IC261, a kinase domain inhibitor of casein kinase 1-epsilon (CK1epsilon), a protein product of CSNK1E, showed a similar degree of cancer-cell-selective growth inhibition. In a search for substrates of CK1epsilon that mediate IC261-induced growth inhibition, we discovered that knocking down PER2, another clock gene involved in circadian rhythm control, rescues IC261-induced growth inhibition. We identified CK1epsilon as a potential target for developing anticancer reagents with a high therapeutic index. These data support the hypothesis that circadian clock genes can control the cell cycle and cell survival signaling, and emphasize a central role of CK1epsilon and PERIOD2 in linking these systems.
    Genome biology 01/2008; 9(6):R92. · 10.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Therapeutics that discriminate between the genetic makeup of normal cells and tumour cells are valuable for treating and understanding cancer. Small molecules with oncogene-selective lethality may reveal novel functions of oncoproteins and enable the creation of more selective drugs. Here we describe the mechanism of action of the selective anti-tumour agent erastin, involving the RAS-RAF-MEK signalling pathway functioning in cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. Erastin exhibits greater lethality in human tumour cells harbouring mutations in the oncogenes HRAS, KRAS or BRAF. Using affinity purification and mass spectrometry, we discovered that erastin acts through mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channels (VDACs)--a novel target for anti-cancer drugs. We show that erastin treatment of cells harbouring oncogenic RAS causes the appearance of oxidative species and subsequent death through an oxidative, non-apoptotic mechanism. RNA-interference-mediated knockdown of VDAC2 or VDAC3 caused resistance to erastin, implicating these two VDAC isoforms in the mechanism of action of erastin. Moreover, using purified mitochondria expressing a single VDAC isoform, we found that erastin alters the permeability of the outer mitochondrial membrane. Finally, using a radiolabelled analogue and a filter-binding assay, we show that erastin binds directly to VDAC2. These results demonstrate that ligands to VDAC proteins can induce non-apoptotic cell death selectively in some tumour cells harbouring activating mutations in the RAS-RAF-MEK pathway.
    Nature 07/2007; 447(7146):864-8. · 38.60 Impact Factor