Geoffrey D Girnun

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (19)189.87 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Hepatic gluconeogenesis is crucial to maintain normal blood glucose during periods of nutrient deprivation. Gluconeogenesis is controlled at multiple levels by a variety of signal transduction and transcriptional pathways. However, dysregulation of these pathways leads to hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes. While the effects of various signaling pathways on gluconeogenesis are well established, the downstream signaling events repressing gluconeogenic gene expression are not as well understood. The cell-cycle regulator cyclin D1 is expressed in the liver, despite the liver being a quiescent tissue. The most well-studied function of cyclin D1 is activation of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4), promoting progression of the cell cycle. We show here a novel role for cyclin D1 as a regulator of gluconeogenic and oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) gene expression. In mice, fasting decreases liver cyclin D1 expression, while refeeding induces cyclin D1 expression. Inhibition of CDK4 enhances the gluconeogenic gene expression, whereas cyclin D1-mediated activation of CDK4 represses the gluconeogenic gene-expression program in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, we show that cyclin D1 represses gluconeogenesis and OxPhos in part via inhibition of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator-1α (PGC1α) activity in a CDK4-dependent manner. Indeed, we demonstrate that PGC1α is novel cyclin D1/CDK4 substrate. These studies reveal a novel role for cyclin D1 on metabolism via PGC1α and reveal a potential link between cell-cycle regulation and metabolic control of glucose homeostasis.
    Diabetes 06/2014; · 7.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms by which deregulated nuclear factor erythroid-2–related factor 2 (NRF2) and kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) signaling promote cellular proliferation and tumorigenesis are poorly under-stood. Using an integrated genomics and 13 C-based targeted tracer fate association (TTFA) study, we found that NRF2 regulates miR-1 and miR-206 to direct carbon flux toward the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, reprogramming glucose metabolism. Sustained activation of NRF2 sig-naling in cancer cells attenuated miR-1 and miR-206 expression, leading to enhanced expression of PPP genes. Conversely, overexpression of miR-1 and miR-206 decreased the expression of metabolic genes and dramatical-ly impaired NADPH production, ribose synthesis, and in vivo tumor growth in mice. Loss of NRF2 decreased the expression of the redox-sensitive histone deacetylase, HDAC4, resulting in increased expression of miR-1 and miR-206, and not only inhibiting PPP expression and activity but functioning as a regulatory feedback loop that repressed HDAC4 expression. In primary tumor samples, the expression of miR-1 and miR-206 was inversely correlated with PPP gene expression, and increased expression of NRF2-dependent genes was associ-ated with poor prognosis. Our results demonstrate that microRNA-dependent (miRNA-dependent) regulation of the PPP via NRF2 and HDAC4 represents a novel link between miRNA regulation, glucose metabolism, and ROS homeostasis in cancer cells.
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms by which deregulated nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (NRF2) and kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) signaling promote cellular proliferation and tumorigenesis are poorly understood. Using an integrated genomics and 13C-based targeted tracer fate association (TTFA) study, we found that NRF2 regulates miR-1 and miR-206 to direct carbon flux toward the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, reprogramming glucose metabolism. Sustained activation of NRF2 signaling in cancer cells attenuated miR-1 and miR-206 expression, leading to enhanced expression of PPP genes. Conversely, overexpression of miR-1 and miR-206 decreased the expression of metabolic genes and dramatically impaired NADPH production, ribose synthesis, and in vivo tumor growth in mice. Loss of NRF2 decreased the expression of the redox-sensitive histone deacetylase, HDAC4, resulting in increased expression of miR-1 and miR-206, and not only inhibiting PPP expression and activity but functioning as a regulatory feedback loop that repressed HDAC4 expression. In primary tumor samples, the expression of miR-1 and miR-206 was inversely correlated with PPP gene expression, and increased expression of NRF2-dependent genes was associated with poor prognosis. Our results demonstrate that microRNA-dependent (miRNA-dependent) regulation of the PPP via NRF2 and HDAC4 represents a novel link between miRNA regulation, glucose metabolism, and ROS homeostasis in cancer cells.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 06/2013; · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A number of factors have been identified that increase the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recently it has become appreciated that type II diabetes increases the risk of developing HCC. This represents a patient population that can be identified and targeted for cancer prevention. The biguanide metformin is a first-line therapy for the treatment of type II diabetes in which it exerts its effects primarily on the liver. A role of metformin in HCC is suggested by studies linking metformin intake for control of diabetes with a reduced risk of HCC. Although a number of preclinical studies show the anticancer properties of metformin in a number of tissues, no studies have directly examined the effect of metformin on preventing carcinogenesis in the liver, one of its main sites of action. We show in these studies that metformin protected mice against chemically induced liver tumors. Interestingly, metformin did not increase AMPK activation, often shown to be a metformin target. Rather metformin decreased the expression of several lipogenic enzymes and lipogenesis. In addition, restoring lipogenic gene expression by ectopic expression of the lipogenic transcription factor SREBP1c rescues metformin-mediated growth inhibition. This mechanism of action suggests that metformin may also be useful for patients with other disorders associated with HCC in which increased lipid synthesis is observed. As a whole these studies show that metformin prevents HCC and that metformin should be evaluated as a preventive agent for HCC in readily identifiable at-risk patients.
    Cancer Prevention Research 04/2012; 5(4):544-52. · 4.89 Impact Factor
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    Geoffrey D Girnun
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    ABSTRACT: The critical role that altered cellular metabolism plays in promoting and maintaining the cancer phenotype has received considerable attention in recent years. For many years it was believed that aerobic glycolysis, also known as the Warburg Effect, played an important role in cancer. However, recent studies highlight the requirement of mitochondrial function, oxidative phosphorylation and biosynthetic pathways in cancer. This has promoted interest into mechanisms controlling these metabolic pathways. The PPARγ coactivator (PGC)-1 family of transcriptional coactivators have emerged as key regulators of several metabolic pathways including oxidative metabolism, energy homeostasis and glucose and lipid metabolism. While PGC-1s have been implicated in a number of metabolic diseases, recent studies highlight an important role in cancer. Studies show that PGC-1s have both pro and anticancer functions and suggests a dynamic role for the PGC-1s in cancer. We discuss in this review the links between PGC-1s and cancer, with a focus on the most well studied family member, PGC-1α.
    Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 01/2012; 23(4):381-8. · 6.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cells that exhibit an absolute dependence on the anti-apoptotic BCL-2 protein for survival are termed "primed for death" and are killed by the BCL-2 antagonist ABT-737. Many cancers exhibit a primed phenotype, including some that are resistant to conventional chemotherapy due to high BCL-2 expression. We show here that 1) stable BCL-2 overexpression alone can induce a primed for death state and 2) that an ABT-737-induced loss of functional cytochrome c from the electron transport chain causes a reduction in maximal respiration that is readily detectable by microplate-based respirometry. Stable BCL-2 overexpression sensitized non-tumorigenic MCF10A mammary epithelial cells to ABT-737-induced caspase-dependent apoptosis. Mitochondria within permeabilized BCL-2 overexpressing cells were selectively vulnerable to ABT-737-induced cytochrome c release compared to those from control-transfected cells, consistent with a primed state. ABT-737 treatment caused a dose-dependent impairment of maximal O(2) consumption in MCF10A BCL-2 overexpressing cells but not in control-transfected cells or in immortalized mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking both BAX and BAK. This impairment was rescued by delivering exogenous cytochrome c to mitochondria via saponin-mediated plasma membrane permeabilization. An ABT-737-induced reduction in maximal O(2) consumption was also detectable in SP53, JeKo-1, and WEHI-231 B-cell lymphoma cell lines, with sensitivity correlating with BCL-2:MCL-1 ratio and with susceptibility (SP53 and JeKo-1) or resistance (WEHI-231) to ABT-737-induced apoptosis. Multiplexing respirometry assays to ELISA-based determination of cytochrome c redistribution confirmed that respiratory inhibition was associated with cytochrome c release. In summary, cell-based respiration assays were able to rapidly identify a primed for death state in cells with either artificially overexpressed or high endogenous BCL-2. Rapid detection of a primed for death state in individual cancers by "bioenergetics-based profiling" may eventually help identify the subset of patients with chemoresistant but primed tumors who can benefit from treatment that incorporates a BCL-2 antagonist.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e42487. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The thiazolidedione (TZD) class of drugs is clinically approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The therapeutic actions of TZDs are mediated via activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ). Despite their widespread use, concern exists regarding the safety of currently used TZDs. This has prompted the development of selective PPARγ modulators (SPPARMs), compounds that promote glucose homeostasis but with reduced side effects due to partial PPARγ agonism. However, this also results in partial agonism with respect to PPARγ target genes promoting glucose homeostasis. Using a gene expression-based screening approach we identified N-acetylfarnesylcysteine (AFC) as both a full and partial agonist depending on the PPARγ target gene (differential SPPARM). AFC activated PPARγ as effectively as rosiglitazone with regard to Adrp, Angptl4, and AdipoQ, but was a partial agonist of aP2, a PPARγ target gene associated with increased adiposity. Induction of adipogenesis by AFC was also attenuated compared with rosiglitazone. Reporter, ligand binding assays, and dynamic modeling demonstrate that AFC binds and activates PPARγ in a unique manner compared with other PPARγ ligands. Importantly, treatment of mice with AFC improved glucose tolerance similar to rosiglitazone, but AFC did not promote weight gain to the same extent. Finally, AFC had effects on adipose tissue remodeling similar to those of rosiglitazone and had enhanced antiinflammatory effects. In conclusion, we describe a new approach for the identification of differential SPPARMs and have identified AFC as a novel class of PPARγ ligand with both full and partial agonist activity in vitro and in vivo.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 286(48):41626-35. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The thiazolidedione (TZD) class of drugs is clinically approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The therapeutic actions of TZDs are mediated via activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ). Despite their widespread use, concern exists regarding the safety of currently used TZDs. This has prompted the development of selective PPARγ modulators (SPPARMs), compounds that promote glucose homeostasis but with reduced side effects due to partial PPARγ agonism. However, this also results in partial agonism with respect to PPARγ target genes promoting glucose homeostasis. Using a gene expression-based screening approach we identified N-acetylfarnesylcysteine (AFC) as both a full and partial agonist depending on the PPARγ target gene (differential SPPARM). AFC activated PPARγ as effectively as rosiglitazone with regard to Adrp, Angptl4, and AdipoQ, but was a partial agonist of aP2, a PPARγ target gene associated with increased adiposity. Induction of adipogenesis by AFC was also attenuated compared with rosiglitazone. Reporter, ligand binding assays, and dynamic modeling demonstrate that AFC binds and activates PPARγ in a unique manner compared with other PPARγ ligands. Importantly, treatment of mice with AFC improved glucose tolerance similar to rosiglitazone, but AFC did not promote weight gain to the same extent. Finally, AFC had effects on adipose tissue remodeling similar to those of rosiglitazone and had enhanced antiinflammatory effects. In conclusion, we describe a new approach for the identification of differential SPPARMs and have identified AFC as a novel class of PPARγ ligand with both full and partial agonist activity in vitro and in vivo.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 286(48):41626-41635. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The thiazolidedione (TZD) class of drugs are clinically approved for the treatment of type II diabetes. The therapeutic actions of TZDs are mediated via activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ). Despite their wide spread use, concern exists regarding the safety of currently used TZDs. This has prompted the development of selective PPARγ modulators (SPPARMs), compounds that promote glucose homeostasis but with reduced side effects due to partial PPARγ agonism. However, this also results in partial agonism with respect to PPARγ target genes promoting glucose homeostasis. Using a gene expression based screening approach we identified N-acetyl farnesyl cysteine (AFC) as both a full and partial agonist depending on the PPARγ target gene (differential SPPARM). AFC activated PPARγ as effectively as rosiglitazone with regard Adrp, Angptl4 and AdipoQ, but was a partial agonist of aP2, a PPARγ target gene associated with increased adiposity. Induction of adipogenesis by AFC was also attenuated compared to rosiglitazone. Reporter, ligand-binding assays and dynamic modeling demonstrate that AFC binds and activates PPARγ in a unique manner compared to other PPARγ ligands. Importantly, treatment of mice with AFC improved glucose tolerance similar to rosiglitazone although AFC did not promote weight gain to the same extent. Finally, AFC had similar effects on adipose tissue remodeling as rosiglitazone and had enhanced anti-inflammatory effects. In conclusion, we describe a new approach for the identification of differential SPPARMs and have identified AFC as a novel class of PPARγ ligand with both full and partial agonist activity in vitro and in vivo.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2011; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the role of aerobic glycolysis in cancer, recent studies highlight the importance of the mitochondria and biosynthetic pathways as well. PPARγ coactivator 1α (PGC1α) is a key transcriptional regulator of several metabolic pathways including oxidative metabolism and lipogenesis. Initial studies suggested that PGC1α expression is reduced in tumors compared with adjacent normal tissue. Paradoxically, other studies show that PGC1α is associated with cancer cell proliferation. Therefore, the role of PGC1α in cancer and especially carcinogenesis is unclear. Using Pgc1α(-/-) and Pgc1α(+/+) mice, we show that loss of PGC1α protects mice from azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis. Similarly, diethylnitrosamine-induced liver carcinogenesis is reduced in Pgc1α(-/-) mice as compared with Pgc1α(+/+) mice. Xenograft studies using gain and loss of PGC1α expression showed that PGC1α also promotes tumor growth. Interestingly, while PGC1α induced oxidative phosphorylation and tricarboxylic acid cycle gene expression, we also observed an increase in the expression of two genes required for de novo fatty acid synthesis, ACC and FASN. In addition, SLC25A1 and ACLY, which are required for the conversion of glucose into acetyl-CoA for fatty acid synthesis, were also increased by PGC1α, thus linking the oxidative and lipogenic functions of PGC1α. Indeed, using stable (13)C isotope tracer analysis, we show that PGC1α increased de novo lipogenesis. Importantly, inhibition of fatty acid synthesis blunted these progrowth effects of PGC1α. In conclusion, these studies show for the first time that loss of PGC1α protects against carcinogenesis and that PGC1α coordinately regulates mitochondrial and fatty acid metabolism to promote tumor growth.
    Cancer Research 09/2011; 71(21):6888-98. · 9.28 Impact Factor
  • Geoffrey Girnun
    Gastroenterology 03/2009; 136(4):1157-60. · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current therapy for lung cancer involves multimodality therapies. However, many patients are either refractory to therapy or develop drug resistance. KRAS and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations represent some of the most common mutations in lung cancer, and many studies have shown the importance of these mutations in both carcinogenesis and chemoresistance. Genetically engineered murine models of mutant EGFR and KRAS have been developed that more accurately recapitulate human lung cancer. Recently, using cell-based experiments, we showed that platinum-based drugs and the antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone (PPARgamma ligand) interact synergistically to reduce cancer cell and tumor growth. Here, we directly determined the efficacy of the PPARgamma/carboplatin combination in these more relevant models of drug resistant non-small cell lung cancer. Tumorigenesis was induced by activation of either mutant KRAS or EGFR. Mice then received either rosiglitazone or carboplatin monotherapy, or a combination of both drugs. Change in tumor burden, pathology, and evidence of apoptosis and cell growth were assessed. Tumor burden remained unchanged or increased in the mice after monotherapy with either rosiglitazone or carboplatin. In striking contrast, we observed significant tumor shrinkage in mice treated with these drugs in combination. Immunohistochemical analyses showed that this synergy was mediated via both increased apoptosis and decreased proliferation. Importantly, this synergy between carboplatin and rosiglitazone did not increase systemic toxicity. These data show that the PPARgamma ligand/carboplatin combination is a new therapy worthy of clinical investigation in lung cancers, including those cancers that show primary resistance to platinum therapy or acquired resistance to targeted therapy.
    Clinical Cancer Research 11/2008; 14(20):6478-86. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent progress in understanding key events in carcinogenesis, early cancer detection, therapeutic interventions to prevent cancer, public policy, and biobehavioral approaches toward cancer control was the subject of the 6th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research held on December 5 to 8, 2007, in Philadelphia, PA. Abundant preclinical and clinical data show that invasive cancer is preventable, yet clinical strategies to decrease society's cancer burden through prevention, early detection, and lifestyle modification are still in the early phases of development and implementation. The conference explored the multiple facets of cancer prevention and provided an update on the progress and challenges in this rapidly developing field.
    Cancer Prevention Research 08/2008; 1(2):146-9. · 4.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ischaemia of the heart, brain and limbs is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Hypoxia stimulates the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other angiogenic factors, leading to neovascularization and protection against ischaemic injury. Here we show that the transcriptional coactivator PGC-1alpha (peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1alpha), a potent metabolic sensor and regulator, is induced by a lack of nutrients and oxygen, and PGC-1alpha powerfully regulates VEGF expression and angiogenesis in cultured muscle cells and skeletal muscle in vivo. PGC-1alpha-/- mice show a striking failure to reconstitute blood flow in a normal manner to the limb after an ischaemic insult, whereas transgenic expression of PGC-1alpha in skeletal muscle is protective. Surprisingly, the induction of VEGF by PGC-1alpha does not involve the canonical hypoxia response pathway and hypoxia inducible factor (HIF). Instead, PGC-1alpha coactivates the orphan nuclear receptor ERR-alpha (oestrogen-related receptor-alpha) on conserved binding sites found in the promoter and in a cluster within the first intron of the VEGF gene. Thus, PGC-1alpha and ERR-alpha, major regulators of mitochondrial function in response to exercise and other stimuli, also control a novel angiogenic pathway that delivers needed oxygen and substrates. PGC-1alpha may provide a novel therapeutic target for treating ischaemic diseases.
    Nature 03/2008; 451(7181):1008-12. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PPARgamma is a member of the nuclear receptor family for which agonist ligands have antigrowth effects. However, clinical studies using PPARgamma ligands as a monotherapy failed to show a beneficial effect. Here we have studied the effects of PPARgamma activation with chemotherapeutic agents in current use for specific cancers. We observed a striking synergy between rosiglitazone and platinum-based drugs in several different cancers both in vitro and using transplantable and chemically induced "spontaneous" tumor models. The effect appears to be due in part to PPARgamma-mediated downregulation of metallothioneins, proteins that have been shown to be involved in resistance to platinum-based therapy. These data strongly suggest combining PPARgamma agonists and platinum-based drugs for the treatment of certain human cancers.
    Cancer Cell 06/2007; 11(5):395-406. · 24.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PPARgamma is a dominant regulator of fat cell differentiation. However, this nuclear receptor also plays an important role in the differentiation of intestinal and other epithelial cell types. The mechanism by which PPARgamma can influence the differentiation of such diverse cell lineages is unknown. We show here that PPARgamma interacts with Hic-5, a coactivator protein expressed in gut epithelial cells. Hic-5 and PPARgamma colocalize to the villus epithelium of the small intestine, and their expression during embryonic gut development correlates with the transition from endoderm to a specialized epithelium; expression of both these factors is reduced in tumors. Forced expression of Hic-5 in colon cancer cells enhances the PPARgamma-mediated induction of several gut epithelial differentiation/maturation markers such as L-FABP, kruppel-like factor 4 (KLF4), and keratin 20. siRNA directed against Hic-5 specifically reduces PPARgamma-mediated induction of gut epithelial genes in colon cells and in an ex vivo model of embryonic gut differentiation. Finally, forced expression of Hic-5 during 3T3-L1 preadipocyte differentiation inhibits adipogenesis while inducing inappropriate expression of several mRNAs characteristic of gut epithelium in these mesenchymal cells. These results indicate that Hic5 is an important component in determining an epithelial differentiation program induced by PPARgamma.
    Genes & Development 03/2005; 19(3):362-75. · 12.44 Impact Factor
  • Geoffrey D Girnun, Bruce M Spiegelman
    Gastroenterology 03/2003; 124(2):564-7. · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)gamma has been shown to decrease the inflammatory response via transrepression of proinflammatory transcription factors. However, the identity of PPARgamma responsive genes that decrease the inflammatory response has remained elusive. Because generation of the reactive oxygen species hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) plays a role in the inflammatory process and activation of proinflammatory transcription factors, we wanted to determine whether the antioxidant enzyme catalase might be a PPARgamma target gene. We identified a putative PPAR response element (PPRE) containing the canonical direct repeat 1 motif, AGGTGA-A-AGTTGA, in the rat catalase promoter. In vitro translated PPARgamma and retinoic X receptor-alpha proteins were able to bind to the catalase PPRE. Promoter deletion analysis revealed that the PPRE was functional, and a heterologous promoter construct containing a multimerized catalase PPRE demonstrated that the PPRE was necessary and sufficient for PPARgamma-mediated activation. Treatment of microvascular endothelial cells with PPARgamma ligands led to increases in catalase mRNA and activity. These results demonstrate that PPARgamma can alter catalase expression; this occurs via a PPRE in the rat catalase promoter. Thus, in addition to transrepression of proinflammatory transcription factors, PPARgamma may also be modulating catalase expression, and hence down-regulating the inflammatory response via scavenging of reactive oxygen species.
    Molecular Endocrinology 01/2003; 16(12):2793-801. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of PPARgamma by synthetic ligands, such as thiazolidinediones, stimulates adipogenesis and improves insulin sensitivity. Although thiazolidinediones represent a major therapy for type 2 diabetes, conflicting studies showing that these agents can increase or decrease colonic tumors in mice have raised concerns about the role of PPARgamma in colon cancer. To analyze critically the role of this receptor, we have used mice heterozygous for Ppargamma with both chemical and genetic models of this malignancy. Heterozygous loss of PPARgamma causes an increase in beta-catenin levels and a greater incidence of colon cancer when animals are treated with azoxymethane. However, mice with preexisting damage to Apc, a regulator of beta-catenin, develop tumors in a manner insensitive to the status of PPARgamma. These data show that PPARgamma can suppress beta-catenin levels and colon carcinogenesis but only before damage to the APC/beta-catenin pathway. This finding suggests a potentially important use for PPARgamma ligands as chemopreventative agents in colon cancer.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2002; 99(21):13771-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

834 Citations
189.87 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2013
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore
      • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2002–2011
    • Harvard Medical School
      • • Department of Surgery
      • • Department of Cell Biology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003
    • University of Iowa
      • Department of Biology
      Iowa City, IA, United States