Nathalie Meyer-Schaller

Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland

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Publications (8)82.42 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: An epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) underlies malignant tumor progression and metastatic spread by enabling cancer cells to depart from the primary tumor, invade surrounding tissue and disseminate to distant organs. EMT also enriches for cancer stem cells (CSCs) and increases the capacity of cancer cells to initiate and propagate tumors upon transplantation into immune-deficient mice, a major hallmark of CSCs. However, the molecular mechanisms promoting the tumorigenicity of cancer cells undergoing an EMT and of CSCs have remained widely elusive. We here report that EMT confers efficient tumorigenicity to murine breast cancer cells by the up-regulated expression of the pro-angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and by increased tumor angiogenesis. Based on these data, we propose a novel interpretation of the features of CSCs with EMT-induced, VEGF-A-mediated angiogenesis as the connecting mechanism between cancer cell stemness and tumor initiation.
    Cancer Research 01/2014; 74(5). DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-1641 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have identified the zinc-finger transcription factor Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf4) among the transcription factors that are significantly downregulated in their expression during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in mammary epithelial cells and in breast cancer cells. Loss and gain of function experiments demonstrate that the down-regulation of Klf4 expression is required for the induction of EMT and for metastasis . In addition, reduced Klf4 expression correlates with shorter disease-free survival of subsets of breast cancer patients. Yet, reduced expression of Klf4 also induces apoptosis in cells undergoing TGFβ-induced EMT. Chromatin immunoprecipitation/deep-sequencing in combination with gene expression profiling reveals direct Klf4 target genes, including E-cadherin (), N-cadherin (), vimentin (), β-catenin (), VEGF-A (), endothelin-1 () and Jnk1 (). Thereby, Klf4 acts as a transcriptional activator of epithelial genes and as a repressor of mesenchymal genes. Specifically, increased expression of Jnk1 () upon down-regulation of its transcriptional repressor Klf4 is required for EMT cell migration and for the induction of apoptosis. The data demonstrate a central role of Klf4 in the maintenance of epithelial cell differentiation and the prevention of EMT and metastasis.
    PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(2):e57329. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0057329 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gene expression profiling has uncovered the transcription factor Sox4 with upregulated activity during TGF-β-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in normal and cancerous breast epithelial cells. Sox4 is indispensable for EMT and cell survival in vitro and for primary tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Among several EMT-relevant genes, Sox4 directly regulates the expression of Ezh2, encoding the Polycomb group histone methyltransferase that trimethylates histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) for gene repression. Ablation of Ezh2 expression prevents EMT, whereas forced expression of Ezh2 restores EMT in Sox4-deficient cells. Ezh2-mediated H3K27me3 marks associate with key EMT genes, representing an epigenetic EMT signature that predicts patient survival. Our results identify Sox4 as a master regulator of EMT by governing the expression of the epigenetic modifier Ezh2.
    Cancer cell 06/2013; 23(6):768-83. DOI:10.1016/j.ccr.2013.04.020 · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical process during embryonic development and the progression of epithelial tumors to metastatic cancers. Gene expression profiling has uncovered the transcription factor LIM homeobox gene 2 (Lhx2) with up-regulated expression during TGFβ-induced EMT in normal and cancerous breast epithelial cells. Loss and gain of function experiments in transgenic mouse models of breast cancer and of insulinoma in vivo and in breast cancer cells in vitro indicate that Lhx2 plays a critical role in primary tumor growth and metastasis. Notably, the transgenic expression of Lhx2 during breast carcinogenesis promotes vessel maturation, primary tumor growth, tumor cell intravasation and metastasis by directly inducing the expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-B in tumor cells and by indirectly increasing the expression of PDGF receptor-β (PDGFRβ) on tumor cells and pericytes. Pharmacological inhibition of PDGF-B/PDGFRβ signaling reduces vessel functionality and tumor growth and Lhx2-induced cell migration and cell invasion. The data indicate a dual role of Lhx2 during EMT and tumor progression: by inducing the expression of PDGF-B, Lhx2 provokes an autocrine PDGF-B/PDGFRβ loop required for cell migration, invasion and metastatic dissemination and paracrine PDGF-B/PDGFRβ signaling to support blood vessel functionality and, thus, primary tumor growth.
    Molecular oncology 01/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.molonc.2013.12.009 · 6.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Increasing evidence supports a role of an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) process in endowing subsets of tumor cells with properties driving malignant tumor progression and resistance to cancer therapy. To advance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms, we sought to generate a transplantable cellular model system that allows defined experimental manipulation and analysis of EMT in vitro and at the same time recapitulates oncogenic EMT in vivo. METHODOLOGY/RESULTS: We have established a stable murine breast cancer cell line (Py2T) from a breast tumor of an MMTV-PyMT transgenic mouse. Py2T cells display a metastable epithelial phenotype characterized by concomitant expression of luminal and basal cytokeratins and sheet migration. Exposure of Py2T cells to transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) in vitro induces reversible EMT accompanied by downregulation of E-cadherin and upregulation of mesenchymal markers, including EMT transcription factors, and a gain in single cell motility and invasiveness. Py2T cells give rise to tumors after orthotopic injection into syngeneic FVB/N mice. Notably, transplantation of epithelial Py2T cells results in the formation of invasive primary tumors with low to absent E-cadherin expression, indicating that the cells undergo EMT-like changes in vivo. This process appears to at least in part depend on TGFβ signaling, since tumors formed by Py2T cells expressing a dominant-negative version of TGFβ receptor widely maintain their epithelial differentiation status. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Together, the data demonstrate that the Py2T cell line represents a versatile model system to study the EMT process in vitro and in vivo. The observation that Py2T cells give rise to tumors and collectively undergo EMT-like changes in vivo highlights the suitability of the Py2T model system as a tool to study tumor-related EMT. In particular, Py2T cells may serve to corroborate recent findings relating EMT to cancer cell stemness, to therapy resistance and to tumor recurrence.
    PLoS ONE 11/2012; 7(11):e48651. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0048651 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cullin-3 (Cul3) functions as a scaffolding protein in the Bric-a-brac, Tramtrack, Broad-complex (BTB)-Cul3-Rbx1 ubiquitin E3 ligase complex. Here, we report a previously undescribed role for Cul3 complexes in late endosome (LE) maturation. RNAi-mediated depletion of Cul3 results in a trafficking defect of two cargoes of the endolysosomal pathway, influenza A virus (IAV) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). IAV is able to reach an acidic endosomal compartment, coinciding with LE/lysosome (LY) markers. However, it remains trapped or the capsid is unable to uncoat after penetration into the cytosol. Similarly, activation and subsequent ubiquitination of EGFR appear normal, whereas downstream EGFR degradation is delayed and its ligand EGF accumulates in LE/LYs. Indeed, Cul3-depleted cells display severe morphological defects in LEs that could account for these trafficking defects; they accumulate acidic LE/LYs, and some cells become highly vacuolated, with enlarged Rab7-positive endosomes. Together, these results suggest a crucial role of Cul3 in regulating late steps in the endolysosomal trafficking pathway.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2012; 109(3):823-8. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1118744109 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cullin (Cul)-based E3 ubiquitin ligases are activated through the attachment of Nedd8 to the Cul protein. In yeast, Dcn1 (defective in Cul neddylation 1 protein) functions as a scaffold-like Nedd8 E3-ligase by interacting with its Cul substrates and the Nedd8 E2 Ubc12. Human cells express 5 Dcn1-like (DCNL) proteins each containing a C-terminal potentiating neddylation domain but distinct amino-terminal extensions. Although the UBA-containing DCNL1 and DCNL2 are likely functional homologues of yeast Dcn1, DCNL3 also interacts with human Culs and is able to complement the neddylation defect of yeast dcn1Delta cells. DCNL3 down-regulation by RNAi decreases Cul neddylation, and overexpression of a Cul3 mutant deficient in DCNL3 binding interferes with Cul3 function in vivo. Interestingly, DCNL3 accumulates at the plasma membrane through a conserved, lipid-modified motif at the N terminus. Membrane-bound DCNL3 is able to recruit Cul3 to membranes and is functionally important for Cul3 neddylation in vivo. We conclude that DCNL proteins function as nonredundant Cul Nedd8-E3 ligases. Moreover, the diversification of the N termini in mammalian Dcn1 homologues may contribute to substrate specificity by regulating their subcellular localization.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2009; 106(30):12365-70. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0812528106 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cullin-based E3 ubiquitin ligases are activated through modification of the cullin subunit with the ubiquitin-like protein Nedd8. Dcn1 regulates cullin neddylation and thus ubiquitin ligase activity. Here we describe the 1.9 A X-ray crystal structure of yeast Dcn1 encompassing an N-terminal ubiquitin-binding (UBA) domain and a C-terminal domain of unique architecture, which we termed PONY domain. A conserved surface on Dcn1 is required for direct binding to cullins and for neddylation. The reciprocal binding site for Dcn1 on Cdc53 is located approximately 18 A from the site of neddylation. Dcn1 does not require cysteine residues for catalytic function, and directly interacts with the Nedd8 E2 Ubc12 on a surface that overlaps with the E1-binding site. We show that Dcn1 is necessary and sufficient for cullin neddylation in a purified recombinant system. Taken together, these data demonstrate that Dcn1 is a scaffold-like E3 ligase for cullin neddylation.
    Molecular Cell 02/2008; 29(1):23-35. DOI:10.1016/j.molcel.2007.12.012 · 14.46 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

191 Citations
82.42 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
      Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
  • 2012–2013
    • Universität Basel
      • Department of Biomedicine
      Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland
  • 2009
    • ETH Zurich
      • Institute of Biochemistry
      Zürich, ZH, Switzerland