Christopher L Neal

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, United States

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Publications (9)77.43 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The ubiquitously expressed 14-3-3 proteins regulate many pathways involved in transformation. Previously, we found that 14-3-3ζ overexpression increased Akt phosphorylation in human mammary epithelial cells. Here, we investigated the clinical relevance and molecular mechanism of 14-3-3ζ-overexpression-mediated Akt phosphorylation, and its potential impact on breast cancer progression. We found that 14-3-3ζ overexpression was significantly (P=0.005) associated with increased Akt phosphorylation in human breast tumors. Additionally, 14-3-3ζ overexpression combined with strong Akt phosphorylation was significantly (P=0.01) associated with increased cancer recurrence in patients. In contrast, knockdown of 14-3-3ζ expression by small interfering RNA in cancer cell lines and tumor xenografts reduced Akt phosphorylation. Furthermore, 14-3-3ζ enhanced Akt phosphorylation through activation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). Mechanistically, 14-3-3ζ bound to the p85 regulatory subunit of PI3K and increased PI3K translocation to the cell membrane. A single 14-3-3-binding motif encompassing serine 83 on p85 is largely responsible for 14-3-3ζ-mediated p85 binding and PI3K/Akt activation. Mutation of serine 83 to alanine on p85 inhibited 14-3-3ζ binding to the p85 subunit of PI3K, reduced PI3K membrane localization and activation, impeded anchorage-independent growth and enhanced stress-induced apoptosis. These findings revealed a novel mechanism by which 14-3-3ζ overexpression activates PI3K, a key node in the mitogenic signaling network known to promote malignancies in many cell types.
    Oncogene 07/2011; 31(7):897-906. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    Christopher L Neal, Dihua Yu
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    ABSTRACT: The ubiquitously expressed 14-3-3ζ protein is involved in numerous important cellular pathways involved in cancer. Recent research suggests 14-3-3ζ may play a central role regulating multiple pathways responsible for cancer initiation and progression. This review will provide an overview of 14-3-3 proteins and address the role of 14-3-3ζ overexpression in cancer. The review covers the basic role of 14-3-3 in regulation of multiple pathways with a focus on 14-3-3ζ as a clinically relevant biomarker for cancer recurrence. 14-3-3ζ overexpression has been found in multiple cancers; however, the clinical implications were unclear. Recently, 14-3-3ζ has been identified as a biomarker for poor prognosis and chemoresistance in multiple tumor types, indicating a potential clinical application for using 14-3-3ζ in selecting treatment options and predicting cancer patients' outcome. 14-3-3ζ is a potential prognostic marker of cancer recurrence and predictive marker for therapeutic resistance. The overexpression of 14-3-3ζ in multiple cancers suggests that it may be a common target to intervene tumor progression; therefore, more efforts are needed for the development of 14-3-3 inhibitors.
    Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets 12/2010; 14(12):1343-54. · 4.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ErbB2 (HER2, neu) is a receptor tyrosine kinase overexpressed in about 25% of invasive breast carcinomas. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is a secreted glycoprotein expressed in a variety of cancers, including breast carcinomas. NGAL can inhibit erythroid cell production, leading to anemia. Anemia usually occurs in cancer patients and negatively affects quality of life. However, current treatment for cancer-related anemia has potential complications. ErbB2, NGAL, and anemia have all been associated with increased metastasis and poor prognosis in breast cancer patients, although the relationship between ErbB2 and NGAL expression is not clear. Here, using breast cancer cell lines in vitro and transgenic mice carrying the activated c-neu oncogene driven by a mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV-neu) in vivo, we show that ErbB2 overexpression leads to NGAL upregulation, which is dependent on nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activity. MMTV-neu transgenic mice developed anemia after tumor onset, and anemia progression could be partially arrested by a NF-kappaB inhibitor and ErbB2-targeted therapy. Taken together, upregulation of NGAL by ErbB2 through NF-kappaB activation is involved in cancer-related anemia, and the ErbB2, NF-kappaB, and NGAL pathways may serve as potential therapeutic targets for cancer-related anemia.
    Cancer Research 12/2009; 69(24):9163-8. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Overexpression of the ErbB2 receptor tyrosine kinase is prevalent in approximately 30% of human breast cancers and confers Taxol resistance. Our previous work has shown that ErbB2 inhibits Taxol-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells by transcriptionally up-regulating p21(Cip1). However, the mechanism of ErbB2-mediated p21(Cip1) up-regulation is unclear. Here, we show that ErbB2 up-regulates p21(Cip1) transcription through increased Src activity in ErbB2-overexpressing cells. Src activation further activated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) that recognizes a SIE binding site on the p21(Cip1) promoter required for ErbB2-mediated p21(Cip1) transcriptional up-regulation. Both Src and STAT3 inhibitors restored Taxol sensitivity in resistant ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells. Our data suggest that ErbB2 overexpression can activate STAT3 through Src leading to transcriptional up-regulation of p21(Cip1) that confers Taxol resistance of breast cancer cells. Our study suggests a potential clinical application of Src and STAT3 inhibitors in Taxol sensitization of ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancers.
    Molecular Cancer Research 05/2009; 7(4):592-600. · 4.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ubiquitously expressed 14-3-3 proteins are involved in numerous important cellular functions. The loss of 14-3-3sigma is a common event in breast cancer; however, the role of other 14-3-3s in breast cancer is unclear. Recently, we found that 14-3-3zeta overexpression occurs in early stage breast diseases and contributes to transformation of human mammary epithelial cells. Here, we show that 14-3-3zeta overexpression also persisted in invasive ductal carcinoma and contributed to the further progression of breast cancer. To examine the clinical effect of 14-3-3zeta overexpression in advanced stage breast cancer, we performed immunohistochemical analysis of 14-3-3zeta expression in primary breast carcinomas. 14-3-3zeta overexpression occurred in 42% of breast tumors and was determined to be an independent prognostic factor for reduced disease-free survival. 14-3-3zeta overexpression combined with ErbB2 overexpression and positive lymph node status identified a subgroup of patients at high risk for developing distant metastasis. To investigate whether 14-3-3zeta overexpression causally promotes breast cancer progression, we overexpressed 14-3-3zeta by stable transfection or reduced 14-3-3zeta expression by siRNA in cancer cell lines. Increased 14-3-3zeta expression enhanced anchorage-independent growth and inhibited stress-induced apoptosis, whereas down-regulation of 14-3-3zeta reduced anchorage-independent growth and sensitized cells to stress-induced apoptosis via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Transient blockade of 14-3-3zeta expression by siRNA in cancer cells effectively reduced the onset and growth of tumor xenografts in vivo. Therefore, 14-3-3zeta overexpression is a novel molecular marker for disease recurrence in breast cancer patients and may serve as an effective therapeutic target in patients whose tumors overexpress 14-3-3zeta.
    Cancer Research 04/2009; 69(8):3425-32. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent progress in diagnostic tools allows many breast cancers to be detected at an early preinvasive stage. Thus, a better understanding of the molecular basis of early breast cancer progression is essential. Previously, we discovered that 14-3-3 zeta is overexpressed in >40% of advanced breast cancers, and this overexpression predicts poor patient survival. Here, we examined at what stage of breast disease 14-3-3 zeta overexpression occurs, and we found that increased expression of 14-3-3 zeta begins at atypical ductal hyperplasia, an early stage of breast disease. To determine whether 14-3-3 zeta overexpression is a decisive early event in breast cancer, we overexpressed 14-3-3 zeta in MCF10A cells and examined its effect in a three-dimensional culture model. We discovered that 14-3-3 zeta overexpression severely disrupted the acini architecture resulting in luminal filling. Proper lumen formation is a result of anoikis, apoptosis due to detachment from the basement membrane. We found that 14-3-3 zeta overexpression conferred resistance to anoikis. Additionally, 14-3-3 zeta overexpression in MCF10A cells and in mammary epithelial cells (MEC) from 14-3-3 zeta transgenic mice reduced expression of p53, which is known to mediate anoikis. Mechanistically, 14-3-3 zeta induced hyperactivation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway which led to phosphorylation and translocation of the MDM2 E3 ligase resulting in increased p53 degradation. Ectopic expression of p53 restored luminal apoptosis in 14-3-3 zeta-overexpressing MCF10A acini in three-dimensional cultures. These data suggest that 14-3-3 zeta overexpression is a critical event in early breast disease, and down-regulation of p53 is one of the mechanisms by which 14-3-3 zeta alters MEC acini structure and increases the risk of breast cancer.
    Cancer Research 03/2008; 68(6):1760-7. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that PTEN loss confers trastuzumab resistance in ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer using cell culture, xenograft models, and patient samples. This is a critical clinical problem because trastuzumab is used in a variety of therapeutic regimens, and at the current time, there are no established clinical strategies to overcome trastuzumab resistance. Here, we did preclinical studies on the efficacy of clinically applicable inhibitors of the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway to restore trastuzumab sensitivity to PTEN-deficient cells. Cell culture and xenograft models were used to test a panel of clinically applicable, small-molecule inhibitors of the Akt/mTOR signal transduction pathway, a critical pathway downstream of ErbB2, and identify compounds with the ability to restore trastuzumab sensitivity to PTEN-deficient cells. When trastuzumab was combined with the Akt inhibitor triciribine, breast cancer cell growth was inhibited and apoptosis was induced. In a xenograft model, combination therapy with trastuzumab and triciribine dramatically inhibited tumor growth. The combination of trastuzumab and the mTOR inhibitor RAD001 also slowed breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Combining trastuzumab with inhibitors of the Akt/mTOR pathway is a clinically applicable strategy and combinations of trastuzumab with triciribine or RAD001 are promising regimens for rescue of trastuzumab resistance caused by PTEN loss.
    Clinical Cancer Research 11/2007; 13(19):5883-8. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ErbB2 is an excellent target for cancer therapies. Unfortunately, the outcome of current therapies for ErbB2-positive breast cancers remains unsatisfying due to resistance and side effects. New therapies for ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancers continue to be in great need. Peptide therapy using cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) as peptide carriers is promising because the internalization is highly efficient, and the cargoes delivered can be bioactive. However, the major obstacle in using these powerful CPPs for therapy is their lack of specificity. Here, we sought to develop a peptide carrier that could introduce therapeutics specifically to ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells. By modifying the HIV TAT-derived CPP and conjugating anti-HER-2/neu peptide mimetic (AHNP), we developed the peptide carrier (P3-AHNP) that specifically targeted ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. A signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3)-inhibiting peptide conjugated to this peptide carrier (P3-AHNP-STAT3BP) was delivered more efficiently into ErbB2-overexpressing than ErbB2 low-expressing cancer cells in vitro and successfully decreased STAT3 binding to STAT3-interacting DNA sequence. P3-AHNP-STAT3BP inhibited cell growth in vitro, with ErbB2-overexpressing 435.eB breast cancer cells being more sensitive to the treatment than the ErbB2 low-expressing MDA-MB-435 cells. Compared with ErbB2 low-expressing MDA-MB-435 xenografts, i.p. injected P3-AHNP-STAT3BP preferentially accumulated in 435.eB xenografts, which led to more reduction of proliferation and increased apoptosis and targeted inhibition of tumor growth. This novel peptide delivery system provided a sound basis for the future development of safe and effective new-generation therapeutics to cancer-specific molecular targets.
    Cancer Research 05/2006; 66(7):3764-72. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ErbB2 overexpression confers resistance to taxol-induced apoptosis by inhibiting p34(Cdc2) activation. One mechanism is via ErbB2-mediated upregulation of p21(Cip1), which inhibits Cdc2. Here, we report that the inhibitory phosphorylation on Cdc2 tyrosine (Y)15 (Cdc2-Y15-p) is elevated in ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells and primary tumors. ErbB2 binds to and colocalizes with cyclin B-Cdc2 complexes and phosphorylates Cdc2-Y15. The ErbB2 kinase domain is sufficient to directly phosphorylate Cdc2-Y15. Increased Cdc2-Y15-p in ErbB2-overexpressing cells corresponds with delayed M phase entry. Expressing a nonphosphorylatable mutant of Cdc2 renders cells more sensitive to taxol-induced apoptosis. Thus, ErbB2 membrane RTK can confer resistance to taxol-induced apoptosis by directly phosphorylating Cdc2.
    Molecular Cell 06/2002; 9(5):993-1004. · 15.28 Impact Factor