[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metastatic dissemination of ovarian tumors involves the invasion of tumor cell clusters into the mesothelial cell lining of peritoneal cavity organs; however, the tumor-specific factors that allow ovarian cancer cells to spread are unclear. We used an in vitro assay that models the initial step of ovarian cancer metastasis, clearance of the mesothelial cell layer, to examine the clearance ability of a large panel of both established and primary ovarian tumor cells. Comparison of the gene and protein expression profiles of clearance-competent and clearance-incompetent cells revealed that mesenchymal genes are enriched in tumor populations that display strong clearance activity, while epithelial genes are enriched in those with weak or undetectable activity. Overexpression of transcription factors SNAI1, TWIST1, and ZEB1, which regulate the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), promoted mesothelial clearance in cell lines with weak activity, while knockdown of the EMT-regulatory transcription factors TWIST1 and ZEB1 attenuated mesothelial clearance in ovarian cancer cell lines with strong activity. These findings provide important insights into the mechanisms associated with metastatic progression of ovarian cancer and suggest that inhibiting pathways that drive mesenchymal programs may suppress tumor cell invasion of peritoneal tissues.
The Journal of clinical investigation 04/2014; · 15.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mouse mammary gland provides a powerful model system for studying processes involved in epithelial tissue development. Although markers that enrich for mammary stem cells and progenitors have been identified, our understanding of the mammary developmental hierarchy remains incomplete.
We used the MMTV promoter linked to the reverse tetracycline transactivator to induce H2BGFP expression in the mouse mammary gland. Mammary epithelial cells (MECs) from virgin mice were sorted by flow cytometry for expression of the mammary stem cell/progenitor markers CD24 and CD29, and H2BGFP. Sorted populations were analyzed for in vivo repopulation ability, expression of mammary lineage markers, and differential gene expression.
The reconstituting activity of CD24+/CD29+ cells in cleared fat pad transplantation assays was not distinguished in GFP + compared to GFP- subpopulations. However, within the CD24+/CD29lo luminal progenitor-enriched population, H2BGFP+, but not H2BGFP-, MECs formed mammary structures in transplantation assays; moreover, this activity was dramatically enhanced in pregnant recipients. These outgrowths contained luminal and myoepithelial mammary lineages and produced milk, but lacked the capacity for serial transplantation. Transcriptional microarray analysis revealed that H2BGFP+/CD24+/CD29lo MECs are distinct from H2BGFP-/CD24+/CD29lo MECs and enriched for gene expression signatures with both the stem cell (CD24+/CD29+) and luminal progenitor (CD24+/CD29lo/CD61+) compartments.
We have identified a population of MECs containing pregnancy-activated multipotent progenitors that are present in the virgin mammary gland and contribute to the expansion of the mammary gland during pregnancy.
Breast cancer research: BCR 08/2013; 15(4):R65. · 5.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease and can be classified based on gene expression profiles that reflect distinct epithelial subtypes. We identify prostate-derived ETS factor (PDEF) as a mediator of mammary luminal epithelial lineage-specific gene expression and as a factor required for tumorigenesis in a subset of breast cancers. PDEF levels strongly correlate with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive luminal breast cancer, and PDEF transcription is inversely regulated by ER and GATA3. Furthermore, PDEF is essential for luminal breast cancer cell survival and is required in models of endocrine resistance. These results offer insights into the function of this ETS factor that are clinically relevant and may be of therapeutic value for patients with breast cancer treated with endocrine therapy.
Cancer cell 06/2013; 23(6):753-67. · 25.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dynamic actin cytoskeletal reorganization is integral to cell motility. Profilins are well-characterized regulators of actin polymerization; however, functional differences among coexpressed profilin isoforms are not well defined. Here, we demonstrate that profilin-1 and profilin-2 differentially regulate membrane protrusion, motility, and invasion; these processes are promoted by profilin-1 and suppressed by profilin-2. Compared to profilin-1, profilin-2 preferentially drives actin polymerization by the Ena/VASP protein, EVL. Profilin-2 and EVL suppress protrusive activity and cell motility by an actomyosin contractility-dependent mechanism. Importantly, EVL or profilin-2 downregulation enhances invasion in vitro and in vivo. In human breast cancer, lower EVL expression correlates with high invasiveness and poor patient outcome. We propose that profilin-2/EVL-mediated actin polymerization enhances actin bundling and suppresses breast cancer cell invasion.
Cancer cell 11/2012; 22(5):615-30. · 25.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The PI3K/mTOR-pathway is the most commonly dysregulated pathway in epithelial cancers and represents an important target for cancer therapeutics. Here, we show that dual inhibition of PI3K/mTOR in ovarian cancer-spheroids leads to death of inner matrix-deprived cells, whereas matrix-attached cells are resistant. This matrix-associated resistance is mediated by drug-induced upregulation of cellular survival programs that involve both FOXO-regulated transcription and cap-independent translation. Inhibition of any one of several upregulated proteins, including Bcl-2, EGFR, or IGF1R, abrogates resistance to PI3K/mTOR inhibition. These results demonstrate that acute adaptive responses to PI3K/mTOR inhibition in matrix-attached cells resemble well-conserved stress responses to nutrient and growth factor deprivation. Bypass of this resistance mechanism through rational design of drug combinations could significantly enhance PI3K-targeted drug efficacy.
Cancer cell 02/2012; 21(2):227-39. · 25.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aberrant activation of Notch receptors has been implicated in breast cancer; however, the mechanisms contributing to Notch-dependent transformation remain elusive because Notch displays dichotomous functional activities, promoting both proliferation and growth arrest. We investigated the cellular basis for the heterogeneous responses to Notch pathway activation in 3D cultures of MCF-10A mammary epithelial cells. Expression of a constitutively active Notch-1 intracellular domain (NICD) was found to induce two distinct types of 3D structures: large, hyperproliferative structures and small, growth-arrested structures with reduced cell-to-matrix adhesion. Interestingly, we found that these heterogeneous phenotypes reflect differences in Notch pathway activation levels; high Notch activity caused down-regulation of multiple matrix-adhesion genes and inhibition of proliferation, whereas low Notch activity maintained matrix adhesion and provoked a strong hyperproliferative response. Moreover, microarray analyses implicated NICD-induced p63 down-regulation in loss of matrix adhesion. In addition, a reverse-phase protein array-based analysis and subsequent loss-of-function studies identified STAT3 as a dominant downstream mediator of the NICD-induced outgrowth. These results indicate that the phenotypic responses to Notch are determined by the dose of pathway activation; and this dose affects the balance between growth-stimulative and growth-suppressive effects. This unique feature of Notch signaling provides insights into mechanisms that contribute to the dichotomous effects of Notch during development and tumorigenesis.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2010; 107(11):5012-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Shared-usage high throughput screening (HTS) facilities are becoming more common in academe as large-scale small molecule and genome-scale RNAi screening strategies are adopted for basic research purposes. These shared facilities require a unique informatics infrastructure that must not only provide access to and analysis of screening data, but must also manage the administrative and technical challenges associated with conducting numerous, interleaved screening efforts run by multiple independent research groups.
We have developed Screensaver, a free, open source, web-based lab information management system (LIMS), to address the informatics needs of our small molecule and RNAi screening facility. Screensaver supports the storage and comparison of screening data sets, as well as the management of information about screens, screeners, libraries, and laboratory work requests. To our knowledge, Screensaver is one of the first applications to support the storage and analysis of data from both genome-scale RNAi screening projects and small molecule screening projects.
The informatics and administrative needs of an HTS facility may be best managed by a single, integrated, web-accessible application such as Screensaver. Screensaver has proven useful in meeting the requirements of the ICCB-Longwood/NSRB Screening Facility at Harvard Medical School, and has provided similar benefits to other HTS facilities.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proteins that are required for anchorage-independent survival of tumor cells represent attractive targets for therapeutic intervention since this property is believed to be critical for survival of tumor cells displaced from their natural niches. Anchorage-independent survival is induced by growth factor receptor hyperactivation in many cell types. We aimed to identify molecules that critically regulate IGF-1-induced anchorage-independent survival.
We conducted a high-throughput siRNA screen and identified PTK6 as a critical component of IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R)-induced anchorage-independent survival of mammary epithelial cells. PTK6 downregulation induces apoptosis of breast and ovarian cancer cells deprived of matrix attachment, whereas its overexpression enhances survival. Reverse-phase protein arrays and subsequent analyses revealed that PTK6 forms a complex with IGF-1R and the adaptor protein IRS-1, and modulates anchorage-independent survival by regulating IGF-1R expression and phosphorylation. PTK6 is highly expressed not only in the previously reported Her2(+) breast cancer subtype, but also in high grade ER(+), Luminal B tumors and high expression is associated with adverse outcomes.
These findings highlight PTK6 as a critical regulator of anchorage-independent survival of breast and ovarian tumor cells via modulation of IGF-1 receptor signaling, thus supporting PTK6 as a potential therapeutic target for multiple tumor types. The combined genomic and proteomic approaches in this report provide an effective strategy for identifying oncogenes and their mechanism of action.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(7):e11729. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) activate multiple downstream cytosolic tyrosine kinases following ligand stimulation. SRC family kinases (SFKs), which are recruited to activated RTKs through SH2 domain interactions with RTK autophosphorylation sites, are targets of many subfamilies of RTKs. To date, there has not been a systematic analysis of the downstream substrates of such receptor-activated SFKs. Here, we conducted quantitative mass spectrometry utilizing stable isotope labeling (SILAC) analysis to profile candidate SRC-substrates induced by the CSF-1R tyrosine kinase by comparing the phosphotyrosine-containing peptides from cells expressing either CSF-1R or a mutant form of this RTK that is unable to bind to SFKs. This analysis identified previously uncharacterized changes in tyrosine phosphorylation induced by CSF-1R in mammary epithelial cells as well as a set of candidate substrates dependent on SRC recruitment to CSF-1R. Many of these candidates may be direct SRC targets as the amino acids flanking the phosphorylation sites in these proteins are similar to known SRC kinase phosphorylation motifs. The putative SRC-dependent proteins include known SRC substrates as well as previously unrecognized SRC targets. The collection of substrates includes proteins involved in multiple cellular processes including cell-cell adhesion, endocytosis, and signal transduction. Analyses of phosphoproteomic data from breast and lung cancer patient samples identified a subset of the SRC-dependent phosphorylation sites as being strongly correlated with SRC activation, which represent candidate markers of SRC activation downstream of receptor tyrosine kinases in human tumors. In summary, our data reveal quantitative site-specific changes in tyrosine phosphorylation induced by CSF-1R activation in epithelial cells and identify many candidate SRC-dependent substrates phosphorylated downstream of an RTK.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(10):e13587. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful technique for reverse genetics and drug discovery, and in both of these areas large-scale high-throughput RNAi screens are commonly performed. The statistical techniques used to analyze these screens are frequently borrowed directly from small-molecule screening; however, small-molecule and RNAi data characteristics differ in meaningful ways. We examine the similarities and differences between RNAi and small-molecule screens, highlighting particular characteristics of RNAi screen data that must be addressed during analysis. Additionally, we provide guidance on selection of analysis techniques in the context of a sample workflow.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) is frequently amplified and highly expressed in lobular carcinomas of the breast. In this report, we evaluated the biological activity of FGFR1 in a wide range of in vitro assays. Conditional activation of FGFR1 in the nontransformed MCF10A human mammary cell line, MCF10A, resulted in cellular transformation marked by epidermal growth factor-independent cell growth, anchorage-independent cell proliferation and survival, loss of cell polarity, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Interestingly, small-molecule or small interfering RNA inhibition of ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) activity induced death of the FGFR1-transformed cells, but not of the parental MCF10A cell line. The dependence of FGFR1-transformed cells on RSK activity was further confirmed in cell lines derived from mouse and human lobular carcinomas that possess high FGFR1 activity. Taken together, these results show the transforming activity of FGFR1 in mammary epithelial cells and identify RSK as a critical component of FGFR1 signaling in lobular carcinomas, thus implicating RSK as a candidate therapeutic target in FGFR1-expressing tumors.
Cancer Research 04/2009; 69(6):2244-51. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To provide a systematic analysis of genes that regulate epithelial cell migration, we performed a high throughput wound healing screen with MCF-10A breast epithelial cells, using siRNAs targeting 1,081 human genes encoding phosphatases, kinases and proteins predicted to influence cell migration and adhesion. The primary screen identified three categories of hits: those that accelerate, those that inhibit and those that impair migration with associated effects on cell proliferation or metabolism. Extensive validation of all the hits yielded 66 high confidence genes that, when downregulated, either accelerated or impaired migration; 42 of these high confidence genes have not been previously associated with motility or adhesion. Time-lapse video microscopy revealed a broad spectrum of phenotypic changes involving alterations in the extent and nature of disruption of cell-cell adhesion, directionality of motility, cell polarity and shape, and protrusion dynamics. Informatics analysis highlighted three major signalling nodes, beta-catenin, beta1-integrin and actin, and a large proportion of the genes that accelerated migration impaired cell-cell adhesion.