Stephan M Feller

University of Oxford, Oxford, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (99)560.08 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: There is a growing interest in understanding the properties of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs); however, the characterization of these states remains an open challenge. IDPs appear to have functional roles that diverge from those of folded proteins and revolve around their ability to act as hubs for protein-protein interactions. To gain a better understanding of the modes of binding of IDPs, we combined statistical mechanics, calorimetry, and NMR spectroscopy to investigate the recognition and binding of a fragment from the disordered protein Gab2 by the growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2), a key interaction for normal cell signaling and cancer development. Structural ensemble refinement by NMR chemical shifts, thermodynamics measurements, and analysis of point mutations indicated that the population of preexisting bound conformations in the free-state ensemble of Gab2 is an essential determinant for recognition and binding by Grb2. A key role was found for transient polyproline II (PPII) structures and extended conformations. Our findings are likely to have very general implications for the biological behavior of IDPs in light of the evidence that a large fraction of these proteins possess a specific propensity to form PPII and to adopt conformations that are more extended than the typical random-coil states.
    Biophysical Journal 04/2014; 106(8):1771-9. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is highly malignant and refractory to therapy. The majority of existing mouse SCC models involve multiple gene mutations. Very few mouse models of spontaneous SCC have been generated by a single gene deletion. Here we report a haploinsufficient SCC mouse model in which exon 3 of the Tp53BP2 gene (a p53 binding protein) was deleted in one allele in a BALB/c genetic background. Tp53BP2 encodes ASPP2 (ankyrin repeats, SH3 domain and protein rich region containing protein 2). Keratinocyte differentiation induces ASPP2 and its expression is inversely correlated with p63 protein in vitro and in vivo. Up-regulation of p63 expression is required for ASPP2(Δexon3/+) BALB/c mice to develop SCC, as heterozygosity of p63 but not p53 prevents them from developing it. Mechanistically, ASPP2 inhibits ΔNp63 expression through its ability to bind IκB and enhance nuclear Rel/A p65, a component of the NF-κB transcription complex, which mediates the repression of p63. Reduced ASPP2 expression associates with tumor metastasis and increased p63 expression in human head and neck SCCs. This study identifies ASPP2 as a tumor suppressor that suppresses SCC via inflammatory signaling through NF-κB-mediated repression of p63.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the heart, cytoplasmic actin networks are thought to have important roles in mechanical support, myofibrillogenesis, and ion channel function. However, subcellular localization of cytoplasmic isoforms and proteins involved in the modulation of the cytoplasmic actin networks are elusive. Mena and VASP are important regulators of actin dynamics. Due to the lethal phenotype of mice with combined deficiency in Mena and VASP, however, distinct cardiac roles of the proteins remain speculative. In the present study, we analyzed the physiological functions of Mena and VASP in the heart and also investigated the role of the proteins in the organization of cytoplasmic actin networks. We generated a mouse model, which simultaneously lacks Mena and VASP in the heart. Mena/VASP double-deficiency induced dilated cardiomyopathy and conduction abnormalities. In wild-type mice, Mena and VASP specifically interacted with a distinct alphaII-Spectrin splice variant (SH3i), which is in cardiomyocytes exclusively localized at Z- and intercalated discs. At Z- and intercalated discs, Mena and beta-actin localized to the edges of the sarcomeres, where the thin filaments are anchored. In Mena/VASP double-deficient mice, beta-actin networks were disturbed and the integrity of Z- and intercalated discs was markedly impaired. Together, our data suggest that Mena, VASP, and alphaII-Spectrin assemble cardiac multi-protein complexes, which regulate cytoplasmic actin networks. Conversely, Mena/VASP deficiency results in disturbed beta-actin assembly, Z- and intercalated disc malformation, and induces dilated cardiomyopathy and conduction abnormalities.
    Cell Communication and Signaling 08/2013; 11(1):56. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major contributor to cancer mortality and morbidity. LIM kinase 2 (LIMK2) promotes tumour cell invasion and metastasis. The objectives of this study were to determine how LIMK2 expression is associated with CRC progression and patient outcome, and to use genetically modified Drosophila and mice to determine how LIMK2 deletion affects gastrointestinal stem cell regulation and tumour development. DESIGN: LIMK2 expression and activity were measured by immunostaining tumours from CRC-prone mice, human CRC cell lines and 650 human tumours. LIMK knockdown in Drosophila or Limk2 deletion in mice allowed for assessment of their contributions to gastrointestinal stem cell homeostasis and tumour development. RESULTS: LIMK2 expression was reduced in intestinal tumours of cancer-prone mice, as well as in human CRC cell lines and tumours. Reduced LIMK2 expression and substrate phosphorylation were associated with shorter patient survival. Genetic analysis in Drosophila midgut and intestinal epithelial cells isolated from genetically modified mice revealed a conserved role for LIMK2 in constraining gastrointestinal stem cell proliferation. Limk2 deletion increased colon tumour size in a colitis-associated colorectal mouse cancer model. CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed that LIMK2 expression and activity progressively decrease with advancing stage, and supports the hypothesis that there is selective pressure for reduced LIMK2 expression in CRC to relieve negative constraints imposed upon gastrointestinal stem cells.
    Gut 04/2013; · 10.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thymocyte-expressed molecule involved in selection (THEMIS) is a recently identified regulator of thymocyte positive selection. THEMIS's mechanism of action is unknown, and whether it has a role in TCR-proximal signaling is controversial. In this article, we show that THEMIS and the adapter molecule growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2) associate constitutively through binding of a conserved PxRPxK motif within the proline-rich region 1 of THEMIS to the C-terminal SH3-domain of GRB2. This association is indispensable for THEMIS recruitment to the immunological synapse via the transmembrane adapter linker for activation of T cells (LAT) and for THEMIS phosphorylation by Lck and ZAP-70. Two major sites of tyrosine phosphorylation were mapped to a YY-motif close to proline-rich region 1. The YY-motif was crucial for GRB2 binding, suggesting that this region of THEMIS might control local phosphorylation-dependent conformational changes important for THEMIS function. Finally, THEMIS binding to GRB2 was required for thymocyte development. Our data firmly assign THEMIS to the TCR-proximal signaling cascade as a participant in the LAT signalosome and suggest that the THEMIS-GRB2 complex might be involved in shaping the nature of Ras signaling, thereby governing thymic selection.
    The Journal of Immunology 03/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We comparatively analyzed the basal activity of extra-cellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk1/2) in lysates of 10 human colorectal cancer cell lines by semi-quantitative Western blotting and time-resolved NMR spectroscopy. Both methods revealed heterogeneous levels of endogenous Erk1/2 activities in a highly consistent manner. Upon treatment with U0126, an inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) acting upstream of Erk1/2, Western-blotting and NMR congruently reported specific modulations of cellular phospho-Erk levels that translated into reduced kinase activities. Results obtained in this study highlight the complementary nature of antibody- and NMR-based phospho-detection techniques. They further exemplify the usefulness of time-resolved NMR measurements in providing fast and quantitative readouts of kinase activities and kinase inhibitor efficacies in native cellular environments.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 01/2013; · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    Stephan M Feller
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    ABSTRACT: The newly installed Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize (http://www.breakthroughprizeinlifesciences.org/), which comes with more than double the financial reward of the Nobel Prize, has been awarded to several world-leaders in the field of cancer-related cell signaling and therapy research: Lewis C. Cantley (PI3 kinase), Hans Clevers (Wnt signaling), Charles L. Sawyers (signaling-targeted cancer therapy), Bert Vogelstein (colorectal cancer signaling) and Robert Weinberg (Ras & other cancer-relevant genes). They have all made remarkable contributions to our understanding of cell communication and malignancies over the last decades. Needless to say that virtually all other awardees of the 11 scientists honored in 2013 have also, in one way or another, touched upon signaling molecules, highlighting the fundamental interdisciplinarity and significance of signal transduction for living cells in general. For example, Shinya Yamanaka's exciting work was built on the four transcriptional signaling proteins, Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc.
    Cell Communication and Signaling 01/2013; 11(1):17. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The lysyl oxidase gene inhibits Ras signaling in transformed fibroblasts and breast cancer cells. Its activity was mapped to the 162 amino acid propeptide domain (LOX-PP) of the lysyl oxidase precursor protein. LOX-PP inhibited the Her-2/Ras signaling axis in breast cancer cells, and reduced the Her-2-driven breast tumor burden in a xenograft model. Since its mechanism of action is largely unknown, co-affinity-purification/mass spectrometry was performed and the "Cbl-interacting protein of 85-kDa" (CIN85) identified as an associating protein. CIN85 is an SH3-containing adapter protein that is overexpressed in invasive breast cancers. The CIN85 SH3 domains interact with c-Cbl, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, via an unconventional PxxxPR ligand sequence, with the highest affinity displayed by the SH3-B domain. Interaction with CIN85 recruits c-Cbl to the AMAP1 complex where its ubiquitination activity is necessary for cancer cells to develop an invasive phenotype and to degrade the matrix. Direct interaction of LOX-PP with CIN85 was confirmed using co-immunoprecipitation analysis of lysates from breast cancer cells and of purified expressed proteins. CIN85 interaction with c-Cbl was reduced by LOX-PP. Domain specific CIN85 regions and deletion mutants of LOX-PP were prepared and used to map the sites of interaction to the SH3-B domain of CIN85 and to an epitope encompassing amino acids 111 to 116 of LOX-PP. Specific LOX-PP point mutant proteins P111A and R116A failed to interact with CIN85 or to compete for CIN85 binding with c-Cbl. Structural modeling identified a new atypical PxpxxRh SH3-binding motif in this region of LOX-PP. The LOX-PP interaction with CIN85 was shown to reduce the invasive phenotype of breast cancer cells, including their ability to degrade the surrounding extracellular matrix and for Matrigel outgrowth. Thus, LOX-PP interacts with CIN85 via a novel SH3-binding motif and this association reduces CIN85-promoted invasion by breast cancer cells.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e77288. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    Stephan Feller
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    ABSTRACT: With iPS cells, sncRNAs, chromatin modification regulation and cancer stem cells already cooling off again, i.e. not being guaranteed publications in the 'ultimate' journals anymore, what will be very soon the new red-hot (or super-cool, i.e. anything but lukewarm) 'kid on the block'? We would vote for microproteins. In case you do not know what they are, no need to worry: nobody does.
    Cell Communication and Signaling 12/2012; 10(1):42. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SH2 domains are long known prominent players in the field of phosphotyrosine recognition within signaling protein networks. However, over the years they have been joined by an increasing number of other protein domain families that can, at least with some of their members, also recognise pTyr residues in a sequence-specific context. This superfamily of pTyr recognition modules, which includes substantial fractions of the PTB domains, as well as much smaller, or even single member fractions like the HYB domain, the PKCdelta and PKCtheta C2 domains and RKIP, represents a fascinating, medically relevant and hence intensely studied part of the cellular signaling architecture of metazoans. Protein tyrosine phosphorylation clearly serves a plethora of functions and pTyr recognition domains are used in a similarly wide range of interaction modes, which encompass, for example, partner protein switching, tandem recognition functionalities and the interaction with catalytically active protein domains. If looked upon closely enough, virtually no pTyr recognition and regulation event is an exact mirror image of another one in the same cell. Thus, the more we learn about the biology and ultrastructural details of pTyr recognition domains, the more does it become apparent that nature cleverly combines and varies a few basic principles to generate a sheer endless number of sophisticated and highly effective recognition/regulation events that are, under normal conditions, elegantly orchestrated in time and space. This knowledge is also valuable when exploring pTyr reader domains as diagnostic tools, drug targets or therapeutic reagents to combat human diseases.
    Cell Communication and Signaling 11/2012; 10(1):32. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The adaptor protein Grb2 links cell-surface receptors, such as Her2, to the multisite docking proteins Gab1 and 2, leading to cell growth and proliferation in breast and other cancers. Gab2 interacts with the C-terminal SH3 domain (SH3C) of Grb2 through atypical RxxK motifs within polyproline II or 3(10) helices. A virtual screen was conducted for putative binders of the Grb2 SH3C domain. Of the top hits, 34 were validated experimentally by surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy and isothermal titration calorimetry. A subset of these molecules was found to inhibit the Grb2-Gab2 interaction in a competition assay, with moderate to low affinities (5: IC(50) 320μM). The most promising binders were based on a dihydro-s-triazine scaffold, and are the first small molecules reported to target the Grb2 SH3C protein-interaction surface.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 10/2012; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    Stephan M Feller
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    ABSTRACT: Can trustworthy science flourish in countries suffering from dictatorship? This is an increasingly relevant question. Many commercial publishers want to maximise their profits (as is to be expected in a capitalistic system) and are pushing into non-democratic countries with rapid economic growth like China. But how much can we trust the papers coming from countries with dictatorial regimes?
    Cell Communication and Signaling 08/2012; 10(1):24. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    Stephan M Feller, Marc Lewitzky
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    ABSTRACT: A considerable number of soluble proteins in cells that biochemists try to analyze are difficult to handle because they seem to behave like sponges that 'suck up' many other proteins. We argue here that this behavior is commonly an artifact introduced by the experimenting scientist and that we need to study proteins like animals in the wild: they will only reveal many of their secrets when carefully observed in their largely undisturbed, natural environment. Computational studies that attempt to realistically model cellular protein networks must also factor in the diverse protein habitats to be found in cells.
    Cell Communication and Signaling 06/2012; 10(1):15. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    Marc Lewitzky, Philip C Simister, Stephan M Feller
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    ABSTRACT: The molecular architectures of intracellular signaling networks are largely unknown. Understanding their design principles and mechanisms of processing information is essential to grasp the molecular basis of virtually all biological processes. This is particularly challenging for human pathologies like cancers, as essentially each tumor is a unique disease with vastly deranged signaling networks. However, even in normal cells we know almost nothing. A few 'signalosomes', like the COP9 and the TCR signaling complexes have been described, but detailed structural information on their architectures is largely lacking. Similarly, many growth factor receptors, for example EGF receptor, insulin receptor and c-Met, signal via huge protein complexes built on large platform proteins (Gab, Irs/Dok, p130Cas[BCAR1], Frs families etc.), which are structurally not well understood. Subsequent higher order processing events remain even more enigmatic. We discuss here methods that can be employed to study signaling architectures, and the importance of too often neglected features like macromolecular crowding, intrinsic disorder in proteins and the sophisticated cellular infrastructures, which need to be carefully considered in order to develop a more mature understanding of cellular signal processing.
    FEBS letters 04/2012; 586(17):2740-50. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumors of the head and neck represent a molecularly diverse set of human cancers, but relatively few proteins have actually been shown to drive the disease at the molecular level. To identify new targets for individualized diagnosis or therapeutic intervention, we performed a kinase centric chemical proteomics screen and quantified 146 kinases across 34 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines using intensity-based label-free mass spectrometry. Statistical analysis of the profiles revealed significant intercell line differences for 42 kinases (p < 0.05), and loss of function experiments using siRNA in high and low expressing cell lines identified kinases including EGFR, NEK9, LYN, JAK1, WEE1, and EPHA2 involved in cell survival and proliferation. EGFR inhibition by the small molecule inhibitors lapatinib, gefitinib, and erlotinib as well as siRNA led to strong reduction of viability in high but not low expressing lines, confirming EGFR as a drug target in 10-20% of HNSCC cell lines. Similarly, high, but not low EPHA2-expressing cells showed strongly reduced viability concomitant with down-regulation of AKT and ERK signaling following EPHA2 siRNA treatment or EPHA1-Fc ligand exposure, suggesting that EPHA2 is a novel drug target in HNSCC. This notion is underscored by immunohistochemical analyses showing that high EPHA2 expression is detected in a subset of HNSCC tissues and is associated with poor prognosis. Given that the approved pan-SRC family kinase inhibitor dasatinib is also a very potent inhibitor of EPHA2, our findings may lead to new therapeutic options for HNSCC patients. Importantly, the strategy employed in this study is generic and therefore also of more general utility for the identification of novel drug targets and molecular pathway markers in tumors. This may ultimately lead to a more rational approach to individualized cancer diagnosis and therapy.
    Molecular &amp Cellular Proteomics 09/2011; 10(12):M111.011635. · 7.25 Impact Factor
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    Stephan M Feller
    Cell Communication and Signaling 09/2011; 9:21. · 5.09 Impact Factor
  • Philip C Simister, Stephan M Feller
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    ABSTRACT: Large multi-site docking (LMD) proteins of the Gab, IRS, FRS, DOK and Cas families consist of one or two folded N-terminal domains, followed by a predominantly disordered C-terminal extension. Their primary function is to provide a docking platform for signalling molecules (including PI3K, PLC, Grb2, Crk, RasGAP, SHP2) in intracellular signal transmission from activated cell-surface receptors, to which they become coupled. A detailed analysis of the structural nature and intrinsic disorder propensity of LMD proteins, with Gab proteins as specific examples, is presented. By primary sequence analysis and literature review the varying levels of disorder and hidden order are predicted, revealing properties and a physical architecture that help to explain their biological function and characteristics, common for network hub proteins. The virulence factor, CagA, from Helicobacter pylori is able to mimic Gab function once injected by this human pathogen into stomach epithelial cells. Its predicted differential structure is compared to Gab1 with respect to its functional mimicry. Lastly, we discuss how LMD proteins, in particular Gab1 and Gab2, and their protein partners, such as SH2 and SH3 domain-containing adaptors like Grb2, might qualify for future anti-cancer strategies in developing protein-protein interaction (PPI) inhibitors towards binary interactors consisting of an intrinsically disordered epitope and a structured domain surface.
    Molecular BioSystems 09/2011; 8(1):33-46. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Molecular processes depending on protein–protein interactions can use consensus recognition sequences that possess defined secondary structures. Left-handed polyproline II (PPII) helices are a class of secondary structure commonly involved with cellular signal transduction. However, unlike -helices, for which a substantial body of work exists regarding applications of ring-closing metathesis (RCM), there are few reports on the stabilization of PPII helices by RCM methodologies. The current study examined the effects of RCM macrocyclization on left-handed PPII helices involved with the SH3 domain-mediated binding of Sos1–Grb2. Starting with the Sos1-derived peptide “Ac-V1-P2-P3-P4-V5-P6-P7-R8-R9-R10-amide,” RCM macrocyclizations were conducted using alkenyl chains of varying lengths originating from the pyrrolidine rings of the Pro4 and Pro7 residues. The resulting macrocyclic peptides showed increased helicity as indicated by circular dichroism and enhanced abilities to block Grb2–Sos1 interactions in cell lysate pull-down assays. The synthetic approach may be useful in RCM macrocyclizations, where maintenance of proline integrity at both ring junctures is desired.
    Biopolymers 07/2011; 96(6):780-8. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    Reza Ehsanian, Carter Van Waes, Stephan M Feller
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    ABSTRACT: This is an in-depth review of the history of quinacrine as well as its pharmacokinetic properties and established record of safety as an FDA-approved drug. The potential uses of quinacrine as an anti-cancer agent are discussed with particular attention to its actions on nuclear proteins, the arachidonic acid pathway, and multi-drug resistance, as well as its actions on signaling proteins in the cytoplasm. In particular, quinacrine's role on the NF-κB, p53, and AKT pathways are summarized.
    Cell Communication and Signaling 01/2011; 9:13. · 5.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: How do mostly disordered proteins coordinate the specific assembly of very large signal transduction protein complexes? A newly emerging hypothesis may provide some clues towards a molecular mechanism.
    PLoS Biology 01/2011; 9(2):e1000591. · 12.69 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
560.08 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2014
    • University of Oxford
      • • Department of Oncology
      • • Molecular Oncology Research Group
      • • Division of Structural Biology (STRUBI)
      • • Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
    • Alfried Krupp Krankenhaus
      Essen, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • 2002–2013
    • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Branch of Surgery
      Bethesda, MD, United States
  • 2010
    • University of Helsinki
      • Department of Virology
      Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
  • 2007–2009
    • Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 2004
    • Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy
      Marsiglia, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
  • 1998–2002
    • University of Wuerzburg
      • Institute for Medical Radiation and Cell Research
      Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2001
    • University of Lausanne
      Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
  • 1994–1995
    • The Rockefeller University
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 1992
    • Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
      New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States