Heidi L Weiss

University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States

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Publications (149)833.69 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy is a tightly regulated lysosomal degradation pathway for maintaining cellular homeostasis and responding to stresses. Beclin 1 and its interacting proteins, including the class III phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase Vps34, play crucial roles in autophagy regulation in mammals. We identified nuclear receptor binding factor 2 (Nrbf2) as a Beclin 1-interacting protein from Becn1-/-;Becn1-EGFP/+ mouse liver and brain. We also found that Nrbf2-Beclin 1 interaction required the N-terminus of Nrbf2. We next used human retinal pigment epithelial cell line RPE-1 as a model system and showed that transiently knocking down Nrbf2 by siRNA increased autophagic flux under both nutrient-rich and starvation conditions. To investigate the mechanism by which Nrbf2 regulates autophagy, we demonstrated that Nrbf2 interacted and colocalized with Atg14L, suggesting that Nrbf2 is a component of the Atg14L-containing Beclin 1-Vps34 complex. Moreover, ectopically expressed Nrbf2 formed cytosolic puncta that were positive for isolation membrane markers. These results suggest that Nrbf2 is involved in autophagosome biogenesis. Furthermore, we showed that Nrbf2 deficiency led to increased intracellular phosphatidylinositol-3 phosphate levels as well as diminished Atg14L-Vps34/Vps15 interactions, suggesting that Nrbf2-mediated Atg14L-Vps34/Vps15 interactions likely inhibit Vps34 activity. Therefore, we propose that Nrbf2 may interact with the Atg14L-containing Beclin 1-Vps34 protein complex to modulate protein-protein interactions within the network, leading to suppression of Vps34 activity, autophagosome biogenesis and autophagic flux. This work reveals a novel aspect of the intricate mechanism for the Beclin 1-Vps34 protein-protein interaction network to achieve precise control of autophagy.
    The Journal of biological chemistry. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays a pivotal role in regulating cell growth and differentiation by activation of the β-catenin/T-cell factor (TCF) complex and subsequent regulation of a set of target genes that have one or more TCF-binding elements (TBEs). Hyperactivation of this pathway has been implicated in numerous malignancies including human neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Neurotensin (NT), an intestinal hormone, induces proliferation of several gastrointestinal (GI) cancers including cancers of the pancreas and colon. Here, we analyzed the human NT promoter in silico and found at least four consensus TBEs within the proximal promoter region. Using a combination of ChIP and luciferase reporter assays, we identified one TBE (located approximately 900 bp proximal from the transcription start site) that was immunoprecipitated efficiently by TCF4-targeting antibody; mutation of this site attenuated the responsiveness to β-catenin. We also confirmed that the promoter activity and the mRNA and protein expression levels of NT were increased by various Wnt pathway activators and decreased by Wnt inhibitors in NET cell lines BON and QGP-1, which express and secrete NT. Similarly, the intracellular content and secretion of NT were induced by Wnt3a in these cells. Finally, inhibition of NT signaling suppressed cell proliferation and anchorage-independent growth and decreased expression levels of growth-related proteins in NET cells. Our results indicate that NT is a direct target of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and may be a mediator for NET cell growth. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    International Journal of Cancer 08/2014; · 6.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The intestinal mucosa undergoes a continual process of proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, which is regulated by multiple signaling pathways. Previously, we have shown that the nuclear factor of activated T-cells 5 (NFAT5) is involved in the regulation of intestinal enterocyte differentiation. Here, we show that treatment with sodium chloride (NaCl), which activates NFAT5 signaling, increased mTORC1 repressor REDD1 protein expression and inhibited mTOR signaling; these alterations were attenuated by knockdown of NFAT5. Knockdown of NFAT5 activated mTOR signaling and significantly inhibited REDD1 mRNA expression and protein expression. Consistently, overexpression of NFAT5 increased REDD1 expression. In addition, knockdown of REDD1 activated mTOR and Notch signaling, whereas treatment with mTOR inhibitor rapamycin repressed Notch signaling and increased the expression of the goblet cell differentiation marker mucin2 (MUC2). Moreover, knockdown of NFAT5 activated Notch signaling and decreased MUC2 expression, while overexpression of NFAT5 inhibited Notch signaling and increased MUC2 expression. Our results demonstrate a role for NFAT5 in the regulation of mTOR signaling in intestinal cells. Importantly, these data suggest that NFAT5 participates in the regulation of intestinal homeostasis via the suppression of mTORC1/Notch signaling pathway.
    Molecular biology of the cell. 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Targeting growth factor and survival pathways may delay endocrine-resistance in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Materials & methods: A pilot Phase II study adding sorafenib to endocrine therapy in 11 patients with metastatic estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer was conducted. Primary end point was response by RECIST after 3 months of sorafenib. Secondary end points included safety, time to progression and biomarker modulation. The study closed early owing to slow accrual. Results: Eight out of 11 patients had progressive disease on study entry and three had stable disease. Of the ten evaluable patients, seven experienced stable disease (70%) and three experienced progressive diseas (30%), with a median time to progression of 6.1 months (8.4 months in the seven patients on tamoxifen). The serum samples demonstrated a significant reduction in VEGF receptor 2 and PDGF receptor-α. Microarray analysis identified 32 suppressed genes, no induced genes and 29 enriched Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways. Conclusion: The strategy of adding a targeted agent to endocrine therapy upon resistance may be worthwhile testing in larger studies.
    Future Oncology 05/2014; · 3.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Up-regulation of fatty acid synthase (FASN), a key enzyme of de novo lipogenesis, is associated with metastasis in colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the mechanisms of regulation are unknown. Since angiogenesis is crucial for metastasis, we investigated the role of FASN in the neovascularization of CRC. The effect of FASN on tumor vasculature was studied in orthotopic CRCs, the Chick Embryo Chorioallantoic Membrane (CAM), and Matrigel plug models using immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescent staining, and confocal microscopy. Cell secretion was evaluated by ELISA and Antibody Arrays. Proliferation, migration, and tubulogenesis of endothelial cells (ECs) were assessed in CRC-EC co-culture models. In this study, we found that stable knockdown of FASN decreased microvessel density in HT29 and HCT116 orthotopic CRCs and resulted in (")normalization(") of tumor vasculature in both orthotopic and CAM models. Furthermore, FASN regulated secretion of pro- and anti-angiogenic factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). Mechanisms associated with the anti-angiogenic activity noted with knockdown of FASN included: down-regulation of VEGF(189), up-regulation of anti-angiogenic isoform VEGF(165b), and a decrease in expression and activity of MMP-9. Furthermore, conditioned medium from FASN knockdown CRC cells inhibited activation of VEGFR-2 and its downstream signaling and decreased proliferation, migration, and tubulogenesis of ECs as compared to control medium. Together, these results suggest that cancer cell-associated FASN regulates tumor vasculature through alteration of the profile of secreted angiogenic factors and regulation of their bioavailability. Inhibition of FASN upstream of VEGF-A and other angiogenic pathways can be a novel therapeutic strategy to prevent or inhibit metastasis in CRC.
    Carcinogenesis 02/2014; · 5.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The precise involvement of the PI3K/mTOR and RAS/MEK pathways in carcinoid tumors is not well defined. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the role these pathways play in carcinoid cell proliferation, apoptosis, and secretion and to determine the effects of combined treatment on carcinoid tumor inhibition. The human neuroendocrine cell lines BON (pancreatic carcinoid), NCI-H727 (lung carcinoid), and QGP-1 (somatostatinoma) were treated with either the pan-PI3K inhibitor, BKM120, or the dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitor, BEZ235, alone or in combination with the MEK inhibitor, PD0325901; proliferation, apoptosis, and protein expression were assessed. Peptide secretion was evaluated in BON and QGP-1 cells. The anti-proliferative effect of BEZ235, alone or combined with PD0325901, was then tested in vivo. Both BKM120 and BEZ235 decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis; combination with PD0325901 significantly enhanced the antineoplastic effects of either treatment alone. In contrast, neurotensin (NT) peptide secretion was markedly stimulated with BKM120 treatment, but not BEZ235. The combination of BEZ235 + PD0325901 significantly inhibited the growth of BON xenografts without systemic toxicity. Both BKM120 and BEZ235 effectively inhibited NET cell proliferation and stimulated apoptosis. However, inhibition of the PI3K pathway alone with BKM120 significantly stimulated NT peptide secretion; this did not occur with the dual inhibition of both PI3K and mTOR using BEZ235 suggesting that this would be a more effective treatment regimen for NETs. Moreover, the combination of BEZ235 and the MEK inhibitor PD0325901 was a safe and more effective therapy in vivo compared with single agents alone.
    Clinical Cancer Research 01/2014; · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Paclitaxel (PTX) nanocrystals (200nm) were produced by crystallization from solution. Antitumor efficacy and toxicity were examined through a survival study in a human HT-29 colon cancer xenograft murine model. The antitumor activity of the nanocrystal treatments was comparable with that by the conventional solubilization formulation (Taxol®), but yielded less toxicity as indicated by the result of survival study. Tritium-labeled PTX nanocrystals were further produced with a near infrared (NIR) fluorescent dye physically integrated in the crystal lattice. Biodistribution and tumor accumulation of the tritium-labeled PTX nanocrystals were determined immediately after intravenous administration and up to 48hours by scintillation counting. Whole-body optical imaging of animals was concurrently carried out; fluorescent intensities were also measured from excised tumors and major organs of euthanized animals. It was found that drug accumulation in the tumor was less than 1% of 20mg/kg intravenous dose. Qualitatively correlation was identified between the biodistribution determined by using tritium-labeled particles and that using optical imaging, but quantitative divergence existed. The divergent results suggest possible ways to improve the design of hybrid nanocrystals for cancer therapy and diagnosis. The study also raises questions of the general role of the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect in tumor targeting and the effectiveness of bioimaging, specifically for hybrid nanocrystals, in tracking drug distribution and pharmacokinetics.
    Journal of Controlled Release 08/2013; · 7.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: To develop novel hybrid paclitaxel (PTX) nanocrystals, in which bioactivatable (MMPSense® 750 FAST) and near infrared (Flamma Fluor® FPR-648) fluorophores are physically incorporated, and to evaluate their anticancer efficacy and diagnostic properties in breast cancer xenograft murine model. METHODS: The pure and hybrid paclitaxel nanocrystals were prepared by an anti-solvent method, and their physical properties were characterized. The tumor volume change and body weight change were evaluated to assess the treatment efficacy and toxicity. Bioimaging of treated mice was obtained non-invasively in vivo. RESULTS: The released MMPSense molecules from the hybrid nanocrystals were activated by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in vivo, similarly to the free MMPSense, demonstrating its ability to monitor cancer progression. Concurrently, the entrapped FPR-648 was imaged at a different wavelength. Furthermore, when administered at 20 mg/kg, the nanocrystal formulations exerted comparable efficacy as Taxol®, but with decreased toxicity. CONCLUSIONS: Hybrid nanocrystals that physically integrated two fluorophores were successfully prepared from solution. Hybrid nanocrystals were shown not only exerting antitumor activity, but also demonstrating the potential of multi-modular bioimaging for diagnostics.
    Pharmaceutical Research 04/2013; · 4.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carcinoid tumors are rare neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) that are increasing in incidence recently. Mutation and altered expression of Wnt/β-catenin signaling components have been described in many tumors but have not been well-studied in NETs. Here, we observed accumulation of β-catenin in the cytoplasm and/or nucleus in 25% of clinical NET tissues. By mutational analysis, the mutations of β-catenin (I35S) and APC (E1317Q, T1493T) were identified in NET cells and tissues. Expression of representative cytosolic and extracellular Wnt inhibitors was absent or markedly decreased inBON, NET cells; treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-CdR) increased expression levels of the Wnt inhibitors. Methylation analyses demonstrated that CpG islands of SFRP-1 and Axin-2 were methylated, while the promoters of DKK-1, DKK-3 and WIF-1 were unmethylated. Especially, aberrant methylation of SFRP-1 was observed in most of clinical NET tissues. In addition, the repressions of these unmethylated genes are associated with histone H3 Lys9 di-methyl modification(H3K9me2) in BON cells. Together, treatment of 5-aza-CdR decreased the protein levels of H3K9me2 and G9a. A novel G9a inhibitor, UNC0638 suppressed BON cell proliferation through inhibition of H3K9me2 and Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Overexpression of the inhibitory genes, decreased TCF/LEF transcriptional activity and colony formation. In particular, restoration of SFRP-1 and WIF-1 resulted in suppression of anchorage-independent growth and inhibition of tumor growth in mice. Our findings suggest that aberrant Wnt/β-catenin signaling, through either mutations or epigenetic silencing of Wnt antagonists, contributes to the pathogenesis and growth of NETs and have important clinical implications for the prognosis and treatment of NETs.
    Carcinogenesis 01/2013; · 5.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Commercialization within the academic setting is associated with many challenges and barriers. Previous studies investigating these challenges/barriers have, in general, broadly focused on multiple disciplines and, oftentimes, several institutions simultaneously. The goal of the study presented here was to analyze a range of barriers that may be broadly associated with commercializing academic-based cancer research. This goal was addressed via a study of the barriers associated with cancer research commercialization at the University of Kentucky (UK). To this end, a research instrument in the form of an electronic survey was developed. General demographic information was collected on study participants and two research questions were addressed: 1) What are the general barriers inhibiting cancer research commercialization at UK? and 2) Would mitigation of the barriers potentially enhance faculty engagement in commercialization activities? Descriptive and statistical analysis of the data reveal that multiple barriers likely inhibit cancer research commercialization at UK with expense, time, infrastructure, and lack of industry partnerships being among the most commonly cited factors. The potential alleviation of these factors in addition to revised University policies/procedures, risk mitigation, more emphasis on commercialization by academia research field, and increased information on how to commercialize significantly correlated with the potential for increased commercialization activity. Furthermore, multivariate logistic regression modeling demonstrated that research commercialization would incrementally increase as barriers to the process are removed and that PhD-holding respondents and respondents in commercialization-supportive research fields would be more likely to commercialize their research upon barrier removal. Overall, as with other disciplines, these data suggest that for innovations derived from academic cancer-research to move more effectively and efficiently into the marketplace, university administrators and external agents, such as policymakers, need to address what are well-documented and defined issues.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e72268. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The intestinal mucosa undergoes a continual process of proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis, which is regulated by multiple signaling pathways. The Wnt/β-catenin pathway has a critical role in this process. Previously, we have shown that the calcineurin-dependent nuclear factor of activated T cell (NFAT) is involved in the regulation of intestinal cell differentiation, as noted by the alteration of brush-border enzyme intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) activity. Here, we show that calcineurin-independent NFAT5 interacts with β-catenin to repress Wnt signaling. We found that overexpression of NFAT5 inhibits, whereas knockdown of NFAT5 increases, TOPflash reporter activity and the expression of Wnt/β-catenin target genes, suggesting that NFAT5 inhibits Wnt signaling. In addition, we demonstrated that NFAT5 directly interacts with the C-terminal transactivation domain (TAD) of β-catenin, inhibits CBP interaction with β-catenin, and inhibits CBP-mediated β-catenin acetylation. Moreover, NFAT5 is expressed in the mucosa of human intestine, with the most pronounced staining in the most differentiated region near the epithelial surface. Knockdown of NFAT5 attenuated sodium butyrate (NaBT)-mediated induction of IAP and sucrase activities; overexpression of NFAT5 induced IAP promoter activity. In summary, we provide evidence showing that NFAT5 is a regulator of Wnt signaling. Importantly, our results suggest that NFAT5 regulation of intestinal cell differentiation may be through inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
    Cell Death & Disease 01/2013; 4:e671. · 6.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer can metastasize at any time during its course, but timing of systemic relapse cannot be predicted by traditional TNM staging. Characteristics of distant recurrence within the first 3 years of diagnosis may identify a group of patients who could benefit from novel strategies to prevent systemic relapse. Of 1,089 patients with breast cancer treated at our institution between January 2007 and May 2011, we identified 76 with de novo metastases (on presentation) and 40 with systemic relapse after a median follow up of 2.2 years. Compared to relapse, de novo metastatic disease was more likely to be grade 1 or 2 (43.1 vs. 18.4 %, p = 0.032), estrogen receptor (ER) positive (69.7 vs. 47.5 %, p = 0.019), progesterone receptor (PgR) positive (56.6 vs. 32.5 %, p = 0.014), and HER2-positive (27.5 vs. 10.3 %, p = 0.035). In the 815 patients with stage I-III disease who were at risk of systemic relapse, univariate analyses were performed for age, tumor size, grade, ER, PgR, HER2, lymph nodes, and TNM stage. A multivariate Cox regression model was built using step-wise model selection and identified 4 covariates that were significantly associated with risk of early relapse: stage-III (p < 0.001), grade-III (p = 0.002), PgR-negative status (p = 0.014), and HER2-negative status (p = 0.033). A risk-score was developed based on the linear combination of these covariates and time-dependent predictive curves were used to evaluate the predictive accuracy of the proposed risk-score. The highest risk-score group had a 1, 2, and 3-year relapse probabilities of 11.5, 41.2, and 52.5 %, respectively. The corresponding 1, 2, and 3-year relapse probabilities for the overall population were 1.2, 4.4, and 6.3 %, respectively. Our proposed model can be used to select patients at high-risk of early relapse who could benefit from enrollment on clinical trials with novel therapies designed for this group.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 10/2012; · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurotensin (NT), an intestinal peptide secreted from N cells in the small bowel, regulates a variety of physiological functions of the gastrointestinal tract, including secretion, gut motility, and intestinal growth. The class IA phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) family, which comprised of p110 catalytic (α, β and δ) and p85 regulatory subunits, has been implicated in the regulation of hormone secretion from endocrine cells. However, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. In particular, the role of PI3K in intestinal peptide secretion is not known. Here, we show that PI3K catalytic subunit, p110α, negatively regulates NT secretion in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that inhibition of p110α, but not p110β, induces NT release in BON, a human endocrine cell line, which expresses NT mRNA and produces NT peptide in a manner analogous to N cells, and QGP-1, a pancreatic endocrine cell line that produces NT peptide. In contrast, overexpression of p110α decreases NT secretion. Consistently, p110α-inhibition increases plasma NT levels in mice. To further delineate the mechanisms contributing to this effect, we demonstrate that inhibition of p110α increases NT granule trafficking by up-regulating α-tubulin acetylation; NT secretion is prevented by overexpression of HDAC6, an α-tubulin deacetylase. Moreover, ras-related protein Rab27A (a small G protein) and kinase D-interacting substrate of 220 kDa (Kidins220), which are associated with NT granules, play a negative and positive role, respectively, in p110α-inhibition-induced NT secretion. Our findings identify the critical role and novel mechanisms for the PI3K signaling pathway in the control of intestinal hormone granule transport and release.
    Molecular Endocrinology 06/2012; 26(8):1380-93. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling is associated with tumorigenesis and metastasis of colorectal cancer (CRC). The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, a downstream effector of PI3K/Akt signaling, regulates tumorigenesis and metastasis of CRCs, indicating that mTOR inhibition may have therapeutic potential. Notwithstanding, many cancers, including CRC, demonstrate resistance to the antitumorigenic effects of rapamycin. In this study, we show that inhibition of mTORC1 with rapamycin leads to feedback activation of PI3K/Akt and Ras-MAPK signaling, resulting in cell survival and possible contribution to rapamycin resistance. Combination with the multikinase inhibitor, sorafenib, abrogates rapamycin-induced activation of PI3K/Akt and Ras-MAPK signaling pathways. Combination of rapamycin with sorafenib synergistically inhibits proliferation of CRC cells. CRCs harboring coexistent KRAS and PIK3CA mutations are partially sensitive to either rapamycin or sorafenib monotherapy, but highly sensitive to combination treatment with rapamycin and sorafenib. Combination with sorafenib enhances therapeutic efficacy of rapamycin on induction of apoptosis and inhibition of cell-cycle progression, migration and invasion of CRCs. We demonstrate efficacy and safety of concomitant treatment with rapamycin and sorafenib at inhibiting growth of xenografts from CRC cells with coexistent mutations in KRAS and PIK3CA. The efficacy and tolerability of combined treatment with rapamycin and sorafenib provides rationale for use in treating CRC patients, particularly those with tumors harboring coexistent KRAS and PIK3CA mutations.
    Carcinogenesis 06/2012; 33(9):1782-90. · 5.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT) proteins are a family of transcription factors (NFATc1-c4) involved in the regulation of cell differentiation. We identified REDD1, a negative regulator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) through the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC1/2 complex), as a new molecular target of NFATc3. We show that treatment with a combination of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) plus ionophore A23187 (Io), which induces NFAT activation, increased REDD1 mRNA and protein expression and inhibited mTOR signaling; pretreatment with the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporin A (CsA), an antagonist of NFAT signaling, decreased REDD1 induction and mTOR inhibition. Knockdown of NFATc3, not NFATc1, NFATc2, or NFATc4, attenuated PMA/Io-induced REDD1 expression. Treatment with PMA/Io increased REDD1 promoter activity and increased NFATc3 binding to the REDD1 promoter. Overexpression of NFATc3 increased REDD1 mRNA and protein expression and increased PMA/Io-mediated REDD1 promoter activity. Treatment with PMA/Io increased expression of the goblet cell differentiation marker MUC2; these changes were attenuated by pretreatment with CsA or knockdown of REDD1 or NFATc3. Overexpression of NFATc3 increased, while knockdown of TSC2 decreased, MUC2 expression. We provide evidence showing NFATc3 inhibits mTOR via induction of REDD1. Our results suggest a role for the NFATc3/REDD1/TSC2 axis in the regulation of intestinal cell differentiation.
    Molecular biology of the cell 06/2012; 23(15):2963-72. · 5.98 Impact Factor
  • New England Journal of Medicine 05/2012; 366(18):1738-9; author reply 1739-40. · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fatty acid synthase (FASN) and ATP-citrate lyase, key enzymes of de novo lipogenesis, are significantly upregulated and activated in many cancers and portend poor prognosis. Even though the role of lipogenesis in providing proliferative and survival advantages to cancer cells has been described, the impact of aberrant activation of lipogenic enzymes on cancer progression remains unknown. In this study, we found that elevated expression of FASN is associated with advanced stages of colorectal cancer (CRC) and liver metastasis, suggesting that it may play a role in progression of CRC to metastatic disease. Targeted inhibition of lipogenic enzymes abolished expression of CD44, a transmembrane protein associated with metastases in several cancers including CRC. In addition, inhibition of lipogenic enzymes and reduced expression of CD44 attenuated the activation of MET, Akt, FAK, and paxillin, which are known to regulate adhesion, migration, and invasion. These changes were consistent with an observed decrease in migration and adhesion of CRC cells in functional assays and with reorganization of actin cytoskeleton upon FASN inhibition. Despite the modest effect of FASN inhibition on tumor growth in xenografts, attenuation of lipogenesis completely abolished establishment of hepatic metastasis and formation of secondary metastasis. Together, our findings suggest that targeting de novo lipogenesis may be a potential treatment strategy for advanced CRC.
    Cancer Research 02/2012; 72(6):1504-17. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 (Bmi1) is a Polycomb Group (PcG) protein important in gene silencing. It is a component of Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1), which is required to maintain the transcriptionally repressive state of many genes. Bmi1 was initially identified as an oncogene that regulates cell proliferation and transformation, and is important in hematopoiesis and the development of nervous systems. Recently, it was reported that Bmi1 is a potential marker for intestinal stem cells. Because Wnt signaling plays a key role in intestinal stem cells, we analyzed the effects of Wnt signaling on Bmi1 expression. We found that Wnt signaling indeed regulates the expression of Bmi1 in colon cancer cells. In addition, the expression of Bmi1 in human colon cancers is significantly associated with nuclear β-catenin, a hallmark for the activated Wnt signaling. Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a zinc finger protein highly expressed in the gut and skin. We recently found that KLF4 cross-talks with Wnt/β-catenin in regulating intestinal homeostasis. We demonstrated that KLF4 directly inhibits the expression of Bmi1 in colon cancer cells. We also found that Bmi1 regulates histone ubiquitination and is required for colon cancer proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Our findings further suggest that Bmi1 is an attractive target for cancer therapeutics.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 287(6):3760-8. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tamoxifen (Tam) is the most prescribed hormonal agent for treatment of estrogen receptor α (ERα)-positive breast cancer patients. Using microarray analysis, we observed that metastatic breast tumors resistant to Tam therapy had elevated levels of Dicer. We overexpressed Dicer in ERα-positive MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and observed a concomitant increase in expression of the breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP). We thus hypothesized that Tam resistance associated with Dicer overexpression in ERα-positive breast cancer cells may involve BCRP. We analyzed BCRP function in Dicer-overexpressing cells using growth in soft agar and mammosphere formation and evaluated intracellular Tam efflux. In the presence of Tam, Dicer-overexpressing cells formed resistant colonies in soft agar, and treatment with BCRP inhibitors restored Tam sensitivity. Tumor xenograft studies confirmed that Dicer-overexpressing cells were resistant to Tam in vivo. Tumors and distant metastases could be initiated with as few as five mammosphere cells from both vector and Dicer-overexpressing cells, indicating that the mammosphere assay selected for cells with enhanced tumor-initiating and metastatic capacity. Dicer-overexpressing cells with elevated levels of BCRP effluxed Tam more efficiently than control cells, and BCRP inhibitors were able to inhibit efflux. Dicer-overexpressing breast cancer cells enriched for cells with enhanced BCRP function. We hypothesize that it is this population which may be involved in the emergence of Tam-resistant growth. BCRP may be a novel clinical target to restore Tam sensitivity.
    Clinical Cancer Research 08/2011; 17(20):6510-21. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Endocrine therapy in patients with breast cancer can be limited by the problem of resistance. Preclinical studies suggest that complete blockade of the estrogen receptor (ER) combined with inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor can overcome endocrine resistance. We tested this hypothesis in a phase II neoadjuvant trial of anastrozole and fulvestrant combined with gefitinib in postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed ER-positive breast cancer. After a baseline tumor core biopsy, patients were randomized to receive anastrozole and fulvestrant or anastrozole, fulvestrant, and gefitinib (AFG) for 3 weeks. After a second biopsy at 3 weeks, all patients received AFG for 4 months and surgery was done if the tumor was operable. The primary endpoint was best clinical response by RECIST criteria and secondary endpoints were toxicity and change in biomarkers. The study closed after 15 patients were enrolled because of slow accrual. Median patient age was 67 years and median clinical tumor size was 7 cm. Four patients had metastatic disease present. Three patients withdrew before response was assessed. In the remaining 12 patients, there were two complete clinical responses (17%), three partial responses (25%), five had stable disease (41%), and two (17%) had progressive disease. Most common adverse events were rash in four patients, diarrhea in four, joint symptoms in three, and abnormal liver function tests in three. There were no grade 4 toxicities and all toxicities were reversible. At 3 weeks, cell proliferation as measured by Ki-67 was significantly reduced in the AFG group (P value = 0.01), with a parallel reduction in the expression of the Cyclin D1 (P value = 0.02). RNA microarray data showed a corresponding decrease in the expression of cell cycle genes. These results suggest that AFG was an effective neoadjuvant therapy and consistently reduced proliferation in ER-positive tumors.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 07/2011; 129(3):819-27. · 4.47 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

5k Citations
833.69 Total Impact Points


  • 2008–2014
    • University of Kentucky
      • • Markey Cancer Center
      • • Department of Surgery
      • • Department of Biostatistics
      • • Department of Medicine
      Lexington, Kentucky, United States
  • 2013
    • Midway College
      Lexington, Kentucky, United States
  • 2010–2011
    • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
      • Department of Surgery
      Galveston, TX, United States
  • 2004–2011
    • Baylor College of Medicine
      • • Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
      Houston, TX, United States
  • 2006
    • Houston Methodist Hospital
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 1996–2004
    • University of Alabama at Birmingham
      • • Department of Pathology
      • • Comprehensive Cancer Center
      • • Department of Medicine
      Birmingham, AL, United States
  • 2000
    • University of Alabama
      Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States