Urszula Liwak

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (8)42.75 Total impact

  • Cancer Research 08/2013; 73(8 Supplement):1991-1991. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2013-1991 · 9.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive form of tumor of the central nervous system. Despite significant efforts to improve treatments, patient survival rarely exceeds 18 months largely due to the highly chemoresistant nature of these tumors. Importantly, misregulation of the apoptotic machinery plays a key role in the development of drug resistance. We previously demonstrated that Bcl-xL, an important anti-apoptotic protein, is regulated at the level of translation by the tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4). We report here a strong correlation between low expression of PDCD4 and high expression of Bcl-xL in adult de novo GBM, GBM tumor initiating cells, and established GBM cell lines. Importantly, high Bcl-xL expression correlated significantly with poor progression and patient survival. We demonstrate that re-expression of PDCD4 in GBM cells down-regulated Bcl-xL expression and decreased cell viability. Finally, we show that direct inhibition of Bcl-xL by small molecule antagonist ABT-737 sensitizes GBM cells to doxorubicin. Our results identify Bcl-xL as a novel marker of GBM chemoresistance and advocate for the combined use of Bcl-xL antagonists and existing chemotherapeutics as a treatment option for this aggressive tumor.
    Oncotarget 07/2013; 4(9). DOI:10.18632/oncotarget.1154 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    U Liwak · M D Faye · M Holcik
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    ABSTRACT: Regulation of protein synthesis, although known for many decades, has only recently begun to be recognized as a critical control mechanism for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and cellular stress response. One of the key advantages of translational control is the ability of cells to rapidly reprogram the protein output in response to internal or external triggers. This is particularly important during cellular response to stress that may lead to apoptosis by providing cells with a fine tuning mechanism that tips the balance between cell survival or apoptosis. In the following review we highlight several distinct mechanisms of translation control and provide specific examples of translational control during apoptosis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Apoptosis: Four Decades Later".
    Experimental oncology 10/2012; 34(3):218-30.
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    ABSTRACT: Apoptosis can be regulated by extracellular signals that are communicated by peptides such as fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) that have important roles in tumor cell proliferation. The prosurvival effects of FGF-2 are transduced by the activation of the ribosomal protein S6 kinase 2 (S6K2), which increases the expression of the antiapoptotic proteins X chromosome-linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis (XIAP) and Bcl-x(L). We now show that the FGF-2-S6K2 prosurvival signaling is mediated by the tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4). We demonstrate that PDCD4 specifically binds to the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements of both the XIAP and Bcl-x(L) messenger RNAs and represses their translation by inhibiting the formation of the 48S translation initiation complex. Phosphorylation of PDCD4 by activated S6K2 leads to the degradation of PDCD4 and thus the subsequent derepression of XIAP and Bcl-x(L) translation. Our results identify PDCD4 as a specific repressor of the IRES-dependent translation of cellular mRNAs (such as XIAP and Bcl-x(L)) that mediate FGF-2-S6K2 prosurvival signaling and provide further insight into the role of PDCD4 in tumor suppression.
    Molecular and Cellular Biology 03/2012; 32(10):1818-29. DOI:10.1128/MCB.06317-11 · 4.78 Impact Factor
  • Urszula Liwak · Lindsay Jordan · Martin Holcik
    Cancer Research 07/2011; 71(8 Supplement):2113-2113. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2011-2113 · 9.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expression of the intrinsic cellular caspase inhibitor XIAP is regulated primarily at the level of protein synthesis. The 5' untranslated region harbours an Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES) motif that supports cap-independent translation of XIAP mRNA during conditions of cellular stress. In this study, we show that the RNA-binding protein HuR, which is known to orchestrate an antiapoptotic cellular program, stimulates translation of XIAP mRNA through XIAP IRES. We further show that HuR binds to XIAP IRES in vitro and in vivo, and stimulates recruitment of the XIAP mRNA into polysomes. Importantly, protection from the apoptosis-inducing agent etoposide by overexpression of HuR requires the presence of XIAP, suggesting that HuR-mediated cytoprotection is partially executed through enhanced XIAP translation. Our data suggest that XIAP belongs to the HuR-regulated RNA operon of antiapoptotic genes, which, along with Bcl-2, Mcl-1 and ProTĪ±, contributes to the regulation of cell survival.
    Oncogene 11/2010; 30(12):1460-9. DOI:10.1038/onc.2010.527 · 8.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular parasite of the phylum Apicomplexa, two isoforms of enolase (ENO1 and ENO2) are expressed in stage-specific manner. ENO2 is expressed only in rapidly growing tachyzoites, while ENO1 is in slowly growing bradyzoites. Interestingly, the localization of ENO1 and ENO2 in the nuclear compartment has suggested possible roles of the proteins in gene regulation and/or cell cycle. To understand the physiological role of ENO2 in T. gondii, the expression of ENO2 was silenced using a homologous gene silencing procedure. The introduction or expression of ENO2 dsRNA successfully silenced the expression of ENO2 at the levels of transcripts and proteins. While there was no change in the growth rate of both tachyzoites and bradyzoites, a subtle phenotypic change was observed in the localization of the ENO1 gene product in the bradyzoite stage.
    Microbes and Infection 09/2009; 12(1):19-27. DOI:10.1016/j.micinf.2009.09.010 · 2.86 Impact Factor
  • Urszula Liwak · Sirinart Ananvoranich
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    ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular parasite, has two distinctive growth stages, namely rapidly growing tachyzoites and slowly growing bradyzoites. Here we report a unique physiological function of the last committed glycolytic enzyme of T. gondii, lactate dehydrogenase (TgLDH), which is present in two isoforms and expressed in a stage-specific manner. TgLDH1 is present in tachyzoites while TgLDH2 is found in bradyzoites. Using clonal transgenic parasites over-expressing either TgLDH1 or TgLDH2, we showed that the enzymatic activity, growth, and virulence of tachyzoites were unaffected by the presence of the recombinant protein. Interestingly, under alkaline conditions the presence of the recombinant TgLDH proteins increased the differentiation, as detected by the formation of cyst structures in vitro, while green fluorescent protein did not. The differentiation enhancement of the recombinant TgLDH1 and TgLDH2 strongly suggests that TgLDH1 and TgLDH2 have an important physiological function, in addition to being glycolytic enzymes and differentiation markers.
    Experimental Parasitology 03/2009; 122(2-122):155-161. DOI:10.1016/j.exppara.2009.01.016 · 1.64 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

81 Citations
42.75 Total Impact Points


  • 2010–2013
    • University of Ottawa
      • Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2009
    • University of Windsor
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Windsor, Ontario, Canada