Spencer A Freeman

University of British Columbia - Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (8)66.44 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Methylation of nonhistone proteins is emerging as a regulatory mechanism to control protein function. Set7 (Setd7) is a SET-domain-containing lysine methyltransferase that methylates and alters function of a variety of proteins in vitro, but the in vivo relevance has not been established. We found that Set7 is a modifier of the Hippo pathway. Mice that lack Set7 have a larger progenitor compartment in the intestine, coinciding with increased expression of Yes-associated protein (Yap) target genes. Mechanistically, monomethylation of lysine 494 of Yap is critical for cytoplasmic retention. These results identify a methylation-dependent checkpoint in the Hippo pathway.
    Developmental Cell 07/2013; · 12.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During metastatic progression, an aberrant epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) that is most often driven by the loss of the cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin generates non-cohesive tumor cells that are highly invasive. We used mesenchymally-transformed, E-cadherin negative MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells in a natural product screen and determined that the triterpenoid saponin sarasinoside A1 inhibited their invasion and the invasion of a number of other tumor cell lines. Sarasinoside A1 also caused MDA-MB-231 cells to become cohesive in 3-dimensional basement membrane and collagen gel cultures. In 2-dimensional culture, sarasinoside A1 initiated a morphologic re-epithelialization of MDA-MB-231 cells wherein pre-existing non-epithelial cadherins and the junction-associated proteins β-catenin and ZO-1 all re-localized to sites of cell-cell contact. Additionally, the intercellular space between neighboring cells narrowed considerably, the stability of polymerized actin at cell-cell contact sites increased, and there was a recruitment and stabilization of nectin-based adhesion complexes to these sites, all of which strongly suggested that functional cell-cell junctions had formed. Importantly, sarasinoside A1 induced nascent cell-cell junction formation that did not require changes in gene expression and was not associated with an induction of E-cadherin, but resulted in increased activation of Rap GTPases. Therefore, our findings with sarasinoside A1 suggest that it may be possible to re-epithelialize metastatic tumor cells with phenotypic consequence even when E-cadherin is completely absent.
    Molecular Cancer Research 02/2013; · 4.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: When lymphocytes encounter APCs bearing cognate Ag, they spread across the surface of the APC to scan for additional Ags. This is followed by membrane contraction and the formation of Ag receptor microclusters that initiate the signaling reactions that lead to lymphocyte activation. Breakdown of the submembrane cytoskeleton is likely to be required for the cytoskeleton reorganization that drives cell spreading and for removing physical barriers that limit Ag receptor mobility. In this report, we show that Ag receptor signaling via the Rap GTPases promotes the dephosphorylation and activation of the actin-severing protein cofilin and that this results in increased severing of cellular actin filaments. Moreover, we show that this cofilin-mediated actin severing is critical for the changes in actin dynamics that drive B and T cell spreading, for the formation of BCR microclusters, and for the increased mobility of BCR microclusters within the plasma membrane after BCR engagement. Finally, using a model APC, we show that activation of this Rap-cofilin signaling module controls the amount of Ag that is gathered into BCR microclusters and that this is directly related to the magnitude of the resulting BCR signaling that is initiated during B cell-APC interactions. Thus, Rap-dependent activation of cofilin is critical for the early cytoskeletal changes and BCR reorganization that are involved in APC-dependent lymphocyte activation.
    The Journal of Immunology 11/2011; 187(11):5887-900. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor growth and metastasis are determined by the complex interplay of factors, including those intrinsic to tumor cells and extrinsic factors associated with the tumor microenvironment. Our previous work demonstrated key roles for CD34 in the maintenance of vascular integrity and eosinophil and mast cell homing. Since both of these functions affect tumor development, we characterized the effect of CD34 ablation on tumor growth using the B16F1 melanoma model. Intriguingly, we found that CD34 plays a biphasic role in tumor progression. In early growth, both subcutaneous-injected tumors and intravenous-injected lung metastases grew more slowly in Cd34(-/-) mice. This correlated with abnormal vessel morphology and increased vascular permeability in these mice. Bone marrow transplantation experiments confirmed that this reflects a non-hematopoietic function of CD34. At later stages, subcutaneous tumor growth was accelerated in Cd34(-/-) mice and surpassed growth in wildtype mice. Bone marrow chimera experiments demonstrated this difference was due to a hematopoietic function for CD34 and, correspondingly we found reduced intra-tumor mast cell numbers in Cd34(-/-) mice. In aggregate, our analysis reveals a novel role for CD34 in both early and late tumor growth and provides novel insights into the role of the tumor microenvironment in tumor progression.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e18160. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    Kevin B L Lin, Spencer A Freeman, Michael R Gold
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    ABSTRACT: B-cell lymphomas, which arise in lymphoid organs, can spread rapidly via the circulatory system and form solid tumors within multiple organs. Rate-limiting steps in this metastatic process may be the adhesion of lymphoma cells to vascular endothelial cells, their exit from the vasculature and their migration to tissue sites that will support tumor growth. Thus proteins that control B cell adhesion and migration are likely to be key factors in lymphoma dissemination, and hence potential targets for therapeutic intervention. The Rap GTPases are master regulators of integrin activation, cell motility and the underlying cytoskeletal, adhesion and membrane dynamics. We have recently shown that Rap activation is critical for B-lymphoma cells to undergo transendothelial migration in vitro and in vivo. As a consequence, suppressing Rap activation impairs the ability of intravenously injected B-lymphoma cells to form solid tumors in the liver and other organs. We discuss this work in the context of targeting Rap, its downstream effectors, or other regulators of B cell adhesion and migration as an approach for limiting the dissemination of B-lymphoma cells and the development of secondary tumors.
    Cell adhesion & migration 07/2010; 4(3):327-32. · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Rap1 GTPase is a master regulator of cell adhesion, polarity, and migration. We show that both blocking Rap1 activation and expressing a constitutively active form of Rap1 reduced the ability of B16F1 melanoma cells to extravasate from the microvasculature and form metastatic lesions in the lungs. This correlated with a decreased ability of the tumor cells to undergo transendothelial migration (TEM) in vitro and form dynamic, F-actin-rich pseudopodia that penetrate capillary endothelial walls in vivo. Using multiple tumor cell lines, we show that the inability to form these membrane protrusions, which likely promote TEM and extravasation, can be explained by altered adhesion dynamics and impaired cell polarization that result when Rap1 activation or cycling is perturbed. Thus, targeting Rap1 could be a useful approach for reducing the metastatic dissemination of tumor cells that undergo active TEM.
    Cancer Research 06/2010; 70(11):4590-601. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: B-cell lymphomas are common malignancies in which transformed B cells enter the circulation, extravasate into tissues and form tumors in multiple organs. Lymphoma cells are thought to exit the vasculature and enter tissues through the same chemokine- and adhesion molecule-dependent mechanisms as normal B cells. We have previously shown that activation of the Rap GTPases, proteins that control cytoskeletal organization and integrin activation, is critical for chemokine-induced migration and adhesion in B-lymphoma cell lines. Using the A20 murine B-lymphoma cell line as a model, we now show that Rap activation is important for circulating lymphoma cells to enter tissues and form tumors in vivo. In vitro assays showed that Rap activation is required for A20 cells to efficiently adhere to vascular endothelial cells and undergo transendothelial migration. These findings suggest that Rap or its effectors could be novel targets for treating B-cell lymphomas.
    Oncogene 10/2009; 29(4):608-15. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: B lymphocytes spread and extend membrane processes when searching for antigens and form immune synapses upon contacting cells that display antigens on their surface. Although these dynamic morphological changes facilitate B cell activation, the signaling pathways underlying these processes are not fully understood. We found that activation of the Rap GTPases was essential for these changes in B cell morphology. Rap activation was important for B cell receptor (BCR)- and lymphocyte-function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1)-induced spreading, for BCR-induced immune-synapse formation, and for particulate BCR ligands to induce localized F-actin assembly and membrane-process extension. Rap activation and F-actin assembly were also required for optimal BCR signaling in response to particulate antigens but not soluble antigens. Thus by controlling B cell morphology and cytoskeletal organization, Rap might play a key role in the activation of B cells by particulate and cell-associated antigens.
    Immunity 02/2008; 28(1):75-87. · 19.80 Impact Factor