Robert G Tuskan

Leidos Biomedical Research, Maryland, United States

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Publications (9)47.68 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of work suggests that astrocytomas and glioblastoma multiforme will require carefully tailored, molecularly targeted therapy for successful treatment. Recent efforts to comprehensively identify mutations and gene expression changes in glioblastoma have shown that mutation of NF1 is a common alteration in human glioblastoma. We have developed and characterized a panel of 14 tumor lines from grades II through IV astrocytomas developed from our Nf1-/+;Trp53-/+cis mouse model and have used this panel to characterize signal transduction pathways and inhibitors that are candidate therapeutic targets for astrocytoma and glioblastoma. We show that these tumors express platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α, epidermal growth factor receptor, and their respective ligands to varying degrees. We find that both the MEK and PI3K signaling pathways downstream of epidermal growth factor receptor and platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α are necessary for full proliferation of astrocytoma cells; however, inhibition of the PI3K pathway is more effective than inhibition of MEK at blocking cell growth. We have examined inhibitors of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway and find that PI-103 and TCN show particular promise for inhibiting growth in Nf1 and Trp53 mutant astrocytoma cells.
    Neuro-Oncology 06/2011; 13(6):610-21. · 6.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most common genetic disease affecting the nervous system. Patients typically develop many tumors over their lifetime, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. The NF1 gene, mutated in NF1, is also commonly mutated in sporadic glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Because both NF1 and GBM are currently incurable, new therapeutic approaches are clearly needed. Natural products represent an opportunity to develop new therapies, as they have been evolutionarily selected to play targeted roles in organisms. Schweinfurthin A is a prenylated stilbene natural product that has previously shown specific inhibitory activity against brain and hematopoietic tumor lines. We show that patient-derived GBM and NF1 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) lines, as well as tumor lines derived from the Nf1-/+;Trp53-/+ (NPcis) mouse model of astrocytoma and MPNST are highly sensitive to inhibition by schweinfurthin A and its synthetic analogs. In contrast, primary mouse astrocytes are resistant to the growth inhibitory effects of schweinfurthin A, suggesting that schweinfurthin A may act specifically on tumor cells. Stable transfection of the GTPase-activating protein related domain of Nf1 into Nf1-/-;Trp53-/- astrocytoma cells confers resistance to schweinfurthin A. In addition, the profound effect of schweinfurthin A on dynamic reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton led us to discover that schweinfurthin A inhibits growth factor-stimulated Rho signaling. In summary, we have identified a class of small molecules that specifically inhibit growth of cells from both central and peripheral nervous system tumors and seem to act on NF1-deficient cells through cytoskeletal reorganization correlating to changes in Rho signaling.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 05/2010; 9(5):1234-43. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common cancer predisposition syndrome in which affected individuals develop benign and malignant nerve tumors. The NF1 gene product neurofibromin negatively regulates Ras and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, prompting clinical trials to evaluate the ability of Ras and mTOR pathway inhibitors to arrest NF1-associated tumor growth. To discover other downstream targets of neurofibromin, we performed an unbiased cell-based high-throughput chemical library screen using NF1-deficient malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) cells. We identified the natural product, cucurbitacin-I (JSI-124), which inhibited NF1-deficient cell growth by inducing apoptosis. We further showed that signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3), the target of cucurbitacin-I inhibition, was hyperactivated in NF1-deficient primary astrocytes and neural stem cells, mouse glioma cells, and human MPNST cells through Ser(727) phosphorylation, leading to increased cyclin D1 expression. STAT3 was regulated in NF1-deficient cells of murine and human origin in a TORC1- and Rac1-dependent manner. Finally, cucurbitacin-I inhibited the growth of NF1-deficient MPNST cells in vivo. In summary, we used a chemical genetics approach to reveal STAT3 as a novel neurofibromin/mTOR pathway signaling molecule, define its action and regulation, and establish STAT3 as a tractable target for future NF1-associated cancer therapy studies.
    Cancer Research 02/2010; 70(4):1356-66. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Imprinted genes are monoallelically expressed from either the maternal or paternal genome. Because cancer develops through genetic and epigenetic alterations, imprinted genes affect tumorigenesis depending on which parental allele undergoes alteration. We have shown previously in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) that inheriting mutant alleles of Nf1 and Trp53 on chromosome 11 from the mother or father dramatically changes the tumor spectrum of mutant progeny, likely due to alteration in an imprinted gene(s) linked to Nf1 and Trp53. In order to identify imprinted genes on chromosome 11 that are responsible for differences in susceptibility, we tested candidate imprinted genes predicted by a bioinformatics approach and an experimental approach. We have tested 30 candidate genes (Havcr2, Camk2b, Ccdc85a, Cntnap1, Ikzf1, 5730522E02Rik, Gria1, Zfp39, Sgcd, Jup, Nxph3, Spnb2, Asb3, Rasd1, Map2k3, Map2k4, Trp53, Serpinf1, Crk, Rasl10b, Itga3, Hoxb5, Cbx1, Pparbp, Igfbp4, Smarce1, Stat3, Atp6v0a1, Nbr1 and Meox1), two known imprinted genes (Grb10 and Impact) and Nf1, which has not been previously identified as an imprinted gene. Although we confirmed the imprinting of Grb10 and Impact, we found no other genes imprinted in the brain. We did, however, find strain-biased expression of Camk2b, 5730522E02Rik, Havcr2, Map2k3, Serpinf1, Rasl10b, Itga3, Asb3, Trp53, Nf1, Smarce1, Stat3, Cbx1, Pparbp and Cntnap1. These results suggest that the prediction of imprinted genes is complicated and must be individually validated. This manuscript includes supplementary data listing primer sequences for Taqman assays and Ct values for Taqman PCR.
    Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society 01/2008; 3(1):43-50. · 4.58 Impact Factor
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    Jessica J Hawes, Robert G Tuskan, Karlyne M Reilly
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    ABSTRACT: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most common cancer predisposition syndrome affecting the nervous system, with elevated risk for both astrocytoma and peripheral nerve sheath tumors. NF1 is caused by a germline mutation in the NF1 gene, with tumors showing loss of the wild type copy of NF1. In addition, NF1 heterozygosity in surrounding stroma is important for tumor formation, suggesting an additional role of haploinsufficiency for NF1. Studies in mouse models and NF1 families have implicated modifier genes unlinked to NF1 in the severity of the disease and in susceptibility to astrocytoma and peripheral nerve sheath tumors. To determine if differences in Nf1 expression may contribute to the strain-specific effects on tumor predisposition, we examined the levels of Nf1 gene expression in mouse strains with differences in tumor susceptibility using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The data presented in this paper demonstrate that strain background has as much effect on Nf1 expression levels as mutation of one Nf1 allele, indicating that studies of haploinsufficiency must be carefully interpreted with respect to strain background. Because expression levels do not correlate entirely with the susceptibility or resistance to tumors observed in the strain, these data suggest that either variation in Nf1 levels is not responsible for the differences in astrocytoma and peripheral nerve sheath tumor susceptibility in Nf1-/+;Trp53-/+cis mice, or that certain mouse strains have evolved compensatory mechanisms for differences in Nf1 expression.
    Neurogenetics 05/2007; 8(2):121-30. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer is a complex disease in which cells acquire many genetic and epigenetic alterations. We have examined how three types of alterations, mutations in tumor suppressor genes, changes in an imprinted locus, and polymorphic loci, interact to affect tumor susceptibility in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). Mutations in tumor suppressor genes such as TP53 and in oncogenes such as KRAS have major effects on tumorigenesis due to the central roles of these genes in cell proliferation and cell survival. Imprinted genes expressed from only one parental chromosome affect tumorigenesis if their monoallelic expression is lost or duplicated. Because imprinted loci are within regions deleted or amplified in cancer, the parental origin of genomic rearrangements could affect tumorigenesis. Gene polymorphisms can vary tumor incidence by affecting rate-limiting steps in tumorigenesis within tumor cells or surrounding stroma. In our mouse model of NF1, the incidence of tumors mutant for the tumor suppressor genes Nf1 and Trp53 is strongly modified by a linked imprinted locus acting epistatically on two unlinked polymorphic loci, Nstr1 and Nstr2. This interaction of an imprinted locus and polymorphic susceptibility loci has profound implications for human mapping studies where the parental contribution of alleles is often unknown.
    Cancer Research 02/2006; 66(1):62-8. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Astrocytoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in humans. Loss of the p53 signaling pathway and up-regulation of the ras signaling pathway are common during tumor progression. We have shown previously that mice mutant for Trp53 and Nf1 develop astrocytoma, progressing to glioblastoma, on a C57BL/6J strain background. In contrast, here we present data that mice mutant for Trp53 and Nf1 on a 129S4/SvJae background are highly resistant to developing astrocytoma. Through analysis of F1 progeny, we demonstrate that susceptibility to astrocytoma is linked to chromosome 11, and that the modifier gene(s) responsible for differences in susceptibility is closely linked to Nf1 and Trp53. Furthermore, this modifier of astrocytoma susceptibility is itself epigenetically modified. These data demonstrate that epigenetic effects can have a strong effect on whether cancer develops in the context of mutant ras signaling and mutant p53, and that this mouse model of astrocytoma can be used to identify modifier phenotypes with complex inheritance patterns that would be unidentifiable in humans. Because analysis of gene function in the mouse is often performed on a mixed C57BL/6,129 strain background, these data also provide a powerful example of the potential of these strains to mask interesting gene functions.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2004; 101(35):13008-13. · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

136 Citations
47.68 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2011
    • Leidos Biomedical Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 2010
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      Maryland, United States
  • 2004
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States