Wei Qiu

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States

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Publications (21)173.86 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Colorectal tumorigenesis is driven by genetic alterations in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumor suppressor pathway and effectively inhibited by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, how NSAIDs prevent colorectal tumorigenesis has remained obscure. We found that the extrinsic apoptotic pathway and the BH3 interacting-domain death agonist (BID) are activated in adenomas from NSAID-treated patients. Loss of BID abolishes NSAID-mediated tumor suppression, survival benefit, and apoptosis in tumor-initiating stem cells in APC(Min/+) mice. BID-mediated cross-talk between the extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways is responsible for selective killing of neoplastic cells by NSAIDs. We further demonstrate that NSAIDs induce death receptor signaling in both cancer and normal cells, but only activate BID in cells with APC deficiency and ensuing c-Myc activation. Our results suggest that NSAIDs suppress intestinal tumorigenesis through BID-mediated synthetic lethality triggered by death receptor signaling and gatekeeper mutations, and provide a rationale for developing more effective cancer prevention strategies and agents.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adenosine deaminase acting on RNA 1 (ADAR1) is a double-stranded RNA-editing enzyme that converts adenosine (A) to inosine (I), and essential for normal development. In this study, we reported an essential role of ADAR1 in the survival and maintenance of intestinal stem cells and intestinal homoeostasis by suppressing endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and interferon (IFN) signaling. ADAR1 was highly expressed in the Lgr5+ cells, and its deletion in adult mice led to a rapid apoptosis and loss of these actively cycling stem cells in the small intestine and colon. ADAR1 deletion resulted in a drastic expansion of progenitors and Paneth cells but a reduction of three other major epithelial lineages. Moreover, loss of ADAR1 induced ER stress and activation of IFN signaling, and altered expression in WNT targets, followed by intestinal inflammation. An ER stress inhibitor partially suppressed crypt apoptosis. Finally, data from cultured intestinal crypts demonstrated that loss of ADAR1 in the epithelial cells is the primary cause of these effects. These results support an essential role of ADAR1 and RNA editing in tissue homeostasis and stem cells.
    Cell Death & Disease 01/2013; 4:e599. · 6.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reduced expression of the pro-apoptotic protein SMAC (second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase) has been reported to correlate with cancer progression, while its significance and underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the role of SMAC in intestinal tumorigenesis using both human samples and animal models. Decreased SMAC expression was found to correlate with increased cIAP2 expression and higher grades of human colon cancer. In mice, SMAC deficiency significantly increased the incidence and size of colon tumors induced by azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS), and highly enriched β-catenin hot spot mutations. SMAC deficiency also significantly increased the incidence of spontaneous intestinal polyps in APC(Min/+) mice. Loss of SMAC in mice led to elevated levels of cIAP1 and cIAP2, increased proliferation and activation of the NF-κB p65 subunit in normal and tumor tissues. Unexpectedly, SMAC deficiency had little effect on the incidence of precursor lesions, or apoptosis induced by AOM or DSS, or in established tumors in mice. Furthermore, SMAC knockout enhanced TNFα-mediated NF-κB activation via cIAP2 in HCT 116 colon cancer cells. These results demonstrate an essential and apoptosis-independent function of SMAC in tumor suppression and provide new insights into the biology and targeting of colon cancer.Oncogene advance online publication, 2 July 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.265.
    Oncogene 07/2012; · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of accurate and clinically applicable tools to assess cancer risk is essential to define candidates to undergo screening for early-stage cancers at a curable stage or provide a novel method to monitor chemoprevention treatments. With the use of our recently developed optical technology--spatial-domain low-coherence quantitative phase microscopy (SL-QPM), we have derived a novel optical biomarker characterized by structure-derived optical path length (OPL) properties from the cell nucleus on the standard histology and cytology specimens, which quantifies the nano-structural alterations within the cell nucleus at the nanoscale sensitivity, referred to as nano-morphology marker. The aim of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of the nuclear nano-morphology marker from histologically normal cells, extracted directly from the standard histology specimens, to detect early-stage carcinogenesis, assess cancer risk, and monitor the effect of chemopreventive treatment. We used a well-established mouse model of spontaneous carcinogenesis--Apc(Min) mice, which develop multiple intestinal adenomas (Min) due to a germline mutation in the adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) gene. We found that the nuclear nano-morphology marker quantified by OPL detects the development of carcinogenesis from histologically normal intestinal epithelial cells, even at an early pre-adenomatous stage (six weeks). It also exhibits a good temporal correlation with the small intestine that parallels the development of carcinogenesis and cancer risk. To further assess its ability to monitor the efficacy of chemopreventive agents, we used an established chemopreventive agent, sulindac. The nuclear nano-morphology marker is reversed toward normal after a prolonged treatment. Therefore, our proof-of-concept study establishes the feasibility of the SL-QPM derived nuclear nano-morphology marker OPL as a promising, simple and clinically applicable biomarker for cancer risk assessment and evaluation of chemopreventive treatment.
    Journal of Biomedical Optics 06/2012; 17(6):066014. · 2.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatocyte death and proliferation contribute to hepatocellular carcinoma development after carcinogen exposure or chronic liver inflammation. However, the role and the molecular targets of hepatocyte death in relation to compensatory proliferation have not been fully characterized. In this study, we investigated the role of p53 up-regulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), a BH3-only protein important for both p53-dependent and -independent apoptosis, in a diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced liver carcinogenesis model. PUMA deficiency significantly decreased the multiplicity and size of liver tumors. DEN treatment induced p53-independent PUMA expression, PUMA-dependent hepatocyte death, and compensatory proliferation. Furthermore, inhibition or deletion of c-jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) abrogated PUMA induction, hepatocyte death, and compensatory proliferation. CONCLUSION: These results provide direct evidence that JNK1/PUMA-dependent apoptosis promotes chemical hepatocarcinogenesis through compensatory proliferation, and suggest apoptotic inducers as potential therapeutic targets in liver injury and cancer.
    Hepatology 07/2011; 54(4):1249-58. · 12.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background & AimsInflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is associated with increased apoptosis of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). Mutations in the tumor suppressor p53 appear during early stages of progression from colitis to cancer. We investigated the role of p53 and its target, p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), in inflammation-induced apoptosis of IECs.Methods Apoptosis was induced in mouse models of mucosal inflammation. Responses of IECs to acute, T-cell activation were assessed in wild-type, p53−/−, Bid−/−, Bim−/−, Bax3−/−, Bak−/−, PUMA−/−, and Noxa−/− mice. Responses of IECs to acute and chronic colitis were measured in mice following 1 or 3 cycles of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS), respectively. Apoptosis was assessed by TUNEL staining and measuring activity of caspases 3 and 9; levels of p53 and PUMA were assessed in colon tissue from patients with and without ulcerative colitis.ResultsApoptosis of IECs occurred in the lower crypts of colitic tissue from humans and mice. Colitis induction with anti-CD3 or 3 cycles of DSS increased apoptosis and protein levels of p53 and PUMA in colonic crypt IECs. In p53−/− and PUMA−/− mice, apoptosis of IECs was significantly reduced but inflammation was not. Levels of p53 and PUMA were increased in inflamed mucosal tissues of mice with colitis and in patients with UC, compared with controls. Induction of PUMA in IECs of p53−/− mice indicated that PUMA-mediated apoptosis was independent of p53.Conclusions In mice and humans, colon inflammation induces apoptosis of IECs via p53-dependent and -independent mechanisms; PUMA also activates an intrinsic apoptosis pathway associated with colitis.
    Gastroenterology 05/2011; 141(3):1036-1045. · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) apoptosis contributes to the development of ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the colon and rectum. Therapies that target the inflammatory cytokine TNF have been found to inhibit IEC apoptosis in patients with IBD, although the mechanism of IEC apoptosis remains unclear. We therefore investigated the role of p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), a p53 target and proapoptotic BH3-only protein, in colitis and IEC apoptosis, using patient samples and mouse models of UC. In UC patient samples, PUMA expression was elevated in colitis tissues relative to that in uninvolved tissues, and the degree of elevation of PUMA expression correlated with the severity of colitis and the degree of apoptosis induction. In mice, PUMA was markedly induced in colonic epithelial cells following induction of colitis by either dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS) or 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS). The induction of PUMA was p53-independent but required NF-κB. Absence of PUMA, but neither absence of p53 nor that of another BH3-only protein (Bid), relieved DSS- and TNBS-induced colitis and inhibited IEC apoptosis. Furthermore, treating mice with infliximab (Remicade), a clinically used TNF-specific antibody, suppressed DSS- and TNBS-induced PUMA expression and colitis. These results indicate that PUMA induction contributes to the pathogenesis of colitis by promoting IEC apoptosis and suggest that PUMA inhibition may be an effective strategy to promote mucosal healing in patients with UC.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 05/2011; 121(5):1722-32. · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of p53 in tissue protection is not well understood. Loss of p53 blocks apoptosis in the intestinal crypts following irradiation but paradoxically accelerates gastrointestinal (GI) damage and death. PUMA and p21 are the major mediators of p53-dependent apoptosis and cell-cycle checkpoints, respectively. To better understand these two arms of p53 response in radiation-induced GI damage, we compared animal survival, as well as apoptosis, proliferation, cell-cycle progression, DNA damage, and regeneration in the crypts of WT, p53 knockout (KO), PUMA KO, p21 KO, and p21/PUMA double KO (DKO) mice in a whole body irradiation model. Deficiency in p53 or p21 led to shortened survival but accelerated crypt regeneration associated with massive nonapoptotic cell death. Nonapoptotic cell death is characterized by aberrant cell-cycle progression, persistent DNA damage, rampant replication stress, and genome instability. PUMA deficiency alone enhanced survival and crypt regeneration by blocking apoptosis but failed to rescue delayed nonapoptotic crypt death or shortened survival in p21 KO mice. These studies help to better understand p53 functions in tissue injury and regeneration and to potentially improve strategies to protect or mitigate intestinal damage induced by radiation.
    Molecular Cancer Research 03/2011; 9(5):616-25. · 4.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alterations in nuclear architecture are the hallmark diagnostic characteristic of cancer cells. In this work, we show that the nuclear architectural characteristics quantified by spatial-domain low-coherence quantitative phase microscopy (SL-QPM), is more sensitive for the identification of cancer cells than conventional cytopathology. We demonstrated the importance of nuclear architectural characteristics in both an animal model of intestinal carcinogenesis - APC/Min mouse model and human cytology specimens with colorectal cancer by identifying cancer from cytologically noncancerous appearing cells. The determination of nanoscale nuclear architecture using this simple and practical optical instrument is a significant advance towards cancer diagnosis.
    Proc SPIE 02/2011;
  • Gastroenterology 01/2011; 140(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as sulindac effectively prevent colon cancer in humans and rodent models. However, their cellular targets and underlying mechanisms have remained elusive. We found that dietary sulindac induced apoptosis to remove the intestinal stem cells with nuclear or phosphorylated β-catenin in APC(Min/+) mice. NSAIDs also induced apoptosis in human colonic polyps and effectively removed cells with aberrant Wnt signaling. Furthermore, deficiency in SMAC, a mitochondrial apoptogenic protein, attenuated the tumor-suppressive effect of sulindac in APC(Min/+) mice by blocking apoptosis and removal of stem cells with nuclear or phosphorylated β-catenin. These results suggest that effective chemoprevention of colon cancer by NSAIDs lies in the elimination of stem cells that are inappropriately activated by oncogenic events through induction of apoptosis.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2010; 107(46):20027-32. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Refractive index properties, especially at the nanoscale, have shown great potential in cancer diagnosis and screening. Due to the intrinsic complexity and weak refractive index fluctuation, the reconstruction of internal structures of a biological cell has been challenging. In this paper, we propose a simple and practical approach to derive the statistical properties of internal refractive index fluctuations within a biological cell with a new optical microscopy method--Low-coherence Statistical Amplitude Microscopy (SAM). We validated the capability of SAM to characterize the statistical properties of cell internal structures, which is described by numerical models of one-dimensional Gaussian random field. We demonstrated the potential of SAM in cancer detection with an animal model of intestinal carcinogenesis--multiple intestinal neoplasia mouse model. We showed that SAM-derived statistical properties of cell nuclear structures could detect the subtle changes that are otherwise undetectable by conventional cytopathology.
    Optics Express 10/2010; 18(21):21950-8. · 3.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Definitive diagnosis of malignancy is often challenging due to limited availability of human cell or tissue samples and morphological similarity with certain benign conditions. Our recently developed novel technology-spatial-domain low-coherence quantitative phase microscopy (SL-QPM)-overcomes the technical difficulties and enables us to obtain quantitative information about cell nuclear architectural characteristics with nanoscale sensitivity. We explore its ability to improve the identification of malignancy, especially in cytopathologically non-cancerous-appearing cells. We perform proof-of-concept experiments with an animal model of colorectal carcinogenesis-APC(Min) mouse model and human cytology specimens of colorectal cancer. We show the ability of in situ nanoscale nuclear architectural characteristics in identifying cancerous cells, especially in those labeled as "indeterminate or normal" by expert cytopathologists. Our approach is based on the quantitative analysis of the cell nucleus on the original cytology slides without additional processing, which can be readily applied in a conventional clinical setting. Our simple and practical optical microscopy technique may lead to the development of novel methods for early detection of cancer.
    Journal of Biomedical Optics 01/2010; 15(6):066028. · 2.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gastrointestinal toxicity is the primary limiting factor in abdominal and pelvic radiotherapy, but has no effective treatment currently. We recently showed a critical role of the BH3-only protein p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) in acute radiation-induced GI damage and GI syndrome in mice. Growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) have been shown to protect against radiation-induced intestinal injury, although the underlying mechanisms remain to be identified. We report here the suppression of PUMA through the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT)/p53 axis in the intestinal stem cells as a novel molecular mechanism of growth factor-mediated intestinal radioprotection. IGF-1 or bFGF impaired radiation-induced apoptosis and the expression of PUMA and p53 in the crypt cells and intestinal stem cells. Using colonic epithelial cells that undergo PUMA-dependent and radiation-induced apoptosis, we found that a PI3K inhibitor, dominant-negative PI3K or Mdm2 antagonist restored the induction of PUMA, p53 and apoptosis in the presence of growth factors. In contrast, overexpression of AKT suppressed the induction of PUMA and p53 by radiation. Furthermore, inhibiting PI3K or activating p53 abrogated growth factor-mediated suppression of apoptosis and PUMA expression in the intestinal crypts and stem cells after radiation.
    Oncogene 12/2009; 29(11):1622-32. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Defective apoptosis contributes to tumorigenesis, although the critical molecular targets remain to be fully characterized. PUMA, a BH3-only protein essential for p53-dependent apoptosis, has been shown to suppress lymphomagenesis. In this study, we investigated the role of PUMA in intestinal tumorigenesis using two animal models. In the azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sulfate sodium salt model, PUMA deficiency increased the multiplicity and size of colon tumors but reduced the frequency of beta-catenin hotspot mutations. The absence of PUMA led to a significantly elevated incidence of precursor lesions induced by AOM. AOM was found to induce p53-dependent PUMA expression and PUMA-dependent apoptosis in the colonic crypts and stem cell compartment. Furthermore, PUMA deficiency significantly enhanced the formation of spontaneous macroadenomas and microadenomas in the distal small intestine and colon of APC(Min/+) mice. These results show an essential role of PUMA-mediated apoptosis in suppressing intestinal tumorigenesis in mice.
    Cancer Research 07/2009; 69(12):4999-5006. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is a cytokine that has an important role in immunity and inflammation by inducing cellular responses such as apoptosis. The transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) can paradoxically suppress and promote apoptosis in response to TNF-α. In this study, we found that p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), a p53 downstream target and a BH3-only Bcl-2 family member, is directly regulated by NF-κB in response to TNF-α. TNF-α treatment led to increases in PUMA mRNA and protein levels in human colon cancer cells. The induction of PUMA was p53 independent, and mediated by the p65 component of NF-κB through a κB site in the PUMA promoter. The apoptotic effect of PUMA induction by TNF-α was unmasked by depleting the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-XL. In mice, PUMA was also induced by TNF-α in an NF-κB-dependent manner. TNF-α-induced apoptosis in a variety of tissues and cell types, including small intestinal epithelial cells, hepatocytes, and thymocytes, was markedly reduced in PUMA-deficient mice. Collectively, these results demonstrated that PUMA is a direct target of NF-κB and mediates TNF-α-induced apoptosis in vitro and in vivo.
    Cell death and differentiation 05/2009; 16(9):1192-1202. · 8.24 Impact Factor
  • Gastroenterology 01/2009; 136(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is tightly regulated at the transcriptional level through a number of transcription factors. In response to different stimuli, these transcription factors bind to specific DNA sequences in the promoters of the genes that are involved in apoptosis regulation to stimulate or suppress their expression, leading to apoptosis initiation. Transcriptional regulation of apoptosis is essential for tissue homeostasis and normal development and serves as a barrier against tumorigenesis.
    12/2008: pages 239-260;
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    ABSTRACT: Radiation is one of the most effective cancer treatments. However, gastrointestinal (GI) syndrome is a major limiting factor in abdominal and pelvic radiotherapy. The loss of crypt stem cells or villus endothelial cells has been suggested to be responsible for radiation-induced intestinal damage. We report here a critical role of the BH3-only protein p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) in the radiosensitivity of intestinal epithelium and pathogenesis of GI syndrome. PUMA was induced in a p53-dependent manner and mediated radiation-induced apoptosis via the mitochondrial pathway in the intestinal mucosa. PUMA-deficient mice exhibited blocked apoptosis in the intestinal progenitor and stem cells, enhanced crypt proliferation and regeneration, and prolonged survival following lethal doses of radiation. Unexpectedly, PUMA deficiency had little effect on radiation-induced intestinal endothelial apoptosis. Suppressing PUMA expression by antisense oligonucleotides provided significant intestinal radioprotection. Therefore, PUMA-mediated apoptosis in the progenitor and stem cell compartments is crucial for radiation-induced intestinal damage.
    Cell stem cell 06/2008; 2(6):576-83. · 23.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The small intestine is highly sensitive to ischaemia-reperfusion (I/R) induced injury which is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is a major mode of cell death occurring during I/R induced injury. However, the mechanisms by which I/R cause apoptosis in the small intestine are poorly understood. p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) is a p53 downstream target and a member of the BH3-only group of Bcl-2 family proteins. It has been shown that PUMA plays an essential role in apoptosis induced by a variety of stimuli in different tissues through a mitochondrial pathway. The role of PUMA in I/R induced injury and apoptosis in the small intestine was investigated. The mechanisms by which PUMA is regulated in I/R induced intestinal apoptosis were also studied. Ischaemia was induced by superior mesenteric artery occlusion in the mouse small intestine. Induction of PUMA in response to ischaemia alone, or ischaemia followed by reperfusion (I/R), was examined. I/R induced intestinal apoptosis and injury were compared between PUMA knockout and wild-type mice. The mechanisms of I/R induced and PUMA mediated apoptosis were investigated through analysis of caspase activation, cytosolic release of mitochondrial cytochrome c and alterations of the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins Bax and Bak. To determine whether PUMA is induced by reactive oxygen species and/or reactive nitrogen species generated by I/R, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and N-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) were used to treat animals before I/R. To determine whether p53 is involved in regulating PUMA during I/R induced apoptosis, PUMA induction and apoptosis in response to I/R were examined in p53 knockout mice. PUMA was markedly induced following I/R in the mucosa of the mouse small intestine. I/R induced intestinal apoptosis was significantly attenuated in PUMA knockout mice compared with that in wild-type mice. I/R induced caspase 3 activation, cytochrome c release, Bax mitochondrial translocation and Bak multimerisation were also inhibited in PUMA knockout mice. SOD or L-NAME significantly blunted I/R induced PUMA expression and apoptosis. Furthermore, I/R induced PUMA expression and apoptosis in the small intestine were not affected in the p53 knockout mice. Our data demonstrated that PUMA is activated by oxidative stress in response to I/R to promote p53 independent apoptosis in the small intestine through the mitochondrial pathway. Inhibition of PUMA is potentially useful for protecting against I/R induced intestinal injury and apoptosis.
    Gut 06/2007; 56(5):645-54. · 10.73 Impact Factor