Wei Wang

SickKids, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (22)286.2 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Here we describe a conditional piggyBac transposition system in mice and report the discovery of large sets of new cancer genes through a pancreatic insertional mutagenesis screen. We identify Foxp1 as an oncogenic transcription factor that drives pancreatic cancer invasion and spread in a mouse model and correlates with lymph node metastasis in human patients with pancreatic cancer. The propensity of piggyBac for open chromatin also enabled genome-wide screening for cancer-relevant noncoding DNA, which pinpointed a Cdkn2a cis-regulatory region. Histologically, we observed different tumor subentities and discovered associated genetic events, including Fign insertions in hepatoid pancreatic cancer. Our studies demonstrate the power of genetic screening to discover cancer drivers that are difficult to identify by other approaches to cancer genome analysis, such as downstream targets of commonly mutated human cancer genes. These piggyBac resources are universally applicable in any tissue context and provide unique experimental access to the genetic complexity of cancer.
    Nature genetics. 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The multidrug resistance efflux transporter ATP-binding cassette subfamily G member 2 (ABCG2) is not only overexpressed in certain drug resistant cancers but is also highly expressed in the mammary gland during lactation, carrying xenobiotics and nutrients into milk. We sought to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in the upregulation of ABCG2 during lactation. Expression profiling of different mouse Abcg2 mRNA isoforms (E1a, E1b, and E1c) revealed that E1b is predominantly expressed and induced in the lactating mouse mammary gland. Despite this induction, analysis of CpG methylation status and published ChIP-seq datasets reveal that E1b promoter sequences in the virgin gland are already hypomethylated and marked with the open chromatin histone mark H3K4me2. Using a forced-weaning model to shutdown lactation, we found that within 24 h there was a significant reduction in Abcg2 mRNA expression and a loss of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription-5 (STAT5) occupancy at the mouse Abcg2 gene. Luciferase reporter assays further show that some of these STAT5-binding regions that contained interferon gamma-activated sequence (GAS) motifs function as an enhancer after prolactin treatment. We conclude that Abcg2 is already poised for expression in the virgin mammary gland and that STAT5 plays an important role in Abcg2 expression during lactation.
    American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We show that BRAF(V600E) initiates an alternative pathway to colorectal cancer (CRC), which progresses through a hyperplasia/adenoma/carcinoma sequence. This pathway underlies significant subsets of CRCs with distinctive pathomorphologic/genetic/epidemiologic/clinical characteristics. Genetic and functional analyses in mice revealed a series of stage-specific molecular alterations driving different phases of tumor evolution and uncovered mechanisms underlying this stage specificity. We further demonstrate dose-dependent effects of oncogenic signaling, with physiologic Braf(V600E) expression being sufficient for hyperplasia induction, but later stage intensified Mapk-signaling driving both tumor progression and activation of intrinsic tumor suppression. Such phenomena explain, for example, the inability of p53 to restrain tumor initiation as well as its importance in invasiveness control, and the late stage specificity of its somatic mutation. Finally, systematic drug screening revealed sensitivity of this CRC subtype to targeted therapeutics, including Mek or combinatorial PI3K/Braf inhibition.
    Cancer cell 07/2013; 24(1):15-29. · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Invertebrate studies have highlighted a role for EH and SH3 domain Intersectin (Itsn) proteins in synaptic vesicle recycling and morphology. Mammals have two Itsn genes (Itsn1 and Itsn2), both of which can undergo alternative splicing to include DBL/PH and C2 domains not present in invertebrate Itsn proteins. To probe for specific and redundant functions of vertebrate Itsn genes, we generated Itsn1, Itsn2, and double mutant mice. While invertebrate mutants showed severe synaptic abnormalities, basal synaptic transmission and plasticity were unaffected at Schaffer CA1 synapses in mutant mice. Surprisingly, intercortical tracts-corpus callosum, ventral hippocampal, and anterior commissures-failed to cross the midline in mice lacking Itsn1, but not Itsn2. In contrast, tracts extending within hemispheres and those that decussate to more caudal brain segments appeared normal. Itsn1 mutant mice showed severe deficits in Morris water maze and contextual fear memory tasks, whereas mice lacking Itsn2 showed normal learning and memory. Thus, coincident with the acquisition of additional signaling domains, vertebrate Itsn1 has been functionally repurposed to also facilitate interhemispheric connectivity essential for high order cognitive functions.
    Journal of Neuroscience 02/2013; 33(9):4055-65. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Basal-like breast cancers (BLBC) express a luminal progenitor gene signature. Notch receptor signaling promotes luminal cell fate specification in the mammary gland, while suppressing stem cell self-renewal. Here we show that deletion of Lfng, a sugar transferase that prevents Notch activation by Jagged ligands, enhances stem/progenitor cell proliferation. Mammary-specific deletion of Lfng induces basal-like and claudin-low tumors with accumulation of Notch intracellular domain fragments, increased expression of proliferation-associated Notch targets, amplification of the Met/Caveolin locus, and elevated Met and Igf-1R signaling. Human BL breast tumors, commonly associated with JAGGED expression, elevated MET signaling, and CAVEOLIN accumulation, express low levels of LFNG. Thus, reduced LFNG expression facilitates JAG/NOTCH luminal progenitor signaling and cooperates with MET/CAVEOLIN basal-type signaling to promote BLBC.
    Cancer cell 05/2012; 21(5):626-41. · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: miRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression and have critical functions in various biological processes. Hundreds of miRNAs have been identified in mammalian genomes but only a small number of them have been functionally characterized. Recent studies also demonstrate that some miRNAs have important roles in reprogramming somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We screened 52 miRNAs cloned in a piggybac (PB) vector for their roles in reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells to iPSCs. To identify targets of miRNAs, we made Dgcr8-deficient embryonic stem (ES) cells and introduced miRNA mimics to these cells, which lack miRNA biogenesis. The direct target genes of miRNA were identified through global gene expression analysis and target validation. We found that over-expressing miR-25 or introducing miR-25 mimics enhanced production of iPSCs. We identified a number of miR-25 candidate gene targets. Of particular interest were two ubiquitin ligases, Wwp2 and Fbxw7, which have been proposed to regulate Oct4, c-Myc and Klf5, respectively. Our findings thus highlight the complex interplay between miRNAs and transcription factors involved in reprogramming, stem cell self-renewal and maintenance of pluripotency.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e40938. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by expressing four transcription factors: Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc. Here we report that enhancing RA signaling by expressing RA receptors (RARs) or by RA agonists profoundly promoted reprogramming, but inhibiting it using a RAR-α dominant-negative form completely blocked it. Coexpressing Rarg (RAR-γ) and Lrh-1 (liver receptor homologue 1; Nr5a2) with the four factors greatly accelerated reprogramming so that reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells to ground-state iPSCs requires only 4 d induction of these six factors. The six-factor combination readily reprogrammed primary human neonatal and adult fibroblast cells to exogenous factor-independent iPSCs, which resembled ground-state mouse ES cells in growth properties, gene expression, and signaling dependency. Our findings demonstrate that signaling through RARs has critical roles in molecular reprogramming and that the synergistic interaction between Rarg and Lrh1 directs reprogramming toward ground-state pluripotency. The human iPSCs described here should facilitate functional analysis of the human genome.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2011; 108(45):18283-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cre-loxP recombination is widely used for genetic manipulation of the mouse genome. Here, we report generation and characterization of a new Cre line, Stella-Cre, where Cre expression cassette was targeted to the 3' UTR of the Stella locus. Stella is specifically expressed in preimplantation embryos and in the germline. Cre-loxP recombination efficiency in Stella-Cre mice was investigated at several genomic loci including Rosa26, Jak2, and Npm1. At all the loci examined, we observed 100% Cre-loxP recombination efficiency in the embryos and in the germline. Thus, Stella-Cre mice serve as a very efficient deleter line.
    genesis 08/2011; 49(8):689-95. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a molecularly diverse malignancy with a poor prognosis whose largest subgroup is characterized by somatic mutations in NPM1, which encodes nucleophosmin. These mutations, termed NPM1c, result in cytoplasmic dislocation of nucleophosmin and are associated with distinctive transcriptional signatures, yet their role in leukemogenesis remains obscure. Here we report that activation of a humanized Npm1c knock-in allele in mouse hemopoietic stem cells causes Hox gene overexpression, enhanced self renewal and expanded myelopoiesis. One third of mice developed delayed-onset AML, suggesting a requirement for cooperating mutations. We identified such mutations using a Sleeping Beauty transposon, which caused rapid-onset AML in 80% of mice with Npm1c, associated with mutually exclusive integrations in Csf2, Flt3 or Rasgrp1 in 55 of 70 leukemias. We also identified recurrent integrations in known and newly discovered leukemia genes including Nf1, Bach2, Dleu2 and Nup98. Our results provide new pathogenetic insights and identify possible therapeutic targets in NPM1c+ AML.
    Nature Genetics 03/2011; 43(5):470-5. · 35.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PIK3CA, which codes for the p110α catalytic subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, is one of the most frequently mutated genes in human breast cancer. Here, we describe a mouse model for PIK3CA-induced breast cancer by using the ROSA26 (R26) knock-in system, in which targeted Pik3ca alleles can be activated through transgenic expression of Cre recombinase. We mated Pik3ca(H1047R) and Pik3ca(wt) knock-in lines with MMTV-Cre transgenics, which express Cre in mammary epithelium. Starting at approximately 5 months of age, female R26-Pik3ca(H1047R);MMTV-Cre mice, but not control R26-Pik3ca(wt);MMTV-Cre mice, developed mammary tumors, as well as lymphoid and skin malignancies. R26-Pik3ca(H1047R);MMTV-Cre mammary tumors were typically either adenosquamous carcinoma or adenomyoepithelioma. As p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in breast cancer, we tested for genetic interaction between Pik3ca(H1047R) and p53 loss-of-function mutations in R26-Pik3ca(H1047R);p53(loxP/+);MMTV-Cre mice. This led to decreased survival of double-mutant animals, which developed lymphoma and mammary tumors with rapid kinetics. Mammary tumors that formed in p53(loxP/+);MMTV-Cre conditional mutants were either poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma or spindle cell/EMT, whereas R26-Pik3ca(H1047R);p53(loxP/+);MMTV-Cre mammary tumors were mostly adenosquamous carcinoma or spindle cell/EMT indicating that double-mutant mice develop a distinct spectrum of mammary tumors. Thus, an oncogenic variant of PIK3CA implicated in multiple human breast cancer subtypes can induce a very diverse spectrum of mammary tumors in mice. Furthermore, Pik3ca(H1047R) shows cooperation with p53, which altered the specific tumors that formed. Thus, the two most frequently mutated genes in human breast cancer show cooperation in mammary tumor formation.
    Cancer Research 02/2011; 71(7):2706-17. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Host gene products required for mediating the action of toxins are potential targets for reversing or controlling their pathogenic impact following exposure. To identify such targets libraries of insertional gene-trap mutations generated with a PiggyBac transposon in Blm-deficient embryonic stem cells were exposed to the plant toxin, ricin. Resistant clones were isolated and genetically characterised and one was found to be a homozygous mutant of the mannosidase 2, alpha 1 (Man2α1) locus with a matching defect in the homologous allele. The causality of the molecular lesion was confirmed by removal of the transposon following expression of PB-transposase. Comparative glycomic and lectin binding analysis of the Man2α1 (-/-) ricin resistant cells revealed an increase in the levels of hybrid glycan structures and a reduction in terminal β-galactose moieties, potential target receptors for ricin. Furthermore, naïve ES cells treated with inhibitors of the N-linked glycosylation pathway at the mannosidase 2, alpha 1 step exhibited either full or partial resistance to ricin. Therefore, we conclusively identified mannosidase 2, alpha 1 deficiency to be associated with ricin resistance.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(8):e22993. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transposons are mobile DNA segments that can disrupt gene function by inserting in or near genes. Here, we show that insertional mutagenesis by the PiggyBac transposon can be used for cancer gene discovery in mice. PiggyBac transposition in genetically engineered transposon-transposase mice induced cancers whose type (hematopoietic versus solid) and latency were dependent on the regulatory elements introduced into transposons. Analysis of 63 hematopoietic tumors revealed that PiggyBac is capable of genome-wide mutagenesis. The PiggyBac screen uncovered many cancer genes not identified in previous retroviral or Sleeping Beauty transposon screens, including Spic, which encodes a PU.1-related transcription factor, and Hdac7, a histone deacetylase gene. PiggyBac and Sleeping Beauty have different integration preferences. To maximize the utility of the tool, we engineered 21 mouse lines to be compatible with both transposon systems in constitutive, tissue- or temporal-specific mutagenesis. Mice with different transposon types, copy numbers, and chromosomal locations support wide applicability.
    Science 11/2010; 330(6007):1104-7. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Distal lung development occurs through coordinated induction of myofibroblasts, epithelial cells, and capillaries. Lunatic Fringe (Lfng) is a beta(1-3) N-acetylglucosamine transferase that modifies Notch receptors to facilitate their activation by Delta-like (Dll1/4) ligands. Lfng is expressed in the distal lung during saccular development, and deletion of this gene impairs myofibroblast differentiation and alveogenesis in this context. A similar defect was observed in Notch2(beta-geo/+)Notch3(beta-geo/beta-geo) compound mutant mice but not in Notch2(beta-geo/+) or Notch3(beta-geo/beta-geo) single mutants. Finally, to directly test for the role of Notch signaling in myofibroblast differentiation in vivo, we used ROSA26-rtTA(/+);tetO-CRE(/+);RBPJkappa(flox/flox) inducible mutant mice to show that disruption of canonical Notch signaling during late embryonic development prevents induction of smooth muscle actin in mesenchymal cells of the distal lung. In sum, these results demonstrate that Lfng functions to enhance Notch signaling in myofibroblast precursor cells and thereby to coordinate differentiation and mobilization of myofibroblasts required for alveolar septation.
    AJP Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 11/2009; 298(1):L45-56. · 3.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transgenic expression of just four defined transcription factors (c-Myc, Klf4, Oct4 and Sox2) is sufficient to reprogram somatic cells to a pluripotent state. The resulting induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells resemble embryonic stem cells in their properties and potential to differentiate into a spectrum of adult cell types. Current reprogramming strategies involve retroviral, lentiviral, adenoviral and plasmid transfection to deliver reprogramming factor transgenes. Although the latter two methods are transient and minimize the potential for insertion mutagenesis, they are currently limited by diminished reprogramming efficiencies. piggyBac (PB) transposition is host-factor independent, and has recently been demonstrated to be functional in various human and mouse cell lines. The PB transposon/transposase system requires only the inverted terminal repeats flanking a transgene and transient expression of the transposase enzyme to catalyse insertion or excision events. Here we demonstrate successful and efficient reprogramming of murine and human embryonic fibroblasts using doxycycline-inducible transcription factors delivered by PB transposition. Stable iPS cells thus generated express characteristic pluripotency markers and succeed in a series of rigorous differentiation assays. By taking advantage of the natural propensity of the PB system for seamless excision, we show that the individual PB insertions can be removed from established iPS cell lines, providing an invaluable tool for discovery. In addition, we have demonstrated the traceless removal of reprogramming factors joined with viral 2A sequences delivered by a single transposon from murine iPS lines. We anticipate that the unique properties of this virus-independent simplification of iPS cell production will accelerate this field further towards full exploration of the reprogramming process and future cell-based therapies.
    Nature 04/2009; 458(7239):766-70. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cultured mouse or human embryonic stem (ES) cells provide access to all of the genes required to elaborate the fundamental components and physiological systems of a mammalian cell. Chemical or insertional mutagenesis of Blm-deficient mouse ES cells can be used to generate genome-wide libraries of homozygous mutant ES cells, which are the substrates for conducting phenotype-driven loss-of-function genetic screens. However, the existing insertional mutation libraries are limited by incomplete genomic coverage. In this study, we have explored the use of piggyBac (PB) transposon-mediated mutagenesis to extend the genomic coverage of mutation libraries in Blm-deficient ES cells. A library composed of 14,000 individual gene-trap clones was generated and a recessive genetic screen conducted to identify cells with defects in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes. Independent mutations in all known genes of the pathway Msh2, Msh6, Pms2, and Mlh1 were recovered in these screens. The genomic coverage in this library confirms its utility as a new genetic resource for conducting recessive genetic screens in mammalian cells.
    Genome Research 03/2009; 19(4):667-73. · 14.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recombineering is a technology that utilizes the efficient homologous recombination functions encoded by gamma phage to manipulate DNA in Escherichia coli. Construction of knockout vectors has been greatly facilitated by recombineering as it allows one to choose any genomic region to manipulate. We describe here an efficient recombineering-based protocol for making mouse conditional knockout targeting vectors.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 02/2009; 530:15-27. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transposon systems are widely used for generating mutations in various model organisms. PiggyBac (PB) has recently been shown to transpose efficiently in the mouse germ line and other mammalian cell lines. To facilitate PB's application in mammalian genetics, we characterized the properties of the PB transposon in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. We first measured the transposition efficiencies of PB transposon in mouse embryonic stem cells. We next constructed a PB/SB hybrid transposon to compare PB and Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon systems and demonstrated that PB transposition was inhibited by DNA methylation. The excision and reintegration rates of a single PB from two independent genomic loci were measured and its ability to mutate genes with gene trap cassettes was tested. We examined PB's integration site distribution in the mouse genome and found that PB transposition exhibited local hopping. The comprehensive information from this study should facilitate further exploration of the potential of PB and SB DNA transposons in mammalian genetics.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2008; 105(27):9290-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intersectins (Itsn) are conserved EH and SH3 domain containing adaptor proteins. In Drosophila melanogaster, ITSN is required to regulate synaptic morphology, to facilitate efficient synaptic vesicle recycling and for viability. Here, we report our genetic analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans intersectin. In contrast to Drosophila, C. elegans itsn-1 protein null mutants are viable and display grossly normal locomotion and development. However, motor neurons in these mutants show a dramatic increase in large irregular vesicles and accumulate membrane-associated vesicles at putative endocytic hotspots, approximately 300 nm from the presynaptic density. This defect occurs precisely where endogenous ITSN-1 protein localizes in wild-type animals and is associated with a significant reduction in synaptic vesicle number and reduced frequency of endogenous synaptic events at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). ITSN-1 forms a stable complex with EHS-1 (Eps15) and is expressed at reduced levels in ehs-1 mutants. Thus, ITSN-1 together with EHS-1, coordinate vesicle recycling at C. elegans NMJs. We also found that both itsn-1 and ehs-1 mutants show poor viability and growth in a Disabled (dab-1) null mutant background. These results show for the first time that intersectin and Eps15 proteins function in the same genetic pathway, and appear to function synergistically with the clathrin-coat-associated sorting protein, Disabled, for viability.
    Traffic 06/2008; 9(5):742-54. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic mosaics produced by FLP/FRT induced mitotic recombination have been widely used in Drosophila to study gene function in development. Recently, the Cre/loxP system has been applied to induce mitotic recombination in mouse embryonic stem cells and in many adult mouse tissues. We have used this strategy to generate a previously undescribed p53 mouse model in which expression of a ubiquitously expressed recombinase in a heterozygous p53 knockout animal produces mitotic recombinant clones homozygous for the p53 mutation. The induction of loss of heterozygosity in a few cells in an otherwise normal tissue mimics genetic aspects of tumorigenesis more closely than existing models and has revealed the possible cell autonomous nature of Wnt3. Our results suggest that inducible mitotic recombination can be used for clonal analysis of mutants in the mouse.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2007; 104(11):4501-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SALL4 is a homologue of the Drosophila homeotic gene spalt, a zinc finger transcription factor, required for inner cell mass proliferation in early embryonic development. It also interacts with other transcription factors to control the development of the anorectal region, kidney, heart, limbs, and brain. Truncating mutations in SALL4 cause Okihiro syndrome, manifest as Duane anomaly, radial ray defects and sensorineural and conductive deafness. We report the characterization of a novel murine Sall4 null allele created by bacterial recombineering in ES cells. Homozygous mutant mice exhibit early embryonic lethality. Heterozygous mutant mice recapitulate phenotypic features of Okihiro syndrome including deafness, lower anogenital tract abnormalities, renal hypoplasia, anencephaly, Hirschprung's disease, and skeletal defects. This phenotype shows important differences in cardiac and ear manifestations to previously characterized Sall4 mutant alleles and should prove useful for the investigation of the influence of modifier alleles and protein interactions on the transcriptional regulatory function of Sall4.
    genesis 02/2007; 45(1):51-8. · 2.58 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
286.20 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2009–2014
    • SickKids
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2004–2013
    • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011
    • Huazhong Agricultural University
      • College of Animal Science and Technology
      Wuhan, Hubei, China
  • 2007
    • Peking University
      • School of Life Sciences
      Beijing, Beijing Shi, China