Wei-Wen Cai

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (8)134.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Osteosarcoma is the primary malignant cancer of bone and particularly affects adolescents and young adults, causing debilitation and sometimes death. As a model for human osteosarcoma, we have been studying p53(+/-) mice, which develop osteosarcoma at high frequency. To discover genes that cooperate with p53 deficiency in osteosarcoma formation, we have integrated array comparative genomic hybridization, microarray expression analyses in mouse and human osteosarcomas, and functional assays. In this study, we found seven frequent regions of copy number gain and loss in the mouse p53(+/-) osteosarcomas but have focused on a recurrent amplification event on mouse chromosome 9A1. This amplicon is syntenic with a similar chromosome 11q22 amplicon identified in several human tumor types. Three genes on this amplicon, the matrix metalloproteinase gene MMP13 and the antiapoptotic genes Birc2 (cIAP1) and Birc3 (cIAP2), show elevated expression in mouse and human osteosarcomas. We developed a functional assay using clonal osteosarcoma cell lines transduced with lentiviral short hairpin RNA vectors to show that down-regulation of MMP13, Birc2, or Birc3 resulted in reduced tumor growth when transplanted into immunodeficient recipient mice. These experiments revealed that high MMP13 expression enhances osteosarcoma cell survival and that Birc2 and Birc3 also enhance cell survival but only in osteosarcoma cells with the chromosome 9A1 amplicon. We conclude that the antiapoptotic genes Birc2 and Birc3 are potential oncogenic drivers in the chromosome 9A1 amplicon.
    Cancer Research 04/2009; 69(6):2559-67. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Separase is an endopeptidase that separates sister chromatids by cleaving cohesin Rad21 during the metaphase-to-anaphase transition. Conditional expression of Separase in tetracycline-inducible diploid FSK3 mouse mammary epithelial cells with both p53 WT and mutant (Ser-233-234) alleles of unknown physiological significance develops aneuploidy within 5 days of Separase induction in vitro. Overexpression of Separase induces premature separation of chromatids, lagging chromosomes, and anaphase bridges. In an in vivo mouse mammary transplant model, induction of Separase expression in the transplanted FSK3 cells for 3-4 weeks results in the formation of aneuploid tumors in the mammary gland. Xenograft studies combined with histological and cytogenetic analysis reveal that Separase-induced tumors are clonal in their genomic complements and have a mesenchymal phenotype suggestive of an epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Induction of Separase resulted in trisomies for chromosomes 8, 15, and 17; monosomy for chromosome 10; and amplification of the distal region of chromosomes 8 and 11. Separase protein is found to be significantly overexpressed in human breast tumors compared with matched normal tissue. These results collectively suggest that Separase is an oncogene, whose overexpression alone in mammary epithelial cells is sufficient to induce aneuploidy and tumorigenesis in a p53 mutant background.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2008; 105(35):13033-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Osteosarcoma is a primary malignant tumor of bone arising from primitive bone-forming mesenchymal cells and accounts for approximately 60% of malignant bone tumors. Our comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) studies have identified frequent amplification at 6p12-p21, 12q13-q15, and 17p11.2 in osteosarcoma. Of these amplified regions, 6p12-p21 is particularly interesting because of its association with progression and poor prognosis in patients with osteosarcoma. In an attempt to identify aberrantly expressed gene(s) mapping to the 6p12-p21 amplicon, a region-specific array was generated using 108 overlapping BAC and P1 clones covering a 28.8-Mb region at 0.26-Mb intervals. Based on array CGH analysis, the 6p amplicon was refined to 7.9 Mb between the clones RP11-91E11 and RP1-244F2 and 10 amplified clones, with possible target genes, were identified. To study the expression pattern of the target genes from the hotspot amplicon and known candidate genes from 6p12-21, we did quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis of MAPK14, MAPK13, CDKN1A, PIM1, MDGA1, BTB9, DNAH8, CCND3, PTK7, CDC5L, and RUNX2 on osteosarcoma patient samples and seven cell lines. The combined array CGH and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis identified amplification and overexpression of CDC5L, CCND3, and RUNX2. We screened these three genes for protein expression by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry and detected overexpression of CDC5L. Furthermore, we used an in vivo assay to show that CDC5L possesses potential oncogenic activity. These results indicate that CDC5L, a cell cycle regulator important for the G2-M transition, is the most likely candidate oncogene for the 6p12-p21 amplicon found in osteosarcoma.
    Molecular Cancer Research 07/2008; 6(6):937-46. · 4.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Serial analysis of gene expression from aggressive mammary tumors derived from transplantable p53 null mouse mammary outgrowth lines revealed significant up-regulation of Tfdp1 (transcription factor Dp1), Lamp1 (lysosomal membrane glycoprotein 1) and Gas6 (growth arrest specific 6) transcripts. All of these genes belong to the same linkage cluster, mapping to mouse chromosome band 8A1. BAC-array comparative genomic hybridization and fluorescence in situ hybridization analyses revealed genomic amplification at mouse region ch8A1.1. The minimal region of amplification contained genes Cul4a, Lamp1, Tfdp1, and Gas6, highly overexpressed in the p53 null mammary outgrowth lines at preneoplastic stages, and in all its derived tumors. The same amplification was also observed in spontaneous p53 null mammary tumors. Interestingly, this region is homologous to human chromosome 13q34, and some of the same genes were previously observed amplified in human carcinomas. Thus, we further investigated the occurrence and frequency of gene amplification affecting genes mapping to ch13q34 in human breast cancer. TFDP1 showed the highest frequency of amplification affecting 31% of 74 breast carcinomas analyzed. Statistically significant positive correlation was observed for the amplification of CUL4A, LAMP1, TFDP1, and GAS6 genes (P < 0.001). Meta-analysis of publicly available gene expression data sets showed a strong association between the high expression of TFDP1 and decreased overall survival (P = 0.00004), relapse-free survival (P = 0.0119), and metastasis-free interval (P = 0.0064). In conclusion, our findings suggest that CUL4A, LAMP1, TFDP1, and GAS6 are targets for overexpression and amplification in breast cancers. Therefore, overexpression of these genes and, in particular, TFDP1 might be of relevance in the development and/or progression in a significant subset of human breast carcinomas.
    Cancer Research 06/2007; 67(9):4104-12. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Aurora-A kinase gene is amplified in a subset of human tumors and in radiation-induced lymphomas from p53 heterozygous mice. Normal tissues from p53-/- mice have increased Aurora-A protein levels, but lymphomas from these mice exhibit heterozygous deletions of Aurora-A and/or reduced protein expression. A similar correlation between low p53 levels and Aurora-A gene deletions and expression is found in human breast cancer cell lines. In vitro studies using mouse embryo fibroblasts demonstrate that inhibition of Aurora-A can have either positive or negative effects on cell growth as a function of p53 status. These data have implications for the design of approaches to targeted cancer therapy involving the crosstalk between Aurora-A kinase and p53 pathways.
    Cancer Cell 03/2007; 11(2):161-73. · 23.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although radiation can directly induce DNA damage and is a known human and animal carcinogen, the number of genetic changes in radiation-induced tumors, and the pathways responsible for generating them, are unknown. We have used high-density BAC arrays covering >95% of the mouse genome for analysis of genomic patterns of aberrations in spontaneous and radiation-induced mouse lymphomas. The majority of radiation-induced tumors exhibit one of three 'signatures' based on gene copy number changes. Some exhibit extensive scrambling of the genome, with very high numbers of recurrent gains and losses. Two other signatures are characterized by excess gains but relatively few losses, or vice versa. Changes in spontaneous tumors often involve whole chromosomes, whereas radiation-induced tumors exhibit a high frequency of localized deletion/amplification events. The number of copy number abnormalities does not correlate with the latency or pathology of the tumors. We propose that specific early events following radiation exposure induce changes in 'caretaker' genes that control specific downstream pathways involved in DNA damage repair. The nature of these early events may determine the overall genomic signature observed in the resulting tumor.
    Oncogene 11/2005; 24(53):7924-34. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: By analyzing genomic copy-number differences using high-resolution mouse whole-genome BAC arrays, we uncover substantial differences in regional DNA content between inbred strains of mice. The identification of these apparently common segmental polymorphisms suggests that these differences can contribute to genetic variability and pathologic susceptibility.
    Nature Genetics 10/2004; 36(9):952-4. · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chromosomal imbalances such as deletions and amplifications are common rearrangements in most tumors. Specific rearrangements are consistently associated with specific tumor types or stages, implicating the role of the genes in a region of chromosomal imbalance in tumor initiation and progression. The development of comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) has obviated the need to obtain metaphase spreads from tumors, so that the chromosomal imbalances in many solid tumors may be revealed using an extracted genomic DNA sample. However, the resolution of the cytogenetic method remains and the extreme technical difficulty of CGH has restricted its use. Conceptually, DNA microarray-based CGH is an obvious solution to all of the limitations of conventional CGH. Although arrays have been used for CGH studies, their success has been limited by poor specific signal-to-noise ratios. Here we demonstrate a microarray-based CGH method that allows reliable detection of chromosomal deletions and amplifications with high resolution. Our microarray system is fundamentally different from most current microarray technologies in that activated DNA is printed on natural glass surfaces while other systems almost exclusively focus on activating the surfaces, a strategy that invariably introduces hybridization backgrounds. The concept of using pre-modification may be generally applied for making arrays of other biological materials, as modifying the substrates will be more controllable in solution than on surfaces.
    Nature Biotechnology 05/2002; 20(4):393-6. · 39.08 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

409 Citations
134.06 Total Impact Points


  • 2002–2008
    • Baylor College of Medicine
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      • • Department of Molecular & Human Genetics
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2005
    • University of California, San Francisco
      San Francisco, California, United States