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Publications (3)17.9 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Loss of the tumor suppressor merlin causes development of the tumors of the nervous system, such as schwannomas, meningiomas, and ependymomas occurring spontaneously or as part of a hereditary disease Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). Current therapies, (radio) surgery, are not always effective. Therefore, there is a need for drug treatments for these tumors. Schwannomas are the most frequent of merlin-deficient tumors and are hallmark for NF2. Using our in vitro human schwannoma model, we demonstrated that merlin-deficiency leads to increased proliferation, cell-matrix adhesion, and survival. Increased proliferation due to strong activation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) is caused by overexpression/activation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor-β (PDGFR-β) and ErbB2/3 which we successfully blocked with AZD6244, sorafenib, or lapatinib. Schwannoma basal proliferation is, however, only partly dependent on PDGFR-β and is completely independent of ErbB2/3. Moreover, the mechanisms underlying pathological cell-matrix adhesion and survival of schwannoma cells are still not fully understood. Here, we demonstrate that insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR) is strongly overexpressed and activated in human primary schwannoma cells. IGF-I and -II are overexpressed and released from schwannoma cells. We show that ERK1/2 is relevant for IGF-I-mediated increase in proliferation and cell-matrix adhesion, c-Jun N-terminal kinases for increased proliferation and AKT for survival. We demonstrate new mechanisms involved in increased basal proliferation, cell-matrix adhesion, and survival of schwannoma cells. We identified therapeutic targets IGF-IR and downstream PI3K for treatment of schwannoma and other merlin-deficient tumors and show usefulness of small molecule inhibitors in our model. PI3K is relevant for both IGF-IR and previously described PDGFR-β signaling in schwannoma. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Glia 07/2012; 60(11):1721-33. · 5.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is an inherited predisposition cancer syndrome characterized by the development of multiple benign tumors in the nervous system including schwannomas, meningiomas, and ependymomas. Using a disease model comprising primary human schwannoma cells, we previously demonstrated that adherens junctions (AJs) are impaired in schwannoma cells because of a ubiquitous, upregulated Rac activity. However, the mechanism by which loss of contact inhibition leads to proliferation remains obscure in merlin-deficient tumors. In this study, we show that proliferative Wnt/β-catenin signaling is elevated as active β-catenin (dephosphorylated at serine 37 and threoine 41) localizes to the nucleus and the Wnt targets genes c-myc and cyclin D1 are upregulated in confluent human schwannoma cells. We demonstrate that Rac effector p21-activated kinase 2 (PAK2) is essential for the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling because depletion of PAK2 suppressed active β-catenin, c-myc, and cyclin D1. Most importantly, the link between the loss of the AJ complex and the increased proliferation in human schwannoma cells is connected by Src and platelet-derived growth factor receptor-induced tyrosine 654 phosphorylation on β-catenin and associated with degradation of N-cadherin. We also demonstrate that active merlin maintains β-catenin and N-cadherin complex at the plasma membrane through direct regulation. Finally, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of tyrosine 654 is critical for the increased proliferation in human schwannoma cells because overexpression of a Y654F mutant β-catenin reduces hyperproliferation of schwannoma cells. We suggest a model that these pathways are coordinated and relevant for proliferation in merlin-deficient tumors.
    Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 12/2011; 13(12):1101-12. · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Merlin is a tumour suppressor involved in the development of a variety of tumours including mesotheliomas. Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), a dominantly inherited tumour disease, is also caused by loss of merlin. NF2 patients suffer from multiple genetically well-defined tumours, schwannomas are most frequent among those. Using our in vitro model for human schwannoma, we found that schwannoma cells display enhanced proliferation because of the overexpression/activation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor and ErbB2/3, increased cell-matrix adhesion because of the overexpression of integrins, and decreased apoptosis. Mechanisms underlying schwannomas basal proliferation and cell-matrix adhesion are not understood. Here, we investigated insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), which is expressed and released from central nervous system tumours and strongly overexpressed in schwannoma at the mRNA level. IGFBP-1 acts via β1-integrin and focal-adhesion-kinase (FAK), which are strongly overexpressed and basally activated in schwannoma. Using short hairpin RNA knockdown, small inhibitors and recombinant IGFBP-1, we demonstrate that schwannoma cells, in contrast to Schwann cells, release IGFBP-1 that activates the Src/FAK pathway, via integrin β1, potentiating schwannoma's proliferation and cell-matrix adhesion. We show that FAK localizes to the nucleus and Src triggers IGFBP-1 production. Further, we observed downregulation of the tumour-suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog in schwannoma cells leading to increased activity of anti-apoptotic AKT. Thus, IGFBP-1/integrin β1/Src/FAK pathway has a crucial role in merlin-related tumourigenesis and therefore represents an important therapeutic target in the treatment of merlin-deficient tumours.
    Oncogene 09/2011; 31(13):1710-22. · 7.36 Impact Factor