Emily Cheng

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (7)36.43 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A major limitation in the treatment of glioblastoma (GBM), the most common and deadly primary brain cancer, is delivery of therapeutics to invading tumor cells outside of the area that is safe for surgical removal. A promising way to target invading GBM cells is via drug-loaded nanoparticles that bind to fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14), thereby potentially improving efficacy and reducing toxicity. However, achieving broad particle distribution and nanoparticle targeting within the brain remains a significant challenge due to the adhesive extracellular matrix (ECM) and clearance mechanisms in the brain. In this work, we developed Fn14 monoclonal antibody-decorated nanoparticles that can efficiently penetrate brain tissue. We show these Fn14-targeted brain tissue penetrating nanoparticles are able to (i) selectively bind to recombinant Fn14 but not brain ECM proteins, (ii) associate with and be internalized by Fn14-positive GBM cells, and (iii) diffuse within brain tissue in a manner similar to non-targeted brain penetrating nanoparticles. In addition, when administered intracranially, Fn14-targeted nanoparticles showed improved tumor cell co-localization in mice bearing human GBM xenografts compared to non-targeted nanoparticles. Minimizing non-specific binding of targeted nanoparticles in the brain may greatly improve the access of particulate delivery systems to remote brain tumor cells and other brain targets. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Biomaterials 02/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.11.054 · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The TNF receptor superfamily member Fn14 (TNFRSF12A) is the sole signaling receptor for the pro-inflammatory cytokine TWEAK (TNFSF12). TWEAK:Fn14 engagement stimulates multiple signal transduction pathways, including the NF-κB pathway, and this triggers important cellular processes (e.g., growth, differentiation, migration, invasion). The TWEAK/Fn14 axis is thought to be a major physiological mediator of tissue repair after acute injury. Various studies have revealed that Fn14 is highly expressed in many solid tumor types and that Fn14 signaling may play a role in tumor growth and metastasis. Previously it was shown that Fn14 levels are frequently elevated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors and cell lines that exhibit constitutive EGFR phosphorylation (activation). Furthermore, elevated Fn14 levels increased NSCLC cell invasion in vitro and lung metastatic tumor colonization in vivo. The present study reveals that EGFR-mutant NSCLC cells that express high levels of Fn14 exhibit constitutive activation of the cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase Src and that treatment with the Src family kinase (SFK) inhibitor dasatinib decreases Fn14 gene expression at both the mRNA and protein levels. Importantly, siRNA-mediated depletion of the SFK member Src in NSCLC cells also decreases Fn14 expression. Finally, expression of the constitutively active v-Src oncoprotein in NIH 3T3 cells induces Fn14 gene expression and NIH 3T3/v-Src cells require Fn14 expression for full invasive capacity. Implications: These results indicate that oncogenic Src may contribute to Fn14 overexpression in solid tumors and that Src-mediated cell invasion could potentially be inhibited with Fn14-targeted therapeutics.
    Molecular Cancer Research 11/2014; DOI:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-14-0411 · 4.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The TNF superfamily member TWEAK (TNFSF12) is a multifunctional cytokine implicated in physiological tissue regeneration and wound repair. TWEAK is initially synthesized as a membrane-anchored protein, but furin cleavage within the stalk region can generate a secreted TWEAK isoform. Both TWEAK isoforms bind to a small cell surface receptor named Fn14 (TNFRSF12A) and this interaction stimulates various cellular responses, including proliferation and migration. Fn14, like other members of the TNF receptor superfamily, is not a ligand-activated protein kinase. Instead, TWEAK:Fn14 engagement promotes Fn14 association with members of the TNFR associated factor family of adapter proteins, which triggers activation of various signaling pathways, including the classical and alternative NF-κB pathways. Numerous studies have revealed that Fn14 gene expression is significantly elevated in injured tissues and in most solid tumor types. Also, sustained Fn14 signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral ischemia, chronic inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Accordingly, several groups are developing TWEAK- or Fn14-targeted agents for possible therapeutic use in patients. These agents include monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins, and immunotoxins. In this article, we provide an overview of some of the TWEAK/Fn14 axis-targeted agents currently in pre-clinical animal studies or in human clinical trials and discuss two other potential approaches to target this intriguing signaling node.
    Frontiers in Immunology 12/2013; 4:473. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00473
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    ABSTRACT: The tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily member TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) is a pro-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic cytokine implicated in physiological tissue regeneration and wound repair. TWEAK binds to a 102-amino acid type I transmembrane cell surface receptor named fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14). TWEAK:Fn14 engagement activates several intracellular signaling cascades, including the NF-κB pathway, and sustained Fn14 signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. Although several groups are developing TWEAK- or Fn14-targeted agents for therapeutic use, much more basic science research is required before we fully understand the TWEAK/Fn14 signaling axis. For example, we and others have proposed that TWEAK-independent Fn14 signaling may occur in cells when Fn14 levels are highly elevated, but this idea has never been tested directly. In this report, we first demonstrate TWEAK-independent Fn14 signaling by showing that an Fn14 deletion mutant that is unable to bind TWEAK can activate the NF-κB pathway in transfected cells. We then show that ectopically-expressed, cell surface-localized Fn14 can self-associate into Fn14 dimers, and we show that Fn14 self-association is mediated by an 18-aa region within the Fn14 cytoplasmic domain. Endogenously-expressed Fn14 as well as ectopically-overexpressed Fn14 could also be detected in dimeric form when cell lysates were subjected to SDS-PAGE under non-reducing conditions. Additional experiments revealed that Fn14 dimerization occurs during cell lysis via formation of an intermolecular disulfide bond at cysteine residue 122. These findings provide insight into the Fn14 signaling mechanism and may aid current studies to develop therapeutic agents targeting this small cell surface receptor.
    PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e65248. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0065248 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factor-inducible protein 14 (Fn14), the cell surface receptor for tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), is overexpressed in various human solid tumor types and can be a negative prognostic indicator. We detected Fn14 expression in ∼60% of the melanoma cell lines we tested, including both B-Raf WT and B-Raf(V600E) lines. Tumor tissue microarray analysis indicated that Fn14 expression was low in normal skin, but elevated in 173/190 (92%) of primary melanoma specimens and in 86/150 (58%) of melanoma metastases tested. We generated both a chemical conjugate composed of the recombinant gelonin (rGel) toxin and the anti-Fn14 antibody ITEM-4 (designated ITEM4-rGel) and a humanized, dimeric single-chain antibody of ITEM-4 fused to rGel (designated hSGZ). Both ITEM4-rGel and hSGZ were highly cytotoxic to a panel of different melanoma cell lines. Mechanistic studies showed that both immunotoxins induced melanoma cell necrosis. In addition, these immunotoxins could upregulate the cellular expression of Fn14 and trigger cell-signaling events similar to the Fn14 ligand TWEAK. Finally, treatment of mice bearing human melanoma MDA-MB-435 xenografts with either ITEM4-rGel or hSGZ showed significant tumor growth inhibition compared with controls. We conclude that Fn14 is a therapeutic target in melanoma and the hSGZ construct appears to warrant further development as a therapeutic agent against Fn14-positive melanoma.Journal of Investigative Dermatology advance online publication, 29 November 2012; doi:10.1038/jid.2012.402.
    Journal of Investigative Dermatology 11/2012; 133(4). DOI:10.1038/jid.2012.402 · 6.19 Impact Factor
  • Cancer Research 06/2012; 72(8 Supplement):3866-3866. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2012-3866 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide; approximately 85% of these cancers are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with NSCLC frequently have tumors harboring somatic mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene that cause constitutive receptor activation. These patients have the best clinical response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Herein, we show that fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14; TNFRSF12A) is frequently overexpressed in NSCLC tumors, and Fn14 levels correlate with p-EGFR expression. We also report that NSCLC cell lines that contain EGFR-activating mutations show high levels of Fn14 protein expression. EGFR TKI treatment of EGFR-mutant HCC827 cells decreased Fn14 protein levels, whereas EGF stimulation of EGFR wild-type A549 cells transiently increased Fn14 expression. Furthermore, Fn14 is highly expressed in EGFR-mutant H1975 cells that also contain an EGFR TKI-resistance mutation, and high TKI doses are necessary to reduce Fn14 levels. Constructs encoding EGFRs with activating mutations induced Fn14 expression when expressed in rat lung epithelial cells. We also report that short hairpin RNA-mediated Fn14 knockdown reduced NSCLC cell migration and invasion in vitro. Finally, Fn14 overexpression enhanced NSCLC cell migration and invasion in vitro and increased experimental lung metastases in vivo. Thus, Fn14 may be a novel therapeutic target for patients with NSCLC, in particular for those with EGFR-driven tumors who have either primary or acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs.
    American Journal Of Pathology 05/2012; 181(1):111-20. DOI:10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.03.026 · 4.60 Impact Factor