Thomas R Cox

Thomas R Cox
Garvan Institute of Medical Research · The Kinghorn Cancer Centre

Ph.D.

About

75
Publications
29,743
Reads
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7,712
Citations
Additional affiliations
November 2020 - February 2021
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Position
  • Laboratory Head (Faculty)
October 2016 - October 2020
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Position
  • Group Leader
April 2013 - October 2016
University of Copenhagen
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (75)
Article
Tumour metastasis is a complex process involving reciprocal interplay between cancer cells and host stroma at both primary and secondary sites, and is strongly influenced by microenvironmental factors such as hypoxia. Tumour-secreted proteins play a crucial role in these interactions and present strategic therapeutic potential. Metastasis of breast...
Article
Full-text available
Tumor metastasis is a highly complex, dynamic and inefficient process involving multiple steps, yet accounts for over 90% of cancer patient deaths. Although it has long been known that fibrotic signals enhance tumor progression and metastasis, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still unclear. Identifying events involved in creating environment...
Article
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The therapeutic targeting of extracellular proteins is becoming hugely attractive in light of evidence implicating the tumour microenvironment as pivotal in all aspects of tumour initiation and progression. Members of the lysyl oxidase (LOX) family of proteins are secreted by tumours and are the subject of much effort to understand their roles in c...
Article
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Dynamic remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) is essential for development, wound healing and normal organ homeostasis. Life-threatening pathological conditions arise when ECM remodeling becomes excessive or uncontrolled. In this Perspective, we focus on how ECM remodeling contributes to fibrotic diseases and cancer, which both present chall...
Article
Tumor cell metastasis is facilitated by "premetastatic niches" formed in destination organs by invading bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs). Lysyl oxidase (LOX) is critical for premetastatic niche formation. LOX secreted by hypoxic breast tumor cells accumulates at premetastatic sites, crosslinks collagen IV in the basement membrane, and is essential...
Article
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The tumour stroma, and in particular the extracellular matrix (ECM), is a salient feature of solid tumours that plays a crucial role in shaping their progression. Many desmoplastic tumours including breast cancer involve the significant accumulation of type I collagen. However, recently it has become clear that the precise distribution and organisa...
Chapter
Activating mutations in driver oncogenes and loss-of-function mutations in tumor suppressor genes contribute to tumor progression and metastasis. Accordingly, therapies targeting key tumor cell intrinsic signaling pathways are being used in clinical trials, and some have met FDA approval. However, these treatments benefit only a small proportion of...
Article
Full-text available
To fully investigate cellular responses to stimuli and perturbations within tissues, it is essential to replicate the complex molecular interactions within the local microenvironment of cellular niches. Here, the authors introduce Alginate‐based tissue engineering (ALTEN), a biomimetic tissue platform that allows ex vivo analysis of explanted tissu...
Article
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Background The Wnt receptors ROR1 and ROR2 are generating increased interest as cancer therapeutic targets but remain understudied in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Compared to canonical Wnt/ β-catenin signalling, the role of noncanonical Wnt signalling in PDAC remains largely unknown. Only one study has investigated the prognostic signif...
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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly metastatic, chemoresistant malignancy and is characterized by a dense, desmoplastic stroma that modulates PDAC progression. Here, we visualized transient manipulation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), which integrates bidirectional cell-environment signaling, using intravital fluorescence lifetime i...
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Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) are major contributors to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) progression through protumor signaling and the generation of fibrosis, the latter of which creates a physical barrier to drugs. CAF inhibition is thus an ideal component of any therapeutic approach for PDAC. SLC7A11 is a cystine transporter that ha...
Chapter
Three-dimensional models of spheroid formation have been routinely used in the cancer field to test the colony forming capacity of malignant cells in an in vitro setting. Use of such a model provides a robust surrogate for in vivo testing, enabling large-scale interrogation into the effect of certain treatment conditions. This adapted protocol desc...
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The lysyl oxidase (LOX) family of enzymes are a major driver in the biogenesis of desmoplastic matrix at the primary tumour and secondary metastatic sites. With the increasing interest in and development of anti-stromal therapies aimed at improving clinical outcomes of cancer patients, the Lox family has emerged as a potentially powerful clinical t...
Article
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Inhibitor of differentiation (ID) proteins dimerize with basic HLH (bHLH) transcription factors, repressing transcription of lineage-specification genes across diverse cellular lineages. ID4 is a key regulator of mammary stem cells, however, the mechanism by which it achieves this is unclear. Here, we show that ID4 has a cell autonomous role in pre...
Article
The tumour stroma regulates nearly all stages of carcinogenesis. Stromal heterogeneity in human triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) remains poorly understood, limiting the development of stromal-targeted therapies. Single-cell RNA sequencing of five TNBCs revealed two cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) and two perivascular-like (PVL) subpopulati...
Preprint
Full-text available
The tumour stroma regulates nearly all stages of carcinogenesis. Stromal heterogeneity in human triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) remains poorly understood, limiting the development of stromal-targeted therapies. Single cell RNA-sequencing of five TNBCs revealed two cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) and two perivascular-like (PVL) subpopulati...
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Background: The use of in vitro cell cultures is a powerful tool for obtaining key insights into the behaviour and response of cells to interventions in normal and disease situations. Unlike in vivo settings, in vitro experiments allow a fine-tuned control of a range of microenvironmental elements independently within an isolated setting. The rece...
Article
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Cancer metastasis is the dissemination of tumor cells to new sites, resulting in the formation of secondary tumors. This process is complex and is spatially and temporally regulated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. One important extrinsic factor is the extracellular matrix, the non-cellular component of tissues. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HS...
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Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are one of the most significant components in the tumour microenvironment (TME), where they can perform several protumourigenic functions. Several studies have recently reported that CAFs are more heterogenous and plastic than was previously thought. As such, there has been a shift in the field to study CAF subp...
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Heterogeneous subtypes of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) coexist within pancreatic cancer tissues and can both promote and restrain disease progression. Here, we interrogate how cancer cells harboring distinct alterations in p53 manipulate CAFs. We reveal the existence of a p53-driven hierarchy, where cancer cells with a gain-of-function (GOF...
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Great progress has been made in cancer therapeutics. However, metastasis remains the predominant cause of death from cancer. Importantly, metastasis can manifest many years after initial treatment of the primary cancer. This is because cancer cells can remain dormant before forming symptomatic metastasis. An important question is whether metastasis...
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In prostate cancer, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) exhibit contrasting biological properties to non-malignant prostate fibroblasts (NPF) and promote tumorigenesis. Resolving intercellular signaling pathways between CAF and prostate tumor epithelium may offer novel opportunities for research translation. To this end, the proteome and phosphopro...
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Background: The oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) ERBB2 is known to dimerize with other EGFR family members, particularly ERBB3, through which it potently activates PI3K signalling. Antibody-mediated inhibition of this ERBB2/ERBB3/PI3K axis has been a cornerstone of treatment for ERBB2-amplified breast cancer patients for two decades. Howev...
Article
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Tumour metastasis is a dynamic and systemic process. It is no longer seen as a tumour cell-autonomous program but as a multifaceted and complex series of events, which is influenced by the intrinsic cellular mutational burden of cancer cells and the numerous bidirectional interactions between malignant and non-malignant cells and fine-tuned by the...
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Increased tissue stiffness is a classic characteristic of solid tumors. One of the major contributing factors is increased density of collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, we investigate how cancer cells biomechanically interact with and respond to the stiffness of the ECM. Probing the adaptability of cancer cells to altered ECM...
Article
Full-text available
Tumour metastasis is a dynamic and systemic process. It is no longer seen as a tumour cell-autonomous program but as a multifaceted and complex series of events, which is influenced by the intrinsic cellular mutational burden of cancer cells and the numerous bidirectional interactions between malignant and non-malignant cells and fine-tuned by the...
Article
Full-text available
The cellular and molecular basis of stromal cell recruitment, activation and crosstalk in carcinomas is poorly understood, limiting the development of targeted anti-stromal therapies. In mouse models of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), Hedgehog ligand produced by neoplastic cells reprograms cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) to provide a sup...
Article
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Every year more than 8 million people suffer from cancer-related deaths worldwide [1]. Metastasis, the spread of cancer to distant sites, accounts for 90% of these deaths. A promising target for blocking tumor progression, without causing severe side effects [2], is Tumor Endothelial Marker 8 (TEM8), an integrin-like cell surface protein expressed...
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ELife digest Understanding how molecules and cells behave in living animals can give researchers key insights into what goes wrong in diseases such as cancer, and how well potential treatments for these diseases work. A number of tools help us to see these processes. For example, fluorescent ‘biosensors’ change colour to tell us how active a partic...
Article
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a salient feature of all solid tissues within the body. This complex, acellular entity is composed of hundreds of individual molecules whose assembly, architecture and biomechanical properties are critical to controlling the behaviour and phenotype of the different cells types residing within tissues. Cells are the...
Article
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The small GTPase RhoA is a master regulator of signalling in cell-extracellular matrix interactions. RhoA signalling is critical to many cellular processes including migration, mechanotransduction, and is often disrupted in carcinogenesis. Investigating RhoA activity in a native tissue environment is challenging using conventional biochemical metho...
Article
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The five-year survival rate for primary bone cancers is ~ 70% while almost all cases of secondary metastatic bone cancer are terminal. Hypoxia, the deficiency of oxygen which occurs as the rate of tumour growth exceeds the supply of vascularisation, is a key promoter of tumour progression. Hypoxia-driven effects in the primary tumour are wide rangi...
Article
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Organotypic co-cultures bridge the gap between standard two-dimensional culture and mouse models. Such assays increase the fidelity of pre-clinical studies, to better inform lead compound development and address the increasing attrition rates of lead compounds within the pharmaceutical industry, which are often a result of screening in less faithfu...
Article
The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential value of ultrasound (US) shear wave elastography (SWE) in assessing the relative change in elastic modulus in colorectal adenocarcinoma xenograft models in vivo and investigate any correlation with histological analysis. We sought to test whether non-invasive evaluation of tissue stiffness i...
Article
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a master regulator of cellular phenotype and behaviour. It plays a crucial role in both normal tissue homeostasis and complex diseases such as cancer. The interplay between the intrinsic factors of cancer cells themselves, including their genotype and signalling networks; and the extrinsic factors of the tumour str...
Preprint
The cellular and molecular basis of stromal cell recruitment, activation and crosstalk in carcinomas is poorly understood, limiting the development of targeted anti-stromal therapies. In mouse models of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), Hh ligand produced by neoplastic cells reprogrammed cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) gene expression, drivi...
Article
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is widely used as a model organism to study cell and developmental biology. Quantitative proteomics of C. elegans is still in its infancy and, so far, most studies have been performed on adult worm samples. Here, we used quantitative mass spectrometry to characterise protein level changes across the four larval d...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Extensive molecular heterogeneity of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), few effective therapies and high mortality make this disease a prime model for advancing development of tailored therapies. The p16-cyclin D-cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6-retinoblastoma (RB) protein (CDK4) pathway, regulator of cell proliferation, is deregulated in...
Article
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Signaling networks are nonlinear and complex, involving a large ensemble of dynamic interaction states that fluctuate in space and time. However, therapeutic strategies, such as combination chemotherapy, rarely consider the timing of drug perturbations. If we are to advance drug discovery for complex diseases, it will be essential to develop method...
Chapter
Activating mutations in driver oncogenes and loss-of-function mutations in tumor suppressor genes contribute to tumor progression and metastasis. Accordingly, therapies targeting key tumor cell-intrinsic signaling pathways are being used in clinical trials, and some have met FDA approval. However, these treatments benefit only a small proportion of...
Article
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a master regulator of cellular phenotype and behavior. It has a crucial role in both normal tissue homeostasis and disease pathology. Here we present a fast and efficient approach to enhance the study of ECM composition and structure. Termed in situ decellularization of tissues (ISDoT), it allows whole organs to be...
Article
The microenvironment of solid tumours is a critical contributor to the progression of tumours and offers a promising target for therapeutic intervention (Cox and Erler, 2011; Barker et al., 2012; Cox et al., 2016; Cox and Erler, 2016). The properties of the tumour microenvironment vary significantly from that of the original tissue in both biochemi...
Article
The emerging standard of care for patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer is a combination of cytotoxic drugs gemcitabine and Abraxane, but patient response remains moderate. Pancreatic cancer development and metastasis occur in complex settings, with reciprocal feedback from microenvironmental cues influencing both disease progression and drug...
Article
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During September 16th–20th 2016, metastasis experts from around the world convened for the 16th Biennial Congress of the Metastasis Research Society and 12th National Congress of the Chinese Tumor Metastasis Society in Chengdu, China to share most current data covering basic, translational, and clinical metastasis research. Presentations of the mor...
Article
It is well established that organs of future metastasis are not passive receivers of circulating tumour cells, but are instead selectively and actively modified by the primary tumour before metastatic spread has even occurred. Sowing the 'seeds' of metastasis requires the action of tumour-secreted factors and tumour-shed extracellular vesicles that...
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Lysyl Oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2), a member of the lysyl oxidase family of amine oxidases is known to be important in normal tissue development and homeostasis, as well as the onset and progression of solid tumors. Here we tested the anti-tumor properties of two generations of novel small molecule LOXL2 inhibitor in the MDA-MB-231 human model of breast...
Article
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Elastography, the imaging of elastic properties of soft tissues, is well developed for macroscopic clinical imaging of soft tissues and can provide useful information about various pathological processes which is complementary to that provided by the original modality. Scaling down of this technique should ply the field of cellular biology with val...
Article
Hydrogel systems composed of purified extracellular matrix (ECM) components (such as collagen, fibrin, Matrigel, and methylcellulose) are a mainstay of cell and molecular biology research. They are used extensively in many applications including tissue regeneration platforms, studying organ development, and pathological disease models such as cance...
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Most deaths from solid cancers occur as a result of secondary metastasis to distant sites. Bone is the primary site for many cancer types and can account for up to 80% of cancer-related deaths in certain tumours. The progression from a discrete solid primary tumour to devastating and painful bone metastases is a complex process involving multiple c...
Article
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Emerging evidence has implicated a pivotal role for lysyl oxidase (LOX) in cancer progression and metastasis. Whilst the majority of work has focused on the extracellular matrix cross-linking role of LOX, the exact function of intracellular LOX localisation remains unclear. In this study, we analysed the LOX expression patterns in the nuclei of rec...
Article
The relation between fibrosis and cancer has long been debated, specifically whether desmoplasia precedes, accompanies, or succeeds tumourigenesis, progression, and metastasis. Recent reports have published opposing data, adding to the perplexity. However, what is emerging is that it is likely the specific properties of the extracellular matrix (EC...
Article
Secondary metastatic cancer remains the single biggest cause of mortality and morbidity across most solid tumors. In breast cancer, 100% of deaths are attributed to metastasis. At present, there are no "cures" for secondary metastatic cancer of any form and there is an urgent unmet clinical need to improve the tools available in our arsenal against...
Article
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The cancer secretome includes all of the macromolecules secreted by cells into their microenvironment. Cancer cell secretomes are significantly different to that of normal cells reflecting the changes that normal cells have undergone during their transition to malignancy. More importantly, cancer secretomes are known to be active mediators of both...
Article
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Cancer cells acquire pathological phenotypes through accumulation of mutations that perturb signaling networks. However, global analysis of these events is currently limited. Here, we identify six types of network-attacking mutations (NAMs), including changes in kinase and SH2 modulation, network rewiring, and the genesis and extinction of phosphor...
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Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) interact with tumour cells and promote growth and metastasis. Here, we show that CAF activation is reversible: chronic hypoxia deactivates CAFs, resulting in the loss of contractile force, reduced remodelling of the surrounding extracellular matrix and, ultimately, impaired CAF-mediated cancer cell invasion. Hyp...
Article
Biomechanical strain imposed by age related thickening of the basal lamina and augmented tissue stiffness in the prostate gland coincides with increased cancer risk. Here we hypothesised that the structural alterations in the basal lamina associated with age can induce mechanotransduction pathways in prostate epithelial cells (PECs) to promote inva...
Article
Pathologic organ fibrosis is a condition that can affect all major tissues and is typically ascribed to the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix components, predominantly collagens. It typically leads to compromise of organ function and subsequent organ failure, and it is estimated that 45% of deaths in the developed world are linked to f...
Article
Colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent form of cancer worldwide and fourth-leading cause of cancer-related mortality, leading to approximately 600,000 deaths annually, and predominantly affecting the developed world. Lysyl oxidase is a secreted, extracellular matrix-modifying enzyme previously suggested to act as a tumor suppressor in colore...