L Z Penn

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Are you L Z Penn?

Claim your profile

Publications (31)202.16 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The MYC oncogene is not only deregulated in cancer through abnormally high levels of expression, but also through oncogenic lesions in upstream signalling cascades. Modelling MYC deregulation using signalling mutants is a productive research strategy. For example, the MYC threonine-58 to alanine substitution mutant (T58A) within MYC-homology box 1 is more transforming than wild-type (WT) MYC, because of decreased apoptosis and increased protein stability. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms controlling T58 phosphorylation has led to new approaches for the development of MYC inhibitors. In this manuscript, we have extensively characterized a MYC signalling mutant in which six lysine residues near the highly conserved MYC homology box IV and basic region have been substituted to arginines (6KR). Previous literature suggests these lysines can undergo both ubiquitylation and acetylation. We show MYC 6KR is able to fully rescue the slow growth phenotype of HO15.19 MYC-null fibroblasts, and promote cell cycle entry of serum-starved MCF10A cells. Remarkably, 6KR increased anchorage-independent colony growth compared with WT MYC in both SH-EP and MCF10A cells. Moreover, it was also more potent in promoting xenograft tumour growth of Rat1A and SH-EP cells. Combined, our data identify this region and these six lysines as important residues for the negative regulation of MYC-induced transformation. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that, unlike T58A, the increased transformation is not a result of increased protein stability or a reduced capacity for 6KR to induce apoptosis. Through expression analysis and luciferase reporter assays, we show that 6KR has increased transcriptional activity compared with WT MYC. Combined, through a comprehensive evaluation across multiple cell types, we identify an important regulatory region within MYC. A better understanding of the full scope of signalling through these residues will provide further insights into the mechanisms contributing to MYC-induced tumorigenesis and may unveil novel therapeutic strategies to target Myc in cancer.Oncogene advance online publication, 25 February 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.36.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Oncogene
  • J W Clendening · L Z Penn
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The mevalonate pathway is a core biochemical process, crucial for the generation of cholesterol and other key metabolic end products. The rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), is safely and effectively targeted by the statin family of inhibitors to treat hypercholesterolemia. The anticancer activity of statins has also been widely reported, yet the tumor-selective mechanisms that mediate these antiproliferative effects remain largely unclear. The importance of altered metabolism in the context of tumorigenesis has received renewed attention as metabolic changes entwined with the molecular hallmarks of cancer have been elucidated. Although several metabolic pathways have been linked to cancer progression and etiology, it was only recently that HMGCR and the mevalonate pathway were also shown to have a distinct role in cellular transformation. In this review, we chart the historical progression of statins from cholesterol-lowering blockbusters to anticancer agents with imminent potential, and further discuss an emerging role for HMGCR and the mevalonate pathway in the metabolic reprogramming of cancer.Oncogene advance online publication, 6 February 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.6.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2012 · Oncogene

  • No preview · Article · Nov 2011 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

  • No preview · Article · Nov 2011 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The ability of Myc to promote cellular transformation is well established; however, a better understanding of the mechanisms through which Myc mediates tumorigenesis is essential for the development of therapeutic approaches to target this potent oncoprotein. Structure-function studies in rodent fibroblast cells have provided the basis for much of our current understanding of these mechanisms. To build on these approaches, we have characterized three novel human cell line models of Myc-dependent transformation: MCF10A, SH-EP Tet21/N-Myc, and LF1/TERT/LT/ST cells. We have also evaluated Myc family proteins (c-Myc and L-Myc), a naturally occurring isoform of Myc (MycS), and a set of N-terminal domain mutants (ΔMBII, W135E, T58A) for their ability to promote anchorage-independent growth in these models. Taken together, these results provide the field with three new human cell-based models to study Myc activity, highlight the importance of cellular context, and challenge the paradigm that the ability of Myc to promote tumorigenesis is exclusively MBII-dependent.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Oncogene

  • No preview · Article · Nov 2010 · EJC Supplements
  • C. A. Goard · M. L. Gauthier · L. Z. Penn

    No preview · Article · Nov 2010 · EJC Supplements

  • No preview · Article · Dec 2009 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The effect of trans-acting factors on cis-acting DNA elements on the HIV-1 promoter are the principal determinant regulating transcriptional activation and repression. Host factors that limit viral replication can contribute to the emergence and maintenance of proviral reservoirs. The current paradigm is that this sub-population of latently infected cells confers a biological advantage to the virus by facilitating evasion of immunologic responses and therapeutic strategies resulting in life-long and persistent infection. In this report, we show that ectopic expression of the nuclear phosphoprotein, c-Myc can inhibit HIV-1 gene expression and virus production in CD4+ T-lymphocytes. The effect exerted does not appear to involve other known functions of c-Myc such as proliferation, or apoptosis. The mechanism does implicate c-Myc in a direct role. We have found evidence that c-Myc can specifically recognize the HIV-1 initiator element surrounding the start site of transcription and linker scanning mutagenesis experiments confirmed a loss of c-Myc-mediated repression in the absence of this region. Moreover, we show that c-Myc can interact with the initiator binding proteins YY-1 and LBP-1 and can cooperate with these factors to synergistically repress HIV-1 LTR transcription. Taken together, these results indicate that c-Myc is an important regulator of HIV-1 transcription that potentially contributes to the latent proviral state.
    No preview · Article · May 2004 · Journal of Cellular Biochemistry
  • J Wu · W. Wei-Lynn Wong · F Khosravi · M Minden · L Z Penn
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The statin family of drugs are well-established inhibitors of 3-hydroxy- 3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase and are used clinically in the control of hypercholesterolemia. Recent evidence, from ourselves and others, shows that statins can also trigger tumor-specific apoptosis by blocking protein geranylgeranylation. We and others have proposed that statins disrupt localization and function of geranylgeranylated proteins responsible for activating signal transduction pathways essential for the growth and/or survival of transformed cells. To explore this further, we have investigated whether the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascades play a role in regulating statin-induced apoptosis. Cells derived from acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) are used as our model system. We show that p38 and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase/stress-activated kinase MAPK pathways are not altered during lovastatin-induced apoptosis. By contrast, exposure of primary and established AML cells to statins results in significant disruption of basal extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 phosphorylation. Addition of geranylgeranyl PPi reverses statininduced loss of ERK1/2 phosphorylation and apoptosis. By establishing and evaluating the inducible Raf-1:ER system in AML cells, we show that constitutive activation of the Raf/MAPK kinase (MEK)/ERK pathway significantly represses but does not completely block lovastatin-induced apoptosis. Our results strongly suggest statins trigger apoptosis by regulating several signaling pathways, including the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway. Indeed, down-regulation of the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway potentiates statin-induced apoptosis because exposure to the MEK1 inhibitor PD98059 sensitizes AML cells to low, physiologically achievable concentrations of lovastatin. Our study suggests that lovastatin, alone or in combination with a MEK1 inhibitor, may represent a new and immediately available therapeutic approach to combat tumors with activated ERK1/2, such as AML.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2004
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The statin family of drugs target HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, and have been used successfully in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia for the past 15 years. Experimental evidence suggests this key biochemical pathway holds an important role in the carcinogenic process. Moreover, statin administration in vivo can provide an oncoprotective effect. Indeed, in vitro studies have shown the statins can trigger cells of certain tumor types, such as acute myelogenous leukemia, to undergo apoptosis in a sensitive and specific manner. Mechanistic studies show bcl-2 expression is down-regulated in transformed cells undergoing apoptosis in response to statin exposure. In addition, the apoptotic response is in part due to the depletion of the downstream product geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, but not farnesyl pyrophosphate or other products of the mevalonate pathway including cholesterol. Clinically, preliminary phase I clinical trials have shown the achievable plasma concentration corresponds to the dose range that can trigger apoptosis of tumor types in vitro. Moreover, little toxicity was evident in vivo even at high concentrations. Clearly, additional clinical trials are warranted to further assess the safety and efficacy of statins as novel and immediately available anti-cancer agents. In this article, the experimental evidence supporting a role for the statin family of drugs to this new application will be reviewed.
    Full-text · Article · May 2002 · Leukemia
  • Source
    A D Schimmer · D W Hedley · L Z Penn · M D Minden

    Preview · Article · Jan 2002 · Blood
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Lovastatin is an inhibitor of the enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, the major regulatory enzyme of the mevalonate pathway. We have previously reported that lovastatin induces a significant apoptotic response in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. To identify the critical biochemical mechanism(s) essential for lovastatin-induced apoptosis, add-back experiments were conducted to determine which downstream product(s) of the mevalonate pathway could suppress this apoptotic response. Apoptosis induced by lovastatin was abrogated by mevalonate (MVA) and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), and was partially inhibited by farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP). Other products of the mevalonate pathway including cholesterol, squalene, lanosterol, desmosterol, dolichol, dolichol phosphate, ubiquinone, and isopentenyladenine did not affect lovastatin-induced apoptosis in AML cells. Our results suggest that inhibiting geranylgeranylation of target proteins is the predominant mechanism of lovastatin-induced apoptosis in AML cells. In support of this hypothesis, the geranylgeranyl transferase inhibitor (GGTI-298) mimicked the effect of lovastatin, whereas the farnesyl transferase inhibitor (FTI-277) was much less effective at triggering apoptosis in AML cells. Inhibition of geranylgeranylation was monitored and associated with the apoptotic response induced by lovastatin and GGTI-298 in the AML cells. We conclude that blockage of the mevalonate pathway, particularly inhibition of protein geranylgeranylation holds a critical role in the mechanism of lovastatin-induced apoptosis in AML cells.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2001 · Leukemia
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The statin family of drugs inhibits 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, and is used clinically as a safe and effective approach in the control of hypercholesterolemia. We have shown previously (Dimitroulakos, J., Nohynek, D., Backway, K. L., Hedley, D. W., Yeger, H., Freedman, M. H., Minden, M D., and Penn, L. Z. Increased sensitivity of acute myelogenous leukemias to lovastatin-induced apoptosis: a potential therapeutic approach. Blood, 93: 1308-1318, 1999) that lovastatin, a prototypic member of the statin family, can induce apoptosis of human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells in a sensitive and specific manner. In the present study, we evaluated the relative potency and mechanism of action of the newer synthetic statins, fluvastatin, atorvastatin, and cerivastatin, to trigger tumor-specific apoptosis. Cerivastatin is at least 10 times more potent than the other statins at inducing apoptosis in AML cell lines. Cerivastatin-induced apoptosis is reversible with the addition of the immediate product of the HMG-CoA reductase reaction, mevalonate, or with a distal product of the pathway, geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. This suggests protein geranylgeranylation is an essential downstream component of the mevalonate pathway for cerivastatin similar to lovastatin-induced apoptosis. The enhanced potency of cerivastatin expands the number of AML patient samples as well as the types of malignancies, which respond to statin-induced apoptosis with acute sensitivity. Cells derived from acute lymphocytic leukemia are only weakly sensitive to lovastatin cytotoxicity but show robust response to cerivastatin. Importantly, cerivastatin is not cytotoxic to nontransformed human bone marrow progenitors. These results strongly support the further testing of cerivastatin as a novel anticancer therapeutic alone and in combination with other agents in vivo.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2001 · Clinical Cancer Research
  • L Z Penn
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the past ten years a wealth of fundamental knowledge delineating the molecular mechanism(s) of apoptosis has emerged, and can now be exploited to identify novel apoptotic modulators for the treatment of cancer. Two distinct yet complimentary classes of non-genotoxic agonists that can selectively kill tumor cells are discussed; agents that target 'classical' and 'atypical' apoptotic signaling pathways. The goal of agents targeting classical apoptosis and survival pathways is to directly modulate key apoptotic regulators such as Bcl-2, Akt/PKB, and p53. The aim of agents targeting atypical apoptotic pathways is to target signaling cascades whose inhibition remains non-lethal in normal cells, yet is suicidal in tumor cells. Such compounds presently under development include inhibitors of heat shock protein 90, histone deacetylases and HMG-CoA reductase. Both classes of apoptotic modulators have merit and identification of additional agonists of this nature will provide the many diverse cytotoxic agents that are required to combat the many diseases we call cancer.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2001 · Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England: 2000)
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase is the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, the diverse array of end products of which are vital for a variety of cellular functions, including cholesterol synthesis and cell cycle progression. We showed previously that this enzyme holds a critical role in regulating tumor cell fate, including cell death, as its expression is down-regulated in response to retinoic acid, a potent anticancer therapeutic. Indeed, direct inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase with lovastatin, a competitive inhibitor of this enzyme, induced a pronounced apoptotic response in neuroblastoma and acute myeloid leukemic cells. We have now extended this work and evaluated a wide variety and large number of tumor-derived cell lines for their sensitivity to lovastatin-induced apoptosis. These cell lines were exposed to a wide range (0-100 microM) of lovastatin for 2 days and assayed for cell viability using the 3,4,5-dimethyl thiazlyl-2,2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay and the induction of apoptosis by flow cytometric and ultrastructural analyses. Lovastatin induced a pronounced apoptotic response in cells derived from juvenile monomyelocytic leukemia, pediatric solid malignancies (rhabdomyosarcoma and medulloblastoma), and squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix and of the head and neck. Interestingly, the subset of malignancies that are particularly sensitive to lovastatin-induced apoptosis correspond to those tumor subtypes that are sensitive to the biological and antiproliferative effects of retinoids in vitro. The nature of the biologically active form of lovastatin has been challenged recently as the growth-inhibitory effects of this drug were attributed to its prodrug lactone form that does not inhibit HMG-CoA reductase function. In this report, we demonstrate that the apoptotic properties of lovastatin are triggered by the open ring acid form that is a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase activity. Thus, we have identified a subset of tumors that are sensitive to lovastatin-induced apoptosis and show HMG-CoA reductase as a potential therapeutic target of these cancers.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2001 · Clinical Cancer Research
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We recently identified HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, as a potential therapeutic target of various retinoic acid responsive cancers. Lovastatin, a competitive inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, induced a retinoic acid-like differentiation response followed by extensive apoptosis in neuroblastoma cell lines at relatively low concentrations (<20 microM) of this agent. More recently, we demonstrated that acute myeloid leukemias but not acute lymphocytic leukemias also displayed increased sensitivity to lovastatin-induced apoptosis. In this study, we examined the ability of lovastatin to induce differentiation of acute myeloid leukemic cells and to evaluate the role differentiation may hold in the anti-leukemic properties of this agent. Increased expression of the leukocyte integrins CD11b and CD18 as well as down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic gene bcl-2 are associated with late stage differentiation of the myeloid lineage and retinoic acid induced maturation of acute myeloid leukemic cells. Lovastatin exposure induced increased expression of CD11b and CD18 markers similar to retinoic acid treatment. Following 24 hrs exposure to 20 microM lovastatin, all 7 acute myeloid leukemia cell lines tested showed a decrease in bcl-2 mRNA expression while only 1/5 acute lymphocytic leukemia cell lines showed a similar response. A role for bcl-2 in the apoptotic response of acute myeloid leukemia cells to lovastatin was demonstrated as exogenous constitutive expression of bcl-2 in the AML-5 cell line inhibited apoptosis in a time and dose dependent manner. Thus, lovastatin exposure of acute myeloid leukemia cells induced a differentiation response that may contribute to the therapeutic potential of this agent in the treatment of this disease.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2000 · Leukemia and Lymphoma
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: c-myc nullizygous fibroblasts (KO cells) were used to compare the abilities of c-myc, N-myc and L-myc oncoproteins to accelerate growth, promote apoptosis, revert morphology, and regulate the expression of previously described c-myc target genes. All three myc oncoproteins were expressed following retroviral transduction of KO cells. The proteins all enhanced the growth rate of KO cells and significantly shortened the cell cycle transition time. They also accelerated apoptosis following serum deprivation, reverted the abnormal KO cell morphology, and modulated the expression of previously described c-myc target genes. In most cases, L-myc was equivalent to c-myc and N-myc in restoring all of the c-myc-dependent activities. These findings contrast with the previously reported weak transforming and transactivating properties of L-myc. Myc oncoproteins may thus impart both highly similar as well as dissimilar signals to the cells in which they are expressed.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2000 · Cell Death and Differentiation
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It has been well documented that natural organosulfur compounds (OSCs) derived from plants such as garlic, onions and mahogany trees possess antiproliferative properties; however, the essential chemical features of the active OSC compounds remain unclear. To investigate the association between OSC structure and growth inhibitory activity, we synthesized novel relatives of dysoxysulfone, a natural OSC derived from the Fijian medicinal plant, Dysoxylum richii. In this study, we have examined the antiproliferative effects of these novel OSCs on a model human leukemic cell system and show that the compounds segregate into three groups. Group I, consisting of compounds A, B, G and J, did not affect either cell proliferation or the cell cycle profile of the leukemic cell lines. Group II, consisting of compounds F and H, induced the cells to undergo apoptosis from the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. Group III, consisting of compounds C, D, E and I, decreased cell proliferation and induced apoptosis throughout the cell cycle. The apoptotic agonists of Group II and III shared a common disulfide moiety, essential for leukemic cell cytotoxicity. Interestingly, Group II compounds did not affect cell viability of normal human diploid cells, suggesting the regions flanking the disulfide group contributes to the specificity of cell killing. Thus, we provide evidence that structure-activity analysis of natural products can identify novel compounds for the development of new therapeutics that can trigger apoptosis in a tumor-specific manner.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2000 · Anticancer research
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We recently demonstrated that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of de novo cholesterol synthesis, was a potential mediator of the biological effects of retinoic acid on human neuroblastoma cells. The HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, lovastatin, which is used extensively in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, induced a potent apoptotic response in human neuroblastoma cells. This apoptotic response was triggered at lower concentrations and occurred more rapidly than had been previously reported in other tumor-derived cell lines, including breast and prostate carcinomas. Because of the increased sensitivity of neuroblastoma cells to lovastatin-induced apoptosis, we examined the effect of this agent on a variety of tumor cells, including leukemic cell lines and primary patient samples. Based on a variety of cytotoxicity and apoptosis assays, the 6 acute lymphocytic leukemia cell lines tested displayed a weak apoptotic response to lovastatin. In contrast, the majority of the acute myeloid leukemic cell lines (6/7) and primary cell cultures (13/22) showed significant sensitivity to lovastatin-induced apoptosis, similar to the neuroblastoma cell response. Of significance, in the acute myeloid leukemia, but not the acute lymphocytic leukemia cell lines, lovastatin-induced cytotoxicity was pronounced even at the physiological relevant concentrations of this agent. Therefore, our study suggests the evaluation of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors as a therapeutic approach in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 1999 · Blood

Publication Stats

2k Citations
202.16 Total Impact Points

Top Journals

Institutions

  • 1997-2013
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Medical Biophysics
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1999-2004
    • The Princess Margaret Hospital
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2000-2002
    • Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1995-1997
    • SickKids
      • Division of Microbiology
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada