Andrew Leask

The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (239)

  • James Hutchenreuther · Andrew Leask
    Article · May 2016 · Cell and Tissue Research
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    Jake Bedore · Katherine Quesnel · Diana Quinonez · [...] · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is a major underlying contributor to back pain—the single leading cause of disability worldwide. However, we possess a limited understanding of the etiology underlying IVD degeneration. To date, there are a limited number of mouse models that have been used to target proteins in specific compartments of the IVD to explore their functions in disc development, homeostasis and disease. Furthermore, the majority of reports exploring the composition and function of the outer encapsulating annulus fibrosus (AF) of the IVD have considered it as one tissue, without considering the numerous structural and functional differences existing between the inner and outer AF. In addition, no mouse models have yet been reported that enable specific targeting of genes within the outer AF. In the current report, we discuss these issues and demonstrate the localized activity of Cre recombinase in the IVD of Col1a2-Cre(ER)T;ROSA26mTmG mice possessing a tamoxifen-dependent Cre recombinase driven by a Cola2 promoter and distal enhancer and the mTmG fluorescent reporter. Following tamoxifen injection of 3-week-old Col1a2-Cre(ER)T;ROSA26mTmG mice, we show Cre activity specifically in the outer AF of the IVD, as indicated by expression of the GFP reporter. Thus, Col1a2-Cre(ER)T;ROSA26mTmG mice may prove to be a valuable tool in delineating the function of proteins in this unique compartment of the IVD, and in further exploring the compositional differences between the inner and outer AF in disc homeostasis, aging and disease.
    Full-text Article · May 2016 · Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
  • Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The expression of the CCN family of matricellular proteins is highly dysregulated in connective tissue pathologies such as fibrosis and highly metastatic cancers. Strategies targeting members of this family, especially CCN2, are under development as novel therapeutic approaches to highly metastatic cancers such as pancreatic cancer. In prior reports, the Kleer laboratory and colleagues have linked reduced expression of CCN6 (WISP3) with aggressive breast cancers. Loss of CCN6 was associated with elevated Akt phosphorylation and TAK1 activation. In a recent report, the same group reports that, by modulating Notch signaling, CCN6 can promote the maintenance of an epithelial phenotype and also reduce cancer cell migration and invasion, tumor initiation, and metastasis (Oncotarget in press DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.7734 ). These results are consistent with the hypothesis that addition of CCN6 peptides may represent a novel, viable therapeutic approach to blocking aggressive breast cancers.
    Article · Apr 2016 · Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
  • Article · Apr 2016 · Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
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    Miki Nishio · Keishi Sugimachi · Hiroki Goto · [...] · Akira Suzuki
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mps One Binder Kinase Activator (MOB)1A/1B are core components of the Hippo pathway that coactivate large tumor suppressor homolog (LATS) kinases. Mob1a/1b double deficiency in mouse liver (LMob1DKO) results in hyperplasia of oval cells and immature cholangiocytes accompanied by inflammatory cell infiltration and fibrosis. More than half of mutant mice die within 3 wk of birth. All survivors eventually develop liver cancers, particularly combined hepatocellular and cholangiocarcinomas (cHC-CCs) and intrahepatic cholangiocellular carcinomas (ICCs), and die by age 60 wk. Because this phenotype is the most severe among mutant mice lacking a Hippo signaling component, MOB1A/1B constitute the critical hub of Hippo signaling in mammalian liver. LMob1DKO liver cells show hyperproliferation, increased cell saturation density, hepatocyte dedifferentiation, enhanced epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cell migration, and elevated transforming growth factor beta(TGF-β)2/3 production. These changes are strongly dependent on Yes-Associated Protein-1 (Yap1) and partially dependent on PDZ-binding motif (Taz) and Tgfbr2, but independent of connective tissue growth factor (Ctgf). In human liver cancers, YAP1 activation is frequent in cHC-CCs and ICCs and correlates with SMAD family member 2 activation. Drug screening revealed that antiparasitic macrocyclic lactones inhibit YAP1 activation in vitro and in vivo. Targeting YAP1/TAZ with these drugs in combination with inhibition of the TGF-β pathway may be effective treatment for cHC-CCs and ICCs.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Andrew Leask
    Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: One of the main contributors to maladaptive cardiac remodeling is fibrosis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a matricellular protein that is secreted into the cardiac extracellular matrix by both cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts, is often associated with development of fibrosis. However, recent studies have questioned the role of CTGF as a pro-fibrotic factor. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the effect of CTGF on cardiac fibrosis, and on functional, structural, and electrophysiological parameters in a mouse model of CTGF knockout (KO) and chronic pressure overload. Methods and results: A new mouse model of global conditional CTGF KO induced by tamoxifen-driven deletion of CTGF, was subjected to 16weeks of chronic pressure overload via transverse aortic constriction (TAC, control was sham surgery). CTGF KO TAC mice presented with hypertrophic hearts, and echocardiography revealed a decrease in contractility on a similar level as control TAC mice. Ex vivo epicardial mapping showed a low incidence of pacing-induced ventricular arrhythmias (2/12 in control TAC vs. 0/10 in CTGF KO TAC, n.s.) and a tendency towards recovery of the longitudinal conduction velocity of CTGF KO TAC hearts. Picrosirius Red staining on these hearts unveiled increased fibrosis at a similar level as control TAC hearts. Furthermore, genes related to fibrogenesis were also similarly upregulated in both TAC groups. Histological analysis revealed an increase in fibronectin and vimentin protein expression, a significant reduction in connexin43 (Cx43) protein expression, and no difference in NaV1.5 expression of CTGF KO ventricles as compared with sham treated animals. Conclusion: Conditional CTGF inhibition failed to prevent TAC-induced cardiac fibrosis and hypertrophy. Additionally, no large differences were found in other parameters between CTGF KO and control TAC mice. With no profound effect of CTGF on fibrosis formation, other factors or pathways are likely responsible for fibrosis development.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
  • James Hutchenreuther · Krista M Vincent · David E Carter · [...] · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metastatic melanoma is characterized by an extremely poor prognosis with few durable remissions. The secreted matricellular protein connective tissue growth factor (CTGF, CCN2) is overexpressed in cancers including melanoma and may represent a viable therapeutic target. However, the mechanism underlying the contribution of CCN2 to melanoma progression is unclear. In this report, we use the highly metastatic murine melanoma cell line B16(F10) and syngeneic mice in which CCN2 expression is knocked out in fibroblasts, to demonstrate that loss of CCN2, either in melanoma cells or in the niche, impedes the ability of melanoma cells to invade. Specifically, loss of CCN2 in melanoma cells diminished their ability to invade through collagen in vitro and loss of fibroblast-derived CCN2 decreased spontaneous metastases of melanoma cells from the skin to the lungs, in vivo. Proliferation and tumor growth were not affected by loss of CCN2. CCN2-deficient B16(F10) cells showed reduced expression of the matricellular protein periostin; addition of recombinant periostin rescued the in vitro invasion defect of these cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of CCN2-deficient mice confirmed loss of periostin expression in the absence of CCN2. CCN2 and periostin mRNA levels are positively correlated with each other and with the stromal composition of human melanoma lesions but not BRAF mutations. Thus CCN2 promotes invasion and metastasis via periostin and should be further evaluated as a possible therapeutic target for melanoma.Journal of Investigative Dermatology accepted article preview online, 13 July 2015. doi:10.1038/jid.2015.279.
    Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Investigative Dermatology
  • Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) is an often-fatal disease characterized by connective tissue fibrosis of skin and internal organs. In scleroderma, there is an excessive production and accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) components resulting from an increase in collagen synthesis and matrix stability. Understanding how this how excessive ECM is produced and remodeled may represent a novel therapeutic approach. In this review, the transcription factors and collagen-modifying enzymes underlying collagen overexpression and enhancing stability in SSc are discussed. Moreover, the role of matrix stiffness in promoting fibrosis via a feed-forward mechanism is discussed. Indeed, the emerging evidence is that enhanced ECM remodeling resulting in increased ECM stiffness may be sufficient in itself to sustain persistence fibrosis in SSc.
    Article · Jul 2015 · Seminars in Immunopathology
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    Hanna Kuk · James Hutchenreuther · Hannah Murphy-Marshman · [...] · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transforming growth factor (TGF)β acts on fibroblasts to promote the production and remodeling of extracellular matrix (ECM). In adult humans, excessive action of TGFβ is associated with fibrotic disease and fibroproliferative conditions, including gingival hyperplasia. Understanding how the TGFβ1 signals in fibroblasts is therefore likely to result in valuable insights into the fundamental mechanisms underlying fibroproliferative disorders. Previously, we used the TAK1 inhibitor (5Z)-7-Oxozeaenol to show that, in dermal fibroblasts, the non-canonical TAK1 pathway mediates the ability of TGFβ1 to induce genes promoting tissue remodeling and repair. However, the extent to which TAK1 mediates fibroproliferative responses in fibroblasts in response to TGFβ1 remains unclear. Herein, we show that, in gingival fibroblasts, (5Z)-7-Oxozeaenol blocks the ability of TGFβ1 to induce expression of the pro-fibrotic mediator CCN2 (connective tissue growth factor, CTGF) and type I collagen protein. Moreover, genome-wide expression profiling revealed that, in gingival fibroblasts, (5Z)-7-Oxozeaenol reduces the ability of TGFβ1 to induce mRNA expression of essentially all TGFβ1-responsive genes (139/147), including those involved with a hyperproliferative response. Results from microarray analysis were confirmed using real time polymerase chain reaction analysis and a functional cell proliferation assay. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that TAK1 inhibitors might be useful in treating fibroproliferative disorders, including that in the oral cavity.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2015 · PLoS ONE
  • Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic wounds, especially on the feet, are a clinical feature resulting from diabetes and often result in limb amputation. Identification of strategies that promote closure of chronic wounds are essential. In a study authored by Henshaw et al. (J Diabetes Res. 2015;2015:236238), CCN2/CTGF was able to accelerated closure of wounds in diabetic rats. Moreover, in humans, the ability of wounds in diabetic patients to heal correlated with CCN2 expression. Thus CCN2 might, in the future, be used to promote healing of chronic wounds.Diabetic foot ulcers are a significant cause of morbidity and are a substantial financial burden. Approximately 25 % of diabetics have foot ulcers, and these account for up to 70 % of non traumatic lower limb amputations (Most and Sinnock 1983). About 6.5 million people in the USA suffer from chronic wounds, costing ~ $25 billion dollars (Sen et al. 2009). Developing novel methods of promoting closure of chronic diabetic wounds is therefore of paramount importanc ...
    Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The matricellular secreted protein, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), is upregulated in response to cardiac injury or with transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) stimulation, where it has been suggested to function as a fibrotic effector. Here we generated transgenic mice with inducible cardiac-specific CTGF overexpression, mice with cardiac-specific expression of an activated TGFβ mutant protein, mice with cardiac-specific deletion of Ctgf, and mice in which Ctgf was also deleted from fibroblasts in the heart. Remarkably, neither gain nor loss of CTGF in the heart affected cardiac pathology and propensity toward early lethality due to TGFβ over activation in the heart. Also, neither heart-specific Ctgf deletion nor CTGF overexpression altered cardiac remodeling and function with aging or after multiple acute stress stimuli. Cardiac fibrosis was also unchanged by modulation of CTGF levels in the heart with aging, pressure overload, agonist infusion or TGFβ overexpression. However, CTGF did mildly alter the overall cardiac response to TGFβ when pressure overload stimulation was applied. CTGF has been proposed to function as a critical TGFβ effector in underlying tissue remodeling and fibrosis throughout the body, although our results suggest that CTGF is of minimal importance and is an unlikely therapeutic vantage point for the heart. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2015 · Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibrotic diseases are a significant global burden for which there are limited treatment options. The effector cells of fibrosis are activated fibroblasts called myofibroblasts, a highly contractile cell type characterized by the appearance of α-smooth muscle actin stress fibers. The underlying mechanism behind myofibroblast differentiation and persistence has been under much investigation and is known to involve a complex signaling network involving transforming growth factor-β, endothelin-1, angiotensin II, CCN2 (connective tissue growth factor), and platelet-derived growth factor. This review addresses the contribution of these signaling molecules to cardiac fibrosis. © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.
    Article · Mar 2015 · Circulation Research
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Non-healing skin wounds remain a significant clinical burden, and in recent years, the regulatory role of matricellular proteins in skin healing has received significant attention. Periostin and CCN2 are both upregulated at day 3 post-wounding in murine skin, where they regulate aspects of the proliferative phase of repair including mesenchymal cell infiltration and myofibroblast differentiation. In this study, we examined 1) the wound phenotype and expression patterns of periostin and CCN2 in non-healing skin wounds in humans and 2) the regulation of their expression in wound fibroblasts by tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). Chronic skin wounds had a pro-inflammatory phenotype, characterized by macrophage infiltration, TNFα immunoreactivity, and neutrophil infiltration. Periostin, but not CCN2, was significantly suppressed in non-healing wound edge tissue at the mRNA and protein level compared with non-involved skin. In vitro, human wound edge fibroblasts populations were still able to proliferate and contract collagen gels. Compared to cells from non-involved skin, periostin and α-SMA mRNA levels increased significantly in the presence of TGF-β1 in wound cells and were significantly decreased by TNFα, but not those of Col1A2 or CCN2. In the presence of both TGF-β1 and TNFα, periostin and α-SMA mRNA levels were significantly reduced compared to TGF-β1 treated wound cells. Effects of TGF-β1 and TNFα on gene expression were also more pronounced in wound edge cells compared to non-involved fibroblasts. We conclude that variations in the expression of periostin and CCN2, is related to an inflammatory microenvironment and the presence of TNFα in human chronic wounds. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2015 · Matrix biology: journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology
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    Douglas Hamilton · John Walker · Shawna Kim · [...] · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: John T Walker,1,* Shawna S Kim,1,* Sarah Michelsons,1,* Kendal Creber,2,* Christopher G Elliott,1,* Andrew Leask,3 Douglas W Hamilton1–3 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, 2Graduate Program of Biomedical Engineering, 3Division of Oral Biology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada *These authors contributed equally to this paper Abstract: With the classification first proposed by the Bornstein group in 1995, matricellular proteins represent a diverse and expanding class of molecules that contribute to cell phenotype and regulate interactions with the extracellular matrix. Based on initial analysis, matricellular protein expression was thought to be limited to development, but in the intervening 20 years it has become apparent that it plays a pivotal role during healing in several different tissue types. Furthermore, while considered to modulate cell behavior, it is now apparent that matricellular proteins also function in the organization and crosslinking of the extracellular matrix during healing. The focus of this review is to discuss matricellular proteins in the context of skin healing, which in healthy individuals occurs through four overlapping temporal phases. We will also discuss matricellular proteins as potential therapeutics for the treatment of impaired skin healing. Keywords: matricellular proteins, skin healing, inflammation, cell adhesion, microenvironment
    Full-text Article · Mar 2015
  • Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibrotic diseases are a significant cause of mortality. It is being increasingly appreciated that the cellular microenvironment plays a key role in promoting pathological fibrosis. A previous Bits and Bytes described an elegant series of experiments published by Bruce Riser and colleagues (Am J Pathol. 2009: 174:1725-34) that showed that CCN3 (nov) antagonizes the fibrogenic effects of CCN2.and hence could represent a novel anti-fibrotic therapy. They have continued their excellent work and have recently used the ob/ob mouse as a model of obesity and diabetic nephropathy to show that CCN3 could block the induction of profibrotic gene expression, fibrosis and loss of kidney function (Am J Pathol. 2014;184:2908-21). Also, reversal of fibrosis was observed. Thus this paper provides strong evidence that CCN3 may be used as a novel therapy to treat diabetes caused by obesity.
    Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
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    Sunil K. Parapuram · Katherine Thompson · Matthew Tsang · [...] · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Elevated adhesive signaling promotes fibrosis. Protein phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) dephosphorylates focal adhesion kinase and suppresses the activation of Akt and hence suppresses adhesive signaling. Loss of PTEN expression is associated with lung fibrosis, but whether PTEN expression by type I collagen-expressing cells controls lung fibrosis is unclear. Here, we use mice expressing tamoxifen-dependent cre recombinase expressed under the control of a COL1A2 promoter/enhancer and mice harboring floxed-PTEN and/or floxed-CCN2 alleles to assess whether loss of PTEN expression by type I collagen producing cells results in lung fibrosis in a CCN2-dependent fashion. In vivo, loss of PTEN expression resulted in the overexpression of both collagen type I and the pro-adhesive matricellular protein connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2). However, α−smooth muscle actin expression was unaffected. Loss of CCN2 expression by lung fibroblasts rescues this phenotype; i.e.., mice deficient in both PTEN and CCN2 in collagen type I-expressing cells do not develop significant collagen deposition in the lung. PTEN expression by collagen type I-expressing cells controls collagen deposition; therapeutic strategies blocking CCN2 may be of benefit in blocking excessive collagen deposition in fibrosis.
    Full-text Article · Jan 2015 · Matrix Biology
  • Y. Chen · A. Leask · D.J. Abraham · [...] · M. Eastwood
    Article · Jan 2015 · Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair
  • Matthew Tsang · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2), a member of the CCN family of matricellular proteins is upregulated in both fibrosis as well as tissue repair. Recently, we showed that, in mice, CCN2 expression by fibroblasts was required for dermal fibrogenesis, but not for cutaneous tissue repair. Lineage tracing analysis linked the ability of CCN2 to promote fibrosis to the requirement for CCN2 to recruit cells expressing the progenitor cell marker Sox2 to fibrotic connective tissue and for differentiating these cells into myofibroblasts. Herein, we show that although loss of CCN2 expression by Sox2-expressing cells does not impair cutaneous tissue repair, CCN2 was required for recruitment of cells derived from Sox2-expressing cells to the wound area. Collectively, these results are consistent with the notion that neither CCN2 nor Sox2-expressing progenitor cells are essential for cutaneous tissue repair and that CCN2 represents a specific anti-fibrotic target.
    Article · Oct 2014 · Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
  • Jiaqi Liu · Macarena Pampillo · Fen Guo · [...] · Andrew Leask
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is a critical need for techniques that directly monitor protein synthesis within cells isolated from normal and diseased tissue. Fibrotic disease, for which there is no drug treatment, is characterized by the overexpression of collagens. Here, we use a bioinformatics approach to identify a pair of glycine and proline isoacceptor tRNAs as being specific for the decoding of collagen mRNAs, leading to development of a FRET-based approach, dicodon monitoring of protein synthesis (DiCoMPS), that directly monitors the synthesis of collagen. DiCoMPS aimed at detecting collagen synthesis will be helpful in identifying novel anti-fibrotic compounds in cells derived from patients with fibrosis of any etiology, and, suitably adapted, should be widely applicable in monitoring the synthesis of other proteins in cells. J. Cell. Physiol. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Cellular Physiology