Kaitlin D Werle

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States

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Publications (6)50.45 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) plays a central role in cellular energy sensing and bioenergetics. However, the role of AMPK in surveillance of mitochondrial damage and induction of mitophagy remains unclear. We demonstrate herein that AMPK is required for efficient mitophagy. Mitochondrial damage induces a physical association of AMPK with ATG16-ATG5-12 and an AMPK-dependent recruitment of the VPS34 and ATG16 complexes with the mitochondria. Targeting AMPK to the mitochondria is both sufficient to induce mitophagy and to promote cell survival. Recruitment of AMPK to the mitochondria requires N-myristoylation of AMPK╬▓ by the type-I N-myristoyltransferase 1 (NMT1). Our data support a spatiotemporal model wherein recruitment of AMPK in association with components of the VPS34 and ATG16 complex to damaged mitochondria regulates selective mitophagy to maintain cancer cell viability.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Nature Communications
  • H-G Xu · Y-X Zhai · J Chen · Y Lu · J-W Wang · C-S Quan · R-X Zhao · X Xiao · Q He · K D Werle · H-G Kim · R Lopez · R Cui · J Liang · Y-L Li · Z-X Xu
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    ABSTRACT: Liver kinase B1 (LKB1, also known as serine/threonine kinase 11, STK11) is a tumor suppressor mutated in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and in a variety of sporadic cancers. Herein, we demonstrate that LKB1 controls the levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and protects the genome from oxidative damage. Cells lacking LKB1 exhibit markedly increased intracellular ROS levels, excessive oxidation of DNA, increased mutation rates and accumulation of DNA damage, which are effectively prevented by ectopic expression of LKB1 and by incubation with antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. The role of LKB1 in suppressing ROS is independent of AMP-activated protein kinase, a canonical substrate of LKB1. Instead, under the elevated ROS, LKB1 binds to and maintains the activity of the cdc42-PAK1 (p21-activated kinase 1) complex, which triggers the activation of p38 and its downstream signaling targets, such as ATF-2, thereby enhancing the activity of superoxide dismutase-2 and catalase, two antioxidant enzymes that protect the cells from ROS accumulation, DNA damage and loss of viability. Our results provide a new paradigm for a non-canonical tumor suppressor function of LKB1 and highlight the importance of targeting ROS signaling as a potential therapeutic strategy for cancer cells lacking LKB1.Oncogene advance online publication, 29 September 2014; doi:10.1038/onc.2014.315.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Oncogene
  • K Werle · J Chen · H-G Xu · R-X Zhao · Q He · C Lu · R Cui · J Liang · Y-L Li · Z-X Xu
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    ABSTRACT: Liver kinase B1 (LKB1) is a tumor suppressor mutationally inactivated in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS) and various sporadic cancers. Although LKB1 encodes a kinase that possesses multiple functions, no individual hypothesis posed to date has convincingly explained how loss of LKB1 contributes to carcinogenesis. In this report we demonstrated that LKB1 maintains genomic stability through the regulation of centrosome duplication. We found that LKB1 colocalized with centrosomal proteins and was situated in the mitotic spindle pole. LKB1 deficiency-induced centrosome amplification was independent of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a well-defined substrate of LKB1. Cells lacking LKB1 exhibited an increase in phosphorylated and total Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK-1), NIMA-related kinase 2 (NEK2), and ninein-like protein (NLP). Overexpression of active PLK1 (T210D) reversed the inhibition of LKB1 on centrosome amplification. In contrast, depletion of PLK1 with siRNA or suppression of PLK1 kinase activity with BTO-1 (5-Cyano-7-nitro-2-benzothiazolecarboxamide-3-oxide) abrogated LKB1 deficiency-induced centrosome amplification. We further characterized that LKB1 phosphorylated and activated AMPK-related kinase 5 (NUAK1 or ARK5) that in turn increased the phosphorylation of MYPT1, enhanced the binding between MYPT1-PP1 and PLK1, and conferred an effective dephosphorylation of PLK1. More importantly, we noted that LKB1-deficient cells exhibited multiple nuclear abnormalities, such as mitotic delay, binuclear, polylobed, grape, large, and micronuclear. Immediate depletion of LKB1 resulted in the accumulation of multiploidy cells. Expression of LKB1 is reversely correlated with the levels of PLK1 in human cancer tissues. Thus, we have uncovered a novel function of LKB1 in the maintenance of genomic stability through the regulation of centrosome mediated by PLK1.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Cell Death & Disease
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    Y Wang · J-W Wang · X Xiao · Y Shan · B Xue · G Jiang · Q He · J Chen · H-G Xu · R-X Zhao · K D Werle · R Cui · J Liang · Y-L Li · Z-X Xu
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    ABSTRACT: Piperlongumine (PL), a natural product isolated from the plant species Piper longum L., can selectively induce apoptotic cell death in cancer cells by targeting the stress response to reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here we show that PL induces cell death in the presence of benzyloxycarbonylvalyl-alanyl-aspartic acid (O-methyl)-fluoro-methylketone (zVAD-fmk), a pan-apoptotic inhibitor, and in the presence of necrostatin-1, a necrotic inhibitor. Instead PL-induced cell death can be suppressed by 3-methyladenine, an autophagy inhibitor, and substantially attenuated in cells lacking the autophagy-related 5 (Atg5) gene. We further show that PL enhances autophagy activity without blocking autophagy flux. Application of N-acetyl-cysteine, an antioxidant, markedly reduces PL-induced autophagy and cell death, suggesting an essential role for intracellular ROS in PL-induced autophagy. Furthermore, PL stimulates the activation of p38 protein kinase through ROS-induced stress response and p38 signaling is necessary for the action of PL as SB203580, a p38 inhibitor, or dominant-negative p38 can effectively reduce PL-mediated autophagy. Thus, we have characterized a new mechanism for PL-induced cell death through the ROS-p38 pathway. Our findings support the therapeutic potential of PL by triggering autophagic cell death.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Cell Death & Disease
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    ABSTRACT: Variants in genes that regulate autophagy have been associated with Crohn's disease (CD). Defects in autophagy-mediated removal of pathogenic microbes could contribute to pathogenesis of CD. We investigated the role of the micro-RNAs (miRs) MIR106B and MIR93 in induction of autophagy and bacterial clearance in human cell lines, and the correlation between MIR106B and autophagy-related gene 16L1 (ATG16L1) expression in tissues from patients with CD. We studied the ability of MIR106B and MIR93 to regulate ATG transcripts in human cancer cell lines (HCT116, SW480, HeLa , and U2OS) using luciferase report assays and bioinformatics analyses; MIR106B and MIR93 mimics and antagonists were transfected into cells to modify levels of miRs. Cells were infected with LF82, a CD-associated adherent-invasive strain of Escherichia coli, and monitored by confocal microscopy and for colony-forming units. Colon tissues from 41 healthy individuals (controls), 22 with active CD, 16 with inactive CD, and 7 with chronic inflammation were assessed for levels of MIR106B and ATG16L1 by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Silencing Dicer 1, an essential processor of miRs, increased levels of ATG protein and formation of autophagosomes in cells, indicating that miRs regulate autophagy. Luciferase reporter assays indicated that MIR106B and MIR93 targeted ATG16L1 mRNA. MIR106B and MIR93 reduced levels of ATG16L1 and autophagy; these increased following expression of ectopic ATG16L1. In contrast, MIR106B and MIR93 antagonists increased formation of autophagosomes. Levels of MIR106B were increased in intestinal epithelia from patients with active CD, whereas levels of ATG16L1 were reduced, compared with controls. Levels of CMYC were also increased in intestinal epithelia of patients with active CD, compared with controls. These alterations could impair removal of CD-associated bacteria by autophagy. In human cell lines, MIR106B and MIR93 reduce levels of ATG16L1 and autophagy, and prevent autophagy-dependent eradication of intracellular bacteria. This process also appears to be altered in colon tissues from patients with active CD.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Gastroenterology
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    ABSTRACT: Metformin is one of the most widely used drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Recent investigations demonstrated that application of metformin reduces cancer risk. The present study aimed to determine the role of liver kinase B1 (LKB1) in the response of cervical cancer cells to metformin. LKB1 expression and the integrity of LKB1-AMPK signaling were determined with immunoblot in 6 cervical cancer cell lines. Cellular sensitivity to metformin was analyzed with MTT assay. Metformin inhibited growth of cervical cancer cells, C33A, Me180, and CaSki, but was less effective against HeLa, HT-3, and MS751 cells. Analyzing the expression status and the integrity of LKB1-AMPK-mTOR signaling, we found that cervical cancer cells sensitive to metformin were LKB1 intact and exerted an integral AMPK-mTOR signaling response after the treatment. Ectopic expression of LKB1 with stable transduction system or inducible expression construct in endogenous LKB1 deficient cells improved the activation of AMPK, promoted the inhibition of mTOR, and prompted the sensitivity of cells to metformin. In contrast, knock-down of LKB1 compromised cellular response to metformin. Our further investigation demonstrated that metformin could induce both apoptosis and autophagy in cervical cancer cells when LKB1 is expressed. Metformin is a potential drug for the treatment of cervical cancers, in particular to those with intact LKB1 expression. Administration of cell metabolism agonists may enhance LKB1 tumor suppression, inhibit cell growth, and reduce tumor cell viability via the activation of LKB1-AMPK signaling.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Gynecologic Oncology