Doctor of Medicine, Harvard University (2008)
PhD, Harvard University, Molecular and Cell Biology (2005)
MPhil, Oxford University, Economic and Social History (2000)
AB, Occidental College, Chemistry (1998)
I am interested in understanding the radiation biology of normal tissues to develop radioprotectors for use with conventional chemoradiation treatments.
Signaling initiated by hypoxia and insulin powerfully alters cellular metabolism. The protein stability of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (Hif-1α) and Hif-2α is regulated by three prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing protein isoforms (Phd1, Phd2 and Phd3). Insulin receptor substrate-2 (Irs2) is a critical mediator of the anabolic effects of insulin, and its decreased expression contributes to the pathophysiology of insulin resistance and diabetes. Although Hif regulates many metabolic pathways, it is unknown whether the Phd proteins regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in the liver. Here, we show that acute deletion of hepatic Phd3, also known as Egln3, improves insulin sensitivity and ameliorates diabetes by specifically stabilizing Hif-2α, which then increases Irs2 transcription and insulin-stimulated Akt activation. Hif-2α and Irs2 are both necessary for the improved insulin sensitivity, as knockdown of either molecule abrogates the beneficial effects of Phd3 knockout on glucose tolerance and insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation. Augmenting levels of Hif-2α through various combinations of Phd gene knockouts did not further improve hepatic metabolism and only added toxicity. Thus, isoform-specific inhibition of Phd3 could be exploited to treat type 2 diabetes without the toxicity that could occur with chronic inhibition of multiple Phd isoforms.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.3294
View details for Web of Science ID 000325531700033
View details for PubMedID 24037093
Insulin initiates diverse hepatic metabolic responses, including gluconeogenic suppression and induction of glycogen synthesis and lipogenesis. The liver possesses a rich sinusoidal capillary network with a higher degree of hypoxia and lower gluconeogenesis in the perivenous zone as compared to the rest of the organ. Here, we show that diverse vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors improved glucose tolerance in nondiabetic C57BL/6 and diabetic db/db mice, potentiating hepatic insulin signaling with lower gluconeogenic gene expression, higher glycogen storage and suppressed hepatic glucose production. VEGF inhibition induced hepatic hypoxia through sinusoidal vascular regression and sensitized liver insulin signaling through hypoxia-inducible factor-2α (Hif-2α, encoded by Epas1) stabilization. Notably, liver-specific constitutive activation of HIF-2α, but not HIF-1α, was sufficient to augment hepatic insulin signaling through direct and indirect induction of insulin receptor substrate-2 (Irs2), an essential insulin receptor adaptor protein. Further, liver Irs2 was both necessary and sufficient to mediate Hif-2α and Vegf inhibition effects on glucose tolerance and hepatic insulin signaling. These results demonstrate an unsuspected intersection between Hif-2α-mediated hypoxic signaling and hepatic insulin action through Irs2 induction, which can be co-opted by Vegf inhibitors to modulate glucose metabolism. These studies also indicate distinct roles in hepatic metabolism for Hif-1α, which promotes glycolysis, and Hif-2α, which suppresses gluconeogenesis, and suggest new treatment approaches for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.3295
View details for Web of Science ID 000325531700034
View details for PubMedID 24037094
To determine how the respiratory phase impacts dose to normal organs during stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for pancreatic cancer.Eighteen consecutive patients with locally advanced, unresectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma treated with SBRT were included in this study. On the treatment planning 4-dimensional computed tomography (CT) scan, the planning target volume (PTV), defined as the gross tumor volume plus 3-mm margin, the duodenum, and the stomach were contoured on the end-expiration (CTexp) and end-inspiration (CTinsp) phases for each patient. A separate treatment plan was constructed for both phases with the dose prescription of 33 Gy in 5 fractions with 95% coverage of the PTV by the 100% isodose line. The dose-volume histogram (DVH) endpoints, volume of duodenum that received 20 Gy (V20), V25, and V30 and maximum dose to 5 cc of contoured organ (D5cc), D1cc, and D0.1cc, were evaluated.Dosimetric parameters for the duodenum, including V25, V30, D1cc, and D0.1cc improved by planning on the CTexp compared to those on the CTinsp. There was a statistically significant overlap of the PTV with the duodenum but not the stomach during the CTinsp compared to the CTexp (0.38 ± 0.17 cc vs 0.01 ± 0.01 cc, P=.048). A larger expansion of the PTV, in accordance with a Danish phase 2 trial, showed even more overlapping volume of duodenum on the CTinsp compared to that on the CTexp (5.5 ± 0.9 cc vs 3.0 ± 0.8 cc, P=.0003) but no statistical difference for any stomach dosimetric DVH parameter.Dose to the duodenum was higher when treating on the inspiratory than on the expiratory phase. These data suggest that expiratory gating may be preferable to inspiratory breath-hold and free breathing strategies for minimizing risk of toxicity.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.07.2366
View details for PubMedID 23273994
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) plays a critical role in tumorigenesis, and the PI3K p85 regulatory subunit exerts both positive and negative effects on signaling. Expression of Pik3r1, the gene encoding p85, is decreased in human prostate, lung, ovarian, bladder, and liver cancers, consistent with the possibility that p85 has tumor suppressor properties. We tested this hypothesis by studying mice with a liver-specific deletion of the Pik3r1 gene. These mice exhibited enhanced insulin and growth factor signaling and progressive changes in hepatic pathology, leading to the development of aggressive hepatocellular carcinomas with pulmonary metastases. Liver tumors that arose exhibited markedly elevated levels of phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate, along with Akt activation and decreased PTEN expression, at both the mRNA and protein levels. Together, these results substantiate the concept that the p85 subunit of PI3K has a tumor-suppressive role in the liver and possibly other tissues.
View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3399
View details for Web of Science ID 000279396800013
View details for PubMedID 20530665
Adipose tissue is central to the regulation of energy balance. Two functionally different types of fat are present in mammals: white adipose tissue, the primary site of triglyceride storage, and brown adipose tissue, which is specialized in energy expenditure and can counteract obesity. Factors that specify the developmental fate and function of white and brown adipose tissue remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that whereas some members of the family of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) support white adipocyte differentiation, BMP7 singularly promotes differentiation of brown preadipocytes even in the absence of the normally required hormonal induction cocktail. BMP7 activates a full program of brown adipogenesis including induction of early regulators of brown fat fate PRDM16 (PR-domain-containing 16; ref. 4) and PGC-1alpha (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma) coactivator-1alpha; ref. 5), increased expression of the brown-fat-defining marker uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) and adipogenic transcription factors PPARgamma and CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins (C/EBPs), and induction of mitochondrial biogenesis via p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase-(also known as Mapk14) and PGC-1-dependent pathways. Moreover, BMP7 triggers commitment of mesenchymal progenitor cells to a brown adipocyte lineage, and implantation of these cells into nude mice results in development of adipose tissue containing mostly brown adipocytes. Bmp7 knockout embryos show a marked paucity of brown fat and an almost complete absence of UCP1. Adenoviral-mediated expression of BMP7 in mice results in a significant increase in brown, but not white, fat mass and leads to an increase in energy expenditure and a reduction in weight gain. These data reveal an important role of BMP7 in promoting brown adipocyte differentiation and thermogenesis in vivo and in vitro, and provide a potential new therapeutic approach for the treatment of obesity.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature07221
View details for Web of Science ID 000258591000040
View details for PubMedID 18719589
Insulin resistance is a defining feature of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. While the molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance are multiple, recent evidence suggests that attenuation of insulin signaling by c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) may be a central part of the pathobiology of insulin resistance. Here we demonstrate that the p85alpha regulatory subunit of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), a key mediator of insulin's metabolic actions, is also required for the activation of JNK in states of insulin resistance, including high-fat diet-induced obesity and JNK1 overexpression. The requirement of the p85alpha regulatory subunit for JNK occurs independently of its role as a component of the PI3K heterodimer and occurs only in response to specific stimuli, namely, insulin and tunicamycin, a chemical that induces endoplasmic reticulum stress. We further show that insulin and p85 activate JNK by via cdc42 and MKK4. The activation of this cdc42/JNK pathway requires both an intact N terminus and functional SH2 domains within the C terminus of the p85alpha regulatory subunit. Thus, p85alpha plays a dual role in regulating insulin sensitivity and may mediate cross talk between the PI3K and stress kinase pathways.
View details for DOI 10.1128/MCB.00079-07
View details for Web of Science ID 000245558300005
View details for PubMedID 17283057
The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is central to the metabolic actions of insulin on liver. Here, we show that mice with a liver-specific deletion of the p85alpha regulatory subunit of PI3K (L-Pik3r1KO) exhibit a paradoxical improvement of hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity. Although PI3K enzymatic activity is diminished in L-Pik3r1KO livers because of a reduced level of regulatory and catalytic subunits of PI3K, insulin-stimulated Akt activity is actually increased. This increased Akt activity correlates with increased phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate levels which are due, at least in part, to diminished activity of the (3,4,5)-trisphosphate phosphatase PTEN. Thus, the regulatory subunit p85alpha is a critical modulator of insulin sensitivity in vivo not only because of its effects on PI3K activation, but also as a regulator of PTEN activity.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0604628103
View details for Web of Science ID 000239701900049
View details for PubMedID 16880400
Although the class I(A) phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is central to the metabolic actions of insulin, its mechanism of action is not well understood. To identify the role of the PI3K pathway in insulin regulation of hepatic function, we ablated the expression of both major regulatory subunits of PI3K by crossing mice lacking Pik3r1 in liver with Pik3r2 null mice, creating liver-specific double knockout mice (L-p85DKO). L-p85DKO mice failed to activate PI3K or generate PIP(3) upon insulin stimulation or activate its two major effectors, Akt and PKClambda/xi. Decreased Akt activation resulted in increased gluconeogenic gene expression, impaired glucose tolerance, and hyperinsulinemia, while the defective activation of PKClambda/xi by insulin was associated with hypolipidemia and decreased transcription of SREBP-1c. These data indicate that the PI3K pathway is critical for insulin's actions in the liver in vivo, and that differential regulation by Akt and PKClambda/xi differentially defines specific actions of insulin and PI3K on hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cmet.2006.04.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000237650200007
View details for PubMedID 16679292
Physiologically important cell-signalling networks are complex, and contain several points of regulation, signal divergence and crosstalk with other signalling cascades. Here, we use the concept of 'critical nodes' to define the important junctions in these pathways and illustrate their unique role using insulin signalling as a model system.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nrm1837
View details for Web of Science ID 000235590100012
View details for PubMedID 16493415
The insulin/IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) signalling pathway promotes adipocyte differentiation via complex signalling networks. Here, using microarray analysis of brown preadipocytes that are derived from wild-type and insulin receptor substrate (Irs) knockout animals that exhibit progressively impaired differentiation, we define 374 genes/expressed-sequence tags whose expression in preadipocytes correlates with the ultimate ability of the cells to differentiate. Many of these genes, including preadipocyte factor-1 (Pref-1) and multiple members of the Wnt signalling pathway, are related to early adipogenic events. Necdin is also markedly increased in Irs knockout cells that cannot differentiate, and knockdown of necdin restores brown adipogenesis with downregulation of Pref-1 and Wnt10a expression. Insulin receptor substrate proteins regulate a necdin-E2F4 interaction that represses peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) transcription via a cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB)-dependent pathway. Together these define a key signalling network that is involved in brown preadipocyte determination.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ncb1259
View details for Web of Science ID 000229562100014
View details for PubMedID 15895078
Hepatic insulin resistance is a critical component in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In many cases, insulin resistance in liver is associated with reduced expression of both major insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins, IRS-1 and IRS-2. To investigate the specific functions of IRS-1 and IRS-2 in regulating liver function in vivo, we developed an adenovirus-mediated RNA interference technique in which short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) are used to knock down IRS-1, IRS-2, or both, by 70-80% in livers of WT mice. The knockdown of IRS-1 resulted in an upregulation of the gluconeogenic enzymes glucose-6 phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, as well as a marked increase in hepatic nuclear factor-4 alpha. Decreased IRS-1 was also associated with a decrease in glucokinase expression and a trend toward increased blood glucose, whereas knockdown of IRS-2 resulted in the upregulation of lipogenic enzymes SREBP-1c and fatty acid synthase, as well as increased hepatic lipid accumulation. The concomitant injection of IRS-1 and IRS-2 adenoviral shRNAs resulted in systemic insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and hepatic steatosis. The alterations in the dual-knockdown mice were associated with defective Akt activation and Foxo1 phosphorylation. Taken together, our results demonstrate that hepatic IRS-1 and IRS-2 have complementary roles in the control of hepatic metabolism, with IRS-1 more closely linked to glucose homeostasis and IRS-2 more closely linked to lipid metabolism.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI200523187
View details for Web of Science ID 000227392700036
View details for PubMedID 15711641
Insulin is a potent inducer of adipogenesis, and differentiation of adipocytes requires many components of the insulin signaling pathway, including the insulin receptor substrate IRS-1 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). Brown pre-adipocytes in culture exhibit low levels of insulin receptor (IR), and during differentiation there is both an increase in total IR levels and a shift in the alternatively spliced forms of IR from the A isoform (-exon 11) to the B isoform (+exon 11). Brown pre-adipocyte cell lines from insulin receptor-deficient mice exhibit dramatically impaired differentiation and an inability to regulate alternative splicing of the insulin receptor. Surprisingly, re-expression of either splice isoform of IR in the IR-deficient cells fails to rescue differentiation in these cells. Likewise, overexpression of IR in control IRlox cells also results in inhibition of differentiation and a failure to accumulate expression of the adipogenic markers peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, Glut4, and fatty acid synthase, although cells overexpressing IR retain the ability to activate PI3K and down-regulate mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation. Thus, differentiation of brown adipocytes requires a timed and regulated expression of IR, and either the absence or overabundance of insulin receptors in these cells dramatically inhibits differentiation.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M303056200
View details for Web of Science ID 000184901800109
View details for PubMedID 12807888