Honors & Awards

  • CJ Martin Fellowship, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (2011)
  • Albert Baikie Memorial Medal, Haematology Society of Australia & New Zealand (2007)
  • HOTT Haematology/Oncology Targetted Therapy Fellowship, Haematology Society of Australia & New Zealand/COSA/Roche/COGA (2010)
  • National FRACP Adult Medicine Research Award, Royal Australasian College of Physicians (2008)
  • John Chalmers Prize for Best Medical Research Presentation, Royal Australasian College of Physicians (2007)
  • Outstanding Research Presentation Prize, New Directions in Leukaemia Conference (2010)
  • Nimmo Prize, best full-time research, Royal Adelaide Hospital (2010)
  • Hugh Gilmore Prize, Royal Adelaide Hospital (2004)

Professional Education

  • Ph D, University of Adelaide, Leukemia Stem Cells:- Signalling and Therapeutic Targets (2012)
  • FRACP, Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Hematology (2007)
  • FRCPA, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, Hematology (2007)
  • Bachelor of Science, University Of Adelaide (1998)
  • B of Medicine and B of Surgery, University Of Adelaide (2000)

Stanford Advisors

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Whilst cancer is first a disease of unregulated cell proliferation, a small proportion of cells within a tumour are paradoxically in a relative state of quiescence. These chemotherapy-resistant cells are the likely culprits responsible for relapse but the signalling events that control this state are unknown. By studying purified populations of cancer stem cells derived from patients with acute myeloid leukemia my work is focused on defining novel targets for future therapy.


Journal Articles

  • Targeting acute myeloid leukemia by dual inhibition of PI3K signalling and Cdk9-mediated Mcl-1 transcription. Blood Thomas, D., Powell, J. A., Vergez, F., Segal, D. H., Nguyen, N. Y., Baker, A., Teh, T. C., Barry, E. F., Sarry, J. E., Lee, E. M., Nero, T. L., Jabbour, A. M., Pomilio, G., Green, B. D., Manenti, S., Glaser, S. P., Parker, M. W., Lopez, A. F., Ekert, P. G., Lock, R. B., Huang, D. C., Nilsson, S. K., Récher, C., Wei, A. H., Guthridge, M. A. 2013


    Resistance to cell death is a hallmark of cancer and renders transformed cells resistant to multiple apoptotic triggers. The Bcl-2 family member, Mcl-1, is a key driver of cell survival in diverse cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A screen for compounds down-regulating Mcl-1 identified the kinase inhibitor, PIK-75, which demonstrates marked pro-apoptotic activity against a panel of cytogenetically diverse primary human AML patient samples. We show that PIK-75 transiently blocks Cdk7/9, leading to transcriptional suppression of MCL-1, a rapid loss of Mcl-1 protein and alleviation of its inhibition of pro-apoptotic Bak. PIK-75 also targets the p110? isoform of PI3K which leads to a loss of association between Bcl-xL and Bak. The simultaneous loss of Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL association with Bak leads to rapid apoptosis of AML cells. Concordantly, low Bak expression in AML confers resistance to PIK-75-mediated killing. On the other hand, the induction of apoptosis by PIK-75 did not require the expression of the BH3 proteins Bim, Bid, Bad, Noxa or Puma. PIK-75 significantly reduced leukemia burden and increased the survival of mice engrafted with human AML without inducing overt toxicity. Future efforts to co-target PI3K and Cdk9 with drugs such as PIK-75 in AML are warranted.

    View details for PubMedID 23775716

  • Protein Kinase Activity of Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase Regulates Cytokine-Dependent Cell Survival PLOS Biology Daniel Thomas, Daniel Thomas equal contributor, Jason A. Powell equal contributor, Benjamin D. Green, Emma F. Barry, Yuefang Ma, Joanna Woodcock, Stephen Fitter, Andrew C. W. Zannettino, Stuart M. Pitson, Timothy P. Hughes, Angel F. Lopez, Peter R. Shepherd, Andrew H. Wei, Paul G. Ekert, Mark A. Guthridge 2013; 11 (3): e1001515
  • Expression profiling of a hemopoietic cell survival transcriptome implicates osteopontin as a functional prognostic factor in AML BLOOD Powell, J. A., Thomas, D., Barry, E. F., Kok, C. H., McClure, B. J., Tsykin, A., To, L. B., Brown, A., Lewis, I. D., Herbert, K., Goodall, G. J., Speed, T. P., Asou, N., Jacob, B., Osato, M., Haylock, D. N., Nilsson, S. K., D'Andrea, R. J., Lopez, A. F., Guthridge, M. A. 2009; 114 (23): 4859-4870


    Deregulated cell survival programs are a classic hallmark of cancer. We have previously identified a serine residue (Ser585) in the betac subunit of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor that selectively and independently promotes cell survival. We now show that Ser585 phosphorylation is constitutive in 20 (87%) of 23 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patient samples, indicating that this survival-only pathway is frequently deregulated in leukemia. We performed a global expression screen to identify gene targets of this survival pathway and report a 138-gene betac Ser585-regulated transcriptome. Pathway analysis defines a gene network enriched for PI3-kinase target genes and a cluster of genes involved in cancer and cell survival. We show that one such gene, osteopontin (OPN), is a functionally relevant target of the Ser585-survival pathway as shown by siRNA-mediated knockdown of OPN expression that induces cell death in both AML blasts and CD34(+)CD38(-)CD123(+) leukemic progenitors. Increased expression of OPN at diagnosis is associated with poor prognosis with multivariate analysis indicating that it is an independent predictor of overall patient survival in normal karyotype AML (n = 60; HR = 2.2; P = .01). These results delineate a novel cytokine-regulated Ser585/PI3-kinase signaling network that is deregulated in AML and identify OPN as a potential prognostic and therapeutic target.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2009-02-204818

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272190700015

    View details for PubMedID 19805619

  • The granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor: linking its structure to cell signaling and its role in disease BLOOD Hercus, T. R., Thomas, D., Guthridge, M. A., Ekert, P. G., King-Scott, J., Parker, M. W., Lopez, A. F. 2009; 114 (7): 1289-1298


    Already 20 years have passed since the cloning of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) receptor alpha-chain, the first member of the GM-CSF/interleukin (IL)-3/IL-5 family of hemopoietic cytokine receptors to be molecularly characterized. The intervening 2 decades have uncovered a plethora of biologic functions transduced by the GM-CSF receptor (pleiotropy) and revealed distinct signaling networks that couple the receptor to biologic outcomes. Unlike other hemopoietin receptors, the GM-CSF receptor has a significant nonredundant role in myeloid hematologic malignancies, macrophage-mediated acute and chronic inflammation, pulmonary homeostasis, and allergic disease. The molecular mechanisms underlying GM-CSF receptor activation have recently been revealed by the crystal structure of the GM-CSF receptor complexed to GM-CSF, which shows an unexpected higher order assembly. Emerging evidence also suggests the existence of intracellular signosomes that are recruited in a concentration-dependent fashion to selectively control cell survival, proliferation, and differentiation by GM-CSF. These findings begin to unravel the mystery of cytokine receptor pleiotropy and are likely to also apply to the related IL-3 and IL-5 receptors as well as other heterodimeric cytokine receptors. The new insights in GM-CSF receptor activation have clinical significance as the structural and signaling nuances can be harnessed for the development of new treatments for malignant and inflammatory diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2008-12-164004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268924700006

    View details for PubMedID 19436055

  • Monoclonal Antibody-Mediated Targeting of CD123, IL-3 Receptor alpha Chain, Eliminates Human Acute Myeloid Leukemic Stem Cells CELL STEM CELL Jin, L., Lee, E. M., Ramshaw, H. S., Busfield, S. J., Peoppl, A. G., Wilkinson, L., Guthridge, M. A., Thomas, D., Barry, E. F., Boyd, A., Gearing, D. P., Vairo, G., Lopez, A. F., Dick, J. E., Lock, R. B. 2009; 5 (1): 31-42


    Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) initiate and sustain the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) clonal hierarchy and possess biological properties rendering them resistant to conventional chemotherapy. The poor survival of AML patients raises expectations that LSC-targeted therapies might achieve durable remissions. We report that an anti-interleukin-3 (IL-3) receptor alpha chain (CD123)-neutralizing antibody (7G3) targeted AML-LSCs, impairing homing to bone marrow (BM) and activating innate immunity of nonobese diabetic/severe-combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice. 7G3 treatment profoundly reduced AML-LSC engraftment and improved mouse survival. Mice with pre-established disease showed reduced AML burden in the BM and periphery and impaired secondary transplantation upon treatment, establishing that AML-LSCs were directly targeted. 7G3 inhibited IL-3-mediated intracellular signaling of isolated AML CD34(+)CD38(-) cells in vitro and reduced their survival. These results provide clear validation for therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeting of AML-LSCs and for translation of in vivo preclinical research findings toward a clinical application.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2009.04.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000267879200008

    View details for PubMedID 19570512

  • Phosphorylation of Serine 779 in Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 and 2 by Protein Kinase C{epsilon} Regulates Ras/Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Signaling and Neuronal Differentiation. journal of biological chemistry Lonic, A., Powell, J. A., Kong, Y., Thomas, D., Holien, J. K., Truong, N., Parker, M. W., Guthridge, M. A. 2013; 288 (21): 14874-14885


    The FGF receptors (FGFRs) control a multitude of cellular processes both during development and in the adult through the initiation of signaling cascades that regulate proliferation, survival, and differentiation. Although FGFR tyrosine phosphorylation and the recruitment of Src homology 2 domain proteins have been widely described, we have previously shown that FGFR is also phosphorylated on Ser(779) in response to ligand and binds the 14-3-3 family of phosphoserine/threonine-binding adaptor/scaffold proteins. However, whether this receptor phosphoserine mode of signaling is able to regulate specific signaling pathways and biological responses is unclear. Using PC12 pheochromocytoma cells and primary mouse bone marrow stromal cells as models for growth factor-regulated neuronal differentiation, we show that Ser(779) in the cytoplasmic domains of FGFR1 and FGFR2 is required for the sustained activation of Ras and ERK but not for other FGFR phosphotyrosine pathways. The regulation of Ras and ERK signaling by Ser(779) was critical not only for neuronal differentiation but also for cell survival under limiting growth factor concentrations. PKC? can phosphorylate Ser(779) in vitro, whereas overexpression of PKC? results in constitutive Ser(779) phosphorylation and enhanced PC12 cell differentiation. Furthermore, siRNA knockdown of PKC? reduces both growth factor-induced Ser(779) phosphorylation and neuronal differentiation. Our findings show that in addition to FGFR tyrosine phosphorylation, the phosphorylation of a conserved serine residue, Ser(779), can quantitatively control Ras/MAPK signaling to promote specific cellular responses.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M112.421669

    View details for PubMedID 23564461

  • Essential Requirement for PP2A Inhibition by the Oncogenic Receptor c-KIT Suggests PP2A Reactivation as a Strategy to Treat c-KIT+ Cancers CANCER RESEARCH Roberts, K. G., Smith, A. M., McDougall, F., Carpenter, H., Horan, M., Neviani, P., Powell, J. A., Thomas, D., Guthridge, M. A., Perrotti, D., Sim, A. T., Ashman, L. K., Verrills, N. M. 2010; 70 (13): 5438-5447


    Oncogenic mutations of the receptor tyrosine kinase c-KIT play an important role in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal stromal tumors, systemic mastocytosis, and some acute myeloid leukemias (AML). Although juxtamembrane mutations commonly detected in gastrointestinal stromal tumor are sensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibitors, the kinase domain mutations frequently encountered in systemic mastocytosis and AML confer resistance and are largely unresponsive to targeted inhibition by the existing agent imatinib. In this study, we show that myeloid cells expressing activated c-KIT mutants that are imatinib sensitive (V560G) or imatinib resistant (D816V) can inhibit the tumor suppressor activity of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). This effect was associated with the reduced expression of PP2A structural (A) and regulatory subunits (B55alpha, B56alpha, B56gamma, and B56delta). Overexpression of PP2A-Aalpha in D816V c-KIT cells induced apoptosis and inhibited proliferation. In addition, pharmacologic activation of PP2A by FTY720 reduced proliferation, inhibited clonogenic potential, and induced apoptosis of mutant c-KIT(+) cells, while having no effect on wild-type c-KIT cells or empty vector controls. FTY720 treatment caused the dephosphorylation of the D816V c-KIT receptor and its downstream signaling targets pAkt, pSTAT5, and pERK1/2. Additionally, in vivo administration of FTY720 delayed the growth of V560G and D816V c-KIT tumors, inhibited splenic and bone marrow infiltration, and prolonged survival. Our findings show that PP2A inhibition is essential for c-KIT-mediated tumorigenesis, and that reactivating PP2A may offer an attractive strategy to treat drug-resistant c-KIT(+) cancers.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2544

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279396800026

    View details for PubMedID 20551067

  • Molecular Basis of Cytokine Receptor Activation IUBMB LIFE Lopez, A. F., Hercus, T. R., Ekert, P., Littler, D. R., Guthridge, M., Thomas, D., Ramshaw, H. S., Stomski, F., Perugini, M., D'Andrea, R., Grimbaldeston, M., Parker, M. W. 2010; 62 (7): 509-518


    Cytokines are secreted soluble peptides that precisely regulate multiple cellular functions. Amongst these the GM-CSF/IL-3/IL-5 family of cytokines controls whether hematopoietic cells will survive or apoptose, proliferate, differentiate, migrate, or perform effector functions such as phagocytosis or reactive oxygen species release. Their potent and pleiotropic activities are mediated through binding to high affinity membrane receptors at surprisingly low numbers per cell. Receptor binding triggers a cascade of intracellular signaling events, including reversible phosphorylation of receptor subunits and associated signaling molecules, leading to multiple biological responses, with the prevention of apoptosis or "cell survival" being a key cellular function that underpins all others. Many chronic inflammatory diseases and a number of haematological malignancies are driven by deregulated GM-CSF, IL-3, or IL-5 cytokine receptor signaling, highlighting their importance in disease. A major step in understanding how these cytokine receptors function is to elucidate their three dimensional structure and to relate this to the many signaling pathways emanating from their receptors. We have recently solved the structure of the human GM-CSF receptor complexed to GM-CSF which revealed distinct forms of receptor assembly: a hexamer that comprises two molecules each of GM-CSF, GM-CSF receptor alpha chain and GM-CSF receptor beta chain; and an unexpected dodecamer in which two hexameric complexes associate through a novel site 4. This latter form is necessary to bring JAK2 molecules sufficiently close together to enable full receptor activation. In this review we focus on the most recent insights in cytokine receptor signaling, and in receptor assembly. The stage is now set to link distinct forms of cytokine receptor assembled structures to specific forms of cytokine receptor signaling and function. Armed with this knowledge it may be possible to map distinct cytokine receptor signaling pathways from the cell surface to the cell nucleus which may themselves become new therapeutic targets.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/iub.350

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279972200006

    View details for PubMedID 20540154

  • Haematopoietic Growth Factors In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS) John Wiley and Sons, Ltd: Chichester. Daniel Thomas, Angel Lopez 2009: March
  • Growth factor pleiotropy is controlled by a receptor Tyr/Ser motif that acts as a binary switch EMBO JOURNAL Guthridge, M. A., Powell, J. A., Barry, E. F., Stomski, F. C., McClure, B. J., Ramshaw, H., Felquer, F. A., Dottore, M., Thomas, D. T., To, B., BEGLEY, C. G., Lopez, A. F. 2006; 25 (3): 479-489


    Pleiotropism is a hallmark of cytokines and growth factors; yet, the underlying mechanisms are not clearly understood. We have identified a motif in the granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor receptor composed of a tyrosine and a serine residue that functions as a binary switch for the independent regulation of multiple biological activities. Signalling occurs either through Ser585 at lower cytokine concentrations, leading to cell survival only, or through Tyr577 at higher cytokine concentrations, leading to cell survival as well as proliferation, differentiation or functional activation. The phosphorylation of Ser585 and Tyr577 is mutually exclusive and occurs via a unidirectional mechanism that involves protein kinase A and tyrosine kinases, respectively, and is deregulated in at least some leukemias. We have identified similar Tyr/Ser motifs in other cell surface receptors, suggesting that such signalling switches may play important roles in generating specificity and pleiotropy in other biological systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/sj.emboj.7600948

    View details for Web of Science ID 000235803100004

    View details for PubMedID 16437163

  • 14-3-3 protein signaling in development and growth factor responses CURRENT TOPICS IN DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, VOL 67 Thomas, D., Guthridge, M., Woodcock, J., Lopez, A. 2005; 67: 285-303


    Tyrosine and serine phosphorylation are central to cellular signaling in growth and development. 14-3-3 proteins function as dimeric phosphoserine-binding proteins with documented interactions throughout the eukaryotic proteome and are highly conserved in both the animal and plant kingdoms. Binding of 14-3-3 to a client protein can have a range of context-dependent effects, including conformational change, enzyme inhibition, a shielding effect, re-localization, and bridging between two molecules. Proteome-based strategies utilizing mass spectrometry have revealed an unprecedented central stage for 14-3-3 in signal transduction with interacting partners composing at least 0.6% of the cellular proteome. 14-3-3 has been shown to bind to the human GM-CSF, IL-3, and IL-5 receptors and is required for the transmission of cell survival. 14-3-3 is involved in survival-specific signals, acting not only at the receptor level but also at critical steps downstream of the receptor. This phosphoserine-mediated pathway works independently of tyrosine kinases, highlighting an alternative mechanism of signaling for this receptor family. Other growth factor receptors and their adaptors are also being shown to associate with 14-3-3 and/or have putative 14-3-3 interaction sequences, such as the prolactin receptor, IGF-1 receptor, and some G-protein coupled receptors. 14-3-3 proteins are remarkably conserved through eukaryotic organisms and in Drosophila are required for photoreceptor development, learning, timing of cell cycles, and maintenance of cellular polarity. These findings are elevating our initial description of biochemical interactions to a better understanding of 14-3-3 function at the level of the whole organism. Further study should explore the integration of phosphoserine and phosphotyrosine signaling by 14-3-3 proteins and the role of isoform-specific functions in higher organisms. The prevalence of functional 14-3-3 binding sites throughout the proteome, and especially among growth factor receptors and signaling molecules, reflects a global role for 14-3-3 in multiple cellular decision making.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0070-2153(05)67009-3

    View details for Web of Science ID 000229969000009

    View details for PubMedID 15949538

  • Chromatin remodelling in the biology and treatment of acute leukaemia Cancer Reviews: Asia-Pacific Daniel Thomas, Bik To 2004; 2 (2): 109-119
  • Regulation of Haematopoiesis by Growth Factors - Emerging Insights and Therapies Expert Opinion in Biological Therapy Daniel Thomas, Angel Lopez 2004; 4 (6): 869-79
  • Granulocyte Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor Encyclopedia of Hormones; Academic Press Daniel Thomas, Angel Lopez 2003: April 25
  • Identification of a 14-3-3 binding sequence in the common beta chain of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin-3 (IL-3), and IL-5 receptors that is serine-phosphorylated by GM-CSF BLOOD Stomski, F. C., Dottore, M., Winnall, W., Guthridge, M. A., Woodcock, J., BAGLEY, C. J., Thomas, D. T., Andrews, R. K., Berndt, M. C., Lopez, A. F. 1999; 94 (6): 1933-1942


    The common beta chain (beta(c)) of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin-3 (IL-3), and IL-5 receptors is the major signaling subunit of these receptors coupling ligand binding to multiple biological activities. It is thought that these multiple functions arise as a consequence of the recruitment of specific signaling molecules to tyrosine-phosphorylated residues in the cytoplasmic domain of beta(c). However, the contribution of serine phosphorylation in beta(c) to the recruitment of signaling molecules is not known. We show here the identification of a phosphoserine motif in the cytoplasmic domain of beta(c) that interacts with the adaptor protein 14-3-3zeta. Coimmunoprecipitation and pull-down experiments with a glutathione S-transferase (GST):14-3-3zeta fusion protein showed that 14-3-3 directly associates with beta(c) but not the GM-CSF receptor alpha chain. C-terminal truncation mutants of beta(c) further showed that a region between amino acids 544 and 626 in beta(c) was required for its association with 14-3-3zeta. This region contains the sequence (582)HSRSLP(587), which closely resembles the RSXSXP (where S is phosphorylated) consensus 14-3-3 binding site identified in a number of signaling molecules, including Raf-1. Significantly, substitution of (582)HSRSLP(587) for EFAAAA completely abolished interaction of beta(c) with GST-14-3-3zeta. Furthermore, the interaction of beta(c) with GST-14-3-3 was greatly reduced in the presence of a peptide containing the 14-3-3 binding site, but only when (585)Ser was phosphorylated. Direct binding experiments showed that the peptide containing phosphorylated (585)Ser bound 14-3-3zeta with an affinity of 150 nmol/L. To study the regulation of (585)S phosphorylation in vivo, we raised antibodies that specifically recognized (585)Ser-phosphorylated beta(c). Using these antibodies, we showed that GM-CSF stimulation strongly upregulated (585)Ser phosphorylation in M1 myeloid leukemic cells. The proximity of the SHC-binding site ((577)Tyr) to the 14-3-3-binding site ((582)HSRSLP(587)) and their conservation between mouse, rat, and human beta(c) but not in other cytokine receptors suggest that they form a distinct motif that may subserve specialized functions associated with the GM-CSF, IL-3, and IL-5 receptors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000082484500012

    View details for PubMedID 10477722

  • Mechanism of activation of the GM-CSF IL-3, and IL-5 family of receptors STEM CELLS Guthridge, M. A., Stomski, F. C., Thomas, D., Woodcock, J. M., BAGLEY, C. J., Berndt, M. C., Lopez, A. F. 1998; 16 (5): 301-313


    The process of ligand binding leading to receptor activation is an ordered and sequential one. High-affinity binding of GM-CSF, interleukin 3 (IL-3), and IL-5 to their receptors induces a number of key events at the cell surface and within the cytoplasm that are necessary for receptor activation. These include receptor oligomerization, activation of tyrosine kinase activity, phosphorylation of the receptor, and the recruitment of SH2 (src-homology) and PTB (phosphotyrosine binding) domain proteins to the receptor. Such a sequence of events represents a recurrent theme among cytokine, growth factor, and hormone receptors; however, a number of very recent and interesting findings have identified unique features in this receptor system in terms of: A) how GM-CSF/IL-3/IL-5 bind, oligomerize, and activate their cognate receptors; B) how multiple biological responses such as proliferation, survival, and differentiation can be transduced from activated GM-CSF, IL-3, or IL-5 receptors, and C) how the presence of novel phosphotyrosine-independent signaling motifs within a specific cytoplasmic domain of betaC may be important for mediating survival and differentiation by these cytokines. This review does not attempt to be all-encompassing but rather to focus on the most recent and significant discoveries that distinguish the GM-CSF/IL-3/IL-5 receptor subfamily from other cytokine receptors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000076174100001

    View details for PubMedID 9766809

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