All Publications

  • The MEK5-ERK5 kinase axis controls lipid metabolism in small cell lung cancer. Cancer research Cristea, S., Coles, G. L., Hornburg, D., Gershkovitz, M., Arand, J., Cao, S., Sen, T., Williamson, S. C., Kim, J. W., Drainas, A. P., He, A., Le Cam, L., Byers, L. A., Snyder, M. P., Contrepois, K., Sage, J. 2020


    Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive form of lung cancer with dismal survival rates. While kinases often play key roles driving tumorigenesis, there are strikingly few kinases known to promote the development of SCLC. Here we investigated the contribution of the MAP kinase module MEK5/ERK5 to SCLC growth. MEK5 and ERK5 were required for optimal survival and expansion of SCLC cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Transcriptomics analyses identified a role for the MEK5-ERK5 axis in the metabolism of SCLC cells, including lipid metabolism. In-depth lipidomics analyses showed that loss of MEK5/ERK5 perturbs several lipid metabolism pathways, including the mevalonate pathway that controls cholesterol synthesis. Notably, depletion of MEK5/ERK5 sensitized SCLC cells to pharmacological inhibition of the mevalonate pathway by statins. These data identify a new MEK5-ERK5-lipid metabolism axis that promotes the growth of SCLC.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-1027

    View details for PubMedID 31969375

  • EPIGENETIC TARGETING OF TERT-ASSOCIATED GENE EXPRESSION SIGNATURE IN HUMAN NEUROBLASTOMA WITH TERT OVEREXPRESSION. Cancer research Huang, M., Zeki, J., Sumarsono, N., Coles, G. L., Taylor, J. S., Danzer, E., Bruzoni, M., Hazard, F. K., Lacayo, N. J., Sakamoto, K. M., Dunn, J. C., Spunt, S. L., Chiu, B. 2020


    Neuroblastoma is a deadly pediatric solid tumor with infrequent recurrent somatic mutations. Particularly, the pathophysiology of tumors without MYCN amplification remains poorly defined. Utilizing an unbiased approach, we performed gene set enrichment analysis of RNA-seq data from 498 neuroblastoma patients and revealed a differentially overexpressed gene signature in MYCN non-amplified neuroblastomas with telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene overexpression and coordinated activation of oncogenic signaling pathways, including E2Fs, Wnt, Myc, and the DNA repair pathway. Promoter rearrangement of the TERT gene juxtaposes the coding sequence to strong enhancer elements, leading to TERT overexpression and poor prognosis in neuroblastoma, but TERT-associated oncogenic signaling remains unclear. ChIP-seq analysis of the human CLB-GA neuroblastoma cells harboring TERT rearrangement uncovered genome-wide chromatin co-occupancy of Brd4 and H3K27Ac and robust enrichment of H3K36me3 in TERT and multiple TERT-associated genes. Brd4 and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) had critical regulatory roles in the expression and chromatin activation of TERT and multiple TERT-associated genes. Epigenetically targeting Brd4 or CDKs with their respective inhibitors suppressed the expression of TERT and multiple TERT-associated genes in neuroblastoma with TERT overexpression or MYCN amplification. ChIP-seq and ChIP-qPCR provided evidence that the CDK inhibitor directly inhibited Brd4 recruitment to activate chromatin globally. Therefore, inhibiting Brd4 and CDK concurrently with AZD5153 and dinaciclib would be most effective in tumor growth suppression, which we demonstrated in neuroblastoma cell lines, primary human cells, and xenografts. In summary, we describe a unique mechanism in neuroblastoma with TERT overexpression and an epigenetically targeted novel therapeutic strategy.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-2560

    View details for PubMedID 31900258

  • Identification and Targeting of Long-Term Tumor-Propagating Cells in Small Cell Lung Cancer. Cell reports Jahchan, N. S., Lim, J. S., Bola, B., Morris, K., Seitz, G., Tran, K. Q., Xu, L., Trapani, F., Morrow, C. J., Cristea, S., Coles, G. L., Yang, D., Vaka, D., Kareta, M. S., George, J., Mazur, P. K., Nguyen, T., Anderson, W. C., Dylla, S. J., Blackhall, F., Peifer, M., Dive, C., Sage, J. 2016; 16 (3): 644-656


    Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a neuroendocrine lung cancer characterized by fast growth, early dissemination, and rapid resistance to chemotherapy. We identified a population of long-term tumor-propagating cells (TPCs) in a mouse model of SCLC. This population, marked by high levels of EpCAM and CD24, is also prevalent in human primary SCLC tumors. Murine SCLC TPCs are numerous and highly proliferative but not intrinsically chemoresistant, indicating that not all clinical features of SCLC are linked to TPCs. SCLC TPCs possess a distinct transcriptional profile compared to non-TPCs, including elevated MYC activity. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of MYC in SCLC cells to non-TPC levels inhibits long-term propagation but not short-term growth. These studies identify a highly tumorigenic population of SCLC cells in mouse models, cell lines, and patient tumors and a means to target them in this most fatal form of lung cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.06.021

    View details for PubMedID 27373157

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