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Published Paper

  • 2018

    Zhang T, Li J, He Y, et al. A small molecule targeting myoferlin exerts promising anti-tumor effects on breast cancer[J]. Nature Communications, 2018, 9(1).

    Breast cancer is one of the most lethal cancers in women when it reaches the metastatic stage. Here, we screen a library of small molecules for inhibitors of breast cancer cell invasion, and use structure/activity relationship studies to develop a series of small molecules with improved activity. We find WJ460 as one of the lead compounds exerting anti-metastatic activity in the nanomolar range in breast cancer cells. Proteomic and biochemical studies identify myoferlin (MYOF) as the direct target of WJ460. In parallel, loss of MYOF or pharmacological inhibition of MYOF by WJ460 reduces breast cancer extravasation into the lung parenchyma in an experimental metastasis mouse model, which reveals an essential role of MYOF in breast cancer progression. Our findings suggest that MYOF can be explored as a molecular target in breast cancer metastasis and that targeting MYOF by WJ460 may be a promising therapeutic strategy in MYOF-driven cancers.
  • 2018

    Tan B, Shi X, Zhang J, et al. Inhibition of RSPO-LGR4 facilitates checkpoint blockade therapy by switching macrophage polarization[J]. Cancer Research, 2018, 78(17): 4929-4942.

    Therapies targeting immune checkpoints have shown great clinical potential in a subset of patients with cancer but may be hampered by a failure to reverse the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment(TME). As the most abundant immune cells in TME, tumor-associated macrophages(TAM) play nonredundant roles in restricting antitumor immunity. The leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein–coupled receptor 4 (Lgr4, also known as Gpr48) has been associated with multiple physiologic and pathologic functions. Lgr4 and its ligands R-spondin 1–4 have been shown to promote the growth and metastasis of tumor cells. However, whether Lgr4 can promote tumor progression by regulating the function of immune cells in the tumor micro-environment remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that Lgr4 promotes macrophage M2 polarization through Rspo/Lgr4/Erk/Stat3 signaling. Notably, urethane-induced lung carcinogenesis, Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC), and B16F10 melanoma tumors were all markedly reduced in Lgr4fl/flLyz2cre/+ mice, characterized by fewer protumoral M2 TAMs and increased CD8+ T lymphocyte infiltration in the TME. Furthermore, LLC tumor growth was greatly depressed when Rspo/Lgr4/Erk/Stat3 signaling was blocked with either the LGR4 extracellular domain or an anti-Rspo1 antibody. Importantly, blocking Rspo-Lgr4 signaling overcame LLC resistance to anti-PD-1 therapy and improved the efficacy of PD-1 immunotherapy against B16F10 melanoma, indicating vital roles of Rspo-Lgr4 in host antitumor immunity and a potential therapeutic target in cancer immunotherapy.
  • 2018

    Huang H, Xiong Q, Wang N, et al. Kisspeptin/GPR54 signaling restricts antiviral innate immune response through regulating calcineurin phosphatase activity[J]. Science Advances, 2018, 4(8).

    G protein–coupled receptor 54 (GPR54), the key receptor for the neuropeptide hormone kisspeptin, plays essential roles in regulating puberty development and cancer metastasis. However, its role in the antiviral innate immune response is unknown. We report that virus-induced type I interferon (IFN-I) production was significantly enhanced in Gpr54-deficient cells and mice and resulted in restricted viral replication. We found a marked increase of kisspeptin in mouse serum during viral infection, which, in turn, impaired IFN-I production and antiviral immunity through the GPR54/calcineurin axis. Mechanistically, kisspeptin/GPR54 signaling recruited calcineurin and increased its phosphatase activity to dephosphorylate and deactivate TANK [tumor necrosis factor receptorassociated factor (TRAF) family member-associated NF-κB activator]–binding kinase 1 (TBK1) in a Ca2+-dependent manner. Thus, our data reveal a kisspeptin/GPR54/calcineurin-mediated immune evasion pathway exploited by virus through the negative feedback loop of TBK1 signaling. These findings also provide insights into the function and cross-talk of kisspeptin, a known neuropeptide hormone, in antiviral innate immune response.
  • 2016

    Luo J, Yang Z, Ma Y, et al. LGR4 is a receptor for RANKL and negatively regulates osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption[J]. Nature Medicine, 2016, 22(5): 539-546.

    Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily member 11 (TNFSF11, also known as RANKL) regulates multiple physiological or pathological functions, including osteoclast differentiation and osteoporosis. TNFRSF11A (also called RANK) is considered to be the sole receptor for RANKL. Herein we report that leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor 4 (LGR4, also called GPR48) is another receptor for RANKL. LGR4 competes with RANK to bind RANKL and suppresses canonical RANK signaling during osteoclast differentiation. RANKL binding to LGR4 activates the Gαq and GSK3-β signaling pathway, an action that suppresses the expression and activity of nuclear factor of activated T cells, cytoplasmic, calcineurin-dependent 1 (NFATC1) during osteoclastogenesis. Both whole-body (Lgr4-/-) and monocyte conditional knockout mice of Lgr4 (Lgr4 CKO) exhibit osteoclast hyperactivation (including elevation of osteoclast number, surface area, and size) and increased bone erosion. The soluble LGR4 extracellular domain (ECD) binds RANKL and inhibits osteoclast differentiation in vivo. Moreover, LGR4-ECD therapeutically abrogated RANKL-induced bone loss in three mouse models of osteoporosis. Therefore, LGR4 acts as a second RANKL receptor that negatively regulates osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption.
  • 2016

    He Y, Peng S, Wang J, et al. Ailanthone targets p23 to overcome MDV3100 resistance in castration-resistant prostate cancer[J]. Nature Communications, 2016, 7(1).

    Androgen receptor (AR) antagonist MDV3100 is the first therapeutic approach in treating castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), but tumours frequently become drug resistant via multiple mechanisms including AR amplification and mutation. Here we identify the small molecule Ailanthone (AIL) as a potent inhibitor of both full-length AR (AR-FL) and constitutively active truncated AR splice variants (AR-Vs). AIL binds to the co-chaperone protein p23 and prevents AR's interaction with HSP90, thus resulting in the disruption of the AR-chaperone complex followed by ubiquitin/proteasome-mediated degradation of AR as well as other p23 clients including AKT and Cdk4, and downregulates AR and its target genes in PCa cell lines and orthotopic animal tumours. In addition, AIL blocks tumour growth and metastasis of CRPC. Finally, AIL possesses favourable drug-like properties such as good bioavailability, high solubility, lack of CYP inhibition and low hepatotoxicity. In general, AIL is a potential candidate for the treatment of CRPC.
  • 2016

    Guan Y, Ma Y, Li Q, et al. CRISPR/Cas9‐mediated somatic correction of a novel coagulator factor IX gene mutation ameliorates hemophilia in mouse[J]. Embo Molecular Medicine, 2016, 8(5): 477-488.

    The X-linked genetic bleeding disorder caused by deficiency of coagulator factor IX, hemophilia B, is a disease ideally suited for gene therapy with genome editing technology. Here, we identify a family with hemophilia B carrying a novel mutation, Y371D, in the human F9 gene. The CRISPR/Cas9 system was used to generate distinct genetically modified mouse models and confirmed that the novel Y371D mutation resulted in a more severe hemophilia B phenotype than the previously identified Y371S mutation. To develop therapeutic strategies targeting this mutation, we subsequently compared naked DNA constructs versus adenoviral vectors to deliver Cas9 components targeting the F9 Y371D mutation in adult mice. After treatment, hemophilia B mice receiving naked DNA constructs exhibited correction of over 0.56% of F9 alleles in hepatocytes, which was sufficient to restore hemostasis. In contrast, the adenoviral delivery system resulted in a higher corrective efficiency but no therapeutic effects due to severe hepatic toxicity. Our studies suggest that CRISPR/Cas-mediated in situ genome editing could be a feasible therapeutic strategy for human hereditary diseases, although an efficient and clinically relevant delivery system is required for further clinical studies.
  • 2016

    Wang J, Hu K, Guo J, et al. Suppression of KRas-mutant cancer through the combined inhibition of KRAS with PLK1 and ROCK[J]. Nature Communications, 2016, 7(1): 11363-11363.

    No effective targeted therapies exist for cancers with somatic KRAS mutations. Here we develop a synthetic lethal chemical screen in isogenic KRAS-mutant and wild-type cells to identify clinical drug pairs. Our results show that dual inhibition of polo-like kinase 1 and RhoA/Rho kinase (ROCK) leads to the synergistic effects in KRAS-mutant cancers. Microarray analysis reveals that this combinatory inhibition significantly increases transcription and activity of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21WAF1/CIP1, leading to specific G2/M phase blockade in KRAS-mutant cells. Overexpression of p21WAF1/CIP1, either by cDNA transfection or clinical drugs, preferentially impairs the growth of KRAS-mutant cells, suggesting a druggable synthetic lethal interaction between KRAS and p21WAF1/CIP1. Co-administration of BI-2536 and fasudil either in the LSL-KRASG12D mouse model or in a patient tumour explant mouse model of KRAS-mutant lung cancer suppresses tumour growth and significantly prolongs mouse survival, suggesting a strong synergy in vivo and a potential avenue for therapeutic treatment of KRAS-mutant cancers.
  • 2015

    Wang L, Shao Y, Guan Y, et al. Large genomic fragment deletion and functional gene cassette knock-in via Cas9 protein mediated genome editing in one-cell rodent embryos[J]. Scientific Reports, 2015: 17517-17517.

    The CRISPR-Cas RNA-guided system has versatile uses in many organisms and allows modification of multiple target sites simultaneously. Generating novel genetically modified mouse and rat models is one valuable application of this system. Through the injection of Cas9 protein instead of mRNA into embryos, we observed fewer off-target effects of Cas9 and increased point mutation knock-in efficiency. Large genomic DNA fragment (up to 95 kb) deletion mice were generated for in vivo study of lncRNAs and gene clusters. Site-specific insertion of a 2.7 kb CreERT2 cassette into the mouse Nfatc1 locus allowed labeling and tracing of hair follicle stem cells. In addition, we combined the CreLoxp system with a gene-trap strategy to insert a GFP reporter in the reverse orientation into the rat Lgr5 locus, which was later inverted by Cre-mediated recombination, yielding a conditional knockout/reporter strategy suitable for mosaic mutation analysis.
  • 2014

    Shao Y, Guan Y, Wang L, et al. CRISPR/Cas-mediated genome editing in the rat via direct injection of one-cell embryos[J]. Nature Protocols, 2014, 9(10): 2493-2512.

    Conventional embryonic stem cell (ESC)-based gene targeting, zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN) and transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) technologies are powerful strategies for the generation of genetically modified animals. Recently, the CRISPR/Cas system has emerged as an efficient and convenient alternative to these approaches. We have used the CRISPR/Cas system to generate rat strains that carry mutations in multiple genes through direct injection of RNAs into one-cell embryos, demonstrating the high efficiency of Cas9-mediated gene editing in rats for simultaneous generation of compound gene mutant models. Here we describe a stepwise procedure for the generation of knockout and knock-in rats. This protocol provides guidelines for the selection of genomic targets, synthesis of guide RNAs, design and construction of homologous recombination (HR) template vectors, embryo microinjection, and detection of mutations and insertions in founders or their progeny. The procedure from target design to identification of founders can take as little as 6 weeks, of which <10 d is actual hands-on working time.
  • 2013

    Qiu Z, Liu M, Chen Z, et al. High-efficiency and heritable gene targeting in mouse by transcription activator-like effector nucleases[J]. Nucleic Acids Research, 2013, 41(11).

    Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) are a powerful new approach for targeted gene disruption in various animal models, but little is known about their activities in Mus musculus, the widely used mammalian model organism. Here, we report that direct injection of in vitro transcribed messenger RNA of TALEN pairs into mouse zygotes induced somatic mutations, which were stably passed to the next generation through germ-line transmission. With one TALEN pair constructed for each of 10 target genes, mutant F0 mice for each gene were obtained with the mutation rate ranged from 13 to 67% and an average of ∼40% of total healthy newborns with no significant differences between C57BL/6 and FVB/N genetic background. One TALEN pair with single mismatch to their intended target sequence in each side failed to yield any mutation. Furthermore, highly efficient germ-line transmission was obtained, as all the F0 founders tested transmitted the mutations to F1 mice. In addition, we also observed that one bi-allele mutant founder of Lepr gene, encoding Leptin receptor, had similar diabetic phenotype as db/db mouse. Together, our results suggest that TALENs are an effective genetic tool for rapid gene disruption with high efficiency and heritability in mouse with distinct genetic background.
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