All Publications

  • Generating human artery and vein cells from pluripotent stem cells highlights the arterial tropism of Nipah and Hendra viruses. Cell Ang, L. T., Nguyen, A. T., Liu, K. J., Chen, A., Xiong, X., Curtis, M., Martin, R. M., Raftry, B. C., Ng, C. Y., Vogel, U., Lander, A., Lesch, B. J., Fowler, J. L., Holman, A. R., Chai, T., Vijayakumar, S., Suchy, F. P., Nishimura, T., Bhadury, J., Porteus, M. H., Nakauchi, H., Cheung, C., George, S. C., Red-Horse, K., Prescott, J. B., Loh, K. M. 2022


    Stem cell research endeavors to generate specific subtypes of classically defined "cell types." Here, we generate >90% pure human artery or vein endothelial cells from pluripotent stem cells within 3-4 days. We specified artery cells by inhibiting vein-specifying signals and vice versa. These cells modeled viral infection of human vasculature by Nipah and Hendra viruses, which are extraordinarily deadly (∼57%-59% fatality rate) and require biosafety-level-4 containment. Generating pure populations of artery and vein cells highlighted that Nipah and Hendra viruses preferentially infected arteries; arteries expressed higher levels of their viral-entry receptor. Virally infected artery cells fused into syncytia containing up to 23 nuclei, which rapidly died. Despite infecting arteries and occupying ∼6%-17% of their transcriptome, Nipah and Hendra largely eluded innate immune detection, minimally eliciting interferon signaling. We thus efficiently generate artery and vein cells, introduce stem-cell-based toolkits for biosafety-level-4 virology, and explore the arterial tropism and cellular effects of Nipah and Hendra viruses.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2022.05.024

    View details for PubMedID 35738284

  • Protease Activated Probes for Real-Time Ratiometric Imaging of Solid Tumors ACS CENTRAL SCIENCE Faucher, F. F., Liu, K. J., Cosco, E. D., Widen, J. C., Sorger, J., Guerra, M., Bogyo, M. 2023: 1059-1069


    Surgery is the preferred treatment option for most solid tumors. However, inaccurate detection of cancer borders leads to either incomplete removal of malignant cells or excess excision of healthy tissue. While fluorescent contrast agents and imaging systems improve tumor visualization, they can suffer from low signal-to-background and are prone to technical artifacts. Ratiometric imaging has the potential to eliminate many of these issues such as uneven probe distribution, tissue autofluorescence, and changes in positioning of the light source. Here, we describe a strategy to convert quenched fluorescent probes into ratiometric contrast agents. Conversion of the cathepsin-activated probe, 6QC-Cy5, into a two-fluorophore probe, 6QC-RATIO, significantly improved signal-to-background in vitro and in a mouse subcutaneous breast tumor model. Tumor detection sensitivity was further enhanced using a dual-substrate AND-gate ratiometric probe, Death-Cat-RATIO, that fluoresces only after orthogonal processing by multiple tumor-specific proteases. We also designed and built a modular camera system that was coupled to the FDA-approved da Vinci Xi robot, to enable real-time imaging of ratiometric signals at video frame rates compatible with surgical workflows. Our results demonstrate that ratiometric camera systems and imaging probes have the potential to be clinically implemented to improve surgical resection of many types of cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acscentsci.3c00261

    View details for Web of Science ID 000985613600001

    View details for PubMedID 37252358

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10214504

  • Controversies surrounding the origin of hepatocytes in adult livers and the in vitro generation or propagation of hepatocytes. Cellular and molecular gastroenterology and hepatology Qian Pek, N. M., Liu, K. J., Nichane, M. n., Ang, L. T. 2020


    Epithelial cells in the liver (known as hepatocytes) are high-performance engines of myriad metabolic functions and versatile responders to liver injury. As hepatocytes metabolize amino acids, alcohol, drugs and other substrates, they produce and are exposed to a milieu of toxins and harmful byproducts that can damage themselves. In the healthy liver, hepatocytes generally divide slowly. However, after liver injury, hepatocytes can ramp up proliferation to regenerate the liver. Yet, upon extensive injury, regeneration falters and liver failure ensues. It is therefore critical to understand the mechanisms underlying liver regeneration, and in particular, which liver cells are mobilized during liver maintenance and repair. Controversies continue to surround the very existence of hepatic stem cells and, if they exist, their spatial location, multipotency, degree of contribution to regeneration, ploidy, and susceptibility to tumorigenesis. This review discuss these controversies. Finally, we highlight how insights into hepatocyte regeneration and biology in vivo can inform in vitro studies to propagate primary hepatocytes with signals in liver regeneration and to generate hepatocytes de novo from pluripotent stem cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2020.09.016

    View details for PubMedID 32992051

  • Circulating tumor cells exhibit metastatic tropism and reveal brain metastasis drivers. Cancer discovery Klotz, R. n., Thomas, A. n., Teng, T. n., Han, S. M., Iriondo, O. n., Li, L. n., Restrepo-Vassalli, S. n., Wang, A. n., Izadian, N. n., MacKay, M. n., Moon, B. S., Liu, K. J., Ganesan, S. K., Lee, G. n., Kang, D. S., Walmsley, C. S., Pinto, C. J., Press, M. F., Lu, W. n., Lu, J. n., Juric, D. n., Bardia, A. n., Hicks, J. n., Salhia, B. n., Attenello, F. J., Smith, A. D., Yu, M. n. 2019


    Hematogenous metastasis is initiated by a subset of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) shed from primary or metastatic tumors into the blood circulation. Thus, CTCs provide a unique patient biopsy resource to decipher the cellular subpopulations that initiate metastasis and their molecular properties. However, one crucial question is whether CTCs derived and expanded ex vivo from patients recapitulate human metastatic disease in an animal model. Here, we show that CTC lines established from breast cancer patients are capable of generating metastases in mice with a pattern recapitulating most major organs from corresponding patients. Genome-wide sequencing analyses of metastatic variants identified semaphorin 4D (SEMA4D) as a regulator of tumor cell transmigration through the blood-brain-barrier and MYC as a crucial regulator for the adaptation of disseminated tumor cells to the activated brain microenvironment. These data provide the direct experimental evidence of the promising role of CTCs as a prognostic factor for site-specific metastasis.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-19-0384

    View details for PubMedID 31601552