Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of California Berkeley (2006)
  • Master of Arts, University of California Berkeley (2008)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University (2013)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • MYC regulates the HIF-2alpha stemness pathway via Nanog and Sox2 to maintain self-renewal in cancer stem cells versus non-stem cancer cells. Cancer research Das, B., Pal, B., Bhuyan, R., Li, H., Sarma, A., Gayan, S., Talukdar, J., Sandhya, S., Bhuyan, S., Gogoi, G., Gouw, A. M., Baishya, D., Gotlib, J. R., Kataki, A. C., Felsher, D. W. 2019


    Cancer stem cells (CSC) maintain both undifferentiated self-renewing CSCs and differentiated, non-self-renewing non-CSCs through cellular division. However, molecular mechanisms that maintain self-renewal in CSCs versus non-CSCs are not yet clear. Here, we report that in a transgenic mouse model of MYC-induced T cell leukemia, MYC maintains self-renewal in Sca1+ CSCs versus Sca-1- non-CSCs. MYC preferentially bound to the promoter and activated HIF-2alpha in Sca-1+ cells only. Further, the reprogramming factors Nanog and Sox2 facilitated MYC regulation of HIF-2alpha in Sca-1+ versus Sca-1- cells. Reduced expression of HIF-2alpha inhibited the self-renewal of Sca-1+ cells; this effect was blocked through suppression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or the knock down of p53, Nanog or Sox2. Similar results were seen in ABCG2+ CSCs versus ABCG2- non-CSCs from primary human T cell lymphoma. Thus, MYC maintains self-renewal exclusively in CSCs by selectively binding to the promoter and activating the HIF-2alpha stemness pathway. Identification of this stemness pathway as a unique CSC determinant may have significant therapeutic implications.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2847

    View details for PubMedID 31266772

  • The glutathione redox system is essential to prevent ferroptosis caused by impaired lipid metabolism in clear cell renal cell carcinoma ONCOGENE Miess, H., Dankworth, B., Gouw, A. M., Rosenfeldt, M., Schmitz, W., Jiang, M., Saunders, B., Howell, M., Downward, J., Felsher, D. W., Peck, B., Schulze, A. 2018; 37 (40): 5435–50


    Metabolic reprogramming is a prominent feature of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Here we investigated metabolic dependencies in a panel of ccRCC cell lines using nutrient depletion, functional RNAi screening and inhibitor treatment. We found that ccRCC cells are highly sensitive to the depletion of glutamine or cystine, two amino acids required for glutathione (GSH) synthesis. Moreover, silencing of enzymes of the GSH biosynthesis pathway or glutathione peroxidases, which depend on GSH for the removal of cellular hydroperoxides, selectively reduced viability of ccRCC cells but did not affect the growth of non-malignant renal epithelial cells. Inhibition of GSH synthesis triggered ferroptosis, an iron-dependent form of cell death associated with enhanced lipid peroxidation. VHL is a major tumour suppressor in ccRCC and loss of VHL leads to stabilisation of hypoxia inducible factors HIF-1α and HIF-2α. Restoration of functional VHL via exogenous expression of pVHL reverted ccRCC cells to an oxidative metabolism and rendered them insensitive to the induction of ferroptosis. VHL reconstituted cells also exhibited reduced lipid storage and higher expression of genes associated with oxidiative phosphorylation and fatty acid metabolism. Importantly, inhibition of β-oxidation or mitochondrial ATP-synthesis restored ferroptosis sensitivity in VHL reconstituted cells. We also found that inhibition of GSH synthesis blocked tumour growth in a MYC-dependent mouse model of renal cancer. Together, our data suggest that reduced fatty acid metabolism due to inhibition of β-oxidation renders renal cancer cells highly dependent on the GSH/GPX pathway to prevent lipid peroxidation and ferroptotic cell death.

    View details for PubMedID 29872221

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6173300

  • Oncogene KRAS activates fatty acid synthase, resulting in specific ERK and lipid signatures associated with lung adenocarcinoma PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Gouw, A. M., Eberlin, L. S., Margulis, K., Sullivan, D. K., Toal, G. G., Tong, L., Zare, R. N., Felsher, D. W. 2017; 114 (17): 4300-4305


    KRAS gene mutation causes lung adenocarcinoma. KRAS activation has been associated with altered glucose and glutamine metabolism. Here, we show that KRAS activates lipogenesis, and this activation results in distinct proteomic and lipid signatures. By gene expression analysis, KRAS is shown to be associated with a lipogenesis gene signature and specific induction of fatty acid synthase (FASN). Through desorption electrospray ionization MS imaging (DESI-MSI), specific changes in lipogenesis and specific lipids are identified. By the nanoimmunoassay (NIA), KRAS is found to activate the protein ERK2, whereas ERK1 activation is found in non-KRAS-associated human lung tumors. The inhibition of FASN by cerulenin, a small molecule antibiotic, blocked cellular proliferation of KRAS-associated lung cancer cells. Hence, KRAS is associated with activation of ERK2, induction of FASN, and promotion of lipogenesis. FASN may be a unique target for KRAS-associated lung adenocarcinoma remediation.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1617709114

    View details for PubMedID 28400509

  • Metabolic vulnerabilities of MYC-induced cancer ONCOTARGET Gouw, A. M., Toal, G. G., Felsher, D. W. 2016; 7 (21): 29879–80

    View details for PubMedID 26863454

  • MYC regulates the antitumor immune response through CD47 and PD-L1 SCIENCE Casey, S. C., Tong, L., Li, Y., Do, R., Walz, S., FitzGerald, K. N., Gouw, A. M., Baylot, V., Guetgemann, I., Eilers, M., Felsher, D. W. 2016; 352 (6282): 227-231


    TheMYConcogene codes for a transcription factor that is overexpressed in many human cancers. Here we show thatMYCregulates the expression of two immune checkpoint proteins on the tumor cell surface, the innate immune regulator, CD47 ( C: luster of D: ifferentiation 47) and the adaptive immune checkpoint, PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1). Suppression of MYC in mouse tumors and human tumor cells caused a reduction in the levels of CD47 and PD-L1 mRNA and protein. MYC was found to bind directly to the promoters of the CD47 and PD-L1 genes. MYC inactivation in mouse tumors down-regulated CD47 and PD-L1 expression and enhanced the anti-tumor immune response. In contrast, when MYC was inactivated in tumors with enforced expression of CD47 or PD-L1, the immune response was suppressed and tumors continued to grow. Thus MYC appears to initiate and maintain tumorigenesis in part through the modulation of immune regulatory molecules.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aac9935

    View details for Web of Science ID 000373681600047

    View details for PubMedID 26966191

  • Crowdfunding for Personalized Medicine Research. Yale journal of biology and medicine Fumagalli, D. C., Gouw, A. M. 2015; 88 (4): 413-414


    Given the current funding situation of the National Institutes of Health, getting funding for rare disease research is extremely difficult. In light of the enormous potential for research in the rare diseases and the scarcity of research funding, we provide a case study of a novel successful crowdfunding approach at a non-profit organization called Rare Genomics Institute. We partner with biotechnology companies willing to donate their products, such as mouse models, gene editing software, and sequencing services, for which researchers can apply. First, we find that personal stories can be powerful tools to seek funding from sympathetic donors who do not have the same rational considerations of impact and profit. Second, for foundations facing funding restrictions, company donations can be a valuable tool in addition to crowdfunding. Third, rare disease research is particularly rewarding for scientists as they proceed to be pioneers in the field during their academic careers. Overall, by connecting donors, foundations, researchers, and patients, crowdfunding has become a powerful alternative funding mechanism for personalized medicine.

    View details for PubMedID 26604866

  • MYC Disrupts the Circadian Clock and Metabolism in Cancer Cells. Cell metabolism Altman, B. J., Hsieh, A. L., Sengupta, A., Krishnanaiah, S. Y., Stine, Z. E., Walton, Z. E., Gouw, A. M., Venkataraman, A., Li, B., Goraksha-Hicks, P., Diskin, S. J., Bellovin, D. I., Simon, M. C., Rathmell, J. C., Lazar, M. A., Maris, J. M., Felsher, D. W., Hogenesch, J. B., Weljie, A. M., Dang, C. V. 2015; 22 (6): 1009-1019

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.09.003

    View details for PubMedID 26387865

  • Targeted inhibition of tumor-specific glutaminase diminishes cell-autonomous tumorigenesis JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION Xiang, Y., Stine, Z. E., Xia, J., Lu, Y., O'Connor, R. S., Altman, B. J., Hsieh, A. L., Gouw, A. M., Thomas, A. G., Gao, P., Sun, L., Song, L., Yan, B., Slusher, B. S., Zhuo, J., Ooi, L. L., Lee, C. G., Mancuso, A., McCallion, A. S., Le, A., Milone, M. C., Rayport, S., Felsher, D. W., Dang, C. V. 2015; 125 (6): 2293-2306


    Glutaminase (GLS), which converts glutamine to glutamate, plays a key role in cancer cell metabolism, growth, and proliferation. GLS is being explored as a cancer therapeutic target, but whether GLS inhibitors affect cancer cell-autonomous growth or the host microenvironment or have off-target effects is unknown. Here, we report that loss of one copy of Gls blunted tumor progression in an immune-competent MYC-mediated mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma. Compared with results in untreated animals with MYC-induced hepatocellular carcinoma, administration of the GLS-specific inhibitor bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,3,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl sulfide (BPTES) prolonged survival without any apparent toxicities. BPTES also inhibited growth of a MYC-dependent human B cell lymphoma cell line (P493) by blocking DNA replication, leading to cell death and fragmentation. In mice harboring P493 tumor xenografts, BPTES treatment inhibited tumor cell growth; however, P493 xenografts expressing a BPTES-resistant GLS mutant (GLS-K325A) or overexpressing GLS were not affected by BPTES treatment. Moreover, a customized Vivo-Morpholino that targets human GLS mRNA markedly inhibited P493 xenograft growth without affecting mouse Gls expression. Conversely, a Vivo-Morpholino directed at mouse Gls had no antitumor activity in vivo. Collectively, our studies demonstrate that GLS is required for tumorigenesis and support small molecule and genetic inhibition of GLS as potential approaches for targeting the tumor cell-autonomous dependence on GLS for cancer therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI75836

    View details for Web of Science ID 000355573900018

    View details for PubMedID 25915584

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4497742

  • MYC oncogene overexpression drives renal cell carcinoma in a mouse model through glutamine metabolism PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Shroff, E. H., Eberlin, L. S., Dang, V. M., Gouw, A. M., Gabay, M., Adam, S. J., Bellovin, D. I., Tran, P. T., Philbrick, W. M., Garcia-Ocana, A., Casey, S. C., Li, Y., Dang, C. V., Zare, R. N., Felsher, D. W. 2015; 112 (21): 6539-6544


    The MYC oncogene is frequently mutated and overexpressed in human renal cell carcinoma (RCC). However, there have been no studies on the causative role of MYC or any other oncogene in the initiation or maintenance of kidney tumorigenesis. Here, we show through a conditional transgenic mouse model that the MYC oncogene, but not the RAS oncogene, initiates and maintains RCC. Desorption electrospray ionization-mass-spectrometric imaging was used to obtain chemical maps of metabolites and lipids in the mouse RCC samples. Gene expression analysis revealed that the mouse tumors mimicked human RCC. The data suggested that MYC-induced RCC up-regulated the glutaminolytic pathway instead of the glycolytic pathway. The pharmacologic inhibition of glutamine metabolism with bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,2,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl sulfide impeded MYC-mediated RCC tumor progression. Our studies demonstrate that MYC overexpression causes RCC and points to the inhibition of glutamine metabolism as a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of this disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1507228112

    View details for PubMedID 25964345

  • p19ARF is a critical mediator of both cellular senescence and an innate immune response associated with MYC inactivation in mouse model of acute leukemia ONCOTARGET Yetil, A., Anchang, B., Gouw, A. M., Adam, S. J., Zabuawala, T., Parameswaran, R., van Riggelen, J., Plevritis, S., Felsher, D. W. 2015; 6 (6): 3563-3577


    MYC-induced T-ALL exhibit oncogene addiction. Addiction to MYC is a consequence of both cell-autonomous mechanisms, such as proliferative arrest, cellular senescence, and apoptosis, as well as non-cell autonomous mechanisms, such as shutdown of angiogenesis, and recruitment of immune effectors. Here, we show, using transgenic mouse models of MYC-induced T-ALL, that the loss of either p19ARF or p53 abrogates the ability of MYC inactivation to induce sustained tumor regression. Loss of p53 or p19ARF, influenced the ability of MYC inactivation to elicit the shutdown of angiogenesis; however the loss of p19ARF, but not p53, impeded cellular senescence, as measured by SA-beta-galactosidase staining, increased expression of p16INK4A, and specific histone modifications. Moreover, comparative gene expression analysis suggested that a multitude of genes involved in the innate immune response were expressed in p19ARF wild-type, but not null, tumors upon MYC inactivation. Indeed, the loss of p19ARF, but not p53, impeded the in situ recruitment of macrophages to the tumor microenvironment. Finally, p19ARF null-associated gene signature prognosticated relapse-free survival in human patients with ALL. Therefore, p19ARF appears to be important to regulating cellular senescence and innate immune response that may contribute to the therapeutic response of ALL.

    View details for PubMedID 25784651

  • Alteration of the lipid profile in lymphomas induced by MYC overexpression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Eberlin, L. S., Gabay, M., Fan, A. C., Gouw, A. M., Tibshirani, R. J., Felsher, D. W., Zare, R. N. 2014; 111 (29): 10450-10455


    Overexpression of the v-myc avian myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (MYC) oncogene is one of the most commonly implicated causes of human tumorigenesis. MYC is known to regulate many aspects of cellular biology including glucose and glutamine metabolism. Little is known about the relationship between MYC and the appearance and disappearance of specific lipid species. We use desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry imaging (DESI-MSI), statistical analysis, and conditional transgenic animal models and cell samples to investigate changes in lipid profiles in MYC-induced lymphoma. We have detected a lipid signature distinct from that observed in normal tissue and in rat sarcoma-induced lymphoma cells. We found 104 distinct molecular ions that have an altered abundance in MYC lymphoma compared with normal control tissue by statistical analysis with a false discovery rate of less than 5%. Of these, 86 molecular ions were specifically identified as complex phospholipids. To evaluate whether the lipid signature could also be observed in human tissue, we examined 15 human lymphoma samples with varying expression levels of MYC oncoprotein. Distinct lipid profiles in lymphomas with high and low MYC expression were observed, including many of the lipid species identified as significant for MYC-induced animal lymphoma tissue. Our results suggest a relationship between the appearance of specific lipid species and the overexpression of MYC in lymphomas.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1409778111

    View details for PubMedID 24994904