All Publications

  • Cancer Incidence After Diagnosis of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology Luo, L., Haas, A. M., Bell, C. F., Baylis, R. A., Adkar, S. S., Fu, C., Angelov, I., Giordano, S. H., Klarin, D., Leeper, N. J., Nead, K. T. 2024


    Epidemiological and mechanistic data support a potential causal link between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) represent a common form of CVD with at least partially distinct genetic and biologic etiology from other forms of CVD. The risk of cancer and how this risk differs compared with other forms of CVD, is unknown among AAA patients. We conducted a retrospective cohort study using the IBM MarketScan Research Database to test whether individuals with AAA have a higher cancer risk independent of traditional shared risk factors.All individuals ≥18 years of age with ≥36 months of continuous coverage between 2008 and 2020 were enrolled. Those with potential Mendelian etiologies of AAA, aortic aneurysm with nonspecific anatomic location, or a cancer diagnosis before the start of follow-up were excluded. A subgroup analysis was performed of individuals having the Health Risk Assessment records including tobacco use and body mass index. The following groups of individuals were compared: (1) with AAA, (2) with non-AAA CVD, and (3) without any CVD.The propensity score-matched cohort included 58 993 individuals with AAA, 117 986 with non-AAA CVD, and 58 993 without CVD. The 5-year cumulative incidence of cancer was 13.1% (12.8%-13.5%) in participants with AAA, 10.1% (9.9%-10.3%) in participants with non-AAA CVD, and 9.6% (9.3%-9.9%) in participants without CVD. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression models found that patients with AAA exhibited a higher cancer risk than either those with non-AAA CVD (hazard ratio, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.23-1.32]; P<0.001) or those without CVD (hazard ratio, 1.32 [95% CI, 1.26-1.38]; P<0.001). Results remained consistent after excluding common smoking-related cancers and when adjusting for tobacco use and body mass index.Patients with AAA may have a unique risk of cancer requiring further mechanistic study and investigation of the role of enhanced cancer screening.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/ATVBAHA.123.320543

    View details for PubMedID 38779853

  • Role of vascular smooth muscle cell clonality in atherosclerosis. Frontiers in cardiovascular medicine Luo, L., Fu, C., Bell, C. F., Wang, Y., Leeper, N. J. 2023; 10: 1273596


    Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. While many cell types contribute to the growing atherosclerotic plaque, the vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) is a major contributor due in part to its remarkable plasticity and ability to undergo phenotype switching in response to injury. SMCs can migrate into the fibrous cap, presumably stabilizing the plaque, or accumulate within the lesional core, possibly accelerating vascular inflammation. How SMCs expand and react to disease stimuli has been a controversial topic for many decades. While early studies relying on X-chromosome inactivation were inconclusive due to low resolution and sensitivity, recent advances in multi-color lineage tracing models have revitalized the concept that SMCs likely expand in an oligoclonal fashion during atherogenesis. Current efforts are focused on determining whether all SMCs have equal capacity for clonal expansion or if a "stem-like" progenitor cell may exist, and to understand how constituents of the clone decide which phenotype they will ultimately adopt as the disease progresses. Mechanistic studies are also beginning to dissect the processes which confer cells with their overall survival advantage, test whether these properties are attributable to intrinsic features of the expanding clone, and define the role of cross-talk between proliferating SMCs and other plaque constituents such as neighboring macrophages. In this review, we aim to summarize the historical perspectives on SMC clonality, highlight unanswered questions, and identify translational issues which may need to be considered as therapeutics directed against SMC clonality are developed as a novel approach to targeting atherosclerosis.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fcvm.2023.1273596

    View details for PubMedID 38089777

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10713728

  • Silencing LY6D Expression Inhibits Colon Cancer in Xenograft Mice and Regulates Colon Cancer Stem Cells' Proliferation, Stemness, Invasion, and Apoptosis via the MAPK Pathway. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) Duan, J., Wang, Y., Chen, Y., Wang, Y., Li, Q., Liu, J., Fu, C., Cao, C., Cong, Z., Su, M. 2023; 28 (23)


    This study explored the role of lymphocyte antigen 6 family member D (LY6D) in colon cancer stem cells' (CCSCs) proliferation and invasion. LY6D was knocked down using siRNA, and the down-regulation of LY6D was verified using Western blotting. After LY6D knockdown, CCSCs' proliferation, stemness, and invasion were suppressed, whereas apoptosis was increased. Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis revealed that the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between siLY6D and the negative control groups were significantly enriched in the cell-substrate adherens junction, focal adhesion, and cell-substrate junction terms. Meanwhile, the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analysis revealed that the DEGs were significantly enriched in the MAPK pathway. In addition, Western blotting results showed that pBRAF and pERK1/2, cascade kinases of the MAPK pathway, were significantly down-regulated after LY6D knockdown. In addition, nude mice xenograft experiments showed that the siLY6D treatment decreased tumor sizes and weights and improved tumor-bearing mice survival rates compared with the control group. In conclusion, these findings indicate that LY6D, which is highly expressed in CCSCs, is a key factor involved in tumor growth and development and might be a potential cancer marker and therapeutic target for colon cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/molecules28237776

    View details for PubMedID 38067506

  • LncRNA Osilr9 coordinates promoter DNA demethylation and the intrachromosomal loop structure required for maintaining stem cell pluripotency. Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy Zhu, Y., Yan, Z., Fu, C., Wen, X., Jia, L., Zhou, L., Du, Z., Wang, C., Wang, Y., Chen, J., Nie, Y., Wang, W., Cui, J., Wang, G., Hoffman, A. R., Hu, J., Li, W. 2022


    Nuclear reprogramming of somatic cells into a pluripotent status has the potential to create patient-specific pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for regenerative medicine. Currently, however, the epigenetic mechanisms underlying this pluripotent reprogramming are poorly understood. To delineate this epigenetic regulatory network, we utilized a chromatin RNA in situ reverse transcription sequencing (CRIST-seq) approach to identify long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) embedded in the 3-dimensional intrachromosomal architecture of stem cell core factor genes. By combining CRIST-seq and RNA-seq, we identified Osilr9 (Oct4-Sox2 interacting lncRNA 9) as a pluripotency-associated lncRNA. Osilr9 expression was associated with the status of stem cell pluripotency in reprogramming. Using shRNA knockdown, we showed that this lncRNA was required for the optimal maintenance of stem cell pluripotency. Overexpression of Osilr9 induced robust activation of endogenous stem cell core factor genes in fibroblasts. Osilr9 participated in the formation of the intrachromosomal looping required for maintenance of pluripotency. After binding to the Oct4 promoter, Osilr9 recruited the DNA demethylase TET1, leading to promoter demethylation. These data demonstrate that Osilr9 is a critical chromatin epigenetic modulator that coordinates the promoter activity of core stem cell factor genes, highlighting the critical role of pluripotency-associated lncRNAs in stem cell pluripotency and reprogramming.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ymthe.2022.12.010

    View details for PubMedID 36523163

  • Author Correction: Chromatin lncRNA Platr10 controls stem cell pluripotency by coordinating an intrachromosomal regulatory network. Genome biology Du, Z., Wen, X., Wang, Y., Jia, L., Zhang, S., Liu, Y., Zhou, L., Li, H., Yang, W., Wang, C., Chen, J., Hao, Y., Salgado Figueroa, D., Chen, H., Li, D., Chen, N., Celik, I., Zhu, Y., Yan, Z., Fu, C., Liu, S., Jiao, B., Wang, Z., Zhang, H., Gulsoy, G., Luo, J., Qin, B., Gao, S., Kapranov, P., Esteban, M. A., Zhang, S., Li, W., Ay, F., Chen, R., Hoffman, A. R., Cui, J., Hu, J. 2021; 22 (1): 272

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13059-021-02487-9

    View details for PubMedID 34544465

  • Chromatin lncRNA Platr10 controls stem cell pluripotency by coordinating an intrachromosomal regulatory network. Genome biology Du, Z., Wen, X., Wang, Y., Jia, L., Zhang, S., Liu, Y., Zhou, L., Li, H., Yang, W., Wang, C., Chen, J., Hao, Y., Chen, H., Li, D., Chen, N., Celik, I., Zhu, Y., Yan, Z., Fu, C., Liu, S., Jiao, B., Wang, Z., Zhang, H., Gulsoy, G., Luo, J., Qin, B., Gao, S., Kapranov, P., Esteban, M. A., Zhang, S., Li, W., Ay, F., Chen, R., Hoffman, A. R., Cui, J., Hu, J. 2021; 22 (1): 233


    BACKGROUND: A specific 3-dimensional intrachromosomal architecture of core stem cell factor genes is required to reprogram a somatic cell into pluripotency. As little is known about the epigenetic readers that orchestrate this architectural remodeling, we used a novel chromatin RNA in situ reverse transcription sequencing (CRIST-seq) approach to profile long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the Oct4 promoter.RESULTS: We identify Platr10 as an Oct4 - Sox2 binding lncRNA that is activated in somatic cell reprogramming. Platr10 is essential for the maintenance of pluripotency, and lack of this lncRNA causes stem cells to exit from pluripotency. In fibroblasts, ectopically expressed Platr10 functions in trans to activate core stem cell factor genes and enhance pluripotent reprogramming. Using RNA reverse transcription-associated trap sequencing (RAT-seq), we show that Platr10 interacts with multiple pluripotency-associated genes, including Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc, which have been extensively used to reprogram somatic cells. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that Platr10 helps orchestrate intrachromosomal promoter-enhancer looping and recruits TET1, the enzyme that actively induces DNA demethylation for the initiation of pluripotency. We further show that Platr10 contains an Oct4 binding element that interacts with the Oct4 promoter and a TET1-binding element that recruits TET1. Mutation of either of these two elements abolishes Platr10 activity.CONCLUSION: These data suggest that Platr10 functions as a novel chromatin RNA molecule to control pluripotency in trans by modulating chromatin architecture and regulating DNA methylation in the core stem cell factor network.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13059-021-02444-6

    View details for PubMedID 34412677

  • Therapeutic Antitumor Efficacy of Cancer Stem Cell-Derived DRibble Vaccine on Colorectal Carcinoma INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MEDICAL SCIENCES Fu, C., Tian, G., Duan, J., Liu, K., Zhang, C., Yan, W., Wang, Y. 2021; 18 (14): 3249-3260


    Dendritic cell (DC)-based immunotherapy has been a promising strategy for colon cancer therapy, but the efficacy of dendritic cell vaccines is in part limited by immunogenicity of loaded antigens. In this study, we aimed to identify a putative tumor antigen that can generate or enhance anti-tumor immune responses against colon cancer. CD44+ colon cancer stem cells (CCSCs) were isolated from mouse colorectal carcinoma CT-26 cell cultures and induced to form defective ribosomal products-containing autophagosome-rich blebs (DRibbles) by treatment with rapamycin, bortezomib, and ammonium chloride. DRibbles were characterized by western blot and transmission electron microscopy. DCs generated from the mice bone marrow monocytes were cocultured with DRibbles, then surface markers of DCs were analyzed by flow cytometry. Meanwhile, the efficacy of DRibble-DCs was examined in vivo. Our results showed that CCSC-derived DRibbles upregulated CD80, CD86, major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-I, and MHC-II on DCs and induced proliferation of mouse splenic lymphocytes and CD8+ T cells. In a model of colorectal carcinoma using BALB/c mice with robust tumor growth and mortality, DC vaccine pulsed with CCSC-derived DRibbles suppressed tumor growth and extended survival. A lactate dehydrogenase test indicated a strong cytolytic activity of cytotoxic T-cells derived from mice vaccinated with CCSC-derived DRibbles against CT-26 cells. Furthermore, flow cytometry analyses showed that the percentages of IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T-cells were increased in SD-DC group compare with the other groups. These findings provide a rationale for novel immunotherapeutic anti-tumor approaches based on DRibbles derived from colon cancer stem cells.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/ijms.61510

    View details for Web of Science ID 000683304200020

    View details for PubMedID 34400894

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8364449

  • Efficacy of atovaquone on EpCAM+CD44+ HCT-116 human colon cancer stem cells under hypoxia. Experimental and therapeutic medicine Fu, C., Xiao, X., Xu, H., Lu, W., Wang, Y. 2020; 20 (6): 286


    Tumor hypoxia contributes to the development of resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs in several human cancer cell lines. Atovaquone, an anti-malaria drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, has recently demonstrated anti-cancer effects in vitro and in vivo in several cancer models. To assess the potential of atovaquone as an anti-cancer agent under hypoxia in colorectal carcinoma, EpCAM+CD44+ colon cancer stem cells were isolated from HCT-116 human colon cancer cells through magnetic-activated cell sorting. The efficacy of atovaquone on cytotoxicity, tumorsphere formation, apoptosis, invasion and cell-cycle progression under hypoxic conditions were evaluated. MTS assays indicated that atovaquone inhibited the proliferation of EpCAM+CD44+ HCT-116 cells with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration of 15 M. Atovaquone inhibited tumorsphere formation and cell proliferation by causing cell-cycle arrest in S-phase, which induced apoptosis of EpCAM+CD44+ HCT-116 cells, as detected by Annexin V-FITC/PI double staining assays, and caused mitochondrial membrane potential depolarization, as determined by a JC-1 staining assay. Reverse transcription-quantitative PCR demonstrated increased expression of Bax and downregulation of Bcl-2. Transwell invasion assays indicated that atovaquone inhibited the invasiveness of EpCAM+CD44+ HCT-116 cells under hypoxia, which was associated with upregulation of MMP-2 and -9 and increased expression of tissue inhibitor of MMPs (TIMP)-1. Taken together, atovaquone reduced the tumorsphere formation and invasion ability of EpCAM+CD44+ HCT-116 cells, at least in part by increasing the expression of TIMP-1 and downregulating the expression of MMP-2 and -9, as well as the cells' viability by inducing cell-cycle arrest in S-phase and induction of apoptosis via the Bcl-2/Bax pathway under hypoxic conditions. Further studies are warranted to explore the mechanisms of action of atovaquone as a promising anticancer agent in the treatment of colorectal carcinoma.

    View details for DOI 10.3892/etm.2020.9416

    View details for PubMedID 33209130

  • Osblr8 orchestrates intrachromosomal loop structure required for maintaining stem cell pluripotency. International journal of biological sciences Zhu, Y., Yan, Z., Du, Z., Zhang, S., Fu, C., Meng, Y., Wen, X., Wang, Y., Hoffman, A. R., Hu, J. F., Cui, J., Li, W. 2020; 16 (11): 1861-1875


    Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), derived from reprogramming of somatic cells by a cocktail of transcription factors, have the capacity for unlimited self-renewal and the ability to differentiate into all of cell types present in the body. iPSCs may have therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine, replacing injured tissues or even whole organs. In this study, we examine epigenetic factors embedded in the specific 3-dimensional intrachromosomal architecture required for the activation of endogenous pluripotency genes. Using chromatin RNA in situ reverse transcription sequencing (CRIST-seq), we identified an Oct4-Sox2 binding long noncoding RNA, referred as to Osblr8, that is present in association with pluripotency status. Osblr8 was highly expressed in iPSCs and E14 embryonic stem cells, but it was silenced in fibroblasts. By using shRNA to knock down Osblr8, we found that this lncRNA was required for the maintenance of pluripotency. Overexpression of Osblr8 activated endogenous stem cell core factor genes. Mechanistically, Osblr8 participated in the formation of an intrachromosomal looping structure that is required to activate stem cell core factors during reprogramming. In summary, we have demonstrated that lncRNA Osblr8 is a chromatin architecture modulator of pluripotency-associated master gene promoters, highlighting its critical epigenetic role in reprogramming.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/ijbs.45112

    View details for PubMedID 32398955

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7211171

  • Osblr8 orchestrates intrachromosomal loop structure required for maintaining stem cell pluripotency INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Zhu, Y., Yan, Z., Du, Z., Zhang, S., Fu, C., Meng, Y., Wen, X., Wang, Y., Hoffman, A. R., Hu, J., Cui, J., Li, W. 2020; 16 (11): 1861–75

    View details for DOI 10.7150/ijbs.45112

    View details for Web of Science ID 000528063100009