Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Biochemistry (2013)
  • Master of Philosophy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Physiology (2006)
  • Bachelor of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Biochemistry (2004)

Stanford Advisors


  • Ronald Fiscus, Ben Costantino, Janica Wong, Mary Johlfs. "United StatesUltra-sensitive methodology for quantifying kinase catalytic activity of any protein kinase using near-infrared-fluorescent (NIRF)-labeled peptide substrate and defining kinase activity with selective kinase inhibitors", Roseman University

All Publications

  • Anti-angiogenic and anti-cancer effects by targeting the protein kinase G type-I-alpha (PKG-I-alpha) signaling pathway and its downstream effects on expression of Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins, cIAP-1, Livin and Survivin Gynecologic Cancers - Basic Sciences, Clinical and Therapeutic Perspectives. Wong, J. C., Gorjala, P., Costantino, B., Fiscus, R. R. InTech Open Access Books. 2016: 221-235

    View details for DOI 10.5772/59526

  • Resveratrol at Anti-angiogenesis/Anticancer Concentrations Suppresses Protein Kinase G Signaling and Decreases IAPs Expression in HUVECs. Anticancer research Wong, J. C., Fiscus, R. R. 2015; 35 (1): 273-81


    Resveratrol increases nitric oxide (NO) production via increased expression and activation of endothelial-form-NO-synthase (eNOS) in endothelial cells. However, the role of downstream cGMP/protein kinase G (PKG) signaling, a pathway activated by NO/eNOS, in pro- and anti-angiogenic effects of resveratrol is still unclear.Endogenous NO/cGMP/PKG pathway and downstream cell-survival proteins (Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins, IAPs) were studied in relation to pro- and anti-angiogenic effects of resveratrol in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).Resveratrol at higher/anti-angiogenic concentrations inhibits HUVEC tube formation and cell migration/invasion (indices of angiogenesis). Resveratrol at lower concentrations stimulates proliferation and protects HUVECs against spontaneous apoptosis. 8-Br-cGMP, a direct activator of PKG, protects against pro-apoptotic effects of high-concentration resveratrol. Western blot analyses showed that anti-angiogenic concentrations of resveratrol suppress endogenous PKG kinase activity and decrease the expression of four cell-survival proteins, c-IAP1, c-IAP2, livin and XIAP.Resveratrol-induced anti-angiogenesis/pro-apoptosis induced suppression of PKG signaling and decreased expression of the cell-survival proteins c-IAP1, c-IAP2, livin and XIAP.

    View details for PubMedID 25550561

  • Protein kinase G-Iα hyperactivation and VASP phosphorylation in promoting ovarian cancer cell migration and platinum resistance. Ovarian Cancer – A Clinical and Translational Update Wong, J. C., Fiscus, R. R. InTech Open Access Books. 2013
  • Cyclic GMP/protein kinase G type-Ia (PKG-Ia) signaling pathway promotes CREB phosphorylation and maintains higher c-IAP1, livin, survivin, and Mcl-1 expression and the inhibition of PKG-Ia kinase activity synergizes with cisplatin in non-small cell lung cancer cells. Journal of cellular biochemistry Wong, J. C., Bathina, M., Fiscus, R. R. 2012; 113 (11): 3587-3598


    Previously, our laboratory showed that nitric oxide (NO)/cyclic GMP (cGMP)/protein kinase G type-Iα (PKG-Iα) signaling pathway plays an important role in preventing spontaneous apoptosis and promoting cell proliferation in both normal cells (bone marrow stromal cells and vascular smooth muscle cells) and certain cancer cells (ovarian cancer cells). In the present study, we investigated the novel role of the cGMP/PKG-Iα pathway in preventing spontaneous apoptosis, promoting colony formation and regulating phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding (CREB) protein and protein expression of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2-related proteins in NCI-H460 and A549 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. 1H-(1,2,4)oxadiazolo(4,3-a)quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ), which blocks endogenous NO-induced activation of cGMP/PKG-Iα, induced apoptosis and decreased colony formation. ODQ also decreased CREB ser133 phosphorylation and protein expression of c-IAP1, livin, and survivin. DT-2 (inhibitor of PKG-Iα kinase activity) increased apoptosis by twofold and decreased CREB ser133 phosphorylation and c-IAP1, livin, and survivin expression. Gene knockdown of PKG-Iα expression using small-interfering RNA increased apoptosis and decreased CREB ser133 phosphorylation, and c-IAP1, livin, survivin, and Mcl-1 expression. Inhibition of PKG-Iα kinase activity with DT-2 dramatically enhanced pro-apoptotic effects of the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin. Combined treatment of DT-2 and cisplatin increased apoptosis compared with cisplatin or DT-2 alone, showing a synergistic effect. The data suggest that the PKG-Iα kinase activity is necessary for maintaining higher levels of CREB phosphorylation at ser133 and protein expression of c-IAP1, livin, survivin, and Mcl-1, preventing spontaneous apoptosis and promoting colony formation in NSCLC cells, which may limit the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents like cisplatin.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jcb.24237

    View details for PubMedID 22740515

  • Nitric Oxide/Protein Kinase G-Iα Promotes c-Src Activation, Proliferation and Chemoresistance in Ovarian Cancer Ovarian Cancer - Basic Science Perspective Fiscus, R. R., Leung, E. L., Wong, J. C., Johlfs, M. G. InTech Open Access Books. 2012
  • Essential Roles of the Nitric Oxide (NO)/cGMP/Protein Kinase type-I alpha (PKG-I alpha) Signaling Pathway and the Atrial Natriuretic Peptide (ANP)/cGMP/PKG-I alpha Autocrine Loop in Promoting Proliferation and Cell Survival of OP9 Bone Marrow Stromal Cells JOURNAL OF CELLULAR BIOCHEMISTRY Wong, J. C., Fiscus, R. R. 2011; 112 (3): 829-839


    Inappropriate signaling conditions within bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) can lead to loss of BMSC survival, contributing to the loss of a proper micro-environmental niche for hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), ultimately causing bone marrow failure. In the present study, we investigated the novel role of endogenous atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and the nitric oxide (NO)/cGMP/protein kinase G type-Iα (PKG-Iα) signaling pathway in regulating BMSC survival and proliferation, using the OP9 BMSC cell line commonly used for facilitating the differentiation of HSCs. Using an ANP-receptor blocker, endogenously produced ANP was found to promote cell proliferation and prevent apoptosis. NO donor SNAP (S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine) at low concentrations (10 and 50 µM), which would moderately stimulate PKG activity, protected these BMSCs against spontaneous apoptosis. YC-1, a soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) activator, decreased the levels of apoptosis, similar to the cytoprotective effects of low-level NO. ODQ (1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3,-a]quinoxalin-1-one), which blocks endogenous NO-induced activation of sGC and thus lowers endogenous cGMP/PKG activity, significantly elevated apoptotic levels by 2.5- and three-fold. Pre-incubation with 8-Bromo-cGMP or ANP, which bypass the ODQ block, almost completely prevented the ODQ-induced apoptosis. A highly-specific PKG inhibitor, DT-3, at 20, and 30 µM, caused 1.5- and two-fold increases in apoptosis, respectively. ODQ and DT-3 also decreased BMSCs proliferation and colony formation. Small Interfering RNA gene knockdown of PKG-Iα increased apoptosis and decreased proliferation in BMSCs. The data suggest that basal NO/cGMP/PKG-Iα activity and autocrine ANP/cGMP/PKG-Iα are necessary for preserving OP9 cell survival and promoting cell proliferation and migration.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jcb.22981

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287910200011

    View details for PubMedID 21328456

  • Protein kinase G activity prevents pathological-level nitric oxide-induced apoptosis and promotes DNA synthesis/cell proliferation in vascular smooth muscle cells. Cardiovascular pathology Wong, J. C., Fiscus, R. R. 2010; 19 (6): e221-31


    Protein kinase G (PKG), a recognized downstream mediator of nitric oxide, is a key regulator of cardiovascular physiology and pathology. High-level stimulation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate/PKG signaling using high concentrations of nitric oxide donors, mimicking pathological conditions, induces apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells. In contrast, we have found that PKG at basal and moderately elevated activity prevents both spontaneous and toxin-induced apoptosis in many other cells. We hypothesized that PKG's apoptosis-regulatory role in vascular smooth muscle cells depends on PKG activation levels [low/basal-level activation prevents apoptosis, whereas high-level activation (hyperactivation) causes apoptosis]. Furthermore, we hypothesized that, although PKG hyperactivation inhibits vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation (potentially causing anti-atherogenic effects), basal PKG activity may promote vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation/atherogenesis.Involvement of PKG in apoptosis and proliferation was determined in unpassaged vascular smooth muscle cells from mouse aorta. Western blot analysis was used to determine PKG expression, and activators/inhibitors of PKG activity were used to determine involvement in apoptosis (Hoechst staining and DNA-fragmentation ELISAs) and proliferation (cell count, MTT assay, and BrdU incorporation).Both PKG-Iα and PKG-Iβ isoforms were expressed. Lower-level stimulation of PKG using the nitric oxide donor S-nitroso-acetylpenacillamine (10, 50 μM) significantly (P<.05) lowered spontaneous apoptosis, whereas S-nitroso-acetylpenacillamine at higher concentrations (500, 1000 μM) elevated apoptosis. Twenty-four-hour pretreatment with atrial natriuretic peptide, a PKG activator, completely prevented high-concentration, nitric oxide-induced apoptosis. Inhibition of basal PKG activity using highly selective PKG inhibitors, DT-2 and DT-3, significantly (P<.001) increased apoptosis and inhibited DNA synthesis/proliferation.The data suggest that basal/moderately elevated PKG activity protects against high/pathological-level nitric oxide-induced apoptosis and promotes DNA synthesis/proliferation in vascular smooth muscle cells, potentially important for atherogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.carpath.2009.11.001

    View details for PubMedID 20060325

  • Protein Kinase G Type I alpha Activity in Human Ovarian Cancer Cells Significantly Contributes to Enhanced Src Activation and DNA Synthesis/Cell Proliferation MOLECULAR CANCER RESEARCH Leung, E. L., Wong, J. C., Johlfs, M. G., Tsang, B. K., Fiscus, R. R. 2010; 8 (4): 578-591


    Previously, we showed that basal activity of nitric oxide (NO)/cyclic GMP (cGMP)/protein kinase G (PKG) signaling pathway protects against spontaneous apoptosis and confers resistance to cisplatin-induced apoptosis in human ovarian cancer cells. The present study determines whether basal PKG kinase activity regulates Src family kinase (SFK) activity and proliferation in these cells. PKG-Ialpha was identified as predominant isoform in both OV2008 (cisplatin-sensitive, wild-type p53) and A2780cp (cisplatin-resistant, mutated p53) ovarian cancer cells. In both cell lines, ODQ (inhibitor of endogenous NO-induced cGMP biosynthesis), DT-2 (highly specific inhibitor of PKG-Ialpha kinase activity), and PKG-Ialpha knockdown (using small interfering RNA) caused concentration-dependent inhibition of DNA synthesis (assessed by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation), indicating an important role of basal cGMP/PKG-Ialpha kinase activity in promoting cell proliferation. DNA synthesis in OV2008 cells was dependent on SFK activity, determined using highly selective SFK inhibitor, 4-(4'-phenoxyanilino)-6,7-dimethoxyquinazoline (SKI-1). Studies using DT-2 and PKG-Ialpha small interfering RNA revealed that SFK activity was dependent on PKG-Ialpha kinase activity. Furthermore, SFK activity contributed to endogenous tyrosine phosphorylation of PKG-Ialpha in OV2008 and A2780cp cells. In vitro coincubation of recombinant human c-Src and PKG-Ialpha resulted in c-Src-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation of PKG-Ialpha and enhanced c-Src autophosphorylation/activation, suggesting that human c-Src directly tyrosine phosphorylates PKG-Ialpha and the c-Src/PKG-Ialpha interaction enhances Src kinase activity. Epidermal growth factor-induced stimulation of SFK activity in OV2008 cells increased PKG-Ialpha kinase activity (indicated by Ser(239) phosphorylation of the PKG substrate vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein), which was blocked by both SKI-1 and SU6656. The data suggest an important role of Src/PKG-Ialpha interaction in promoting DNA synthesis/cell proliferation in human ovarian cancer cells. The NO/cGMP/PKG-Ialpha signaling pathway may provide a novel therapeutic target for disrupting ovarian cancer cell proliferation.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-09-0178

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278487000011

    View details for PubMedID 20371672