Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • The Warburg effect drives dedifferentiation through epigenetic reprogramming. Cancer biology & medicine Jiang, H., Jedoui, M., Ye, J. 2024; 20 (12)
  • Epigenetic priming targets tumor heterogeneity to shift transcriptomic phenotype of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma towards a Vitamin D susceptible state. Cell death & disease He, B., Stoffel, L., He, C. J., Cho, K., Li, A. M., Jiang, H., Flowers, B. M., Nguyen, K. T., Wang, K. W., Zhao, A. Y., Zhou, M. N., Ferreira, S., Attardi, L. D., Ye, J. 2024; 15 (1): 89


    As a highly heterogeneous tumor, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) exhibits non-uniform responses to therapies across subtypes. Overcoming therapeutic resistance stemming from this heterogeneity remains a significant challenge. Here, we report that Vitamin D-resistant PDAC cells hijacked Vitamin D signaling to promote tumor progression, whereas epigenetic priming with glyceryl triacetate (GTA) and 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) overcame Vitamin D resistance and shifted the transcriptomic phenotype of PDAC toward a Vitamin D-susceptible state. Increasing overall H3K27 acetylation with GTA and reducing overall DNA methylation with 5-Aza not only elevated the Vitamin D receptor (VDR) expression but also reprogrammed the Vitamin D-responsive genes. Consequently, Vitamin D inhibited cell viability and migration in the epigenetically primed PDAC cells by activating genes involved in apoptosis as well as genes involved in negative regulation of cell proliferation and migration, while the opposite effect of Vitamin D was observed in unprimed cells. Studies in genetically engineered mouse PDAC cells further validated the effects of epigenetic priming for enhancing the anti-tumor activity of Vitamin D. Using gain- and loss-of-function experiments, we further demonstrated that VDR expression was necessary but not sufficient for activating the favorable transcriptomic phenotype in respond to Vitamin D treatment in PDAC, highlighting that both the VDR and Vitamin D-responsive genes were prerequisites for Vitamin D response. These data reveal a previously undefined mechanism in which epigenetic state orchestrates the expression of both VDR and Vitamin D-responsive genes and determines the therapeutic response to Vitamin D in PDAC.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41419-024-06460-9

    View details for PubMedID 38272889

    View details for PubMedCentralID 5858034

  • Serine starvation silences estrogen receptor signaling through histone hypoacetylation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Li, A. M., He, B., Karagiannis, D., Li, Y., Jiang, H., Srinivasan, P., Ramirez, Y., Zhou, M. N., Curtis, C., Gruber, J. J., Lu, C., Rankin, E. B., Ye, J. 2023; 120 (38): e2302489120


    Loss of estrogen receptor (ER) pathway activity promotes breast cancer progression, yet how this occurs remains poorly understood. Here, we show that serine starvation, a metabolic stress often found in breast cancer, represses estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) signaling by reprogramming glucose metabolism and epigenetics. Using isotope tracing and time-resolved metabolomic analyses, we demonstrate that serine is required to maintain glucose flux through glycolysis and the TCA cycle to support acetyl-CoA generation for histone acetylation. Consequently, limiting serine depletes histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac), particularly at the promoter region of ER pathway genes including the gene encoding ERα, ESR1. Mechanistically, serine starvation impairs acetyl-CoA-dependent gene expression by inhibiting the entry of glycolytic carbon into the TCA cycle and down-regulating the mitochondrial citrate exporter SLC25A1, a critical enzyme in the production of nucleocytosolic acetyl-CoA from glucose. Consistent with this model, total H3K27ac and ERα expression are suppressed by SLC25A1 inhibition and restored by acetate, an alternate source of acetyl-CoA, in serine-free conditions. We thus uncover an unexpected role for serine in sustaining ER signaling through the regulation of acetyl-CoA metabolism.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2302489120

    View details for PubMedID 37695911

  • Mitochondrial uncoupling inhibits reductive carboxylation in cancer cells. Molecular cancer research : MCR Jiang, H., He, C. J., Li, A. M., He, B., Li, Y., Zhou, M., Ye, J. 2023


    When the electron transport chain (ETC) function is impaired, cancer cells rely on reductive carboxylation (RC) to convert alpha-ketoglutarate (alphaKG) to citrate for macromolecular synthesis, thereby promoting tumor growth. Currently, there is no viable therapy to inhibit RC for cancer treatment. In this study, we demonstrate that the mitochondrial uncoupler treatment effectively inhibits RC in cancer cells. Mitochondrial uncoupler treatment activates the ETC and increases the NAD+/NADH ratio. Using U-13C-glutamine and 1-13C-glutamine tracers, we show that mitochondrial uncoupling accelerates the oxidative TCA cycle and blocks RC under hypoxia, in von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor-deficient kidney cancer cells, or under anchorage-independent growth condition. Together, these data demonstrate that mitochondrial uncoupling redirects alpha-KG from RC back to the oxidative TCA cycle, highlighting that the NAD+/NADH ratio is one key switch that determines the metabolic fate of alpha-KG. Inhibiting RC could be a key mechanism by which mitochondrial uncouplers inhibit tumor growth.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-23-0049

    View details for PubMedID 37358566

  • Differential effects of SARM1 inhibition in traumatic glaucoma and EAE optic neuropathies. Molecular therapy. Nucleic acids Liu, P., Chen, W., Jiang, H., Huang, H., Liu, L., Fang, F., Li, L., Feng, X., Liu, D., Dalal, R., Sun, Y., Jafar-Nejad, P., Ling, K., Rigo, F., Ye, J., Hu, Y. 2023; 32: 13-27


    Optic neuropathy is a group of optic nerve (ON) diseases withprogressive degeneration of ON and retinal ganglion cells(RGCs). The lack of neuroprotective treatments is a central challenge for this leading cause of irreversible blindness. SARM1 (sterile alpha and TIR motif-containing protein 1) has intrinsic nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) hydrolase activity that causes axon degeneration by degrading axonal NAD+ significantly after activation by axon injury. SARM1 deletion is neuroprotective in many, but not all, neurodegenerative disease models. Here, we compare two therapy strategies for SARM1 inhibition, antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) and CRISPR, with germline SARM1 deletion in the neuroprotection of three optic neuropathy mouse models. This study reveals that, similar to germline SARM1 knockout in every cell, local retinal SARM1 ASO delivery and adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated RGC-specific CRISPR knockdown of SARM1 provide comparable neuroprotection to both RGC somata and axons in the silicone oil-induced ocular hypertension (SOHU) glaucoma model but only protect RGC axons, not somata, after traumatic ON injury. Surprisingly, neither of these two therapy strategies of SARM1 inhibition nor SARM1 germline knockout (KO) benefits RGC or ON survival in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)/optic neuritis model. Our studies therefore suggest that SARM1 inhibition by local ASO delivery or AAV-mediated CRISPR is a promising neuroprotective gene therapy strategy for traumatic and glaucomatous optic neuropathies but not for demyelinating optic neuritis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.omtn.2023.02.029

    View details for PubMedID 36950280

  • Small-molecule toosendanin reverses macrophage-mediated immunosuppression to overcome glioblastoma resistance to immunotherapy. Science translational medicine Yang, F., Zhang, D., Jiang, H., Ye, J., Zhang, L., Bagley, S. J., Winkler, J., Gong, Y., Fan, Y. 2023; 15 (683): eabq3558


    T cell-based immunotherapy holds promise for treating solid tumors, but its therapeutic efficacy is limited by intratumoral immune suppression. This immune suppressive tumor microenvironment is largely driven by tumor-associated myeloid cells, including macrophages. Here, we report that toosendanin (TSN), a small-molecule compound, reprograms macrophages to enforce antitumor immunity in glioblastoma (GBM) in mouse models. Our functional screen of genetically probed macrophages with a chemical library identifies that TSN reverses macrophage-mediated tumor immunosuppression, leading to enhanced T cell infiltration, activation, and reduced exhaustion. Chemoproteomic and structural analyses revealed that TSN interacts with Hck and Lyn to abrogate suppressive macrophage immunity. In addition, a combination of immune checkpoint blockade and TSN therapy induced regression of syngeneic GBM tumors in mice. Furthermore, TSN treatment sensitized GBM to Egfrviii chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. These findings suggest that TSN may serve as a therapeutic compound that blocks tumor immunosuppression and circumvents tumor resistance to T cell-based immunotherapy in GBM and other solid tumors that warrants further investigation.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.abq3558

    View details for PubMedID 36791206

  • The magic bullet: Niclosamide. Frontiers in oncology Jiang, H., Li, A. M., Ye, J. 2022; 12: 1004978


    The term 'magic bullet' is a scientific concept proposed by the German Nobel laureate Paul Ehrlich in 1907, describing a medicine that could specifically and efficiently target a disease without harming the body. Oncologists have been looking for a magic bullet for cancer therapy ever since. However, the current therapies for cancers-including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy-pose either pan-cytotoxicity or only single-target efficacy, precluding their ability to function as a magic bullet. Intriguingly, niclosamide, an FDA-approved drug for treating tapeworm infections with an excellent safety profile, displays broad anti-cancer activity in a variety of contexts. In particular, niclosamide inhibits multiple oncogenic pathways such as Wnt/β-catenin, Ras, Stat3, Notch, E2F-Myc, NF-κB, and mTOR and activates tumor suppressor signaling pathways such as p53, PP2A, and AMPK. Moreover, niclosamide potentially improves immunotherapy by modulating pathways such as PD-1/PDL-1. We recently discovered that niclosamide ethanolamine (NEN) reprograms cellular metabolism through its uncoupler function, consequently remodeling the cellular epigenetic landscape to promote differentiation. Inspired by the promising results from the pre-clinical studies, several clinical trials are ongoing to assess the therapeutic effect of niclosamide in cancer patients. This current review summarizes the functions, mechanism of action, and potential applications of niclosamide in cancer therapy as a magic bullet.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fonc.2022.1004978

    View details for PubMedID 36479072

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9720275

  • Mitochondrial uncoupling induces epigenome remodeling and promotes differentiation in neuroblastoma. Cancer research Jiang, H., Greathouse, R. L., Tiche, S. J., Zhao, M., He, B., Li, Y., Li, A. M., Forgo, B., Yip, M., Li, A., Shih, M., Banuelos, S., Zhou, M., Gruber, J. J., Rankin, E. B., Hu, Z., Shimada, H., Chiu, B., Ye, J. 2022


    The Warburg effect is the major metabolic hallmark of cancer. According to Warburg himself, the consequence of the Warburg effect is cell dedifferentiation. Therefore, reversing the Warburg effect might be an approach to restore cell differentiation in cancer. In this study, we used a mitochondrial uncoupler, niclosamide ethanolamine (NEN), to activate mitochondrial respiration, which induced neural differentiation in neuroblastoma cells. NEN treatment increased the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)+/NADH and pyruvate/lactate ratios and also the alpha-ketoglutarate (alpha-KG)/2- hydroxyglutarate (2-HG) ratio. Consequently, NEN treatment induced promoter CpG island demethylation and epigenetic landscape remodeling, activating the neural differentiation program. In addition, NEN treatment upregulated p53 but downregulated N-Myc and beta-catenin signaling in neuroblastoma cells. Importantly, even under hypoxia, NEN treatment remained effective in inhibiting 2-HG generation, promoting DNA demethylation, and suppressing hypoxia-inducible factor signaling. Dietary NEN intervention reduced tumor growth rate, 2-HG levels, and expression of N-Myc and beta-catenin in tumors in an orthotopic neuroblastoma mouse model. Integrative analysis indicated that NEN treatment upregulated favorable prognosis genes and downregulated unfavorable prognosis genes, which were defined using multiple neuroblastoma patient datasets. Altogether, these results suggest that mitochondrial uncoupling is an effective metabolic and epigenetic therapy for reversing the Warburg effect and inducing differentiation in neuroblastoma.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-22-1029

    View details for PubMedID 36318118

  • Use of Niclosamide Ethanolamine as a Mitochondrial Decoupler in Neuroblastoma Rafeeqi, T., Jiang, H., Greathouse, R., He, B., Li, A., Shimada, H., Ye, J., Chiu, B. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS. 2022: S194-S195
  • NMNAT2 and NAD(+) are Downregulated in Glaucomatous RGCs and Overexpression of NMNAT2 Rescues Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration Liu, D., Fang, F., Zhuang, P., Feng, X., Liu, P., Huang, H., Li, L., Chen, W., Liu, L., Sun, Y., Jiang, H., Ye, J., Hu, Y. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC. 2022
  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1 deficiency leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and impacts salivary gland stem cell phenotype. PNAS nexus Viswanathan, V., Cao, H., Saiki, J., Jiang, D., Mattingly, A., Nambiar, D., Bloomstein, J., Li, Y., Jiang, S., Chamoli, M., Sirjani, D., Kaplan, M., Holsinger, F. C., Liang, R., Von Eyben, R., Jiang, H., Guan, L., Lagory, E., Feng, Z., Nolan, G., Ye, J., Denko, N., Knox, S., Rosen, D., Le, Q. 2022; 1 (2): pgac056


    Adult salivary stem/progenitor cells (SSPC) have an intrinsic property to self-renew in order to maintain tissue architecture and homeostasis. Adult salivary glands have been documented to harbor SSPC, which have been shown to play a vital role in the regeneration of the glandular structures postradiation damage. We have previously demonstrated that activation of aldehyde dehydrogenase 3A1 (ALDH3A1) after radiation reduced aldehyde accumulation in SSPC, leading to less apoptosis and improved salivary function. We subsequently found that sustained pharmacological ALDH3A1 activation is critical to enhance regeneration of murine submandibular gland after radiation damage. Further investigation shows that ALDH3A1 function is crucial for SSPC self-renewal and survival even in the absence of radiation stress. Salivary glands from Aldh3a1 -/- mice have fewer acinar structures than wildtype mice. ALDH3A1 deletion or pharmacological inhibition in SSPC leads to a decrease in mitochondrial DNA copy number, lower expression of mitochondrial specific genes and proteins, structural abnormalities, lower membrane potential, and reduced cellular respiration. Loss or inhibition of ALDH3A1 also elevates ROS levels, depletes glutathione pool, and accumulates ALDH3A1 substrate 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE, a lipid peroxidation product), leading to decreased survival of murine SSPC that can be rescued by treatment with 4-HNE specific carbonyl scavengers. Our data indicate that ALDH3A1 activity protects mitochondrial function and is important for the regeneration activity of SSPC. This knowledge will help to guide our translational strategy of applying ALDH3A1 activators in the clinic to prevent radiation-related hyposalivation in head and neck cancer patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac056

    View details for PubMedID 35707206

  • NMNAT2 Is Downregulated in Glaucomatous RGCs and RGC-Specific Gene Therapy Rescues Neurodegeneration and Visual Function. Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy Fang, F., Zhuang, P., Feng, X., Liu, P., Liu, D., Huang, H., Li, L., Chen, W., Liu, L., Sun, Y., Jiang, H., Ye, J., Hu, Y. 1800


    The lack of neuroprotective treatments for retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and optic nerve (ON) is a central challenge for glaucoma management. Emerging evidence suggests that redox factor NAD+ decline is a hallmark of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Supplementation with NAD+ precursors and overexpression of NMNAT1, the key enzyme in the NAD+ biosynthetic process, have significant neuroprotective effects. We first profile the translatomes of RGCs in naive mice and mice with silicone oil-induced ocular hypertension (SOHU)/glaucoma by RiboTag mRNA sequencing. Intriguingly, only NMNAT2, but not NMNAT1 or NMNAT3, is significantly decreased in SOHU glaucomatous RGCs, which we confirm by in situ hybridization. We next demonstrate that AAV2 intravitreal injection-mediated overexpression of long half-life NMNAT2 mutant driven by RGC-specific mouse gamma-synuclein (mSncg) promoter restores decreased NAD+ levels in glaucomatous RGCs and ONs. Moreover, this RGC-specific gene therapy strategy delivers significant neuroprotection of both RGC soma and axon and preservation of visual function in the traumatic ON crush model and the SOHU glaucoma model. Collectively, our studies suggest that the weakening of NMNAT2 expression in glaucomatous RGCs contributes to a deleterious NAD+ decline and that modulating RGC intrinsic NMNAT2 levels by AAV2-mSncg vector is a promising gene therapy for glaucomatous neurodegeneration.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ymthe.2022.01.035

    View details for PubMedID 35114390

  • Developing metabolic intervention strategies to reprogram neuroblastoma epigenome and overcome tumor resistance to differentiation therapy Jiang, H., Li, Y., Yip, M., Gruber, J., Li, A., Ye, J. AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2020