Honors & Awards
Community Impact Award, Stanford Alumni Association (2020)
Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31), National Cancer Institute (2019)
Chemistry/Biology Interface Predoctoral Training Program, Stanford ChEM-H (2015)
Education & Certifications
Master of Science, Stanford University, BIOE-MS (2017)
B.S., Cornell University, Chemical Engineering (2015)
Surrogate R-spondins for tissue-specific potentiation of Wnt Signaling.
2020; 15 (1): e0226928
Secreted R-spondin1-4 proteins (RSPO1-4) orchestrate stem cell renewal and tissue homeostasis by potentiating Wnt/β-catenin signaling. RSPOs induce the turnover of negative Wnt regulators RNF43 and ZNRF3 through a process that requires RSPO interactions with Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptors (LGRs), or through an LGR-independent mechanism that is enhanced by RSPO binding to heparin sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs). Here, we describe the engineering of 'surrogate RSPOs' that function independently of LGRs to potentiate Wnt signaling on cell types expressing a target surface marker. These bispecific proteins were generated by fusing an RNF43- or ZNRF3-specific single chain antibody variable fragment (scFv) to the immune cytokine IL-2. Surrogate RSPOs mimic the function of natural RSPOs by crosslinking the extracellular domain (ECD) of RNF43 or ZNRF3 to the ECD of the IL-2 receptor CD25, which sequesters the complex and results in highly selective amplification of Wnt signaling on CD25+ cells. Furthermore, surrogate RSPOs were able substitute for wild type RSPO in a colon organoid growth assay when intestinal stem cells were transduced to express CD25. Our results provide proof-of-concept for a technology that may be adapted for use on a broad range of cell- or tissue-types and will open new avenues for the development of Wnt-based therapeutics for regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0226928
View details for PubMedID 31914456
Multi-phase catheter-injectable hydrogel enables dual-stage protein-engineered cytokine release to mitigate adverse left ventricular remodeling following myocardial infarction in a small animal model and a large animal model.
2020; 127: 154974
Although ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, mainstay treatments ultimately fail because they do not adequately address disease pathophysiology. Restoring the microvascular perfusion deficit remains a significant unmet need and may be addressed via delivery of pro-angiogenic cytokines. The therapeutic effect of cytokines can be enhanced by encapsulation within hydrogels, but current hydrogels do not offer sufficient clinical translatability due to unfavorable viscoelastic mechanical behavior which directly impacts the ability for minimally-invasive catheter delivery. In this report, we examine the therapeutic implications of dual-stage cytokine release from a novel, highly shear-thinning biocompatible catheter-deliverable hydrogel. We chose to encapsulate two protein-engineered cytokines, namely dimeric fragment of hepatocyte growth factor (HGFdf) and engineered stromal cell-derived factor 1α (ESA), which target distinct disease pathways. The controlled release of HGFdf and ESA from separate phases of the hyaluronic acid-based hydrogel allows extended and pronounced beneficial effects due to the precise timing of release. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of this treatment strategy in a small animal model of myocardial ischemia and observed a significant benefit in biological and functional parameters. Given the encouraging results from the small animal experiment, we translated this treatment to a large animal preclinical model and observed a reduction in scar size, indicating this strategy could serve as a potential adjunct therapy for the millions of people suffering from ischemic heart disease.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cyto.2019.154974
View details for PubMedID 31978642
Physical Principles of Membrane Shape Regulation by the Glycocalyx.
Cells bend their plasma membranes into highly curved forms to interact with the local environment, but how shape generation is regulated is not fully resolved. Here, we report a synergy between shape-generating processes in the cell interior and the external organization and composition of the cell-surface glycocalyx. Mucin biopolymers and long-chain polysaccharides within the glycocalyx can generate entropic forces that favor or disfavor the projection of spherical and finger-like extensions from the cell surface. A polymer brush model of the glycocalyx successfully predicts the effects of polymer size and cell-surface density on membrane morphologies. Specific glycocalyx compositions can also induce plasma membrane instabilities to generate more exotic undulating and pearled membrane structures and drive secretion of extracellular vesicles. Together, our results suggest a fundamental role for the glycocalyx in regulating curved membrane features that serve in communication between cells and with the extracellular matrix.
View details for PubMedID 31056282
Trans-endocytosis of intact IL-15Rα-IL-15 complex from presenting cells into NK cells favors signaling for proliferation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Interleukin 15 (IL-15) is an essential cytokine for the survival and proliferation of natural killer (NK) cells. IL-15 activates signaling by the β and common γ (γc) chain heterodimer of the IL-2 receptor through trans-presentation by cells expressing IL-15 bound to the α chain of the IL-15 receptor (IL-15Rα). We show here that membrane-associated IL-15Rα-IL-15 complexes are transferred from presenting cells to NK cells through trans-endocytosis and contribute to the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 and NK cell proliferation. NK cell interaction with soluble or surface-bound IL-15Rα-IL-15 complex resulted in Stat5 phosphorylation and NK cell survival at a concentration or density of the complex much lower than required to stimulate S6 phosphorylation. Despite this efficient response, Stat5 phosphorylation was reduced after inhibition of metalloprotease-induced IL-15Rα-IL-15 shedding from trans-presenting cells, whereas S6 phosphorylation was unaffected. Conversely, inhibition of trans-endocytosis by silencing of the small GTPase TC21 or expression of a dominant-negative TC21 reduced S6 phosphorylation but not Stat5 phosphorylation. Thus, trans-endocytosis of membrane-associated IL-15Rα-IL-15 provides a mode of regulating NK cells that is not afforded to IL-2 and is distinct from activation by soluble IL-15. These results may explain the strict IL-15 dependence of NK cells and illustrate how the cellular compartment in which receptor-ligand interaction occurs can influence functional outcome.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1911678117
View details for PubMedID 31871169
A bulky glycocalyx fosters metastasis formation by promoting G1 cell cycle progression
Metastasis depends upon cancer cell growth and survival within the metastatic niche. Tumors which remodel their glycocalyces, by overexpressing bulky glycoproteins like mucins, exhibit a higher predisposition to metastasize, but the role of mucins in oncogenesis remains poorly understood. Here we report that a bulky glycocalyx promotes the expansion of disseminated tumor cells in vivo by fostering integrin adhesion assembly to permit G1 cell cycle progression. We engineered tumor cells to display glycocalyces of various thicknesses by coating them with synthetic mucin-mimetic glycopolymers. Cells adorned with longer glycopolymers showed increased metastatic potential, enhanced cell cycle progression, and greater levels of integrin-FAK mechanosignaling and Akt signaling in a syngeneic mouse model of metastasis. These effects were mirrored by expression of the ectodomain of cancer-associated mucin MUC1. These findings functionally link mucinous proteins with tumor aggression, and offer a new view of the cancer glycocalyx as a major driver of disease progression.
View details for PubMedID 29266001
Galectin-3 Binds to Lubricin and Reinforces the Lubricating Boundary Layer of Articular Cartilage
2016; 6: 25463
Lubricin is a mucinous, synovial fluid glycoprotein that enables near frictionless joint motion via adsorption to the surface of articular cartilage and its lubricating properties in solution. Extensive O-linked glycosylation within lubricin's mucin-rich domain is critical for its boundary lubricating function; however, it is unknown exactly how glycosylation facilitates cartilage lubrication. Here, we find that the lubricin glycome is enriched with terminal β-galactosides, known binding partners for a family of multivalent lectins called galectins. Of the galectin family members present in synovial fluid, we find that galectin-3 is a specific, high-affinity binding partner for lubricin. Considering the known ability of galectin-3 to crosslink glycoproteins, we hypothesized that galectins could augment lubrication via biomechanical stabilization of the lubricin boundary layer. We find that competitive inhibition of galectin binding results in lubricin loss from the cartilage surface, and addition of multimeric galectin-3 enhances cartilage lubrication. We also find that galectin-3 has low affinity for the surface layer of osteoarthritic cartilage and has reduced affinity for sialylated O-glycans, a glycophenotype associated with inflammatory conditions. Together, our results suggest that galectin-3 reinforces the lubricin boundary layer; which, in turn, enhances cartilage lubrication and may delay the onset and progression of arthritis.
View details for DOI 10.1038/srep25463
View details for Web of Science ID 000375431200001
View details for PubMedID 27157803
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4860590