Honors & Awards

  • Best Asian American Faculty Award, Stanford University (2004)
  • The FIRST Award, The National Institute of Health (1997-2002)
  • Edward Livingston Trudeau Scholar, the American Lung Association (1994-1996)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Transcriptional control is a key step in the regulation of eukaryotic gene expression. Our lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanism of transcription factors that govern the transformation of normal mammalian cells to a neoplastic state. We are especially interested in the biological roles of steroid hormone receptors and their co-regulators in development and oncogenesis. We use targeted conditional and inducible mouse models and other cellular and molecular approaches to uncover gene-expression and genomic and epigenetic alteration that occur during tumor development and progression and to functionally analyze the biological significance of these changes in oncogenic transformation. Our central goals are to identify the factors and signaling pathways that promote prostate cancer initiation and progression to castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) in tumor initiating cells in order to develop novel therapeutics to target these tumor cells.

Clinical Trials

  • Identification and Characterization of Novel Proteins and Genes in Head and Neck Cancer Recruiting

    Through this study, we hope to learn more about the mechanisms, which may contribute to development and progression of head and neck cancer. The long-term goal of this study will be to develop new strategies and drugs for the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer.

    View full details

  • In Vitro Activation of Dormant Follicles for Patients With Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Not Recruiting

    In this study, the investigators used the newly developed technique i.e. in vitro activation of dormant follicles (IVA) to promote ovarian follicle growth much more efficiently than natural, in vivo process for women with Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI).Firstly, the investigators remove one ovary under laparoscopic surgery. Then, we dissect ovarian cortex from the ovarian medulla. The ovarian cortex is cut into small cubes and cultured with medium containing drugs to activate dormant follicles. After 2 days of culture, the ovarian cubes are transplanted mainly beneath the membrane of Fallopian tubes under laparoscopic surgery. The ovarian cortex could be cryopreserve for future re-transplantation and in some cases, for convenience to arrange second surgery. Once frozen, the ovary can be preserved semipermanently. After transplantation, patients receive ultrasound monitoring together with measurement of serum hormone levels for 10-12 months. If growing follicles are detected, follicle growth is stimulated by injection of hormones (gonadotropins). Using the same "ovum pick up" approach used in IVF (in vitro fertilization), we pick up oocytes from the follicles and fertilize them. Fertilized eggs are cultured and then cryopreserved for future embryo transfer. Currently, we recurit patients diagnosed with POI, or Ovarian resistance syndrome (ORS). The procedure can also be: Only superficial cut of the ovarian cortex by laparoscopy or laparotomy, without taking ovary outside or cultured with medium.

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial.

    View full details

  • Phase Ib/II Study of MEDI4736 Evaluated in Different Combinations in Metastatic Pancreatic Ductal Carcinoma Not Recruiting

    A Phase Ib and II Open-Label, Multi-Center Study of MEDI4736 Evaluated in Different Combinations (with chemotherapy or AZD5069) in Patients with Metastatic Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial.

    View full details

  • Radiation Therapy in Treating Patients With Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer Not Recruiting

    RATIONALE: Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill tumor cells. This may be an effective treatment for extensive stage small cell lung cancer. PURPOSE: This randomized phase II trial is comparing how well radiation therapy to the brain works when given with or without radiation therapy to other areas of the body in treating patients with extensive stage small cell lung cancer.

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial. For more information, please contact Laura Gable, (650) 736 - 0798.

    View full details

2023-24 Courses

Graduate and Fellowship Programs

All Publications

  • Androgen deprivation induces double-null prostate cancer via aberrant nuclear export and ribosomal biogenesis through HGF and Wnt activation. Nature communications Kim, W. K., Buckley, A. J., Lee, D. H., Hiroto, A., Nenninger, C. H., Olson, A. W., Wang, J., Li, Z., Vikram, R., Adzavon, Y. M., Yau, T. Y., Bao, Y., Kahn, M., Geradts, J., Xiao, G. Q., Sun, Z. 2024; 15 (1): 1231


    Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) targeting androgen/androgen receptor (AR)- signaling pathways is the main therapy for advanced prostate cancer (PCa). However, ADT eventually fails in most patients who consequently develop castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). While more potent AR antagonists and blockers for androgen synthesis were developed to improve clinical outcomes, they also show to induce more diverse CRPC phenotypes. Specifically, the AR- and neuroendocrine-null PCa, DNPC, occurs in abiraterone and enzalutamide-treated patients. Here, we uncover that current ADT induces aberrant HGF/MET signaling activation that further elevates Wnt/β-catenin signaling in human DNPC samples. Co-activation of HGF/MET and Wnt/β-catenin axes in mouse prostates induces DNPC-like lesions. Single-cell RNA sequencing analyses identify increased expression and activity of XPO1 and ribosomal proteins in mouse DNPC-like cells. Elevated expression of XPO1 and ribosomal proteins is also identified in clinical DNPC specimens. Inhibition of XPO1 and ribosomal pathways represses DNPC growth in both in vivo and ex vivo conditions, evidencing future therapeutic targets.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-024-45489-4

    View details for PubMedID 38336745

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10858246

  • Cardiovascular Impact of Androgen Deprivation Therapy: from Basic Biology to Clinical Practice. Current oncology reports Kim, J., Freeman, K., Ayala, A., Mullen, M., Sun, Z., Rhee, J. 2023


    PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW: There have been increasing reports of cardiovascular complications of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) leading to worse outcomes among patients with prostate cancer. While this may result from the direct effects of androgen suppression in the cardiovascular systems, there are ADT-type-specific distinct cardiovascular complications suggestive of mechanisms beyond androgen-mediated. Thus, it is critical to understand the biological and clinical impact of ADT on the cardiovascular system.RECENT FINDINGS: Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists cause increased cardiovascular events compared to GnRH antagonists. Androgen receptor antagonists are linked to an increased risk of long QT syndrome, torsades de pointes, and sudden cardiac death. Androgen synthesis inhibitors are associated with increased rates of hypertension, atrial tachyarrhythmia, and, in rare incidences, heart failure. ADT increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk among ADT drugs differs and must be evaluated to develop a medically optimal plan for prostate cancer patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11912-023-01424-2

    View details for PubMedID 37273124

  • Stromal androgen signaling acts as tumor niches to drive prostatic basal epithelial progenitor-initiated oncogenesis. Nature communications Hiroto, A., Kim, W. K., Pineda, A., He, Y., Lee, D. H., Le, V., Olson, A. W., Aldahl, J., Nenninger, C. H., Buckley, A. J., Xiao, G. Q., Geradts, J., Sun, Z. 2022; 13 (1): 6552


    The androgen receptor (AR)-signaling pathways are essential for prostate tumorigenesis. Although significant effort has been devoted to directly targeting AR-expressing tumor cells, these therapies failed in most prostate cancer patients. Here, we demonstrate that loss of AR in stromal sonic-hedgehog Gli1-lineage cells diminishes prostate epithelial oncogenesis and tumor development using in vivo assays and mouse models. Single-cell RNA sequencing and other analyses identified a robust increase of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding protein 3 expression in AR-deficient stroma through attenuation of AR suppression on Sp1-regulated transcription, which further inhibits IGF1-induced Wnt/β-catenin activation in adjacent basal epithelial cells and represses their oncogenic growth and tumor development. Epithelial organoids from stromal AR-deficient mice can regain IGF1-induced oncogenic growth. Loss of human prostate tumor basal cell signatures reveals in basal cells of stromal AR-deficient mice. These data demonstrate a distinct mechanism for prostate tumorigenesis and implicate co-targeting stromal and epithelial AR-signaling for prostate cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-34282-w

    View details for PubMedID 36323713

  • Zmiz1 is required for mature β-cell function and mass expansion upon high fat feeding. Molecular metabolism Alghamdi, T. A., Krentz, N. A., Smith, N., Spigelman, A. F., Rajesh, V., Jha, A., Ferdaoussi, M., Suzuki, K., Yang, J., Manning Fox, J. E., Sun, H., Sun, Z., Gloyn, A. L., MacDonald, P. E. 2022: 101621


    Identifying the transcripts which mediate genetic association signals for type 2 diabetes (T2D) is critical to understand disease mechanisms. Studies in pancreatic islets support the transcription factor ZMIZ1 as a transcript underlying a T2D GWAS signal, but how it influences T2D risk is unknown.β-cell-specific Zmiz1 knockout (Zmiz1βKO) mice were generated and phenotypically characterised. Glucose homeostasis was assessed in Zmiz1βKO mice and their control littermates on chow diet (CD) and high fat diet (HFD). Islet morphology and function were examined by immunocytochemistry and in vitro islet function was assessed by dynamic insulin secretion assay. Transcript and protein expression were assessed by RNA sequencing and Western blotting. In islets isolated from genotyped human donors, we assessed glucose-dependent insulin secretion and islet insulin content by static incubation assay.Male and female Zmiz1βKO mice were glucose intolerant with impaired insulin secretion, compared with control littermates. Transcriptomic profiling of Zmiz1βKO islets identified over 500 differentially expressed genes including those involved in β-cell function and maturity, which we confirmed at the protein level. Upon HFD, Zmiz1βKO mice fail to expand β-cell mass and become severely diabetic. Human islets from carriers of the ZMIZ1-linked T2D-risk alleles have reduced islet insulin content and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion.β-cell Zmiz1 is required for normal glucose homeostasis. Genetic variation at the ZMIZ1 locus may influence T2D-risk by reducing islet mass expansion upon metabolic stress and the ability to maintain a mature β-cell state.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molmet.2022.101621

    View details for PubMedID 36307047

  • Aberrant androgen action in prostatic progenitor cells induces oncogenesis and tumor development through IGF1 and Wnt axes. Nature communications Kim, W. K., Olson, A. W., Mi, J., Wang, J., Lee, D. H., Le, V., Hiroto, A., Aldahl, J., Nenninger, C. H., Buckley, A. J., Cardiff, R., You, S., Sun, Z. 2022; 13 (1): 4364


    Androgen/androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathways are essential for prostate tumorigenesis. However, the fundamental mechanisms underlying the AR functioning as a tumor promoter in inducing prostatic oncogenesis still remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that a subpopulation of prostatic Osr1 (odd skipped-related 1)-lineage cells functions as tumor progenitors in prostate tumorigenesis. Single cell transcriptomic analyses reveal that aberrant AR activation in these cells elevates insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) signaling pathways and initiates oncogenic transformation. Elevating IGF1 signaling further cumulates Wnt/β-catenin pathways in transformed cells to promote prostate tumor development. Correlations between altered androgen, IGF1, and Wnt/β-catenin signaling are also identified in human prostate cancer samples, uncovering a dynamic regulatory loop initiated by the AR through prostate cancer development. Co-inhibition of androgen and Wnt-signaling pathways significantly represses the growth of AR-positive tumor cells in both ex-vivo and in-vivo, implicating co-targeting therapeutic strategies for these pathways to treat advanced prostate cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-32119-0

    View details for PubMedID 35902588

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9334353

  • Stromal androgen and hedgehog signaling regulates stem cell niches in pubertal prostate development. Development (Cambridge, England) Olson, A. W., Le, V., Wang, J., Hiroto, A., Kim, W. K., Lee, D. H., Aldahl, J., Wu, X., Kim, M., Cunha, G. R., You, S., Sun, Z. 2021


    Stromal androgen-receptor (AR) action is essential for prostate development, morphogenesis, and regeneration. However, mechanisms underlying how stromal AR maintains the cell niche in support of pubertal prostatic epithelial growth are unknown. Here, using advanced mouse genetic tools, we demonstrate that selective deletion of stromal AR expression in prepubescent Shh responsive Gli1-expressing cells significantly impedes pubertal prostate epithelial growth and development. Single-cell transcriptomic analyses showed that AR loss in these prepubescent Gli1-expressing cells dysregulates androgen-signaling initiated stromal-epithelial paracrine interactions, leading to growth retardation of pubertal prostate epithelia and significant development defects. Specifically, AR loss elevates Shh-signaling activation in both prostatic stromal and adjacent epithelial cells, directly inhibiting prostatic epithelial growth. Single-cell trajectory analyses further identified aberrant differentiation fates of prostatic epithelial cells directly altered by stromal AR deletion. In vivo recombination of AR-deficient stromal Gli1-lineage cells with wild-type prostatic epithelial cells failed to develop normal prostatic epithelia. These data demonstrate novel mechanisms underlying how stromal AR-signaling facilitates Shh-mediated cell niches in pubertal prostatic epithelial growth and development.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.199738

    View details for PubMedID 34427305

  • Androgen action in cell fate and communication during prostate development at single-cell resolution. Development (Cambridge, England) Lee, D. H., Olson, A. W., Wang, J. n., Kim, W. K., Mi, J. n., Zeng, H. n., Le, V. n., Aldahl, J. n., Hiroto, A. n., Wu, X. n., Sun, Z. n. 2021; 148 (1)


    Androgens/androgen receptor (AR)-mediated signaling pathways are essential for prostate development, morphogenesis and regeneration. Specifically, stromal AR signaling has been shown to be essential for prostatic initiation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying AR-initiated mesenchymal-epithelial interactions in prostate development remain unclear. Here, using a newly generated mouse model, we have directly addressed the fate and role of genetically marked AR-expressing cells during embryonic prostate development. Androgen signaling-initiated signaling pathways were identified in mesenchymal niche populations at single-cell transcriptomic resolution. The dynamic cell-signaling networks regulated by stromal AR were additionally characterized in relation to prostatic epithelial bud formation. Pseudotime analyses further revealed the differentiation trajectory and fate of AR-expressing cells in both prostatic mesenchymal and epithelial cell populations. Specifically, the cellular properties of Zeb1-expressing progenitors were assessed. Selective deletion of AR signaling in a subpopulation of mesenchymal rather than epithelial cells dysregulated the expression of the master regulators and significantly impaired prostatic bud formation. These data provide novel, high-resolution evidence demonstrating the important role of mesenchymal androgen signaling in the cellular niche controlling prostate early development by initiating dynamic mesenchyme-epithelia cell interactions.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.196048

    View details for PubMedID 33318148

  • Androgen receptor with short polyglutamine tract preferably enhances Wnt/β-catenin-mediated prostatic tumorigenesis. Oncogene He, Y., Mi, J., Olson, A., Aldahl, J., Hooker, E., Yu, E. J., Le, V., Lee, D. H., Kim, W. K., Robins, D. M., Geradts, J., Sun, Z. 2020


    Polyglutamine (polyQ) tract polymorphism within the human androgen receptor (AR) shows population heterogeneity. African American men possess short polyQ tracts significantly more frequently than Caucasian American men. The length of polyQ tracts is inversely correlated with the risk of prostate cancer, age of onset, and aggressiveness at diagnosis. Aberrant activation of Wnt signaling also reveals frequently in advanced prostate cancer, and an enrichment of androgen and Wnt signaling activation has been observed in African American patients. Here, we assessed aberrant expression of AR bearing different polyQ tracts and stabilized β-catenin in prostate tumorigenesis using newly generated mouse models. We observed an early onset oncogenic transformation, accelerated tumor cell growth, and aggressive tumor phenotypes in the compound mice bearing short polyQ tract AR and stabilized β-catenin. RNA sequencing analysis showed a robust enrichment of Myc-regulated downstream genes in tumor samples bearing short polyQ AR versus those with longer polyQ tract AR. Upstream regulator analysis further identified Myc as the top candidate of transcriptional regulators in tumor cells from the above mouse samples with short polyQ tract AR and β-catenin. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses revealed increased recruitment of β-catenin and AR on the c-Myc gene regulatory locus in the tumor tissues expressing stabilized β-catenin and shorter polyQ tract AR. These data demonstrate a promotional role of aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin in combination with short polyQ AR expression in prostate tumorigenesis and suggest a potential mechanism underlying aggressive prostatic tumor development, which has been frequently observed in African American patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41388-020-1214-7

    View details for PubMedID 32089544

  • Aberrant activation of hepatocyte growth factor/MET signaling promotes β-catenin-mediated prostatic tumorigenesis. The Journal of biological chemistry Aldahl, J., Mi, J., Pineda, A., Kim, W. K., Olson, A., Hooker, E., He, Y., Yu, E. J., Le, V., Lee, D. H., Geradts, J., Sun, Z. 2020; 295 (2): 631-644


    Co-occurrence of aberrant hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/MET proto-oncogene receptor tyrosine kinase (MET) and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways has been observed in advanced and metastatic prostate cancers. This co-occurrence positively correlates with prostate cancer progression and castration-resistant prostate cancer development. However, the biological consequences of these abnormalities in these disease processes remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated the aberrant activation of HGF/MET and Wnt/β-catenin cascades in prostate tumorigenesis by using a newly generated mouse model in which both murine Met transgene and stabilized β-catenin are conditionally co-expressed in prostatic epithelial cells. These compound mice displayed accelerated prostate tumor formation and invasion compared with their littermates that expressed only stabilized β-catenin. RNA-Seq and quantitative RT-PCR analyses revealed increased expression of genes associated with tumor cell proliferation, progression, and metastasis. Moreover, Wnt signaling pathways were robustly enriched in prostate tumor samples from the compound mice. ChIP-qPCR experiments revealed increased β-catenin recruitment within the regulatory regions of the Myc gene in tumor cells of the compound mice. Interestingly, the occupancy of MET on the Myc promoter also appeared in the compound mouse tumor samples, implicating a novel role of MET in β-catenin-mediated transcription. Results from implanting prostate graft tissues derived from the compound mice and controls into HGF-transgenic mice further uncovered that HGF induces prostatic oncogenic transformation and cell growth. These results indicate a role of HGF/MET in β-catenin-mediated prostate cancer cell growth and progression and implicate a molecular mechanism whereby nuclear MET promotes aberrant Wnt/β-catenin signaling-mediated prostate tumorigenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.RA119.011137

    View details for PubMedID 31819003

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6956540

  • Dual Blockade of c-MET and the Androgen Receptor in Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer: A Phase 1 Study of Concurrent Enzalutamide and Crizotinib. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research Tripathi, A. n., Supko, J. G., Gray, K. P., Melnick, Z. n., Regan, M. M., Taplin, M. E., Choudhury, A. D., Pomerantz, M. M., Bellmunt, J. n., Yu, C. n., Sun, Z. n., Srinivas, S. n., Kantoff, P. W., Sweeney, C. J., Harshman, L. C. 2020


    Androgen-receptor (AR) inhibition can upregulate c-MET expression, which may be a resistance mechanism driving progression of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). We conducted a phase 1 trial investigating the safety and pharmacokinetics of a potent c-MET inhibitor crizotinib with the AR antagonist enzalutamide in CRPC.Employing a 3+3 dose-escalation design, we tested 3 dose levels of crizotinib (250mg daily, 200mg BID, 250mg BID) with standard dose enzalutamide (160mg daily). The primary endpoint was rate of dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs). Tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile were secondary endpoints.24 patients were enrolled in the dose-escalation (n=16) and dose-expansion (n=8) phases. Two DLTs occurred in dose-escalation (grade 3 ALT elevation). The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of crizotinib was 250mg BID. Most frequent treatment-related adverse events were fatigue (50%), transaminitis (38%), nausea (33%), and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea (21% each). Grade ≥3 events (25%) included: transaminitis (n=2), fatigue (n=1), hypertension (n=1), pulmonary embolism (n=1), and a cardiac event encompassing QTc prolongation/ventricular arrhythmia/cardiac arrest. Median progression-free survival was 5.5 months (95%CI: 2.8-21.2). Pharmacokinetic analysis at the MTD (n=12) revealed a mean Cmaxss of 104±45 ng/mL and AUCτss of 1,000±476 ng•h/mL, representing a 74% decrease in crizotinib systemic exposure relative to historical data (Cmaxss: 315 ng/mL, AUCτss: 3,817 ng•h/mL).Concurrent administration of enzalutamide and crizotinib resulted in a clinically significant 74% decrease in systemic crizotinib exposure. Further investigation of this combination in CRPC is not planned. Our results highlight the importance of evaluating pharmacokinetic interactions when evaluating novel combination strategies in CRPC.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-2306

    View details for PubMedID 32943461

  • Androgen action in cell fate and communication during prostate development at single-cell resolution. Development (Cambridge, England) Lee, D. H., Olson, A. W., Wang, J. n., Kim, W. K., Mi, J. n., Zeng, H. n., Le, V. n., Aldahl, J. n., Hiroto, A. n., Wu, X. n., Sun, Z. n. 2020


    Androgens/androgen receptor (AR) mediated signaling pathways are essential for prostate development, morphogenesis, and regeneration. Specifically, stromal AR-signaling has been shown to be essential for prostatic initiation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying AR-initiated mesenchymal-epithelial interactions in prostate development remain unclear. Here, using a newly generated mouse model, we directly addressed the fate and role of genetically marked AR-expressing cells during embryonic prostate development. Androgen signaling-initiated signaling pathways were identified in mesenchymal niche populations at single cell transcriptomic resolution. The dynamic cell-signaling networks regulated by stromal AR were characterized in regulating prostatic epithelial bud formation. Pseudotime analyses further revealed the differentiation trajectory and fate of AR-expressing cells in both prostatic mesenchymal and epithelial cell populations. Specifically, the cellular properties of Zeb1-expressing progenitors were assessed. Selective deletion of AR signaling in a subpopulation mesenchymal rather than epithelial cells dysregulates the expression of the master regulators and significantly impairs prostatic bud formation. These data provide novel, high-resolution evidence demonstrating the important role of mesenchymal androgen signaling as cellular niches controlling prostate early development by initiating dynamic mesenchyme-epithelia cell interactions.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.196048

    View details for PubMedID 34005035

  • Loss of androgen signaling in mesenchymal sonic hedgehog responsive cells diminishes prostate development, growth, and regeneration. PLoS genetics Le, V., He, Y., Aldahl, J., Hooker, E., Yu, E. J., Olson, A., Kim, W. K., Lee, D. H., Wong, M., Sheng, R., Mi, J., Geradts, J., Cunha, G. R., Sun, Z. 2020; 16 (1): e1008588


    Prostate embryonic development, pubertal and adult growth, maintenance, and regeneration are regulated through androgen signaling-mediated mesenchymal-epithelial interactions. Specifically, the essential role of mesenchymal androgen signaling in the development of prostate epithelium has been observed for over 30 years. However, the identity of the mesenchymal cells responsible for this paracrine regulation and related mechanisms are still unknown. Here, we provide the first demonstration of an indispensable role of the androgen receptor (AR) in sonic hedgehog (SHH) responsive Gli1-expressing cells, in regulating prostate development, growth, and regeneration. Selective deletion of AR expression in Gli1-expressing cells during embryogenesis disrupts prostatic budding and impairs prostate development and formation. Tissue recombination assays showed that urogenital mesenchyme (UGM) containing AR-deficient mesenchymal Gli1-expressing cells combined with wildtype urogenital epithelium (UGE) failed to develop normal prostate tissue in the presence of androgens, revealing the decisive role of AR in mesenchymal SHH responsive cells in prostate development. Prepubescent deletion of AR expression in Gli1-expressing cells resulted in severe impairment of androgen-induced prostate growth and regeneration. RNA-sequencing analysis showed significant alterations in signaling pathways related to prostate development, stem cells, and organ morphogenesis in AR-deficient Gli1-expressing cells. Among these altered pathways, the transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) pathway was up-regulated in AR-deficient Gli1-expressing cells. We further demonstrated the activation of TGFβ1 signaling in AR-deleted prostatic Gli1-expressing cells, which inhibits prostate epithelium growth through paracrine regulation. These data demonstrate a novel role of the AR in the Gli1-expressing cellular niche for regulating prostatic cell fate, morphogenesis, and renewal, and elucidate the mechanism by which mesenchymal androgen-signaling through SHH-responsive cells elicits the growth and regeneration of prostate epithelium.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008588

    View details for PubMedID 31929563

  • The comprehensive role of E-cadherin in maintaining prostatic epithelial integrity during oncogenic transformation and tumor progression. PLoS genetics Olson, A., Le, V., Aldahl, J., Yu, E. J., Hooker, E., He, Y., Lee, D. H., Kim, W. K., Cardiff, R. D., Geradts, J., Sun, Z. 2019; 15 (10): e1008451


    E-cadherin complexes with the actin cytoskeleton via cytoplasmic catenins and maintains the functional characteristics and integrity of the epithelia in normal epithelial tissues. Lost expression of E-cadherin disrupts this complex resulting in loss of cell polarity, epithelial denudation and increased epithelial permeability in a variety of tissues. Decreased expression of E-cadherin has also been observed in invasive and metastatic human tumors. In this study, we investigated the effect of E-cadherin loss in prostatic epithelium using newly developed genetically engineered mouse models. Deletion of E-cadherin in prostatic luminal epithelial cells with modified probasin promoter driven Cre (PB-Cre4) induced the development of mouse prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). An increase in levels of cytoplasmic and nuclear β-catenin appeared in E-cadherin deleted atypical cells within PIN lesions. Using various experimental approaches, we further demonstrated that the knockdown of E-cadherin expression elevated free cytoplasmic and nuclear β-catenin and enhanced androgen-induced transcription and cell growth. Intriguingly, pathological changes representing prostatic epithelial cell denudation and increased apoptosis accompanied the above PIN lesions. The essential role of E-cadherin in maintaining prostatic epithelial integrity and organization was further demonstrated using organoid culture approaches. To directly assess the role of loss of E-cadherin in prostate tumor progression, we generated a new mouse model with bigenic Cdh1 and Pten deletion in prostate epithelium. Early onset, aggressive tumor phenotypes presented in the compound mice. Strikingly, goblet cell metaplasia was observed, intermixed within prostatic tumor lesions of the compound mice. This study provides multiple lines of novel evidence demonstrating a comprehensive role of E-cadherin in maintaining epithelial integrity during the course of prostate oncogenic transformation, tumor initiation and progression.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008451

    View details for PubMedID 31658259

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6816545

  • Loss of the tumor suppressor, Tp53, enhances the androgen receptor-mediated oncogenic transformation and tumor development in the mouse prostate. Oncogene He, Y., Johnson, D. T., Yang, J. S., Wu, H., You, S., Yoon, J., Lee, D., Kim, W. K., Aldahl, J., Le, V., Hooker, E., Yu, E., Geradts, J., Cardiff, R. D., Sun, Z. 2019


    Recent genome analysis of human prostate cancers demonstrated that both AR gene amplification and TP53 mutation are among the most frequently observed alterations in advanced prostate cancer. However, the biological role of these dual genetic alterations in prostate tumorigenesis is largely unknown. In addition, there are no biologically relevant models that can be used to assess the molecular mechanisms for these genetic abnormalities. Here, we report a novel mouse model, in which elevated transgenic AR expression and Trp53 deletion occur simultaneously in mouse prostatic epithelium to mimic human prostate cancer cells. These compound mice developed an earlier onset of high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and accelerated prostate tumors in comparison with mice harboring only the AR transgene. Histological analysis showed prostatic sarcomatoid and basaloid carcinomas with massive squamous differentiation in the above compound mice. RNA-sequencing analyses identified a robust enrichment of the signature genes for human prostatic basal cell carcinomas in the above prostate tumors. Master regulator analysis revealed SOX2 as a transcriptional regulator in prostatic basal cell tumors. Elevated expression of SOX2 and its downstream target genes were detected in prostatic tumors of the compound mice. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses implicate a coregulatory role of AR and SOX2 in the expression of prostatic basal cell signature genes. Our data demonstrate a critical role of SOX2 in prostate tumorigenesis and provide mechanistic insight into prostate tumor aggressiveness and progression mediated by aberrant AR and p53 signaling pathways.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41388-019-0901-8

    View details for PubMedID 31358900

  • Melatonin protects spermatogonia from the stress of chemotherapy and oxidation via eliminating reactive oxidative species. Free radical biology & medicine Zhang, X., Xia, Q., Wei, R., Song, H., Mi, J., Lin, Z., Yang, Y., Sun, Z., Zou, K. 2019; 137: 74-86


    Busulfan is a widely used chemotherapeutic drug for chronic myelogenous leukemia and bone marrow transplantation. As a cell cycle nonspecific alkylation agent, busulfan has a severe side effect on germ cells, especially on spermatogonia before meiosis. Studies have revealed that busulfan causes DNA strand crosslinks in spermatogonia and induces apoptosis, and many corresponding strategies have been developed to ameliorate the side effects. However, fertility maintenance after busulfan treatment is still a challenging project in the clinic. Here, we demonstrated that continuous injection of melatonin effectively alleviated germline cytotoxicity both in recipient mice and cultured spermatogonia, and busulfan/melatonin recipient mice produced normal litters. We further revealed that melatonin rescues spermatogonia from apoptosis by neutralizing reactive oxidative species (ROS) induced by busulfan and recovered the phosphorylation of ATM and p53 to normal levels, and as a result apoptosis in spermatogonial progenitor cells was avoided. This study reports that pineal gland hormone melatonin effectively protects spermatogonia from the stress of chemotherapy and oxidation and reveals the underlying molecular mechanisms, which will provide an important hint for fertility protection in clinic.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.04.009

    View details for PubMedID 30986493

  • A pivotal role of androgen signaling in Notch-responsive cells in prostate development, maturation, and regeneration DIFFERENTIATION Aldahl, J., Yu, E., He, Y., Hooker, E., Wong, M., Le, V., Olson, A., Lee, D., Kim, W., Murtaugh, C. L., Cunha, G. R., Sun, Z. 2019; 107: 1–10
  • Androgen signaling is essential for development of prostate cancer initiated from prostatic basal cells ONCOGENE He, Y., Hooker, E., Yu, E., Cunha, G. R., Liao, L., Xu, J., Earl, A., Wu, H., Gonzalgo, M. L., Sun, Z. 2019; 38 (13): 2337–50
  • ZMIZ1 Variants Cause a Syndromic Neurodevelopmental Disorder. American journal of human genetics Carapito, R., Ivanova, E. L., Morlon, A., Meng, L., Molitor, A., Erdmann, E., Kieffer, B., Pichot, A., Naegely, L., Kolmer, A., Paul, N., Hanauer, A., Tran Mau-Them, F., Jean-Marçais, N., Hiatt, S. M., Cooper, G. M., Tvrdik, T., Muir, A. M., Dimartino, C., Chopra, M., Amiel, J., Gordon, C. T., Dutreux, F., Garde, A., Thauvin-Robinet, C., Wang, X., Leduc, M. S., Phillips, M., Crawford, H. P., Kukolich, M. K., Hunt, D., Harrison, V., Kharbanda, M., Smigiel, R., Gold, N., Hung, C. Y., Viskochil, D. H., Dugan, S. L., Bayrak-Toydemir, P., Joly-Helas, G., Guerrot, A. M., Schluth-Bolard, C., Rio, M., Wentzensen, I. M., McWalter, K., Schnur, R. E., Lewis, A. M., Lalani, S. R., Mensah-Bonsu, N., Céraline, J., Sun, Z., Ploski, R., Bacino, C. A., Mefford, H. C., Faivre, L., Bodamer, O., Chelly, J., Isidor, B., Bahram, S. 2019; 104 (2): 319-330


    ZMIZ1 is a coactivator of several transcription factors, including p53, the androgen receptor, and NOTCH1. Here, we report 19 subjects with intellectual disability and developmental delay carrying variants in ZMIZ1. The associated features include growth failure, feeding difficulties, microcephaly, facial dysmorphism, and various other congenital malformations. Of these 19, 14 unrelated subjects carried de novo heterozygous single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) or single-base insertions/deletions, 3 siblings harbored a heterozygous single-base insertion, and 2 subjects had a balanced translocation disrupting ZMIZ1 or involving a regulatory region of ZMIZ1. In total, we identified 13 point mutations that affect key protein regions, including a SUMO acceptor site, a central disordered alanine-rich motif, a proline-rich domain, and a transactivation domain. All identified variants were absent from all available exome and genome databases. In vitro, ZMIZ1 showed impaired coactivation of the androgen receptor. In vivo, overexpression of ZMIZ1 mutant alleles in developing mouse brains using in utero electroporation resulted in abnormal pyramidal neuron morphology, polarization, and positioning, underscoring the importance of ZMIZ1 in neural development and supporting mutations in ZMIZ1 as the cause of a rare neurodevelopmental syndrome.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.12.007

    View details for PubMedID 30639322

  • Deletion of the p16INK4a tumor suppressor and expression of the androgen receptor induce sarcomatoid carcinomas with signet ring cells in the mouse prostate. PloS one Lee, D. H., Yu, E. J., Aldahl, J., Yang, J., He, Y., Hooker, E., Le, V., Mi, J., Olson, A., Wu, H., Geradts, J., Xiao, G. Q., Gonzalgo, M. L., Cardiff, R. D., Sun, Z. 2019; 14 (1): e0211153


    The tumor suppressor p16Ink4a, encoded by the INK4a gene, is an inhibitor of cyclin D-dependent kinases 4 and 6, CDK4 and CDK6. This inhibition prevents the phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb), resulting in cellular senescence through inhibition of E2F-mediated transcription of S phase genes required for cell proliferation. The p16Ink4a plays an important role in tumor suppression, whereby its deletion, mutation, or epigenetic silencing is a frequently observed genetic alteration in prostate cancer. To assess its roles and related molecular mechanisms in prostate cancer initiation and progression, we generated a mouse model with conditional deletion of p16Ink4a in prostatic luminal epithelium. The mice underwent oncogenic transformation and developed prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) from eight months of age, but failed to develop prostatic tumors. Given the prevalence of aberrant androgen signaling pathways in prostate cancer initiation and progression, we then generated R26hARL/wt:p16L/L: PB-Cre4 compound mice, in which conditional expression of the human AR transgene and deletion of p16Ink4a co-occur in prostatic luminal epithelial cells. While R26hARL/wt:PB-Cre4 mice showed no visible pathological changes, R26hARL/wt:p16L/L: PB-Cre4 compound mice displayed an early onset of high-grade PIN (HGPIN), prostatic carcinoma, and metastatic lesions. Strikingly, we observed tumors resembling human sarcomatoid carcinoma with intermixed focal regions of signet ring cell carcinoma (SRCC) in the prostates of the compound mice. Further characterization of these tumors showed they were of luminal epithelial cell origin, and featured characteristics of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) with enhanced proliferative and invasive capabilities. Our results not only implicate a biological role for AR expression and p16Ink4a deletion in the pathogenesis of prostatic SRCC, but also provide a new and unique genetically engineered mouse (GEM) model for investigating the molecular mechanisms for SRCC development.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0211153

    View details for PubMedID 30677079

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6345450

  • Activation of hepatocyte growth factor/MET signaling initiates oncogenic transformation and enhances tumor aggressiveness in the murine prostate JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Mi, J., Hooker, E., Balog, S., Zeng, H., Johnson, D. T., He, Y., Yu, E., Wu, H., Vien Le, Lee, D., Aldahl, J., Gonzalgo, M. L., Sun, Z. 2018; 293 (52): 20123–36
  • An Indispensable Role of Androgen Receptor in Wnt Responsive Cells During Prostate Development, Maturation, and Regeneration STEM CELLS He, Y., Hooker, E., Yu, E., Wu, H., Cunha, G. R., Sun, Z. 2018; 36 (6): 891–902


    Androgen signaling is essential for prostate development, morphogenesis, and regeneration. Emerging evidence indicates that Wnt/β-catenin signaling also contributes to prostate development specifically through regulation of cell fate determination. Prostatic Axin2-expressing cells are able to respond to Wnt signals and possess the progenitor properties to regenerate prostatic epithelium. Despite critical roles of both signaling pathways, the biological significance of androgen receptor (AR) in Axin2-expressing/Wnt-responsive cells remains largely unexplored. In this study, we investigated this important question using a series of newly generated mouse models. Deletion of Ar in embryonic Axin2-expressing cells impaired early prostate development in both ex vivo and tissue implantation experiments. When Ar expression was deleted in prostatic Axin2-expressing cells at pre-puberty stages, it results in smaller and underdeveloped prostates. A subpopulation of Axin2 expressing cells in prostate epithelium is resistant to castration and, following androgen supplementation, is capable to expand to prostatic luminal cells. Deletion of Ar in these Axin2-expressing cells reduces their regenerative ability. These lines of evidence demonstrate an indispensable role for the Ar in Wnt-responsive cells during the course of prostate development, morphogenesis, and regeneration, which also imply an underlying interaction between the androgen and Wnt signaling pathways in the mouse prostate. Stem Cells 2018;36:891-902.

    View details for PubMedID 29451339

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5992030

  • LZTS2 and PTEN collaboratively regulate ss-catenin in prostatic tumorigenesis PLOS ONE Yu, E., Hooker, E., Johnson, D. T., Kwak, M. K., Zou, K., Luong, R., He, Y., Sun, Z. 2017; 12 (3)


    The leucine zipper tumor suppressor 2 (LZTS2) was identified as a tumor susceptibility gene within the 10q24.3 chromosomal region, and is approximately 15Mb from the PTEN locus. This region containing the both loci is frequently deleted in a variety of human malignancies, including prostate cancer. LZTS2 is a ß-catenin-binding protein and a negative regulator of Wnt signaling. Overexpression of PTEN in prostate cancer cell lines reduces ß-catenin-mediated transcriptional activity. In this study, we examined the collaborative effect of PTEN and LZTS2 using multiple in vitro and in vivo approaches. Co-expression of PTEN and LZTS2 in prostate cancer cells shows stronger repressive effect on ß-catenin mediated transcription. Using a newly generated mouse model, we further assessed the effect of simultaneous deletion of Pten and Lzts2 in the murine prostate. We observed that mice with both Lzts2 and Pten deletion have an earlier onset of prostate carcinomas as well as an accelerated tumor progression compared to mice with Pten or Lzts2 deletion alone. Immunohistochemical analyses show that atypical and tumor cells from compound mice with both Pten and Lzts2 deletion are mainly composed of prostate luminal epithelial cells and possess higher levels of cytoplasmic and nuclear β-catenin. These cells also exhibit a higher proliferative capacity than cells isolated from single deletion mice. These data demonstrate the significance of simultaneous Pten and Lzts2 deletion in oncogenic transformation in prostate cells and implicates a new mechanism for the dysregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in prostate tumorigenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0174357

    View details for Web of Science ID 000399089000089

    View details for PubMedID 28323888

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5360334

  • YXQN Reduces Alzheimer's Disease-Like Pathology and Cognitive Decline in APPswePS1dE9 Transgenic Mice. Frontiers in aging neuroscience Wang, X. n., Song, R. n., Lu, W. n., Liu, Z. n., Wang, L. n., Zhu, X. n., Liu, Y. n., Sun, Z. n., Li, J. n., Li, X. n. 2017; 9: 157


    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the world's most common form of dementia, in which aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) is the hallmark. Unfortunately, few medicines have succeeded to completely cure AD. Yangxue Qingnao (YXQN) is a Chinese traditional medicine, and its pharmacological effect is improving cerebral blood flow. In this study, we firstly demonstrated that YXQN reduced AD-like pathology and cognitive impairment in APPswePS1dE9 (APP/PS1) mice with 2 months administration. Our data showed that YXQN substantially ameliorated behavioral defects in 10-month old APP/PS1 mice using Morris Water Maze and Y-maze tests, in which the cognitive ability of YXQN high-dose group approaches to wild type mice. Next, we focused on the brain pathological alterations in the YXQN group by three experiments, including thioflavin-S, congo-red, and Aβ-immunohistochemistry staining. The results demonstrated that the high-dose of YXQN dramatically suppressed amyloid plaques in the hippocampus and cortex of APP/PS1 mice, which showed a 47-72% reduction in plaque deposits, relative to the vehicle group. In addition, our data verified that YXQN decreased the cerebral amyloid load by attenuating β-secretase BACE1 and γ-secretase PS1 in the pathological processing of APP, and promoting the level of α-secretase ADAM10 in the physiological processing of APP to generate more sAPPα, which combats amyloidosis formation, and also carries out neurotropic and neuroprotective effect. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that YXQN could be a potential medicine for AD, and provide new evidence for further AD drug research and development.

    View details for PubMedID 28603494

  • Androgen signaling is a confounding factor for beta-catenin-mediated prostate tumorigenesis ONCOGENE Lee, S. H., Luong, R., Johnson, D. T., Cunha, G. R., Rivina, L., Gonzalgo, M. L., Sun, Z. 2016; 35 (6): 702-714


    Emerging evidence has demonstrated the critical roles for both androgen and Wnt pathways in prostate tumorigenesis. A recent integrative genomic analysis of human prostate cancers (PCas) has revealed a unique enrichment of androgen and Wnt signaling in early-onset PCas, implying their clinical significance in the disease. Additionally, interaction between the androgen receptor (AR) and β-catenin has long been detected in PCa cells. However, the consequence of this interaction in prostate tumorigenesis is still unknown. Because mutations in adenomatous polyposis coli, β-catenin and other components of the destruction complex are generally rare in PCas, other mechanisms of aberrant Wnt signaling activation have been speculated. To address these critical questions, we developed Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+)/R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 mice, in which transgenic AR and stabilized β-catenin are co-expressed in prostatic epithelial cells. We observed accelerated tumor development, aggressive tumor invasion and a decreased survival rate in Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+)/R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 compound mice compared with age-matched Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+):PB-Cre4 littermate controls, which only have stabilized β-catenin expression in the prostate. Castration of the above transgenic mice resulted in significant tumor regression, implying an essential role of androgen signaling in tumor growth and maintenance. Implantation of the prostatic epithelial cells isolated from the transgenic mice regenerated prostate intraepithelial neoplasias and prostatic adenocarcinoma lesions. Microarray analyses of transcriptional profiles showed more robust enrichment of known tumor- and metastasis-promoting genes: Spp1, Egr1, c-Myc, Sp5, and Sp6 genes, in samples isolated from Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+)/R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 compound mice than those from Ctnnb1(L(ex3)/+):PB-Cre4 and R26hAR(L/+):PB-Cre4 littermate controls. Together, these data demonstrate a confounding role of androgen signaling in β-catenin-initiated oncogenic transformation in prostate tumorigenesis.Oncogene advance online publication, 20 April 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.117.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/onc.2015.117

    View details for Web of Science ID 000370331300004

    View details for PubMedID 25893287

  • Conditional Expression of the Androgen Receptor Increases Susceptibility of Bladder Cancer in Mice PLOS ONE Johnson, D. T., Hooker, E., Luong, R., Yu, E., He, Y., Gonzalgo, M. L., Sun, Z. 2016; 11 (2)


    Bladder cancer represents a significant human tumor burden, accounting for about 7.7% and 2.4% of all cancer cases in males and females, respectively. While men have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer, women tend to present at a later stage of disease and with more aggressive tumors. Previous studies have suggested a promotional role of androgen signaling in enhancing bladder cancer development. To directly assess the role of androgens in bladder tumorigenesis, we have developed a novel transgenic mouse strain, R26hARLoxP/+:Upk3aGCE/+, in which the human AR transgene is conditionally expressed in bladder urothelium. Intriguingly, both male and female R26hARLoxP/+:Upk3aGCE/+ mice display a higher incidence of urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC) than the age and sex matched control littermates in response to the carcinogen, N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine (BBN). We detect expression of the human AR transgene in CK5-positive and p63-positive basal cells in bladder urothelium. Further analyses of UCC tissues from R26hARLoxP/+:Upk3aGCE/+ mice showed that the majority of tumor cells are of urothelial basal cell origin. Positive immunostaining of transgenic AR protein was observed in the majority of tumor cells of the transgenic mice, providing a link between transgenic AR expression and oncogenic transformation. We observed an increase in Ki67 positive cells within the UCC lesions of transgenic AR mice. Manipulating endogenous androgen levels by castration and androgen supplementation directly affected bladder tumor development in male and female R26hARLoxP/+:Upk3aGCE/+ mice, respectively. Taken together, our data demonstrate for the first time that conditional activation of transgenic AR expression in bladder urothelium enhances carciongen-induced bladder tumor formation in mice. This new AR transgenic mouse line mimics certain features of human bladder cancer and can be used to study bladder tumorigenesis and for drug development.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0148851

    View details for Web of Science ID 000370046600115

    View details for PubMedID 26862755

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4749068

  • Wnt/beta-Catenin-Responsive Cells in Prostatic Development and Regeneration STEM CELLS Lee, S. H., Johnson, D. T., Luong, R., Yu, E. J., Cunha, G. R., Nusse, R., Sun, Z. 2015; 33 (11): 3356-3367


    The precise role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling during prostatic development and tumorigenesis is unclear. Axin2 is a direct transcriptional target of β-catenin. Recent studies have shown that Axin2-expressing cells have stem/progenitor cell properties in a variety of mouse tissues. Here, we genetically labeled Axin2-expressing cells at various time points and tracked their cellular behavior at different developmental and mature stages. We found that prostatic Axin2-expressing cells mainly express luminal epithelial cell markers and are able to expand luminal cell lineages during prostatic development and maturation. They can also survive androgen withdrawal and regenerate prostatic luminal epithelial cells following androgen replacement. Deletion of β-catenin or expression of stabilized β-catenin in these Axin2-expressing cells results in abnormal development or oncogenic transformation, respectively. Our study uncovers a critical role of Wnt/β-catenin-responsive cells in prostatic development and regeneration, and that dysregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in these cells contributes to prostatic developmental defects and tumorigenesis. Stem Cells 2015.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/stem.2096

    View details for PubMedID 26220362

  • Crosstalking between Androgen and PI3K/AKT Signaling Pathways in Prostate Cancer Cells. journal of biological chemistry Lee, S. H., Johnson, D., Luong, R., Sun, Z. 2015; 290 (5): 2759-2768


    Both androgen action and PI3K medicated signaling pathways have been implicated in prostate tumorigenesis. Our androgen receptor (AR) conditional transgenic mice developed murine prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mPIN) and prostatic adenocarcinoma lesions recapitulating human prostate cancer development and progression. Role of transgenic AR contributing to malignancy was demonstrated by high degree of transgenic AR expression in atypical and tumor cells in mPIN as well as prostatic adenocarcinoma lesions of the transgenic mice, but not in adjacent normal tissue. Interestingly, reduced PI3K/Akt activation also appeared in these mouse atypical and tumor cells, suggesting an interaction between androgen and PI3K/AKT pathways. In this study, we further investigated this interaction. We showed that the androgen depletion or knockdown of AR expression results in elevated levels of active phosphorylated AKT in prostate cancer cells. Castration of conditional Pten knock-out mice showed increased Akt, phosphorylated Akt, and pS6 expression in the mouse prostate. Using a series of newly generated Ar reporter and Pten knock-out compound mice, we showed that Pten loss directly represses endogenous Ar expression in prostatic epithelial cells. Moreover, Pten loss and PI3K/Akt activation reduced Ar-mediated transcription in purified Pten-null cells. This study provides novel evidence demonstrating interplay between androgen and PI3K pathways, as well as introduces unique and relevant mouse models for further studies of PI3K and AR pathways in the context of prostate tumorigenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M114.607846

    View details for PubMedID 25527506

  • [Impact of AR-V7 expression on overall survival for patients with metastatic prostate cancer]. Zhonghua wai ke za zhi [Chinese journal of surgery] Qu, Y., Ye, D., Dai, B., Kong, Y., Chang, K., Gu, C., Sun, Z., Zhang, H., Zhu, Y., Shi, G. 2014; 52 (8): 622-626


    To investigate the impact of androgen receptor splice variant 7 (AR-V7) expression on overall survival for patients with metastatic prostate cancer.The data of 113 diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer patients from January 2002 to June 2010 were collected retrospectively, including patient's age at diagnosis, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level at diagnosis,Gleason score, clinical stage, PSA nadir during hormonal therapy, the time to PSA nadir, vital status, survival time and cause of death. The expression of AR-V7 in prostate cancer tissue was detected by using immunohistochemical staining. The correlation of AR-V7 expression and patient clinicopathological characteristics in all patients were analysed using Student t-test or Chi-square test. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to evaluate the predictive role of AR-V7 expression and patient characteristics for overall survival.The median PSA nadir was 0.7 µg/L (ranged from 0.0 to 143.0 µg/L). The median time to PSA nadir was 8.1 months (ranged from 0.9 to 71.0 months). The follow-up was performed until March 12, 2014. During the follow-up period, 67 of 113 metastatic prostate cancer patients (59.3%) died and the median overall survival was 96 months (ranged from 5 to 135 months). The AR-V7 detection rate was 20.4% (23/113). The serum PSA level in patients with positively expression of AR-V7 was significantly higher than that without AR-V7 expression (t = 2.521, P = 0.013). Multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated that the expression of AR-V7 (HR = 2.421, P = 0.002) and time to PSA nadir (HR = 1.019, P = 0.022) were independent prognostic factors of overall survival for metastatic prostate cancer patients.The expression of AR-V7 in prostate cancer tissues and time to PSA nadir during hormonal therapy are independent prognostic factors of overall survival for metastatic prostate cancer patients. Therapy targeting AR-V7 may improve prognosis of metastatic prostate cancer patients.

    View details for PubMedID 25370765

  • Identification of a Novel Role of ZMIZ2 Protein in Regulating the Activity of the Wnt/ß-Catenin Signaling Pathway. journal of biological chemistry Lee, S. H., Zhu, C., Peng, Y., Johnson, D. T., Lehmann, L., Sun, Z. 2013; 288 (50): 35913-35924


    ZMIZ2, also named ZIMP7, is a protein inhibitor of activated STAT (PIAS)-like protein and a transcriptional coactivator. In this study, we investigated the interaction between ZMIZ2 and β-catenin, a key regulator of the Wnt signaling pathway. We demonstrated that the expression of exogenous ZMIZ2 augments TCF (T cell factor) and β-catenin-mediated transcription. In contrast, shRNA knockdown of ZMIZ2 expression specifically represses the enhancement of TCF/β-catenin-mediated transcription by ZMIZ2. Using Wnt3a-conditioned medium, we demonstrated that ZMIZ2 can enhance Wnt ligand-induced TCF/β-catenin-mediated transcription. We also showed a promotional role of ZMIZ2 in enhancing β-catenin downstream target gene expression in human cells and in Zmiz2 null (Zmiz2(-/-)) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). The regulatory role of Zmiz2 in Wnt-induced TCF/β-catenin-mediated transcription can be restored in Zmiz2(-/-) MEFs that were infected with adenoviral expression vectors for Zmiz2. Moreover, enhancement of Zmiz2 on TCF/β-catenin-mediated transcription was further demonstrated in Zmiz2 knockout and Axin2 reporter compound mice. Furthermore, the protein-protein interaction between ZMIZ2 and β-catenin was identified by co-immunoprecipitation and in vitro protein pulldown assays. We also observed recruitment of endogenous ZMIZ2 onto the promoter region of the Axin 2 gene, a β-catenin downstream target promoter, in a Wnt ligand-inducible manner. Finally, a promotional role of ZMIZ2 on cell growth was demonstrated in human cell lines and Zmiz2 knockout MEFs. Our findings demonstrate a novel interaction between ZMIZ2 and β-catenin and elucidate a novel mechanism for PIAS-like proteins in regulating Wnt signaling pathways.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M113.529727

    View details for PubMedID 24174533

  • Deletion of Leucine Zipper Tumor Suppressor 2 (Lzts2) Increases Susceptibility to Tumor Development JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Johnson, D. T., Luong, R., Lee, S. H., Peng, Y., Shaltouki, A., Lee, J. T., Lin, D., Wang, Y., Sun, Z. 2013; 288 (6): 3727-3738


    Using an Lzts2 knock-out mouse model, we characterized the biological role of Lzts2 in tumorigenesis. Both heterozygous and homozygous deletion of the Lzts2-targeted allele in mice shows an increased incidence in spontaneous tumor development, although Lzts2 homozygous knock-out mice show significantly higher incidences than heterozygous mice. Treatment of Lzts2-deficient mice with a carcinogen, N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine, increases the susceptibility to N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine-induced bladder carcinoma development. Examination of human prostate cancer tissue specimens shows a reduction of LZTS2 protein expression in prostate cancer cells. Further analyses of mouse embryonic fibroblasts isolated from Lzts2 knock-out embryos show that loss of Lzts2 enhances cell growth. These data provide the first line of evidence demonstrating that deletion of Lzts2 increases susceptibility to spontaneous and carcinogen-induced tumor development.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M112.417568

    View details for PubMedID 23275340

  • Conditional Deletion of the Pten Gene in the Mouse Prostate Induces Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasms at Early Ages but a Slow Progression to Prostate Tumors PLOS ONE Kwak, M. K., Johnson, D. T., Zhu, C., Lee, S. H., Ye, D., Luong, R., Sun, Z. 2013; 8 (1)


    The PTEN tumor suppressor gene is frequently inactivated in human prostate cancer. Using Osr1 (odd skipped related 1)-Cre mice, we generated a novel conditional Pten knockout mouse strain, Pten(LoxP):Osr1-Cre. Conditional biallelic and monoallelic Pten knockout mice were viable. Deletion of Pten expression was detected in the prostate of Pten(LoxP/LoxP):Osr1-Cre mice as early as 2 weeks of age. Intriguingly, Pten(LoxP/LoxP):Osr1-Cre mice develop high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasms (PINs) with high penetrance as early as one-month of age, and locally invasive prostatic tumors after 12-months of age. Pten(LoxP/+):Osr1-Cre mice show only mild oncogenic changes after 8-weeks of age. Castration of Pten(LoxP/LoxP):Osr1-Cre mice shows no significant regression of prostate tumors, although a shift of androgen receptor (AR) staining from the nuclei to cytoplasm is observed in Pten null tumor cells of castrated mice. Enhanced Akt activity is observed in Pten null tumor cells of castrated Pten(LoxP/LoxP):Osr1-Cre. This study provides a novel mouse model that can be used to investigate a primary role of Pten in initiating oncogenic transformation in the prostate and to examine other genetic and epigenetic changes that are required for tumor progression in the mouse prostate.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0053476

    View details for PubMedID 23308230

  • The Leucine Zipper Putative Tumor Suppressor 2 Protein LZTS2 Regulates Kidney Development JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Peng, Y., Clark, C., Luong, R., Tu, W. H., Lee, J., Johnson, D. T., Das, A., Carroll, T. J., Sun, Z. 2011; 286 (46): 40331-40342


    Members of the leucine zipper putative tumor suppressor (LZTS) family play crucial roles in transcription modulation and cell cycle control. We previously demonstrated that LZTS2 functions as a novel β-catenin-interacting protein and represses β-catenin-mediated transcription on T-cell factor/lymphoid enhancing factor. Here, we investigate the biological role of LZTS2 using newly established Lzts2 KO mice. Homozygosity for loss-of-function of the Lzts2-targeted allele resulted in severe kidney and urinary tract developmental defects, including renal/ureteral duplication, hydroureter, and hydronephrosis, which were visible prenatally. Altered ureteric bud outgrowth was identified in Lzts2 null embryos. Further analysis indicated that β-catenin subcellular localization was altered in fibroblasts isolated from Lzts2 null embryos. In addition, Wnt growth factor-induced β-catenin-mediated transcriptional activity was increased in Lzts2 null fibroblasts, suggesting a direct role for Lzts2 in the Wnt signaling pathway. These data demonstrate a critical role of LZTS2 in renal development and implicate LZTS2 as a critical regulator of β-catenin-mediated nephrogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M111.302059

    View details for PubMedID 21949185

  • The beta-Catenin Binding Protein ICAT Modulates Androgen Receptor Activity MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Zhuo, M., Zhu, C., Sun, J., Weis, W. I., Sun, Z. 2011; 25 (10): 1677-1688


    Androgens have important roles in the development of the prostate gland and in prostate cancer. Since the finding that β-catenin is a cofactor of the androgen receptor (AR) and can augment AR signaling, several proteins have been found to affect AR signaling through their interaction with β-catenin. Here, we investigated inhibitor of β-catenin and T-cell factor (ICAT), a β-catenin binding protein that inhibits the canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, in AR signaling. We demonstrated that expression of ICAT in two AR positive prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP and LAPC4, augments ligand-dependent AR-mediated transcription. In contrast, short hairpin RNA knockdown of ICAT and β-catenin specifically blocks enhanced AR-mediated transcription by ICAT. Using both stable expression of ICAT and short hairpin RNA knockdown of ICAT expression approaches, we further showed that ICAT enhances expression of endogenous PSA and KLK2, two androgen response genes, and ligand-induced cell growth. In addition, we identified that ICAT and AR can form a ternary complex with β-catenin using in vitro glutathione S-transferase protein pulldown assays. Moreover, we detected the endogenous protein complex containing ICAT, AR, and β-catenin in prostate cancer cells using immunoprecipitation assays. Recruitment of endogenous ICAT onto the promoter region of the human PSA gene, an AR downstream target promoter, was also identified in LNCaP cells. Finally, using in vitro protein binding assays, we examined the effect of full-length and truncated ICAT on the AR-β-catenin interaction and observed that addition of full-length ICAT retained the interaction between β-catenin and AR proteins. Intriguingly, the truncated ICAT comprising the N-terminal helical domain showed a more pronounced effect on β-catenin binding to AR proteins. Our findings suggest a novel molecular mechanism underlying the cross talk between androgen and Wnt signaling pathways.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2011-1023

    View details for Web of Science ID 000295322700001

    View details for PubMedID 21885566

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3182419

  • Conditional Expression of the Androgen Receptor Induces Oncogenic Transformation of the Mouse Prostate JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Zhu, C., Luong, R., Zhuo, M., Johnson, D. T., McKenney, J. K., Cunha, G. R., Sun, Z. 2011; 286 (38): 33478-33488


    The androgen signaling pathway, mediated through the androgen receptor (AR), is critical in prostate tumorigenesis. However, the precise role of AR in prostate cancer development and progression still remains largely unknown. Specifically, it is unclear whether overexpression of AR is sufficient to induce prostate tumor formation in vivo. Here, we inserted the human AR transgene with a LoxP-stop-loxP (LSL) cassette into the mouse ROSA26 locus, permitting "conditionally" activated AR transgene expression through Cre recombinase-mediated removal of the LSL cassette. By crossing this AR floxed strain with Osr1-Cre (odd skipped related) mice, in which the Osr1 promoter activates at embryonic day 11.5 in urogenital sinus epithelium, we generated a conditional transgenic line, R26hAR(loxP):Osr1-Cre+. Expression of transgenic AR was detected in both prostatic luminal and basal epithelial cells and is resistant to castration. Approximately one-half of the transgenic mice displayed mouse prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mPIN) lesions. Intriguingly, four mice (10%) developed prostatic adenocarcinomas, with two demonstrating invasive diseases. Positive immunostaining of transgenic AR protein was observed in the majority of atypical and tumor cells in the mPIN and prostatic adenocarcinomas, providing a link between transgenic AR expression and oncogenic transformation. An increase in Ki67-positive cells appeared in all mPIN and prostatic adenocarcinoma lesions of the mice. Thus, we demonstrated for the first time that conditional activation of transgenic AR expression by Osr1 promoter induces prostate tumor formation in mice. This new AR transgenic mouse line mimics the human disease and can be used for study of prostate tumorigenesis and drug development.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M111.269894

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294968800065

    View details for PubMedID 21795710

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3190896

  • ZMIZ1 Preferably Enhances the Transcriptional Activity of Androgen Receptor with Short Polyglutamine Tract PLOS ONE Li, X., Zhu, C., Tu, W. H., Yang, N., Qin, H., Sun, Z. 2011; 6 (9)


    The androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-induced transcription factor and contains the polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts within its N-terminal transactivation domain. The length of polyQ tracts has been suggested to alter AR transcriptional activity in prostate cancer along with other endocrine and neurologic disorders. Here, we assessed the role of ZMIZ1, an AR co-activator, in regulating the activity of the AR with different lengths of polyQ tracts as ARQ9, ARQ24, and ARQ35 in prostate cancer cells. ZMIZ1, but not ZMIZ2 or ARA70, preferably augments ARQ9 induced androgen-dependent transcription on three different androgen-inducible promoter/reporter vectors. A strong protein-protein interaction between ZMIZ1 and ARQ9 proteins was shown by immunoprecipitation assays. In the presence of ZMIZ1, the N and C-terminal interaction of the ARQ9 was more pronounced than ARQ24 and ARQ35. Both Brg1 and BAF57, the components of SWI/SNF complexes, were shown to be involved in the enhancement of ZMIZ1 on AR activity. Using the chromatin immunoprecipitation assays (ChIP), we further demonstrated a strong recruitment of ZMIZ1 by ARQ9 on the promoter of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) gene. These results demonstrate a novel regulatory role of ZMIZ1 in modulating the polyQ tract length of AR in prostate cancer cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0025040

    View details for Web of Science ID 000295260400040

    View details for PubMedID 21949845

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3176788

  • Efficacy of c-Met inhibitor for advanced prostate cancer BMC CANCER Tu, W. H., Zhu, C., Clark, C., Christensen, J. G., Sun, Z. 2010; 10


    Aberrant expression of HGF/SF and its receptor, c-Met, often correlates with advanced prostate cancer. Our previous study showed that expression of c-Met in prostate cancer cells was increased after attenuation of androgen receptor (AR) signalling. This suggested that current androgen ablation therapy for prostate cancer activates c-Met expression and may contribute to development of more aggressive, castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Therefore, we directly assessed the efficacy of c-Met inhibition during androgen ablation on the growth and progression of prostate cancer.We tested two c-Met small molecule inhibitors, PHA-665752 and PF-2341066, for anti-proliferative activity by MTS assay and cell proliferation assay on human prostate cancer cell lines with different levels of androgen sensitivity. We also used renal subcapsular and castrated orthotopic xenograft mouse models to assess the effect of the inhibitors on prostate tumor formation and progression.We demonstrated a dose-dependent inhibitory effect of PHA-665752 and PF-2341066 on the proliferation of human prostate cancer cells and the phosphorylation of c-Met. The effect on cell proliferation was stronger in androgen insensitive cells. The c-Met inhibitor, PF-2341066, significantly reduced growth of prostate tumor cells in the renal subcapsular mouse model and the castrated orthotopic mouse model. The effect on cell proliferation was greater following castration.The c-Met inhibitors demonstrated anti-proliferative efficacy when combined with androgen ablation therapy for advanced prostate cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1471-2407-10-556

    View details for Web of Science ID 000283493100001

    View details for PubMedID 20946682

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2964640

  • Xeno-oestrogens and phyto-oestrogens are alternative ligands for the androgen receptor ASIAN JOURNAL OF ANDROLOGY Wang, H., Li, J., Gao, Y., Xu, Y., Pan, Y., Tsuji, I., Sun, Z., Li, X. 2010; 12 (4): 535-547


    The androgen receptor (AR) plays a critical role in prostate cancer development and progression. This study aimed to use a computerized docking approach to examine the interactions between the human AR and phyto-oestrogens (genistein, daidzein, and flavone) and xeno-oestrogens (bisphenol A, 4-nonylphenol, dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane [DDT], diethylstilbestrol [DES]). The predicted three-dimensional structure of AR and androgens was established using X-ray diffraction. The binding of four xeno-oestrogens and three phyto-oestrogens to AR was analysed. The steroids estradiol and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) were used as positive controls and thyroxine as negative control. All the ligands shared the same binding site except for thyroxine. The endogenous hormones DHT and 17beta-oestradiol showed the strongest binding with the lowest affinity energy (< -10 kcal mol(-1)). All three phyto-oestrogens and two xeno-oestrogens (bisphenol A and DES) showed strong binding to AR. The affinities of flavone, genistein, and daidzein were between -8.8 and -8.5 kcal mol(-1), while that of bisphenol A was -8.1 kcal mol(-1) and DES -8.3 kcal mol(-1). Another two xeno-oestrogens, 4-nonylphenol and DDT, although they fit within the binding domain of AR, showed weak affinity (-6.4 and -6.7 kcal mol(-1), respectively). The phyto-oestrogens genistein, daidzein and flavone, and the xeno-oestrogens bisphenol A and DES can be regarded as androgenic effectors. The xeno-oestrogens DDT and 4-nonylphenol bind only weakly to AR.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/aja.2010.14

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279471200009

    View details for PubMedID 20436506

  • A Novel Role for Protein Inhibitor of Activated STAT (PIAS) Proteins in Modulating the Activity of Zimp7, a Novel PIAS-like Protein, in Androgen Receptor-mediated Transcription JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Peng, Y., Lee, J., Zhu, C., Sun, Z. 2010; 285 (15): 11465-11475


    The PIAS proteins (protein inhibitor of activated STAT) were originally identified as inhibitors of the JAK-STAT pathway. Subsequently, their roles on transcriptional regulation have been identified in modulation of the androgen receptor (AR) and other nuclear hormone receptor-mediated actions. Zimp7, also named Zmiz2, is a novel PIAS-like protein and functions as a transcriptional co-activator. In this study, we demonstrate an interaction between Zimp7 and PIAS proteins with higher preference for PIAS3. A modified mammalian one-hybrid assay showed that the NH(2)-terminal proline-rich domain of Zimp7 and the region spanning amino acids 321-486 of PIAS3 were the primary interaction segments. The interaction between Zimp7 and PIAS3 proteins was further confirmed by in vitro protein pull-down and co-immunoprecipitation assays with both exogenous and endogenous proteins. Expression of exogenous PIAS3 further enhances Zimp7-mediated augmentation of AR transcription. Knockdown of the endogenous PIAS3 protein using a specific PIAS3 small hairpin RNA reduced the augmentation of Zimp7 on AR-mediated transcription. Co-localization of Zimp7 and PIAS3 proteins was observed in the nuclei of cells by immunostaining. Exogenous PIAS3 expression enhances the stability of the Zimp7 protein. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we showed that PIAS3 is involved in the AR- and Zimp7-formed protein complex(es) in the AR downstream target promoter to facilitate androgen-induced transcription. Finally, we further demonstrated that loss of Zimp7 significantly impaired PIAS3-mediated enhancement on AR activity in mouse Zimp7 null (zimp7(-/-)) embryonic fibroblasts. Taken together, these results demonstrate a novel interaction between PIAS and PIAS-like proteins and elucidate a novel regulatory mechanism for PIAS proteins in AR-mediated transcription.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M109.079327

    View details for Web of Science ID 000276286200053

    View details for PubMedID 20159969

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2857025

  • The PIAS-like protein Zimp10 is essential for embryonic viability and proper vascular development MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Beliakoff, J., Lee, J., Ueno, H., Aiyer, A., Weissman, I. L., Barsh, G. S., Cardiff, R. D., Sun, Z. 2008; 28 (1): 282-292


    Members of the PIAS (for protein inhibitor of activated STAT) family play critical roles in modulating the activity of a variety of transcriptional regulators. Zimp10, a novel PIAS-like protein, is a transcriptional coregulator and may be involved in the modification of chromatin through interactions with the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complexes. Here, we investigate the biological role of Zimp10 in zimp10-deficient mice. Homozygosity for the Zimp10-targeted allele resulted in developmental arrest at approximately embryonic day 10.5. Analysis of knockout embryos revealed severe defects in the reorganization of the yolk sac vascular plexus. No significant abnormality in hematopoietic potential was observed in zimp10 null mice. Microarray and quantified reverse transcription-PCR analyses showed that the expression of the Fos family member Fra-1, which is involved in extraembryonic vascular development, was reduced in yolk sac tissues of zimp10 null embryos. Using fra-1 promoter/reporter constructs, we further demonstrate the regulatory role of Zimp10 on the transcription of Fra-1. This study provides evidence to demonstrate a crucial role for Zimp10 in vasculogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/MCB.00771-07

    View details for Web of Science ID 000251925300024

    View details for PubMedID 17967885

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2223308

  • A promoting role of androgen receptor in androgen-sensitive and -insensitive prostate cancer cells NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Li, T., Zhao, H., Peng, Y., Beliakoff, J., Brooks, J. D., Sun, Z. 2007; 35 (8): 2767-2776


    Although the vital role of the androgen receptor (AR) has been well demonstrated in primary prostate cancers, its role in the androgen-insensitive prostate cancers still remains unclear. Here, we used a small hairpin RNA approach to directly assess AR activity in prostate cancer cells. Reduction of AR expression in the two androgen-sensitive prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP and LAPC4, significantly decreased AR-mediated transcription and cell growth. Intriguingly, in two androgen-insensitive prostate cell lines, LNCaP-C42B4 and CWR22Rv1, knockdown of AR expression showed a more pronounced effect on AR-induced transcription and cell growth than androgen depletion. Using cDNA microarrays, we also compared the transcriptional profiles induced by either androgen depletion or AR knockdown. Although a significant number of transcripts appear to be regulated by both androgen depletion and AR knockdown, we observed a subset of transcripts affected only by androgen depletion but not by AR knockdown, and vice versa. Finally, we demonstrated a direct role for AR in promoting tumor formation and growth in a xenograft model. Taken together, our results elucidate an important role for the AR in androgen-insensitive prostate cancer cells, and suggest that AR can be used as a therapeutic target for androgen-insensitive prostate cancers.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkm198

    View details for Web of Science ID 000247239600029

    View details for PubMedID 17426117

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1885678

  • The androgen receptor negatively regulates the expression of c-Met: Implications for a novel mechanism of prostate cancer progression CANCER RESEARCH Verras, M., Lee, J., Xue, H., Li, T., Wang, Y., Sun, Z. 2007; 67 (3): 967-975


    The precise molecular mechanisms by which prostate cancer cells progress from androgen-sensitive to androgen-insensitive status still remain largely unclear. The hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) plays a critical role in the regulation of cell growth, cell motility, morphogenesis, and angiogenesis. The aberrant expression of HGF/SF and its receptor, c-Met, often correlates with poor prognosis in a variety of human malignancies, including prostate cancer. Here, we investigate a potential link between androgen signaling and c-Met expression in prostate cancer cells. First, we showed that the androgen receptor (AR) represses the expression of c-Met in a ligand-dependent manner. Using different c-Met promoter/reporter constructs, we identified that Sp1 induces the transcription of c-Met and that AR can repress the Sp1-induced transcription in prostate cancer cells. Moreover, the data from electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that AR interferes with the interaction between Sp1 and the functional Sp1 binding site within the c-Met promoter. Furthermore, we tested the effect of AR on c-Met expression in an androgen-insensitive prostate cancer cell line, CWR22Rv1. Finally, the repressive role of androgen signaling on c-Met expression was confirmed in prostate cancer xenografts. The above data indicate a dual role of AR in transcriptional regulation. Although the current androgen ablation therapy can repress the expression of growth-promoting genes that are activated by the AR, it may also attenuate the repressive role of AR on c-Met expression. Therefore, the therapeutic strategies to inhibit the activation of the HGF/c-Met pathway may be of benefit when combined with current androgen ablation treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-3552

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244137300019

    View details for PubMedID 17283128

  • The novel PIAS-like protein hZimp10 is a transcriptional co-activator of the p53 tumor suppressor NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Lee, J., Beliakoff, J., Sun, Z. 2007; 35 (13): 4523-4534


    The tumor suppressor, p53, plays critical roles in the cell cycle progression, DNA repair and apoptosis. The PIAS proteins (protein inhibitor of activated STAT) were originally identified as inhibitors of the JAK-STAT pathway. Subsequently, crosstalk between the PIAS proteins and other signaling pathways has been shown to be involved in various cellular processes. Particularly, previous studies have demonstrated that PIAS proteins regulate p53-mediated transcription through sumoylation. hZimp10, also named zmiz1, is a novel PIAS-like protein and functions as a transcriptional co-activator. We recently identified p53 to be an hZimp10 interacting protein in the yeast two-hybrid screen. The interaction between p53 and hZimp10 was confirmed by GST pull-down and co-immunoprecipitation assays. Co-localization of p53 and hZimp10 proteins was also observed within cell nuclei by immunostaining. Moreover, we show that expression of exogenous hZimp10 enhances the transcriptional activity of p53 and knockdown of endogenous hZimp10 reduces the transcriptional activity of p53. Furthermore, using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we demonstrate that hZimp10 binds to p53 on the p21 promoter. Finally, p53-mediated transcription is significantly impaired in Zimp10 null embryonic fibroblasts. Taken together, these results provide the first line of evidence to demonstrate a role for Zimp10 in regulating p53 function.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkm476

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249390600027

    View details for PubMedID 17584785

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1935018

  • LZTS2 is a novel beta-catenin-interacting protein and regulates the nuclear export of beta-catenin MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Thyssen, G., Li, T., Lehmann, L., Zhuo, M., Sharma, M., Sun, Z. 2006; 26 (23): 8857-8867


    Beta-catenin plays multiple roles in cell-cell adhesion and Wnt signal transduction. Through the Wnt signal, the cellular level of beta-catenin is constitutively regulated by the multicomponent destruction complex containing glycogen synthase kinase 3beta, axin, and adenomatous polyposis coli. Here, we present multiple lines of evidence to demonstrate that LZTS2 (lucine zipper tumor suppressor 2) interacts with beta-catenin, represses the transactivation of beta-catenin, and affects the subcellular localization of beta-catenin. The LZTS2 gene is located at 10q24.3, which is frequently lost in a variety of human tumors. A functional nuclear export signal (NES) was identified in the C terminus of the protein (amino acids 631 to 641). Appending this motif to green fluorescent protein (GFP) induced nuclear exclusion of the GFP fusion protein. However, introducing point mutations in either one or two leucine residues of this NES sequence abolished the nuclear exclusion of the LZTS2 protein. The nuclear export of LZTS2 can be blocked by leptomycin B (LMB), an inhibitor of the CRM1/exportin-alpha pathway. Intriguingly, beta-catenin colocalizes with LZTS2 in the cytoplasm of cells in the absence of LMB but in the nuclei of cells in the presence of LMB. Increasing the LZTS2 protein in cells reduces the level of nuclear beta-catenin in SW480 cells. Taken together, these data demonstrate that LZTS2 is a beta-catenin-interacting protein that can modulate beta-catenin signaling and localization.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/MCB.01031-06

    View details for Web of Science ID 000242203700016

    View details for PubMedID 17000760

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1636836

  • The novel PIAS-like protein hZimp10 enhances Smad transcriptional activity JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Li, X., Thyssen, G., Beliakoff, J., Sun, Z. 2006; 281 (33): 23748-23756


    Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) plays critical roles in the control of cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Smad proteins are substrates of the TGF-beta type I receptor and are responsible for transducing receptor signals to target genes in the nucleus. The PIAS (protein inhibitor of activated STAT) proteins were originally identified as transcriptional co-regulators of the JAK-STAT pathway. Subsequently, cross-talk between the PIAS proteins and other signaling pathways has been shown to be involved in various cellular processes. Importantly, PIAS proteins modulate TGF-beta signaling by regulating the transcriptional activity of Smad3. In this study we tested whether hZimp10, a novel PIAS-like protein, acts as other PIAS proteins to regulate Smad3-mediated transcription. We show that expression of exogenous hZimp10 enhances the transcriptional activity of Smad3, which appears to be Smad4-dependent and responsive to TGF-beta induction. Furthermore, knockdown of endogenous hZimp10 reduced the transcriptional activity of Smad3. A protein-protein interaction between Smad3 and Smad4 with hZimp10 was identified in glutathione S-transferase-pulldown and co-immunoprecipitation assays. The Miz domain of hZimp10 and the MH2 domains of Smad3 and Smad4 were mapped as the regions responsible for binding. Results from immunostaining assays further demonstrated that Smad3, Smad4, and hZimp10 co-localize within cell nuclei. Finally, we demonstrated that Smad3/4-mediated transcription is significantly impaired in response to TGF-beta induction in Zimp10 null (zimp10-/-) embryonic fibroblasts. Taken together, these results provide the first line of evidence to demonstrate a role for Zimp10 in regulating the TGF-beta/Smad signaling pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M508365200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000239702900050

    View details for PubMedID 16777850

  • Roles and regulation of Wnt signaling and beta-catenin in prostate cancer CANCER LETTERS Verras, M., Sun, Z. 2006; 237 (1): 22-32


    The Wnt signaling pathway and its key component beta-catenin play critical roles in embryonic development as well as in human diseases, including various malignancies. Accumulated evidence has demonstrated a significant role for the Wnt pathway in the development and progression of human prostate cancer. The recent discovery of an interaction between beta-catenin and the androgen receptor (AR) suggests a possible mechanism of cross talk between Wnt and androgen signaling pathways. In this review, we summarize the recent progresses in this interesting and growing field. Particularly, we focus on the observation that the activation of the Wnt-mediated signal occurs in a different manner in prostate cancer than in colorectal cancer or other human malignancies. Since mutations in Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), beta-catenin, and other components of the beta-catenin destruction complex are rare in prostate cancer cells, other regulatory mechanisms appear to play dominant roles in the activation of beta-catenin, such as loss or reduction of E-cadherin, a component of cell adhesion complex, and abnormal expression of Wnt ligands, receptors, inhibitors, and other co-regulators. Understanding the role and regulation of the Wnt signaling pathway in prostate cancer cells may help identify new targets for the prostate cancer therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.canlet.2005.06.004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238247300003

    View details for PubMedID 16023783

  • Cyclin D1 and p16 expression in recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma. World journal of surgical oncology Lin, H., Berry, G. J., Sun, Z., Fee, W. E. 2006; 4: 62-?


    Cyclin D1 and p16 are involved in the regulation of G1 checkpoint and may play an important role in the tumorigenesis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Previous studies have examined the level of expression of cyclin D1 and p16 in primary untreated NPC but no such information is available for recurrent NPC. We set out in this study to examine the expression level of cyclin D1 and p16 in recurrent NPC that have failed previous treatment with radiation +/- chemotherapy.A total of 42 patients underwent salvage nasopharyngectomy from 1984 to 2001 for recurrent NPC after treatment failure with radiation +/- chemotherapy. Twenty-seven pathologic specimens were available for immunohistochemical study using antibodies against cyclin D1 and p16.Positive expression of cyclin D1 was observed in 7 of 27 recurrent NPC specimens (26%) while positive p16 expression was seen in only 1 of 27 recurrent NPC (4%).While the level of expression of cyclin D1 in recurrent NPC was similar to that of previously untreated head and neck cancer, the level of p16 expression in recurrent NPC samples was much lower than that reported for previously untreated cancer. The finding that almost all (96%) of the recurrent NPC lack expression of p16 suggested that loss of p16 may confer a survival advantage by making cancer cells more resistant to conventional treatment with radiation +/- chemotherapy. Further research is warranted to investigate the clinical use of p16 both as a prognostic marker and as a potential therapeutic target.

    View details for PubMedID 16953893

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1569377

  • Zimp7 and Zimp10, two novel PIAS-like proteins, function as androgen receptor coregulators. Nuclear receptor signaling Beliakoff, J., Sun, Z. 2006; 4


    The androgen receptor (AR) plays a critical role in male sexual development and in normal and malignant prostate cell growth and survival. It has been shown that AR transcriptional activation is regulated through interactions with a variety of transcriptional co-regulators. The Protein Inhibitors of Activated STATs (PIAS) are transcriptional co-regulators, and have been shown to modulate AR-mediated transcription. In this brief, we summarize our recent studies on two novel PIAS-like proteins, Zimp7 and Zimp10. Particularly, we address the functional interactions between the AR and these two proteins, and potential mechanisms by which they regulate AR mediated transcription. In addition, we explore potential roles of Zimp10 in transcriptional regulation in vivo using a recent Zimp10 knockout mouse model. Taken together, our findings thus far suggest that Zimp7 and Zimp10 are functionally non-redundant and share unique characteristics that have not been described for the PIAS family. Further investigation into the functional roles of these two PIAS-like proteins may help to better understand prostate cancer progression, and yield possible new targets for therapeutic intervention.

    View details for PubMedID 16862223

  • hZimp7, a novel PIAS-like protein, enhances androgen receptor-mediated transcription and interacts with SWI/SNF-like BAF complexes MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Huang, C. Y., Beliakoff, J., Li, X. Y., Lee, J., Li, X. M., Sharma, M., Lim, B., Sun, Z. J. 2005; 19 (12): 2915-2929


    Members of the PIAS (protein inhibitor of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription) family are negative regulators of the Janus family of tyrosine kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription pathway. Recently, PIAS proteins have been shown to interact with multiple signaling pathways in various cellular processes, and it has been demonstrated that PIAS and PIAS-like proteins interact with nuclear hormone receptors. In this study, we have identified a novel human PIAS-like protein, provisionally termed hZimp7, which shares a high degree of sequence similarity with hZimp10 (human zinc finger-containing, Miz1, PIAS-like protein on chromosome 10). hZimp7 (human zinc finger-containing, Miz1, PIAS-like protein on chromosome 7) possesses a molecular mass of approximately 100 kDa and contains a conserved Miz (msx-interacting zinc finger) domain, a nuclear translocation signal sequence, and a C-terminal transactivation domain. Northern blot analysis revealed that hZimp7 is predominantly expressed in testis, heart, brain, prostate, and ovary. Moreover, immunohistochemical staining of prostate tissues revealed that endogenous hZimp7 protein localizes to the nuclei of prostate epithelial cells and costains with the androgen receptor (AR). Further analysis of hZimp7 subcellular localization revealed that hZimp7 and the AR colocalize within the nucleus and form a protein complex at replication foci. Transient transfection experiments showed that hZimp7 augments the transcriptional activity of the AR and other nuclear hormone receptors. In contrast, reduction of endogenous hZimp7 protein expression by RNA interference decreased AR-mediated transcription. Finally, we determined that hZimp7 physically associates with Brg1 and BAF57, components of the ATP-dependent mammalian SWI/SNF-like BAF chromatin-remodeling complexes. The above data illustrate a potential role for hZimp7 in modulation of AR and/or other nuclear receptor-mediated transcription, possibly through alteration of chromatin structure by SWI/SNF-like BAF complexes.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2005-0097

    View details for Web of Science ID 000233460500003

    View details for PubMedID 16051670

  • beta-catenin is involved in insulin-like growth factor 1-mediated transactivation of the androgen receptor MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Verras, M., Sun, Z. J. 2005; 19 (2): 391-398


    The androgen-signaling pathway is important for the growth and progression of prostate cancer cells. IGF-I and other polypeptide growth factors have been shown to be capable of induction of androgen receptor (AR) activation in the absence of, or at low levels of, ligand. It has been shown that IGF-I increases the cellular level of beta-catenin, an AR coactivator. In this study, we performed several experiments to test whether beta-catenin is involved in IGF-I-induced AR-mediated transcription. We demonstrate that IGF-I enhances the expression of endogenous prostate-specific antigen, an AR target gene, and elevates the level of cytoplasmic and nuclear beta-catenin in prostate cancer cells. Transfection of either wild-type or a constitutively active mutant of the IGF-I receptor augments AR-mediated transcription. An antisense construct of beta-catenin that decreases the cellular level of beta-catenin can reduce IGF-1 receptor-mediated enhancement of AR activity. Moreover, using a pulse-chase experiment, we showed that IGF-I enhances the stability of beta-catenin in prostate cancer cells. Our findings delineate a novel pathway for IGF-I in modulating androgen signaling through beta-catenin.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2004-0208

    View details for Web of Science ID 000226543200009

    View details for PubMedID 15514031

  • Wnt3a growth factor induces androgen receptor-mediated transcription and enhances cell growth in human prostate cancer cells CANCER RESEARCH Verras, M., Brown, J., Li, X. M., Nusse, R., Sun, Z. J. 2004; 64 (24): 8860-8866


    The Wnt signaling pathway plays a critical role in embryogenesis and tumorigenesis. However, biological roles of Wnt growth factors have not been fully characterized in prostate development and the pathogenesis of prostate cancer. In this study, we used Wnt3a-conditioned medium (Wnt3a-CM) and purified Wnt3a proteins to investigate whether there is a direct effect of Wnt3a on androgen receptor (AR)-mediated transcription and to determine its role in the growth of prostate cancer cells. We demonstrated that Wnt3a-CM either induces AR activity in the absence of androgens or enhances AR activity in the presence of low concentrations of androgens, whereas purified Wnt3a showed a pronounced effect in the presence of low concentrations of ligands. We also showed that Wnt3a-CM and the purified Wnt3a enhance the level of cytosolic and nuclear beta-catenin, suggesting an involvement of beta-catenin in this regulation. Moreover, treatment of LNCaP cells with Wnt3a-CM and purified Wnt3a significantly enhances cell growth in the absence of androgens. Our findings demonstrate that Wnt3a plays an important role in androgen-mediated transcription and cell growth. These results suggest a novel mechanism for the progression of prostate cancer.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225809200013

    View details for PubMedID 15604245

  • An Hsp27-related, dominant-negative-acting intracellular estradiol-binding protein JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Chen, H., Hewison, M., Hu, B., Sharma, M., Sun, Z. J., Adams, J. S. 2004; 279 (29): 29944-29951


    New World primates (NWPs) exhibit a compensated form of resistance to gonadal steroid hormones. We demonstrated recently that estrogen resistance in NWP cells was associated with the overexpression of two proteins, a nonreceptor-related, dominant-negative-acting estrogen response element (ERE)-binding protein (ERE-BP) and an intracellular estradiol-binding protein (IEBP). Based on the N-terminal sequences of tryptic fragments of IEBP isolated from a 17beta-estradiol (E2) affinity column we cloned a full-length cDNA for IEBP from the estrogen-resistant NWP cell line, B95-8. Subsequent sequence analysis revealed 87% sequence identity between the deduced peptide for IEBP and human Hsp27. When hormone-responsive, wild-type Old World primate (OWP) cells were transiently transfected with IEBP cDNA, E2-directed ERE reporter luciferase activity was reduced by 50% compared with vector only-transfected OWP cells (p < 0.0018). When IEBP and ERE-BP were cotransfected, ERE promoter-reporter activity was reduced by a further 60% (p < 0.0001). Electrophoresis mobility shift analyses showed that IEBP neither bound to ERE nor competed with the estrogen receptor (ER) for binding to ERE. However, there was evidence of protein-protein interaction of IEBP and ERalpha; IEBP was coimmunoprecipitated with anti-ERalpha antibody in wild-type cells stably transfected with IEBP. A specific interaction between ERalpha and IEBP was confirmed in glutathione S-transferase pull-down and yeast two-hybrid assays. Data indicate that the Hsp27-related IEBP interacts with the ligand binding domain of the ERalpha. In summary, by inhibiting the ERalpha-E2 interaction, IEBP acts to squelch ERalpha-directed ERE-regulated transactivation and promote estrogen resistance in NWP cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M401317200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000222531900011

    View details for PubMedID 15123601

  • Identification of tyrosine kinases overexpressed in head and neck cancer ARCHIVES OF OTOLARYNGOLOGY-HEAD & NECK SURGERY Lin, H. S., Berry, G. J., Fee, W. E., Terris, D. J., Sun, Z. J. 2004; 130 (3): 311-316


    To identify protein-tyrosine kinases (PTKs) that may be involved in the development and progression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).Messenger RNA from 7 HNSCC specimens was reverse transcribed to complementary DNA, and selective amplification of PTK complementary DNA was achieved using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with degenerate PTK primers. The resulting PTK PCR products from these 7 HNSCC specimens were then cloned and randomly selected for sequencing. The PTKs that were represented multiple times in these randomly selected clones were selected as candidate PTKs that may be overexpressed in HNSCC. Antibodies against these candidate PTKs were then used for immunohistochemical studies on 8 other HNSCC specimens not used in the original selection of the candidate PTKs.Three known (EphA1, Brk, and Ron) and 2 novel (KIAA0728 and KIAA0279) PTKs were found to be highly expressed in the 7 HNSCC samples studied, based on the technique of reverse transcriptase-PCR with degenerate primers. Immunohistochemical studies with antibodies against the 3 known PTKs in 8 other HNSCC specimens not used in the previous reverse transcriptase-PCR reaction demonstrated overexpression of EphA1, Brk, and Ron in 12.5%, 37.5%, and 75% of these specimens.In this study, we identified 5 PTKs that were overexpressed in HNSCC using a reverse transcriptase-PCR technique and confirmed the overexpression of 3 known PTKs in some of the 8 archival HNSCC specimens studied. Our finding suggests that the signaling pathways mediated through EphA1, Brk, and Ron may be involved in the development and progression of HNSCC.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000220067500008

    View details for PubMedID 15023838

  • hZimp10 is an androgen receptor co-activator and forms a complex with SUMO-1 at replication foci EMBO JOURNAL Sharma, M. J., Li, X. Y., Wang, Y. Z., Zarnegar, M., Huang, C. Y., PALVIMO, J. J., Lim, B., Sun, Z. J. 2003; 22 (22): 6101-6114


    The androgen receptor (AR) plays a central role in male sexual development and in normal and malignant prostate cell growth and survival. It has been shown that transcriptional activation of AR is regulated through interaction with various co-factors. Here we identify a novel PIAS-like protein, hZimp10, as an AR-interacting protein. The transactivation domain (TAD) of AR and the central region of hZimp10 were found to be responsible for the interaction. A strong intrinsic transactivation domain was identified in the C-terminal, proline-rich region of hZimp10. Endogenous AR and hZimp10 proteins were co-stained in the nuclei of prostate epithelial cells from human tissue samples. In human prostate cancer cells, hZimp10 augmented the transcriptional activity of AR. Moreover, hZimp10 co-localized with AR and SUMO-1 at replication foci throughout S phase, and it was capable of enhancing sumoylation of AR in vivo. Studies using sumoylation deficient AR mutants suggested that the augmentation of AR activity by hZimp10 is dependent on the sumoylation of the receptor. Taken together, these data demonstrate that hZimp10 is a novel AR co-regulator.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000186579300014

    View details for PubMedID 14609956

  • Mechanism of p21-activated kinase 6 (PAK6) - mediated inhibition of androgen receptor signaling J. Biol. Chem Schrantz N, Fowler B, Ge Q, Sun Z, Bokoch GM 2003; 279: 1922-31
  • Linking beta-catenin to androgen-signaling pathway JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Yang, F. J., Li, X. Y., Sharma, M., Sasaki, C. Y., Longo, D. L., Lim, B., Sun, Z. J. 2002; 277 (13): 11336-11344


    The androgen-signaling pathway is important for the growth and progression of prostate cancer cells. The growth-promoting effects of androgen on prostate cells are mediated mostly through the androgen receptor (AR). There is increasing evidence that transcription activation by AR is mediated through interaction with other cofactors. beta-Catenin plays a critical role in embryonic development and tumorigenesis through its effects on E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion and Wnt-dependent signal transduction. Here, we demonstrate that a specific protein-protein interaction occurs between beta-catenin and AR. Unlike the steroid hormone receptor coactivator 1 (SRC1), beta-catenin showed a strong interaction with AR but not with other steroid hormone receptors such as estrogen receptor alpha, progesterone receptor beta, and glucocorticoid receptor. The ligand binding domain of AR and the NH(2) terminus combined with the first six armadillo repeats of beta-catenin were shown to be necessary for the interaction. Through this specific interaction, beta-catenin augments the ligand-dependent activity of AR in prostate cancer cells. Moreover, expression of E-cadherin in E-cadherin-negative prostate cancer cells results in redistribution of the cytoplasmic beta-catenin to the cell membrane and reduction of AR-mediated transcription. These data suggest that loss of E-cadherin can elevate the cellular levels of beta-catenin in prostate cancer cells, which may directly contribute to invasiveness and a more malignant tumor phenotype by augmenting AR activity during prostate cancer progression.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M111962200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000174613100075

    View details for PubMedID 11792709

  • A novel zinc finger transcription factor with two isoforms that are differentially repressed by estrogen receptor-alpha JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Conroy, A. T., Sharma, M., Holtz, A. E., Wu, C. B., Sun, Z. J., Weigel, R. J. 2002; 277 (11): 9326-9334


    Estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) can induce the expression of genes in response to estrogen by binding to estrogen response elements in the promoters of target genes. There is growing evidence that ERalpha can alter patterns of gene expression in response to ligand by regulating the activity of other factors through a direct protein-protein interaction. To identify other factors that are regulated by ERalpha, a yeast two-hybrid screen was performed that identified a novel Cys(2)His(2) zinc finger protein named ZER6. The ZER6 protein contains a Kruppel-associated box domain and six Cys(2)His(2) zinc fingers. Transcripts from the ZER6 gene can have alternate 5' exons and encode either a p71 or p52 isoform. The p52-ZER6 protein interacts strongly with ERalpha in the presence of 17beta-estradiol, whereas the p71-ZER6 isoform has a HUB-1 amino-terminal domain that inhibits the interaction with ERalpha. A consensus ZER6 binding element was defined using PCR-assisted binding site selection. In COS-1 cells, both the p52 and p71 isoforms can activate transcription through the ZER6 binding element; however, in the presence of ERalpha, transactivation by the p52 isoform is specifically repressed. Overexpression of the p52 isoform was able to abrogate activation by p71-ZER6. Expression of ZER6 was largely restricted to the mammary gland with a lower level of expression in the kidney. We conclude that ZER6 is a novel zinc finger transcription factor in which regulation of transcription in hormone-responsive cells can be controlled by the relative level of expression of two distinct isoforms.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M107702200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000174400600080

    View details for PubMedID 11779858

  • Human regulatory factor X 4 (RFX4) is a testis-specific dimeric DNA-binding protein that cooperates with other human RFX members JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Morotami-Yano, K., Yano, K., Saito, H., Sun, Z., Iwama, A., Miki, Y. 2002; 277 (1): 836-842


    Regulatory factor X (RFX) members are evolutionarily conserved transcription factors that share a highly conserved winged helix DNA-binding domain. Human RFX4 has been isolated from breast cancer as a partial cDNA encoding a short RFX-type DNA-binding domain fused to the estrogen receptor, but the entire structure of RFX4 has been unknown. Here, we report the molecular cloning and characterization of human RFX4. RFX4 contains evolutionarily conserved regions, including a RFX-type DNA-binding domain, a dimerization domain, and other conserved regions, and is closely related to RFX1, RFX2, and RFX3 in structure. The expression of RFX4 is restricted to testis. In vitro synthesized RFX4 protein bound to typical RFX binding sites in a sequence-dependent manner. Immunoprecipitation analyses showed that RFX4 interacts physically with RFX2, RFX3, and RFX4 itself but not with RFX1. In contrast to other mammalian RFX members that form dimers, RFX4 is revealed to have no distinct transcriptional activation domains. By using a chimeric protein of RFX1 and RFX4, the C-terminal domain of RFX4 was shown to be a possible transcriptional repression domain. Taken together, these results indicate that RFX4 is the first mammalian member of RFX family without transcriptional activation capacity and might function through selective interactions with other RFX members in transcriptional regulation.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M108638200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000173087900107

    View details for PubMedID 11682486

  • Regulation of androgen signaling by the phosphatidylinosital 3-kinase/Akt is mediated through GSK3beta/beta-catenin pathway J. Biol. Chem Sharma M, Chuang WW, Sun ZJ 2002; 277: 30935-30941
  • 5 ' TG3 ' interacting factor interacts with Sin3A and represses AR-mediated transcription MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Sharma, M., Sun, Z. 2001; 15 (11): 1918-1928


    Like other nuclear receptors, the AR exerts its transcriptional function by binding to cis elements upstream of promoters and interacting with other transcriptional factors (e.g. activators, repressors, and modulators). Among them, histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) play critical roles in altering the acetylation state of core histones, thereby regulating nuclear hormone receptor-mediated transcription. The nuclear receptor corepressor can repress the TR and RAR in the absence of ligand through either a Sin3A-dependent or -independent manner by recruiting HDACs. AR and some other steroid hormone receptors cannot silence transcription through a similar mechanism in that they are located in the cytoplasm as complexes with heat-shock proteins before exposure to ligand. It has been shown that AR can bind to p160/SRC, cAMP response element-binding protein-binding protein (CBP)/P300 and other coactivators to increase the AR-mediated transcription. However, the molecular mechanism for turning AR from transcriptionally active into silent states is unknown. In this study, we demonstrated that the transcription repressor, 5'TG3' interacting factor (TGIF), selectively represses AR-mediated transcription from several AR-responsive promoters. The repression is mediated through binding of TGIF to the DNA binding domain of AR and is trichostatin sensitive. We also identified a direct protein-protein interaction between TGIF and a transcription corepressor, Sin3A, which suggests a novel pathway for TGIF recruiting HDAC1 to the repression complex. These results provide fresh insight into understanding the mechanism for repressing AR-, and perhaps other steroid hormone receptor-, mediated transcriptions.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000171821200007

    View details for PubMedID 11682623

  • Ligand-dependent interaction of estrogen receptor-alpha with members of the forkhead transcription factor family JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Schuur, E. R., Loktev, A. V., Sharma, M., Sun, Z. J., Roth, R. A., Weigel, R. J. 2001; 276 (36): 33554-33560


    Estrogen acting through the estrogen receptor (ER) is able to regulate cell growth and differentiation of a variety of normal tissues and hormone-responsive tumors. Ligand-activated ER binds DNA and transactivates the promoters of estrogen target genes. In addition, ligand-activated ER can interact with other factors to alter the physiology and growth of cells. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen, we have identified an interaction between ER alpha and the proapoptotic forkhead transcription factor FKHR. The ER alpha-FKHR interaction depends on beta-estradiol and is reduced significantly in the absence of hormone or the presence of Tamoxifen. A glutathione S-transferase pull-down assay was used to confirm the interaction and localized two interaction sites, one in the forkhead domain and a second in the carboxyl terminus. The FKHR interaction was specific to ER alpha and was not detected with other ligand-activated steroid receptors. The related family members, FKHRL1 and AFX, also bound to ER alpha in the presence of beta-estradiol. FKHR augmented ER alpha transactivation through an estrogen response element. Conversely, ER alpha repressed FKHR-mediated transactivation through an insulin response sequence, and cell cycle arrest induced by FKHRL1 in MCF7 cells was abrogated by estradiol. These results suggest a novel mechanism of estrogen action that involves regulation of the proapoptotic forkhead transcription factors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000170910200037

    View details for PubMedID 11435445

  • Androgen receptor specifically interacts with a novel p21-activated kinase, PAK6 JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Yang, F., Lio, X. Y., Sharma, M. J., Zarnegar, M., Lim, B., Sun, Z. 2001; 276 (18): 15345-15353


    The androgen receptor (AR) is a hormone-dependent transcription factor that plays important roles in male sexual differentiation and development. Transcription activation by steroid hormone receptors, such as the androgen receptor, is mediated through interaction with cofactors. We recently identified a novel AR-interacting protein, provisionally termed PAK6, that shares a high degree of sequence similarity with p21-activated kinases (PAKs). PAK6 is a 75-kDa protein that contains a putative amino-terminal Cdc42/Rac interactive binding motif and a carboxyl-terminal kinase domain. A domain-specific and ligand-dependent interaction between AR and PAK6 was further confirmed in vivo and in vitro. Northern blot analysis revealed that PAK6 is highly expressed in testis and prostate tissues. Most importantly, immunofluorescence studies showed that PAK6 cotranslocates into the nucleus with AR in response to androgen. Transient transfection experiments showed that PAK6 specifically repressed AR-mediated transcription. This report identifies a novel function for a PAK-homologous protein and suggests a potential unique mechanism by which other signal transduction pathways may cross-talk with AR pathways to regulate AR function in normal and malignant prostate cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000168528800109

    View details for PubMedID 11278661

  • Cyclin D1 binds the androgen receptor and regulates hormone-dependent signaling in a p300/CBP-associated factor (P/CAF)-dependent manner MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Reutens, A. T., Fu, M. F., Wang, C. G., Albanese, C., McPhaul, M. J., Sun, Z. J., Balk, S. P., JANNE, O. A., PALVIMO, J. J., Pestell, R. G. 2001; 15 (5): 797-811


    The androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-regulated member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. The cyclin D1 gene product, which encodes the regulatory subunit of holoenzymes that phosphorylate the retinoblastoma protein (pRB), promotes cellular proliferation and inhibits cellular differentiation in several different cell types. Herein the cyclin D1 gene product inhibited ligand-induced AR- enhancer function through a pRB-independent mechanism requiring the cyclin D1 carboxyl terminus. The histone acetyltransferase activity of P/CAF (p300/CBP associated factor) rescued cyclin D1-mediated AR trans-repression. Cyclin D1 and the AR both bound to similar domains of P/CAF, and cyclin D1 displaced binding of the AR to P/CAF in vitro. These studies suggest cyclin D1 binding to the AR may repress ligand-dependent AR activity by directly competing for P/CAF binding.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000168393200009

    View details for PubMedID 11328859

  • SMAD3 represses androgen receptor-mediated transcription CANCER RESEARCH Hayes, S. A., Zarnegar, M., Sharma, M., Yang, F. J., Peehl, D. M., ten Dijke, P., Sun, Z. J. 2001; 61 (5): 2112-2118


    The androgen-signaling pathway is important in the growth and progression of prostate cancer. Androgen ablation therapy, which may result in programmed cell death, is often used to treat advanced prostate cancer. The growth-promoting effects of androgen are mediated mostly through the androgen receptor (AR). Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) plays critical roles in controlling prostate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Normal transcripts and proteins of TGF-beta receptors are frequently lost in prostate cancer cells, especially in advanced stages of the disease. However, the mechanisms by which TGF-beta inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in prostate cancer cells is not clear. We investigated the molecular mechanism by which TGF-beta inhibits transcriptional activation mediated by AR. Using transient transfection systems, we demonstrated that Smad3 specifically represses transcriptional activation mediated by AR on two natural androgen-responsive promoters. This repression is transmitted through TGF-beta signaling and can be regulated by other Smad proteins. A protein-protein interaction between AR and Smad3 was identified in vitro and in vivo, and the transcription activation domain of AR and the MH2 of Smad3 were identified as being responsible for binding. Additional functional experiments showed that the repression of AR by Smad3 is mediated solely through the MH2 domain. These results provide fresh insight for understanding the mechanism by which TGF-beta regulates the androgen-signaling pathway in prostate cancer cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000167568100056

    View details for PubMedID 11280774

  • Androgen receptor interacts with a novel MYST protein, HBO1 JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Sharma, M., Zarnegar, M., Li, X. Y., Lim, B., Sun, Z. J. 2000; 275 (45): 35200-35208


    The androgen receptor (AR), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, plays a central role in male sexual differentiation and prostate cell proliferation. Results of treating prostate cancer by androgen ablation indicate that signals mediated through AR are critical for the growth of these tumors. Like other nuclear receptors, AR exerts its transcriptional function by binding to cis-elements upstream of promoters and interacting with other transcriptional factors (e.g. activators, repressors and modulators). To determine the mechanism of AR-regulated transcription, we used the yeast two-hybrid system to identify AR-associated proteins. One of the proteins we identified is identical to the human origin recognition complex-interacting protein termed HBO1. A ligand-enhanced interaction between AR and HBO1 was further confirmed in vivo and in vitro. Immunofluorescence experiments showed that HBO1 is a nuclear protein, and Northern blot analysis revealed that it is ubiquitously expressed, with the highest levels present in human testis. HBO1 belongs to the MYST family, which is characterized by a highly conserved C2HC zinc finger and a putative histone acetyltransferase domain. Surprisingly, two yeast members of the MYST family, SAS2 and SAS3, have been shown to function as transcription silencers, despite the presence of the histone acetyltransferase domain. Using a GAL4 DNA-binding domain assay, we mapped a transcriptional repression domain within the N-terminal region of HBO1. Transient transfection experiments revealed that HBO1 specifically repressed AR-mediated transcription in both CV-1 and PC-3 cells. These results indicate that HBO1 is a new AR-interacting protein capable of modulating AR activity. It could play a significant role in regulating AR-dependent genes in normal and prostate cancer cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000165422800051

    View details for PubMedID 10930412

  • PDEF, a novel prostate epithelium-specific Ets transcription factor, interacts with the androgen receptor and activates prostate-specific antigen gene expression JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Oettgen, P., Finger, E., Sun, Z. J., Akbarali, Y., Thamrongsak, U., Boltax, J., Grall, F., Dube, A., WEISS, A., Brown, L., Quinn, G., Kas, K., Endress, G., Kunsch, C., Libermann, T. A. 2000; 275 (2): 1216-1225


    Prostate cancer, the most frequent solid cancer in older men, is a leading cause of cancer deaths. Although proliferation and differentiation of normal prostate epithelia and the initial growth of prostate cancer cells are androgen-dependent, prostate cancers ultimately become androgen-independent and refractory to hormone therapy. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) gene has been widely used as a diagnostic indicator for androgen-dependent and -independent prostate cancer. Androgen-induced and prostate epithelium-specific PSA expression is regulated by a proximal promoter and an upstream enhancer via several androgen receptor binding sites. However, little progress has been made in identifying androgen-independent regulatory elements involved in PSA gene regulation. We report the isolation of a novel, prostate epithelium-specific Ets transcription factor, PDEF (prostate-derived Ets factor), that among the Ets family uniquely prefers binding to a GGAT rather than a GGAA core. PDEF acts as an androgen-independent transcriptional activator of the PSA promoter. PDEF also directly interacts with the DNA binding domain of androgen receptor and enhances androgen-mediated activation of the PSA promoter. Our results, as well as the critical roles of other Ets factors in cellular differentiation and tumorigenesis, strongly suggest that PDEF is an important regulator of prostate gland and/or prostate cancer development.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000084836600070

    View details for PubMedID 10625666

  • Tyrosine kinases expressed in vivo by human prostate cancer bone marrow metastases and loss of the type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PATHOLOGY Chott, A., Sun, Z., Morganstern, D., Pan, J., Li, T., Susani, M., Mosberger, I., Upton, M. P., Bubley, G. J., Balk, S. P. 1999; 155 (4): 1271-1279


    An important biological feature of prostate cancer (PCa) is its marked preference for bone marrow as a metastatic site. To identify factors that may support the growth of PCa in bone marrow, expression of receptor and nonreceptor tyrosine kinases by androgen-independent PCa bone marrow metastases was assessed. Bone marrow biopsies largely replaced by PCa were analyzed using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification with degenerate primers that amplified the conserved kinase domain. Sequence analyses of the cloned products demonstrated expression of multiple kinases. Expression of the receptor and nonreceptor tyrosine kinases, alpha platelet-derived growth factor receptor and Jak 1, respectively, was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. In contrast, the type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor, thought to play a role in PCa development, was lost in metastatic PCa. These results implicate several specific growth factors and signaling pathways in metastatic androgen-independent PCa and indicate that loss of the type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor contributes to PCa progression.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000083183600030

    View details for PubMedID 10514409

  • Tumor susceptibility gene 101 protein represses androgen receptor transactivation and interacts with p300 CANCER Sun, Z. J., Pan, J., Hope, W. X., Cohen, S. N., Balk, S. P. 1999; 86 (4): 689-696


    Functional inactivation of the tsg101 gene in mouse fibroblasts leads to cell transformation and the ability to form metastatic tumors in nude mice. Abnormal TSG101 transcripts with highly-specific deletions in the protein-coding region have been identified in human tumor samples and cancer cell lines, including prostate and breast carcinomas, and have been attributed to alternative splicing of TSG101 mRNA. The function of the TSG101 protein is not known, although its predicted sequence has suggested that it may function as a transcription factor.Human TSG101 N-terminal (encoding amino acids 10-240) and C-terminal (encoding amino acids 230-391) fragments were cloned and used in both transient transfection and protein binding experiments. The transient transfections were carried in CV-1 cells. Protein-protein interactions were determined by both glutathione-S-transferase fusion protein binding and co-immunoprecipitation.The N-terminal region of TSG101, when fused to the GAL4 DNA binding domain, can activate transcription; whereas the C-terminal region mediates transcriptional repression. Full-length TSG101 or its separated regions repressed ligand-dependent transcriptional activation by nuclear receptors, including androgen receptor and estrogen receptor, which play central roles in prostate carcinoma and breast carcinoma, respectively. In addition, a direct association between TSG101 and the transcriptional co-factor p300 was demonstrated in vitro and in vivo.These results indicate that TSG101 can function as a transcription modulator to affect nuclear receptor-mediated transcriptional activation, which raises the possibility that the tumor suppression by TSG101 observed previously may be mediated at least in part by its effects on nuclear receptor function.

    View details for PubMedID 10440698

  • AP-1 mediates stretch-induced expression of HB-EGF in bladder smooth muscle cells AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY-CELL PHYSIOLOGY Park, J. M., Adam, R. M., Peters, C. A., Guthrie, P. D., Sun, Z. J., Klagsbrun, M., Freeman, M. R. 1999; 277 (2): C294-C301


    Mechanical induction of growth factor synthesis may mediate adaptive responses of smooth muscle cells (SMC) to increases in physical load. We previously demonstrated that cyclic mechanical stretch induces expression of the SMC, fibroblast, and epithelial cell mitogen heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) in bladder SMC, an observation that suggests that this growth factor may be involved in compensatory bladder hypertrophy. In the present study we provide evidence that the activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor plays a critical role in this mechanoinduction process. Rat bladder SMC were transiently transfected with a series of 5' deletion mutants of a promoter-reporter construct containing 1. 7 kb of the mouse HB-EGF promoter that was previously shown to be stretch responsive. The stretch-mediated increase in promoter activity was completely ablated with deletion of nucleotide positions -1301 to -881. Binding of AP-1, as evaluated by electrophoretic mobility shift assay, to a synthetic oligonucleotide containing an AP-1 binding site increased in response to stretch, and binding was inhibited by excess unlabeled DNA corresponding to nucleotides -993 to -973 from the HB-EGF promoter, a region that contains a previously recognized composite AP-1/Ets site. Stretch-induced promoter activity was significantly inhibited by site-directed mutagenesis of the AP-1 or Ets components of this site. Consistent with the promoter and gel-shift studies, curcumin, an inhibitor of AP-1 activation, suppressed the HB-EGF mRNA induction after stretch. Stretch also specifically increased mRNA levels for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, the promoter of which contains a functional AP-1 element, but not for MMP-2, the promoter of which does not contain an AP-1 element. The stretch response of the MMP-1 gene was also completely inhibited by curcumin. Collectively, these findings indicate that AP-1-mediated transcription plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression in bladder muscle in response to mechanical forces.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081840000014

    View details for PubMedID 10444406

  • Negative cross-talk between hematopoietic regulators: GATA proteins repress PU.1 PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Zhang, P., Behre, G., Pan, J., Iwama, A., Wara-Aswapati, N., Radomska, H. S., Auron, P. E., Tenen, D. G., Sun, Z. J. 1999; 96 (15): 8705-8710


    The process through which multipotential hematopoietic cells commit to distinct lineages involves the induction of specific transcription factors. PU.1 (also known as Spi-1) and GATA-1 are transcription factors essential for the development of myeloid and erythroid lineages, respectively. Overexpression of PU.1 and GATA-1 can block differentiation in lineages in which they normally are down-regulated, indicating that not only positive but negative regulation of these factors plays a role in normal hematopoietic lineage development. Here we demonstrate that a region of the PU.1 Ets domain (the winged helix-turn-helix wing) interacts with the conserved carboxyl-terminal zinc finger of GATA-1 and GATA-2 and that GATA proteins inhibit PU.1 transactivation of critical myeloid target genes. We demonstrate further that GATA inhibits binding of PU.1 to c-Jun, a critical coactivator of PU.1 transactivation of myeloid promoters. Finally, PU.1 protein can inhibit both GATA-1 and GATA-2 transactivation function. Our results suggest that interactions between PU.1 and GATA proteins play a critical role in the decision of stem cells to commit to erythroid vs. myeloid lineages.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081589400076

    View details for PubMedID 10411939

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC17580

  • Dimeric RFX proteins contribute to the activity and lineage specificity of the interleukin-5 receptor alpha promoter through activation and repression domains MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Iwama, A., Pan, J., Zhang, P., Reith, W., Mach, B., Tenen, D. G., Sun, Z. J. 1999; 19 (6): 3940-3950


    Interleukin-5 (IL-5) plays a central role in the differentiation, proliferation, and functional activation of eosinophils. The specific action of IL-5 on eosinophils and hematopoietically related basophils is regulated by the restricted expression of IL-5 receptor alpha (IL-5Ralpha), a subunit of high-affinity IL-5R, on these cells. We have previously identified an enhancer-like cis element in the IL-5Ralpha promoter that is important for both full promoter function and lineage-specific activity. Here, we demonstrate by yeast one-hybrid screening that RFX2 protein specifically binds to this cis element. RFX2 belongs to the RFX DNA-binding protein family, the biological role of which remains obscure. Using an electrophoretic mobility shift assay, we further show that RFX1, RFX2, and RFX3 homodimers and heterodimers specifically bind to the cis element of the IL-5Ralpha promoter. The mRNA expression of RFX1, RFX2, and RFX3 was detected ubiquitously, but in transient-transfection assays, multimerized RFX binding sites in front of a basal promoter efficiently functioned in a tissue- and lineage-specific manner. To further investigate RFX functions on transcription, full-length and deletion mutants of RFX1 were targeted to DNA through fusion to the GAL4 DNA binding domain. Tissue- and lineage-specific transcriptional activation with the full-length RFX1 fusion plasmid on a reporter controlled by GAL4 binding sites was observed. Distinct activation and repression domains within the RFX1 protein were further mapped. Our findings suggest that RFX proteins are transcription factors that contribute to the activity and lineage specificity of the IL-5Ralpha promoter by directly binding to a target cis element and cooperating with other tissue- and lineage-specific cofactors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000080416100002

    View details for PubMedID 10330134

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC104353

  • Two promoters direct expression of the murine Spi-B gene, an Ets family transcription factor GENE Chen, H. M., Gonzalez, D. A., Radomska, H. S., Voso, M. T., Sun, Z., Zhang, P., Zhang, D. E., Tenen, D. G. 1998; 207 (2): 209-218


    Spi-B and PU.1 (Spi-1) comprise the most divergent subfamily of the Ets transcription factor family. Spi-B and PU.1 bind to similar DNA sequences, and can activate the same B-cell and myeloid promoters in vitro. However, PU.1 knockout mice demonstrate defective hematopoietic development of multiple hematopoietic lineages, indicating that Spi-B was not able to compensate for loss of PU.1. One explanation for these results is that, in contrast to PU.1, which is expressed in myeloid and B-cell lines, Spi-B expression is restricted to B-cells. In order to begin to understand the control of regulation of the Spi-B gene, murine Spi-B cDNA and genomic clones were isolated. The exon/intron organization and transcriptional start sites were determined; two major transcriptional start sites were detected. The two Spi-B promoters were isolated and characterized, and displayed differential activity in B-cell lines matching that of the endogenous gene. Further study of the two Spi-B promoters will provide insight into the molecular events regulating the tissue-specific and developmental stage-specific expression of Spi-B in B-cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000072270400014

    View details for PubMedID 9511763

  • Frequent abnormalities of TSG101 transcripts in human prostate cancer ONCOGENE Sun, Z. J., Pan, J., Bubley, G., Balk, S. P. 1997; 15 (25): 3121-3125


    TSG101 has been identified as a candidate tumor suppressor gene and abnormal transcripts have been identified in a substantial fraction of breast cancers. To determine whether TSG101 expression is commonly altered in other tumors, a series of 15 primary and metastatic prostate cancers were analysed by reverse transcriptase-PCR amplification. Abnormal transcripts with extensive deletions in the coding region were found in nine of these tumors, while only the normal transcript was found in control and benign prostatic hypertrophy tissues. More than one abnormal transcript was found in four of these nine cases and distinct abnormal TSG101 transcripts were found in separate biopsies taken from one tumor. Importantly, the normal TSG101 transcript was undetectable in two metastatic prostate cancers, indicating the absence of TSG101 protein. Sequence analysis demonstrated that there were at least six distinct deletions, with four of these deletions found in more than one tumor sample. The most commonly identified deletion, from bp 153 to 1055, was identical to a deletion reported previously in breast cancer. These results demonstrate that TSG101 transcripts are frequently abnormal in prostate cancer and suggest that loss of TSG101 protein contributes to disease development or progression.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000070968000012

    View details for PubMedID 9444960

  • Androgen receptor-associated protein complex binds upstream of the androgen-responsive elements in the promoters of human prostate-specific antigen and kallikrein 2 genes NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Sun, Z. J., Pan, J., Balk, S. P. 1997; 25 (16): 3318-3325


    An increasing number of proteins which bind to hormone-dependent nuclear receptors and mediate their effects on gene expression are being identified. The human prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and kallikrein 2 (KLK2) genes are regulated by the androgen receptor (AR). Using electrophoresis mobility shift assays (EMSA), a common nuclear protein(s) which binds upstream of the androgen-responsive elements (AREs) in the PSA and KLK2 promoters was identified. Binding occurred between bp -539 and -399 and bp -349 and -224 in the PSA and KLK2 promoters respectively, which were shown previously to be necessary for AR-mediated transactivation. Glutathione S-transferase (GST)-AR fusion proteins were constructed to determine whether the AR interacted directly with this protein or protein complex. Specific interactions were observed with AR fusion proteins containing the DNA binding domain. EMSA supershift experiments and GST-AR pull-down experiments followed by Western blotting identified a Fos-related protein(s) of approximately 40 kDa as part of this complex. Competition experiments with a double-stranded oligonucleotide containing an AP-1 binding site demonstrated that DNA binding was not mediated by AP-1. These results indicate that a Fos-containing protein complex distinct from AP-1 binds upstream of the AREs in the PSA and KLK2 promoters, interacts with the AR and may participate in regulation of these two androgen-responsive genes.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XR70100020

    View details for PubMedID 9241247

  • Interleukin-5 receptor a subunit gene regulation in human eosinophil development: Identification of a unique cis-element that acts lie an enhancer in regulating activity of the IL-5R alpha promoter Workshop on Molecular Aspects of Myeloid Stem Cell Development Sun, Z., Yergeau, D. A., Wong, I. C., TUYPENS, T., Tavernier, J., Paul, C. C., Baumann, M. A., Auron, P. E., Tenen, D. G., Ackerman, S. J. SPRINGER-VERLAG BERLIN. 1996: 173–187


    Further functional and biochemical characterization of the nuclear factor(s) which interacts with the EOS1 enhancer-like element in the IL-5R alpha promoter is currently in progress. Since different transcription factors recognize and interact with DNA in distinct fashions and with distinct structural motifs, we have modeled potential binding of the EOS1 factor to its cis-element based upon its methylation interference pattern (Fig. 2), using a cylindrical DNA helical projection (Fig. 6). Over a length of two helical turns, all nuclear protein contacts indicated by methylation interference map to one side of the DNA helix, suggesting that EOS1 binds in the major groove, across the minor groove, and on only one side of the helix. Further review of the model also reveals a potential diad symmetry for the binding site, suggestive of binding by a homodimer and consistent with the formation of the two DNA-protein complexes in our electrophoretic mobility shift experiments that could represent interactions with monomer versus dimer. Comparison of the EOS1 binding motif to similar models for the binding of other transcription factor families for which structural crystallographic and/or binding data is available suggests a similarity of the EOS1 complex to that of the bacterial helix-turn-helix phage lambda and 434 repressor-operator complexes, and the Cys4 zinc finger glucocorticoid response element (GRE) DNA-binding motifs, all of which show similar diad symmetry and binding in the major groove on one side of the DNA. The possibility that EOS1 functions as a GRE is being investigated, especially since there is a consensus AP-1 site at bp -440 to -432 of the IL-5R alpha promoter, immediately adjacent to the EOS1 binding site (see Fig. 5 in reference [36]) and AP-1/GRE interactions have been identified for composite response elements in the regulation of a number of different genes. The identification or cloning of EOS1, a potentially novel and eosinophil lineage-active transcription factor, should enhance our understanding of the processes involved in eosinophil development in particular and myeloid lineage commitment and differentiation in general.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996BG27J00018

    View details for PubMedID 8585949



    Growth factor receptors play an important role in hematopoiesis. In order to further understand the mechanisms directing the expression of these key regulators of hematopoiesis, we initiated a study investigating the transcription factors activating the expression of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) receptor alpha gene. Here, we demonstrate that the human GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter directs reporter gene activity in a tissue-specific fashion in myelomonocytic cells, which correlates with its expression pattern as analyzed by reverse transcription PCR. The GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter contains an important functional site between positions -53 and -41 as identified by deletion analysis of reporter constructs. We show that the myeloid and B cell transcription factor PU.1 binds specifically to this site. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a CCAAT site located upstream of the PU.1 site between positions -70 and -54 is involved in positive-negative regulation of the GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter activity. C/EBP alpha is the major CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) form binding to this site in nuclear extracts of U937 cells. Point mutations of either the PU.1 site or the C/EBP site that abolish the binding of the respective factors result in a significant decrease of GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter activity in myelomonocytic cells only. Furthermore, we demonstrate that in myeloid and B cell extracts, PU.1 forms a novel, specific, more slowly migrating complex (PU-SF) when binding the GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter PU.1 site. This is the first demonstration of a specific interaction with PU.1 on a myeloid PU.1 binding site. The novel complex is distinct from that described previously as binding to B cell enhancer sites and can be formed by addition of PU.1 to extracts from certain nonmyeloid cell types which do not express PU.1, including T cells and epithelial cells, but not from erythroid cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the PU-SF complex binds to PU.1 sites found on a number of myeloid promoters, and its formation requires an intact PU.1 site adjacent to a single-stranded region. Expression of PU.1 in nonmyeloid cells can activate the GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter. Deletion of the amino-terminal region of PU.1 results in a failure to form the PU-SF complex and in a concomitant loss of transactivation, suggesting that formation of the PU-SF complex is of functional importance for the activity of the GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter. Finally, we demonstrate that C/EBP alpha can also active the GM-CSF receptor alpha promoter in nonmyeloid cells. These results suggest that PU.1 and C/EBP alpha direct the cell-type-specific expression of GM-CSF receptor alpha, further establish the role of PU.1 as a key regulator of hematopoiesis, and point to C/EBP alpha as an additional important factor in this process.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RV77200068

    View details for PubMedID 7565736



    The molecular basis for the commitment of multipotential myeloid progenitors to the eosinophil lineage, and the transcriptional mechanisms by which eosinophil-specific genes are subsequently expressed and regulated during eosinophil development are currently unknown. Interleukin-5 (IL-5) is a T cell and mast cell-derived cytokine with actions restricted to the eosinophil and closely related basophil lineages in humans. The high affinity receptor for IL-5 (IL-5R) is composed of an alpha subunit (IL-5R alpha) expressed by the eosinophil lineage, that associates with a beta c subunit shared with the receptors for IL-3 and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). As a prerequisite to studies of the transcriptional regulation of the IL-5R alpha subunit gene, we used three different methods, including primer extension, RNase protection, and 5'-RACE to precisely map the transcriptional start site to a position 15 base pairs (bp) upstream of the 5' end of the published sequence of IL-5R alpha exon 1. To initially identify the IL-5R alpha promoter, 3.5 kilobases (kb) and 561 bp of the 5' sequence flanking the transcriptional start site were subcloned into the promoterless pXP2-luciferase vector. Transient transfection of these constructs into an eosinophil-committed HL-60 subline, clone HL-60-C15, induced the expression of approximately 240-fold greater luciferase activity than the promoterless vector, identifying a strong functionally active promoter region within the 561 bp of sequence proximal to the transcriptional start site and with activity equivalent to pXP2 constructs containing the entire 3.5 kb of upstream sequence. To more precisely localize the cis-acting regulatory elements in this region important for promoter activity, a series of 5' deletion mutants of the 561-bp region were generated in the pXP2-luciferase vector. Deletion of the region between bp -432 and -398 reduced promoter activity by more than 80% in the HL-60-C15 cell line. Further analyses of the activity of the IL-5R alpha promoter constructs in various other eosinophil, myeloid, and non-myeloid cell lines indicated that the promoter was relatively myeloid and eosinophil lineage-specific in its expression. Consensus sequences for known transcription factor binding sites were not present in the 34-bp region of the promoter required for maximal activity, suggesting unique myeloid- and possibly eosinophil-specific regulatory elements.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995QB15600073

    View details for PubMedID 7836416



    The molecular basis for commitment of progenitors to the eosinophil lineage and mechanisms by which eosinophil-specific genes are expressed and regulated during differentiation is unknown. Expression of eosinophil peroxidase (EPO) is restricted to the eosinophil lineage. To understand the mechanisms involved in transcriptional regulation of EPO gene expression, we clone the region of the EPO gene upstream of the transcriptional start site and analyzed the cis-acting elements required for EPO promoter activity in an eosinophil-inducible leukemic cell line, HL-60-C15. The 5'-flanking region of the EPO gene containing 1.5 kilobases of sequence upstream of the transcriptional start site was subcloned into the promoterless pXP2-luciferase vector. The EPO-pXP2 construct and 5' deletion mutants were electroporated into HL-60-C15 cells and luciferase reporter activity assessed. The -1.5-kilobase EPO-pXP2 promoter construct reproducibly expressed > 120-fold more luciferase activity than did promoterless pXP2, and a 12-fold (90%) decrease in promoter activity was obtained when sequences between -122 and -45 base pairs (bp) were deleted. The specificity of the EPO promoter for the eosinophil lineage was analyzed by transfecting the EPO-pXP2 constructs and deletion mutants into HL-60-C15 cells and the parental HL-60 line; EPO promoter activity was 8-10-fold less in the HL-60 parental line, suggesting lineage specific elements in the -122 to -45 bp region. To further characterize regulatory sequences important for promoter activity, we performed linker-scanning analysis on the -122 to -45 bp region and identified a number of positively and negatively acting elements in the promoter. DNase I footprinting was performed with HL-60-C15, HL-60, and HeLa nuclear extracts to identify nuclear proteins that may bind to the functional elements; these experiments identified three protected regions of the EPO promoter which correspond to the functional segments defined by linker-scanning analysis and which contain consensus, potential binding sites for Egr-1, H4TF-1, PuF, CTCF, UBP-1, and GaEII transcription factors. Further study of EPO promoter regulation should elucidate unique transcriptional features of eosinophil gene regulation in granulocyte development.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NY33200035

    View details for PubMedID 8034708



    The octamer sequence ATGCAAAT is highly conserved in the promoter of immunoglobulin heavy and light chain genes and is one of the sequence motifs involved in the control of transcription of these genes. The promoter region of an human immunoglobulin heavy chain variable gene, the sole member of the VH6 gene family, was found to differ from other VH gene promoters: it contains neither the conserved octamer motif nor a heptamer sequence, and generally bears little resemblance to other VH gene transcriptional control regions. An imperfect octamer sequence with a single nucleotide substitution (AgGCAAAT) is located 108 bp upstream of the ATG translation start site, and 81 bp upstream of the transcription initiation site. We sought to determine which sequence elements within the VH6 promoter were responsible for transcription initiation by creating progressive deletions of a 1 kb fragment from this region and testing their ability to function as promoter elements in B and non-B cells (HeLa). The minimum fragment required for full promoter function was 110 bp, but a fragment with only 65 bp retained 30-50% activity in B cells. Similar levels of transcription were seen when the -146 bp promoter containing two point mutations in the imperfect octamer was tested. Mutation of a possible pyrimidine box sequence located downstream of the TATA box was shown to have only a minor effect (10-30%) on transcription when three nucleotides were changed. Surprisingly, CAT activity was not B cell-specific, as all constructs had virtually the same activity in several B cell lines and in HeLa cells. Removal of the TATA box led to a 50% reduction in CAT activity, and the region upstream of the TATA box functioned as a promoter in both orientations. The transcriptional activity of the VH6 promoter was virtually enhancer independent: only a minor increase was observed when the immunoglobulin or SV40 enhancer was added to the promoter construct. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays of transcription factor binding to the region around the imperfect octamer indicated that binding was weak when nuclear extracts from either B cells or HeLa cells were used. The amount of complex shifted was increased by mutating the imperfect octamer to a perfect one. Chimeras produced between the VH6 promoter and a B cell-specific promoter from a member of the human VH2 gene family demonstrated that the lack of tissue specificity was due to the absence of a repressor of non-B cell transcription in the VH6 promoter. These results indicate that the VH6 promoter is relatively simple, requiring little more than the TATA element and the imperfect octamer, and transcription from this promoter lacks B cell specificity and is not dependent on the enhancer element.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NB37500021

    View details for PubMedID 8139927



    The human immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain VH6 gene promoter contains an imperfect octamer (AgGCAAAT) and is not dependent on the Ig heavy chain enhancer for activity; reporter constructs containing this promoter are very active in non-B cells. In experiments designed to characterize regions upstream of the transcriptional start site that are important for promoter function, we produced a series of deletion constructs, including one containing sequences between -74 and -146. Surprisingly, this fragment had promoter activity in both orientations. Inspection of the VH6 promoter sequence indicated that there was a possible TATA box in the proper orientation upstream of the imperfect octamer. The -74 to -146 fragment functioned as a promoter in the reverse orientation in three B cell lines and in non-B (HeLa) cells, with a much higher level of activity seen in the HeLa cells. To determine if the promoter could work in both directions simultaneously, reporter genes were positioned up- and downstream of a VH6 promoter fragment. Reporter gene activity was found for both genes in B cells and HeLa cells. Using a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction procedure (RT-PCR), we found a transcript corresponding to sequences upstream of the VH6 promoter in RNA from both the lymphoblastoid cell line ML-1, which actively transcribes the VH6 promoter, and the REH cell line, which does not. No transcripts were found in the KB epithelial cell line. Two or three mRNA 5' ends were found that mapped between -137 to -143 from the authentic VH6 transcription site, 31-37 nucleotides upstream of the putative TATA box. Inspection of the sequence upstream of the VH6 promoter demonstrated the presence of an open reading frame capable of coding for 96 amino acids. The VH6 promoter represents the second Ig promoter with bidirectional activity.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NB37500022

    View details for PubMedID 7545916

  • Sequencing of selected regions of the human immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene locus that completes the sequence from JH through the delta constant region. DNA sequence Sun, Z. J., Kitchingman, G. R. 1991; 1 (5): 347-355


    Much of the nucleotide sequence between the start of the joining region and the end of the immunoglobulin heavy chain delta gene has already been determined. However, two gaps existed in potentially functionally important regions in this sequence: the region between the 3' end of the joining region and the heavy chain enhancer region and that between the enhancer and the mu constant region. We have determined the nucleotide sequences of these regions. The 734 bp between the joining and enhancer regions contained no additional joining regions. The 4525 bp region between the heavy chain enhancer and the mu constant region contains the mu switch region, which consists of pentameric repeats. Approximately 60% of these repeats are GGGCT and GAGCT. With the determination of these sequences, the entire region of the heavy chain locus starting upstream of the joining region to downstream of the last exon of the delta constant region (a total of more than 29 kb) has now been sequenced.

    View details for PubMedID 1799683