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Politano G.,Polytechnic University of Turin | Orso F.,Molecular Biotechnology Center | Orso F.,University of Turin | Orso F.,Center for Complex Systems in Molecular Biology and Medicine | And 8 more authors.
BMC Bioinformatics | Year: 2016

Background: Biological research increasingly relies on network models to study complex phenomena. Signal Transduction Pathways are molecular circuits that model how cells receive, process, and respond to information from the environment providing snapshots of the overall cell dynamics. Most of the attempts to reconstruct signal transduction pathways are limited to single regulator networks including only genes/proteins. However, networks involving a single type of regulator and neglecting transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations mediated by transcription factors and microRNAs, respectively, may not fully reveal the complex regulatory mechanisms of a cell. We observed a lack of computational instruments supporting explorative analysis on this type of three-component signal transduction pathways. Results: We have developed CyTRANSFINDER, a new Cytoscape plugin able to infer three-component signal transduction pathways based on user defined regulatory patterns and including miRNAs, TFs and genes. Since CyTRANSFINDER has been designed to support exploratory analysis, it does not rely on expression data. To show the potential of the plugin we have applied it in a study of two miRNAs that are particularly relevant in human melanoma progression, miR-146a and miR-214. Conclusions: CyTRANSFINDER supports the reconstruction of small signal transduction pathways among groups of genes. Results obtained from its use in a real case study have been analyzed and validated through both literature data and preliminary wet-lab experiments, showing the potential of this tool when performing exploratory analysis. © 2016 Politano et al.

Gagliardi P.A.,Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment | Gagliardi P.A.,University of Turin | di Blasio L.,Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment | di Blasio L.,University of Turin | And 16 more authors.
Neoplasia (United States) | Year: 2012

3-Phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) is the pivotal element of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway because it phosphorylates Akt/PKB through interactions with phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5 phosphate. Recent data indicate that PDK1 is overexpressed in many breast carcinomas and that alterations of PDK1 are critical in the context of oncogenic PI3K activation. However, the role of PDK1 in tumor progression is still controversial. Here, we show that PDK1 is required for anchorage-independent and xenograft growth of breast cancer cells harboring either PI3KCA or KRAS mutations. In fact, PDK1 silencing leads to increased anoikis, reduced soft agar growth, and pronounced apoptosis inside tumors. Interestingly, these phenotypes are reverted by PDK1 wild-type but not kinase-dead mutant, suggesting a relevant role of PDK1 kinase activity, even if PDK1 is not relevant for Akt activation here. Indeed, the expression of constitutively active forms of Akt in PDK1 knockdown cells is unable to rescue the anchorage-independent growth. In addition, Akt down-regulation and pharmacological inhibition do not inhibit the effects of PDK1 overexpression. In summary, these results suggest that PDK1 may contribute to breast cancer, even in the absence of PI3K oncogenic mutations and through both Akt-dependent and Akt-independent mechanisms. © 2012 Neoplasia Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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