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Hector S.,Center for Systems Medicine | Conlon S.,Beaumont Hospital | Schmid J.,Center for Systems Medicine | Dicker P.,Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland | And 5 more authors.
British Journal of Cancer | Year: 2012

Background: Critical to successful execution of mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis is apoptosome formation and subsequent activation of caspases. Defects in this pathway have an important role in colorectal carcinogenesis and chemoresistance; therefore, the expression of apoptosome-associated proteins may be associated with clinical outcome and response to chemotherapy. Methods: Here we performed a systematic analysis of the immunohistochemical expression of the key proteins involved in apoptosome-dependent caspase activation (APAF1, Pro-caspases 9 and 3, SMAC, and XIAP) in a cohort of Stage II and III colorectal cancer patients from a Phase III trial of adjuvant 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy vs postoperative observation alone.Results:Survival analysis indicated that of the apoptosome-associated proteins examined here, Pro-caspase 3 and APAF1 have potential clinical utility as predictive markers in Stage II and III colorectal cancer, respectively. Interestingly, we identified APAF1 staining to be associated with better recurrence-free and overall survival in patients receiving chemotherapy. Conclusion: These studies reveal the importance of the apoptosome-dependent caspase activation pathway, specifically Pro-caspase 3 and APAF1 proteins, for predicting both prognosis and response to therapy. © 2012 Cancer Research UK All rights reserved.


Connolly N.M.C.,Center for Systems Medicine | Connolly N.M.C.,Center for the Study of Neurological Disorders | D'Orsi B.,Center for the Study of Neurological Disorders | Monsefi N.,Center for Systems Medicine | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Loss of ionic homeostasis during excitotoxic stress depletes ATP levels and activates the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), re-establishing energy production by increased expression of glucose transporters on the plasma membrane. Here, we develop a computational model to test whether this AMPK-mediated glucose import can rapidly restore ATP levels following a transient excitotoxic insult. We demonstrate that a highly compact model, comprising a minimal set of critical reactions, can closely resemble the rapid dynamics and cell-to-cell heterogeneity of ATP levels and AMPK activity, as confirmed by single-cell fluorescence microscopy in rat primary cerebellar neurons exposed to glutamate excitotoxicity. The model further correctly predicted an excitotoxicity-induced elevation of intracellular glucose, and well resembled the delayed recovery and cell-to-cell heterogeneity of experimentally measured glucose dynamics. The model also predicted necrotic bioenergetic collapse and altered calcium dynamics following more severe excitotoxic insults. In conclusion, our data suggest that a minimal set of critical reactions may determine the acute bioenergetic response to transient excitotoxicity and that an AMPK-mediated increase in intracellular glucose may be sufficient to rapidly recover ATP levels following an excitotoxic insult. © 2016 Connolly et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Zakaria Z.,Center for Systems Medicine | Zakaria Z.,Beaumont Hospital | Tivnan A.,Center for Systems Medicine | Flanagan L.,Center for Systems Medicine | And 10 more authors.
British Journal of Cancer | Year: 2016

Background:Resistance to temozolomide (TMZ) greatly limits chemotherapeutic effectiveness in glioblastoma (GBM). Here we analysed the ability of the Inhibitor-of-apoptosis-protein (IAP) antagonist birinapant to enhance treatment responses to TMZ in both commercially available and patient-derived GBM cells.Methods:Responses to TMZ and birinapant were analysed in a panel of commercial and patient-derived GBM cell lines using colorimetric viability assays, flow cytometry, morphological analysis and protein expression profiling of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins. Responses in vivo were analysed in an orthotopic xenograft GBM model.Results:Single-agent treatment experiments categorised GBM cells into TMZ-sensitive cells, birinapant-sensitive cells, and cells that were insensitive to either treatment. Combination treatment allowed sensitisation to therapy in only a subset of resistant GBM cells. Cell death analysis identified three principal response patterns: Type A cells that readily activated caspase-8 and cell death in response to TMZ while addition of birinapant further sensitised the cells to TMZ-induced cell death; Type B cells that readily activated caspase-8 and cell death in response to birinapant but did not show further sensitisation with TMZ; and Type C cells that showed no significant cell death or moderately enhanced cell death in the combined treatment paradigm. Furthermore, in vivo, a Type C patient-derived cell line that was TMZ-insensitive in vitro and showed a strong sensitivity to TMZ and TMZ plus birinapant treatments.Conclusions:Our results demonstrate remarkable differences in responses of patient-derived GBM cells to birinapant single and combination treatments, and suggest that therapeutic responses in vivo may be greatly affected by the tumour microenvironment. © 2016 Cancer Research UK.


Murphy A.C.,Center for Systems Medicine | Weyhenmeyer B.,Center for Systems Medicine | Schmid J.,Center for Systems Medicine | Kilbride S.M.,Center for Systems Medicine | And 10 more authors.
Cell Death and Disease | Year: 2013

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. GBM cells are highly resistant to apoptosis induced by antitumor drugs and radiotherapy resulting in cancer progression. We assessed whether a systems medicine approach, analysing the ability of tumor cells to execute apoptosis could be utilized to predict the response of GBM patients to treatment. Concentrations of the key proapoptotic proteins procaspase-3, procaspase-9, Smac and Apaf-1 and the antiapopotic protein XIAP were determined in a panel of GBM cell lines and GBM patient tumor resections. These values were used as input for APOPTO-CELL, a systems biological based mathematical model built to predict cellular susceptibility to undergo caspase activation. The modeling was capable of accurately distinguishing between GBM cells that die or survive in response to treatment with temozolomide in 10 of the 11 lines analysed. Importantly the results obtained using GBM patient samples show that APOPTO-CELL was capable of stratifying patients according to their progression-free survival times and predicted the ability of tumor cells to support caspase activation in 16 of the 21 GBM patients analysed. Calculating the susceptibility to apoptosis execution may be a potent tool in predicting GBM patient therapy responsiveness and may allow for the use of APOPTO-CELL in a clinical setting. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Weyhenmeyer B.,Center for Systems Medicine | Murphy A.C.,Center for Systems Medicine | Prehn J.H.M.,Center for Systems Medicine | Murphy B.M.,Center for Systems Medicine
Experimental Oncology | Year: 2012

Most cells express a variety of both anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins and the interaction within this family dictates whether a cell survives or dies. The dysregulation of the anti-anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members is one of the defining features of cancer cells in comparison to normal cells, and significantly contributes to the resistance of cancer cells to current treatment modalities. This anti-apoptotic subfamily of proteins is now a major target in the development of new methods to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients. Several drugs directed at inhibiting Bcl-2 and related anti-apoptotic proteins have been developed with some showing considerable promise in the clinic. This Review presents the current knowledge of the role of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family in cancer cells, as well as current and future perspectives on targeting this subfamily of proteins for therapeutic intervention in human malignancies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Apoptosis: Four Decades Later". Copyright © Experimental Oncology, 2012.


PubMed | Center for Systems Medicine
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Experimental oncology | Year: 2012

Most cells express a variety of both anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins and the interaction within this family dictates whether a cell survives or dies. The dysregulation of the anti-anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members is one of the defining features of cancer cells in comparison to normal cells, and significantly contributes to the resistance of cancer cells to current treatment modalities. This anti-apoptotic subfamily of proteins is now a major target in the development of new methods to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients. Several drugs directed at inhibiting Bcl-2 and related anti-apoptotic proteins have been developed with some showing considerable promise in the clinic. This Review presents the current knowledge of the role of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family in cancer cells, as well as current and future perspectives on targeting this subfamily of proteins for therapeutic intervention in human malignancies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Apoptosis: Four Decades Later.

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