Grantholder Papers

Below are the latest scientific papers published as a result of Animal Free Research UK funded projects.

Title Global Proteome and Phospho-proteome Analysis of Merlin-deficient Meningioma and Schwannoma Identifies PDLIM2 as a Novel Therapeutic Target
Authors Kayleigh Bassiri, Sara Ferluga, Vikram Sharma, Nelofer Syed, Claire L. Adams, Edwin Lasonder, C. Oliver Hanemann
Publication EBioMedicine
DOI 10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.01.020

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Loss or mutation of the tumour suppressor Merlin predisposes individuals to develop multiple nervous system tumours, including schwannomas and meningiomas, sporadically or as part of the autosomal dominant inherited condition Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2). These tumours display largely low grade features but their presence can lead to significant morbidity. Surgery and radiotherapy remain the only treatment options despite years of research, therefore an effective therapeutic is required. Unbiased omics studies have become pivotal in the identification of differentially expressed genes and proteins that may act as drug targets or biomarkers. Here we analysed the proteome and phospho-proteome of these genetically defined tumours using primary human tumour cells to identify upregulated/activated proteins and/or pathways. We identified over 2000 proteins in comparative experiments between Merlin-deficient schwannoma and meningioma compared to human Schwann and meningeal cells respectively. Using functional enrichment analysis we highlighted several dysregulated pathways and Gene Ontology terms. We identified several proteins and phospho-proteins that are more highly expressed in tumours compared to controls. Among proteins jointly dysregulated in both tumours we focused in particular on PDZ and LIM domain protein 2 (PDLIM2) and validated its overexpression in several tumour samples, while not detecting it in normal cells. We showed that shRNA mediated knockdown of PDLIM2 in both primary meningioma and schwannoma leads to significant reductions in cellular proliferation. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive assessment of the NF2-related meningioma and schwannoma proteome and phospho-proteome. Taken together, our data highlight several commonly deregulated factors, and indicate that PDLIM2 may represent a novel, common target for meningioma and schwannoma.


Title Abnormal salience signaling in schizophrenia: The role of integrative beta oscillations
Authors Elizabeth B. Liddle, Darren Price, Lena Palaniyappan, Matthew J. Brookes, Siân E. Robson, Emma L. Hall, Peter G. Morris, Peter F. Liddle
Publication Human Brain Mapping
ISSN 1097-0193
DOI 10.1002/hbm.23107

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Aberrant salience attribution and cerebral dysconnectivity both have strong evidential support as core dysfunctions in schizophrenia. Aberrant salience arising from an excess of dopamine activity has been implicated in delusions and hallucinations, exaggerating the significance of everyday occurrences and thus leading to perceptual distortions and delusional causal inferences. Meanwhile, abnormalities in key nodes of a salience brain network have been implicated in other characteristic symptoms, including the disorganization and impoverishment of mental activity. A substantial body of literature reports disruption to brain network connectivity in schizophrenia. Electrical oscillations likely play a key role in the coordination of brain activity at spatially remote sites, and evidence implicates beta band oscillations in long-range integrative processes. We used magnetoencephalography and a task designed to disambiguate responses to relevant from irrelevant stimuli to investigate beta oscillations in nodes of a network implicated in salience detection and previously shown to be structurally and functionally abnormal in schizophrenia. Healthy participants, as expected, produced an enhanced beta synchronization to behaviorally relevant, as compared to irrelevant, stimuli, while patients with schizophrenia showed the reverse pattern: a greater beta synchronization in response to irrelevant than to relevant stimuli. These findings not only support both the aberrant salience and disconnectivity hypotheses, but indicate a common mechanism that allows us to integrate them into a single framework for understanding schizophrenia in terms of disrupted recruitment of contextually appropriate brain networks. Hum Brain Mapp, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Title An Evaluation of Matrix-Containing and Humanised Matrix-Free 3-Dimensional Cell Culture Systems for Studying Breast Cancer
Authors Grace C. Roberts, Paul G. Morris, Marcus A. Moss, Sarah L. Maltby, Chelsea A. Palmer, Claire E. Nash, Emily Smart, Deborah L. Holliday, Valerie Speirs
Publication PLOS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0157004
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Background 3D cell cultures are emerging as more physiologically meaningful alternatives to monolayer cultures for many biological applications. They are attractive because they more closely mimic in vivo morphology, especially when co-cultured with stromal fibroblasts. Methodology/Principal Findings We compared the efficacy of 3 different 3D cell culture systems; collagen I, low attachment culture vessels and a modification of Fibrolife®, a specialised humanised cell culture medium devoid of animal-derived components, using breast cancer cell lines representative of the different molecular subtypes of breast cancer, cultured alone or with human mammary fibroblasts with a view to developing matrix-free humanised systems. 3D collagen I culture supported the growth of a range of breast cancer cell lines. By modifying the composition of Fibrolife® to epiFL, matrix-free cell culture was possible. During sequential transfer to epiFL breast cancer cells gradually detached from the flask, growing progressively as spheroids. Phenotype was stable and reversible with cells remaining actively proliferating and easily accessible throughout culture. They could also be revived from frozen stocks. To achieve co-culture with fibroblasts in epiFL required use of low attachment culture vessels instead of standard plastic as fibroblasts remained adherent in epiFL. Here, cancer cell spheroids were allowed to form before adding fibroblasts. Immunohistochemical examination showed fibroblasts scattered throughout the epithelial spheroid, not dissimilar to the relationship of tumour stroma in human breast cancer. Conclusions Because of its ease of handling, matrix-free 3D cell culture may be a useful model to study the influence of fibroblasts on breast cancer epithelial cells with use of epiFL culture medium taking this a step further towards a fully humanised 3D model. This methodology could be applied to other types of cancer cell lines, making this a versatile technique for cancer researchers wishing to use in vitro systems that better reflect cancer in vivo.

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