Background: The cell division cycle demands accuracy to avoid the accumulation of genetic damage. This process is controlled by molecular circuits called "checkpoints" that are common to all eukaryotic cells (1). Checkpoints monitor DNA integrity and cell growth prior to replication and division at the G1/S and G2/M transitions, respectively. The cdc2-cyclin B kinase is pivotal in regulating the G2/M transition (2,3). Cdc2 is phosphorylated at Thr14 and Tyr15 during G2-phase by the kinases Wee1 and Myt1, rendering it inactive. The tumor suppressor protein retinoblastoma (Rb) controls progression through the late G1 restriction point (R) and is a major regulator of the G1/S transition (4). During early and mid G1-phase, Rb binds to and represses the transcription factor E2F (5). The phosphorylation of Rb late in G1-phase by CDKs induces Rb to dissociate from E2F, permitting the transcription of S-phase-promoting genes. In vitro, Rb can be phosphorylated at multiple sites by cdc2, cdk2, and cdk4/6 (6-8). DNA damage triggers both the G2/M and the G1/S checkpoints. DNA damage activates the DNA-PK/ATM/ATR kinases, which phosphorylate Chk at Ser345 (9), Chk2 at Thr68 (10) and p53 (11). The Chk kinases inactivate cdc25 via phosphorylation at Ser216, blocking the activation of cdc2.
Background: The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein Rb regulates cell proliferation by controlling progression through the restriction point within the G1-phase of the cell cycle (1). Rb has three functionally distinct binding domains and interacts with critical regulatory proteins including the E2F family of transcription factors, c-Abl tyrosine kinase, and proteins with a conserved LXCXE motif (2-4). Cell cycle-dependent phosphorylation by a CDK inhibits Rb target binding and allows cell cycle progression (5). Rb inactivation and subsequent cell cycle progression likely requires an initial phosphorylation by cyclin D-CDK4/6 followed by cyclin E-CDK2 phosphorylation (6). Specificity of different CDK/cyclin complexes has been observed in vitro (6-8) and cyclin D1 is required for Ser780 phosphorylation in vivo (9).
Background: The Bcl-2 family consists of a number of evolutionarily conserved proteins containing Bcl-2 homology domains (BH) that regulate apoptosis through control of mitochondrial membrane permeability and release of cytochrome c (1-3). Four BH domains have been identified (BH1-4) that mediate protein interactions. The family can be separated into three groups based upon function and sequence homology: pro-survival members include Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Mcl-1, A1 and Bcl-w; pro-apoptotic proteins include Bax, Bak and Bok; and "BH3 only" proteins Bad, Bik, Bid, Puma, Bim, Bmf, Noxa and Hrk. Interactions between death-promoting and death-suppressing Bcl-2 family members has led to a rheostat model in which the ratio of pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins controls cell fate (4). Thus, pro-survival members exert their behavior by binding to and antagonizing death-promoting members. In general, the "BH3-only members" can bind to and antagonize the pro-survival proteins leading to increased apoptosis (5). While some redundancy of this system likely exists, tissue specificity, transcriptional and post-translational regulation of many of these family members can account for distinct physiological roles.
Background: Eukaryotic cell cycle progression is dependent, in part, on the tightly regulated activity of cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs). Cyclin D/CDK4/6 activity occurs in mid-late G1 phase, upstream of CDK2/cyclin E activity. Both of these activities are required for hyperphosphorylation of the retinoblastoma gene product (pRb). pRb phosphorylation allows the release of S phase-promoting transcription factors and is indicative of the cell's commitment to proliferate. This point in the cell cycle is known as the restriction point. Cyclin protein levels oscillate throughout the cell cycle, and their availability is a means of controlling CDK activity and cell proliferation. Cyclin D is degraded through the ubiquitin proteasome pathway in the absence of mitogenic signaling. Ubiquitination of cyclin D1 is enhanced by phosphorylation at Thr286 by glycogen synthase kinase 3b (GSK-3b) (1). p27/Kip1, p57 Kip2 and p21 Waf1/Cip1 are members of the Cip/Kip family of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors. They form heterotrimeric complexes with cyclins and CDKs, inhibiting kinase activity and blocking progression through G1/S phase (2). However, p21 may enhance assembly and activity of cyclin D/CDK4/6 complexes (3). Levels of p21 and p27 protein are controlled through ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation (4). Levels of p27 are upregulated in quiescent cells and in cells treated with negative cell cycle regulators. p27 nuclear localization is controlled by Akt-dependent phosphorylation at Thr157 (5). The inhibitors of CDK4 (INK4) family include p15 INK4B, p16 INK4A, p18 INK4C, and p19 INK4D. All INK4 proteins selectively inhibit CDK4/6 activity, either in a binary complex, or in a ternary complex including cyclin D, resulting in inhibition of cell division (6,7).
Background: Aurora kinases belong to a highly conserved family of mitotic serine/threonine kinases with three members identified among mammals: Aurora A, B, and C (1,2). Studies on the temporal expression pattern and subcellular localization of Aurora kinases in mitotic cells suggest an association with mitotic structure. Aurora kinase functional influences span from G2 phase to cytokinesis and may be involved in key cell cycle events such as centrosome duplication, chromosome bi-orientation and segregation, cleavage furrow positioning, and ingression (3). Aurora A is detected at the centrosomes, along mitotic spindle microtubules, and in the cytoplasm of mitotically proliferating cells. Aurora A protein levels are low during G1 and S phases and peak during the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. Phosphorylation of Aurora A at Thr288 in its catalytic domain increases kinase activity. Aurora A is involved in centrosome separation, maturation, and spindle assembly and stability. Expression of Aurora B protein also peaks during the G2/M phase of the cell cycle; Aurora B kinase activity peaks at the transition from metaphase to the end of mitosis. Aurora B associates with chromosomes during prophase prior to relocalizing to the spindle at anaphase. Aurora B regulates chromosome segregation through the control of microtubule-kinetochore attachment and cytokinesis. Expression of both Aurora A and Aurora B during the G2/M phase transition is tightly coordinated with histone H3 phosphorylation (4,5); research investigators have observed overexpression of these kinases in a variety of human cancers (2,4). Aurora C localizes to the centrosome from anaphase to cytokinesis and both mRNA and protein levels peak during G2/M phase. Although typical Aurora C expression is limited to the testis, research studies report overexpression of Aurora C is detected in various cancer cell lines (6).
Background: Senescence is characterized by stable stress-induced proliferative arrest and resistance to mitogenic stimuli, as well as the secretion of proteins such as cytokines, growth factors and proteases. These secreted proteins comprise the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Senescent cells are thought to accumulate as an organism ages, and contribute to age-related diseases, including cancer, through promotion of inflammation and disruption of normal cellular function (1,2).Because there is no single biomarker that can be used to definitively identify senescent cells, researchers must rely on a collection of biomarkers commonly associated with senescence. The Senescence Marker Antibody Sampler Kit provides a collection of antibodies to commonly used biomarkers of senescence-associated cell cycle arrest (p16 INK4A, p21 Waf1/Cip1), senescence-associated DNA damage (gamma-Histone H2A.X), and the SASP (HMGB1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, MMP3). The kit also includes an antibody to Lamin B1, which is frequently reduced in senescent cells.
Background: Chk1 kinase acts downstream of ATM/ATR kinase and plays an important role in DNA damage checkpoint control, embryonic development, and tumor suppression (1). Activation of Chk1 involves phosphorylation at Ser317 and Ser345 by ATM/ATR, followed by autophosphorylation of Ser296. Activation occurs in response to blocked DNA replication and certain forms of genotoxic stress (2). While phosphorylation at Ser345 serves to localize Chk1 to the nucleus following checkpoint activation (3), phosphorylation at Ser317 along with site-specific phosphorylation of PTEN allows for re-entry into the cell cycle following stalled DNA replication (4). Chk1 exerts its checkpoint mechanism on the cell cycle, in part, by regulating the cdc25 family of phosphatases. Chk1 phosphorylation of cdc25A targets it for proteolysis and inhibits its activity through 14-3-3 binding (5). Activated Chk1 can inactivate cdc25C via phosphorylation at Ser216, blocking the activation of cdc2 and transition into mitosis (6). Centrosomal Chk1 has been shown to phosphorylate cdc25B and inhibit its activation of CDK1-cyclin B1, thereby abrogating mitotic spindle formation and chromatin condensation (7). Furthermore, Chk1 plays a role in spindle checkpoint function through regulation of aurora B and BubR1 (8). Research studies have implicated Chk1 as a drug target for cancer therapy as its inhibition leads to cell death in many cancer cell lines (9).
Background: p38 MAP kinase (MAPK), also called RK (1) or CSBP (2), is the mammalian orthologue of the yeast HOG kinase that participates in a signaling cascade controlling cellular responses to cytokines and stress (1-4). Four isoforms of p38 MAPK, p38α, β, γ (also known as Erk6 or SAPK3), and δ (also known as SAPK4) have been identified. Similar to the SAPK/JNK pathway, p38 MAPK is activated by a variety of cellular stresses including osmotic shock, inflammatory cytokines, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), UV light, and growth factors (1-5). MKK3, MKK6, and SEK activate p38 MAPK by phosphorylation at Thr180 and Tyr182. Activated p38 MAPK has been shown to phosphorylate and activate MAPKAP kinase 2 (3) and to phosphorylate the transcription factors ATF-2 (5), Max (6), and MEF2 (5-8). SB203580 (4-(4-fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)-imidazole) is a selective inhibitor of p38 MAPK. This compound inhibits the activation of MAPKAPK-2 by p38 MAPK and subsequent phosphorylation of HSP27 (9). SB203580 inhibits p38 MAPK catalytic activity by binding to the ATP-binding pocket, but does not inhibit phosphorylation of p38 MAPK by upstream kinases (10).
Background: YAP and TAZ (WWTR1) are transcriptional co-activators that play a central role in the Hippo Signaling pathway that regulates cell, tissue and organ growth. Under growth conditions, YAP and TAZ are translocated to the nucleus, where they interact with DNA-binding transcription factors (e.g., Transcriptional Enhanced Activation Domain [TEAD] proteins) to regulate the expression of genes that control fundamental aspects of cell function, such as proliferation and cell survival (1). A number of genes have been experimentally confirmed as targets of transcriptional regulation by YAP and TAZ. These include the extracellular matrix proteins CTGF, CYR61, and integrin β2 (2-4), the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) survivin (5), the mechano-sensitive nuclear envelope protein Lamin B2 (6), and the oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinase Axl (7).
Background: Insulin and IGF-1 act on two closely related tyrosine kinase receptors to initiate a cascade of signaling events. These signaling events activate a variety of biological molecules, including kinases and transcription factors, which regulate cell growth, survival and metabolism.Type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR) is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase that is widely expressed in many cell lines and cell types within fetal and postnatal tissues (1-3). Three tyrosine residues within the kinase domain (Tyr1131, Tyr1135, and Tyr1136) are the earliest major autophosphorylation sites (4). Phosphorylation of these three tyrosine residues is necessary for kinase activation (5,6). Insulin receptors (IRs) share significant structural and functional similarity with IGF-I receptors, including the presence of an equivalent tyrosine cluster (Tyr1146/1150/1151) within the kinase domain activation loop. Tyrosine autophosphorylation of IRs is one of the earliest cellular responses to insulin stimulation (7). Autophosphorylation begins with phosphorylation at Tyr1146 and either Tyr1150 or Tyr1151, while full kinase activation requires triple tyrosine phosphorylation (8).Akt, also referred to as PKB or Rac, plays a critical role in controlling survival and apoptosis (9-11). This protein kinase is activated by insulin and various growth and survival factors to function in a wortmannin-sensitive pathway involving PI3 kinase (10,11). Akt is activated by phospholipid binding and activation loop phosphorylation at Thr308 by PDK1 (12) and by phosphorylation within the carboxy terminus at Ser473. The previously elusive PDK2 responsible for phosphorylation of Akt at Ser473 has been identified as mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in a rapamycin-insensitive complex with rictor and Sin1 (13,14).Tuberin is a product of the TSC2 tumor suppressor gene and an important regulator of cell proliferation and tumor development (15). Tuberin is phosphorylated on Ser939 and Thr1462 in response to PI3K activation and the human TSC complex is a direct biochemical target of the PI3K/Akt pathway (16). This result complements Drosophila genetics studies suggesting the possible involvement of the tuberin-hamartin complex in the PI3K/Akt mediated insulin pathway (17-19).The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR, FRAP, RAFT) is a Ser/Thr protein kinase (20-22) that functions as an ATP and amino acid sensor to balance nutrient availability and cell growth (23,24). When sufficient nutrients are available, mTOR responds to a phosphatidic acid-mediated signal to transmit a positive signal to p70 S6 kinase and participate in the inactivation of the eIF4E inhibitor, 4E-BP1 (25). These events result in the translation of specific mRNA subpopulations. mTOR is phosphorylated at Ser2448 via the PI3 kinase/Akt signaling pathway and autophosphorylated at Ser2481 (26,27).The Forkhead family of transcription factors is involved in tumorigenesis of rhabdomyosarcoma and acute leukemias (28-30). Within the family, three members (FoxO1, FoxO4, and FoxO3a) have sequence similarity to the nematode orthologue DAF-16, which mediates signaling via a pathway involving IGFR1, PI3K, and Akt (31-33). Active forkhead members act as tumor suppressors by promoting cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Increased proliferation results when forkhead transcription factors are inactivated through phosphorylation by Akt at Thr24, Ser256, and Ser319, which results in nuclear export and inhibition of transcription factor activity (34).Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) was initially identified as an enzyme that regulates glycogen synthesis in response to insulin (35). GSK-3 is a critical downstream element of the PI3K/Akt cell survival pathway whose activity can be inhibited by Akt-mediated phosphorylation at Ser21 of GSK-3α and Ser9 of GSK-3β (36,37).
Background: The inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family consists of an evolutionarily conserved group of apoptosis inhibitors containing a conserved 70 amino acid BIR (baculovirus inhibitor repeat) domain (1,2). Human members of this family include c-IAP1, c-IAP2, XIAP, survivin, livin, and NAIP. Overexpression of IAP family members, particularly survivin and livin, in cancer cell lines and primary tumors suggests an important role for these proteins in cancer progression (3-5). In general, the IAP proteins function through direct interactions to inhibit the activity of several caspases, including caspase-3, caspase-7, and caspase-9 (5,6). In addition, binding of IAP family members to the mitochondrial protein Smac blocks their interaction with caspase-9, thereby allowing the processing and activation of the caspase (2).
Background: Fanconi anemia (FA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder resulting in symptoms that include chromosomal breakage, bone marrow failure, hypersensitivity to DNA cross-linking agents (such as mitomycin C), and a predisposition to cancer (1). In response to DNA damage, the FA nuclear complex (FANCA, FANCB, FANCC, FANCE, FANCF, FANCG, FANCM) induces mono-ubiquitination of FANCD2 and FANCI (2).Monoubiquitination of FANCD2 induces localization of FANCD2 to sites of DNA damage, where it interacts with BRCA1 (4). FANCJ/BRIP1, FANCD1/BRCA2, and FANCN/PALB2 are also recruited to sites of DNA damage. FA signaling is important in maintenance of chromosome stability and control of mitosis (3).
Background: SHP-2 (PTPN11) is a ubiquitously expressed, nonreceptor protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP). It participates in signaling events downstream of receptors for growth factors, cytokines, hormones, antigens, and extracellular matrices in the control of cell growth, differentiation, migration, and death (1). Activation of SHP-2 and its association with Gab1 is critical for sustained Erk activation downstream of several growth factor receptors and cytokines (2). In addition to its role in Gab1-mediated Erk activation, SHP-2 attenuates EGF-dependent PI3 kinase activation by dephosphorylating Gab1 at p85 binding sites (3). SHP-2 becomes phosphorylated at Tyr542 and Tyr580 in its carboxy-terminus in response to growth factor receptor activation (4). These phosphorylation events are thought to relieve basal inhibition and stimulate SHP-2 tyrosine phosphatase activity (5). Mutations in the corresponding gene result in a pair of clinically similar disorders (Noonan syndrome and LEOPARD syndrome) that may result from abnormal MAPK regulation (6).