Understanding molecular mechanisms & consequences of TGF beta/BMP signal transduction pathways in cells & human diseases

Lead Research Organisation: MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit

Abstract

The transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta) family of proteins, including bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), control multiple cellular processes, which regulate cell fate. Their malfunctions cause human disorders ranging from bone defects to cancer progression and metastasis. When cells are exposed to TGF beta, another family of proteins, called SMADs, become activated, which then transmit the TGF beta signals by affecting the expression of hundreds of genes, leading to, among other things, a halt to the growth of the cells. Many cancer cells overcome the growth inhibitory effects of TGF beta, but at the same time start producing TGF beta and other factors, which block the growth of normal cells, including immune cells, thereby making these cancer cells resistant to immune surveillance and promoting their metastatic invasion.||We are interested in understanding how the TGF beta and BMP signalling pathways are regulated in cells, from initiation of the signals until their termination. The activity of SMAD proteins, the mediators of the TGF beta and BMP signals, is balanced by pathway crosstalk and feedback inputs through multiple signalling pathways. We are interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which the activity, stability and fate of SMAD proteins is modulated by inputs from other signalling pathways, especially in the context of human diseases, including bone diseases and cancer. A better understanding of these mechanisms may provide novel therapeutic targets and better treatment strategies against these diseases.

Technical Summary

The TGF beta family of ligands, including BMP, control multiple cellular processes including cell proliferation, recognition, differentiation, apoptosis, and cell fate and their malfunctions cause human disorders ranging from bone defects to cancer progression and metastasis. Smad proteins transduce BMP and TGF beta signals upon phosphorylation of their C-terminal SXS motif by receptor kinases, leading to their interaction with Smad4 and translocation to the nucleus, where they regulate the expression of hundreds of genes. The activity of Smad1/5/8 in the BMP pathway and Smad2/3 in the TGF beta pathway is regulated by pathway crosstalk and feedback inputs through multiple signalling pathways. We are interested in elucidating molecular mechanisms by which TGF beta and BMP signalling networks are modulated by inputs from other signalling pathways, especially in the context of development and human diseases, including bone diseases and cancer. The specific research objectives currently being undertaken are as follows:||1. Integration of signalling networks at the level of Smads: Much is known about individual linear signalling pathways downstream of specific hormones, growth factors and cytokines. In the context of complex cellular processes and disease, multiple signalling networks are at play and it is this interplay that determines the outcome in a given context. We are interested in addressing how different signalling inputs affect the outcome of BMP/TGF beta signalling. By employing proteomic approaches, we aim to identify novel interacting partners for Smad proteins downstream of different factors in different biological contexts. Preliminary experiments have resulted in the identification of some novel Smad-interacting proteins as well as some established Smad-interacting partners. We will also identify modifications introduced by specific factors within the Smad proteins or their interacting partners. Extensive functional tests on novel interacting partners will be performed using cell-based assays including stem cells, in a developmental context using Xenopus embryos, in mice using targeted gene disruption strategies and in relevant human disease models.||2. Regulation of Smad dephosphorylation and termination of Smad signalling: Dephosphorylation and recycling of activated Smads is an integral part of TGF beta signalling and critical for agonist sensing by the cell. We identified and characterized the SCP family of nuclear phosphatases as mediators of Smad1-tail dephosphorylation in the BMP signalling pathway as well as linker regions of Smad1 and Smad2/3. In addition to SCPs as Smad1-tail and Smad1/2/3-linker phosphatases, PPM1A and PDP have been reported as Smad1/2 phosphatases. The precise molecular details of exactly when, where, how, and by which phosphatase, the dephosphorylation of Smads takes place is still unresolved. Most phosphatases have multiple substrates and depend on cofactors to define specificity towards individual substrates. We are interested in identifying rate-limiting factors for some of these phosphatases. SCP2 is overexpressed in numerous sarcomas as well as brain tumours. We will investigate whether the overexpression is linked to deregulation of BMP signalling in these cancers or derivative cell lines and will also determine what effect, if any, knocking down SCP2 in these cells has on their proliferation rates, migration and BMP signalling.||3. Regulation of Smad stability by ubiquitination: Smurf1 is dependent on linker phosphorylation of proline-directed sites to recognize and ubiquitinate Smad1. We are interested in resolving the molecular basis and determinants of this interaction. In addition we are interested in identifying novel substrates for Smurf1/2 based on their substrate recognition by phosphorylation of substrates at proline-directed sites, in addition to the presence of the classical PY motifs. Aberrant Smurf1/2 action has been reported in pancreatic cancer, which is also m
 
Description Alex Bullock 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution .
Collaborator Contribution Structural expertise on FAM83 proteins
Impact .
Start Year 2014
 
Description Caroline Hill 
Organisation Francis Crick Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution phospho-peptide mapping
Collaborator Contribution .
Impact .
Start Year 2011
 
Description DSTT 
Organisation AstraZeneca
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All the Programme Leaders in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit have participated in a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry since 1998, termed The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. From July 2003 to July 2008, the participating pharmaceutical companies were AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co, Merck-Serono and Pfizer. The collaboration was renewed for a further four years in July 2008 with five of these companies (Merck and Co leaving the consortium at this time). This collaboration was renewed for an unprecedented fourth time in July 2013 for a further four years with six pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Janessen Pharmaceutica), Merck-Serono and Pfizer. Each of the six companies pays £600000 per annum over the four year period. The aim of the collaboration is to help the pharmaceutical companies accelerate the development of drugs that inhibit protein and lipid kinases and phosphatases with therapeutic potential for the treatment of disease. For more information see http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk/overview/DSTT.php
Collaborator Contribution Benefits from DSTT collaboration The MRC-PPU benefits in many ways as a result of the DSTT research collaboration. 1. It provides an obvious translational outlet to enable our PIs to exploit their research findings. For example, any PI within the MRC-PPU can rapidly let all six pharmaceutical companies know about any new potential exciting research finding that they have made or any drug target that they have identified or validated. This can lead to major collaborations and stimulate one or more of the pharmaceutical companies to initiate a new drug discovery programme. 2. The research support received from this collaboration is invested in the PPU PIs research programmes and provides additional support to several of our Unit's Scientific service teams including our protein production teams, antibody generation team and cloning team. 3. We obtain key reagents including novel inhibitors, genetically modified cell or mice models from our DSTT pharmaceutical company collaborators. 4. The pharmaceutical companies we collaborate with provide us with important knowledge on the most critical research issues of the day for their drug development programmes. This feedback and industry perspective is extremely useful and helps maximise our overall competitiveness. It ensures that the drug discovery research programmes of the PPU PIs are focussed on addressing the most important questions for better understanding and treating disease. 5. The DSTT collaboration greatly benefits our students and postdocs by providing experience in working with industry via their direct involvement in collaborative experiments with pharmaceutical companies. This provides them with a unique insight into the high quality cutting edge research that is taking place within pharmaceutical companies and gives them an awareness of potential careers in industry. This is particularly important given that one of our main priorities is to train tomorrow's industrial researchers and ensure that the future workforce has the high quality scientific and research support skills that the UK economy will be dependent on.
Impact During the collaboration, the Unit has helped to launch and/or accelerate many drug discovery programmes, some of which have entered human clinical trials. The collaboration led the Unit to develop the technology of protein kinase profiling which has developed into an industry worth over £100 million per annum. It also led to the creation of the European Division of Upstate Incorporated in Dundee which currently employs about 50 people. The Unit's first publication on protein kinase profiling was named in 2009 by the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia as Europe's most cited paper in the field of Cel Biology from 1996-2007, with over 2,200 citations. During the collaboration, the Unit has filed 36 patents and 30 licenses have been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry. The DSTT is widely regarded as a model of how academia and industry should interact for which it received a Queen's Anniversary Award for Higher Education which was presented by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in February 2006. GlaxoSmithKline have announced that their BRAF protein kinase inhibitor Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), has been approved by both the European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma associated with the BRAF V600E mutation. Unresectable melanoma is that which cannot be removed by surgery, while metastatic melanoma is that which has spread to other parts of the body. The new drug was developed employing BRAF enzymes generated by researchers in the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.
 
Description DSTT 
Organisation Boehringer Ingelheim
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All the Programme Leaders in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit have participated in a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry since 1998, termed The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. From July 2003 to July 2008, the participating pharmaceutical companies were AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co, Merck-Serono and Pfizer. The collaboration was renewed for a further four years in July 2008 with five of these companies (Merck and Co leaving the consortium at this time). This collaboration was renewed for an unprecedented fourth time in July 2013 for a further four years with six pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Janessen Pharmaceutica), Merck-Serono and Pfizer. Each of the six companies pays £600000 per annum over the four year period. The aim of the collaboration is to help the pharmaceutical companies accelerate the development of drugs that inhibit protein and lipid kinases and phosphatases with therapeutic potential for the treatment of disease. For more information see http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk/overview/DSTT.php
Collaborator Contribution Benefits from DSTT collaboration The MRC-PPU benefits in many ways as a result of the DSTT research collaboration. 1. It provides an obvious translational outlet to enable our PIs to exploit their research findings. For example, any PI within the MRC-PPU can rapidly let all six pharmaceutical companies know about any new potential exciting research finding that they have made or any drug target that they have identified or validated. This can lead to major collaborations and stimulate one or more of the pharmaceutical companies to initiate a new drug discovery programme. 2. The research support received from this collaboration is invested in the PPU PIs research programmes and provides additional support to several of our Unit's Scientific service teams including our protein production teams, antibody generation team and cloning team. 3. We obtain key reagents including novel inhibitors, genetically modified cell or mice models from our DSTT pharmaceutical company collaborators. 4. The pharmaceutical companies we collaborate with provide us with important knowledge on the most critical research issues of the day for their drug development programmes. This feedback and industry perspective is extremely useful and helps maximise our overall competitiveness. It ensures that the drug discovery research programmes of the PPU PIs are focussed on addressing the most important questions for better understanding and treating disease. 5. The DSTT collaboration greatly benefits our students and postdocs by providing experience in working with industry via their direct involvement in collaborative experiments with pharmaceutical companies. This provides them with a unique insight into the high quality cutting edge research that is taking place within pharmaceutical companies and gives them an awareness of potential careers in industry. This is particularly important given that one of our main priorities is to train tomorrow's industrial researchers and ensure that the future workforce has the high quality scientific and research support skills that the UK economy will be dependent on.
Impact During the collaboration, the Unit has helped to launch and/or accelerate many drug discovery programmes, some of which have entered human clinical trials. The collaboration led the Unit to develop the technology of protein kinase profiling which has developed into an industry worth over £100 million per annum. It also led to the creation of the European Division of Upstate Incorporated in Dundee which currently employs about 50 people. The Unit's first publication on protein kinase profiling was named in 2009 by the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia as Europe's most cited paper in the field of Cel Biology from 1996-2007, with over 2,200 citations. During the collaboration, the Unit has filed 36 patents and 30 licenses have been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry. The DSTT is widely regarded as a model of how academia and industry should interact for which it received a Queen's Anniversary Award for Higher Education which was presented by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in February 2006. GlaxoSmithKline have announced that their BRAF protein kinase inhibitor Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), has been approved by both the European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma associated with the BRAF V600E mutation. Unresectable melanoma is that which cannot be removed by surgery, while metastatic melanoma is that which has spread to other parts of the body. The new drug was developed employing BRAF enzymes generated by researchers in the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.
 
Description DSTT 
Organisation GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All the Programme Leaders in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit have participated in a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry since 1998, termed The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. From July 2003 to July 2008, the participating pharmaceutical companies were AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co, Merck-Serono and Pfizer. The collaboration was renewed for a further four years in July 2008 with five of these companies (Merck and Co leaving the consortium at this time). This collaboration was renewed for an unprecedented fourth time in July 2013 for a further four years with six pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Janessen Pharmaceutica), Merck-Serono and Pfizer. Each of the six companies pays £600000 per annum over the four year period. The aim of the collaboration is to help the pharmaceutical companies accelerate the development of drugs that inhibit protein and lipid kinases and phosphatases with therapeutic potential for the treatment of disease. For more information see http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk/overview/DSTT.php
Collaborator Contribution Benefits from DSTT collaboration The MRC-PPU benefits in many ways as a result of the DSTT research collaboration. 1. It provides an obvious translational outlet to enable our PIs to exploit their research findings. For example, any PI within the MRC-PPU can rapidly let all six pharmaceutical companies know about any new potential exciting research finding that they have made or any drug target that they have identified or validated. This can lead to major collaborations and stimulate one or more of the pharmaceutical companies to initiate a new drug discovery programme. 2. The research support received from this collaboration is invested in the PPU PIs research programmes and provides additional support to several of our Unit's Scientific service teams including our protein production teams, antibody generation team and cloning team. 3. We obtain key reagents including novel inhibitors, genetically modified cell or mice models from our DSTT pharmaceutical company collaborators. 4. The pharmaceutical companies we collaborate with provide us with important knowledge on the most critical research issues of the day for their drug development programmes. This feedback and industry perspective is extremely useful and helps maximise our overall competitiveness. It ensures that the drug discovery research programmes of the PPU PIs are focussed on addressing the most important questions for better understanding and treating disease. 5. The DSTT collaboration greatly benefits our students and postdocs by providing experience in working with industry via their direct involvement in collaborative experiments with pharmaceutical companies. This provides them with a unique insight into the high quality cutting edge research that is taking place within pharmaceutical companies and gives them an awareness of potential careers in industry. This is particularly important given that one of our main priorities is to train tomorrow's industrial researchers and ensure that the future workforce has the high quality scientific and research support skills that the UK economy will be dependent on.
Impact During the collaboration, the Unit has helped to launch and/or accelerate many drug discovery programmes, some of which have entered human clinical trials. The collaboration led the Unit to develop the technology of protein kinase profiling which has developed into an industry worth over £100 million per annum. It also led to the creation of the European Division of Upstate Incorporated in Dundee which currently employs about 50 people. The Unit's first publication on protein kinase profiling was named in 2009 by the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia as Europe's most cited paper in the field of Cel Biology from 1996-2007, with over 2,200 citations. During the collaboration, the Unit has filed 36 patents and 30 licenses have been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry. The DSTT is widely regarded as a model of how academia and industry should interact for which it received a Queen's Anniversary Award for Higher Education which was presented by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in February 2006. GlaxoSmithKline have announced that their BRAF protein kinase inhibitor Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), has been approved by both the European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma associated with the BRAF V600E mutation. Unresectable melanoma is that which cannot be removed by surgery, while metastatic melanoma is that which has spread to other parts of the body. The new drug was developed employing BRAF enzymes generated by researchers in the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.
 
Description DSTT 
Organisation Johnson & Johnson
Department Janssen Pharmaceutica
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All the Programme Leaders in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit have participated in a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry since 1998, termed The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. From July 2003 to July 2008, the participating pharmaceutical companies were AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co, Merck-Serono and Pfizer. The collaboration was renewed for a further four years in July 2008 with five of these companies (Merck and Co leaving the consortium at this time). This collaboration was renewed for an unprecedented fourth time in July 2013 for a further four years with six pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Janessen Pharmaceutica), Merck-Serono and Pfizer. Each of the six companies pays £600000 per annum over the four year period. The aim of the collaboration is to help the pharmaceutical companies accelerate the development of drugs that inhibit protein and lipid kinases and phosphatases with therapeutic potential for the treatment of disease. For more information see http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk/overview/DSTT.php
Collaborator Contribution Benefits from DSTT collaboration The MRC-PPU benefits in many ways as a result of the DSTT research collaboration. 1. It provides an obvious translational outlet to enable our PIs to exploit their research findings. For example, any PI within the MRC-PPU can rapidly let all six pharmaceutical companies know about any new potential exciting research finding that they have made or any drug target that they have identified or validated. This can lead to major collaborations and stimulate one or more of the pharmaceutical companies to initiate a new drug discovery programme. 2. The research support received from this collaboration is invested in the PPU PIs research programmes and provides additional support to several of our Unit's Scientific service teams including our protein production teams, antibody generation team and cloning team. 3. We obtain key reagents including novel inhibitors, genetically modified cell or mice models from our DSTT pharmaceutical company collaborators. 4. The pharmaceutical companies we collaborate with provide us with important knowledge on the most critical research issues of the day for their drug development programmes. This feedback and industry perspective is extremely useful and helps maximise our overall competitiveness. It ensures that the drug discovery research programmes of the PPU PIs are focussed on addressing the most important questions for better understanding and treating disease. 5. The DSTT collaboration greatly benefits our students and postdocs by providing experience in working with industry via their direct involvement in collaborative experiments with pharmaceutical companies. This provides them with a unique insight into the high quality cutting edge research that is taking place within pharmaceutical companies and gives them an awareness of potential careers in industry. This is particularly important given that one of our main priorities is to train tomorrow's industrial researchers and ensure that the future workforce has the high quality scientific and research support skills that the UK economy will be dependent on.
Impact During the collaboration, the Unit has helped to launch and/or accelerate many drug discovery programmes, some of which have entered human clinical trials. The collaboration led the Unit to develop the technology of protein kinase profiling which has developed into an industry worth over £100 million per annum. It also led to the creation of the European Division of Upstate Incorporated in Dundee which currently employs about 50 people. The Unit's first publication on protein kinase profiling was named in 2009 by the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia as Europe's most cited paper in the field of Cel Biology from 1996-2007, with over 2,200 citations. During the collaboration, the Unit has filed 36 patents and 30 licenses have been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry. The DSTT is widely regarded as a model of how academia and industry should interact for which it received a Queen's Anniversary Award for Higher Education which was presented by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in February 2006. GlaxoSmithKline have announced that their BRAF protein kinase inhibitor Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), has been approved by both the European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma associated with the BRAF V600E mutation. Unresectable melanoma is that which cannot be removed by surgery, while metastatic melanoma is that which has spread to other parts of the body. The new drug was developed employing BRAF enzymes generated by researchers in the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.
 
Description DSTT 
Organisation Merck
Department Merck Serono
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All the Programme Leaders in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit have participated in a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry since 1998, termed The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. From July 2003 to July 2008, the participating pharmaceutical companies were AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co, Merck-Serono and Pfizer. The collaboration was renewed for a further four years in July 2008 with five of these companies (Merck and Co leaving the consortium at this time). This collaboration was renewed for an unprecedented fourth time in July 2013 for a further four years with six pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Janessen Pharmaceutica), Merck-Serono and Pfizer. Each of the six companies pays £600000 per annum over the four year period. The aim of the collaboration is to help the pharmaceutical companies accelerate the development of drugs that inhibit protein and lipid kinases and phosphatases with therapeutic potential for the treatment of disease. For more information see http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk/overview/DSTT.php
Collaborator Contribution Benefits from DSTT collaboration The MRC-PPU benefits in many ways as a result of the DSTT research collaboration. 1. It provides an obvious translational outlet to enable our PIs to exploit their research findings. For example, any PI within the MRC-PPU can rapidly let all six pharmaceutical companies know about any new potential exciting research finding that they have made or any drug target that they have identified or validated. This can lead to major collaborations and stimulate one or more of the pharmaceutical companies to initiate a new drug discovery programme. 2. The research support received from this collaboration is invested in the PPU PIs research programmes and provides additional support to several of our Unit's Scientific service teams including our protein production teams, antibody generation team and cloning team. 3. We obtain key reagents including novel inhibitors, genetically modified cell or mice models from our DSTT pharmaceutical company collaborators. 4. The pharmaceutical companies we collaborate with provide us with important knowledge on the most critical research issues of the day for their drug development programmes. This feedback and industry perspective is extremely useful and helps maximise our overall competitiveness. It ensures that the drug discovery research programmes of the PPU PIs are focussed on addressing the most important questions for better understanding and treating disease. 5. The DSTT collaboration greatly benefits our students and postdocs by providing experience in working with industry via their direct involvement in collaborative experiments with pharmaceutical companies. This provides them with a unique insight into the high quality cutting edge research that is taking place within pharmaceutical companies and gives them an awareness of potential careers in industry. This is particularly important given that one of our main priorities is to train tomorrow's industrial researchers and ensure that the future workforce has the high quality scientific and research support skills that the UK economy will be dependent on.
Impact During the collaboration, the Unit has helped to launch and/or accelerate many drug discovery programmes, some of which have entered human clinical trials. The collaboration led the Unit to develop the technology of protein kinase profiling which has developed into an industry worth over £100 million per annum. It also led to the creation of the European Division of Upstate Incorporated in Dundee which currently employs about 50 people. The Unit's first publication on protein kinase profiling was named in 2009 by the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia as Europe's most cited paper in the field of Cel Biology from 1996-2007, with over 2,200 citations. During the collaboration, the Unit has filed 36 patents and 30 licenses have been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry. The DSTT is widely regarded as a model of how academia and industry should interact for which it received a Queen's Anniversary Award for Higher Education which was presented by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in February 2006. GlaxoSmithKline have announced that their BRAF protein kinase inhibitor Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), has been approved by both the European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma associated with the BRAF V600E mutation. Unresectable melanoma is that which cannot be removed by surgery, while metastatic melanoma is that which has spread to other parts of the body. The new drug was developed employing BRAF enzymes generated by researchers in the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.
 
Description DSTT 
Organisation Pfizer Inc
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution All the Programme Leaders in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit have participated in a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry since 1998, termed The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. From July 2003 to July 2008, the participating pharmaceutical companies were AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co, Merck-Serono and Pfizer. The collaboration was renewed for a further four years in July 2008 with five of these companies (Merck and Co leaving the consortium at this time). This collaboration was renewed for an unprecedented fourth time in July 2013 for a further four years with six pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Janessen Pharmaceutica), Merck-Serono and Pfizer. Each of the six companies pays £600000 per annum over the four year period. The aim of the collaboration is to help the pharmaceutical companies accelerate the development of drugs that inhibit protein and lipid kinases and phosphatases with therapeutic potential for the treatment of disease. For more information see http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk/overview/DSTT.php
Collaborator Contribution Benefits from DSTT collaboration The MRC-PPU benefits in many ways as a result of the DSTT research collaboration. 1. It provides an obvious translational outlet to enable our PIs to exploit their research findings. For example, any PI within the MRC-PPU can rapidly let all six pharmaceutical companies know about any new potential exciting research finding that they have made or any drug target that they have identified or validated. This can lead to major collaborations and stimulate one or more of the pharmaceutical companies to initiate a new drug discovery programme. 2. The research support received from this collaboration is invested in the PPU PIs research programmes and provides additional support to several of our Unit's Scientific service teams including our protein production teams, antibody generation team and cloning team. 3. We obtain key reagents including novel inhibitors, genetically modified cell or mice models from our DSTT pharmaceutical company collaborators. 4. The pharmaceutical companies we collaborate with provide us with important knowledge on the most critical research issues of the day for their drug development programmes. This feedback and industry perspective is extremely useful and helps maximise our overall competitiveness. It ensures that the drug discovery research programmes of the PPU PIs are focussed on addressing the most important questions for better understanding and treating disease. 5. The DSTT collaboration greatly benefits our students and postdocs by providing experience in working with industry via their direct involvement in collaborative experiments with pharmaceutical companies. This provides them with a unique insight into the high quality cutting edge research that is taking place within pharmaceutical companies and gives them an awareness of potential careers in industry. This is particularly important given that one of our main priorities is to train tomorrow's industrial researchers and ensure that the future workforce has the high quality scientific and research support skills that the UK economy will be dependent on.
Impact During the collaboration, the Unit has helped to launch and/or accelerate many drug discovery programmes, some of which have entered human clinical trials. The collaboration led the Unit to develop the technology of protein kinase profiling which has developed into an industry worth over £100 million per annum. It also led to the creation of the European Division of Upstate Incorporated in Dundee which currently employs about 50 people. The Unit's first publication on protein kinase profiling was named in 2009 by the Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia as Europe's most cited paper in the field of Cel Biology from 1996-2007, with over 2,200 citations. During the collaboration, the Unit has filed 36 patents and 30 licenses have been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry. The DSTT is widely regarded as a model of how academia and industry should interact for which it received a Queen's Anniversary Award for Higher Education which was presented by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in February 2006. GlaxoSmithKline have announced that their BRAF protein kinase inhibitor Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), has been approved by both the European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma associated with the BRAF V600E mutation. Unresectable melanoma is that which cannot be removed by surgery, while metastatic melanoma is that which has spread to other parts of the body. The new drug was developed employing BRAF enzymes generated by researchers in the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.
 
Description David Kelsell 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Department Blizard Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Testing pathogenic FAM83G mutations in our signalling systems
Collaborator Contribution identification of pathogenic mutations and assessing patients
Impact .
Start Year 2016
 
Description Harwell 
Organisation MRC Harwell
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution .
Collaborator Contribution OTUB1-knockout mice
Impact .
Start Year 2015
 
Description Molecular mechanisms of TGF-beta and BMP signalling 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC)
Department MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have taken proteins that we identified in our lab as potential modulators in the TGF-beta/BMP pathways to functionally validate their effects on developmental settings in Prof. Jim Smith's laboratory at the NIMR, London.
Collaborator Contribution Using the Xenopus developmental system as a tool to study the functions of novel regulators of TGF-beta/BMP signalling, Prof. Smith's laboratory has performed several key experiments that have enabled us to validate or rule out the role of several proteins in the TGF-beta and BMP pathways. The collaborations have opened up many new avenues for exciting further collaborations of great potential.
Impact We have had two publications, as follows: Herhaus L, Al-Salihi MA, Dingwell KS, Cummins TD, Wasmus L, Vogt J, Ewan R, Bruce D, Macartney T, Weidlich S, Smith JC, Sapkota GP. USP15 targets ALK3/BMPR1A for deubiquitylation to enhance bone morphogenetic protein signalling. Open Biol. 2014 May;4(5):140065. doi: 10.1098/rsob.140065. Vogt J, Dingwell KS, Herhaus L, Gourlay R, Macartney T, Campbell D, Smith JC, Sapkota GP. Protein associated with SMAD1 (PAWS1/FAM83G) is a substrate for type I bone morphogenetic protein receptors and modulates bone morphogenetic protein signalling. Open Biol. 2014 Feb 19;4:130210. doi: 10.1098/rsob.130210.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Nathanael Gray 
Organisation Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Country United States 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution testing kinase inhibitors in our biological systems
Collaborator Contribution generating and providing kinase inhibitors
Impact .
Start Year 2014
 
Description Peter Parker 
Organisation Francis Crick Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution reagents on FAM83B
Collaborator Contribution .
Impact .
Start Year 2015
 
Description Forthill Primary School Science Outreach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Scientists and support staff from the MRC PPU recently enjoyed a visit with a P3 class at Forthill Primary for a fun morning of hands on experiments. Overall, the morning proved to be a big hit and provided a fun introduction to hands-on general science experiments for the P3 children.

There was plenty of loud vocal appreciation from the children and assurances from many that scientist is now their primary career choice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Hosting a High School student in the Lab 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We hosted a high school (S4) pupil for a week in the lab. We will monitor whether the student decides to take up Scince at University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hosting a High School student in the Lab 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I hosted a 4th year high scholl student from Paisley Grammar School for a week in my laboratory. She observed and participated in the research work undertaken in the laboratory. As part of her assessment, she wrote an essay on her experience working in a cancer-research laboratory and will also be making a presentation before her class when she returns to her school.

The hope is her experience will encourage her and other students to demonstrate active interest in science and medical research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Interview With Local Radio station Wave 102 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Following publication of one of our papers on PAWS1, I was interviewed by News segment of Wave 102, a tayside radio station.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Judge at High School Debate on Health Issues (through Debating Matters) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Debate attendance ranged from 20-50 students and teachers. The format of the debate allows for lively discussions on contemporary health-related topics.

Students showed keen interest on health related issues and were clearly motivated to pursue science or public health related studies. There is often one-to-one discussions with some students who are keen to pursue further studies in science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description Judging a High School debate on Public Health, Stirling, Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The debate was about government regulation of public health participated by two High schools. The audience was primarily students, but also included members of the public. In my role as a judge, using my research as an example, I was able to highlight the importance of the contribution of basic research in formulating sound healthcare policies to the debators, the audience and the other judges. The other judges represented a wide areas of expertise (a BBC Radio Broadcast producer, an architecht and a retired University Lecturer among others).

Some of the pupils enquired about what it takes to pursue a career in research. Several other people attending the event asked questions on what types of research were being carried out to fight cancer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Local Schools Outreach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I was invited to talk to P1, P3 and P5 children from Barnhill Primary School about being a research scientist. I gave a talk in the respective classrooms, conducted few experiments with the children (using small liquid measurements) and did a question-answer session with the children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description MRC Festical of Medical Research Inside Out Science Open Day 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact MRC Festival of Medical Research Inside Out Science Open day involved researchers from the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC PPU) and MRC Doctoral Training Programme students (from the Schools of Life Sciences and Medicine at the University of Dundee). The MRC Festival aimed to inform, inspire and stimulate thinking about medical research. Our event was held within the School of Life Sciences and involved seven table top engagement activities, five ten-minute accessible science talks given by PhD students and early career researchers, three lab tours and three videos about the scientific work of the Unit on loop with visitors. There were two new activities called Chromatography and Stem Cell Game trialled that were developed by MRC PPU staff and students plus previously developed activities. Prior to the open day event, a primary six class at Glebelands Primary School attended a 90 minute session to give valuable feedback on talks and new activities.

Members from my lab who participated were;
Luke Fulcher - PhD Student
Theresa Tachie-Menson - PhD Student

Overall, 129 members of public (generally family groups) were reached with 103 people visiting on the day, a further 24 Primary Six pupils and their two teachers who gave feedback on the new talks and activities ahead of the event.
The event met a number of the objectives and key messages from the 2018 - 2023 MRC Protein phosphorylation and ubiquitination Public Engagement and Communications Plan which were:

Communications Objectives
1) Generate interest in science as a career path for young people in Dundee to reveal opportunities and make science accessible.
2) Share the unit's research expertise with non-scientific communities to raise awareness of the importance of basic research in understanding health and disease.

Key Messages
1) Basic research is vital - before we can develop new medicines we first need to understand how the body works in health and disease.
2) MRC PPU is an outstanding environment to pursue phosphorylation or ubiquitylation research.
3) As scientists we value new ideas and are open to sharing our work with all who have an interest in it.

Feedback
The visitors to the event were a mixture of ages which included family groups (children under 16 years) and adults up to 70 years of age. Feedback indicated that they enjoyed themselves overall and said they would come to a similar event again. Highlights included a game developed on the topic of Stem Cells and the laboratory tours. Around a third of visitors polled had not attended a University of Dundee event before indicating we were reaching new audiences.
The talks in particular stimulated a number of questions from the audience such as:
• How long does it take for a cell to divide?
• What would happen if you lost all your amino acids?
• Is it only older people who get Parkinson's?
• What is it about not being obese that helps protect you from Alzheimer's?
• What does wildtype mean?

Participants reported having a positive experience, they all said they'd do it again and that they'd recommend a colleague take part too.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018