Mariusz A. Wasik

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Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Department: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
7.106 Founders and 413 Stellar Chance
3400 Spruce St/4283
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 662-3467
Fax: (215) 662-7529
M.D. (Medicine)
Wroclaw Medical Academy, Poland, 1979.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests

Aberrant cell signaling and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in human lymphomas.

Research Summary

1. Role of the cytokine-signal transduction pathways and epigenetic gene silencing in pathogenesis of T-cell lymphoma.

Under this project my lab investigates the role of signals mediated through receptor for interleukin-2 (IL-2R) and functionally related cytokine receptors in malignant transformation of T lymphocytes. Part of the IL-2R, common chain ( c), is shared by receptors for several cytokines: IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IL-15, and IL-21. We found that cutaneous T-cell lymphoma cells display activation of the interleukin-2 receptor/cytokine common chain-associated Jak/STAT signal transduction pathway that is transient in the early stage of the lymphoma and constitutive in the late stage of the disease progression. More recently we determined that the constitutive Jak/STAT activation is due, at least in part, to the lack of expression of SHP-1 phosphatase, which normally down-regulates IL-2R/ c-mediated cell activating signals. Importantly, this work identified the mechanism underlying lack of SHP-1 expression as hypermethylation of the CpG DNA sequences within the SHP-1 promoter. This study may result in novel therapies for lymphoma based on selective inhibition of the elements of the IL-2R signal transduction pathway(s) which are preferentially utilized by malignant T cells and/or on induction of re-expression of the epigenetically-silenced SHP-1 gene. Our most recent work focuses on the molecular mechanisms of the aberrant gene silencing in the malignant lymphoid cells.

2. TOR signaling in posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLDs) and other lymphoid malignancies.

Whereas the standard immunosuppressive agents foster development of PTLDs, the impact of novel immunosuppressive agents from the group of selective inhibitors of TOR serine/treonine kinase such as rapamycin and its derivatives including RAD remains undetermined. Our studies indicate that RAD has a strong inhibitory effect on PTLD-like and PTLD-derived B cells by suppressing their proliferation, blocking cell cycle progression and increasing apoptotic rate. In the in vivo SCID mouse xeno-transplant model, RAD markedly delayed growth or induced regression of established PTLD-related B-cell tumors. The drug completely eradicated or prevented tumor establishment in a subset of the treated mice at the doses matching the ones required to prevent graft rejection. These findings indicate that TOR inhibitors such as RAD may be effective in prevention and treatment of PTLDs and, possibly, other types of B-cell lymphoma. The molecular mechanism of this TOR inhibitor-mediated cell growth suppression is currently under investigation.

3. Mechanisms of malignant cell transformation by the chimeric NPM/ALK kinase.

Accumulating evidence indicates that expression of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) defines a distinct type of T-cell lymphoma. Expression of ALK in malignant T cells is typically due to the t(2;5) translocation resulting in formation of the fusion gene which encodes a 80-kDa hybrid protein that contains portion of the nuclear protein nucleophosmin (NPM) joined to the entire cytoplasmic portion of the receptor tyrosine kinase ALK. The NPM/ALK kinase is constitutively activated and highly oncogenic. Our studies concentrate on identification of downstream effector molecules triggered by the NPM/ALK kinase. They indicate that pathways involving STAT3, PI3K/AKT and, apparently, STAT5 are constitutively activated by this kinase. Regulation and function of STAT3 in the ALK+ T-cells and testing an ALK-inhibitor small molecule candidate are the main focus of the ongoing investigation.

Selected Publications

Bruce Levine, Jakub Svoboda, Sunita D. Nasta, David Porter, Elise Chong, Simon Lacey, Yolanda Mahnke, Joseph Melenhorst, Anne Chew, Gaurav Shah, Jens Hasskar, Mariusz Wasik, Daniel Landsburg, Anthony Mato, Alfred Garfall, Noelle Frey, Pamela Shaw, Katherine Marcucci, Joan Shea, Holly McConville, Neel Manvar, Matthew O'Rourke, Anne Lamontagne, Alexey Bersenev, Zoe Zheng, Stephen Schuster, Carl June: Chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells directed against CD19 (CTL019) induce clinical responses in patients with relapsed or refractory CD19+ lymphomas. Cytotherapy 17: S13, 2015.

Wasik M.A. : IL-13 as a novel growth factor in CTCL Blood 125: 2737-2738. 2015.

A. Willerslev-Olsen, Litvinov IV, SM Fredholm, DL Petersen, NA Sibbesen , R Gniadecki , Q Zhang, CM Bonefeld , MA Wasik, C Geisler, Y Zhou , Y Woetmann, D Sasseville, T Krejsgaard, N Odum : IL-15 and IL-17F are differentially regulated and expressed in mycosis fungoides (MF). Cell Cycle 13: 1306-1312, 2014.

Y Li, H Nakagawa, M Wasik, AJP Klein-Szanto, AK Rustgi, and JA Diehl.: Oncogenic Cyclin D1, MEP50 and PRMT5 cooperatively inhibit p53-dependent apoptosis to trigger neoplastic growth cell transformation. Cancer Discov in press.

DL Petersen, T Krejsgaard, J Berthelsen, S Fredholm, A Willerslev-Olsen, NA Sibbesen, CM Bonefeld, MH Andersen, T Hu, M Zhang, MA Wasik, C Geisler, A Woetmann, Niels Odum. : B-lymphoid tyrosine kinase (Blk) is an oncogene and a potential target for therapy with desatinib in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Leukemia 28: 2109-2012, 2014.

Fredholm S, Gjerdrum LM, Willerslev-Olsen A, Petersen DL, Nielsen IØ, Kauczok CS, Wobser M, Ralfkiaer U, Bonefeld CM, Wasik MA, Krejsgaard T, Geisler C, Ralfkiaer E, Gniadecki R, Woetmann A, Odum N.: STAT3 Activation and Infiltration of Eosinophil Granulocytes in Mycosis Fungoides. Anticancer Res 34: 5277-5286. 2014.

Krejsgaard T,Willerslev-Olsen A , Lindah LM, Bonefeld CM , Koralov S , Geisler C, Wasik MA ,Gniadecki R , Kilian M, Iversen L, Woetmann A and Odum N : Staphylococcal enterotoxins promote lymphoma-associated immune dysregulation by modulating benign and malignant T-cell interactions. Blood 2014.

Hameed UFS,Wee LJ , Zhang Q , Wasik MA , Yang D, Swaminathan K.: Transcriptional Repressor Domain of MBD1 is Intrinsically Disordered and Interacts Specifically with its Binding Partners in a Selective Manner. Sci Rep 4: 4896, 2014.

M Luskin, D Roy, MA Wasik, A Loren: Development of lymphomas containing Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) following therapy with hyperCVAD regimen. Clin Lymph, Myel & Leuk. Clin Lymphoma Myel & Leuk, 14: e55-58, 2014.

N Moti, T Malcolm, CE Hook, R Hamoudi, GA Amos Burke, MA Wasik, O Merkel, L Kenner, E Laurenti, JE Dick, SD Turner: ALCL propagating cells possess a gene expression profile reflective of an ETP pointing toward a primitive cell of origin. Oncogene 12(10): 112, 2014.

T Marstrand, MA Røpke, U Ralfkiaer, CB Ahler, KM Kopp. T Krejsgaard, T Litman, MA Wasik, CM Bonefeld, LM Gjerdum, R Gniadecki, E Ralfkiaer, C Geisler, A Woetmann, C Glue, L Skov, N Odum.: Validation of a diagnostic miRNA classifier in cutaneous T-cell lymphomas. Leuk & Lymph Page: 957-958, 2014.

Q Zhang, HY Wang, F Wei, X Liu, JC Paterson, D Roy, D Mihova, A Woetmann, A Ptasznik, N Odum, SJ Schuster, T Marafioti, J Riley, and MA Wasik: Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) expresses immunosuppressive CD80 (B7-1) cell-surface protein in the STAT5-dependent manner. J Immunol 192(6): 2913-2919, 2014.

M Stonecypher, Z Yan, MA Wasik, V LiVolsi. : Intravascular Large B-cell Lymphoma presenting as a thyroid mass. Endocrine Pathol 25(3): 359-360, 2014.

SC Lee, M Marzec, X Liu, S Wehrli, K Kantekure, P Raghunath, DS Nelson, EJ Delikatny, JD Glickson, MA Wasik : Decreased lactate concentration and glycolytic enzyme expression reflect inhibition of mTOR signal transduction pathway in B-cell lymphoma. NMR in Biomed 26: 106-114. 2013.

S. Yao, M Cheng, Q Zhang, M Wasik, R Kelsh, C. Winkler: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase is required for neurogenesis in the developing zebrafish central nervous system of zebrafish. PLoS one 8: e63757, 2013.

MA Wasik, G Jimenez, DD Weisenburger: Targeting CD30 in malignant tissues: challenges in detection and clinical applications. Pathobiol 80: 252-258, 2013

K Cramer, M Nieborowska-Skorska, K Scheibner, M Padget, D Irvine, T Sliwinski, K Haas, J Lee, D Roy, A Slupianek, M Wasik, W Childers, M Copland, M Muschen, C Civin, T Skorski: Personalized synthetic lethality induced by targeting RAD52 DNA binding domain I in patients identified by genetic and epigenetic profiling. Blood 122: 1293-12304, 2013.

M Marzec, K Halasa, X Liu, HY Wang, M Cheng, D Baldwin, JW Tobias, SJ Schuster, A Woetmann, Q Zhang, SD Turner , N Odum, MA Wasik : Malignant transformation of CD4+ T lymphocytes mediated by oncogenic kinase NPM/ALK recapitulates IL-2-induced cell signaling and gene expression reprogramming. J Immunol 191(12): 6200-6207, 2013.

Ulrik Ralfkiaer, Lise Lindal, Thomas Litman, Lise-Mette Gjerdum, Charlotte Busch Ahler, Robert Gniadecki, Troels Marstrand, Lars Iversen, Mariusz A. Wasik, Charlotte M. Bonefeld, Carsten Geisler, Thorbjørn Krejsgaard, Christian Glue, Mads Alhede Røpke, Anders Woetmann, Lone Skov, Kirsten Grønbæk, and Niels Odum: MicroRNA expression in early mycosis fungoides is distinctly different from atopic dermatitis and advanced cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL). Anticancer Res. 34: 7207-7217. 2014.

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Last updated: 10/05/2015
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