Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • Diplomate, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (2008)

Professional Education

  • PhD, University of Michigan, Human Genetics (2007)
  • DVM, Michigan State University, Veterinary Medicine (1999)


2017-18 Courses


All Publications

  • The Mouse Lemur, a Genetic Model Organism for Primate Biology, Behavior, and Health. Genetics Ezran, C., Karanewsky, C. J., Pendleton, J. L., Sholtz, A., Krasnow, M. R., Willick, J., Razafindrakoto, A., Zohdy, S., Albertelli, M. A., Krasnow, M. A. 2017; 206 (2): 651-664


    Systematic genetic studies of a handful of diverse organisms over the past 50 years have transformed our understanding of biology. However, many aspects of primate biology, behavior, and disease are absent or poorly modeled in any of the current genetic model organisms including mice. We surveyed the animal kingdom to find other animals with advantages similar to mice that might better exemplify primate biology, and identified mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) as the outstanding candidate. Mouse lemurs are prosimian primates, roughly half the genetic distance between mice and humans. They are the smallest, fastest developing, and among the most prolific and abundant primates in the world, distributed throughout the island of Madagascar, many in separate breeding populations due to habitat destruction. Their physiology, behavior, and phylogeny have been studied for decades in laboratory colonies in Europe and in field studies in Malagasy rainforests, and a high quality reference genome sequence has recently been completed. To initiate a classical genetic approach, we developed a deep phenotyping protocol and have screened hundreds of laboratory and wild mouse lemurs for interesting phenotypes and begun mapping the underlying mutations, in collaboration with leading mouse lemur biologists. We also seek to establish a mouse lemur gene "knockout" library by sequencing the genomes of thousands of mouse lemurs to identify null alleles in most genes from the large pool of natural genetic variants. As part of this effort, we have begun a citizen science project in which students across Madagascar explore the remarkable biology around their schools, including longitudinal studies of the local mouse lemurs. We hope this work spawns a new model organism and cultivates a deep genetic understanding of primate biology and health. We also hope it establishes a new and ethical method of genetics that bridges biological, behavioral, medical, and conservation disciplines, while providing an example of how hands-on science education can help transform developing countries.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.116.199448

    View details for PubMedID 28592502

  • Thioredoxin-1 Selectively Activates Transglutaminase 2 in the Extracellular Matrix of the Small Intestine: IMPLICATIONS FOR CELIAC DISEASE. journal of biological chemistry Plugis, N. M., Palanski, B. A., Weng, C., Albertelli, M., Khosla, C. 2017; 292 (5): 2000-2008


    Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) catalyzes transamidation or deamidation of its substrates and is ordinarily maintained in a catalytically inactive state in the intestine and other organs. Aberrant TG2 activity is thought to play a role in celiac disease, suggesting that a better understanding of TG2 regulation could help to elucidate the mechanistic basis of this malady. Structural and biochemical analysis has led to the hypothesis that extracellular TG2 activation involves reduction of an allosteric disulfide bond by thioredoxin-1 (TRX), but cellular and in vivo evidence for this proposal is lacking. To test the physiological relevance of this hypothesis, we first showed that macrophages exposed to pro-inflammatory stimuli released TRX in sufficient quantities to activate their extracellular pools of TG2. By using the C35S mutant of TRX, which formed a metastable mixed disulfide bond with TG2, we demonstrated that these proteins specifically recognized each other in the extracellular matrix of fibroblasts. When injected into mice and visualized with antibodies, we observed the C35S TRX mutant bound to endogenous TG2 as its principal protein partner in the small intestine. Control experiments showed no labeling of TG2 knock-out mice. Intravenous administration of recombinant TRX in wild-type mice, but not TG2 knock-out mice, led to a rapid rise in intestinal transglutaminase activity in a manner that could be inhibited by small molecules targeting TG2 or TRX. Our findings support the potential pathophysiological relevance of TRX in celiac disease and establish the Cys(370)-Cys(371) disulfide bond of TG2 as one of clearest examples of an allosteric disulfide bond in mammals.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M116.767988

    View details for PubMedID 28003361

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5290969

  • Tumor Autonomous Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency Promote Breast Cancer Metastasis. Endocrinology Williams, J. D., Aggarwal, A., Swami, S., Krishnan, A. V., Ji, L., Albertelli, M. A., Feldman, B. J. 2016; 157 (4): 1341-1347


    Patients with breast cancer (BCa) frequently have preexisting vitamin D deficiency (low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D) when their cancer develops. A number of epidemiological studies show an inverse association between BCa risk and vitamin D status in humans, although some studies have failed to find an association. In addition, several studies have reported that BCa patients with vitamin D deficiency have a more aggressive molecular phenotype and worse prognostic indicators. However, it is unknown whether this association is mechanistically causative and, if so, whether it results from systemic or tumor autonomous effects of vitamin D signaling. We found that ablation of vitamin D receptor expression within BCa cells accelerates primary tumor growth and enables the development of metastases, demonstrating a tumor autonomous effect of vitamin D signaling to suppress BCa metastases. We show that vitamin D signaling inhibits the expression of the tumor progression gene Id1, and this pathway is abrogated in vitamin D deficiency in vivo in 2 murine models of BCa. These findings are relevant to humans, because we discovered that the mechanism of VDR regulation of Inhibitor of differentiation 1 (ID1) is conserved in human BCa cells, and there is a negative correlation between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the level of ID1 in primary tumors from patients with BCa.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2015-2036

    View details for PubMedID 26934299

  • Vitamin D mitigates the adverse effects of obesity on breast cancer in mice ENDOCRINE-RELATED CANCER Swami, S., Krishnan, A. V., Williams, J., Aggarwal, A., Albertelli, M. A., Horst, R. L., Feldman, B. J., Feldman, D. 2016; 23 (4): 251-264


    Obesity is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer (BCa), insulin resistance and vitamin D deficiency, and all contribute to increased synthesis of mammary estrogens, the drivers of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) BCa growth. Since both dietary vitamin D and calcitriol treatments inhibit breast estrogen synthesis and signaling, we hypothesized that vitamin D would be especially beneficial in mitigating the adverse effects of obesity on ER+ BCa. To assess whether obesity exerted adverse effects on BCa growth and whether vitamin D compounds could reduce these unfavorable effects, we employed a diet-induced obesity (DIO) model in ovariectomized C57BL/6 mice. Breast tumor cells originally from syngeneic Mmtv-wnt1 transgenic mice were then implanted into the mammary fat pads of lean and obese mice. DIO accelerated the initiation and progression of the mammary tumors. Treatments with either calcitriol or dietary vitamin D reduced the adverse effects of obesity causing a delay in tumor appearance and inhibiting continued tumor growth. Beneficial actions of treatments with vitamin D or calcitriol on BCa and surrounding adipose tissue included: repressed Er, aromatase and Cox-2 expression, decreased tumor derived estrogen and PGE2 and reduced expression of leptin receptors and increased adiponectin receptors. We demonstrate that vitamin D treatments decreased insulin resistance, reduced leptin and increased adiponectin signaling and also regulated the LKB1/ AMPK pathway contributing to an overall decrease in local estrogen synthesis in the obese mice. We conclude that calcitriol and dietary vitamin D, acting by multiple interrelated pathways, mitigate obesity enhanced BCa growth in a postmenopausal setting.

    View details for DOI 10.1530/ERC-15-0557

    View details for Web of Science ID 000377691700007

    View details for PubMedID 26817629

  • Inhibition of Mouse Breast Tumor-Initiating Cells by Calcitriol and Dietary Vitamin D MOLECULAR CANCER THERAPEUTICS Jeong, Y., Swami, S., Krishnan, A. V., Williams, J. D., Martin, S., Horst, R. L., Albertelli, M. A., Feldman, B. J., Feldman, D., Diehn, M. 2015; 14 (8): 1951-1961


    The anticancer actions of vitamin D and its hormonally active form, calcitriol, have been extensively documented in clinical and preclinical studies. However, the mechanisms underlying these actions have not been completely elucidated. Here, we examined the effect of dietary vitamin D and calcitriol on mouse breast tumor-initiating cells (TICs, also known as cancer stem cells). We focused on MMTV-Wnt1 mammary tumors, for which markers for isolating TICs have previously been validated. We confirmed that these tumors expressed functional vitamin D receptors and estrogen receptors (ER) and exhibited calcitriol-induced molecular responses including ER downregulation. Following orthotopic implantation of MMTV-Wnt1 mammary tumor cells into mice, calcitriol injections or a vitamin D-supplemented diet caused a striking delay in tumor appearance and growth, whereas a vitamin D-deficient diet accelerated tumor appearance and growth. Calcitriol inhibited TIC tumor spheroid formation in a dose-dependent manner in primary cultures and inhibited TIC self-renewal in secondary passages. A combination of calcitriol and ionizing radiation inhibited spheroid formation more than either treatment alone. Further, calcitriol significantly decreased TIC frequency as evaluated by in vivo limiting dilution analyses. Calcitriol inhibition of TIC spheroid formation could be overcome by the overexpression of β-catenin, suggesting that the inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin pathway is an important mechanism mediating the TIC inhibitory activity of calcitriol in this tumor model. Our findings indicate that vitamin D compounds target breast TICs reducing tumor-initiating activity. Our data also suggest that combining vitamin D compounds with standard therapies may enhance anticancer activity and improve therapeutic outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0066

    View details for Web of Science ID 000359324600018

    View details for PubMedID 25934710

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4549392

  • Echocardiographic and Electrocardiographic Characteristics of Male and Female Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri spp.). Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science Huss, M. K., Ikeno, F., Buckmaster, C. L., Albertelli, M. A. 2015; 54 (1): 25-28


    Cardiomyopathy is a leading cause of mortality in aging squirrel monkeys (Saimiri spp.). However, data regarding echocardiographic measures obtained from clinically healthy nonsedated squirrel monkeys have not been published, and few electrocardiographic data are available. Here we obtained echocardiographs without sedation and electrocardiographs with minimal sedation from 63 clinically healthy squirrel monkeys that ranged from 3 to 20 y in age. 2D and M-mode echocardiography were performed on nonsedated monkeys to determine the left ventricular internal diameters at systole and diastole and the ejection fraction. Electrocardiography was performed under sedation with ketamine (15 mg/kg). Parameters evaluated included heart rate; P-wave duration; lengths of the PR, QRS, and QT intervals; R-wave amplitude, and P-wave amplitude. Initial physical examination, electrocardiography, and echocardiography indicated normal cardiac function for all monkeys. The objectives of this study were to provide reference values for nonsedated echocardiography and ketamine-sedated electrocardiography of clinically normal squirrel monkeys and to determine correlates of age and sex in these values.

    View details for PubMedID 25651087

  • Discovery of Potent and Specific Dihydroisoxazole Inhibitors of Human Transglutaminase 2 JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY Kloeck, C., Herrera, Z., Albertelli, M., Khosla, C. 2014; 57 (21): 9042-9064

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jm501145a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000344977400026

  • Discovery of potent and specific dihydroisoxazole inhibitors of human transglutaminase 2. Journal of medicinal chemistry Klöck, C., Herrera, Z., Albertelli, M., Khosla, C. 2014; 57 (21): 9042-9064


    Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) is a ubiquitously expressed enzyme that catalyzes the posttranslational modification of glutamine residues on protein or peptide substrates. A growing body of literature has implicated aberrantly regulated activity of TG2 in the pathogenesis of various human inflammatory, fibrotic, and other diseases. Taken together with the fact that TG2 knockout mice are developmentally and reproductively normal, there is growing interest in the potential use of TG2 inhibitors in the treatment of these conditions. Targeted-covalent inhibitors based on the weakly electrophilic 3-bromo-4,5-dihydroisoxazole (DHI) scaffold have been widely used to study TG2 biology and are well tolerated in vivo, but these compounds have only modest potency, and their selectivity toward other transglutaminase homologues is largely unknown. In the present work, we first profiled the selectivity of existing inhibitors against the most pertinent TG isoforms (TG1, TG3, and FXIIIa). Significant cross-reactivity of these small molecules with TG1 was observed. Structure-activity and -selectivity analyses led to the identification of modifications that improved potency and isoform selectivity. Preliminary pharmacokinetic analysis of the most promising analogues was also undertaken. Our new data provides a clear basis for the rational selection of dihydroisoxazole inhibitors as tools for in vivo biological investigation.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jm501145a

    View details for PubMedID 25333388

  • Abdominal lipomatosis with secondary self-strangulation of masses in an adult rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). Comparative medicine Chum, H. H., Long, C. T., McKeon, G. P., Chang, A. G., Luong, R. H., Albertelli, M. A. 2014; 64 (5): 404-408


    An 10-y-old, intact male rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) presented for bilateral scrotal swelling and a distended abdomen. A soft mass in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen was palpated. A barium study did not reveal any gastrointestinal abnormalities. Exploratory laparotomy revealed a large (1.25 kg, 15.0 × 13.0 × 9.5 cm), red and tan, soft, circumscribed, spherical mass within the greater omentum and 10 to 20 smaller (diameter, 1 to 4 cm), soft to firm masses in the mesentery and greater omentum. The resected mass was a self-strangulating abdominal lipoma, a pedunculated neoplasm composed of white adipocytes arising from peritoneal adipose tissue undergoing secondary coagulation necrosis after strangulation of the blood supply due to twisting of the mass around the peduncle. The smaller masses were histologically consistent with simple or self-strangulating pedunculated abdominal lipomas. The macaque presented again 9 mo later with a firm, 5.0-cm mass in the midabdomen, with intestinal displacement visible on radiographs. Given this animal's medical history and questionable prognosis, euthanasia was elected. Necropsy revealed numerous, multifocal to coalescing, 1.0- to 15.0-cm, pale tan to yellow, circumscribed, soft to firm, spherical to ellipsoid, pedunculated masses that were scattered throughout the mesentery, greater omentum, lesser omentum, and serosal surfaces of the gastrointestinal tract. All of the masses were pedunculated abdominal lipomas, and most demonstrated coagulation necrosis due to self-strangulation of the blood supply. To our knowledge, this report is the first to describe abdominal lipomatosis with secondary self-strangulation of masses in a rhesus macaque.

    View details for PubMedID 25402181

  • Abdominal Lipomatosis with Secondary Self-Strangulation of Masses in an Adult Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) COMPARATIVE MEDICINE Chum, H. H., Long, C. T., McKeon, G. P., Chang, A. G., Luong, R. H., Albertelli, M. A. 2014; 64 (5): 404-408
  • CYP3A4-Catalyzed Simvastatin Metabolism as a Non-Invasive Marker of Small Intestinal Health in Celiac Disease. American journal of gastroenterology Morón, B., Verma, A. K., Das, P., Taavela, J., Dafik, L., DiRaimondo, T. R., Albertelli, M. A., Kraemer, T., Mäki, M., Khosla, C., Rogler, G., Makharia, G. K. 2013; 108 (8): 1344-1351


    Histological examination of duodenal biopsies is the gold standard for assessing intestinal damage in celiac disease (CD). A noninvasive marker of disease status is necessary, because obtaining duodenal biopsies is invasive and not suitable for routine monitoring of CD patients. As the small intestine is a major site of cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) activity and also the location of the celiac lesion, we investigated whether patients with active CD display abnormal pharmacokinetics of an orally administered CYP3A4 substrate, simvastatin (SV), which could potentially be used for noninvasive assessment of their small intestinal health.Preclinical experiments were performed in CYP3A4-humanized mice to examine the feasibility of the test. Subsequently, a clinical trial was undertaken with 11 healthy volunteers, 18 newly diagnosed patients with CD, and 25 celiac patients who had followed a gluten-free diet (GFD) for more than 1 year. The maximum concentration (Cmax) of orally administered SV plus its major non-CYP3A4-derived metabolite SV acid (SV equivalent (SVeq)) was measured, and compared with clinical, histological, and serological parameters.In CYP3A4-humanized mice, a marked decrease in SV metabolism was observed in response to enteropathy. In the clinical setting, untreated celiac patients displayed a significantly higher SVeq Cmax (46±24 nM) compared with treated patients (21±16 nM, P<0.001) or healthy subjects (19±11 nM, P<0.005). SVeq Cmax correctly predicted the diagnosis in 16/18 untreated celiac patients, and also the recovery status of all follow-up patients that exhibited normal or near-normal biopsies (Marsh 0-2). All patients with abnormal SVeq Cmax showed a reduction in the value after 1 year of following a GFD.SVeq Cmax is a promising noninvasive marker for assessment of small intestinal health. Further studies are warranted to establish its clinical utility for assessing gut status of patients with CD.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ajg.2013.151

    View details for PubMedID 23732466

  • Dietary Vitamin D-3 and 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D-3 (Calcitriol) Exhibit Equivalent Anticancer Activity in Mouse Xenograft Models of Breast and Prostate Cancer ENDOCRINOLOGY Swami, S., Krishnan, A. V., Wang, J. Y., Jensen, K., Horst, R., Albertelli, M. A., Feldman, D. 2012; 153 (6): 2576-2587


    1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25(OH)(2)D(3) or calcitriol], the hormonally active vitamin D metabolite, exhibits anticancer actions in models of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Because CYP27B1 (1α-hydroxylase), the enzyme catalyzing 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) formation in the kidney, is also expressed in extrarenal tissues, we hypothesize that dietary vitamin D(3) will be converted to 25(OH)D(3) in the body and then to 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) locally in the cancer microenvironment in which it will exert autocrine/paracrine anticancer actions. Immunocompromised mice bearing MCF-7 breast cancer xenografts showed significant tumor shrinkage (>50%) after ingestion of a vitamin D(3)-supplemented diet (5000 IU/kg) compared with a control diet (1000 IU/kg). Dietary vitamin D(3) inhibition of tumor growth was equivalent to administered calcitriol (0.025, 0.05, or 0.1 μg/mouse, three times a week). Both treatments equivalently inhibited PC-3 prostate cancer xenograft growth but to a lesser extent than the MCF-7 tumors. Calcitriol at 0.05 μg and 0.1 μg caused modest but statistically significant increases in serum calcium levels indicating that the dietary vitamin D(3) comparison was to a maximally safe calcitriol dose. Dietary vitamin D(3) did not increase serum calcium, demonstrating its safety at the concentration tested. The vitamin D(3) diet raised circulating 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D levels and did not alter CYP27B1 mRNA in the kidney but increased it in the tumors, suggesting that extrarenal sources including the tumors contributed to the elevated circulating 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D(3). Both calcitriol and dietary vitamin D(3) were equipotent in suppressing estrogen synthesis and signaling and other proinflammatory and growth signaling pathways. These preclinical data demonstrate the potential utility of dietary vitamin D(3) supplementation in cancer prevention and therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/en.2011-1600

    View details for Web of Science ID 000304370700010

    View details for PubMedID 22454149

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3359605

  • Activation and Inhibition of Transglutaminase 2 in Mice PLOS ONE Dafik, L., Albertelli, M., Stamnaes, J., Sollid, L. M., Khosla, C. 2012; 7 (2)


    Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) is an allosterically regulated enzyme with transamidating, deamidating and cell signaling activities. It is thought to catalyze sequence-specific deamidation of dietary gluten peptides in the small intestines of celiac disease patients. Because this modification has profound consequences for disease pathogenesis, there is considerable interest in the design of small molecule TG2 inhibitors. Although many classes of TG2 inhibitors have been reported, thus far an animal model for screening them to identify promising celiac drug candidates has remained elusive. Using intraperitoneal administration of the toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) ligand, polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly(I∶C)), we induced rapid TG2 activation in the mouse small intestine. Dose dependence was observed in the activation of TG2 as well as the associated villous atrophy, gross clinical response, and rise in serum concentration of the IL-15/IL-15R complex. TG2 activity was most pronounced in the upper small intestine. No evidence of TG2 activation was observed in the lung mucosa, nor were TLR7/8 ligands able to elicit an analogous response. Introduction of ERW1041E, a small molecule TG2 inhibitor, in this mouse model resulted in TG2 inhibition in the small intestine. TG2 inhibition had no effect on villous atrophy, suggesting that activation of this enzyme is a consequence, rather than a cause, of poly(I∶C) induced enteropathy. Consistent with this finding, administration of poly(I∶C) to TG2 knockout mice also induced villous atrophy. Our findings pave the way for pharmacological evaluation of small molecule TG2 inhibitors as drug candidates for celiac disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0030642

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301979000009

    View details for PubMedID 22319575

  • Inhibitory effects of calcitriol on the growth of MCF-7 breast cancer xenografts in nude mice: selective modulation of aromatase expression in vivo. Hormones & cancer Swami, S., Krishnan, A. V., Wang, J. Y., Jensen, K., Peng, L., Albertelli, M. A., Feldman, D. 2011; 2 (3): 190-202


    Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3)), the hormonally active metabolite of vitamin D, exerts many anticancer effects in breast cancer (BCa) cells. We have previously shown using cell culture models that calcitriol acts as a selective aromatase modulator (SAM) and inhibits estrogen synthesis and signaling in BCa cells. We have now examined calcitriol effects in vivo on aromatase expression, estrogen signaling, and tumor growth when used alone and in combination with aromatase inhibitors (AIs). In immunocompromised mice bearing MCF-7 xenografts, increasing doses of calcitriol exhibited significant tumor inhibitory effects (~50% to 70% decrease in tumor volume). At the suboptimal doses tested, anastrozole and letrozole also caused significant tumor shrinkage when used individually. Although the combinations of calcitriol and the AIs caused a statistically significant increase in tumor inhibition in comparison to the single agents, the cooperative interaction between these agents appeared to be minimal at the doses tested. Calcitriol decreased aromatase expression in the xenograft tumors. Importantly, calcitriol also acted as a SAM in the mouse, decreasing aromatase expression in the mammary adipose tissue, while increasing it in bone marrow cells and not altering it in the ovaries and uteri. As a result, calcitriol significantly reduced estrogen levels in the xenograft tumors and surrounding breast adipose tissue. In addition, calcitriol inhibited estrogen signaling by decreasing tumor ERα levels. Changes in tumor gene expression revealed the suppressive effects of calcitriol on inflammatory and growth signaling pathways and demonstrated cooperative interactions between calcitriol and AIs to modulate gene expression. We hypothesize that cumulatively these calcitriol actions would contribute to a beneficial effect when calcitriol is combined with an AI in the treatment of BCa.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12672-011-0073-7

    View details for PubMedID 21686077

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3114631

  • Comparison of rectal and tympanic core body temperature measurement in adult Guyanese squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus sciureus) JOURNAL OF MEDICAL PRIMATOLOGY Long, C. T., Pacharinsak, C., Jampachaisri, K., McKeon, G. P., Howard, A. M., Albertelli, M. A., Felt, S. A. 2011; 40 (2): 135-141


    Measuring core body temperature in a manner that is safe for animals and veterinary personnel is an important part of a physical examination. For nonhuman primates, this can involve increased restraint, additional stress, as well as the use of anesthetics and their deleterious effects on body temperature measurements. The purpose of this study was to compare two non-invasive methods of infrared tympanic thermometry to standard rectal thermometry in adult squirrel monkeys.Tympanic temperatures were collected from 37 squirrel monkeys and compared to rectal temperatures using a human and veterinary infrared tympanic thermometer.Compared with rectal temperature measurements, the human tympanic thermometer readings were not significantly different, while the veterinary tympanic thermometer measurements were significantly higher (P<0.05). There were no differences between sexes.The tympanic thermometer designed for use in humans can be used in adult squirrel monkeys as an alternative to rectal thermometry for assessing core body temperature.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0684.2010.00449.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287965500009

    View details for PubMedID 20946145

  • Uterine Leiomyoma in a Guyanese Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus sciureus) JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR LABORATORY ANIMAL SCIENCE Long, C. T., Luong, R. H., McKeon, G. P., Albertelli, M. A. 2010; 49 (2): 226-230


    An adult female squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) presented with a 3.0 x 2.5 cm firm mass palpable within the caudal abdomen. Differentiation of the organs or structures involved with the mass could not be achieved with radiography or ultrasonography. Exploratory laparotomy revealed a mass within the lumen of the uterus; the mass was removed by partial hysterectomy. On gross examination, the mass was a focally extensive, unencapsulated, firm, solitary tumor. Histologic examination revealed that the mass was composed of interlacing bundles of smooth muscle cells with little fibrous stroma. The cells were elongated with poorly delineated borders and cigar-shaped nuclei, each containing a single, small nucleolus. Fewer than 1 mitosis per 20 high-power (magnification, x 400) fields were present. These gross and histologic findings supported a diagnosis of uterine leiomyoma. Although leiomyomas are the most common tumor of the reproductive tract in nonhuman primates, to our knowledge the current lesion is the first uterine leiomyoma reported to occur in a squirrel monkey.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000275882100017

    View details for PubMedID 20353700

  • Profiling Human Androgen Receptor Mutations Reveals Treatment Effects in a Mouse Model of Prostate Cancer MOLECULAR CANCER RESEARCH O'Mahony, O. A., Steinkamp, M. P., Albertelli, M. A., Brogley, M., Rehman, H., Robins, D. M. 2008; 6 (11): 1691-1701


    Gain-of-function mutations in the androgen receptor (AR) are found in prostate cancer and are implicated in the failure of hormone therapy. Most studies have emphasized the ligand-binding domain (LBD) where mutations can create promiscuous receptors, but mutations in the NH(2)-terminal transactivation domain have also been found. To assess AR alteration as a mechanism of treatment resistance, a mouse model (h/mAR-TRAMP) was used in which the murine AR coding region is replaced by human sequence and prostate cancer initiated by a transgenic oncogene. Mice received either no treatment, androgen depletion by castration, or treatment with antiandrogens, and 20 AR transcripts were sequenced per end-stage tumor. All tumors expressed several mutant alleles, although most mutations were low frequency. Some mutations that occurred multiple times within the population were differentially located dependent on treatment. Mutations in castrated or antiandrogen-treated mice were widely dispersed but with a prominent cluster in the LBD (amino acids 736-771), whereas changes in intact mice centered near the NH(2)-terminal polymorphic glutamine tract. Functional characterization of selected LBD mutant alleles showed diverse effects on AR activity, with about half of the mutations reducing transactivation in vitro. One receptor, AR-R753Q, behaved in a cell- and promoter-dependent manner, although as a germ-line mutation it causes androgen insensitivity syndrome. This suggests that alleles that are loss of function during development may still activate a subset of AR targets to become gain of function in tumorigenesis. Mutant ARs may thus use multiple mechanisms to evade cancer treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-08-0273

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261134500004

    View details for PubMedID 19010817

  • X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis deficiency in the TRAMP mouse prostate cancer model CELL DEATH AND DIFFERENTIATION Hwang, C., Oetjen, K. A., Kosoff, D., Wojno, K. J., Albertelli, M. A., Dunn, R. L., Robins, D. M., Cooney, K. A., Duckett, C. S. 2008; 15 (5): 831-840


    Deregulation of apoptotic pathways plays a central role in cancer pathogenesis. X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), is an antiapoptotic molecule, whose elevated expression has been observed in tumor specimens from patients with prostate carcinoma. Studies in human cancer cell culture models and xenograft tumor models have demonstrated that loss of XIAP sensitizes cancer cells to apoptotic stimuli and abrogates tumor growth. In view of these findings, XIAP represents an attractive antiapoptotic therapeutic target for prostate cancer. To examine the role of XIAP in an immunocompetent mouse cancer model, we have generated transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) mice that lack XIAP. We did not observe a protective effect of Xiap deficiency in TRAMP mice as measured by tumor onset and overall survival. In fact, there was an unexpected trend toward more aggressive disease in the Xiap-deficient mice. These findings suggest that alternative mechanisms of apoptosis resistance are playing a significant oncogenic role in the setting of Xiap deficiency. Our study has implications for XIAP-targeting therapies currently in development. Greater understanding of these mechanisms will aid in combating resistance to XIAP-targeting treatment, in addition to optimizing selection of patients who are most likely to respond to such treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/cdd.2008.15

    View details for Web of Science ID 000254960500004

    View details for PubMedID 18259199

  • Androgen receptor variants and prostate cancer in humanized AR mice 12th International Congress on Hormonal Steroids and Hormones and Cancer Robins, D. M., Albertelli, M. A., O'Mahony, O. A. PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD. 2008: 230–36


    Androgen, acting via the androgen receptor (AR), is central to male development, differentiation and hormone-dependent diseases such as prostate cancer. AR is actively involved in the initiation of prostate cancer, the transition to androgen independence, and many mechanisms of resistance to therapy. To examine genetic variation of AR in cancer, we created mice by germ-line gene targeting in which human AR sequence replaces that of the mouse. Since shorter length of a polymorphic N-terminal glutamine (Q) tract has been linked to prostate cancer risk, we introduced alleles with 12, 21 or 48 Qs to test this association. The three "humanized" AR mouse strains (h/mAR) are normal physiologically, as well as by cellular and molecular criteria, although slight differences are detected in AR target gene expression, correlating inversely with Q tract length. However, distinct allele-dependent differences in tumorigenesis are evident when these mice are crossed to a transgenic prostate cancer model. Remarkably, Q tract variation also differentially impacts disease progression following androgen depletion. This finding emphasizes the importance of AR function in androgen-independent as well as androgen-dependent disease. These mice provide a novel genetic paradigm in which to dissect opposing functions of AR in tumor suppression versus oncogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2007.09.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253964600008

    View details for PubMedID 17936615

  • Glutamine tract length of human androgen receptors affects hormone-dependent and -independent prostate cancer in mice HUMAN MOLECULAR GENETICS Albertelli, M. A., O'Mahony, O. A., Brogley, M., Tosoian, J., Steinkamp, M., Daignault, S., Wojno, K., Robins, D. M. 2008; 17 (1): 98-110


    The androgen receptor (AR) is involved in the initiation and progression of prostate cancer and its transition to androgen independence. Genetic variation in AR may contribute to disease risk and has been studied for a polymorphic N-terminal glutamine (Q) tract that shows population heterogeneity. While the length of this tract is known to affect AR in vitro, association with disease is complicated by genetic and environmental factors that have led to discordant epidemiological findings. To clarify the effect of Q tract polymorphism on prostate cancer, we created mice bearing humanized AR genes (h/mAr) varying in Q tract length. ARs with short Q tracts (12Q), which are transcriptionally more active, induce earlier disease in the transgene-induced TRAMP prostate cancer model than alleles with median (21Q) or long (48Q) tracts. Disease length varies within each genotype, with greater differentiation and AR expression in slower growing tumors. Remarkably, following androgen ablation, Q tract length has effects that are also allele-dependent and in directions opposite to those in hormone intact mice. Differences in AR activity conferred by Q tract length thus appear to direct distinct pathways of androgen-independent as well as androgen-dependent progression, and highlight substantial risk that may be associated with alterations in the androgen axis. This AR allelic series in humanized mice provides an experimental paradigm to dissect the role of AR in prostate cancer initiation and progression, to model response to treatment and to test therapies targeted specifically to the human AR.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/hmg/ddm287

    View details for Web of Science ID 000251866600008

    View details for PubMedID 17906287

  • Androgen-dependent pathology demonstrates myopathic contribution to the Kennedy disease phenotype in a mouse knock-in model JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION Yu, Z., Dadgar, N., Albertelli, M., Gruis, K., Jordan, C., Robins, D. M., Lieberman, A. P. 2006; 116 (10): 2663-2672


    Kennedy disease, a degenerative disorder characterized by androgen-dependent neuromuscular weakness, is caused by a CAG/glutamine tract expansion in the androgen receptor (Ar) gene. We developed a mouse model of Kennedy disease, using gene targeting to convert mouse androgen receptor (AR) to human sequence while introducing 113 glutamines. AR113Q mice developed hormone and glutamine length-dependent neuromuscular weakness characterized by the early occurrence of myopathic and neurogenic skeletal muscle pathology and by the late development of neuronal intranuclear inclusions in spinal neurons. AR113Q males unexpectedly died at 2-4 months. We show that this androgen-dependent death reflects decreased expression of skeletal muscle chloride channel 1 (CLCN1) and the skeletal muscle sodium channel alpha-subunit, resulting in myotonic discharges in skeletal muscle of the lower urinary tract. AR113Q limb muscles show similar myopathic features and express decreased levels of mRNAs encoding neurotrophin-4 and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. These data define an important myopathic contribution to the Kennedy disease phenotype and suggest a role for muscle in non-cell autonomous toxicity of lower motor neurons.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI28773

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240965700016

    View details for PubMedID 16981011

  • Replacing the mouse androgen receptor with human alleles demonstrates glutamine tract length-dependent effects on physiology and tumorigenesis in mice MOLECULAR ENDOCRINOLOGY Albertelli, M. A., Scheller, A., Brogley, M., Robins, D. M. 2006; 20 (6): 1248-1260


    Polymorphism in the length of the N-terminal glutamine (Q) tract in the human androgen receptor (AR) has been implicated in affecting aspects of male health ranging from fertility to cancer. Extreme expansion of the tract underlies Kennedy disease, and in vitro the AR Q tract length correlates inversely with transactivation capacity. However, whether normal variation influences physiology or the etiology of disease has been controversial. To assess directly the functional significance of Q tract variation, we converted the mouse AR to the human sequence by germline gene targeting, introducing alleles with 12, 21, or 48 glutamines. These three "humanized" AR (h/mAR) mouse lines were grossly normal in growth, behavior, fertility, and reproductive tract morphology. Phenotypic analysis revealed traits that varied subtly with Q tract length, including body fat amount and, more notably, seminal vesicle weight. Upon molecular analysis, tissue-specific differences in AR levels and target gene expression were detected between mouse lines. In the prostate, probasin, Nkx3.1, and clusterin mRNAs trended in directions predicted for inverse correlation of Q tract length with AR activation. Remarkably, when crossed with transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate (TRAMP) mice, striking genotype-dependent differences in prostate cancer initiation and progression were revealed. This link between Q tract length and prostate cancer, likely due to differential activation of AR targets, corroborates human epidemiological studies. This h/mAR allelic series in a homogeneous mouse genetic background allows examination of numerous physiological traits for Q tract influences and provides an animal model to test novel drugs targeted specifically to human AR.

    View details for DOI 10.1210/me.2006-0021

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237806900009

    View details for PubMedID 16601069

  • Abnormalities of germ cell maturation and sertoli cell cytoskeleton in androgen receptor 113 CAG knock-in mice reveal toxic effects of the mutant protein AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PATHOLOGY Yu, Z. G., Dadgar, N., Albertelli, M., Scheller, A., ALBIN, R. L., Robins, D. M., Lieberman, A. P. 2006; 168 (1): 195-204


    An unresolved question in the study of the polyglutamine neurodegenerative disorders is the extent to which partial loss of normal function of the mutant protein contributes to the disease phenotype. To address this, we studied Kennedy disease, a degenerative disorder of lower motor neurons caused by a CAG/glutamine expansion in the androgen receptor (Ar) gene. Signs of partial androgen insensitivity, including testicular atrophy and decreased fertility, are common in affected males, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we describe a knock-in mouse model that reproduces the testicular atrophy, diminished fertility, and systemic signs of partial androgen insensitivity that occur in Kennedy disease patients. Using this model, we demonstrate that the testicular pathology in this disorder is distinct from that mediated by loss of AR function. Testes pathology in 113 CAG knock-in mice was characterized by morphological abnormalities of germ cell maturation, decreased solubility of the mutant AR protein, and alterations of the Sertoli cell cytoskeleton, changes that are distinct from those produced by AR loss-of-function mutation in testicular feminization mutant mice. Our data demonstrate that toxic effects of the mutant protein mediate aspects of the Kennedy disease phenotype previously attributed to a loss of AR function.

    View details for DOI 10.2353/ujpath.2006.050619

    View details for Web of Science ID 000234449400023

    View details for PubMedID 16400023

  • Shape-defining scaffolds for minimally invasive tissue engineering TRANSPLANTATION Thornton, A. J., Alsberg, E., Albertelli, M., Mooney, D. J. 2004; 77 (12): 1798-1803


    Minimally invasive surgical procedures are increasingly important in medicine, but biomaterials consistent with this delivery approach that allow one to control the structure of the material after implantation are lacking. Biomaterials with shape-memorizing properties could permit minimally invasive delivery of cell transplantation constructs and enable the formation of new tissues or structures in vivo in desired shapes and sizes.Macroporous alginate hydrogel scaffolds were prepared in a number of predefined geometries, compressed into significantly smaller, different "temporary" forms, and introduced into immunocompromised mice by means of minimally invasive surgical delivery through a small catheter. Scaffolds were rehydrated in situ with a suspension of cells (primary bovine articular chondrocytes) or cell-free medium and delivered through the same catheter. Specimens were harvested at 1 hr to evaluate the efficacy of cell delivery and the recovery of scaffold geometry, and at 8 and 24 weeks to evaluate neotissue formation.A high percentage (88%) of scaffolds that were introduced with a catheter and rehydrated with cells had recovered their original shape and size within 1 hr. This delivery procedure resulted in cartilage structures with the geometry of the original scaffold by 2 months and histologically mature appearing tissue at 6 months.Shaped hydrogels, formed by covalently cross-linking, can be structurally collapsed into smaller, temporary shapes that permit their minimally invasive delivery in vivo. The rapid recovery of scaffold properties facilitates efficient cell seeding in vivo and permits neotissue formation in desired geometries.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/

    View details for Web of Science ID 000222300000004

    View details for PubMedID 15223894