Alain Nepveu

Department of Biochemistry

Biological roles and molecular functions of the mammalian CUX1 homeodomain protein

Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Centre
The Cancer Research Building
1160 Pine Avenue
Office: Room 414; Lab: Room 411
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A3
Tel: 514-398-5839; Lab: 514-398-5163
Fax: 514-398-6769
alain.nepveu [at]

1984 - PhD, Universite de Sherbrooke

Research Interests

Roles of CUX1 proteins in DNA damage responses and the resistance of cancer cells to radiotherapy and chemotherapy
Dr. Nepveu’s laboratory studies the regulation of transcription in mammalian cells and, in particular, the roles of transcription factors in DNA damage responses. We combine a vast array of molecular biology and functional genomic approaches together with tissue culture and mouse models to investigate how alterations in DNA repair and DNA damage responses contribute to the initiation and progression of cancer. We study how defects in DNA repair can contribute to tumor initiation and how certain cancer cells become dependent on specific DNA repair pathways. It is generally accepted that defects in DNA repair, whether transient or permanent, contribute to tumor development and progression. Yet, to replicate their DNA and proliferate, cancer cells need DNA repair mechanisms, perhaps even more so than normal cells. Moreover, efficient DNA repair mechanisms can enable cancer cells to resist radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We are entering a new era of cancer research in which patients will be stratified for appropriate therapy on the basis of their DNA repair status, rather than on the tissue of origin, and where combination treatments will include DNA repair inhibitors. The goal of our work is to use the acquired knowledge to exacerbate the sensitivity of cancer cells to radiotherapy and specific chemotherapeutic treatments.

In particular, we investigate the molecular and cellular functions of the Cut homeobox 1 (CUX1) gene, a haploinsufficient tumour suppressor gene that is often amplified and overexpressed in advanced cancer. We study which molecular functions of CUX1 protect against cancer and which molecular functions are associated with tumour progression. CUX1 codes for several protein isoforms. Some CUX1 isoforms function as transcriptional activators or repressors, depending on promoter context. Transcriptional activities of CUX1 promote cell cycle progression, DNA replication and DNA damage responses. Another CUX1 isoform which is very abundant functions as an accessory factor in DNA repair and stimulates the efficiency of base excision repair. While this activity in DNA repair protects normal cells against DNA damage and mutations, increased expression of this isoform in cancer cells contributes to their resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In contrast, knockdown of CUX1 expression sensitizes cancer cells to treatments. We are in the process of identifying drugs that inhibit the DNA repair functions of CUX1 with the aim of sensitizing cancer cells to treatments.

Recent Publications

Sansregret, L., J. Livingstone, C. Vadnais, N. Kwiatkowski, A. Awan, C. Cadieux, L. Leduy, M. Hallett, and Alain Nepveu. CUX1 causes chromosomal instability by promoting bipolar divisions after mitotic failure.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA,

Sansregret, L., and Alain Nepveu. Gene Signatures of Genomic Instability As Prognostic Tools for Breast Cancer. Future Oncology, 7(5):591-594. 2011.

Kojima K, Takata A, Vadnais C, Otsuka M, Yoshikawa T, Akanuma M, Kondo Y, Kang YJ, Kishikawa T, Kato N, Xie Z, Zhang WJ, Yoshida H, Omata M, Nepveu A, Koike K: MicroRNA122 is a key regulator of alpha-fetoprotein expression and influences the aggressiveness of hepatocellular carcinoma. Nature communications, 2:3å38. 2011.

Vadnais, C., S. Davoudi, M. Afshin, R. Harada, R. Dudley, P.-L. Clermont, E. Drobetsky and Alain Nepveu. CUX1 Transcription Factor is Required for Optimal ATM/ATR-Mediated Responses to DNA Damage. Nucleic Acids Research, 40(10): 4483-4495. 2012.

Hulea, L., and Alain Nepveu. CUX1 Transcription Factors: From Biochemical Activities and Cell-Based Assays to Mouse Models and Human Diseases. Gene, 497: 18-26. 2012.

Sansregret, L., and Alain Nepveu. La médecine personnalisée grâce aux signatures d’expression génique : l’exemple du cancer du sein. Médecine Sciences Amérique, 1(2):31-39. 2012.

Vadnais, C., A. A. Awan, L. Leduy, G. Bérubé, and Alain Nepveu. Long-Range Transcriptional Regulation by the p110 CUX1 Homeodomain Protein on the ENCODE Array. BMC Genomics, 14: 258 (17 p.). 2013.

Ramdzan, Z., R. Pal, C. Vadnais, G. Vandal, C. Cadieux, L. Leduy, S. Davoudi, L. Yao, A. K. Karnesis, M. Paquet, D. Dankort, and A. Nepveu, A. RAS-Transformation in Cancer Cells Requires CUX1-Dependent Repair of Oxidative DNA Damage. PLoS Biology 12 (3), e1001807 (17 p.). 2014.

Ramdzan, Z., and A. Nepveu. CUX1, a Haploinsufficient Tumour Suppressor Gene Overexpressed in Advanced Cancers. Invited review for Nature Reviews Cancer 14: 673-682. 2014.

Vadnais, C., Shooshtarizadeh, P., Rajadurai, C. V., Lesurf, R., Hulea, L., Davoudi, S., Cadieux, C., Hallett, M., Park, M., and Nepveu, A. (2014). Autocrine Activation of the Wnt/beta-Catenin Pathway by CUX1 and GLIS1 in Breast Cancers. Biology Open, 3: 937-946. 2014. 

Ramdzan, Z., R. Pal, C. Vadnais, S. Kaur, L. Leduy, G. Bérubé, S. Davoudi, and A. Nepveu. The Function of CUX1 in Oxidative DNA Damage Repair Is Needed To Prevent Premature Senescence of Mouse Embryo Fibroblasts. Oncotarget-Focus on Aging, 6(6): 3613-3626. 2015.

Pal, R., Z.M. Ramdzan, S. Kaur, P.M. Duquette, R. Marcotte, L. Leduy, S. Davoudi, N. Lamarche-Vane, A. Iulianella and A. Nepveu. CUX2 Functions As an Accessory Factor in the Repair of Oxidative DNA Damage. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 290: 22520-22531. 2015.

Publications (complete list) - Alain Nepveu

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