Bio

DR. ESTHER NJOKI MWANGI MAINA

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry with interests in the Molecular Genetics of patho-physiological conditions including Cancer, HIV and neglected diseases

Coordinator - Medical laboratory Sciences and Technology level II,(October 2012- October 2013)

Coordinator- MSc Surgery, BVM Molecular Biology- UoN( October 2012- present)

Departmental Representative in various academic committees ( Postgraduate, Time-tabling, Scientific and curriculum development) at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science (2009- present)

Publications


2014

Maina, EN, Kinyi HW, Ochwang’i DO, Meroka AM, Wanyonyi WC.  2014.  Liver toxicity of Crude extract of Ficus natalensis traditionally used in South Western Uganda. African Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 3(4):116-121.

2013

Maina, E.  2013.  Lifestyle diseases pose a definite threat to the developing world. Your Doctor Magazine.

2012

Maina, E.  2012.  Looking to the study of genes for cancer diagnoses and Treatment. Your Doctor Magazine. 4(1):5-6.
Maina, EN, Webb T, Arrand JR, Whittington J, Soni S, Boer H, Clarke D, Holland AJ.  2012.  Investigation of Prader-Willi-like Phenotype using a Whole Genome Array. African Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 1(3):84-91.

2009

Marston, E, Weston V, Jesson J, Maina E, McConville C, Agathanggelou A, Skowronska A, Mapp K, Sameith K, Powell JE, Lawson S, Kearns P, Falciani F, Taylor M, Stankovic T.  2009.  Stratification of pediatric ALL by in vitro cellular responses to DNA double-strand breaks provides insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying clinical response., 2009 Jan 1. Blood. 113(1):117-26. Abstract

The molecular basis of different outcomes in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) remains poorly understood. We addressed the clinical significance and mechanisms behind in vitro cellular responses to ionizing radiation (IR)-induced DNA double-strand breaks in 74 pediatric patients with ALL. We found an apoptosis-resistant response in 36% of patients characterized by failure to cleave caspase-3, -7, -9, and PARP1 by 24 hours after IR and an apoptosis-sensitive response with the cleavage of the same substrates in the remaining 64% of leukemias. Resistance to IR in vitro was associated with poor early blast clearance at day 7 or 15 and persistent minimal residual disease (MRD) at day 28 of induction treatment. Global gene expression profiling revealed abnormal up-regulation of multiple prosurvival pathways in response to IR in apoptosis-resistant leukemias and differential posttranscriptional activation of the PI3-Akt pathway was observed in representative resistant cases. Importantly, pharmacologic inhibition of selected prosurvival pathways sensitized apoptosis-resistant ALL cells to IR in vitro. We suggest that abnormal prosurvival responses to DNA damage provide one of the mechanisms of primary resistance in ALL, and that they should be considered as therapeutic targets in children with aggressive disease.

Bose, S, Yap L-F, Fung M, Starzcynski J, Saleh A, Morgan S, Dawson C, Chukwuma MB, Maina E, Buettner M, Wei W, Arrand J, Lim PVH, Young LS, Teo SH, Stankovic T, Woodman CBJ, Murray PG.  2009.  The ATM tumour suppressor gene is down-regulated in EBV-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma., 2009 Feb. The Journal of pathology. 217(3):345-52. Abstract

A micro-array analysis using biopsies from patients with EBV-positive undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and from cancer-free controls revealed down-regulation of tumour suppressor genes (TSG) not previously associated with this disease; one such gene was the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene. Q-PCR confirmed down-regulation of ATM mRNA and ATM protein expression in tumour cells was weak or absent in almost all cases. In NPC cell lines, however, ATM was down-regulated only in the EBV-positive line, C666.1, and in none of five EBV-negative lines. In vitro infection of EBV-negative NPC cell lines with a recombinant EBV was followed by the down-regulation of ATM mRNA and protein, and only EBV-positive cells showed a defective DNA damage response following gamma-irradiation. Our data suggest that loss of ATM function could be an important step in the pathogenesis of NPC, and may have implications for the treatment of this disease.

2008

Soni, S, Whittington J, Holland AJ, Webb T, Maina EN, Boer H, Clarke D.  2008.  The phenomenology and diagnosis of psychiatric illness in people with Prader-Willi syndrome., 2008 Oct. Psychological medicine. 38(10):1505-14. Abstract

Psychotic illness is strongly associated with the maternal uniparental disomy (mUPD) genetic subtype of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), but not the deletion subtype (delPWS). This study investigates the clinical features of psychiatric illness associated with PWS. We consider possible genetic and other mechanisms that may be responsible for the development of psychotic illness, predominantly in those with mUPD.

Webb, T, Maina EN, Soni S, Whittington J, Boer H, Clarke D, Holland A.  2008.  In search of the psychosis gene in people with Prader-Willi syndrome., 2008 Apr 1. American journal of medical genetics. Part A. 146(7):843-53. Abstract

The two main causes of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) are a paternally derived deletion in the maternally imprinted 15q11-q13 region or UPD(15)mat. Both mechanisms result in a loss of the active paternal contribution to the region. The affective psychosis associated with PWS has been found to be mainly confined to the propositi with UPD(15)mat rather than to those with a deletion. This suggests that the psychosis may be related to the presence of two copies rather than a single copy of a gene or genes located in the distal half of the region which is paternally imprinted, but maternally active, and whose loss results in Angelman syndrome (AS). A large population-based study of PWS allowed the identification of 12 people with a 15q11-q13 deletion who had suffered psychotic episodes and four adults with UPD(15)mat who so far had not. When these people were investigated using microsatellite markers, the 12 with a deletion were found to have two maternally derived copies of a narrow region between D15S975 and D15S661 making them effectively disomic for these loci. Thus all of the people with psychosis had two active copies of any imprinted genes in the region while all non-psychotic people (including controls) had only one. Quantitative RT-PCR studies suggest that a lack of expression of FLJ33332, either as a result of or resulting in gene dysregulation, may be associated with psychosis in PWS.

2007

Abdulrahman, M, Maina EN, Morris MR, Zatyka M, Raval RR, Banks RE, Wiesener MS, Richards FM, Johnson CM, Latif F, Maher ER.  2007.  Identification of novel VHL targets that are associated with the development of renal cell carcinoma., 2007 Mar 8. Oncogene. 26(11):1661-72. Abstract

von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is a dominantly inherited family cancer syndrome characterized by the development of retinal and central nervous system haemangioblastomas, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and phaeochromocytoma. Specific germline VHL mutations may predispose to haemangioblastomas, RCC and phaeochromocytoma to a varying extent. Although dysregulation of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor-2 and JunB have been linked to the development of RCC and phaeochromocytoma, respectively, the precise basis for genotype-phenotype correlations in VHL disease have not been defined. To gain insights into the pathogenesis of RCC in VHL disease we compared gene expression microarray profiles in a RCC cell line expressing a Type 1 or Type 2B mutant pVHL (RCC-associated) to those of a Type 2A or 2C mutant (not associated with RCC). We identified 19 differentially expressed novel VHL target genes linked to RCC development. Eight targets were studied in detail by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (three downregulated and five upregulated by wild-type VHL) and for six genes the effect of VHL inactivation was mimicked by hypoxia (but hypoxic-induction of smooth muscle alpha-actin 2 was specific for a RCC cell line). The potential role of four RCC-associated VHL target genes was assessed in vitro. NB thymosin beta (TMSNB) and proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR2) (both downregulated by wt pVHL) increased cell growth and motility in a RCC cell line, but aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)1 and ALDH7 had no effect. These findings implicate TMSNB and PAR2 candidate oncogenes in the pathogenesis of VHL-associated RCC.

Soni, S, Whittington J, Holland AJ, Webb T, Maina E, Boer H, Clarke D.  2007.  The course and outcome of psychiatric illness in people with Prader-Willi syndrome: implications for management and treatment., 2007 Jan. Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR. 51(Pt 1):32-42. Abstract

This study is part of a larger UK-wide study investigating psychiatric illness in people with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), and describes the longitudinal aspect of psychiatric illness, in particular psychotic illness, and examines the use and role of psychotropic medication.

Maina, EN, Webb T, Soni S, Whittington J, Boer H, Clarke D, Holland A.  2007.  Analysis of candidate imprinted genes in PWS subjects with atypical genetics: a possible inactivating mutation in the SNURF/SNRPN minimal promoter., 2007. Journal of human genetics. 52(4):297-307. AbstractWebsite

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with abnormalities of chromosome 15q11q13. The majority of cases result either from a deletion approximately 4 Mb in size, affecting chromosome 15 of paternal origin or from UPD(15)mat; these account for approximately 70 and approximately 20-25% of PWS cases, respectively. In the remaining 3-5% of PWS cases where neither the deletion nor UPD is detectable, PWS is thought to be caused either by a defect in the imprinting centre resulting in a failure to reset the paternally inherited chromosome 15 derived from the paternal grandmother or, very occasionally, from a balanced translocation involving a breakpoint in 15q11q13. Nine probands with a firm clinical diagnosis of PWS but who had neither a typical deletion in the PWS region nor UPD(15)mat were investigated for inactivating mutations in 11 genes located in the PWS region, including SNURF and SNRPN, which are associated with the imprinting centre. Other genes studied for mutations included MKRN3, NDN, IPW, HBII-85, HBII-13, HBII-436, HBII-438a, PAR1 and PAR5. A possibly inactivating mutation in the SNRPN minimal promoter region was identified. No other inactivating mutations were found in the remainder of our panel of PWS subjects with atypical genetics. Expression levels of several of the candidate genes for PWS were also investigated in this series of probands. The results indicate that PWS may result from a stochastic partial inactivation of important genes.

2006

Maher, ER, Latif F, Teh B;, Yao M, T K, Wiesener MS, Banks RE, Gupta K, Maina EN, Abdulrahman M, Gentle D, Morris MR.  2006.  Tumor Suppressor Activity And Epigenetic Inactivation Of Hepatocyte Growth Factor Activator Inhibitor Type 2/SPINT2 In Papillary And Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma. Abstract

Following treatment with a demethylating agent, 5 of 11 renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cell lines showed increased expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) activator inhibitor type 2 (HAI-2/SPINT2/Bikunin), a Kunitz-type protease inhibitor that regulates HGF activity. As activating mutations in the MET proto-oncogene (the HGF receptor) cause familial RCC, we investigated whether HAI-2/SPINT2 might act as a RCC tumor suppressor gene. We found that transcriptional silencing of HAI-2 in RCC cell lines was associated with promoter region methylation and HAI-2/SPINT2 protein expression was down-regulated in 30% of sporadic RCC. Furthermore, methylation-specific PCR analysis revealed promoter region methylation in 30% (19 of 64) of clear cell RCC and 40% (15 of 38) of papillary RCC, whereas mutation analysis (in 39 RCC cell lines and primary tumors) revealed a missense substitution (P111S) in one RCC cell line. Restoration of HAI-2/SPINT2 expression in a RCC cell line reduced in vitro colony formation, but the P111S mutant had no significant effect. Increased cell motility associated with HAI-2/SPINT2 inactivation was abrogated by treatment with extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phospholipase C-gamma inhibitors, but not by an inhibitor of atypical protein kinase C. These findings are consistent with frequent epigenetic inactivation of HAI-2/SPINT2, causing loss of RCC tumor suppressor activity and implicate abnormalities of the MET pathway in clear cell and papillary sporadic RCC. This information provides opportunities to develop novel targeted approaches to the treatment of RCC.

Smith, UM, Consugar M, Tee LJ, McKee BM, Maina EN, Whelan S, Morgan NV, Goranson E, Gissen P, Lilliquist S, Aligianis IA, Ward CJ, Pasha S, Punyashthiti R, Malik Sharif S, Batman PA, Bennett CP, Woods GC, McKeown C, Bucourt M, Miller CA, Cox P, Algazali L, Trembath RC, Torres VE, Attie-Bitach T, Kelly DA, Maher ER, Gattone VH, Harris PC, Johnson CA.  2006.  The transmembrane protein meckelin (MKS3) is mutated in Meckel-Gruber syndrome and the wpk rat., 2006 Feb. Nature genetics. 38(2):191-6. Abstract

Meckel-Gruber syndrome is a severe autosomal, recessively inherited disorder characterized by bilateral renal cystic dysplasia, developmental defects of the central nervous system (most commonly occipital encephalocele), hepatic ductal dysplasia and cysts and polydactyly. MKS is genetically heterogeneous, with three loci mapped: MKS1, 17q21-24 (ref. 4); MKS2, 11q13 (ref. 5) and MKS3 (ref. 6). We have refined MKS3 mapping to a 12.67-Mb interval (8q21.13-q22.1) that is syntenic to the Wpk locus in rat, which is a model with polycystic kidney disease, agenesis of the corpus callosum and hydrocephalus. Positional cloning of the Wpk gene suggested a MKS3 candidate gene, TMEM67, for which we identified pathogenic mutations for five MKS3-linked consanguineous families. MKS3 is a previously uncharacterized, evolutionarily conserved gene that is expressed at moderate levels in fetal brain, liver and kidney but has widespread, low levels of expression. It encodes a 995-amino acid seven-transmembrane receptor protein of unknown function that we have called meckelin.

2005

Aligianis, IA, Johnson CA, Gissen P, Chen D, Hampshire D, Hoffmann K, Maina EN, Morgan NV, Tee L, Morton J, Ainsworth JR, Horn D, Rosser E, Cole TRP, Stolte-Dijkstra I, Fieggen K, Clayton-Smith J, Mégarbané A, Shield JP, Newbury-Ecob R, Dobyns WB, Graham JM, Kjaer KW, Warburg M, Bond J, Trembath RC, Harris LW, Takai Y, Mundlos S, Tannahill D, Woods GC, Maher ER.  2005.  Mutations of the catalytic subunit of RAB3GAP cause Warburg Micro syndrome., 2005 Mar. Nature genetics. 37(3):221-3. Abstract

Warburg Micro syndrome (WARBM1) is a severe autosomal recessive disorder characterized by developmental abnormalities of the eye and central nervous system and by microgenitalia. We identified homozygous inactivating mutations in RAB3GAP, encoding RAB3 GTPase activating protein, a key regulator of the Rab3 pathway implicated in exocytic release of neurotransmitters and hormones, in 12 families with Micro syndrome. We hypothesize that the underlying pathogenesis of Micro syndrome is a failure of exocytic release of ocular and neurodevelopmental trophic factors.

Maina, EN, Morris MR, Zatyka M, Raval RR, Banks RE, Richards FM, Johnson CM, Maher ER.  2005.  Identification of novel VHL target genes and relationship to hypoxic response pathways., 2005 Jun 30. Oncogene. 24(28):4549-58. Abstract

Upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factors HIF-1 and HIF-2 is frequent in human cancers and may result from tissue hypoxia or genetic mechanisms, in particular the inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumour suppressor gene (TSG). Tumours with VHL inactivation are highly vascular, but it is unclear to what extent HIF-dependent and HIF-independent mechanisms account for pVHL tumour suppressor activity. As the identification of novel pVHL targets might provide insights into pVHL tumour suppressor activity, we performed gene expression microarray analysis in VHL-wild-type and VHL-null renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cell lines. We identified 30 differentially regulated pVHL targets (26 of which were 'novel') and the results of microarray analysis were confirmed in all 11 novel targets further analysed by real-time RT-PCR or Western blotting. Furthermore, nine of 11 targets were dysregulated in the majority of a series of primary clear cell RCC with VHL inactivation. Three of the nine targets had been identified previously as candidate TSGs (DOC-2/DAB2, CDKN1C and SPARC) and all were upregulated by wild-type pVHL. The significance for pVHL function of two further genes upregulated by wild-type pVHL was initially unclear, but re-expression of GNG4 (G protein gamma-4 subunit/guanine nucleotide-binding protein-4) and MLC2 (myosin light chain) in a RCC cell line suppressed tumour cell growth. pVHL regulation of CDKN1C, SPARC and GNG4 was not mimicked by hypoxia, whereas for six of 11 novel targets analysed (including DOC-2/DAB2 and MLC2) the effects of pVHL inactivation and hypoxia were similar. For GPR56 there was evidence of a tissue-specific hypoxia response. Such a phenomenon might, in part, explain organ-specific tumorigenesis in VHL disease. These provide insights into mechanisms of pVHL tumour suppressor function and identify novel hypoxia-responsive targets that might be implicated in tumorigenesis in both VHL disease and in other cancers with HIF upregulation.

Morris, MR, Gentle D, Abdulrahman M, Maina EN, Gupta K, Banks RE, Wiesener MS, Kishida T, Yao M, Teh B, Latif F, Maher ER.  2005.  Tumor suppressor activity and epigenetic inactivation of hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor type 2/SPINT2 in papillary and clear cell renal cell carcinoma., 2005 Jun 1. Cancer research. 65(11):4598-606. Abstract

Following treatment with a demethylating agent, 5 of 11 renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cell lines showed increased expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) activator inhibitor type 2 (HAI-2/SPINT2/Bikunin), a Kunitz-type protease inhibitor that regulates HGF activity. As activating mutations in the MET proto-oncogene (the HGF receptor) cause familial RCC, we investigated whether HAI-2/SPINT2 might act as a RCC tumor suppressor gene. We found that transcriptional silencing of HAI-2 in RCC cell lines was associated with promoter region methylation and HAI-2/SPINT2 protein expression was down-regulated in 30% of sporadic RCC. Furthermore, methylation-specific PCR analysis revealed promoter region methylation in 30% (19 of 64) of clear cell RCC and 40% (15 of 38) of papillary RCC, whereas mutation analysis (in 39 RCC cell lines and primary tumors) revealed a missense substitution (P111S) in one RCC cell line. Restoration of HAI-2/SPINT2 expression in a RCC cell line reduced in vitro colony formation, but the P111S mutant had no significant effect. Increased cell motility associated with HAI-2/SPINT2 inactivation was abrogated by treatment with extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phospholipase C-gamma inhibitors, but not by an inhibitor of atypical protein kinase C. These findings are consistent with frequent epigenetic inactivation of HAI-2/SPINT2, causing loss of RCC tumor suppressor activity and implicate abnormalities of the MET pathway in clear cell and papillary sporadic RCC. This information provides opportunities to develop novel targeted approaches to the treatment of RCC.

2004

Morris, MR, Maina E, Morgan NV, Gentle D, Astuti D, Moch H, Kishida T, Yao M, Schraml P, Richards FM, Latif F, Maher ER.  2004.  Molecular genetic analysis of FIH-1, FH, and SDHB candidate tumour suppressor genes in renal cell carcinoma., 2004 Jul. Journal of clinical pathology. 57(7):706-11. Abstract

Overexpression of the hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) and HIF-2 transcription factors and the consequent upregulation of hypoxia inducible mRNAs is a feature of many human cancers and may be unrelated to tissue hypoxia. Thus, the VHL (von Hippel-Lindau) tumour suppressor gene (TSG) regulates HIF-1 and HIF-2 expression in normoxia by targeting the alpha subunits for ubiquitination and proteolysis. Inactivation of the VHL TSG in VHL tumours and in sporadic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) results in overexpression of HIF-1 and HIF-2. However, RCC without VHL inactivation may demonstrate HIF upregulation, suggesting that VHL independent pathways for HIF activation also exist. In RCC, three candidate HIF activating genes exist-FIH-1 (factor inhibiting HIF), SDHB, and FH-which may be dependent or independent of VHL inactivation.

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