Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Scientific Reports





DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

November 2015


The connection between inflammation and tumourigenesis has been well established. However, the detailed molecular mechanism underlying inflammation-associated tumourigenesis remains unknown because this process involves a complex interplay between immune microenvironments and epithelial cells. To obtain a more systematic understanding of inflammation-associated tumourigenesis as well as to identify novel therapeutic approaches, we constructed a knowledge-based network describing the development of colitis-associated colon cancer (CAC) by integrating the extracellular microenvironment and intracellular signalling pathways. Dynamic simulations of the CAC network revealed a core network module, including P53, MDM2, and AKT, that may govern the malignant transformation of colon epithelial cells in a pro-tumor inflammatory microenvironment. Furthermore, in silico mutation studies and experimental validations led to a novel finding that concurrently targeting ceramide and PI3K/AKT pathway by chemical probes or marketed drugs achieves synergistic anti-cancer effects. Overall, our network model can guide further mechanistic studies on CAC and provide new insights into the design of combinatorial cancer therapies in a rational manner.


Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit

Is Part Of

VCU Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Publications