Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Cancer researcher logs 6 retractions, bringing total to 10

with 24 comments

Anil Jaiswal

A journal has retracted six papers by a cancer researcher at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, bringing his total to 10.

The retractions cite an investigation by the university, and detail problems ranging from duplicated images, to tweaking an image to conceal particular bands, to including unreliable data.

Three of the papers had already been flagged by the journal with expressions of concern. The last author on all the papers is Anil Jaiswal, a professor in the pharmacology department. He has issued four previous retractions.

Bruce Jarrell, the Chief Academic and Research Officer and Senior Vice President at the University of Maryland, told us at least two more retractions are forthcoming:

The outcome of [the investigation] is confidential. But there was a serious investigation.

Jarrell added the investigation was prompted by a complaint (he wouldn’t say from who). Jaiswal is still on the faculty at the university, he noted.

Kaoru Sakabe, the data integrity manager at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which publishes the journal, told us:

In some instances, we were alerted to problems by readers.  The University did contact us and provide us details regarding their investigation as stated in the retraction notices.

She added that all the papers were retracted by the publisher:

At the JBC, articles are retracted by the publisher when the authors do not agree to withdraw their article. I do, however, want to point out that one author did agree with the retraction.

We contacted Jaiswal, but haven’t heard anything back.

Here’s the first notice:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore determined that the data shown in Fig. 2A are unreliable and do not support the hypothesis of this work.

NAD(P) H:quinone Oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) Competes with 20S Proteasome for Binding with C/EBP alpha Leading to Its Stabilization and Protection against Radiation-induced Myeloproliferative Disease” has been cited five times since it was published in 2012, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

Here’s another notice (a doozy), which states the second-to-last author agrees with the retraction:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. Phillip M. Shelton agrees with the retraction. An investigation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore determined that bands depicted in several figures were digitally altered as follows.

In Fig. 2, the LaminB immunoblot from “Src siRNA” was digitally mirrored and duplicated as LDH in the “YES siRNA” panel. Bands 4, 5, and 6 in the LDH panels of the Fyn and Lyn panels were duplicated.

In Fig. 4A, in the Nrf2-V5 panel, bands 1 and 2 and bands 4 and 5 are identical. Similarly, in the IP:pTyr lane, bands 5 and 6 are identical. In Fig 4B, there is evidence of splicing in the Nrf2-V5 panel. In addition, in the FLAG panel, bands 1 and 2 and bands 4 and 7 are identical.

In Fig. 5A, there is evidence of splicing in the Nrf2 panel. In addition, bands 1 and 2 in the Src panel are identical. In Fig. 5C, in the Nrf2 panel, lanes 1 and 2 and lanes 5 and 8are identical. Similarly, in the Fyn panel, lanes 1 and 2 are identical. In addition, lanes 4and 5 were duplicated and presented as mirror images of each other. In Fig. 5E, lanes 4and 5 from the IP:V5 WB:pTyr panel were duplicated in Fig. 7A, right panel LDH, lanes 4and 5.

In Fig. 7A, the left Lyn panel and the right Yes panel were duplicated after resizing. In Fig. 7B, the left and right GSKβ panels were duplicated after resizing.

In Fig. 8A, in the NQO1 panel, bands 2 and 6 are identical. In the HO-1 panel, bands 2 and 6 were resized and duplicated. In the GCLC panel, bands 1 and 6 were duplicated.

In addition, the journal determined that lanes 2–4 of the HO-1 immunoblot from the “Yes siRNA” panel from Fig. 1A was flipped horizontally and reused in lanes 2–4 of the Lyn immunoblot from the “Lyn siRNA” panel of the same figure. In Fig. 2, lanes 3 and 6of the Src immunoblot from the “Src siRNA” panel were duplicated. In Fig. 5D, lanes 2and 5 of the IP:V5 WB:pSer immunoblot from the right panels were duplicated. In Fig. 6D, lanes 1–4 of the Lamin B immunoblot from SYF+/+ MEFs were duplicated in the LDH immunoblot from Fig. 7B, right panel. The LDH immunoblot from Fig. 7A, left panel, was duplicated as LDH in Fig. 7B, left panel. The right Fyn panel and the right Src panel were duplicated in Fig. 7A. In Fig. 7B, lanes 3 and 5 of the GSKβpY216 immunoblot, right panel, were duplicated.

Src subfamily kinases regulate nuclear export and degradation of transcription factor Nrf2 to switch off Nrf2-mediated antioxidant activation of cytoprotective gene expression,” published in 2011, had already been flagged with an expression of concern. It’s been cited 51 times.

Another notice details multiple duplications in a paper that had also been under an EOC:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore determined that there is evidence of duplication in Fig. 2B. The investigation also determined that in Fig. 3, data in Cul3, INrf2, and Rbx1 show clear evidence of manipulations in which individual blots were spliced and rearranged. In Fig. 5A, duplication of bands is apparent. In addition, the journal determined that in Fig. 1B, left panel, lanes 6 and 9 were duplicated. The Lamin B immunoblot from Fig. 5D was reused as Lamin B in Fig. 5E. Also in Fig. 5E, the INrf2 immunoblot from 25 nM and 50 nM PTMα siRNA were duplicated. In Fig. 9B, lanes 5 and 6 of the PTMα immunoblot were duplicated.

Prothymosin-alpha mediates nuclear import of the INrf2/Cul3Rbx1 complex to degrade nuclear Nrf2” has been cited 44 times since it was published in 2009.

A third paper that had received an EOC, “Phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of tyrosine 141 regulate stability and degradation of INrf2. A novel mechanism in Nrf2 activation,” has also been retracted, with the journal again citing multiple duplications:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. In Fig. 3C, cytosol panels, lanes 5 and were duplicated in the INrf2-V5 immunoblot. Additionally, lanes 5 and 6 were duplicated in the INrf2-Y141A-V5 immunoblot. In Fig. 3C, nucleus panels, lanes 1 and 2of the INrf2-V5 immunoblot were duplicated. Additionally, the Lamin B immunoblot was duplicated in the top and bottom panels.

The 2008 paper has been cited 38 times.

The fifth notice details more image problems:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore determined in both the submitted but unpublished and in the published versions of Fig. 2, empty lanes were purported to depict absence of labeling in pcDNA. Examining the unedited version shows that the image was obtained from a region outside of the gel, where no labeling can occur. The figure does not support that there is no labeling after transfection with the empty pcDNA vector and the claim that transfection with the active constructs had a specific effect. The investigation also determined that in Fig. 6, in the versions submitted to EMBO, JBC (first submission), and to Mol. Cell. Biol., images of transfected Hepa-1 cells were obtained from a single sample, captured from a single microscope field, and then presented as if they originated from different samples. Whereas in the originally submitted versions, the treatment is described as “LMB,” in the published version, the same data are purported to show effects of PP2.

Phosphorylation of tyrosine 568 controls nuclear export of Nrf2” has been cited 102 times since it was published in 2006.

Finally, this notice says the authors had tweaked an image to conceal particular bands:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. An investigation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore determined that contrast and brightness were enhanced to selectively conceal LDH and Lamin B bands in Fig. 4. This drastically reduced the apparent presence of Lamin B in the cytosol fraction and of LDH in the nuclear fraction, thereby artificially increasing the difference in the proteins compared to that in the other fraction examined.

Nuclear import and export signals in control of Nrf2” has been cited 140 times since it was published in 2005.

The journal also issued a correction for one of Jaiswal’s papers, “NQO1 and NQO2 regulation of humoral immunity and autoimmunity,” cited 43 times since it was published in 2006. According to the notice:

The wrong graphs were inadvertently used in Fig. 3B. This error has now been corrected and does not affect the results or conclusions of this work.

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Comments
  • Paul Brookes February 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

    IIRC, the first paper by Jaiswal to be flagged was this one (http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v31/n40/full/onc2011600a.html) back in 2012, but nothing ever came of it – paper is still without an EoC or any other flags. Here is the PDF sent to me, which the originator apparently also sent to the journal and the institution:
    http://www.psblab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Jaiswal-Oncogene.pdf

    I would be interested to hear if this paper is one of the two forthcoming retractions?

  • Morty February 7, 2017 at 3:05 am
  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 4:40 am

    J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 23;287(13):9873-86. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.312694. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
    Nrf2 protein up-regulates antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 and prevents cellular apoptosis.
    Niture SK1, Jaiswal AK.
    Author information
    1Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/22275372

    Figure 6C.
    http://i.imgur.com/QeJJ6Yr.jpg

    Figure 4A.
    http://i.imgur.com/WDp8HXG.jpg

    Figure 8B.
    http://i.imgur.com/zqjZCYN.jpg

  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Antioxidant-induced modification of INrf2 cysteine 151 and PKC-δ-mediated phosphorylation of Nrf2 serine 40 are both required for stabilization and nuclear translocation of Nrf2 and increased drug resistance
    Suryakant K. Niture, Abhinav K. Jain, Anil K. Jaiswal
    Journal of Cell Science 2009 122: 4452-4464; doi: 10.1242/jcs.058537

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/19920073

    Figure 3C.
    http://i.imgur.com/AHJjp0K.jpg

    Figure 4A.
    http://i.imgur.com/r5pba82.jpg

    Figure 5.
    http://i.imgur.com/q8JSbkC.jpg

    Figure 6.
    http://i.imgur.com/gBz4ZDT.jpg

    Figure 7.
    http://i.imgur.com/cZY85JC.jpg

  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 4:48 am

    FASEB J. 2011 Mar;25(3):1076-87. doi: 10.1096/fj.10-171553. Epub 2010 Nov 19.
    Tyrosine phosphorylation controls nuclear export of Fyn, allowing Nrf2 activation of cytoprotective gene expression.
    Kaspar JW1, Jaiswal AK.
    Author information
    1Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 655 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/21097520

    Figure 6.
    http://i.imgur.com/2KeOmyg.jpg

    http://i.imgur.com/MNltnHC.jpg
    For reference: J Cell Sci 125:1027.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/21097520

  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 4:51 am

    J Cell Sci. 2012 Feb 15;125(Pt 4):1027-38. doi: 10.1242/jcs.097295.
    Antioxidant-induced INrf2 (Keap1) tyrosine 85 phosphorylation controls the nuclear export and degradation of the INrf2-Cul3-Rbx1 complex to allow normal Nrf2 activation and repression.
    Kaspar JW1, Niture SK, Jaiswal AK.
    Author information
    1Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/22448038

    Figure 5.
    http://i.imgur.com/ZKdhSM0.jpg

    http://i.imgur.com/MNltnHC.jpg
    For reference: FASEB J. 2011 Mar;25(3):1076-87.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/21097520

  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Mar 1;15(5):1534-42. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-1783. Epub 2009 Feb 17.
    NRH:quinone oxidoreductase 2-deficient mice are highly susceptible to radiation-induced B-cell lymphomas.
    Iskander K1, Barrios RJ, Jaiswal AK.
    Author information
    1Department of Pharmacology, Baylor College of Medicine, and Department of Pathology, Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/19223498

    Figure 4.
    http://i.imgur.com/kUXKeVx.jpg

    Figure 4.
    http://i.imgur.com/Y9vHkN5.jpg
    For reference Cancer Res 68:7915. https://pubpeer.com/publications/E835BD86FD5BAA71B3D0DA9D1CF148

  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 5:03 am

    Anil K Jaiswal, Baylor College of Medicine penultimate author here:
    Cancer Res. 2004 Nov 1;64(21):7893-909.
    BRCA1 induces antioxidant gene expression and resistance to oxidative stress.
    Bae I1, Fan S, Meng Q, Rih JK, Kim HJ, Kang HJ, Xu J, Goldberg ID, Jaiswal AK, Rosen EM.
    Author information
    1Department of Oncology, Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057-1469, USA.
    For affiliations see: http://imgur.com/zJaVs50

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/15520196

    http://i.imgur.com/EMGdEkE.jpg

    For reference Oncogene 20:4827.
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/11521194

  • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Eur J Biochem. 1994 Nov 15;226(1):31-9.
    Human antioxidant-response-element-mediated regulation of type 1 NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase gene expression. Effect of sulfhydryl modifying agents.
    Li Y1, Jaiswal AK.
    Author information
    1Department of Pharmacology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

    Figure 5.
    http://i.imgur.com/x8BK74b.jpg

    • Anonymous February 7, 2017 at 8:14 am

      On Eur J Biochem Website:

      The University of Maryland Office of Accountability and Compliance has notified The FEBS Journal of a potential issue with Figure 5 in the paper entitled “Human antioxidant-response-element-mediated regulation of type 1 NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase gene expression: Effect of sulfhydrylmodifying agents” by Ying Li and Anil K. Jaiswal (Eur J. Biochem 226 (1994), 31–39; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1432-1033.1994.00t31.x) [1].

      We note that the right-most four lanes in Figure 5A appear to be identical to and are superimposable on Figure 5B. At this point, it is impossible to determine conclusively whether the data have been duplicated. The corresponding author states that the data in Figure 5 are supported by other data in Figures 4, 6 and 7 and is confident that an error in Figure 5 would not affect the overall conclusions presented in this article.

      This Editorial Note is intended to alert our readers to the fact that questions have been raised regarding a figure in the above-mentioned manuscript [1]. It is unfortunate that we cannot state with complete certainty that the data in Figure 5 are accurate representations of the described experiments. However, we are satisfied that the key conclusions of the manuscript would not be affected by a potential error in this figure and thus will not be pursuing further action at this time.

      • fernandopessoa February 7, 2017 at 8:51 am

        “We note that the right-most four lanes in Figure 5A appear to be identical to and are superimposable on Figure 5B.” What else does that mean? How likely is that likely to happen by chance?

        • Morty February 8, 2017 at 9:41 am

          The question is: How much of the Jaiswal data can we trust in light of what has been reported so far?

          • fernandopessoa February 8, 2017 at 9:49 am

            Nada.

      • John Krueger February 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm

        Just a generic observation, i.e., one not specifically related to this paper:

        A Journal’s ‘corrections’ often report that a figure in question would not “affect the key conclusions of the manuscript.” It would be refreshing to see a journal buttress the this point by also stating that the result of the questioned figure was not reported any where in the Abstract. Moreover, the revelation only begs another questions: If the figure was deemed not important, was it introduced in a resubmitted manuscript revised to please a reviewer)? Journals already know the answers to both. And in journals that make available the initial and revised submission of the manuscript, the interested reader can answer those questions themselves.

        • Morty February 8, 2017 at 9:45 am

          If you know that figure x has been manipulated, how can you trust the rest of the paper?!
          Of course we should respect that not intended errors can happen, but in this case we are not talking about one or two isolated cases!

          • Gary February 10, 2017 at 8:31 am

            Very true – if one figure has been “manipulated” and the manipulation detected this does not preclude that the other figures have not also been manipulated – just that this manipulation hasn’t been detected.

  • phil February 8, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    NIH still looks generous for his funding. Even Uni Maryland is keeping his position. Interesting…?

    5 R01 ES007943 19
    PREVENTION OF QUINONE TOXICITY AND MUTAGENICITY JAISWAL, ANIL KUMAR UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND BALTIMORE 2015 NIEHS
    NIEHS
    $337,500

    5 R01 GM047466 23
    REGULATION OF NAD(P)H:QUINONE OXIDOREDUCTASES JAISWAL, ANIL KUMAR UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND BALTIMORE 2014 NIGMS
    NIGMS
    $294,244

  • fernandopessoa February 9, 2017 at 4:09 am

    Extended record of funding here: http://grantome.com/grant/NIH/R01-ES012265-11

  • fernando pessoa February 12, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Balitmore Sun does not credit Retraction Watch.

  • fernando pessoa February 13, 2017 at 4:14 am

    The University of Maryland and Baylor College of Medicine should pay the NIH grant money back which funded the now retracted papers.

  • fernandopessoa February 15, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Three 2017 Anil K Jaiswal retractions in J Cell Sci.

    Retraction: Antioxidant-induced INrf2 (Keap1) tyrosine 85 phosphorylation controls the nuclear export and degradation of the INrf2–Cul3–Rbx1 complex to allow normal Nrf2 activation and repression
    James W. Kaspar, Suryakant K. Niture, Anil K. Jaiswal
    J Cell Sci 2017 130: 814 doi: 10.1242/jcs.201947
    You have accessRetraction: Oncogene PKCε controls INrf2–Nrf2 interaction in normal and cancer cells through phosphorylation of INrf2
    Suryakant K. Niture, Averell Gnatt, Anil K. Jaiswal
    J Cell Sci 2017 130: 815 doi: 10.1242/jcs.201954
    You have accessRetraction: Antioxidant-induced modification of INrf2 cysteine 151 and PKC-δ-mediated phosphorylation of Nrf2 serine 40 are both required for stabilization and nuclear translocation of Nrf2 and increased drug resistance
    Suryakant K. Niture, Abhinav K. Jain, Anil K. Jaiswal
    J Cell Sci 2017 130: 816 doi: 10.1242/jcs.202093

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