MacArthur awardee retracts signaling biology paper

A prominent biochemist and his co-author are pulling one of their papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry because…well, we’re not sure.

That’s because the retraction note is – as we’ve come to expect from JBC – not very informative.

Here’s the only explanation for the retraction of “The Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (DSCAM) Interacts with and Activates Pak”:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

The corresponding author, Kun-Liang Guan, earned a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1998 at the ripe age of 35, amounting to $230,000 over five years. (Disclosure: Retraction Watch is also supported by a two-year $400,000 grant from a different MacArthur Foundation program.) The following year, Guan received a $5,000 award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which publishes JBC.

The paper focused on the signaling mechanisms of Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (DSCAM) which, when mutated, leads to mental retardation. It’s been cited 35 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get much clarity from the journal about why this paper bit the dust. Here’s what we were told by Kaoru Sakabe, Manager of Publication Issues at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:

It is JBC policy to maintain confidentiality in such matters.

Guan has another retraction under his belt, also from JBC. Here’s more from the note for “AMP-activated protein kinase contributes to UV- and H2O2-induced apoptosis in human skin keratinocytes,” which is fairly informative:

This article has been withdrawn at the request of the authors.

Reason: To demonstrate that the activation of AMPK is mediated by EGFR activation, the authors included data in Fig. 2 (A, G, and H) that had been used in a previous publication. After publication of the above article, the authors were made aware of this and are therefore withdrawing this paper. Despite these errors, the authors stand by the reproducibility of the experimental data and the conclusion.

The first author on the AMPK paper, Cong Cao, was recently named in a lawsuit between a former postdoc and his advisor, in which the former postdoc claims to have “detected fabrication and falsification of data” by Cao.

Guan is currently based at the University of California, San Diego. We’ve asked him for more information, and will let you know if he responds.

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14 thoughts on “MacArthur awardee retracts signaling biology paper”

  1. J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 14;276(37):34728-37. Epub 2001 Jul 16.
    Function of the Rho family GTPases in Ras-stimulated Raf activation.
    Li W1, Chong H, Guan KL.
    Author information
    1Department of Biological Chemistry and The Institute of Gerontology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0606, USA.

    Pubpeer: https://pubpeer.com/publications/11457831

    Figure 2. http://i.imgur.com/xQnkXAG.jpg

    Figure 6. http://i.imgur.com/7zzHYhj.jpg

  2. Nat Neurosci. 2004 Nov;7(11):1213-21. Epub 2004 Oct 17.
    Activation of FAK and Src are receptor-proximal events required for netrin signaling.
    Li W1, Lee J, Vikis HG, Lee SH, Liu G, Aurandt J, Shen TL, Fearon ER, Guan JL, Han M, Rao Y, Hong K, Guan KL.
    Author information
    1Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.

    Pubpeer: https://pubpeer.com/publications/696D4849743A9C568EC846F5F1378A#fb106973

    Figure 1a. http://i.imgur.com/6b3aaZh.jpg

    Figure 1c. http://i.imgur.com/8baYJMC.jpg

    Figure 2b. http://i.imgur.com/3FGol0v.jpg

    Figure 2i. http://i.imgur.com/llOlbwx.jpg

    Fgiure 3c. http://i.imgur.com/YKysv9J.jpg

  3. J Neurosci. 2007 Jan 24;27(4):957-68.
    p130CAS is required for netrin signaling and commissural axon guidance.
    Guofa Liu1, Weiquan Li3, Xue Gao1,2, Xiaoling Li1, Claudia Jürgensen1, Hwan-Tae Park4, Nah-Young Shin5, Jian Yu1, Ming-Liang He6, Steven K. Hanks5, Jane Y. Wu1,2, Kun-Liang Guan3, and Yi Rao1
    -Show Affiliations
    1Department of Neurology,
    2Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Genetic Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60611,
    3Life Sciences Institute, Department of Biological Chemistry, and Institute of Gerontology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109,
    4Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, Seo-Gu, Pusan 602-714, South Korea,
    5Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, U-4206 Learned Laboratory, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, and
    6The Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
    1Department of Neurology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.

    Figure 2H. http://imgur.com/eHcX0is

  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Feb 24;106(8):2951-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811083106. Epub 2009 Feb 5.
    DSCAM functions as a netrin receptor in commissural axon pathfinding.
    Guofa Liua,1, Weiquan Lib,1, Lei Wanga,c, Amar Kara,c, Kun-Liang Guanb,2,3, Yi Raoa,d,3 and Jane Y. Wua,c,3
    Author Affiliations

    aDepartment of Neurology and
    cRobert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Genetic Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611;
    bLife Sciences Institute, Department of Biological Chemistry, and Institute of Gerontology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; and
    dSchool of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.

    Figure 2D. http://imgur.com/pVVtUiT

  5. J Biol Chem. 2009 May 15;284(20):13355-62. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M900843200. Epub 2009 Mar 26.
    TEAD transcription factors mediate the function of TAZ in cell growth and epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
    Zhang H1, Liu CY, Zha ZY, Zhao B, Yao J, Zhao S, Xiong Y, Lei QY, Guan KL.

    ‡Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, Institutes of Biomedical Sciences, §School of Life Science, and **Department of Biological Chemistry, School of Medicine, Fudan University, Shanghai, China 200032, ¶Department of Pharmacology and Moores Cancer Center, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0815, and ∥Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599

    Pubpeer: https://pubpeer.com/publications/19324877

    Figure 5A.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2679435/figure/fig5/

    Compare Vec and TAZS51A 16 hr (first and third) panels .
    Compare TAZ S51A and TAZ4SA+ S51A zero time (third and fifth) panels.

  6. Another Kun-Liang Guan paper.

    EMBO Rep. 2011 Jun;12(6):534-41. doi: 10.1038/embor.2011.65. Epub 2011 May 13.
    Tumour suppressor SIRT3 deacetylates and activates manganese superoxide dismutase to scavenge ROS.

    Yaohui Chen,1,2 Jinye Zhang,1 Yan Lin,1 Qunying Lei,1,3 Kun-Liang Guan,1,2,3,4 Shimin Zhao,a,1,2 and Yue Xiongb,1,2,5
    1State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, School of Life Science
    2Molecular and Cell Biology Lab, Novartis–Fudan Joint Research Laboratory, Institutes of Biomedical Sciences
    3Department of Biological Chemistry, School of Medicine, Fudan University, Shanghai 20032, China
    4Department of Pharmacology and Moores Cancer Center, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
    5Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil, North Carolina 27599, USA.

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/2447B33E02BF7EF4EA1E7CE7CFA648

    Figures 2F and 4C.
    http://i.imgur.com/s0dpnQI.jpg

  7. Cancer Res. 2009 Feb 1;69(3):1089-98. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-2997. Epub 2009 Jan 13.
    Both TEAD-binding and WW domains are required for the growth stimulation and oncogenic transformation activity of yes-associated protein.
    Zhao B1, Kim J, Ye X, Lai ZC, Guan KL.
    Author information
    1
    Department of Pharmacology and Moores Cancer Center, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0815., USA.

    See: https://pubpeer.com/publications/93DCE0758BACB8D3E698F3146D32F2#1

  8. Third retraction for Kun-Liang Guan.
    J Cell Sci. 2006 Jan 1;119(Pt 1):47-55.
    FAK and Src kinases are required for netrin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of UNC5.
    Li W1, Aurandt J, Jürgensen C, Rao Y, Guan KL.
    Author information
    1
    Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

    2019 retraction notice.
    http://jcs.biologists.org/content/132/5/jcs230342
    The journal has retracted J. Cell Sci. (2006) 119, 47-55 in agreement with the authors.

    Journal of Cell Science was made aware of possible band duplications in blots in Fig. 1A, Fig. 2D, Fig. 3A,B, Fig. 4A,B and Fig. 6B,E of this paper. The journal requested more information to investigate these claims but the original data are no longer available.

    The authors state: “Because the original data for this study could not be found, we do not have a definitive way to verify the authenticity of some data in the paper. Although the conclusions of the paper may be correct, we feel that the proper action is to retract this paper. We have contacted all authors except Jennifer Aurandt who could not be reached and all contacted authors agreed with this action.”

    The authors apologise to readers for any inconvenience caused.

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