Investigation leads to retraction of breast cancer paper, second for one author

Journal of Biological Chemistry.coverThe authors of a Journal of Biological Chemistry paper on a breast cancer gene are withdrawing it following an investigation at Roswell Park Cancer Institute that found a figure contained “manipulated” data.

Last author Toru Ouchi is based at Roswell in the department of cancer genetics.

Second to last author Sam W. Lee, at Massachusetts General Hospital, lost a Molecular Cell paper in 2013 after some figures were “inappropriately manipulated.”

Here’s the withdrawal note from JBC (which, unusually — but happily so — includes some explanation of what’s wrong with the paper):

This article has been withdrawn by the authors. An investigation conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute determined that the flow cytometry data shown in Fig. 5B had been manipulated.

Here’s figure 5B, for your reference:


The paper, about the molecular details of BRCA1, has been cited 156 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Lee has also published two mega-corrections in Nature and Current Biology.

When asked for comment, Lee said he didn’t know much about the withdrawal:

I did not even know that this paper has been retracted until JBC informed me few days ago. So that I am very sorry that I have no information to share about that.

Kaoru Sakabe, Manager of Publication Issues at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which publishes JBC, referred to the notice for details behind the withdrawal.

We’ve contacted Ouchi and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and will update the post if we hear anything.

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12 thoughts on “Investigation leads to retraction of breast cancer paper, second for one author”

    1. In Pubpeer:

      “Translational initiation regulated by ATM in dendritic cells development”
      E Y So, T Ouchi, Citation: Cell Death and Disease (2014) 5, e1418; doi:10.1038/cddis.2014.362
      Published online 11 September 2014

      “RhoE is a pro-survival p53 target gene that inhibits ROCK I-mediated apoptosis in response to genotoxic stress”
      Pat P Ongusaha, Hyung-Gu Kim, Sarah A Boswell, Anne J Ridley, Channing J Der, G Paolo Dotto, Young-Bum Kim, Stuart A Aaronson, Sam W Lee, Curr. Biol., 16 (2006) 2466-2472

      “Essential roles of mTOR/Akt pathway in Aurora-A cell transformation”
      Makoto Taga, Eiji Hirooka, Toru Ouchi, Int. J. Biol. Sci., (2009) 5(5):444-450

  1. At first, it is worthwhile reading the commentary related to this paper at PubPeer:

    There are many papers being scrutinized at PubPeer, and this past week has seen a spike in activity related to Toru Ouchi and/or Sam W. Lee.

    “IFI16 as a negative regulator in the regulation of p53 and p21(Waf1)”
    Jennifer C Kwak, Pat P Ongusaha, Toru Ouchi, Sam W Lee, J. Biol. Chem., 278 (2003)

    “Clonal selection in malignant transformation of human fibroblasts transduced with defined cellular oncogenes”
    Alka M Mahale, Zahid A T Khan, Makoto Igarashi, Gouri J Nanjangud, Rui Fang Qiao, Shen Yao, Sam W Lee, Stuart A Aaronson, Cancer Res., 68 (2008)

    “P53-mediated induction of Cox-2 counteracts p53- or genotoxic stress-induced apoptosis”
    Jeong A Han, Jong-Il Kim, Pat P Ongusaha, Daniel H Hwang, Leslie R Ballou, Alka Mahale, Stuart A Aaronson, Sam W Lee, EMBO J., 21 (2002)

    “DDR1 receptor tyrosine kinase promotes prosurvival pathway through Notch1 activation”
    Hyung-Gu Kim, So-Young Hwang, Stuart A Aaronson, Anna Mandinova, Sam W Lee, J. Biol. Chem., 286 (2011)

    “Role of Pin1 in the regulation of p53 stability and p21 transactivation, and cell cycle checkpoints in response to DNA damage”
    Gerburg M Wulf, Yih-Cherng Liou, Akihide Ryo, Sam W Lee, Kun Ping Lu, J. Biol. Chem., 277 (2002)

    “A member of the Pyrin family, IFI16, is a novel BRCA1-associated protein involved in the p53-mediated apoptosis pathway”
    Jason A Aglipay, Sam W Lee, Shinya Okada, Nobuko Fujiuchi, Takao Ohtsuka, Jennifer C Kwak, Yi Wang, Ricky W Johnstone, Chuxia Deng, Jun Qin, Toru Ouchi, Oncogene, 22 (2003)

    “Selective killing of cancer cells by a small molecule targeting the stress response to ROS”
    Lakshmi Raj, Takao Ide, Aditi U Gurkar, Michael Foley, Monica Schenone, Xiaoyu Li, Nicola J Tolliday, Todd R Golub, Steven A Carr, Alykhan F Shamji, Andrew M Stern, Anna Mandinova, Stuart L Schreiber, Sam W Lee, Nature, 475 (2011)

    “BRCA1 phosphorylation regulates caspase-3 activation in UV-induced apoptosis”
    Sarah A Martin, Toru Ouchi, Cancer Res., 65 (2005)

    “Cellular commitment to reentry into the cell cycle after stalled DNA is determined by site-specific phosphorylation of Chk1 and PTEN”
    Sarah A Martin, Toru Ouchi, Mol. Cancer Ther., 7 (2008)

    “Tumor suppressor p53 is required to modulate BRCA1 expression”
    P Arizti, L Fang, I Park, Y Yin, E Solomon, T Ouchi, S A Aaronson, S W Lee, Mol. Cell. Biol., 20 (2000)

    There may be more. For some unknown reason, the search function for authors’ names at PubPeer is not working for me.

  2. According to his insitutional website Toru Ouchi is editor-in-chief of four journals.

    Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Cancer Biology & Research (2013-present)
    Editor-in-Chief: International Journal of Cancer Research and Development (2014-present)
    Editor-in-Chief: J. of Molecular and Medical Oncology (2014-present)
    Editor-in-Chief: Int. J. of Cancer Research and Molecular Mechanisms (2014-present)

  3. PubPeer summaries.
    Toru Ouchi (11 entries)
    T. Ouchi (6 entries)
    Sam W. Lee (15 entries)
    S. W. Lee (7 entries interspersed among other unrelated entries)
    Stuart A. Aaronson (8 entries)
    S. A. Aaronson (9 entries)

  4. It is interesting that Toru Ouchi’s present Institution (Roswell Park Cancer Institute) has investigated this publication (leading to a retraction) as none of authors listed on paper were at Roswell Park Cancer Institute at the time of publication. From what I understand it is the duty of the present institution to investigate, but often institutes pass the buck backwards in time. Roswell Park Cancer Institute is taking its duty to science including cancer research seriously. That is a positive development.

    May 7, 2004 The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 279, 19643-19648.

    BRCA1 Phosphorylation by Aurora-A in the Regulation of G2 to M Transition*

    Mutsuko Ouchi‡,
    Nobuko Fujiuchi‡,
    Kaori Sasai§,
    Hiroshi Katayama§,
    Yohji A. Minamishima¶,
    Pat P. Ongusaha¶,
    Chuxia Deng∥,
    Subrata Sen§,
    Sam W. Lee¶ and
    Toru Ouchi‡**

    – Author Affiliations

    ‡Derald H. Ruttenberg Cancer Center, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University, New York, New York 10029, the §Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, the ∥Genetics of Development and Disease Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, and the ¶Cancer Biology Program, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115

    ** To whom correspondence should be addressed: Derald H. Ruttenberg Cancer Center, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University, Box 1130, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029. Tel.: 212-659-5475; Fax; 212-987-2240; E-mail:

  5. J Biol Chem. 2004 May 7;279(19):20339-44. Epub 2004 Feb 27.
    Requirement of IFI16 for the maximal activation of p53 induced by ionizing radiation.
    Fujiuchi N1, Aglipay JA, Ohtsuka T, Maehara N, Sahin F, Su GH, Lee SW, Ouchi T.
    Author information
    1Derald H. Ruttenberg Cancer Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.

    Recently discussed at Pubpeer:

    Figure 3.

  6. 2017 Expression of Concern for Sam W Lee, Harvard.

    J Biol Chem. 2011 May 20;286(20):17672-81. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.236612. Epub 2011 Mar 13.
    DDR1 receptor tyrosine kinase promotes prosurvival pathway through Notch1 activation.
    Kim HG1, Hwang SY, Aaronson SA, Mandinova A, Lee SW.
    Author information
    Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.

    2017 Expression of Concern.

    VOLUME 286 (2011) PAGES 17672–17681

    The publisher of the Journal of Biological Chemistry is issuing an Expression of Concern to inform readers that credible concerns have been raised regarding some of the data and conclusions in the article listed above. The Journal of Biological Chemistry will provide additional information as it becomes available.

    © 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

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