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Barry  Elkind - MaRS Innovation. Toronto, ON, CA

Barry Elkind

Manager, Technology & Venture Development (Head, Molecular Diagnostics) | MaRS Innovation

Toronto, ON, CANADA

Commercializing life science technologies in the areas of molecular diagnostics, medical devices and therapeutics





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Barry holds a B.Sc. from York University, a M.Sc. from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University in yeast vesicular trafficking.

Barry pursued more applied research at the Hungarian Academy of Science and the National Institutes of Health, where he was a NRC Fellow.

His industry experience includes lead molecular biologist at Ikonisys, a medical device start-up company, and science and technology research analyst for Luminex where he assessed technologies in the molecular diagnostic and research realms gaining regulatory, product development and intellectual property knowledge.

Barry has extensive experience managing international, multi-million dollar, government and industry-funded programs (Ontario Genomic Institute) and projects (The Cystic Fibrosis Gene Modifier Project).

He has published 16 peer-reviewed publications, holds two patents and has delivered talks in various countries. Barry’s interests combine science and business through interaction with diverse stakeholders to bring cool, useful life science projects to market.

Industry Expertise (4)

Real Estate Dev/Ops

Advanced Medical Equipment



Areas of Expertise (5)

Molecular Cell Biology

Molecular Diagnostics

Life Sciences


Project and Program Management

Education (3)

Weizmann Institute of Science: Ph.D. , Molecular Cell Biology 1995

Tel Aviv University: M.Sc. , Molecular Virology 1988

York University : B.Sc., Biology 1986

Languages (3)

  • English
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian



  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader
  • Corporate Training


*Will consider certain engagements for no fee

Patents (1)

Homo and Heterodimer Proteins of the Abcg Family, Methods For Detection and Screening Modulators Thereof

United States 20080187935


The invention relates to methods for screening selective modulators of half transporter proteins of the ABCG family, more closely of ABCG1 and ABCG4. In particular the invention relates to methods for determining whether a substance is a selective activator, an inhibitor or a substrate of an ABCG1 or ABCG4 homodimer or of an ABCG1/ABCG4 heterodimer protein, methods for detection of ABCG1 protein in a biological sample, methods for modulating the function of said proteins, and methods for detecting the presence of and/or quantitating ABCG1/ABCG4 heterodimer activity in a biological sample. Moreover, the invention relates to isolated ABCG1/ABCG4 heterodimer proteins and antibodies selective for ABCG1 or ABCG4. The closely related human ABC half-transporters, ABCG1 and ABCG4, have been suggested to play an important role in cellular lipid/sterol regulation. ABCG1 and ABCG4 and mutants thereof have been expressed and studied by the present inventors in whole cells as well as isolated membrane preparations. A large number of compounds have been screened in this system. Co-expression of the ABCG1 and ABCG4 half transporters resulted in heterodimers.

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Articles (15)

Functional ABCG1 expression induces apoptosis in macrophages and other cell types.



The expression of the ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCG1 is greatly increased in macrophages by cholesterol loading via the activation of the nuclear receptor LXR. Several recent studies demonstrated that ABCG1 expression is associated with increased cholesterol efflux from macrophages to high-density lipoprotein, suggesting an atheroprotective role for this protein. Our present study uncovers an as yet not described cellular function of ABCG1. Here we demonstrate that elevated expression of human ABCG1 is associated with apoptotic cell death in macrophages and also in other cell types. We found that overexpression of the wild type protein results in phosphatidyl serine (PS) translocation, caspase 3 activation, and subsequent cell death, whereas neither the inactive mutant variant of ABCG1 (ABCG1K124M) nor the ABCG2 multidrug transporter had such effect. Induction of ABCG1 expression by LXR activation in Thp1 cells and in human monocyte-derived macrophages was accompanied by a significant increase in the number of apoptotic cells. Thyroxin and benzamil, previously identified inhibitors of ABCG1 function, selectively prevented ABCG1-promoted apoptosis in transfected cells as well as in LXR-induced macrophages. Collectively, our results suggest a causative relationship between ABCG1 function and apoptotic cell death, and may offer new insights into the role of ABCG1 in atherogenesis.

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Combined localization and real-time functional studies using a GFP-tagged ABCG2 multidrug transporter



ABCG2 is a half-transporter which causes multidrug resistance when overexpressed in tumor cells. Availability of combined localization and functional assays would greatly improve cell biology and drug modulation studies for this transporter. Here we demonstrate that an N-terminally GFP-tagged version of the protein (GFP-G2) can be used to directly monitor ABCG2 expression, dimerization, localization and function in living cells. GFP-G2 is fully functional when tested for drug-stimulated ATPase activity, vesicular transport assay, subcellular localization or cell surface epitope conformational changes. By measuring both GFP and Hoechst 33342 dye fluorescence in HEK-293 cells, we provide evidence that a real-time transport assay can be reliably applied to identify ABCG2 substrates, transport modulators, as well as to monitor the cellular functions of this multidrug transporter protein. This approach also avoids the need of cloning, drug selection or other further separation or characterization of the transgene-expressing cells.

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Mutational Studies of G553 in TM5 of ABCG2:  A Residue Potentially Involved in Dimerization

American Chemical Society


ABCG2 is an ATP-binding cassette half-transporter conferring resistance to chemotherapeutic agents such as mitoxantrone, irinotecan, and flavopiridol. With its one transmembrane and one ATP-binding domain, ABCG2 is thought to homodimerize for function. One conserved region potentially involved in dimerization is a three-amino acid sequence in transmembrane segment 5 (residues 552−554). Mutations in the corresponding residues in the Drosophila white protein (an orthologue of ABCG2) are thought to disrupt heterodimerization. We substituted glycine 553 with leucine (G553L) followed by stable transfection in HEK 293 cells. The mutant was not detectable on the cell surface, and markedly reduced protein expression levels were observed by immunoblotting. A deficiency in N-linked glycosylation was suggested by a reduction in molecular mass compared to that of the 72 kDa wild-type ABCG2. Similar results were observed with the G553E mutant. Confocal microscopy demonstrated mostly ER localization of the G553L mutant in HEK 293 cells, even when coexpressed with the wild-type protein. Despite its altered localization, the G553L and G553E mutants were cross-linked using amine-reactive cross-linkers with multiple arm lengths, suggesting that the monomers are in the proximity of each other but are unable to complete normal trafficking. Interestingly, when expressed in Sf9 insect cells, G553L moves to the cell membrane but is unable to hydrolyze ATP or transport the Hoechst dye. Still, when coexpressed, the mutant interferes with the Hoechst transport activity of the wild-type protein. These data show that glycine 553 is important for protein trafficking and are consistent with, but do not yet prove, its involvement in ABCG2 homodimerization.

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Tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance in cancer: role of ABC multidrug transporters



Recent antitumor drug research has seen the development of a large variety of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) with increasing specificity and selectivity. These are highly promising agents for specific inhibition of malignant cell growth and metastasis. However, their therapeutic potential also depends on access to their intracellular targets, which may be significantly affected by certain ABC membrane transporters. It has been recently shown that several human multidrug transporter ABC proteins interact with specific TKIs, and the ABCG2 transporter has an especially high affinity for some of these kinase inhibitors. These results indicate that multidrug resistance protein modulation by TKIs may be an important factor in the treatment of cancer patients; moreover, the extrusion of TKIs by multidrug transporters may result in tumor cell TKI resistance. Interaction with multidrug resistance ABC transporters may also significantly modify the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of TKIs in patients.

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Multidrug transporter ABCG2 prevents tumor cell death induced by the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor Iressa (ZD1839, Gefitinib)

American Association of Public Researchers


Iressa (ZD1839, Gefitinib), used in clinics to treat non–small cell lung cancer patients, is a tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitor that leads to specific decoupling of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling. Recent data indicate that Iressa is especially effective in tumors with certain EGFR mutations; however, a subset of these tumors does not respond to Iressa. In addition, certain populations have an elevated risk of side effects during Iressa treatment. The human ABCG2 (BCRP/MXR/ABCP) transporter causes cancer drug resistance by actively extruding a variety of cytotoxic drugs, and it functions physiologically to protect our tissues from xenobiotics. Importantly, ABCG2 modifies absorption, distribution, and toxicity of several pharmacologic agents. Previously, we showed that ABCG2 displays a high-affinity interaction with several tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitors, including Iressa. Here, we show that the expression of ABCG2, but not its nonfunctional mutant, protects the EGFR signaling-dependent A431 tumor cells from death on exposure to Iressa. This protection is reversed by the ABCG2-specific inhibitor, Ko143. These data, reinforced with cell biology and biochemical experiments, strongly suggest that ABCG2 can actively pump Iressa. Therefore, variable expression and polymorphisms of ABCG2 may significantly modify the antitumor effect as well as the absorption and tissue distribution of Iressa.

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Functional expression and characterization of the human ABCG1 and ABCG4 proteins: indications for heterodimerization



The closely related human ABC half-transporters, ABCG1 and ABCG4, have been suggested to play an important role in cellular lipid/sterol regulation but no experimental data for their expression or function are available. We expressed ABCG1 and ABCG4 and their catalytic site mutant variants in insect cells, generated specific antibodies, and analyzed their function in isolated membrane preparations. ABCG1 had a high basal ATPase activity, further stimulated by lipophilic cations and significantly inhibited by cyclosporin A, thyroxine or benzamil. ABCG4 had a lower basal ATPase activity which was not modulated by any of the tested compounds. The catalytic site (K–M) mutants had no ATPase activity. Since dimerization is a requirement for half-transporters, we suggest that both ABCG1 and ABCG4 function as homodimers. Importantly, we also found that co-expression of the ABCG4-KM mutant selectively abolished the ATPase activity of the ABCG1 and therefore they most probably also heterodimerize. The heterologous expression, specific recognition, and functional characterization of these transporters should help to delineate their physiological role and mechanism of action.

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The C-terminal tail of the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 7 is necessary but not sufficient for cell surface delivery and polarized targeting in neurons and epithelia

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


Complex neuronal functions rely upon the precise sorting, targeting, and restriction of receptors to specific synaptic microdomains. Little is known, however, of the molecular signals responsible for mediating these selective distributions. Here we report that metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 7a (mGluR7a) is polarized at the basolateral surface when expressed in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells but is not polarized when expressed in cultured hippocampal neurons. Truncation of the mGluR7 cytoplasmic tail produces a protein that is restricted to a perinuclear intracellular compartment in both neurons and MDCK cells, where this protein colocalizes with a trans-Golgi network antigen. The mGluR7 cytoplasmic domain appended to the transmembrane portion of the vesicular stomatitis virus G protein and the ectodomain of human placental alkaline phosphatase is distributed over the entire cell surface in cultured neurons. When expressed in MDCK cells, this construct remains in an intracellular compartment distinct from endosomes or lysosomes. Thus, the cytoplasmic tail domain of mGluR7 is necessary but not sufficient for polarized targeting in MDCK monolayers, whereas in neurons the cytoplasmic tail is sufficient for cell surface expression but not polarization. Additional mechanisms are likely required to mediate mGluR7 neuronal polarization and synaptic clustering.

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Role of actin and Myo2p in polarized secretion and growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

The American Society of Cell Biology


We examined the role of the actin cytoskeleton in secretion inSaccharomyces cerevisiae with the use of several quantitative assays, including time-lapse video microscopy of cell surface growth in individual living cells. In latrunculin, which depolymerizes filamentous actin, cell surface growth was completely depolarized but still occurred, albeit at a reduced level. Thus, filamentous actin is necessary for polarized secretion but not for secretion per se. Consistent with this conclusion, latrunculin caused vesicles to accumulate at random positions throughout the cell. Cortical actin patches cluster at locations that correlate with sites of polarized secretion. However, we found that actin patch polarization is not necessary for polarized secretion because a mutant,bee1Δ(las17Δ), which completely lacks actin patch polarization, displayed polarized growth. In contrast, a mutant lacking actin cables, tpm1-2 tpm2Δ, had a severe defect in polarized growth. The yeast class V myosin Myo2p is hypothesized to mediate polarized secretion. A mutation in the motor domain of Myo2p,myo2-66, caused growth to be depolarized but with only a partial decrease in the level of overall growth. This effect is similar to that of latrunculin, suggesting that Myo2p interacts with filamentous actin. However, inhibition of Myo2p function by expression of its tail domain completely abolished growth.

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The Role of the Cooh Terminus of Sec2p in the Transport of Post-Golgi Vesicles

The Rockefeller University Press


Sec2p is required for the polarized transport of secretory vesicles in S. cerevisiae. The Sec2p NH2 terminus encodes an exchange factor for the Rab protein Sec4p. Sec2p associates with vesicles and in Sec2p COOH-terminal mutants Sec4p and vesicles no longer accumulate at bud tips. Thus, the Sec2p COOH terminus functions in targeting vesicles, however, the mechanism of function is unknown. We found comparable exchange activity for truncated and full-length Sec2 proteins, implying that the COOH terminus does not alter the exchange rate. Full-length Sec2-GFP, similar to Sec4p, concentrates at bud tips. A COOH-terminal 58–amino acid domain is necessary but not sufficient for localization. Sec2p localization depends on actin, Myo2p and Sec1p, Sec6p, and Sec9p function. Full-length, but not COOH-terminally truncated Sec2 proteins are enriched on membranes. Membrane association of full-length Sec2p is reduced in sec6-4 and sec9-4 backgrounds at 37°C but unaffected at 25°C. Taken together, these data correlate loss of localization of Sec2 proteins with reduced membrane association. In addition, Sec2p membrane attachment is substantially Sec4p independent, supporting the notion that Sec2p interacts with membranes via an unidentified Sec2p receptor, which would increase the accessibility of Sec2p exchange activity for Sec4p.

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DNA-binding activity of wild-type p53 protein is mediated by the central part of the molecule and controlled by its C terminus

Department of Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science


The DNA binding activity of wild type p53 is central to its activity. The "central" part of the molecule, where most mutations appear in primary human tumors, is the actual DNA binding domain. The C-terminal part was shown to exert a negative effect on the DNA binding activity. In the present study we show that while anti-p53 antibodies recognizing the C terminus of the wild type p53 facilitate DNA binding activity, blocking of the wild type specific epitope by specific anti-p53 antibodies, inhibited the DNA binding activity of the wild type p53 protein. An alternatively spliced p53 protein exhibits an augmented DNA binding activity. The fact that most p53 mutants have lost the wild type p53 conformation specific epitope, coupled with the observation that blocking of this site by binding specific antibodies, prevents the interaction of wild type p53 with DNA, suggests that maintaining the correct structural conformation of this site is central for DNA binding activity. Still, the internal structure of the p53 target and particularly the length of the sequence between the two tandem inverted repeats, is critical for protein-DNA interaction behavior.

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The role of p53 in the induction of polyploidity of myelomonocytic leukemic M1/2 cells



p53 was shown to play a central role in the maintenance of genomic integrity. The present experiments suggest that p53 is involved in the control of cell ploidity. Using a p53 non-producer cell line, M1/2, that was reconstituted to express either wild type or mutant p53 protein, by infection with the temperature sensitive (Ts) p53Val135 virus, it was found that both loss of wild type p53 or overexpression of mutant p53, may be associated with the generation of cell polyploidity. Overexpression of mutant p53 protein enhanced the appearance of giant cells that further accumulated following gamma-irradiation. Expression of wild type p53 reduced the level of giant cells which accumulated in the parental M1/2 p53 non-producer cells following gamma-irradiation. This activity of the wild type p53 seems to be mediated by either the reduction in the rate of giant cell generation, as observed in M1/2 derived cell lines expressing low levels of wild type p53 protein or by facilitating their apoptosis, as observed in wild type p53 high-producer cells. The latter conclusion is further supported by the observation that isolated giant cells are directly induced to undergo apoptosis following wild type p53 expression.

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Spot-1, a novel NLS-binding protein that interacts with p53 through a domain encoded by p(CA)n repeats



Nuclear Localization Signals (NLS) have been found to mediate the import of proteins into the nucleus. Proteins interacting directly with NLS control the subcellular localization of nucleophilic proteins. The p53 protein is spatially regulated throughout the cell cycle and this regulation has been shown to be dependent on the presence of its NLS sequences. We identified three novel cDNA clones that were isolated from an expression library because they encode polypeptides that bind a synthetic peptide containing the major NLS of p53 (NLS I). These clones were found to share a common domain encoded by p(CA)n repeats; a simple sequence length polymorphism (SSLP). THis is the first report where p(CA)n repeats were found to encode protein. One cDNA clone encodes a full length, 16 kDa protein, designated spot-1, that is represented in cells predominantly as oligomers. spot-1 interacts with the NLS I of p53 through its p(CA)n repeat. Cell fractionation and immunofluorescence analysis demonstrated that spot-1 is a nuclear protein which, in fibroblasts, co-localizes with p53.

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Augmented DNA-binding activity of p53 protein encoded by a carboxyl-terminal alternatively spliced mRNA is blocked by p53 protein encoded by the regularly spliced form

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


DNA-binding activity of the wild-type p53 is central to its function in vivo. However, recombinant or in vitro translated wild-type p53 proteins, unless modified, are poor DNA binders. The fact that the in vitro produced protein gains DNA-binding activity upon modification at the C terminus raises the possibility that similar mechanisms may exist in the cell. Data presented here show that a C-terminal alternatively spliced wild-type p53 (ASp53) mRNA expressed by bacteria or transcribed in vitro codes for a p53 protein that efficiently binds DNA. Our results support the conclusion that the augmented DNA binding activity of an ASp53 protein is probably due to attenuation of the negative effect residing at the C terminus of the wild-type p53 protein encoded by the regularly spliced mRNA (RSp53) rather than acquisition of additional functionality by the alternatively spliced C' terminus. In addition, we found that ASp53 forms a complex with the non-DNA-binding RSp53, which in turn blocks the DNA-binding activity of ASp53. Interaction between these two wild-type p53 proteins may underline a mechanism that controls the activity of the wild-type p53 protein in the cell.

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The DNA binding activity of wild type p53 is modulated by blocking its various antigenic epitopes



Interaction of wild type p53 with specific DNA target sequences, which is dictated by several structural domains, can be modified by blocking the different antigenic epitopes of the protein. Comparison of p53 protein expressed by recombinant bacteria (wtp53-Bac) to that produced in an eukaryotic system by a vaccinia expression vector (wtp53-Vac), indicated that only the later exhibited spontaneous DNA-binding activity. Furthermore, DNA-binding patterns of these wild type p53 proteins were affected differently by their interactions with monoclonal anti-p53 antibodies recognizing individual antigenic epitopes of the molecule. While the vaccinia derived p53 that spontaneously bound DNA is supershifted by the N'-terminal specific antibodies PAb-248, the bacterial derived p53 protein that retains this antigenic epitope but does not bind DNA spontaneously, is not affected. The C'-terminal specific PAb-421 antibodies accelerated binding of the bacterial p53 protein and modified the pattern of the interaction of the vaccinia derived p53 DNA. DNA-binding patterns generated by PAb-421 and PAb-248, suggest that either interaction of wild type p53 is dependent on modification of the p53 protein or that it interacts with cellular factors which their activity can be mimicked by PAb-421. Saturation of both types of wild type p53 with several anti-p53 monoclonal antibodies directed against the wild type p53 specific epitope that maps to the N'-terminal border of the DNA-binding region, blocked specific DNA-binding. The fact that most p53 mutants have lost the wild type p53 conformation specific epitope coupled with the observation that blocking of this site by binding specific antibodies, prevents the interaction of wild type p53 with DNA, suggests that maintaining the correct structural conformation of this site is central for DNA-binding activity. The wild type specific epitope which maps to the N'-terminal border of the DNA-binding region is neighboring the first beta-strand detected by the recent crystallographic analysis.

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Does wild-type p53 play a role in normal cell differentiation?

Seminars in Cancer Biology


Inactivation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene plays a major role in malignant transformation. The central question in this issue is concerned with the understanding of the function of p53 in normal cells and its deregulation in cancer cells. Several in vitro and in vivo experimental models have indicated that induction of cells to undergo differentiation involve up-regulation in the expression of the p53. In the case of B cell differentiation, p53 was found to be involved in several steps of the differentiation pathway. The conclusion that p53 plays a role in normal development and differentiation in vivo is substantiated by the observation that p53 is expressed during embryonic development and is detected at low levels in a number of organs of adult mice. Accentuated levels of p53 in testes of adult mice, suggests that p53 plays a role in the meiotic process of spermatogenesis. B cell differentiation and spermatogenesis are biological pathways which normally involve DNA reshuffling and rearrangements. In accordance with the notion that p53 is associated with DNA repair it is tempting to speculate that at least in these physiological pathways p53 functions as a master gene that controls genome integrity.

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