Research

The Cell Biology Program collaborates with numerous Mayo Clinic faculty researchers on four defined cancer research focus areas:

  • Cell cycle and transcription control. Researchers in this focus area investigate the fundamental genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating the cell cycle and transcription control in normal, senescent and neoplastic cells.
  • Cell signal and receptor trafficking. Researchers in this focus area investigate the mechanisms through which cell signaling pathways and receptor endocytic activity promote uncontrolled cell growth.
  • Tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis. Researchers in this focus area study how the crosstalk between cancer cells and their microenvironment promotes cancer growth by regulating neo-angiogenesis, inflammation, immune evasion and fibrosis.
  • Cell adhesion, migration and metastasis. Researchers in this focus area study how cells attach to substrates and to each other and how these attachments are altered as a cell initiates migration and invasion.

Cell cycle and transcription control

Research findings from Cell Biology Program investigators in this focus area include:

  • Elimination of senescent cells delays the onset of naturally occurring tumors
  • Demonstration of the existence of a ZEB1-PI3K axis in lung cancer metastasis
  • Defining the extent to which certain pathogenic gene variants contribute to breast cancer risk
  • Elucidating the role of cyclin A2 deficiency in genomic instability and tumorigenesis

Cell signaling and receptor trafficking

Researchers in this focus area have:

  • Demonstrated that PKCι-mediated phosphorylation of Ect2 promotes lung adenocarcinoma progression via increased synthesis of rDNA
  • Elucidated pathways involved in CXCR4 chemokine mitogenic and motogenic signaling
  • Observed that patients with Her2-enriched breast cancer who benefit most from trastuzumab therapy have luminal-type tumors
  • Outlined the critical role of PIPKIγ in progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis

Research findings in this focus area of the Cell Biology Program include:

  • Observing that acinar cells harboring KRAS mutations cooperate with the inflammatory microenvironment to drive pancreatic cancer initiation
  • Demonstrating that osteoblasts protect acute myeloid leukemia cells from apoptosis-inducing therapies
  • Understanding the crucial role of HDAC3 in chondrocyte differentiation and endochondral bone formation
  • Investigating cooperative action of PDGF and ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases in TGFβ-induced fibrosis

Cell adhesion, migration and metastasis

Research findings in this Cell Biology Program focus area include:

  • The critical role of GAB2 amplification in neuroblastoma pathogenesis
  • The role of Vav1 in pancreatic cell invasion and metastasis
  • The crosstalk between cell-cell junctions and the RNAi machinery
  • The role of FAK in antitumor immunity, cell growth and migration