The Cell Biology Program investigates the molecular cell biology of cancer, which can ultimately lead to better treatments or even cures for patients with cancer. Our investigators collaborate with numerous other Mayo Clinic faculty researchers on four defined cancer research focus areas.

Cell cycle and transcription control

Our investigators are researching the fundamental genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating the cell cycle and transcription control in normal, senescent and neoplastic cells. Our related research findings include:

  • Showing that elimination of senescent cells delays the onset of naturally occurring tumors
  • Demonstrating 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

Our investigators are studying the mechanisms through which cell signaling pathways and receptor endocytic activity promote uncontrolled cell growth. Our related research findings include:

  • Demonstrating that PKCι-mediated phosphorylation of Ect2 promotes lung adenocarcinoma progression via increased synthesis of rDNA
  • Elucidating pathways involved in CXCR4 chemokine mitogenic and motogenic signaling
  • Observing that patients with HER2-enriched breast cancer who benefit most from trastuzumab therapy have luminal-type tumors
  • Outlining the critical role of PIPKIγ in progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis

Our investigators are studying how the cross-talk between cancer cells and their microenvironment promotes cancer growth by regulating neoangiogenesis, inflammation, immune evasion and fibrosis. Our related research findings 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

Our investigators are researching how cells attach to substrates and to each other and how these attachments are altered as a cell initiates migration and invasion. Our related research findings include:

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