The Proteases in Cancer Laboratory of Evette S. Radisky, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic investigates proteases implicated in several types of cancer. Our research focuses on the molecular interactions involved in inhibiting these proteases, by employing techniques of structural biology, cell biology, enzymology, protein engineering and directed evolution.

A crucial step in tumor development is the invasion of surrounding tissues, a process that can lead to development of distant metastases. Tumors accomplish this through increased activity of enzymes that degrade the proteins connecting the cancer cells to each other as well as the structural elements of the extracellular matrix.

In the microenvironment of normal tissues, proteolytic activity is modulated by endogenous inhibitors that bind to and inactivate proteases. In malignant tumors, the delicate balance between production, activation and inhibition of proteases is often disturbed, leading to tumor cell invasion and dissemination.

Different forms of cancer show increased activity of specific proteases and decreased activity of the opposing endogenous inhibitors. Identification of these altered interactions provides a handle for therapeutic intervention.

By studying the natural interactions between these enzymes and their endogenous inhibitors, our lab hopes to design better agents for blocking tumor invasion and metastasis for use in a wide range of cancers, including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.


Our lab is affiliated with these Mayo Clinic research groups:

About Dr. Radisky

Dr. Radisky is a professor of cancer biology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Jacksonville, Florida. With a research background in protein biochemistry and structural biology, Dr. Radisky's long-term focus is on the molecular recognition between proteases and protein protease inhibitors to ultimately engineer inhibitors of improved potency and specificity for use as cancer therapeutics.