The research of this laboratory is currently focused on delineation of the signal transduction pathways that mediate tumor-suppressing defense mechanisms in mammals, using cell culture and animal models

Our studies in the last several years have demonstrated a novel role of the p38 MAPK pathway in tumor suppression. We found that by mediating oncogene-induced senescence, p38 and other signaling components in this pathway, including a p38 downstream substrate kinase PRAK and a multifunctional acetyltransferase Tip60, prevent oncogenic transformation in cells and inhibit cancer development in mouse models, and that some of these signaling components are also inactivated in human tumors and thus are bona fide tumor suppressors.

These studies have revealed for the first time a tumor suppressing function of the p38 MAPK pathway, which was previously recognized as a mediator of inflammation and stress responses, and have provided novel insights into the mechanisms and signaling pathways that mediate tumor suppression in mammals.

Results from our investigations will also potentially lead to development of new cancer therapies targeting oncogene-induced senescence and the p38 pathway. In addition, through functional screening of microRNA expression libraries, studies from this laboratory have identified oncogenic microRNAs that can disrupt oncogene-induced senescence, and have revealed the targets of these microRNAs involved in senescence disruption.

Research Highlights