The research in my laboratory focuses on the regulation of protein and metabolic homeostasis during oncogenesis and cancer therapy. We study apoptosis, autophagy, ER stress, ROS, and metabolism. We use mostly biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological methodologies, as well as genetically engineered mouse models and clinical samples.
1. Proteotoxic stress and signaling
Many cell types including cancer cells are often under the stress of misfolded proteins that leads to many molecular consequences such as increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), unfolded protein response signaling, and cell death. Inhibition of protein degradation is an emerging anti-cancer strategy. A major line of research in the lab is to understand the mechanisms underlying these molecular events. Ongoing projects involve the regulation of redox homeostasis by the ubiquitin E3 ligase TRIM21, and the regulation of cell death via p62-mediated caspase-8 aggregation.
2. Oncogenic regulation of protein and bioenergetics homeostasis
We study how phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) regulate autophagy and endocytosis, and how these functions are involved in oncogenesis. Another line of research in the lab is to understand how PI3-kinases and c-Myc oncogenes regulate cancer cell metabolism.
3. Squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCCA) in tumorigenesis
Squamous cell carcinoma antigens (SCCAs) are members of the Serpin family of endogenous serine and cysteine protease inhibitors. Elevated expression of SCCA has been found to associate with poorly differentiated and advanced squamous cell carcinomas of the uterine cervix, lung, head and neck, esophagus, liver, and breast. However, despite its relevance with human cancer, the biological function of SCCA remains largely unclear. We are currently studying how SCCA functions to promote tumorigenesis and can be targeted for therapy.