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Drosophila sensory neurons tile the larval body wall, Dr. Chun Han


Campus Address: HSW-713, Box 0512
(415) 353-7070

Andrei Goga

Oncogene Signaling

Activation of proto-oncogenes results in alterations of multiple signaling pathways, resulting in the rewiring of cell proliferation, metabolism and small RNA circuits which contribute to the tumorigenic state.  Despite the discovery of numerous driver oncogenes in cancer, many of the most prevalent oncogenic alterations, such as activation of MYC or RAS cannot yet be readily blocked with small molecule inhibitors.  Our laboratory seeks to elucidate how oncogenes reprogram signaling to uncover new vulnerabilities in cancer cells.

Recently, our laboratory found that embryonic stem cells and MYC-driven tumors have an altered cell  cycle program that renders then exquisitely sensitive to inhibition of the master cell cycle regulator CDK1. We have developed chemical-genetic tools, that for the first time, should allow us to precisely inhibit different cell cycle kinases and probe the effects in normal and tumor cells.

Our laboratory has recently identified how different oncogenes reprogram cellular metabolism.  For example, we found that MYC-driven breast tumors are critically dependent on fatty acid oxidation for their survival and proliferation.  We are currently exploring the molecular mechanisms that underly the dependence of MYC and RAS-driven tumors on different metabolic pathways.

We seek to elucidate three critical processes that oncogenes reprogram in tumorigenesis:

1.  How do different oncogenes drive the cell cycle and does this result in unique vulnerabilities for oncogene transformed cells?

2.  How is cellular metabolism reprogrammed by oncogenes, such as MYC and RAS, in primary tumors?

3.  Does oncogene activation alter the repertoire of small RNAs expressed in transformed cells, and which of these are critically important for tumor growth?