Oncogenes, translational regulation, gene expression.
A.B., University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
Our principal research interest focuses on the regulation and function of the oncogene and transcriptional regulator, c-myc. Oncogenic c-Myc is thought to be a driving force in up to 70% of human cancers. Alterations of the c-myc gene are found associated with several types of tumors in several human cancers, including lymphoma and colon, breast and lung cancers. Using a combination of molecular and biochemical techniques, we are investigating the complex role of c-Myc as transcriptional regulator, and its biological roles in cellular proliferation, apoptosis and oncogenesis both in culture and in animals. Our current focus is on proteins that control c-Myc function through direct interaction. We identified two novel binding proteins, the tumor suppressor ARF and nucleophosmin, which have opposite effects on c-Myc. ARF appears to negatively affect c-Myc transformation by controlling c-Myc-induced apoptosis through a new mechanism. In contrast, nucleophosmin is necessary for the ability of c-Myc to transform cells efficiently. Understanding the mechanism and functional consequences of these interactions will allow us to develop effective therapeutic approaches to inhibit c-Myc-induced tumorigenesis. We are also continuing to investigate the mechanism of c-Myc transcriptional activity, including the identification of target genes that mediate c-Myc function and the role of c-Myc post-translational modifications, proteolysis and localization.