Program Leader: Linda Van Aelst
The Signal Transduction Program takes a multi-disciplinary approach to defining signaling pathways and characterizing their abrogation in cancer, focusing attention on potential “druggable” targets and mechanisms of drug resistance. Specifically, this program examines the effects of genomic alterations on cellular proteins and how these alterations influence the ability of proteins to perform essential functions. Researchers in the program use biochemical, cellular, genomic, whole animal and proteomic approaches to study a range of signaling molecules and pathways.Ongoing research includes studies on the structure, regulation and function of the protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) family of enzymes, the role of the phosphatases PTEN and PHLPP signaling in prostate cancer, and the role of inactivation of p53 and Pten on the development of malignant glioma. In addition, studies are examining the effects of EGF receptor signaling on cell growth and survival in lung cancer as well as the impact of the ErbB family of receptor protein tyrosine kinases on breast cancer development.
Another area of study concerns the mechanisms through which small GTPases such as the Ras and Rho family members exert their effects on brain tumor formation and neuronal development. Finally, several investigators are developing new technologies for analysis of signaling pathways, including new strategies in proteomics as well as new technologies to visualize and characterize signaling in vivo in the tumor microenvironment.