Tumor growth depends upon cancer cells acquiring nutrients from their environment and using these molecules to fuel proliferation. My group studies the nature and regulation of metabolic adaptation during tumorigenesis and metastasis, with the intention of identifying metabolic vulnerabilities that can be targeted for cancer therapy.
Proliferative signals in mammalian cells drive biosynthetic programs that support cell growth and replication. In healthy cells this process is tightly regulated by growth factors, but in cancer cells oncogenic lesions can result in continuous signaling to the metabolic machinery. Oncogene-driven metabolic reprogramming supports tumorigenesis but renders cells sensitive to specific metabolic stresses, a phenomenon that is exploited for cancer therapy. Because the distribution of nutrients varies markedly between organs, cancer cells growing at different sites in the body – and in different regions of the tumor microenvironment—must employ a range of metabolic strategies to fuel their growth. We aim first to understand the nature and regulation of metabolic adaptations in the different stages of cancer, and then to develop therapeutic strategies that target resulting vulnerabilities. We are especially interested in the biochemical processes underlying nutrient sensing and metabolic/redox homeostasis, including regulation of the protein post-translational modification landscape by reactive metabolites. We are also exploring the reciprocal connections between tumor metabolism and host physiology, recognizing that metabolic therapies must be designed to synergize with, and not to antagonize, the anti-tumor immune response.
METAvivor Early Career Investigator Award Jan. 2020 – present
Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester Research Award April 2017 – April 2018
How cancer metabolism could be key for new therapies
February 5, 2020
Assistant Professor Michael Lukey joins the CSHL faculty, studying metabolic reprogramming events in cancer.