Stem Cells and Cancer
Our goal is to study how developmental signaling and stem cells are engaged in tissue homeostasis, regeneration and cancer, and use that knowledge to develop biomarkers and therapy for human diseases. We utilize genetically engineered mice and organoids with a specific interest in Wnt signaling
Wnt signaling plays key roles in governing various cellular processes during embryogenesis, organogenesis, and tissue homeostasis. We are exploring how Wnt signaling controls tissue stem and progenitor cells and orchestrates tissue regeneration. Aberrant activation of Wnt signaling contributes to cancer. Given the crucial roles of Wnt signaling in tissue homeostasis and regeneration, direct targeting of Wnt signaling as a cancer treatment is challenging. To overcome this, we are in the study of new molecules, cancer-specific regulators of Wnt signaling, in pre-clinical model systems.
Cell Quiescence Exit in Tissue Regeneration and Cancer
Stem and progenitor cells play crucial roles in tissue homeostasis and regeneration. However, it remains ambiguous how stem and progenitor cells undergo constitutive or conditional activation and division for tissue homeostasis and regeneration. PAF (PCNA-associated factor; KIAA0101/PCLAF) is specifically expressed in stem/progenitor cells and cancer cells and seems indispensable for mitogenic activation of the stem and progenitor cells. We investigate genetic, cellular, and molecular mechanisms of PAF-associated stem/progenitor cell activation during tissue regeneration and human disease, including cancer.
CRAD Tumor Suppressor
We recently discovered a new tumor suppressor gene called CRAD (Cancer-Related Regulator of Actin Dynamics; KIAA1211/CRACD). CRAD inhibits actin polymerization, and genetic and epigenetic inactivation of CRAD accelerates tumorigenesis (Jung et al., Nature Cell Biology). Based on the frequent loss of CRAD in cancer and Crad knock-out mouse phenotypes, we interrogate the pathological impacts of CRAD inactivation on cell plasticity and tumor initiation.
Welcome, Lana! (1/2021)
How Cells Bypass Quiescence in Cancer
Kim et al. "PAF Remodels the DREAM Complex to Bypass Cell Quiescence and Promote Lung Tumorigenesis"
Molecular Cell (accepted 1/2021)
Welcome, KyungPil! (12/2020)
Targeting Wnt Signaling for Gastrointestinal Cancer Therapy: Present and Evolving Views (12/2020)
Welcome, BongJun! (10/2020)
Wnt blockers to ameliorate pain induced by chemotherapy (10/2020)
R01 renewed (8/2020)
Welcome, Shengzhe! (7/2020)
2nd CPRIT Investigator-Initiated Research Award (2/2020)
As a tenure-track Assistant Professor, Youn-Sang will run his own lab at Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea (starting 3/2020)
Welcome, Yuanjian! (1/2020)
MD Anderson Cancer Center