Our group focuses on the role of autophagy in cancer.
Projects include studies of autophagy in prostate cancer and melanoma, the role of mammalian ATG8 proteins in autophagy, and the effect of drug delivery nanoparticles on autophagy in malignant and non-malignant cells. We have a strong methodology on utilizing cargo-based, functional assays to investigate general autophagy as well as various types of selective autophagy.
In a newly funded project related to prostate cancer, our long-term goal is to:
- Decipher alterations in autophagic capacity during prostate cancer formation and progression by studying primary cells, models of cellular transformation, cell line models of prostate cancer progression, and ex vivo cultures of patient tissue at different stages of the disease
- Define novel sets of genetic and molecular markers of autophagy in patient material
- Perform drug screens to identify modulators that can alter the autophagic capacity of cancer cells in a way that reduces their aggressiveness
Major steps of autophagy: (i) phagophore expansion and closure (ii) autophagosome-lysosome fusion and (iii) degradation and recycling of the sequestered material, e.g. proteins (blue), lipids (red) and organelles like mitochondria (brown).