One of my main research interests is in oncodevelopmental factors.
These include factors that are important both for normal stem cell biology and development as well as driving cancer when misregulated. One example includes the MYC family of proto-oncogenes. When I was a postdoc I got especially interested in trying to understand the normal role of MYCN in brain development. The idea was that this would then also provide instructive information about what MYCN did to drive tumors like neuroblastoma.
Stem cell models help crack regional oncohistone codes driving childhood gliomas, Cell Stem Cell. My postdoc Rachel Klein and I wrote this preview of two papers in Cell Stem Cell that use stem cells to model how mutant histone H3.3 drives childhood high-grade glioma formation. Along with a couple of other similar papers, these studies help clarify that mutant H3.3 locks in an aberrant neural stem/progenitor-like state through specific epigenomic activities. Rachel is a very talented scientist doing some great work on H3.3 and in other areas (see the bottom of the next item).
Emerging roles of cancer-testis antigenes, semenogelin 1 and 2, in neoplastic cells, Cell Death Discovery. Certain proteins are expressed only in embryos and cancer or in testes and cancer. These are also oncodevelopmental factors embody the links between stem cells and cancer. My own lab has been studying a number of these including DPPA4 and DPPA2. Rachel was first author on our paper on DPPA4/2 providing some of the first insights into their genomic functions.
- A versatile polypharmacology platform promotes cytoprotection and viability of human pluripotent and differentiated cells, Nature Methods.
- Inhibition of mitochondrial translation suppresses glioblastoma stem cell growth, Cell Reports
- Essential histone chaperones collaborate to regulate transcription and chromatin integrity, Genes & Development
- Decoding dynamic epigenetic landscapes in human oocytes using single-cell multi-omics sequencing, Cell Stem Cell
- A latent subset of human hematopoietic stem cells resists regenerative stress to preserve stemness, Nature Immunology
- Should scientists be allowed to grow human embryos in a dish beyond 14 days? Is it scientifically important or morally wrong? USA Today from Karen Weintraub.
- A cancer vaccine built from stem cells? Stanford candidate shows promise in pancreatic tumors, Fierce Biotech. Here’s the original article in Stem Cell Reports: Antitumor effects of iPSC-based cancer vaccine in pancreatic cancer.You can see an image of the effects on tumors from the paper above.