University of Dundee

Cancer

Jens Januschke

Investigates stem cell division and cell fate generation in fruit flies 

This research aims at understanding how stem cells self-renew and produce daughter cells that differentiate in a single division. Perturbing this type of division in neural stem cells in the fly can result in uncontrolled growth of cells that exhibit key traits of human malignancies. We use genetic screens and chemical genetic approaches to unravel the molecular mechanisms that link failed cell fate decision and tumour-suppression in stem cells.

Constance Alabert

Understanding the molecular mechanisms governing genetic and epigenetic stability

Constance Alabert investigates how chromatin-based information propagates through rounds of cell divisions. Beyond unravelling mechanisms underlying maintenance of epigenetic information, this work will allow assessment of their involvement in cancer. Cancer cells are characterized by the presence of genetic and epigenetic alterations that lead to loss of cell identity, uncontrolled cell proliferation, cell invasion and metastasis. However, upstream events that drive the appearance and selection of these alterations remain poorly understood. The Alabert lab expects to bring important novel insight into the molecular mechanisms governing genetic and epigenetic stability.

Julian Blow

Maintaining the Stability of the Genome

My lab investigates the different pathways used by cells to ensure the accurate propagation of the genome through the cell division cycle. Defects in theses pathways are a major source of mutation and genetic change. We have particular expertise in pathways that prevent over-replication or under-replication of DNA, the failure of which can lead to amplification or deletion of chromosome segments.

Vicky Cowling

Targeting gene regulation in cancer

Vicky Cowling investigates how mammalian gene expression is regulated by the mRNA cap. This research aims to determine whether the mRNA cap methyltransferases could be utilised as therapeutic targets in cancers. The Cowling lab is identifying oncogenes/tumour suppressors which sensitise cells to capping enzyme inhibitors with the aim of identifying cancer subtypes most susceptible to capping therapies. The Cowling lab is collaborating with the Dundee Drug Discovery Unit to develop cap methyltransferase inhibitors.

Tom Owen-Hughes

Characterising the tumour suppressor action of chromatin remodelling ATPases

My group has had a long standing interest in the mechanism of action of chromatin remodelling ATPases. Over recent years tumour exome sequencing has revealed that several of these enzymes function as tissue specific tumour suppressors. These include human forms of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodelling complex and members of the Chd family of chromatin remodelling enzymes. We have developed proteomics workflows to understand how these complexes are altered at the protein level in cancer cells. Using genome editing we are generating cell based models that provide new opportunities to identify vulnerabilities that result from defects to these enzymes. We are also applying structural and biochemical approaches to understand how these enzymes function normally and how their action is perturbed in cancer.

Tomo Tanaka 

Chromosome inheritance by daughter cells

Human cells store genetic information into 46 chromosomes. To maintain vital genetic information, a whole set of chromosomes must be correctly inherited by daughter cells when cells divide. Errors in this process would cause cell death, cancer and congenital disorders. Our research goal is to understand how normal cells ensure proper chromosome inheritance and how this process could go wrong in cancer cells.

Inke Nathke

APC, stem cells, and tissue dynamics

My work focusses on the cell biology of the intestinal epithelium and I am a world expert on the biochemistry and cell biology of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) protein. The Apc gene is mutated in most colon cancers and I aim to understand how APC contributes to normal tissue homeostasis and how its loss leads to cancer.  To this end I study the biochemistry of APC and how it contributes to cell and tissue behaviour.  Using computational modelling helps us to generate predictions about cell and tissue behaviour that can then be tested in different biological systems.  The gut epithelium acts as a paradigm of all epithelia: it is the most dynamic tissue in the adult and allows fundamental biological insights into adult stem cells and normal and disease-associated tissue biology.