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Lipid-mediated activation of b-catenin in melanoma biology

Objective

Tumors contain multiple subpopulations of cells some of which may contribute to therapeutic resistance. Moreover phenotypic states in cancer (stem-like; invasive; proliferative; and differentiated) are dynamic and reversible, yet use many of the same signaling pathways implicated in activation and self-renewal of physiological stem cells. Of these, the Wnt/b-catenin signaling pathway plays a major role in stem cell activation and differentiation, and is frequently constitutively activated in cancers. My preliminary results indicate that surprisingly, oleic acid can substitute for Wnt in activation of b-catenin signaling. Adipocytes can play a key role in stem cell activation, can transfer lipids to cancer cells, and are frequently encountered during cancer cell invasion. I hypothesize that lipid uptake by cancer cells will alter metabolism and drive phenotype-switching via b-catenin signaling. This project therefore aims to investigate the biological and metabolic consequences of lipid uptake by cancer cells and will use melanoma as a model system since the key regulators of phenotype-switching in this cancer are known to be targeted by b-catenin signaling. Specifically, I will use standard cell biology techniques to identify the repertoire of lipids able to trigger nuclear localization of b-catenin and the biological consequences of lipid uptake (invasiveness; proliferation; differentiation etc); integrative genomics (ChIP-seq and RNA-seq) to identify direct b-catenin target genes and their relationship to those targeted by the master regulator of the melanocyte lineage, MITF, that is known to interact directly with b-catenin; and metabolomics to identify how lipid uptake and de-regulation of b-catenin signaling affect cellular metabolism. The results will provide a key insight into how lipid signalling can impact on cancer biology and potentially activate physiological stem cells, as well as provide high-level training in emerging technologies.

Call for proposal

FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF
See other projects for this call

Coordinator

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 221 606,40
Administrative Contact
Gill Wells (Ms.)