1) Directed cell migration plays an important role in embryonic development, wound healing, angiogenesis, immune response, cancer invasion and metastasis. Dynamic reorganization of actin cytoskeleton, a key aspect of cell migration, is regulated by the concerted actions of various classes of actin-binding proteins (ABPs), and some of these ABPs are fundamental drivers of actin-based cell motility. Altered expressions and activities of fundamental drivers of cell migration are correlated with aberrant cell motility in pathologic scenarios. Our main research interests are to: a) gain novel insights on how dysregulation of fundamental drivers of cell migration contributes to metastatic progression of solid cancers and pathological angiogenesis; and b) develop translational strategies exploiting the pathways of dysregulation as a means to suppress metastatic phenotype of cancer cells and angiogenesis-dependent pathology.
2) Post-translational modification plays a crucial role in regulating protein activities. We are exploring novel post-translational modifications of ABPs and how they impact protein function and actin-dependent biological processes.
3) Functional loss of expression of breast cancer 1, early onset gene (BRCA1) has been implicated in genomic instability and cancer progression. BRCA1 has been extensively studied in the context of DNA repair and cell cycle control. There is emerging evidence that BRCA1 can also play a role in cell migration and invasion. We are studying how BRCA1 regulates migration and metastatic propensity of ovarian cancer cells.