Research: Cancer Relevance

The nucleus is the compartment within each cell that contains the genetic information directing how the cell grows and behaves. Although pathologists use an enlarged nucleus to diagnose cancer and determine what stage it has reached, we presently know very little about what causes large nuclear size or what the consequences are for the cancer patient. Similar systems regulate cell growth in humans and frogs. In fact, proteins from human cells often work in frog cells. Xenopus (African clawed frog) research has been important in studying congenital heart disease, progeria, colorectal cancer, and Fanconi anemia, to name a few. Discoveries about nuclear size control in Xenopus will translate to humans, producing useful and important information for the cancer community.

We are using Xenopus embryos to understand how nuclear size is controlled during embryo development. In many ways the uncontrolled growth of cancer is similar to the growth of developing embryos. In fact, cancer may arise from reactivation of embryonic growth programs in otherwise normal cells. Understanding nuclear size regulation in embryos will therefore inform cancer. To translate our findings in Xenopus to humans, we are directly altering nuclear size in cancer cells. We will test if reducing the size of the nucleus slows cancer cell growth and metastatic potential. Our studies will shed light on how nuclear size contributes to cancer development and progression. Novel approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment that target nuclear size will be suggested, and new cancer susceptibility factors associated with altered nuclear size could be identified to aid in prevention. The proposed basic biomedical research on nuclear size regulation will provide the foundation for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

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Daniel Levy


Molecular Biology

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071



Office Location: SIB 2232

Lab Location: SIB 2316