My lab investigates how signalling networks regulate cell cycle transitions and how these can be targeted to treat cancer. Our work spans fundamental to translational research and I will cover both of these areas in the two parts of my seminar.
Part I: The origins of complexity in protein phosphorylation networks
I will start by discussing a fundamental property that is common to all phosphorylation sites, but for which almost nothing is currently known: the rate that these sites can “flash” on and off over time. I will briefly highlight how we plan to tackle this problem over the coming years, before presenting our recent unpublished data on a bifunctional kinase-phosphatase module that induces such dynamic phosphorylation-dephosphorylation cycles to coordinate two key mitotic processes.
Part II: Cell cycle inhibitors can switch an oncogene into a tumour suppressor
I will then switch focus to highlight how understanding simple concepts in cell cycle and growth control can help to answer an age-old question in cancer research: how can cell cycle inhibitors be used to selectively target cancer cells? The work I will present, which is also largely unpublished, will explain how CDK4/6 inhibitors can induce selective toxicity in tumour cells that are primed for oncogenic cell growth.
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