Research

Research

 

The GBMD Scientists are interested in understanding the role of transcription factors and small RNAs in health and disease.  In particular, we are interested in understanding the role of tumor suppressor p53—the most mutated in human cancer— and its structural and functional homologues p63 and p73 in Cancer, Diabetes, Myocardial disorders, ageing, Hypertension, Memory, learning, longevity, reprogramming, Stem cell biology, regenerative medicine and neurodegenerative diseases. p63, p73 and p53 are transcription factors. They respond to variety of stresses to protect the human genome and therefore they have generally been referred as “Guardians of the Genome” (Boominathan, Cancer & Metastasis review, 2010).

a. Identifying the networks of tumor suppressor genes

 & understanding how they are regulated: 

 

Bioinformatics, computational/functional/comparative genomics, and the knowledge based system biology approaches will be used to identify:

a) tumor suppressor networks; and

b) tissue specific tumor suppressor pathways.  Then, the identified tumor suppressor  networks/pathways will be characterized biochemically and genetically.

 

b. Identifying the networks of ageing

suppressing genes, longevity promoting genes &

understanding how they are regulated 

 

Bioinformatics, computational/functional/comparative genomics, and the knowledge based system biology approaches will be used to identify:

a) ageing suppressing gene networks;

b) longevity promoting gene networks.

c) the interconnection between ageing suppressing/longevity promoting gene networks and the tumor suppressor pathways.

Then, the identified ageing suppressing/longevity promoting networks/pathways will be characterized biochemically and genetically to understand the molecular mechanisms of ageing and longevity.

 

c. Molecular mechanisms of tumor suppression: 

 

Bio-chemical experiments that test the role of

(i) the tumor suppressor p53/p63/p73 in the regulation of miRNAs and its target gene networks;

(ii) TA-p63, TA-p73 and p53 in the regulation of self-renewal;

(iii) the tumor suppressors TA-p63, TA-p73 and p53 in the inhibition of Cancer stem cell generation; and

(iv) TA-p63, TA-p73 and p53 in the regulation of Epithelial to mesenchymal transition, invasion, migration, and metastasis, will be carried out.

d. Role of p53/p63/p73 in the regulation of

self-renewal & reprogramming:  

Bio-chemical experiments that test the role of

(i) p63-related proteins in the regulation of reprogramming factors;

(ii) DNp63 in the regulation of stem cell renewal;

(iii) p53, p63 and p73 in the regulation of miRNA processing enzymes

(iv) p53, p63 and p73-dependent target genes in the regulation of stem cell-renewal gene network; and

(v) p63/p73-DNMT axis in stem cell renewal and reprogramming, will be carried out.

e. Identification of agents that promote

 

reprogramming of differentiated  patient-specific 

 

cells into pluripotent stem cells:

A number of tumor suppressors appear to function as a bottleneck against cellular reprogramming into induced pluripotent stem cells.  Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells is of great importance in degenerative diseases (eg., Diabetes, Parkinson’s and Heart attack).  Therefore, identification of agents that:

(i) transiently down regulate the expression of tumor suppressors and its target genes; and

(ii) increase the expression of reprogramming factors in differentiated cells will be useful in generating induced pluripotent stem cells and treating patients with degenerative diseases.

f. Understanding p63/p73/p53 regulated molecular  

 

processes & its associated disease conditions: 

Identifying the activators or suppressors of transcription factors/p53-related proteins will be useful in

i) curing cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, & Myocardial disorders

ii) eradicating viral infections/tuberculosis/HIV

iii) promoting viral resistance and immunity

iv) increasing stress resistance

v) suppressing ageing process

vi) increasing longevity

Genetic screens in mammalian cells will be carried out to identify small molecules that increase or decrease the expression of transcription factors/tumor suppressor genes and their target genes.  Then, the identified activators or suppressors will be characterized using biochemical and cell biology related techniques to test whether they:

(i) confer resistance against several bacterial and viral infections;

(ii) cure cancer, diabetes, hypertension and myocardial infarction; and

(iii) improve learning, longevity, memory, & ageing .

g. Understanding the role of p53, p63, and p73 in the

 

regulation of small  RNAs processing:  

 

p53, p63, and p73 had been shown to function as both positive and negative regulators of the miRNA processing components (Boominathan, Plos One, 2010).  Further, we intend to characterize how p53, p63, and p73 function as regulators of miRNA/piRNA/siRNA processing.

 h.Targeting tumor suppressors through miRNA in

 

human cancer:

Biochemical experiments that test the ideas such as:

(i) increasing the stability or expression of tumor suppressor genes in human cancer through miRNAs;

(ii) targeting multiple tumor suppressors simultaneously through miRNAs/protein degrading components of proteasomes;

(iii) identifying small molecules that increase the expression or stability of multiple tumor suppressors simultaneously in human cancer; and

(iv) increasing the expression of p53, p63, and p73 and their target miRNAs to inhibit Epithelial to mesenchyme transition, metastasis, invasion, and cancer stem cell proliferation, will be carried out.

i. Molecular Therapeutics:

a) Genetic screening:

Mammalian genetic screens using multiple-promoter containing expression vector will be conducted for the chosen therapeutic targets.

b) miRNA therapeutics:

miRNAs-based therapeutic program will be initiated for a number of targets identified and characterized in the laboratories of GBMD.  This will be useful in curing cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, & Myocardial disorders and increasing stress resistance/longevity.

c) Regenerative/Stem cell therapeutics:

miRNAs-based stem cell therapeutic program will be initiated for a number of targets identified in the laboratories of GBMD.  Genetic screens in mammalian cells will also be setup to identify small molecules that activate cellular targets with regenerative property.

d) Mutation analysis/diagnostic/prognostic test:

i) tumor suppressors identified from the tumor suppressor network analysis will be screened for mutations;

ii) expression of therapeutic targets chosen will be determined in patient samples; and

iii) diagnostic/prognostic tests will be developed in coordination with Clinicians/Physicians.

 

Copyright protected by Genome-2-Bio-Medicine Discovery Center (GBMD)

2/April/2014