Main Research Interests

  • Regulatory effects of transposable elements
  • Ribosomal variation in cancer

Our laboratory uses molecular and cellular biology approaches, coupled with bioinformatics, to address questions in gene regulation, genomic stability and malignancy.  We currently have two main areas of investigation.

First, we are studying how transposable elements influence gene regulation in normal and cancer cells. Nearly half of the human genome is composed of sequences related to transposable elements (TEs). These elements, which include endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), have colonized our genome during evolution and some are still mobile - causing cancer in mice and genetic disease in humans and animals.  The epigenetic state of TEs is often altered in cancer, a reflection of global epigenetic abnormalities associated with malignancy. Ongoing projects include: i) Characterizing genes that use TE-derived regulatory signals and ii) Determining the potential pathogenic role of epigenetic activation of ERVs and other TEs in human cancers.

Second, we have initiated research on ribosomal variation in cancer. The ribosome, which translates proteins from mRNA, is a complex of >80 proteins and 4 rRNAs. These components genetically vary between individuals and in cancer development. Our research focuses on detecting variations in the core ribosomal RNA that are specific to leukemias and solid tumors and how such variations alter translation in malignant cells. We are also exploring how discovery of these “onco-ribosomes” can be exploited as a novel target for cancer therapies.

Affiliations

Professor,  Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia

Credentials

Professor, Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia

Selected Publications

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