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Nicole White, Ph.D.

Headshot of Nicole White, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
Insight Into How Lung Tumors Grow
Biomedical Research Grant
Funded in Partnership with the American Thoracic Society Foundation

We are studying genes involved in the promotion or suppression of the spread of lung cancer (metastasis). Previously we applied a cutting-edge sequencing technology to hundreds of lung cancer patients to discover a novel class of genes called long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA). We identified a lncRNA called LCAL62 that is associated with poor overall patient survival. This gene is also associated with a gene known to suppress lung cancer metastasis called FOXA2. We believe LCAL62 interacts with a protein to regulate FOXA2 and thus protect the cell from becoming cancerous. We will test if LCAL62 expression can alter cancer metastasis in mice. Second, we will explore how LCAL62 interacts with a protein partner to regulate FOXA2 and protect the cell from cancer. Overall, this study will advance our understanding of how tumors metastasize.

Update: Our data indicates that LCAL62 interacts with a protein to regulate FOXA2 and thus protects the cell from becoming cancerous. We have identified two regions within the LCAL62 lncRNA that are important for binding to this protein. We are also developing a cell line with a genetic deletion of LCAL62 to explore if this will alter metastasis in mice by implanting cells expressing LCAL62 or not. Overall, this study will advance our understanding of how tumors metastasize.

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