Professor of Cancer Biology
- Director, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Oxford Branch
- Theme Lead, Multimodal Cancer Therapies Theme, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
- Director, Oxford Centre for Early Cancer Detection
The main goal of our research is to identify molecular mechanisms that control cellular plasticity and suppress tumour growth. Cells are able to change their characteristics and cell fate in response to external signals. This ability to change – cellular plasticity – underlies cancer initiation, metastasis and resistance to therapy. We are particularly interested in ‘guardians’ of plasticity in epithelial cells, from which over 80% of human tumours originate. We have a long-standing interest in the tumour suppressor p53 and the ASPP family of proteins (Apoptosis-Stimulating Protein of p53; Ankyrin repeats, SH3 domain and Proline rich sequence containing proteins), which have several roles including regulation of p53.
Our current areas of interest include: understanding how selective transcription is controls cell fate; identifying regulators of cellular plasticity in upper gastrointestinal cancer initiation and metastasis (particularly oesophageal cancer and gastric cancer); and understanding the influence of infection on cell plasticity and cancer (particularly Helicobacter pylori and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection).
Single cell RNA-seq reveals profound transcriptional similarity between Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal submucosal glands
Owen RP. et al, (2018), Nature Communications, 9
iASPP, a previously unidentified regulator of desmosomes, prevents arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)-induced sudden death
Notari M. et al, (2015), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, E973 - E981
ASPP2 controls epithelial plasticity and inhibits metastasis through β-catenin-dependent regulation of ZEB1
Wang Y. et al, (2014), Nature Cell Biology, 16, 1092 - 1104
A Code for RanGDP Binding in Ankyrin Repeats Defines a Nuclear Import Pathway
Lu M. et al, (2014), Cell, 157, 1130 - 1145
Restoring p53 Function in Human Melanoma Cells by Inhibiting MDM2 and Cyclin B1/CDK1-Phosphorylated Nuclear iASPP
Lu M. et al, (2016), Cancer Cell, 30, 822 - 823
ASPP2 maintains the integrity of mechanically stressed pseudostratified epithelia during morphogenesis
Royer C. et al, (2022), Nature Communications, 13
Factor inhibiting HIF can catalyse two asparaginyl-hydroxylations in VNVN motifs of ankyrin fold proteins.
Leissing TM. et al, (2022), The Journal of biological chemistry