Cancer Cell Biology, RNA Biology, Virus-host Interaction, Molecular Virology, Biomedical Technology
- RNA-mediated regulations in cancers
RNAs play pivotal regulatory roles in cells, and I am most interested in translational regulations that qualitatively and quantitatively control the protein synthesis from mRNA transcripts. The cis-acting regulations of translation may be mediated by the structural elements, upstream ORFs, alternative start codons, alternative termination signals, etc. located in 5’- or 3’-UTRs, as well as by the codon contexts within the coding regions, while the trans-regulations can be mediated by RNA-binding proteins, miRNAs, and other non-coding regulatory RNAs. In addition, translational regulation could be also controlled by alterations of initiation factors, ribosomal proteins/RNAs, tRNA abundance, mRNA degradation, etc. Such regulatory network largely affects the growth, the differentiation, the survival, and the proliferation of cells, which are highly associated to cancer development. Our research focus is the functional relevance of novel trans-regulating non-coding RNAs and the cis-acting regulatory sequences of mRNAs in cancerous cells. We hope the better understanding of regulatory roles played by cellular RNAs can lead to innovative treatments for cancers in the future.
- Virus-host interaction and cancers
Virus infections have been found associated to several cancers in many perspectives. For instance, integrations of viral DNAs into host genome upon infections may lead to gene deletions/mutations/rearrangements that promote tumor development for some DNA viruses and retroviruses. In other cases, virus infections may cause overexpression of particular viral proteins which have significant tumorigenic pathogenicity. Infections of these viruses could directly lead to cancers. On the other hands, chronic virus infections were also reported to promote cancer development by causing chronic inflammations and/or other stress-microenvironments. However, I am most interested in the recently discovered translational shutoff of host protein synthesis induced by virus infections that drastically alters multiple signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation and immune responses in different cancer cell lines. Our group currently focuses on understanding how the virus induced translational moderations impact the signaling cascades that may affect the survival and the proliferation of cancer cells.
- Real-world data and genome-wide association studies in cancers
To promote precision medicine and personalized cancer care, researchers have made significant efforts to develop innovative treatments and healthcare measures basing on clinical trials and cohort studies. However, some patients were usually not well represented in those trials and studies, such as individuals at both ends of age/race spectrum and having rare or comorbid conditions. I am particularly interested in how real-world data could be utilized to more comprehensively evaluate the benefits of particular cancer treatments to those potentially underrepresented individuals. On the other hand, cancer patients are usually grouped into different subsets according to particular biomarkers and/or genetic variances for specific medications. Real-world data also allows us to evaluate whether those underrepresented patients actually benefited from those genotype driven therapies. In addition, our group is currently aiming to expend our understanding of cancer associated genetic variances, from the handful mutations/SNPs to genome-wide perspectives, by utilizing real-world data and the accompanying whole-genome-sequencing data. We hope in the near future more precise and better personalized treatments can be correctly applied to every individual with significant benefits.