Senior Supervisor N094 & N790
Program coordinator N094 & N790
Hepatocellular carcinoma, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, TGF-β signaling, receptor tyrosine kinase Axl, cell-cell communication, extracellular vesicles, tumor-stroma interaction, metastasis, biomarker.
The spread of cells from the primary cancer to distant organs is the most fearsome aspect of cancer. This process of cancer progression denoted as metastasis has exceptional clinical relevance and represents the major reason for the death of cancer patients. Upon the progression of carcinoma, changes in cell plasticity by the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) are of particular significance for local cell invasion, immune cell interactions, entry into vessels and chemoresistance.
We focus on the molecular mechanisms underlying the various aspects of cancer cell invasion and dissemination by analyzing the role of the TGF-β signaling pathway and cell signaling of the receptor tyrosine kinase AXL in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The TGF-β/AXL regulated communication of HCC cells with activated fibroblasts and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment is of particular relevance in our studies. By investigating hypothesis-driven EMT tumor models together with gene-targeted mouse models and cancer patient samples, we develop accurate biomarkers for diagnosis and novel strategies for intervention with HCC progression and metastasis.