Gene expression is a highly regulated process which plays a critical role in determining cell fate. As such, we are investigating the roles of promoters, enhancers, DNA methylation, and post-translational modifications of genes that influence cell differentiation and oncogene activation.
We have discovered that transcription factor SALL4, an embryonic stem (ES) cell gene and leukemic stem cell factor, belongs to a new class of oncofetal gene. It is a unique link between normal stem cells and cancer cells including leukemic initiating cells (LICs). The lab currently focuses on two main projects related to SALL4’s roles in stem cells and cancer.
The lab is interested in using SALL4 as a paradigm to explore targeting transcription factors and downstream targets as therapeutic approaches in cancer. Ongoing projects explore interaction between SALL4 and epigenetic regulators and SALL4’s roles in cancer metabolism for therapeutic targeting.
Our lab is researching the diagnostic and prognostic value of SALL4, while working to develop high-sensitivity detection methods of SALL4 expression. SALL4 diagnostics can benefit many cancer types where SALL4 is a targetable oncogene.