Graduate student Tyson Lager was awarded a SCRM Travel Fellowship to present his research at the April 2018 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting held in Chicago, Illinois. The overall theme of the meeting was Driving Innovative Cancer Science to Patient Care. Presentations covered the latest basic, translational, clinical, and prevention-focused research in the field, including important areas such as early detection, cancer interception, and survivorship in all populations. Also featured were new sessions on cancer health disparities that have been inspired by one of the important AACR presidential initiatives.
Lager stated, "I presented a poster about my exciting current work in the Panopoulos Laboratory. One of the goals of the Panopoulos lab is to understand how certain cancer cells utilize embryonic or stem cell-like mechanisms to promote tumorigenesis. The title of my poster was: Aberrant cell surface expression of GRP78 in breast cancer cells marks a stem-like population that has metastatic potential in vivo. In summary, the work I presented described how we discovered that a specific protein (GRP78) is aberrantly localized to the cell surface of both pluripotent stem cells and breast cancer cells, where it is important in regulating key cellular functions such as survival and migration. We also showed that cell surface GRP78 marks a subpopulation of breast cancer cells that appear to be more stem-like, and that behave more aggressively in a mouse model of cancer. Overall, this work has important therapeutic implications because it has been shown that some of the most aggressive cancer cells harbor an embryonic gene signature. Therefore, if we can understand how certain cancer cells are utilizing these embryonic stem-like mechanisms to promote tumorigenesis, we can uncover novel strategies to therapeutically target these aggressive cancer cells."
Tyson is a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Athanasia Panopoulos, Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and the Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine.