Molecular Biology and Cell Signaling

Members investigate mitogenic signaling networks that regulate cancer cell growth and metastasis. Dr. Daaka’s research focuses on the investigation of G protein-coupled and androgen receptors. The group uses molecular, cellular, and animal models as well as human materials to elucidate role of G protein-coupled receptors and their associated heterotrimeric G proteins and beta-arrestins in the progression of prostate cancer from androgen-dependent to castration-resistant state, and in the cancer cell metastasis. The Daaka lab has pioneered the field of G protein-coupled receptors, G proteins and beta-arrestins in prostate cancer progression and published several highly cited articles in this area. The Daaka group is also studying role of androgen receptor in prostate cancer progression with emphasis on androgen receptor post-translational modification by S-nitrosylation. This work has yielded the unrecognized observation that S-nitrosylation exerts a negative impact on the androgen receptor function in advanced prostate cancer. Translating these concepts into human settings through the administration of specific pharmacologics provides a new approach to better manage patients with advanced, castration-resistant prostate cancer. Dr. Nie’s group studies mechanisms involved in cancer cell migration, invasion and metastasis with special emphasis on regulation of vesicle trafficking in focal adhesion remodeling that is critical for the cancer cell directed migration. Dr. Kusmartsev is conducting pioneering work on the immunological aspects of the tumor microenvironment and its secreted gene products. Together, the group uses complementary experimental approaches to elucidate contribution of the epithelial cancer cells, endothelial blood cells and immune cells on the growth and progression of prostate tumors.