Faculty in Biology
Perry Howard, Associate Professor
Office & Lab: PCH 053
Characterization of Ars2 in stem and progenitor cell differentiation and maintenance. miRNA biogenesis. EphA2 and EphrinA1 in cancer. Synthetic biology: rewiring of tyrosine kinase pathway in cancer.
My lab is focused on three areas of research. The first is determining the potential of rewiring of signal transduction pathways as a therapeutic strategy for cancer. We are seeking to utilize the feature of deregulated receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling against cancer cells by manipulating the cassette-like or domain architecture of the signaling molecules downstream of RTK’s. We are taking a novel approach to regulating cancer that is based on the inherent principles of cellular signal transduction. The understanding the wiring diagram of normal and oncogenic cells and application of this information to rewiring of cancer cells, will ultimately lead to novel methods of controling malignant cell growth.
More recently, my lab has been characterizing a gene essential for early development called Ars2. Ars2 is necessary for miRNA biogenesis. We are interested in determining the role of Ars2 in stem and progenitor cell maintenance and differentiation. In collaboration with the Chow lab, we have begun to characterize Ars2 function during retinal and muscle develop.
Thirdly, I am interested in understanding the mechanisms of signal transduction by the largest class of receptor tyrosine kinases, called the Eph receptors. The Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, together comprise a large class of cell surface molecules that have been implicated by genetic and biochemical analysis in the control of cell migration, adhesion, and identity. An emerging theme for ephrin/Eph function is that signaling from these surface molecules is bi-directional, eliciting cell responses in both the ephrin and Eph expressing cell. Our research focuses on determining the molecular basis for the cellular responses that are mediated by a sub-class of ephrin/Eph molecules, called the A-type ephrin/Eph receptors. We wish to understand the role of proteins downstream of A-type ephrin/Eph receptors in transducing the Eph signal through the cell membrane, and on how this changes cell behavior.