Professor, Neurology; Feinberg School of Medicine
Cancer Cell Biology
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Dr. Wu is interested in understanding how genetic mutations affect the expression and function of genes important for cell death and critical for the pathogenesis of cancer. She focuses on two areas of research: the role of pre-mRNA splicing regulation and the molecular mechanisms modulating cell migration. Pre-mRNA splicing is a crucial step for gene expression because the vast majority of human genes contain one or more introns that must be accurately removed to form the mature and functional messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Alternative splicing is a major mechanism for regulating mammalian gene expression. A number of apoptosis-regulatory genes, including Bcl-x, ced4/APAF1 and caspases, produce functionally antagonistic products by undergoing alternative splicing. Dr. Wu's group demonstrated that alternative splicing may be an important regulatory mechanism for apoptosis, providing insights for designing new cancer therapies. The other focus, chemotactic cell migration, is important for cancer progression. Dr. Wu identified a family of secreted proteins, Slit, that regulate neuronal migration and modulate leukocyte chemotaxis. Emerging evidence supports that Slit plays an important role in tumor suppression by inhibiting cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Her group is investigating underlying mechanisms and signal transduction pathways involved.