Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women in the US. The vast majority of women (>70% in the US) diagnosed with ovarian cancer have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis (the tumor has spread or metastasized). For these women the survival rates are less that 25%. Importantly ovarian cancer is >90% curable if detected early (prior to metastatic spread). Unfortunately at this point in time we do not have a good understanding of ovarian cancer at the molecular level. The goal of my laboratory is to study the molecules that are important in promoting ovarian cancer progression. In particular I want to determine how a tumor “learns” how to metastasize so that we can better prevent, diagnose, and treat ovarian cancer.
One of the molecules involved in ovarian cancer progression is the epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR is overexpressed in at least 70% of ovarian cancer. Its expression correlates with poor survival rates. Over the past few years I have focused on the genes that are controlled by EGFR that regulate cancer progression. We are investigating how the ARID3B transcription factor is regulated by EGFR signaling and its involvement in cancer. ARID3B is a member of the ARID family of DNA binding proteins. We have found that ARID3B is overexpressed in ovarian cancer. By understanding the gene networks that are dysfunctional in ovarian cancer we will be better equipped to diagnose and treat this disease.
The first goal of my laboratory is to elucidate the functions of ARID3B. We have three main goals: 1) how is ARID3B regulated, 2) what are the targets and functions of ARID3B, and 3) how do these proteins contribute to normal cellular differentiation and cancer progression. Our data suggest that ARID3B is critical to development of several tissue types and that altered expression of ARID3B may contribute to cancer.