Most cancers are epithelial in origin and can invade other tissues, and we seek to understand: 1)How inherited mutations may contribute to pathogenesis and perturbed immunity in reproductive cancers. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of death among cancer cases in US men. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 190,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the US in 2020. It is estimated that one out of 9 men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, with African American men and older men being affected disproportionately. A study examining molecular mechanisms of health disparities identified 362 differentially expressed genes in signaling pathways regulating tumor aggressiveness. Risk factors which contribute to cancer include advanced age, smoking, ethnicity, inheritance, and to a certain degree—although less clear—diet, obesity, inflammation and chemical exposure. Although known variants of pathogenicity have been linked to disease for prominent DNA repair genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, it is unclear whether there is a contribution for the key-related gene PALB2. The goal of our current projects is to determine the role of variants of undetermined significance on prostate cancer cell gene expression, apoptosis and proliferation. We will use the All of Us Research Hub to identify variants. The objectives are to express clinical variants of PALB2 in prostate cancer cells and examine gene expression, homologous recombination, apoptosis, and cell proliferation. In a future direction, we aim to determine the responsiveness of cancer cells with variant mutations to current targeted therapies.
Victoria Mgbemena is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she studied Host-Pathogen Interactions. She completed her Postdoctoral studies in Hematology/Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where she studied the role of a DNA repair gene in hematopoiesis.
Dr. Mgbemena’s research topics interests include: Inheritance of rare diseases, Reproductive Health, Applications for developing Personalized Medical Approaches, Health Disparities, and Preventative Care. She is interested in the following mechanisms: Cell-Cell Communications, modulation of cell metastatic potential by DNA repair pathways.