Hello! My name is Ran Wei and I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry at Western University, working with Shawn Li, PhD.
Our lab is interested in discovering the pathways involved in the development of different cancers including breast cancer. Some changes in such pathways are intimately associated with cancer progression. One type of those tumour-related changes is post-translational modifications such as methylation. A post translational modification (PTM) is an addition to a protein after it has been made. We’re currently developing novel therapies by targeting these PTMs or their modifying enzymes.
One of my research interests is targeting Numb methylation. Numb is a protein known to suppress breast cancer, and the loss of Numb protein expression correlates positively with tumour aggressiveness and a poor prognosis.
Our previous study reveals that Numb methylation by the Set8 enzyme has a similar effect as loss-of-Numb. Therefore, it’s conceivable that inhibiting Numb methylation by a Set8 inhibitor has great therapeutic potential for the treatment of breast cancer.
Currently, there is no commercial inhibitor for Set8. We’ve used leading-edge technologies such as peptide microarrays and mass spectrometry to develop a potential Set8 peptide inhibitor called PR9-G8. PR9-G8 showed significant inhibition of Set8 activity. Currently, we’re testing the effects of PR9-G8 peptide in several different breast cancer cell lines and any effect will be further tested in mouse xenograft models.
I presented this work at Western’s 2013 Oncology Research & Education Day, where I won an award for my poster presentation.
Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!
– Ran Wei, student researcher
Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit, London Health Sciences Centre