Role of Autophagy in Progression of Oesophageal Cancer

Dr Tracey O’Donovan

This research team has been investigating resistance mechanisms in oesophageal cancer cells. They have shown that a recycling process within cancer cells (called Autophagy) can help these cells to recover from chemotherapy. The team have already investigated patient tumour tissue to establish if this process happens in patients and if it is related to outcome. They have found unique structures within cancer cells that are highly predictive of outcome for patients. These structures are labelled with proteins involved in Autophagy.

In this project they are trying to identify what these structures are, so that they can establish why they are associated with poor survival in patients. To do this they will evaluating the function of these structures within tumour cells and looking at additional markers that will help identify the origin and potential function of these structures. As these are associated with aggressive cancer biology it is critical that we understand what these are and how to block their activity for patient benefit.

Falvey CM, O’Donovan TR, El-Mashed S, Nyhan MJ, O’Reilly S, McKenna SL. UBE2L6/UBCH8 and ISG15 attenuate autophagy in esophageal cancer cells. Oncotarget. 2017 Apr 4;8(14):23479-23491. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.15182. Erratum in: Oncotarget. 2020 Jan 14;11(2):212. PMID: 28186990; PMCID: PMC5410320.

Nyhan MJ, O’Donovan TR, Boersma AW, Wiemer EA, McKenna SL. MiR-193b promotes autophagy and non-apoptotic cell death in oesophageal cancer cells. BMC Cancer. 2016 Feb 15;16:101. doi: 10.1186/s12885-016-2123-6. PMID: 26878873; PMCID: PMC4754993.

O’Donovan TR, Rajendran S, O’Reilly S, O’Sullivan GC, McKenna SL. Lithium Modulates Autophagy in Esophageal and Colorectal Cancer Cells and Enhances the Efficacy of Therapeutic Agents In Vitro and In Vivo. PLoS One. 2015 Aug 6;10(8):e0134676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134676. PMID: 26248051; PMCID: PMC4527721.

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Sharon McKenna
Lead Researcher:
Lead Researcher:
Grant funding:
BCR project grant
Cancer type:
Linked Breakthrough Research Priorities:

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