Dr. Xu and his team will focus their efforts on the role of Disabled-2 (Dab2) in ovarian cancer. This protein is found predominantly in normal ovarian surface epithelial cells, but it is absent in 85 percent to 95 percent of ovarian epithelial-derived carcinomas. They will analyze the ability of cells that contain the Dab2 protein to produce a basement membrane compared to cells that lack Dab2 protein. The basement membrane anchors cells down to cells beneath it. Without it, cells lose their architecture, which controls their growth. The impact of Dab2 and the basement membrane controlling cell death will also be examined. These studies will greatly help the understanding of the mechanisms of ovarian tumorgenicity and drug resistant tumors and aid in the development of more effective therapeutic treatments.
Mike Xu is now a Professor, Medicine and Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.