RNA binding proteins and cancer progression
RNA binding proteins (RBPs) orchestrate mRNA fate and function. Compared to transcription factors, RBPs are more conserved and less mutated in cancer. However, changes in expression that occur without concomitant gene mutation contribute to tumor development and confer competitive advantages to cancerous cells. In agreement with this, RBPs have been shown to modulate virtually all cancer hallmarks.
A relatively reduced number of RBPs have been shown to contribute directly to cancer progression, and the list keeps growing. In addition, much remains ahead in understanding how RBPs and their regulatory networks contribute to key features of tumor initiation and progression. Our lab aims to contribute to these questions by identifying and characterizing new RBPs involved in malignant transformation. We are especially interested in non-canonical RBPs (i.e. those without discernible RNA binding domains which cannot be bioinformatically predicted) or rare isoforms of canonical RBPs which could directly or indirectly be involved in translation. We use a combination of high-throughput technologies (RNA interactome capture, RNA-seq, iCLIP, Ribo-Seq, polysome profiling, proteomics) to address these questions using melanoma as a tumor model.