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Xiaowen Sun


Mentor: Kris DeMali, Ph.D.
Lab Room: 4-411A BSB
Lab Phone: 319-335-7662

Integrin signaling and melanoma

Melanoma accounts for 79% of skin cancer related deaths. The unusual lethality of this cancer is the result of its high metastasis rate and resistance to all available treatments. Our laboratory has shown that manipulating the function of integrins, the major cell surface receptors, sensitizes melanoma cells to chemotherapy. A novel peptide, termed vinculin activating peptide (VAP), modulates integrin engagement by promoting an activating conformational change in vinculin, an integrin cytoplasmic binding protein that regulates integrin lifetimes. VAP sensitizes metastatic melanomas to DNA damaging chemotherapeutics both in vitro and in vivo . The focus of my work is to elucidate the cell surface receptor and the cellular pathway VAP targets to sensitize melanomas to chemotherapy.