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Ellen Voigt, M4G



MSTP Learning Community:  McCowen

MSTP Entry Date:  August 1, 2019

Graduate Program:

Cancer Biology


Dawn Quelle, PhD

Graduate Profile Lab Website

Molecular Alterations Driving Transformation of PNFs into MPNSTs

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are rare and deadly sarcomas with few treatment options. Patients with a heritable disorder called Neurofibromatosis type I spontaneously develop benign tumors called plexiform neurofibromas (PNFs) that transform into MPNSTs ~15% of the time. MPNSTs are genetically characterized by loss of NF1 and >80% of the tumors have alterations in the INK4a/ARF/INK4b tumor suppressor locus (commonly known as CDKN2A/CDKN2B). In addition, a GTPase called RABL6A is overexpressed in the majority of human MPNSTs. My project seeks to understand how these alterations cooperate to form malignant tumors by modeling transformation of PNFs into MPNSTs through CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing of INK4a, ARF, and/or INK4b paired with overexpression of RABL6A and other proteins of interest.


2020 Fall - Keystone M2/PA2 Liaison Committee Member

2020-present - Co-leader, Oncology Interest Group (President 2021-2022)

2019-present - Retreat & I Heart Science Committee (Co-Chair 2022-2023)

2022-present - Cancer Biology Social Committee


2020- present - Fall MSCC Foundations tutor


2017 - BA, Biochemistry - Augustana University


ORCiD:  0000-0002-3013-2130

Voigt E, Wallenburg M, Wollenzien H, Thompson E, Kumar K, Feiner J, McNally M, Friesen H, Mukherjee M, Afeworki Y, Kareta MS. Sox2 Is an Oncogenic Driver of Small-Cell Lung Cancer and Promotes the Classic Neuroendocrine Subtype. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Dec;19(12):2015-2025. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-20-1006. Epub 2021 Sep 30. PubMed PMID: 34593608; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8642303.

Kohlmeyer JL, Kaemmer CA, Lingo JJ, Voigt E, Leidinger MR, McGivney GR, Scherer A, Koppenhafer SL, Gordon DJ, Breheny P, Meyerholz DK, Tanas MR, Dodd RD, Quelle DE. Oncogenic RABL6A promotes NF1-associated MPNST progression in vivo. Neurooncol Adv. 2022 Apr 9;4(1):vdac047. doi: 10.1093/noajnl/vdac047. PMID: 35571990; PMCID: PMC9092646.

Koppenhafer SL, Goss KL, Voigt E, Croushore E, Terry WW, Ostergaard J, Gordon PM, Gordon DJ. Inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (ID2) regulates the expression of developmental genes and tumorigenesis in ewing sarcoma. Oncogene. 2022 May;41(20):2873-2884. doi: 10.1038/s41388-022-02310-0. Epub 2022 Apr 14. PMID: 35422476; PMCID: PMC9107507.