Moana Hala'ufia

Address: 545B CPB
Phone: (319)

Mentor: David Roman, PhD

Undergraduate Institution: University of Arizona

Graduate Program: Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry

Year Entered into Program: 2019

Research Description

Inhibition of Adenylyl Cyclase Type 8 and Orai1 protein interaction decreases triple negative breast cancer cell migration

Triple negative breast cancer is considered to be one of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer as it grows rapidly and is more likely to return after treatment. TNBC is also one of the few breast cancers that is not able to be treated by normal hormonal therapies which highlights the need for more targeted, molecular-based therapies. It has been noted that triple negative breast cancer cells overexpress the calcium channel pore protein Orai1 as well as adenylyl cyclase type 8. AC8 is known to bind to Orai1 causing calcium channels to remain open, allowing TNBC cells to receive high levels of calcium leading to negative cellular effects such as breast cancer cell migration and proliferation. My project is focused on studying the Orai1 - AC8 protein interaction and looking for ways to inhibit this interaction. To do this we plan on conducting high throughput screens to screen for any small molecules that could inhibit this interaction. So far, I have been working on cloning Orai1 and AC8 into nanobit vectors and transfecting this DNA into HEK293t cells to allow us to visualize the protein-protein interaction through luciferase activity.


  • Predoctoral Training Grant in the Pharmacological Sciences (T32 GM067795), 2020-present
  • Lulu Merle Johnson Fellow at the University of Iowa, 2019-present