Northwestern University

Mon 4:00 PM

Pharmacology Research Works-in-Progress: Erika Ramos and Yizhen Zhong

When: Monday, February 18, 2019
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM  

Where: Ward Building, 5-230, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Alexa Nash   312.503.4893

Group: Department of Pharmacology Seminars

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Erika Ramos
PhD Candidate, Dr. Huiping Liu Laboratory

“CD81 is a target of CD44 in promoting breast cancer stemness”

Our lab has previously showed that CD44+CD24-/low BCSCs mediate tumor initiation and promote tumor metastasis in patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which BCSCs contribute to cancer metastasis are not fully understood. My work aims to examine the interplay between BCSCs and exosomes in breast cancer progression and metastasis. Exosomes are secreted, nanosize extracellular vesicles (30-140 nm) characterized by their expression of surface markers (such as CD81, CD63, CD9) and other exosome-associated tetraspanins. Exosomes have emerged as key players in intercellular communications in both physiological and pathological settings, including cancer development and distant organ-specific metastasis. Our recent mass spectrometry proteomic analysis revealed that CD44+ BCSCs express higher CD81 (one of the known exosome surface markers) compared to CD44- cancer cells. Furthermore, CD44 knockdown or knockout decreased CD81 expression in BCSCs and their secreted exosomes, suggesting a regulatory role of CD44 in CD81 expression of cancer cells and exosomes. In addition to being an exosome marker, CD81 mediates immune suppression and regulates cancer metastasis. We hypothesize that CD44+ BCSCs maintain CD81 levels to promote exosome production and niching, immune suppression, and stemness. We propose to examine the effects of modulated CD44 on cancer exosome-mediated cross talks with immune cells, and to determine the mechanism by which CD44 promotes CD81 protein levels during metastasis.

Yizhen Zhong
PhD Candidate, Dr. Minoli Perera Laboratory

"Discovery of Novel Hepatic eQTLs in African Americans: disparities in Precision Medicine"

African Americans (AAs) are disproportionately affected by metabolic diseases and drug adverse events, with little genomic and transcriptomic data to advance the knowledge of molecular underpinning of diseases. Here we use primary hepatocytes of AA donors for genome-wide mapping of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). We identified 128 eGenes and 9,658 eQTLs not observed in the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project liver cohort. Unique eQTLs contain signatures of positive selection and have larger Fst and LD than overlapping eQTLs. We implicated LY75 as a candidate gene responsible for hemoglobin concentration through a unique eQTL. Our analysis provides comprehensive characterization of potential population specific regulatory variants and their relevance to disease phenotypes.

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