Functional Genomics and Systems Genetics in Cancer

Project description

Strategic research project of the University of Oulu
Focus institute: Biocenter Oulu
Faculty: Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (FBMM)

Transcription factors (TFs) are a kind of sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins. The human genome contains approximately 1400 TFs contributing to complex gene regulation and accurate cell growth control. Aberrant expression of TFs is frequently observed in cancer of the breast and prostate, Ewing's sarcoma and leukemia. Charting gene regulatory networks driven by the TFs in cancer cells is a systematic way to discover novel mechanisms and clinical markers for cancer risk prediction and therapy. Here, we aim to uncover the cancerous roles of multiple TFs including key members of the ETS, HOX and Forkhead classes of DNA-binding proteins. Together with data from genome-wide association studies, we aim to explore how the cancer risk-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) alter TF–DNA binding at sites of clinically important enhancers and misregulation of the SNP-linked causative genes. We will validate key findings including risk SNPs, enhancers and genes that are potentially biomarkers and drug targets that could be used for cancer patient risk prediction, stratification and therapy.