Alice Soragni, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA, United States
2018 LYNDA’S FUND PILOT STUDY AWARD
Project: p53 aggregation in pre-malignant ovarian cancer lesions
Research Area: Cancer Biology
p53 is a crucial tumor suppressor protein that prevents damaged cells from becoming cancerous. In order to divide uncontrollably, cancer cells often inactivate p53 by mutating it, as in the majority of ovarian cancer cases. Some mutations may loosen the structure of the p53 protein. In this process, a sticky segment of the p53 protein can stick to other p53 proteins to form clumps causing a large number of the proteins to aggregate together. p53 mutations are present in pre-cancerous cells in the fallopian tube and in early cancerous lesions. Dr. Soragni will test if the collection of the mutated p53 proteins in aggregates can be found in early stage ovarian cancer tissues and see if the presence of these aggregates is different in normal and precancerous tissues. She will also test if a drug known to target these kinds of aggregates can prevent benign precancerous tissues in mice from becoming malignant. If successful, Dr. Soragni’s work will help us understand the role of p53 aggregates in the progression of ovarian cancer from benign to a malignant state and provide a potential block to the process.