Research

Gemonics, bioinformatics, next-generation sequencing, cancer research

The main topics of our group is directed towards molecular diagnostic and personalized medicine in cancer research. We study intracellular interactions in malignant melanoma and in tumor-assicated fibroblasts using genomics tools. Our observation demonstrates the crucial role of the microenvironment in melanoma biology. Malignant tumors in general represent complex ecosystems, where multiple cell types influence the growth of genetically mutated cancer cells (Fig.1). This concept is directly applicable to the malignant melanoma. Our research focuses on possible strategies to modify the intercellular crosstalk in melanoma that can be employed for therapeutic purposes. We also initiated genome-wide expression profiling in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) (Fig. 2). Tumor stroma is an active part influencing the biological properties of malignancies via molecular cross-talk. Cancer-associated fibroblasts play a significant role in this interaction. In squamous cell carcinomas of head and neck, upregulation of galectin-1 presence was highly significantly correlated to presence of smooth muscle actin-positive cancer-associated fibroblasts in the tumor. These results provide new insights into the significance of presence of myofibroblasts in squamous cell carcinoma.

The second topics of our group is genome analysis od single cellular eukaryotes. The presence of mitochondria and related organelles in every studied eukaryote supports the view that mitochondria are essential cellular components. We reported the genome sequence of a microbial eukaryote, the oxymonad Monocercomonoides sp., which revealed that this organism lacks all hallmark mitochondrial proteins. Crucially, the mitochondrial iron-sulfur cluster assembly pathway, thought to be conserved in virtually all eukaryotic cells, has been replaced by a cytosolic sulfur mobilization system (SUF) acquired by lateral gene transfer from bacteria (Fig. 3). In the context of eukaryotic phylogeny, our data suggest that Monocercomonoides is not primitively amitochondrial but has lost the mitochondrion secondarily. This is the first example of a eukaryote lacking any form of a mitochondrion, demonstrating that this organelle is not absolutely essential for the viability of a eukaryotic cell.

We also participated in characterization of so far the oldest endogenous lentivirus found in the genomes of mammals.

 

Last change: December 3, 2019