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Epithelial sodium channel as a target in breast cancer

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.

Details

Close date
Friday, 8 December 2017
Academic background
Sciences, Health Sciences
Host campus
Dunedin
On-campus or via distance?
On-campus
Qualification
PhD
Department
Physiology
Supervisor
Associate Professor Fiona McDonald & Dr Martin Fronius

Overview

Breast cancer is a major health problem comprising 28% of cancers that affect New Zealand women. Our new data shows that epithelial sodium channel, ENaC, expression in patients' tumours correlates with breast cancer prognosis. ENaC is located in the plasma membrane, and its large extracellular domain senses physical changes in the extracellular environment, while intracellular ENaC domains interact with the cytoskeleton. These connections allow ENaC to contribute to cell shape and rigidity, thus influencing cell migration and differentiation. Changes in mechano-sensing pathways and cell shape are tightly linked to the ability of cancer cells to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), migrate and metastasise. This project will involve you assessing ENaC’s role in breast cancer cell EMT, migration, and proliferation, and determining physical characteristics of breast cancer cells with changes in ENaC expression by atomic force microscopy. Characterisation of the mechanisms by which ENaC promotes tumour generation will provide a previously unknown target for breast cancer therapy.

Contact

Associate Professor Fiona McDonald
Tel   64 3 479 7329
Email   fiona.mcdonald@otago.ac.nz