CRI Funded Scientists

Jiaxin Liang, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Area of Research: Melanoma

Immunotherapies have revolutionized melanoma treatments. However, only less than half of all melanoma patients respond to these therapeutic settings. Recent studies have shown that an abundance of mitochondrial, but not nuclear, DNA from tumor cells is found in the cytosol of tumor-infiltrating dendritic cells, implicating the mitochondria as an important component of anti-tumor immunity. In addition, almost half of the currently used melanoma cell lines and melanoma specimens harbor mitochondrial mutations. Human complex I mutations often occur in mitochondrial diseases and certain tumors compromising the different activities of this respiratory complex. However, how these mutations impact tumor progression and immune responses is unknown. This is important and of clinical significance because it will define important novel vulnerabilities that could be exploited to treat melanoma patients. 

The main goal of Dr. Liang’s proposal is to determine how the tumor mitochondrial bioenergetics communicates to immune cells and controls melanoma progression. The expectations from this proposal are to provide a mechanistic and functional understanding of the communication between the mitochondrial Complex I bioenergetic and respiratory activity in tumor cells and the host’s immune system.  This novel and innovative information will also provide mitochondrial vulnerabilities that cause anti-tumor immunity, which could be therapeutically exploited in melanoma patients.

Projects and Grants

Targeting mitochondrial vulnerabilities to drive intrinsic melanoma immunogenicity

Columbia University Medical Center | All Cancers, Melanoma | 2022 | Pere Puigserver, Ph.D.

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