At the molecular level, leukemia and lymphoma are often characterized by a phenomenon called chromosomal translocations, or the mis-joining of two pieces of DNA from different chromosomes. This leads to mutations, including some with cancer-causing potential. To better understand these translocations, Dr. Zhu is focusing on a holoenzyme called DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), which can bind both DNA and RNA.
Previously, she found that animals with enzyme-deficient versions of DNA-PK develop both lymphoma with translocations and leukemia with defects in rRNA processing. Now, she’s investigating how the activity of DNA-PK regulates its interaction with DNA and RNA and how that can contribute to the development of leukemia and lymphoma. Understanding this new function of DNA-PK would provide critical information on the coordination between DNA and RNA in the context of cancer, and provide mechanistic insights on the use of specific DNA-PK inhibitors for leukemia and lymphoma therapy.
Projects and Grants
The Role of DNA-PK in DNA Repair and Ribosomal RNA Processing
Columbia University | Leukemia, Lymphoma | 2021 | Shan Zha, M.D., Ph.D.
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