Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Jindan Yu Lab

Genetic and epigenetic pathways to prostate cancer

Our laboratory focuses on understanding the genetic and epigenetic pathways to prostate cancer. A number of key transcription factors, including the Androgen Receptor, the Polycomb group protein EZH2, and the TMPRSS2:ERG gene fusions,  have been related to epigenetic changes and implicated in prostate cancer. However, their downstream pathways remain largely unknown. Using 'omics' approaches we have identified a number of target genes and molecular pathways of these transcription factors. Our study will elucidate the specific pathways of these transcription factors and how they may crosstalk with each other to form an intertwined network. Findings from our study will then be applied to understand the hormone-refractory prostate tumors and help the design of novel therapeutic targets.

As transcriptional regulation, for instance those by EZH2, eventually leads to inheritable epigenetic changes and thus altered chromatin status. Epigenetic mechanisms may be fundamental to tumorigenesis. Based on our previous work, we hypothesized that in aggressive tumors altered transcriptional controls and chromatin states lead to de-differentiation and a stem cell like cellular status. In our study we will reveal the link between transcriptional control and epigenetic changes including histone methylation, DNA methylation and the regulation of miRNAs.

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Jindan Yu, MD, PhD
Associate Professor in Medicine-Hematology/Oncology