Understanding how mutations in two F-box genes cause breast cancer

Dr Heike Laman and team

Project details

Researcher: Dr Heike Laman

Location: University of Cambridge

Project title: Understanding how mutations in two F-box genes cause breast cancer

Key area: Treatment

The challenge

Scientists have identified mutations that can spontaneously occur in a person’s DNA which can lead to breast cancer, but it is not clear how some of these mutations cause breast cancer. We need to understand this to develop new drugs to treat the disease.

Project description

Genes are the instructions in the DNA code that the cell uses to make proteins. Mutations that occur in genes often affect how proteins work or prevent them from working. Dr Laman has found two genes,which belong to a group called F-box genes that are frequently mutated in breast tumours. F-box proteins modify other proteins, which changes how they behave. In this project, she will identify the many different types of mutations that occur in these two genes, using breast cancer cells grown in the lab and breast tumours donated by patients. Dr Laman will then identify which proteins are modified by the two F-box proteins she’s studying.

This will then help her to understand how mutations that occur in the two F-box genes change which proteins are modified, and ultimately what is going on inside the breast cancer cells that carry these mutations.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Laman’s research will help to understand how mutations in F-box genes might lead to breast cancer. This could lead to new ways to treat the disease, which improve the chances of survival for people with breast cancer.

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