Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Plk1 in cancer metabolism"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2012 - DURI
Research area(s):
cell biology
Project Description:
New target-based approaches are urgently needed to manage metastatic prostate cancer (PCa). Genetic inactivation of the tumor suppressor PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10) is fairly common in castration-independent PCa and the resulting activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway provides a therapeutic opportunity for PCa treatment. Because the current available inhibitors directly targeting various members of this pathway have not been very successful in the clinical setting, identification of novel target(s) whose inhibition can specifically kill PCa cells with inactivating PTEN mutations is urgent. This target is called a synthetic lethal partner of PTEN. Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1), a regulator in the cell cycle, is overexpressed in PCa and is linked to higher tumor grades. Depletion of Plk1 leads to mitotic catastrophe in PCa cells, suggesting that inhibition of Plk1 might represent a rewarding approach in the treatment of metastatic PCa. We aim to understand how Plk1 regulates cancer cell metabolism as cancer cell uses glycolysis, instead of oxidative phosphorylation to make ATP to satisfy proliferation need. We will test how PLk1 phosphorylation of TSC1, a member of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, affects cellular metabolism
Expected Student Contributions:
Generate stable cells, perform various western blotting, cell culture, transfection and protein purificatioin
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
3.5 GPA or above
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 2 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Liu, Xiaoqi

Student Supervisor

XianZeng Hou
Graduate student

Cooperating Faculty

Ji-Xin Cheng
BME/ Engineer