Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"CPIP: Landscapes of DNA methylation profile in liver cancer cells upon exposure to dietary polyphenols and their relevance in cancer prevention"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Full-Year 2016 - CPIP
Research area(s):
Cancer epigenetics and Nutriepigenomics
Project Description:
Epigenetic mechanisms have been studied for their role in several diseases, especially cancer. Particularly, DNA methylation patterns provide insight to the activation and silencing of certain genes. Hypermethylation has been found to have a silencing effect on tumor suppressor genes and hypomethylation leads to activation of oncogenes and pro-metastatic genes. To reverse these changes in the DNA methylation patterns occurring in cancer, dietary polyphenols are hypothesized to target gene transcription with abnormal qualities such as hypermethylation and hypomethylation. The use of polyphenols would be of special interest in liver cancer due to the late diagnosis and grim prognosis given to liver cancer patients and based on our previous study indicating a strong epigenetic component in the development of the disease. Liver cancer is one of the most deadly cancers and is becoming more prevalent especially with rising rates of obesity and diabetes, one of the risk factors for liver cancer. Using high throughput state-of-the-art technology, the epigenetic effects of the blueberry polyphenol, pterostilbene, in liver cancer prevention and treatment will be determined. This project has the potential to show the general public how dietary compounds can play an important role in cancer prevention, treatment, and overall health.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern would be involved in isolating RNA and DNA from liver cancer cells and normal primary hepatocyte cell culture treated with pterostilbene; processing samples for genome-wide DNA methylation analysis by Illumina 450K; assessing DNA methylation of candidate genes by pyrosequencing; establishing expression of candidate genes by QPCR; performing functional analyses such as cell growth, invasion and soft agar assays. He/she will participate in data analyses including processing genome-wide data in GenomeStudio software; creating charts in Excel and presentation in ppt; discussing the results and writing a manuscript/report.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Min. GPA 3.0 High Motivation for research work
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 4 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Stefanska, Barbara
nutrition science

Student Supervisor

Barbara Stefanska
Assistant Professor

Cooperating Faculty

Sophie Lelievre
Basic Medical Sciences