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Molecular & Cellular Biology
Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Angiogenesis, Neutralizing antibody, YKL-40, Cancer, Radiotherapy, Flk-1
A new concept quickly gaining ground in the field of cancer research is that the inflammatory process plays a key role in cancer development and metastasis; however, the molecular mechanisms of such an involvement in cancer progression remain largely unspecified. YKL-40, also known as human cartilage glycoprotein 39, is a secreted heparin-binding protein with ties to both cancers and inflammatory disease. In these diseases, YKL-40 has been suggested to play a role in regulating tissue and extracellular matrix remodeling. It has been found that in certain cancers, including breast, colorectal and brain, that high YKL-40 serum levels correlate with poor outcome, and consequently it may serve as a biomarker. Our recent study has shown that tumor-derived YKL-40 acts as an angiogenic factor due to its ability to up-regulate vessel formation and metastasis during tumor development. However, blockade of the function of YKL-40, which implicates therapeutic value, has not been explored yet.
The goal of this project was to better understand the importance of tumor-derived YKL-40 in angiogenesis through both functional and structural studies. By establishing a monoclonal YKL-40 antibody for blocking YKL-40, the function of tumor-derived YKL-40 in inducing endothelial cell angiogenesis and tumor cell survival was uncovered, confirming YKL-40's importance in tumor signaling as well as offering evidence in the benefit of its neutralization. Additionally, a postulated heparin-binding domain on YKL-40 was mutated in hopes of revealing the relevance of this binding ability on YKL-40's function and whether this could serve as a target in inhibiting YKL-40 signaling.