Thomas W. Sturgill, MD, PhD

Thomas W. Sturgill, MD, PhD

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Signaling through the MAP kinase pathway

The Sturgill lab continues its studies of MAP kinase signaling pathways. The current focus is on the group of diverse enzymes activated by MAP kinases and called MAPKAP kinases (MAP kinase activated protein kinases). These include the RSK, the RSK like but nuclear MSK, the MNK, and the MAPKAP kinase 2 like groups. All of these have roles in cancer but have been understudied. RSK2 regulates the c-fos promoter and estrogen receptor function. The MSKs regulate gene transcription by phosphorylation of histones and transcription factors. MAPKAP kinase 2 is activated in stress responses, such as hypoxia within tumors, and regulates the stability of AU-rich mRNAs including VEGF. In the MK2 (-,-) mouse, macrophages are unable to secrete cachetin/tumor necrosis factor alpha. This work will be extended to breast cancer. With support from the Cancer Center, Dr. Carol Chrestensen of the Sturgill lab has obtained a DOD breast cancer fellowship to study the role of MAPKAP kinases in breast cancer.