Cancer Institute

  • Keli Xu

    xu_keli.jpgAssistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology & Anatomical Sciences
    Tumor Cell Biology Program
    PhD, Biochemistry, 2001, Rutgers University
    Postdoc, 2001-06, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

    Contact information
    2500 N State St., Room G757
    Jackson, MS 39216

    Research interests

    • Notch signaling pathway in mammary development and breast cancer
    • Notch activation in lung development and lung cancer
    • Fringe proteins

    Research synopsis

    Breast cancers are heterogeneous at clinical and molecular level. Different subtypes of breast cancer may have different cells of origin within mammary epithelial hierarchy. Notch signaling controls mammary epithelial cell fate decision and differentiation. Thus genetic dissection of Notch pathways in normal and oncogenic mammary development may provide insights into intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer. We previously revealed that Lunatic Fringe (Lfng), a glycosyltransferase that modifies Notch receptors and modulates Notch activation, can regulate mammary stem/progenitor cell activity, and Lfng deficiency cooperates with the Met/Caveolin amplicon to induce basal-like breast cancer. We are currently investigating roles of Manic Fringe (Mfng)-dependent Notch signaling in the pathogenesis of Claudin-low breast cancer.

    Notch signaling coordinates a series of events during lung development, including proximodistal fate generation and branching, proximal airway cell fate specification, and alveologenesis. In this regard, we have found that Jagged1 is the major regulator of Notch-dependent cell fate in proximal airways, and that Lfng-dependent Notch signaling is required for alveologenesis. Notch also plays complex roles in lung carcinogenesis, with the cellular (SCLC vs NSCLC) and microenvironmental (hypoxia) context profoundly affecting tumor cell response to Notch activation. We are interested in identifying Notch pathway genes as biomarker and therapeutic targets for lung cancer.

    Recent accomplishments and honors

    • 2003-06 - Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Fellowship

    Selected publications