Cancer Institute

  • Anait S. Levenson

    levenson_anait.jpgProfessor, Department of Pathology
    Adjunct Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
    Tumor Cell Biology Program
    MD, Biophysics, Second Moscow State Medical Institute, Moscow, USSR, 1981
    PhD, Immunology, Institute of Tuberculosis, Moscow, USSR, 1989
    Postdoc, 1991-94, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
    Postdoc, 1994-98, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

    Contact information
    2500 N State St., Suite G758
    Jackson, MS 39216
    Phone: (601) 815-6072

    Research interests


    • MTA1-mediated genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in prostate cancer progression and metastasis
    • MTA1 and radioresistance
    • Prostate Cancer Disparity
    • MTA1-associated Epi-microRNAs
    • Nutritional chemopreventive and therapeutic applications in prostate cancer: novel epigenetic mechanisms of dietary stilbenes Dietary stilbenes and microRNAs
    • Resveratrol/analogues and nuclear receptors [estrogen receptor (ER) and androgen receptor (AR)]
    • Preclinical animal models in breast and prostate cancers and bone metastasis


    Research synopsis

    Identification of "bone metastatic signature" a few years ago allowed us to focus on selected candidate genes that hold promise as potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets of bone metastases. We have shown that one of these genes, metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1), which is a chromatin modifier, plays a critical role in prostate cancer progression by inhibiting apoptosis and promoting angiogenesis. We also have evidence that MTA1 can serve as an independent prognostic marker for aggressive prostate cancer, particularly in African American men.

    Currently, we aim to understand MTA1-mediated genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in prostate cancer pathogenesis. We have shown that MTA1/ HDAC1/2 inactivate tumor suppressors p53 and PTEN leading to inhibition of apoptosis and promotion of pAkt-mediated survival pathways. Using small interfering RNA technology, we have found that the loss of MTA1 decreases the proliferative and metastatic potential of cells in vitro and in vivo, particularly through mechanisms associated with the induction of apoptosis and reduction of angiogenesis.  In addition, the role of MTA1 in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and radioresistance in prostate cancer is of interest.  While working with already identified target candidates such as pAkt, HIF1-α, and e-cadherin, we are interested in identifying new potential MTA1-associated high-risk biomarkers. At the moment, we are analyzing our MTA1 ChIP-Seq data which identified about 33,000 direct MTA1-DNA binding peaks in the mouse genome. 

    Another major interest is potential chemopreventive and therapeutic efficacy of dietary agents such as resveratrol and its potent analogues in prostate cancer. We found that resveratrol/analogues inhibit MTA1 and rescue acetylation of tumor suppressors' p53 and PTEN. The novel MTA1-mediated epigenetic mechanism of action of dietary compounds is under intensive investigation with preclinical testing in my laboratory.

    We are also interested in another epigenetic regulatory network, which is represented by microRNAs and Epi-microRNAs.

    Selected publications

    • Dhar S, Kumar A, Li K, Tzivion G, Levenson AS. Resveratrol regulates PTEN/Akt pathway through inhibition of MTA1/HDAC unit of the NuRD complex in prostate cancer. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Molecular Cell Research). 1853:265-275, 2015
    • Kumar A, Dhar S, Rimando AM, Lage JM, Lewin JR, Zhang X, Levenson AS. Epigenetic potential of resveratrol and analogs in preclinical models of prostate cancer. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2015, Jul 27. Doi: 10.1111/nyas.12817 [Epub ahead of print]
    • Levenson AS, Kumar A, Zhang X. MTA family of proteins in prostate cancer: biology, significance, and therapeutic opportunities. Cancer Metastasis Reviews. 33:929-942, 2014
    • Li K, Dias SJ, Rimando AM, Dhar S, Mizuno CS, Penman AD, Lewin JR and Levenson AS. Pterostilbene acts through metastasis-associated protein 1 to inhibit tumor progression and metastasis in prostate cancer", PLoS ONE.8:e57542, 2013   
    • Dhar S, Hicks C and Levenson AS  Resveratrol and prostate cancer: promising role for microRNAs. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.  55: 1219-1229, 2011
    • Kai L,Wang J, Ivanovic M, Chung Y-T, Laskin WB, Schulze-Hoepfner F, Mirochnik Y, Satcher RL, Levenson AS Targeting prostate cancer angiogenesis through metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1). The Prostate. 71:268-280, 2011
    • Kai L, Samuel SK, Levenson AS  Resveratrol enhances p53 acetylation and apoptosis in prostate cancer by inhibiting MTA1/NuRD complex. Int J Cancer. 126:1538-48, 2010 (Cover art, April 1)