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About Me

In our laboratory, we investigate the molecular processes operating in and leading to generation of cancer cells (the process is known as a carcinogenesis), cancer progression, as well as mechanisms underlying the ability of tumor cells “to escape” the destructive impact of anticancer therapies used in clinics. Investigation of molecular basis of other severe age-related disorders, including devastating premature aging HGPS disease and neurodegenerative diseases, is also within our scope of interest.

E3 ubiquitin ligases and Cancer

Cancer is a multifaceted disease in which dysregulated gene-expression and other aberrant activities are crucial for neoplastic initiation and progression. One of the major mechanisms that regulates gene function is protein ubiquitination. This modification can impose diverse effects on proteins, ranging from proteolysis to modulation of protein structure, localization and function. Central to this evolutionary conserved pathway are the E3 ubiquitin ligases (E3s), which confer specificity to ubiquitination. Many E3s are encoded by tumor suppressors or oncogenes and make pivotal contribution to the pathogenesis of many cancers. Among the different types of E3s, HECT-type E3 ligases have been significantly less explored. Consequently, our knowledge of their substrates, biological functions and mechanisms of regulation in cancer is quite limited.

Our primary research objective is to delineate the spectrum of biological activities of a HECT-type E3 ligase Smurf2. Recently, we identified Smurf2 as a novel tumor suppressor gene (Blank M et al., Nature Medicine 2012). Our continued interest focuses on understanding the role that Smurf2 plays in the regulation of gene expression and cell growth, DNA damage response and repair, chromatin biology (epigenetics) and genomic integrity — intimately connected processes that are frequently compromised in cancer cells. Using a multidisciplinary approach spanning these areas, we are determined to shed light on the multifaceted role that HECT-type E3 ligases in general and Smurf2 in particular, play in cancer biology. We also will gain insight into the regulatory mechanisms governing Smurf2 biodistribution and functional activities.

Another research goal is to investigate the involvement of other HECT type E3 ligases in tumorigenesis, initially focusing on the NEDD4 protein family, members of which have the same domain organization as Smurf2, and potentially share intracellular substrates and pathways. By extensively studying Smurf2 and its homologues, we hope to learn how these molecules participate in normal and aberrant cellular processes. We believe such knowledge will provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer treatment.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Tel Aviv University

Mar 1999Mar 2003

Award Date: 1 Mar 2003

Master's Degree, Tel Aviv University

Sep 1996Oct 1998

Award Date: 1 Oct 1998

Bachelor

Sep 1991Sep 1995

Award Date: 1 Sep 1995

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