Genomics and Proteomics
Enigmatic MELK: The controversy surrounding its complex role in cancerThe Ser/Thr protein kinase MELK (maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase) has been considered an attractive therapeutic target for managing cancer since 2005. Studies using expression analysis have indicated that MELK expression is higher in numerous cancer cells and tissues than in their normal, nonneoplastic counterparts. Further, RNAi-mediated MELK depletion impairs proliferation of multiple cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), and these growth defects can be rescued with exogenous WT MELK, but not kinase-dead MELK complementation.
High-throughput Functional Genomics Identifies Regulators of Primary Human Beta Cell ProliferationThe expansion of cells for regenerative therapy will require the genetic dissection of complex regulatory mechanisms governing the proliferation of non-transformed human cells. Here, we report the development of a high-throughput RNAi screening strategy specifically for use in primary cells and demonstrate that silencing the cell cycle-dependent kinase inhibitors CDKN2C/p18 or CDKN1A/p21 facilitates cell cycle entry of quiescent adult human pancreatic beta cells. This work identifies p18 and p21 as novel targets for promoting proliferation of human beta cells and demonstrates the promise of functional genetic screens for dissecting therapeutically relevant state changes in primary human cells.