Nuclear Receptor Program
(Orla Conneely, Ph.D., Leader;
Suzanne Fuqua, Ph.D., Co-Leader)
The nuclear receptor gene family encodes almost 50 structurally related ligand activated transcription factors, many of which play a key role in regulation of both normal tissue development and tumorigenesis. Among these, receptors for steroid hormones play a critical role in both reproductive development and the initiation and progression of prostate (androgen receptors), female reproductive and mammary cancers (estrogen and progesterone receptors). A growing number of non-steroid nuclear receptors have also been implicated in regulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell cycle and in the development of a variety of cancers including leukemias (RORg, nur77, nor-1), colon (PPARg) and bone cancer (nor-1).
Baylor College of Medicine is internationally recognized as a premier center of excellence in nuclear receptor biology with over 20 NIH-funded faculty devoted to dissecting the molecular mechanisms of action of nuclear receptors. Existing strengths include several active PO1's in areas of steroid receptors in cancer and the roles of nuclear receptors in organogenesis.
A major goal of the nuclear receptor effort is to develop an integrated program whose major theme is focused on dissecting the roles of both steroid and non-steroid nuclear receptors in molecular carcinogenesis. The program will formally integrate existing faculty strengths in mechanisms of action of nuclear receptors and will use functional genomic approaches to elucidate molecular genetic pathways regulated by non-steroid nuclear receptors in normal development and tumorigenesis.
During the planning phase, we will identify a subgroup of non-steroid nuclear receptors, which in addition to steroid receptors, will be our priority molecular targets within our studies of the molecular carcinogenesis.