Cell surface glycans play a major role in determining cell-cell interactions in the body. Tumor cells are commonly characterized by the expression of glycan epitopes not found on normal cells, or by the overexpression of specific glycans. In fact, some of our earliest work linked changes in glycan composition to tumor progression in esophageal cancer. In collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Fitzegerald’s lab, we identified glycan-based markers discriminating Barrett’s esophagus, an often benign condition, from Barrett’s dysplasia, 59% of patients with which go on to develop esophageal cancer (1).
Current work in our lab seeks to determine the roles glycans play in clinical settings. Beyond their functions as biomarkers, are glycans and their underlying enzymes good therapeutic candidates? We have taken a collaborative, integrative systems-biology approach to answer this question.
Our Areas of Focus
- Bird-Lieberman, E.L.; Neves, A.A.; Lao-Sirieix, P.; O’Donovan, M.; Novelli, M.; Lovat, L.B.; Eng, W.S.; Mahal, L.K.; Brindle, K.M.; Fitzgerald, R.C. Molecular imaging using fluorescent lectins permits rapid endoscopic identification of dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus. Nat. Medicine, 2012, 18, 315-21. doi: 10.1038/nm.2616
- Gaziel-Sovran, A; Segura, M.F.; Di Micco, R; Collins, M.K.; Hanniford, D.; Vega-Saenz de Miera, E.; Rakus, J.F.; Dankert, J.F.; Shang, S.; Kerbel, R.S.; Bhardwaju, N.; Yongzhao, S.; Darvishan, F.; Zavadil, J.; Erlebacher, A.; Mahal, L.K.; Osman, I.; Hernando, E. MiR-30b/30d regulation of GalNAc transferases enhances invasion and immunosuppression during metastasis. Cancer Cell, 2011, 20, 104-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2011.05.027
- Agrawal, P; Fontanals-Cirera, B.; Sokolova, E.; Jacob, S.; Vaiana, C.A.; Argibay, D.; Davalos, V.; McDermott, M.; Nayak, S.; Darvishian, F.; Castillo, M.; Ueberheide, B.; Osman, I.; Fenyö, D.; Mahal, L.K. ‡;; Hernando, E. ‡ A systems biology approach identifies FUT8 as a driver of melanoma metastasis. Cancer Cell, 2017, 31, 804-819. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2017.05.007 ‡ Co-corresponding authors
- Walker, M.R.; Goel, H.L.; Mukhopadhyay, D.; Chhoy, P.; Karner, E.R.; Clark, J.L.; Liu, H., Li, R.; Zhu, J.L.; Chen, S.; Mahal, L.K., Bensing, B.A.; Mercurio, A.M. O-linked a-2,3 sialylation confers stem cell properties in breast cancer. Science Advances, 2022, 8, eabj9513. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abj9513
- Kurz, E.; Chen, S.; Vucic, E.; Baptiste, G.; Loomis, C.; Agarwal, P.; Hajdu, C.; Bar-Sagi, D. ‡; Mahal, L.K. ‡ Integrated systems-analysis of the murine and human pancreatic cancer glycomes reveals a tumor promoting role for ST6GAL1. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 2021, 20, 100160. doi: 10.1016/j.mcpro.2021.100160
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The Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Program awards universities up to $10 million over seven years to support world‑renowned researchers and their teams to establish ambitious research programs at Canadian universities.
Located in beautiful Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the Chemistry Department at the UofA is renown for its active research. It is one of the best equipped and well funded departments in Canada.
It is a glycomic technology developed in the Mahal Lab, provide a rapid analysis of the glycome (1-3). These microarrays utilize immobilized carbohydrate-binding proteins at high spatial density to give specific information on the repertoire of glycans present.
miRNA can be used to identify glycosylation enzymes and their corresponding glycans that drive disease states.
At the UofA, you do not have to find a supervisor in order to apply. The department has a process in place for students to find a supervisor and join a research group once they arrive to start their program. However, it is recommended for applicants to contact chemistry faculty members whose areas of research are of interest to you. Information about requirements and how to apply can be found here.