V Scholar Plus Award – extended funding for exceptional V Scholars
Ewing sarcoma is the second most common bone cancer in children and is a very aggressive cancer with a rate of survival of only 60-70%. One important path to finding new treatments for this disease comes from the fact that all Ewing sarcoma cases have an abnormal fusion protein known as EWS-FLI1 which activates genes that drive the formation of tumors. In a prior study we characterized the genes that are activated by EWS-FLI1 in Ewing sarcoma and identified the kinase VRK1 as a promising new therapeutic target. We have also demonstrated that inactivation of VRK1 results in a strong reduction of Ewing sarcoma growth. In this proposal our goal is to characterize the role of VRK1 in Ewing sarcoma and to better understand the mechanisms that regulate its expression in these tumors. These experiments will validate the potential of VRK1 as a therapeutic target and will point to molecular pathways that account for its importance in this disease.