Funded Investigators

Yue Xiong, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina

Mechanisms of Oncometabolites in Epigenetics and Cancer

α-KG is a small molecule that is normally found in the body that regulates the epigenetic control that plays an important role in controlling gene expression. Just as an air traffic controller is crucial to maintaining the orderly activity of planes at a busy airport, α-KG levels affect cancer growth.

Dr. Xiong and his colleagues have shown that the enzyme required to make α-KG is mutated in 20 percent of acute myeloid leukemias and 75 percent of secondary glioblastomas.

The researchers want to explore the affect that these mutations have on a pathway that is malfunctioning. They also want to investigate if mutations in other small molecules contribute to cancer by identifying those that inhibit α-KG development and identifying targets for these enzymes. This work should establish a collaboration with the Goodell group, since mutation in α-KG would also impact on the function of Dnmt3A, thus predicting the possible emergence of two targets for epigenetic therapy.