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MORALES LAB

The Morales lab is investigating the mechanism(s) by which glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) become therapy resistant and invasive.Patients with GBM have a poor 5-year survival rate of 4-10% due to development of therapy resistance and cancer cells metastasizing to inoperable areas of the brain.Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop novel therapies that can combat resistance and/or metastasis.The Morales lab uses mouse models, reporter cell lines, synergetic survival protocols, invasion and motility assays, and molecular biology techniques to discover weak points in cancer therapy resistance and metastasis.

DNA Repair: Cancer cells often have heightened DNA repair capabilities to circumvent toxic therapies.The Morales lab is interested how cancer cells can up regulate DNA repair efficiencies, in particular DNA double stranded break (DSB) repair capacities during cancer progression and cancer treatment.

Invasion: Metastasis is a multi-step process and is often the source of relapsed disease.Even though brain metastatic growths rarely occur in other organs, cancer cells have a high propensity of invading into other areas of brain.Invasion is the initial step of metastasis.The Morales lab is interested in discovering novel molecular targets of invasion.

XRN2: From his post-doctoral training, Dr. Julio Morales found that XRN2, a 5’-3’ exoribonuclease is required for cancer cell survival during DNA damaging events.  XRN2 is classically associated with transcription termination, specifically resolving DNA:RNA hybrids (R-loops).  The Morales lab has found that XRN2 is required for the efficient repair of DSB lesions and that loss of XRN2 either through genetic knockdown or chemical inhibition sensitizes cancer cells to conventional therapeutics.  Recently, the Morales lab has found that XRN2 regulates a pro-metastatic program in GBMs

Keywords: DNA repair, DNA double stranded breaks, XRN2, metastasis, invasion, brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, R-loops, DNA:RNA hybrids, transcription

Principal Investigator

Julio C. Morales, PhD.: Dr. Julio Morales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.He went to the University of Texas at Austin for his undergraduate degree. As an undergraduate, Dr. Morales joined Dr. George B. Kitto’s lab in trying to develop ELISA assay to quantitate infestation in grain stores.He also participated in developing immuno assay for detecting HIV in patient samples.Dr. Morales then went to the University of Texas Health Science Center for his graduate degree.There he joined Dr. Phillip B. Carpenter’s group investigating 53bp1 and DNA repair.For his post-doctoral training, he joined Dr. David A. Boothman’s laboratory at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he found his interest in connecting transcription and DNA repair.


Link to his faculty page

https://medicine.ouhsc.edu/Academic-Departments/Neurosurgery/Research/Research-Faculty-and-Staff/julio-morales-phd

Lab Members

Tuyen T. Dang, PhD.: Dr. Tuyen Dang is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Morales Lab.She received her undergraduate training at Oregon State University.As an undergraduate, Dr. Dang conducted research in Dr. Christopher Mathews investigating DNA methylation and mutagenesis rates.She then went to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and got her graduate degree while in Dr. Gray W. Pearson’s lab.Her thesis project was determining the mechanism of breast cancer invasion.As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Dang is interested in discovering new molecular regulators of GBM invasion.

Link to her staff page

https://medicine.ouhsc.edu/Academic-Departments/Neurosurgery/Research/Research-Faculty-and-Staff/tuyen-t-dang-phd



Morales Contacts

Twitter handle: @lab_morales

Publications:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1Xehsqk4Dc857/bibliography/public/

Email: Julio-Morales@ouhsc.edu