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The Space-Time Relativity of Intracellular Signaling

Oct. 4, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study lymphocytes, the body’s “natural killer” cells, and determine the signaling pathways that elicit disease-fighting responses at a cellular level in the body.

Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology, and an investigator at the Blood Research Institute, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, is the primary investigator of the grant.

The organization of signaling events in lymphocytes is not well understood. Hundreds of signaling molecules “share” information that results in cellular functions, but the precise mechanisms that coordinate that response remain an enigma.

Scaffolding proteins, which are crucial regulators of signaling pathways, provide part of the explanation. In this research project, Dr. Malarkannan will explore the role of a specific scaffolding protein called IQGAP1, which is hypothesized to function as a processing center, controlling multiple signaling pathways.

The ultimate goal of Dr. Malarkannan’s laboratory research is to specifically augment the cytotoxic potentials of human lymphocyte cells and utilize that potential to eliminate cancerous tumors in patients.

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