Please join us on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 at University of Illinois at Chicago. Dinner starts at 6:30 PM with the seminar immediately following at 7:00 PM. Please be sure to register so our sponsors know how much food to order!  We hope you can join us! To register click here

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Title: Bioinformatic and Proteomic Tools to Profile the ECM Landscape of Normal and Diseased Tissues

Speaker: Dr. Alexandra Naba from University of Illinois at Chicago

Abstract:  The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a fundamental component of multicellular organisms that provides mechanical and chemical cues that orchestrate cellular and tissue organization andfunctions. Degradation, hyper-production or alteration of the composition of the ECM cause or accompany numerous pathologies such as musculo-skeletal and cardio-vascular diseases, cancers, and fibroses. Thus, a better characterization of ECM composition, metabolism, and biology can lead to the identification of novel prognostic and diagnostic markers and therapeutic opportunities. In the first part of my talk, I will describe our latest advances in bioinformatics and massspectrometry- based proteomics to define the in-silico and in-vivo “matrisome” of normal and diseased tissues. I will then discuss the results of our study aimed at characterizing the composition of poorly and highly metastatic mammary carcinoma that led to the identification of novel breastcancer- metastasis promoters. In the last part of my talk, I will discuss the upcoming release of the second version of the ECM Atlas, a compendium of proteomic data on the ECM of normal and diseased tissues.

About Dr. Naba: Dr. Alexandra Naba started her appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department ofPhysiology and Biophysics at University of Illinois at Chicago in October 2016. Alexandra received her Ph.D. from the Curie Institute in Paris, France where she studiedthe role of the membrane-cytoskeleton linker, ezrin, in normal and tumor cell adhesion. For her postdoctoral training, Alexandra joined the laboratory of Dr. Richard Hynes atMIT where she led a project aimed at understanding the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in tumor progression. The ECM is a requirement and defining characteristic ofmetazoan life. A handful of ECM molecules are known to make critical contributions to disease processes, but technical limitations have prevented a comprehensive analysis of this critical family of proteins. At MIT, Alexandra overcame these barriers and developed novel proteomics and bioinformatics approaches to study the molecular composition of the ECM, pioneering the field of “matrisomics”. Her work demonstrated striking differences in the matrisome of tumors of different metastatic potential and showed that distinct sets of ECM proteins could predict metastatic potential of primary tumors. Furthermore, she found that the differentially expressed ECM proteins are required for metastasis in mouse models, presenting the opportunity for novel interventions in cancer. Her work also suggests that application of “matrisomics” techniques will provide novel insights for other diseases. In 2016, Alexandra published the first draft of an ECM atlas compiling proteomics data from normal and diseased tissues ( Alexandra published 20 peer-reviewed publications and one patent, received numerous travel awards and invitations to speak at national and international conferences, and was awarded the 2012 JBC/Herb Tabor young investigator award for her seminal contributions to ECM biology. Since 2016, she serves as a member of the editorial board of Matrix Biology and since 2017, she serves on the council of the American Society for Matrix Biology. Alexandra’s current research interests are on 1) the role of a novel ECM protein, SNED1, in breast cancer metastasis and development, and 2) the development of novel proteomic and bioinformatic tools to facilitate ECM research.