Dr. Hector Franco, Assistant Professor of Genetics and Member, Lineberger Cancer Center was awarded one of only four breakthrough grants issued this round from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.
The three-year project, titled “Mechanisms of Non-coding Enhancer RNA Function in Triple Negative Breast Cancer” is based on preliminary data that demonstrates that improper eRNA function can lead to uncontrolled gene expression allowing cells to escape regulated cell growth, leading to cancer initiation and progression. The objective is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which eRNA-producing enhancers control global patterns of gene expression to regulate biological outcomes in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). To test the hypothesis that eRNAs act locally at the enhancer from which they originate, functioning as a scaffold for assembling components of an active enhancer complex, the project focuses on three specific aims: Aim1: Examine the functions of transcribed versus non-transcribed enhancers in TNBC. Aim 2: Systematically determine the functions and target genes of eRNA producing enhancers using high throughput epigenetic silencing in single cells. Aim 3: Determine the molecular mechanisms and biological consequences of eRNA function in TNBC.