Sara Zanivan

Sara Zanivan – Invited Speaker

Title talk: Using proteomics to explore the pro-invasive crosstalk between stromal and cancer cells

Dr. Sara Zanivan is group leader of the Tumour microenvironment lab and head of the Proteomic Facility at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. Sara received her PhD at the Candiolo Cancer Institute-IRCCS in Turin and carried out her post-doctoral training with Matthias Mann at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich. During her post-doc she learnt mass spectrometry-based technology and contributed to the SILAC mouse efforts and applied this technology for the first time to study phosphoproteomic changes associated to cancer progression. Her laboratory is focused on understanding the cross-talk between stromal and cancer cells using mass spectrometry-based approaches. Her group combines in vitro and in vivo models with quantitative proteomics to investigate the role of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in invasion in breast and ovarian cancers to identify molecular mechanisms through which CAFs create a pro-invasive tumour microenvironment, and explore the possibility of targeting these cells.

The tumour stroma is composed of many different cell types that work in concert to generate a microenvironment permissive to tumour initiation, progression and formation of metastasis. Cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are amongst the most abundant non-neoplastic cells in solid tumours and are unique for their capability to secrete a plethora of factors that alter the behaviour of cancer and stromal cells. Thus, CAFs play a key role in cancer pathology. We use quantitative MS-based proteomics to map the secretome of CAFs and identify the molecular mechanisms that underpin its pro-invasive functions. We have identified unprecedented mechanisms through which CAFs dictate tumour invasion. I will discuss some recently published and current efforts in understanding how to target CAF in cancer.