Lukasz Bugaj, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and IRM faculty member, is the lead author on a paper published in Science that examines the impact of cancer mutations and drugs on signal pathways, specifically the Ras-Erk pathway. Read the full paper here.

This paper was featured in a Perspective piece by Walter Kolch, M.D. and Christina Kiel, Ph.D., which you can read here.

Optogenetic profiling of cancer cells reveals perturbed signal transmission dynamics that can drive improper proliferation. Optogenetic stimulation of Ras allows precise profiling of the fidelity of Ras-Erk pathway signaling in normal and cancer cells. We found that cancer cells with certain BRAF mutations have dramatically altered signal transmission dynamics compared with normal cells. These altered dynamics lead to a loss of temporal input resolution, so that the cancer cell may now misinterpret nonproliferative pulsatile input patterns as a trigger to proliferate.

Bugaj, L. J., A. J. Sabnis, A. Mitchell, J. E. Garbarino, J. E. Toettcher, T. G. Bivona, and W. A. Lim. 2018. “Cancer Mutations and Targeted Drugs can Disrupt Dynamic Signal Encoding by the Ras-Erk Pathway.” Science 361 (6405) (Aug 31,): eaao3048. doi:10.1126/science.aao3048.