• Project Title: Understanding Ikaros in Leukemia

  • BASIS Advisor: Mr. Barnes

  • Internship Location: UC San Francisco

  • Onsite Mentor: Dr. Hilde Schjerven

In young children and adolescents, the cancer that is most often diagnosed is leukemia, the cancer of blood-forming tissues. Research shows there are often multiple factors that contribute to the development of leukemia, including Ikaros, a very important transcription factor that regulates the expression of genes. If Ikaros is mutated, then the regulation of transcribing the “right” genes will be gone and the cell cannot read the correct instructions in the DNA. My project will analyze if Ikaros’s effect on the RNA level translates to the protein level on the cell surface. By studying transcriptional regulation in the Schjerven lab, I can better understand underlying mechanisms that contribute to the growth of leukemia. This is important because proteins play an important role in cell signaling, which can provide a growth advantage to the cancerous cells if given the wrong signal. To test this, I will compare the effect of protein expression in normal Ikaros and Ikaros mutant cells to understand the influence the Ikaros gene has. I hypothesize that most of the genes repressed by Ikaros, when translated will be growth advantage proteins, and only a few being proteins. I hope to contribute to the long-term goal of targeted therapy (targeting specific genes/proteins to stop the growth of cancer) using the results of my project to showcase specific proteins that have been shown to block receptors for cancer growth.