Douglas V. Faller, Director of Boston University Cancer Center
Cancer Center; Vice-Chairman, Division of Medicine
A major focus of our laboratory is the study of the basic molecular and cellular biology of virus- and oncogene-transformed cells and tumors. We are involved in determining the mechanisms by which retroviruses and their oncogenes cause tumors, through defining the ways in which oncogenes control host cell gene expression. A special interest of this laboratory involves viral regulation those cellular genes encoding proto-oncogenic molecules and cytokines. We are analyzing the molecular mechanisms by which oncogene-transformed cells become autonomous of growth factor requirements. This work involves the elucidation of growth-factor signal transduction pathways in normal and trans-formed mesenchymal and lymphoid cells, and study of the ways in which this signaling path-way is disrupted or circumvented in tumor cells. This work has resulted in new information regarding the transduction of growth factor signals by second messenger systems in both normal and transformed cells. My laboratory also studies the role of oncogenes in programmed cell death. A related area of his research is the interaction of retroviruses and the tumors they induce with cellular immune defense mechanisms. The means by which virus- or tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes, natural killer cells and monocytes recognize and destroy infected cells and tumors is under investigation, as are the molecular mechanisms by which tumors escape from immune surveillance. The mechanisms of aber-rant control of Class I Major Histocompatibility Antigen gene expression in oncogene-transformed cells, retrovirus-infected cells and naturally-occurring tumors are being deter-mined. A new transactivation property of murine leukemia viruses has been elucidated, which controls the expression of genes in the host cell important to the leukemogenic process. My laboratory also has a translational research program which develops molecular cancer therapeutics derived from his basic research, and tests them in clinical trials.