Anton Wellstein


Professor Oncology & Pharmacology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center


Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC)


My laboratory has been centered around angiogenesis factors released from tumor cells as molecularly defined therapeutic targets. We have purified a novel heparin-binding polypeptide growth factor (pleiotrophin, PTN) from supernatants of breast cancer cells and cloned the respective genomic and cDNA. The respective protein is secreted from different human tumor cells, is expressed in a number of primary human tumors (breast, prostate and lung cancer and melanoma), and can function as an angiogenesis factor. Since this gene is normally only expressed at appreciable levels during embryonal development, we have been interested in the mechanisms depression during the malignant process and have charactered different promoter and enhancer elements as regulators of the gene. In addition, we have generated different cell lines overexpressing the pleiotrophin gene to obtain defined targets for in vitro and in vivo studies of drugs that inhibit this gene product and have targeted the transcript with ribozymes. Finally, we have generated sufficient amounts of recombinant pleiotrophin protein to characterize signal transduction and clone a candidate receptor cDNA by expression screening.

In addition to this gene product, we have engaged in an extensive series of studies on another gene that modulates fibroblast growth factor activity; FGF-BP. We studied transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation, biological function, tissue-specific expression during development and carcinogenesis as well as in a series of diseased states in mouse and human. The laboratory applies numerous different molecular techniques involving DNA, RNA as well as proteins in mammalian and other eukaryotic cells, including extensive cell biology, protein and RNA detection in cells and tissues, gene cloning, regulation and expression studies. Cellular or animal models of development/differentiation and diseases, human tissue or bodily fluid samples from patients are used. PhD students in the laboratory would be able to chose the appropriate technique to answer the question being asked in their research.