The research focuses on understanding key molecular mechanisms in cancer, applying a combination of large-scale genomic approaches, focused mechanistic experiments and in vivo studies. The goal is to understand critical pathways so that we can define biomarkers of their activity and suggest better cancer treatments and preventive approaches.
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Each person’s cancer is unique and there is an urgent need for precision medicine, diagnostic tools and novel treatment approaches. Our research focuses on defining novel targets, biomarkers and assays and can help meet this need. By understanding critical molecular pathways and defining biomarkers indicative of their activity, we can contribute to better cancer treatments and preventive approaches. A particular focus is to understand how the hormone estrogen increases the risk and growth of breast cancer while simultaneously protecting against colorectal cancers. If we can clarify this mechanism, we would be able to design approaches that can better protect against cancer development, understand the impact that environmental or dietary estrogenic exposure has, and improve the treatment of breast cancer. Estrogenic signaling is mediated by the estrogen receptors, ERa and ERb. They are ligand-activated nuclear receptors and as such excellent therapeutic targets. Related to this, is the identification of molecular mechanisms involving microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, molecules with great potential as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets. These molecules are, to various extents, regulated by the estrogen receptors and are likely to contribute to the estrogenic effects, but this area remains to be explored. Previous work includes identification of the estrogen-regulated transcriptome and the roles of microRNAs in cell migration, with a focus on breast and colorectal cancer.
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Dissertations from the group:
Karin Edvardsson (2011) “Exploring the genome-wide impact of estrogen receptor alpha and beta in cancer cells” (Karolinska Institutet)
Eylem Aydogdu (2012) “Impact of microRNAs in mammary stem cell differentiation and breast cancer” (University of Houston)
Anne Katchy (2013) “Exploring estrogen receptor gene regulatory mechanism in breast cancer”(University of Houston)
Philip Jonsson (2014) “Transcriptional control of oncogenic processes in breast cancer cells by the estrogen receptors” (University of Houston)
Jun Wang (2015) “Characterizing tumor suppressive functions of microRNAs in breast cancer” (University of Houston)
Trang Nguyen-Vu (2015) “Defining anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic effects mediated by estrogen receptor beta in colorectal cancer” (University of Houston)
Fahmi Mesmar (2017) “Deciphering the molecular mechanisms of estrogen signaling in gastrointestinal tumors” (University of Houston)
Cecilia Williams, Group leader (KI and KTH)
Amena Archer, Lab manager (KTH)
Hakim Mohammed, Post doc (KTH)
Ahmed Ibrahim, Lab technician (KI)
Linnea Pettersson, PhD student (KI and KTH)
Rajitha Indukuri, PhD student (KI and KTH)
Madeleine Birgersson, MS student (KI)
Johanna Gebhard, BS student (Germany)
Berger AC, Korkut A, Kanchi RS, Hegde AM, Lenoir W, Liu W, Liu Y, Fan H, Shen H, Ravikumar V, Rao A, Schultz A, Li X, Sumazin P, Williams C, Mestdagh P, Gunaratne PH, Yau C, Bowlby R, Robertson AG, Tiezzi DG, Wang C, Cherniack AD, Godwin AK, Kuderer NM, Rader JS, Zuna RE, Sood AK, Lazar AJ, Ojesina AI, Adebamowo C, Adebamowo SN, Baggerly KA, Chen TW, Chiu HS, Lefever S, Liu L, MacKenzie K, Orsulic S, Roszik J, Shelley CS, Song Q, Vellano CP, Wentzensen N; Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network, Weinstein JN, Mills GB#, Levine DA#, Akbani R#. A Comprehensive Pan-Cancer Molecular Study of Gynecologic and Breast Cancers. (2018) Cancer Cell Apr 1 PMID: 29622464
Sandra Andersson, Mårten Sundberg, Nusa Pristovsek, Ahmed Ibrahim, Philip Jonsson, Borbala Katona, Carl-Magnus Clausson, Agata Zieba, Margareta Ramström, Ola Söderberg, Cecilia Williams#, Anna Asplund. Insufficient antibody validation challenges estrogen receptor beta research. (2017) Nature Communications 8:15840 PMID: 28643774
Cecilia Williams#, Alfredo DiLeo, Yaron Niv, Jan-Åke Gustafsson. Mini review: Estrogen receptor beta as target for colorectal cancer prevention. (2016) Cancer Letters 372:48–56. PMID: 26708506
Nguyen-Vu T, Wang J, Mesmar F, Mukhopadhyay S, Saxena A, McCollum CW, Gustafsson JÅ, Bondesson M, Williams C#. Estrogen receptor beta reduces colon cancer metastasis through a novel miR-205 - PROX1 mechanism. (2016) Oncotarget PMID:27283988
Jonsson P, Coarfa C, Mesmar F, Raz T, Rajapakshe K, Thompson JF, Gunaratne PH, Williams C#. Single-molecule sequencing reveals estrogen-regulated clinically relevant lncRNAs in breast cancer. (2015) Mol Endocrinol. PMID: 26426411
Chunyan Zhao#, Yichun Qiao, Philip Jonsson, Jian Wang, Li Xu, Pegah Rouhi, Indranil Sinha, Amirhossein Kharman-Biz, Yihai Cao, Cecilia Williams, Karin Dahlman-Wright. Insights into the invasiveness of triple-negative breast cancer from genome-wide profiling of transcription factor AP-1. (2014) Cancer Research 74:3983-94 PMID: 24830720.
Currently, Cecilia Williams also holds a part-time visiting professorship at the Department of Biosciences, KI.