Student NameJulia Steger
Faculty Mentor NameDaiqing Liao
CollegeCollege of Medicine
Research InterestsCancer, Biochemistry, Immunology
Academic AwardsAnderson Scholar with High Distinction, Dean's List
OrganizationsOperation Smile, Chomp Melanoma, Gator Pals
Hobbies and InterestsCooking, Traveling, Socializing

Research Project

Sterol Regulatory Element-Binding Protein 1 (SREBP1) Transcription Factor in Regulation of Lipid Production in Cancer Cells

Cancer cells preferentially utilize de novo lipogenesis to produce lipids to satiate the bioenergetic and synthetic demands of proliferating tumor cells juxtaposed to exogenous synthesis that is characteristic of normal cells. An ample supply of lipids is required for the rapid proliferation of cancer cells for cell membrane structure, energy storage, and signaling molecules production. As such, cancer cells may develop heightened dependence on intrinsic lipogenic machinery. Sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1) is a transcription factor in controlling lipid metabolism and serves as a vital link between cancer signaling and tumor lipogenesis. I started my research with Dr. Liao in 2018 and my specific project focuses on the activity of SREBP-1 under certain cell growth conditions such as in the presence or absence of external lipid supplies. We hypothesize that SREBP-1 has enhanced expression in the nucleus in the absence of an external supply of lipids.

I will utilize cell culture, transfection, and immunofluorescence microscopy to analyze SREBP1 intracellular localization and stability. In particular, I will examine the localization of SREBP1 in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM) in different conditions such as nutrient-rich juxtaposed to serum-free. We anticipate that SREBP1 will have reduced expression in cells with an ample supply of lipids. Ultimately, our goal is to determine the relationship between SREBP1 nuclear localization and cancer cells lipogenesis.

While detailed research has gone into how metabolic pathways effect oncogenic cell proliferation, the effects of cell culture medium on the up/down regulation of major lipogenic pathways such as SREBP1 pathway is just recently being studied. Understanding precise mechanisms that influence this oncogenic pathway may lead to therapy to impede tumorigenesis.