Congratulations to Zuleika Pythoud for her successful thesis defence
On Friday Feb 2nd, 2018 Zuleika Pythoud successfully defended her thesis entitled “Mutational and Pharmacological Analysis of c-Kit mediated, Integrin-dependent Cell Spreading”
Zuleika joined the laboratory of Prof. Bernhard Wehrle-Haller in March 2013, where she studied the function of a cell surface receptor called c-Kit in cell adhesion and spreading. C-Kit is an important receptor of the tyrosine kinase receptor family (RTKs) that is critical for the survival and function of multiple types of stem cells, especially in the bone marrow, and it is mutated in several types of cancer. Zuleika used a combination of molecular, biochemical and microscopic techniques to generate several mutations into the c-Kit receptor, including cancer-associated mutations. This allowed her to identify key amino acids important for regulating c-Kit’s activation and adhesive properties, alone or in the presence of adhesion mediated by another type of molecule called integrins. In addition, Zuleika investigated how several drugs currently used in cancer therapies, such as imatinib, that inhibit RTKs, can also selectively affect certain c-Kit functions, while other activities are retained. These results, published in the FASEB Journal and in second manuscript in preparation, reveal not only new insights on the activation and function of c-Kit, they also uncover novel aspects of the mode of action of current anti-cancer pharmaceuticals. This knowledge can increase our understanding of why these drugs may succeed or fail, as well as help in the design of new, more effective therapies.
Wishing Zuleika all the best in her future endeavours!
Posted by: P. Nunes-Hasler15 February 2018