IMAGE: This is cancer researcher Dr. Sjoerd van Wijk. view more
An effective regulation of programmed cell death is crucial for the correct development of embryos, a working innate immune system, and the prevention of cancer. How cells control the switch between cell survival and death, and which signalling pathways are involved, remain unclear. Proteins that interact with death receptors in these signalling pathways are often marked with various forms of ubiquitin chains, such as linear (M1) and K63-linked polyubiquitin chains. Deubiquitinating enzymes, which specifically break down ubiquitin chains, play a central role in the regulation of these chains, death receptor signalling, and cell fate.
“In our project, we want to investigate the network of M1-deubiquitinating enzymes and interactions with death receptor signalling in mammalian cells in order to understand the fundamental role of the ubiquitin in cell death or survival,” explains Sjoerd van Wijk, group leader at the Institute of Experimental Cancer Research in Pediatrics. The ultimate goal is to understand human diseases, in particular how cancer develops and spreads, and how cells protect themselves against invasive bacteria.
In his research group, van Wijk pursues multidisciplinary approaches using state-of-the-art technology. Through collaborations with Dr.