Programmed cell death

Prof. Adi Kimchi, Department of Molecular Genetics

Programmed cell death is the principal mechanism by which cells are physically eliminated in our body. Cancer cells must turn off this internal system in order to proliferate. Prof. Kimchi’s lab is studying programmed cell death by proceeding from single-gene studies to a global network analysis. Her team’s initial point of entry into the complex signaling network that regulates and executes the various programmed cell death modules (apoptosis, autophagy, and programmed necrosis) is the DAPs (Death Associated Proteins). The team currently employs multiple approaches, including biochemistry and cell biology, proteomics-based strategies, 3D protein structure analysis, and advanced microscopy, to elucidate the functions of the individual DAPs and to map their positions within the cell-death network. In parallel, the group is developing systems level approaches based on RNAi-mediated combinatorial perturbations for identifying new principles delineating the structure/function organization of the entire molecular network underlying cell death. These strategies are currently being used by the group to overcome the problem of drug resistance in cancer patients.