Prof. Varda Rotter, Department of Molecular Cell Biology
Prof. Varda Rotter is among the pioneers who discovered the p53 protein, and provided original insights for the understanding of the molecular and cellular biology of its function as a cancer hallmark. Most significant are her discoveries that mutant p53 has a gain-of-function activity in carcinogenesis, and that—through its transcriptional activity—mutant p53 renders tumor cells resistant to apoptosis, or programmed cell death. In her most recent work, Prof. Rotter identified how mutant p53 promotes the onset of colorectal cancer, through a mechanism that involves expansion of cancer stem cell sub-populations. In another recent project conducted together with Prof. Moshe Oren, she demonstrated how, by inducing binding activity with certain peptides, mutant p53 protein can be “re-educated”, and converted into a state that re-establishes p53’s normal tumor suppression activity.