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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Alissa  Weaver

Alissa Weaver, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Cancer Biology, Pathology

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
2220 Pierce Avenue
448 Preston Research Building
Nashville, TN 37232-6840
Fax: 615-936-2911

Research Specialty

cancer invasion, membrane trafficking, cytoskeleton, systems biology, secreted exosomes, extracellular RNA

Research Description

Cancer metastasis--the spread of cancer cells to distant organs--is what kills the majority of cancer patients. In order for cells to metastasize, they must acquire an invasive and motile phenotype, degrading and moving through tissue barriers. In addition, they must be able to survive and grow at distant sites in the body. The Weaver laboratory studies all aspects of this process. We are particularly focused on how secretion of small extracellular vesicles called exosomes from cells promotes aggressive, invasive behavior and facilitates tumor growth and metastasis. Specific projects include: 1) Induction of invasive protrusion formation and exosome secretion by deregulated signaling; 2) The role of exosome secretion in tumor progression; and 3) Trafficking of RNAs in cancer exosomes.

Figure 1: Breast cancer cell stained with rhodamine-phalloidin to reveal filamentous actin (left panel) at sites of invasion into fluorescent basement membrane (middle panel: FITC-fibronectin). Right panel: merge of images.

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