The Role of Cholinergic Signals in Cancer Biology


Assoc. Prof. ‪Özlen Konu

Dr. Ozlen Konu graduated from Middle East Technical University, Turkey, in 1987 with a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. Dr. Konu pursued her graduate studies in the Biology Department at Texas Tech University, USA, and received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1992 and 1999, respectively. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tennessee at Memphis, USA, during 2000-2002. Since September 2002, she is a faculty member at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University. Dr. Konu’s research interests include gene expression data analysis and meta-analysis with respect to cholinergic signaling as it applies to addiction and cancer, and comparative expression profiling using zebrafish model.


Cholinergic signals, endogenously by acetylcholine and exogenously by nicotine, act on nicotinic acetylcholine (nAChRs) receptors and may modulate cellular activity, proliferation and death. Although neuronal cholinergic signaling is well studied epithelial cholinergic signals and their role in cancer biology remain relatively unexplored. Understanding how sythesis and metabolism of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that degrades acetycholine, as well as presence/absence of nAChRs affect the cancer cell signaling can provide novel leads in cancer research and therapy. Herein Dr. Konu will present results obtained through in silico, in vitro and in vivo approaches on the role of cholinergic signals in cancer progression. Her group recently established a significant proliferative and prognostic role for CHRNA5, the alpha 5 subunit of the pentameric nAChRs, in breast cancer. Moreover, they have developed zebrafish xenograft models to test effects of microenvironment and novel drugs against liver cancer cells.

Date: April 14th, 2021 – 5:00 pm (GMT+3)

Language: English

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