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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Faculty Member is Author of Published Paper in Open-Access Cancer Research Journal

Allison Land, assistant professor of biology, is first author of paper published in Oncotarget.

2015-11-09
Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 11-9-2015

Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato faculty member Allison Land, an assistant professor of biology, is the first author of a recently published research paper in Oncotarget, an open-access cancer research journal.

The paper, titled “Degradation of the cancer genomic deaminase APOBEC3B by SIV Vif” was published in the Oct. 31 edition of Oncotarget.

Land (pictured), who earned her doctorate from the University of Manitoba in 2009, completed her research while a post-doctoral researcher in the Harris Lab at the University of Minnesota. She worked in the lab of Reuben Harris, professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics.

Land joined Minnesota State Mankato as a faculty member in August 2015, and the research paper – published this month – references her current professional address. Land is continuing her research at Minnesota State Mankato, where she has both undergraduate and graduate students working in her lab.

In the paper, Land and her research group show a way to counteract a human cancer-causing protein (called APOBEC3B) in our own cells through the protein Vif from a virus called SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), which is related to HIV but infects monkeys instead of people.

Land said that determining how the SIV protein can best be modified and delivered to cancer patients and how this treatment would best fit in with current therapeutics are research questions not yet answered.

Land described her team’s research as follows: “Damage to our DNA genomes can lead to cancer. We know about some environmental causes of this damage - for example, UV/sun exposure. But sometimes when there is genome damage in cancer, we do not know what caused it. Recently (2013) I was part of a group that identified a human protein in our own cells called APOBEC3B that could cause genome damage. High levels of this protein have since been correlated with poor outcomes for breast cancer patients, and growing evidence suggests that APOBEC3B could be an important source of damage in other cancers, such as bladder, cervical, head/neck, lung, and ovarian cancers.

“So what can we do about it? We can protect ourselves from sun damage with sunscreen, but how can we protect ourselves from one of our own proteins?

“To try to figure this out, I took advantage of viral evolution. APOBEC3B and related proteins are part of our immune response to viruses, such as HIV. HIV can infect us, so that means it has figured out a way to outsmart these proteins. It does this by counteracting them with its own protein, called Vif. It turns out HIV Vif cannot counteract APOBEC3B in our cells, but in this paper, I show that a Vif from a related virus – SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus – it infects monkeys instead of people) can counteract APOBEC3B.”

For more information, contact Allison Land, assistant professor in Minnesota State Mankato’s Department of Biological Sciences, by phone at 507-389-1349 or by email at allison.land@mnsu.edu.

The Department of Biological Sciences is part of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology at Minnesota State Mankato.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,193 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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