Characterizing genomic alterations involving the MEN1 complex in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours

This study will aim to answer interesting questions arising from these observations using a mix of laboratory and bio-informatic analyses

Places available:

  • One Honours

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PNETs) arise from hormone-producing cells of the pancreas, such as the insulin and glucagon-producing cells. Current treatment of PNETs involves surgery, pharmacological therapies or peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). The 5-year survival of PNET patients varies according to whether the tumour has spread but may be as low as 30-40% for metastatic, unresectable disease. Therefore, we urgently need a better understanding of the causes of PNET, as this may help to develop better treatments. Genome sequencing studies have revealed that PNETs frequently harbour inactivating mutations in the MEN1 tumour-suppressor gene. MEN1 encodes a protein that is part of a protein complex that regulates gene transcription. It promotes methylation of histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4), an epigenetic histone mark that is associated with activation of transcription. At the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research, we have sequenced the tumour genomes of a cohort of PNETs. These tumours display novel MEN1-related genomic alterations that appear enriched within our cohort.

This Honours project will aim to answer interesting questions arising from these observations using a mix of laboratory and bio-informatic analyses. This exciting project has the potential to yield new insights that will grow our knowledge of MEN1 and PNETs that will benefit cancer patients.

Contact and more information

Dr Joep Vissers
joseph.vissers@unimelb.edu.au