Melissa McDowell's Research

I am interested in studying the role of mammary stem cells in the development and metastasis of breast cancer. In the Van de Walle lab I culture horse and dog mammary stem cells in parallel because while dogs get mammary cancer similarly to humans, horses have an incredibly low incidence of the disease. Through this comparison I can determine which factors may contribute to the susceptibility and resistance of breast cancer. I also study a family of enzymes known as PADs (peptidylarginine deiminase) that citrullinate arginine residues and have been implicated in immune and inflammatory diseases. These enzymes have been shown to be upregulated in human breast cancer and may also play a role in mammary cancer in dogs and cats. By studying their localization and effect on downstream oncogenes, I hope to identify new therapeutic targets.

PAD4 expression in feline mammary adenocarcinoma cells