Edward T. Kipreos

Creative Research Medal 2005

Edward T. Kipreos studies the cell cycle, a research area that has important implications for understanding cancer. In the past five years, Dr. Kipreos’ research team has published three papers in top-tier journals that report significant breakthroughs in understanding how fundamental cell cycle processes are regulated. These processes include control of DNA replication, chromosome condensation, sorting of chromosomes to daughter cells and initiation of a new cell cycle.

Using the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system, his research team identified a protein family called cullins that mark other proteins for degradation by attaching a molecular “flag.” Cullins found in C. elegans are essentially the same as those found in humans. In humans, three different cullins are linked to cancer development. The Kipreos group discovered that cullin-4 ensures that a cell’s DNA is not copied more than once in each cell cycle. But when cullin-4 is inactivated, cells repeatedly copy DNA up to 50 times higher than normal. In humans, cells that replicate DNA too often may either become cancerous or die.

The Kipreos lab has been awarded more than $3 million from NIH and the American Cancer Society to support research on the cullin gene family. Their work has been published in top journals including Cell,Nature, Nature Cell Biology and Development and was highlighted in a Nature “News and Views” article.