Professor Andreas Strasser

Details

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Division: Molecular Genetics of Cancer

Research Overview

Dr Strasser and his team are investigating the control of apoptosis, the cell death program essential for development and homeostasis. By using transgenic mice over-expressing the cell death inhibitor Bcl-2 and knock-out mice lacking one of its antagonists, they demonstrated that abnormalities in the control of apoptosis can cause autoimmune disease or cancer and render tumour cells refractory to anti-cancer therapy. Dr Strasser and his co-workers established that mammalian cells have two distinct signalling pathways leading to apoptosis, one triggered by ligation of cell surface "death receptors" and the other by certain developmental cues, cytokine deprivation or stress signals. Using genetically modified mice they could determine signalling mechanisms that are responsible for killing useless or potentially dangerous at the different checkpoints during lymphocyte development. Using biochemical and molecular biology techniques, Dr Strasser and his team discovered novel regulators that are essential for initiation of programmed cell death and showed that they function as sentinels for damage to various vital intra-cellular structures, such as the cytoskeleton. These discoveries have major implications for cancer research, developmental biology and immunology and suggest novel therapeutic strategies for tumours, autoimmunity and degenerative diseases.

Current research interests include identification of the signalling pathways that mediate developmentally programmed cell death in mammals and those that are responsible for chemotherapy-induced killing of cancer cells, with the goal to develop improved strategies for treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Research Interests

Selected Publications

  1. Strasser A, Harris AW, Bath ML, Cory S. Novel primitive lymphoid tumours induced in transgenic mice by cooperation between myc and bcl-2. Nature. 1990 Nov 22;348(6299):331-3 PMID: 2250704
  2. Strasser A, Whittingham S, Vaux DL, Bath ML, Adams JM, Cory S, Harris AW. Enforced BCL2 expression in B-lymphoid cells prolongs antibody responses and elicits autoimmune disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Oct 1;88(19):8661-5 PMID: 1924327
  3. Strasser A, Harris AW, Cory S. bcl-2 transgene inhibits T cell death and perturbs thymic self-censorship. Cell. 1991 Nov 29;67(5):889-99 PMID: 1959134
  4. Strasser A, Harris AW, Jacks T, Cory S. DNA damage can induce apoptosis in proliferating lymphoid cells via p53-independent mechanisms inhibitable by Bcl-2. Cell. 1994 Oct 21;79(2):329-39 PMID: 7954799
  5. Strasser A, Harris AW, Huang DC, Krammer PH, Cory S. Bcl-2 and Fas/APO-1 regulate distinct pathways to lymphocyte apoptosis. EMBO J. 1995 Dec 15;14(24):6136-47 PMID: 8557033
  6. Bouillet P, Metcalf D, Huang DC, Tarlinton DM, Kay TW, Köntgen F, Adams JM, Strasser A. Proapoptotic Bcl-2 relative Bim required for certain apoptotic responses, leukocyte homeostasis, and to preclude autoimmunity. Science. 1999 Nov 26;286(5445):1735-8 PMID: 10576740
  7. Bouillet P, Purton JF, Godfrey DI, Zhang L-C, Coultas L, Puthalakath, H, Pellegrini M, Cory S, Adams JM, Strasser A. BH3-only Bcl-2 family member Bim is required for apoptosis of autoreactive thymocytes. Nature. 2002 Feb 21; 415(6874):922-6. PMID: 11859372
  8. Villunger A, Michalak EM, Coultas L, Müllauer F, Böck G, Ausserlechner MJ, Adams JM, Strasser A. p53- and drug-induced apoptotic responses mediated by BH3-only proteins Puma and Noxa. Science. 2003 Nov 7; 302(5647):1036-8. Epub 2003 Sep 18. PMID: 14500851
  9. Puthalakath H, O’Reilly LA, Gunn P, Lee L, Kelly PN, Huntington ND, Hughes PD, Michalak EM, McKimm-Breschkin J, Motoyama N, Gotoh T, Akira S, Bouillet P, Strasser A. ER stress triggers apoptosis by activating BH3-only protein Bim. Cell. 2007 Jun 29; 129(7):1337-49. PMID: 17604722
  10. Kelly PN, Dakic A, Adams JM*, Nutt SL* and Strasser A*. Tumor growth need not be driven by rare 'cancer stem cells'. Science. 2007 Jul 20; 317(5836):337. (*joint senior authorship) PMID: 17641192

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Current Laboratory Members

Faculty Member: Andreas Strasser MSc Basel PhD Basel FAA

Senior Research Scientist: Lorraine O'Reilly BSc Glasgow PhD London

Postdoctoral Fellow: Gemma Kelly BSc(Hons) Durham PhD Birmingham

Postdoctoral Fellow:Stephanie Grabow MSc Max Planck

Research Assistant: Ann Lin BSc(Hons) Melb

Postgraduate Student: Alexis Delbridge BBiomedSc(Hons) Melb

Postgraduate Student: Francine Ke BSc(Hons) Melb

Postgraducate Student: Liz Valente BBiomedSc(Hons) LaTrobe

Undergraduate Student: Jun Ting Low BBiomedSc Melbourne