MELK in cell cycle regulation, cancerogenesis and wound healing

Author(s): Lukasz Szymanski

Objective: In our laboratory, we work on the role of MELK kinase in the cell cycle regulation, cancerogenesis and wound healing. MELK plays important and complex roles in these processes as well as in the functioning of the cytoskeleton and to gene regulation. One of most important function is the control of the cell proliferation. For this reason, we are interested in the role of this protein in cancerogenesis and in the wound healing. Methods: We analyze effects of silencing or overexpression of MELK and effects of mutant protein expression in cells. We also analyze the effects of MELK silencing on wound healing in vivo. Key findings: The MELK overexpression in normal healthy skin fibroblasts slows down their proliferation indicating that, contrary to previous data, MELK inhibits and not stimulates cell cycle machinery. We are currently analyzing effects of MELK knock out using CRISPER/Cas 9 method in normal skin fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Silencing of MELK in vivo results in faster wound healing, however non-specific siRNA is even more effective. Conclusions: Any major equilibrium disorder of MELK expression can affect the proliferation rate in cells. Experimentally modified levels of MELK may be useful for eventual induction of the accelerated wound healing and the tumor regression via modification of the rate of cell proliferation.