Research interests

Our aim is to gain a profound understanding of the molecular basis of human liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma; HCC) on its way from chronic liver disease initiation to metastatic cancer progression, its functional dissection and the identification of novel preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic approaches. Within this field we concentrate on different aspects:
1) to identify and functionally characterize early key molecular events that promote or sustain liver cancer and thus may serve as markers for relevant functional tumor conditions or may unravel promising future targets for therapeutic intervention.
2) to understand the general and specific mechanisms of chronic liver disease induced by chronic Hepatitis B and C Virus (HBV, HCV) infection that predispose to or initiate the development of liver cancer which may lead to new preventive strategies.

In close collaboration with national and international groups we are currently analyzing:
- the impact of intracellular signalling-pathways on tumor cells and hepatocytes in the process of liver regeneration (Hippo- HGF-, TGFa-, and IGF-signalling).
- the therapeutic potential of small molecule inhibitors targeting heat shock proteins (HSPs).
- virus/host interaction during HBC/HCV infection focusing on viral replication and malignant transformation.
- the functional and immunmodulatory effects of transcriptional regulators in HCC cells (e.g., far upstream element (FUSE)-binding proteins (FBPs)).

Schematic representation of human hepatocarcinogenesis.


Methods applied

Array-based genomic, transcriptomic, epigenomic and miRNA profiling. Functional in vitro analyses using immortalized HCC cell lines as well as HBV-infectable and HCV-replicating cellular systems. Live-Cell-Imaging. Transient and stable expression of cDNA and siRNA/shRNA. Inducible liver-specific transgenic mouse models and heterotopic xenograft transplantation models.