Sara Musa Afaneh completes her Masters

sara musa graduation group

Sara Musa Afaneh completes her Masters

Congratulations Sara Musa Afaneh for successfully completing your Masters in Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biomedicine from UAB!

Sara joined us as a Masters student from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) to study epigenetic modifications in breast cancer. Now that she is a Masters graduate, we revisit the work she did at the lab.

Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an especially aggressive type of breast cancer that is resistant to many treatments.  A new finding called histone lactylation has been linked to cancer growth. Histones are proteins that DNA wraps around, and lactylation is a chemical change made to histones by lactate.

sara musa graduation

Lactate builds up from altered metabolism in cancer cells. Previous research found lower lactylation levels in aggressive TNBC cells versus other breast cancers. This suggests lactylation may correlate with cancer aggressiveness. Further study highlighted two players in this process – the LDHB enzyme and MCT1 transporter protein. LDHB converts lactate to pyruvate and was increased in TNBC cells, opposite to lactylation. MCT1 transports lactate in/out of cells and was found to negatively regulate lactylation. 

“My work focused on how LDHB location in cells together with MCT1 activity control lactylation levels. This metabolic interplay may explain the link between histone lactylation and cancer aggressiveness. Understanding these mechanisms could lead to new treatment approaches for aggressive breast cancers.” – Sara Musa
Sdelci Lab