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The overarching goal of the Yeh Lab is to examine the relationship between cellular signaling and the regulation of cell biological processes in human disease. Research in the Yeh lab is currently focused on investigating the mechanisms that drive the etiology and progression of breast cancer in order to identify curative treatments for this disease.

We are particularly interested in elucidating how targeting protein kinase directed signaling impacts cell biological processes to become over-activated or under-activated, thereby resulting in a therapeutic effect. The Yeh Lab currently pursues this avenue of investigation by studying a novel AMPK-related protein kinase called Hormonally Up-regulated Neu-associated Kinase (HUNK) whose function we have determined to be critical in the etiology and progression of human breast cancer.

Studies from the lab have focused on HER2-positive (HER2+) as well as triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC), which predominantly manifest with over-activated Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR). As these breast cancer subtypes are significantly more aggressive than the Estrogen Receptor-positive (ER+) subtype of breast cancer, our studies implicate HUNK as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of the more aggressive breast cancers and in particular, those that have developed chemotherapeutic resistance to targeted inhibitors of EGFR/HER2. While these studies provided impetus for studying HUNK as a breast cancer target for pharmacological inhibition, HUNK’s intracellular functions are almost completely unknown. One of the interesting features about HUNK is the lack of substrate identification and the absence of chemical inhibitors that effectively target HUNK enzymatic activity.  The lab is working toward making significant strides in both of these gap areas.

Additional areas of interest include Connexin 43 biology and changes in N-glycan expression in breast cancer. Take a look at our recent publications.