Kermit L. Carraway
- Professor & Former Chairman
Research Interests include: membrane mucins, glycoproteins, epithelial biology, cancer biology, and receptor tyrosine kinase signaling.
Dr. Carraway's primary research effort has been concerned with the role of cell surface glycoproteins in mammary cancer, focusing on a particular glycoprotein complex (MUC4) that his laboratory discovered about 25 years ago. This complex has both mucin- and growth factor-containing subunits
that can potentially contribute to loss of adhesiveness and autonomous growth in cancer cells. MUC4 has been implicated in tumor metastasis. His lab demonstrated that MUC4 can act as an intramembrane ligand for the tyrosine kinase growth factor receptor ErbB2/HER2/Neu. Binding of MUC4 to ErbB2 potentiates tyrosine phosphorylation of the receptor and its co-receptor ErbB3 to activate the Erk and PI3-kinase pathways associated with tumor progression. Moreover, MUC4 can also direct the localization of ErbB2 to the apical surfaces of polarized epithelial cells, thus sequestering it from its heterodimer partner ErbB3. Thus, MUC4 can act as a modulator for the ErbB2 switch which regulates cell fate between differentiation and proliferation.
The Carraway team is currently investigating the effects of this receptor modulation on downstream signaling pathways and cellular functions. Recently, they have found that MUC4 overexpression potentiates both primary tumor growth due to reduced apoptosis and metastasis when melanoma tumor cells are injected into nude mice. These and other results suggest that MUC4 acts as a “tumor progressor” gene rather than a primary oncogene. The dual activities of MUC4 as an anti-adhesive and ligand for ErbB2/HER2 also suggest that MUC4 may play a role in breast cancer resistance to the therapeutic antibody Herceptin. Thus, MUC4 might serve as a future target for prognosis and therapies in breast cancer.
1968 Research Associate
University of California
University of Illinois
Mississippi State University
Dr. Kermit L. Carraway, Ph. D., is former Department chair (1981-97) and currently a Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at University of Miami (UM). He was previously Co-Program Leader of the UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics Program. Dr. Carraway served as graduate program director for Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology program (2003-05) and has contributed to organization and teaching of lectures in Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences course (99-04), Tumor Biology course (2000-05), and Developmental Biology course (04-05). He has mentored a number of K01 awardees and he developed and coordinated (2000-2003) the Tumor Cell Biology course. Dr. Carraway's research has investigated the mammary gland and mammary cancer for over 30 years and he has published extensively in the fields of membrane biochemistry, epithelial cell biology and mammary cancer.