Cancer Metabolism and Third Messengers

Vincent Cryns, MD, is a physician-scientist who focuses on understanding how cancer cells adapt to and survive metabolic stress caused by their rapid growth. He and colleague Richard Anderson, PhD, lead a team of scientists together with who have discovered new signaling pathways (“third messengers”) in the nucleus of cells that protect tumor cells from cellular stress. 

Dr. Cryns in his lab.

Investigating 'Third Messenger' Pathways

Drs. Cryns and Anderson investigate how lipid second messengers typically associated with membranes modify the functions of proteins inside the nucleus of cells, so-called “third messenger” pathways. Our joint lab is the Third Messenger Lab.

One example of the third messenger pathway is the discovery that second messengers are linked to the p53 tumor suppressor protein to activate Akt in the nucleus and protect cells from dying, directly linking the p53 and Akt pathways for the first time.

Developing Cancer Treatments

The team has identified several new drug targets that regulate third messenger pathways and are developing drug inhibitors to treat cancer.

In addition, the team is actively identifying other nuclear proteins that are regulated by third messengers.

Image: p53 forms a complex with active Akt (red puncta) in the nucleus of the cell. DNA is labeled in blue and the nuclear envelope is green. Photo credit: Mo Chen, PhD.

The nucleus of a cell
Dr. Cryns in his lab with a research assistant.
Join Us!

The Cryns Lab is always looking for talented, highly motivated scientists at all levels. Please email a brief letter and your CV directly to Dr. Cryns.

Funding Support

Dr. Cryns' research is funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

closeup of a male scientist in white lab coat working in the lab

Help Us Transform Medicine

You can help support research by making a gift to the Department of Medicine's Excellence in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fund.