Karen Cowden Dahl

Karen Cowden Dahl

Gene Regulation in Ovarian Cancer


Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine South Bend, Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine South Bend, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame
Research Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of New Mexico
Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology (Cell growth and Cancer), University of Pennsylvania
B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Texas Tech University

Research Interests

Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women in the US. The vast majority of women (>70% in the US) diagnosed with ovarian cancer have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis (the tumor has spread or metastasized). For these women the survival rates are less that 25%. Importantly ovarian cancer is >90% curable if detected early (prior to metastatic spread). Unfortunately at this point in time we do not have a good understanding of ovarian cancer at the molecular level. The goal of my laboratory is to study the molecules that are important in promoting ovarian cancer progression. In particular I want to determine how a tumor “learns” how to metastasize so that we can better prevent, diagnose, and treat ovarian cancer.

One of the molecules involved in ovarian cancer progression is the epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR is overexpressed in at least 70% of ovarian cancer. Its expression correlates with poor survival rates. Over the past few years I have focused on the genes that are controlled by EGFR that regulate cancer progression. We are investigating how the ARID3B transcription factor is regulated by EGFR signaling and its involvement in cancer. ARID3B is a member of the ARID family of DNA binding proteins.  We have found that ARID3B is overexpressed in ovarian cancer.  By understanding the gene networks that are dysfunctional in ovarian cancer we will be better equipped to diagnose and treat this disease.

We are elucidating the role of ARID3B in normal differentiation and cancer progression. We intend to show  1) how is ARID3B regulated, 2) what are the ARID3B targets,  3) biochemical characterization of ARID3B functions, 4)how do these proteins contribute to normal cellular differentiation and cancer progression, and chemoresistance. Our data suggest that ARID3B is critical to development of several tissue types and that altered expression of ARID3B may contribute to cancer.

Recent Papers

  • Kurkewich, J. L.; Klopfenstein, N.; Hallas, W. M.; Wood, C.; Sattler, R. A.; Das, C.; Tucker, H.; Dahl, R.; Cowden Dahl, K. D. "Arid3b Is Critical for B Lymphocyte Development." PLOS One 2016, 11, e0161468.
  • Bobbs, A. S.; Cole, J. M.; Cowden Dahl, K. D. "Emerging and Evolving Ovarian Cancer Animal Models." Cancer Growth Metastasis 2015, 8, 29-36.
  • Bobbs, A.; Gellerman, K.; Hallas, W. M.; Joseph, S.; Yang, C.; Kurkewich, J.; Cowden Dahl, K. D. "ARID3B Directly Regulates Ovarian Cancer Promoting Genes." PLOS One 2015, 10, e0131961.
  • Mitra, A. K.; Davis, D. A.; Tomar, S.; Roy, L.; Gurler, H.; Xie, J.; Lantvit, D. D.; Cardenas, H.; Fang, F.; Liu, Y.; Loughran, E.; Yang, J.; Sharon Stack, M.; Emerson, R. E.; Cowden Dahl, K. D.; V Barbolina, M.; Nephew, K. P.; Matei, D.; Burdette, J. E. "In vivo tumor growth of high-grade serous ovarian cancer cell lines." Gynecol. Oncol. 2015, 138, 372-377.
  • Roy, L.; Samyesudhas, S. J.; Carrasco, M.; Li, J.; Joseph, S.; Dahl, R.; Cowden Dahl, K. D. "ARID3B increases ovarian tumor burden and is associated with a cancer stem cell gene signature." Oncotarget 2014, 5, 8355-8366.
  • Cole, J. M.; Joseph, S.; Sudhahar, C. G.; Cowden Dahl, K. D. "Enrichment for chemoresistant ovarian cancer stem cells from human cell lines." JOVE-J. Vis. Exp. 2014, (91):51891. doi, 51891.

For a full list of publications, click here.

Contact Information

  • Adjunct Associate Professor
  • Office: 225 Harper Hall
  • Phone: 574-631-1675
  • Send an email

Primary Research Areas

Research Specialties