Laurie Littlepage

Laurie Littlepage

Mechanisms of Cancer Progression


Campbell Family Associate Professor of Cancer Research, University of Notre Dame
Campbell Family Assistant Professor of Cancer Research, University of Notre Dame
Associate Specialist, University of California, San Francisco
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco
Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology, Harvard University
B.S. in Biochemistry, B.S. in Molecular Biology, University of Texas, Austin

Selected Awards

CTSI Young Investigator Award
American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, NIH
NSF Predoctoral Fellowship

Research Interests

Littlepage's research program is focused on the contributions of the epithelium and surrounding stroma/microenvironment to both cancer progression and normal tissue development in the mammary gland and prostate.

She has focused on three major projects:

  • The transcription factor/oncogene Znf217 that promotes a progenitor cell phenotype, metastasis and chemoresistance during breast cancer progression
  • MMP3/Stromelysin-1 promotion of progenitor expansion, genomic instability, DNA damage, and centrosome amplification during mammary tumor progression
  • Matrix metalloproteinases that contribute distinct roles in neuroendocrine prostate carcinogenesis, metastasis, and angiogenesis progression.

Overall, her research is grounded in understanding the mechanisms of cancer progression and in identifying therapies that prevent or reverse cancer in patients. She develops and uses integrated mouse models and genome-wide association studies to understand the contributions of specific genes in vivo at multiple points in cancer progression, spanning from normal mammary development to tumor progression and metastasis and chemotherapy resistance.

She uses a combination of mouse and human xenograft in vivo models, cell culture and organotypic cultures, and systems biology approaches to study biomarkers of epithelial plasticity and to determine how these genes drive aberrations in fundamental biological processes, e.g., differentiation state, progenitor cell maintenance, metabolism, and genomic integrity.

She also is identifying targeted therapies appropriate for personalized treatment of cancer patients based on these biomarkers.

Recent Papers

  • Breuer, E., Fukushiro-Lopes, D., Dalheim, A., Burnette, M., Zartman, J., Kaja, S., Wells, C., Campo, L., Curtis, K. J., Romero-Moreno, R., Littlepage, L. E., Niebur, G. L., Hoskins, K., Nishimura, M. I., Gentile, S. "Potassium channel activity controls breast cancer metastasis by affecting ß-catenin signaling" 2019 Cell Death and Disease, 10 (3), DOI:10.1038/s41419-019-1429-0.
  • Ni, Y., Schmidt, K. R., Werner, B. A., Koenig, J. K., Guldner, I. H., Schnepp, P. M., Tan, X., Jiang, L., Host, M., Sun, L., Howe, E. N., Wu, J., Littlepage, L. E., Nakshatri, H., Zhang, S. "Death effector domain-containing protein induces vulnerability to cell cycle inhibition in triple-negative breast cancer" 2019 Nature Communications, 10 (1), DOI:10.1038/s41467-019-10743-7.
  • Takai, K., Drain, A.P., Lawson, D.A., Littlepage, L.E., Karpuj, M., Kessenbrock, K., Le, A., Inoue, K., Weaver, V.M., Werb, Z. "Discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1) ablation promotes tissue fibrosis and hypoxia to induce aggressive basal-like breast cancers" 2018 Genes and Development, 32 (3-4), pp. 244-257. DOI: 10.1101/gad.301366.117
  • Sawe, R.T., Mining, S.K., Ofulla, A.V., Patel, K., Guyah, B., Chumba, D., Prosperi, J.R., Kerper, M., Shi, Z., Sandoval-Cooper, M., Taylor, K., Badve, S., Stack, M.S., Littlepage, L.E. "Tumor infiltrating leukocyte density is independent of tumor grade and molecular subtype in aggressive breast cancer of Western Kenya" 2017 Tropical Medicine and Health, 45 (1), 19. DOI: 10.1186/s41182-017-0059-4
  • Richards, K.E., Zeleniak, A.E., Fishel, M.L., Wu, J., Littlepage, L.E., Hill, R. "Cancer-associated fibroblast exosomes regulate survival and proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells" 2017 Oncogene, 36 (13), pp. 1770-1778. DOI: 10.1038/onc.2016.353
  • Suarez, C.D., Wu, J., Badve, S.S., Sparano, J.A., Kaliney, W., Littlepage, L.E. "The AKT inhibitor triciribine in combination with paclitaxel has order-specific efficacy against Zfp217-induced breast cancer chemoresistance" 2017 Oncotarget, 8 (65), pp. 108534-108547. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.19308

Contact Information

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Research Specialties