In recent years, the incidence of head and neck tumors has increased despite the consumption of alcohol and tabaco has decreased. This has been attributed mainly to the infection by Human Papilomavirus (HPV). HPV-linked cancers affect mainly the oropharynx, specially tonsils and the base of tongue. Even though diagnostic and therapeutic interventions have improved with the use of multimodality treatments, 5-year survival amongst individuals affected by this type of tumor is below 50%. Therefore, special emphasis is given to the identification of new molecular targets for combined therapies. Through Phage Display technology, a peptide that showed preferential interaction with head and neck tumor cell lineages when compared to non-transformed cells was selected. Complementary essays pointed that the peptide binding was specific to the isoform sigma of proteins 14.3.3, also known as Stratifin. Proteins from the 14.3.3 family are ubiquitous in eukaryotes, being involved in many cellular processes, and research has linked increased expression of this isoform to various pathological processes, including head and neck tumors. Given this, the main objective of this project is to characterize the expression of 14-3-3 sigma in a head and neck tumor cell lineage (SCC78). In order to verify its role on this tumor type, its knockout will be performed by the CRISPR-Cas9 system followed by the phenotypic analysis of the modified cells.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: