Connelly Lab

Principal Investigator

Research Topic Areas

We are currently investigating the role of osteoprotegerin (OPG) in breast cancer metastasis.

Contact Information

Lab Location: Interim Facility C (COP-C), Room 102 Lab Phone: (808) 932-7351

Lab Members

  • Alex Lindsay, Undergraduate student

Detailed Research Description

As they grow, cancer cells can develop the ability to move around the body and grow in other organs – this process is called metastasis. Once metastasis occurs then cancer becomes much more difficult to treat and the patient is more likely to die from the disease. The focus in our lab is on breast cancer and trying to gain a better understanding of the signaling that leads to metastasis of breast cancer. We are particularly interested in the role of inflammation in breast cancer. We are currently investigating the role of osteoprotegerin (OPG) in breast cancer metastasis. Breast cancer cells secrete OPG however there is limited information available about the role of OPG in breast cancer. Our initial publication in this area demonstrated that knock down of OPG expression reduces breast cancer metastasis by reducing the ability of the breast cancer cells to invade surrounding tissue. We have recently published a follow up study showing that OPG expression is regulated by the inflammatory cytokine Interleukin 1Beta (IL1Beta) and that OPG is involved in IL1Beta-mediated invasion of breast cancer cells. Therefore regulation of OPG expression represents a mechanism whereby inflammatory signaling could promote breast cancer metastasis. We are also studying the inflammatory cells themselves, specifically macrophages, to try to understand more about how they can influence breast tumors. We have been investigating the interaction between adipocytes and macrophages as a mechanism whereby obesity could promote breast cancer development and metastasis.

Current Funding

  • UHH Seed Grant

Recent Publications

  • Weichhaus, M., Segaran, P., Renaud A., Geerts, D., Connelly, L. (2014) Osteoprotegerin expression in triple negative breast cancer cells promotes metastasis. Cancer Medicine Oct;3(5):1112-25 PMID:24976340 PMCID:PMC4302663
  • Weichhaus M., Chung ST. and Connelly L. (2015) Osteoprotegerin in breast cancer: beyond bone remodeling. Molecular Cancer 14:117 PMID:26054853 PMCID:PMC4460694
  • Chung, ST., Geerts, D., Roseman, K., Renaud, A., Connelly, L. (2017) Osteoprotegerin mediates tumor-promoting effects of Interleukin-1beta in breast cancer cells. Molecular Cancer, 16(1):27 PMID:28143606 PMCID:PMC5286681