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Mizuho Fukunaga-Kalabis, M.D., Ph.D.

Mizuho Fukunaga-Kalabis, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Research Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program
  • 215-898-0032, office

The overall research goal of Fukunaga-Kalabis and her colleagues is to understand the mechanisms of initiation and progression of melanoma in order to discover novel approaches for melanoma therapy. Her team is studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern tissue homeostasis of human skin and the maintenance of skin stem cells and their differentiation, which are frequently dysregulated during cancer development.

Fukunaga-Kalabis joined in the laboratory of Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc., in 2002 as a postdoctoral fellow after completing her dermatology training and the Ph.D. program at Kobe University School of Medicine in Japan. As a well-trained dermatologist, she has brought her clinical experience to make an impact on her research in cancer biology. Throughout her graduate and postdoctoral training, Fukunaga-Kalabis has been particularly interested in studying signaling pathways, which are shared by activated skin progenitor cells and malignant melanoma cells and that dictate plasticity in cancer.

Her recent research is focused on 1) studying a link between the embryonic phenotype of cancer cells and the immune response to them; 2) identifying druggable targets involved in neural crest-like reprogramming; and 3) identifying genes critical for tumor development as potential targets for not only therapy but also prevention using a patient-derived iPS-melanoma model. 

Selected Publications

1. Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Hristova DM, Wang JX, Li L, Heppt MV, Wei Z, Gyurdieva A, Webster MR, Oka M, Weeraratna AT, Herlyn M. UV-Induced Wnt7a in the Human Skin Microenvironment Specifies the Fate of Neural Crest-Like Cells via Suppression of Notch. J Invest Dermatol. 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1038/jid.2015.59. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:25705850

2. Villanueva J, Infante JR, Krepler C, Reyes-Uribe P, Samanta M, Chen H, Li B, Swoboda R, Wilson M, VulturA, Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Wubbenhorst B, Liu Q, Sproesser K, DeMarini DJ, Gilmer TM, Martin A, Marmorstein R,Schultz D, Speicher D, Karakousis GC, Xu W,Amaravadi RK, Xu X, Schuchter LM, Herlyn M, Nathanson KL. Concurrent MEK2 mutation and BRAF amplification confer resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors in melanoma. Cell Report. 2013;4:1090-1099. PMID: 24055054; PMCID: 3956616

3. Roesch A, Vultur A, Bogeski I, Wang H, Zimmermann KM, Speicher D, Körbel C, Laschke MW, Gimotty PA, Philipp SE, Krause E, Pätzold S, Villanueva J, Krepler C, Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Hoth M, Bastian BC, Vogt T, Herlyn M. Overcoming intrinsic multidrug resistance in melanoma by blocking the mitochondrial respiratory chain of slow-cycling JARID1B(high) cells. Cancer Cell. 2013;23:811-825. PMID: 23764003

4. Zabierowski SE, Baubet V, Himes B, Li L, Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Patel S, McDaid R, Guerra M, Gimotty P, Dahamne N, Herlyn M. Direct reprogramming of melanocytes to neural crest stem-like cells by one defined factor. Stem Cells. 2011;11:1752-62. PMID: 21948558

5. Villanueva J, Vultur A, Lee JT, Somasundaram R, Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Cipolla AK, Wubenhorst B, Xu X, Gimotty PA, Kee D, Santiago-Walker AE, Letrero R, D’Andrea K, Pushparajan A, Hayden JE, Dahlman K, Laquerre S, McArthur G, Sosman J, Nathanson KL, Herlyn M. Acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors mediated by an A/B/C RAF kinase switch in melanoma can be overcome by co-targeting MEK and IGF-1R/PI3K. Cancer Cell. 2010;18:683-695. PMID: 21156289; PMCID: 3026446

6. Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Martinez G, Nguyen T-TK, Kim D, Santiago-Walker A, Roesch A, Herlyn M. Tenascin promotes melanoma progression by maintaining the ABCB5-positive side population. Oncogene. 2010;29:6115-6124. PMID: 2072997; PMCID: 2991494

7. Roesch A, Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Schmidt EC, Zabierowski SE, Brafford PA, Vultur A, Basu D, Gimotty P, Vogt T, Herlyn M. A temporarily distinct subpopulation of slow-cycling melanoma cells is required for continuous tumor growth. Cell. 2010;141:583-594. PMID: 204782552

8. Li L*, Fukunaga-Kalabis M*, Yu H, Xu X, Kong J, Lee JT, Herlyn M. Human dermal stem cells differentiate into functional epidermal melanocytes. J Cell Sci. 2010;123:853-860. PMID: 20159965; PMCID: 2831759 (* co-first author)

9. Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Martinez G, Telson SM, Liu Z-J, Balint K, Juhasz I, Elder DE, Perbal B, HerlynM. Downregulation of CCN3 expression as a potential mechanism for melanoma progression. Oncogene. 2008;27:2552-2560. PMID: 17968313

10. Fukunaga-Kalabis M, Martinez G, Liu Z-J, Kalabis J, Mrass P, Weninger W, Firth SM, Planque N, Perbal B, Herlyn M. CCN3 controls 3D spatial localization of melanocytes in the human skin through DDR1. J Cell Biol. 2006;175:563-569. PMID: 17101694