Eric S. Witze, Ph.D.

faculty photo
Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology
Department: Cancer Biology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
754 Biomedical Research Building II/III
421 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6160
Office: (215)573-6301
Fax: (215)573-6725
Lab: (215)746-3460
B.A. (Biology)
University of California, Santa Barbara, 1994.
Ph.D. (Molecular, Cell, & Developmental Biology)
University of California, Santa Barbara, 2003.
Permanent link

Description of Research Expertise

Research Interest: Wnt control of cell polarity in cancer.

Key Words: Wnt signaling, cell polarity, cytoskeleton, melanoma, live cell imaging

Research Details: Our lab studies cell polarity which is required for virtually all aspects of cell behavior including cell morphology, cell motility, and cell identity arising from asymmetric divisions (e.g., stem cells). In particular we are interested in how extracellular signals control metastatic behavior in melanoma by regulating cell polarity. Wnt5a is a non-canonical Wnt ligand that regulates cell polarity in developmental systems and we found that Wnt5a induces the formation of a novel polarized structure (WRAMP structure) in melanoma cells that mediates membrane retraction and directional cell movement. We are using live cell imaging to determine both the temporal assembly of the WRAMP structure and the function of this structure during cell migration and invasion. Future work will determine the in vivo function of the WRAMP structure and Wnt5a regulated cell polarity during metastasis.

Rotation Projects: Identification of downstream targets of Wnt5a in cancer cells and imaging of protein localization in live cells. Determine the function of polarity components during migration and invasion.

Lab Personnel:

Rachel Ekaireb (Research Specialist)
Kristen Runkle (Postdoctoral Researcher)
Ewa Stypulkowski (Graduate Student)
Wei Wang (Postdoctoral Researcher)
Katelyn Wichert (Administrative Assistant)

Selected Publications

Schwartz MP, Rogers RE, Singh SP, Lee JY, Loveland SG, Koepsel JT, Witze ES, Montanez-Sauri SI, Sung KE, Tokuda EY, Sharma Y, Everhart LM, Nguyen EH, Zaman MH, Beebe DJ, Ahn NG, Murphy WL, Anseth KS: A quantitative comparison of human HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cells and primary human dermal fibroblasts identifies a 3D migration mechanism with properties unique to the transformed phenotype. PLoS One 8(12), December 2013.

LondoƱo Gentile T, Lu C, Lodato PM, Tse S, Olejniczak SH, Witze ES, Thompson CB, Wellen KE: DNMT1 is regulated by ATP-citrate lyase and maintains methylation patterns during adipocyte differentiation. Molecular Cell Biology 33(19): 3864-78, October 2013.

Witze ES, Connacher MK, Houel S, Schwartz MP, Morphew MK, Reid L, Sacks DB, Anseth KS, Ahn NG: Wnt5a directs polarized calcium gradients by recruiting cortical endoplasmic reticulum to the cell trailing edge. Developmental Cell 26(6): 645-57, September 2013.

Sayers CM, Papandreou I, Guttmann DM, Maas NL, Diehl JA, Witze ES, Koong AC, Koumenis C: Identification and characterization of a potent activator of P53-independent cellular senescence via a small molecule screen for modifiers of the integrated stress response. Molecular Pharmacology 83: 594-604, March 2013.

Bobrovnikova-Marjon E, Pytel D, Riese MJ, Vaites LP, Singh N, Koretzky GA, Witze ES, Diehl JA: PERK utilizes intrinsic lipid kinase activity to generate phosphatidic acid, mediate AKT activation and promote adipocyte differentiation. Molecular and Cellular Biology 32(12): 2268-78, June 2012.

Kabuyama Y, Litman ES, Templeton PD, Metzner SI, Witze ES, Argast GM, Langer SJ, Polvinen K, Shellman Y, Chan D, Shabb JB, Fitzpatrick JE, Resing KA, Sousa MC, Ahn NG: A mediator of Rho-dependent invasion moonlights as a methionine salvage enzyme. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics 8(10): 2308-20, October 2009.

Old WM, Shabb JB, Houel S, Wang H, Couts KL, Yen CY, Litman ES, Croy CH, Meyer-Arendt K, Miranda JG, Brown RA, Witze ES, Schweppe RE, Resing KA, Ahn NG: Functional proteomics identifies targets of phosphorylation by B-Raf signaling in melanoma. Molecular Cell 34(1): 115-31, April 2009.

Witze ES, Field ED, Hunt DF, Rothman JH: C. elegans pur alpha, an activator of end-1, synergizes with the Wnt pathway to specify endoderm. Developmental Biology 327(1): 12-23, March 2009.

Witze ES, Litman ES, Argast GM, Moon RT, Ahn NG: Wnt5a control of cell polarity and directional movement by polarized redistribution of adhesion receptors. Science (New York, N.Y.) 320(5874): 365-9, April 2008.

Bloss TA, Witze ES, Rothman JH: Suppression of CED-3-independent apoptosis by mitochondrial betaNAC in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature 424(6952): 1066-71, August 2003.

back to top
Last updated: 01/30/2015
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania