Faculty

Crystal S. Conn, PhD

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Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology
Department: Radiation Oncology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Smilow Center for Translational Research, Room 8-131
Perelman School of Medicine
3400 Civic Center Blvd., Bldg 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Education:
BS (Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Minor: Chemistry, Physics)
The Pennsylvania State University, 2007.
PhD (Major: Genetics, Genomics, and Development; Minor: Biochemistry, Genetics)
Cornell University, 2013.
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Description of Research Expertise

Insights into the genetic landscape of patient samples have depicted an explosion of diagnostic and clinical biomarkers using gene expression profiling. However, not all changes at the transcription level translate into proteomic expression, thus limiting the predictive power of mRNA-based prognostics. Genetic alterations also remain difficult to target pharmacologically, and many oncogenes play roles for normal cellular functions which prevents their targeting. Despite these limitations, there arise phenotypic vulnerabilities that malignant cells rely on for their survival.

Dr. Conn's research program is focused on understanding:
1) the signaling pathways that are activated in cancer cells allowing for their dynamic adaptations to stress (nutrient, proteomic, oxidative...etc) during cellular transformation and disease progression
2) how aggressive cancer cells rewire their translational machinery to select distinct mRNAs for protein expression, while 3) identifying unique isoforms created through non-conventional initiation and the functions they serve
4) the relevance of the above processes towards disease detection, improved therapeutical targeting and treatments, with an underlying goal for prevention.

KEYWORDS & TECHNIQUES:
Cancer Biology, Adaptive Stress Responses, mRNA Translation, Drug targeting, Protein Homeostasis, CRISPR Screen, Ribosome Profiling, Proteomics, in vivo and ex vivo models

ROTATION PROJECTS:
Starting 2021, please contact Dr. Conn to inquire

Selected Publications

Crystal S. Conn, Haojun Yang, Harrison J. Tom, Kenji Ikeda, Juan A. Oses-Prieto, Shingo Kajimura, Ralph J. DeBerardinis, Alma L. Burlingame, and Davide Ruggero: Selective control of translation for metabolic fitness and prevention of diet-induced disease. Protein synthesis and Translational Control, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory September 2020 Notes: Oral Presentation

Tameire Feven, Verginadis Ioannis I, Leli Nektaria Maria, Polte Christine, Conn Crystal S, Ojha Rani, Salas Salinas Carlo, Chinga Frank, Monroy Alexandra M, Fu Weixuan, Wang Paul, Kossenkov Andrew, Ye Jiangbin, Amaravadi Ravi K, Ignatova Zoya, Fuchs Serge Y, Diehl J Alan, Ruggero Davide, Koumenis Constantinos: ATF4 couples MYC-dependent translational activity to bioenergetic demands during tumour progression. Nat Cell Biol 21(7): 889-899, July 2019.

Wei Jiajie, Kishton Rigel J, Angel Matthew, Conn Crystal S, Dalla-Venezia Nicole, Marcel Virginie, Vincent Anne, Catez Frédéric, Ferré Sabrina, Ayadi Lilia, Marchand Virginie, Dersh Devin, Gibbs James S, Ivanov Ivaylo P, Fridlyand Nathan, Couté Yohann, Diaz Jean-Jacques, Qian Shu-Bing, Staudt Louis M, Restifo Nicholas P, Yewdell Jonathan W: Ribosomal Proteins Regulate MHC Class I Peptide Generation for Immunosurveillance. Molecular cell 73(6): 1162-1173.e5, Mar 2019.

Conn Crystal S*†, Nguyen Hao G*, Kye Yae, Xue Lingru, Forester Craig M, Cowan Janet E, Hsieh Andrew C, Cunningham John T, Truillet Charles, Tameire Feven, Evans Michael J, Evans Christopher P, Yang Joy C, Hann Byron, Koumenis Constantinos, Walter Peter, Carroll Peter R, Ruggero Davide†: Development of a stress response therapy targeting aggressive prostate cancer. Science Translational Medicine 10(439), May 2018 Notes: *Denotes co-first. †Denotes co-corresponding authors.

Gwinn Dana M, Lee Alex G, Briones-Martin-Del-Campo Marcela, Conn Crystal S, Simpson David R, Scott Anna I, Le Anthony, Cowan Tina M, Ruggero Davide, Sweet-Cordero E Alejandro: Oncogenic KRAS Regulates Amino Acid Homeostasis and Asparagine Biosynthesis via ATF4 and Alters Sensitivity to L-Asparaginase. Cancer cell 33(1): 91-107.e6, Jan 2018.

Truillet Charles, Cunningham John T, Parker Matthew F L, Huynh Loc T, Conn Crystal S, Ruggero Davide, Lewis Jason S, Evans Michael J: Noninvasive Measurement of mTORC1 Signaling with Zr-Transferrin. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 23(12): 3045-3052, Jun 2017.

Conn CS, Nguyen HG, Kye Y, Cunningham JT, Truillet C, Huynh LT, Evans M, Walter P, and Ruggero D: Sensing stress in cancer: a novel therapy targeting protein synthesis through the unfolded protein response in prostate cancer development. Translational control of Cancer: A New Frontier in Cancer Biology and Therapy, AACR October 2016 Notes: Poster Presentation.

Truitt Morgan L*, Conn Crystal S*, Shi Zhen, Pang Xiaming, Tokuyasu Taku, Coady Alison M, Seo Youngho, Barna Maria, Ruggero Davide: Differential Requirements for eIF4E Dose in Normal Development and Cancer. Cell 162(1): 59-71, Jul 2015 Notes: *Denotes equal author contribution.

Zhang Xingqian, Gao Xiangwei, Coots Ryan Alex, Conn Crystal S, Liu Botao, Qian Shu-Bing: Translational control of the cytosolic stress response by mitochondrial ribosomal protein L18. Nature structural & molecular biology 22(5): 404-10, May 2015.

Conn Crystal S, Qian Shu-Bing: Nutrient signaling in protein homeostasis: an increase in quantity at the expense of quality. Science signaling 6(271): ra24, Apr 2013.

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Last updated: 01/22/2021
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