Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Brady Lab

Welcome to the Brady Lab

The Brady Lab is part of the Department of Cancer Biology and the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Our research program at Penn is founded in a new paradigm in nutrient sensing and protein regulation, termed metalloallostery, where redox-active metals control kinase activity, and is advancing our knowledge in basic science and disease-focused areasOur focus lies at the intersection of kinase signaling and copper (Cu) homeostasis with the goal of defining the mechanistic features of Cu-dependent kinases to target them in cancer via drug repurposing or development. Kinases directly respond to and, in some cases, sense inputs, like growth factors, nutrients, and metabolites, to relay information to drive complex cellular processes. Aberrant kinase activation disrupts the balance between cell growth and cell death and in turn, can drive cancer initiation and progression. While kinase inhibitors dramatically changed the landscape of cancer treatment, emergence of resistance limits clinical durability. Our discovery that the transition metal Cu, which is acquired as a dietary nutrient and essential for life, activates the canonical MAPK pathway at the level of the MEK1/2 kinases established an evolutionarily conserved, critical mechanistic function for Cu as an intracellular mediator of signaling (Turski & Brady et al. Mol Cell Biol 2012). The direct interaction between Cu and MEK1/2 is the first example of Cu enhancing mammalian kinase activity and exposed a mechanistically distinct vulnerability that can be exploited therapeutically in cancers with aberrant MAPK signaling (Brady et al. Nature 2014). The emergence of this new clinically relevant signaling paradigm highlights the need to understand how redox-active metals interact with signaling pathways and underlines the promise of discovering new modes of kinase regulation as orthogonal therapeutic vulnerabilities.