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Events
ASEF Speaker Series
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Online Events

Klementina Fon Tacer, Ph.D.: Understanding MAGE Proteins in Cancer

October 05, 2021 | 7:00 pm | Online

The American Slovenian Education Foundation (ASEF) is organizing a new ASEF Speaker Series event. This time prof. Klementina Fon Tacer will deliver a lecture titled “From physiology to therapy: MAGE proteins promote stress resistance in germ cells and cancer”. The lecture will be held on Tuesday, October 5th, at 19:00 CET.We ask attendees to register by October 5th at 18:00 CET (one hour before the event). Registered attendees will receive a Zoom link an hour before the event. Registrations can be made through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/…/klementina-fon-tacer-phd…

ABSTRACT

The melanoma antigen (MAGE) proteins are conserved in all eukaryotes and have expanded from a single gene to more than 40 genes in mammals. While some MAGEs are ubiquitously expressed, the majority are restricted to germ cells and often aberrantly re-activated in multiple cancer types. Much of the initial research on MAGEs focused on exploiting their antigenicity to target them with cancer immunotherapy, while the physiological function of these proteins remained overshadowed. Our discoveries shed the first insights into their physiological role and provided a conceptual breakthrough by showing that MAGEs evolved to protect germ cells against stress and when hijacked by cancer promote oncogenic activity. This opened floodgates in terms of characterizing novel stress-protective pathways, understanding their role in therapy resistance, and improving therapeutic approaches to target them in cancer. In all, we leverage the unique position of MAGE proteins at the intersection of cancer and spermatogenesis to uncover novel mechanisms that evolved to protect mammalian germline against stress, discover how and why they were co-opted in cancer. Ultimately, we want to apply the insights learned for the advancement of cancer treatment and fertility preservation to benefit human and animal patients.

BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Klementina Fon Tacer is an assistant professor of reproductive biology and oncology at Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine. She received her DVM from the Veterinary Faculty and PhD from the Faculty of Medicine, both at the University of Ljubljana. After postdoctoral research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX and St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, she joined a newly established School of Veterinary Medicine at TTU. Before returning to the USA, Klementina spent two years at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, teaching animal nutrition and studying metabolism and cancer. Her research interests include metabolism, cancer-testis antigens, protein ubiquitination in cancer, comparative medicine, evolution, and reproduction. Klementina is a recent CPRIT Scholar Award winner from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas.