Caroline Alexander, PhD

Portrait of Caroline Alexander, PhD
6505 Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research 2
1111 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 265-5182
Focus Groups: 
Cancer Biology
Signal Transduction
PhD, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, University of Kent, England
Postdoctoral research: Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London and UC-San Francisco
Research Summary: 
Mammary stem cells; Mouse mammary tumor models; Wnt signaling; Syndecan-1
Research Detail: 

Our lab is studying aspects of mammary gland biology and neoplasia using transgenic mouse models. Particularly, we have found that Wnt signaling dysregulates mammary stem cells, and that this dysregulation precedes the formation of differentiated, bilineal tumors. Wnt signaling is highly oncogenic to mammalian epithelia, and indeed comprises one of the main molecular sources of tumor initiation identified to date. We have recently found that Lrp5, a cell surface receptor described as a Wnt signaling receptor, has a metabolic function, serving to promote glucose uptake. This molecule is also essential to mammary stem cell function. We are working on the hypothesis that this glucose uptake activity of Lrp5 may be tumor promoting. Another major focus of our lab is to test the systemic effects of the mammalian thermogenic response. Particularly, we are testing whether altered skin-associated insulation can modify regenerative potential of organs and rates of tumor initiation. Our current projects include:


· Determination of the molecules that govern glucose uptake in mammary epithelial cells


· Adaptations of metabolism in mammary stem cells


· Investigating the function of Lrp5 in the cell surface presentation of glucose transporters


· Evaluating the role of dermal white adipose tissue in regulating thermogenic activation

Selected Publications: 
Kasza I, Hernando D, Roldán-Alzate A, Alexander CM, Reeder SB.: Thermogenic profiling using magnetic resonance imaging of dermal and other adipose tissues. JCI Insight 1(13):e87146, 2016 Aug 18.
Sikora MJ, Jacobsen BM, Levine K, Chen J, Davidson NE, Lee AV, Alexander CM, Oesterreich S.: WNT4 mediates estrogen receptor signaling and endocrine resistance in invasive lobular carcinoma cell lines. Breast Cancer Research 18(1):92, 2016 Sep 20.
Fontana L, Cummings NE, Arriola Apelo SI, Neuman JC, Kasza I, Schmidt BA, Cava E, Spelta F, Tosti V, Syed FA, Baar EL, Veronese N, Cottrell SE, Fenske RJ, Bertozzi B, Brar HK, Pietka T, Bullock AD, Figenshau RS, Andriole GL, Merrins MJ, Alexander CM, Kimple ME, Lamming DW.: Decreased Consumption of Branched-Chain Amino Acids Improves Metabolic Health. Cell Reports 16(2):520-30, 2016 Jun 23.
Chin EN, Martin JA, Kim S, Fakhraldeen SA, Alexander CM.: Lrp5 Has a Wnt-Independent Role in Glucose Uptake and Growth for Mammary Epithelial Cells. Molecular and Cellular Biology 36(6):871-85, 2015 Dec 28
Alexander CM, Kasza I, Yen CL, Reeder SB, Hernando D, Gallo RL, Jahoda CA, Horsley V, MacDougald OA.: Dermal white adipose tissue: a new component of the thermogenic response. Journal of Lipid Research 56(11):2061-9, 2015 Sep 24.
Park HW, Kim YC, Yu B, Moroishi T, Mo JS, Plouffe SW, Meng Z, Lin KC, Yu FX, Alexander CM, Wang CY, Guan KL.: Alternative Wnt Signaling Activates YAP/TAZ. Cell 162(4):780-94, 2015 Aug 13.
Noubissi FK, Harkness T, Alexander CM, Ogle BM.: Apoptosis-induced cancer cell fusion: a mechanism of breast cancer metastasis. FASEB Journal 29(9):4036-45, 2015 Jun 17.
Fakhraldeen SA, Clark RJ, Roopra A, Chin EN, Huang W, Castorino J, Wisinski KB, Kim T, Spiegelman VS, Alexander CM.: Two Isoforms of the RNA Binding Protein, Coding Region Determinant-binding Protein (CRD-BP/IGF2BP1), Are Expressed in Breast Epithelium and Support Clonogenic Growth of Breast Tumor Cells. PLoS Genetics 2014 Aug 7.
Kasza I, Suh Y, Wollny D, Clark RJ, Roopra A, Colman RJ, MacDougald OA, Shedd TA, Nelson DW, Yen MI, Yen CL, Alexander CM.: Syndecan-1 is required to maintain intradermal fat and prevent cold stress. PLoS Genetics 10(8):e1004514, 2014 Aug 7.
Alexander CM, Joshi PA, Khokha R.: Fully interlocking: a story of teamwork among breast epithelial cells. Developmental Cell 28(2):114-5, 2014 Jan 27.