Caroline Alexander

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Professor Oncology


Phone: (608) 265-5182

6505 Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research 2
1111 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53706


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