Prakash Radhakrishnan, PhD

Associate Professor, Eppley Institute

Courtesy Appointments:
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology


Tel: 402-559- 0845

Fax: 402-559-4651
E-mail: Prakash Radhakrishnan

Prakash Radhakrishnan


PhD -  University of Madras, India.

Research Opportunities in my laboratory:
Currently accepting graduate students, medical students and summer research students

Research Interests:
Glycobiology of Pancreatic Cancer
Autocrine and paracrine Cell signaling mechanisms
Developing new therapeutics for Pancreatic Cancer

Summary of Research:
Pancreatic cancer (PC) is highly lethal disease. Elevated circulating levels of carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9), CA125 (also known as MUC16) and other tumor-associated glycoproteins occur during PC progression, and correlate with poor prognosis, a higher incidence of metastasis, and reduced overall survival. Alterations in levels of these biomarkers are used clinically to monitor disease progression. Studies from our laboratory have demonstrated that expression of truncated O-glycans (Tn and sialyl-Tn, STn) in PC result in part from hypermethylation of the gene encoding the Core 1 synthase specific molecular chaperone (COSMC). Aberrant expression of Tn/STn antigens on mucins and other glycoproteins enhance the malignant properties of PC cells. We recently discovered that, in addition to serving as biomarkers, aberrantly glycosylated forms of the large mucin-type glycoproteins that contain the epitopes recognized in the CA19-9 and CA125 assays, also have biological activity as growth factors or cytokines. Research from our laboratory has shown that aberrant expression of truncated Tn/STn structures on the MUC16/CA125 expose EGF-like and other regions of the protein cores that bind to epidermal growth factor receptor family members (ErbB1-ErbB4), and integrin (α4β1) complexes, which in turn induce activation of oncogenic signaling cascades through Akt and FAK, and thereby increase the malignant potential of PC cells. Importantly, treatment of cancer cells with monoclonal antibody (mAb) AR9.6 or B43.13 (that bind to MUC16 core protein) block these oncogenic signaling cascades (ErbB2, ErbB3, Akt and FAK) and inhibit in vivo tumor growth and metastasis. Moreover, genetic deletion of aberrant glycoforms of MUC16 reduce in vitro invasiveness and in vivo tumor growth and metastasis and increase median survival of the tumor bearing animals via reduced activation of ErbB2, ErbB3, Akt, GSK3β, and FAK (Fig. 1). Thus, in addition to serving as a biomarker for adenocarcinomas, aberrant glycoforms of MUC16 (Tn/STn-MUC16) have biological functions that may contribute to tumor progression, early metastasis and secondary effects of tumor growth.

A major project in the laboratory is to investigate how truncated O-glycans enhance the malignant properties of PC using a novel COSMC knockout KPC mouse model system. Importantly, determine the molecular mechanisms by which altered glycosylation of mucin (MUC16) and other glycoproteins create biologically active compounds that contribute to tumor progression, early metastasis and systemic effects of cancer progression. Other important projects include investigating the site-specific mutation of MUC16 and other glycoproteins that mediate pancreatic cancer tumorigenesis, and development of new targeted therapeutics for pancreatic cancer.


Selected Publications  


Current Projects:
NIH/NCI R01 CA 208108
Award Period: 04/01/17 - 03/31/2022
Title: MUC16 in Pancreatic Cancer Progression and Metastasis
Role: Principal Investigator

Award Period: 2018-2019
Title: Targeting the Disease Specific Forms of Mucin 4 in Pancreatic Cancer
Role: Principal Investigator

Completed Projects:
NIH/NCI 2 P50 CA127297-06A1 Hollingsworth (PI)
Award Period: 09/23/2014 – 08/31/2016
Title: SPORE in Gastrointestinal Cancer
Role: Career Development Awardee

NE DHHS - LB506 
Award Period: 2014 - 2015
Title: Therapeutic Use of AR9.6 mAb Against Pancreatic Cancer
Role: Principal Investigator

U.S. Army DoD W81XWH-08-1-0040
Award Period: 2008 - 2010
Title: Mucin Glycan Expression and Potential Role in Prostate Cancer Metastasis
Role: Principal Investigator