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Dean Tang, M.D., Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, Science Park, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Smithville, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Adjunct Professor, School of Pharmacy, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Research Interests

The main focus of research in the Tang lab is to elucidate the cellular basis and molecular determinants of prostate cancer (PCa) cell heterogeneity. Recent work suggests that PCa cells are not all equal with respect to their tumorigenic and metastatic potential and there exist stem-like PCa cells or prostate cancer stem cells (PCSCs) that are generally undifferentiated, have the capacity to recreate the phenotypic and functional heterogeneities present in patient tumors, and are intrinsically resistant to castrations and chemotherapeutic drugs.  The lab has established that PCa cells are organized as a tumorigenic hierarchy, with PCSCs being able to undergo asymmetric cell division and differentiate into PSA+ cells. The PCSC pool is heterogeneous, containing multiple overlapping subsets of tumor cells that possess distinct tumor-initiating, tumor-propagating, and therapy-resistance capacities. Current research projects include investigations of normal prostate stem/progenitor cells and the cell-of-origin of PCa; PCSCs in xenograft and patient tumors; PCSC involvement in metastasis; PCSC response to androgen deprivation and other therapeutics; the role of Nanog in PCSC self-renewal; PCSC epigenetic landscape; PCSC regulation by miRNAs; PCSC asymmetric cell division; and novel PCSC-targeting therapeutics.  These projects involve the use of primary human PCa samples and the development of novel animal models. The ultimate goal of this research is to uncover unique properties of PCSCs and design specific therapeutics to target them.

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1994 Wayne State University Medical School, Detroit, MI, PHD, Cancer Biology
1989 Wuhan University School of Medicine, Wuhan, China, MS, Molecular Oncology

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Yang T, Rycaj K, Liu ZM, Tang DG. Cancer stem cells: constantly evolving and functionally heterogeneous therapeutic targets. Cancer Res 74(11):2922-2927, 6/2014. PMCID: PMC4112560.
2. Liu B, Badeaux MD, Choy G, Chandra D, Shen I, Jeter CR, Rycaj K, Lee CF, Person MD, Lu C, Chen Y, Shen J, Jung SY, Qin J, Tang DG. Nanog1 in NTERA-2 and recombinant NanogP8 from somatic cancer cells adopt multiple protein conformations and migrate at multiple M.W species. PLoS One 9(3):e90615, 2014. PMCID: PMC3944193.
3. Du L, Rao G, Wang H, Li B, Tian W, Cui J, He L, Laffin B, Tian X, Hao C, Liu H, Sun X, Zhu Y, Tang DG, Mehrpour M, Lu Y, Chen Q. CD44-positive cancer stem cells expressing cellular prion protein contribute to metastatic capacity in colorectal cancer. Cancer Res 73(8):2682-2694, 2013.
4. Chen X, Liu B, Li Q, Honorio S, Liu X, Liu C, Multani AS, Calhoun-Davis T, Tang DG. Dissociated primary human prostate cancer cells coinjected with the immortalized Hs5 bone marrow stromal cells generate undifferentiated tumors in NOD/SCID-γ mice. PLoS One 8(2):e56903, 2013. PMCID: PMC3579939.
5. Badeaux MA, Jeter CR, Gong S, Liu B, Suraneni MV, Rundhaug J, Fischer SM, Yang T, Kusewitt D, Tang DG. In vivo functional studies of tumor-specific retrogene NanogP8 in transgenic animals. Cell Cycle 12(15):2395-2408, 2013. PMCID: PMC3841319.
6. Chen X, Rycaj K, Liu X, Tang DG. New insights into prostate cancer stem cells. Cell Cycle 12(4):579-86, 2013. PMCID: PMC3594258.
7. Liu C, Kelnar K, Vlassov AV, Brown D, Wang J, Tang DG. Distinct microRNA expression profiles in prostate cancer stem/progenitor cells and tumor-suppressive functions of let-7. Cancer Res 72(13):3393-3404, 2012. PMCID: PMC3872033.
8. Qin J, Liu X, Laffin B, Chen X, Choy G, Jeter C, Calhoun-Davis T, Li H, Palapattu GS, Pang S, Lin K, Huang J, Ivanov I, Li W, Suraneni MV, Tang DG. The PSA-/lo prostate cancer cell population harbors self-renewing long-term tumor-propagating cells that resist castration. Cell Stem Cell 10:556-569, 2012. PMCID: PMC3348510.
9. Tang DG. Understanding cancer stem cell heterogeneity and plasticity. Cell Research 22(3):457-472, 2012. PMCID: PMC3292302.
10. Yan H, Chen X, Zhang Q, Qin J, Li H, Liu C, Calhoun-Davis T, Coletta LD, Klostergaard J, Fokt I, Skora S, Priebe W, Bi Y, Tang DG. Drug-tolerant cancer cells show reduced tumor initiating capacity: Depletion of CD44 cells and evidence for epigenetic mechanisms. PLoS ONE 6(9):e24397, 2011. PMCID: PMC3174165.
11. Liu C, Tang DG. MicroRNA regulation of cancer stem cells. Cancer Research 71(18):5950-5954, 2011. PMCID: PMC3177108.
12. Liu C, Kelnar K, Liu B, Chen X, Calhoun-Davis T, Li H, Patrawala L, Yan H, Jeter C, Honorio S, Wiggins JF, Bader AG, Fagin R, Brown D, Tang DG. The microRNA miR-34a inhibits prostate cancer stem cells and metastasis by directly repressing CD44. Nature Medicine 17(2):211-215, 2011. PMCID: PMC3076220.
13. Jeter CR, Badeaux M, Choy G, Chandra D, Patrawala L, Liu C, Calhoun-Davis T, Zaehres H, Daley GQ, Tang DG. Functional evidence that the self-renewal gene NANOG regulates human tumor development. Stem Cells 27(5):993-1005, 5/2009. PMCID: PMC3327393.
14. Li H, Chen X, Calhoun-Davis T, Claypool K, Tang DG. PC3 human prostate carcinoma cell holoclones contain self-renewing tumor-initiating cells. Cancer Res 68(6):1820-5, 3/2008. PMID: 18339862.
15. Patrawala L, Calhoun-Davis T, Schneider-Broussard R, Tang DG. Hierarchical organization of prostate cancer cells in xenograft tumors: the CD44+alpha2beta1+ cell population is enriched in tumor-initiating cells. Cancer Res 67(14):6796-805, 7/2007. PMID: 17638891.
16. Chandra D, Bratton SB, Person MD, Tian Y, Martin AG, Ayres M, Fearnhead HO, Gandhi V, Tang DG. Intracellular nucleotides act as critical prosurvival factors by binding to cytochrome C and inhibiting apoptosome. Cell 125(7):1333-46, 6/2006. PMID: 16814719.
17. Patrawala L, Calhoun T, Schneider-Broussard R, Li H, Bhatia B, Tang S, Reilly JG, Chandra D, Zhou J, Claypool K, Coghlan L, Tang DG. Highly purified CD44+ prostate cancer cells from xenograft human tumors are enriched in tumorigenic and metastatic progenitor cells. Oncogene 25(12):1696-708, 3/2006. PMID: 16449977.
18. Patrawala L, Calhoun T, Schneider-Broussard R, Zhou J, Claypool K, Tang DG. Side population is enriched in tumorigenic, stem-like cancer cells, whereas ABCG2+ and ABCG2- cancer cells are similarly tumorigenic. Cancer Res 65(14):6207-19, 7/2005. PMID: 16024622.
19. Tang DG, Tokumoto YM, Apperly JA, Lloyd AC, Raff MC. Lack of replicative senescence in cultured rat oligodendrocyte precursor cells. Science 291(5505):868-71, 2/2001. PMID: 11157165.

Invited Articles

1. Laffin B and Tang DG. An old player on a new playground: Bmi-1 as a regulator of prostate stem cells. Cell Stem Cell 7(6):639-640, 2010. PMID: 21112554.

Last updated: 8/19/2015