Bolette Bjerregaard

Bolette Bjerregaard

  • Department of Basic Animal and Veterinary Sciences

    Grønnegårdsvej 7

    1870 1870 Frederiksberg C

Research Interest: Cell-cell fusion, bioimaging, cell signalling, endogenous retrovirus, mechanisms regulating normal and neoplastic development. Research Biography: Since summer 2004, I have been working in collaboration with Professor Lars-Inge Larsson first as assistant professor and know as associated professor at Department of Basic Animal and Veterinary Sciences, LIFE. My research is focused on mechanisms regulating cell fusions and the impact of such mechanisms on normal and neoplastic development. Cell fusions are important for embryonic and foetal development and for cell differentiation. Starting with the fusion between the egg and the sperm a number of subsequent fusions are important for the formation of a functional placenta as well as for muscle and bone development. Moreover, many viruses use fusogenic envelope proteins to enter cells and expression of such proteins by infected cells may lead to cell-cell fusions. Also malignant cells may fuse with each other as well as with normal host cells, including endothelial cells, and such fusions may strongly modulate the behaviour of tumors. However, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Previously, the laboratory of Professor Lars-Inge Larsson reported that human breast cancer cells are able to fuse spontaneously with endothelial cells to form hybrid cells expressing protein and chromosomal markers characteristic of both parent cell lines. In a proceeding study we showed that the fusogenic protein syncytin is expressed in breast cancers and human breast cancer cell lines and also showed that endothelial cells, as well as cancer cells, express the syncytin receptor ASCT-2. Moreover, antisense-mediated downregulation of syncytin expression, as well as a syncytin inhibitory peptide, inhibits fusions between breast cancer cells and endothelial cells. This demonstrates that the requirements for cancer-endothelial cell fusions are present in many cases of human breast cancer and provides direct proof that syncytin is involved in such fusions. We later discovered that breast cancer cells express two other fusogenic proteins, syncytin 2 and Pb1 respectively and set out to examine whether these molecules contributes to cell fusions. In parallel with the studies of cancer-endothelial cells I started out to investigate whether syncytin 1, syncytin 2 and Pb1 might represent universal fusogens in humans and I was able to show that these fusogenic proteins are expressed in human monocytes, differentiating into osteoclasts and in myoblast fusions as well as human eggs and sperm. Therefore, my current research projects are focused on exploration of the putative role of syncytins on osteoclasts and myoblast fusions. Funding: Lundbeckfonden The Danish Council for Independent Research in Medical Sciences (FSS)

Primary fields of research

Development of new tools for bioimaging of cancer cell signaling and fusion

Studies of the role of syncytins and related proteins in cell fusion events

ID: 4224873