Dr. Whitehurst received her B.A. and B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry, respectively, from Virginia Tech in 1997. Dr. Whitehurst then obtained her Ph.D. from UT Southwestern in 2004 under the tutelage of Melanie Cobb, Ph.D. She continued her training as a postdoctoral fellow with Michael White, Ph.D., at UT Southwestern, during which time she was supported by fellowships from the Komen Foundation, DOD, and ACS. Following receipt of a Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R01) from the NCI, Dr. Whitehurst began her independent career in 2009.

The major theme of her work is to characterize the mechanisms that permit uncontrolled growth of tumor cells. She uses RNAi-based functional genomics to identify gene products that support viability and/or modulate chemotherapeutic sensitivity in tumor cells. This strategy led her to discover that tumor cells can depend on aberrantly activated gametogenic genes for survival. These genes, known collectively as cancer-testis antigens, are only expressed in the testis and tumors, making them ideal targets for therapeutic intervention.

Her current work is focused on using cell biological, biochemical, and whole animal studies to elaborate the contribution of these cancer-testes antigens to neoplastic phenotypes. Dr. Whitehurst’s research program is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and an Innovative Research Grant from Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Research Interest

  • Cancer biology
  • Cancer-testis antigens
  • Chemoresistance
  • Mitotic checkpoints
  • Signal transduction


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

The cancer/testis antigens SPANX-A/C/D and CTAG2 promote breast cancer invasion.
Maine EA, Westcott JW, Prechtl AM, Dang TT, Whitehurst AW, Pearson GW Oncotarget 2016 Feb
Mechanisms promoting escape from mitotic-stress induced tumor cell death.
Sinnott R, Winters L, Larson B, Mytsa D, Taus P, Cappell KM, Whitehurst AW Cancer Res. 2014 May
CUL9 Mediates the Functions of the 3M Complex and Ubiquitylates Survivin to Maintain Genome Integrity.
Li Z, Pei XH, Yan J, Yan F, Cappell KM, Whitehurst AW, Xiong Y Mol. Cell 2014 Apr
The 3M Complex Maintains Microtubule and Genome Integrity.
Yan J, Yan F, Li Z, Sinnott B, Cappell KM, Yu Y, Mo J, Duncan JA, Chen X, Cormier-Daire V, Whitehurst AW, Xiong Y Mol. Cell 2014 Apr
Cause and Consequence of Cancer/Testis Antigen Activation in Cancer.
Whitehurst AW Annu. Rev. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 2013 Oct
Differential cell responses to nanoparticle docetaxel and small molecule docetaxel at a sub-therapeutic dose range.
Wang EC, Sinnott R, Werner ME, Sethi M, Whitehurst AW, Wang AZ Nanomedicine 2013 Aug
Multiple cancer testis antigens function to support tumor cell mitotic fidelity.
Cappell KM, Sinnott R, Taus P, Maxfield K, Scarbrough M, Whitehurst AW Mol. Cell. Biol. 2012 Oct 32 20 4131-40
Symplekin specifies mitotic fidelity by supporting microtubule dynamics.
Cappell KM, Larson B, Sciaky N, Whitehurst AW Mol. Cell. Biol. 2010 Nov 30 21 5135-44