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.
- Cancer biology
- Cancer-testis antigens
- Mitotic checkpoints
- Signal transduction
- Sperm-specific COX6B2 enhances oxidative phosphorylation, proliferation, and survival in human lung adenocarcinoma.
- Cheng CC, Wooten J, Gibbs ZA, McGlynn K, Mishra P, Whitehurst AW, Elife 2020 Sep 9
- The testis protein ZNF165 is a SMAD3 cofactor that coordinates oncogenic TGFß signaling in triple-negative breast cancer.
- Gibbs ZA, Reza LC, Cheng CC, Westcott JM, McGlynn K, Whitehurst AW, Elife 2020 Jun 9
- Emerging Contributions of Cancer/Testis Antigens to Neoplastic Behaviors.
- Gibbs ZA, Whitehurst AW Trends Cancer 2018 Oct 4 10 701-712
- HORMAD1 is a negative prognostic indicator in lung adenocarcinoma and specifies resistance to oxidative and genotoxic stress.
- Nichols BA, Oswald NW, McMillan EA, McGlynn K, Yan J, Kim MS, Saha J, Mallipeddi PL, LaDuke SA, Villalobos PA, Rodriguez-Canales J, Wistuba II, Posner BA, Davis AJ, Minna JD, MacMillan JB, Whitehurst AW Cancer Res. 2018 Sep
- Comprehensive functional characterization of cancer-testis antigens defines obligate participation in multiple hallmarks of cancer.
- Maxfield KE, Taus PJ, Corcoran K, Wooten J, Macion J, Zhou Y, Borromeo M, Kollipara RK, Yan J, Xie Y, Xie XJ, Whitehurst AW Nat Commun 2015 6 8840
- EWSR1-FLI1 activation of the cancer/testis antigen FATE1 promotes Ewing sarcoma survival.
- Gallegos ZR, Taus P, Gibbs ZA, McGlynn K, Gomez NC, Davis I, Whitehurst AW, Mol. Cell. Biol. 2019 Apr
- WNK1 is an unexpected autophagy inhibitor.
- Gallolu Kankanamalage S, Lee AY, Wichaidit C, Lorente-Rodriguez A, Shah AM, Stippec S, Whitehurst AW, Cobb MH Autophagy 2017 Feb 1-2
- Multistep regulation of autophagy by WNK1.
- Gallolu Kankanamalage S, Lee AY, Wichaidit C, Lorente-Rodriguez A, Shah AM, Stippec S, Whitehurst AW, Cobb MH Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2016 Dec 113 50 14342-14347
- SIK2 Restricts Autophagic Flux to Support Triple Negative Breast Cancer Survival.
- Maxfield K, Macion J, Vankayalapati H, Whitehurst AW Mol. Cell. Biol. 2016 Oct
- 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