Cancer Invasion and Resistance

Group leader: Tuula Kallunki

The aim of our research is to understand cancer-induced molecular changes, especially those that regulate lysosomal activity and function leading to enhanced invasion and metastasis, in order to find novel ways to target these often still untreatable, malignant functions of cancer.

Our current work is focused on the role and function of HER2 signaling and lysosomes in aggressive and therapy resistant breast cancer and on identifying novel, personalized treatment strategies against platinum-taxane resistant ovarian cancer by targeting lysosomes. In our research, we use 3D cell cultures, breast and ovarian cancer organoids, and various cell and molecular biology approaches including high throughput microscopy and CRISPR-Cas9 technology. 

Invasion and Signaling test

Selected publications:

Brix DM, Clemmensen KB, Kallunki T: Zinc Finger transcription factor MZF1 -A specific regulator of cancer invasion. Cells 2020;9(1):223

Brix DM, Tvingsholm SA, Hansen MB, Clemmensen KB, Ohman T, Siino V, Lambrughi M, Hansen K, Puustinen P, Gromova I, James P, Papaleo E, Varjosalo M, Moreira J, Jaattela M, Kallunki T: Release of transcriptional repression via ErbB2-induced, SUMO-directed phosphorylation of myeloid zinc finger-1 serine 27 activates lysosome redistribution and invasion. Oncogene 2019;38(17):3170-3184

Tvingsholm SA, Hansen MB, Clemmensen KKB, Brix DM, Rafn B, Frankel LB, Louhimo R, Moreira J, Hautaniemi S, Gromova I, Jäättelä M, Kallunki T: Let-7 microRNA controls invasion-promoting lysosomal changes via the oncogenic transcription factor myeloid zinc finger-1. Oncogenesis 2018;7(2):14

Tvingsholm SA, Brix DM, Kallunki T: Molecular and Transcriptional Signatures for ErbB2-Induced Invasion. Current Pharmacology Reports 2019;5(1):43-55

Brix DM, Rafn B, Clemmensen KB, Andersen SH, Ambartsumian N, Jäättelä M, Kallunki T: Screening and identification of small molecule inhibitors of ErbB2-induced invasion. Mol Oncol 2014;8(8):1703-1718

Rafn B, Nielsen CF, Andersen SH, Szyniarowski P, Corcelle-Termeau E, Valo E, Fehrenbacher N, Olsen CJ, Daugaard M, Egebjerg C, Bøttzauw T, Kohonen P, Nylandsted J, Hautaniemi S, Moreira J, Jäättelä M, Kallunki T: ErbB2-driven breast cancer cell invasion depends on a complex signaling network activating myeloid zinc finger-1-dependent cathepsin B expression. Mol Cell 2012;45(6):764-776


Group leader Tuula Kallunki
Research profile


Cancer Invasion and Resistance
Staff Members

Key Funding

EU Horizon 2020 : DECIDER