Natalia Ignatenko, PhD

Associate Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine (Research Track)

E-Mail Address: 
Phone Number: 
Short Bio: 

For the past 20 years I have been involved in colorectal cancer research with the focus on the molecular mechanisms of detection and prevention. My research interests include identification and validation of downstream effectors of Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC) tumor suppressor gene and K-RAS oncogene within polyamine and prostaglandin pathways. I also have a strong interest and expertise in study the luminal and dietary risk factors of colonic inflammation and colorectal carcinogenesis.

Currently, my laboratory is investigating the regulation and pathophysiological functions of kallikrein-related peptidase 6 (KLK6) in colorectal cancer with the focus on cancer cells invasion and metastasis. KLK6 is a secreted serine protease with the specific function to cleave components of the extracellular matrix and activate latent growth factors involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathways. Our recent findings indicate that KLK6 expression in colon cancer cells is determined by the tumor subtype and the genetic mutations developed during the colon cancer progression. KLK6 protein will be useful for imaging purposes and an appropriate target for evaluation as a colon biomarker.

I also have an expertise in developing Genetically Engineered Mouse (GEM) models of gastrointestinal cancer and lead the Mouse Experimentation Unit which is a section of the University of Arizona Cancer Center Experimental Mouse Shared Resource.

Research Information
Research Program: 
1. Therapeutic Development
Member Status: 
Research Member
Year of Membership Acceptance: 
Arizona Cancer Center
College of Medicine
Selected Publications: 

1. Basu Roy U, Henkhaus RS, Loupakis F, Cremoni C, Gerner EW, Ignatenko NA (2013). Caveolin-1 is a novel regulator of K-RAS-dependent migration in carcinogenesis. Int.J.Cancer, 133: 43-57, PMC2244689.

2. Ignatenko NA, Gerner EW. Get fat out! (2013). Cancer Prev. Res, 3:161-164 PMID 23466814, PMC3595132.

3. Ignatenko NA, Gerner EW, Besselsen DG. (2011) Defining the role of polyamines in colon carcinogenesis using mouse models. J Carcinogenesis, 10: 10. PMC 21712957.

4. Paz EA, Garcia-Huidobro J, Ignatenko NA. Polyamines in cancer (2011) Advances in Clinical Chemistry, 54:44-68. PMID 21874756.

5. Ignatenko NA, Yerushalmi HF, Pandey R, Kachel KL, Stringer DE, Marton LJ, Gerner EW. Gene expression analysis of HCT116 colon tumor-derived cells treated with the polyamine analog PG11047 (2009). Cancer Genomics & Proteomics, 6:161-175. PMC3586261.

Professional Information

1984, MS, Biophysics, Shevchenko Kiev State University, Kiev, Ukraine, USSR

1989, Ph.D. Oncology,  Kavetsky Institute of Oncology Problems, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Kiev, Ukraine

1989-1992, Postdoc, Cancer Biology, Kavetsky Institute of Oncology Problems, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Kiev, Ukraine

1992-1999, Postdoc, University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona

1999-2003, Assistant Professor (Research Track), Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona

2003-2008, Assistant Professor (Research Track), Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy,  University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2008-present, Assocoate Professor (Research Track), Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine ,  University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2007-present , Director , Mouse Experimentation Unit,  University of Arizona Cancer Center. Co-Director, Experimental Mouse Shared Resource (EMSR)