Exploring Mushrooms Native to British Columbia For Medicinal Properties, The Discovery of APE1 as an RNA-cleaving Enzyme and IMP-1, an Oncogenic RNA-binding protein


British Columbia (BC), Canada is home to a wide variety of mushrooms that have not been investigated for their potential medicinal value. Given this expected high diversity of untapped mushroom species coupled with the array of ecosystems and plant host relationships, we hypothesize that many unidentified biologically active novel compounds exist in mushrooms growing in BC.  Prof Lee is spear-heading an interdisciplinary team at UNBC in an effort to discover new medicinal compounds from BC wild mushrooms. He will briefly describe his team current efforts in screening and investigating BC mushrooms for three cancer-related biological activities; growth-inhibitory, immuno-stimulatory and anti-inflammatory.

Apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1), or sometimes known as Ref-1, is an enzyme well-known for its abasic DNA endonuclease function in the DNA base-excision repair pathway. Our lab discovered the novel endoribonuclease function of APE1. He will briefly describe the path towards this discovery and our characterization studies on the RNA-cleaving function of human APE1 in vitro and in cells.

Insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding protein 1 (IMP-1) or sometimes known as Coding region determinant-binding protein (CRD-BP), is an RNA-binding oncoprotein.  It has four KH domains and two RRM domains. Although the exact role of IMP-1 in human cancers is still unknown, its ability to physically associate with a selected number of target mRNAs appears to be an important criterion for its oncogenic function. He will briefly describe his team studies in understanding the molecular interaction between IMP-1 and its target mRNAs as well as in finding inhibitors of IMP-1.

Speaker's Profile:

Professor Chow-Hwee Lee completed his undergraduate study in biochemistry & physiology at University of New South Wales and obtained his PhD from the Flinders University, Australia. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in several cancer research centres including Ontario Cancer Institute and McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research before joining University of Northern British Columbia by 1998. He is now a professor with expertise in RNA biochemistry & molecular biology, oncology and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Prof Lee held a Research Scientist Award from Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (formerly known as National Cancer Institute of Canada) from 2002-2008. As an international renowned scientist, Prof Lee serves as editorial board member of several important journals and research grants expert review panel of a number of funding bodies e.g. Worldwide Cancer Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation and Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.