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The Department's buildings are currently open for wet laboratory work only. We have carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and have introduced a number of new measures to ensure the safety of our staff, including reduced building occupancy, strict social distancing, 'family'-based working, and increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. All staff who can work remotely will do so for the foreseeable future. Please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Biochemistry


Oncogenic signalling in cancer.


Understanding the molecular activities of oncogenes and how they interact functionally to drive and maintain tumours is central to the identification of plausible therapeutic interventions. Despite the fact that the myc oncogene was discovered over thirty years ago, its nature as a pleiotropic transcription factor has complicated analysis of its precise functions. We are currently investigating the mechanism of cooperation between Myc and oncogenic Ras proteins both in cultured cells and in genetically modified animals using reversible systemic or tissue-specific switching of oncogene expression or oncoprotein activity.

We are also investigating the commonalities of functions between oncogenes. For example, recent evidence indicates that the Adenovirus E1A protein functionally compensates for Myc in cultured cells – it is able to drive cell proliferation and apoptosis in the absence of Myc activity. However, whether E1A is isofunctional with Myc in the genesis and maintenance of tumours (for example, by recruiting and supporting the tumour microenvironment) has yet to be determined.

Lab members

Alessandra Perfetto, Stephanie Mackie

Key publications

  1.  Yu HFellows AFoote KYang ZFigg NLittlewood TBennett M. (2018). FOXO3a Links Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Apoptosis, Matrix Breakdown, Atherosclerosis, and Vascular Remodeling Through a Novel Pathway Involving MMP13. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol.
  2. Kortlever RM, Sodir NM, Wilson  CH, Burkhart  DL, Pellegrinet  L, Brown Swigart   L, Littlewood  TD and Evan GI. (2017).  Myc cooperates with Ras by programming inflammation and immune suppression. Cell 171, 1301-1315
  3. Gamper I, Burkhart DL, Bywater MJ, Garcia D, Wilson CH, Kreuzaler PA, Arends MJ, Zheng YW, Perfetto A, Littlewood TD, Evan GI. (2017). Determination of the physiological and pathological roles of EF3 in adult tissues. Sci Rep. 7, 9932
  4. Hall Z, Ament Z, Wilson CH, Burkhart DL, Ashmore T, Koulman A, Littlewood T, Evan GI, Griffin JL. (2016). Myc expression drives aberrant lipid metabolism in lung cancer. Cancer Res. 76, 4608-4618.
  5. Kress TR, Pellanda P, Pellegrinet L, Bianchi V, Nicoli P, Doni M, Recordati C, Bianchi S, Rotta L, Capra T, Ravà M, Verrecchia A, Radaelli E, Littlewood TD, Evan GI, Amati B. (2016). Identification of MYC-Dependent Transcriptional Programs in Oncogene-Addicted Liver Tumors. Cancer Res. 76, 3463-3472.
  6. Yu H, Littlewood T, Bennett M. (2015). Akt isoforms in vascular disease. Vascul Pharmacol. 71, 57-64. Gray, K., Kumar, S., Figg, N., Harrison, J., Baker, L., Mercer, J., Littlewood, T. and Bennett, M. (2015). Effects of DNA damage in smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis. Circ Res. 116, 816-826.
  7. Whitfield J, Littlewood T, Evan GI, Soucek L. (2015). The estrogen receptor fusion systemin mouse models:a rversible switch. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2015(3):pdb.top069815.
  8. Whitfield J, Littlewood T, Soucek L. (2015). Tamoxifen administration to mice.Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2015(3):pdb.prot077966.
  9. Wilson, CH., Gamper,I., Perfetto,A., Auw, J., Littlewood,TD. and Evan, GI. (2014).The kinetics of ER fusion protein activation in vivo. Oncogene 33, 4877-4880.
  10. Littlewood, TD, Kreuzaler, P and Evan, GI. (2012). All things to all people. Cell, 151, 11-13.
  11. Yu, H., Clarke, M.C., Figg, N., Littlewood, T.D. and Bennett, M.R. (2011). Smooth muscle cells apoptosis promotes vessel remodeling and repair via activation of cell migration, proliferation and collagen synthesis. Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 31, 2402-2409.
  12. Allard D., Figg N., Bennett M and Littlewood T.(2008). Akt regulates the survival of vascular smooth muscle cells via inhibition of Foxo3a and GSK3. J. Biol. Chem.,283, 19739-19747.
  13. Tucka J., Yu H., Gray K., Figg N., Maguire J., Lam B., Bennett M. and Littlewood T. (2014). Akt1 regulates vascular smooth muscle cell apoptosis through Foxo3a and Apaf1 and protects against arterial remodeling and atherosclerosis. Aretrioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol.34, 2421-2428.


The microarray data generated with FoxO3aA3ER-expressing vascular smooth muscle cells is available here. Please note that these data are averaged from 6 biological replicates per sample and statistical analysis is included.  The full paper can be accessed at