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Elsa Renee Flores, Ph.D.

Present Title and Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Research Interests

  • Tumor suppressor genes
  • Metastasis
  • Stem cell

In the post-genomic era, many gene families have been identified. These genes can have overlapping and independent functions. The existence of redundant functions in gene families has made diseases like cancer challenging to treat and cure.  

The focus of my laboratory is to understand the intricacy of the p53 gene family in cancer using mouse genetics and genomics approaches. The goal of our work is to gain a global understanding of the complex functions of this gene family in cancer and to facilitate the design of targeted therapies for cancer patients with alterations in this family of genes.  

Given the structural and functional similarity of p63 and p73 to p53, the early assumption was that these new family members were also tumor suppressor genes. The functions of p63 and p73 are not that simple due to the existence of isoforms with opposing functions including transactivation competent (TA) isoforms and those lacking the transactivation domain (ΔN). 

To determine the functions of these isoforms, my laboratory has generated conditional knock-out mouse models that allow the deletion of the TA or ΔN isoforms of p63 or p73. Using these mouse models, we have unveiled previously unrecognized functions of p63 and p73 in the maintenance of adult skin stem cells, aging, DNA repair and metastasis. Current experiments using these novel mouse models are aimed at understanding the transcriptional network regulated by the isoforms of p63 and p73 in adult stem cell maintenance, DNA damage responses, tumor suppression and metastasis.

Contact Information

Phone: 713-792-0413


View a complete list of publications.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center