Gliomas, the most common primary brain tumors, are universally fatal once they progress from low- into high-grade neoplasms. Although as neuropathologists we are pretty good at diagnosing gliomas histologically, our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of both glioma formation and its malignant transformation is still rudimentary. While gliomas might not be identical in origin and composition, they commonly share abnormalities in signaling pathways that normally control proliferation and differentiation of glial progenitors.
My main research interest is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the neoplastic transformation of normal human neural progenitors into primary brain tumors and the progression of low-grade to high-grade gliomas. I am applying my research experience in stem cell biology, which I obtained during my post-graduate training with Dr. Fiona Doetsch, and my PhD-expertise in epigenetics, towards understanding better the molecular pathogenesis of human brain tumors. In particular, the lab is interested in uncovering the role for epigenetic mechanisms of regulation in normal and neoplastic glial populations in humans via: DNA methylation, histone modifications, methyl binding protein enrichment, and microRNA regulation. Ongoing research projects include 1) endogenous purification of human neural progenitor cells by FACS and functional characterization of their properties in vitro; 2) analysis of the DNA methylation and chromatin remodeling status of human progenitor cell populations and low- and high-grade human gliomas, focusing on the promoter regions of specific genes; and 3) study of the global reorganization of the transcriptome and methylome during gliomagenesis. Students with interests in these or similar projects are encouraged to contact me.
Additional clinical interests of mine, in collaboration with other faculty on campus, include the role of neuroinflammation in normal and neoplastic CNS as well as the pathogenesis of clonality in autoimmune neurological disorders, such as polymyositis.
1 N. M. Tsankova
, C. Bevan, V. Jobanputra, Y. C. Ko, E. W. Mayer, J. H. Lefkowitch, M. Mansukhani, L. P. Rowland, G. Bhagat, and K. Tanji, 'Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma Emerging in a Patient with Aggressive Polymyositis: Molecular Evidence for Neoplastic Transformation of an Oligoclonal T-Cell Infiltrate', Acta Neuropathol
2 J. A. Ellis, N. M. Tsankova
, R. D'Amico, J. C. Ausiello, P. Canoll, M. K. Rosenblum, and J. N. Bruce, 'Epithelioid Pituicytoma', World Neurosurg
, 78 (2012), 191 E1-7.
3 K. E. Remy, R. W. Elder, N. M. Tsankova
, and R. M. Conroy, 'Cerebellar Metastatic Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma in a Pediatric Patient with Complex Congenital Heart Disease', J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab
, 25 (2012), 1195-9.
4 N. Tsankova
, W. Renthal, A. Kumar, and E. J. Nestler, 'Epigenetic Regulation in Psychiatric Disorders', Nat Rev Neurosci
, 8 (2007), 355-67.
5 O. Berton, C. A. McClung, R. J. Dileone, V. Krishnan, W. Renthal, S. J. Russo, D. Graham, N. M. Tsankova
, C. A. Bolanos, M. Rios, L. M. Monteggia, D. W. Self, and E. J. Nestler, 'Essential Role of Bdnf in the Mesolimbic Dopamine Pathway in Social Defeat Stress', Science
, 311 (2006), 864-8.
6 W. Renthal, I. Maze, V. Krishnan, H. E. Covington, 3rd, G. Xiao, A. Kumar, S. J. Russo, A. Graham, N. Tsankova
, T. E. Kippin, K. A. Kerstetter, R. L. Neve, S. J. Haggarty, T. A. McKinsey, R. Bassel-Duby, E. N. Olson, and E. J. Nestler, 'Histone Deacetylase 5 Epigenetically Controls Behavioral Adaptations to Chronic Emotional Stimuli', Neuron
, 56 (2007), 517-29.
7 O. Berton, H. E. Covington, 3rd, K. Ebner, N. M. Tsankova
, T. L. Carle, P. Ulery, A. Bhonsle, M. Barrot, V. Krishnan, G. M. Singewald, N. Singewald, S. Birnbaum, R. L. Neve, and E. J. Nestler, 'Induction of Deltafosb in the Periaqueductal Gray by Stress Promotes Active Coping Responses',Neuro
n, 55 (2007), 289-300.
8 N. M. Tsankova
, O. Berton, W. Renthal, A. Kumar, R. L. Neve, and E. J. Nestler, 'Sustained Hippocampal Chromatin Regulation in a Mouse Model of Depression and Antidepressant Action', Nat Neurosci
, 9 (2006), 519-25.
9 A. Kumar, K. H. Choi, W. Renthal, N. M. Tsankova
, D. E. Theobald, H. T. Truong, S. J. Russo, Q. Laplant, T. S. Sasaki, K. N. Whistler, R. L. Neve, D. W. Self, and E. J. Nestler, 'Chromatin Remodeling Is a Key Mechanism Underlying Cocaine-Induced Plasticity in Striatum', Neuron
, 48 (2005), 303-14.
10 N. M. Tsankova
, A. Kumar, and E. J. Nestler, 'Histone Modifications at Gene Promoter Regions in Rat Hippocampus after Acute and Chronic Electroconvulsive Seizures', J Neurosci
, 24 (2004), 5603-10.
Honors and Awards
2013 Irving Institute/Clinical Trials Office Pilot Award
2000-2008 Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship
1999 NIH Summer Internship for undergraduate summer research
1998 Howard Hughes Fellowship for undergraduate research
1998-2000 Upper-division Dean Scholar (Honors program, Natural Sciences, UT Austin)
1998-2000 Recipient of the Presidential Endowed scholarship
Committees , Council, and Professional Society Memberships
Society for Neuroscience
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
College of American Pathology
Neuroplex (New York Neuropathology group)