Mary Ann McLane

Department of Medical Technology

University of Delaware

305G Willard Hall Education Building
Newark, DE 19716

Phone: (302) 831-8737
Fax: (302) 831-4180

  • PhD, Temple University, Physiology, 1993
    MS, Temple University, Medical Technology Education, 1980
    BS, Neumann College, Medical Technology, 1976

Research Overview:

The research in Dr. McLane’s lab is focused on studying molecular mechanisms of metastasis inhibition of malignant melanoma cancer. This type of cancer is very resistant to treatment and yet can be inhibited within mice by exposure to a viper venom protein, eristostatin.  The McLane lab has shown that the presence of eristostatin can cause changes in adhesion and motility in melanoma cells, but does not affect cell growth or survival. To date, the basis for eristostatin’s anti-metastatic effect remains unknown, but these functional studies have opened the way to unlocking this natural protein’s anti-cancer mechanism.

We are characterizing the direct interaction of eristostatin with melanoma cell molecules by atomic force microscopy, confocal microscopy and chemical crosslinking to identify the binding partner for eristostatin which is present on 6 different melanoma cell lines with varying degrees of metastatic potential.

Cellular responses can be very different in tissue culture (2-D) compared with what happens in the body (3-D). We are investigating eristostatin-melanoma cell interactions involving adhesion, proliferation and signaling in a 3-D environment using matrices containing fibronectin and/or collagen. Additionally, the involvement of the innate immune system, especially natural killer cells, in eristostatin’s in vivo inhibition is the most recent focus of the lab’s studies.

Taken together, these studies are providing insights into how one naturally occurring protein, eristostatin, possesses the “right fit” to bind melanoma cells and block their metastatic ability. The information will, in turn, lead to a rational design of therapeutic agents which will target these cells.