Professor Susana Godinho

MSc, PhD
Professor in Cancer Cell Biology
Group Leader
Research Focus

Our research focuses on understanding how cancer cells adapt to centrosome and microtubule alterations and how these in turn impact cell physiology and tumour progression to develop better ways to combat cancer.

Key Publications

Centrosome amplification fine tunes tubulin acetylation to differentially control intracellular organization. EMBO J. (2023) Aug 15;42(16):e112812. PMID: 37403793 

Centrosome amplification mediates small extracellular vesicle secretion via lysosome disruption. Current Biology (2021) 31(7):1403-1416.e7 PMID: 33592190

Oxidative Stress in Cells with Extra Centrosomes Drives Non-Cell-Autonomous Invasion. Developmental Cell (2018) 47(4): 409-424. PMID: 30458137

Loss of E-cadherin provides tolerance to centrosome amplification in epithelial cancer cells. Journal of Cell Biology (2018) 217(1):195-209. PMID: 29133484

Major Funding
  • 2024-2028 – Cancer Research UK, City of London PhD studentship, £150k
  • 2024-2028 – Wellcome Trust Postdoc Fellowship to Lisa Donker, £470k
  • 2021-2027 CRUK Programme Foundation Award, Investigating the impact of centrosome amplification in cancer, £1,489,237.76
  • 2021-2025 - Cancer Research UK, City of London RadNet PhD studentship, £147k
  • 2019-2021 EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship CentrosoTME (GA 839075), €212,933.76
  • 2019-2022 Medical Research Council, Dissecting the role of supernumerary centrosomes-induced exosome secretion in PDAC microenvironment, £477,195
  • 2018-2022 Cancer Research UK, Non-Clinical Training Award, £198,070
Other Activities
  • Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Champion for QMUL
  • Member of the editorial board for EMBO Reports
  • Scientific committee member of the British Society of Cell Biology
  • Member of the American Association for Cancer Research
  • Associate faculty member of Faculty of 1000
  • Member of the America Society for Cell Biology
Research

Cancer cells often contain extra centrosomes. The centrosome is the main microtubule-organizing centre in animal cells, an essential component of the cytoskeleton. In normal cells, centrosome number is tightly regulated, however, cancer cells tend to have too many centrosomes, a characteristic associated with tumour aggressiveness. Yet little is known about the role of centrosome amplification in tumour progression.

We currently focus on breast and pancreatic cancers to investigate how centrosome amplification impacts tumorigenesis in a variety of model systems, including 2-D and 3-D cell culture, and mouse models. We also collaborate with clinical scientists to use primary human tissue samples from patients in order to validate our findings.

Current projects:

  • How cancer cells ‘adapt’ to centrosome amplification

In order to avoid cell death, cancer cells need to cluster extra centrosomes into two poles during mitosis, enabling quasi-normal bipolar cell division. This observation has generated an enormous interest as it provides the basis for using the presence of extra centrosomes as a target for cancer therapies. We are currently developing novel strategies to assess how different cell types cope with extra centrosomes, allowing them to survive. We expect to use this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic strategies that specifically target cancer cells.

  • Impact of centrosome amplification in cancer cell physiology

Unlike normal cells that are very intolerant to centrosome amplification, cancer cells frequently maintain extra centrosomes. This observation suggests that centrosome amplification is advantageous for the tumour. To address this question we use a variety of model systems to investigate how extra centrosomes affect cell physiology. Since our work suggests that centrosome amplification promotes invasive behaviour, we are currently investigating signalling pathways that are important in invasion/metastasis.

  • Developing mouse models to study the impact of centrosome amplification in tumour progression in vivo

We are collaborating with experts in mouse genetics to develop new model systems to investigate the impact of extra centrosomes in tumour progression in vivo. We are particularly interested in understanding how cells with extra centrosomes communicate and influence the surrounding cells.

Other Activities
  • Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Champion for QMUL
  • Member of the editorial board for EMBO Reports
  • Scientific committee member of the British Society of Cell Biology
  • Member of the American Association for Cancer Research
  • Associate faculty member of Faculty of 1000
  • Member of the America Society for Cell Biology
Major Funding
  • 2024-2028 – Cancer Research UK, City of London PhD studentship, £150k
  • 2024-2028 – Wellcome Trust Postdoc Fellowship to Lisa Donker, £470k
  • 2021-2027 - CRUK Programme Foundation Award, Investigating the impact of centrosome amplification in cancer, £1,489,237.76
  • 2021-2025 - Cancer Research UK, City of London RadNet PhD studentship, £147k
  • 2019-2021 - EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship CentrosoTME (GA 839075), €212,933.76
  • 2019-2022- Medical Research Council, Dissecting the role of supernumerary centrosomes-induced exosome secretion in PDAC microenvironment, £477,195
  • 2018-2022- Cancer Research UK, Non-Clinical Training Award, 2018, £198,070
  • 2016-2021- The Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, Lister Institute Research Fellowship Prize, £199,974
  • 2015-2018- Medical Research Council, Characterisation of the signalling pathways involved in cell invasion downstream of extra centrosomes, £466,417
Recent Publications

Centrosome amplification fine tunes tubulin acetylation to differentially control intracellular organization Monteiro P, Yeon B, Wallis SS et al. EMBO Journal (2023) 42(7)

Low HER2 expression in normal breast epithelium enables dedifferentiation and malignant transformation via chromatin opening Hayat A, Carter EP, King HW et al. DMM Disease Models and Mechanisms (2023) 16(7)

Regulation of microtubule acetylation during the DNA damage response promotes efficient repair Wallis SS, Godinho SA MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL (2023) 34(11) 73-73
https://www.webofscience.com/api/gateway?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:001051001301208&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=612ae0d773dcbdba3046f6df545e9f6a

The glucose transporter 2 regulates CD8+ T cell function via environment sensing Fu H, Vuononvirta J, Fanti S et al. Nature Metabolism (2023) (7)

Too close for comfort? Endomembranes promote missegregation by enclosing lost chromosomes Donker L, Godinho SA Journal of Cell Biology (2022) 221(7)

Centrosome amplification mediates small extracellular vesicle secretion via lysosome disruption Adams SD, Csere J, D'angelo G et al. Current Biology (2021) 31(7) 1403-1416.e7

Centrosome amplification mediates small extracellular vesicles secretion via lysosome disruption Adams S, Csere J, D’angelo G et al. (2020) (18)

Macrophages induce malignant traits in mammary epithelium via IKKε/TBK1 kinases and the serine biosynthesis pathway Wilcz-Villega E, Carter E, Ironside A et al. EMBO Molecular Medicine (2020) 12(7)

Early Career Advisory Board. J Cell Biol (2019) 218(2) 2813-2814
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31439635

Early Career Advisory Board: Q&A on career and publishing. Marat A J Cell Biol (2019) 218(2) 2815-2818
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31439634

For additional publications, please click here
Team

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Dr Wai Yiu (Betty) Tse
  • Dr Lisa Donker
  • Dr Jonathan Burden

PhD Students

  • Mr Robert Dryden

Clinical Research Fellows

  • Dr Sarah Duncan
Biography
  • 1999: MSc in Biology, specialisation in Microbiology and Genetics, University of Lisbon (Portugal)
  • 2006: PhD in Cellular Biology, Gulbenkian Institute of Science (Portugal) and Cambridge University (UK). Investigating the role of Polo kinase during mitosis.
  • 2006: Postdoctoral Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer institute and Harvard Medical School (USA). Studying how cancer cells cluster extra centrosomes during mitosis.
  • 2010: Harvard-Portugal Programme Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer institute and Harvard Medical School (USA). Investigating the role of centrosome amplification in cancer cell invasion using 3-D cell culture models.
  • 2013: Established Lab at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London (UK).