Dr. Judy Wong obtained a PhD in pharmacology at the University of Toronto, and was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California (Berkeley). Wong studies the roles of telomeres and telomerase in protecting chromosome ends. In humans, the dysregulation of telomerase has been implicated in pathologies ranging from carcinogenesis to the degenerative conditions seen in aging. Recently, her laboratory has shown that non-canonical activities of telomerase promote cancer growth. This is an important finding for the treatment of telomerase-positive cancers as it provides a mechanistic basis to combine telomerase inhibition with current chemotherapeutic agents to improve clinical outcomes.
Wong’s group also studies how the loss of telomere integrity leads to cellular aging and reduced tissue renewal capacity. Using the premature aging syndrome, X-linked dyskeratosis congenita (X-DC), as a paradigm, she has demonstrated that recombinant telomerase expression rescues telomere maintenance phenotypes; this is a proof-of-principle for the development of genetic therapies against X-DC and other tissue regeneration disorders. Wong has received two independent career development awards, including a Canada Research Chair, and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award.
Hukezalie KR, Thumati NR, Côté HC, Wong JM. In vitro and ex vivo inhibition of human telomerase by anti-HIV nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) but not by non-NRTIs. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e47505. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047505. Epub 2012 Nov 15. (PubMed abstract)
Zeng XL, Thumati NR, Fleisig HB, Hukezalie KR, Savage SA, Giri N, Alter BP, Wong JM. The accumulation and not the specific activity of telomerase ribonucleoprotein determines telomere maintenance deficiency in X-linked dyskeratosis congenita. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Feb 15;21(4):721-9. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr504. Epub 2011 Nov 4. (PubMed abstract)
Fleisig HB, Wong JM. Telomerase promotes efficient cell cycle kinetics and confers growth advantage to telomerase-negative transformed human cells. Oncogene. 2012 Feb 23;31(8):954-65. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.292. Epub 2011 Jul 11. (PubMed abstract)
Tamakawa RA, Fleisig HB, Wong JM. Telomerase inhibition potentiates the effects of genotoxic agents in breast and colorectal cancer cells in a cell cycle-specific manner. Cancer Res. 2010 Nov 1;70(21):8684-94. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2227. Epub 2010 Sep 13. (PubMed abstract)
Fleisig H, Wong J. Measuring cell cycle progression kinetics with metabolic labeling and flow cytometry. J Vis Exp. 2012 May 22;(63):e4045. doi: 10.3791/4045. (PubMed abstract)