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Michelle C. Mendoza

Michelle C. Mendoza, PhD

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments Primary - Oncological Sciences

Academic Office Information

Research Interests

  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Signaling
  • Cell Migration
  • Actin Cytoskeleton Dynamics
  • Metastasis

My research in the Department of Oncological Sciences and Huntsman Cancer Institute is aimed at understanding the mechanical and chemical signals that control cell migration and cancer dissemination. We want to understand how oncogenic mutations in tumor cells cause changes in the extracellular matrix environment, and how cancer cells adapt to their altered signaling and environment to elicit the physical process of movement. Current work focuses on the RAS/ERK pathway, a key driver of progression and resistance in solid tumors. We study how the pathway signals, at the molecular level and with spatio-temporal precision, in model epithelial cells and organotypic cultures. Our fundamental findings on cell migration and cancer invasion support molecular targeting efforts to block invasion and improve long-term care.

Education History

Postdoctoral Fellowship Harvard Medical School
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Diego
Undergraduate Pennsylvania State University

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Carney KR, Khan AM, Stam S, Samson SC, Mittal N, Han SJ, Bidone TC, and Mendoza MC (2023). Nascent adhesions shorten the period of lamellipodium protrusion through the Brownian ratchet mechanism. Mol Biol Cell.
  2. Zitnay RG, Herron M, Carney KR, Potter S, Emerson LL, Weiss JA, Mendoza MC (2022). Mechanics of lung cancer: A finite element model shows strain amplification during early tumorigenesis. Plos Computational Biology, 18(10), e1010153.
  3. Ingram K, Samson SC, Zewdu R, Zitnay RG, Snyder EL, Mendoza MC (2021). NKX2-1 controls lung cancer progression by inducing DUSP6 to dampen ERK activity. Oncogene, 41(2), 293-300.
  4. Zewdu R, Mehrabad EM, Ingram K, Fang P, Gillis KL, Camolotto SA, Orstad G, Jones A, Mendoza MC, Spike BT, Snyder EL (2021). An NKX2-1/ERK/WNT feedback loop modulates gastric identity and response to targeted therapy in lung adenocarcinoma. Elife, 10.
  5. Samson SC, Elliott A, Mueller BD, Kim Y, Carney KR, Bergman JP, Blenis J, Mendoza MC (2019). p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) phosphorylates myosin phosphatase and thereby controls edge dynamics during cell migration. J Biol Chem, 294(28), 10846-10862.
  6. Kircher DA, Trombetti KA, Silvis MR, Parkman GL, Fischer GM, Angel SN, Stehn CM, Strain SC, Grossmann AH, Duffy KL, Boucher KM, McMahon M, Davies MA, Mendoza MC, VanBrocklin MW, Holmen SL (2019). AKT1E17K Activates Focal Adhesion Kinase and Promotes Melanoma Brain Metastasis. Mol Cancer Res, 17(9), 1787-1800.
  7. Mendoza MC, Vilela M, Juarez JE, Blenis J, and Danuser G (2015). ERK reinfoces actin polymerization to power persistent edge protrusion during motility. Sci Signal, 8(377), ra47.
  8. Er EE, Mendoza MC, Mackey AM, Rameh LE, Blenis J (2013). AKT facilitates EGFR trafficking and degradation by phosphorylating and activating PIKfyve. Sci Signal, 6(279), ra45.
  9. Zhang W, Mendoza MC, Pei X, Ilter D, Mahoney SJ, Zhang Y, Ma D, Blenis J, Wang Y (2012). Down-regulation of CMTM8 induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-like changes via c-MET/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling. J Biol Chem, 287(15), 11850-8.
  10. Mendoza MC, Er EE, Zhang W, Ballif BA, Elliott HL, Danuser G, Blenis J (2011). ERK-MAPK drives lamellipodia protrusion by activating the WAVE2 regulatory complex. Mol Cell, 41(6), 661-71.
  11. Abe Y, Yoon SO, Kubota K, Mendoza MC, Gygi SP, Blenis J (2009). p90 ribosomal S6 kinase and p70 ribosomal S6 kinase link phosphorylation of the eukaryotic chaperonin containing TCP-1 to growth factor, insulin, and nutrient signaling. J Biol Chem, 284(22), 14939-48.


  1. Samson SC, Khan AM, Mendoza MC (2022). ERK signaling for cell migration and invasion. [Review]. Front Mol Biosci, 9, 998475.
  2. Mendoza MC (2013). Phosphoregulation of the WAVE regulatory complex and signal integration. [Review]. Semin Cell Dev Biol, 24(4), 272-9.
  3. Mendoza MC, Er EE, Blenis J (2011). The Ras-ERK and PI3K-mTOR pathways: cross-talk and compensation. [Review]. Trends Biochem Sci, 36(6), 320-8.

Book Chapter

  1. Mendoza MC, Besson S, Danuser G (2012). Quantitative fluorescent speckle microscopy (QFSM) to measure actin dynamics. In Curr Protoc Cytom (Chapter 2, pp. Unit2.18). United States.
  2. Mendoza MC, Er EE, Blenis J (2010). ERK-MAP Kinase signaling in the cytoplasm. In Methods Mol Biol (661, pp. 185-203). United States.