University of Maryland, USA
Wen-Hsing Cheng has completed his Ph.D from Cornell University and postdoctoral studies from the National Institute on Aging at Baltimore. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has published more than 50 papers in reputed journals on the fields of selenium, Genome maintenance, and premature aging.
Selenium is an essential mineral and of fundamental significance for optimal health. The biological function of selenium is mainly offered by selenium-containing proteins in mammals. The selenocysteine-containing selenoproteins catalyze reactions of redox balance, thyroid hormone metabolism and other physiological pathways. Maintenance of genome stability is critical for counteracting carcinogenesis and the aging process. Mutations in the WRN and ATM genes result in Werner and ataxiatelangiectasia genomic instability syndromes, respectively, which are characterized by premature aging phenotypes and cancer predisposition. Accumulated lines of evidence indicate important roles of selenium and selenoproteins in the maintenance of genome stability. We have recently shown that selenium compounds higher than nutritional needs can activate early barriers of tumorigenesis, namely DNA damage response and cellular senescence, in a manner depending on oxidative stress, ATM, DNAPKcs and p53 in non-cancerous cells. In cancerous cells, targeting the WRN helicase can sensitize cancer cells to DNA-damaging agents such as selenium compounds. In conclusion, our results point to a pivotal role of selenium in the regulation of genome stability.