Patrick J Casey 

Patrick J Casey


Senior Vice Dean, Research

Cancer & Stem Cell Biology Programme

James B. Duke Professor of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology

Professor of Biochemistry
Duke University Medical Center


Dr Patrick Casey, PhD, is the Senior Vice Dean of Research at the Duke-NUS Medical School. He is also a James B. Duke Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University.

Dr Casey received his PhD in Biochemistry from the Brandeis University in 1986 and did postdoctoral work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He joined the Duke University Medical Center as an Assistant Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology and Biochemistry in 1990. A recognised authority in the fields of lipid modifications of proteins and in G protein signaling, Dr Casey has received several awards for his work. These include the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association in 1992 and the Amgen Award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2000.

Dr Casey was the founding Director of the Duke Center for Chemical Biology -- an organisation of Duke scientists who are dedicated to the research and training in the application of fundamental chemical principles to the study of biology and the basis of disease and therapies. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.

Dr Casey relocated with his family, including his wife and scientific collaborator Mei Wang, MD, PhD, to Singapore in 2005 to spearhead the development of the Signature Research Programmes at Duke-NUS. With his longstanding interest in interdisciplinary science, particularly in facilitating the exchange of ideas and fostering collaborations between laboratory-based scientists and clinicians delivering care, he led the recruitment of the key faculty members and established core research facilities during the initial stage of Duke-NUS. His current role involves in overseeing the administration and strategic planning of these programmes, and mentoring of faculty and trainees. Dr Casey also serves on advisory panels for Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), National Research Foundation (NRF) and National Medical Research Council (NMRC).
Research Interest:

A complete list of our published work is available online at Google ScholarOpen in new tab 

Research in this laboratory focuses on the area of transmembrane signaling mediated through guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory proteins (G proteins). Many of these signaling pathways are involved in control of cell growth; this property is highlighted by discoveries over the past decade that mutations in or aberrant regulation of G proteins can lead to cell transformation. There are two major areas of research ongoing in the lab.

G Protein Signaling in Oncogenesis and Metastasis G proteins transmit a wide array of extracellular signals from cell surface G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to intracellular effector molecules. One of our focuses is heterotrimeric G proteins in biological function regulations, particularly G12 subfamily. We have found that signaling by the G12 subfamily of G proteins, comprised of GNA12 and GNA13, promotes tumorigenesis and cancer cell invasion. Both GNA12 and GNA13 are upregulated in breast, prostate, gastric and head & neck cancers, and we have shown that blocking GNA12 and GNA13 expression, or their activities, suppresses tumorigenesis and metastasis in multiple cell and animal models. Our most recent finding is that the GNA13 regulatory pathway confers tumor initiation, also referred to as cancer stem cell-like, properties on cancer cells. Our goals in this program are to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of signaling through G12 proteins and determine the impact of targeted inhibition of these processes on oncogenesis and cancer cell metastasis.

Selected references : Meigs, T.E, Fields, T.A., McKee, D.D. & Casey, P.J. (2001) Interaction of Gα12 and Gα13 with the cytoplasmic domain of cadherin provides a mechanism for β-catenin release. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 98:519-524.

Kelly, P., Moeller, B.J., Booden, M.A., Kasbohm, E.A., Madden, J.F., Der, C.J., Daaka, Y, Dewhirst, M.W., Fields, T.A. & Casey, P.J. (2006) The G12 family of heterotrimeric G-proteins promotes cancer invasion and metastasis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 103:8173-8178.

Juneja, J. & Casey, P.J. (2009) Role of G12 proteins in oncogenesis and metastasis. Brit. J. Pharmacol., 158:32-40.

Kimple, M.E., Moss, J.B, Brar, H.K., Rosa, T.C., Newgard, C.B. & Casey, P.J. (2012) Deletion of Gαz protects against diet-induced glucose intolerance via expansion of β-cell mass. J. Biol. Chem. 287:20344-20355.

Rasheed, S.A.K., Teo, C.R., Beillard, E.J., Voorhoeve, M. & Casey, P.J. (2013) MicroRNA-182 and microRNA-200a control GNA13 expression and cell invasion synergistically in prostate cancer cells. J. Biol. Chem., 288:7986-7995.

Kimple, M.E. Linneman, A.K. & Casey, P.J. (2014) Inhibitory G proteins and their receptors: Emerging therapeutic targets for obesity and diabetes. Exp. Mol. Med., 46:e102.

Rasheed, S.A.K., Teo, C.R., Beillard, E.J., Voorhoeve, M., & Casey, P.J. (2015) MicroRNA-31 controls G protein alpha-13 (GNA13) expression and cell invasion in breast cancer cells. Mol. Cancer 14:67.

Rasheed, S.A.K, Leong, H.S, Lakshmanan, M, Raju, A.K., Dadlani, D., Chong, F.T., Skanthakumar, T., Tan, E.Y., Hwang, J.S., Lim, K.H., Tan, D.S, Tergaonkar, V., Casey, P.J. & Iyer, N.G. (2017) GNA13 expression promotes drug resistance and cancer stem-like phenotypes in solid tumors. Oncogene doi: 10.1038/s41388-017-0038-6. [Epub ahead of print].

Mechanisms and Consequences of Protein Prenylation We have a long-standing program in studying covalent modification of G proteins by isoprenoid lipids and the role this modification, termed protein prenylation, plays in the membrane targeting and function of G proteins, particularly the Ras family of small G proteins. We are studying the enzymes that catalyze these modifications to both define the molecular mechanisms of the processing pathway and to elucidate the role of prenylation in G protein function. The importance of this work is highlighted by the fact that several of these enzymes, most notably protein farnesyltransferase (FTase) and geranylgeranyltransferase (GGTase-1) and a specific methyltransferase termed Icmt have become major targets in the development of anti-cancer therapeutics. Our recent work in this area has been in collaboration with Assoc. Professor Mei Wang in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program.

Selected references: Casey, P.J., Solski, P.A., Der, C.J., and Buss, J.E. (1989) p21ras is modified by a farnesyl isoprenoid. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:8323-8327.

Casey, P.J., Thissen, J.A. & Moomaw, J.F. (1991) Enzymatic modification of proteins with a geranylgeranyl isoprenoid. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 88:8631-8635.

Zhang, F.L. & Casey, P.J. (1996) Protein prenylation: Molecular mechanisms and biological consequences. Ann. Rev. Biochem. 65:241-269.

HW Park, SR Boduluri, JF Moomaw, PJ Casey, LS Beese (1997) Crystal structure of protein farnesyltransferase at 2.25 Å resolution. Science 275:1800-1804.

JC Otto, E Kim, SG Young, PJ Casey (1999) Cloning and characterization of a mammalian prenyl protein-specific protease. J. Biol. Chem. 274 (13), 8379-8382

Long, S.B., Casey, P.J. & Beese, L.S. (2002) Reaction path of protein farnesyltransferase at atomic resolution. Nature 419:645-650.

Winter-Vann, A.M., Baron, R.A., Wong, W., Dela Cruz, J., York, J.D., Gooden, D., Bergo, M.O., Young, S.G., Toone, E.J. & Casey, P.J. (2005) A small molecule inhibitor of isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyl-transferase with antitumor activity in cancer cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102:4336-4341

Winter-Vann, A.M. & Casey, P.J. (2005) Post-prenylation processing enzymes as targets for development of anti-cancer therapeutics. Nat. Rev. Cancer 5:405-412

Peterson, Y.K., Kelly, P., Weinbaum, C.A., Casey, P.J. (2006) A novel protein geranylgeranyltransferase-I inhibitor with high potency, selectivity, and cellular activity. J. Biol. Chem. 281 (18), 12445-12450

Bailey, C.R., Kelly, P. & Casey, P.J. (2009) Activation of Rap1 promotes prostate cancer metastasis. Cancer Res., 69:4962-4968.

Ullah, N., Mansha1, M. & Casey, P.J. (2016) Protein geranylgeranyltransferase type 1 as a target in cancer. Curr. Cancer Drug Targets 16:563-571.

Wang, M. & Casey, P.J. (2016) Protein prenylation: unique fats make their mark on biology. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 17:110–122.

Lau, H.Y., Tang, J., Casey, P.J. & Wang, M. (2017) Isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyltransferase is critical for malignant transformation and tumor maintenance by all isoforms of Ras. Oncogene, 36:3934-3942.

Manu, K.A., Chai,T.F., Teh, J.T., Zhu, W.L., Casey, P.J. & Wang, M. (2017) Inhibition of isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyltransferase induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis driven by p21 and p21- regulated BNIP3 induction. Mol. Cancer Ther., 16:914-923.

Do, M.T., Chai, T.F., Casey, P.J. & Wang, M. (2017) Isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyltransferase function is essential for RAB4A-mediated integrin β3 recycling, cell migration and cancer metastasis. Oncogene 36 (41): 5757-5767.