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Tumor-Host Biology

We study the cellular mechanisms of how epithelial tumors develop and interact with the organism to cause cancer.

We combine the use of human cells in culture and the animal model, Drosophila melanogaster, to pursue two broad questions.

  • What cellular processes underlie the deconstruction of epithelia and cellular transformation in response to mutations in proto-oncogenes or tumor suppressors?
  • How does tumor cells interact with and impact the organism?

Tumor cells depend on the organism (patient) for its growth and reciprocally have widespread impact on physiology and survival.

We seek to mechanistically decipher these interactions with microenvironmental cells and somatic tissues. 

Long-term goals

Our long-term goal is to identify mechanisms of tumor-host interaction required to support tumor growth and cause somatic effects (cancer cachexia).

This may form the basis for translational studies.


  • Deciphering Tumor-Host Biology (2018-2023), a Toppforsk “top research grant” funded by the Research Council of Norway and University of Oslo.
  • Mechanisms of tumor-induced wasting (2018-2021) funded by South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority.
  • Uncovering Nutrient Vulnerabilities to stall Tumor Growth in vivo (2021-2024, South- Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, and EMBO).
  • Uncovering Nutrient Vulnerabilities to stall Tumor Growth in vivo (2021-2024, South- Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, and EMBO).


  • Eyal Gottlieb, TICC, Haifa, Israel
  • Rita Sousa-Nunes, King's College, London, UK
  • Todd schoborg, University of Wyoming, Wyoming, US
  • Christos Samakovlis, University of Stockholm, Sweden
  • Terje Johansen, University of Tromsø, Norway
  • Harald Stenmark, Institute for Cancer Research, OUH, Oslo, Norway
  • Jorrit Enserink, Institute for Cancer Research, OUH, Oslo, Norway
  • Jørgen Wesche,Institute for Cancer Research, OUH, Oslo, Norway
  • Anne Simonsen, Univeristy of Oslo, Norway

Selected publications

  • Dillard C, Reis JGT, Rusten TE (2021)
    RasV12; scrib-/- Tumors: A Cooperative Oncogenesis Model Fueled by Tumor/Host Interactions
    Int J Mol Sci, 22 (16)
    DOI 10.3390/ijms22168873, PubMed 34445578

    Khezri R, Holland P, Schoborg TA, Abramovich I, Takáts S, Dillard C, Jain A, O'Farrell F, Schultz SW, Hagopian WM, Quintana EM, Ng R, Katheder NS, Rahman MM, Teles Reis JG, Brech A, Jasper H, Rusan NM, Jahren AH, Gottlieb E, Rusten TE (2021)
    Host autophagy mediates organ wasting and nutrient mobilization for tumor growth
    EMBO J, 40 (18), e107336
    DOI 10.15252/embj.2020107336, PubMed 34309071

    Holland P, Hagopian WM, Jahren AH, Rusten TE (2021)
    Natural abundance isotope ratios to differentiate sources of carbon used during tumor growth in vivo
    BMC Biol, 19 (1), 85
    DOI 10.1186/s12915-021-01012-5, PubMed 33966633


  • Microenvironment and tumors-a nurturing relationship. Katheder N, Rusten, TE.  Autophagy, 2017
  • Shaping development with ESCRTs. Rusten TE, Vaccari, T., Stenmark, H. Nature Cell Biology. 2011
  • p62, an autophagy hero or culprit? Rusten TE, Stenmark H. Nature Cell Biology. 2010
  • Developmental biology: moonlighting at the pole. Rusten TE, Stenmark H. Nature. 2007
Published Oct. 17, 2017 3:03 PM - Last modified Oct. 20, 2021 11:43 AM