Rice University
BioSciences at Rice

Pamela E. Constantinou Papadopoulos

Faculty Fellow in BioSciences


In healthy epithelial cells, transmembrane mucins are expressed on the apical surface of cells and are responsible for protecting cells from microbial and enzymatic attack. These highly glycosylated proteins contain ectodomains that can extend several hundreds of nanometers from the cell surface, providing a well-hydrated physical barrier to the cell. However, the loss of normal topology and polarity in cancer cells results in aberrant mucin expression over the entire cell surface. Overexpression, altered glycosylation patterns, and mRNA splice variants are all hallmarks of mucins in cancer cells and are commonly used as biomarkers for cancer progression. Our current projects exploit these differences in mucins as targets for cancer therapies.

Additionally, our laboratory has been investigating the use of three-dimensional (3D) culture models for better clinical predictability of drugs in patient trials.  We have incorporated hydrogels into high throughput drug screening platforms for cancer cells co-cultured with stromal cells.  Cells grown in our 3D system better recapitulate the clinical outcome of drug efficacy of cancer patients than cells grown using conventional tissue culture on plastic.  In our efforts to maintain in vivo tumor heterogeneity, we are currently integrating patient derived xenografts in our 3D models.

Select Publications

Zarembinski, TI; Engel, BJ; Doty, NJ; Constantinou, PE; Onorato, MV; Erickson, IE; Fong, ELS; Martinez, M; Milton, RL; Danysh, BP; HyStem: a customisable hyaluronan¿¿based hydrogel matrix for 3D cell culture.  Technology Platforms for 3D Cell Culture: A User's Guide 2017: 173

M. Morgado, M.N. Sutton, M. Simmons, C.R. Warren, Z. Lu, P.E. Constantinou, J. Liu, L. Francis, R.S. Conlan, R.C. Bast, D.D. Carson Tumor Necrosis Factor-α and Interferon-γ stimulate MUC16 (CA125) expression in breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers through NFκB.  Oncotarget, 7 2016: 14871

N. Whiting, J. Hu, P. Constantinou, N.Z. Millward, J. Bankson, D. Gorenstein, A. Sood, D. Carson, P. Bhattacharya Developing hyperpolarized silicon particles for advanced biomedical imaging applications.  Proc. SPIE 9417; Medical Imaging 2015: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging Technologies, Devices and Applications , 941702 2015

B.J. Engel,* P.E. Constantinou,*+ L.K. Sablatura, N.J. Doty, D.D. Carson, M.C. Farach-Carson, D.A. Harrington, T.I. Zarembinski Multi-Layered, Hyaluronic Acid-Based Hydrogel Formulations Suitable for Automated 3D High Throughput Drug Screening of Cancer-Stromal Cell Co-Cultures.  Adv Healthc Mater, 4 2015: 1664-74

P.E. Constantinou, M. Morgado, D.D. Carson Transmembrane Mucin Expression and Function in Embryo Implantation and Placentation.  Adv Anat Embryol Cell Biol, 216 2015: 51-68

Rogers, A., Constantinou, P.E., Jamison, D.K., Driver, J.W., Diehl, M.R. Construction and analyses of elastically coupled multiple-motor systems.  Methods Enzymol, 540 2014: 189-204

Lukianova-Hleb EY, Campbell KM, Constantinou PE, Braam J, Olson JS, Ware RE, Sullivan DJ Jr, Lapotko DO. Hemozoin-generated vapor nanobubbles for transdermal reagent- and needle-free detection of malaria.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111(3) 2014: 900-5

E.Y. Lukianova-Hleb, X., Ren, P.E. Constantinou, B.P. Danysh, D.L. Shenefelt, D.D. Carson, M. C. Farach-Carson, V. A. Kulchitsky, X. Wu, D. S. Wagner, D. O. Lapotko Improved Cellular Specificity of Plasmonic Nanobubbles versus Nanoparticles in Heterogeneous Cell Systems.  PLOS One, 7(4) 2012: e34537

N. Nguyen, J.J. Birktoft, R. Sha, T. Wang, J. Zheng, P.E. Constantinou, S.L. Ginell, Y. Chen, C. Mao, N.C. Seeman The Absence of Tertiary Interactions in a Self-Assembled DNA Crystal Structure.  J. Mol. Recognit, 25 2012: 234-237

B.P. Danysh,* P.E. Constantinou,* E.Y. Lukianova-Hleb,* D.O. Lapotko, D.D. Carson The MUC1 ectodomain: A novel and efficient target for gold nanoparticle clustering and vapor nanobubble generation..  Theranostics, 2(8) 2012: 777-787

P. E. Constantinou, B. P. Danysh, N. Dharmaraj, D. D. Carson Transmembrane mucins as novel therapeutic targets.  Exper Rev. Endocrinol Metab, 6 2011: 835-949

P. E. Constantinou and M. R. Diehl The Mechanochemistry of Integrated Motor Protein Complexes.  J. Biomech., 43 2010: 31-37

D. K. Jamison, J. Driver, A. R. Rogers, P. E. Constantinou, M. R. Diehl Two Kinesins Transport Cargo Primarily via the Action of One Motor: Implications for Intracellular Transport.  Biophys. J., 99 2010: 2967-77

J. P. Zheng, J. J. Birktoft, Y. Chen, T. Wang, R. Sha, P. E. Constantinou, S. L. Ginnell, C. Mao, N. C. Seeman From Molecular to Macroscopic via the Rational Design of a Self-assembled 3D DNA crystal.  Nature, 461 2009: 74-77

  • B.A. Chemistry (1999) Vassar College
  • Ph.D. Chemistry (2005) New York University
  • Department of BioSciences
Research Areas
  • Transmembrane mucins as targets for cancer therapies; 3D models for epithelial cancers for high throughput drug screening
Contact Information
Email: pamela.constantinou@rice.edu
Phone: 713-348-3401
Office: BRC, 661