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Scholarly Interest Report
Nikki Delk
Faculty Fellow
Faculty Fellow in Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Ph.D Biochemistry & Cell Biology (2006) Rice University
  • B.S. Mathematics (1996) Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Primary Department
   Department of BioSciences
Research Areas
 Determine cytoprotective/cytotoxic role of autophagy in metastatic prostate cancer (PCa); Identify signaling pathways that regulate autophagy in PCa metastatic microenvironment

Research Statement



The 5-year survival rate for men with prostate cancer bone metastasis is only 28%, where 90% of patients who succumb to prostate cancer have bone metastasis. These statistics highlight the virulence and treatment-resistance of bone metastatic prostate cancer. Thus it is imperative to identify targetable signaling pathways by exploring why and how prostate cancer cells thrive in the bone. My research is focused on the regulation and function of autophagy in prostate cancer survival in the bone. Autophagy is the pro-survival degradation and recycling of biomolecules and is implicated in cancer cell survival. My research group found that bone cell-secreted cytokines can induce cytoprotective autophagy in prostate cancer cells, as well as upregulate mRNA levels of the autophagy-related adaptor protein, p62/SQSTM1.

Furthermore, our data suggests that targeting autophagy flux and/or p62/SQSTM1 function may be an effective approach to prevent the accumulation of treatment-resistant prostate cancer cells in the bone.  We are currently investing the role of androgen receptor and reactive oxygen signaling cascades in autophagy and p62/SQSTM1-mediated prostate cancer survival.

Selected Publications
 Refereed articles

Chang MA, Morgado M, Warren CR, Hinton CV, Farach-Carson MC, Delk NA "p62/SQSTM1 is required for cell survival of apoptosis-resistant bone metastatic prostate cancer cell lines." Prostate, 74(2) (2014) : 149-63.In Press


Delk N.A. and Farach-Carson M.C. "Interleukin-6: A Bone Marrow Stromal Cell Paracrine Signal that Induces Neuroendocrine Differentiation and Modulates Autophagy in Bone Metastatic PCa Cells." Autophagy (2012)


Tsai Y.C., Koo, Y., Delk N.A., Gehl B., Braam, J., "Calmodulin-related CML24 Interacts with ATG4b and Affects Autophagy Regulation in Arabidopsis." Plant Journal (2012)

 Invited Talks

"Bone Cells Promote Bone Metastatic PCa Survival and Therapeutic Resistance." Experimental Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX. (1 Apr 2013)


"Bone Marrow Stromal Cell-Secreted Inflammatory Cytokines Promote Treatment Resistance and Survival of Prostate Cancer Cells." 6th American Association for Cancer Research, Science of Cancer Health Disparities Conference, Atlanta, GA. (6-9 Dec 13) With Chang M., Morgado M., Patel V., Gwede M., Farach-Carson M.C., Delk N.


"Cell Survival of Apoptosis- Resistant Bone Metastatic Prostate Cancer Cell Lines is p62-Dependent." 9th National Symposium on Prostate Cancer, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta GA. (17-20 Mar 13) With Chang M., Morgado M., Warren C., Hinton C.V., Farach M.C., Delk N.


"Bone marrow stromal cell paracrine signaling and IL-6 induce autophagy in bone metastatic prostate cancer cells." American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2011, Orlando, FL. (April 2011) With Farach-Carson M.C.

Editorial Positions
 Other, British Journal of Cancer. Nature Publishing Group. (2013 - 2013)

 Other, OncoTargets and Therapy. Dove Press. (2013 - 2013)

Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
 NIH K01 Mentored Career Development Award,

 Finalist, The 2012 Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Research Award,

 American Association of Blacks in Higher Education Leadership and VIII Scholarship,