Cellular interactions of HAMLET and their role in cell death

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


HAMLET is a protein-lipid complex that selectively kills tumor cells. In this thesis, we identified new mechanisms, whereby HAMLET initiates and executes tumor cell death. HAMLET targets several cellular compartments ranging from the plasma membrane to the nucleus. HAMLET rapidly binds to the plasma membrane of tumor cells and the resulting changes in membrane shape and lipid composition activate ion channels and rapid ion fluxes (paper I). Through macropinocytosis, large amounts of HAMLET enter tumor cells, thus reaching intracellular targets (paper II). By interacting with alpha-actinins, HAMLET facilitates tumor cell detachment and perturbs FAK signaling (paper III). Furthermore, HAMLET interacts with HK1, a member of the glycolytic machinery, and thereby disrupts tumor cell metabolism (paper IV). HAMLET also triggers ER stress (paper I).

This provides a framework for HAMLET’s ability to rapidly kill a wide range of tumor cells and addresses three major HAMLET questions. 1. How are the tumor cells killed? 2. How is HAMLET internalized by tumor cells? 3. Why do normal differentiated cells survive? We show that HAMLET-induced cell death is initiated at the plasma membrane and requires functional ion channels and p38 MAPK signaling. We identify macropinocytosis as a route for HAMLET internalization and distinguish this process from cell death. Finally, we show that the HAMLET sensitivity reflects tumor cell characteristics, such as c-Myc oncogene expression and altered metabolism, as inhibition of glycolysis increased HAMLET sensitivity. Interestingly, HAMLET does not appear to perturb the membranes of normal differentiated cells, further explaining the tumor selectivity.


  • Maria Trulsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area
  • Microbiology in the medical area


  • HAMLET, alpha-lactalbumin, cancer, cell death, ion channels, p38, cell detachment, alpha-actinin, endocytosis, macropinocytosis, c-Myc, glycolysis
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2011 Nov 18
  • Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Glycobiology, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-86871-45-1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2011-11-18 Time: 09:00 Place: Segerfalksalen, Wallenberg Neurocentrum, BMC, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Qasba, Pradman K Title: [unknown] Affiliation: Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, USA ---

Related research output

Storm, P., Sonja Aits, Puthia, M. K., Urbano, A., Northen, T., Powers, S., Bowen, B., Chao, Y., Reindl, W., Lee, D. Y., Sullivan, N. L., Zhang, J., Trulsson, M., Yang, H., Watson, J. D. & Catharina Svanborg, 2011, In : Oncogene. 30, p. 4765-4779

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Trulsson, M., Yu, H., Gisselsson, L., Chao, Y., Urbano, A., Sonja Aits, Mossberg, A. & Catharina Svanborg, 2011, In : PLoS ONE. 6, 3, e17179.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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