Juan Manuel Cardenas-Mora

 Profile Picture

Mentor / Lab:
Sophie Lelievre

Specific Research Area / Project:
Fatty acid effects on mammary epithelium apical polarity and possible role in breast cancer.

Undergraduate Institution:
Universidad De Los Andes

Research Profile:

Epidemiology studies have shown, that populations that take in a higher amount of omega-3, rather than omega-6 fatty acids, have a lower incidence in breast cancer. Furthermore, migratory studies suggest there could be an environmental explanation for this finding. Investigating how fatty acids could promote breast cancer is currently part of my research focus.

The Lelievre laboratory has a state of the art cell culture model that allows the mammary epithelial cell line (HMT352) to develop into a structure that closely resembles the acini that normal epithelial cells form in the breast. A characteristic of the epithelial cells is their ability to clearly delineate both an apical and a basal side in the cell. This means that some proteins and lipids are directed to specific compartments in the cell. The apical side has a connection to the outside world, while the basal side connects the cell to other tissue or to the extra cellular matrix. Loss of this tissue organization is an early alteration necessary in order for cells to proliferate. We believe that the loss of apical polarity could be an early alteration that could then prime cells to initiate cancer. Initial observations in the laboratory have shown that omega-6 fatty acids, but not omega-3 fatty acids, promote the loss of apical polarity in our model and allow the cells to proliferate.

About Me:

 About Me Picture

My family has always encouraged me to pursue an MD. However, I had always felt working with animals would be very rewarding, and so looked into becoming a Veterinarian. Although my love of animals continues to this day, I transitioned to bacteriology, hoping to bridge research with clinics, and eventually moved into microbiology and viruses. I was drawn in by the fascinating new techniques I encountered, and the many mysteries microorganisms hold. After awhile, however, I was drawn to move on, and now I am a cell biologist seeking to discover the best ways to prevent breast cancer. My future may take another turn, but as long as other opportunities to broaden my horizons present themselves, I will most certainly take hold of it!


  • 2012 Certificate of Excellence Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Spring Reception, Purdue University USA
  • 2011 - 2012 NIH/NCRR Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute - TL1 Program (A. Shekhar, PI)
  • 2011 PULSe Travel Award to present a poster at the 2nd International Breast Cancer Prevention Symposium in Rennes FRANCE 2011
  • 2011 PULSe Outstanding Student Profile
  • 2010 A.H. Ismail interdisciplinary Program Doctoral Research Travel Award to present a poster at the 2nd International Breast Cancer Prevention Symposium in Rennes FRANCE 2011
  • 2010 Minorities Affairs Committee Travel Award to present a poster at the 50th annual American Society for Cell Biology ASCB meeting in Philadelphia PA USA 2010
  • 2010 Bridges to the Professoriate Program Travel Award to attend the Compact for Faculty Diversity on Teaching and Mentoring in Tampa, FL USA 2010
  • 2010 Catherine Peachey Oral Presentation Award to present at the 1st International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Symposium in Lafayette IN USA 2010
  • 2010 - 2011 Indiana CTSI Career Development Award Grant # 5TL1RR025759-03 to Pre Doctoral TL1
  • 2010 First place poster presentation at the Breast Cancer Discovery Group Retreat in Lafayette IN USA 2010
  • 2008 PULSe Travel Award to present a poster at the 48th annual American Society for CellBiology (ASCB) meeting in San Francisco CA USA 2008


  • Yue S, Cárdenas-Mora JM, Chaboub LS, Lelièvre SA, Cheng JX. "Label-free analysis of breast tissue polarity by Raman imaging of lipid phase". Biophys J. 2012 Mar 7;102(5):1215-23. Epub 2012 Mar 6
  • Cardenas-Mora J, Spindler JE, Jang MK, McBride AA. "Dimerization of the papillomavirus E2 protein is required for efficient mitotic chromosome association and Brd4 binding". J Virol. 2008 Aug;82(15):7298-305. Epub 2008 May 21


  • Angela Schafer, Juan Cárdenas-Mora, Cédric Plachot, Jennifer Stanley, Dan Stegelman, Kurt Hodges, Kimberly McDole, Lingling An, Alexander Lipka, R.W. Doerge, and Sophie A. Lelièvre. "Lipids Matter in Breast Cancer: A Novel Role for CDP-Diacylglycerol Sythase 1 (CDS1)." Second Annual Breast Cancer Discovery Group Retreat. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. May 2010.
  • Angela Schafer, Juan Cárdenas-Mora, Cédric Plachot, Jennifer Stanley, Kurt Hodges, Lingling An, Alexander Lipka, R.W. Doerge, and Sophie A. Lelièvre. "Novel directions in breast cancer prevention: the link between tissue polarity and lipid pathways via CDP-diacylglycerol synthase 1 (CDS1)." Cancer Prevention and Healthcare Retreat. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. December 2009.
  • Lesley S. Chaboub, Juan M Cardenas-Mora, Marigold Bethany, Kelly Metcalf, and Sophie A. Lelièvre. "Fatty acids associated with increased breast cancer risk control breast epithelial polarity." American Society of Cell Biology Meeting. San Francisco, CA December 2008.
  • Juan Cárdenas, Jennifer Stanley, Cédric Plachot, Lesley Chaboub, Alex Lipka, Lingling An, Hibret Adissu, R.W. Doerge, and Sophie Lelièvre. "Disruption of apical polarity in mammary epithelium is associated with the transcriptional down-regulation of genes linked to cellular homeostasis and breast cancer." Purdue Cancer Center Retreat. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Septemeber 2008.
  • Lesley S.Chaboub, Juan M Cárdenas-Mora, Marigold Bethany, Kelly Metcalf and Sophie A Lelievre. "The good, the bad and the inflammatory: fatty acids may be involved in breast cancer by affecting tissue polarity." Latino Scholars Forum. West Lafayette, IN, September 2007.
  • 2012 National Clinical and Translational Sciences Predoctoral Programs Meeting. May 7 speaker "Identification of a novel gene for breast cancer prevention: The rise of CDS1 as an early marker of modifications in breast epithelial homeostasis"
  • 2011 Purdue Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Seminar Series. April 4 speaker "Omega 6 fatty acid impact on breast epithelium homeostasis: a tale of foods and rest"
  • 2011 Cell Growth and Differentiation Seminar Series. November 18 speaker. "Apical polarity, dietary factors and breast epithelial homeostasis"
  • 2010 International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Symposium. October 19 speaker. "The role of dietary fatty acids in disruption of breast tissue homeostasis"
  • 2010 Lipids Interest Group Seminar Series. April 18 speaker. "A tale of two lipids. Fatty acids and phosphatidylinositol alterations in early breast cancer lesions".
  • 2009 Basic Medical Sciences Seminar Series. March 30 speaker. "Fatty acids associated with increased breast cancer risk control breast epithelial polarity"
  • 2009 School of Veterinary Medicine Graduate Student Presentation for President Cordova. "The importance of being polarized: New directions towards understanding the early steps of breast cancer development"

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