Paola Marcato

Associate Professor


Phone: 902-494-4239, 902-494-4241 (lab)
Mailing Address: 
Dalhousie University
Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, 11-C1
5850 College Street
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2

Note: Currently recruiting graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Research interests

The research projects in my laboratory have the long-term goal of developing improved therapeutic strategies for breast cancer based on a precision medicine approach. We use transcriptome and genome-wide functional assays, cell lines, patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), mouse tumor models, and analysis of published patient datasets to identify biomarkers, study breast cancer stem cells (CSCs) and understand factors important in breast cancer progression. These factors include epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation and long non-coding RNA.


  • Cheryl Dean (research assistant/lab manager)
  • Margaret Thomas Dahn (graduate student)
  • Mohammad Sultan (graduate student)
  • Justin Brown (graudate student)
  • Marie-Claire Wasson (graduate student)
  • Hayley Walsh (undergraduate student)
  • Fiorella Morales (undergraduate student)

Publications (since 2014)

  1. Fernando W, Coyle K, Marcato P, Rupasinghe HPV, Hoskin DW (2019) Phloridzin docosahexaenoate, a novel fatty acid ester of a plant polyphenol, inhibits mammary carcinoma cell metastasis. Cancer Let Aug 29;465:68-81.
  2. Walsh HR, Cruickshank BM, Brown JM, Marcato P (2019) The Flick of a Switch: Conferring Survival Advantage to Breast Cancer Stem Cells Through Metabolic Plasticity. Front Oncol
  3. Huynh TT*, Sultan M*, Vidovic D, Dean CA, Cruickshank BM, Loung C-Y, Holloway RW, Lee K, Hoskin DW, Waisman DM, Weaver IC#, Marcato P# (2019) Retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide induce lasting differentiation and demethylation of target genes in APL cells. Sci Rep 9:9414  *co-first, # co-corresponding.
  4. Vidovic D, HuynhTT, Konda P, Dean CA, Sultan M, Cruickshank B, Coyle KM, Gujar SA, Marcato P (2019) ALDH1A3-regulated long non-coding RNA NRAD1 is a potential novel target for triple-negative breast tumors and cancer stem cells. Cell Death Diff Jun 13. doi: 10.1038/s41418-019-0362-1
  5. Almasi S, Sterea A, Clements DR, Fernando W, Marcato P, Hoskin D, Gujar SA, El Hiani, Y (2019) TRPM2 ion channel promotes gastric cancer migration, invasion and tumor growth through the AKT signaling pathway. Sci Rep. 9(1):4182. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40330-1.
  6. Sharif T, Dai C, Martell E, Ghassemi-Rad S, Hanes MR, Murphy, JP, Kennedy BE, Giacomantonio C, Marcato P, Singh SK, Gujar SA. (2019) Tumor suppressor TAp73 modifies glutamine metabolism and positively regulates growth of cancer stem-like cells in a redox-sensitive manner. Clin Can Res 25(6):2001-2017
  7. Coyle KM, Dean CA, Thomas ML, Vidovic D, Giacomantonio CA, Helyer L, Marcato P (2018) DNA methylation predicts the response of triple-negative breast cancers to all-trans retinoic acid. Cancers 10(11):397.
  8. Holloway RW, Thomas ML, Cohen A, Marcato P, Marignani P, and Waisman DM. (2018) Regulation of cell surface protease receptor S100A10 by retinoic acid therapy in acute promyelocytic leukemia. Cell Death Dis. 9(9):920. doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-0954-6
  9. Puttini S, Plaisance I, Barile L, Cervio E, Milano G, Marcato P, Pedranzzini T, Vassalli G (2018) ALDH1A3 is the key isoform that contributes to aldehyde dehydrogenase activity and affects in vitro proliferation in cardiac atrial appendage progenitor cells. Front Cardiovasc Med doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2018.00090
  10. Thomas ML and Marcato P. (2018) Epigenetic Modifications as Biomarkers of Tumor Development, Therapy Response, and Recurrence Across the Cancer Care Continuum. Cancers 10.3390/cancers10040101
  11. Cruickshank BM, Giacomantonio M, Marcato P, McFarland S, Pol J, Gujar S. (2018) Dying to be Noticed: Epigenetic Regulation of Immunogenic Cell Death for Cancer Immunotherapy. Front Immunol.
  12. Sultan M, Vidovic D, Paine AS, Huynh TT, Coyle KM, Thomas ML, Cruickshank BM, Dean CA, Clements DR, Kim Y, Lee K, Gujar SA, Weaver IC, Marcato P (2018) Epigenetic silencing of TAP1 in Aldefluor+ breast cancer stem cells contributes to their enhanced immune evasion. Stem Cells doi: 10.1002/stem.2780
  13. Coyle KM, Maxwell S, Thomas ML, Marcato P (2017) Profiling of the transcriptional response to all-trans retinoic acid in breast cancer cells reveals RARE-independent mechanisms of gene expression. Sci Rep 10.1038/s41598-017-16687-6.
  14. Coyle KM, Boudreau J, Marcato P (2017) Genetic mutations and epigenetic modifications: Driving cancer and informing precision medicine. Biomed Res Int 2017:9620870. doi: 10.1155/2017/9620870.
  15. Sultan M, Coyle KM, Vidovic D, Thomas, ML, Gujar S, Marcato P. (2017) Hide-and-seek: the interplay between cancer stem cells and the immune system. Carcinogenesis. 38(2):107-118.
  16. Thomas ML, De Antueno R, Coyle KM, Sultan M, Cruickshank B, Giacomantonio M, Giacomantonio CA, Duncan R, Marcato P. (2016) Citral reduces breast tumour growth by inhibiting cancer stem cell marker ALDH1A3. Mol. Oncol. 10(9):1485-149.
  17. Coyle KM, Murphy P, Vidovic D, Dean CA, Sultan M, Clements D, Wallace M, Vaghar-Kashani A, Thomas ML, Giacomantonio CA, Helyer L, Gujar S, Lee PWK, Weaver I, Marcato P. (2016) Breast cancer subtype dictates DNA methylation and ALDH1A3-mediated expression of tumor suppressor RARRES1. Oncotarget. 7(28):44096-112.
  18. Sharif T, Ahn D-G, Liu R-Z, Pringle E, Nunokawa A, Kwak M, Clements D, Martell E, Murphy P, Dean CA, Marcato P, McCormick C, Godbout R, Gujar SA, Lee PWK. (2016) The NAD+ salvage pathway modulates cancer cell viability via p73. Cell Death Diff. 23(4):669-80.
  19. Canino C, Luo Y, Marcato P, Blandino G, Pass H, Cioce MA (2015) STAT3-NFkB/DDIT3/CEBPβ axis modulates ALDH1A3 expression in chemoresistant cell subpopulations. Oncotarget. 6(14):12637-53.
  20. Clements D, Sterea A, Helson E, Dean CA, Nunokawa A, Coyle KM, Sharif T, Marcato P, Gujar SA, Lee PWK (2015) Newly recruited CD11b+, GR-1+, Ly6Chigh myeloid cells augment tumor-associated immunosuppression immediately following the therapeutic administration of oncolytic reovirus. J. Immun. 194(9):4397-412
  21. Marcato P*, Dean CA, Liu R-Z, Coyle KM, Bydoun M, Wallace M, Clements D, Turner C, Mathenge E, Gujar SA, Giacomantonio CA, Mackey JR, Godbout R, Lee PWK* (2015) Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A3 influences breast cancer growth rate via differential retinoic acid signaling. Mol. Oncol. 9(1):17-31.  (*co-corresponding authors)
  22. Mathenge EG, Dean CA, Clements D, Vaghar-Kashani A, Photopoulos S, Coyle KM, Giacomantonio M, Malueth B, Nunokawa A, Jordan J, Lewis JD, Gujar SA, Marcato P, Lee PW, Giacomantionio CA (2014) Core needle biopsy of 4T1 breast cancer tumors increases distant metastasis in association with an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Neoplasia. 16(11):950-960.
  23. Thomas ML, Coyle KM, Sultan M, Vaghar-kashani A, Marcato P (2014) Chemoresistance in Cancer Stem Cells and Strategies to Overcome Resistance. Chemotherapy. 3:125. doi: 10.4172/2167-7700.1000125 .
  24. Gujar SA, Clements D, Dielschneider R, Helson E, Marcato P, Lee PWK (2014) Gemcitabine enhances the efficacy of reovirus-based oncotherapy through anti-tumor immological mechanisms. Br. J. Cancer. 10(1):83-93.