Dr. Yvonne Myal
Dr. Yvonne Myal

Yvonne Myal, PhD
Professor and Associate Head, Department of Pathology
Professor, Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology
Senior Investigator, Research Institute for Oncology and Hematology (RIOH), CancerCare, Manitoba
CIHR Delegate-University of Manitoba

1989 PhD; 1983 MSc (Physiology)


T: 204 789-3874| Lab: 789-3308 | F: 204 789-3931

Office: R202 Medical Rehabilitation Building, 771 McDermot Avenue
Mail: 401 Brodie Centre, 727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 3P5

Dr. Yvonne Myal received her BSC (Hons) in Biology at the University of Winnipeg and her MSc and PhD at the University of Manitoba under the supervision of Dr. Robert Shiu, a breast cancer researcher in the Department of Physiology where she developed many skills in Molecular Biology. Her postdoctoral training was in the Department of Physiology where she trained in novel techniques in blastocyst injections and generating transgenic and knockout mouse models of breast cancer. She then joined the Department of Pathology as a Principal Investigator and currently conducts a breast cancer research program, with a primary focus on breast cancer biomarkers.

Research Interests: Dr. Myal's research program is focused on identifying novel molecular biomarkers of normal breast development as well as identifying breast cancer specific biomarkers and understanding the biological role of these markers in the progression of breast cancer from a localized disease to metastases. Research over the past few years has focused on two molecules: claudin 1 and the human prolactin inducible protein/gross cystic disease fluid protein (hPIP/GCDFP-15) gene.

Research Program

Despite great advances in breast cancer treatment, many women still fail standard therapies. Six to 10% of patients will have the cancer cells spreading to other organs, and 85% of deaths are a result of such cancer spread (metastasis). With the revelation of many more diverse breast cancer subtypes than first imagine, there is an urgency to find innovative strategies to manage this disease. My overall research program is focused on identifying novel biomarkers for breast cancer and the elucidation of their biological roles in this disease. One such biomarker is the prolactin inducible protein, PIP, also known as Gross Cystic Disease Fluid Protein GCDFP-15. Following its discovery as a highly abundant protein secreted by some breast cancer cell lines, PIP is now considered a valuable biomarker for abnormal breast and breast cancer, and is frequently used in the clinic by pathologists to confirm whether metastatic carcinoma originating from an unknown primary site is of mammary origin. We have now generated various mouse models to address the function of PIP in vivo, including the first two transgenic mouse models for the PIP/GCDFP-15 gene, (Myal Y et al., 1998 Transgenic.2:327; Myal Y et al. 1998. J Mol. Endocrinolog. 21:217 Immunol. 45:1082) and a PIP knockout mouse model (Blanchard et al, 2009) and most recently, developed the first CRISPR/Cas9 PIP knockout mouse model through our Central Animal Core facility.  Using our animal models, we discovered that PIP induces protective immune responses to control the primary tumor growth but paradoxically promotes and enhances cancer spread in the lungs, a primary metastatic site for breast cancer. Our studies therefore suggest that PIP plays critical roles in early as well as late stage breast cancer. Our group is currently delineating how PIP is able to exert such diverse functions at different stages of this disease. This work is novel and innovative and has the potential to guide new therapeutic strategies that would protect the patient from breast cancer progression and spread, thereby greatly influencing patient care.

Claudin 1 is another protein of interest that we study in our lab. It is a tight junction protein which we first identified to be highly expressed in a subset of estrogen receptor negative breast cancers (Blanchard A et al., 2009 Virchows Arch. 454:647).  Importantly, we demonstrated that the expression of claudin 1 is significantly associated with the basal-like subtype of breast cancer and patient age and thus may be potentially a useful biomarker for diagnosing this particular subtype of breast cancer.

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • YWCA/YMCA Woman of Distinction Award (2011)
  • CIHR Synapse Award for High School Awareness in Science, 2012 (nominated)
  • Café Scientifique, moderator (2011)
  • Sanofi-Aventis Mentorship Award (2006)
  • MMSF Career Development Research Award in Basic Science (2003-2006)
  • University of Manitoba Merit Award for Research, Scholarly Activities and Service (2003, 2006)
  • Ken Hughes Young Investigator Award (2003)
  • Rh Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship and Research in the Health Sciences (2003)
  • MHRC New Investigator Establishment Award (1998-2001)

Selected Publications:

  • Edechi A, Nasr M, Karim A, Blanchard AA, Ellison CA, Qui H, Uzonna J, Myal Y. The Prolactin Inducible Protein/Gross Cystic Disease Fluid Protein-15 deficient mice develop anomalies in lymphoid organs. 2019 Nov;224(6):811-816. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2019.08.005. Epub 2019 Aug 13.
  • Edechi CA, Ikeogu N, Uzonna JE, Myal Y. Regulation of Immunity in Breast Cancer. Cancers (Basel). 2019 Jul 30;11(8). pii: E1080. doi: 10.3390/cancers11081080. Review. PMID: 3136613.
  • Blanchard AA, Ma X, Wang N, Hombach-Klonisch S, Penner C, Ozturk A, Klonisch T, Pitz M, Murphy L, Leygue E, Myal Y. Claudin 1 Is Highly Upregulated by PKC in MCF7 Human Breast Cancer Cells and Correlates Positively with PKCε in Patient Biopsies. Translational Oncology. 2019;12(3):561–575. doi:1016/j.tranon.2018.12.011
  • Ihedioha O, Blanchard AA, Balhara J, Okwor I, Jia P, Uzonna J, Myal Y. The human breast cancer-associated protein, the prolactin-inducible protein (PIP), regulates intracellular signaling events and cytokine production by macrophages. Immunologic Research. 2018;66(2):245–254. doi:10.1007/s12026-018-8987-6
  • Ihedioha OC, Shiu RPC, Uzonna JE, Myal Y. Prolactin-Inducible Protein: From Breast Cancer Biomarker to Immune Modulator-Novel Insights from Knockout Mice. DNA and Cell Biology. 2016;35(10):537–541. doi:10.1089/dna.2016.3472 Figure used for journal cover.
  • Majer A, Blanchard AA, Medina S, Booth SA, Myal Y. Claudin 1 Expression Levels Affect miRNA Dynamics in Human Basal-Like Breast Cancer Cells. DNA and Cell Biology. 2016;35(7):328–339. doi:10.1089/dna.2015.3188
  • Blanchard AA, Zelinski T, Xie J, Cooper S, Penner C, Leygue E, Myal Y. Identification of Claudin 1 Transcript Variants in Human Invasive Breast Cancer. PloS One. 2016;11(9):e0163387. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163387
  • Zhou B, Moodie A, Blanchard AAA, Leygue E, Myal Y. Claudin 1 in Breast Cancer: New Insights. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2015;4(12):1960–1976. doi:10.3390/jcm4121952
  • Li J, Liu D, Mou Z, Ihedioha OC, Blanchard A, Jia P, Myal Y, Uzonna JE. Deficiency of prolactin-inducible protein leads to impaired Th1 immune response and susceptibility to Leishmania major in mice. European Journal of Immunology. 2015;45(4):1082–1091. doi:10.1002/eji.201445078
  • Zhou B, Blanchard A, Wang N, Ma X, Han J, Schroedter I, Leygue E, Myal Y. Claudin 1 promotes migration and increases sensitivity to tamoxifen and anticancer drugs in luminal-like human breast cancer cells MCF7. Cancer Investigation. 2015;33(9):429–439. doi:10.3109/07357907.2015.1060996
  • Blanchard AA, Ezzati P, Shamshurin D, Nistor AC, Leygue E, Wilkins JA, Myal Y. Towards further defining the proteome of mouse saliva. Proteome Science. 2015;13:10. doi:10.1186/s12953-0150068-3
  • Blanchard AA, Ma X, Dueck KJ, Penner C, Cooper SC, Mulhall D, Murphy LC, Leygue E, Myal Y. Claudin 1 expression in basal-like breast cancer is related to patient age. BMC Cancer. 2013;13:268. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-268 Earmarked by journal as highly accessed.
  • Umadat V, Ihedioha O, Shiu R, Uzonna J, Myal Y. The prolactin-inducible-protein (PIP): A regulatory molecule in adaptive and innate immunity. Open Journal of Immunology. 2013;03(04):210–217. doi:10.4236/oji.2013.34026.

Laboratory Members:Students:
MSc (Pathology): Olivia Chizoba
MSc (Physiology): Nan Wang

Technical/Research Staff:
Anne Blanchard
Xiuli Ma