Dr Elena Odintsova PhD

Dr Elena Odintsova

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Associate Professor in Cancer Biology

Contact details

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Odintsova’s research interests are focused on an elucidation of the role of tetraspanins in modulation of responses of cancer cells to extracellular stimuli targeting various transmembrane receptors. Specifically her current and future research is focused on the following areas:

a)    Investigation of the role of CD82/KAI1 in releasing of extracellular vesicles with a specific glycosignature to promote homing of breast cancer cells to bone

b)    Investigation of the role of metastasis suppressor tetraspanin CD82/KAI1 in cell-cell adhesion in epithelial cells with an emphasis on adhesion junctions and desmosomes.

c)    Identification of potential biomarkers indicative of the responses of cancer cells to HER2-targeting drugs.

Elena has an expertise in various imaging techniques which she widely uses in her research and collaborations. Dr Odintsova has established many collaborations across the college and university. She is involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and in supervision of postgraduate students.


  • Lecturer in Cancer Cell Biology, 2007
  • Associate of the Higher Education Academy, 2012
  • ELT in Higher Education, 2012
  • PhD in Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology RAS, Moscow, 1991
  • BSc/MSc in Microbiology, Moscow State University, 1984


Elena Odintsova graduated from Moscow State University in 1984. She joined laboratory of Professor G A Dubinina in the same year as a PhD student. Elena continued her research career as a research scientist in the laboratory led by Professor V Gorlenko from 1988.  As a microbiologist Elena Odintsova worked successfully in leading laboratories in UK and USA and published 7 papers in high-ranking international journals.

From 1997 Elena became interested in Cell Biology. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr F Berditchevski studying tetraspanin proteins and their role in breast cancer. Her specific interests were in investigating interactions of tetraspanins and growth factor receptors of ErbB family. During this period Elena has learned various imaging techniques and their applications in cancer cell biology.

Dr Odintsova became a lecturer in 2007. She acquired independent funding from the University of Birmingham and Breast Cancer Campaign. She continues laboratory research and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students’ research projects. She actively collaborates with her colleagues at the University of Birmingham and abroad.

Elena is also responsible for training for and looking after Zeiss LSM510 system.


Undergraduate Teaching:

  • MBChB programme, 2nd Year, Foundations 4 – component lead for Cancer: Causes to Cures; Foundations of Medical Science and Practice 4, module lead
  • BMedSc programme, 1st Year, Cellular Biochemistry and Biology, SGT lead and tutor
  • BMedSc programme, 2nd Year, Cancer and Stratified Medicine, lecturer and tutor
  • BMedSc programme, 3rd Year, “Cell Communications in Disease”, module lead
  • Personal Mentor for MBChB students (group PM84) and BMedSc students
  • MSci Biomed Sciences programme, Academic Lead Year 3

 Postgraduate Teaching:

Postgraduate supervision

Currently supervising one PhD student.


Research theme: Cancer Cell Biology

Ongoing projects and collaborations:

Investigation of the role of the metastasis suppressor CD82/KAI1 in homing of breast cancer cells to bone

(Abeer Shaaban, UHB, MRes Student). Metastases to bone from breast cancer affect 65-80% of patients with progressive malignancy. Moreover, it has also been suggested that bone marrow is the original dissemination source of breast cancer cells to viscera. However, successful prediction of the metastatic lesions remains elusive. Tetraspanin CD82/KAI1 has a well-established role as a metastasis suppressor in a variety of solid tumours including breast cancer. However, recently a new alternative role in homing of cancer cells to bone has been proposed for this protein. Our hypothesis suggests a distinctive role for CD82 in colonization of bone marrow by disseminating breast cancer cells.

Single particle tracking and analysis of ErbB receptors dynamics and partitioning between various microdomains in response to extracellular stimuli

(Ela Claridge, School Of Computer Sciences; Rob Neely, School of Chemistry; PhD student).This project was funded by EPSRC, and was a part of PSIBS doctorate programme. Using quantum dot labelled Herceptin and TIRFM we have initially examined biophysical properties of Herceptin-labelled HER2 receptor in breast cancer cells with various expression levels of tetraspanins known either to promote or inhibit cancer progression. Using dual colour labelling we are analysing the biophysical properties of the receptors found specifically in the same location as tetraspanins. We also use stochastic optical reconstructive microscopy (dSTORM) to image and quantify nanoscale composition of protein clusters at the plasma membrane. Correlation between cellular distribution of ErbB receptors in the cells expressing different tetraspanins and responses to extracellular stimuli is investigated.  

Elena research image

Figure. To analyze the contribution of CD82 to the membrane organisation we used multi-pass implementation of DBSGAN data clustering algorithm to cluster molecular localisations from dSTORM images.

A. A multi-pass implementation of DBSCAN was used to cluster molecular localisations from dSTORM imaging on MCF7 cells labelled with Herceptin and AlexaFluor 647. The full field reconstruction was analyzed to determine which pass number revealed the highest level of substructure in the data. B. Dual colour dSTORM was carried out on SKBR3 cells to determine relative organisation of ErbB2 and CD82. For dual colour imaging ErbB2 was labelled with Herceptin and AF488 and CD82 was labelled with anti-CD82 mAb (c33) and AF647. Representative image of initial clustering results (green) and detected sub-clusters (purple) of ErbB2. C. Representative image of ErbB2 sub-clusters displayed with input localisations. D. Representative image of CD82 sub-clusters as above. E. Combined image of CD82 sub-clusters (purple) and ErbB2 sub-clusters (green). Scale bar is 1mm.

Investigation of the interactions of tetraspanin CD82 and desmosomal proteins

(Martyn Chidgey, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Maryam Arab, PhD student). Mass spectrometry analysis of the proteins associated with CD82/KAI1 identified structural proteins of desmosomes to be potential interacting proteins for the tetraspanin. We investigate potential mechanisms of interactions and the role of CD82 in the assembly/disassembly of desmosomes. Potential involvement of PKC and phosphorylation of desmosomal components will be analysed. The nanoscale composition of desmosomes in relation to tetraspanins expressed will be analysed by dSTORM.  Funding provided by BBSRC-MIBTP programme.

Investigation of the role of different structural domains of envoplakin and periplakin in their interactions with intermediate filaments

(Dr Martyn Chidgey, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Dr Fiyaz Mohammed, Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of Birmingham). Structural analysis of the interactions between plakins and intermediate filaments identified importance of a linker domain. We analyse biological significance of these interactions.

Other activities

  • 2020 – promoted to Senior Lecturer position
  • Member of EC-PGT panel
  • Member of the Institute of Cancer and Genomics Teaching and Learning Committee


Most recent publications:

Ordas, L., Costa, L., Lozano, A., Chevillard, C., Calovoulos, A., Kantar, D., Fernandez, L., Chauvin, L., Dosset, P., Doucet, C., Heron-Milhavet, L., Odintsova, E., Berditchevski, F., Milhiet, P.-E., and Benistant, C. (2021), Mechanical control of Cell migration by the metastasis suppressor tetraspanin CD82/KAI1. Cells  10:1545. 

Fernandez, L., Malrieu, M., Benistant, C., Dosset, P., Rubinstein, E., Odintsova, E., Berditchevski, F., and Milhiet, P.E. (2021) Cd82 and gangliosides tune CD81 membrane behaviour. Int.J.Mol.Sci. 22:8459 

Mohammed, F., Odintsova, E., and Chidgey, M. (2022) Missense mutations in desmoplakin plakin repeat domains have dramatic effects on domain structure and function. Int.J.Mol.Sci. 23:529

Odintsova E., Mohammed F., Trieber C., Rodriguez-Zamora P., Al-Jasar C., Huang T.H., Fogl C., Knowles T., Sridhar P., Kumar J., Jeeves, M., Chidgey M., and Overduin M. Binding of the periplakin linker requires vimentin acidic residues D176 and E187. Communications Biology, 2020: doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-0810-y

Stroe, P., Claridge, E., Odintsova, E. Cell boundary detection for quantitative studies of the role of tetraspanin CD82 in cell-cell adhesion. 2016 in Procedia Computer Science, refereed conference proceedings, MIUA 2016, 6-8 July 2016, Loughborough, UK. 90:107-112.

Berditchevski, F., Odintsova, E. ErbB receptors and tetraspanins: casting the net wider. 2016, Int J Biochem Cell Biol. Jun 1. pii: S1357-2725(16)30123-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2016.05.017. [Epub ahead of print]

Oldreive, C., Skowronska, A., Davies, N., Parry, H., Agathanggelou, A., Cronin, L., Vrzalikova, K., Murray, P., Odintsova, E., Pratt, G., Taylor, A., Moss, P., and Stankovic, T. T-cell number and subtype influence the disease course of primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia xenografts in alymphoid mice: T-CELL MANIPULATED CLL XENOGRAFTS. 2015 In Disease Models and Mechanisms.  8(11):1401-12. 41 p.doi: 10.1242/dmm.021147

Fogl, C., Mohammed, F., Al-Jassar, C., Jeeves, M., Knowles, T.J., Rodriguez-Zamora, P., White, S.A., Odintsova, E., Overduin, M., and Chidgey, M. Mechanism of intermediate filament recognition by plakin repeat domains revealed by envoplakin targeting of vimentin. Nature Communications, 2016 7:10827. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10827

Mussai, F.J., Egan, S., Higginbotham-Jones, J., Perry, T., Beggs, A., Odintsova, E., Loke, J., Pratt, G., Kin Pong U, Lo, A., Ng, M., Kearns, P., Cheng, P., and De Santo, C. Arginine dependence of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia blast proliferation: a novel therapeutic target. Blood 2015, 125 (15):2386-96.

Odintsova, E., van Niel, G., Conjeaud, H., Raposo, G., Iwamoto, R., Mekada, E., Berditchevski, F. Tetraspanin CD82 regulates ubiquitylation of EGF receptor. J Biol Chem 2013 288:26323-26334.

Novitskaya, V., Romanska, H., Kordek, R., Potemski, P., Kusinska, R., Parsons, M., Odintsova, E., and Berditchevski, F. Integrin a3b1-CD151 complex regulates dimerisation of ErbB2 via RhoA. Oncogene 2014 May 22;33(21):2779-89. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.231. [Epub ahead of print]

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