Dr Elena Odintsova PhD

Dr Elena Odintsova

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Lecturer in Cancer Biology

Contact details

CRUK Institute for Cancer Studies
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences

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)    Application of single particle tracking, super resolution microscopy and novel labelling techniques to study signalling and endocytic trafficking of ErbB receptors.

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

c)    Investigation of the role of metastasis suppressor tetraspanin CD82/KAI1 in assembly and disassembly of desmosomes in epithelial cells.

Elena has an expertise in various imaging techniques which she widely uses in her research and collaborations. She is involved in undergraduate teaching and in supervision of postgraduate students.

Elena actively participates in fund-raising and promotional events held by CRUK and Breast Cancer Now.


  • 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.E.Odintsova became a lecturer in 2008. 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.


  • MBChB programme, 2nd Year, Foundations 4 – component lead for Cancer: Causes to Cures
  • BMedSc programme, 1st Year, Cellular Biochemistry and Biology
  • BMedSc programme, 2nd Year, Cancer and Stratified Medicine
  • BMedSc programme, 3rd Year, module lead “Cell Communications in Disease”
  • Personal Mentor for MBChB students (group PM84) and BMedSc students

Postgraduate supervision

Currently supervising two PhD students.

Project for self-funded PhD student is available in collaboration with Dr Sudha Sundar on ovarian cancer and tetraspanins.


Research theme: Cancer Cell Biology

Ongoing projects and collaborations:

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; Emma Lonnen, PhD student). This project is funded by EPSRC, and is 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.  

TSPAN graph

 The role of tetraspanin TSPAN13/NET-6 in cellular responses to HER2 antagonists (Abeer Shaaban, Fedor Berditchevski, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences). HER2-targeting biological therapies were approved for treatment of HER2-overexpressing breast cancers. Success of these therapies is counterweighted by the frequent development of resistance. We identified a protein, tetraspanin Tspan13/NET-6, which specifically affects proliferation of breast cancer cells treated with Herceptin and Lapatinib. In the course of proposed study we aim: a) to identify the mechanism underlying Tspan13/NET-6-dependent regulation of cellular responses to HER2 antagonists; b) to establish whether responses to Herceptin of breast cancer patients correlate with the expression of Tspan13.

tetraspanin CD82Investigation 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 ( Martyn Chidgey, Institute of Clinical Sciences, 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

  • Member of CPARC
  • Member of the Institute of Cancer and Genomics Teaching and Learning Committee


Most recent publications:

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]