Synopsis of research interests
My research interests revolve around protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions. Every cell is filled with thousands of proteins and every one of those proteins has a specific function. That function is dictated by the protein activity but also by its interactions with other proteins and/or DNA. Consequently, cells are filled with networks of signaling pathways and protein complexes. Under physiological conditions those complicated systems act in concert and make the cell work correctly. However, in some cases the cellular balance is disrupted by protein over-expression or release of toxic intermediates into the cellular environment. Those imbalances are the cause of disease.
Students in my laboratory are involved in two different areas of research:
I. Progression of prostate cancer
Projects in this area focus on characterizing the role several candidate genes and proteins play in prostate cancer progression. Students working in my laboratory investigate the role of these proteins on the level of tumor suppressor gene expression. They characterize human biopsy samples to identify the markers of prostate cancer progression and use biochemical methods to determine the mechanism of that progression.
II. Protein-protein interactions and substrate channeling in the tetrapyrrole pathway
The tetrapyrrole pathway produces heme and chlorophyll through a series of intermediates. In some species, one of the first substrates in this pathway is a charged tRNAGlu. For this pathway to proceed, that charged tRNAGlu has to be taken away from the protein synthesis machinery and shuttled into the tetrapyrrole pathway. We also know that other intermediates in the tetrapyrrole pathway are toxic and/or unstable. Students working in this area of research investigate the regulation and channeling of the intermediates and protein-protein interactions leading to heme production.
The tetrapyrrole pathway has been actively studied due to its potential in herbicide and antibiotic development. Substrates in this pathway are also used in the photodynamic therapies of cancer. Therefore, understanding the regulation and enzyme activities in heme production is an important part in the development of new strategies in agriculture and medicine.
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