Physiology

Rajini Rao

Rajini Rao

The Rao laboratory studies the role of novel ion transporters in human health and disease. One project focuses on the calcium signaling in breast cancer. We showed that an isoform of the secretory pathway Ca2+-ATPase, SPCA2, interacts with ion channels to drive tumor proliferation. We are currently investigating how downregulation of SPCA2 promotes epithelial to mesenchymal transition. A second project relates to the endosomal Na+/H+ exchangers NHE6 and NHE9 that are linked to autism, Christianson syndrome, ADHD and a growing list of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

BCMB students currently in the lab:

G. William Wong

G. William Wong

Our lab seeks to understand mechanisms employed by cells and tissues to maintain metabolic homeostasis. We are broadly interested in how secreted hormones control various aspects of sugar and fat metabolism. Our current efforts centered on addressing how fat and muscle-derived secretory proteins (adipokines and myokines), identified in our lab, regulate tissue crosstalk and signaling pathways to control energy metabolism.

BCMB students currently in the lab:

Roger Reeves

Roger Reeves

Down syndrome (DS) occurs as a result of Trisomy 21 and is among the most complicated genetic conditions compatible with human survival. The Reeves laboratory complements genetic analyses in human beings with the creation and characterization of mouse models to understand why and how gene dosage imbalance disrupts development in DS. The models then provide a basis to explore therapeutic approaches to amelioration of DS features.

Zhaozhu Qiu

Zhaozhu Qiu

Cell is composed of around 70% water with a plasma membrane also permeable to water. So keeping cell volume constant in response to osmotic challenges is fundamental to life. This is achieved in mammals by maintaining a stable blood plasma osmolarity (near 300 mOsm/L) and by possessing a variety of mechanisms that allow individual cells to monitor and recover their volume following osmotic swelling or shrinkage. Defective osmoregulation leads to various human disorders, including dehydration, hypertension, renal and neurological diseases.

Jennifer Pluznick

Jennifer Pluznick

Our lab is interested in the role that chemosensation plays in regulating physiological processes, particularly in the kidney and the cardiovascular system. We have found that sensory receptors (olfactory receptors, taste receptors, and other G-protein coupled receptors) are expressed in the kidney and in blood vessels, and that individual receptors play functional roles in whole-animal physiology.

BCMB students currently in the lab:

Svetlana Lutsenko

Svetlana Lutsenko

Copper plays an essential role in human physiology. It serves as a cofactor to key metabolic enzymes that are required for respiration, neurotransmitter biosynthesis, detoxification of radicals, blood clotting, connective tissue formation, and many others processes. Through currently unknown mechanisms, copper regulates the myelination of neurons, inflammatory response, and alters the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, such as cisplatin. The long-term goal of our research is provide a detailed understanding of human copper homeostasis in health and disease.

BCMB students currently in the lab:

William Guggino

William Guggino

Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) is the largest intracellular Ca 2+ store. On the membrane of the ER, there are calcium release components such as inositol 1, 4, 5 trisphosphate receptor (IP 3 R), and the calcium pumps like SR/ER Ca 2+ ATPases (SERCAs). We injected caged-IP 3 together with the fluorescent Ca 2+ indicator into the oocytes. Upon UV stimulation, activated IP 3 binds to IP 3 R and releases Ca 2+ from the ER into the cytosol. Subsequently the closure of IP 3 R and activation of SERCAs takes the cytosolic Ca 2+ back into the ER stores.

Dax Fu

Dax Fu

Zinc transporters regulate subcellular zinc distributions to ensure proper metalation of a wide range of cellular proteins that amount to about a third of a mammalian proteome. For example, a human zinc transporter (ZnT8) enriches zinc in the insulin-containing vesicles of pancreatic beta cells where zinc is required for insulin dense core formation. Glucose stimulations trigger zinc and insulin co-secretion. The released zinc serves as an autocrine regulator of insulin secretion and a paracrine regulator of insulin clearance.

Valina Dawson

Valina Dawson

Dr. Dawson’s laboratory is actively engaged in discovering and defining cell signaling pathways that lead to either neuronal survival or neuronal death. We have characterized neuronal injury and survival pathways in cell, fly and mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and stroke. She explores the role of the monogenic forms of Parkinson’s disease with a focus on parkin, EIF4G1 and LRRK2 in order to begin to define the biochemical signaling important to Parkinson’s disease.

Steven Claypool

Steven Claypool

Phospholipids are the building blocks of biological membranes. Membranes leverage the amphipathic chemistry of lipids to form bilayers that encapsulate a cell and its multitude of organelles. Such compartmentalization has enabled cells to separate biochemical pathways, establish specialized functions that can respond when appropriate, and adapt to constantly fluctuating metabolic conditions. The Claypool laboratory’s research focus is on the underappreciated contribution of the mitochondrion to cellular phospholipid metabolism.

BCMB students currently in the lab:

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