News

Congratulations to Dr. Xiuping Yu!

Dr. Xiuping Yu was the recipient of the Top Faculty Performer Award in Biochemistry for the 2018-2019 AY. Dr. Yu was also congratulated for her promotion to Associate Professor which began 1 July 2019.  

Dr. Eric First Elected to Faculty Senate

Congratulations to Dr. Eric First for being elected to the LSU Health Shreveport Faculty Senate! His two year term began 1 July 2019.

Congratulations to Principal Investigator Dr. Hari K Koul

Congratulations to Dr. Hari K Koul for being awarded an NCI-NIH RO1 grant entitled, “Prostate Cancer Health Disparity: Role of PDEF” The grant provides Dr. Koul with $228750 per year each year for five years. The total direct and indirect costs are $1,669,875. The RO1 grant follows up on the discovery made by members of the Koul Laboratory  that Prostate Derived Ets Factor (PDEF) is decreased during prostate cancer progression; that PDEF acts as a potential Tumor Metastasis Suppressor by serving as a master regulator of gene expression promoting luminal differentiation, and limiting lineage plasticity. The RO1 grant seeks to deepen our understanding of role played by PDEF in modulating therapeutic resistance in prostate cancer and to decipher the molecular mechanisms of regulation of PDEF expression. A successful completion of the proposed studies will help establish, PDEF and gene signatures regulated by PDEF in distinguishing lethal prostate cancer from an indolent disease and in identifying novel targets for treatment of Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer, for which there is no cure to date.

Praveen Jaiswal, Ph.D., Receives Research Scholar Award

AUA-Urology Care Foundation, Research Scholar Award for mentored Prostate Cancer Research

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality in men in the USA. Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC)is a deadly disease, resulting in over 30,000 deaths in the USA each year, for which there is no cure to-date.

AUA (American Urological Association) Research Scholar Award received by Dr. Praveen Kumar Jaiswal, Post-Doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Hari K. Koul, who serves as a mentor for this award, in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health Science Center, Shreveport. This is a novel and an emerging area of cancer therapy being developed in the Koul’s laboratory and will have a potential impact for managing the CRPC and therapy resistance. This award will help to further explore how translational reprogramming in CRPC and therapy resistance can be targeted by inhibiting cap-dependent translation by modulating EIF4G1, a key component of translation initiation complex.

This study builds on the recent discovery that Dr. Koul and his colleagues found that the gene EIF4G1 is amplified and overexpressed in a majority of CRPC patients that allows prostate cancer cells to overcome current treatments. They also found that the silencing of this gene or inhibiting function of the EIF4G1 protein sensitized CRPC cells to antiandrogens, as well as second generation AR targeted therapies, in experimental settings. “This is quite exciting that EIF4G1 would serve as an excellent target for combination therapy with current first and/or second generation AR targeted therapies,” says Dr. Koul. Specifically, Dr. Jaiswal and the team are employing 3D culture, prostate organoids, polysome profiling, DOX inducible system and different mouse models to explore the role of EIF4G1 in CRPC and ENZ resistance.

“I am thankful to my mentor Prof. Hari K Koul for giving me the opportunity to work on this exciting project. I also express sincere gratitude to all my laboratory members for their great help and contribution,” said Dr. Jaiswal.

This prestigious highly competitive award is one of the only nine awards funded for 2019-2021 (https://www.auanet.org/research/research-funding/aua-funding/research-scholar-awards/2019-2021-research-scholars ) across the USA.

Congratulations to Our 2019 Graduates

Pictured left to right: Rini Ravindran, Amoldeep Kainth, and Karnika Singh.

2018-2019 Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Third-year graduate student Linda S. Rubio was awarded Biochemistry Graduate Student of the Year at Graduate Research Day, April 26, 2019.  Linda is a member of the Gross Lab and follows in the footsteps of two other Ph.D. students from that lab.  Last year, Amoldeep S. Kainth was awarded Biochemistry Graduate Student of the Year, and the year before that, in 2017, Surabhi Chowdhary was accorded this honor.

Congratulations to Principle Investigator, Dr. Stephan N. Witt

Congratulations to Dr. Stephan N. Witt for being awarded an R15 AREA grant entitled, “The role of alpha-synuclein in Snx3-retromer mediated recycling of membrane proteins.” The grant provides Dr. Witt with $100,000 per year each year for three years. The total direct and indirect costs are $438,000. This grant will begin 1 December 2018.

Background/Goals of This Grant:
The R15 grant follows up on a discovery made by then-graduate student Dhaval Patel that the Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein disrupts Snx3-retromer mediated recycling of the iron transport complex Fet3-Ftr1. This finding was recently reported in Human Molecular Genetics. The R15 grant seeks to deepen our understanding about how alpha-synuclein blocks the binding of phox homology domain-containing proteins to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate.

Paper accepted by International Journal of Cancer

Paper accepted by the International Journal of Cancer. Title : Targeting the TLK1/NEK1 DDR axis with Thioridazine suppresses outgrowth of Androgen Independent Prostate tumors.

Authors: Vibha Singh, Praveen Kumar Jaiswal, Ishita Ghosh, Hari K. Koul, Xiuping Yu, Arrigo De Benedetti

Erika Knott receives Carroll Feist Predoctoral Fellowship

Congratulations to Erika Knott for being awarded a Carroll Feist Predoctoral Fellowship. Erika is a graduate student in Dr. Nancy Leidenheimer’s lab.

Eric First, PhD, Awarded Eastern Star Grant

Congratulations to Principal Investigator Dr. Eric First for being awarded a grant from the Biochemical Research Foundation for his proposal “Developing novel cancer therapeutics that target post-transfer editing in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.” The grant provides Dr. First with $10,000.

Paper from Gross Lab published in Cell Reports, January 2019

Paper accepted in Cell Reports. Title: Heat Shock Factor 1 Drives Intergenic Association of Its Target Gene Loci Upon Heat Shock.

Postdoc Surabhi Chowdhary and Ph.D. student Amoldeep S. Kainth are co-first authors on a study published in January 2019 in Cell Reports. Their study, “Heat Shock Factor 1 Drives Intergenic Association of Its Target Gene Loci Upon Heat Shock," provides compelling evidence that argues against a prevailing belief – that gene repositioning is a general feature of transcription. See https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(18)31964-8#secsectitle0020 .

Shile Huang, PhD, Awarded Grant from Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Center

Congratulations to Principal Investigator Dr. Shile Huang for being awarded a pilot grant from the Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Center for his proposal  “Role of PHLPP and PP2A in the anti-diabetic activity of Artemisia extracts.” The grant provides Dr. Huang with $30,000.

Stephan Witt, PhD, awarded NIH R15 Grant

Congratulations to Principal Investigator Dr. Stephan N. Witt for being awarded an R15 AREA grant entitled, “The role of alpha-synuclein in Snx3-retromer mediated recycling of membrane proteins.” The grant provides Dr. Witt with $100,000 per year each year for three years. The total direct and indirect costs are $438,000. This grant will begin 1 December 2018.

Background/Goals of This Grant:
The R15 grant follows up on a discovery made by then-graduate student Dhaval Patel that the Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein disrupts Snx3-retromer mediated recycling of the iron transport complex Fet3-Ftr1. This finding was recently reported in Human Molecular Genetics. The R15 grant seeks to deepen our understanding about how alpha-synuclein blocks the binding of phox homology domain-containing proteins to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate.

Rini Ravindran featured in the Journal of Cell Science

Rini Ravindran, a graduate student in Kelly Tatchell’s lab, was featured in the ‘First Person’ section in the Journal of Cell Science. ‘First Person’ is a series of interviews with the first authors of a selection of papers published in Journal of Cell Science, helping early-career researchers promote themselves alongside their papers. You can read Rini’s interview here: http://jcs.biologists.org/content/131/16/jcs223545

Dr. Kelly Tatchell's Lab, Update

The latest publication from Kelly Tatchell’s lab was featured in the Research Highlights section in the Journal of Cell Science.

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT
A new ubiquitin E1 variant for kinase–phosphatase balance
J Cell Sci 2018 131: e1601

Aurora B kinase (Ipl1 in S. cerevisiae) is part of the chromosomal passenger complex that is central for chromosomal attachment to the spindle during mitosis and for cytokinesis. An important counterforce is protein phosphatase 1 (PP1, Glc7 in S.cerevisiae), which dephosphorylates Aurora B target substrates, in addition to having many other roles.  READ MORE... http://jcs.biologists.org/content/131/16/e1601

Rini Ravindran receives award at Internation FASEB Conference

Rini Ravindran, a graduate student in Dr. Kelly Tatchell’s lab,  presented a talk titled “New ubiquitin-dependent mechanisms regulating the Aurora B-Protein Phosphatase 1 balance in S. cerevisiae”at the International FASEB conference on Protein Phosphatases, held July 15-20 at Snowmass Village in Colorado. She also won one of four awards at a poster session.  She is pictured in the photo below with her award, third from the left.

Dr. Hari Koul's Lab identifies Key Gene in Prostate Cancer

Summary: Prostate cancer is diagnosed in about 200,000 men and castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) accounts for about 30,000 deaths annually in the USA. Now, scientists have identified a key gene - eIF4G1 - that shows grade and stage specific upregulation in prostate cancer and is overexpressed and or amplified in the majority of cases of CRPC. The study revealed that silencing EIF4G1 or disrupting EIF4G1 function using a chemical inhibitor sensitized CRPC to current therapies.

Almost all the deaths from prostate cancer are a result of emergence of CRPC. Now, scientists from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and The Feist Weiller Cancer Center at LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA have identified a key gene - eIF4G1- that is overexpressed in the majority of cases of CRPC, allowing these cancer cells to rapidly respond to androgen deprivation therapies. The new findings, “Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 4 Gamma 1 (eIF4G1) is upregulated during Prostate cancer progression and modulates cell growth and metastasis” (SREP-18-09172) has been scheduled for online publication in Scientific Reports on the 10th of May 2018. and could lead to the identification of new approaches, therapies and a new class of drugs to target and treat CRPC. This would be a critical development in the fight against CRPC, which does not respond to any other current treatments, according to the study's lead authors Prof. Hari K Koul, associate director for basic and translational research at the Feist Weiller Cancer Center, Director of Hormone related malignancies research program, and the Carroll W. Feist Endowed Chair in Cancer and Professor Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSUHSC- School of Medicine-Shreveport.

"Conventional therapies produce a high rate of cure for patients with localized prostate cancer, but there is no cure once the disease has spread beyond the prostate primarily due to emergence of CRPC,” says Dr. Koul, noting that resistance to androgen receptor targeted therapies accounts for almost all of the prostate cancer deaths. Dr. Koul opines that, “there has been little progress in developing curative therapies for CRPC despite discovery of the second generation AR targeted therapies over the past two decades, and there are no curative drugs specifically for this form of cancer.  Dr. Koul and his colleagues found that the gene eIF4G1 is amplified and overexpressed in a majority of CRPC patients that allows prostate cancer cells to overcome current treatments, and silencing of this gene (using SiRNA technology) and or inhibition of function of the EIF4G1 protein made by this gene sensitized CRPC cells to antiandrogens as well as second generation AR targeted therapies in experimental settings. This is quite exciting that "EIF4G1 would serve as an excellent target for combination therapy with current first and/or second generation AR targeted therapies” says Dr. Koul.    

Dr. Koul cautions that additional work is required for translating these laboratory findings in to therapies and we plan to further explore this pathway, develop small molecular inhibitors that target EIF4G1 and conduct preclinical tests.

The members of Dr. Koul’s research team that participated in this study includes Dr. Praveen Jaiswal, Sweaty Koul, Prakash ST Shanmugam.

Congratulations to our 2018 Graduates

Surabhi Chowdhary and Dhaval Patel received their PhD diplomas at the graduation ceremony at the Gold Dome on Saturday May 26, 2018. Surabhi and Dhaval were members of Gross and Witt labs, respectively. The members of the faculty of the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department are proud of your accomplishments and wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Dr. Lucy Robinson wins the Copping Award

Congratulations to Associate Professor Lucy Robinson, PhD, for winning the 2018 Copping Award for Excellence in Teaching. Lucy has been a member of the department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology since 1993. She has taught graduate and medical students throughout her career at our institution. Thank you for your excellent contributions to our teaching mission.

2018 Graduate Research Day

Dr. Stephan Witt (left), department chair, presenting award to
graduate student Amoldeep Kainth (right) for the Outstanding
Graduate Student in Biochemistry.

April 27, 2018 was the annual Graduate Research Day at LSUHSC-S. The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology was well represented by our Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Amoldeep Kainth, fourth year graduate student in Dr. David S. Gross’ lab, presented a talk titled “Activator-specific spatial restructuring of stress-responsive genes”, and received 1st place for his oral presentation. Amoldeep was also chosen as the 2018 Outstanding Biochemistry Student for his poster titled “Activator-specific spatial restructuring of stress-responsive genes.”

Ishita Ghosh, Imtiaz Khalil, Linda Rubio, and Sahar Shekoohi presented posters in the Junior Category. Imtiaz Khalil, first year graduate student in Dr. Xiuping Yu’s lab, received 1st place in the Junior Category for his poster titled “Functional role of EZH2 in neuroendocrine prostate cancer.”

Zachary Connelly, Amoldeep Kainth, Erika Knott, Rini Ravindran, Karnika Singh, and Fengtian Wang presented posters in the Senior Category.

Praveen Jaiswal, Gauri Shishodia, and Vibha Singh presented posters in the Postdoctoral Fellows Category. Gauri Shishodia, Postdoctoral fellow of Dr. Hari Koul’s lab, received 1st place in the Postdoctoral Fellow Category for her poster titled “PCDH7 is overexpressed in advanced prostate cancer and modulates aggressive phenotype in prostate cancer cells.”

Linda Rubio wins 2018 Graduate Research Day Photo Contest

Congratulations to Linda Rubio for winning the 2018 Graduate Student Research Day Image Contest!! Her image will be featured on the GSRD posters and abstract book.

David Gross, PhD, is Awarded an NIH R15 Grant

Congratulations to Principal Investigator Dr. David Gross for being awarded an R15 AREA grant entitled, “Chromosomal Conformation and Nuclear Organization of Heat Shock Protein Genes.” The grant provides Dr. Gross with $100,000 per year each year for three years. The total direct and indirect costs are $450,000.  This grant will begin 1 May 2018.

Background/Goals of This Grant

Genes that protect cells from environmental stresses fold upon themselves (‘crumple’) and vigorously, yet transiently, coalesce into discrete foci when a cell is exposed to high temperatures (a discovery made by Surabhi Chowdhary and Amoldeep Kainth in the Gross lab). The new NIH grant will allow us to investigate why and how this dance of the ‘Heat Shock’ genes occurs, and how this elaborate choreography ensures proper expression of the proteins that protect a cell from life-threatening stresses.

Dr. De Benedetti Promoted to Full Professor

Congratulations to Dr. Arrigo De Benedetti on his promotion to full professor. The promotion takes effect on 1 July 2018.

Zachary Connelly receives Award at ESRF

Zac Connelly from Dr. Xiuping Yu’s lab presented at the Eastern Atlantic Research Forum hosted by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, February 20-23, 2018. He was awarded Second Place for Outstanding Basic Science Oral Presentation titled "FOXA2 promotes prostate cancer bone colonization."

Dr. David Gross's Lab Update

Graduate students Surabhi Chowdhary and Amol Kainth were awarded Ike Muslow predoctoral fellowships for 2017-2018.

David Gross was an invited speaker at the Gordon Research Conference on Stress Proteins in Disease and Development, Newry, Maine, July 2017.

Graduate student Linda Rubio received a $1800 ASCB travel award.

Surabhi Chowdhary and Amol Kainth attended and presented at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Meeting on Mechanisms in Eukaryotic Transcription, September 2017.

Surabhi Chowdhary and Amol Kainth attended the Chromatin Interaction Analysis by Paired End Tagging (ChIA-PET) workshop at Jackson Labs, Farmington, Connecticut, in November 2017. They were both awarded NIH scholarships to participate in this bioinformatics forum.

Linda Rubio presented a poster at the American Society for Cell Biology Meeting in Philadelphia, December 2017.

Surabhi Chowdhary and Amol Kainth published a paper in December 2017 reporting findings from their investigation into the chromosome topology and genome organization of Hsf1-regulated genes.

Chowdhary, S., Kainth, A.S. and Gross, D.S. 2017. Heat Shock Protein genes undergo dynamic alteration in their three-dimensional structure and genome organization in response to thermal stress. Mol. Cell. Biol. 37: e00292-17.

An image from this study appears in the slideshow on the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD) homepage (https://www.yeastgenome.org/).
Another image appears below:

Fellowship / Travel / Grant-in-Aid Awards

Graduate students, faculty, and post-doctoral fellows have opportunities to compete for pre-doctoral fellowships, intramural grants, and post-doctoral fellowships, respectively, as well as travel grants. We are delighted to announce the following awardees:

1) Ike Muslow pre-doctoral fellowship ($28,000/year)

New awards:
Amoldeep Kainth (Mentor: Dr. David Gross) Title: Mechanisms underlying the restructuring of 3D architecture of HSP gene in yeast Term: 1 July 2017 – 30 June 2018

Renewal:
Surabhi Chowdhary (Mentor: Dr. David Gross)
Title: Role of chromosome conformation and nuclear organization in regulation of yeast heat-shock response
Term: 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018

Dhaval Patel (Mentor: Dr. Stephan Witt)
Title: α-Synuclein disrupts the intracellular trafficking of Fet3-Ftr1 complexes in budding yeast
Term: 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018

Rini Ravindran (Mentor: Dr. Kelly Tatchell)
Title: Ubiquitylation/SUMOylation: New players in protein phosphatase 1 regulation
Term: 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018

2) Carroll Feist pre-doctoral fellowship ($28,000/year)

New awards:
Zachary Connelly (Mentor: Xiuping Yu)
Research: Zac will study the involvement of FOXA2, a forkhead transcription factor, in PCa’s ability to colonize the bone. This research may reveal an important mechanism that facilitates PCa cells to grow in the bone.
Term: CY2018

3) Student Travel Award

Surabhi Chowdhary (Mentor: Dr. Gross) received the $600 travel scholarship provided by NIH to attend a workshop on 3D Genome Mapping Technology- ChIA-PET at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT, which will be held November 6-10, 2017.

Amoldeep Kainth (Mentor: Dr. Gross) received the $600 travel scholarship provided by NIH to attend a workshop on 3D Genome Mapping Technology- ChIA-PET at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT, which will be held November 6-10, 2017.

Rini Ravindran (Mentor: Dr. Tatchell) received the $300 travel scholarship to attend the American Society of Cell Biology Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, which will be held December 1-6, 2017.

Linda Rubio (Mentor: Dr. Gross) received the $1,850 travel scholarship to attend the American Society of Cell Biology Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, which will be held December 1-6, 2017.

Karnika Singh (Mentor: Dr. Koul) was sponsored by the Feist Weiller Cancer Center to attend a workshop on Translational Cancer Research for Basic Scientists in Boston, MA, held October 22-27, 2017.

4) Grant-in-Aid award ($25,000)

Eric First, PhD, Associate Professor
Title: Re-engineering the protein synthesis machinery to use D-amino acids
Term: 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology