Accepted post-doctoral position at UC Berkeley after receiving PhD
Now a faculty member at Texas Tech University Health Science Center
The baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae responds to the cytotoxic effects of elevated temperature (37-42°C) by activating transcription of ~150 genes, termed heat shock genes, collectively required to compensate for the abundance of misfolded and aggregated proteins and various physiological modifications necessary for the cell to survive and grow at heat shock temperatures. An intriguing facet of the yeast heat shock response is the remarkable similarity it shares with the global remodeling that occurs in mammalian cells in response to numerous pathophysiological conditions including cancer and cardiovascular disease and thus provides an ideal model system. I have therefore investigated several novel features of stress signaling, transcriptional regulation, and physiology. Initial work focused on the characterization of SYM1, a novel heat shock gene in yeast which was demonstrated to be required for growth on the nonfermentable carbon source ethanol at elevated temperature, and to be the functional ortholog of the mammalian kidney disease gene, Mpv17. Additional work addressed the role of two proteins, the Akt-related kinase, Sch9, and Sse1, the yeast Hsp110 protein chaperone homolog, in signaling by protein kinase A, establishing Sse1 as a critical negative regulator of this pathway. Furthermore, I have demonstrated a role for Sse1 in biogenesis and stability of the stress-response transcription factor, Msn2; a finding that has been extended to include a select subset of additional high molecular weight proteins, suggesting a more global role for this chaperone in stabilizing the cellular proteome. The final emphasis of my doctoral work has included the finding that celastrol, a compound isolated from the plant family Celastraceae, a component of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, can activate heat shock transcription factor (Hsf1) in yeast and mammalian cells through an oxidative stress mechanism. Celastrol treatment simultaneously activates both heat shock and oxidative stress response pathways, resulting in increased cytoprotection.
Investigations of stress responses in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: transcriptional control and heat shock protein function.