Dr. Mikhail G. Kolonin
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Institute of Molecular Medicine
Center for Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases
The Kolonin Laboratory is investigating the association between obesity and such life-threatening diseases as type-2 diabetes and cancer. We have discovered that white adipocyte progenitor cells serve as the mechanistic link between fat tissue overgrowth and obesity pathogenesis. In clinical studies and in animal models, we have shown that white adipocyte progenitors are mobilized, traffic to tumors, and stimulate cancer progression. Studies elucidating the molecular mechanisms of intercellular interactions in fat tissue and of adipocyte progenitor migration are underway. Our group has also taken the lead in the exploration of pathogenic functions of adipose cells and in developing approaches to their suppression. Based on the expertise in cell population separation and high throughput combinatorial peptide library screening methods, we have identified tissue-specific cell surface receptors and peptide probes for their targeting. Based on them, we are developing a strategy to deplete white adipocyte progenitors for obesity prevention and cancer treatment. A distinct, recently discovered, population of adipocyte progenitors giving rise to metabolically advantageous beige adipocytes is also being explored as a prospective therapy target.
Students rotating in the laboratory would have an opportunity to learn:
- Methods to analyze functional interactions between cancer and stromal cells.
- Technology of combinatorial peptide library screening based on phage display.
- Screen on a cell population of interest could lead to compounds targeting clinically relevant molecules and pathways that could be further pursued in thesis work.
- Mesenchymal stem cells in tumor microenvironment
- Adipose tissue biology
- Cancer metabolism and aggressiveness in obesity
- Clinical sample analysis, mouse models
- Combinatorial library screening
- Experimental targeted therapeutics