New Funding:

Dr. Andrey Selyunin (postdoc, Mukhopadhyay lab) is a recent recipient of an American Heart Association fellowship. The title of the project is “Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic implications of Shiga toxin type 2 intracellular trafficking” and the fellowship will provide $102,550 in support over two years.

Pallavi Kompella (graduate student, Vasquez lab) received the Dr. Robert J. Wills Graduate Fellowship from the College of Pharmacy.

Lisa Tremmel (graduate student, DiGiovanni lab) received her second year of funding from her PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) fellowship, which provides $40,000 over two years.


In addition to the presentations highlighted above at the LSSOT and SOT meetings several other trainees made presentations recently. These are highlighted below.

Dr. Imee del Mundo (research associate, Vasquez lab), gave a platform presentation titled Investigating mechanisms of human c-MYC oncogene-induced mutagenesis in cancer at the 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting which was held March 13-17, 2016, in San Diego, CA.

Dr. Imee del Mundo (research associate, Vasquez lab) was the Abstract Winner for Ph.D. Postdoctoral Program at the 12th Annual Louis C. Littlefield Celebrating Pharmacy Research Excellence Day, April 2016, Austin TX, and was selected to give a platform presentation titled Alternative DNA structures in the human c-MYC oncogene: mutagenic structures and targeting approaches.

Charles Zogzas (graduate student, Mukhopadhyay lab) gave an oral presentation at the FASEB meeting on Trace Elements in Biology & Medicine in June 2016.


Dr. Imee del Mundo (research associate, Vasquez lab) received the ACS Biological Chemistry Division Travel Award.

Dr. Imee del Mundo (research associate, Vasquez lab) was the Best in Poster Awardee for Ph.D. Postdoctoral Program at the 12th Annual Louis C. Littlefield Celebrating Pharmacy Research Excellence Day, April 2016, Austin TX.

Dr. Tamer Kaoud (research associate, Dalby lab) received the Thematic Best Poster Award at the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) meeting in San Diego, CA, April 2016 (Abstract Title: Covalent inhibition of ERK docking interactions).

Dr. Tamer Kaoud (research associate, Dalby lab) received the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Post-Doctoral Scientist Award 2016 (Abstract Title: c-Jun N-terminal kinase 2 contributes to the tumorigenesis of non-small cell lung carcinoma through MKK4-dependent and MKK7-independent mechanism).




Dr. John DiGiovanni

Invited Speaker: American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, Symposium on Obesity and Cancer, Philadelphia, PA, April 18-22, 2015.

Invited Speaker: University of Gdansk Symposium entitled Frontiers in Cancer Prevention: Fulfilled Promises, Translational Challenges, and Future Directions, Gdansk, Poland, June 24-26, 2015.

Invited Speaker: 2nd International Conference of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine on Health 2015, Taipei, Taiwan, October 24-27, 2015.

Invited Speaker: 6th China-US Forum on Frontiers of Cancer Research, Zhengzhou, O Henan, China, October 28-30, 2015.

Dr. Richard Finnell

Invited Speaker: University of Toronto, School of Pharmacy and Sick Kids Hospital, Embryonic Consequences of Abnormal Folate Transpor, Toronto, Canada, March 11, 2016.

Keynote Speaker: Shanghai Jiao Tong University Er Yi Innovation Forum, Shanghai, China, March 22, 2016.

Invited Speaker: College of Pharmacy, Osaka University, Embryonic Consequences of Abnormal Folate Transport, Osaka, Japan. April 7, 2016.

In addition, Dr. Finnell gave two presentations at the 13th International Congress on Human Genetics in Kyoto, Japan, on the topic concerning how Folic acid was isolated at UT-Austin in Welch Hall 75 years ago, and its importance in prevention of birth defects.

Dr. Som Mukhopadhyay

Invited Speaker: NIEHS Outstanding New Environmental Scientist R01 annual meeting, Hereditary parkinsonism due to loss-of-function mutations in a manganese efflux transporter, Raleigh, NC, May 2016

Dr. Karen Vasquez

Invited Speaker: Gordon Research Conference – DNA Damage, Mutation & Cancer, Replication-dependent and replication-independent models of DNA structure-induced mutagenesis, Ventura, CA, March 2016.

Invited Speaker: The F.G.A. Stone Symposium – Processing of Biological Polymers, DNA structure-induced geneticinstability and cancer, Waco, TX, May 2016.

Seminar: UT Cancer Research Focus Group, DNA structure, genetic instability and cancer, Austin, TX, March 2016.

Seminar: University of North Carolina, Department of Pharmacology, Novel mechanisms of genetic instability in cancer, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, April 2016.

Seminar: Baylor College of Medicine, Genetic Instability Group, Repair of genome destabilizing lesions, Houston, TX, April 2016.

Seminar: 12th Annual Louis C. Littlefield Celebrating Pharmacy Research Excellence Day, Distinguished Faculty Lecture, College of Pharmacy, DNA structure in health and disease: When good DNA goes bad, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, April 2016.

Seminar: Distinguished Scientist Seminar, University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute, DNA structure-induced genetic instability and cancer, Mobile, AL, May 2016.

New funding:

Dr. Kevin Dalby is recipient of an almost $5 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to kick-start drug discovery programs. Dalby is co-director of the Texas Screening Alliance for Cancer Therapeutics. The new grant will support his Targeted Therapeutic Drug Discovery & Development Program, which is designed to develop small molecules that are precursors to cancer drug therapies.

Drs. Sean Kerwin, PI, and Karen Vasquez, co-PI, were recently awarded a High-Impact, High-reward grant from CPRIT entitled Chemo-preventive Approach to Cancer Exploiting a Presumptive Link between Genomic Instability and Structural Stability of non-B DNA Sequences. (CPRIT, HIHRRA RP160852)

Richard H. Finnell and Dean R. Appling, Co-PIs. Intervention Strategies for Non-Folate Responsive Neural Tube. (HD083809)

Richard H. Finnell and Yunping Lei, Co-PIs. Folic Acid, Parental Mutation Rates and the Risk for Neural Tube Defects. (HD081216)

Kevin McBride, PI, Uracil DNA Glycosylases in Gammaherpesvirus Pathogenesis and B Cell Development (R01 AI125397)

Casey Wright, PI. A novel ARNT-mediated regulatory paradigm of AHR signaling. (R01 ES025809)

Recent Publications:

Nowinski, S.M., Solmonson, A., Rundhaug, J.E., Rho, O., Cho, J., Lago, C.U., Riley, C.L., Lee, S., Kohno, S., Dao, C.K., Nikawa, T., Bratton, S.B., Wright, C.W., Fischer, S.M., DiGiovanni, J., and Mills, E.M. (2015) “Mitochondrial uncoupling links lipid catabolism to Akt inhibition and resistance to tumorigenesis.” Nat Commun 6: 8137.

Zhan, X., Kook, S., Kaoud, T.S., Dalby, K.N., Gurevich, E.V., and Gurevich, V.V. (2015) “Arrestin-3-Dependent Activation of c-Jun N-Terminal Kinases (JNKs).” Current protocols in pharmacology / editorial board, S.J. Enna 68, 2 12 11-26.

Warthaka, M., Adelmann, C.H., Kaoud, T.S., Edupuganti, R., Yan, C., Johnson, W.H., Jr., Ferguson, S., Tavares, C.D., Pence, L.J., Anslyn, E.V., Ren, P., Tsai, K.Y., and Dalby, K.N. (2015) “Quantification of a Pharmacodynamic ERK End Point in Melanoma Cell Lysates: Toward Personalized Precision Medicine.” ACS medicinal chemistry letters 6: 47-52.

Wang, Q., Edupuganti, R., Tavares, C.D., Dalby, K.N., and Ren, P. (2015) “Using docking and alchemical free energy approach to determine the binding mechanism of eEF2K inhibitors and prioritizing the compound synthesis.” Frontiers in molecular biosciences 2: 9.

Piserchio, A., Ramakrishan, V., Wang, H., Kaoud, T.S., Arshava, B., Dutta, K., Dalby, K.N., and Ghose, R. (2015) “Structural and Dynamic Features of F-recruitment Site Driven Substrate Phosphorylation by ERK2.” Sci Rep 5: 11127.

Jo, H.H., Edupuganti, R., You, L., Dalby, K.N., and Anslyn, E.V. (2015) “Mechanistic Studies on Covalent Assemblies of Metal-Mediated Hemi-Aminal Ethers.” Chem Sci 6: 158-64.

Bartholomeusz, C., Xie, X., Pitner, M.K., Kondo, K., Dadbin, A., Lee, J., Saso, H., Smith, P.D., Dalby, K.N., and Ueno, N.T. (2015) “MEK Inhibitor Selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) Prevents Lung Metastasis in a Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Xenograft Model.” Mol Cancer Ther 14: 2773-81.

Ahmed, M.R., Bychkov, E., Kook, S., Zurkovsky, L., Dalby, K.N., and Gurevich, E.V. (2015) “Overexpression of GRK6 rescues L-DOPA-induced signaling abnormalities in the dopamine-depleted striatum of hemiparkinsonian rats.” Experimental neurology 266: 42-54.

Zhan, X., Stoy, H., Kaoud, T.S., Perry, N.A., Chen, Q., Perez, A., Els-Heindl, S., Slagis, J.V., Iverson, T.M., Beck-Sickinger, A.G., Gurevich, E.V., Dalby, K.N., and Gurevich, V.V. (2016) “Peptide mini-scaffold facilitates JNK3 activation in cells.” Sci Rep 6: 21025.

Tavares, C.D., Devkota, A.K., Dalby, K.N., and Cho, E.J. (2016) “Application of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor-2 Kinase (eEF-2K) for Cancer Therapy: Expression, Purification, and High-Throughput Inhibitor Screening.” Methods Mol Biol 1360: 19-33.

Rycaj, K., Cho, E.J., Liu, X., Chao, H.P., Liu, B., Li, Q., Devkota, A.K., Zhang, D., Chen, X., Moore, J., Dalby, K.N., and Tang, D.G. (2016) “Longitudinal tracking of subpopulation dynamics and molecular changes during LNCaP cell castration and identification of inhibitors that could target the PSA-/lo castration-resistant cells.” Oncotarget 7: 14220-240.

Lee, K., Alphonse, S., Piserchio, A., Tavares, C.D.J., Giles, D.H., Dalby, K.N., and Ghose, R. (in press) “Structural Basis of the Recognition of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase by Calmodulin.” Structure.

Grandjean, G., De Jong, P., James, B., Koh, M., Lemos, R.J., Kingston, J., Aleshin, A., Bankston, L.A., Miller, C.P., Cho, E.J., Edupunganti, R., Devkota, A., Stancu, G., Liddington, R., Dalby, K.N., and Powis, G. (in press) “Definition of a novel feed-forward mechanism for glycolysis-HIF1α signaling in hypoxic tumors highlights adolase A as a therapeutic target.” Cancer Research.

Cho, J., Rho, O., Junco, J. Carbajal, S., Siegel, D., Slaga, T.J., and DiGiovanni, J. (2015) “Effect of combined treatment with ursolic acid and resveratrol on skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate.” Cancer Prev Res, 8: 817-25.

Cho, J., Tremmel, L., Okkyung, R., Camelio, A. M., Slaga, T.J., Siegel, D., and DiGiovanni, J. (2015) “Evaluation of pentacylic triterpenesfound in Perilla frutencens for inhibition of skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate.” Oncotarget, 6: 39292-306.

Nelson, A.T., Camelio, A.M., Claussen, K.R., Cho, J., Tremmel, L., DiGiovanni, J., Siegel, D. (2015) “Synthesis of oxygenated oleanolic and ursolic acid derivatives with anti-inflammatory properties.” Bioorg Med Chem Lett, 25: 4342-4246.

Saha, A., Blando, J., Fernandez, I., Kiguchi, K., and DiGiovanni, J. (2016) “Linneg Sca-1highCD49f high prostate cancer cells derived from the Hi-Myc mouse model are tumor-initiating cells with basal-epithelial characteristics and differentiation potential in vitro and in vivo.” Oncotarget [Epub ahead of print].

Lomada, D., Jain, M., Bolner, M., Kang, R., Reddy, M., DiGiovanni, J., and Richie, E.R. (2016) “Stat3 signaling promotes survival and maintenance of medullary thymic epithelial cells.” Plos Genetics, 12(1): e1005777.

Saha, A., Blando, J., Fernandez, I., Kiguchi, K., and DiGiovanni J. (2016) “Linneg Sca-1highCD49f high prostate cancer cells derived from the Hi-Myc mouse model are tumor-initiating cells with basal-epithelial characteristics and differentiation potential in vitro and in vivo.” Oncotarget [Epub ahead of print].

Rho, O., Cho, J., Srivastava, J., and DiGiovanni, J. (2016) “Overexpression of PRAS40T246A in the Proliferative Compartment Supresses mTORC1 Signaling, Keratinocyte Migration and Skin Tumor Development.” J Invest Dermatol [Epub ahead of print].

Lei, Y.*, Fathe, K.*, McCartney, D., Zhu, H., Yang, W., Ross, M.E., Shaw, G.M., and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “Rare LRP6 variants identified in spina bifida patients.” Human Mutations 36: 342-49.

Fathe, K., Person, M.D., and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “The application of a chemical determination of N-homocysteinylation levels in developing mouse embryos: implication for folate responsive birth defects.” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 26: 312-318

Wang, B., Jin, L., Ren, A., Yuan, Y., Liu, J., Li, Z., Zhang, L., Yi, D., Wang, L.L., Zhang, Y., Wang, X., Tao, S., and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “Levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Maternal Serum and Risk of Neural Tube Defects in Offspring.” Environ Sci Technol 49(1): 588-96.

Yi, D., Yuan, Y., Jin, L., Zhou, G., Zhu, H., Finnell, R.H., and Ren, A. (2015) “Levels of PAH-DNA adducts in cord blood and cord tissue and the risk of fetal neural tube defects in a Chinese population.” Neurotoxicology 46: 73-78.

Mawasi, H., Shekh-Ahmad, T., Finnell, R.H., Wlodarczyk, B.J., Bialer, M. (2015) “Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic analysis of CNS-active constitutional isomers of valnoctamide and sec-butylpropylacetamide – Amide derivatives of valproic acid.” Epilepsy Behav 46: 72-78.

Webber, D.M., MacLeod, S.L., Bamshad, M.J., Shaw, G.M., Finnell, R.H., Shete, S.S., Witte, J S., Erickson, S.W., Murphy, L.D., and Hobbs, C. (2015) “Developments in our understanding of the genetic basis of birth defects.” Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology 103(8): 680-91.

Shawlot, W., Vazquez-Chantada, M., Wallingford, J.B., and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “Rfx2 is required for spermatogenesis in the mouse.” Genesis [Epub ahead of print].

Cantarel, B., Lei, Y., Weaver, D., Zhu, H., Farrell, A., Benstead-Hume, G., Reese, J., and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “Analysis of archived residual newborn screening blood spots after whole genome amplification.” BMC Genomics 16: 602.

Wlodarczyk, B.J., Ogle, K., Lin, L.Y., Bialer, M., and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “Comparative teratogenicity analysis of valnoctamide, risperidone, and olanzapine in mice.” Bipolar Disord 17(6): 615-25.

Hill, D.S., Cabrera, R.M., Wallis Schultz, D., Zhu, H., Lu, W., Finnell, R.H., and Wlodarczyk, B.J. (2015) “Autism-like Behavior and Epigenetic Changes Associated with Autism as Consequences of In Utero Exposure to Environmental Pollutants in a Mouse Model.” Behav. Neurol [Epub ahead of print].

Lei, Y. and Finnell, R.H. (2015) “New techniques for the study of neural tube defects.” Adv Tech Biol Med 4:1.

Denny, K.J., Kelly, C.F., Kumar, V., Witham, K.L., Cabrera, R.M., Finnell, R.H., Taylor, S.M., Jeannes, A., and Woodruff, .T.M. (2016) “Autoantibodies against homocysteinylated protein in a mouse model of folate deficiency-induced neural tube defects.” Birth Defects Res A 106: 201-07.

Fonteles, C.S.R., Finnell, R.H., George, T.M., and Harshbarger, R.J. (2016) “Craniosynostosis: Current conceptions and misconceptions.” AIMS Genetics 3: 99-129.

Yang, N., Wang, L., Finnell, R.H., Li, Z., Jin, L., Zhang, L., Cabrera, R.M., Ye, R., and Ren, A. (2016) “Levels of folate receptor autoantibodies in maternal and cord blood and risk of neural tube defects in a Chinese population.” Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol [Epub ahead of print].

Rozacky, J., Nemec, A.A., Sweasy J.B., and Kidane D. (2015) “Gastric cancer associated variant of DNA polymerase beta (Leu22Pro) promotes replication associated double strand breaks.” Oncotarget 6(27): 24474-87.

Ray, D. and Kidane, D. (2016) “Gut Microbiota imbalance and base excision repair dynamics in colon cancer.” J Cancer 7(11): 1421-30.

Perfetti, M.T., Baughman, B.M., Dickson, B.M., Mu, Y., Cui, G., Mader, P., Dong, A., Norris, J.L., Rothbart, S.B., Strahl, B.D., Brown, P.J., Janzen, W.P., Arrowsmith, C.H., Mer, G., McBride, K.M., James, L.I., and Frye, S.V. (2015) “Identification of a fragment-like small molecule ligand for the methyl-lysine binding protein, 53BP1.” ACS Chemical Biology 10(4): 1072-81.

Kracker, S., Di Virgilio, M., Schwartzentruber, J., Cuenin, C., Forveille, M., Deau, M.C., McBride, K.M., Majewski, J., Gazumyan, A., Seneviratne, S., Grimbacher, B., Kutukculer, N., Herceg, Z., Cavazzana, M., Jabado, N., Nussenzweig, M.C., Fischer, A., and Durandy, A. (2015) “An inherited immunoglobulin class-switch recombination deficiency associated with a defect in the INO80 chromatin remodeling complex.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 135(4): 998-1007.

Minkah, N., Macaluso, M., Oldenburg, D.G., Paden, C.R., White, D.W., McBride, K.M., and Krug, L.T. (2015) “Absence of the uracil DNA glycosylase of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 impairs replication and delays the establishment of latency in vivo.” Journal of Virology 89(6): 3366-79.

Nowinski, S.M., Solmonson, A., and Mills, E.M. (2015) “Chewing the fat for Akt1 inhibition and oncosuppression.” Mol Cell Oncol 3(2): e1102795.

Hirasaka, K., Okumura, Y., Mills, E.M., Nikawa, T., and Teshima-Kondo, S. (2015) “A novel myogenic function residing in the 5′ non-coding region of Insulin receptor substrate-1 (Irs-1) transcript.” BMC Cell Biol 16: 8.

Hirasaka, K., Mills, E.M., Haruna, M., Bando, A., Ikeda, C., Abe, T., Kohno, S., Nowinski, S.M., Lago, C.U., Akagi, K., Tochio, H., Ohno, A., Teshima-Kondo, S., Okumura, Y., Nikawa, T. (2016) “UCP3 is associated with Hax-1 in mitochondria in the presence of calcium ion.” Biochem Biophys Res Commun 472(1): 108-13.

Solmonson, A. and Mills, E.M. (2016) “Uncoupling Proteins and the Molecular Mechanisms of Thyroid Thermogenesis.” Endocrinology 157(2): 455-62.

Nagano, H., Yamagishi, N., Tomida, C., Yano, C., Aibara, K., Kohno, S., Abe, T., Ohno, A.,

Selyunin A.S. and Mukhopadhyay S. (2015) “A conserved structural motif mediates retrograde trafficking of Shiga toxin types 1 and 2.” Traffic 16: 1270-87.

Zogzas C.E., Aschner M., and Mukhopadhyay S. (2016) “Structural elements in the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of the metal transporter SLC30A10 are required for its manganese efflux activity.” J Biol Chem [Epub ahead of print].

Mukherjee, A. and Vasquez K.M. (2016) “HMGB1 interacts with XPA to facilitate the processing of DNA interstrand crosslinks in human cells.” Nucleic Acids Research 44(3): 1151-60.

Bacolla, A.*, Tainer, J.A., Vasquez, K.M.*, and Cooper, D.N. (2016) “Translocation and deletion breakpoints in cancer genomes are associated with potential non-B DNA-forming sequences.” Nucleic Acids Research Epub ahead of print. (*co-corresponding authors)

Mukherjee, A. and Vasquez K.M. (in press) “Tools to study the role of architectural protein HMGB1 in the processing of helix distorting, site-specific DNA interstrand crosslinks.” JoVE.

Gardella*, K.A., Muro*, I., Fang, G., Sarkar, K., Mendez, O., and Wright, C.W. (2016) “ARNT isoforms control lymphoid cancer cell growth through differentially regulating tumor suppressor p53 activity.” Oncotarget, Priority Report 7: 10710-22. *Equal Contributors.

Other Faculty Activities:

Dr. DiGiovanni served as a Visiting Professor at Poznan Medical Sciences University in May, 2016, and is serving as Chair of the Chemo-Dietary Prevention Study Section, July 1, 2016-June 30, 2018.

Dr. Vasquez was named Division Head of the Pharmacology/Toxicology Division September 1, 2015.

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