Spring 2020 Updates


The following students all received CMCT Travel Awards this past Fall 2019 in order to present their research at various conferences:

  • Songyeon Ahn (PI: John DiGiovanni) 2019 American College of Toxicology (ACT), Phoenix, AZ
  • Rachel Chen (PI: Laura Fonken)  Neuroscience 2019, Chicago, IL
  • Danyang Li (PI: Som Mukhopadhyay) ASCB | EMBO Annual Meeting, Washington, DC


  • John DiGiovanni served as the Session Chair at the 3rd World Cancer Congress, Prague, Czech Republic on September 23-25, 2019. He was also invited to speak at the following meetings:
    • Meeting of the International Ovarian Cancer Research Consortium and International Symposium on Tumor Microenvironment, Oklahoma City, June 30 – July 1, 2019.
    • Keynote Speaker, International Symposium of Advances in Cancer Stem Cell Therapeutics, Zhengzhou University, China, Aug. 24 – 25, 2019.
    • Keynote Speaker, 3rd World Conference on Cancer 2019, Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 23-35, 2019.
    • Plenary Session Speaker, 10th Conference on Nutrition and Physical Activity (NAPA 2019), Bangsaen, Thailand, Dec. 18-20, 2019.
  • Jackie Dudley’s lab recently published a paper demonstrating that a unique retrovirus-encoded protein, Rem, appears to antagonize multiple members of the APOBEC cytidine deaminase family, including activationinduced cytidine deaminase.
  • Jenny Jiang was invited to participate the National Academy of Medicine Emerging Leaders Forum in Washington, DC this past summer.  Additionally, she was also invited to present at the following meetings:
    • International Conference on Biomechanics and Medical Engineering – Y.C. Fung 100th Birthday Celebration session, September 2019
    • 7th Sino-American Workshop on Biomedical Engineering and Biomechanics in Chongqing, China, July 2019.
  • Dawit Kidane-Mulat was invited to give the following talks:
    • “Base Excision Repair and Cancer” FDA, Maryland, February 26, 2019.
    • “Mechanisms of Aberrant Base Excision Repair Induced Genomic Instability and Inflammation” LCI Cancer Seminar Series, UT Austin, October 29, 2019.
  • Stefano Tiziani was invited to be the keynote speaker at the 3rd World Congress on Cancer in Prague, Czech Republic last September.  His keynote title was “Investigating metabolic cancer vulnerabilities by high-content metabolomic screening”. He was also invited to speak at the following lectures and seminars:
    • Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute Seminar Series, UT Health San Antonio, TX “High-content metabolomic screening in biomarker discovery and therapeutic treatment” (October 2019).
    • College of Pharmacy Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH “Advancing drug discovery using high-content metabolomics screening” (October 2019).

    Fall/Winter 2019 Updates


    • Cherish Taylor (PI: Som Mukhopadhyay) was selected as one of 10 students and postdocs across Texas to present her research at the November 2019 LSSOT meeting.  She was awarded 1st place for the oral platform presentation in the Environmental Toxicology category for her abstract, “Regulation of Brain Manganese Homeostasis by SLC30A10”.
    • LSSOT Poster Presenters from CMCT
      • Alexandra D’Amico (PI: Karen Vasquez), poster: “The impact of aging on alternative DNA structure-induced genetic instability in vivo
      • Fernando Equiarte-Solomon (PI: John DiGiovanni), poster: “Deletion of TWIST1 in keratinocytes promotes differentiation and inhibits UVB-induced proliferation”
      • Megha Thakur (PI: John DiGiovanni), poster: “Role of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (fgfr2) in development of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma”
      • Carly Wilder (PI: John DiGiovanni), poster: “Depletion of L-Methionine with an engineered human enzyme for melanoma treatment”
      • Shengyuan Zhao (PI: Dawit Kidane), poster: “DNA polymerase beta mutation drives inflammation through chromosomal instability”


    April 2019 Updates


    Invited Talks/Presentations:

    Michael G. Chiorazzo, Karen M. Vasquez, Kevin N. Dalby (2019).  The role of MELK kinase in the repair of and responses to DNA damage.  American Chemical Society National Meeting; Symposium on DNA Instability & Repair, March 2019; Orlando, Florida.

    Pallavi Kompella, Lucy LeBlanc, Brant Gracia, Chinmayee Kulkarni, Shelly Engelman and Gregory Clark (2019). Present your PhD to a 12-year old: Youth Science Workshop. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting. April 6th 2019; Orlando, FL.

    Pooja Mandke, Pallavi Kompella, Steve Lu, Guliang Wang, Karen M. Vasquez (2019).  Cruciform DNA structure formed at short inverted repeats: A source of genetic instability in vivo.  Gordon Research Seminar/Conference on Mammalian DNA Repair. Ventura, California.

    Pooja Mandke, Pallavi Kompella, Steve Lu, Guliang Wang, Karen M. Vasquez (2019).  Cruciform DNA structure formed at short inverted repeats: A source of genetic instability in vivo. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) annual meeting. Orlando, Florida.

    Guliang Wang and Karen M. Vasquez (2019).  Mechanisms of H-DNA structure-induced genetic instability.  Genome Instability Group Meeting. February 2019; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.


    Poster Presentations:

    Jill Gerberich, A.M. Mukherjee, Karen Vasquez (2019) Roles of High Mobility Group Box Proteins in Nucleotide Excision Repair-associated Processing of DNA Interstrand Crosslinks. UT Molecular Biosciences Annual Retreat. April 14th, 2019; Austin, TX.

    Jill Gerberich, A.M. Mukherjee, Karen Vasquez. (2019) Roles of High Mobility Group Box Proteins in Nucleotide Excision Repair-associated Processing of DNA Interstrand Crosslinks. Experimental Biology Conference. April 7th, 2019; Orlando, FL.

    Pallavi Kompella, Lucy LeBlanc, Brant Gracia, Chinmayee Kulkarni, Shelly Engelman and Gregory Clark (2019). Present your PhD to a 12-year old: Youth Science Workshop. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting. April 6th 2019; Orlando, FL.

    Fernando Eguiarte-Solomon, N. Blazanin, O. Rho, J. DiGiovanni. KERATINOCYTE SPECIFIC DELETION OF TWIST1 PROMOTES DIFFERENTIATION AND INHIBITS UV-B INDUCED HYPERPROLIFERATION. American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. April 2019; Atlanta, GA.

    Songyeon Ahn, A. Saha, M. Kolonin, J. DiGiovanni. Obesity and prostate cancer progression: Role of the chemokine CXCL12. (Abstract 1966) American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. April 2019; Atlanta, GA.

    Carly Wilder, Achinto Saha, George Georgiou, Everett Stone, John DiGiovanni.  Systemic Depletion of L-Methionine with an engineered human Enzyme for the treatment of melanoma. American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. April 2019; Atlanta, GA.



    Invited Talks:

    John DiGiovanni was an invited speaker in March at the Third Annual Meeting of the International Society of Precision Cancer Medicine (ISPCM) in Seoul, Korea.

    Karen Vasquez:

    • “Novel mechanisms of genetic instability in cancer”, American Chemical Society National Meeting, Orlando, FL, April, 2019.
    • “Distinct mechanisms of DNA structure-induced genetic instability in cancer genomes”, Environmental Science Department, Baylor University, Waco, TX, February, 2019.
    • “HMBG proteins in DNA repair and cancer ”, Baylor College of Medicine, Genetic Instability Group, Houston, TX, March, 2019.
    • “DNA structure, DNA damage and repair in health and disease”, Tri Beta Biological Honor Society, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, April, 2019.


    Recent Publications:

    Sharon DeMorrow’s lab recently had two publications, linked here:

    Ghaffari R, Di Bona KR, Riley CL, Richburg JH (2019). Copper transporter 1 (CTR1) expression by mouse testicular germ cells, but not Sertoli cells, is essential for functional spermatogenesis. PLOS ONE 14(4): e0215522.

    Taylor CA, Hutchens S, Liu C, Jursa T, Shawlot W, Aschner M, Smith DR, Mukhopadhyay S. (2019). SLC30A10 transporter in the digestive system regulates brain manganese under basal conditions while brain SLC30A10 protects against neurotoxicity. J Biol Chem 294(6):1860–1876.

    Xie KT, Wang G, Reimchen TE, MacColl ADC, Schluter D, Bell MA, Vasquez KM, Kingsley, DM. DNA fragility in the parallel evolution of pelvic reduction in stickleback fish. Science, 363(6422):81-84, 2019.

    Mukherjee A, Huynh V, Gaines K, Reh RA, Vasquez KM. Targeting the high mobility group box 3 protein sensitizes chemoresistant ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin. Cancer Research, In Press, 2019.

    Del Mundo IMA, Cho EJ, Dalby KN, Vasquez KM. A tunable assay for modulators of genome-destabilizing DNA structures. Nucleic Acids Research, gkz237. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz237. [Epub ahead of print], 2019.

    Malhotra A, Sharma U, Puhan S, Bandari NC, Kharab A, Arifa PP, Thakur L, Prakash H, Vasquez KM, Jain A. Stabilization of miRNAs in esophageal cancer contributes to radioresistance and limits efficacy of therapy. Biochimie, 156:148-157, doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2018.10.006, 2019.


    Spring 2018


    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.


    Pallavi Kompella (Ph.D. student, Vasquez lab) received the CMCT 2017 travel award, the Jamie N. Delgado Graduate Fellowship for 2017-2018 for $2,740, and the AFPE Fellowship for 2017-2018 for $10,000. Pallavi was also given the professional development award from the UT Graduate School for $250.

    Charles Zogzas (Ph.D. student, Mukhopadhyay lab) received an NIH NRSA award for 2017-2018.



    Dr. Kevin Dalby

    Invited Speaker: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2017

    Dr. John DiGiovanni

    Invited Speaker: 1st Meeting of International Society of Precision Medicine, Busan, Republic of Korea, March 15-19, 2018

    Invited Speaker: 2nd World Congress on Cancer, Bologna, Italy, July 23-25, 2018

    Invited Speaker: 5th Hormel Institute of International Cancer Research Conference, Austin, MN, June 2017

    Dr. Andrea Gore

    Invited Speaker: National Counsel for Science and the Environment’s 17th National Conference, Washington D.C., January 2017

    Dr. Kevin McBride

    Invited Speaker: 13th Annual Protein PEGS: The Essential Protein Engineering Summit, Boston, MA, June 2017

    Dr. Som Mukhopadhyay

    Invited Speaker: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN – February 16, 2018

    Invited Speaker: Gordon Research Conference on Cell Biology of Metals, Mount Snow, VT, 2017

    Invited Speaker: American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Symposium on “Metal Homeostasis”, Chicago, IL, 2017

    Dr. Peter Thomas

    Invited Speaker: 18th International Congress of Comparative Endocrinology, Lake Louise, Canada, June 2017

    Dr. Stefano Tiziani

    Invited Speaker: Cure Juvenile Myositis Foundation Medical Conference, Austin, TX, February 2017

    Dr. Karen Vasquez

    Invited Speaker: Gordon Research Conference on DNA Damage, Mutation & Cancer, Ventura, CA, March 2018


    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)

    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:

    Piserchio, A., Warthaka, M., Kaoud, T., Callaway, K., Dalby, K.N., and Ghose, R. (2017) “Local destabilization, rigid body, and fuzzy docking facilitate the phosphorylation of the transcription factor Ets-1 by the mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK2.” Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences, in press.

    Edupuganti, R., Taliaferro, J.M., Wang, Q., Xie, X., Cho, E.J., Vidhu, F., Ren, P., Anslyn, E.V., Bartholomeusz, C., and Dalby, K.N. (2017) “Discovery of a potent inhibitor of MELK that inhibits expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1 and TNBC cell growth.” Bioorg Med Chem 25: 2609-16.

    Tavares, C.D., Giles, D.H., Stancu, G., Chitjian, C.A., Ferguson, S.B., Wellmann, R.M., Kaoud, T.S., Ghose, R., and Dalby, K.N. (2017) “Signal Integration at Elongation Factor 2 Kinase: THE ROLES OF CALCIUM, CALMODULIN, AND SER-500 PHOSPHORYLATION.” The Journal of biological chemistry 292: 2032-45.

    Will, N., Piserchio, A., Snyder, I., Ferguson, S.B., Giles, D.H., Dalby, K.N., and Ghose, R. (2016) “Structure of the C-Terminal Helical Repeat Domain of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase.” Biochemistry 55: 5377-86.

    Lee, K., Alphonse, S., Piserchio, A., Tavares, C.D., Giles, D.H., Wellmann, R.M., Dalby, K.N., and Ghose, R. (2016) “Structural Basis for the Recognition of Eukaryotic Elongation Factor 2 Kinase by Calmodulin.” Structure 24: 1441-51.

    Grandjean, G., de Jong, P.R., James, B.P., Koh, M.Y., Lemos, R., Kingston, J., Aleshin, A., Bankston, L.A., Miller, C.P., Cho, E.J., Edupuganti, R., Devkota, A., Stancu, G., Liddington, R.C., Dalby, K.N., and Powis, G. (2016) “Definition of a Novel Feed-Forward Mechanism for Glycolysis-HIF1alpha Signaling in Hypoxic Tumors Highlights Aldolase A as a Therapeutic Target.” Cancer Res 76: 4259-69.

    Guo, H.F., Cho, E.J., Devkota, A.K., Chen, Y., Russell, W., Phillips, G.N., Jr., Yamauchi, M., Dalby, K.N., and Kurie, J.M. (2017) “A scalable lysyl hydroxylase 2 expression system and luciferase-based enzymatic activity assay.” Arch Biochem Biophys 618: 45-51.

    Xie, X., Kaoud, T.S., Edupuganti, R., Zhang, T., Kogawa, T., Zhao, Y., Chauhan, G.B., Giannoukos, D.N., Qi, Y., Tripathy, D., Wang, J., Gray, N.S., Dalby, K.N., Bartholomeusz, C., and Ueno, N.T. (2017) “c-Jun N-terminal kinase promotes stem cell phenotype in triple-negative breast cancer through upregulation of Notch1 via activation of c-Jun.” Oncogene 36: 2599-2608.

    Hutchens, S., Liu, C., Jursa, T., Shawlot, W., Chaffee, B.K., Yin, W., Gore, A.C., Aschner, M., Smith, D.R., and Mukhopadhyay, S. (2017) “Deficiency in the Manganese Efflux Transporter SLC30A10 Induces Severe Hypothyroidism in Mice.” J Biol Chem 292(23): 9760-73.

    Zogzas CE, Mukhopadhyay S. Inherited disorders of manganese metabolism. Adv Neurobiol 18: 35-49, 2017.

    Selyunin AS, Iles LR, Bartholomeusz G, Mukhopadhyay S. Genome-wide siRNA screen identifies UNC50 as a regulator of Shiga toxin 2 trafficking. J Cell Biol 216: 3249-3262, 2017.

    Liu C, Hutchens S, Jursa T, Shawlot W, Polishchuk EV, Polishchuk RS, Dray BK, Gore AC, Aschner M, Smith DR, Mukhopadhyay S. Hypothyroidism induced by loss of the manganese efflux transporter SLC30A10 may be explained by reduced thyroxine production. J Biol Chem 292: 16605-16615, 2017(Highlighted in “J Biol Chem Recommended Reads”).

    Mukhopadhyay S. Familial manganese-induced toxicity due to mutations in SLC30A10 or SLC39A14. Neurotoxicology in press: doi10.1016/j.neuro.2017.07.030.

    Hutchens S, Liu C, Jursa T, Shawlot W, Chaffee BK, Yin W, Gore AC, Aschner M, Smith DR, Mukhopadhyay S. Deficiency in the manganese efflux transporter SLC30A10 induces severe hypothyroidism in mice. J Biol Chem 292: 9760-9773, 2017.

    Thomas, P., Pang, Y., and Dong, J. (2017) “Membrane androgen receptor characteristics of human ZIP9 (SLC39A) zinc transporter in prostate cancer cells: androgen-specific activation and involvement of an inhibitory G protein in zinc and MAP kinase signaling.” Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 447: 23-34.

    Pang, Y., and Thomas, P. (2017) “Additive effects of low concentrations of estradiol-17β and progesterone on nitric oxide production by human vascular endothelial cells through shared signaling pathways.” Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 165: 258-67.

    Thomas, P. (2017) “Role of G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER/GPR30) in maintenance of meiotic arrest in fish oocytes.” Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 167: 153-61.

    Pandey, R., Caflisch, L., Lodi, A., Brenner, A.J., and Tiziani, S. (2017) “Metabolomic signature of brain cancer” in press (doi: 10.1002/mc.22694), PMID: 28618012.

    Lu, X., Solmonson, A., Nowinski, S.M., Sentandreu, E., Lodi, A., Mills, E.M., and Tiziani, S. (2017) “The cold-induced early metabolomics response analysis of adipose tissue during acute cold exposure in mice.” Scientific Reports 7: 3455.

    Lodi, A., Saha, A., Lu, X., Wang, B., Sentandreu, E., Collins, M., Kolonin, M., DiGiovanni, J., and Tiziani, S. (2017) “Combinatorial treatment with natural compounds in prostate cancer inhibits prostate tumor growth and leads to key modulations of cancer cell metabolism” npj Precision Oncology 1: 18.

    Other Faculty Activities:

    Dr. DiGiovanni  is serving as Chair of the Chemo-Dietary Prevention Study Section, July 1, 2016-June 30, 2018.

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