Faculty Mentors in Molecular Signaling

Signaling mechanisms are a critical component of disease research and an ongoing focus for most of the mentors in the MMoD program. Of interest are mechanisms by which extracellular signals for fundamental tissue integrity are produced, sensed, and propagated. These signals include lipid- and carbohydrate- based molecules, redox sensors, microbial or host immune response triggers, and many others. Some elegant aspects of our training capacity in molecular signaling derive from (1) synthetic organic chemists who focus on devising new methods to generate small molecules with clear biological applications as probes and/or inhibitors, (2) analytical chemists who design new approaches for studying biological interactions and use these interactions in flow-based biosensors or separation schemes that permit testing of hypotheses about molecular signals in a quantitative manner, and (3) chemical engineers who specialize in large-scale protein production and novel tissue engineering matrices.

Andrea Cupp*Andrea Cupp

Professor of Animal Science
Research focus: Role of the vascular endothelial growth factor A gene (VEGFA) in fertility

A224i ANSC
Animal Science Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68583-0908
Work 402-472-6424
acupp2@unl.edu
Dr. Andrea Cupp's Lab

EDUCATION

  • 1994, Ph.D., University of Nebraska (Repro Endo/Animal Science)
  • 1991, M.S., University of Nebraska (Repro Endo/Animal Science)
  • 1988, B.S., Virginia Tech, Animal Science

Research interests
VEGFA is alternatively spliced to produce both pro-angiogenic and anti-angiogenic isoforms which appear to have opposing functions. The balance of these isoforms determines tissue-specific growth, differentiation, or proliferation status. Dr. Cupp's laboratory has shown that pro-angiogenic VEGFA isoforms promote ovarian follicular angiogenesis that is critical for follicle development and progression, whereas anti-angiogenic VEGFA isoforms arrest follicle growth and may cause atresia. Her group further discovered a naturally occurring bovine infertility model of androgen excess with elevated anti-angiogenic VEGFA isoforms, the symptoms of which mimic those of human polycystic ovarian disease. Students in her laboratory currently have projects using this model to define mechanisms of the human disease and to identify biomarkers to predict bovine infertility that may translate to human disorders. Polycystic ovarian disease and mechanisms regulating stem cell populations are both clinically correlated with obesity and diabetes. Her work also has an oxidative stress component because VEGFA production and angiogenesis are directly related to hypoxia and reactive oxygen species generation.

Publications

 


David BerkowitzDavid Berkowitz

Willa Cather Professor and Chair of Chemistry.
Research focus:
Chemical biology and synthetic organic chemistry.

824A HAH
Chemistry Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68588-0304
Work 402-472-3634
dberkowitz1@unl.edu
The Berkowitz Research Group 

EDUCATION

  • Merck Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University
  • Ph.D. Harvard University
  • M.A. Harvard University
  • B.S. University of Chicago

Research interests
Research in the Berkowitz laboratory is focused on the development of novel chemical and enzymatic methods to synthesize phosphoserine analogues, mechanism-based inhibitors, and mechanistic chemical probes for enzymes in amino acid synthesis and salvage pathways. Students in the Berkowitz lab are working on in-cell use of phosphoserine mimetics as probes for phosphatase activity, and have recently collaborated to create an enantioselective inhibitor of lysine decarboxylase and solve the x-ray crystal structure of the inactive complex.

Publications

 


Eric Dodds

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Research focus:
Chemical glycobiology; glycoproteomics.

711 HAH
Chemistry Department, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68588-0304
Work 402-472-3592
edodds2@unl.edu

Dodds Research Group

EDUCATION

  • Postdoctoral, University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. University of California Davis
  • B.S. University of Alaska Anchorage

Research Interests
Proteoglycans and glycoproteins constitute more than two-thirds of all cell surface recognition elements, but their information content is still incompletely understood. Research in the Dodds laboratory focuses on systematically defining the relationship between ion complexation with glycopeptides and ion mobility for quantitative, analytical mass spectrometry applications. These approaches will facilitate the characterization of specific protein complexes and their dynamic changes in response to external perturbations, such as oxidative stress or microenvironment remodeling.

Publications

 


Jiantao GuoJiantao Guo

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Research focus:
Protein tyrosine-O-sulfation; molecular interaction probes.

634AA HAH
Chemistry Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68588-0304
Work 402-472-3525
jguo4@unl.edu

Guo Research Group  

EDUCATION

  • Postdoctoral, The Scripps Research Institute
  • Postdoctoral, Michigan State University
  • Ph.D. Michigan State University
  • M.S. Nankai University
  • B.S. Nankai University

Research interests

Tyrosine O-sulfation reactions are a key cellular regulatory element that is poorly understood. Research in the Guo laboratory uses innovative chemical probes to determine effectors of sulfotyrosine modification. In addition, his laboratory routinely collaborates with others in in the areas of chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and engineering to facilitate use of unnatural amino acid substitutions to probe various types of cellular interactions.

Publications

 


Clifford StainsClifford Stains

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Research focus:
Novel fluorescent protein design and protein activity switches.

409D HAH
Chemistry Department, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68588-0304
ON-CAMPUS, 2-2617
cstains2@unl.edu

Stains Research Group  

EDUCATION

  • Postdoctoral, MIT
  • Ph.D. University of Arizona
  • B.S. Millersville University

Research interests

In the context of normal cell function and diseases (e.g., liver toxicity or cancer), real-time sensing of kinase activities through mechanism-based chemical probes has the potential to advance research in cell motility and signaling. Research in the Stains laboratory has led to the characterization of a panel of fluorescent sensors capable of quantifying activity of Erk, FAK, Sox, and several others in complex cell and tissue lysates. These tools are critically needed to dissect signaling cross-talk in pathways under study by several members of the mentoring team. Students in Dr. Stains's laboratory are collaborating to validate the kinase sensor panel with Dr. Harris's lab using a rat model of fatty liver tissue to identify signaling changes associated with the disease.

Publications

 


James TakacsJames Takacs

Charles J. Mach University Professor of Chemistry
Research focus:
Catalytic asymmetric hydroboration; synthetic organic chemistry.

551 HAH
Chemistry Department, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68588-0304
Work 402-472-3592
jtakacs1@unl.edu

Takacs Research Group

EDUCATION

  • Swiss National Funds International Postdoctoral Fellow, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
  • Ph.D. California Institute of Technology
  • B.S. Rutgers University

Research Interests
Catalytic asymmetric hydroboration is a method for carbon-carbon bond formation in the synthesis of small molecules, including many such molecules that have biomedical significance. Dr. Takacs' laboratory has developed novel methods for this process that are more environmentally sustainable while still economical. His students are currently working to optimize and expand the utility of their methods and collaborating to apply their synthetic compounds to biological problems. These chemical products are of timely interest to research being done in a number of other mentors' laboratories. Dr. Takacs' work is an example of bridge-building collaboration and expertise that provides strong interdisciplinary training for students.

Publications

 


William VelanderWilliam Velander

Distinguished University Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Research focus:
Production of recombinant factor IX for intravenous and oral hemophilia B therapy using current good manufacturing practice (cGMP).

207B OTHM
College of Engineering, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln NE 68588-0643
Work 402-472-3697
wvelander2@unl.edu
William H. Velander webpage 

EDUCATION

  • Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, 1987
  • M.ChE. Chemical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, 1980
  • B.S. Biochemistry, Illinois Benedictine College, Lisle, Illinois, 1977

Research interests
Blood coagulation factors are produced in abundance to treat human hemophilia A and B. Dr. Velander's laboratory uses the milk of transgenic pigs to produce recombinant factors VIII and IX, from which they can subsequently be purified. His group has extensively characterized factors produced by this method, which have relatively low specific activity, and has shown that differential N-glycan linkages during post-translational modification of the protein for secretion have a strong impact on function. Students in the Velander laboratory are working to identify novel subpopulations of the glycosylated proteins, which are purified, characterized in vitro, and preclinically studied in pharmacokinetic animal models. As a biomolecular engineer, Dr. Velander's expertise in the design and large-scale production of complex blood proteins is well complemented by research interests in the protein chemistry laboratories.

Publications