Honors & Awards
Tunji Toogun Research Excellence Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2018)
School of Medicine Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University (2017-2018)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association (2018-2020)
Developmental Project Award, Stanford Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and National Institute on Aging (2021-2022)
Alzheimer's Disease Research Program Postdoctoral Fellowship, BrightFocus Foundation (2022-2024)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2017)
The lysosomal GPCR-like protein GPR137B regulates Rag and mTORC1 localization and activity.
Nature cell biology
Cell growth is controlled by a lysosomal signalling complex containing Rag small GTPases and mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) kinase. Here, we carried out a microscopy-based genome-wide human short interfering RNA screen and discovered a lysosome-localized G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-like protein, GPR137B, that interacts with Rag GTPases, increases Rag localization and activity, and thereby regulates mTORC1 translocation and activity. High GPR137B expression can recruit and activate mTORC1 in the absence of amino acids. Furthermore, GPR137B also regulates the dissociation of activated Rag from lysosomes, suggesting that GPR137B controls a cycle of Rag activation and dissociation from lysosomes. GPR137B-knockout cells exhibited defective autophagy and an expanded lysosome compartment, similar to Rag-knockout cells. Like zebrafish RagA mutants, GPR137B-mutant zebrafish had upregulated TFEB target gene expression and an expanded lysosome compartment in microglia. Thus, GPR137B is a GPCR-like lysosomal regulatory protein that controls dynamic Rag and mTORC1 localization and activity as well as lysosome morphology.
View details for PubMedID 31036939
The Lysosomal Transcription Factor TFEB Represses Myelination Downstream of the Rag-Ragulator Complex.
2018; 47 (3): 319
Myelin allows for fast and efficient axonal conduction, but much remains to be determined about the mechanisms that regulate myelin formation. To investigate the genetic basis of myelination, we carried out a genetic screen using zebrafish. Here, we show that the lysosomal G protein RagA is essential for CNS myelination. In rraga-/- mutant oligodendrocytes, target genes of the lysosomal transcription factor Tfeb are upregulated, consistent with previous evidence that RagA represses Tfeb activity. Loss of Tfeb function is sufficient to restore myelination in RagA mutants, indicating that hyperactive Tfeb represses myelination. Conversely, tfeb-/- single mutants exhibit ectopic myelin, further indicating that Tfeb represses myelination during development. In a mouse model of de- and remyelination, TFEB expression is increased in oligodendrocytes, but the protein is localized to the cytoplasm, and hence inactive, especially during remyelination. These results define essential regulators of myelination and may advance approaches to therapeutic remyelination.
View details for PubMedID 30399334
A premeiotic function for boule in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2016; 113 (25): E3509-E3518
Mutations in Deleted in Azoospermia (DAZ), a Y chromosome gene, are an important cause of human male infertility. DAZ is found exclusively in primates, limiting functional studies of this gene to its homologs: boule, required for meiotic progression of germ cells in invertebrate model systems, and Daz-like (Dazl), required for early germ cell maintenance in vertebrates. Dazl is believed to have acquired its premeiotic role in a vertebrate ancestor following the duplication and functional divergence of the single-copy gene boule. However, multiple homologs of boule have been identified in some invertebrates, raising the possibility that some of these genes may play other roles, including a premeiotic function. Here we identify two boule paralogs in the freshwater planarian Schmidtea mediterranea Smed-boule1 is necessary for meiotic progression of male germ cells, similar to the known function of boule in invertebrates. By contrast, Smed-boule2 is required for the maintenance of early male germ cells, similar to vertebrate Dazl To examine if Boule2 may be functionally similar to vertebrate Dazl, we identify and functionally characterize planarian homologs of human DAZL/DAZ-interacting partners and DAZ family mRNA targets. Finally, our phylogenetic analyses indicate that premeiotic functions of planarian boule2 and vertebrate Dazl evolved independently. Our study uncovers a premeiotic role for an invertebrate boule homolog and offers a tractable invertebrate model system for studying the premeiotic functions of the DAZ protein family.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1521341113
View details for Web of Science ID 000378272400010
View details for PubMedID 27330085
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4922153
NF-YB Regulates Spermatogonial Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Proliferation in the Planarian Schmidtea mediterranea
2016; 12 (6)
Gametes are the source and carrier of genetic information, essential for the propagation of all sexually reproducing organisms. Male gametes are derived from a progenitor stem cell population called spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). SSCs give rise to male gametes through the coordination of two essential processes: self-renewal to produce more SSCs, and differentiation to produce mature sperm. Disruption of this equilibrium can lead to excessive proliferation of SSCs, causing tumorigenesis, or can result in aberrant differentiation, leading to infertility. Little is known about how SSCs achieve the fine balance between self-renewal and differentiation, which is necessary for their remarkable output and developmental potential. To understand the mechanisms of SSC maintenance, we examine the planarian homolog of Nuclear Factor Y-B (NF-YB), which is required for the maintenance of early planarian male germ cells. Here, we demonstrate that NF-YB plays a role in the self-renewal and proliferation of planarian SSCs, but not in their specification or differentiation. Furthermore, we characterize members of the NF-Y complex in Schistosoma mansoni, a parasitic flatworm related to the free-living planarian. We find that the function of NF-YB in regulating male germ cell proliferation is conserved in schistosomes. This finding is especially significant because fecundity is the cause of pathogenesis of S. mansoni. Our findings can help elucidate the complex relationship between self-renewal and differentiation of SSCs, and may also have implications for understanding and controlling schistosomiasis.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006109
View details for Web of Science ID 000379347100026
View details for PubMedID 27304889
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4909293
Stem cell progeny contribute to the schistosome host-parasite interface
Schistosomes infect more than 200 million of the world's poorest people. These parasites live in the vasculature, producing eggs that spur a variety of chronic, potentially life-threatening, pathologies exacerbated by the long lifespan of schistosomes, that can thrive in the host for decades. How schistosomes maintain their longevity in this immunologically hostile environment is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that somatic stem cells in Schistosoma mansoni are biased towards generating a population of cells expressing factors associated exclusively with the schistosome host-parasite interface, a structure called the tegument. We show cells expressing these tegumental factors are short-lived and rapidly turned over. We suggest that stem cell-driven renewal of this tegumental lineage represents an important strategy for parasite survival in the context of the host vasculature.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.12473
View details for Web of Science ID 000387448800001
View details for PubMedID 27003592
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4841766
Structure Guided Lead Generation for M. tuberculosis Thymidylate Kinase (Mtb TMK): Discovery of 3-Cyanopyridone and 1,6-Naphthyridin-2-one as Potent Inhibitors
JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY
2015; 58 (2): 753-766
M. tuberculosis thymidylate kinase (Mtb TMK) has been shown in vitro to be an essential enzyme in DNA synthesis. In order to identify novel leads for Mtb TMK, we performed a high throughput biochemical screen and an NMR based fragment screen through which we discovered two novel classes of inhibitors, 3-cyanopyridones and 1,6-naphthyridin-2-ones, respectively. We describe three cyanopyridone subseries that arose during our hit to lead campaign, along with cocrystal structures of representatives with Mtb TMK. Structure aided optimization of the cyanopyridones led to single digit nanomolar inhibitors of Mtb TMK. Fragment based lead generation, augmented by crystal structures and the SAR from the cyanopyridones, enabled us to drive the potency of our 1,6-naphthyridin-2-one fragment hit from 500 μM to 200 nM while simultaneously improving the ligand efficiency. Cyanopyridone derivatives containing sulfoxides and sulfones showed cellular activity against M. tuberculosis. To the best of our knowledge, these compounds are the first reports of non-thymidine-like inhibitors of Mtb TMK.
View details for DOI 10.1021/jm5012947
View details for Web of Science ID 000348492100018
View details for PubMedID 25486447
Bactericidal Activity and Mechanism of Action of AZD5847, a Novel Oxazolidinone for Treatment of Tuberculosis
ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY
2014; 58 (1): 495-502
Treatment of tuberculosis (TB) is impaired by the long duration and complexity of therapy and the rising incidence of drug resistance. There is an urgent need for new agents with improved efficacy, safety, and compatibility with combination chemotherapies. Oxazolidinones offer a potential new class of TB drugs, and linezolid-the only currently approved oxazolidinone-has proven highly effective against extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB in experimental trials. However, widespread use of linezolid is prohibited by its significant toxicities. AZD5847, a novel oxazolidinone, demonstrates improved in vitro bactericidal activity against both extracellular and intracellular M. tuberculosis compared to that of linezolid. Killing kinetics in broth media and in macrophages indicate that the rate and extent of kill obtained with AZD5847 are superior to those obtained with linezolid. Moreover, the efficacy of AZD5847 was additive when tested along with a variety of conventional TB agents, indicating that AZD5847 may function well in combination therapies. AZD5847 appears to function similarly to linezolid through impairment of the mycobacterial 50S ribosomal subunit. Future studies should be undertaken to further characterize the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of AZD5847 in both in vitro and animal models as well is in human clinical trials.
View details for DOI 10.1128/AAC.01903-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000329581100063
View details for PubMedID 24189255
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3910779
Adult somatic stem cells in the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni
2013; 494 (7438): 476-479
Schistosomiasis is among the most prevalent human parasitic diseases, affecting more than 200 million people worldwide. The aetiological agents of this disease are trematode flatworms (Schistosoma) that live and lay eggs within the vasculature of the host. These eggs lodge in host tissues, causing inflammatory responses that are the primary cause of morbidity. Because these parasites can live and reproduce within human hosts for decades, elucidating the mechanisms that promote their longevity is of fundamental importance. Although adult pluripotent stem cells, called neoblasts, drive long-term homeostatic tissue maintenance in long-lived free-living flatworms (for example, planarians), and neoblast-like cells have been described in some parasitic tapeworms, little is known about whether similar cell types exist in any trematode species. Here we describe a population of neoblast-like cells in the trematode Schistosoma mansoni. These cells resemble planarian neoblasts morphologically and share their ability to proliferate and differentiate into derivatives of multiple germ layers. Capitalizing on available genomic resources and RNA-seq-based gene expression profiling, we find that these schistosome neoblast-like cells express a fibroblast growth factor receptor orthologue. Using RNA interference we demonstrate that this gene is required for the maintenance of these neoblast-like cells. Our observations indicate that adaptation of developmental strategies shared by free-living ancestors to modern-day schistosomes probably contributed to the success of these animals as long-lived obligate parasites. We expect that future studies deciphering the function of these neoblast-like cells will have important implications for understanding the biology of these devastating parasites.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature11924
View details for Web of Science ID 000315661500038
View details for PubMedID 23426263
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3586782
Trisubstituted Imidazoles as Mycobacterium tuberculosis Glutamine Synthetase Inhibitors
JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY
2012; 55 (6): 2894-2898
Mycobacterium tuberculosis glutamine synthetase (MtGS) is a promising target for antituberculosis drug discovery. In a recent high-throughput screening study we identified several classes of MtGS inhibitors targeting the ATP-binding site. We now explore one of these classes, the 2-tert-butyl-4,5-diarylimidazoles, and present the design, synthesis, and X-ray crystallographic studies leading to the identification of MtGS inhibitors with submicromolar IC(50) values and promising antituberculosis MIC values.
View details for DOI 10.1021/jm201212h
View details for Web of Science ID 000301767000031
View details for PubMedID 22369127
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3381009
Substitution of the phosphonic acid and hydroxamic acid functionalities of the DXR inhibitor FR900098: An attempt to improve the activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis
BIOORGANIC & MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY LETTERS
2011; 21 (18): 5403-5407
Two series of FR900098/fosmidomycin analogs were synthesized and evaluated for MtDXR inhibition and Mycobacterium tuberculosis whole-cell activity. The design rationale of these compounds involved the exchange of either the phosphonic acid or the hydroxamic acid part for alternative acidic and metal-coordinating functionalities. The best inhibitors provided IC(50) values in the micromolar range, with a best value of 41 μM.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.07.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000294051800057
View details for PubMedID 21824775
Design, Synthesis, and X-ray Crystallographic Studies of alpha-Aryl Substituted Fosmidomycin Analogues as Inhibitors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase
JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY
2011; 54 (14): 4964-4976
The natural antibiotic fosmidomycin acts via inhibition of 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR), an essential enzyme in the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis. Fosmidomycin is active on Mycobacterium tuberculosis DXR (MtDXR), but it lacks antibacterial activity probably because of poor uptake. α-Aryl substituted fosmidomycin analogues have more favorable physicochemical properties and are also more active in inhibiting malaria parasite growth. We have solved crystal structures of MtDXR in complex with 3,4-dichlorophenyl substituted fosmidomycin analogues; these show important differences compared to our previously described forsmidomycin-DXR complex. Our best inhibitor has an IC(50) = 0.15 μM on MtDXR but still lacked activity in a mycobacterial growth assay (MIC > 32 μg/mL). The combined results, however, provide insights into how DXR accommodates the new inhibitors and serve as an excellent starting point for the design of other novel and more potent inhibitors, particularly against pathogens where uptake is less of a problem, such as the malaria parasite.
View details for DOI 10.1021/jm2000085
View details for Web of Science ID 000292892300003
View details for PubMedID 21678907