Honors & Awards

  • EDGE Fellow, Stanford VPGE (2019-current)
  • Honorable Mentions, NSF GRFP (2019, 2021)
  • Hugh Scott Cameron Service Award, Rice University (2019)
  • National College Match Finalist, Questbridge (2015-2019)

All Publications

  • A Cell-Permeant Nanobody-Based Degrader That Induces Fetal Hemoglobin. ACS central science Shen, F., Zheng, G., Setegne, M., Tenglin, K., Izadi, M., Xie, H., Zhai, L., Orkin, S. H., Dassama, L. M. 2022; 8 (12): 1695-1703


    Proximity-based strategies to degrade proteins have enormous therapeutic potential in medicine, but the technologies are limited to proteins for which small molecule ligands exist. The identification of such ligands for therapeutically relevant but "undruggable" proteins remains challenging. Herein, we employed yeast surface display of synthetic nanobodies to identify a protein ligand selective for BCL11A, a critical repressor of fetal globin gene transcription. Fusion of the nanobody to a cell-permeant miniature protein and an E3 adaptor creates a degrader that depletes cellular BCL11A in differentiated primary erythroid precursor cells, thereby inducing the expression of fetal hemoglobin, a modifier of clinical severity of sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia. Our strategy provides a means of fetal hemoglobin induction through reversible, temporal modulation of BCL11A. Additionally, it establishes a new paradigm for the targeted degradation of previously intractable proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acscentsci.2c00998

    View details for PubMedID 36589886

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9801508

  • Environmental oxygen affects ex vivo growth and proliferation of mesenchymal progenitors by modulating mitogen-activated protein kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling. Cytotherapy da Graca Cabreira, M., Wang, X., Critsinelis, A., Setegne, M., Lotfi, P., Wan, Y., Barrios, G., Mei, Z., Gee, A. P., Buja, L. M., Perin, E. 2022


    BACKGROUND AIMS: Stem and progenitor cells of hematopoietic and mesenchymal lineages reside in the bone marrow under low oxygen (O2) saturation. O2 levels used in ex vivo expansion of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) affect proliferation, metabolism and differentiation.METHODS: Using cell-based assays and transcriptome and proteome data, the authors compared MSC cultures simultaneously grown under a conventional 19.95% O2 atmosphere or at 5% O2.RESULTS: In 5% O2, MSCs showed better proliferation and higher self-renewal ability, most probably sustained by enhanced signaling activity of mitogen-activated protein kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin pathways. Non-oxidative glycolysis-based energy metabolism supported growth and proliferation in 5% O2 cultures, whereas MSCs grown under 19.95% O2 also utilized oxidative phosphorylation. Cytoprotection mechanisms used by cells under 5% O2differed from 19.95% O2 suggesting differences in the triggers of cell stress between these two O2 conditions.CONCLUSIONS: Based on the potential benefits for the growth and metabolism of MSCs, the authors propose the use of 5% O2 for MSC culture.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jcyt.2022.06.005

    View details for PubMedID 36109320