Biochemistry graduate students Jordan Scott and Katherine Ward have earned an American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) travel award to present their research at the ASBMB annual meeting in Boston this April. Scott and Ward both work in the lab of Robert Stahelin, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend and adjunct assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame.
Scott studies a class of proteins called the Nedd4 E3 ligases, which are essential to cardiovascular development and tissue maintenance. These ligases play a role in the TGFβ signaling that prompts increased fibrotic deposition after heart attacks. These ligases also regulate the clearance of damaged mitochondria in cardiac tissue that has undergone oxidative stress. Additionally, these proteins are incorrectly regulated in several human cancers.
Ward’s research aims to lay the groundwork necessary to develop an inhibitor for cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), which has strong implications in atherosclerosis and cerebral ischemia. Previous inhibitors of this protein have been unsuccessful due to a lack of specificity for the active site. Their recent characterization of an allosteric binding site, which also regulates enzymatic activity, has provided a significant amount of information regarding the development of a more specific allosteric inhibitor.
ASBMB is a scientific and educational organization with over 12,000 members. The society was founded in 1906 and advocates for funding of basic research and education, promotes diversity among the scientific workforce, publishes three journals (the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, and the Journal of Lipid Research), and organizes meetings in order to advance science of biochemistry and molecular biology.