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Vladimir Uversky, PhD, DSc

Associate Professor, College Of Medicine Molecular Medicine
  • Our scientific interests are broadly defined as everything related to protein folding, misfolding and non-folding. However, the passion is definitely the field of protein non-folding , which is related to the discovery of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), analysis of their abundance in nature, characterization of their exceptional structural and functional plasticity, understanding of their vital roles in various biological processes, and establishing their involvement in the pathogenesis of multiple human diseases. These and related aspects of IDPs are analyzed by a combination of a wide spectrum of computational, bioinformatics, and experimental approaches of modern protein biophysics. Due to the high abundance of IDPs in various proteomes, the exceptional structural and functional plasticity of these proteins, and their intimate relations to the maladies' pathogenesis, it is almost impossible to find an area of protein science where IDPs would not play a noticeable role.
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Mackenzie Martin

Graduate Research Assistant, College Of Medicine Molecular Medicine
  • While chaperones are often linked to protein degradation, they also can preserve proteins. We have shown that one chaperone in particular, the constitutive Hsp70 variant, Hsc70, preserves free hyperphosphorylated tau, the accumulation of which can cause tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, other Hsp70 variants may be involved in the cell-to-cell propagation of tau; a recently discovered mechanism that could be contributing to the disease. Thus, inhibiting chaperones like Hsp70 proteins could be a novel therapeutic approach to treat multiple phases of tau diseases. To this end, we have screened a number of rhodacyanine derivatives designed to inhibit the Hsp70 family of chaperones for anti-tau activity. Our data shows that targeting Hsp70s may not only facilitate tau clearance inside of cells, but may also prevent its propagation in the brain.

Sarah Fontaine, PhD

College Of Medicine Molecular Medicine