ELLEN (ABRAMSON) CONNER, PhD
KATSUYA HIRASAKA, PhD
My research interests are focused on skeletal muscle metabolism and pathophysiology. In my former lab in Tokushima, Japan, I identified reactive oxidant species and the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b as critical components of the proteolytic cascade that leads to muscle degeneration in response to lack of use or microgravity. In the Mills lab, my project explores how intracellular redox signals coordinate skeletal muscle fatty acid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial thermogenesis regulated by uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3).
Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are mitochondrial transmembrane proteins that waste energy in the form of heat. Uncoupling protein 3 is enriched in skeletal muscle, an established thermogenic organ. UCP3 knockout (KO) mice almost completely lack the hyperthermic responses to the widely-abused drugs ecstasy and methamphetamine. My project uses multiple mouse strains and cultured primary and secondary myocytes cell lines to determine the physiological and cellular mechanisms of UCP3-driven thermogenesis.
Uncoupling proteins are highly conserved members of the mitochondrial anion superfamily. Unlike other UCP homologues, only UCP4 is present in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), suggesting that it is the ancestral uncoupling protein from which other homologues diverged. UCP4 knockout worms are obese, accumulate triglycerides, and have deficiencies in the import of mitochondrial substrates. My project involves molecular, cellular, and biochemical approaches to characterize the physiologic functions of UCP4 and the mechanisms by which UCP4 regulates mitochondrial functions.
Pharmacology & Toxicology
College of Pharmacy
The University of Texas
107 W. Dean Keeton
Austin, TX, USA
Email Address: pharmtox
"Drugs, the Brain and Behavior" is co-authored by Dr. Carlton Erickson, the college's associate dean for research and graduate studies, and Dr. John Brick, executive director of Intoxikon International.
Andrea Gore is named to the SEBM Distinguished Scientist Award.