Link: University of Iowa

Archive for July, 2010

Miles Pufall to join Department of Biochemistry

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Miles A. Pufall, PhD, a research fellow with Professor Keith Yamamoto at University of California, San Francisco, has been recruited to the Carver College of Medicine as a new assistant professor of biochemistry. Dr. Pufall’s regular appointment will become effective July 1, 2011. He remains at UCSF during this academic year and is associated with the Department of Biochemistry as an adjunct assistant professor, effective immediately.

Miles received his PhD in 2004 from the University of Utah, where he worked at the Huntsman Cancer Institute with Professor Barbara Graves. In six publications, which include a first author Science paper and a first author Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology article. Dr. Pufall showed that multiple phosphorylation events within an unstructured domain of the Ets-1 transcription factor act as a rheostat, shifting the protein from a state competent for DNA-binding to an autoinhibited form. In the course of this work, Dr. Pufall received training in NMR spectroscopy from Professor Lawrence McIntosh and also collaborated with the noted X-ray crystallographer, Professor Cynthia Wolberger.

In the Yamamoto laboratory, Dr. Pufall continued working in the area of transcriptional regulation by DNA binding proteins but changed his focus to the glucocorticoid receptor. Whereas the dogma in DNA-binding proteins suggests that as an operator site accumulates differences from an ideal sequence, protein affinity is simply decreased, Dr. Pufall and co-workers tested the hypothesis that different DNA sequences bind the same protein differently, influencing its activity, and producing different transcriptional outcomes. This work resulted in a 2009 Science paper of which Dr. Pufall is co-first author. He further developed this work into a Howard Temin Award from the National Cancer Institute to investigate the genomics of glucocorticoid-resistant and glucocorticoid-sensitive acute lympoblastic leukemia.

Dr. Pufall’s work suggests that DNA is an unanticipated allosteric regulator of protein function in transcriptional regulation. As an independent investigator, he plans to push this work to dissect fundamental mechanisms by which DNA-protein complexes create specific scaffolds for complex regulation and to translate these discoveries in order to improve human health.

2010 grad Keenan is an academic all-American

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Alexandra Keenan, a 2010 triple major in biomedical engineering, biochemistry and international studies, earlier awarded a 2007 Goldwater Scholarship and named to Glamour magazine’s top 10 college women list, has been named a member of the USA Today 2010 All-USA College Academic First Team. Ms. Keenan plans a career as a physician scientist.

Rpa1-L221P is a Mol Cancer Research highlight

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

A new paper by Cathy Hass, Lokesh Gakhar and Marc Wold on molecular and cellular characterization of Rpa1-L221P has been chosen as a Molecular Cancer Research Highlight. This allele, when heterozygous in mouse, produces genomic instability and a cancer predisposition phenotype. By producing the corresponding human allele of Rpa1, the authors were able to show that it forms a stable, nonfunctional complex that apparently inhibits overall Rpa1 function via a haploinsufficiency mechanism.

Department mourns passing of Arthur Fishkin

Monday, July 12th, 2010

We have received the sad news that Arthur Fishkin, a 1957 PhD with Gene Lata, passed away on May 27, his 80th birthday. Fishkin came to Iowa from Indiana to pursue a PhD in zoology and had his interest in biochemistry sparked by Henry Bull’s course in physical biochemistry. After completing his thesis on hormonal influences on the acetylation of sulfanilamide, Dr. Fishkin held posts at the Southwest Research Foundation in San Antonio, the LSU School of Medicine and New Mexico State University before joining the Biochemistry Department at Creighton University in 1968, where he remained active for nearly 40 years. Dr. Fishkin was well known for his work on N-acetylneuramidate lyase and glycoproteins in connective tissues. Fishkin also sent a student, G. Stanley Cox, to Iowa to conduct PhD research with Thomas Conway. Dr. Fishkin is survived by his wife, Jane, four sons, and five grandchildren. Dr. Fishkin’s family reports that Arthur’s years at Iowa were formative. He regarded it as a collegial place with high academic standards, which influenced his approach to teaching and research for 50 years. ┬áDr. Fishkin’s obituary has been published in the Chemical and Engineering News, the magazine of the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Creighton University Magazine.

George Dialynas renews his AHA

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

George Dialynas, a post-doctoral fellow with Lori Wallrath, has competitively renewed his American Heart Association fellowship. Since joining the Wallrath group, he has been the first author of a 2008 review in Mutation Research, a co-author of a 2009 paper in PLoS One, and first author of an original 2010 research paper in Development. He aims to utilize a Drosophila model of Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy to screen for drugs that correct associated phenotypes.