Category: Michigan Tech News

Karabencheva-Christova Lab Reveals Molecular Mechanism of Cancer-Associated Enzyme

Cover page and images of Karabencheva-Christova's New Study
Karabencheva-Christova Publishes New Study
Tatyana Karabencheva-Christova
Associate Professor

A recent research article by Karabencheva-Christova’s group was showcased on the back cover of Chemical Science, the flagship journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

The team led by Dr. Karabencheva-Christova includes Ph.D. students Anandhu Krisnan (first author) and Fathima Hameed Cherilakkudy; Ph.D. graduate Sodiq Waheed ’23, currently a researcher at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Ph.D. graduate Ann Varghese ’23, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Toxicological Research, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in Jefferson, Arkansas. Professor Christopher J. Schofield from the University of Oxford, U.K., was a collaborator on the study.

The research illuminates the origin of the atypical catalytic strategy employed by the human non-heme Fe(II)/2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase AspH, which is a target for anticancer therapy.
This research was funded by NIH grant 2R15GM132873-02. We thank Sarah Atkinson (RD, MTU) for her assistance with image preparation.

Anandhu Krisnan, Karabencheva-Christova New Study
Anandhu Krisnan
Ph.D. student
Fathima Hameed Cherilakkudy, Karabencheva-Christova New Study
Fathima Hameed Cherilakkudy
PhD Student
Ann Varghese ’23
Ann Varghese ’23
Ph.D. graduate
Sodiq Waheed ’23
Sodiq Waheed ’23
Ph.D. graduate

About the Chemistry Department at Michigan Tech

Chemists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues and advance research making contributions to health and well-being, environmental protection, responsible use of materials, and climate stabilization. The Chemistry Department offers five undergraduate degrees, an MS and PhD in Chemistry, and an accelerated MS. Supercharge your chemistry skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at Follow all the latest happenings on the Chemistry Blog.

Be Brief: Glow

Changes in pH cause the rhodol dyes to glow differently, offering insight into diseases that affect mitophagy. Three slides each with a different color of rhodol dyeFluorescent dyes help scientists see the inner workings of disease. In a new paper by Haiying Liu (Chem), Rudy Luck (Chem) and Thomas Werner (Bio Sci)—along with student researchers—they examine the efficacy of a rhodol-based fluorescent dye.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s and certain kinds of cancers affect the powerhouses of cells — mitochondria. To keep these powerhouses working efficiently, cells remove damaged mitochondria. This process, called mitophagy, is like a cell taking out the trash. In diseased cells, the garbage piles up and the cell’s pH changes. The rhodol dye responds to pH changes and glows brighter.

Luck adds that he considers it a privilege to be able to contribute to Liu’s attempts to find commercially viable probes. The team also acknowledges that the High-Performance Computer system Superior, managed under Director Gowtham, has advanced the research considerably.

Read more about the next steps of this research on the campus research blog Unscripted and celebrate National Chemistry Week with other Unscripted reads about surface chemistry, the science of brewing and mass spectrometry.

Green Takes Part in Global Environmental Outlook

Sarah Green (Chem) has been in Nairobi, Kenya for the launch of the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA).

The GEO report assesses the state and trends of the environment, as well as examining the policies meant to improve it. Green has served as co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the report since its early planning meetings in 2015.
The 744-page GEO report identifies the key drivers of environmental degradation around the world in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international agreements. It calls for integrated social, economic, and environmental policy actions to address critical issues such as air pollution, biodiversity loss, ocean health, climate change, and land degradation. Human health and well-being are intertwined with the health of the planet through the food, water, and natural systems we depend on.
The report guides governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses in strategies to design successful policies. GEO also investigate pathways to environmentally sustainable development and synergies among the SDGs.
Since 2015 Green has attended meetings of authors and government representatives in Bangkok, Geneva, Cairo, Cancun, Guangzhou, Singapore and Nairobi. She hopes to communicate the findings of GEO to a wide audience.
Read more about Sarah Green’s contribution in the Michigan Tech News articular “Tech Chemist Reviews UN Report on the Environment

Swept Away: Stream Gauges Essential to Storm Resilience

stream with wooden overhangStream gauges in the Keweenaw help us understand ecosystems and prepare our communities for flooding—but their existence is in jeopardy.

One of the most basic characteristics used to describe a stream is how much water it carries—the flow, or more accurately, discharge—which is measured in units of volume per time (typically cubic feet or cubic meters per second). Understanding how river discharge changes with time tells us important information about the stream, including how quickly something that is added to the river will be diluted and moved downstream. A river’s discharge rate also tells us how prone the river is to disturbances and what conditions the organisms that live there experience.

Understanding the river flow is also key for human communities. It allows planning for how quickly we can expect lakes and reservoirs to fill and how much water can be withdrawn for irrigation or drinking.

River flow also helps communities prepare for potential natural disasters, such as understanding how likely a river is to overflow its banks to cause a flood, and how to build culverts and bridges to withstand a flood like the one that Houghton experienced in June.

Read the full story on Unscripted.

New Funding – Xiaohu Xia wins CAREER Award

image113518-persThere is something very noble about Xiaohu Xia’s research. He wants to use palladium, platinum, ruthenium and other corrosion-resistant metals to refine tests to detect biomarkers for cancer and infectious diseases. To do so, he plans to use nanostructures made of these noble metals that mimic natural enzymes and has earned a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to focus on this research.

The grant covers five years, totaling $457,783, and enables Xia to dig deep into the structure-property relationships of the bimetallic peroxidase mimics at the atomic level. Even small changes in nanostructures can produce big results, demonstrated by his lab with improvements in the catalytic efficiencies of iridium-coated palladium and ruthenium nanostructures.

Read the full story on the Michigan Tech news website.

New Glycobiology Study led by Tarun Dam


Tarun Dam led a new study, published this week in Biochemistryexamining the biomechanics of galectin-3’s interaction with glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and proteoglycans. His team includes graduate students Melanie Talaga, Ni Fan, Ashli Fueri, Robert Brown and Research Assistant Professor Purnima Bandyopadhyay.

At the Laboratory of Mechanistic Glycobiology, Dam and his students study the sugar, including glucose and other structural, complex sugars, that fuel our bodies. GAGs assist in controlling growth factor proteins, which go unchecked as cancerous tumors grow.

Even though the findings of the study were unexpected, it opens up new possibilities for understanding glycobiology and biomechanics. “Seeing galectin-3 interact with GAGs and proteoglycans is like finding a rose in the petunias—it’s very unexpected,” Dam says. “It’s fair to say that this requires revisiting the reported biological functions of GAGs, proteoglycans and galectin-3.”

Next, Dam and his team look into additional research, “Now we have to reconsider the whole drama, retracing the steps and actions of that character… we are using cell lines and animal models to study this interaction in a cellular context.”

Read more on Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.


Chemistry in Michigan Tech News

Galectin-3 Proteins in Biochemistry Earns National Coverage
August 15, 2016
Sticking It To Rogue DNA
August 11, 2016
Tech Student Wins Goldwater Scholarship
April 8, 2016
A Noble Calling: Ruthenium Nanoframes Open the Doors to Better Catalysts
March 31, 2016
The Case of the Sticky Protein: Interdisciplinary Team Puts Together Clues To Better Sense Surface Hydrophobicity
December 18, 2015
Thyroid Cancer Biomarker Assays May Show Inaccurate Readings
November 12, 2015
Lynn Mazzoleni Leads a Team to Bring a New High-Resolution Spectrometer to Campus
October 23, 2015
Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes
April 8, 2015
Chemistry Professor Gives Women in STEM a Step Up
January 14, 2015
Michigan Tech Deploys Under-ice Research Instruments in Frozen Portage Waterway
January 12, 2015
Carnegie Museum: Lake Superior Discussion
November 13, 2014
Breakthrough Understanding of Biomolecules Could Lead to New and Better Drugs
August 22, 2014
Fang, Pokharel Receive Rath Award for Breakthrough Method of Purifying Biomolecules
April 28, 2014
Reaching for the Future at Society of Women Engineers Conference
February 25, 2014