Maria CardenasDepartment of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA F1000 Associate Faculty Member (since 23 March 2008)
Maria Cardenas is an Associate Faculty Member who works with Faculty Member Joe Heitman to recommend the scientific literature in their field.ACADEMIC POSITION:
Research Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
We are studying the Tor signaling cascade, which senses nutrients and regulates gene expression, translation, and ribosome biogenesis and has been conserved over a billion years of evolution from yeast to humans. The Tor proteins are novel protein kinases whose functions are inhibited by the immunosuppressive antifungal drug rapamycin in complex with the prolyl isomerase FKBP12. We focus on the antiproliferative drug rapamycin, which suppresses the immune system by blocking signaling events required for activation of T-lymphocytes. Rapamycin is used to treat and prevent graft rejection in organ transplant recipients. Rapamycin is a product of a soil bacterium and likely plays a role in nature distinct from immunosuppression, possibly as a toxin to inhibit growth of competing microorganisms. Based on this hypothesis, we have analyzed in detail the mechanisms of rapamycin action in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
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