Department of Biochemistry

Head: dr hab. Katarzyna Piwocka, prof. nadzw.
e-mail: k.piwocka@nencki.gov.pl

The Department of Biochemistry consists of 10 research groups engaged in the investigation of basic problems concerning the molecular regulation of cell fate and physiology under normal and pathological conditions.

Cell stress, death and senescence with the focus on signaling pathways responsible for them are investigated by two groups who focus on the involvement of mitochon- dria (Prof. Duszyński’s group) and DNA damage (Prof. Sikora’ group) in these processes. Recent studies by these groups have elucidated a role for the complex interactions between organelles in cell stress and identified curcumin as a natural factor promoting cancer cell senescence.

Potassium channels on cardiac and skeletal muscle cells and the mechanistic pathways through which openers of these channels exert protective effects, for example against heart damage, are the focus of research carried out by Prof. Szewczyk’s group.

Thymidylate synthase, an enzyme involved in DNA synthesis and repair, and also a target in chemotherapy, is investigated by Prof. Rode’s group. This group have reported high expression of enzymes involved in thymidine biosynthesis in developmentally arrested larvae of para- sitic (Trichinella spiralis and T. pseudospiralis) and free-living (Caenorhabditis elegans) nematodes.

Annexins, their structure, function and role in diseases, in which membrane permeability to ions and vesicular transport are affected, are the focus of studies investigated by Prof. Pikuła’s group. Recent studies have advanced understanding of the role of annexins in tissue mineralization, secretion of catecholamines, and transport and storage of cholesterol in Niemann-Pick type C disease.

Motile systems with a focus on the structure-function relationship of molecular motor proteins (kinesins and myosins), cytoskeletal and regulatory proteins are investigated by two groups, headed by Prof. Kasprzak and Prof. Rędowicz. Recent work by these groups have revealed the mecha- nisms of the Ncd kinesin motor activity and involvement of unconventional myosin VI in cytoskeleton organization, and characterized the effects of prion protein on microtubule formation.

Lipotoxicity with an emphasis on the molecular mecha- nisms underlying lipid-induced insulin resistance, the role of fatty acids in the regulation of gene expression and energy metabolism and new perspective therapy for diabetes are the focus of research carried out by the groups led by Prof. Dobrzyń and Prof. Zabłocki.

Lipid metabolism in normal and pathological conditions is investigated in the recently established group led by Dr. P. Dobrzyń.

The field of expertise of members of the Department is powered by many experimental units accessible within the Department or in the Institute core facility laboratories, described in the relevant sections within this issue.

Selected publications:

Dąbrowska-Maś E., Frączyk T., Ruman T., Radziszewska K., Wilk P., Cieśla J., Zieliński Z., Jurkiewicz A., Gołos B., Wińska P., Wałajtys-Rode E., Leś A., Nizioł J., Jarmuła A., Stefanowicz P., Szewczuk Z., Rode W. (2012) Tyrosine nitration affects thymi- dylate synthase properties. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 10: 323-331.

Domon M., Nasir M.N., Matar G., Pikuła S., Besson F., Bandorowicz-Pikuła J. (2012) Annexins as organizers of cholesterol- and spingomyelin-enriched membrane microdomains in Niemann-Pick type C disease. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 69: 1773-1785.

Drabarek B., Dymkowska D., Szczepanowska J., Zabłocki K. (2012) “TNFα affects energy metabolism and stimulates biogen- esis of mitochondria in EA.hy926 endothelial cells”. International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 44: 1390-1397.

Kajma A., Szewczyk A. (2012) A new pH-sensitive rectifying potassium channel in mitochondria from the embryonic rat hippocampus. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1817: 1867-1878.

Korwek Z., Sewastianik T., Bielak-Żmijewska A., Mosieniak G., Alster O., Moreno-Villaneuva M., Burkle A., Sikora E. (2012) Inhi- bition of ATM blocks the etoposide-induced DNA damage response and apoptosis of resting human T cells. DNA Repair, 11: 864-873.

Majewski Ł., Sobczak M., Havrylov S., Jóźwiak J., Rędowicz M.J. (2012) Dock7: A GEF for Rho-family GTPases and a novel myosin VI binding partner in neuronal PC12 cells. Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 90: 565-574.

Szczęsna E., Kasprzak A.A. (2012) The C-terminus of kinesin-14 Ncd is a crucial component of the force generating mecha- nism, FEBS Letters, 586: 854-858.

Osiecka K.M., Nieznańska H., Skowronek K.J., Nieznański K. (2011) Tau inhibits tubulin oligomerization induced by prion protein. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1813: 1845-1853

Dobrzyń P., Dobrzyń A., Miyazaki M., Ntambi J.M. (2010) Loss of stearoyl-CoA desaturase1 rescues cardiac function in obese leptin-deficient mice. Journal of Lipid Research, 51: 2202-2210.

Giorgi C., Ito K., Lin H.K., Santangelo C., Więckowski M.R., Lebiedzińska M., Bononi A., Bonora M., Duszyński J., Bernardi R., Rizzuto R., Tacchetti C., Pinton P., Pandolfi P.P. (2010) PML regulates apoptosis at endoplasmic reticulum by modulating calcium release. Science, 330:1247-1251