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Thomas Rutkowski, PhD

Associate Professor
Anatomy & Cell Biology

Office: 1-570 BSB
Office Phone: 319-335-7739

Lab: 1-500 BSB

Lab Website: https://medicine.uiowa.edu/acb/profile/thomas-rutkowski

The endoplasmic reticulum stress response--basic signaling mechanisms and its role in liver disease

My laboratory seeks to understand a fundamental but very poorly understood question in biology: How does cellular stress (i.e., anything that perturbs normal cellular function), impact parallel physiological processes? There are many ways in which stress can be manifested to a cell, including pathogenic infection, chemical insult, genetic mutation, nutrient deprivation, and even as a consequence of normal cellular function. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the site of synthesis and folding of secretory and cell-surface proteins. The cellular response to ER stress (also known as the Unfolded Protein Response, or UPR) serves as a model for understanding not only the mechanisms by which stress is sensed, but also the ways in which the consequences of alterations of homeostasis in one location (i.e., the ER) impact diverse areas of cell function, including gene expression, metabolism, cancer, cell signaling, and apoptosis. We use diverse experimental approaches to address these questions, encompassing systems biology, molecular and cell biology, and vertebrate genetics and physiology. In particular, my lab focuses on understanding how ER stress and liver physiology and pathophysiology are functionally interconnected. Ongoing projects include understanding how TCA cycle flux impacts ER homeostasis and its role in liver disease; how ER stress regulates metabolic gene expression; and how the ER stress response regulates cell fate.

PubMed link

Department/Program Affiliations:
Anatomy and Cell Biology