Erica Gansemer

Mentor: Thomas Rutkowski, PhD

Year Entered Into Program: 2018

Terminal Degree(s) Received and year: PhD 2022


  • Cell and Developmental Biology

Research Description

The role of NADPH in communicating nutrient availability between the mitochondria and ER

It is well established that mitochondrial dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress are both associated with metabolic diseases, such as obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, little is known about the mechanism by which mitochondrial metabolism is linked to ER function. Give the importance of both organelles for metabolic processes, particularly lipid metabolism, it is plausible that there is a mechanism linking these organelles to regulate their function. My research focuses on the role of NADPH and redox homeostasis in regulating oxidative protein folding in response to mitochondrial activity. We recently published a manuscript demonstrating that decreasing NADPH production generated a change in cellular glutathione and diminished sensitivity to ER stress. This was corroborated in cells lacking the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier, loss of which is known to diminish TCA cycle activity and elicit protection from liver injury. I am currently investigating how nutrient deprivation affects ER stress sensitivity, and am also exploring how redox changes differentially effect the three sensors that activate the unfolded protein response when ER stress occurs. Additionally, I plan to test this mechanism in vivo to assess its implication in progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.


  • ​Mary J.C. Hendrix Graduate Leadership Award; Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa
  • Graduate Student Vice President; Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa
  • Fellowship appointment on the Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (NIH T32 GM067795), University of Iowa, 2019-present
  • Graduate Student Vice President, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 2019-2020 Academic Year


  1. Gansemer ER, McCommis KS, Martino M, King-McAlpin AQ, Potthoff MJ, Finck BN, Taylor EB, Rutkowski DT.:  NADPH and glutathione redox link TCA cycle activity to ER Stress. iScience. 2020;23(5):101116, 2020.  PMCID: PMC7254477
  2. DeZwaan-McCabe, D., Sheldon, R.D., Gorecki, M.C., Guo, D.F., Gansemer, E.R., Kaufman, R.J., Rahmouni, K., Gillum, M.P., Taylor, E.B., Teesch, L.M., Rutkowski, D.T.:  ER stress inhibits liver fatty acid oxidation while unmitigated stress leads to anorexia-induced lipolysis and both liver and kidney steatosis. Cell Reports, 19(9):1784-1806, 2017.  PMCID: PMC5520660