Northwestern Events Calendar


Pharmacology Research Works in Progress: Ciarra Smith and Emma Schuster

When: Monday, January 24, 2022
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Lexi Smith   (312) 503-4893

Group: Department of Pharmacology Seminars

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Ciarra Smith
PhD Candidate in the Laboratory of Loukia Parisiadou, PhD

Parkinson’s Disease Associated Protein LRRK2 Influences the on Molecular Machinery of DA Release
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement disorder affecting dopamine (DA) neurons in the nigrostriatal pathway. The PD associated protein LRRK2 has known polymorphisms that increase the risk of PD development particularly. One such mutation is the G2019S mutation in the kinase domain which is the most prevalent mutation in familial PD and can be attributed to some idiopathic cases as well. LRRK2 is involved in cellular trafficking and potentially mediates PD development through its role affecting DA neurotransmission. LRRK2G2019 has the potential to reorganize active zone-like proteins in DA neurons explaining deficiencies in evoked DA release. Using synaptosome preparations and primary neurons cultivated from WT and LRRK2G2019S mice we probe this DA release machinery in the 200nm wide region of the active zone.

Emma Schuster
PhD Candidate in the Laboratory of Huiping Liu, MD, PhD

Plexin-B2 enhances circulating tumor cell cluster formation and metastasis of breast cancer
Abstract: Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is considered incurable as research currently lacks understanding of its molecular mechanisms. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are responsible for metastasis and can circulate as either single cells or clusters, which show a 20-100 times greater rate of metastasis than single CTCs.  In a metastasis signature study, Plexin-B2 protein expression is significantly associated with lower overall survival and distant metastasis-free survival across all breast cancer subtypes, implicating Plexin-B2’s role in metastasis. Through this research, we show that Plexin-B2 facilitates CTC cluster formation in breast cancer and thus enhances metastasis of the disease.

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