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Faculty Detail    
Kasturi Mitra
Campus Address KAUL 740B Zip 0024
Phone  (205) 996-4148
Other websites Lab Website

Graduate  CCMB, Hyderbabad, India    2005  PhD 

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Genetics   Genetics Chair Office Assistant Professor Adjunct

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cancer Biology 
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics 
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American Society of Cell Biology  Member   

Research/Clinical Interest
Exploring the significance of mitochondrial structural change in health and disease
We are a mitochondrial biology lab and study the active role of mitochondrial structure-function in cell proliferation in normal and diseased conditions, specifically in cancer. The lab is focused on both basic and translational research using human and mouse cell lines, patient cells and tissues, and the Drosophila model organism. We use various kinds of biochemical, cell biological, microscopy and genetic tools to understand the role of mitochondria in health and disease. Basic research: Mitochondria are the cellular organelles that became the seat of energy production and intermediary metabolism during the course of evolution of eukaryotic cells. They are also crucial players in redox balance, calcium homeostasis, lipid modification and regulation of cell death in various developmental contexts. Mitochondria exist in different inter-convertible forms resulting from fission-fusion events between individual mitochondria, significance of which is far from clear. A set of proteins that govern either fusion or fission of mitochondrial inner and outer membranes have been characterized. Specific mutations in the fission-fusion proteins have been causally linked to certain diseases, highlighting the importance of these proteins. Moreover, the ablation of the key fission-fusion genes is deleterious in various model organisms, making the fission-fusion proteins essential for survival. Specifically, we study if and how the mitochondrial fission-fusion proteins regulate proliferation of different kinds of cells, including stem cells, or deregulate them during tumorigenesis. Translational cancer research: Mitochondria form a crucial hub for regulation cell metabolism/energetics and specific alterations in energetics/metabolism is a hallmark of cancer. Since, various tumors rely on mitochondrial function, inhibitors of mitochondrial function, including the anti-diabetic drug metformin, are being tested as possible cancer therapeutics in pre-clinical or clinical studies. Nonetheless, tumor heterogeneity poses a barrier in the success of cancer therapy with majority of the treatment regimes. Currently, we are focused on developing a mitochondria based targeted therapy towards overcoming chemoresistance in cancer. We study the efficacy and mechanism of mitochondrial inhibitors in overcoming chemoresistance. We are also interested in developing genomics based tools to be able to select appropriate patients who will benefit from a mitochondria based targeted therapy.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
A hyperfused mitochondrial state achieved at G1-S regulates cyclin E buildup and entry into S phase.
Mitra K, Wunder C, Roysam B, Lin G, Lippincott-Schwartz J.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jul 21;106(29):11960-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904875106. Epub 2009 Jul 15. 
Analysis of mitochondrial dynamics and functions using imaging approaches.
Mitra K, Lippincott-Schwartz J.
Curr Protoc Cell Biol. 2010 Mar;Chapter 4:Unit 4.25.1-21. doi: 10.1002/0471143030.cb0425s46. 
Mitochondria supply membranes for autophagosome biogenesis during starvation.
Hailey DW, Rambold AS, Satpute-Krishnan P, Mitra K, Sougrat R, Kim PK, Lippincott-Schwartz J.
Cell. 2010 May 14;141(4):656-67. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.04.009.  
DRP1-dependent mitochondrial fission initiates follicle cell differentiation during Drosophila oogenesis.
Mitra K, Rikhy R, Lilly M, Lippincott-Schwartz J.
J Cell Biol. 2012 May 14;197(4):487-97. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201110058. 
Mitra K.
Mitochondrial fission-fusion as an emerging key regulator of cell proliferation and differentiation. Bioessays. 2013 Aug 14. doi: 10.1002/bies.201300011. [Epub ahead of print]
A new mitochondrial pool of cyclin E, regulated by Drp1, is linked to cell-density-dependent cell proliferation.
Parker DJ, Iyer A, Shah S, Moran A, Hjelmeland AB, Basu MK, Liu R, Mitra K.
J Cell Sci. 2015 Nov 15;128(22):4171-82. doi: 10.1242/jcs.172429. 
Crosstalk between the mitochondrial fission protein, Drp1, and the cell cycle is identified across various cancer types and can impact survival of epithelial ovarian cancer patients.
Tanwar DK, Parker DJ, Gupta P, Spurlock B, Alvarez RD, Basu MK, Mitra K.
Oncotarget. 2016 Sep 13;7(37):60021-60037. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.11047. 
Studying Mitochondrial Structure and Function in Drosophila Ovaries.
Parker DJ, Moran A, Mitra K.
J Vis Exp. 2017 Jan 4;(119). doi: 10.3791/54989. 

Mitochondria, Cell proliferation, Energetics, Cancer, Stem cells