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Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, LSU Health Sciences Center, 2004
M.Sc., Pharmacy, Warsaw Medical University, 1996
Microbial pathogens utilize a variety of strategies to facilitate survival in the infected host. One of the most important mechanisms is the ability to respond to stress and adapt to an adverse host environment. Therefore, inhibiting stress response pathways constitutes a promising antimicrobial therapy. I study a human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans to understand the mechanistic cellular processes used by pathogenic microorganisms to allow survival in the infected host. C. neoformans is a major opportunistic fungal pathogen worldwide and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in AIDS patients. In addition, the sibling species, Cryptococcus gattii is responsible for the recent outbreak of fungal-caused meningitis in the Pacific north-west of the U.S. Our work with C. neoformans has led us to hypothesize that this pathogen has evolved unique pathways to control cell division in a manner that allows it to survive within a human host. Testing this hypothesis would provide insights into how eukaryotic pathogens adapt to the host environment and could potentially reveal new targets for therapeutic interventions. In addition, our research will lead to an improved understanding of the evolutionary events that have resulted in alternative mechanisms of mitosis. My research program has the following three main aims: 1. Explore molecular basis for stress-induced changes in ploidy in C. neoformans, 2. Explain the intriguing interconnection between cytokinesis, endocytosis, and stress response in C. neoformans, 3. Elucidate the function of septins, filament forming GTPases, in stress response and pathogenicity of C. neoformans.
1. Altamirano S., Chandrasekaran S., Kozubowski L., Mechanisms of Cytokinesis in Basidiomycetous Yeasts, 2017, Fungal Biology Reviews (In Press).
2. Esher SK, Ost KS, Kozubowski L, Yang DH, Kim MS, Bahn YS, Alspaugh JA, Nichols CB, Relative Contributions of Prenylation and Postprenylation Processing in Cryptococcus neoformans Pathogenesis, mSphere Mar 2016, 1 (2) e00084-15
3. Janbon G, et al., Analysis of the genome and transcriptome of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii reveals complex RNA expression and microevolution leading to virulence attenuation, 2014, PLoS Genet. Apr 17;10 (4) (a multi-laboratory contribution of 52 authors)
4. Kozubowski L, Yadav V, Chatterjee G, Sridhar S, Yamaguchi M, Kawamoto S, Bose I, Heitman J, Sanyal K, Ordered kinetochore assembly in the human-pathogenic basidiomycetous yeast Cryptococcus neoformans, MBio, 2013 Oct 1;4(5), PMID: 24085781
5. Ballou ER, Kozubowski L, Nichols CB, Alspaugh JA, Ras1 acts through duplicated Cdc42 and Rac proteins to regulate morphogenesis and pathogenesis in the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, PLoS Genet. 2013 Aug; 9(8), PMID: 23950731