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Raul Rojas, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist
Section on Biological Chemistry, DIR

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH/NIDCR
BUILDING 30 ROOM 524
30 CONVENT DR
BETHESDA MD 20892

Phone: 301-451-6319
Fax: 301-480-5353
E-mail: rojasr@mail.nih.gov

Research Interests:

Mucin-type O-linked glycoproteins (mucins) regulate multiple cellular processes including migration, attachment to the extracellular matrix and organ lumen formation during development and adulthood. Interestingly, changes in mucin levels, their cellular distribution, and the composition of the O-glycan chains in different tissues have been implicated to various diseases such as cancer.  After synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum, O-glycosylation of mucins starts by the addition of GalNAc to serine and threonine residues by the Golgi-resident enzymes ppGalNAcTs. Soluble and membrane-bound mucins traffic through the different compartments of the biosynthetic and endosomal pathways before they reach their final destination, the extracellular milieu and plasma membrane respectively. O-glycosylation is key to the transport of mucins through these organelles. One of my projects in the lab aims to understand how O-glycans direct the traffic of secreted and membrane-bound mucins through the cell.  In particular, I would like to further identify the protein machinery that sorts and packs mucins into carriers that transport them from the biosynthetic pathway to the plasma membrane, via the different compartments of the endosomal pathway.

Furthermore, recent studies suggest that the biosynthesis and transport of mucins to their site of action is regulated by extracellular cues. These extracellular cues are thought to activate signaling cascades that result in changes on the activity and cellular distribution of ppGalNAcTs among the different compartments of the biosynthetic pathway. Another goal of mine is to discern the molecular mechanisms by which these signaling cascades are transferred from the plasma membrane to the biosynthetic pathway. Additionally, I am trying to identify the protein machinery, targeted by these signaling cascades, that control ppGalNAcTs cellular redistribution and activity.

Complete CV  [PDF File 111KB]

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014