University of Dundee

‘Protein Kinase C Unbalanced: Loss-of-Function and Gain-of-Function Mutations in Disease’

Event Date: 
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 13:00
Event Location: 
School of Life Sciences, MSI Small Lecture Theatre
Professor Dario Alessi FRS FRSE FMedSci
Event Speaker: 
Professor Alexandra Newton
University of California at San Diego
Event Type: 
Dundee Cell Signalling Lecture

26th Dundee Cell Signalling Lecture


Alexandra Newton is Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego. She received her B.Sc. in Biochemistry and French Literature from Simon Fraser University in Canada, her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Stanford University, and undertook her postdoctoral training in Daniel E. Koshland's laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focusses on understanding the structure, function, regulation, and spatiotemporal dynamics of protein kinase C and how these are altered in disease. Her work on what regulates the phosphorylation state of protein kinase C and Akt led to the discovery of the novel phosphatase she named PHLPP (PH domain Leucine-rich repeat Protein Phosphatase), a tumor suppressor that controls diverse cellular functions. Overturning a 30-year dogma, her recent analysis of mutations in protein kinase C isozymes found in various cancers revealed a tumor suppressive function of these enzymes, indicating that therapies should focus on restoring, rather than inhibiting, enzyme activity. Conversely, she showed that enhanced function of protein kinase C contributes to the pathophysiology of degenerative disease, identifying activity-enhancing variants of protein kinase C in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her work exemplifies how detailed dissection of the mechanisms of allosteric regulation of enzyme function provides the necessary biochemical understanding to drive effective therapeutic strategies.