Molecular biology of ocular aging
Bhavana Chhunchha, PhD
The research of Dr. Chhunchha's lab focuses on preventing or delaying age-related blinding disease, including age-related cataract and glaucoma.
During our research, we identified two survival molecules, Peroxiredoxin (Prdx) 6 and Lens Epithelial Derived Growth Factor (LEDGF) which are prerequisite for cell survival during aging and oxidative stress. These proteins may be a fruitful therapeutic target for treating or postponing age-associated disease such as cataract, glaucoma, and neurological disorders.
In addition, our general interests are to explore cellular antioxidant defense systems, how the antioxidant system goes awry during aging and leads to age-associated diseases, and how this defense system can be reactivated in aging lenses or lens epithelial cells (LECs), an excellent model system to study aging disorders.
We are trying to develop transcription-based inductive therapy by using naturally occurring compound such as Curcumin, Sulforaphane, Ginkgolic acid etc., to enhance endogenously occurring antioxidant defense molecules, like antioxidant proteins, Prdx6, catalase and glutathione peroxidase through their trans-regulators, Nrf2 or Sp1 or KLF9 or NF-кB. This will avoid direct DNA or protein delivery, which is cumbersome and not widely acceptable.
Our research also focuses on the role of oxidative or aging stress-linked aberrant posttranslational modifications such as Sumoylation, Phosphorylation, Methylation, Ubiquitination, Histone modification of Prdx6 and LEDGF that may modulate the functionality of these molecules, and exploring how the aberrant modification(s) should be blocked in favor of cell survival.