Seminar: Dr. Kan Cao, University of Maryland College Park
Title: The Biology of Aging - New Approaches to Old Questions
Speaker: Dr. Kan Cao, University of Maryland College Park
Abstract: My laboratory is interested in why and how we age. Specifically, we focus on studying molecular mechanisms of Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), a premature aging disease, and exploring the potential connections between HGPS and normal aging. Children with HGPS die at their early teens due to heart attack or stoke. Approximately 90% of the HGPS cases are caused by a de novo mutation at 1824 position of the lamin A gene (C1824T, G608G). This mutation does not affect the coded amino acid, but partially activates a cryptic splice donor site in the exon 11, leading to the production of a mutant lamin A mRNA that contains an internal deletion of 150 base pairs. This is then translated into a lamin A mutant protein missing 50 amino acids near the C-terminus, termed “progerin."
Remarkably, to date, there are over 180 mutations related to the nuclear lamina, and it is associated with at least 14 known human diseases (the laminopathies). However, the molecular mechanisms of lamin A’s function still remain unclear. To investigate this question, my laboratory applies a potent suite of techniques from cell biology, stem cell biology, to genomics. Our goal is two-fold: (1) to develop novel treatments for HGPS; (2) to exploit our knowledge of HGPS to better understand human aging."