N. Muge Kuyumcu-Martinez, Ph.D.

Ph.D. training; Baylor College of Medicine
Post-doctoral training; Baylor College of Medicine

Publications (Pubmed)

Affiliations: Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Department of
Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Tel: (409) 772-3228
Fax: (409) 747-2200
nmmartin@utmb.edu
Route: 1068
Med. Research Bldg. 5.104A

N. Muge Kuyumcu-Martinez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Our laboratory’s main focus is to understand the regulation of alternative splicing (AS) networks in the heart and how dysregulation of AS impacts heart function and development. Specifically, we are interested in identifying signaling pathways that control differential expression of alternatively spliced variants in the heart.

We are currently pursuing two different aspects of AS regulation.

1. Regulation of AS networks by PKC in developing heart
Our data indicate that the protein kinase C (PKC) signaling is critical for AS transitions during rat and mouse heart development. We are systematically investigating a cause and effect relationship between PKC and synchronized AS networks during murine heart development. We are also testing RNA binding protein substrates of PKC in developing heart. Our aim is to identify a regulatory circuitry that controls gene expression via AS during heart development and cardiac differentiation.

Significance
AS can alter expression of genes drastically by removing or including alternative exons that correspond to the sequences responsible for mRNA stability and translatability. It can also modify the function of proteins by eliminating exons that code for essential domains. Even though AS is critical for gene regulation, the mechanisms that coordinate AS events in the heart is not well understood. Identifying AS events with direct impact on gene function may provide ways to treat congenital and adult heart diseases, which can be caused by mutations that affect proper splicing.

2. Dysregulation of AS in diabetes
Since chronic activation of PKC is a major contributor to cardiovascular complications of diabetes, we are testing whether PKC causes misregulation of AS in diabetic hearts. Our data show that aberrantly spliced isoforms of genes are expressed in diabetic heart tissues. We are further pursuing the consequences of AS defects in diabetes and analyzing the RNA binding proteins involved in this process.

Significance
Diabetes is a costly health care problem affecting 8.3% of the US population. The majority of the diabetes patients die from cardiovascular complications. Defining AS events that promote abnormal gene expression in diabetic hearts may reveal novel ways such as oligo-based therapy to correct splicing defects and ultimately prevent/treat cardiovascular complications of diabetes.

In the laboratory, we use several different model systems including cultured cells, transgenic and knockout mouse models, and rat models to understand the fundamental questions about AS regulation in the heart.

Lab news

  • Muge’s review has just been published in Development (November 2016).
  • Curtis Nutter received the prestigious Kempner Scholarship (Sep 2016).
  • Sunil Verma's recent paper is in press at Scientific Reports (July 2016)
  • A collaborative paper with the Garg lab is in press at International Journal of Proteomics (May 2016) 
  • Our recent paper on Rbfox2 is in press at Cell Reports (May 2016).
  • Curtis Nutter received the best student poster at the Clinical and Translational Research Forum (April 2016).
  • Our collaborative paper with Dr. Fujise is published in Scientific Reports (Jan 2016).
  • Ela and high school student Yareli in the lab got the "Team Science Award" for the best Mentor/Student pair in the Ball High School Bench Tutorials Program. (May 2015)
  • Muge received the BMB pilot grant. (April 2015)
  • Muge received the American Heart Association Grant in Aid Award (January 2015)
  • Curtis was awarded the Arthur V. Simmang Scholarship. (November 2014)
  • Curtis received the BSCO Award for his contribution to graduate student organization. (October 2014)
  • Muge received the Institute of Infections and Immunity Mini Center Grant as one of the project leaders together with Dr. Nisha Garg, Dr. Ken Fujise and Dr. Whitney Yin. (September 2014)
  • Curtis received the prestigious Levin Presidential Scholar Award (August 2014).

Lab Group

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOW POSITION AVAILABLE

We are looking for highly motivated, bright and enthusiastic applicants with a background in RNA biology, heart development or cardiac physiology. The candidate should be to able to work as a team member, learn new skills rapidly, and have excellent communication skills. If you are interested, please e-mail me (nmmartin@utmb.edu) your curriculum vitae, statement of career interests (1 paragraph long), and contact information for three references.