Dibyendu Banerjee, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Cancer Biology

Primary focus of our lab is to investigate cellular machinery that mediate
protein homeostasis

Anticancer area: Our primary interest in the anticancer area is to investigate the cellular processes of human DNA replication and repair. We study proteins that are involved in both DNA replication and Base excision repair (BER) and Nucleotide exchange repair (NER) processes. The proper functioning of proteins involved in these processes is essential for maintaining genomic integrity and any problems with their function, expression or interactions can lead to human diseases such as cancer. The importance of DNA repair proteins has been recently highlighted with the 2015 Nobel prize for Chemistry going to Paul L. Mordick, Tomas Lindahl and Aziz Sankar in the field of DNA repair.

Our lab is studying DNA replication proteins such as Polδ, PCNA, RFC, Fen1, Lig1, PARP1 and Topo1 and their interactions with other proteins. Polδ is primarily involved in the synthesis and processing of the lagging strand DNA (composed of Okazaki fragments). PCNA is a beta clamp that harbours Polδ on the DNA. RFC is a clamp loader that loads PCNA onto the DNA, while Lig1 seals the gaps between Okazaki fragments to make the continuous lagging strand DNA. The interplay among these proteins, their post-translational modifications, mutations or other factors that lead to changes in their function, expression or interaction makes for very interesting studies with implications for genomic instability and cancer Lig1 and FEN1 have been recently described as biomarker for breast and ovarian cancers. Clinical trials for PARP1 and Topo1 inhibitors for cancer were also in the news recently. Taking cue from these, we have conducted a pharmacophore based screening for hLig1 and Fen1 inhibitors from the CDRI compound library and have found hLig1 inhibitors that can slow down the progression of breast cancer in a mouse model. Fen1 inhibitors are being currently tested for their anticancer properties. Our lab has also developed assays for Topo1 and PARP1 and inhibitors for these proteins will be screened shortly.

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