Maria A. Kukuruzinska, PhD

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology

Maria Kukuruzinska
617.358.9690

Biography

The long term goal of my work is to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms underlying the interactions between the metabolic pathway of protein N-glycosylation and intercellular adhesion in tissue development and disease.

Cross Talk Between Protein N-glycosylation, E-cadherin-mediated Cell-Cell Adhesion and Canonical Wnt Signaling. Studies in my laboratory have unveiled a critical role for N-glycosylation in the function of E-cadherin, a major epithelial cell-cell adhesion receptor that forms adherens junctions (AJs). They have shown that N-glycosylation affects the maturity of AJs and the assembly of tight junctions (TJs), as well as cytoskeletal dynamics. On a molecular level, the N-glycosylation status of E-cadherin is controlled by the DPAGT1 gene, the first gene in the N-glycosylation pathway and its key regulator. At the same time, E-cadherin junctions regulate DPAGT1 expression, indicating the existence of a bidirectional feedback loop between the metabolic pathway of protein N-glycosylation and cell-cell adhesion. Current studies in my laboratory are aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanism via which AJs regulate N-glycosylation.

Mechanisms Underlying Salivary Gland Development. Another major project in my laboratory focuses on the key mechanisms that drive submandibular gland (SMG) development. We have shown that E-cadherin regulates major events during SMG morphogenesis, including proliferation of acinar and ductal progenitors, formation of new buds and survival of ductal progenitors during tubulogenesis. E-cadherin also plays an important role in the planar cell polarity pathway that drives ductal axis extension during SMG morphogenesis. These developmental functions of E-cadherin are regulated by N-glycosylation. Our ongoing studies focus on the molecular characterization of how N-glycosylation and E-cadherin impact acinar and ductal cell fate specification and drive the formation of mature SMG structures.

Molecular Basis of Oral Cancer. The conceptual framework of our mechanistic studies is being applied to investigation of the development and progression of oral cancer. Our recent work has shown that aberrant activation of cellular N-glycosylation promotes the development and progression of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Partial inhibition of cellular N-glycosylation in oral cancer cell lines leads to the stabilization of intercellular adhesion, which then drives the mesenchymal to epithelial transition. Current studies examine the molecular basis of over-expression of DPAGT1 in OSCC and its relationship to the downstream signaling pathways that impact E-cadherin’s tumor suppressive function.

Molecular Basis of Sjogren’s Syndrome. Recently, we have initiated studies on Sjogren’s Syndrome (SS), an autoimmune disease that affects salivary and lacrimal glands. Although Sjogren’s disease has long been thought to be caused by lymphocytic infiltration, our recent work has suggested that defective intercellular adhesion is one of the underlying causes of this disease. To expedite the deciphering of the molecular basis of SS and to promote the development of new diagnostics, I co-founded an international collaboration, the Norwegian-United States Initiative on Sjogren’s Syndrome (NUSSIS), that brings together basic researchers and clinicians from the University of Oslo, the University at Albany – SUNY, University of Florida and from the Boston University School of Dental Medicine.

Other Positions

  • Associate Dean of Research, Dean’s Office, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
  • Acting Chair, Translational Dental Medicine, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
  • Research Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Program Director of Predoctoral Research Program, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
  • Associate Director for Basic Sciences, BU-BMC Cancer Center, Boston University
  • Member, Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, Boston University
  • Member, Genome Science Institute, Boston University
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences

Education

  • Johns Hopkins University, PhD
  • Bryn Mawr College, BA

Publications

  • Published on 5/4/2022

    Alhousami T, Diny M, Ali F, Shin J, Kumar G, Kumar V, Campbell JD, Noonan V, Hanna GJ, Denis GV, Monti S, Kukuruzinska MA, Varelas X, Bais MV. Inhibition of LSD1 Attenuates Oral Cancer Development and Promotes Therapeutic Efficacy of Immune Checkpoint Blockade and YAP/TAZ Inhibition. Mol Cancer Res. 2022 May 04; 20(5):712-721. PMID: 35105672.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/27/2021

    Dela Cruz A, Kartha V, Tilston-Lunel A, Mi R, Reynolds TL, Mingueneau M, Monti S, Jensen JL, Skarstein K, Varelas X, Kukuruzinska MA. Gene expression alterations in salivary gland epithelia of Sjögren's syndrome patients are associated with clinical and histopathological manifestations. Sci Rep. 2021 05 27; 11(1):11154. PMID: 34045583.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/11/2021

    Walker JL, Wang W, Lin E, Romisher A, Bouchie MP, Bleaken B, Menko AS, Kukuruzinska MA. Specification of the patterning of a ductal tree during branching morphogenesis of the submandibular gland. Sci Rep. 2021 01 11; 11(1):330. PMID: 33432003.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/23/2020

    Chandler KB, Alamoud KA, Stahl VL, Nguyen BC, Kartha VK, Bais MV, Nomoto K, Owa T, Monti S, Kukuruzinska MA, Costello CE. ß-Catenin/CBP inhibition alters epidermal growth factor receptor fucosylation status in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Mol Omics. 2020 06 01; 16(3):195-209. PMID: 32203567.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/12/2018

    Yost S, Stashenko P, Choi Y, Kukuruzinska M, Genco CA, Salama A, Weinberg EO, Kramer CD, Frias-Lopez J. Increased virulence of the oral microbiome in oral squamous cell carcinoma revealed by metatranscriptome analyses. Int J Oral Sci. 2018 11 12; 10(4):32. PMID: 30420594.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/20/2018

    Kartha VK, Alamoud KA, Sadykov K, Nguyen BC, Laroche F, Feng H, Lee J, Pai SI, Varelas X, Egloff AM, Snyder-Cappione JE, Belkina AC, Bais MV, Monti S, Kukuruzinska MA. Functional and genomic analyses reveal therapeutic potential of targeting ß-catenin/CBP activity in head and neck cancer. Genome Med. 2018 07 20; 10(1):54. PMID: 30029671.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/1/2018

    Alamoud KA, Kukuruzinska MA. Emerging Insights into Wnt/ß-catenin Signaling in Head and Neck Cancer. J Dent Res. 2018 06; 97(6):665-673. PMID: 29771197.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/27/2017

    Alsaqer SF, Tashkandi MM, Kartha VK, Yang YT, Alkheriji Y, Salama A, Varelas X, Kukuruzinska M, Monti S, Bais MV. Inhibition of LSD1 epigenetically attenuates oral cancer growth and metastasis. Oncotarget. 2017 Sep 26; 8(43):73372-73386. PMID: 29088714.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/22/2017

    Bais MV, Kukuruzinska M, Trackman PC. Corrigendum to "Orthotopic non-metastatic and metastatic oral cancer mouse models" [Oral Oncol. 51(5) (2015) 476-482]. Oral Oncol. 2017 09; 72:201. PMID: 28743466.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/11/2017

    Szymaniak AD, Mi R, McCarthy SE, Gower AC, Reynolds TL, Mingueneau M, Kukuruzinska M, Varelas X. The Hippo pathway effector YAP is an essential regulator of ductal progenitor patterning in the mouse submandibular gland. Elife. 2017 May 11; 6. PMID: 28492365.

    Read at: PubMed

View 136 more publications: View full profile at BUMC

View all profiles