Kun Ping Lu, MD, PhD
Dr. Lu research focuses on the role and regulation of cell proliferation and telomere maintenance during aging and aging related diseases. By studying mitotic regulation, Dr. Lu has identified two novel human proteins, Pin1 and Pin2/TRF1. Dr. Lu laboratory has further discovered that Pin1 is a novel prolyl isomerase that regulates protein conformation after phosphorylation, thereby functioning as a novel molecular timer in phosphorylation signaling in diverse cellular processes. Furthermore, his laboratory has demonstrated that Pin1 deregulation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of a growing number of human diseases and may function as a novel therapeutic target. For example, Pin1 is prevalently overexpressed in human cancers and functions as a novel catalyst essential for multiple oncogenic pathways as well as for tumor development, suggesting that Pin1 may be an attractive new anticancer target. Pin1 is highly expressed in neurons and is pivotal in protecting against age-dependent tau- and Abeta-related pathologies and neurodegeneration, but is down-regulated or inactivated in Alzheimer’s disease brains, indicating that Pin1 is an important new enzyme in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Dr. Lu laboratory has shown that Pin2/TRF1 is a telomere protein that has a dual role in telomere maintenance and mitotic checkpoint regulation, and discovered the Pin2/TRF1-interacting protein PinX1, the first endogenous telomerase inhibitor in mammals and a putative tumor suppressor.