Finding the Next Frontier
CHORI Researchers Win Accolades at Gordon Research Conference
CHORI scientist Michael Oda, PhD, and a post-doc from his lab, Giorgio Cavigiolio, PhD, both garnered significant kudos at this year’s Gordon Research Conference on Lipoprotein Metabolisms, a biannual conference that brings all the primary investigators in the field together. There, Dr. Cavigiolio won the award for best poster presentation, and Dr. Oda, for best short presentation, honors which speak to the rigor of research conducted in the Oda lab at CHORI’s Center for the Prevention of Obesity, Cardiovascular Disease & Diabetes.
“I think of it as a big honor that we were chosen by our peers for these awards,”Dr. Oda says.
The overall objective of the Oda lab is to investigate high density lipoprotein (HDL) structure and function. This involves examining the effect of HDL size, shape, and composition on the structure of apoliprotein A-I (apoA-I) and the effect of apoA-I structure on HDL function.
"Understanding this interplay between apoA-I structure and HDL function is very important from a clinical perspective, because a comprehension of apoA-I structure and function could explain the root of a variety of HDL-related metabolic issues and their clinical presentations," says Dr. Oda.
The research for which Drs. Oda and Cavigiolio won their awards focused on how apoA-I structure facilitates HDL function. HDL, known as the good guy in maintaining healthy cholesterol, withdraws cholesterol from cells and transports it via the liver either out of the body, or to those sites in the body that functionally require cholesterol. Yet HDL can only do its job with the help of apoA-I.
"To envision the effect of cholesterol on HDL, imagine a truck that, as you fill it, changes shape. Unloaded, it's small and compact, but once it assumes its cargo, it becomes large and bloated. ApoA-I, as the main structural scaffold of HDL, has to adapt to changes in HDL's shape." Dr. Oda explains.In its unloaded form, HDL interacts very well with transporters that acquire cholesterol, but not as well with scavengers that take cholesterol back to the liver. In a similarly logical fashion, the reverse is true of HDL in its loaded form.
"HDL has to have a unique molecular signature to define its characteristic biological function, and we believe this might be it," Dr. Oda says.
Both suggestions provide critical signposts for the future of elucidating apoA-I structure and function within HDL, as the conference awards suggest.
"It tells us where the dynamic regions of the molecule are - the end terminals - which is where regulation has to happen and where we should focus if we want to change how that regulation works," says Dr. Oda, "and it also tells us which regions essentially define HDL's molecular signature. Those regions are critical, they are the next frontier."
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM