Mor | People
Tsafrir Mor, Associate Professor
Education: Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Jerusalem, Israel
The availability of plants overexpressing acetylcholinesterase prompted us to investigate the intriguing possibility of the presence in plants of the signaling molecule acetylcholine and the enzymes involved in its metabolism.
Latha Kannan, Lab Manager
Education: Ph.D., Biochemistry, SRMC University, India
Dr. Latha Kannan earned her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the SRMC University, India in 2003. Her graduate research work involved the role of vitamin E on hypertension. During 2000 – 2002 at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Kannan worked with Prof. Jolly on aging research. Before coming to the Arizona State University, Dr. Kannan worked with Prof. Yanagihara at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu on natural product development – isolation and characterization of Hawaiian box jelly fish venom during 2003-2005. Currently, Dr. Kannan has been working on cholinesterase for organo phosphorous poisoning and human membrane proteins for crystallization studies.
Dr. Kannan loves to do gardening; her backyard is filled with fruit bearing trees as well as exotic vegetable plants. In addition, Dr. Kannan also enjoys cooking dishes during weekends!
Kathy Larrimore, Ph.D. Student
Education: Ph.D. Student in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Arizona State University
Before moving to Arizona I completed my BS in Biology and BA in Philosophy at West Virginia University. While at WVU I spent several years conducting research in a plant physiology laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Carina Barth. There I investigated the mechanisms through which ascorbic acid regulates flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana, and studied the function of that antioxidant in regulating plant defense responses to bacterial pathogens. When I’m not doing research I train and teach a traditional martial arts called Tang Soo Do, and participate in various organizations at ASU including the Association for Women in Science and the Graduate Professional Student Association.
In Dr. Mor’s lab I am working on using a plant-based system to develop a treatment for cocaine addiction and overdose. I am using plants to produce recombinant proteins that have been engineered to have anti-cocaine properties. Cocaine is the second most widely abused recreational drug in the US, and is one of the most reinforcing of all drugs of abuse. Over 80% of addicts who have been rehabilitated fall back into a cycle of relapse, and too often instances of overdose are observed. One approach to help treat cocaine addiction involves using a human serum protein called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE). This enzyme is a bioscavenger capable of binding and hydrolyzing many compounds, including cocaine. Several variants of BChE have been engineered to have higher catalytic activity against (-)-cocaine. The goal of my project is to investigate the use of transgenic plants as a sustainable, cost effective source of these cocaine-hydrolyzing variants of BChE and evaluate the ability of these plant-derived enzymes to function as a potential anti-cocaine treatment.
Lydia Meador, Ph.D Student
Education: Ph.D. Student, Arizona State University
Lydia Meador graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2007 with a B.S. in Botany and Microbiology/Molecular Genetics. Lydia began her PhD in 2011 at Arizona State University in the Biological Design graduate program where she is co-advised by both Tsafrir Mor and Bertram Jacobs and supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Her research involves the development and characterization of an HIV vaccine candidate that combines the use of an attenuated Vaccinia virus expressing HIV proteins with HIV virus-like particles produced in the tobacco relative Nicotiana benthamiana. Additional work is being pursued to develop more stable expression of an HIV membrane protein (deconstructed-gp41) in N. benthamianausing geminiviral vectors and chaperone overexpression.
Arpan Deb, Ph.D. Student
Education: Ph.D. Student, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Arizona State University.
A picture is worth a thousand words. I work with the Center for Membrane Proteins in Infectious Diseases at the Arizona State University towards expression, purification and eventually, crystallization and structure determination of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus -1 (HIV-1) membrane protein, viral protein U (Vpu). Structure determination helps in providing important clues for understanding infectious disease pathways and can therefore form the basis for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Vpu is a type-1 integral membrane protein expressed in infected human host cells and plays vital roles in down-regulation of CD4 receptors in T cells and also in the release of packaged viruses from the host. But there remain key structure / function questions regarding the mechanisms by which the Vpu protein contributes to HIV-1 pathogenesis. I work on expression of Vpu in Escherichia coli and Nicotiana benthamiana, its purification, biochemical and/or biophysical characterization and would subsequently move onto its crystallization and structure determination. I am also interested in identifying the intra-cellular localization sequences found within the protein which result in variable localization phenotypes of Vpu in the host cells.
Edgard Jauregur, PREP Scholar
Education: PREP Scholar at Arizona State university, B.S. Molecular Bioscience and Biotechnology
I grew up in Lima-Peru where I received my high school diploma. I studied Medical Technology for three years at San Marco’s university (UNMSM). My family immigrated in 2008. I joined to Dr. Mor’s lab in 2011 as part of my undergraduate internship and currently working as PREP Scholar (Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program). I received my B.S. in Molecular Bioscience and Biotechnology at Arizona State University in May, 2012. I have been working in the production and expression of Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in plants (Nicotiana benthamiana). Also, I have been involved in the production of human membrane proteins (Furin convertase and Intercellular adhesion molecule-1) in bacteria and plants.
Nicholas Segerson, Senior Undergraduate Student
Education: Senior Undergraduate Student, Molecular biosciences and Biotechnology, Arizona State University
I am currently a senior here at ASU majoring in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology. I was born and raised here in Tempe AZ and graduated from Corona del Sol high school in 2009. I have been working in the Mor lab since May 2011. I am currently working with Latha to express human membrane proteins, Furin and ICAM1, in both E. coli and N. benthamiana with the overall goal of crystallizing the proteins in order to understand their functions.
Dustin Srinivas, Senior Undergraduate Student
Education: Senior Undergraduate Student, Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, Arizona State University
I am a 4th year Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology Undergraduate student here at ASU. I am also part of the Membrane Proteins in Infectious Diseases (MPID) program. I work with a gene found in HIV-1 called VPU. It is responsible for down regulating the CD4 receptor and Tetherin. My main research focus is to express and purify the VPU gene in Nicotiana Benthaminiana plants. The overall goal of this research is to identify the 3D structure of VPU by the use of X-Ray Crystallography.
David Beauont, Senior Undergraduate Student
Education: Senor Undergraduate Student, Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, Arizona State University
I am a senior at ASU majoring in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology. I am working to improve expression of HIV-1 proteins gp41 and gag in plants Nicotiana benthamiana using Gemini vectors developed by Dr. Mor and Dr. Mason. Gp41 is a co-receptor of gp120 and assists with host cell fusion. Gag is a structural protein responsible for the packaging of replicated HIV-1 genome. The overall goal of this research is to improve upon a vaccine candidate for HIV-1.
Joseph Kwanho Yun, Junior Undergraduate Student
Bill Johnson, Sophomore Undergraduate Student
Education: Undergraduate Student, Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, Arizona State University
My name is Bill Johnson. I was raised in Yuma, Arizona. I have a natural ability to draw, paint, and sculpt. I graduated from Kofa High school in 1999. After graduation I joined the Air Force. I was enlisted for 6 years, 5 of which were spent in Eielson AFB, Alaska. I maintained electronic warfare systems of the A-10 and the F-16 jet aircraft, mainly the AN/ALQ-184 EA pod, for the The 354th Fighter Wing. I received a National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service, and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. I was honorably discharged from the military in 2005. I came back to Arizona and earned an AAS in massage therapy from Arizona Western College. I worked as a massage therapist and also continued my work with electronics and RF as a defense contractor for the Army at the Yuma Proving Grounds. For 4 years I aided in the testing of counter-IED technology for the National Counterterrorism/
Shangji Zhang, Sophomore Undergraduate Student
Education: Sophomore Undergraduate Student, Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, Arizona State University
I am a sophomore student in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology Undergraduate major at ASU. My project is to help with the structure study of membrane proteins in infectious disease by X-ray crystallography. The two proteins that I will work with are: GP41 from HIV and pilQ from Francisella Tularensis. I will focus on learning how to express and purifying membrane proteins from E. coli cells.
Heeral Patel, Freshman Undergraduate Student
Education: Freshman Undergraduate Student, Biochemistry, Arizona State University
I am a freshman here at Arizona State University and am studying Biochemistry, Pre-Med. I graduated from Mountain Veiw High School in Mesa. I am excited to be a part of the growing research in the Mor Lab!