Chemistry

 

 

Probal Banerjee

Professor

 

 

 

Academic Background

 

 

  • Chemistry and Center for Developmental Neuroscience (CDN), The College of Staten Island (CUNY)
  • Post-Doctoral Research (Neuroscience), University of Chicago.
  • Ph.D. (Bio-organic Chemistry) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
  • M.Sc. (Organic Chemistry) Jadavpur University Calcutta, India

 

Area of Research

Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience

 

Research Interests

 

A.        The females are twice as prone to experiencing anxiety and depression as males and earlier studies have indicated that the neurotransmitter serotonin 5-HT is involved in this process.  Our studies have revealed that female mice are selectively dependent on serotonin 1A receptor (5-HT1A-R) mediated signaling for neonatal hippocampal neurogenesis. A deficiency of this receptor and the consequent lack of some crucial early-born hippocampal neurons are associated with female-specific anxiety in adulthood.  Our current studies are focused on understanding the possible role of sex steroids in cooperative signaling with the 5-HT1A-R and if such signaling activities are linked to the female-specific anxiety disorders. 

B.         Using the Fmr1(-/-) mouse model for autism, we have demonstrated aberrant AMPA receptor translocation to the plasma membrane in the hippocampal neurons of early postnatal Fmr1(-/-) mice. A selective activator of PKCe, which normalizes hippocampal development in other mouse models was able to normalize AMPA receptor translocation as well as anxiety and social behavior in the Fmr1(-/-) mice.  The PKCe gene is a known substrate for the RNA-binding protein Fmr1.  This project will build a mechanistic understanding of the role of Fmr1 and PKCe in neonatal hippocampal development, AMPA receptor transport, brain inflammation, and adult behavior linked to autism. 

C.        Curcumin, a component of the culinary spice turmeric, displays prophylactic activity against almost all cancers, but, due to its poor bioavailability, it is ineffective in eliminating established tumors. We have chemically linked curcumin to a cancer-cell targeting antibody in such a way that upon endocytosis, the curcumin-antibody bond is cleaved, thereby releasing free curcumin. Thus, we have sharply potentiated its ability to eliminate cancer cells.  This project designs clever ways to potentiate safe food-derived agents against multiple types of cancers, such as brain and cervical cancers.