Utpal Banerjee

email:  banerjee@mbi.ucla.edu
phone:  310-206-5439
office:  5028 Terasaki Life Sciences Building
lab:  5045
homepage:  lab website

Research Interests

Blood Stem Cell Maintenance Hematopoietic stem cells are maintained within a microenvironment where signals from a niche are important for the maintenance of quiescence within a precursor population. Lack of such a niche-derived signal will cause loss of "stemness" resulting in increased proliferation and eventual differentiation. We study this phenomenon in the Drosophila hematopoietic organ using genetic technologies available in this model organism (see Martinez-Agosto et al., Genes and Development, 2007 for a review). We have shown that the "stemness" of these cells is maintained through the combined action of a Niche Signal, generated by Hedgehog (Hh) (Mandal et al., Nature, 2007), a local signal generated by Wingless/Wnt (Sinenko et al., Developmental Cell, 2009) and a reverse signal from the differentiated cells to the stem cells that we have termed the Equilibrium Signal. Several important concepts underlying Drosophila blood development have allowed us to propose this system as an appropriate genetic model for vertebrate hematopoiesis and these molecular mechanisms are being explored in the laboratory. Stress Response Systems Myeloid blood cells are ideal for the study of response to many kinds of stresses. Hypoxia-related factors and free radicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a role both in hematopoietic development and in stress response (Owusu-Ansah and Banerjee, Nature 2009). Similarly, the NF-kB derived inflammatory response plays a major role in the way blood cells respond to injury at distant sites. The emerging view from these studies is that basic developmental mechanisms are co-opted again for stress, injury and inflammatory responses by the myeloid hematopoietic system. Genetic analysis allows us to understand the interrelationship between these important biological phenomena that have great relevance to diseases and disorders in humans. Metabolic Control in Cancer Pathways In the past, our laboratory has identified components of signal transduction pathways that participate in oncogenesis (see Bonfini et al., Science, 1991; Flores et al., Cell 2000 for examples). We have also studied the role of the mitochondrion in controlling cell-cycle (Owusu-Ansah et al., Nature Genetics, 2008; Mandal et al., Developmental Cell, 2005). When cells become transformed, they choose alternate means of metabolism (a phenomenon referred to as the Warburg effect). We study the effect of signal transduction pathways on the control of cellular metabolism and the proper balance between cellular growth and metabolism that goes awry in cancer.

Selected Publications

Shim J, Gururaja-Rao S, Banerjee U., "Nutritional regulation of stem and progenitor cells in Drosophila", Development, 140 (23): 4647-4656 (2013) .

4. Shim J, Mukherjee T, Mondal BC, Liu T, Young GC, Wijewarnasuriya DP, Banerjee U., "Olfactory control of blood progenitor maintenance", Cell, 155 (5): 1141-53 (2013) .

Grigorian M, Liu T, Banerjee U, Hartenstein V., "The proteoglycan Trol controls the architecture of the extracellular matrix and balances proliferation and differentiation of blood progenitors in the Drosophila lymph gland", Developmental Biology, (2013) .

Rao S, Banerjee U., "Oncogenic pathway utilizes mitochondrial fusion machinery to support growth", Cell Cycle, 11 (24): (2012) .

Nagaraj R, Gururaja-Rao S, Jones KT, Slattery M, Negre N, Braas D, Christofk H, White KP, Mann R, Banerjee U., "Control of mitochondrial structure and function by the Yorkie/YAP oncogenic pathway", Genes & Development, 26 (18): 2027-2037 (2012) .

Freije WA, Mandal S, Banerjee U., "Expression profiling of attenuated mitochondrial function identifies retrograde signals in Drosophila", G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 2 (8): 843-851 (2012) .

Shim, J. and Banerjee, U., "Direct sensing of systemic and nutritional signals by hematopoietic progenitors in Drosophila", Nature Cell Biology, 14 (4): 394-400 (2012) .

Mukherjee T, Choi I, Banerjee U., "Genetic Analysis of Fibroblast Growth Factor Signaling in the Drosophila Eye", G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 2 : 23-28 (2012) .

Mukherjee, T., Kim, W., Mandal, L., and Banerjee, U., "Interaction Between Notch and Hif-α in Development and Survival of Drosophila Blood Cells", Science, 332 (6034): 1210-1213 (2011) .

Mandal, S., Lindgren, A., Srivastava, A., Clark, A., and Banerjee, U., "Mitochondrial function controls proliferation and early differentiation potential of embryonic stem cells", Stem Cells, 29 (3): 486-495 (2011) .