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Vytas Bankaitis

Bankaitis, Vytas
Vytas Bankaitis
University Distinguished Professor, E.L. Wehner-Welch Foundation Chair in Chemistry, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine and of Biochemistry and Biophysics
108 Reynolds Medical Bldg.
Graduate Education
B.S., Edinboro University, 1978
M.S., Clemson University, 1980
Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1984
Postdoc, California Institute of Technology, 1984-86
Professor, Univ. of N. Carolina
Joined Texas A&M in 2012

Lipid-mediated signal transduction

My laboratory is interested in the regulatory interfaces between novel lipid-mediated signal transduction pathways and important cellular functions. A major focus of our work is the phosphatidylinositol/ phosphatidylcholine transfer proteins (PITPs), a ubiquitous but enigmatic class of proteins. Ongoing projects in the laboratory derive from a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses biochemical characterization of novel members of the metazoan PITP family, and the application of genetic, molecular and biophysical approaches to detailed structural and functional analyses of PITPs.

The laboratory breaks down into two groups: a group that studies the mechanism of function of fungal and PITPs of eukaryotic parasites (e.g. Toxoplasma), and a group that generates genetically modified mice and analyzes the function of specific PITP isoforms in the mammal with a particular focus on neural stem cell biology and embryonic development of the neocortex. Of additional interest is our recent finding that our PITP-deficient mouse lines provide unique models for study of brain inflammatory disease and defects in neural stem cell homeostasis. That latter interest is driving our present efforts in the study of autism spectrum diseases.

The yeast and Toxoplasma groups study members of the PITP family with regard to their biochemistry, structure, and biology as these relate to membrane trafficking events, cell stress responses, cell growth control, and regulation of key developmental pathways. Work in the lab is also devoted to developing small molecule inhibitors directed against target PITPs of interest, understanding how these molecules can be drugged and developing new compounds suitable for targeting the PITPs of emerging fungal pathogens – a most serious emerging global health threat.

Relevant approaches that the laboratory employs include: molecular biology, protein and lipid biochemistry, confocal and electron microscopy, mouse gene knockout technology, molecular dynamics simulations, and classical and molecular genetics.

Recent Publications

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  1. Aziz, M, Wang, X, Tripathi, A, Bankaitis, VA, Chapman, KD. Structural analysis of a plant fatty acid amide hydrolase provides insights into the evolutionary diversity of bioactive acylethanolamides. J. Biol. Chem. 2019;294 (18):7419-7432.
    doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.006672. PubMed PMID:30894416. PubMed Central PMC6509493.

  2. Sugiura, T, Takahashi, C, Chuma, Y, Fukuda, M, Yamada, M, Yoshida, U et al.. Biophysical Parameters of the Sec14 Phospholipid Exchange Cycle. Biophys. J. 2019;116 (1):92-103.
    doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2018.11.3131. PubMed PMID:30580923. PubMed Central PMC6342728.

  3. Bankaitis, VA, Carman, GM. The Role of Phosphoinositides in Signaling and Disease: Introduction to the Thematic Review Series. J. Lipid Res. 2019;60 (2):227-228.
    doi: 10.1194/jlr.E091355. PubMed PMID:30545955. PubMed Central PMC6358308.

  4. Grabon, A, Bankaitis, VA, McDermott, MI. The interface between phosphatidylinositol transfer protein function and phosphoinositide signaling in higher eukaryotes. J. Lipid Res. 2019;60 (2):242-268.
    doi: 10.1194/jlr.R089730. PubMed PMID:30504233. PubMed Central PMC6358302.

  5. Roy, KR, Smith, JD, Vonesch, SC, Lin, G, Tu, CS, Lederer, AR et al.. Multiplexed precision genome editing with trackable genomic barcodes in yeast. Nat. Biotechnol. 2018;36 (6):512-520.
    doi: 10.1038/nbt.4137. PubMed PMID:29734294. PubMed Central PMC5990450.

  6. Xie, Z, Hur, SK, Zhao, L, Abrams, CS, Bankaitis, VA. A Golgi Lipid Signaling Pathway Controls Apical Golgi Distribution and Cell Polarity during Neurogenesis. Dev. Cell. 2018;44 (6):725-740.e4.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.02.025. PubMed PMID:29587143. PubMed Central PMC5877119.

  7. Koe, CT, Tan, YS, Lönnfors, M, Hur, SK, Low, CSL, Zhang, Y et al.. Vibrator and PI4KIIIα govern neuroblast polarity by anchoring non-muscle myosin II. Elife. 2018;7 :.
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.33555. PubMed PMID:29482721. PubMed Central PMC5828666.

  8. Huang, J, Mousley, CJ, Dacquay, L, Maitra, N, Drin, G, He, C et al.. A Lipid Transfer Protein Signaling Axis Exerts Dual Control of Cell-Cycle and Membrane Trafficking Systems. Dev. Cell. 2018;44 (3):378-391.e5.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.12.026. PubMed PMID:29396115. PubMed Central PMC6444186.

  9. Tripathi, A, Bankaitis, VA. Molecular Docking: From Lock and Key to Combination Lock. J Mol Med Clin Appl. 2017;2 (1):.
    doi: 10.16966/2575-0305.106. PubMed PMID:29333532. PubMed Central PMC5764188.

  10. Pries, V, Nöcker, C, Khan, D, Johnen, P, Hong, Z, Tripathi, A et al.. Target Identification and Mechanism of Action of Picolinamide and Benzamide Chemotypes with Antifungal Properties. Cell Chem Biol. 2018;25 (3):279-290.e7.
    doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2017.12.007. PubMed PMID:29307839. PubMed Central PMC5856591.

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