- Suresh Kumar
Autophagy is a cellular homeostatic and quality control process that delivers damaged organelles, protein aggregates and invading pathogen to lysosomes for their degradation. Autophagy has very important roles in various human pathologies, including infectious diseases, cancer and neurodegeneration, and its modulation has considerable potential as a therapeutic approach. The molecular mechanism of autophagy is well understood in yeast. However, the mechanism underlying the mammalian autophagy is not fully understood and there are several unanswered questions which need to be addressed.
My research is focused on understanding the role of SNARE protein Stx17 and its partner SNAREs in autophagy. Our recent work shows that Human Immunity related GTPase (IRGM) coordinates with mammalian Atg8 proteins to recruit Stx17 to autophagic membranes (J Cell Biol. 2018). In a more recent study, we identified the role of Stx17 in the formation of mammalian pre-autophagosomal structures (Dev Cell. 2019). We demonstrated that the immunoregulatory kinase TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1) phosphorylates Stx17 and this phosphorylation is important to regulate the formation of pre-autophagosomal structures and consequent autophagy. My future studies will focus on studying the role of Stx17 and its SNARE partners in understanding the membrane dynamics in autophagy. I am also interested in investigating the role of Stx17 in non-canonical autophagy. Overall, these studies will help in better understanding the membrane dynamics in autophagy. My research is performed in close collaboration with Dr. Vojo Deretic.