Dagda Lab

Department of Pharmacology

The Dagda Lab is a mitochondrial biology-oriented research group located at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine that currently spearheads basic and translational research projects supported by the NIH, philanthropic support and state funding.

These projects include:

   Parkinson's disease
• Investigate how PTEN-induced Kinase 1 (PINK1) interacts with Protein Kinase A to regulate mitochondrial function, dynamics, neuronal survival and development.
• Investigate the pathological effects of of acute and chronic psychological stress on brain energy production, motor function and neuronal survival in Parkinson's disease rats (PINK1 knockout rats).
• Investigate the ability of different nootropic agents to reverse neurodegeneration and motor symptoms in Parkinsonian rats.

  Alzheimer's disease
• Investigate the ability of enhancing neurotrophic and PKA activity in reversing beta amyloid aggregation and neurodegeneration in cell culture and mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.
• Identify new biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease in fecal matter from Alzheimer's disease patients.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
• Investigate the pathological mechanisms by which ALS-associated mutants of TDP43 affect mitochondrial structure and mitophagy in cortical neurons.

More on Research Projects

Immunofluorescence image of dopamine neuron

Immunofluorescence image shows a representative microscopic field of a dopamine neuron (stained with a tyrosine hydroxylase specific antibody, green) embedded with non-dopamine neurons (stained for the dendrite marker MAP2B).

Immunofluorescence image showing how neurons are connected to glia

Immunofluorescence image showing how neurons (identified by MAP2B specific antibodies, red) are interconnected with glia (green).

Immunofluorescence image showing PSD95 (a synaptic marker in green) localized on dendrites of neurons (identified by MAP2B specific antibodies, red).

Immunofluorescence image showing PSD95 (a synaptic marker in green) localized on dendrites of neurons (identified by MAP2B specific antibodies, red).

The Dagda Lab consists of 1200 square feet of wet lab space located in Howard Medical Sciences room 148. It is equipped with high speed temperature controlled centrifuges, an EVOS-FL microscope, an EVOS-CORE microscope, a tissue culture facility, a Seahorse Biosciences XFe24 Extracellular Flux Analyzer for measuring metabolic activities of live cells, touch-screen PCR machines, a SpectraMax M4 Multimode 96 well plate reader, Western blot equipment, immunohistochemistry equipment and two 1300A2 laminar flow hoods located in the cell culture facility. The Dagda lab is located close to the Nevada Proteomics Center, the Electron Microscopy Center and the COBRE-supported confocal microscopy suite in Howard Building. The Dagda Lab supports the research projects of five undergraduate students, two doctoral students (Neuroscience, Cellular Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, and Cell Molecular Biology programs), two postdoctoral associates, an international research scholar, and a lab manager.

Current Lab Members

  • Smijin K. Soman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate
  • Emmanuel Vazquez-Mayorga, Postdoctoral Associate
  • Maryann Swain, B.S., Neuroscience Ph.D. student
  • David Tingle, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Undergraduate student
  • Raul Dagda, M.S., Laboratory Manager
  • Spencer Danner Bocks, second year undergraduate student and McNair scholar and NURA recipient
  • Bridget Martinez, first year medical UNR Med/Renown resident

Dagda Lab memebers
From left to right: Melanie Shackleford, Emmanuel Vazquez-Mayorga, Mariana Grigoruta, Ruben Dagda, Mitchell Pisane, Smijin Soma, Maryann Swainn, Raul Dagda, and David Tingle.

Recent Publications

  • Moschetti, A., O'Ryan, R., Dagda, R. K. Coenzyme Q nanodisks counteract the effect of statins on C2C12 myotubes. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine. In-press
  • Soman SK, Tingle D, Dagda RY, Torres M, Dagda M, Dagda RK. Cleaved PINK1 induces neuronal plasticity through PKA-mediated BDNF functional regulation. J Neurosci Res. 2021 May 27. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24854. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34046942
  • Das Banerjee, T. D, Reihl, K., Swain, M., Torres, M. Dagda, R.K. Mitochondrial PKA is neuroprotective in a cell culture model of Alzheimer's disease. Molecular Neurobiology Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Feb 23. doi: 10.1007/s12035-021-02333-w. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33624140
  • Grigoruţă M, Dagda RK, Díaz-Sánchez ÁG, Martínez-Martínez A.
    Psychological distress and lack of PINK1 promote bioenergetics alterations in peripheral blood mononuclear Cells. Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 17;10(1):9820. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-66745-9.
  • Moschetti, A., Vine, L.N., Lethcoe, K., Dagda, R.K., Ellison, P., O Ryan, R. Assembly and characterization of biocompatible coenzyme Q10 enriched lipid nanoparticles. Lipids. 2020 Lipids. 2020 Mar;55(2):141-149. doi:10.1002/lipd.12218
  • Li F, Shrivastava IH, Hanlon P, Dagda RK, Gasanoff ES.Toxins (Basel).
    Molecular Mechanism by which Cobra Venom Cardiotoxins Interact with the Outer Mitochondrial Membrane. 2020 Jun 27;12(7):425. doi: 10.3390/toxins12070425.PMID: 32605112 Free PMC article.
    Grigoruţă M, Martínez-Martínez A, Dagda RY, Dagda RK. Psychological Stress Phenocopies Brain Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Motor Deficits as Observed in a Parkinsonian Rat Model. Mol Neurobiol. 2020 April; 57(4):1781-1798. doi: 10.1007/s12035-019-01838-9. PMID: 31836946
    Note: Dagda, RK was a corresponding author.
  • Gasanoff ES, Li F, George EM, Dagda RK. A Pilot STEM Curriculum Designed to Teach High School Students Concepts in Biochemical Engineering and Pharmacology. EC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2019 Aug;7(8):846-877. Epub 2019 Jul 26. PMID: 31517314
    Note: Dagda, RK was a corresponding author.
  • Manfredi LH, Ang J, Peker N, Dagda RK, McFarlane C. G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 regulates mitochondrial bioenergetics and impairs myostatin-mediated autophagy in muscle cells.Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2019 Oct 1;317(4):C674-C686. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00516.2018. Epub 2019 Jul
    PMID: 31268780
  • Zhang B, Li F, Chen Z, Shrivastava IH, Gasanoff ES, Dagda RK. Naja mossambica mossambica Cobra Cardiotoxin Targets Mitochondria to Disrupt Mitochondrial Membrane Structure and Function. Toxins (Basel). 2019 Mar 8;11(3). pii: E152. doi: 10.3390/toxins11030152.
    Note: Dagda, RK was a corresponding author.
  • Zhang J, Feng J, Ma D, Wang F, Wang Y, Li C, Wang X, Yin X, Zhang M, Dagda RK, Zhang Y. Neuroprotective Mitochondrial Remodeling by AKAP121/PKA Protects HT22 Cell from Glutamate-Induced Oxidative Stress.
  • Mol Neurobiol. 2019 Jan 16. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1464-3.
  • Zhang B, Li F, Chen Z, Shrivastava IH, Gasanoff ES, Dagda RK. Naja mossambica mossambica Cobra Cardiotoxin Targets Mitochondria to Disrupt Mitochondrial Membrane Structure and Function. Toxins (Basel). 2019 Mar 8;11(3). pii: E152. doi: 10.3390/toxins11030152.
  • Dagda, RK. Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Degenerative Brain Diseases, an Overview. Brain Sci. 2018 Sep 20;8(10). pii: E178. doi: 10.3390/brainsci8100178.

Funding

NIH/NINDS (R01NS10578303-S1) $101,112 03/01/2021- 04/01/2023 Dagda, Ruben K (Principal Investigator, 30%)
" Diversity Administrative supplement to Role of PINK1 and PKA in dendrite homeostasis"

NIH/NINDS (R01NS10578303-S1) $50,000 09/012020- 04/01/2021
Dagda, Ruben K (Principal Investigator, 30%) Administrative supplement to NIH/R01 "Role of PINK1 and PKA in regulating dendrite homeostasis in models of Parkinson's disease"

NSF (National I-Corps Award) $50,000 09/15/2021-09/14/2022
Dagda, RK (Principal Investigator) "Drug delivery systems for treating degenerative brain diseases"

Finally, under the "Patents" subsection, please delete the information on the patent and replace it with

U.S. Application No. 17/055,349 filed November 13, 2020
(a 371 of PCT Appl. No. PCT/US2019/038239 filed June 20, 2019, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 62/688,189 filed June 21, 2018)
Title: "Disease Modifying Methods For Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases Using Nootropic Agents"
By: Raul Y. Dagda, et al.
NVRIC Ref.: 18-012

1R01NS105783-01 Regulation of dendrite homeostasis by PINK1 and PKA in models of Parkinson's disease, PI: Ruben K. Dagda, $1,570,000, 04/01/2018-03/31/2023.

R25OD023795, Community of Bilingual English-Spanish Speakers Exploring Issues in Science and Health (CBESS), Co-PI: Ruben K. Dagda, $1,291,865.00 , 09/01/2017-07/31/2022. Nevada SEPA program. https://med.unr.edu/cbess

Pennington Foundation (Nevada), PI: Ruben K. Dagda, $283,000 01/01/2019- 06/01/2020

R01GM056350-17A1 Exploring the toxicity of aggregates associated with protein-misfolding diseases, PI: Suzanne Liebman: PI, Co-investigator: Ruben Dagda, $25,000/yr., 9/01/15- 08/31/2020

2U54GM104944-06 Clinical and Translational Research Infrastructure Network Idea-CTR, $1,120,000 (subaward, PI: Parvesh Kumar), 04/2019-06/2023

Patents

Provisional Patent application:
Inventor: Dagda, R.K., Dagda, R.Y.
Current Assignee: University of Nevada, Reno
Title: UNR18-002 Neuro-protective compound for treating Parkinson's Disease
Attorney Docket No. 369055-7010P1 (00024)
Priority Date: May of 2018

Conferences/Honors

Dr. Smijin K. Soman, postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Dagda's lab, was awarded a $1,000 fellowship from the Histochemical Society to attend the workshop on FRET/FLIM microscopy at the University of Virginia on March of 2019.

Dr. Smijin K. Soman was awarded $500.00 from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Nevada, Reno to attend the workshop on super-resolution microscopy at the University of Virginia on March of 2019.

Current Collaborators at Nevada:

  1. Dr. Vincent Lombardi, Department of Microbiology, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine; Jeff Cummings and Dr. Aaron Ritter Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas Project: identifying new biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease in fecal matter.
  2. Dr. Robert Renden, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology
    • Project: Role of glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation in modulating synaptic transmission
  3. Dr. Susan Liebman, Department of Pharmacology
  4. Dr. Thomas Kidd, Department of Biology
    • Project: Mechanisms of degeneration of stomatogastric system neurons in PINK1-deficient flies

Former Members

Alumni

Monica Rice, B.S., Cellular Molecular Physiology and Pharmacology Ph.D.

  • Mick Hitchcock Scholar (2015-2017)
  • Graduate Student Association travel awardee

Former Lab Members

  • Mitchell Pisane, Honor's Biochemistry undergraduate student
  • Mariana Grigoruta, M.D., International Research Scholar
  • Melanie Shackleford, Biology Undergraduate Student
  • Kelly Reihl., B.S., Cellular Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology Ph.D. student
  • Gracie Lawson, Microbiology and Molecular Immunology Undergraduate student
  • Mariana Torres, Neuroscience Honors undergraduate student

Tania Das Banerjee, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
• Awarded a 2-year Nevada Women's Health Initiative
• Awarded a 2014 American Society for Investigative Pathology travel award
• Awarded a 2013 Seahorse Biosciences Travel Award

Hannah Ercolini, Neuroscience Undergraduate Student
• Lab research assistant

Leah Burnett, Biochemistry Undergraduate Major
• COBRE Core-A Metabolic Core Analyzer supporting research assistant

Claire Pace, MPH, Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. candidate
• Co-mentored Ph.D. studentChristopher Gay, B.S., MPH Graduate Student
• Sanford Center for Aging Scholar

Abrianna Robles, B.A., BS-MD Post-baccalaureate Program
• Women's Health Initiative-supported lab assistant

Hannah Ercolini, Neuroscience Undergraduate Student
• Lab research assistant

Imaging Tools for Measuring Mitochondrial Morphology and Mitophagy

1. NIH Imaging tool for measuring mitochondrial morphology and content

2. NIH Image J macro for measuring mitophagy and autophagy

3. NIH Image J macro for measuring neurite length


For further information on the research projects contact Dr. Ruben K. Dagda.

Contact Us

The Dagda Lab

University of Nevada, Reno School Of Medicine

1664 North Virginia Street, Mail Stop 0318

Howard Medical Sciences, Room 148, Reno, NV 89557