Richard E. Honkanen, Ph.D.

Richard E. Honkanen, Ph.D.Professor and Chair

Ph.D.: University of Georgia, 1986

Recent Publications

Research Interests

Protein Phosphatases (Molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis; Mechanisms of cardioprotective agents in ischemic myocytes)

The reversible phosphorylation of many proteins determines their biological activity and is a key mechanism controlling intracellular events as diverse as metabolism, contractility, cell division, hormonal action and signal transduction. This phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of proteins occurs on specific serine, threonine, or tyrosine residues and represents a dynamic equilibrium between the activities of both protein kinases and protein phosphatases.

In my laboratory, we are currently studying the molecular mechanisms associated with cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes. The common theme of our research is the functions of specific protein phosphatases. A major goal of our cancer research is to identify and clone novel protein phosphatases that may play a role in the aberrant proliferative behavior of neoplastic cells. We have also identified a number of natural marine toxins with specific and potent inhibitory activity against certain protein phosphatases. Some of these "toxins" alter the cell cycle progression of tumor cells in culture, and we are interested in determining if these compounds have the potential for development into novel drugs for the treatment of certain cancers. We are also developing techniques to better use these phosphatase inhibitors for the identification of novel protein phosphatases and to study the roles of specific phosphatases in normal and aberrant cellular functions. We are also interested in the identification and development of novel type specific inhibitors.

2011 NIH Director's Transformative RO1 Award: Methods To Enable Cholesterol Catabolism In Human Monocyte Derived Macrophages