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Sergei Kuchin

Associate Professor
Biological Sciences

Education and Experience

  • Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University, New York, NY, 1998-2004
  • Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Columbia University, New York, NY, 1993-98
  • PhD, Institute of Genetics and Selection of Industrial Microorganisms, Moscow, Russia, 1992

Research Interests

We are investigating the regulatory mechanisms that control growth and development in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast), a common model organism used for studies of eukaryotic molecular biology. Under conditions of nitrogen limitation, S. cerevisiae activates a foraging program, which includes differentiation from the unicellular (yeast) form to a multicellular filamentous form that invades the growth substrate. We previously found that this process requires the Snf1 protein kinase, a member of the highly conserved Snf1/AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) family. The requirement of Snf1 for a nitrogen-regulated process was unexpected and interesting because Snf1 is best known for another function - regulating cellular responses to limitation for glucose, the preferred source of carbon and energy. Our current evidence provides further support for a novel role of Snf1 in signaling nitrogen limitation. We are using a combination of genetic and biochemical approaches to identify and characterize elements of this Snf1-dependent nitrogen-signaling pathway. The biomedical relevance of these studies is at least two-fold. First, filamentation is critical for virulence in fungal pathogens. Characterizing new molecular mechanisms of filamentous development in the S. cerevisiae model should broaden the spectrum of possible approaches to antifungal therapy. Second, the human counterpart of Snf1, AMPK, has been implicated in type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiac disorders, and tumorigenesis. By studying novel regulatory roles of Snf1 in yeast, we expect to obtain further insights into AMPK function and its connection to human disease.

Selected Publications

Strogolova, Vera, Orlova, Marianna, Shevade, Aishwarya, and Kuchin, Sergei V. “Mitochondrial porin Por1 and its homolog Por2 contribute to the positive control of Snf1 protein kinase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Eukaryotic Cell 11. (2012): 1568-1572.
Barrett, LaKisha, Orlova, Marianna, Maziarz, Marcin, and Kuchin, Sergei V. “Protein kinase A contributes to the negative control of Snf1 protein kinase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Eukaryotic Cell 11. (2012): 119-128.
Kuchin, Sergei V. “Covering all the bases in genetics: simple shorthands and diagrams for teaching base pairing to biology undergraduates.” Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 12. (2011): 64-66.
Orlova, Marianna, Ozcetin, Hamit, Barrett, LaKisha, and Kuchin, Sergei V. “Roles of the Snf1-activating kinases during nitrogen limitation and pseudohyphal differentiation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Eukaryotic Cell 9. (2010): 208-214.
Orlova, Marianna, Barrett, LaKisha, and Kuchin, Sergei V. “Detection of endogenous Snf1 and its activation state: application to Saccharomyces and Candida species.” Yeast 25. (2008): 745-754.
Orlova, Marianna, Kanter, Ellen, Krakovich, David, and Kuchin, Sergei V. “Nitrogen availability and TOR regulate the Snf1 protein kinase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Eukaryotic Cell 5. (2006): 1831-1837.