Ronit Ilouz

Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Protein Kinasese in Neurodegenerative diseases – Dr Ronit Ilouz

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Dr. Ronit Ilouz was recruited to Bar Ilan University, the School of Medicine as a Senior Lecturer in 2018. She performed her postdoctoral studies at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) following a project scientist appointment at the Pharmacology Department, University of California San Diego (UCSD). During the years abroad Dr. Ilouz led and developed the San Diego Center for ScienceAbroad, a non-profit organization that aims to create a dynamic network for Israeli Scientists abroad (currently over 3000 members).

Dr. Ilouz is an expert in the protein kinase field. She provided a significant contribution to the understanding of the molecular structure of Protein Kinase A (PKA). She earned her MSc and PhD in Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University where she focused on Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3) inhibition.

Moving from molecular structure to in vivo morphology and ultrastructure levels of the cell Dr. Ilouz was able to map the subcellular location of PKA regulatory isoforms in mouse brain sections. “ The mosaic maps are akin to a Google map, where one is able to locate a building without losing the context of the city” says Dr.Ilouz. Analysis of multiple regions demonstrates that PKA regulatory subunits are concentrated within discrete brain regions and express unique and consistent patterns of subcellular localization. “This work lay the foundation for analyzing different macromolecular signaling components, that are localized within specific brain regions, in health and disease state” says Dr. Ilouz.

The idea is to translate the genomic data into a three dimensional structure to enable a better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms, and then to control it with a specific and precise drug targeting therapy based on the SNP mutation. Aberrant Protein Kinase A (PKA) localization has been linked to a Parkinson disease. The diagnosed patients have Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the PKA_ RIβ gene. The lab is integrating various methods including X-ray crystallography and advanced microscopy techniques as well as molecular biology, biochemistry and signal transduction. Elucidating the cellular and the molecular interactions that are properly controlled by PKA signaling and are dysregulated in the neurodegenerative disease will help discover opportunities and challenges toward personalized medicine.