Janaiah Kota, Ph.D.
975 West Walnut St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5251
Phone: (317) 278-2105
Research Program Membership
Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics
IU School of Medicine
Develop miRNA-based anti-cancer therapeutics: My work is related to understanding the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in c-MYC and KRAS-mediated cancers, particularly liver and pancreatic cancers, and assessing the therapeutic potential of miRNAs in pre-clinical animal models of these common and usually untreatable forms of cancer. miRNAs are ~18-24 nucleotide non-coding RNA molecules that regulate the stability and translational efficiency of complementary target mRNAs. Although first recognized for their importance during development, it is now appreciated that miRNAs regulate a diverse array of cellular processes relevant to cancer biology, including proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, survival and migration. Moreover, global abnormal miRNA expression patterns appear to be a ubiquitous feature of human cancers. It is now well established that miRNAs provide critical functions downstream of several important oncogenes and tumor suppressors, including Myc and p53. Though specific miRNAs are often over-expressed, most miRNAs are downregulated in tumors. Previous findings from my work and others provide evidence for miRNA replacement as an efficacious and non-toxic anti-cancer therapeutic strategy. We have demonstrated that systemic delivery of miR-26a using an Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) vector potently suppresses tumorigenesis in a mouse model of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) (Kota et al., Cell 2009 137:1005-1007) by inducting tumor-specific apoptosis and reducing cell proliferation. More recently, we validated this approach using a liver-specific miRNA, miR-122, to suppress tumor growth (Hsu et al., J Clin Invest. 2012; 122(8):2871???2883). Furthermore, to establish the biological function of miR-122, we generated knockout (KO) mice. miR-122 KO mice developed hepatitis and fibrosis in early adult life and later developed spontaneous tumors resembling HCC. Currently, we are extending our AAV-mediated gene therapy approach to pancreatic cancer to explore the therapeutic potential of miRNA delivery. As a faculty member of Indiana University Medical School, my laboratory will continue basic and pre-clinical research to develop miRNA-based anti-cancer therapeutics for gastrointestinal cancers, with major emphasis on liver and pancreatic cancers. My laboratory is also interested in translating our basic research findings into the clinic in collaboration with clinical investigators at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center (IUSCC).
Post-doctoral Fellowship - The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 2005-2011
Ph.D. - Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), India 2005