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Kalpana Mujoo, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Radiation Oncology, Institute for Academic Medicine
Assistant Research Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Mujoo earned her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India.  She received her post-doctoral training at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla; CA. Prior to her faculty appointment at Houston Methodist, She worked as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, UT Health Science Center at Houston and as an Instructor/Assistant Pharmacologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Houston, TX.  Dr. Mujoo is a biochemist/cancer and stem cell biologist with broad experience in the areas of cancer biology, experimental therapeutics, signal transduction and stem cell biology.  During her tenure at various Institutes, Dr. Mujoo has trained number of post-doctoral fellows and students (graduate, undergraduate, summer and medical) as a part of the supervisory teaching. She has also been involved in teaching of graduate students in GSBS program of UT Health and MDACC in the area of “Stem cells and Biomedicine”.  Dr. Mujoo was invited to present her work as a plenary session speaker at the Society for Free Radical Research International and Society of Free Radical Biology.   She has reviewed manuscripts for number of National and International Journals such as Stem Cells & Development, Nitric Oxide, FEBS Journal, and Scientific Reports. She has been member of American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Association for Advancement of Science (AACR) and International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

Description of Research

Her current area of research is focused on stem cells and cancer with particular emphasis on DNA damage response signaling in stem cells and derived differentiated cells.  Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) share many similarities with embryonic stem (ES) cells but some studies suggest that iPSCs are not exactly identical to ES cells with respect to gene expression, DNA methylation state and miRNA expression. Induced pluripotent stem cells similar to ES cells have a robust DNA damage response to facilitate DNA strand break repair. We determined whether DNA damage response is altered during differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells and found that DNA damage sensing to ionizing radiations was minimally altered during the cellular differentiation. DNA repair by non-homologous end joining was least affected however; the DNA DSB by homologous recombination was significantly reduced in differentiated cells. In addition, differentiated cells showed reduction in the frequency of new origins of replication and increased stalled replication forks. Similar to  induced pluripotent cells, breast tumor stem cells exhibited decrease in DNA damage repair by homologous recombination in differentiated cells. The defect in DNA damage repair by homologous recombination was reversed in dedifferentiated cells, supporting the argument that differentiation can influence the repair of DSB by homologous recombination.

Dr. Mujoo’s previous research work at UT Health was focused on investigating the role of nitric oxide-cyclic GMP signaling in proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. She elucidated the expression and function of nitric oxide signaling components in stem cells and differentiated myocardial cells. She further confirmed the hypothesis that NO-cGMP pathway should exhibit strong role in differentiation of stem cells by demonstrating that nitric oxide donors and allosteric soluble guanylyl (sGC) activators combined exhibit enhanced differentiation of stem cells with robust increase in second messenger cyclic GMP. Further, she also discovered that NO receptor sGC alpha1 splice variants also exhibited their important role in differentiation of stem cells. Due to her strong interest in cancer biology, she initiated a project to study the role of NO-cGMP in tumor cell proliferation using human ovarian, breast and prostate cancer models.  On the basis of her work with stem cells and cancer, she hypothesized that cancer cells with low expression and activity of nitric oxide receptor soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and its downstream effecter protein kinase G (PKG) should exhibit higher fraction of “cancer-initiating cells” compared to the cancer cells with high expression and activity of sGC and PKG. Furthermore, in collaboration with investigators at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Dr. Mujoo studied the regulation of HER3/ ERBB3 expression and function with novel HER3 interacting proteins such as E3 ubiquitin ligase NEDD4 and other novel HER3 interacting proteins DJ-1/PARK-7 and CRKII.

At MD Anderson, Dr. Mujoo studied the mechanism of action and therapeutic potential of various chemotherapeutic drugs and plant toxins for cancer therapeutics. She also discovered a novel  plant compound that targets survival pathways such as PI3K and NF-KB to exert its anti-cancer effects.  Further Dr. Mujoo studied the molecular mechanism and therapeutic potential of a novel platinum analog DACH for circumvention of cisplatin resistance in human ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.



Areas Of Expertise

Stem cells, DNA damage, Nitric oxide, cyclic GMP, signal transduction, HER3
Education & Training

, Central Drug Research Institute India
, University of Lucknow

Pluripotent stem cells and DNA damage response to ionizing radiations
Mujoo, K , Butler, EB, Pandita, RK, Hunt, CR & Pandita, TK 2016, Radiation Research, vol 186, no. 1, pp. 17-26. DOI:

ß2-spectrin depletion impairs DNA damage repair
Horikoshi, N, Pandita, RK, Mujoo, K, Hambarde, S, Sharma, D, Mattoo, AR, Chakraborty, S, Charaka, V, Hunt, CR & Pandita, TK 2016, Oncotarget, vol 7, no. 23, pp. 33557-33570. DOI:

A multifaceted role for MOF histone modifying factor in genome maintenance
Mujoo, K, Hunt, CR, Horikoshi, N & Pandita, TK 2016, Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. DOI:

The E3 ubiquitin ligase NEDD4 negatively regulates HER3/ErbB3 level and signaling
Huang, Z, Choi, BK, Mujoo, K, Fan, X, Fa, M, Mukherjee, S, Owiti, N, Zhang, N & An, Z 2015, Oncogene, vol 34, no. 9, pp. 1105-1115. DOI:

Role of the exocyst complex component Sec6/8 in genomic stability
Torres, MJ, Pandita, RK, Kulak, O, Kumar, R, Formstecher, E, Horikoshi, N, Mujoo, K, Hunt, CR, Zhao, Y, Lum, L, Zaman, A, Yeaman, C, White, MA & Pandita, TK 2015, Molecular and Cellular Biology, vol 35, no. 21, pp. 3633-3645. DOI:

Regulation of ERBB3/HER3 signaling in cancer
Mujoo, K, Choi, BK, Huang, Z, Zhang, N & An, Z 2014, Oncotarget, vol 5, no. 21, pp. 10222-10236.

Curcumin induces differentiation of embryonic stem cells through possible modulation of nitric oxide-cyclic GMP pathway
Mujoo, K, Nikonoff, LE, Sharin, VG, Bryan, NS, Kots, AY & Murad, F 2012, Protein and Cell, vol 3, no. 7, pp. 535-544. DOI:

Nitric oxide-cyclic GMP signaling in stem cell differentiation
Mujoo, K, Krumenacker, JS & Murad, F 2011, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, vol 51, no. 12, pp. 2150-2157. DOI:

Nitric oxide receptor soluble guanylyl cyclase undergoes splicing regulation in differentiating human embryonic cells
Sharin, VG, Mujoo, K, Kots, AY, Martin, E, Murad, F & Sharina, IG 2011, Stem Cells and Development, vol 20, no. 7, pp. 1287-1293. DOI:

Role of soluble guanylyl cyclase-cyclic GMP signaling in tumor cell proliferation
Mujoo, K, Sharin, VG, Martin, E, Choi, BK, Sloan, C, Nikonoff, LE, Kots, AY & Murad, F 2010, Nitric Oxide - Biology and Chemistry, vol 22, no. 1, pp. 43-50. DOI:

Role of nitric oxide signaling components in differentiation of embryonic stem cells into myocardial cells
Mujoo, K, Sharin, VG, Bryan, NS, Krumenacker, JS, Sloan, C, Parveen, S, Nikonoff, LE, Kots, AY & Murad, F 2008, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 105, no. 48, pp. 18924-18929. DOI:

Differential expression of nitric oxide signaling components in undifferentiated and differentiated human embryonic stem cells
Mujoo, K, Krumenacker, JS, Wada, Y & Murad, F 2006, Stem Cells and Development, vol 15, no. 6, pp. 779-787. DOI:

Increased sensitivity of a metastatic model of prostate cancer to a novel tetravalent platinum analog
Mujoo, K, Watanabe, M, Khokhar, AR & Siddik, ZH 2005, Prostate, vol 62, no. 1, pp. 91-100. DOI:

Status of p53 phosphorylation and function in sensitive and resistant human cancer models exposed to platinum-based DNA damaging agents
Mujoo, K, Watanabe, M, Nakamura, J, Khokhar, AR & Siddik, ZH 2003, Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, vol 129, no. 12, pp. 709-718. DOI:

Triterpenoid saponins from Acacia victoriae (Bentham) decrease tumor cell proliferation and induce apoptosis
Mujoo, K, Haridas, V, Hoffmann, JJ, Wächter, GA, Hutter, LK, Lu, Y, Blake, ME, Jayatilake, GS, Bailey, D, Mills, GB & Gutterman, JU 2001, Cancer Research, vol 61, no. 14, pp. 5486-5490.

Avicins: Triterpenoid saponins from Acacia victoriae (Bentham) induce apoptosis by mitochondrial perturbation
Haridas, V, Higuchi, M, Jayatilake, GS, Bailey, D, Mujoo, K, Blake, ME, Arntzen, CJ & Gutterman, JU 2001, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 98, no. 10, pp. 5821-5826. DOI:

Emergence of cisplatin-resistant cells from the OVCAR-3 ovarian carcinoma cell line with p53 mutations, altered tumorigenicity, and increased apoptotic sensitivity to p53 gene replacement
Mujoo, K, Zhang, L, Klostergaard, J & Donato, NJ 2000, International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, vol 10, no. 2, pp. 105-114. DOI:

Studies on the molecular mechanism of growth inhibition with p53 adenoviral construct in human ovarian cancer
Mujoo, K, Catino, JJ, Maneval, DC & Gutterman, JU 1998, International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, vol 8, no. 3, pp. 233-241. DOI:

Cellular resistance to the antimelanoma immunotoxin ZME-gelonin and strategies to target resistant cells
Rosenblum, MG, Cheung, L, Kim, SK, Mujoo, K, Donato, NJ & Murray, JL 1996, Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy, vol 42, no. 2, pp. 115-121. DOI:

Adenoviral-mediated p53 tumor suppressor gene therapy of human ovarian carcinoma
Mujoo, K, Maneval, DC, Anderson, SC & Gutterman, JU 1996, Oncogene, vol 12, no. 8, pp. 1617-1623.