Assistant Research Professor of Radiation Oncology, Institute for Academic Medicine
Assistant Research Member, Research Institute
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).
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.