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Daniel L. Kiss, PhD

Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences, Academic Institute
Assistant Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Description of Research

The Kiss RNA lab currently focuses on two main areas of research.  Namely, developing novel RNA Therapeutics to treat human disease and performing experiments to understand fundamental mechanisms in RNA molecular biology. 

RNA Therapeutics:

As we are housed inside the Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI), the lab is committed to the translation of basic science discoveries to benefit human health. Shortly after the lab opened, we joined the HMRI’s RNA Therapeutics program and began working on our first therapeutic candidate, an RNA designed to counter genes driving oncogenic transformation and cell migration in certain breast cancers.  That work has earned Dr. Kiss a Career Development Award from The American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy.

COVID-19 updates:

We are applying our expertise and experience with designing and developing novel RNA therapeutics to the address the urgent need COVID-19 pandemic.  Our lab is providing all needed support as HMRI’s RNA Core develops an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to providing support for the vaccine effort mentioned above, we are developing three candidate RNAs designed to treat active COVID-19 disease.  These RNA therapeutic candidates are designed to slow the course of the infection by interfering with the virus's replication machinery.  This work is in its early stages as the required constructs and reagents have either just arrived or are scheduled to arrive by the middle of April. 

RNA molecular biology:

The basic science research interests of the lab lie in the changes that occur in the RNA and molecular biology of cells when cellular stress responses converge to cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease or cancer. I am building a two-pronged collaborative group that leverages RNA molecular biology tools with both specialized and traditional RNA sequencing approaches combined with long-read sequencing to elucidate how these RNA-mediated changes occur. For cytoplasmic RNA recapping, my work aims to determine the regulators that determine the conditions under which, and position(s) where, an RNA is recapped in the cytoplasm. My lab uses both transcriptome-wide (microarrays, RNA-seq and ribosome profiling) and targeted methods (qPCR, polysome gradients, etc.) to understand how cytoplasmic capping drives oncogenic transformation and stress responses linked to cardiovascular disease. Ultimately, I aim to uncover the evolutionary role of cytoplasmic RNA recapping, and to decipher the mechanism(s) controlling the selection, generation, and regulation of recapping sites, and to develop cytoplasmic recapping-based drug responsiveness screens and/or RNA therapeutics. The other part of my lab focuses on how the FHIT tumor suppressor modulates the translation of the transcriptome in cancer. My work has shown that expression of the FHIT protein results in translational changes for several known cancer-linked mRNAs. Further, that translational regulation is often driven by the 5’ translation leader sequence of the mRNA. For my future FHIT research, I plan to build upon my recently published works by expanding ribosome profiling into FHIT negative patient tumor samples and by developing better cell lines where FHIT expression is more tightly regulated.

(updated 4-8-2020)

Areas Of Expertise

Cardiovascular disease Cancer research RNA biology FHIT Cytoplasmic capping Ribosome profiling translational control stress response next generation sequencing
Education & Training

PhD, Case Western Reserve University
MS, Cleveland State University
BS, Cleveland State University

mRNA 5' ends targeted by cytoplasmic recapping cluster at CAGE tags and select transcripts are alternatively spliced
Berger, MR, Alvarado, R & Kiss, DL 2019, , FEBS Letters, vol. 593, no. 7, pp. 670-679.

Loss of fragile histidine triad (Fhit) protein expression alters the translation of cancer-associated mRNAs
Kiss, DL, Baez, WD, Huebner, K, Bundschuh, R & Schoenberg, DR 2018, , BMC Research Notes, vol. 11, no. 1, 178.

Impact of FHIT loss on the translation of cancer-associated mRNAs
Kiss, DL, Baez, W, Huebner, K, Bundschuh, R & Schoenberg, DR 2017, , Molecular Cancer, vol. 16, no. 1, 179.

Identification of Fhit as a post-transcriptional effector of Thymidine Kinase 1 expression
Kiss, DL, Waters, CE, Ouda, IM, Saldivar, JC, Karras, JR, Amin, ZA, Mahrous, S, Druck, T, Bundschuh, RA, Schoenberg, DR & Huebner, K 2017, , Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms, vol. 1860, no. 3, pp. 374-382.

Cap homeostasis is independent of poly(A) tail length
Kiss, DL, Oman, KM, Dougherty, JA, Mukherjee, C, Bundschuh, R & Schoenberg, DR 2016, , Nucleic Acids Research, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 304-314.

Uncapped 5' ends of mRNAs targeted by cytoplasmic capping map to the vicinity of downstream CAGE tags
Kiss, DL, Oman, K, Bundschuh, R & Schoenberg, DR 2015, , FEBS Letters, vol. 589, no. 3, pp. 279-284.

Coronary sinus atrial communication in a 58 year old
Kiss, DL, Lilly, SM & Silvestry, F 2014, European Heart Journal Cardiovascular Imaging, vol. 15, no. 10.

Dis3- and exosome subunit-responsive 3' mRNA instability elements
Kiss, DL, Hou, D, Gross, RH & Andrulis, ED 2012, , Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, vol. 423, no. 3, pp. 461-466.

Pronounced and extensive microtubule defects in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae DIS3 mutant
Smith, SB, Kiss, DL, Turk, E, Tartakoff, AM & Andrulis, ED 2011, , Yeast, vol. 28, no. 11, pp. 755-769.

The exozyme model: A continuum of functionally distinct complexes
Kiss, DL & Andrulis, ED 2011, , RNA, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1-13.

Genome-wide analysis reveals distinct substrate specificities of Rrp6, Dis3, and core exosome subunits
Kiss, DL & Andrulis, ED 2010, , RNA, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 781-791.

Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 and Trithorax modulate Drosophila longevity and stress resistance
Siebold, AP, Banerjee, R, Tie, F, Kiss, DL, Moskowitz, J & Harte, PJ 2010, , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 107, no. 1, pp. 169-174.

Core exosome - Independent roles for Rrp6 in cell cycle progression
Graham, AC, Kiss, DL & Andrulis, ED 2009, Molecular Biology of the Cell, vol. 20, no. 8, pp. 2242-2253.

Differential distribution of exosome subunits at the nuclear lamina and in cytoplasmic foci
Graham, AC, Kiss, DL & Andrulis, ED 2006, , Molecular Biology of the Cell, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 1399-1409.

Astrocyte- and hepatocyte-specific expression of genes from the distal serpin subcluster at 14q32.1 associates with tissue-specific chromatin structures
Gopalan, S, Kasza, A, Xu, W, Kiss, DL, Wilczynska, KM, Rydel, RE & Kordula, T 2005, , Journal of Neurochemistry, vol. 94, no. 3, pp. 763-773.

Duration of a1-antichymotrypsin gene activation by interleukin-1 is determined by efficiency of inhibitor of nuclear factor ?Ba resynthesis in primary human astrocytes
Kiss, DL, Xu, W, Gopalan, S, Buzanowska, K, Wilczynska, KM, Rydel, RE & Kordula, T 2005, , Journal of Neurochemistry, vol. 92, no. 4, pp. 730-738.

Mechanism of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 regulation by oncostatin M and interleukin-1 in human astrocytes
Kasza, A, Kiss, DL, Gopalan, S, Xu, W, Rydel, RE, Koj, A & Kordula, T 2002, , Journal of Neurochemistry, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 696-703.