Elena Oancea, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medical Science
Bio Med Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology & Biotechnology
Work: +1 401-863-6116
The focus of my laboratory is in understanding signal transduction events using fluorescent microscopy in living cells. My lab is equipped with a state-of-the-art two-color TIRF microscope, which we will use to study UV-induced pigmentation in human skin and melanoma behavior. To visualize signal transduction events, we design and generate novel fluorescent probes using molecular biology techniques, which give us a unique angle in answering biologically relevant questions.
BiographyElena Oancea, Ph.D., received her BS in Physics and her MS in Biophysics from University of Bucharest, Romania. She obtained a PhD in Cell Biology from Duke University Medical Center and her postdoctoral training from Harvard University Medical School and Children's Hospital, Boston. Dr. Oancea has always been fascinated by cell biology and signal transduction events, which she studies using different microscopy techniques combined with molecular biology and biochemistry.
Research DescriptionThe focus of my laboratory is in understanding signal transduction events using fluorescent microscopy in living cells. Lately, Total Internal Reflection Fluorescent (TIRF) microscopy proved to be an important tool for studying molecular events at and in the near vicinity of the plasma membrane. My lab is equipped with a state-of-the-art two-color TIRF microscope, which we will use to study UV-induced pigmentation in human skin and melanoma behavior. To visualize signal transduction events, we design and generate novel fluorescent probes using molecular biology techniques. These probes will give us a unique angle in answering biologically relevant questions.
My research focuses on the TrpM family of Trp ion channels: understanding their cellular function and the signaling pathways in which they are involved. Most recently, I directed my research towards TrpM1, the founding member of the TrpM subfamily. Despite being identified ten years ago, very little is known about this molecule. TrpM, initially named Melastatin, was identified from melanocytes as a molecule down-regulated in aggressive melanoma, suggesting a tumor suppressor function for this molecule. TrpM1 is used as a prognostic marker for melanoma tumors: its expression level directly correlates with the metastatic potential of tumors. We showed that TrpM1 is a non-selective ion channel with role in pigmentation. These findings raise new questions and opportunities to understand how pigmentation occurs in human skin, how cells detect and respond to UV radiations and what is the relationship between skin pigmentation and melanoma.
Grants and Awards2009-2010 Rhode Island Foundation Award
2008-2009 Maren Foundation Award
2008-2009 NIH RI-INBRE Pilot Project Award
2004-2005 "Kaplan" fellowship for cardiovascular research
2000-2003 Principal Investigator for NIH - Individual National Research Service Award "Role of PKC gamma and binding partners in excitable cells"
1994-1996 "Duke Family" pre-doctoral award
- Oancea, E., Vriens, J., Brauchi, S., Jun, J.J., Splawski, I., and Clapham, D.E.. 2009. TRPM1 Forms Ion Channels Associated with Melanin Content in Melanocytes. Science Signaling, in press. (2009)
- Lambers, T.T., Mahieu, F., Oancea, E., Hoofd, L., de Lange, F., Mensenkamp, A.R., Voets, T., Nilius, B., Clapham, D.E., Hoenderop, J.G., Bindels, R.J. 2006 Calbindin-D28K dynamically controls TRPV5-mediated Ca2+ transport. EMBO J. 2006 Jul 12;25(13):2978-88. (2006)
- Lambers, T.T., Oancea, E., de Groot, T., Topala, C.N., Hoenderop, J.G., Bindels, R.J. 2006 Extracellular pH dynamically controls cell surface delivery of functional TRPV5 channels. Mol. Cell. Biol. 2006 : MCB.01468-06v1. (2006)
- Oancea, E., Wolfe, J.T., and Clapham, D.E. 2005. Functional TRPM7 Channels Accumulate at the Plasma Membrane in Response to Fluid Flow. Circ Res. 2006 Feb 3; 98 (2):245-53. (2005)
- Oancea, E., Bezzerides, V. J., Greka, A., and Clapham, D. E. 2003. Mechanism of Protein Kinase D1 Activation and Translocation. Developmental Cell 4:1-20. (2003)
- Greka, A., Navarro, B., Oancea, E., Duggan, A., and Clapham, D.E. 2003. TRPC5 is a regulator of hippocampal neurite length and growth cone morphology. Nature Neuroscience 6 (8): 837-845. (2003)
- Meyer, T. and Oancea, E. 2000. Studies of signal transduction events using chimeras to green fluorescent protein. Methods in Enzymology; 327:500-13. (2000)
- Oancea, E., Teruel, M. N., Quest, A., and Meyer, T. 1998. GFP-tagged cysteine-rich domains from protein kinase C as fluorescent indicators for diacylglycerol signaling in living cells. J. Cell. Biol. 140: 485-498. (1998)
- Oancea, E. and Meyer, T. 1998. Protein Kinase C as a Molecular Machine for Decoding Calcium and Diacylglycerol Signals. Cell 95: 307-318. (1998)
- Oancea, E. and Meyer, T. 1996. Reversible Desensitization of Inositol Trisphosphate Induced Calcium Release Provides a Mechanism for Repetitive Calcium Spikes. J. Biol. Chem. 271:17253-17260. (1996)
- Meyer, T., Oancea, E. and Allbritton, N. L. 1995. Nuclear Calcium Signals. Ciba Foundation Symposium 188: "Calcium Waves, gradients and oscillations. Wiley, Chichester". p: 252-266. (1995)
- Allbritton, N. L., Oancea, E., Kuhn, M., and Meyer, T. 1994. Source of Nuclear Calcium Signals. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91: 12458-12462. (1994)