Aparna Lakkaraju, PhD

Title(s)Associate Professor, Ophthalmology
SchoolSchool of Medicine
Address10 Koret Way
San Francisco CA 94117
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    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse Education and Training
    University of Minnesota, MinneapolisPhDPharmaceutical Sciences
    Cornell University Weill Medical College, New YorkPost-doctoral TrainingOphthalmology & Cell Biology
    Collapse Awards and Honors
    Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation2019  - 2022Catalyst Award for Innovative Approaches to Age-Related Macular Degeneration
    BrightFocus Foundation2015  - 2018Charlotte & Alexander Danilevsky Award for Macular Degeneration Research
    Wisconsin Partnership Program2015  - 2017New Investigator Award
    Retina Research Foundation2012  - 2018Rebecca Meyer Brown Professorship
    Research to Prevent Blindness2010  - 2014Career Development Award
    National Eye Institute2003  - 2006Ruth L. Kirchstein F32 Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    Research in the Lakkaraju laboratory builds on fundamental insights from retinal cell biology to develop effective therapies for inherited and age-related macular degenerations (AMD). These diseases destroy central high-resolution vision in over 30 million people globally and have limited therapeutic options. We study the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which performs numerous functions indispensable for vision, and is a key site of injury in macular degenerations. Current areas of research focus include: 1. Autophagy and extracellular vesicles in the RPE; 2.Mitochondrial dynamics, metabolic stress and inflammation in the retina; 3. The role of complement activation in AMD; 4. Biophysical approaches to understanding the genetic basis of AMD; and 5. Novel drug targets for macular degenerations. Using advanced live imaging of the RPE and retina, we recently identified promising FDA-approved drugs that can be repositioned to treat macular degenerations (U.S. Patent P140282US01).

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Mechanisms of RPE dysfunction in macular degenerations: role of intracellular complement activation
    NIH R01EY030668May 1, 2020 - Apr 30, 2025
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Novel Approaches to Identify Tipping Points and Therapeutic Targets for Early AMD
    Research to Prevent Blindness Catalyst AwardAug 1, 2019 - Jul 31, 2022
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Modulating Mitochondrial Dynamics in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium as a Therapeutic Strategy for Macular Dystrophies
    Macular Society UK Dec 1, 2015 - Jun 30, 2019
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Mechanisms of cellular clearance in the retinal pigment epithelium
    NIH R01EY023299Aug 1, 2015 - Jul 31, 2021
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Can RPE-derived Exosomes Contribute to Subretinal Drusenoid Deposits?
    BrightFocus Foundation M2015350Jul 1, 2015 - Jun 30, 2018
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Lysosome function and autophagy in age-related macular degeneration
    American Federation for Aging Research Jul 1, 2013 - Jun 30, 2015
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Role of Cholesterol Homeostasis in Macular Degeneration
    NIH F32EY015363Dec 1, 2003 - Nov 30, 2006
    Role: Principal Investigator

    Collapse ORNG Applications 
    Collapse Featured Publications
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    Collapse In The News
    Collapse Faculty Mentoring

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Complement activation, lipid metabolism, and mitochondrial injury: Converging pathways in age-related macular degeneration. Redox Biol. 2020 Nov 02; 101781. Tan LX, Germer CJ, La Cunza N, Lakkaraju A. PMID: 33162377.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    2. The cell biology of the retinal pigment epithelium. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 Feb 24; 100846. Lakkaraju A, Umapathy A, Tan LX, Daniele L, Philp NJ, Boesze-Battaglia K, Williams DS. PMID: 32105772.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    
    3. Centrosome Amplification in Cancer Disrupts Autophagy and Sensitizes to Autophagy Inhibition. Mol Cancer Res. 2020 01; 18(1):33-45. Denu RA, Kaur G, Sass MM, Lakkaraju A, Burkard ME. PMID: 31604847.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    4. A NOVEL ROLE FOR THE FTD-CAUSING PROTEIN PROGRANULIN IN APOPTOSIS SIGNALING. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2019 Jul 1; 15(7):p1509. Claire Clelland, J. Iker Etchegaray, Lay Kodama, Faten Sayed, Aradhana Sachdev, Yaqiao Li, David Le, Lihong Zhan, Yungui Zhou, Duc Duong, Nicholas T. Seyfried, Thomas G. Kukar, Li Xuan Tan, Aparna Lakkaraju, Bruce Conklin, Li Gan. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    5. “Use of Inhibitors of Acid Sphingomyelinase to Treat Acquired and Inherited Retinal Degenerations”. 2018. Lakkaraju A, ToopsKA, Tan LX.
    6. Aberrant early endosome biogenesis mediates complement activation in the retinal pigment epithelium in models of macular degeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 09 04; 115(36):9014-9019. Kaur G, Tan LX, Rathnasamy G, La Cunza N, Germer CJ, Toops KA, Fernandes M, Blenkinsop TA, Lakkaraju A. PMID: 30126999.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 11     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    7. Early Endosome Morphology in Health and Disease. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018; 1074:335-343. Kaur G, Lakkaraju A. PMID: 29721961.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    8. Drusen Ooze: A Novel Hypothesis in Geographic Atrophy. Ophthalmol Retina. 2017 Nov - Dec; 1(6):461-473. Monés J, Garcia M, Biarnés M, Lakkaraju A, Ferraro L. PMID: 31047436.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    
    9. Appropriately differentiated ARPE-19 cells regain phenotype and gene expression profiles similar to those of native RPE cells. Mol Vis. 2017; 23:60-89. Samuel W, Jaworski C, Postnikova OA, Kutty RK, Duncan T, Tan LX, Poliakov E, Lakkaraju A, Redmond TM. PMID: 28356702.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 29     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    10. Novel roles for the radial spoke head protein 9 in neural and neurosensory cilia. Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 30; 6:34437. Sedykh I, TeSlaa JJ, Tatarsky RL, Keller AN, Toops KA, Lakkaraju A, Nyholm MK, Wolman MA, Grinblat Y. PMID: 27687975.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    
    11. Protective responses to sublytic complement in the retinal pigment epithelium. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 08 02; 113(31):8789-94. Tan LX, Toops KA, Lakkaraju A. PMID: 27432952.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    12. Apolipoprotein E Isoforms and AMD. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016; 854:3-9. Toops KA, Tan LX, Lakkaraju A. PMID: 26427386.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    13. Cholesterol-mediated activation of acid sphingomyelinase disrupts autophagy in the retinal pigment epithelium. Mol Biol Cell. 2015 Jan 01; 26(1):1-14. Toops KA, Tan LX, Jiang Z, Radu RA, Lakkaraju A. PMID: 25378587.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 32     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    14. A detailed three-step protocol for live imaging of intracellular traffic in polarized primary porcine RPE monolayers. Exp Eye Res. 2014 Jul; 124:74-85. PMID: 24861273.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 19     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    15. Multiple A2E treatments lead to melanization of rod outer segment-challenged ARPE-19 cells. Mol Vis. 2014; 20:285-300. PMID: 24644403.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    16. Should I stay or should I go? Trafficking of sub-lytic MAC in the retinal pigment epithelium. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014; 801:267-74. Lakkaraju A, Toops KA, Xu J. PMID: 24664707.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    17. Mechanism of polarized lysosome exocytosis in epithelial cells. Journal of Cell Science. 2013 Nov 1; 126(21):5086-5086. Jin Xu, Kimberly A. Toops, Fernando Diaz, Jose Maria Carvajal-Gonzalez, Diego Gravotta, Francesca Mazzoni, Ryan Schreiner, Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan, Aparna Lakkaraju. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    18. Let's play a game of chutes and ladders: Lysosome fusion with the epithelial plasma membrane. Commun Integr Biol. 2013 Jul 01; 6(4):e24474. PMID: 23986802.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:
    19. Mechanism of polarized lysosome exocytosis in epithelial cells. J Cell Sci. 2012 Dec 15; 125(Pt 24):5937-43. PMID: 23038769.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 18     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. Endo-lysosome function in the retinal pigment epithelium in health and disease. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012; 723:723-9. PMID: 22183399.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    21. It takes two to tango to the melanosome. J Cell Biol. 2009 Oct 19; 187(2):161-3. Lakkaraju A, Carvajal-Gonzalez JM, Rodriguez-Boulan E. PMID: 19841135.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    22. In vivo diffusion of lactoferrin in brain extracellular space is regulated by interactions with heparan sulfate. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jun 17; 105(24):8416-21. Thorne RG, Lakkaraju A, Rodriguez-Boulan E, Nicholson C. PMID: 18541909.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 40     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    23. Itinerant exosomes: emerging roles in cell and tissue polarity. Trends Cell Biol. 2008 May; 18(5):199-209. Lakkaraju A, Rodriguez-Boulan E. PMID: 18396047.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 146     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    24. Golgi apparatus and epithelial cell polarity. The Golgi Apparatus. 2008 Jan 1; 563-579. Sylvie Deborde, Diego Gravotta, Aparna Lakkaraju, Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    25. Cell biology: caught in the traffic. Nature. 2007 Jul 19; 448(7151):266-7. Lakkaraju A, Rodriguez-Boulan E. PMID: 17637651.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    26. The lipofuscin fluorophore A2E perturbs cholesterol metabolism in retinal pigment epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jun 26; 104(26):11026-31. Lakkaraju A, Finnemann SC, Rodriguez-Boulan E. PMID: 17578916.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 61     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    27. Epithelial Cells. Encyclopedic Reference of Genomics and Proteomics in Molecular Medicine. 2006 Jan 1; 516-523. Aparna Lakkaraju, Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    28. Evolving endosomes: how many varieties and why? Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Aug; 17(4):423-34. Perret E, Lakkaraju A, Deborde S, Schreiner R, Rodriguez-Boulan E. PMID: 15975780.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 53     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    29. Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein mediates the endocytosis of anionic liposomes in neurons. J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 26; 277(17):15085-92. Lakkaraju A, Rahman YE, Dubinsky JM. PMID: 11830589.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    30. Neurons are protected from excitotoxic death by p53 antisense oligonucleotides delivered in anionic liposomes. J Biol Chem. 2001 Aug 24; 276(34):32000-7. Lakkaraju A, Dubinsky JM, Low WC, Rahman YE. PMID: 11406618.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
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