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Aparna Lakkaraju, PhD

Title(s)Associate Professor, Ophthalmology
SchoolSchool of Medicine
Phone415-502-9670
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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
    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/NEI R01EY023299Aug 1, 2015 - Jul 31, 2020
    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
    Collapse Websites
    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.
    List All   |   Timeline
    1. Lakkaraju A, ToopsKA, Tan LX.“Use of Inhibitors of Acid Sphingomyelinase to Treat Acquired and Inherited Retinal Degenerations”. 2018.
    2. Kaur G, Tan LX, Rathnasamy G, La Cunza N, Germer CJ, Toops KA, Fernandes M, Blenkinsop TA, Lakkaraju A. 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. PMID: 30126999.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Kaur G, Lakkaraju A. Early Endosome Morphology in Health and Disease. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018; 1074:335-343. PMID: 29721961.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Monés J, Garcia M, Biarnés M, Lakkaraju A, Ferraro L. Drusen Ooze: A Novel Hypothesis in Geographic Atrophy. Ophthalmol Retina. 2017 Nov - Dec; 1(6):461-473. PMID: 31047436.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Samuel W, Jaworski C, Postnikova OA, Kutty RK, Duncan T, Tan LX, Poliakov E, Lakkaraju A, Redmond TM. Appropriately differentiated ARPE-19 cells regain phenotype and gene expression profiles similar to those of native RPE cells. Mol Vis. 2017; 23:60-89. PMID: 28356702.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Sedykh I, TeSlaa JJ, Tatarsky RL, Keller AN, Toops KA, Lakkaraju A, Nyholm MK, Wolman MA, Grinblat Y. Novel roles for the radial spoke head protein 9 in neural and neurosensory cilia. Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 30; 6:34437. PMID: 27687975.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Tan LX, Toops KA, Lakkaraju A. Protective responses to sublytic complement in the retinal pigment epithelium. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 08 02; 113(31):8789-94. PMID: 27432952.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Toops KA, Tan LX, Lakkaraju A. Apolipoprotein E Isoforms and AMD. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016; 854:3-9. PMID: 26427386.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Toops KA, Tan LX, Jiang Z, Radu RA, Lakkaraju A. Cholesterol-mediated activation of acid sphingomyelinase disrupts autophagy in the retinal pigment epithelium. Mol Biol Cell. 2015 Jan 01; 26(1):1-14. PMID: 25378587.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Toops KA, Tan LX, Lakkaraju A. 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
    11. Poliakov E, Strunnikova NV, Jiang JK, Martinez B, Parikh T, Lakkaraju A, Thomas C, Brooks BP, Redmond TM. 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
    12. Lakkaraju A, Toops KA, Xu J. 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. PMID: 24664707.
      View in: PubMed
    13. Toops KA, Lakkaraju A. 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
    14. Xu J, Toops KA, Diaz F, Carvajal-Gonzalez JM, Gravotta D, Mazzoni F, Schreiner R, Rodriguez-Boulan E, Lakkaraju A. Mechanism of polarized lysosome exocytosis in epithelial cells. J Cell Sci. 2012 Dec 15; 125(Pt 24):5937-43. PMID: 23038769.
      View in: PubMed
    15. Lakkaraju A. 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
    16. Lakkaraju A, Carvajal-Gonzalez JM, Rodriguez-Boulan E. It takes two to tango to the melanosome. J Cell Biol. 2009 Oct 19; 187(2):161-3. PMID: 19841135.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Thorne RG, Lakkaraju A, Rodriguez-Boulan E, Nicholson C. 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. PMID: 18541909.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Lakkaraju A, Rodriguez-Boulan E. Itinerant exosomes: emerging roles in cell and tissue polarity. Trends Cell Biol. 2008 May; 18(5):199-209. PMID: 18396047.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Lakkaraju A, Rodriguez-Boulan E. Cell biology: caught in the traffic. Nature. 2007 Jul 19; 448(7151):266-7. PMID: 17637651.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Lakkaraju A, Finnemann SC, Rodriguez-Boulan E. 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. PMID: 17578916.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Perret E, Lakkaraju A, Deborde S, Schreiner R, Rodriguez-Boulan E. Evolving endosomes: how many varieties and why? Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Aug; 17(4):423-34. PMID: 15975780.
      View in: PubMed
    22. Lakkaraju A, Rahman YE, Dubinsky JM. Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein mediates the endocytosis of anionic liposomes in neurons. J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 26; 277(17):15085-92. PMID: 11830589.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Lakkaraju A, Dubinsky JM, Low WC, Rahman YE. Neurons are protected from excitotoxic death by p53 antisense oligonucleotides delivered in anionic liposomes. J Biol Chem. 2001 Aug 24; 276(34):32000-7. PMID: 11406618.
      View in: PubMed