Utpal Banerjee, Ph.D.
Office Phone Number:
610 Charles E Young Drive East
Mail Code 723905
Los Angeles, CA 90095
610 Charles E Young Drive East
Mail Code 723905
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Research
Brain Research Institute
Cell & Developmental Biology GPB Home Area
Genetics & Genomics GPB Home Area
JCCC Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program Area
Molecular Pharmacology GPB Home Area
The Banerjee laboratory uses Drosophila as a model organism to genetically dissect pathways that are important for normal development, cell cycle and cell fate control. Abnormalities in pathways investigated in the laboratory lead to developmental defects in the fly and in every case studied, have been linked to developmental defects or cancers in man. In the past, the Banerjee laboratory played a key role in defining the receptor tyrosine kinase pathway through the identification of the Sos gene. Later work concentrated on developing combinatorial signaling models that explain how signal transduction pathways, important in oncogenic transformations, cooperate in the normal cell in maintaining a homeostatic balance between proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. These studies lead to developmental networks that connect different signal transduction pathways together and also provide in vivo examples of reiterative use of the same pathway, in the same cell, at multiple times during development, each causing a different cellular response.
In a surprising finding the above studies also unraveled a novel checkpoint regulation in mitosis that is controlled by the level of mitochondrial function in a cell. These Drosophila studies unraveled specific pathways that link the mitochondrion with the proliferation mechanism. The mitochondrion uses signaling molecules such as AMP and Reactive oxygen species (ROS) to control functions ascribed to the nucleus. Interfering with such pathways to cause a break in the communication between the mitochondrion and the nucleus could be an important strategy to prevent expansion of tumor cell growth and proliferation.
In projects that are closely linked to cancer studies in humans, the laboratory has extensively studied the mechanism by which Runx-like proteins function. The human homolog, Runx1 is linked to a very large class of acute myeloid leukemia (AML1). In studies performed over the last several years, the molecular mechanism by which such proteins can switch between an activator to a repressor of transcription was revealed. Also, determined was the nature of interactions with partner proteins that are important in the etiology of AML. Strikingly, the Runx-like proteins Lozenge and Runx-B are involved in Drosophila hematopoiesis as they are in mammalian system. This led to a full-scale investigation, in our laboratory, of blood cell development using Drosophila as a model system. Extension of this study in collaboration with Volker Hartenstein's laboratory led to the identification of a Drosophila hemangioblast population and also the molecular mechanism by which stem-like cells are maintained by Hedgehog signaling from a hematopoietic niche. The role of Hedgehog in many developmental circumstances in mammals is well established, and based on the results in flies, it will be important to study the regulation of hematopoietic proliferation and maintenance by this pathway.
The near-future plans for the laboratory include determining the molecular basis for all the interactions that keep a balance between the hematopoietic niche, the set of stem cells that they maintain and the differentiated cells that result from them. Clearly, a balance must exist between the number of cells allowed to differentiate and the ones that are maintained as precursor reserve pool. Molecular details of how this is achieved is not worked out in mammals and we hope studies in Drosophila will show the way as it has done in the past for numerous developmental systems. On the practical side, we will like to develop Drosophila as a model system for direct screening of small molecules for hematopoietic malignancies. In preliminary studies, we have found that human AML-ETO, the fusion product responsible for AML, expressed in Drosophila causes hyperplasia of blood cells. This is not true of other tissues. The effect can be either suppressed or enhanced by a single copy of second site mutations. The Cancer center small molecule screening resources will be used in an in vivo screen to determine if the phenotypes observed in flies bearing AML-ETO can either be enhanced or suppressed by application of drugs as an initial approach for in vivo screening.
On the mitochondrial side, the Banerjee laboratory wishes to determine how retrograde signals from the mitochondria might directly control a variety of cellular functions that are normally thought of as the domain of nuclear and cytoplasmic function. We have already deciphered mechanisms by which cell cycle can be influenced by mitochondrial signaling. Preliminary data suggest a role of the mitochondrion in specific differentiation steps and apoptosis. This will be analyzed further.
Utpal Banerjee is currently Professor and Chair of the Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology Department at UCLA. This is Utpal's second Chairmanship of the department of which he has been a part since 1988. In 2000, the University named Utpal as one of the "Best 20 Professors" of the "Bruin Century". He was further distinguished with the Luckman and Gold Shield Awards, the highest research and teaching awards in any subject, including humanities and social sciences, at UCLA. Dr. Banerjee is among 20 professors nationally to be awarded a $1 million grant by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to creatively improve undergraduate science teaching. The grant has generously funded the UCLA Undergraduate Research Consortium in Functional Genomics (URCFG). Utpal has a joint appointments in Biological Chemistry where he teaches advanced Genetics courses.
Utpal received his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Caltech. His successful transition into Biology was earmarked by his postdoctoral research training with Dr. Seymour Benzer at Caltech where he initiated research in molecular neurogenetics of eye development in Drosophila and worked on the sevenless locus. As a scientist and professor, he is a dedicated and an accomplished researcher in the fields of Drosophila genetics and developmental biology. His current research interests are in signal transduction and transcriptional control of neural and hematopoietic development.
Earlier work from Utpal's laboratory identified the son of sevenless (sos) gene that participates in all RTK signaling pathways. Currently his laboratory is identifying novel means by which different signal transduction cascades combine to distinguish between neural and non-neural cell types in the Drosophila eye. They have also made critical discoveries in identifying transcription factors and signaling components that are responsible for the hematopoiesis in Drosophila. Using Drosophila as a genetic model, they hope to identify basic molecular strategies that are conserved in development across species.
Prof. Banerjee has authored many publications and review articles. He has served on several NIH Genetics Study Sections and has been a Scientific Advisor to several private companies and foundations. He has contributed prominently to both the academic and scientific community at UCLA.
Utpal, his lovely wife, Arpita, and their fantastic kids, Mohini and Vivek, live in Los Angeles.
Nagaraj Raghavendra, Gururaja-Rao Shubha, Jones Kevin T, Slattery Matthew, Negre Nicolas, Braas Daniel, Christofk Heather, White Kevin P, Mann Richard, Banerjee Utpal
Control of mitochondrial structure and function by the Yorkie/YAP
Genes & development,
Anderson Winston A, Amasino Richard M, Ares Manuel, Banerjee Utpal, Bartel Bonnie, Corces Victor G, Drennan Catherine L, Elgin Sarah C R, Epstein Irving R, Fanning Ellen, Guillette Louis J, Handelsman Jo, Hatfull Graham F, Hoy Ronald Raymond, Kelley Darcy, Leinwand Leslie A, Losick Richard, Lu Yi, Lynn David G, Neuhauser Claudia, O'Dowd Diane K, Olivera Toto, Pevzner Pavel, Richards-Kortum Rebecca R, Rine Jasper, Sah Robert L, Strobel Scott A, Walker Graham C, Walt David R, Warner Isiah M, Wessler Sue, Willard Huntington F, Zare Richard N
Competencies: a cure for pre-med curriculum
Science (New York, N.Y.),
Mondal BC, Mukherjee T, Mandal L, Evans CJ, Sinenko SA, Martinez-Agosto JA, Banerjee U.
Interaction between differentiating cell- and niche-derived signals in hematopoietic progenitor maintenance,
Yavari A, Nagaraj R, Owusu-Ansah E, Folick A, Ngo K, Hillman T, Call G, Rohatgi R, Scott M, Banerjee U
Role of lipid metabolism in Smoothened de-repression in Hedgehog signaling
Yavari Amir, Nagaraj Raghavendra, Owusu-Ansah Edward, Folick Andrew, Ngo Kathy, Hillman Tyler, Call Gerald, Rohatgi Rajat, Scott Matthew P, Banerjee Utpal
Role of lipid metabolism in smoothened derepression in hedgehog
Flaherty Maria Sol, Salis Pauline, Evans Cory J, Ekas Laura A, Marouf Amine, Zavadil Jiri, Banerjee Utpal, Bach Erika A
chinmo is a functional effector of the JAK/STAT pathway that regulates
eye development, tumor formation, and stem cell self-renewal in
Sinenko S, Mandal L, Martinez-Agosto J, Banerjee U
Dual role of Wingless signaling in stem-like hematopoietic precursor maintenance in Drosophila,
Alex Bukrinsky Kevin J. P. Griffin, Yan Zhao, Shuo Lin, and Utpal Banerjee
Essential role of spi-1-like (spi-1l) in Zebrafish Myeloid Cell Differentiation,
Evans C, Olson J, Ngo K, Kim E, Lee N, Kuoy E, Patananan A, Sitz D, Tran P, Do M, Yackle K, Cespedes A, Hartenstein V, Call G, Banerjee U
G-TRACE rapid Gal4-based cell lineage analysis in Drosophila
Raghavendra Nagaraj and Utpal Banerjee
Regulation of Notch and Wingless signaling by Phyllopod, a transcriptional target of the EGFR pathway,
Owusu-Ansah, E., Yavari, A., Mandal, S.,and Banerjee, U.
Distinct mitochondrial retrograde signals control the G1-S checkpoint in mitosis,
Evans, C.J., Sinenko, S., Mandal, L., Martinez-Agosto, J., Hartenstein, and Banerjee, U.
Genetic Dissection of Hematopoiesis Using Drosophila as a Model System,
Advances in Developmental Biology,
Mandal, L., Augusto-Martinez,J., Evans, C., Hartenstein, V., and Banerjee, U.
A Hedgehog and Antennapedia dependent niche controls Drosophila hematopoietic precursors,
Raghavendra Nagaraj and Utpal Banerjee.
Combinatorial signaling in the specification of primary pigment cells in the Drosophila eye,
Martinez-Agosto, J., Mikkola, H. K. A., Hartenstein, V., and Banerjee, U.
The hematopoietic stem cell and its niche: A comparative view,
Genes and Development,
T.S. Vivian Liao, Gerald B. Call, Preeta Guptan, Albert Cespedes, Jamie Marshall, Kevin Yackle, Edward Owusu-Ansah, Sudip Mandal, Q. Angela Fang, Gelsey L. Goodstein, William Kim, and Utpal Banerjee.
An efficient genetic screen in Drosophila to identify nuclear-encoded genes with mitochondrial function. ,
Mandal S, Guptan P, Owusu-Ansah E, and Banerjee U
Mitochondrial regulation of a Cyclin E-dependent cell cycle checkpoint as revealed by the tenured mutation in Drosophila ,
Developmental Cell ,
Jung SH, Evans C, Uemura, and Banerjee U
The Drosophila lymph gland as a developmental model of hematopoiesis,
Mandal L, Banerjee U, Hartenstein V
Evidence for a hemangioblast and similarities between lymph gland hematopoiesis in Drosophila and mammalian AGM,
Nagaraj R, and Banerjee U
The little R cell that could,
Int. J. Dev. Biol,
Canon J, and Banerjee U
In vivo analysis of a developmental circuit for direct transcriptional activation and repression in the same cell by a Runx protein,
Genes & Development. ,
Evans CJ, Hartenstein V, and Banerjee U
Thicker Than Blood: Conserved Mechanisms in Drosophila and Vertebrate Hematopoeisis,
Kaminker JS, Canon J, Salecker I, and Banerjee U
Non-autonomous control of photoreceptor axon target choice by transcriptional repression,
2002; 5 (8):
Tsuda L, Nagaraj R, Zipursky SL, and Banerjee U
The EGF Receptor, Sno and Ebi Control Delta Expression in Notch-mediated Induction,
Nagaraj R, Canon J, and Banerjee U
Cell Fate Specification in the Drosophila eye. In Drosophila eye development,
Drosophila Eye Development,
Flores G, Duan H, Yan H-J, Nagaraj R, Fu W, Zou Y, Noll M, and Banerjee U.
A combinatorial model of signaling in specification of cell fate,
Nagaraj R, Pickup AT, Howes R, Freeman M, and Banerjee U
EGF receptor signaling in the specification of the Drosophila wing margin,
Flores G, Daga A, Kalhor H, and Banerjee U
Lozenge is a global transcriptional regulator which pre-patterns cell-specific factors,
Gupta B, Flores G, Banerjee U, and Rodrigues V
Role of Lozenge in antennal patterning,
Meisner H, Daga A, Buxton J, Banerjee U, and Czech MP
Interactions of Drosophila Cbl with EGF Receptors and its role in R7 photoreceptor cell development,
Mol. & Cell. Biol,
Rogge RD, and Banerjee U
Neural Pattern Formation in the Drosophila Eye,
Adv. in Neural Regen. Res,
Banerjee U, and Zipursky SL
The role of induction in the determination of cell fate in the Drosophila visual system,
Banerjee U, Renfranz PJ, Hinton DR, Rabin BA, and Benzer S
The sevenless+ protein is expressed apically in cell membranes of developing Drosophila retina: It is not restricted to cell R7,