The Vulpe lab is currently focused on 3 areas of research related to functional and eco-toxicology and iron metabolism
Link to a complete list of publications: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1XmgXX3u2qmkO/bibliography/47990729/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending
Iron is a vital nutrient whose highly conserved metabolism is required for the growth and development of all organisms. Current work in the Vulpe Lab involves advancing knowledge of iron metabolism in mammals with a focus on characterizing the role of ferroxidase proteins in iron homeostasis and identifying the genetic factors that influence iron status in mammals using "in silico" QTL analysis of inbred mouse strains. The Vulpe Lab is also involved in collaborations to study the genetic determinants of iron deficiency in humans.
The number of man-made chemicals continues to grow yet we have a limited understanding of the biological effects of the vast majority. Our group has pioneered the use of a functional approach to comprehensively assess and identify key genes, processes and pathways underlying the eukaryotic cellular response to chemical toxicity. Other genomic approaches do not functionally assess the role of each gene/protein/metabolite in response but only identify a correlation with environmental stressors. As such, these observations do not identify a causal link between exposure, gene/protein/metabolite level, and phenotypic outcome. In contrast, functional approaches directly identify the genes necessary for cellular survival in a toxicant exposure. We have used this approach to better understand the mechanism of action of multiple chemical contaminants including arsenicals, benzene metabolites, TCE metabolites, UV filters and electron transport chain complex inhibitors. We identified several genes and pathways that are may play a role in human susceptibility for these compounds. Most recently we have developed similar approaches in mammalian cells using CRISPR based approaches.
The field of ecotoxicology focuses on the adverse life cycle impacts of toxic chemicals to organisms, organism interactions, and organism fitness in the ecosystem. Ecotoxicogenomics uses genomics to better understand how toxic chemical exposure may impact organism interactions and fitness in an ecological context. Ecotoxicogenomics is a sensitive method that can be used to screen water bodies for toxic chemical exposure and also to inform the safer design of industrial/commercial chemicals. Current ecotoxicology work in the Vulpe lab uses RNAseq methods to identify biochemical pathways that have an important role in the organism response to metals and metal mixtures (cadmium and zinc) and nanomaterials (silver nanowires).