Racca wins Tabor Award for lipid research

Ana Racca received the Tabor award from JBC Associate Editor George Carman at the 56th International Conference on the Bioscience of Lipids in Argentina.

Ana Racca, a postdoctoral researcher at the National University of Córdoba in Córdoba, Argentina, received the Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award for her research on two members of the Fos transcription family and their relationship to malignant cell growth in breast tumors.

Racca has shown that c-Fos and Fra-1 work in the cytoplasm independent of their nuclear functions as transcription factors. The two molecules interact with and activate key enzymes of the phospholipid synthesis pathway — particularly CDP-DAG synthase — by increasing the rate of membrane biogenesis in the endoplasmic reticulum. This increase helps sustain the proliferation of malignant breast cells.

Raised in the town of Carmen de Patagones in southern Argentina, Racca moved to Córdoba for a biochemistry degree at the National University of Córdoba. She remained for a Ph.D., joining the lab of Graciela Panzetta and working on trophoblast differentiation in normal and diseased human placenta. Her special focus was on the role of Krüppel-like factor 6, and before completing her doctorate, she extended her work on KLF6 and the placenta in Charles H. Graham’s laboratory at Queens University in Ontario, Canada. Racca returned to Córdoba to finish her Ph.D. and then joined Beatriz Caputto’s lab for a postdoctoral fellowship. Caputto’s lab specializes in the molecular mechanisms of c-Fos and Fra-1.

Racca says that because c-Fos and Fra-1 are expressed at nearly undetectable levels in healthy breast cells, therapeutic strategies targeting their cytoplasmic function shouldn’t do secondary harm. She will continue her work on the interactions of c-Fos and Fra-1 and study how negative dominant peptides derived from the proteins they activate can help block phospholipid synthesis and slow tumor growth.

Erik Maradiaga Erik Maradiaga is a biology major at American University.