Baltimore, MD — The National Institutes of Health has recognized Carnegie's Tabea Moll with its prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award. The highly-selective fellowship will advance Moll's investigations into the molecular mechanisms of lipoprotein turnover.
High levels of plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are correlated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. While much is already known about cardiovascular disease and lipoproteins, a detailed understanding of lipoprotein synthesis and metabolism remains poorly understood, especially concerning lipoprotein lifetime.
The older the lipoprotein, the more it is subject to molecular modifications that can build up to facilitate blood clots and thus heart attack. To measure LDL turnover in live zebrafish, Moll inserted an unusual fluorescent protein that changes color when exposed to high-intensity light of a specific wavelength. This novel tool enables for the first time direct measurement of lipoprotein turnover in live animals in different organs and tissues.
A recent genome-wide association study reported lower risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with a mutation in the human liver asialoglycoprotein receptor 1 (ASGR1) gene. Moll hypothesizes that ASGR1 influences how long lipoproteins remain in circulation—an understudied factor that could be key to mediating the risk of cardiovascular disease. She plans on using her powerful new zebrafish reporter to directly address this hypothesis.