Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

University of Texas Medical Branch


Jeffrey P. Rabek, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

My major research interests lie in the control of the temporal and tissue-specific expression of individual genes during development and aging, and in response to stress. Control mechanisms acting at the level of the induction and regulation of gene transcription and messenger RNA translation are of particular interest.Present research centers on the regulation of the acute phase response reactant proteins synthesized in the liver in response to stress.The changes in regulation during aging and in response to extensive burn trauma are the models on which we are presently concentrating our efforts.

  1. The transcription factor C/EBP alpha and beta family members, which have been implicated in the regulation of stress response, are present in several molecular weight isoforms.The isoforms appear to be the result of the use of alternate translation start sites on a single mRNA.   We are examining the regulation of translation of these various MW forms at the level of initiation.
  2. The acute phase response to stress and other homeostatic responses are compromised in aged animals.We are examining the mechanism under-lying these changes at the level of gene expression and regulatory pathways. In addition, we are using the techniques of array hybridization and two-dimensional electrophoresis to define the "phenotype" of aging.
  3. As a part of our interest in the aging phenotype, we are also interested in the mechanisms underlying longevity.We are pursuing models of longevity such as the Snell dwarf mouse by genomic and proteomic analysis.In addition we are interested in identifying mutations or alterations which may produce long-lived strains.
  4. During severe burn trauma many pathologic changers in homeostatic response take place.We are interested in the regulation of the acute phase response in response to severe burn and in pathological changes in nitrogen metabolism which result in severe muscle wasting.We are developing model systems to provide muscle growth stimulating factors such as growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors continuously at physiological levels to reverse this muscle loss.