DepartmentCellular and Integrative Physiology
Tabitha Kreko, Ph.D.
Jason Pugh, Ph.D.
Dr. Kreko-Pierce earned her PhD in Physiology at UT Health San Antonio in June 2017, where she studied mechanisms that underlie axonal transport of proteasomes and aging of the neuromuscular junction. Soon after, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Jason Pugh at UT Health San Antonio where she is currently conducting her postdoctoral research. Her research focuses on the role of the protein dystrophin on the function of neurons in the cerebellum and hippocampus. In skeletal muscle dystrophin is a key component of the multiprotein dystroglycan complex that acts as a linker between the intracellular cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix, thus mediating the structural stability of the plasma membrane. Mutations in the dystrophin gene cause a common human condition known as muscular dystrophy. In addition to its expression in muscle tissue, dystrophin is also highly expressed in the central nervous system, particularly in neurons of the hippocampus and cerebellum; however, the role of this protein in the CNS remains largely unknown. Interestingly, many individuals with muscular dystrophy display severe cognitive deficits, suggesting the role of dystrophin in normal neuronal function. Dr. Kreko-Pierce’s hypothesis is that dystrophin mutations disrupt cerebellar and hippocampal function which contributes to the loss of motor and cognitive function observed in muscular dystrophy patients. She will test this hypothesis using a combination of genetics (cell specific knock-out animals), patch-clamp electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry and behavioral testing.
Tabita Kreko-Pierce and Benjamin A. Eaton. (2018) Rejuvenation of the aged neuromuscular junction by exercise. Cell Stress Volume , Issue , pp.