Vasu Punj, PhD

Title(s)Associate Professor of Research Medicine
SchoolKeck School of Medicine of USC
Phone+1 323 442 7820
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    Associate Professor (Medicine), Department of Medicine, Keck School of Medicine.

    Research Interests: Vasu’s research is focused on the development of genomic-based strategies for treatment and diagnosis of various diseases with an emphasis on the following three major areas:
    • Understanding the mechanisms of gene regulation in disease progression.
    • Mechanisms of drug-target resistance in various diseases.
    • Disease bio-marker discovery

    Building on these research interests, he has developed innovative computational approaches to test hypotheses to investigate progression and therapeutic responses in several disease models.
    The underlying premises of his research is to derive biologically relevant information from complex data-sets to understand the overall impact of genomic information on biomedical science.

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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Li S, Song Y, Quach C, Guo H, Jang GB, Maazi H, Zhao S, Sands NA, Liu Q, In GK, Peng D, Yuan W, Machida K, Yu M, Akbari O, Hagiya A, Yang Y, Punj V, Tang L, Liang C. Transcriptional regulation of autophagy-lysosomal function in BRAF-driven melanoma progression and chemoresistance. Nat Commun. 2019 04 12; 10(1):1693. PMID: 30979895.
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    2. Nielsen HM, Andersen CL, Westman M, Kristensen LS, Asmar F, Kruse TA, Thomassen M, Larsen TS, Skov V, Hansen LL, Bjerrum OW, Hasselbalch HC, Punj V, Grønbæk K. Publisher Correction: Epigenetic changes in myelofibrosis: Distinct methylation changes in the myeloid compartments and in cases with ASXL1 mutations. Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 20; 8(1):17311. PMID: 30459458.
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    3. Kubala MH, Punj V, Placencio-Hickok VR, Fang H, Fernandez GE, Sposto R, DeClerck YA. Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 Promotes the Recruitment and Polarization of Macrophages in Cancer. Cell Rep. 2018 Nov 20; 25(8):2177-2191.e7. PMID: 30463014.
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    4. Kim J, Shin Y, Lee S, Kim M, Punj V, Lu JF, Shin H, Kim K, Ulmer TS, Koh J, Jeong D, An W. Regulation of Breast Cancer-Induced Osteoclastogenesis by MacroH2A1.2 Involving EZH2-Mediated H3K27me3. Cell Rep. 2018 Jul 03; 24(1):224-237. PMID: 29972783.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Kim JM, Shin Y, Lee S, Kim MY, Punj V, Shin HI, Kim K, Koh JM, Jeong D, An W. MacroH2A1.2 inhibits prostate cancer-induced osteoclastogenesis through cooperation with HP1a and H1.2. Oncogene. 2018 Jun 20. PMID: 29925860.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Kavitha N, Vijayarathna S, Oon CE, Chen Y, Kanwar JR, Punj V, Sasidharan S. MicroRNA profiling in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell exposed to the Phaleria macrocarpa (Boerl.) fruit ethyl acetate fraction (PMEAF) through IIlumina Hi-Seq technologies and various in silico bioinformatics tools. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Mar 01; 213:118-131. PMID: 29154802.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Nielsen HM, Andersen CL, Westman M, Kristensen LS, Asmar F, Kruse TA, Thomassen M, Larsen TS, Skov V, Hansen LL, Bjerrum OW, Hasselbalch HC, Punj V, Grønbæk K. Epigenetic changes in myelofibrosis: Distinct methylation changes in the myeloid compartments and in cases with ASXL1 mutations. Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 28; 7(1):6774. PMID: 28754985.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Kulkarni M, Leszczynska A, Wei G, Winkler MA, Tang J, Funari VA, Deng N, Liu Z, Punj V, Deng SX, Ljubimov AV, Saghizadeh M. Genome-wide analysis suggests a differential microRNA signature associated with normal and diabetic human corneal limbus. Sci Rep. 2017 06 14; 7(1):3448. PMID: 28615632.
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    9. Feng J, Jing J, Li J, Zhao H, Punj V, Zhang T, Xu J, Chai Y. BMP signaling orchestrates a transcriptional network to control the fate of mesenchymal stem cells in mice. Development. 2017 07 15; 144(14):2560-2569. PMID: 28576771.
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    10. Kani K, Garri C, Tiemann K, Malihi PD, Punj V, Nguyen AL, Lee J, Hughes LD, Alvarez RM, Wood DM, Joo AY, Katz JE, Agus DB, Mallick P. JUN-Mediated Downregulation of EGFR Signaling Is Associated with Resistance to Gefitinib in EGFR-mutant NSCLC Cell Lines. Mol Cancer Ther. 2017 08; 16(8):1645-1657. PMID: 28566434.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Kim K, Punj V, Kim JM, Lee S, Ulmer TS, Lu W, Rice JC, An W. MMP-9 facilitates selective proteolysis of the histone H3 tail at genes necessary for proficient osteoclastogenesis. Genes Dev. 2016 Jan 15; 30(2):208-19. PMID: 26744418; PMCID: PMC4719310.
    12. Ring A, Mineyev N, Zhu W, Park E, Lomas C, Punj V, Yu M, Barrak D, Forte V, Porras T, Tripathy D, Lang JE. EpCAM based capture detects and recovers circulating tumor cells from all subtypes of breast cancer except claudin-low. Oncotarget. 2015 Dec 29; 6(42):44623-34. PMID: 26556851; PMCID: PMC4792580.
    13. Chen CL, Uthaya Kumar DB, Punj V, Xu J, Sher L, Tahara SM, Hess S, Machida K. NANOG Metabolically Reprograms Tumor-Initiating Stem-like Cells through Tumorigenic Changes in Oxidative Phosphorylation and Fatty Acid Metabolism. Cell Metab. 2016 Jan 12; 23(1):206-19. PMID: 26724859; PMCID: PMC4715587 [Available on 01/12/17].
    14. Andersen CL, Nielsen HM, Kristensen LS, Søgaard A, Vikeså J, Jønson L, Nielsen FC, Hasselbalch H, Bjerrum OW, Punj V, Grønbæk K. Whole-exome sequencing and genome-wide methylation analyses identify novel disease associated mutations and methylation patterns in idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome. Oncotarget. 2015 Dec 01; 6(38):40588-97. PMID: 26497854; PMCID: PMC4747354.
    15. Kim JM, Kim K, Punj V, Liang G, Ulmer TS, Lu W, An W. Linker histone H1.2 establishes chromatin compaction and gene silencing through recognition of H3K27me3. Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 19; 5:16714. PMID: 26581166; PMCID: PMC4652225.
    16. Ryland KE, Hawkins AG, Weisenberger DJ, Punj V, Borinstein SC, Laird PW, Martens JR, Lawlor ER. Promoter Methylation Analysis Reveals That KCNA5 Ion Channel Silencing Supports Ewing Sarcoma Cell Proliferation. Mol Cancer Res. 2016 Jan; 14(1):26-34. PMID: 26573141; PMCID: PMC4716008 [Available on 01/01/17].
    17. Liu Y, Pike MC, Wu N, Lin YG, Mucowski S, Punj V, Tang Y, Yen HY, Stanczyk FZ, Enbom E, Austria T, Widschwendter M, Maxson R, Dubeau L. Brca1 Mutations Enhance Mouse Reproductive Functions by Increasing Responsiveness to Male-Derived Scent. PLoS One. 2015; 10(10):e0139013. PMID: 26488398; PMCID: PMC4619541.
    18. Kim JM, Kim K, Schmidt T, Punj V, Tucker H, Rice JC, Ulmer TS, An W. Cooperation between SMYD3 and PC4 drives a distinct transcriptional program in cancer cells. Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Oct 15; 43(18):8868-83. PMID: 26350217; PMCID: PMC4605318.
    19. Siddique HR, Feldman DE, Chen CL, Punj V, Tokumitsu H, Machida K. NUMB phosphorylation destabilizes p53 and promotes self-renewal of tumor-initiating cells by a NANOG-dependent mechanism in liver cancer. Hepatology. 2015 Nov; 62(5):1466-79. PMID: 26174965; PMCID: PMC4618247 [Available on 11/01/16].
    20. Xu J, Chi F, Guo T, Punj V, Lee WN, French SW, Tsukamoto H. NOTCH reprograms mitochondrial metabolism for proinflammatory macrophage activation. J Clin Invest. 2015 Apr; 125(4):1579-90. PMID: 25798621; PMCID: PMC4396469.
    21. HaDuong JH, Blavier L, Baniwal SK, Frenkel B, Malvar J, Punj V, Sposto R, DeClerck YA. Interaction between bone marrow stromal cells and neuroblastoma cells leads to a VEGFA-mediated osteoblastogenesis. Int J Cancer. 2015 Aug 15; 137(4):797-809. PMID: 25648303.
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    22. Gupta I, Sehgal R, Kanwar RK, Punj V, Kanwar JR. Nanocapsules loaded with iron-saturated bovine lactoferrin have antimicrobial therapeutic potential and maintain calcium, zinc and iron metabolism. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2015; 10(8):1289-314. PMID: 25442715.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Lang JE, Scott JH, Wolf DM, Novak P, Punj V, Magbanua MJ, Zhu W, Mineyev N, Haqq CM, Crothers JR, Esserman LJ, Tripathy D, van 't Veer L, Park JW. Expression profiling of circulating tumor cells in metastatic breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015 Jan; 149(1):121-31. PMID: 25432738; PMCID: PMC4698170.
    24. Sareen D, Saghizadeh M, Ornelas L, Winkler MA, Narwani K, Sahabian A, Funari VA, Tang J, Spurka L, Punj V, Maguen E, Rabinowitz YS, Svendsen CN, Ljubimov AV. Differentiation of human limbal-derived induced pluripotent stem cells into limbal-like epithelium. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2014 Sep; 3(9):1002-12. PMID: 25069777; PMCID: PMC4149305.
    25. Ling C, Pease M, Shi L, Punj V, Shiroishi MS, Commins D, Weisenberger DJ, Wang K, Zada G. A pilot genome-scale profiling of DNA methylation in sporadic pituitary macroadenomas: association with tumor invasion and histopathological subtype. PLoS One. 2014; 9(4):e96178. PMID: 24781529; PMCID: PMC4004564.
    26. Tolani B, Matta H, Gopalakrishnan R, Punj V, Chaudhary PM. NEMO is essential for Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-encoded vFLIP K13-induced gene expression and protection against death receptor-induced cell death, and its N-terminal 251 residues are sufficient for this process. J Virol. 2014 Jun; 88(11):6345-54. PMID: 24672029; PMCID: PMC4093867.
    27. Rai AK, Sharma S, Punj V. Orchestration of host-pathogen interaction: relevance of iron in generation of potent anti-M. tuberculosis immunity. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2014; 15(12):1095-104. PMID: 25429656.
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    28. Sharma AK, Punj V, Sharma HK. Iron chelation and drug resistance in cancer and tuberculosis. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2014; 15(12):1093-4. PMID: 25412612.
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    29. Kim K, Punj V, Choi J, Heo K, Kim JM, Laird PW, An W. Gene dysregulation by histone variant H2A.Z in bladder cancer. Epigenetics Chromatin. 2013 Oct 16; 6(1):34. PMID: 24279307; PMCID: PMC3853418.
    30. Asmar F, Punj V, Christensen J, Pedersen MT, Pedersen A, Nielsen AB, Hother C, Ralfkiaer U, Brown P, Ralfkiaer E, Helin K, Grønbæk K. Genome-wide profiling identifies a DNA methylation signature that associates with TET2 mutations in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Haematologica. 2013 Dec; 98(12):1912-20. PMID: 23831920; PMCID: PMC3856967.
    31. Feldman DE, Chen C, Punj V, Machida K. The TBC1D15 oncoprotein controls stem cell self-renewal through destabilization of the Numb-p53 complex. PLoS One. 2013; 8(2):e57312. PMID: 23468968; PMCID: PMC3584131.
    32. Punj V, Matta H, Chaudhary PM. A computational profiling of changes in gene expression and transcription factors induced by vFLIP K13 in primary effusion lymphoma. PLoS One. 2012; 7(5):e37498. PMID: 22624040; PMCID: PMC3356309.
    33. Feldman DE, Chen C, Punj V, Tsukamoto H, Machida K. Pluripotency factor-mediated expression of the leptin receptor (OB-R) links obesity to oncogenesis through tumor-initiating stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jan 17; 109(3):829-34. PMID: 22207628; PMCID: PMC3271911.
    34. Aston KI, Punj V, Liu L, Carrell DT. Genome-wide sperm deoxyribonucleic acid methylation is altered in some men with abnormal chromatin packaging or poor in vitro fertilization embryogenesis. Fertil Steril. 2012 Feb; 97(2):285-92. PMID: 22154369.
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    35. Kanwar JR, Sun X, Punj V, Sriramoju B, Mohan RR, Zhou SF, Chauhan A, Kanwar RK. Nanoparticles in the treatment and diagnosis of neurological disorders: untamed dragon with fire power to heal. Nanomedicine. 2012 May; 8(4):399-414. PMID: 21889479.
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    36. Matta H, Gopalakrishnan R, Punj V, Yi H, Suo Y, Chaudhary PM. A20 is induced by Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-encoded viral FLICE inhibitory protein (vFLIP) K13 and blocks K13-induced nuclear factor-kappaB in a negative feedback manner. J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 17; 286(24):21555-64. PMID: 21531730; PMCID: PMC3122214.
    37. Ahmad A, Groshong JS, Matta H, Schamus S, Punj V, Robinson LJ, Gill PS, Chaudhary PM. Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-encoded viral FLICE inhibitory protein (vFLIP) K13 cooperates with Myc to promote lymphoma in mice. Cancer Biol Ther. 2010 Nov 15; 10(10):1033-40. PMID: 20818173; PMCID: PMC3047095.
    38. Punj V, Matta H, Chaudhary PM. X-linked ectodermal dysplasia receptor is downregulated in breast cancer via promoter methylation. Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Feb 15; 16(4):1140-8. PMID: 20145163; PMCID: PMC2822888.
    39. Punj V, Matta H, Schamus S, Chaudhary PM. Integrated microarray and multiplex cytokine analyses of Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus viral FLICE Inhibitory Protein K13 affected genes and cytokines in human blood vascular endothelial cells. BMC Med Genomics. 2009 Aug 06; 2:50. PMID: 19660139; PMCID: PMC2732924.
    40. Kanwar JR, Kanwar RK, Sun X, Punj V, Matta H, Morley SM, Parratt A, Puri M, Sehgal R. Molecular and biotechnological advances in milk proteins in relation to human health. Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2009 Aug; 10(4):308-38. PMID: 19689355.
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    41. Punj V, Matta H, Schamus S, Yang T, Chang Y, Chaudhary PM. Induction of CCL20 production by Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus: role of viral FLICE inhibitory protein K13-induced NF-kappaB activation. Blood. 2009 May 28; 113(22):5660-8. PMID: 19324905; PMCID: PMC2689059.
    42. Guo Y, Punj V, Sengupta D, Linstedt AD. Coat-tether interaction in Golgi organization. Mol Biol Cell. 2008 Jul; 19(7):2830-43. PMID: 18434597.
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    43. Lu G, Punj V, Chaudhary PM. Proteasome inhibitor Bortezomib induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cell lines derived from Ewing's sarcoma family of tumors and synergizes with TRAIL. Cancer Biol Ther. 2008 Apr; 7(4):603-8. PMID: 18223318.
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    44. Zhao J, Punj V, Matta H, Mazzacurati L, Schamus S, Yang Y, Yang T, Hong Y, Chaudhary PM. K13 blocks KSHV lytic replication and deregulates vIL6 and hIL6 expression: a model of lytic replication induced clonal selection in viral oncogenesis. PLoS One. 2007 Oct 24; 2(10):e1067. PMID: 17957251; PMCID: PMC2020437.
    45. Shilkaitis A, Green A, Punj V, Steele V, Lubet R, Christov K. Dehydroepiandrosterone inhibits the progression phase of mammary carcinogenesis by inducing cellular senescence via a p16-dependent but p53-independent mechanism. Breast Cancer Res. 2005; 7(6):R1132-40. PMID: 16457693; PMCID: PMC1410767.
    46. Yamada T, Fialho AM, Punj V, Bratescu L, Gupta TK, Chakrabarty AM. Internalization of bacterial redox protein azurin in mammalian cells: entry domain and specificity. Cell Microbiol. 2005 Oct; 7(10):1418-31. PMID: 16153242.
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    47. Peng X, Maruo T, Cao Y, Punj V, Mehta R, Das Gupta TK, Christov K. A novel RARbeta isoform directed by a distinct promoter P3 and mediated by retinoic acid in breast cancer cells. Cancer Res. 2004 Dec 15; 64(24):8911-8. PMID: 15604252.
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    48. Punj V, Saint-Dic D, Daghfal S, Kanwar JR. Microbial-based therapy of cancer: a new twist to age old practice. Cancer Biol Ther. 2004 Aug; 3(8):708-14. PMID: 15197352.
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    49. Punj V, Bhattacharyya S, Saint-Dic D, Vasu C, Cunningham EA, Graves J, Yamada T, Constantinou AI, Christov K, White B, Li G, Majumdar D, Chakrabarty AM, Das Gupta TK. Bacterial cupredoxin azurin as an inducer of apoptosis and regression in human breast cancer. Oncogene. 2004 Mar 25; 23(13):2367-78. PMID: 14981543.
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    50. Punj V, Das Gupta TK, Chakrabarty AM. Bacterial cupredoxin azurin and its interactions with the tumor suppressor protein p53. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Dec 05; 312(1):109-14. PMID: 14630027.
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    51. Punj V, Sharma R, Zaborina O, Chakrabarty AM. Energy-generating enzymes of Burkholderia cepacia and their interactions with macrophages. J Bacteriol. 2003 May; 185(10):3167-78. PMID: 12730177; PMCID: PMC154058.
    52. Punj V, Chakrabarty AM. Redox proteins in mammalian cell death: an evolutionarily conserved function in mitochondria and prokaryotes. Cell Microbiol. 2003 Apr; 5(4):225-31. PMID: 12675680.
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    53. Yamada T, Goto M, Punj V, Zaborina O, Kimbara K, Das Gupta TK, Chakrabarty AM. The bacterial redox protein azurin induces apoptosis in J774 macrophages through complex formation and stabilization of the tumor suppressor protein p53. Infect Immun. 2002 Dec; 70(12):7054-62. PMID: 12438386; PMCID: PMC133031.
    54. Yamada T, Goto M, Punj V, Zaborina O, Chen ML, Kimbara K, Majumdar D, Cunningham E, Das Gupta TK, Chakrabarty AM. Bacterial redox protein azurin, tumor suppressor protein p53, and regression of cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Oct 29; 99(22):14098-103. PMID: 12393814; PMCID: PMC137843.