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Faculty Profile

Daniel E. FrigoDaniel E. Frigo

Assistant Professor
Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Office: Science &Engineering Research Center, 3009
Contact: frigo@uh.edu - (832) 842-8824

Education: Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University School of Medicine, Ph.D., Tulane University

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Steroid hormones are chemicals that are made in one part of our body and can travel great distances to signal specific events in other parts of our body. At the molecular level, steroid hormones communicate by binding to and activating a class of proteins known as nuclear receptors. These hormone-bound receptors can then turn on or off various cellular signaling pathways that control different biological responses. For example, androgens such as testosterone are male sex steroid hormones that are produced mainly in the testes and can circulate through our bloodstream to various targets like the prostate where the hormone promotes the development of this organ by binding to and activating androgen receptors. Importantly, while androgens are required for males to develop normally, abnormal androgen signaling can lead to diseases such as prostate cancer.

Despite the known importance of androgens in prostate cancer, it is still unclear which of the hundreds to thousands of androgen-regulated signaling pathways are responsible for causing the progression of the diseases. The Frigo laboratory takes a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses fields spanning from genomics to pharmacology to biochemistry and metabolism to molecular and cellular biology all the way to testing in preclinical animal models of prostate cancer. This approach allows us to rapidly identify pathways that are driving the stages of the disease for which patients have limited treatment options. The lab is also positioned to then rapidly test whether these newly identified pathways represent realistic therapeutic targets and hence, set the foundation for developing innovative new drugs.

  • Khan AS and Frigo DE. A Spatiotemporal Hypothesis for the Regulation, Role and Targeting of AMPK in Prostate Cancer. Nat Rev Urol [Epub ahead of print], 2017.
  • Blessing AM, Rajapakshe K, Bollu LR, Shi Y, White MA, Pham AH, Lin C, Jonsson P, Cortes CJ, Cheung E, La Spada AR, Bast RC, Merchant FA, Coarfa C and Frigo DE. Transcriptional Regulation of Core Autophagy and Lysosomal Genes by the Androgen Receptor Promotes Prostate Cancer Progression. Autophagy [Epub ahead of print], 2016.
  • Kaushik AK, Shojaie A, Panzitt K, Sonavane R, Venghatakrishnan H, Manikkam M, Zaslavsky A, Putluri V, Vasu VT, Zhang Y, Khan AS, Lloyd S, Szafran AT, Dasgupta S, Bader DA, Stossi F, Li H, Samanta S, Cao X, Tsouko E, Huang S, Frigo DE, Chan L, Edwards D, Kaipparettu BA, Mitsiades N, Weigel NL, Mancini M, McGuire SE, Mehra R, Ittmann MM, Chinnaiyan AM, Putluri N, Palapattu GS, Michailidis G and Sreekumar A. Inhibition of Hexosamine Biosynthetic Pathway Promotes Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer. Nat Commun 7;11612, 2016. PMID: 27194471.
  • Park JH, Vithayathil S, Kumar S, Sung PL, Dobrolecki LE, Putluri V, Bhat V, Bhowmik S, Gupta V, Arora K, Wu D, Tsouko E, Zhang Y, Maity S, Donti TR, Graham BH, Frigo DE, Coarfa C, Yotnda P, Putluri N, Lewis MT, Sreekumar A, Creighton CJ, Wong LJC and Kaipparettu BA. Fatty Acid Oxidation-Driven Src Links Mitochondrial Energy Reprogramming to the Regulation of Oncogenic Properties in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Cell Rep 14(9):2154-65, 2016. PMID: 26923594.
  • Klionsky DJ, Abdelmohsen K, Abe A, ………………..Frigo DE, ………………..Zughaier SM. Guidelines for the Use and Interpretation of Assays for Monitoring Autophagy (3rd Edition). Autophagy 12(1):1-222, 2016. PMID: 26799652.
  • Blessing AM, Sathya G, Rajapakshe K, Sung YY, Bollu LR, Shi Y, Cheung E, Coarfa C, Chang JT, McDonnell DP and Frigo DE. Identification of a novel coregulator, SH3YL1, that interacts with the androgen receptor N-terminus. Mol Endocrinol 29(10):1426-39, 2015. PMID: 26305679.
  • Shafi AA, Putluri V, Arnold JM, Tsouko E, Maity S, Roberts JM, Coarfa C, Frigo DE, Putluri N, Sreekumar A and Weigel NL. Differential Regulation of Metabolic Pathways by Androgen Receptor (AR) and its Constitutively Active Splice Variant, AR-V7. Oncotarget 6(31):31997-2012, 2015. PMID: 26378018
  • Gaur S, Wen Y, Song JH, Mangala LS, Blessing AM, Ivan C, Wu SY, Parikh NU, Varkaris A, Shi Y, Lopez-Berestein G, Frigo DE, Sood AK and Gallick GE. Chitosan Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of miRNA-34a Decreases Prostate Tumor Growth in the Bone and its Expression Induces Non-Canonical Autophagy. Oncotarget 6(30):29161-77, 2015. PMID: 26313360.
  • Tsouko E, Wang J, Frigo DE, Aydogdu E and Williams C. miR-200a inhibits migration of triple-negative breast cancer cells through direct repression of the EPHA2 oncogene. Carcinogenesis 36(9):1051-60, 2015. PMID: 26088362.
  • Popovics P*, Frigo DE*, Schally AV and Rick FG. Targeting the 5′-AMP-activated protein kinase and related metabolic pathways for the treatment of prostate cancer. Expert Opin Ther Targets 19(5):617-32, 2015. PMID: 25600663. *Co-first authors
  • Tsouko E, Khan AS, White MA, Han JJ, Shi Y, Merchant FA, Sharpe MA, Xin L and Frigo DE. Regulation of the pentose phosphate pathway by an androgen receptor-mTOR-mediated mechanism and its role in prostate cancer cell growth. Oncogenesis 3: e103, 2014. PMID: 24861463.
  • Tennakoon JB, Shi Y, Han JJ, Tsouko E, White MA, Burns AR, Zhang A, Xia X, Ilkayeva OR, Xin L, Ittmann MM, Rick EG, Schally AV and Frigo DE. Androgens Regulate Prostate Cancer Cell Growth via an AMPK-PGC-1α-Mediated Metabolic Switch. Oncogene 33(45):5251-61, 2014. PMID: 24186207.
  • Augello MA, Burd CJ, Birbe R, McNair C, Ertel A, Magee MS, Frigo DE, Wilder-Romans K, Shilkrut M, Han S, Jernigan DL, Dean JL, Fatatis A, McDonnell DP, Visakorpi T, Feng FY and Knudsen KE. Convergence of Oncogenic and Hormone Receptor Pathways Promotes Pro-Metastatic Phenotypes. J Clin Invest 123 (1): 493-508, 2013. PMID: 23257359.
  • Shi Y, Han JJ, Tennakoon JB, Mehta FF, Merchant FA, Burns AR, Howe MK, McDonnell DP and Frigo DE. Androgens Promote Prostate Cancer Cell Growth through Induction of Autophagy. Mol Endocrinol 27 (2): 280-95, 2013. PMID: 23250485. (Cover)
  • Frigo DE, Howe MK, Wittmann BM, Brunner AM, Cushman I, Wang Q, Brown M, Means AR and McDonnell DP. CaM kinase kinase β-mediated activation of the growth regulatory kinase AMPK is required for androgen-dependent migration of prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res 71: 528-537, 2011. PMID: 21098087.
  • Frigo DE, Sherk AB, Wittmann BM, Norris JD, Wang Q, Joseph JD, Toner AP, Brown M, and McDonnell DP. Induction of Krüppel-like Factor 5 Expression by Androgens Results in Increased CXCR4-dependent Migration of Prostate Cancer Cells in vitro. Mol Endocrinol 23: 1385-1396, 2009. PMID: 19460858.
  • Sherk AB, Frigo DE, Schnackenberg CG, Bray JD, Laping NJ, Trizna W, Hammond M, Patterson JR, Thompson SK, Kazmin D, Norris JD, and McDonnell DP. Development of a Small Molecule Serum and Glucocorticoid-regulated Kinase 1 Antagonist and its Evaluation as a Prostate Cancer Therapeutic. Cancer Res 68 (18): 1-9, 2008. PMID: 18794135.
  • Frigo DE and McDonnell DP. Differential Effects of Prostate Cancer Therapeutics on Neuroendocrine Transdifferentiation. Mol Cancer Ther 7 (3): 659-69, 2008. PMID: 18347151.

Honors and Awards:

2016 American Cancer Society Research Scholar
2016 GEAR Award
2016 Golfers Against Cancer Award
2015 University of Houston Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity at the Assistant Professor Level
2015 University of Houston Provost’s Faculty Fund Award
2014 Society for Basic Urological Research (SBUR) Young Investigator Award
2014 Golfers Against Cancer Award
2014 Society for Basic Urological Research(SBUR) Abstract Award
2013 Small Grants Program Award-University of Houston
2012 Golfers Against Cancer Award
2011 Small Grants Program Award-University of Houston
2010 New Faculty Grants Program Award-University of Houston
2009 NIH Mentored Scientist Research Development Award K01 DK084205
2005 NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) F32 DK072794

Organizations, Outreach, Boards, Memberships:

2016 Clinical Experimental Therapeutics (DEV-CET) Study Section Member of Prostate Cancer Research Program/Department of Defense (PCRP/DOD)
2016 NIH Tumor Cell Biology (TCB) Study Section ad hoc member.
2016 Grant reviewer for the Mayo Clinic Metabolomics Resource Core (MCMRC) Pilot and Feasibility Program.
2015 Grant reviewer for Morehouse School of Medicine/Tuskegee University/UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership—NIH Cancer Health Disparities Research Program.
2015 Session co-chair. Society for Basic Urological Research (SBUR) Fall Meeting. Fort Lauderdale, FL.
2015 NIH Tumor Cell Biology (TCB) Study Section ad hoc member.
2015 Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CET-1) Study Section Member of Prostate Cancer Research Program/Department of Defense (PCRP/DOD)
2015 Mock NIH Reviewer for NIH-funded project hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison entitled: Patterns of Interaction in Peer Review Meetings. Chicago, IL.
2015 Guest reviewer for Essential Cell Biology, Fourth Edition, by Alberts, et al.
2015 Career development panelist for “Bridging Research in Hormone Response and Resistance in Cancer.” Gordon Research Seminar: Hormone-Dependent Cancers. Newry, ME.
2015 Session co-chair for “Metastasis: Models and Mechanisms.” Gordon Research Conference: Hormone-Dependent Cancers. Newry, ME.
2015 Grant reviewer for Prostate Cancer Canada
2014 Grant reviewer for Swiss Cancer League
2014 Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CET-1) Study Section Member of Prostate Cancer Research Program/Department of Defense (PCRP/DOD)
2013-present Grant reviewer for Prostate Cancer UK Grant Program
2012 Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CET-1) Study Section Member of Prostate Cancer Research Program/Department of Defense (PCRP/DOD)
2012-present Editorial Board, Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases
2012-present Active Member, Society for Basic Urologic Research
2011 Grant reviewer for Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund Research Competitiveness Subprogram (RCS)
Present Ad hoc reviewer for Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cancer Research, Oncogene, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Carcinogenesis, Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, ACS Chemical Biology, PLoS ONE, The FEBS Journal, BMC Cancer, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, Molecular Endocrinology, Endocrinology, Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, Endocrine, The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Hormones and Cancer, Molecular Biology Reports, Asian Journal of Andrology, Toxicology Letters, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Scientific Reports, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Oncotarget and Trends in Molecular Medicine
2010-present Member,The Endocrine Society
2010-present Active Member-- Associate Member, American Association for Cancer Research
2004-2009 Member, National Postdoctoral Association
2001-2004 Associate Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2001-2004 Member, Sigma Xi
2001-2003 Associate Member, American Association for Cancer Research.
2001 Review Committee Member, Graduate School, Tulane University
2001 Internal Review Committee Member, MCB Program, Tulane University
1999-2001 President, Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, Tulane University