Andley Lab

Usha Andley, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Our laboratory work s in multidisciplinary research environment focused on understanding how small heat shock proteins function in vivo.

Research

We investigate the role of the protein aggregate formation in eye lens cataract initiation and growth.

To study the intricate relationship between protein aggregation, cell adhesion and cell cytoskeleton proteins and small heat shock proteins in hereditary cataracts, we have generated several genetically-engineered mouse models.

Our laboratory is specifically interested in understanding how lens epithelial cells control cataract development and progression in vivo.

We are also applying state-of-the art proteomic, imaging and genetic resources at Washington University to develop specific markers to study protein aggregation and insolubilization in lens epithelial and fiber cells and to identify anti-cataract strategies that specifically target protein aggregation.

Current research

Knock-in mice expressing mutations associated with human hereditary cataracts are the focus of our present research. The influence of cataract on autophagy and the unfolded protein response will be important to understand the role of protein degradation of misfolded proteins in human cataract formation.

These studies will enhance the understanding of cataract development and progression in animal models, which can be correlated with human cataract development. Using knock-in and knock-out mouse models for cataracts, we have recently identified the likely in vivo substrates of alpha crystallin in the lens using proteomic techniques. In a major new endeavor, we are testing novel small molecule pharmaceutical compounds to reverse and delay cataract development using animal models generated in our laboratory. View the article in science magazine.