Dr Alisa Glukhova is a laboratory head in the Structural Biology division at WEHI and a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne. She earned her PhD in Chemical Biology in 2014 from the University of Michigan, where she worked on solving structures of lipid-modifying enzymes using x-ray crystallography. During her postdoctoral training at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, she used x-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, and pharmacology techniques to study different G protein-coupled receptors.
Since joining WEHI in 2020, Alisa has focused on understanding the structural and biochemical aspects of the Wnt signalling pathway, an important pharmacological target for treating many cancers. Using structural biology, her team captures snapshots of different stages in the Wnt signalling cascade to understand the atomic picture and gain insights into various aspects of signal transmission through Wnt pathways. Key areas of interest include Wnt acylation by acyl-transferase Porcupine, Wnt secretion and transport outside cells, and the initiation of the Wnt signalling cascade through Wnt interactions with its receptors, Frizzled, and co-receptors. Alisa ultimately hopes to use this atomic-level information to develop better therapies for devastating human conditions, such as cancer.
Russia, Moscow State University, Diploma, 2008
USA, University of Michigan PhD, 2014
Senior Research Fellow, Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology,
The University of Melbourne
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Drug Discovery Biology, Monash Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
2022 The Gottschalk Medal from the Australian Academy of Sciences
2019 Monash Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence by an Early Career Researcher (STEM)
2019 Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Early Career Researcher award
2021 CSL Centenary Fellowship
2022 National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme
2021 National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme
2019 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Australian & New Zealand Fellowship
1. Mobbs JI#, Black KA#, Tran M, Venugopal H, Holman TR, Holinstat M, Thal DM*, Glukhova A*. Cryo-EM structures of human arachidonate 12S-Lipoxygenase (12-LOX) bound to endogenous and exogenous inhibitors. bioRxiv:2023.03.10.532002 (2023) #Equal contribution
2. Gan ZY, Callegari S, Cobbold SA, Cotton TR, Mlodzianoski MJ, Schubert AF, Geoghegan ND, Rogers KL, Leis A, Dewson G, Glukhova A, Komander D. Activation mechanism of PINK1. Nature 2022, 602(7896):328-35 PMID: 34933320
3. Pymm P#, Adair A#, Chan LJ, Cooney JP, Mordant FL, Allison CC, Lopez E, Haycroft ER, O’Neill MT, Tan LL, Dietrich MH, Drew D, Doerflinger M, Dengler MA, Scott NE, Wheatley AK, Gherardin NA, Venugopal H, Cromer D, Davenport MP, Pickering R, Godfrey DI, Purcell DFJ, Kent SJ, Chung AW, Subbarao K, Pellegrini M, Glukhova A, Tham WH. Nanobody cocktails potently neutralize SARS-CoV-2 D614G N501Y variant and protect mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021, 118(19) PMID: 33893175 #Equal contribution
4. Draper-Joyce CJ, Bhola R, Wang J, Bhattarai A, Nguyen ATN, Cowie-Kent I, O’Sullivan K, Chia LY, Venugopal H, Valant C, Thal DM, Wootten D, Panel N, Carlsson J, Christie MJ, White PJ, Scammells P, May LT, Sexton PM, Danev R, Miao Y, Glukhova A*, Imlach WL*, Christopoulos A.* Positive allosteric mechanisms of adenosine A1 receptor-mediated analgesia. Nature 2021, 597(7877):571-6 PMID: 34497422
5.Draper-Joyce CDJ#, Khoshouei M#, Thal DM, Liang YL, Nguyen ATN, Furness SGB, Venugopall H, Baltos J, Plitzko JM, Danev R, Baumeister W, May LT, Wootten D, Sexton PM*, Glukhova A*, Christopoulos A*. Cryo-EM structure of the human adenosine A1 receptor-Gi2-protein complex bound to its endogenous agonist. Nature 2018 Jun;558(7711):559-56 PMID: 29925945 #Equal contribution
6. Liang YL#, Khoshouei M#, Glukhova A#, Zhao P, Clydesdale L, Koole C, Truong TT, Furness SGB, Thal DM, Lei S, Radjainia M, Danev R, Baumeister W, Wang MW, Miller LJ, Christopoulos A, Sexton PM*, Wootten D*. Phase-plate Cryo-EM structure of a biased agonist-bound human GLP-1 receptor-Gs complex. Nature 2018 Mar 1;555(7694):121-125 PMID: 29466332 #Equal contribution
7. Glukhova A#, Thal DM#, Nguyen AT, Vecchio EA, Jörg M, Scammells PJ, May LT, Sexton PM*, Christopoulos A*. Structure of the Adenosine A1 Receptor Reveals the Basis for Subtype Selectivity. Cell, 2017 168(5):867–877 PMID: 28235198 #Equal contribution
Wnt proteins are essential for many cell processes, including differentiation and migration. Porcupine (PORCN) is a transmembrane protein that modifies all Wnts with a fatty molecule, which is crucial for Wnt secretion and activity. Because of this, PORCN inhibitors show potential for treating various types of human cancers. Using cryo-EM, we achieved the highest resolution PORCN structure (2.5 Å) with a small molecule inhibitor. This student project will expand upon our PORCN work and employ cryo-EM to determine the PORCN-Wnt complex structure, aiming to understand Wnt modification by PORCN at the molecular level.
Wnt proteins play a vital role in various cell processes, including differentiation and migration. As lipophilic molecules, Wnts require carrier proteins to maintain solubility outside cells. The exact interaction mechanism between Wnts and these carrier proteins remains unknown. Additionally, other extracellular proteins regulate Wnt signaling through interactions and modifications of Wnt proteins. Understanding these processes and their regulation will ultimately help discover new therapeutic targets.
This project will employ cryo-electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography, and complementary techniques to investigate Wnt complexes with extracellular proteins, such as afamin, serum albumin, and Norrin, to enhance understanding of their interactions and regulatory functions.
Wnt signaling is initiated by Wnt proteins when they interact with their receptors, Frizzled, and co-receptors. Although this step is crucial for understanding Wnt signaling biology and developing new therapies, the molecular details remain elusive. Existing structural information on individual steps is incomplete, and the full picture is yet to be uncovered. This ambitious project aims to employ structural biology and complementary techniques to gain insights into how Wnt binding leads to Frizzled activation and signal transmission into the cell.
The enzyme 12-Lipoxygenase (12-LOX) is a promising drug target for preventing platelet activation and thrombosis. ML355, a 12-LOX inhibitor, has shown potential in treating heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. In collaboration with Thal, Holman, and Holinstat laboratories, we were the first to determine the high-resolution structures of human 12-LOX, including structures with the clinically relevant inhibitor ML355 and an endogenous acyl-coenzyme A. This project aims to build upon our structural studies to further understand 12-LOX biology, including its oligomeric states, catalysis, and membrane binding, and to gain insights into a new generation of 12-LOX inhibitors.