Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, CZ
Jakub Rohlena graduated in Biochemistry from the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and obtained his PhD from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. After completing a postdoctoral stay at the Academy Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam, he moved to the Institute of Biotechnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. His research interests are in aspects linking oxidative phosphorylation to cellular life and death. He discovered that respiratory complex II serves as a target for anti-cancer agents and can directly generate ROS in intact cells. He co-developed mitochondria-targeted tamoxifen, a drug that is now in phase Ib clinical trial in cancer, and established that it acts by disrupting respiratory supercomplexes upon complex I binding, leading to ROS generation, cell death and tumor suppression. He contributed to the discovery of mitochondria transfer from the stroma into mitochondrial DNA-deficient cells, which reconstitutes oxidative phosphorylation in these cells and allows tumor growth. He established that the failure to form tumors is due to disruption of de-novopyrimidine biosynthesis, driven by redox cycling of coenzyme Q, deficient in non-respiring cells.
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