Areas: Molecular and Human Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology
Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and is a Caroline Wiess Law Scholar at Baylor
Dr. Atul Chopra, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics and molecular and cellular biology, has concentrated his research on metabolism and energy homeostasis. He studies how energy enters the body and how it is used once it’s in the body, which usually involves an interplay between several organs and thus requires a whole-body experimental approach.
Chopra also works as a medical geneticist, focusing on patients with specific genetic problems related to consumption of energy, processing of energy and loss of energy. The problems usually manifest as a very high weight or very low weight. Since he was a medical resident at Baylor, he has been working to understand Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome, a condition characterized by energy balance problems resulting in extreme thinness and propensity for hypoglycemia.
His work led to the discovery of a new glucogenic and orexigenic hormone, asprosin. This hormone modulates hepatic glucose production and appetite stimulation using spatiotemporally distinct mechanisms when dietary fuel is unavailable. Chopra’s first paper on the glucogenic effect of asprosin in the liver was published in Cell and the second, which characterized the orexigenic effect of asprosin in the hypothalamus, was published in Nature Medicine.
This discovery of asprosin represents a new direction in the understanding of Marfan syndrome and the study of fibrillin. Asprosin has the potential for beneficial therapeutic impact of activity blockade via monoclonal antibody. In addition, antibodies targeting asprosin are showing considerable promise by acutely lowering blood glucose and appetite, leading to improvements in type II diabetes and obesity, respectively, over time.
Dr. Chopra’s nomination was based on the following publications:
Chase Romere, Clemens Duerrschmid, Juan Bournat, Petra Constable, Mahim Jain, Fan Xia, Pradip Saha, Romere C, Duerrschmid C, Bournat J, Constable P, Jain M, Xia F, Saha PK, Del Solar M, Zhu B, York B, Sarkar P, Rendon DA, Gaber MW, LeMaire SA, Coselli JS, Milewicz DM, Sutton VR, Butte NF, Moore DD, Chopra AR. Asprosin, a Fasting-Induced Glucogenic Protein Hormone, Cell 2016 Apr 21;165(3):566-579.
Duerrschmid C, He Y, Wang C, Li C, Bournat J, Romere C, Saha PK, Lee M, Phillips KJ, Jain M, Jia P, Zhao Z, Farias M, Wu Q, Milewicz DM, Sutton VR, Moore DD, Butte NF, Krashes MJ, Xu Y*, Chopra AR*. Asprosin is a Centrally-Acting Orexigenic Hormone. Nature Medicine. 2017 Dec;23(12):1444-1453 (* Equal Contribution).