Askar Akimzhanov, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
BCB Graduate Program

Description of Research


Protein S-acylation is a reversible post-translational modification of cysteine residues by a variety of fatty acid species. Although protein S-acylation was discovered more than 30 years ago and S-acylated proteins have been implicated in pathogenesis of several diseases including cancer, cardiovascular and immune disorders, it remains one of the most understudied post-translational protein modifications. High lability, one of the key features of protein S-acylation, along with its prominent effect on the protein function, makes it an attractive mechanism for the regulation of intracellular signaling. In particular, rapid changes in the protein palmitoylation (S-acylation with a palmitic acid moiety) status could provide a molecular basis for activation of plasma membrane-localized signaling proteins by targeting them into specific plasma membrane subdomains.


We propose a model in which the engaged TCR complex recruits and activates plasma membrane-associated PATs to increase palmitoylation of key signaling proteins. We aim our studies (a) to analyze the dynamics and regulation of stimulus-dependent palmitoylation of Lck, LAT and other members of TCR signaling pathway and (b) to uncover a previously uncharacterized role of DHHC PATs in the regulation of T cell signaling. We expect that inclusion of a novel class of regulatory enzymes into the canonical TCR signaling pathway would greatly expand the range of potential therapeutic targets for diseases associated with altered T cell homeostasis.

Contact Information

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Medical School

6431 Fannin St., MSB 6.168

phone (713) 500-7686 – fax (713) 500-0652


Ph.D. - University of Wurzburg, Germany

Postdoctoral Fellow - MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Postdoctoral Fellow - University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

Research Interests

Protein S-Acylation, Cell Signaling, Calcium Regulation, Cancer, Immunity


Askar Akimzhanov

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