Dr. Morano is a native Californian who received his B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine working with Drs. Stephen Weller and Ann Sakai on the evolution of dioecy in flowering plants, and his Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of California, Davis with Dr. Daniel Klionsky studying vacuolar protein sorting and autophagy. He became interested in protein homeostasis and stress gene expression as a postdoctoral  fellow at the University of Michigan with Dr. Dennis Thiele. Dr. Morano is a recipient of the GSBS John P. McGovern Teaching Award (2007, 2013), the GSBS Paul E.  Darlington Mentor Award (2013), the UT Regents’ Outstanding Teacher Award (2014), and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Michigan
University of California-Davis, 1996

Research Information

Protein chaperones and stress response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

The heat shock response is highly conserved in all kingdoms, making it one of the most ancient cellular regulatory systems.

We have two primary interests:

  • how heat shock is sensed and transduced to yield a genome-wide transcriptional response
  • how protein chaperones, including the Hsp70, Hsp90 and the Hsp110 groups, function collaboratively to maintain cellular protein homeostasis during normal growth and during adaptation to environmental stress

The baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is an ideal microbial model system in which to investigate these questions, due to its facile genetics, genomics and ease of manipulation. These studies will directly impact our understanding of how human cells respond to pathophysiological states such as cancer and anoxia which strongly induce a heat shock response. In addition, there is growing evidence that the amyloid diseases of protein misfolding, including prion-based maladies such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow), and other triplet-repeat type disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s Diseases, are intimately linked to protein chaperone expression and function.


Publication Information

Abrams, J., Verghese, J., Gibney, P. and Morano, K.A. (2014) Hierarchical functional specificity of cytosolic heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) nucleotide exchange factors in yeast. J. Biol. Chem. ePub Mar 26, 289:13555-13167. [abstract]

*Wang, Y., Gibney, P.A., West, J.D. and Morano, K.A. (2012). The yeast Hsp70 Ssa1 is a sensor for activation of the heat shock response by thiol reactive compounds. Mol. Biol. Cell, 23:3290-3298. *Chosen as an MBoC Highlight Article. [abstract]

Verghese, J. and Morano, K.A. (2012) A lysine-rich region within fungal BAG domain-containing proteins mediates a novel association with ribosomes. Euk. Cell, 11:1157-1003-1011. [abstract]

Verghese, J., Abrams, J., Wang, Y. and Morano, K.A. (2012) Biology of the heat shock response and protein chaperone: budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as a model system. Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. 76:115-158. [abstract]

Mandal, .A.K., Gibney, P.A., Nillegoda, N.B., Theodoraki, M.A., Caplan, A.J. and Morano, K.A. (2010) Hsp110 chaperones control client fate determination in the Hsp70/Hsp90 chaperone system. Mol. Biol. Cell 21:1439-1448.[abstract]