I am a fourth year PhD student in Dr. Andrew Truman’s Lab at the Department of Biological Sciences. I completed my Master’s in sciences degree from University of Delhi, India and joined UNC Charlotte as a graduate student in Fall 2016.
My research is focused on studying the regulation of Heat Shock Protein 70 (Hsp70) in Cancer. Hsp70 works as a cellular “repairman”, folding newly made proteins and fixing damaged ones. The mutated proteins that cause cancer are by their very nature unstable and need more Hsp70 to remain active. Hsp70 levels are high in prostate, ovarian and breast cancer. I am investigating novel ways to stop Hsp70 from working specifically in cancer cells.
My current projects involve determining the global interactions of Hsp70 in cancer. I am investigating the molecular characteristics and composition of the chaperome in cancer, the molecular factors that drive chaperome networks to crosstalk in cancer, the distinguishing factors of the chaperome in cancer cells sensitive to pharmacologic inhibition, and the characteristics of cancers that may benefit from chaperome therapy. This project has been funded by Sigma Xi (Nitika, PI)
I have published nine research articles in high-impact journals and have presented my work at various international-level conferences. I was the first student at UNC Charlotte to successfully complete experiments using CRISPR technology and now consult and train other graduate students from other labs in Biological Sciences on how to use CRISPR in their graduate research. I am also focused on pioneering novel cross-linking mass spectrometry studies. I have been able to collaborate with and be trained at the Northwestern Center for Proteomics Excellence in Chicago, a world class mass spectrometry facility. We are working to understand the hundreds of complex protein interactions of Hsp70 in cancer cells.
Nitika, J. S. Blackman, L. E. Knighton, J. E. Takakuwa, S.K. Calderwood, and A.W. Truman. Chemogenomic screening Identifies the Hsp70 Co-chaperone HDJ2 as a Hub for Anticancer Drug Resistance. (bioRxiv 818427; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/818427)
L. Xu, Nitika, N. Hasin, D.D. Cuskelly, S. Doyle, P. Moynagh, S. Perrett, A. W. Truman, G. W. Jones. Acetylation of yeast Hsp70 mediates the cellular response to stress. Scientific Reports, November 2019. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-52545-3
L. E. Knighton, Nitika, D. Wolfgeher, A. M. Reitzel, A. W. Truman. Dataset of Nematostella vectensis Hsp70 isoform interactomes upon heat shock. Data in Brief 2019.
J. Takakuwa, Nitika, and Truman A.W. Oligomerization of Hsp70: current perspectives on regulation and function. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 2019. doi:10.3389/fmolb.2019.00081
L. E. Knighton, Nitika, S.J. Waller, O. Storm., A.M. Reitzel, A.W. Truman. Dynamic remodeling of the interactomes of Nematostella vectensis Hsp70 isoforms under heat shock. Journal of Proteomics 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2019.103416
S.K. Lotz., L. E. Knighton, Nitika and A.W. Truman. Not quite the SSAme: unique roles for the yeast cytosolic Hsp70s.Current Genetics.2019. doi: 10.1007/s00294-019-00978-8
Nitika*, I.T. Sluder*, L.E. Knighton, and A.W. Truman. The Ydj1/HDJ2 co-chaperone is a novel regulator of ribonucleotide reductase activity. PLOS Genetics. 2018.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007462. (*authors contributed equally).
Nitika and A.W. Truman. Cracking the chaperone code: cellular roles for Hsp70 phosphorylation. Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 2017.doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2017.10.002. 2017.
Nitika and A.W. Truman. Endogenous Epitope Tagging of Heat Shock Protein 70 Isoform Hsc70 using CRISPR/Cas9. Cell Stress Chaperones. 2017.doi: 10.1007/s12192-017-0845-2.