AlbertoRasconAssistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, San José State University

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I graduated from Cal State University, Bakersfield in 2002 with a B.S. in Chemistry and started graduate school in 2004 in the Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (now known as the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry) at the University of Arizona, where I completed my dissertation in the lab of Dr. Roger L. Miesfeld (who also happened to be a postdoc at UCSF in the lab of Keith Yamamoto in the mid 80's). I graduated with my Ph.D. in Biochemistry in Dec. 2010 and was awarded the NIH IRACDA Scholars in Science (ISIS) postdoctoral fellowship for 3-years here at UCSF (funded through the NIH). This fellowship will not only afford me the opportunity to conduct research at a great institution, but I will also teach at San Francisco State in years 3 and 4 of the fellowship.

My Ph.D. dissertation project focused on the biochemical characterization of four Aedes aegypti mosquito midgut proteases that have been shown by functional studies to be involved in blood meal digestion. The female Ae. aegypti mosquito requires a blood meal in order to obtain the proper nutrients to fuel the gonotrophic cycle. Blood meal digestion in Ae. aegypti is a biphasic process with the initial early phase taking place between 0-6 hours post-blood meal (PBM), and the late phase beginning 12-18 hrs PBM. In each phase of digestion, many trypsin-like and chymotrypsin-like proteases are released into the mosquito midgut lumen, however because of difficulties encountered in obtaining sufficient quantities of these proteases in the active form for biochemical analyses, nothing is known about their catalytic efficiencies, substrate specificities, or regulation of zymogen activation in the midgut. During my time in Dr. Miesfeld's lab, I successfully developed a bacterial protein expression and purification protocol that permits the isolation of large quantities of the four major midgut proteases in their active form using a denaturation/renaturation strategy and affinity chromatography. To characterize each of the four proteases, enzyme kinetic analyses using natural and artificial substrates were conducted. My work in the lab led to a second author publication and a first author publication currently in preparation.

In the lab of Dr. Jim McKerrow I worked on expression and purification of parasite enzymes, to build a foundation for structural determination using x-ray crystallography.