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Dr. Samikkannu Thangavel's Lab

Research Goals

Thangavel’s lab focuses on:

  1. NeuroAIDS Role in Redoxisome Influenced Mitochondrial Epigenetic Signature
  2. Psychostimulants Influencing Neuroepigenetics
  3. Sleep, Circadian Rhythm and Substance Use Neuronal Disorder

NeuroAIDS Role in Redoxisome Influenced Mitochondrial Epigenetic Signature
Our research interest is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which HIV infection and drug abuse induced oxidative stress and redox imbalance, and how this leads to neurodegenerative dysfunction. Presently, we investigated how oxidative injury affects the energy resources, which influence the mitoepigenetic signature involved in neurodegenerative process. In addition, we explored the ability of an epigenetic-modifying drug to modulate drugs of abuse altered mitoepigenetic patterns and establish cause-effect mechanisms.

Psychostimulants Influencing Neuroepigenetics
Exposure to psychostimulants are known to induce epigenetic changes like histone modification and chromatin remodeling in the central nervous system. Our lab focuses on identifying, the mechanism through which the psychostimulants induce epigenetic changes in the CNS using both cell as well as animal models to identify new prognostic biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets. Thus far, the laboratory has identified the epigenetic mechanism, DNMT mediated DNA methylation and HAT and HDAC mediated histone modification that regulates gene expression related to drug abuse induced neurodegenerative diseases.

Sleep, Circadian Rhythm and Substance Use Neuronal Disorder
Currently, we are focused on identifying the impact of drug abuse on circadian rhythm and sleep disorder. Drug abuse are known to increase the risk of sleep disruption. Whether in an individual the drug abuse will enhance the chance of circadian clocks, change is unknown. We have found that circadian rhythm sleep disruption alters the clock genes and vice versa. Psychostimulant exposure is known to affect sleep stages. Our recent research focuses on circadian rhythm/sleep disruption influencing epigenetic signature associated with misleading circadian rhythm using psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The long-term goal is to translate this research knowledge to the clinic, and early results in this direction have been promising.


Lab Funding

  • R01 NIDA/ NIH R01DA044872 Thangavel (PI); Cocaine and HIV Influence Mitochondrial Epigenetics in Astrocytic Networks 02/2017-11/2022

Recent Publications (out of 54)

  • Doke M, Kashanchi F, Khan, M.A, Samikkannu T. HIV-1 Tat and Cocaine Impact Astrocytic Energy Reservoir Influence on miRNA Epigenetic Regulation. Genomics, 2021 (In press)
  • Samikkannu T, Sivalingam K, Doke M, Tamizhselvi, Vaishnavi S, Khan M,. Psychostimulants Influence on Epigenetic Modification of Class III Histone Deacetylase (HDAC)-Sirtuins in glial cells: Scientific Report. 2021 (In press).
  • Doke M, Pendyala G, Samikkannu T. Psychostimulants and Opioids Differentially Influence the Epigenetic Modification of Histone Acetyltransferase and Histone Deacetylase in Astrocytes.  PLoS One 16(6): e0252895. 2021.
  • Sivalingam K, Cirino TJ, McLaughlin JP, Samikkannu T. HIV-Tat and Cocaine Impact Brain Energy Metabolism: Redox Modification and Mitochondrial Biogenesis Influence NRF Transcription-Mediated Neurodegeneration. Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Sep 25. doi: 10.1007/s12035-020-02131-w. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32978730.
  • Sivalingam K, Samikkannu T. Neuroprotective Effect of Piracetam against Cocaine-Induced Neuro Epigenetic Modification of DNA Methylation in Astrocytes. Brain Sci. 2020 Sep 5; 10(9): E611. PMCID: PMC 7565945.
  • Mayur Doke, Venkatesh Jeganathan, Jay P. McLaughlin, and Thangavel Samikkannu. HIV-1 Tat and cocaine impact mitochondrial epigenetics: effects on DNA methylation. Epigenetics.2020 (PMID: 33100130).
  • Emely Pimentel, Kalaiselvi Sivalingam, Mayur Doke and Thangavel Samikkannu*. Effects of Drugs of Abuse on the Blood-Brain Barrier: A Brief Overview. Frontiers Neuroscience 2020; 14: 513.
  • Thangavel Samikkannu, Carmen   Mullet, Venkata S.R.   Atluri, Marisela Agudelo, Madhavan, P.N. Nair. Oxidative stress in HIV Infection and Alcohol Use: Role of Redox Signals in Modulation of Lipid Rafts and ABC-Transporters. Antioxidant and Redox Signaling 2018; 28: 324-337.

Lab Members

tamizhselvi ramasamy mayur doke vaishnavi sundar

Dr. Ramasamy Tamizhselvi
Research Scientist         

Dr. Mayur Doke
Post-Doctoral Researcher

Miss. Vaishnavi Sundar
Research Associate