Shiva Lab / BST E1200
Courtney Sparacino-Watkins, PhD
Research Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Sparacino-Watkins’ dissertation work established that the Epsilonproteobacterial periplasmic nitrate reductase (Nap) system has a high affinity for nitrate and unique molecular differences(Sparacino- Watkins, et al. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2014). She utilized several methodologies, such as theoretical protein structure modeling, matrix-based phylogenic analysis, mass spectrometry, recombinant protein purification, and enzyme kinetics. She developed methodology to design and isolate recombinant proteins with organic prosthetic groups, such as molybdopterin of molybdenum-dependent enzymes.
During her post-doctoral training, Dr. Sparacino-Watkins redirected her research to focus on translational and biomedical research. With Dr. Mark Gladwin she utilized her background on bacterial nitrogen metabolism and molybdenum enzymes to study inorganic nitrogen (nitrate, nitrite, and nitric oxide) metabolism in humans. She identified a new aspect of the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway by establishing that the human mARC-1 and mARC-2 molybdenum enzymes are able to reduce nitrite into NO (Sparacino-Watkins, et. al, JBC, 2014). Additionally, she has been instrumental in developing new experimental methods for quantitation of nitric oxide using the nitric oxide analyzer (NOA), a sensitive analytic method that utilizes gas-phase chemiluminesce and provides unmatched specificity for nitric oxide. She is also active in characterization of other human nitrite reductase enzymes.
Dr. Sparacino-Watkins continues her work on defining the molecular mechanisms behind the therapeutic effects of nitrite on pulmonary arterial hypertension. She is now working on defining the function of mARC enzyme catalyzed nitrite reduction to NO in vivo by studying the effect of mARC2 knockout in mice on the therapeutic effects of nitrite in pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Education and Training
BS in Chemistry, Slippery Rock University, 2005
T32 Postdoctoral Scholar (PACCM), University of Pittsburgh, 2014
For a complete bibliography, click here.