Taras NazarkoAssociate Professor Biology
Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Institute of Cell Biology, NAS of Ukraine, 2005
Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, San Diego, 2006-2010
Cell and Molecular Biology, Membrane Trafficking, Autophagy-Related Pathways, Lipophagy
Taras Nazarko runs an active Autophagy lab in the Department of Biology at Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA). Most of his academic career has been devoted to the mechanistic understanding of autophagy, an important membrane trafficking pathway that delivers cytoplasm to the vacuole/lysosome for degradation and recycling. His training and expertise are in the selective autophagy pathways, especially the selective autophagy of peroxisomes (pexophagy) and lipid droplets (lipophagy). Together with his students, postdocs, national and international collaborators, he discovered several new autophagy-related genes, such as ATG26, ATG35, ATG37 and TRS85, and authored more than two dozen of peer-reviewed publications in Autophagy field.
The focus of Nazarko lab is on lipophagy, the selective autophagy of lipid droplets (LDs). Lipophagy regulates lipid metabolism in most eukaryotic cells. It is accomplished via the delivery of LDs from cytosol to the lysosomes (in humans) or vacuoles (in yeast). The core autophagic machinery is involved in lipophagy. However, how LDs are recognized and tagged for degradation when lipophagy is induced is unclear. Also, it is not clear how lipophagy is kept in check the rest of the time. Therefore, lipophagy selectivity and regulation are the key gaps in this field and main interests of Nazarko lab. The mechanistic understanding in these areas is critical to control lipophagy in humans for the prevention and treatment of lipid storage diseases, such as atherosclerosis, fatty liver, and obesity.