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Heran Darwin

Heran Darwin, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology

Microbiology, Tuberculosis

My lab seeks to understand how Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, has become arguably the most successful pathogen on earth. M. tuberculosis naturally infects humans only, and one-third of the world’s population is infected by this bacillus.

Using genetics and biochemistry, my lab has characterized a protease complex called the proteasome, which is essential for M. tuberculosis to cause lethal infections in animal models. Proteasomes are a family of proteases that are conserved in all domains of life, from bacteria to humans. Over the years, we have identified proteins that function with the M. tuberculosis proteasome, several of which are unique to bacterial proteasome systems.

In addition to characterizing the mechanisms of proteasome-dependent degradation, we have identified pathways regulated by this sytem, many which are essential for the tubercle bacillus to persist in a mammalian host. We are currently employing genetics, proteomics, and metabolomics to understand these pathways.

Also of interest, over the years we have found that M. tuberculosis can harbor mutations that prevent the death of its host, yet the host’s immune system is unable to clear the infection. We are very interested in understanding how these bacilli remain in the host despite their inability to replicate robustly.



Academic office

430 East 29th Street

Lab 324, Room 312

New York, NY 10016

Lab Website
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PhD from University of California, Los Angeles

Fellowship, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Bacterial Pathogenesis

Ji, Daisy X; Yamashiro, Livia H; Chen, Katherine J; Mukaida, Naofumi; Kramnik, Igor; Darwin, K Heran; Vance, Russell E

Nature microbiology. 2020 May; 5(5):777

Ji, Daisy X; Yamashiro, Livia H; Chen, Katherine J; Mukaida, Naofumi; Kramnik, Igor; Darwin, K Heran; Vance, Russell E

Nature microbiology. 2019 Dec; 4(12):2128-2135

Ballister, Edward R; Samanovic, Marie I; Darwin, K Heran

Journal of bacteriology. 2019 10 01; 201(19):

Hu, Kuan; Jordan, Ashley T; Zhang, Susan; Dhabaria, Avantika; Kovach, Amanda; Rangel, Margarita; Ueberheide, Beatrix; Li, Huilin; Darwin, K Heran

Journal of bacteriology. 2019 07 15; 201(14):

Becker, Samuel H; Jastrab, Jordan B; Dhabaria, Avantika; Chaton, Catherine T; Rush, Jeffrey S; Korotkov, Konstantin V; Ueberheide, Beatrix; Darwin, K Heran

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 2019 Feb 19; 116(8):3202-3210

Samanovic, Marie I; Hsu, Hao-Chi; Jones, Marcus B; Jones, Victoria; McNeil, Michael R; Becker, Samuel H; Jordan, Ashley T; Strnad, Miroslav; Xu, Changcheng; Jackson, Mary; Li, Huilin; Darwin, K Heran

MBio. 2018 06 19; 9(3):

Hu, Kuan; Jastrab, Jordan B; Zhang, Susan; Kovach, Amanda; Zhao, Gongpu; Darwin, K Heran; Li, Huilin

Journal of biological chemistry. 2018 03 30; 293(13):4713-4723

Wu, Yujie; Hu, Kuan; Li, Defeng; Bai, Lin; Yang, Shaoqing; Jastrab, Jordan B; Xiao, Shuhao; Hu, Yonglin; Zhang, Susan; Darwin, K Heran; Wang, Tao; Li, Huilin

Molecular microbiology. 2017 Jul; 105(2):227-241