Leo “Jake” Kazma is an Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) Fellow at the University of Iowa in the Department of Internal Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology in Dr. Abel’s Laboratory. Under the mentorship of Dr. Antentor Othrell Hinton Jr. he is currently studying how OPA-1 loss and insulin simulation affects smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum contacts. He was recently selected to present a Poster at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
His submission, “Insulin stimulation tightens cristae junctions by inducing changes in the OPA-1-CHCHD3-Mitofilin complex” discusses how Insulin regulates skeletal muscle metabolism through the regulation of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. Studies have specified that insulin can also regulate mitochondrial energetics by increasing skeletal muscle electron transport chain activity and through increasing mitochondrial cristae without altering mitochondrial DNA. Pertinent to this finding, mitochondrial function is compromised in diabetic individuals. Notably, we believe that a better understanding of how cristae proteins and how the cristae membranes work together will help us to develop novel intervention strategies to ameliorate comprised energetics in diabetic patients. Specifically, our work focuses on an inner membrane mitochondrial protein called optic atrophy -1 (OPA-1) that forms a cristae protein complex with CHCHD3 and Mitofilin. My work aims to understand how insulin stimulation alters this complex and oligomerization.
Kazma is pursuing a Human Physiology BS degree and a minor in chemistry. He serves on both the academic and recruitment teams for his fraternity Beta Theta Pi as well as being an active member. Additionally, he participates in Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa. Over the winter semester 2018-2019, he studied the processes of diagnosing diseases in Madurai, India.