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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


Conrad Wagner, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
620 Light Hall
Nashville, TN 37232-0146

Research Specialty

Research Specialty: Metabolism of one-carbon compounds

Research Description

Research Description: Our laboratory has been involved with various aspects of one-carbon metabolism for many years. These include the roles of the coenzyme forms of the vitamin, folic acid, and the enzymes that carry out these functions. Our approach has been to investigate every available aspect of Biochemistry to accomplish this including enzymology, mass spectrometry, crystallography, molecular biology and nutritional manipulation.

Our latest work has focused on developing a mouse knock-out of the enzyme GNMT which is responsible for the regulation of levels of S-adenosymethionine (SAM). This GNMT knockout mouse spontaneously develops fatty liver and hepatocellular carcinoma that is a result of methylation of tumor suppressors in the promoter region of the gene. SAM, a metabolic product of methionine metabolism, is the major donor of methyl groups in the body. This line of investigation has led us to the discovery of two new metabolic diseases. We have recently shown that the histone demethylase, LSD1, is a folate binding protein in which the folate probably serves to scavenge the formaldehyde that is a product of the demethylase reaction. This finding suggests that the levels of folate in the diet can play a role in gene expression. More recently we have shown that products of methionine breakdown in serum may serve as markers for the risk of developing metastasis of prostate cancer.