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Agoulnik, Alexander

Title: Professor

Office: AHC1 419B

Phone: 305-348-1483


Department(s): Human and Molecular Genetics

Prior to becoming a tenured Professor in the FIU COM Department of Human and Molecular Genetics Dr. Agoulnik was tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA. He received his Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Science at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, Russia in 1987 and took postdoctorial training at the Max Planck Institute for Biology, Tübingen, Germany. He joined the faculties of University of Tennessee, Memphis in 1992 and Baylor College of Medicine in 1995. In 2005 he was promoted to the position of tenured Associate Professor.

Dr. Agoulnik's main research interests include male and female reproductive tract development, germ cell biology, tumorigenesis, and role played by peptide and steroid hormones in these processes. He has published more than 80 research papers and book chapters. Sentinel work has focused on discovery of mouse genes having human counterparts. He exploited transgenic technology to discover the gene GREAT, which causes cyptorchidism in humans and is related to insulin-like 3 receptor. He discovered relaxin receptor (LGR7), pivotal for promotion of prostate cancer and intracellular signaling. With Dr. Colin Bishop, Dr. Agoulnik discovered an autosomal gene requisite for male differentiation. He has trained numerous post-doctorial and medical fellows, residents and students. His reputation is international, presenting work at numerous scientific conferences such as Gordon Conferences. Dr. Agoulnik has served as grant reviewer for NIH. Research in his laboratory is supported by grants from NICHD, NCI and other research foundations.

Research Interests:

Reproductive biology is the center of the research activities in Dr. Agoulnik laboratory. Using transgenic mouse models, cell biology approaches, genomics and proteomic techniques we study the effects of different hormonal stimuli in ontogenesis and function of reproductive organs. The special emphasis of our research is the relaxin family of peptides and their G protein-coupled receptors. Currently the following projects are underway:

1. "Small molecule antagonists of relaxin receptor" (NCI, 1U01CA177711, PI: AI Agoulnik). We have shown that the inhibition of relaxin hormone signaling suppresses prostate cancer progression. In collaboration with NIH/NCATS researchers we will perform a high throughput screening of a large library of small molecules to isolate chemical compounds that disrupt relaxin signaling and can be potentially used as the anti-cancer drugs.

2. "Vascular effects of relaxin receptor agonists" (Florida Department of Health, James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, 3KF01, PI: AI Agoulnik). Recently we discovered the first series of small molecule agonists of relaxin receptor. The goal of the current project is to develop an animal model to study effects of small molecules in vivo for treating vascular and fibrotic diseases.

3. "Small molecule agonists of relaxin receptor". We study the mechanisms of small molecule agonist interaction with relaxin receptor, analyze cellular signaling induced by agonists, and identify gene targets of relaxin and small molecules.

Several other projects related to understanding mechanisms of hormonal stimulation and the development of novel transgenic models of human diseases are in progress.

Selected recent publications:

  1. Xiao J, Huang Z, Chen CZ, Agoulnik IU, Southall N, Hu X, Jones RE, Ferrer M, Zheng W, Agoulnik AI, Marugan JJ. 3. Identification and optimization of small-molecule agonists of the human relaxin hormone receptor RXFP1. Nat Commun. 2013 Jun 14;4:1953
  2. Ferguson L, Agoulnik AI. Testicular cancer and cryptorchidism. Frontiers Endocrinology. 2013. 4:32.
  3. Huang Z, Rivas B, Agoulnik AI. NOTCH1 Gain of Function in Germ Cells Causes Failure of Spermatogenesis in Male Mice. PLOS One. 2013.July 30, 10.1371/journal.pone.0071213
  4. Ferguson L, How J, Agoulnik AI. The fate of spermatogonial stem cells in the cryptorchid testes of RXFP2 deficient mice. PLOS One. 2013. Oct 3;8(10):e77351. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077351. PMID:24098584
  5. Kaftanovskaya EM, Neukirchner G, Huff V, Agoulnik AI. Left-sided cryptorchidism in mice with Wilms Tumour 1 gene deletion in gubernaculum testis. J Pathol. 2013. May;230(1):39-47.
  6. Kaftanovskaya EM, Huang Z, Barbara AM, De Gendt K, Verhoeven G, Gorlov IP, Agoulnik AI. Cryptorchidism in mice with an ablation of androgen receptor in gubernaculum testis. Mol. Endocrinol. 2012. 26(4):598-607
  7. Larson G, Karlsson E, Perri A, Webster MT, Simon Y. W. Ho, Peters J, Stah PW, Piper PJ, Lingaas F, Fredholm M, Comstock KE, Modiano JF, Schelling C, Agoulnik AI, Leegwater P, Dobney K, Vigne J-D, Vilà C, Andersson L, Lindblad-Toh K. A new genetic, archeological, and biogeographic perspective on dog domestication, PNAS, 2012. 2012 Jun 5;109(23):8878-83.
  8. Feng S, Agoulnik AI. Expression of LDL-A module of relaxin receptor in prostate cancer cells inhibits tumorigenesis. International Journal of Oncology, 2011 Dec;39(6):1559-65.
  9. Li Z, Feng S, Lopez V, Elhammady G, Anderson ML, Kaftanovskaya EM, Agoulnik AI. Uterine cysts in Female Mice Deficient for Caveolin-1 and Insulin-like3 Receptor RXFP2. Endocrinology, 2011, 152(6):2474-82.
  10. Kaftanovskaya EM, Feng S, Huang Z, Tan Y, Barbara AM, Kaur S, Truong A, Gorlov IP, Agoulnik AI. Suppression of Insulin-like3 receptor reveals the role of β-catenin and Notch signaling in gubernaculum development. Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Jan;25(1):170-83.
  11. Feng S, Agoulnik, IU, Truong A, Li Z, Creighton CJ, Kaftanovskaya E, Pereira R, Han HD, Lopez-Berestein G, Klonisch T, Ittmann MM, Sood AK, Agoulnik AI. Suppression of Relaxin Receptor RXFP1 Decreases Prostate Cancer Growth and Metastasis. Endocrine-Related Cancer, 2010 Oct 29;17(4):1021-33.
  12. Agoulnik AI. Relaxin and related peptides in male reproduction. Adv Exp Med Biol.;612:49-64  (2007).