Maria Eugenia Sabbatini, PhD



Maria Sabbatini

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Office: C2014 Science Hall
Phone: 706-667-4711
Email: msabbatini@augusta.edu

Classes taught at Augusta University:

- BIOL2111: Anatomy & Physiology I
- BIOL2112: Anatomy & Physiology II
- BIOL3400: Cell Biology
- BIOL4950: Pathophysiology
- BIOL4720: Pharmacology

Educational / Career Background:

- 2013: Post-doctoral fellow, University of Michigan
- 2006: PhD in Physiology, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
- 2000: PharmD, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

2 Fun Fact(s):

1     I learned dancing tango in US and I am from Buenos Aires (the city of tango).
2    The Pancreas was first described by Herophilus of Chalcedon in around the year 300BC. It was not until 400 years later that Rufus of Ephesus named the organ, which means “all flesh”.

Memberships to Biology Societies:

- 2008- present: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).
- 2001- present: Argentine Society of Clinical Research(SAIC).

Research Interests:
  • Characterizing the role of ROS-generating enzymes in the transition from chronic pancreatitis-to-pancreatic cancer

Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is characterized by long-standing inflammation that leads to irreversible destruction of the pancreatic parenchyma and progressive replacement with fibrotic tissue. Long-standing inflammation creates “fertile soil” for the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Although the mechanisms underlying the transition from CP-to-PDAC remain poorly understood, evidence supports the hypothesis that proinflammatory mediators, including reactive oxygen species (ROS), foster K-Ras-mutated cells and promote the development of preneoplastic lesions (e.g., PanIN lesions) and progression to PDAC. My lab studies the extent to which and the mechanism by which ROS-generating enzymes participate in the transition from CP-to-PDAC.

  • Alterations in chromatin packing following alcohol in pancreas.

Alcohol abuse can lead to pancreatitis, which can predispose to pancreatic cancer. The pathogenesis of alcoholic pancreatitis includes the intrapancreatic activation of digestive enzymes (i.e., trypsin) because of both ethanol oxidation and a depletion of antioxidants. When the pancreas becomes damaged, oxygen free radicals (ROS) are generated, which can cause changes in the chromatin packing in the pancreatic cells. So far, there are two ways by which chromatin packing can be changed: 1) histone modifications and 2) DNA methylation. The overall goal of this project is to explore the mechanism by which alcohol abuse can lead to pancreatic cancer.

  • The role of adenylyl cyclase/adenylyl cyclase-associated protein 1 (CAP1) complex in regulating actin filament dynamics in pancreatic cancer cells.

The adenylyl cyclase (AC)/adenosine 3’,5’ cyclic monophosphate (cyclic AMP) pathway has shown to participate in the development of pancreatic pre-neoplastic lesions. It also regulates multiple cancer cellular processes, including migration and invasion. My lab has studied the participation of proteins physically interacting with transmembrane ACs. Of the identified proteins, our interest focused on adenylyl cyclase associated protein-1 (CAP1), which is a scaffolding protein that regulates actin filament formation, cell migration and invasion. Because human CAP1 has an AC-binding domain in its structure, the goal of this project is, through theoretical and experimental analyses, to determine to which extent CAP1 interacts with the transmembrane AC isoforms.

Current Students:

Undergraduate students:
Heer Patel

Graduate students:
Emma Geister
Henry Knox

Former Students:
Name Current Position
Ananya Chakraborty (Honors Student) Accepted as a MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Bithika Halder  
Souravi Mondal (Honors Student) Accepted as a MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Kimberly Gunby (2019-2020) (Honors student) MD student, Mercer School of Medicine, Savannah GA
Catalina Godoy (2018-2019) Cytogenetic technologist at CSI Laboratories, Alpharetta, GA
Simran Mehrotra (Honor’s student) (2016-2019)  MS student in Biomedical Sciences Program at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus
Di "Maggie" Xia (BS/MD student) (2018) MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Kanwar Sigh (BS/MD student) (2018) MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Jasim Shuja (2018) Dental Assistant
Nancy Jhanji (2016-2018) DO student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus
Kristie Liao (2016-2018) Research Assistant at Emory University
Janani Rammohan (2017) Undergraduate Student
Monisha Amin (2016)  DO student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus
Allison Pruitt (2016-2017)  Nursing student at Augusta University
Cecilia Thomas (2016) Nursing student at Augusta University
Anthony Micklon (2016) PA student at Augusta University
Camille Miller (2015-2016) Graduate student at Boise State University
Ariel Newsom (2014-2016)   DO student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus
Shelby Buckner (Fall 2015-Spring 2016) (Honor’s student) MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Athens Campus, Athens, GA
Emilee Friedman (2015-2016) Research Assistant at Vanderbilt University
Vidya Medepalli (2015-2017) (Honor’s student) MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Sarai Graves (2015)  PA student at North Greenville University, Greer, SC
Humma Hassan (2014-2015) MS student in Social Work at University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Terrill Flakes (2014) MS student in Public Health at Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Lucy Chavez (2014) Nursing student, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA
Kay Bathala (2014) MD student at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA
Sierra Quinn (2013-2015) PharmD student at Union University, Jackson, TN
Eduard Floyd (2013-2014) MD student at Georgetown University, Washington DC

Publications: 

Albers T., Sabbatini ME. (2021) Cyclic Nucleotides as Mediators of Acinar and Ductal Function. In: Physiology and Pathophysiology of the Exocrine Pancreas. Chapter 4. Pancreapedia: Exocrine Pancreas Knowledge Base

Xia D, Halder B, Godoy C, Chakraborty A, Singla B, Thomas E, Shuja JB, Kashif H, Miller L, Csanyi G, Sabbatini ME. NADPH Oxidase 1 Mediates Caerulein-Induced Pancreatic Fibrosis in Chronic Pancreatitis. Free Radic Biol Med. 2020;147:139-149

Lu C., Yang D., Sabbatini M.E., Colby AH., Grinstaff M.W., Oberlies NH., Pearce C., Liu K. Contrasting roles of H3K4Me3 and H3K9Me3 in regulation of apoptosis and gemcitabine resistance in human pancreatic cancer cells. BMC Cancer 2018,18(1):149.

Buckner, S., Pruitt, A., Thomas, C., Amin, S., Miller, L., Wiley F., Sabbatini, ME. Di-N-Octylphthalate Acts as a Proliferative Agent in Murine Cell Hepatocytes by Regulating the Levels of TGF-β and pro-Apoptotic Proteins. Food Chem Toxicol, 2018;111:166-175.

Lu, C., Paschall, A.V., Shi H., Savage, N., Waller, J.L., Sabbatini, M.E., Oberlies, N.H., Pearce, C., Liu, K. The MLL1-H3K4me3 Axis-Mediated PD-L1 Expression and Pancreatic Cancer Immune Evasion. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017 Jan 28;109(6).

Miller, C., Cai, Y., Patton, T., Graves, S., Li, H., Sabbatini, M. E. RCAD/BiP pathway is a Key Post-translational Modification for the Proper Synthesis of Digestive Enzymes and the Secretory Function of the Exocrine Pancreas. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2017,312(3):G314-G326.

Quinn, S., Graves, S., Dains-McGahee, C., Friedman, E., Hassan, H., Witkowski, P., Sabbatini, M.E. Adenylyl cyclase 3/adenylyl cyclase-associated protein 1 (CAP1) complex mediates the anti-migratory effect of forskolin in pancreatic cancer cells. Mol Carcinog. 2017 Apr;56(4):1344-1360.

Sabbatini ME. Transmembrane Adenylyl Cyclases. The Pancreapedia Exocrine Pancreas Knowledge Base 2013. University of Michigan Library. (DOI: 10.3998/panc.2013.8).

 Sabbatini ME, Lentz S, D’Alecy L, Tang T, Williams JA. Adenylyl cyclase 6 mediates the action of cyclic AMP-dependent secretagogues in mouse pancreatic exocrine cells via PKA pathway activation. J Physiol, 2013;591(Pt15):3693-3707.

Sabbatini ME, Williams JA. Cholecystokinin-mediated RhoGDI1 Phosphorylation via PKCα promotes both RhoA and Rac1 signaling. Plos One, 2013;8(6):e66029.

Sabbatini ME, Williams JA. Epac. In: The Pancreapedia Exocrine Pancreas Knowledge Base 2012. University of Michigan Library. (DOI: 10.3998/panc.2012.4).

Sans MD*, Sabbatini ME*, Ernst SA, D’Alecy LG, Nishijima I, Williams JA.  Secretin is not necessary for exocrine pancreatic development and growth in mice. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 301:G791-G798, 2011. *These authors have equally contributed to this work.

Sabbatini ME, Bi Y, Ji B, Ernst SA, Williams JA. CCK activates RhoA and Rac1 differentially through Gα13 and Gαq in mouse pancreatic acini. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 298(3):C592-601, 2010.

Sabbatini ME. Rap1. In: The Pancreapedia Exocrine Pancreas Knowledge Base 2010. University of Michigan Library. (DOI: 10.3998/panc.2010.4).

Williams JA, Chen X, Sabbatini ME. Small G proteins as key regulators of pancreatic digestive enzyme secretion. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 296(3):E405-14, 2009. Review

Sabbatini ME. Natriuretic peptides as regulatory mediators of secretory activity in the digestive system. Regul Pept, 154(1-3):1-15, 2009. Review

Sabbatini ME, Chen X, Ernst SA, Williams JA. Rap1 activation plays a regulatory role in pancreatic amylase secretion. J Biol Chem, 283(35):23884-94, 2008.

Sabbatini ME, Rodríguez MR, di Carlo MB, Davio CA, Vatta  MS,  Bianciotti LG. C-type natriuretic peptide enhances amylase release through NPR-C receptors in the exocrine pancreas. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol., 293(5):G987-G994, 2007.

Sabbatini, ME., Rodríguez MR, Dabas P, Vatta  MS,  Bianciotti LG. C-type natriuretic peptide stimulates pancreatic exocrine secretion in the rat: Role of vagal afferent and efferent pathways. Eur. J. Pharmacol., 577(1-3):192-202, 2007.

Sabbatini ME, Vatta MS, Davio CA, Bianciotti LG. Atrial natriuretic factor negatively modulates secretin intracellular signaling in the exocrine pancreas. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol., 292(1):G349-G357, 2007.

Rodriguez MR, Sabbatini ME, Santella G, Vescina C, Vatta MS, Bianciotti LG. Vagally-mediated cholestatic and choleretic effects of centrally applied endothelin-1 through ETA receptors. Regul. Pept., 135(1-2):54-62, 2006.

Sabbatini, ME, Pellegrino N, Rios M, Bianciotti LG, Vatta MS. Variation in exocrine pancreatic secretion in rats due to different commercial diets. Lab Animal (NY), 35(6):41-49, 2006.

Rodriguez MR, Sabbatini ME, Santella G, Dabas P, Villagra A, Vatta MS, Bianciotti LG. Endothelin 3 applied to the brain evokes opposite effects on bile secretion mediated by a central nitric oxide pathway. Peptides 26 (7): 1219-1227, 2005.

Sabbatini, ME, Rodriguez MR, Corbo N, Vatta MS., Bianciotti LG. C-type natriuretic peptide applied to the brain enhances exocrine pancreatic secretion through a vagal pathway. Eur. J. Pharmacol., 524(1-3):67-74, 2005.

Sabbatini ME, Villagra A, Davio CA, Vatta MS, Fernández BE, Bianciotti LG. Atrial Natriuretic Factor-stimulated exocrine pancreatic secretion is mediated by NPR-C receptors. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol., 285:G929-G937, 2003.

Sabbatini ME, Vatta MS, Vecina C, Gonzales S, Fernández BE., Bianciotti LG. NPR-C receptors are involved in C-type Natriuretic response on bile secretion. Regul. Pept., 116(1-3):13-20, 2003.

Sabbatini ME, Vatta MS, Vecina C, Castro JL, Fernández BE, Bianciotti LG. Bile secretion is centrally regulated by C-type Natriuretic Peptide. Cell. Mol. Neurobiol., 22(5-6):755-770, 2002.

Bianciotti LG, Vatta MS, Vescina C, Trippodi V, Sabbatini ME, Fernández BE. Centrally applied Atrial Natriuretic Factor diminishes bile secretion in the rat. Regul. Pept., 102(2-3):127-133, 2001.

Sabbatini ME, Gorelick F, Glaser S. Adenylyl cyclases in the digestive system. Cell Signal 2014, 26(6):1173-1181. Review.


Service:

2014 - 2019: Guest Editor, BioMed Research International Journal


Membership in Societies: 

2016- present- American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
- 2013- present: American Physiological Society (APS).
- 2008- present: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).
- 2007-present: American Pancreatic Association (APA). 
- 2001- present: Argentine Society of Clinical Research (SAIC).
- 2013- present: American Physiological Society (APS).


Awards:

2020: Augusta University Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Mentor Excellence Award, Augusta University, Augusta, GA.
2020: Research Scholarship & Creative Activity (RSCA) Grant Program Award, Augusta, GA.
2019: Outstanding Young Faculty Award, College of Science and Mathematics, Augusta University, Augusta, GA.
2017: Excellence in Research Award, College of Science and Mathematics, Augusta University, Augusta, GA.
2017: Favorite Faculty, Augusta University Housing and Residence Life, Augusta, GA.
2016: Scholarly Activity Award, Augusta University, Augusta, GA.
2011: American Pancreatic Association (APA) Young Investigator Travel Award.
2010: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Travel Award.
2002: “Prof. Dra. Rebeca Gershman. Area: Physiology and Pathophysiology”. National Academy of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2000: “Initiation in Research”. University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.