Research interests:

Major objectives in the lab include

-Finding small molecule modulators of HSF1 from natural sources and study their mode of actions to assess their cellular toxicity/potential therapeutic efficacy. 

-Study control of HSF1 function in cells by biochemical approaches. We are interested to know the factors that collaborate with HSF1 under different cellular stressful environments.

-Finding small molecules from natural sources that would kill cancer cells of different organ origins with high specificity, and study their mode of actions to assess toxicity associated with using these molecules.  


Address: Division of Molecular Medicine
Centenary Campus
Bose Institute
P-1/12 C.I.T. Scheme VII-M
Kolkata - 700054, India
E-Mail: mahadeb[at]
Phone: +91-33-25693256


A normal cell can sense if a protein is misfolded or aggregated and take appropriate action to stay healthy. A healthy cell under this circumstance activates heat shock response (HSR), also called proteotoxic stress response (PSR) to upregulate the expression of genes encoding protein chaperones to refold the protein back to its native conformation. In case it is not appropriate- the protein is degraded by activation of processes such as proteasome and or autophagy pathway(s) to maintain a healthy cellular environment. The HSR dies down to inactive state as usual as the stress is neutralized or removed. A central regulator of HSR is the heat shock factor 1 (HSF1), a transcription activator. HSR upregulation is marked by activated state of cellular HSF1 protein. It has been shown by independent laboratories that cells in transformed as well as neurodegenerative states lose standard control over their HSF1 function. For example, cancer cells maintain a constitutively activated state of HSF1 and downregulation of HSF1 was shown to sensitize cancer cells. On the other hand the cells with a neurodegenerative condition as occur in diseases like Parkinson’s disease, being unable to sense the accumulation of protein aggregate, fail to upregulate HSF1 function. These cells die due to toxicity caused by the protein aggregate it accumulates. It has been found by independent investigators that forced upregulation of HSF1 or its target protein chaperone ameliorates the protein misfolding associated toxicity in animal model. Thus far however no specific small molecule activator/inhibitor of HSF1 has reached the clinic. To this end we have already isolated a compound (azadiradione) that activates HSF1 by direct interaction with the protein. This is the only compound thus far reported that activates HSF1 by interact interaction. We- in another project- are investigating how PSR links with cellular inflammation- a critical mediator of cellular transformation- have unearthed a unique mechanism. Projects are running well in the lab to isolate small molecules anticancer agents from natural sources based on studies with cell and animal models.  


Selected Publications

1.Paul, S.Ghosh, S.Mandal, S.Sau, S, and Pal, M. (2018) NRF2 transcriptionally activates the heat shock factor 1 promoter under oxidative stress and affects survival and migration potential of MCF7 cells.  J Biol Chem. 2018 Oct 11. pii: jbc.RA118.003376 [Epub ahead of print]


2.Ali, A., Biswas, A. and Pal, M. (2018) HSF1 mediated TNF-α production during proteotoxic stress response pioneers proinflammatory signal in human cells. FASEB J. 2018 Oct 11:fj201801482R. doi: 10.1096/fj.201801482R. [Epub ahead of print]


3. Singh, B.,Vatsa, N., Nelson, V., Kumar, V.., Kumar S., Mandal, S., Pal, M. and Jana, N. (2018) Azadiradione Restores Protein Quality Control and Ameliorates the Disease Pathogenesis in a Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease, Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Jan 2. doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0853-3.


4.Sarwar, S., Ali, A, Pal, M. and Chakrabarti, P. (2017) Zinc oxide nanoparticles provide anti-cholera activity by disrupting the interaction of cholera toxin with the human GM1 receptor, J Biol Chem 2017 Nov 3;292(44):18303-18311. 

5. Pemmaraju, D., Appidi, T., Minhas, G., Singh, S.P., Khan, N. and Pal, M., Srivastava R, Rengan AK (2017) Chlorophyll rich biomolecular fraction of A. cadamba loaded into polymeric nanosystem coupled with Photothermal Therapy: A synergistic approach for cancer theranostics. Int J Biol Macromol S0141-8130(17)33018-0.



6. Safina, A., Cheney, P., Pal, M., Brodsky, L., Ivanov, A., Kirsanov, K., Lesovaya, E., Naberezhnov, D., Nesher, E., Koman, I., Wang, D., Wang, J., Yakubovskaya, M., Winkler, D. and Gurova, K. (2017) FACT is a sensor of DNA torsional stress in eukaryotic cells, Nucleic Acid Research, Feb 28;45(4):1925-1945.


7. Hazra, J., Mukherjee, P., Ali, A. and Pal, M. (2017) Engagement of Components of DNA-Break Repair Complex and NFκB in Hsp70A1A Transcription Upregulation by Heat Shock. PLOS ONE Jan 18;12(1):e0168165


8.Nelson, VK., Ali, A., Dutta., N., Ghosh, S., Jana, M., Ganguli, A., Komaro, A., Paul, S., Dwivedi, V., Chatterjee, S.,Jana, N., Lakhotia, SC., Chakrabarti, GC., Misra, AK., Mandal, SC. and Pal, M. (2016) Azadiradione ameliorates polyglutamine expansion disease in Drosophila by potentiating DNA binding activity of heat shock factor 1, Oncotarget, vol 7, no 48, p 78281


9. Ghosh, N., Ali, A., Das, S., Mandal, S.C. and Pal, M. (2016) Chronic Inflammatory Diseases: Progress and Prospect with Herbal Medicine. Curr Pharm Des. 22(2): 247-64


10. Dhar, G., Chakravarty, D., Hazra, J., Poddar, A., Pal, M., Chakrabarti, P.  and Bhattacharyya, B. (2015) Actin-curcumin interaction: insights into the mechanism of actin polymerization inhibition.

Biochemistry 54:1132-43.  


11. Pal, S., Bhattacharjee, B., Mandal, N. C, Mandal, S. C. and Pal M. (2014) Chronic inflammation and cancer: potential chemoprevention through nuclear factor kappa B and p53 antagonism. J Inflamm (Lond). 2014 Aug 9;11:23.


12. Leonova, K.I., Brodsky, L., Lipchick, B., Pal, M., Novototskaya, L., Chenchik, A.A., Sen, G.C., Komarova, E.A. and Gudkov, A.V. (2013) p53 cooperates with DNA methylation and a suicidal interferon response to maintain epigenetic silencing of repeats and noncoding RNAs. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA), 2013 2;110-89-98.


13. Gasparian, A.V., Burkhart, C. A., Purmal, A.A., Brodsky, L., Pal, M, Saranadasa, M., Bosykh, D.A., Commane, M., Guryanova, O.A., Pal, S., Safina, A., Sviridov, S., Koman, I.E., Veith, J., Komar, A.A., Gudkov, A.V. and Gurova, K.V. 2011. Curaxins: anticancer compounds that simultaneously suppress NF-κB and activate p53 by targeting FACT. Sci Transl Med. 3, 95ra74.


14. Újvári, A., Pal, M., and Donal, L. (2011) The functions of TFIIF during initiation and transcript elongation are differentially affected by phosphorylation by casein kinase 2. J Biol Chem 286, 23160-7.


15. Čabart, P.,  Újvári, A., Pal, M. and Luse, D. (2011) TFIIF is not required for initiation by RNA polymerase II but it is essential to stabilize TFIIB in early transcription complexes, Proc  Natl  Acad Sci (USA), Sep 20;108(38):15786-91.


16. Pal, M., Ponticelli, A. S.,  and Luse, D. (2005)The role of the transcription bubble and TFIIB in promoter clearance by RNA polymerase II. Molecular Cell, 19, 101-110.


17. Pal, M. and Luse, M. (2003)The transition from initiation to elongation: lateral mobility of the RNA-DNA hybrid in human RNA polymerase II complexes is greatly reduced at +8/+9 and absent by +23. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA), 100, 5700-5705.


18. Pal, M. and Luse M (2003) The transition from initiation to elongation: lateral mobility of the RNA-DNA hybrid in human RNA polymerase II complexes is greatly reduced at +8/+9 and absent by +23. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA), 100, 5700-5705  


19. Ujvari, A., Pal, M. and Luse, A. (2002) RNA polymerase II transcription complexes become arrested if the nascent RNA is shortened to less than 50 nucleotides. J Biol Chem, 277, 32527-32537


20.  Pal, M. and Luse, D. (2002) Strong natural pausing by RNA polymerase II within 10 bases transcription start may result in repeated slippage and re-extension of the nascent RNA. Mol Cell Biol, 22, 30-40


21. M, Pal., McKean, D. and Luse, D. (2001) Promoter clearance by RNA polymerase II is an extended, multi-step process strongly influenced by sequence. Mol Cell Biol, 21, 5815-5825


22. Pal, M., Ishigaki, Y., Nagy, E. and Maquat, L.K. (2001)

Evidence that phosphorylation of human Upf1 protein varies with intracellular location and is mediated by a wortmannin-sensitive and rapamycin-sensitive PI 3-kinase-related kinase signaling pathway. RNA, 7, 5-15 

View More




    Image Name Designation Department Campus Contact number Email


    Group News: