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Clay Wakano, PhD

Clay Wakano, PhD

    Academic Appointments

  • Adjunct Assistant Specialist
    Natural Products & Experimental Therapeutics Program
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center


  • MS, Microbiology
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • PhD, Microbiology
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Postdoctoral Training, Transcription Regulation
    NCI, NIH
    Bethesda, MD

Research Focus

My scientific background includes a broad knowledge of ion channel signal transduction mechanisms and transcriptional regulation with specific training and expertise in biochemistry, fluorescence and live-cell imaging techniques. As a graduate student, my research focused on signal transduction and protein-protein interactions of TRPV2, TRPA1 and a putative voltage-gated ion channel, TPC1. During the course of my postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute, I expanded my research expertise to include the study of epigenetics and its influence on transcriptional regulation with a focus on fluorescent microscopy techniques including FRAP, FLIP and FRET. As a lead researcher, I was instrumental in developing the use of fluorescence to measure the dynamic and kinetic properties of an elongation factor. As a member of multiple research teams over the years, I've collaborated with a variety of researchers and contributed to publications of peer-reviewed papers and a review article.

At The Queen's Medical Center, where I work as a scientist, we recently acquired Hamamatsu Photonics' latest edition of high-throughput kinetic plate readers, the Hamamatsu FDSS7000EX kinetic plate reader, an instrument capable of fluorescent, luminescent and FRET applications. Using the Hamamatsu FDSS7000EX, we have been successful in our attempts to translate a medium-throughput TRPM7 assay previously established in the laboratory of Dr. Andrea Fleig and Dr. Reinhold Penner, Co-Principal Investigators on this proposed project, into a preliminary HTS assay. In addition, our laboratory has access to a semi-automated Port-a-patch (Nanion) system for electrophysiological hit validation of lead compounds. Moreover, our department provides the necessary resources to accomplish the proposed goals. We have access to a laboratory equipped with the tools required for molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology and synthetic organic chemistry.

Our research approach combines the expertise of drug screening, molecular biology, ion channel physiology and fluorescence imaging from two investigators into one collaborative team. As part of the research team at The Queen's Medical Center, our vision is to translate molecular targets into bioassays for high-throughput drug screens, and discover therapeutic and diagnostic approaches that lead to field-testing in clinical trials. The current application builds logically on our core strength, which is pathophysiology and pharmacology of the Transient Receptor Melastatin ion channel family.

Selected Publications

  • Horton JS, Wakano CT, Speck M, Stokes AJ. (2015). Two-pore channel 1 interacts with citron kinase, regulating completion of cytokinesis. Channels (Austin), 9(1): 21-9. PMID: 25665131.
  • Di LJ1, Byun JS, Wong MM, Wakano C, Taylor T, Bilke S, Baek S, Hunter K, Yang H, Lee M, Zvosec C, Khramtsova G, Cheng F, Perou CM, Miller CR, Raab R, Olopade OI, Gardner K. (2013). Genome-wide profiles of CtBP link metabolism with genome stability and epithelial reprogramming in breast cancer. Nature Communications, 4, 1449. PMID: 23385593. PMCID: 3768144
  • Byun JS, Fufa TD, Wakano C, Fernandez A, Haggerty CM, Sung MH, Gardner K. (2012). ELL facilitates RNA polymerase II pause site entry and release. Nature Communications, 3, 633. PMID: 22252557. PMCID: PMC3272570.
  • Stokes AJ, Wakano C, Koblan-Huberson M, Adra CN, Fleig A, Turner H. (2006). TRPA1 is a substrate for de-ubiquitination by the tumor suppressor CYLD in mast cells. Cellular Signaling, 18(10), 1584-94. PMID: 1650080.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • C. Wakano, Co-investigator; A. Fleig, PI, R. Penner (Co-PI)
    Hamamatsu-Queen's PET Imaging, LLC
    "Hamamatsu-Queen's High-Throughput Screening Center"
    The goal of this project to develop a HTS Center in collaboration with the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Hawaii Pacific University, University of Hilo School of Pharmacy and University of Hawaii Chemistry Department to identify novel therapeutic strategies against cancer and other diseases.