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1990 …2024

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Personal profile

Personal profile

Jeannette Kunz obtained her PhD from the University of Basel in Switzerland (Department of Biochemistry, Biozentrum). Her graduate work centered on the cloning of the first member of the Target of Rapamycin (TOR) protein kinase family. Mammalian TOR (mTOR) kinases play conserved and fundamental roles in the control of growth and metabolism in health and disease and are now considered key therapeutic targets in cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. She later worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison characterizing the founding members of the phosphatidylinositol kinase (PIP) family. PIP kinases form a new superfamily of lipid kinases that regulate signaling from the cell membrane to the nucleus and control a diverse set of cellular functions, such as cell shape, proliferation, differentiation, motility, survival and intracellular trafficking. She continued this work as a group leader first at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and since 2014 at Nazarbayev University where she first worked as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. Since 2021, Jeannette Kunz is a faculty member of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Nazarbayev University School of Medicine. Her lab aims to understand how signaling networks act as regulatory hubs to control and coordinate cell proliferation, migration and adhesion in the context of cancer metastasis and autoimmune diseases. Ongoing projects focus on (1) the regulation of vesicle trafficking in cell migration, (2) the role of a novel biomarker in synoviocyte invasion in rheumatoid arthritis and (3) the development of pathogen-dependent autoimmunity in spondyloarthritis. The long-term goal of the work is to translate basic research findings into the clinic.


  1. Kunz, J., Henriquez, R., Schneider, U., Deuter-Reinhard, M., Movva, N.R., and Hall, M.N. (1993) Target of rapamycin in yeast, TOR2, is an essential phosphatidylinositol kinase homolog required for G1 progression. Cell 73, 585-596. 
  2. Kunz, J., and Hall, M.N. (1993) CsA, FK506, and rapamycin: More than just immunosuppression. Trends in Biochem. Sci. 18, 334-338. 
  3. Kunz, J., Wilson, M. P., Kisseleva, M., Hurley, J. H., Majerus, P. W., and Anderson, R. A. (2000). The activation loop of phosphatidylinositolphosphate kinases determines signaling specificity. Mol Cell 5, 1-11. 
  4. Chao WT and Kunz J. (2009). Focal adhesion disassembly requires clathrin-dependent endocytosis of integrins. FEBS Lett. 583:1337-43. 
  5. Chao, W.T., Daquinag, A., Ashcroft, F., and Kunz, J. (2010). Type I phosphatidylinositol phosphate kinase I alpha regulates directed cell migration by modulating Rac1 membrane targeting and activation. J. Cell Biol. 190(2):247-62. Featured by Editor as “Editor’s choice” in the 2010 August issue of Sci. STKE; cited as recommended reading by "Faculty of 1000.
  6. Chao, W.T., Ashcroft, F., Daquinag, A., Vadakkan, T. Wei, Z., Zhang. P, Dickinson, M.E., and Kunz, J. (2010). Type I phosphatidylinositol phosphate kinase I beta regulates focal adhesion disassembly by promoting beta1 integrin endocytosis. Mol. Cell Biol. 30(18):4463-79. Featured by Editor as “Spotlight” in the 2010 September issue of MCB.
  7. Zhubanchaliyev, A., Temirbekuli, A. Kongrtay, K., Corvin-Wanshura, L. and Kunz, J. (2016). Targeting mechanotransduction at the transcriptional level: YAP and BRD4 are novel therapeutic targets for the reversal of liver fibrosis. Frontiers Pharmacology, 7: 462. 
  8. Myngbay, A., Bexeitov, Y., Adilbayeva,A., Assylbekov, Z., Yevstratenko, B.P., Aitzhanova, R.M., Matkarimov, B., Adarichev, V.A., and Kunz, J. (2019). CTHRC1: a new candidate biomarker for improved rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. Frontiers Immunology. 12;10:1353.
  9. Sharip, A.; Kunz, J. Understanding the Pathogenesis of Spondyloarthritis. Biomolecules 2020, 10, 1461.
  10. Myngbay, A.; Manarbek, L.; Ludbrook, S.; Kunz, J. The Role of Collagen Triple Helix Repeat-Containing 1 Protein (CTHRC1) in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 2426.

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry, PhD, The TOR signaling pathway and regulation of growth control, University of Basel

Nov 1989Dec 1993

Biochemistry, Diploma, University of Basel

Oct 1984Oct 1989

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