Dr. Neval Erturk
Dr. Erturk’s research interests include the investigation of antigenotoxic and apoptotic properties of medicinal plants, effective science outreach strategies for K-12, disabled and under-served populations, development and assessment of case studies, inquiry-based lab exercises, and cooperative learning strategies.
At Converse, Dr. Erturk teaches a wide variety of courses in biology including Genetics, Cell Biology, Research Methods in Biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Forensic Genetics, Science and Gender and introductory biology courses. She believes research complements teaching, thus she regularly works with students on original research. She also is a keen advocate of promoting science among high school students and a professional development assistant to STEM Workforce.
Read more about Dr. Erturk’s activities and accomplishments:
Publications & Presentations
- Alscher, R. G., Erturk, N. and Heath, L. S. (2002). Antioxidants and Reactive Oxygen Species in Plants: Role of superoxide dismutases (SODs) in controlling oxidative stress in plants. Journal of Experimental Botany, 53(372), 1331-1341.
- Erturk, H.N. and Esen, A. (1995). A b-glucosidase aggregating factor (BGAF) is present in “null” genotypes of maize. Maize Genetics Newsletters,69:25-26.
- Erturk, H.N. and Unlu, H. (1991). The phenotypic abnormalities caused by an organophosphorus insecticide, Dichlorvos (DDVP), in Drosophila melanogaster. Doga-Tr. Journal of Zoology, 15:76-83.
- Erturk, H.N. and Unlu, H. (1991). The effects of dichlorvos (DDVP), on crossing-over in Drosophila melanogaster. Doga-Tr. Journal of Biology, 15:139-143.
- Unlu, H. and Erturk, H.N. (1991). The effects of dichlorvos (DDVP), on sex-ratio in Drosophila melanogaster. Doga-Tr. Journal of Zoology, 15:177-184.
Outside the Lab
When not teaching or researching, she spends her time traveling, reading, watching science fiction movies and exploring nature.
Investigation of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Antagonistic Effects of Ganoderma lucidum
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor. It regulates the responses of the cell to a variety of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). AhR mediated toxicity to these chemicals is associated with a variety of pathological conditions, including cancer. Therefore AhR modulation currently is studied as an important physiological process. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), cordyseps (Cordyceps sinensis) and hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida) are commonly used in Chinese medicine to treat diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer as well as strengthening immune system. Previously an association herb produced by using these three supplements was reported as an AhR antagonist causing reduction in Cyp1A1 projection in cells treated with TCDD. The purpose of this research is to show identify the supplement that acts as an AhR antagonist. Real-time RT-PCR will be used to measure CYP1A1 gene expression in MCF-7 cells treated with the supplements and 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD).
Investigation of cancer-selective apoptotic effects of Ganoderma lucidum
Interest in using herbal medicines as an alternative to conventional treatments has been present for hundreds of years. Ganoderma lucidum, commonly known as reishi, is a mushroom extract used as a traditional herbal treatment for a variety of symptoms and illnesses. Deemed “the mushroom of immortality” in China, it has been reported to help circulation and blood pressure, assist in regulation of the immune system, and most notably, suppress cancerous tumors. (1) It is believed to be an effective as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in cancerous growth, especially when used in conjunction with other types of conventional treatment. Reishi is currently known to cause apoptosis in cancer cells, but the mechanisms by which the apoptosis occur has not been identified. The primary mechanism of apoptosis is caspase dependent. Caspases, or cysteine-aspartic proteases, are a group of protease enzymes which play a major role in the controlled destruction of cellular parts during programmed cell death. Caspase dependent apoptosis can be triggered by either intrinsic or by extrinsic mechanisms. The intrinsic mechanism is modulated by Caspase-8 and the extrinsic mechanism is modulated by Caspase-9 enzyme (2). The purpose of this study is to examine the type of mechanism in which Ganoderma lucidum triggers apoptosis in cancerous cells, and if it also triggers apoptosis in noncancerous cells as well. It is important to know whether apoptosis is caused by an intrinsic or extrinsic mechanism, because knowing which pathway causes the apoptotic effect gives us a greater understanding of how and why reishi targets cancer cells specifically and can be helpful in identifying reishi’s pharmaceutical potential.
Genetoxicity Preventative Effects of Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), Cordyceps sinensis (Cordyceps) andCrataegus monogyna (hawthorn) in Rats
Medicinal practices such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) use phytoproduct mixtures, called associations, in order to maximize the therapeutic benefits of these supplements. A commercially available association as well as its individual compounds Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), Cordyceps sinensis(Cs) and Crataegus oxiacantha (hawthorn) are used in traditional medicine for their health benefits such as antitumor and immuno-modulatory effects. In this study genotoxicity causing and genotoxicity preventive capacity of this association as well as individual supplements were tested by using rat bone marrow micronucleus test. For each experimental group five animals were used. A total of 2,000 polychromatic erythrocytes (PCE) were scored per animal. Data was analyzed by using a t-test. A significant decrease in the number of micronucleated cells was observed in the group that received the association and the individual supplements in combination with a genotoxic agent (p < .05), suggesting that individual supplements have a preventative effect on genotoxic agent induced genotoxicity. However, a slight increase in the formation of micronucleus in the groups that received reishi and cordyceps group also observed. Further studies to determine potential toxicity is recommended.