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Profile for Kevin Pruitt, PhD

Kevin Pruitt

Kevin Pruitt, PhD

  • Associate Professor
Office Phone: 806-743-2523
Mail Address: 3601 4th St Stop 6591
Lubbock TX 79430-6591


Kevin Pruitt, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Immunology and Molecular Microbiology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Dr. Pruitt received a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995. Afterwards, he pursued post-baccalaureate research training in the biological sciences at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He then moved on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and under the direction of Channing Der, PhD, completed doctoral training in Pharmacology in 2001. Dr. Pruitt’s interest in epigenetics began during a short stint of postdoctoral training with Yi Zhang, PhD, HHMI, at the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC. Dr. Pruitt continued postdoctoral training under the direction of Stephen Baylin, MD, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Oncology. There, Dr. Pruitt focused on cancer epigenetics.
Dr. Pruitt has received numerous research awards during his career, some of which include the Hoechst-Celanese Corporation Research Scholarship Award, Graduate School Excellence Award, National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship and American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowship. Research in the Pruitt lab is supported by NIH R01 funding, and Dr. Pruitt recently received the Rising Star Award from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), relocating his laboratory from LSUHSC-Shreveport to TTUHSC in Lubbock. Dr. Pruitt is a member of the NIH/NCI Cancer Genetics study section, has served as an Ad-hoc reviewer for the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program and has published his work in several journals with diverse readership such as PNAS, Molecular Endocrinology, Oncogene, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Genes & Cancer and Nature Genetics.

Research Interests

Research in the Pruitt laboratory focuses on three areas of investigation that collectively seek to dissect molecular pathways contributing to tumor biology.

First, we are interested in identifying the mechanism(s) responsible for increasing intratumoral estrogen production in breast cancer. High levels of estrogen within the tumor results in aberrant growth properties and contributes to DNA damage. Because overexpression of aromatase has been linked with overproduction of estrogens, we have focused on this enzyme as part of our first area of investigation. The aromatase protein encoded by the CYP19A1 gene is frequently upregulated in breast tumors, yet the mechanistic basis for this upregulation is unknown. Aromatase converts androgens to estrogens, and this intratumoral production of estrogen obviates the need for high circulating estrogen. Thus, we are interesting in defining the genetic and epigenetic basis for aromatase overexpression in human breast tumors and breast cancer cell lines.

Second, our lab is defining how SIRT1, a member of the sirtuin family of deacetylases contributes to cellular responses to various physiological stresses. Many of these stresses assault cells during the process of tumorigenesis. This second area of investigation involves identifying novel upstream regulators and downstream targets of the sirtuin deacetylases. Additionally, we are interested in understanding how these regulators and targets may contribute to epigenetic alterations in human tumors and cancer cell lines. Our group was the first to demonstrate that specific sirtuins regulate aromatase expression, and we are continuing to investigate the mechanism of this interaction.

Third, we are conducting studies that define the mechanism by which SIRT1 regulates both canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling. We have identified novel links between sirtuin deacetylases and several key components of the Wnt signaling pathway. Our studies were also the first to link the sirtuins with the regulation of Dishevelled (DVL) proteins, key mediators of Wnt signaling.

Teaching Interests


Selected Publications:

  • Pruitt, Kevin October (2015) A novel MeCP2 acetylation site regulates binding with ATRX and HDAC1. Genes & Cancer, 6, 9-10, 408-421.
  • Manna, Pulak & Sennoune, Souad & Martinez-Zaguilan, Raul & Slominski, A & Pruitt, Kevin August (2015) Regulation of retinoid mediated cholesterol efflux involves liver X receptor activation in mouse macrophages. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 464, 1, 312-7.
  • Manna, Pulak & Sennoune, Souad & Martinez-Zaguilan, Raul & Pruitt, Kevin August (2015) Role of the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein in health and human disease. Endocrine, 51, 1, 7-21.
  • Pruitt, Kevin July (2015) The histone deacetylase inhibitor Cambinol prevents acidic pHe induced anterograde lysosome trafficking independently of sirtuin activity. Sci Rep, 3, 83-93.
  • Simmons, G & Pruitt, Wendy & Pruitt, Kevin January (2015) Diverse Roles of SIRT1 in Cancer Biology and Lipid Metabolism. Int J Mol Sci, 16, 1, 950-965.