kiril popovProfessor

Research Areas
Molecular mechanisms of metabolic control


Dr. Kirill M. Popov received his M.S. degree in Biochemistry from the Moscow State University in 1982 and carried out his graduate studies at the Institute of Organic Chemistry (Ph.D., 1986). He was a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Robert A. Harris in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Indiana University Medical Center. In 2003 he joined UAB as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

Research Interests

In mammals, pyruvate serves a number of important biological functions. Besides being one of the major sources of carbon for oxidation in the Citric Acid Cycle for energy production, it is also used as a precursor for biosynthesis of fatty acids, glucose, and sterols. Being an effective scavenger of reactive oxygen species, pyruvate has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent evidence also suggests that pyruvate may act as an inhibitor of histone deacetylases and an inducer of apoptosis in certain tumor cells. The metabolic fate of pyruvate is largely determined by the activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase due to physiologically irreversible nature of this reaction. Consequently, PDC is critical for maintaining the tissue levels of pyruvate and regulation of intermediary metabolism, oxidative stress, apoptosis, gene transcription, adaptation to food deprivation and hypoxia. PDC is a large multienzyme complex built of multiple copies of three enzymes, i.e. pyruvate dehydrogenase, dihydrolipoyl acetyltransferase and dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase, which catalyze five consecutive biochemical reactions leading to the synthesis of acetyl-CoA, NADH and CO2. Each mammalian complex also contains small amounts of two regulatory enzymes, i.e. pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase and pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase that regulate PDC activity by phosphorylation (inactivation) and dephosphorylation (activation), respectively. The long-term objective of this laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms governing the regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and pyruvate metabolism under normal circumstances, as well as in various pathological states such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, ischemia, sepsis, metabolic acidosis, and Huntington's disease. Toward this goal, we utilize a combination of biochemical, biophysical, and structural approaches along with studies of genetically modified mouse models.


Graduate School
Ph.D., Division of Enzymology Institute of Organic Chemistry, Moscow

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Indiana University Medical Center


Kaul Human Genetics Building
Room 440A
720 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35294-0024

(205) 996-4065