Desai, Shyamal D., PhD


Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
533 Bolivar Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
Office CSRB 601E


Lab Website

Dr. Shyamal Desai , Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, is asking the public to help her help children with a rare inherited brain disorder that can confine them to a wheelchair by age 12 and take their lives a decade later. read more...


B.S., M.S., PhD
University of Mumbai, India


Dr. Desai obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Mumbai in 1981 and 1983 respectively. She received her Doctorate in Biochemistry from the University of Mumbai in 1991. Dr. Desai did a post-doctoral fellowship at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. Since 1996, she was a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology at the UMDNJ/RWJMS. During her tenure there she made a novel finding that a ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 (Interferon-Stimulated Gene 15) is overexpressed and inhibits the canonical ubiquitin pathway in cancer cells. In 2007, Dr. Desai joined the LSUHSC as Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. At present, Dr. Desai holds faculty positions as Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Professor-Gratis at the Neuroscience Center of Excellence, at LSU in New Orleans. She currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journals of Antivirals and Antiretrovirals, Experimental Cell Biology and Medicine, and Cancer Science and Therapy. Her lab is currently exploring the role of ISG15 in the etiology of cancer and neurological disorder Ataxia Telangiectasia using cell culture, mouse, and human disease models that are developed in her lab at LSU.

Research Interests

  • The roles of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 in cancer
  • Mechanism of tumor cell death and drug resistance
  • The roles of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 in neurodegenerative diseases

Selected Publications


  1. Burks J., Reed, R. E., and Desai S. D. ISGylation governs the oncogenic function of Ki-Ras in breast cancer. (2014) Oncogene, 33:794-803 [PMID:23318454]
  2.  Desai S. D., Reed R. E., Babu, S., and Lorio, E. ISG15 deregulates autophagy in genotoxin-treated ataxia telangiectasia cells. (2013) 288:2388-2402, [PMCID: PMC3554909]
  3. D’Souza A. J., Desai S. D., Rudner X., Kelly, M. N., Ruan, S., Shellitto, J. E. Suppression of the Macrophage Proteasome by Ethanol Impairs MHC Class I Antigen Processing and Presentation. (2013) PLoS ONE, 8:e56890
  4. Desai S. D. , Reed, R. E., Burks, J., Wood, L. M., Pullikuth, A. K., Haas, A. L., Liu, L. F., Breslin, J. W., Meiners, S., and Sankar, S. ISG15 disrupts cytoskeletal architecture and promotes motility in human breast cancer cells. (2012) J. Exper. Biol. Med. 237:38-49 [(Highlighted as Feature Article, J. Exper. Biol. Med; Perspective article, Expert Rev. Proteomics 9, 7 (2012). Report also carried by many national and international news services and local television (WGNO-ABC 26 and F0X8)]. [PMID: 22185919]; [PMCID is in process]
  5. Klionsky et al. Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy. (2012) Autophagy 8:445-544 [PMCID: PMC3404883]
  6. Wood, L. M., Sankar, S., Reed, R. E., Haas, A. L., Liu, L. F., McKinnon, P., andDesai, S. D. A novel role for ATM in regulating proteasome-mediated protein degradation through suppression of the ISG15 conjugation pathway. (2011) PLoS ONE6:e16422  [PMCID: PMC3027683]
  7. Desai, S. D. , Wood, L. J., Tsai, Y. C., Hsieh, T. S., Marks, J. R., Scott, G. L., Giovanella, B. C., and Liu, L. F. ISG15 as a novel tumor biomarker for drug sensitivity.  (2008) Mol. Cancer Ther. 7:1430-1439 [PMCID: PMC2561335]
  8. Desai, S. D., Haas, A. L., Wood, L. M., Tsai, Y, C., Pestka, S., Rubin, E. H., Saleem, A., Kamal, A. N., and Liu, L. F. Elevated expression of ISG15 in tumor cells inhibits protein degradation by 26S Proteasome. (2006) Cancer Res. 66:921-928 [PMID: 16424026]      
  9. Desai, S. D. , Zhang, H., Rodriguez-Bauman, A., Yang, J. M., Wu, X., Gounder, M., Rubin, E., and Liu, L. F. Transcription-dependent degradation of topoisomerase I-DNA covalent complexes. (2003)  Mol. Cell. Biol.23: 2341-2350 (2003) [PMID: 12640119]
  10. Xiao, H., Mao, Y., Desai, S. D., Zhou, N., Ting, C. Y., Hwang, J., and Liu, L. F. The topoisomerase IIb circular clamp arrests transcription and signals a 26S proteasome pathway.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (2003) 100:3239-3244 [PMCID: PMC152276]
  11. Mao, Y., Desai, S. D., Ting, C. Y., Hwang, J., and Liu, L. F. 26 S proteasome-mediated degradation of topoisomerase II cleavable complexes. (2001) J. Biol. Chem.276:40652-40658  [PMID: 11546768]
  12. Desai, S. D. , Li, T. K., Rodriguez-Bauman, A., Rubin, E. H., and Liu, L. F. Ubiquitin/26S proteasome-mediated degradation of topoisomerase I as a resistance mechanism to camptothecin in tumor cells. (2001)Cancer Res. 61:5926-5932 (2001) [PMID: 11479235]
  13. Mao, Y., Desai, S. D., and Liu, L. F. SUMO-1 conjugation to human DNA topoisomerase II isozymes. (2000) J. Biol. Chem.275:26066-26073 [PMID: 10862613]
  14. Mao, Y., Sun, M., Desai, S. D., and Liu, L. F. SUMO-1 conjugation to topoisomerase I: A possible repair response to topoisomerase-mediated DNA damage. (2000) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97:4046-4051 [PMCID: PMC18143]
  15. Desai, S. D. , Liu, L. F., Vazquez-Abad, D., and D'Arpa, P. Ubiquitin-dependent destruction of topoisomerase I is stimulated by the antitumor drug camptothecin. (1997) J. Biol. Chem.272:24159-24164 [PMID: 9305865]

Book chapter

  1. Desai S. D. Ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins in topoisomerase-mediated DNA damage, In DNA Topoisomerases and Cancer, Yves Pommier Ed. Springer press, New York, p355-379, 2012

To search for all of Dr. Desai's publications click here.


In The News

A-T News letter


  1. “LSU researcher discovers a possible cause of cancer”; Interview with WGNO-ABC26 local TV channel
  2. LSUHSC research finds trigger for breast cancer spread”; Interview with Fox 8 local TV channel

Media coverage

  1. “LSUHSC research finds trigger for breast cancer spread”; Press release on EurekAlert, an online science news service.
  2. “Study finds trigger that possibly spreads breast cancer”; News covered by Breast cancerNews service. http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/bcs/article/Study-finds-trigger-that-possibly-spreads-breast-cancer252
  3. “Trigger for breast cancer spread identified”; News covered by Daily News and Analysis newspaper.
  4. “Indian origin professor’s team identifies breast cancer trigger”; News covered by India’s leading online and mobile platform http://mycity.sulekha.com/indian-origin-professor-s-team-identifies-breast-cancer-trigger_news_295
  5. “Shyamal Desai IDs protein triggering spread of breast cancer”; News covered by India West, US-Indian newspaper.
  6. “LSU team finds defense system flaw in breast cancer patients”; News covered by Medical Daily. http://www.medicaldaily.com/news/20120103/8555/breast-cancer-lsu-isg15-metastasize-oncology-cell.ht
  7. “A novel therapeutic target to slow breast cancer cell motility”;  News covered by Armenian Medical Network. http://www.health.am/cr/more/slow-breast-cancer-cell-motility/
  8. “Morning Headlines: A new therapeutic target for breast cancer”; News covered by the Scientist.
  9. “Researchers discover trigger for breast cancer spread”; News covered by Hope for Cancer.
  10. “Alteration in ISG15 pathway triggers breast cancer metastasis”; News covered by Grays Medicine