Probing the

Origin of Cell Communication

in Animals

image credit: Animation Lab, University of Utah.


Principal Investigator, Flora Rutaganira focused on the synthesis and optimization of potent and selective kinase inhibitors used in the context of infectious disease and asthma. As a postdoctoral researcher, she used this training to assess kinase pharmacology in choanoflagellates and establish choanoflagellates as a chemical biology model for the evolution of animal cell singling. 

Selected Publications


Rutaganira FU et al. Inhibition of Calcium Dependent Protein Kinase 1 (CDPK1) by Pyrazolopyrimidine Analogs Decreases Establishment and Reoccurrence of Central Nervous System Disease by Toxoplasma gondii. J Med Chem. 2017 Dec 28;60(24):9976–9989. PMCID: PMC5746462. 

Rutaganira FU et al. Design and Structural Characterization of Potent and Selective Inhibitors of Phosphatidylinositol 4 Kinase IIIβ. J Med Chem. 2016 Mar 10;59(5):1830–1839. PMCID: PMC5289284


In order to identify targets of compounds identified as hits in  phenotypic screens, we use chemical probes. We primarily have focused on kinase-directed activity based probes to identify the choanoflagellate targets of kinase inhibitors used in animals.


Stay tuned for upcoming publications!

Chemical Genetics /
High-Content Imaging

We conduct high-throughput screening of chemical libraries with Salpingoeca rosetta, a choanoflagellate that differentiates into a rosette colony during its dynamic life history. We use high content imaging to assess S. rosetta phenotypes after treatment with structurally diverse compounds that have overlapping pharmacology based on characterized animal targets. We are excited to use this approach in combination with recently developed CRISPR-based methods to edit choanoflagellate genomes.

Stay tuned for upcoming publications!

© Florentine Rutaganira

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