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Children's Nutrition Research Center - Faculty

Houston, Texas

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Children's Nutrition Research Center - Faculty
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Kendal Hirschi, Ph.D.

Kendal Hirschi, Ph.D.Professor of Pediatrics
Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics


Web site:
Hirschi Lab

Additional Appointments

Associate Director of Research, Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, Texas A&M University, Department of Horticulture and Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences (MEPS)
Adjunct Professor, Rice University Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Member of The Center for Plant Science at Rice University


B.S. Biochemistry - University of Arizona
M.S. Microbiology - Arizona State University
Ph.D. Plant Pathology - University of Arizona
Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow- Whitehead Institute at MIT

Research Interests

Plant Ion Homeostasis

We study model systems biology in plants, yeast and mice. Furthermore, we perform translational research related to agricultural improvement. At the molecular level, our goals are to understand the structure, biological function, and regulation of transporter proteins that control trafficking into and out of the vacuole. Many of our molecular approaches use the standard genetic “tool kit”. Another major goal in our group is to learn how to manipulate the expression and function of these transporters to increase the nutritional content of crop plants, improve plant productivity, and cleanse polluted soils. For this second objective, we collaborate with faculty at the Children’s Nutrition Research here at Baylor and faculty at the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at Texas A&M. Obtaining help from nutritional scientists, we perform clinical trials addressing how changes in plant architecture alter nutrient bioavailability.

Using a combination of approaches, we are attempting to characterize the expression and physiological function of these transporters. Additionally, we will use these ion transporters as bait" in a series of genetic approaches in yeast and plants to identify the molecules that interact with these transporters and, thus, regulate ion homeostasis. Once we have characterized and identified the ensemble of ion transporters and their regulatory molecules, we can begin to manipulate ion storage, signal transduction events, and the environmental constraints of traditional agricultural practices.

Presentation on Increased Calcium Bioavailability in Genetically Modified Foods: Analysis Using Mice and Human Feeding Regimes
Requires QuickTime software from Apple (free).

Downloadable list of news stories about the latest calcium transport activity in carrots. (carrotstories.xls)

Representative Publications

Li X, Yang J, Morris J, Hester A, Nakata PA, Hirschi KD. (2013) Genetically modified Medicago truncatula lacking calcium oxalate has increased calcium bioavailability and partially rescues vitamin D receptor knockout mice phenotypes. J Bioequivalence Bioavailability, 5(1):047-052, (Not Listed in Pub Med).

Hirschi KD. (2012) New foods for thought. Trends Plant Sci., 17(3):123-125, (PMID: 22265093)

Manohar M, Shigaki T, Mei H, Park S, Marshall J, Aguilar J, Hirschi KD. (2011) Characterization of Arabidopsis Ca2+/H+ exchanger CAX3. Biochemistry, 50(28):6189-6195, (PMID: 21657244).

Cheng N-H, Zhang W., Chen W-Q, Jin J, Cui X, Butte NF, Chan L, Hirschi KD. (2011) A mammalian monothiol glutaredoxin, Grx3, is critical for cell cycle progression during embryogenesis. FEBS J., 278(14):2525-2539, (PMID: 21575136).

Cheng N-H, Liu J-Z, Liu X, Wu Q, Thompson SM, Lin J, Chang J, Whitham SA, Park S, Cohen JD, Hirschi KD. (2011) Arabidopsis monothiol glutaredoxin, AtGRXS17, is critical for temperature-dependent postembryonic growth and development via modulating auxin response. J Biol Chem., 286(23):20398-20406, (PMID: 21515673).

Manohar M, Mei H, Franklin AJ, Sweet EM, Shigaki T, Riley BB, MacDiarmid CW, Hirschi KD (2010). Zebrafish (Danio rerio) endomembrane antiporter similar to a yeast cation/H+ transporter is required for neural crest development. Biochemistry, 49(31):6557-6566.

Mei H, Cheng N-H, Zhao J, Park S, Escolade R, Pittman J, Hirschi KD (2009). Root development under metal stress in Arabidopsis thaliana requires the H+/cation antiporter CAX4. New Phytologist, 183(1):95-105.

Hirschi KD.(2009) Nutrient biofortification of food crops. In: Annual Reviews of Nutrition. Eds.: Cousins R, Bier D, Bowman B, Dean L. Publisher: Annual Reviews, Inc., Palo Alto, California, U.S.A., Vol. 29, p. 401-421.

Zhao J, Shigaki T, Mei H, Guo Y-Q, Cheng N-H, Hirschi KD (2009). Interaction between Arabidopsis Ca2+/H+ exchangers CAX1 and CAX3. J. Biol Chem. 284(7): 4605-4615.

Park S, Elless MP, Park J, Jenkins A, Lim W, Chambers IV E, Hirschi KD (2009). Sensory analysis of calcium-biofortified lettuce (Cover). Plant Biotechnol J. 7(1):106-117.

Hirschi KD (2008). Nutritional improvements in plants: time to bite on biofortified foods (Cover). Trends Plant Sci. 13(9):459-514.

Morris J, Hawthorne KM, Hotze T, Abrams SA, Hirschi KD (2008) Nutritional impact of elevated calcium transport activity in carrots. PNAS. 105(5):1431-1435.

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