Research Interests

We are trying to understand the biology of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in health and disease relevant to India with special reference to malnutrition. Focus is on cell adhesion protein fibronectin and its interaction with different cell surface proteins from both host (MMP-2, heparin, collagen) and guest [fibronectin/collagen binding proteins (FBP /CBP) from microbes]. The broad themes are:

  • Matrix binding proteins from probiotics and viruses:
    We are screening different potential probiotic microbes from popular and affordable fermented food and beverages, which bind to denatured collagen (gelatine) and fibronectin. The goal is to design better probiotics, peptides drugs which will compete against the host -pathogen interaction at cell surface and also to design bacteriophages which will compete/kill the enteric pathogens (Sanitation Biotechnology).

  • Characterization of Fibronectin isoforms and proteolytic fragments affecting cell behaviour (cell morphology, migration, proliferation)
  • Factors affecting gelatinase (MMP-2) mediated fragmentation of fibronectin




  • School: Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur
  • BSc & MSc: Visva Bharati, Santiniketan
  • MTech & PhD: IIT Kharagpur

Keywords: Plant Tissue Culture, Matrix Biology, Malnutrition, Sanitation, Bacteriophages, Wastewater Microbiome, Biocontrol


  1. Development of bacteriophages and lytic agents to target and kill pathogens and odour-producing bacteria in fecal waste / Funded by DBT-BIRAC-BMGF (Govt of India - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
  2. An innovative green technology for treating municipal and industrial wastewater entering rivers and streams. IC-IMPACTS, Canada & DBT, Govt of India.
  3. Characterization of the fibronectin isoforms and its fragments
  4. Matrix Binding microbes and bacteriophages to counter infection

Awards and Scholarships

  1. Recipient of Bill and Melinda GATES Foundation – Department of Biotechnology, GOI/BIRAC Grand Challenge Award, March 2014
  2. Post-doctoral Fellowship, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas, USA with Prof. Bjorn Steffensen (2006-2010)  and Prof. Goutam Ghosh Choudhury (2010).
  3. Post-doctoral Fellowship, University of Guelph, Canada (2005) with Prof Praveen K. Saxena.
  4. Research Fellowship at Borstel Research Centre, GERMANY with Professor Dr. Ulrich Zähringer (2001).
  5. Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) -Research Associate (2003).
  6. State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) conducted by West Bengal College Service Commission for Lectureship. (1996).
  7. CSIR – National Eligibility Test (NET) for Research Fellowship and Eligibility for Lectureship in Indian Universities (1996).
  8. Fellowship from IIT, Kharagpur (1997-98) and CSIR (1998-2004), Govt. of India for graduate (MTech & PhD) studies.
  9. Qualified Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) (1995). Percentile: 97.77 (All India rank: 58).
  10. Govt. of India Merit Scholarship (1983-1989)


  1. BIO317/Research Methodology/B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/2 Credits/Semester 5
  2. BIO317/Project/B.Sc. Biotechnology and B.Sc. Microbiology/10 Credits/Semester 6
  3. BIO401/Molecular Biology/M.Sc. Biotechnology and M.Sc. Microbiology/3 Credits/Semester 1
  4. BIO408/Recombinant DNA Technology/M.Sc. Biotechnology and M.Sc. Microbiology/3  Credits/Semester 2
  5. BIO481/Recombinant DNA Technology Lab/M.Sc. Biotechnology and M.Sc. Microbiology/2  Credits/Semester 2
  6. BIO517/ Plant Biotechnology/ M.Sc. Biotechnology /3 Credits/ Semester 2
  7. BIO588/Cell & Molecular Biology Lab/M.Sc. Biotechnology and M.Sc. Microbiology/2  Credits/Semester 3
  8. BIO599/Project/M.Sc. Biotechnology and M.Sc. Microbiology/10 Credits/Semester 4


Publication Type: Conference Proceedings
Year of Publication Publication Type Title
2015 Conference Proceedings Vijayakumar Amrutha, Chinchu, B., Pandurangan, N., Sanjay Pal, G. Bipin, N., Ajith, M., and Salim Amrita, “Potent chitin Synthase inhibitors from Plant sources”, Proceeding of National seminar on Recent advances in medicinal plant research. Bharat mata college , 2015.
2015 Conference Proceedings Salim Amrita, Ugesh, k.p., Chandni, P., Sreerangini, M. R., Bipin, N., Ajith, M., Sanjay Pal, and Sreetha, H., “Isolation and characterization of bacteriophage treatment of domestic wastewater”, Proceeding of the 56th International Annual Conference of The Association of Microbiologist of India . JNU, New Delhi, 2015.
2013 Conference Proceedings N. Mishra, Sanjay Pal, Nair, R. R., Krishna, A., Ajith, A., V, A., KS, D., Nedungadi, D., and P, C., “Expression and refolding of recombinant staphylococcal amidases in E. coli”, Proceedings of International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications (Amrita BioQuest 2013). Elsevier Publications, p. 106, 2013.
2011 Conference Proceedings Sanjay Pal, “Characterization of the Probiotic attributes of a Gelatin binding Lactobacillus from local curd”, XXXV Cell biology conference, 16-18 Dec. NISER, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, 2011.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Year of Publication Publication Type Title
2014 Journal Article A. Bera, Das, F., Ghosh-Choudhury, N., Li, X., Gorin, Y., Kasinath, B. S., Abboud, H. E., Choudhury, G. Ghosh, and Sanjay Pal, “A positive feedback loop involving Erk5 and Akt turns on mesangial cell proliferation in response to PDGF”, American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, vol. 306, pp. C1089–C1100, 2014.[Abstract]

Platelet-derived growth factor BB and its receptor (PDGFRβ) play a pivotal role in the development of renal glomerular mesangial cells. Their roles in increased mesangial cell proliferation during mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis have long been noted, but the operating logic of signaling mechanisms regulating these changes remains poorly understood. We examined the role of a recently identified MAPK, Erk5, in this process. PDGF increased the activating phosphorylation of Erk5 and tyrosine phosphorylation of proteins in a time-dependent manner. A pharmacologic inhibitor of Erk5, XMD8-92, abrogated PDGF-induced DNA synthesis and mesangial cell proliferation. Similarly, expression of dominant negative Erk5 or siRNAs against Erk5 blocked PDGF-stimulated DNA synthesis and proliferation. Inhibition of Erk5 attenuated expression of cyclin D1 mRNA and protein, resulting in suppression of CDK4-mediated phosphorylation of the tumor suppressor protein pRb. Expression of cyclin D1 or CDK4 prevented the dominant negative Erk5- or siErk5-mediated inhibition of DNA synthesis and mesangial cell proliferation induced by PDGF. We have previously shown that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) contributes to PDGF-induced proliferation of mesangial cells. Inhibition of PI3-kinase blocked PDGF-induced phosphorylation of Erk5. Since PI3-kinase acts through Akt, we determined the role of Erk5 on Akt phosphorylation. XMD8-92, dominant negative Erk5, and siErk5 inhibited phosphorylation of Akt by PDGF. Interestingly, we found inhibition of PDGF-induced Erk5 phosphorylation by a pharmacological inhibitor of Akt kinase and kinase dead Akt in mesangial cells. Thus our data unfold the presence of a positive feedback microcircuit between Erk5 and Akt downstream of PI3-kinase nodal point for PDGF-induced mesangial cell proliferation.

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2013 Journal Article B. Steffensen, Mikhailova, M., Xu, X., Robichaud, T. K., Sanjay Pal, and Fields, G. S., “Molecular targets for selective inhibitors of MMP-2.”, J. Dent. Res., vol. 92, p. 2861, 2013.
2012 Journal Article M. Mikhailova, Xu, X., Robichaud, T. K., Sanjay Pal, Fields, G. B., and Steffensen, B., “Identification of collagen binding domain residues that govern catalytic activities of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)”, Matrix Biology, vol. 31, pp. 380–388, 2012.[Abstract]

An innovative approach to enhance the selectivity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitors comprises targeting these inhibitors to catalytically required substrate binding sites (exosites) that are located outside the catalytic cleft. In MMP-2, positioning of collagen substrate molecules occurs via a unique fibronectin-like domain (CBD) that contains three distinct modular collagen binding sites. To characterize the contributions of these exosites to gelatinolysis by MMP-2, seven MMP-2 variants were generated with single, or concurrent double and triple alanine substitutions in the three fibronectin type II modules of the CBD. Circular dichroism spectroscopy verified that recombinant MMP-2 wild-type (WT) and variants had the same fold. Moreover, the MMP-2 WT and variants had the same activity on a short FRET peptide substrate that is hydrolyzed independently of CBD binding. Among single-point variants, substitution in the module 3 binding site had greatest impact on the affinity of MMP-2 for gelatin. Simultaneous substitutions in two or three CBD modules further reduced gelatin binding. The rates of gelatinolysis of MMP-2 variants were reduced by 20–40% following single-point substitutions, by 60–75% after double-point modifications, and by > 90% for triple-point variants. Intriguingly, the three CBD modules contributed differentially to cleavage of dissociated α-1(I) and α-2(I) collagen chains. Importantly, kinetic analyses (kcat/Km) revealed that catalysis of a triple-helical FRET peptide substrate by MMP-2 relied primarily on the module 3 binding site. Thus, we have identified three collagen binding site residues that are essential for gelatinolysis and constitute promising targets for selective inhibition of MMP-2.

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2010 Journal Article Sanjay Pal, Chen, Z., Xu, X., Mikhailova, M., and Steffensen, B., “Co-purified gelatinases alter the stability and biological activities of human plasma fibronectin preparations”, Journal of periodontal research, vol. 45, pp. 292–295, 2010.[Abstract]

Background and Objective: Fibronectin (FN) is an important cell adhesion molecule that is used widely to characterize cell behavior. Preparations of FN purified from human plasma by gelatin-Sepharose affinity chromatography typically also contain gelatin-binding gelatinases that may cleave FN, reduce its stability and alter its biological activities. Available methods for separating gelatinases from FN are resource demanding. Therefore, our objective was to devise a time- and cost-efficient protocol for purification of gelatinase-free FN. Material and Methods: Experiments tested the elution profiles for FN and gelatinases from gelatin-Sepharose using a concentration range (1-7%) of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and 4 m urea as eluants. Subsequently, we explored the sequential application of those eluants for differential elution of gelatinases and FN using a single affinity column. Finally, experiments characterized the stability of purified FN with or without contaminating gelatinases, as well as the effects of FN degradation on cell attachment and migration. Results: Assay optimization demonstrated that pre-elution with 3% DMSO efficiently eliminated gelatinases but not FN from gelatin-Sepharose, whereas subsequent elution with 4 m urea released FN. Sequential elutions with DMSO and urea produced gelatinase-free FN, which was more stable than FN eluted by urea only. Fibronectin degradation did not affect human gingival fibroblast attachment, but increased cell migration significantly. Conclusion: The present experiments devised a time- and cost-efficient protocol for eliminating gelatinases during purification of human plasma FN. Gelatinase-free FN preparations had greater stability, which may be essential for experiments because FN fragments have altered biological activities compared with intact FN. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Blackwell Munksgaard. More »»
2010 Journal Article X. ZHU, Xu, X., Chen, Z., Mikhailova, M., Sanjay Pal, and Steffensen, B., “Fibronectin and Collagen Glycation Alter MMP Expression in Periodontal Fibroblasts”, J Dent Res, vol. 89, no. A, p. #1458, 2010.
2006 Journal Article N. Mishra, Sanjay Pal, K, M. T., and S, D., “Production and characterization of arabinogalactan protein (AGP) from a hairy root line of Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don”, Indian Journal of Biotechnology, vol. 5, pp. 211-216, 2006.[Abstract]

Arabinogalactan protein (AGP), a class of cell wall proteoglycan, was isolated from the hairy root cultures of a newly developed hairy root line IIT-BT/D1 of Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don. AGP was found to be present both in the roots (0.3 mg/g fresh weight) and in the spent media (47 mg/L). The compositional analysis revealed the predominance of arabinose and galactose sugar, a characteristic feature of AGP. More »»
Publication Type: Conference Paper
Year of Publication Publication Type Title
2013 Conference Paper N. Mishra, Suresh, A., S, A., P.V, A., .P, P., O.J, S., P, C., and Sanjay Pal, “Studies on Probiotic Strains from Fermented Foods & Beverages in Kerala”, in Proceedings of International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications (Amrita BioQuest 2013), 2013.
2013 Conference Paper R. M. Nair, Nambiar, S. S., TV, V., L, V. Prabhu, Menon, D., Gandhi, B. Balan, P, C., Mishra, N., and Sanjay Pal, “Characterization of Fibronectin Isoforms and Fragments”, in Proceedings of International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications (Amrita BioQuest 2013), 2013.
2013 Conference Paper A. L, K, A., S, A., MU, C., S, N., Sudarslal, S., and Sanjay Pal, “Isolation and characterization of host binding proteins from Bacillus clausii using mass spectrometry”, in Proceedings of International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications (Amrita BioQuest 2013), 2013.
Publication Type: Patent
Year of Publication Publication Type Title
2000 Patent Sanjay Pal, Dey, S., and Das, S., “Herbal skin nourishing gel”, 2000.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Year of Publication Publication Type Title
1998 Book Chapter S. Das, .Mujib, A., Das, S., Sanjay Pal, and .Dey, S., “Biotechnology of medicinal plants: Recent advances and potential”, in Role of biotechnology in medicinal and aromatic plants, vol. 2, Ukaaz Publication, Hyderabad, India, 1998, pp. 126-139.
1998 Book Chapter A. .Mujib, Das, S., Das, S., Sanjay Pal, and .Dey, S., “Biotechnological Routes of Mass Propagation of Santalum album”, in Role of biotechnology in medicinal and aromatic plants - I. A Khan (ed.) , vol. I, Ukaaz Publication, Hyderabad, India, 1998, pp. 83-94.
1998 Book Chapter S. Das, Das, S., .Mujib, A., Sanjay Pal, and .Dey, S., “Influence of carbon and pH on rapid mass propagation of Santalum album through somatic embryogenesis: Biotechnology application in agroforestry”, in Sandal and Its Products, AICAR, Canberra, Australia, 1998, pp. 66-68.



Year Title
2000 Herbal skin nourishing gel: Ref: 695/ Cal/ 2000, Publication dated, 19.12.2000
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