I am a first year PhD student under the supervision of Professor Zofia Chrzanowska-Lightowlers and Professor Robert Lightowlers.
I did my bachelor’s degree at the Faculty of Biology, Department of Biochemistry from Bucharest, Romania. Afterwards I did a research master (Molecular Mechanisms of Disease) at Radboud University from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, where I learned more about mitochondria and met patients with mitochondrial disorders. I had the chance to obtain an Erasmus scholarship to do my master thesis in Bordeaux, France, where I worked on degradation of mitochondrial proteins.
I decided to stay in the mitochondria field because I find this organelle simply fascinating. I received a Marie Curie REMIX fellowship that offered me the opportunity to become a PhD student and research the termination step of mitochondria translation in human.
Research Project: Characterization of the quality control mechanisms that operate in human mitochondrial protein synthesis
Translation release factors are essential for protein synthesis. They ensure that when the ribosome encounters a stop codon the synthesised polypeptide is released from tRNA (peptidyl-tRNA hydrolysis) and translation terminates. In mitochondria there have been identified four translation termination factors: mtRF1, mtRF1a, C12orf65 and ICT1. They are all essential for cell survival, but only mtRF1a was proven to decode the stop codons UAA and UAG (UGA encodes for tryptophane in mitochondria). The functions of the other three remain mysterious and intriguing. The aim of this project is to unveil their role. We would like to understand which is their target mRNA and how they interact with the mitoribosome.