PhD Student Researcher
After completing a degree in Biochemistry and starting my MRes studying neuromuscular diseases here in Newcastle, I was introduced to mitochondrial biology by Dr Nichola Lax. Despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic, I graduated my Master’s with my project on reviewing animal and cellular models of POLG-related disease. As a PhD student my focus is now on understanding how mitochondrial ribosomes are quality controlled and how this can affect individuals.
Deciphering a mitoribosomal quality control machinery
Mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells, contain their own genome. The mRNAs encoded in this genome are translated into proteins on the powerhouse’s own ribosomes. The mishandling of newly made mitochondrial membrane proteins causes misfolding and membrane disruptions. When this happens as the newly made protein is just emerging from the ribosomes, a quality control mechanism is induced that ultimately results in mitochondrial ribosome and mRNA degradation. This mechanism ensures that faulty ribosomes or mRNAs do not produce more toxic proteins that would further disturb our mitochondria. Even though a great number of protein and RNA degrading enzymes are found inside mitochondria, the machinery for this ribosome quality control mechanism has not been determined. This project aims to identify the ribosome and mRNA degradation machinery, including the proteins that can recognize the faulty ribosomes.
Sponsor/funder: NUAcT Fellow Program, Newcastle University