Wellcome Trust Centre For Mitochondrial Research

Nicole Mai


I have always been fascinated by science and research so I decided to study Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technologies at the University of Parma (Italy). During my thesis I worked on the biochemical characterisation of serine racemase, an enzyme involved in neurodegeneration. This experience introduced me to research and I realised that it was the right job for me. I wanted to continue my study abroad, so I moved to Newcastle to start a PhD in the mitochondrial gene expression group.

Research Project

Principal Investigators: Prof. Chrzanowska-Lightowlers and Prof. Lightowlers

Project Details:

Mitochondria are important organelles found in our cells that contain 10s-100s molecules of DNA, which encode for 13 components of the respiratory chain that perform ATP production. The synthesis of these proteins is possible due to specific machinery that is present within the organelle, called the mitoribosome. As mitochondria account for the production of 90% of ATP used by cells, a dysfunction in mitochondrial translation will decrease the number of functional complexes of the respiratory chain. In turn, this situation will lead to severe mitochondrial dysfunction and reduction of ATP synthesis, which affects the health of the cell.

It is important to increase our understanding about mitochondrial gene expression in order to better understand the basis of human diseases resulting from mitochondrial dysfunction. In particular, my project is focused on one of the proteins of the mitoribosome that seems to have a crucial role for translation.