Professor James West

General Area of Research:

Structural Organization of Baker's Yeast Peroxidases

Project Description:

Cells regularly encounter harmful molecules (e.g., oxidizing agents, transition metals) that damage biological macromolecules, including DNA and proteins. The occurrence of such damage events over an organism's life has been associated with aging and numerous age-related diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease. Most organisms express proteins that detoxify oxidants, and many of these enzymes are conserved across biological kingdoms. In this sophomore research project, we will study two peroxidases from baker's yeast–Tsa1 and Ahp1–with hopes of determining what amino acids allow monomers of these proteins to form dimers and larger complexes with like subunits. Previously, we have used available protein structures to guide us in predicting the amino acids that are important for subunit-subunit interactions within complexes of either Tsa1 or Ahp1. We are currently using standard molecular biology procedures to change these particular amino acid residues for further characterization. Future work will focus on characterizing Tsa1 and Ahp1 mutant proteins on a biochemical level, looking at the structures adopted by mutants in relation to the wild-type protein. In addition, cellular assays will be conducted to determine how disrupting the structures formed by Tsa1 and Ahp1 influences their ability to protect against oxidants. Sophomore researchers will gain experience in performing basic molecular techniques (e.g., PCR, DNA isolation, site-directed mutagenesis, etc.), working with bacterial and yeast cell cultures, and performing various biochemical assays.

Related Majors:

BCMB/Biology/Chemistry/Neuroscience (BCMB track)

Skills / Classes Required:

Enrollment in CHEM 112 and BIOL 201