Recent studies have implicated the maintenance of a functional proteome (protein homeostasis or “proteostasis”) as a critical modulator of aging. Proper proteostasis involves the synthesis of new proteins to replace damaged proteins coupled with efficient degradation and elimination of damaged proteins. While the synthesis of new proteins is a relatively well understood process, the specific players and mechanisms involved in efficient removal of damaged proteins require further study. The genetics tools available to manipulate fruit flies, including those that allow for tissue- and developmental stage-specific expression of transgenes, provides powerful tools to determine the lifespan effects, if any, of manipulating a variety of candidate proteostasis pathways. In particular, previous researchers in the lab have found that boosting an enzyme complex involved in protein degradation that resides in mitochondria and increases lifespan in fruit flies. The goal of this project is to determine whether the beneficial effect of this manipulation are most likely due to changes in mitochondrial protein turn over or to other more cryptic effects. In order to determine this, we will design, optimize, and apply various biochemical assays to measure protein degradation in fly mitochondria to determine if and how they are changed by these pro-longevity manipulations.
To complete your application for summer research in Biology, please contact me to discuss the project and submit this google form by Feb 28. Preference will be given to students who were approved for summer research in 2020 but were unable to participate due to the pandemic.