Dr. Rosemary Stuart was recently awarded two grants, one from NSF and the other from NIH. The NIH funded grant (which began Sept. 1st 2012) is an AREA (R15) grant to study and characterize a novel subunit of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase complex which we recently identified. This new subunit (termed Rcf1 in yeast) is a member of an evolutionarily conserved family of proteins termed the hypoxia induced gene 1 protein family (Hig1 proteins). The Stuart lab will be studying the function of the Hig1 proteins using both a yeast and a nematode (C. elegans) system. Their evidence is that the Hig1 proteins may serve to regulate the cytochrome c oxidase complex in response to changes in the metabolic requirements of the cells. The preliminary data used to support the grant application was from two previous undergraduate students in our lab (Andrew Furness and Micaela Robb-McGrath, now at UC-Riverside/PhD and University of Maryland, Med School, respectively) and two current graduate students, Vera Strogolova and Joshua Garlich.
The NSF funded grant (also started Sept 1st, 2012) is to study the assembly and composition of the mitochondrial ribosome system. The translational activity of the mitochondrial ribosomes is critical for the biogenesis of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation system, as key subunits of this system are encoded by the mitochondrial genome and thus are synthesized by the mitochondrial ribosomes. The Stuart lab proposes to further characterize a novel yeast mutant that they isolated, which is defective in the assembly of the mitochondrial ribosomes. They propose to use this mutant to map the assembly pathway of the ribosomes and to identify and characterize different functional regions of the ribosome. The preliminary data used to support the grant application was from two previous graduate students in Dr. Stuart’s lab, Drs. Lixia Jia and Jasvinder Kaur, who are currently performing post-docs at Washington University, St. Louis and University of California- San Francisco, respectively.