Lederle Graduate Research Tower
710 N PLEASANT ST
Amherst, MA 01003
Cells are capable of so many precise and intricate functions that I never tire of learning about how biological processes work. In my research I bring together aspects of molecular genetics, microbiology and biochemistry to understand the biology of pathogenic protozoans, in particular the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei that causes African sleeping sickness. New drug therapies against this parasite are badly needed and thus a better understanding of its biology is crucial.
Currently, my work is mainly focused on projects performed in the Biochem 426 course, we have begun studying the function of the three isoforms of malate dehydrogenase (MDH) in T. brucei. This NAD-dependent dehydrogenase has multiple roles in the cell, including in the citric acid cycle and in maintaining redox balance. The structure of many MDH proteins has been published, as well as details into quaternary formations and regulation. As a result, we can ask questions about minute details of how different amino acids affect catalysis. Furthermore, recent studies from other organisms suggest that some MDH isoforms form distinct interactions with other enzymes of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, to promote high flux of intermediates via substrate channeling. We are interested in determining if any of the T. brucei MDH isoforms might share these properties. Our goals are to distinguish the biochemical properties of the different T. brucei isoforms in vitro, as well as to investigate localization and expression patterns in the cell. We have collaborators from other institutions working with malate dehydrogenases from many organisms, providing many areas for comparative studies of this important metabolic enzyme.