Katarzyna awarded SONATA BIS funding

Feb 23, 2024

Dr Katarzyna Bandyra has been awarded funding in the SONATA BIS 13 program of the National Science Centre, Poland. Congratulations!

SONATA BIS is a competition for research projects aimed at establishing a new scientific team, carried out by a researcher who obtained a doctoral degree between 5 and 12 years before the year of application. This year the success rate in life sciences fell below 7% due to limited funding, which makes Katarzyna's success a remarkable achievement.

Project #2023/50/E/NZ1/00688

"Structure-function studies of mitochondrial proteins from the FASTK family"

PLN 5 026 400

Abstract: The role of mitochondria within human cells extends well beyond its primary function in energy production. These organelles have emerged as crucial not only for generating energy through oxidative phosphorylation, but also as essential signalling hubs involved in various processes, including immune responses, inflammation, and the initiation of apoptosis. Mitochondria controlled mechanisms play a pivotal role in maintaining cellular homeostasis, therefore it is crucial to understand the rules regulating the expression of genetic information within these organelles. One of the key players in regulation of human mitochondrial RNA metabolism is the FASTK protein family. Despite its significance in fundamental aspects of mitochondrial biology, there is currently a lack of knowledge regarding the mechanisms of action, interactions with RNA substrates and protein partners, as well as the structural characteristics of FASTK family members. I propose the hypothesis that these proteins act as global regulators, influencing various aspects of mitochondrial RNA metabolism, including transcript maturation, stability, translation, and even degradation. Additionally, it is likely that they possess a novel RNA-binding domain with a putative nuclease-like fold, the role of which remains unexplored. My research will encompass a comprehensive investigation of the human mitochondrial FASTK protein family members, delving into their structural properties and the formation of higher-order complexes, employing cryo-electron microscopy. Furthermore, I will explore their interactions with RNA substrates and protein partners using various biophysical techniques using purified proteins. The functional findings will be validated using human cell culture. The obtained results will shed light, in mechanistic detail, on how FASTKD proteins capture RNA substrates and establish their precise functions in mitochondrial RNA metabolism. This effort will provide insights into the as-yet-unexplored mechanisms employed by mitochondria to regulate their gene expression. Ultimately, addressing these gaps in our knowledge will bring us one step closer to identifying potential strategies for intervening in these processes when they malfunction.

Badania strukturalno-funkcjonalne białek mitochondrialnych z rodziny FASTK

We will be recruiting 2 PhD students and 1 technician to this project soon!