Two paralogous human proteins, DIDO3 and PHF3, contain a so-called SPOC domain. The SPOC domain is known for specific binding to the phosphorylated carboxy-terminal domain of the largest subunit of RNA Polymerase II. Since this interaction between SPOC domain and RNA Pol II suggests direct regulation of transcription, Johannes Benedum wants to elucidate the precise regulatory mechanism between both proteins and RNA Pol II in his PhD project. “I am interested in the different pathways that cells have evolved to regulate gene expression”, Johannes explains. After his Master’s degree at the University of Vienna, Johannes started his PhD in October 2021 in Dea Slade’s lab.
To enable mitophagy, a specialised autophagy pathway, in mammalian cells, the expansion of a specific double-membrane structure, the phagophore, is of critical importance. Expansion of the phagophore relies on the transport of lipids by the lipid transfer protein ATG2A. Elisabeth Holzer, PhD candidate in Sascha Martens’ lab, characterizes this process and the players involved. “I am fascinated by autophagy and how deficiencies in this process could underlie neuronal degeneration, leading to numerous diseases”, she says about her PhD project. Elisabeth holds a Master’s degree from the University of Vienna.
Topoisomerase II (TOP2) relieves torsional stress in DNA strands via systematic double strand breaks within the DNA. TRIM52 is a putative factor involved in the removal of stalled TOP2 lesions, which leads to strand re-ligation by error-free non-homologous end joining. Since various cancer chemotherapeutic drugs rely on the cross-linking of TOP2 with DNA, TRIM52 could be a molecular target in the emergence of chemotherapeutical resistance. Alexandra Shulkina joined the Versteeg Lab after her Master`s at the Queen Mary University in London (UK). “I joined the Vesteeg lab as I was interested in the overall topic of protein degradation. My specific research interest lies in studying the mechanism of how the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) may be involved in the resolution of DNA damage in mammalian cells”, she says.
Anzhela Pavlova, PhD candidate in the Matos lab, works in the field of DNA repair. Holliday junctions, important structures for the exchange of genetic information during meiosis and sexual reproduction, form at DNA double-strand breaks. Anzhela’s project focuses on the mechanisms of chromatin remodelling, which modulates the recognition and cleavage of Holliday junctions. Anzhela developed her interest in the field of DNA repair during her undergraduate studies at Moscow State University. “In the Matos group, I will now seek to expand my knowledge in this vibrant field, in particular on mechanistic aspects of DNA double-strand break repair in meiosis“, she explains.