Alex Whale

The Medical School Newcastle University Catherine Cookson Building Framlington Place Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE2 4HH


Dr Simon Whitehall

I graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Science from Newcastle University in 2010. After graduating, I worked for two years as a Microbiological Analyst at the pharmaceutical company, Sanofi. I then returned to Newcastle University to complete an MRes and have since started a PhD studentship in genetics.

I am interested in the way our DNA is stored as chromatin and how this is affected by our environment, leading to heritable changes in the expression of genes. I am also interested in how the arrangement of chromatin determines patterns of gene expression which give a cell its identity.

Project title: Characterisation of fission yeast Yta7/ATAD2

For eukaryotic DNA to be able to fit inside the nucleus, it needs to be tightly packaged as chromatin. The functional units of chromatin are called nucleosomes and consist of about 147 base pairs of DNA wrapped around a protein core of histones. This is one of the most stable complexes between protein and DNA, which makes it incredibly useful for packaging, but really limits access to DNA and so impacts on all processes using DNA as a template.

In order to overcome this barrier, eukaryotes use proteins called chromatin regulators to alter the structure and dynamics of nucleosomes, which promotes DNA accessibility and in turn has significant effects on all DNA-dependant processes including transcription, replication, repair and chromosomal stability.

ATAD2 proteins are members of a highly conserved family of ATPases which have been implicated in the organization of chromatin structure and are linked to a variety of processes such as tumourgenesis, cell cycle progression, heterochromatin function and neuronal differentiation.
Despite their potential importance the cellular functions of this family of chromatin modifiers is not well understood. The aims of my project are to characterise the roles of these Yta7/ATAD2 AAA+ ATPases, using Schizosaccharomyces pombeas a model organism.

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