Dr Henrik Strahl and Dr Mal Horsburgh
I studied Molecular Biology at Sheffield University. Whilst there I undertook a computing based research project in my third year and studied plant pathogen interactions during my masters project. I also took part in the Sheffield 2016 iGEM project. In this I worked on a team of undergraduate students to develop a biosensor for diagnosing bacterial infections. Both my fourth year and iGEM projects involved working with bacteria and the genetic manipulations involved, which is why I decided to study microbiology at Newcastle. I have a particular interest in RNA and its impacts on the microbial cell.
Why is the Bacterial mRNA Degradation Machinery Membrane Associated?
To respond to their environment, living organisms need to regulate their protein production, which often occurs via regulated transcription of DNA to mRNA. However, for this regulation to be effective, mRNA needs to be degraded in a rapid but controlled fashion. Across all domains of life, RNA degradation is regulated by ribonuclease complexes. In bacteria this complex is known as the RNA degradosome. I am studying RNase Y, an endoribonuclease that act as a scaffold for this complex in Bacillus subtilis and other bacteria. In eukaryotes the physical separation of transcription and degradation of mRNA into the nucleus and cytoplasm, respectively, ensures that mRNA will have a fair opportunity to be translated before premature degradation. However, bacteria lack the cellular organelle organisation. Instead RNA degradosome is associated with the cytoplasmic membrane. This conserved cellular localisation of RNA degradosomes possibly establishes spatial regulation of mRNA degradation, allowing mRNA to diffuse through the ribosome-rich cytoplasm before being degraded by the periferal RNA degradation machinery. We intend to further investigate why the RNase Y degradosome is bound to the membrane and what the effects are of its release to the cytoplasm.