Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University College London
Dates: Nov 2011-Oct 2016
Summary: A lay summary of one of our projects is provided below:
Organisms obtain energy for survival and growth from nutrients which can be processed via alternative cellular metabolic pathways. It is important for cells to carefully tune these metabolic pathways to optimize their function in response to different nutrient or physiological conditions. Defects in this regulation can lead to cancer or metabolic diseases like diabetes. Fission yeast is a simple model cell in which different metabolic states can be easily studied under controlled conditions by using different sugars as food: on glucose they rapidly grow by fermentation (like cancer cells), but on glycerol they switch to respiration (like most of our cells). Here we systematically identify genes that are required only for respiration, and we also analyse what genes are regulated during the switch from fermentation to respiration. These two sets of genes show surprisingly little overlap and they provide complementary insights into the functional richness and intricate regulation of energy metabolism. We also study the gene regulation to prevent damage from dysfunctional mitochondria, the cellular ‘powerhouses’ where respiration happens. Our analyses provide valuable information on metabolic processes, most of which are highly similar from yeast to human.