Tag Archive for biochemistry

Mukerji Awarded REU Grant for Holliday Junctions Research

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division, received a grant for $6,750 from the National Sciences Foundation. The grant is part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates, which provides funding for faculty to work with an undergraduate student. The award is supporting research on “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions Complexed with Proteins Probed by Flourescence and UV Raman Spectroscopic Methods.”

Maureen Snow: Assisting MB&B, Hughes Program with Accounts

Maureen Snow is an accounting specialist for the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department, and administrative assistant for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Program in the Life Sciences.


Q: Maureen, you are an accounting specialist for the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department, and an administrative assistant for the Wesleyan Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Program in the Life Sciences. Is it challenging to wear two hats?

A: Maybe it should be more of a challenge, but I’ve been doing it so long it’s become second nature. I akin it to speaking two languages, your brain just shifts automatically from one to the other. Michael Weir (director of the Hughes Program)  in one door to talk summer applications and Mike McAlear (chair of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department) walks in the other door to talk department budget. Sometimes it’s difficult to devote the appropriate number o

McAlear, Arnone Published in Eukaryotic Cell

Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and James Arnone, a Ph.D candidate in his lab, have published “Adjacent Gene Pairing Plays a Role in the Coordinated Expression of Ribosome Biogenesis Genes MPP10 and YJR003C in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae” a paper that shows that the physical position of genes on chromosomes — immediately adjacent gene pairs in particular — plays an important role in how they are turned on and off.

These findings were first discovered in yeast cells, but also hold true over a wide range of life forms, from worms to fruit flies to humans. A deeper understanding of how cells organize and manifest their genetic material is critical for future efforts to develop therapeutic treatments for disorders related to defects in gene regulation.

“Adjacent Gene Pairing Plays a Role in the Coordinated Expression of Ribosome Biogenesis Genes MPP10 and YJR003C in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae” appears in the January 2011 issue of Eukaryotic Cell.

The paper is the product of experiments performed at Wesleyan.

Hingorani, Bricca Explain Science Documentary Filmmaking Class in ASBMB Today

Stephen Devoto, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is featured in a video created by a student enrolled in the course, Making the Science Documentary.

Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies, explained their experimental cross-disciplinary course on science documentary filmmaking at Wesleyan in a December 2010 article published in American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Today.

In the article, Hingorani and Bricca wrote about their course, “Making the Science Documentary,” which they co-taught together, starting in 2007. The course was designed to introduce undergraduate students to the life sciences and to documentary filmmaking

Hingorani Awarded Grants from State, NIH, NSF

Manju Hingorani

Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a $165,083 grant from the Connecticut Department of Health for her study titled “Role of DNA Mismatch Repair in Tobacco Smoke-Mediated Carcinogenesis.” The grant will fund a post-doc and research associate’s projects through September 2012.

Also, Hingorani, received a $497,532 grant from the National Institutes of Health for her study titled “PCNA Clamp Mechanisms in DNA Replication and Repair.” The grant will fund graduate and undergraduate students’ research projects through June 2013. The project is supported by Award number R15GM094047 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Also, Hingorani received a $765,141 grant from the National Science Foundation for her study titled “Kinetic Mechanisms of DNA Mismatch Repair Proteins.” The grant will fund a post-doc and graduate and undergraduate students’ research projects through September 2014. The project is supported by Award number MCB-1022203 from the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences.

McAlear Teaches Children in Kibera, Kenya

Michael McAlear teaching at the Kibera School for Girls.

In August, Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, presented an interactive lecture about Africa’s water cycle to the Kibera School for Girls.

Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09 operate the school and the non-profit organization Shining Hope for Communities in Kibera, Kenya.

McAlear’s lecture included an experiment with test tubes he brought for the school. His sons, Matthew and Thomas, donated time in the school’s library.

“We cannot thank Professor McAlear and his sons enough for their generous donation of supplies, time, and energy,” Posner says in her blog.

NIH Supports Lane’s Odorant Receptor Study

Robert Lane, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a grant worth $1,796,029 from the National Institutes of Health to support his research on “Mutually Exclusive Odorant Receptor Regulation. The grant supports the study through April 30, 2015.

NSF Supports Holmes’ Gene Expression Research

At right, Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a three-year grant to support his research gene expression. His lab uses a budding yeast for the studies.

At right, Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a three-year grant to support his research gene expression. His lab uses a budding yeast for the studies.

For the next three years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support gene expression research led by Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

On March 2, the NSF awarded Holmes a $599,832, three-year grant for his studies on “Epigenetic Silencing of Gene Expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.”

Scott Holmes

Scott Holmes incorporates his research into the spring semester course Advanced Laboratory in Genetics and Molecular Biology.

Gene expression refers to the observable characteristics generated on a molecular level by a particular sequence of DNA or gene; epigenetic controls are essential in maintaining the specific patterns of gene expression that distinguish hundreds of distinct cell types in skin, muscles and other types of tissue.

“I’m thrilled to get the funding,” Holmes says. “It’s very timely for us, and it’s a testament to the great work that graduate and undergraduate students have done in the lab over the last few years.”

Holmes, currently working with four graduate and four undergraduate students, uses a simple budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to study gene expression. Yeast uses an epigenetic gene repression mechanism, known as “silencing” to control the genes responsible for determining cell type.

“Two organisms, or two cells within the same organism, can have identical genetic information, or the same DNA sequence, but can have very different characteristics and functions,” Holmes explains. “We want to know how the gene expression patterns that determine cell type are first established, and then propagated as cells divide.”

The DNA in cells is organized into structures known as chromosomes. A key mechanism for controlling whether genes are on or off is by altering the structure of the chromosome. Once established, these alterations can become a stable, heritable part of the chromosome.

The nature of these structures and the manner in which they are inherited is not clear, Holmes says. Studies conducted on yeast will reveal the basic mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance.

This is the ninth year the NSF has supported Holmes’s research on yeast. He incorporates this research into the spring semester course MB&B 294, Advanced Laboratory in Genetics and Molecular Biology, which is required for undergraduate majors in the MB&B Department.

“This course is designed to familiarize undergraduates with the methods and approaches of the field in the context of pursuing novel research questions,” Holmes explains.

He also has partnered with a local high school biology teacher to devise and implement lesson plans, focusing on key concepts in genetics. Advanced students from this high school also visit the research lab to shadow graduate students.

GSAC, Wesleyan Students Teach Minds in Motion Workshops

At right, Jegadish Gunasagaran ’11, Le Na Dang ’11 and Jacob Litke ‘10 participated a Minds in Motion program March 6 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. The students taught fifth graders how to compare DNA from five different suspects taken from an imaginary crime scene. The Wesleyan undergraduates are students of Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

At right, Jegadish Gunasagaran ’11, Na Le Dang ’11 and Jacob Litke ‘10 participated in a Minds in Motion program March 6 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. The students taught fifth graders how to compare DNA from five different suspects taken from an imaginary crime scene. The Wesleyan undergraduates are students of Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Students, Alumni Present Research at Biophysical Meeting in San Francisco

Several Wesleyan students presented their work at the Biophysical Society 54th Annual Meeting Feb. 20-24 in San Francisco, Calif. More than 6,000 scientists from academia, government and industry attended. Olga Buzovetsky '10, pictured, presented her poster titled "Binding and Bending Parameters of Integration Host Factor to Holliday Junction." Her advisor is Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Several Wesleyan students and recent alumni presented their work at the Biophysical Society 54th Annual Meeting Feb. 20-24 in San Francisco, Calif. More than 6,000 scientists from academia, government and industry attended. Olga Buzovetsky '10, pictured, presented her poster titled "Binding and Bending Parameters of Integration Host Factor to Holliday Junction." Her advisor is Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Graduate student Sanchaita Das presented her poster titled, "Mapping SecA-SecY Interaction using In Vivo Photo-Cross Linking." Das's advisor is Don Oliver, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Graduate student Sanchaita Das presented her poster titled, "Mapping SecA-SecY Interaction using In Vivo Photo-Cross Linking." Das's advisor is Don Oliver, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.