Selin Kutlu ’16 recently received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) undergraduate research award for her work in DNA mismatch repair. ASBMB’s mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through the publication of scientific and educational journals, the organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.
Kutlu briefly summarized the research outline that won her the award:
As a molecular biology and biochemistry and neuroscience and behavior double major, I am interested in understanding not only biological mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level, but also how these mechanisms can alter human health and behavior. I am able to combine my interests in both biochemistry and neuroscience through research on DNA mismatch repair, a process that corrects errors made during DNA replication. DNA polymerases make errors such as base pair mismatches, insertion-deletion loops (IDLs) and triplet nucleotide repeat (TNR) expansions while synthesizing new copies of the double helix. These errors can cause mutations that can have deleterious effects on an organism’s health, including carcinogenesis and neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease.
My research focuses on mismatch repair protein Msh2-Msh3, which recognizes both IDL and TNR DNA structures in eukaryotes, including humans. The findings will help us understand the biochemical basis for Msh2-Msh3 actions on DNA and its role in both preventing and promoting human disease. In the future, I wish to continue doing research that combines both neuroscience and biochemistry in order to help advance the treatment of neurological disorders.
Kutlu’s advisor is Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.
The award will fund Kutlu’s purchases of reagents and supplies for her research.