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Research group of Paulina Wanrooij

The DNA damage response and mitochondrial DNA


Paulina Wanrooij
Research fellow

The genetic information encoded in our second genome, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), is required for efficient energy production. Defects in mtDNA or changes in its copy number can alter cellular energy metabolism, and are associated with several genetic diseases as well as some forms of cancer. Our lab studies mechanisms that ensure the stable maintenance of mtDNA, with special emphasis on its connection to the DNA damage response. This response has evolved in eukaryotes in order to protect our genome against the various insults that it is constantly exposed to, such as reactive oxygen species, radiation and chemical exposure, and it is our front line of defence against cancer. Damage to the DNA in the cell's nucleus triggers the DNA damage response that in turn regulates numerous cellular processes such as DNA repair, dNTP pool size and cell cycle progression. Activation of the DNA damage response has also been shown to have implications for mtDNA maintenance.

We study these processes both in mammalian cells and in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Budding yeast is a convenient model organism for mtDNA maintenance studies because it is a facultative anaerobe that can survive without mtDNA. We combine our cell biological studies with biochemical studies using purified recombinant proteins.

We are looking for ambitious and enthusiastic people to join our newly-established research team. Please contact Paulina for details on current opportunities, enclosing a short cover letter and CV with list of publications.