Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jessica Bonnar L&S Sciences

Investigating the role of Ras proteins in TORC2 localization in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

In eukaryotes, an essential growth regulator is a multi-subunit, plasma membrane(PM)-associated protein kinase, the Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 (or TORC2). Work using Saccharomyces cerevisiae has established that TORC2 is responsible for controlling processes that preserve PM homeostasis and that regulate actin polymerization. Studies have shown that the localization of TORC2 to the plasma membrane is essential for the complex’s function. However, little is understood about the processes that regulate the assembly, maintenance and activity of TORC2 itself. Avo3, a TORC2 subunit necessary for maintaining stability of the complex, contains a RasGEFN domain, a structural motif typically found in Ras guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs). Ras proteins themselves are anchored to the PM via modification of their C-terminal end. Therefore, the RasGEFN domain of Avo3 may contribute to PM localization of yeast TORC2. My primary goal this summer is to use genetic methods and fluorescence microscopy to investigate the potential roles of the RasGEFN domain in Avo3 and the two Ras proteins of S. cerevisiae in targeting and maintaining TORC2 at the PM.

Message To Sponsor

A huge thanks to the Pergo Fund for providing my summer fellowship. Participating in the SURF program has been a fantastic experience. For me, the most pivotal experience I had this summer was developing ownership of my research question; both my lab mentors and SURF established that I had agency as a scientist, and I truly felt challenged to think critically about my experiments and the literature motivating them. Having an entire summer to wrestle with my project has given me the confidence, skills, and knowledge to pursue science further, and I am now fully intending to attend graduate school. I could not be more grateful to the SURF program, Pergo Fund, and the Thorner lab for all of their support in developing my abilities as a young scientist.
Profile image of Jessica Bonnar
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Jeremy Thorner
Sponsor: Pergo L&S
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