Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Maansi Shah L&S Sciences

Discovering DivL interacting proteins in Caulobacter crescentus

DivL is an essential protein in Caulobacter crescentus that acts upstream of the master cell-cycle regulator, CtrA. Sequence analysis shows DivL to be homologous to histidine protein kinases, however, it has a tyrosine at its active site rather than a histidine. DivL is an essential protein but a mutant form of the protein, in which autophosphorylation is prevented by the substitution of phenylalanine for the tyrosine at the phosphorylation site, is still capable of supporting viability. Thus, DivL activates CtrA by a mechanism other than phosphorylation. The goal of my project is to identify proteins upstream or downstream of DivL in its cell-cycle regulation pathways via genetic screening, complementation analysis and sequencing. Discovering the identity of some of these proteins will give us insight into the function of an essential protein and help deepen our understanding of cell cycle regulation as a whole.

Message To Sponsor

SURF enabled me to delve into my research project this summer without having to work as a full-time barista in order to pay for my rent. An opportunity to focus wholeheartedly on the core methodology of scientific research has been priceless. Additionally, through my research endeavors I have discovered that performing genetics in real life is messy and it requires a great deal of troubleshooting to perfect protocols. This is in contrast to the ease with which genetics is presented in textbooks. I am in this project for the long haul, and without summer funding I would not have been able to continue this research. Thus, for me, having an opportunity to wrap up my final project in style was a wish that came true because of SURF.
Major: Molecular & Cell Biology, Psychology
Mentor: Kathleen Ryan, Plant & Microbial Biology
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