Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Morgan Apolonio Rose Hills

Cyanobacterial Production of Biopharmaceutical Proteins

Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 (Synechocystis) is a fast-growing unicellular photosynthetic microorganism comprising a potential cell factory for the generation of bioactive compounds, therapeutic proteins, and biofuels. Fusion constructs of recombinant proteins with the CpcB β-subunit of the light-harvesting phycocyanin in Synechocystis has enabled the over-expression of proteins of interest up to 10-20% of the total cellular protein. I will use human interferon α-2 protein (IFN), a human immunoprotein that protects cells from infection, as a case study of over-expression and downstream signal processing of IFN. One problem in the biosynthesis of compounds is the release from the CpcB β-subunit, and this project seeks to remedy that. By using the tobacco etch virus protease, I hope to develop the technology of target protein separation from the phycocyanin fusion construct. This will bring the cyanobacterial cell factory concept closer to commercial application.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much for your support! With your help I’ll be able to immerse myself in research this summer, expand my skills, and learn without the added stress of finances. I’d never thought I’d be able to do something like this, which will not only have a profound impact on me and the rest of my time at Berkeley, but on my career beyond college as well.
Major: Molecular Environmental Biology, Genetics and Plant Biology, and Anthropology
Mentor: Anastasios Melis
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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