Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Ryan Quan Rose Hills

Consequences of Mitochondrial Genome Loss in Cultured Human Cells

Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndromes (MdDSs) are a set of diseases characterized by severe pathological effects on the liver and brain. These syndromes are implicated by low/absent levels of mitochondrial genomes, circular strands of DNA housed in the mitochondria (mtDNA) that encode for proteins important for respiration. Thus, maintenance of this genome is thought to be critical for cellular health. However, the mechanism behind the tissue-specific pathologies of these syndromes remains unclear. Recent evidence suggests that the essentiality of mtDNA for cell viability and division may vary across different conditions. Recent experiments done in Dr. Samantha Lewis’s laboratory found that fibroblasts depleted of mtDNA are viable and may retain mitochondrial membrane potential. The goal of my project is to identify candidate genes that allow for the continued resilience of cells depleted of mtDNA. Data from my project will help determine the extent to which mtDNA and its expression is essential for cellular health, and ultimately have the potential to inform future methods that modulate mtDNA maintenance for diseases such as MdDSs.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much for providing funding and support for my project! I love being in the lab and have always wanted to partake in full-time research, but this is difficult to do in the school year. Your support will no doubt scaffold my learning experience in the lab, and I'm looking forward to how I'll grow.
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Samantha Lewis
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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