Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Sheila Sharifi Rose Hills

Investigating Inner Ear Protein TMIE Using Yeast Nanobody Display Systems

The auditory system is remarkable for its ability to detect sounds across a wide range of intensities and frequencies. The molecular machinery involved in generating this range converts acoustic stimuli into electrical signals transmitted to the brain, a process known as mechanoelectrical transduction. The purpose of this research project is to achieve clarification on the basis of hearing by studying a crucial element in the transduction pathway the inner ear protein TMIE. Although TMIE has been recognized as an essential component of mechanotransduction, characterizations of its molecular structure and its mechanistic basis for mechanosensitivity have yet to be determined. In order to answer these questions, I will first establish new immunological tools that enable critical experiments for understanding the molecular signaling machinery which TMIE is involved in. My project will begin by isolating and cloning yeast expressing nanobodies that interact with TMIE. Then, I will develop expression purification techniques before embarking on biochemical characterizations of TMIE-nanobody interactions. This project is a critical first step in characterizing the structure of a TMIE-nanobody complex by utilizing X-ray crystallography and analyzing the effects of nanobodies on functional recording assays that could precedent future immunochemistry.

Message To Sponsor

I want to thank the donors of the Rose Hills Foundation for their generous grant this summer that gave me the chance to completely immerse myself in my research. Because of this opportunity, I was able to get a kickstart on my honors thesis project and to develop confidence in my abilities as an undergraduate researcher. Moreover, working in my laboratory full-time allowed me to develop deeper relationships with the other members of my lab. Overall, it was an extremely gratifying experience that I am quite thankful for!
Profile image of Sheila Sharifi
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology - Immunology
Mentor: Stephen Brohawn
Sponsor: Rose Hills Independent
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