Warmack, Rebeccah (2014 - 2017)

Beccah is in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  She joined the training program in 2014.  She received a B.S. degree in 2013 from UC Davis.

Mentor: Dr. Steven Clarke

Research project:

Identification and characterization of spontaneous protein damage and associated repair mechanisms in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

            Aging occurs at a variety of levels be it social, physical, or psychological.  The physical changes we observe in living creatures can be traced back to changes at a molecular level.  Proteins, in particular, spontaneously accumulate damage over time causing loss of function or accumulation of toxic aggregates.  Discovering and understanding the repair mechanisms for these types of damage is therefore essential to modern medicine.  L-Isoaspartyl O-methyltransferase (PCMT1) is a repair enzyme found in plants, animals, fungi, and archaea that recognizes and reverses the affects of spontaneous isoaspartyl formation in proteins.  Interestingly, this essential repair enzyme is not found in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yet the microbe is known to maintain an astonishingly low level of this type of damage.  The goal of my project is to identify the nature of the repair mechanism for this type of damage in S. cerevisiae using a variety of biochemical techniques including high performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and fluorescence microscopy.  The enzyme(s) identified in this pathway may have important uses in the medicinal field.