Accepted post-doctoral position at Princeton University after receiving PhD
All cells must have the ability to deal with a variety of environmental stresses. Failure to correctly adapt to and/or protect against adverse stress conditions can lead to cell death. In humans, stress response defects have been linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, underscoring the importance of developing a fundamental understanding of the eukaryotic stress response.
In an effort to characterize cellular response to high temperature stress, I identified and described one member of a novel gene family – RTR1. I show that the RTR1 gene and its protein product genetically and biochemically interact with core subunits of the RNA polymerase II enzyme. Appropriately, loss of RTR1 results in defective transcription from multiple promoters. These data provide evidence that Rtr1, which is essential under stress conditions, acts as a key regulator of transcription.
In addition to transcriptional regulation, cells deal with many stressors by inducing molecular chaperones. Molecular chaperones are ubiquitous in all living cells and bind unfolded or damaged proteins and catalyze refolding or degradation. Hsp90 is a unique chaperone because it targets specific clients – typically signaling proteins – for maturation. While it has been shown that Sse1, the yeast Hsp110, is a critical regulator of the Hsp90 chaperone cycle, this work describes the molecular basis for that regulation. I show that Sse1 modulates Hsp90 function through regulation of Hsp70 nucleotide exchange. Further, Hsp110-type nucleotide exchange factors (NEFs) appear to have a specific role in modulating Hsp90 function in this manner. Finally, in addition to Hsp110, the eukaryotic cytosol contains two other types of Hsp70 NEF: Snl1 (BAG-domain protein) and Fes1 (HspBP1-like protein). I investigated the cellular roles of these NEFs to better understand the reason that eukaryotic cells contain three distinct protein families that perform the same biochemical function. I show that while cytosolic Hsp70 NEFs have some degree of functional overlap, they also exhibit striking divergence. Taken together, the work presented in this dissertation provides a more detailed understanding of the eukaryotic stress response.
The Eukaryotic Cellular Stress Response: Biochemical and Genetic Analyses in Saccharomyces cerevisiae