Mon March 16 // Deciphering mechanisms of transcription regulation and their role in the biological embedding of experience
Dr. Maria Aristizabal
University of British Columbia
Changed to online
Transcription is essential for life and in eukaryotes it is performed by one of several RNA polymerases (RNAP). Of these, RNAPII is responsible for the synthesis of all mRNAs and many non-coding transcripts, an activity that requires the integration of general and gene-specific signals. However, how these activities are coordinated and contribute to the response to environmental contexts remains poorly understood, despite a clear significance in the adaptation, health and survival of all organisms. Furthermore, the extent to which genetic variability affects transcription and thus modulates individual differences in the response to challenge remains largely unknown. Using yeast, I have identified new players in the response to oxidative stress, a challenge that affects all organisms and that can have grave consequences for cellular integrity. I also showed that the transcriptional response to oxidant involved alterations in both mRNA synthesis and mRNA decay, effects that must be teased apart in order to fully understand how organisms respond to environmental contexts. Furthermore, my work in fruit flies identified sex-specific differences in gene expression under normal and stress conditions, thus underscoring the importance of considering sex when studying the molecular underpinnings of the biological embedding of experience.