EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to Laura Kremer
Laura Kremer, postdoc in Nils-Göran Larsson’s research group at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics has received an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to study basic mechanisms for the inheritance of mitochondrial DNA in mammals. The fellowship runs over 24 months.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is transmitted only from the mother to the embryo. This asexual mode of transmission means that we cannot get rid of mutations by recombination between maternal and paternal mtDNA. This is potentially a big problem as mtDNA is much more prone to acquire mutations than nuclear DNA. The exclusive maternal transmission of mtDNA should therefore in principle lead to an accumulation of mutated mtDNA between generations.
However, there are several poorly understood mechanisms in the maternal germ line that decrease the mutation load between generations. One such mechanism is the maternal bottleneck, which ensures that only a fraction of the pool of mtDNA molecules in the mother is transmitted to the offspring.
Another mechanism is strong purifying selection against mtDNA mutations that cause amino acid substitutions in respiratory chain subunits. The molecular mechanisms for these processes are not understood.
Laura will perform genetic studies in the mouse to study the role for mtDNA copy number regulation and autophagy in maternal transmission of mtDNA.
The EMBO Long-Term Fellowships are awarded for a period of up to two years and support post-doctoral research visits to laboratories throughout Europe and the world.