Skip to main content

SEMINAR: Jimena Giudice, PhD (UNC)

October 1 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

View Event Details


Hello! Welcome to the science seminar podcast from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Abdalla Alkhawaja, and I’d like to tell you about the next seminar that I’m sure you would love to attend. On Tuesday October 1st, Dr. Jimena Giudice, assistant professor in the Cell Biology and Physiology Department here in UNC, will speak on alternative splicing and membrane trafficking in development and disease.

But first, what is alternative splicing and how is this process relevant to our lives? Genes in our DNA are transcribed into messenger molecules called RNA. These messenger RNAs are then translated into proteins that perform cellular functions. Cell can express different versions of a protein out of the same gene, by manipulating and processing messenger RNAs through alternative splicing. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Diabetes, and Cystic fibrosis are some of the diseases that are associated with aberrant alternative splicing.

Much is still needed to be known in the regulation of splicing in muscle development. That’s why Dr. Giudice is studying alternative splice forms of the Cltc gene, which is involved in maintenance of muscles as well as membrane trafficking. Using advanced CRISPR mouse model, Dr. Giudice and her team are investigating how alternative splicing of Cltc gene affect the AMPK signaling pathway. Moreover, the lab is looking into Cltc effects on cardiac myocytes. Interestingly, alternatively spliced Cltc genes produce version of the protein that protected mice against cardiac dysfunction and hypertrophy compared to the normally spliced form of the gene, emphasizing that this process might have an influence on our cardiac health.

Please join us for Dr. Giudice seminar at 11 AM in Room 1131 Bioinformatics building to know more about her latest findings into the role of alternative splicing in development and disease.

SEMINAR: Heidi Hamm, PhD (Vanderbilt)

October 15 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

View Event Details


Hello! Welcome to the science seminar preview from the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Amanda Graboski, and I am a first-year graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program here at UNC. And I’m here to tell you about the seminar of the semester.

On Tuesday October 15th, Dr. Heidi Hamm, a professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University will be speaking about the regulation of exocytosis by inhibitory GPCR’s and G protein beta gamma subunits.

Exocytosis of presynaptic vesicles is a critical process in hormone and neurotransmitter release. Improper regulation of vesicular fusion is associated with well-known disorders such as epilepsy, intellectual disability, autism, and dyskinetic movement disorders.

The Hamm lab discovered that vesicular fusion is ultimately controlled by a protein called SNARE. When promoting vesicular fusion, SNARE binds to a membrane trafficking protein called synaptotagmin. But in the case of inhibition, the G protein beta gamma unit is freed to compete for SNARE binding.

As neural activity is incredibly complex, there are many mechanisms and GPCR pathways that have yet to be understood. Dr. Hamm’s findings are incredibly exciting and informative as we believe this pathway to play a large role in the neural and endocrine systems. Using her discoveries, we can better understand information processing, associated diseases, and the true mechanism of certain therapeutics.

To learn more about Dr. Hamm and her research, please join us for her seminar at 11am on October 15th in 1131 Bioinformatics. I look forward to seeing you then!

SEMINAR: Joseph Cotruvo, PhD (Penn State)

November 5 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

View Event Details


Hello and welcome to the science seminar preview from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I’m Matt Begley, a graduate student in The Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program and today I am going to tell you about an upcoming seminar you won’t want to miss!

On Tues November 5th, Dr. Joseph Cotruvo, from Penn State University, will speak about his recent work describing the Selective recognition of lanthanides in biology.

Lanthanides might not seem all that familiar, but they constitute the metals commonly referred to as “Rare-Earth elements.” On most graphics in textbooks and posters, you can find this group on the periodic table as the top row of the bottom block.

Most organisms don’t utilize these elements in their biochemistries- instead they use more common metal atoms like calcium and magnesium. A unique group of bacteria; however, have shown the ability to use lanthanides in their metabolic processes. The exact mechanisms of how they use these rare-earth elements are poorly understood.

While working with a model organism, the Alphaproeobacter Methylobacterium extorquens, Dr. Cotruvo’s group discovered a previously uncharacterized protein associating with lanthanides. The group named this protein Lanmodulin and found it selectively bound lanthanides over calcium 100 million-fold!

This kind of protein highly favoring rare-earth elements over other metals has never been investigated before and has a wide range of possible uses. From developing biosensors to savaging and sequestration applications, Lanmodulin promises to be protein of interest for many years to come.

So please join us for Dr. Cotruvo’s seminar on Tuesday November 5th at 11am in 1131 Bioinformatics Building to learn more about this exciting topic!

SEMINAR: Seminar: Daniel Dominguez, PhD (UNC)

December 3 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

View Event Details



Welcome to the science seminar preview from the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Baggio Evangelista and I am a second year graduate student in the biochemistry and molecular cell biology program and I’d like to take a minute to tell you about an upcoming seminar definitely worth attending. On Tuesday December 3rd, UNC’s own Dr. Daniel Dominguez will give a talk on RNA binding and its role in human disease. Since its initial discovery in the 1970s, RNA regulation has been the subject of robust investigation, especially as its translational relevance has illuminated our understanding of many human diseases, perhaps one of the most notorious being cancer. The Dominguez lab investigates a mode of RNA regulation, specifically aberrant splicing which is a phenomenon closely linked to various human cancers. How these splicing events encourage or discourage cancer growth is a great tool to scientists and clinicians as they become druggable targets, expanding the arsenal for tackling one of the most prevalent diseases.

In a recent work showcased in the prestigious Cell Cancer, the group dissected the mechanism by which a specific governor of RNA splicing, factor RBM4, is responsible for suppressing tumor growth and proliferation through splicing of the Bcl-X transcript. Bcl-x is a protein that governs apoptosis, a key process which is evaded in the transition from non-cancerous to cancerous cell growth. Dysfunction or loss of RBM4 can therefore disrupt the normal mechanism by which cells utilize apoptosis to govern their growth, potentially driving cancer.

Interestingly, the group emphasizes that RBM4 expression is largely reduced in cancer patients, where its deficiency is correlated with poor clinical outcome. They also noted that by increasing functional RBM4 levels, cancerous cell proliferation can be suppressed. This work holds great impact for the cancer field as it allows for new avenues of both biomarker and therapeutic development. So please join us for Dr. Daniel Dominguez’s seminar at 11 am in room 1131 of the Bioinformatics building to learn more about his group’s latest findings in RNA binding, regulation, and disease.