Postdoctoral position: Mitochondrial DNA quality control and plant mitochondria engineering (Hay lab)
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes RNAs and proteins required for oxidative phosphorylation, the primary method of ATP production in nucleated cells. mtDNA often exists in a state of heteroplasmy, in which deleterious mutant mtDNA co-exists in cells along with wildtype mtDNA. Heteroplasmy for pathogenic mutations is common, and high frequencies of mutant mtDNA result in severe maternally inherited syndromes. mtDNA mutations also accumulate over time and contribute to a number of diseases of aging including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and sarcopenia. Reducing heteroplasmy is, therefore, an important therapeutic goal. We have developed systems in which heteroplasmy for a specific lethal mtDNA deletion can be created at will in vivo. We find that mtDNA quality control is normally weak, but can be dramatically enhanced in multiple ways to promote the selective elimination of deletion-bearing mtDNA http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13100
We seek highly motivated individuals who are interested in using this system, and/or related systems in mammalian cells, to understand the basis for mtDNA quality control, and how to stimulate it, in somatic cells and in the germline.
We also seek individuals interested in using related technologies to engineer the plant mitochondrial genome, something that thus far has only been possible in single-celled organisms such as yeast and algae.
The California Institute of Technology
Caltech is consistently ranked among the top research universities in the world and hosts a diverse and collaborative research community. Caltech is located in Pasadena, California, a vibrant city 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles and minutes from hiking trails in the San Gabriel Mountains.
We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.