Michelle joined the Bazzini Lab in 2016 as a research technician with a bachelor’s degree in human biology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and a professional bachelor of science degree in molecular biotechnology and clinical laboratory science from the University of Kansas Medical Center. As an Open University doctoral student, she is studying post-transcriptional gene regulation.
Cellular information is stored in genes, which are protein-making instructions, or codes, in the form of DNA. In order for this genetic code to be used to make proteins, it must first be copied into mRNA, which serves as a message informing the ribosome which amino acids to use in the protein. The iterative process of the ribosome interpreting the genetic code, written in mRNA, and then translating that message into a polypeptide, is known as protein synthesis. Interestingly, Dr. Bazzini and others have shown that there is yet another layer of information in the code—the stability of the mRNA is shaped by the act of translation. In other words, the information present in the genetic code not only controls the protein makeup, it also dictates the half-life of the transcript. This can have a profound effect on the overall level of expression of a gene.
Michelle believes that understanding more about how this effect influences expression—at the cellular level and beyond—will provide vital information about gene regulation. Her experiments will attempt to illuminate the regulatory role of translation during homeostasis, as well as under stress conditions.