In a newly published paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society, Bradford Dimos, Laura Mydlarz and Mark Pellegrino, all from the Department of Biology in the College of Science, report their identification of a mitochondrial unfolded protein response in an endangered coral species.
The cellular stress response promotes mitochondrial protein homeostasis, free radical detoxification and innate immunity. Its existence in corals was previously unknown.
Target - Gene - Biomarker - Corals - Gene
"We understood that there is a target gene essentially used as a biomarker for diseased and distressed corals, and that gene is induced by the response pathway that my lab studies," said Pellegrino, assistant professor of biology.
Pellegrino, who had never previously studied coral, is an expert in mitochondria and cell biology. In discussions with Mydlarz, whose portfolio is focused on coral immunity, the two hypothesized that investigating the mitochondrial unfolded protein response in coral could have relevance in protecting the coral reefs. They were right.
Collaboration - Tools - Mark - Lab - Data
"This is a true collaboration bringing together the tools in Mark's lab with the data available in my lab," said Mydlarz, professor of biology. "But it wasn't until Brad joined my lab, with his experience in studying mitochondria, and took this on as his project that we were able to investigate."
Dimos, a second-year graduate student in Mydlarz's lab and first author on the paper, said the gene they discovered acts as a "master regulator" that unlocks hundreds of other genes.
Lot - Work - Past - Genes - Immunity
"There has been a lot of well-done work in the past that has identified various genes that could be important for immunity in coral, but our gene potentially regulates a lot of those," Dimos said. "We've uncovered a single target that has a broad scope of impact. This is a huge step forward in making any interventions to preserve coral more efficiently."
The team plans to move forward with testing the genetic...
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