Discovery by Department of Biology research team opens horizons in mitochondrial translational machinery study

113 Dr. Moreno

Alcorn State, Miss. (July 17, 2013) – “Our research team discovered the moonlighting nature of the mitochondrial protein Ccm1p from the baker yeast,” said Dr. Jon Ignacio Moreno, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Alcorn State University. “It opens new research possibilities for the study of mitochondria translational machinery assembly and human diseases related to its malfunction.”

This milestone led to a new project “Novel Pathways of Mitochondrial Ribosome Assembly” that Dr. Marta A. Piva, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Moreno began in May 2013, for which the scientists received a grant for $554,958 from the Department of Defense. Dr. Piva serves as principal investigator for the project, and Dr. Moreno is co-investigator (key personnel).

Other significant contributors to elucidating the moonlighting nature of the CCM1 gene product were Dr. Babu Patlolla, assistant dean, School of Arts and Sciences, and three students in the Department of Biological Sciences Kerry R. Belton, Brenita C. Jenkins, and Polina V. Radchenkova.

“It was truly a team effort,” shared Dr. Moreno.

This breakthrough, entirely accomplished in the Department, was reported in 2012 in the article “Two independent activities define Ccm1p as a moonlighting protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae” published in an international peer-reviewed journal Bioscience Reports.

In 2009, the research group led by Drs. Moreno and Piva elucidated the first known function of the CCM1 gene product (Ccm1p protein). The name “CCM1” given to the gene by this Alcorn group was officially acknowledged by the Curators of Saccharomyces Genome Database at Stanford University, California.

Dr. Moreno expressed a great deal of optimism for future discoveries and for the opportunity that Alcorn students have to gain a solid background and experience in the cell and molecular biology fields.

Click here for details of Drs. Moreno and Piva’s work.


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