Functional Characterization of Met12-MTHFR in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Jessica Nichole Pasqua : Chemical Biology

Mentor: Professor Jasper Rine

Methylenetetrahydrofolate-reductase (MTHFR) is an enzyme involved in the synthesis of methionine, an essential amino acid. Due to MTHFR importance for cellular health, Jessica studies MTHFRs in yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae through analysis of paralogous genes MET12 and MET13. The Met12 and Met13 proteins are both MTHFR enzymes, however based upon biochemical results Met12 appears to be non-functional. Recently Jessica showed that Met12 has been non-functional for millions of years, since it also lacks function in yeast species Saccharomyces bayanus. Since yeast aggressively remove non-functional elements from their genomes, this result is strong and presumptive evidence that Met12 has an important, undetected function. Jessica's experiments will describe why Met12 is nonfunctional, and will test the hypothesis that physical interactions between Met12 and Met13 are important for cooperative maintenance of methionine bioavailability.