Mitorobosome Assembly Pathways and the Heart

By Jessica Alvarez

Mitorobosome Assembly Pathways and the Heart

By Jessica Alvarez
Priyanka Maiti, a Postdoctoral Associate in Neurology, discusses her research on cardiovascular diseases.

Priyanka Maiti, who is also an officer with the University's Postdoc Association, is conducting research that can be traced back to her graduate studies at the Cluster of Excellence in Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases in Cologne, Germany. She has received the American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2019-2020.  Her research focuses on deciphering the mitoribosome assembly pathway, which is a complex process involving the modification of ribosomal RNAs (ribonucleic acid) in association with ribosomal proteins. Mitoribosomes or mitochondrial ribosomes are ribonucleoprotein complexes that synthesize proteins inside mitochondria. Mitochondria are membrane bound eukaryotic organelles often known as the powerhouse of the cell. One of mitochondria's crucial roles is to produce the chemical energy currency of the cell, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for the sustenance of life.

Her role in the research is to investigate how defects in the mitoribosome assembly bear on cardiovascular disease. Through understanding the assembly and its elements involved, Priyanka can better answer the questions on how mutations in mitoribosomes encoding genes cause mitochondrial diseases like cardio- and encephalo-myopathies. Encephalomyopathy or lactic acidosis is a condition that affects the body’s nervous systems and muscles, sometimes causing stroke-like episodes. Cardiomyopathy would be diseases of the heart muscle that make it harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Priyanka emphasizes, "My long-term goal is to characterize the elements and pathways involved in the biogenesis of mitochondrial translational machinery and in translation itself. This would be a prerequisite for the development of therapeutic approaches to combat mitochondrial cardiomyopathies." With her work, she hopes to identify therapeutic targets to combat mito-cardiomyopathies.