Nathan Murray, an IPiB graduate student in Dave Pagliarini’s lab and a visiting student at the Washington University in St. Louis, is defending his Ph.D. research this month. His research focuses on understanding and characterizing a protein called COQ8A. COQ8A has been tied to human disease and facilitates the biosynthesis of coenzyme Q (CoQ), which is required for cellular respiration. How COQ8A enacts CoQ biosynthesis is unclear.
Murray developed a specific inhibitor against COQ8A and demonstrated that his molecule can inhibit CoQ production in cells. Then, he worked with the Henzler-Wildman Lab at UW–Madison and the Gross Lab at WUSTL to study how COQ8A is activated by small molecules that resemble CoQ biosynthetic precursors.
“CoQ was discovered over 60 years ago by Fred Crane at UW–Madison, and despite its biological importance, there are still outstanding questions regarding how it is made in mitochondria and distributed throughout the cell,” Murray says. “Further understanding how COQ8A contributes to this process and developing tools to manipulate this pathway addresses this foundational biochemical question and will help us understand how dysfunctional CoQ metabolism leads to human disease.”
After defending his Ph.D. research, Murray plans to go into industry to address challenges in drug discovery and biotechnology development.
To learn more about Murray’s research, attend his Thesis Defense on Wednesday, July 6 at 2 pm CT in Room 1211 of the DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building.