Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Tara Young

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2022

Research Project: Understanding the Mechanism of Interaction between GapR and Topoisomerases in α-proteobacteria

Project Description: As the replisome moves through a strand of DNA, it naturally induces a state where the DNA strand wraps around itself, termed ‘positive supercoiling.’ Positive supercoiling knots DNA, preventing DNA from being pulled apart further during replication, with ~100 supercoils formed every second during DNA replication in bacteria. These positive supercoils must be resolved for DNA replication to continue, a task performed by topoisomerase enzymes. However, the mechanism for topoisomerase recruitment to positive supercoils is not known. GapR, a structuring protein, has been shown to stimulate Topoisomerases in α-proteobacteria. Under Dr. Guo, I am investigating the mechanism of this interaction between GapR and Topoisomerases. Because topoisomerase inhibitors are anticancer and antimicrobial therapeutics, understanding the mechanism of how GapR and topoisomerases interact will reveal crucial information regarding the topoisomerase regulation of DNA replication and could have far-reaching implications for both antibacterial drugs and cancer treatment.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

As I joined the Guo Lab before starting at UW, the lab was a place of growth for me as both a student and as a scientist. Over the course of my research project, I have grown skills in the assays I conduct for my project, a better understanding of the research in the field, and ways to navigate hurdles in research. I’ve also learned how to apply the knowledge from my coursework to asking questions in the lab to have a deeper understanding of details of the mechanism I’m interrogating!

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

Discuss your project goals, plans, and ideas extensively with your Mentor before applying so you both have a good idea of what exactly you hope to do and how they can support you in your project. Speak authentically to what excites you in your project, and how completing this project will further your own goals. I also highly recommend speaking with advisors at the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards and/or with the Mary Gates Endowment to get feedback on your writing!