Regulation of protein synthesis by elongation control in health and disease


  • Prof Anne Willis

    MRC Toxicology Unit

  • Prof Owen Sansom

    Beatson Institute for Cancer Research

  • Prof Christopher Smales

    University of Kent

  • Dr Tobias von der Haar

    University of Kent

  • Prof Giovanna Mallucci

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Protein synthesis is the process by which DNA is converted, via an intermediary substrate called mRNA, into proteins. For proteins to be made, the mRNA must interact with a large complex called the ribosome which consists of RNAs and proteins.

Ribosomes can therefore be thought of as ‘molecular factories’ that make proteins. They do this by decoding the genetic information that is held in the mRNA and bringing all the building blocks together to synthesise proteins. The rate at which proteins are made is very highly regulated and cells respond to alterations in the external environment, including temperature change, exposure to toxic chemicals, viral infection and other diseases by modifying both the rate at which they make proteins and, importantly, the types of proteins that they make.

We aim to identify the mechanisms that allow the cells to produce selective protective proteins so that we can manipulate and mimic aspects of this process. In the longer-term, we will use this to provide novel ways in which to treat neurological disorders and cancers.