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Monika Gaik – NCN Polonez 1

Structural insights into translational control of nanos mRNA by the Sex lethal repressive complex

Polonez 1 - Project entitled: 

Structural insights into translational control of nanos mRNA by the Sex lethal repressive complex

Fellowship registration number: 2015/19/P/NZ1/02514



Stem cells, due to their unique abilities, have received increasing attention by scientists and the general public. With each cell division stem cells have to choose to either self-renew and regenerate their pool or differentiate into specified cell types. Despite major scientific efforts many of the molecular mechanisms determining how this decision is made remain unclear. Any defects in this regulation may lead to severe diseases, such as cancer. We have chosen fruit fly early germline development as a model for studying transcriptional and translational control during stem cell maintenance and their differentiation.  The decision whether daughter cells will keep their self-renewal potency or switch into differentiation pathway occurs at each stem cell division and has to be under strict control by numerous stem-cell maintenance and differentiation factors. Many of these factors are RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), which form protein-RNA complexes (RNPs) which guide messenger RNA (mRNA) at various steps of gene expression.
Understanding how these proteins function requires a detailed knowledge about their three-dimensional architecture and interactions within the complexes. The project focuses on structural characterization of a novel protein complex (Sex lethal repressive complex) involved in regulation of stem cells differentiation during fly oogenesis.


Aims of the project:
1. Obtain initial structural insights into RBPs architecture and RNPs assembly determining its function.
2. Investigate how individual proteins recognize the respective RNA targets to orchestrate its regulatory binding and subsequently control translation.
3. Understand how mRNA transcripts and associated proteins influence important cell fate decisions of stem cells.

By unravelling structural details of RNPs this study will provide deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms involved in embryonic development and carcinogenesis.

























Monika Gaik, PhD - Principal Investigator:

Research Experience &Achievements:

  • 2016-present Principal Investigator of Polonez fellowship by National Science Centre (NCN)
  • since 2015 Postdoctoral fellow in the Max Planck Laboratory at Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology (MCB), Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland
  • 2014 PhD in Life Science (Dr. Rer. Nat.) in Biochemistry Center (BZH) of Ruperto-Carola University in Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2013-2014 Recipient of fellowship from German Ministry of Education and Research in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.
  • 2009 Master Degree in Biotechnology at the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology at Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland
  • 2008 Internship in Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Publications & scientific meetings:

  • Structural basis for assembly and function of the Nup82 complex in the nuclear pore scaffold (2015) Gaik M, Flemming D, von Appen A, Kastritis P, Mucke N, Fischer J, Stelter P, Ori A, Bui K H, Bassler J, Barbar E, Beck M, Hurt E. The Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), 2015 Feb 2; 208 (3): p.283-297.
  • Inhibition of autophagy by 3-methyladenine potentiates sulforaphaneinduced cell death of human neuroblastoma BE(2)-C cell line. (2015) Horwacik, I*, Gaik, M*, Durbas, M, Boratyn, E, Zając, G, Szychowska, K, Szczodrak, M, Kołoczek, H, Rokita, H. Molecular Medicine Reports (Mol. Med. Rep.), 2015 Jul; 12(1): p.535-542.
  • Monitoring Spatiotemporal Biogenesis of Macromolecular Assemblies by Pulse-Chase Epitope Labeling. (2012) Stelter P, Kunze R, Radwan M, Thomson E, Thierbach K, Thoms M, Hurt E., Molecular Cell (Mol Cell), 47,(5), p. 788-796.
  • 2011 Poster presentation at the SFB638 grant proposal symposium, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2012 Poster presentation at the Annual Meeting of Hartmut Hoffmann-Berling International Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology (HBIGS), Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2012 Oral presentation entitled "A translation-controllable pulse-chase method to study ribosome biogenesis and nuclear pore complex assembly in vivo" at the International Spring Meeting SFB 638, GRK 1188, Bad Hindelang, Germany










Anna Salerno-Kochan - PhD student

In 2016 she obtained master degree in Biochemistry at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. During her master studies, she was involved in the project addressing molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia in the Institute Pharmacology Polish Academy of Science. Currently, she is investigating the role of RNA-binding proteins in the processes of stem cells maintenance and differentiation. The willingness to work in this particular lab comes from the strong belief that structural insights into protein interactions with molecular partners are essential for understanding of the physiological and pathological events taking place in cells.













Anna Kościelniak – technical assistant

She has joined Max Planck Research Group recently. In this project she will be working on eukaryotic protein expression system.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778.