Tina Li

Learning from an Ancient Process: Using Gametogenesis Pathways to Rejuvenate Aging Cells

Cellular aging is a nearly universal trait of all organisms and is a risk factor for a variety of human diseases. Cellular rejuvenation occurs in every human body during gametogenesis, the process by which we form gametes, also known as sperm and egg. In yeast, overexpression of a gametogenesis-specific transcription factor, Ndt80, has been shown to extend lifespan and rejuvenate the nucleolus in aging cells. Using genome-wide screening of gametogenesis genes, the Ünal lab has identified 86 rejuvenation candidates that can extend yeast lifespan. My research will focus on characterizing a subset of these candidates and identifying those that can counteract age-associated expansion of the nucleolus, a common biomarker of cellular age. Using fluorescence microscopy, I will determine how aging affects different nucleolar proteins in a wild-type context and then determine which rejuvenation candidates can reverse these age-related nucleolar phenotypes. My research will give insight into how aging affects the nucleolus and will lead to the discovery of new gene targets that can be used for cellular rejuvenation strategies in the future.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you SURF and the Rose Hills Foundation for supporting my pursuit of groundbreaking research in aging this summer. With the Rose Hills Experience Fellowship, I am excited to discover new cellular rejuvenation strategies, to apply knowledge learned in my courses to make a positive impact in the scientific community, and to grow as a researcher! I am so grateful for this exciting opportunity and look forward to conducting research in the Ünal lab.
  • Major: Molecular Environmental Biology, Applied Mathematics, Psychology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Elçin Ünal