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A postdoctoral research position is available to investigate Amyotrophic LateralSclerosis (ALS) mitochondrial dysfunction. ALS causes motor neurondegeneration, then paralysis and death. An early target in ALS is themitochondrion, whose dysfunction enhances ALS progression. The most commonALS-causing mutations are found in the copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1)gene. Most wild type (WT) SOD1 protein (SOD1WT) resides in the cytosol and only1% is targeted to the inner mitochondrial space (IMS). In contrast, mutant SOD1protein (SOD1mut) accumulates in the mitochondrial outer membrane and in thematrix, and subsequently impairs mitochondrial function by a mechanism that ispoorly understood. Abnormal SOD1mut accumulation leads to mitochondrialdysfunction found in the early stage of presymptomatic ALS mice, before theonset of motor neuron degeneration. Thus, it is critical to determine the firstevent induced by SOD1mut and devise a strategy to stop or delay it beforemitochondrial damage becomes irreversible. The objective of future studies willbe to determine which step/steps are affected by the SOD1 mutation byidentifying the sequence of events involved in SOD1mut and SOD1WT mitochondrialtargeting, import and IMS-sorting. This project will provide important basicinformation on the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial dysfunction in ALS andwill identify possible targets for future therapies.
Applicants must have (or expect toobtain shortly) a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology or arelated field and be strongly motivated to conduct research in an excitingresearch environment.