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Dr. Madelaine Usey, Spring 2024 UGA Cellular Biology Graduate

Madelaine Usey

UGA Cellular Biology is proud to present Dr. Madelaine Usey.

Dr. Usey's research focused on characterizing the ATP synthase in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Located in the mitochondrion, the ATP synthase plays a critical role in generating cellular energy. Interestingly, over half of the subunits in the T. gondii ATP synthase complex are not found in other model organisms, begging the question of their role in the parasite. She investigated two of these divergent subunits and found that they likely act as scaffolding to support the exceptionally large T. gondii ATP synthase complex, with severe mitochondrial defects resulting from their loss. Additionally, because we lack information on how the activity of the T. gondii ATP synthase is regulated, she investigated the T. gondii homolog of a well-conserved ATP synthase inhibitor. Although Dr. Usey found that this putative inhibitor did not significantly impact parasite metabolism, it did play a role in mitochondrial cristae maintenance as well as the parasite response to hypoxic and oxidative stress. Overall, her work provides insight into the highly divergent nature of the T. gondii mitochondrion.

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