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Antonia Nilsson Lock

About my PhD

I am studying the oligomerization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) together with Dr. Ann Dixon (Department of Chemistry) and Dr. Graham Ladds (Warwick Medical School).

About 40% of all marketed drugs target GPCRs, but little is known about their structure and function. Recent evidence has shown that many GPCRs exist as oligomers, and that different oligomeric states may have altered pharmacology.

A typical eukaryotic cell can express 40-100 different GPCRs at any one time, and crosstalk between pathways makes it dificult to study receptor dynamics. In contrast, yeast can only express two different GPCRs at any one time (one for pheromone sensing and one for glucose sensing), with no cross-talk between the systems, thus making it an excellent model organism in which to study GPCRs.

We are studying the homo-oligomerization of the two yeast pheromone GPCRs Mam2 (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) and Ste2 (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) using a range of biophysical and biochemical techniques. Currently we are using a fluorescent based assay (TOXCAT) to study the potential for single transmembrane domains from these receptors to undergo homo-oligomerization. Further we are utilizing molecular dynamics simulations to identify potential sites of interactions. Discoveries made in these systems are directly transposed to full-length receptors, with a view of utilizing techniques such as BRET to fully characterize the physiological consequences of GPCR oligomerization.

About me

I came to Warwick in 2002 to do a BSc in Computational Biology. After my BSc I continued with an MSc in Mathematical Biology and Biophysical Chemistry with MOAC, I then started my PhD in 2007.

Antonia Nilsson (photo)