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UD's Zhuang wins NSF Early Career Award for research on how cells bypass damaged DNA
Date:4/16/2010

Zhihao Zhuang, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware, has won the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Award.

It is NSF's most prestigious award in support of faculty early in their careers who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Zhuang's five-year, $783,000 award will support an integrated research and outreach program focusing on the development of new chemical methods for efficiently bonding ubiquitin, the so-called "kiss of death" protein, to proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), a key protein in DNA replication and repair, and exploring at the molecular level how cells bypass damaged DNA in a process called translesion synthesis.

Besides the celebrated role of ubiquitin as a molecular tag for labeling proteins to be chopped up by the cell's "waste disposal" or proteasome, for which the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded, ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins have since been shown to play essential roles in a myriad of fundamentally important cellular processes.

Research in the rapidly expanding area of DNA damage response has been stimulated largely by the seminal findings that the bonding of ubiquitin and small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) to PCNA controls precisely how eukaryotic cells respond to different types of DNA damage and how the different repair or tolerance pathways are chosen to cope with that damage.

Zhuang's team has been investigating the molecular mechanism of translesion synthesis in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae (more commonly known as baker's yeast or budding yeast), which has proven to be extremely useful in understanding many essential cellular processes in eukaryotes, the domain of life that includes higher-o
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Contact: Tracey Bryant
tbryant@udel.edu
302-831-8185
University of Delaware
Source:Eurekalert  

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