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Portnoff Wins Best Poster Award at Biomolecular Engineering Conference

Monday, January 21, 2013

Alyse Portnoff, a graduate student in the DeLisa research group, was the recipient of a Best Poster Award at the Society for Biological Engineering’s 4th International Conference on Biomolecular Engineering (ICBE) in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Portnoff’s poster described her PhD thesis research on harnessing the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), which is the main route of protein degradation in eukaryotic cells and is a common mechanism through which numerous cellular pathways are regulated. Protein clearance by the UPS involves covalent tagging of target proteins with ubiquitin chains that are specifically recognized by the proteasome. The central hypothesis of Alyse’s work is that the UPS can be intentionally redirected to accelerate the degradation of otherwise stable cellular target proteins. To test this, she has developed a general protein silencing technology whereby the last enzyme in the UPS pathway, E3 ubiquitin ligase, is genetically fused to targeting antibodies that bind tightly and specifically to targets of interest. The resulting chimeras, which she calls “ubiquibodies”, enable the targeted degradation of virtually any intracellular protein. This technology should enable:  (i) dissection of protein function in somatic cells; (ii) identification of novel pharmacological targets; and (iii) selective targeting of disease proteins that underlie numerous human disorders.

Alyse received her B.S. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon and is currently a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering. She is also an NIH Chemical-Biology Interface (CBI) Training Grant Fellow. 


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