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Department of Pharmacology

 


Dr Janet Kumita – Group Leader

MRC Career Development Award Fellow

E-Mail:
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 3 34034 / Lab: 3 34030

 

Keywords

neurodegenerative diseases, biomolecular condensates, amyloid fibrils, consensus tetratricopeptide repeat proteins, protein engineering, protein self-assembly, protein homeostasis

 

Investigator biography

Janet Kumita completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Waterloo and her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Toronto with Prof. G. Andrew Woolley where she developed azobenzene switches to reversibly control peptide structure. In 2003, she was awarded an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship and joined Prof. Sir Christopher Dobson’s group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, investigating how molecular chaperones modulate amyloid formation by variants of human lysozyme linked with systemic amyloidosis. Janet was a Researcher Co-Investigator on a BBSRC Project Grant (2007) that further focused on elucidating the mechanism of amyloid formation by human lysozyme. In 2017, she was promoted to Principal Research Associate in the Centre for Misfolding Diseases (CMD). In April 2020, Janet joined Prof. Laura Itzhaki’s group as a Senior Research Associate. Janet is now an MRC Career Development Award Fellow and Group Leader in the Department of Pharmacology.

Research summary

My research group uses a multidisciplinary approach, including biophysics, cell biology and protein engineering, to study the molecular processes underlying protein self-assembly. Our main areas of study are: 1) Establishing a structure-function relationship between biomolecular condensates and protein degradation; 2) Defining the structural characteristics of amyloid-related aggregates and determining how these species alter cellular quality control mechanisms and cell-to-cell transfer processes - factors that are crucial in neurodegenerative disease progression; and 3) Understanding protein homeostasis in ageing and disease.

Lab Members

Chris NgMateo HoareDr Luisa CapalboDr Ellis Wilde

 

Key publications

 

  • Jung J.-H., Barbosa A.D., Hutin S., Kumita J.R., Gao M., Derwort D., Silva C.S., Lai X., Pierre E., Geng F., Kim S.-B., Baek S., Zubieta C., Jaeger K.E. & P.A. Wigge, “A prion-like domain in ELF3 functions as a thermosensor in Arabidopsis”, Nature 585(7824): 256-260 (2020).
  • Du Z., Chakrabarti S., Kulaberoglu Y., Smith E.S.J., Dobson C.M., Itzhaki L.S. & J.R. Kumita, “Probing the unfolded protein response in long-lived naked mole-rats”, Biochem Biophys Res Comm 529(4): 1151-1157 (2020).
  • Ng J.S.W., Hanspal M.A., Matharu N.S., Barros T.P., Esbjörner E.K., Wilson M.R., Yerbury J.J., Dobson C.M. and J.R. Kumita, “Using tetracysteine-tagged TDP-43 with a biarsenical dye to monitor real-time trafficking in a cell model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” Biochemistry 58(39): 4086-4095 (2019).
  • Ahn M., Waudby C.A., Bernardo-Gancedo A., De Genst E., Dhulesia A., Salvatella X., Christodoulou J., Dobson C.M. and J.R. Kumita, “Application of lysine-specific labelling to detect transient interactions present during human lysozyme amyloid fibril formation”, Sci Rep 7(1): 15018 (2017).