The goal of project DYNAMO is an in-depth understanding of the biogenesis of energy-transducing membranes by integrating knowledge from research devoted to the regulation of gene expression, to structural and membrane biology and to bioenergetics. The project focuses on three major areas through three distinct but complementary tasks:
Task 1: Evolution of post-transcriptional gene expression from bacteria to organelles
The main goal of Task 1 is to improve our understanding of the evolutionary adaption that had to occur for the ancient bacterial ancestors of chloroplast and mitochondrial to survive as endosymbionts within their new hosts. We will attempt to understand both early and late events that led to the initial bacterial survival within the host and the later the institution of the post-transcriptional control mechanisms that allowed endosymbionts to transfer most of their genes to the nucleus of the host cell.
We will also study new actors involved in post-transcriptional regulation in bacteria and chloroplasts. Finally, we will study cross-talk between organelles and their host, in particular, the link between oxidative stress (a cost associated with the acquisition of mitochondria), post-transcriptional gene regulation and telomere length in yeast.
Task 2: Membrane dynamics and their regulation across evolution
Our goal in Task 2 is to characterize the membrane protein (MP)-protein and MP-lipid interactions that ultimately shape membrane biogenesis, dynamics and the regulation of their morphologies in mitochondria, chloroplasts and bacteria.
This task also includes the structural characterisation of key MP proteins involved in transport and signalling across membranes, exploiting our expertise in surfactant chemistry and access to cutting edge X-ray diffraction technologies and cryo-EM (single particle and tomography). We plan to develop synthetic organelles, more stream-lined expression systems, new surfactants and novel modelling approaches as tools to improve the structural characterization of MPs and their dynamics.
Task 3: Supramolecular organization of electron transfer
Axis 3 is centered on the supramolecular organization of electron transfer chains (ETC) in energy transducing membranes from bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts. We develop and use innovative multi-scale integrated functional and structural biology approaches to examine bioenergetics-related processes from the atomic to the cellular level and from the nanosecond to minute time scale. Our goal is to better understand the individual players in electron transfer, to decipher the interactions between the different partners and ultimately to extend our comprehension to an integrated ETC in a living cell. This task will increase our global understanding of energy capture and conversion by biological organisms. This is a prerequisite to optimize energy transfer in bacterial and organelle, a timely challenge in today’s changing environment and urgent need for innovations in areas related to renewable energy.
DYNAMO also has a mission to teach and to nurture the development of the next generation of young scientists. Members of the consortium are involved in teaching efforts all the way from high-school to Masters level courses. In addition to these courses, we teach practival modules in our own labs to expose budding scientists to the excitement and rigors of working at the bench. DYNAMO scientists are members of three different Parisian universities, Sorbonne Université, Université de Paris and Paris-Sciences-et-Lettres. Added to the renowned public education efforts provided by the Collège de France and the top tier higher level education provided by the Ecole Normale Supérieure, our teaching efforts cover a broad swath of the south Paris area. Since its inception, DYNAMO has progressively increased its teaching activities at Masters level and has so far trained about 150 students in structural biology, bioenergetics, microbiology, chemistry, molecular and synthetic biology. Our teaching activities have access to advanced facilities such as the unique display wall at Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique. Our vision is that mutualisation is the best way to offer high-level Masters level training by top scientists independently of their institutional origin.